Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wow, I have been neglecting my blog the last few weeks!  I came home for Christmas and ever since I got back I've been so busy Christmas shopping, running errands and working.  I haven't had time to work on anything new and my work schedule for the next few weeks is pretty full as well, 30+ hours this coming week and the next 2-3 weeks after that is 40+!! I probably won't have time to do anything new before I go back to Poland in late January.  Here it is on Christmas Eve and I haven't even wrapped a single gift. That's how crazy it's been! :)  I'm lucky I even finished my Christmas shopping at all lol.
I have signed up for a free Strathmore workshop online though, it starts January 1st. The workshop is a lot about art journaling and having fun. I did a workshop with them last year too, and really enjoyed it. If anyone is interested, here is a link. :)
I should probably get back to my Christmas wrapping and cooking so I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever it is you celebrate. I will enjoy my weekend off for Christmas and then....back to work!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Self Portrait

I did this self portrait drawing (H and HB pencils) mostly because I wanted to practice drawing hair. 
Drawing hair can be tedious sometimes but it's also kind of fun.  My hair at the time had a lot of highlights in it, which is why it looks so streaky. Hmm, maybe this will be my new facebook profile pic? ;-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gouache and India Ink Project

Here's a fun project I came across in an art book. It requires gouache (opaque watercolor) and India ink.  The first one I did was just a copy of the example from the book, it's not original to me. (The book is called "Art Techniques") I just really liked it and wanted to make one for myself :)
What you do is paint a picture with the gouache.  Leave the white of the paper in any areas you want to be black.  So it is a good idea to sketch out your idea first lightly in pencil and draw around the areas you want to be black. What happens is after your gouache painting is completely dry (overnight) you take a large, soft watercolor brush and cover the entire thing in an even coat of black India ink. After the ink is dry (I gave it a few hours), you rinse the painting under running water and, using the soft watercolor brush, wash away the ink.  The ink will stick to the white paper but the gouache repels the ink so it washes off and the painting underneath is revealed.  Just keep in mind gouache is water soluble and some will wash off with the ink. Use the paint thickly, because if you do thin coats, it could all just come off. In the 2nd example I did of my shoes, I didn't use the gouache thick enough and a lot of the floor and skin tone area came off with the rinsing.
I just realized maybe I should have put up the photos step by step as I did it, but these were already done before I had the idea to do this post. Next time I do this, I will take pictures and document the process. It's really fun, give it a try!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hotel Commission

A week ago, I finished one of my first big commissioned paintings for an up and coming new hotel here in Krakow, Komorowski Luxury Guest Rooms.  It was a little scary, since I haven't done too many commissions before (just one other, where I was asked to do Hopper's "Night Hawks" but with personal changes, such as making the figures people they knew and changing the inside from a diner to more of a bar).  So anyway, Komorowski is a very sleek and modern design, black, white and greys with splashes of red.  The place is gorgeous, and I would honestly recommend anyone planning to come to Krakow to stay there. I know the owners, and they're very nice people who speak fluent English and Polish (the son grew up in Canada) and will go above and beyond to make sure you really enjoy your stay there. 
So I met with them to show them some ideas, and my original idea, which we all loved, was to do a painting that looked like a sketch. The subject matter was from a photo I had taken from a rooftop of the city center, the Mariacki Church, along with the clocktower and Sukiennice (Old Cloth Hall) kind of emerging from a sea of rooftops. It was going to be a white canvas with black paint for the "sketching" and some red highlights somewhere to go with the color scheme of the hotel. 
What I actually ended up painting was this:
Now, anyone reading this who is an artist probably has had this happen to them as well, where you have an idea in your head of exactly what you want the artwork to look like, be it a painting, drawing, print, whatever. When you actually sit down and do the work however, sometimes it just takes on a life of its own, or it doesn't work out for some reason and you have to go in another direction. That is what happened with this piece. I had a large canvas (about 27x47", 70x120cm) and when I did the sketchy painting on it, being just black and white, it looked like a page from a coloring book. It was too simple, and it just wasn't working. The small pen and ink sketch I did on translucent paper about 9x12" looks great, I still love that idea. That translated on to a large, solid white canvas in paint however, did not look so great. So I thought I'd add some shades of grey in places to give it a little something extra.  Then a few things in grey turned into everything in shades of grey, because it looked weird with some things grey and some plain white. I still had no idea where the red would come in (I had discussed with the owner maybe even getting red glass cut to the size of some of the windows on the church and putting it on there but I was still always thinking about where I could put some red). Finally I decided to do the 3 large windows on the church in red with the trim details in the usual black and grey.  Also the hands on the clock tower are red and the 2 tall towers on the church have little Polish flags (red and white) on the spires.  
They still really liked the original sketchy idea too, so I was asked to do that but on the translucent paper in small scale, so they can frame it and put it next to the painting. So I will be working on that today. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Woodcut Watercolors

Here is another little series I did of some more flowers. I had recently gotten the Painter program (similar to Photoshop or Illustrator, but this is the program I had learned at school in my one forced computer art class I had to take as an art major. I'm not good with computers and don't like making art on them, I'm not interested in learning a whole program and clickity clicking all day. Ugh. I failed the stupid class the first time and had to take it again. Imagine my horror when my first college semester's report card read like this: A, A, A, A, F. Grrr...anyway.) I got the program because I thought it could come in useful once in a while for cropping and editing, etc. I was playing around with it one day and found the option to make a photo look like a woodcut. I love printmaking, and woodcuts are one of my favorite types of prints. I decided to play around with some of my flower photos and turn them into "woodcuts" and then make paintings from them. I had a few small 4"x4" panels to use for the series, and I used watercolor to paint them. This is the first one I did:

I did this by first painting the flower like I normally would without the black. After the flower was painted, I added in all the black outlining and details. The second painting I did was a blue or blue-violet pansy. In the spring, summer and fall here in Krakow, there are a lot of planted flowers around the mall (Galeria). In the spring last year, there were pansies and I went out one day and took a ton of pictures of them. I picked out this one and used the same process as the above, painted the flower normally and added the black woodcut effect last.
The last one I did was one you've seen before in a previous post about my Patara Rose :) 
Hope you enjoyed my little woodcut watercolor paintings!