Calla Lily two ways

I did both of these pieces from the same reference photo, and both turned out nicely in my opinion. I worked this drawing first as the sixth in the black and white challenge, done on 9 by 12 inch black paper with white colored pencil. I included as much detail as I could, keeping the pencil point sharp to even get most of the dew drops on the white petal while trying to capture the light and shadow.

Dew on a Calla Lily, 9 by 12 inches white pencil on black paper, original available $80USD

As the black and white series progressed, I found myself enjoying these white on black drawings a lot when I chose a good subject for it. I will be returning to this medium for more white flowers in the future, with and without additional colors.

As I’ve noted in the caption, the original work is available (unframed). I will ship (packing and shipping costs are extra) so if you want the original, you can message me on Facebook, or email me direct (artist at this domain). If you prefer a larger or smaller print, those can be ordered at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble.

I will likely be revisiting this particular reference photo for more work … as I already have. The art challenge immediately after the black and white challenge was “anything goes” in terms of theme or subject, and I wanted to redo the calla lilies in color on black canvas, using acrylic paints since they do dry quickly enough to scan the same day. I chose this particular photo reference for my first painting, and had two 8 by 10 black canvases gessoed to my desired smoothness prior to the challenge starting. On that first day of the new challenge, the painting flowed smoothly from my brush with ease.

Calla Lily, 8 by 10 inch acrylic on 5/8 inch stretched canvas, original available $125 USD

I think 8 by 10 is going to be the smallest I paint for now. I know some artists love working on a small scale, but I must confess to dreams of working on LARGE canvases at some point in the future. That will likely involve a cat-free studio space, so for now 18 by 24 inches is probably my upper size limit, while 8 by 10 looks to be the smallest I can be happy doing.

For the acrylic on stretched canvas, the original is available, again you can either message me on FB or email me directly. Prints large and small are at my Pixels store, while swag is at RedBubble. I should probably mention that the image I uploaded to both print sites is the original high-resolution scan, without the domain name on it. I am going to be putting the domain name onto all my smaller and lower resolution images because the battle of image theft is about as old as the internet is. I should have done it as soon as I got this domain name.

White Rose: floral close-up in white on black

Continuing with the artwork I did for the black and white challenge, after doing the bald eagle head study, I decided the white pencil on black paper technique works best for drawing white flowers. When I shared yesterday’s White Cosmos post on Facebook, my mother remarked that the petals of the flower have an almost transparent illusion to them, which seems to confirm my impression. (side note: I cannot see where or how to link to an individual FB post, which is a big reason I like blogs so much better.)

As promised in this post title, day four of the black and white challenge is a white rose, rendered in white pencil on black paper, and in a close-up that goes beyond the frame of the picture. I found this one to be almost meditative to draw and lighten, and while I did not push the highlights too bright, I took care to work on the light coming through the petals in a “glow” appearance. I was not trying for a translucent appearance with the cosmos’ petals, but that was exactly my goal for these delicate rose petals.

White Rose, 12 by 9 inches, white pencil on black paper, original available $80 USD

If the lines of this rose seem a bit familiar, it is because I used the same sketch from the same reference photo as I did for my watercolor painting, Electric Yellow Rose. I reversed – or mirrored, or flipped – the image, which was simply a matter of pulling that page out of my sketch book and holding it up against the window to draw it on the back of the sheet before transferring it to the black paper. Sometimes I want to explore an image in multiple media, so I try to make small changes to it so no two are exactly identical. I guess you could call this a fair warning, as I absolutely love this particular reference photo and will probably do it in acrylic, pastels, maybe charcoal, and definitely in oil paint at some point. The shadows and shapes and play of light on and through the petals is just so visually interesting and even fun to wrestle onto paper (or canvas, soon).

The original drawing is currently available, so drop me a message on Facebook or email me (artist at this domain) if you are interested, and yes I will ship (shipping and packing charges additional). If you want a print either smaller or larger than the 12 x 9 inch original size, you can order those through my Pixels store. For those who prefer to wear their art, or have it on household items, click through to my page at RedBubble to get it on various swag.

White on Black: White Cosmos flower

This was my second effort for the recent black and white challenge, a single white cosmos flower in white colored pencil on black paper. Simple and elegant, but simple is not always synonymous with easy! The foreshortening on the nearest petal was tricky at first, when I had tried this image before in regular graphite pencil in my sketchbook, but reversing the paper and pencil colors actually helped for this version.

White Cosmos, 12 by 9 inches, white pencil on black paper, $80 USD (available)

If I were to redo this in color, I would only be adding the shades of warm yellow for the center, and some green for the stem, as the petals rendered beautifully in just white on black. When I first finished this drawing, I wasn’t certain I had the look, but now over a week later I can say I accomplished it, and am pleased with it.

The original is available – message me on Facebook or email me at artist at this domain. If you want a print, either smaller or larger than the original’s 12 x 9 inch size, those can be ordered through my Pixels subdomain. For apparel and accessories, check me out on RedBubble.

While I experimented with the bald eagle head for the third day of the challenge, I returned to the theme of white flowers for the remainder of the challenge where I actually drew something. More on that in the next post.

Bald Eagle head study in white on black

A head study of a noble bald eagle, worked in white colored pencil on black paper. This is actually the third in my white-on-black series, and the only bird in the series, and is itself a continuation of a page from my sketchbook (if you want a print of the sketchbook page, grid still on it, I have that uploaded to my Pixels store here). As a shortcut, I transferred the outline over to my black paper, and while I am extremely pleased with how the eye turned out, I am not so sure about the rest of the drawing. I just cannot pin down what seems off to me, though I do know exactly what I did that made the eye suddenly look so lifelike, so on that point this drawing is a success.

Bald Eagle, white on black 9 by 12 inches, $80 USD (available)

Not every image is suited to being rendered in white on black. Some look better as black on white, and others just don’t look right either way. After doing this in white on black, I decided I would rather have done it in charcoal, preferably on a warm white or sand-beige toned paper, with white pastel pencil to do the highlights. This being a strict black and white challenge meant I’ll have to get around to that idea later. This drawing did convince me that my white-on-black is best suited for white flowers with strong shadows, so that is what the others (save the last) are. I still really like how the eagle’s eye turned out, a week later. I suppose an all-white bird might work with this style, so that is something to revisit later perhaps.

The original of this is available, if interested you can message me on Facebook or email me directly (artist at this domain dotcom). Prints are at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are up at RedBubble.

Magnolia bloom in white on black

After the blue-feathered bird series, I shifted gears as the next art challenge was black and white, or greyscale in photo editing terms. No other hues, not even hints of actual color other than black, white, and the neutral greys in between. I did not start out with a particular theme-within-a-theme, but I did end up staying in one major category and did all seven challenge pieces with white colored pencil on black paper.

White Magnolia, 12 by 9 inches white colored pencil on black paper, original available, $80 USD

I started out with this lovely reference photo of a white magnolia bloom in mostly shadow, with just the furthest forward petals hit by sunlight. While I’ve wanted to draw this image for a while, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the traditional black on white paper. Since I had been experimenting with colored pencil on black paper, and laying down a white layer first (see A Single Candle and Christmas Candle) I knew as soon as the theme was announced that this would be my first work.

I actually had to use two different brands of colored pencil to get this effect, but I had just bought five new white pencils that work great for laying in most of it with a more translucent white. The really fun part of these pieces was that instead of working to darken in shading, I worked to bring the lights lighter as needed.

I haven’t actually sealed this yet – I had been toying with the idea of putting a color layer on some of these – but that can be accomplished in a day, so if anyone wants the original, you can message me on Facebook or email me directly (artist at this domain dot com). If you want this image but smaller or larger, you can order a print at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble – note that all links offsite open in a new tab/window.

Scarlet Macaws have Blue Feathers Also

Finally finishing up my six day blue-feathered bird series from the other week is a pair of scarlet macaws. Personally, I’ve always thought we should call them rainbow macaws, because while most of their feathers are a lovely shade of scarlet red, they also have bright yellow, vivid green, and brilliant blue feathers, as you can see from their multicolored backs.

Rainbow Macaws, 11 by 14 inches acrylic on paper, original available, $140 USD

I was extremely pleased with how the tree limb perch came out, although getting the scarlet red with shading was a challenge. In retrospect, I think the green background is not quite right, and probably needed to be toned down a bit more. The birds themselves look more Impressionist style than realist, but since this was for an art challenge I had a (self-imposed) time limit on how much I could fiddle with it. Being the last day of the art challenge, I was not inclined to drop out to fuss over it. As usual, prints are at my Pixels store, while swag and accessories are at RedBubble. If you are interested in the original, you can reach me on Facebook or email me directly (artist at this domain dot com).

I have to say that I am loving these art challenges organized on an art forum that I participate on. I particularly love the themed challenges, as it feels more like a group activity, instead of just me as a solitary artist trying to capture fleeting images from my mind. I remember that one semester of drawing I took in the autumn of 1991 in Texas, where there were about forty of us situated around the large room, all drawing the same objects in the center, but from forty different angles and by forty different hands. I like to listen to an art podcast while doing it, which reinforces that feeling, as we used to discuss the drawing subject while we did it.

I have finished another art challenge, seven days with the theme of “black and white,” and will be starting a shorter three days (“anything goes” non-theme) tomorrow. I may even get caught up over this week, as I am planning to redo at least two of the images I did for the black and white challenge, in color on stretched canvas, but in a different aspect ratio – 8 by 10 inches instead of 9 by 12 inches all the black and white drawings are.

Stay tuned for the next two challenges!

Blue-Feathered bird series: Peacock Portrait

Continuing the blue-feathered bird series I completed the other week, this Peacock Portrait is the fifth acrylic painting. A close-up head study of this beautiful crested bird, I feel I was able to capture a small (but significant) bit of why I love to look at these birds. Yes, I know they can be noisy, but they really are pretty and make a challenging subject to draw or paint.

Peacock Portrait, 9 by 12 inch acrylic painting on primed paper, $100 USD (shipping extra)

This is actually the first time I have attempted to draw or paint peafowl, believe it or not. This was part of the six day “blue” themed challenge, so something about an art challenge feels like permission to try things I might feel intimidating; permission to push my boundaries and try new subjects and media. The part of painting a peacock that feels most challenging is trying to capture the elusive, shimmering iridescence of the feathers, without going too far and having your bird look more like sunlight sparkling on water.

This painting scanned nicely, so if you want a larger print you can get that through my Pixels store. If you want it on some RedBubble swag, the scan works well there also. The original is 9 inch by 12 inch unframed, and if you want that, contact me directly via email at “artist” at this domain dot-com.

Great Blue Heron: Acrylic study

Day four of the six-day art challenge with the theme “blue,” which I narrowed down to “blue-feathered birds,” was a difficult one for me. Not because of the subject nor the medium, but my back decided to act up in a most uncomfortable way.

I was actually quite excited and enthusiastic about this painting in the early stages. First, the sketch went smoothly. The paint went on evenly for the sky, then I started painting the sea with three or four shades of blue to give the appearance of waves rolling in from the horizon. I painted the handrail after that, and was even more pleased with how well it resembled weathered wood.

Great Blue Heron, acrylic on paper study, prints only

Painting the heron proved to be not QUITE as easy as I anticipated. I mixed shades of the blue-gray, dabbled a bit of brown in some for the neck, and still was not satisfied as my back began to really hurt. I didn’t want to drop out again, since I had dropped out of the “green” challenge a couple weeks ago when my second piece needed more work than I had done in one day. Then, I had the idea to lighten the sky and see if that made the colors and shades on the heron work.

It did! I felt like I dodged a bullet there. I started to do a little more on the heron, then noticed the white of the paper showing around the bird’s feet. Ugh – I hadn’t painted close enough on the wooden railing. At this point, I said , “Good enough!” and scanned it for the challenge then went to lay down for two hours.

As I was laying down, I decided I would NOT finish this piece. Instead, I will be doing it again, in oil paint on a traditional stretched canvas. Since the stretched canvases don’t scan as well as flat canvases, panels, and paper do, there will be no prints of the painting to come, nor any of the fun little accessories with the painting printed on them. So, the oil original will truly be an original, and the only prints will be of this acrylic study on paper, available through my Pixels store.

I’ll try to post the fifth in the blue-feathered bird series tomorrow, depending on weather – satellite internet gets fussy during thunderstorms.

Blue and Gold Macaw

I have finished the series of six blue-feathered bird paintings, although I did fall behind on blogging them in a timely manner. I hope to get caught up before I start my next series. Here is the third blue-feathered bird, the blue and gold macaw parrot.

Blue and Gold Macaw, 14 by 11 inch acrylic painting on paper, $140 USD (available)

He looks like quite a cheerful and playful parrot, as he cocks his head to one side while looking at the camera (for the reference photo). He is probably someone’s beloved pet, and the main change I made from the reference photograph was to take out the concrete and chain-link fence in the background and just use a muted orange for a background color. I think I caught the macaw’s expression, and spent a bit of time on the eye, face, and patch of green feathers on top of the head.

Out of all the parrots, I like macaws best as subjects for drawings and paintings. They have the most brilliant colors in some very saturated hues, and the color combinations are so pretty. I have already done the hyacinth macaw, and there is one more macaw to come (already painted).

For those who want a print of this painting, those are available at my Pixels store. If you prefer to wear your art, or have it as usable accessories, check out the RedBubble store. If you want the original but are out of the area, you can email me at “artist” at this domain “kmgunnart.com” and I can ship.

Until tomorrow!

Eastern Bluebird

The second of the six-day blue art challenge, which I narrowed down to blue-feathered birds, is this male Eastern Bluebird. He sits atop a simple wooden birdhouse, and the yellow-green background complements his rusty red-orange breast as the midmorning sun warms his blue back.

Eastern Bluebird, 14 x 11 inch acrylic on paper, original available for $140 USD

I am still getting accustomed to acrylic paint’s characteristics, especially how quickly it dries – not only compared to oils, but it seems to me that it dries even faster than watercolor. I feel like I am doing a bit better with it.

Prints are at my Pixels store, and assorted accessories at RedBubble for those who want. Meanwhile, I have started painting blue-feathered bird number three …