Mostly realistic Ladybug painting only art prints available

So I finally have a photo from Whitney, who won the June 2022 frame giveaway, with her face and her prize both in frame. She says she loves it. It may not be big – the frame holds only a 4 by 6 inch picture – but she can always look at it knowing she won the frame and was able to request a ladybug painting to go in it.

Whitney holding the framed realistic ladybug painting she won
Whitney holding her framed painting

Planning and painting the ladybug

When Whitney entered the giveaway, she had said she wanted some kind of pretty plant – her exact phrase was, “Surprise me!” Once I messaged her to let her know she had won, she changed that to ask if I could paint her a ladybug, as she wanted to use a ladybug as part of her logo. Not a problem, as I already had a reference photo selected for when I got around to doing up some more pretty bugs in my art.

Ladybugs are not complex objects; in fact, compared to butterflies and dragonflies, they are really rather simple until they open their wings. I expected the trick for this painting to be more about getting the blade of grass right, so it looked curved with just the right amount of texture to it.

Ladybug acrylic painting
Ladybug 4 x 6 inch acrylic painting, prints available

The canvas is from a 6×8 inch canvas pad by Paramount, and seems to have a smooth-enough surface up until I did a bit of drybrushing, then the texture also showed up in the scan. I used the quick-dry acrylic paints that my husband has used for years, and are sold at WalMart under the names Apples Barrel and Folk Art, made by Plaid who also makes Mod Podge that I use to seal my oil pastel pieces. I painted two layers, and thought that was sufficient to cover the graphite pencil lines … but if you look closely at the scan you can just see them on the ladybug’s carapace. I need to remember to do a minimum of three paint layers for the next one.

Art prints and accessories for sale

The original painting was put into the frame and mailed off in a timely manner – Whitney probably doesn’t realize how significant that statement is. The point is, if you want the original, you’ll need to try to talk her out of it. Personally, I have my doubts anyone will be able to do that within the next decade. As usual, art prints are available to purchase through my store at Pixels, along with a few printed accessories. If you want to wear my art, then check out the apparel options at my RedBubble store.

About Whitney

In addition to being mother to small children, Whitney runs the online business Healing Over Everything. We met on Facebook in a blogging group we both participate in, and she asked for links to her Facebook business page. So, you can check out her Healing Over Everything page on Facebook, and maybe even check out her blog (which I am working on a guest post for).

More pretty insect art from me

If that is not enough bug art for you, Tatiana at GiftSmart has a cute macro photo of an insect on a green leaf that does look like it is laughing.

Entries for this year’s creative arts festival

Y’all recall last year when I placed first in two of the three categories I entered in the regional VA healthcare-sponsored creative arts festival? I am entering again, but this year picking the artwork to enter seemed much more difficult, given I can only enter three pieces again this year. I work in six media categories, not including mixed, and have made multiple pieces in most of those categories in the past year. So I took to Facebook and even Twitter to ask for opinions on which pieces I ought to put in the competition. This actually did not help as much as I hoped.

Oil pastel artwork

Oil pastels are not judged in the pastel category for this competition, but against oil painting as they define the category to include oil paint, oil sticks (which I have yet to try) and oil pastel. Basically, they want anything that includes pigment with some form of oil to fix it to a surface, which is not limited to canvas either. I felt my two best pieces from the past year are my Sunset Over the Hayfield landscape and my candle still life, Book Reading by Candlelight.

Folks on Twitter preferred the hayfield, while folks on Facebook preferred Candlelight, and when added together the votes were just about a dead heat. Any wonder why I asked for help deciding? In the end, I stopped to think (while milking goats) about the category and potential competition, and went with Candlelight because a bit of the textured paper shows in Hayfield, which might be enough to knock my piece down compared to the more traditional paintings.

Book Reading by Candlelight oil pastel still life
Book Reading By Candlelight oil pastel still life composition

Picking a watercolor painting

For this category, it was pretty easy for me. I simply love how my Pumpkin Close-Up came out last autumn. Truth be told, I really have not made many watercolor paintings over the past year, and this particular pumpkin one is my favorite of the three I did last fall (even though my mom just loves my Jack O’Lantern).

Pumpkin Close-Up watercolor painting
Pumpkin Close-Up watercolor painting

Picking a charcoal drawing

If y’all have been reading since the beginning of the year, you will know I was on a major charcoal drawing kick that started prior to New Year’s Day and continued through the spring goat kid bottling season. I made quite a few charcoal drawings, both traditional black and the tinted charcoal I am still experimenting with.

I managed to get my short list down to three, then once again asked on Facebook and Twitter which I ought to enter. The results surprised me. Personally, I had been thinking to enter my Apples 3 still life, but my husband said he really likes my Two Flamingoes. Meanwhile, my Single White Rose (in the same post as the flamingoes) tends to get positive reactions from folks. Both Twitter and Facebook enthusiastically said I should enter the flamingoes, though the rose was in second. What sealed the deal for me was the comments about how flamingoes usually aren’t depicted in black and white, and that I nailed the expression on the front bird’s face.

Two Flamingoes charcoal drawing
Two Flamingoes charcoal drawing

So, there we have it: my three entries to this year’s creative arts festival. I sent them off this morning, because today is the deadline. For whatever reason, I seem to always wait until the last day to enter. Perhaps it ties in with my usual answer when asked what I think my best piece of art is. My answer is always, “The next one.”

Ox-eye Daisy drawing in charcoal and pastel pencil

I actually drew this ox-eye daisy for an art challenge back in June of 2021, but it got lost in the shuffle along with the horse head drawing in black charcoal I call Bridled. In fact, I drew it prior to Bridled, first piece of artwork for that challenge, and initially was not so pleased with it because it looks a bit different than previous drawings, even of flowers. At the time, I thought this was more of an experiment in mixed dry drawing media that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, as it was the first time I mixed black traditional charcoal with splashes of color from pastel pencils, all on toned paper.

Inspiration behind the drawing

The inspiration behind this drawing is actually quite simple: I hadn’t drawn a daisy in ages, and wanted to see what I could do with it. I had recently purchased the Canson Mi-Tientes assorted colors pad, marked as being for pastels in particular though I had used a sheet for my Blue Dragonfly I did in colored pencil. So with an idea in my mind, I next went to Pixabay to hunt for a reference photo that I wanted to use, in the process creating a folder of nothing but daisies photographs. (Trust me when I say, there will be many more daisies in my artwork!) I found this one, then cropped it to my satisfaction, and then it was a matter of making marks with the traditional black charcoal until it looked like a daisy.

charcoal and pastel pencil drawing Ox-Eye Daisy
Ox-Eye Daisy, 9 x 12 inch charcoal and pastel pencil drawing, original available $100 USD

Experimenting with color alongside the charcoal

Not satisfied with just black marks on the toned paper, I then decided to mix my dry media, just to see how I liked the result. I had a small set of eight pastel pencils that came with a twenty-some year old drawing set, the kind that tends to sell well around the end of the year, and the set has white, yellow, blue, and a medium purple. I purchased a sepia toned oil charcoal pencil to try out, and used that for the shading on the ox-eye center. Then I fiddled some more with the shadows on the petals, first with blue, then with purple, then added in the white highlights, but leaving the midtone areas blank to allow the paper’s tone to show. Lastly, I picked up the bright yellow and used that for the highlights on the top of the flower’s center.

Purchase links for Ox-Eye Daisy drawing

The 9 x 12 inch original drawing is available through Daily Paintworks here. If you’d like a smaller or larger art print for your wall, you can order what prints you need through my Pixels store. If you’d like this printed on apparel or accessories, check out the various swag at my RedBubble shop. Personally I think it looks best on the classic coffee mug:

two mugs on a shelf showing both sides of the print design Ox-eye Daisy
my mixed dry media drawing Ox-eye Daisy on a classic mug at RedBubble

Evolution of my feelings about this drawing

As I have hinted at throughout this post, my feelings about this experimental drawing have changed over the fifteen months since I made it. Now when I look at it, I get the subtle impression of movement – and given the floral subject, that movement feels like a very gentle swaying in the slightest of breezes, almost nodding a greeting to the sun’s rays that must be hitting the flower in spots where I put the white on the petals and the bright yellow of the center. Usually I have all the subtlety of a wrecking ball, and am notorious for not picking up on hints, so this change surprised me when I reviewed this in preparation for the daisy challenge this summer.

More daisy artwork since then

It has not been that long since I did the short three day art challenge with the challenge theme being daisies, but I thought this was a good spot to mention those for newer readers. Working backwards, and very much related to this piece, is my Daisies in tinted charcoal. The day prior I did a single daisy in watercolor using only four colors, though if I redo that one I will see how it looks with only three colors. To start the challenge, and cover down on a different art challenge from a different source, I did a blind contour drawing of a partially-painted daisy that is still (!) on the easel, waiting for me finish. It made a good model to stare at as I drew without looking at the sketch pad. If you are trying to parse that statement … just go read the post. Seriously, blind contour drawings are an “in-context” thing.

Finally, here’s a small selection of daisy photos from Bob Decker’s blog archive. He seems to have just about every angle covered for this one flower.

As a final thought, here is a very accurate article from Inside Art about the truth behind a quote attributed to Edgar Degas: “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” It hit my inbox last evening, and boy howdy did it resonate with me! Something to think about as I settle in to work on more art today.

Candle still life in oil pastel

Finally returning to the third and last piece I did for the flame challenge, though I was not able to upload it on time. I already showed a preview of it in the early stages, but have had this candle still life in oil pastel done for a while now. May I present Book Reading By Candlelight, as I finally named it. (In all honesty, it took me almost as long to figure out the title as it took to blend the base layer!)

candle themed still life with open book and reading glasses on wooden table, with lighted candle as focal point
Book Reading By Candlelight, 11 by 14 inch oil pastel on primed paper, original and art prints available

Art supplies used

I used a sheet of Canson XL oil and acrylic primed paper, because I absolutely love the texture on it for oil pastels. I used my Mungyo Gallery standard set for the base layer, because that lovely texture will eat up softer oil pastels. For the record, that textured paper also tears up the cotton swabs I use to blend, so it is a good thing I can get a nice big package for only a few dollars at WalMart. On larger areas, I sometimes use napkins that I keep on my desk from takeout – those also do a great job of cleaning up spills (paint, coffee, etc).

base layer of Book Reading by Candlelight
base layer of oil pastel for Book Reading By Candlelight, on my 72 color set of Mungyo Gallery standard

I’m afraid I only have the one in-progress picture, because once I blended the base layer and took a break I put on my headphones and got into the zone, totally forgetting about the digicam as I happily lost myself in the sheer joy of playing with sticks of color. What can I say? I am an artist. This is an artist thing.

For the top layers, I used my Gallery Artist set – only 48 colors, so as I often do I used my Erengi Art Aspirer 50 stick set alongside it since the two manufacturers include different colors in their very comparable and compatible sets. I should note that since then, I purchased the 72 color set from Mungyo in a nice wooden box, and the 92 stick set from Erengi, also in a nice wood box. The Erengi set also includes two colorless blenders … if those work better than cheap cotton swabs I’ll be buying them by the dozen.

Links to purchase original and art prints

Now, for the part y’all have been waiting eagerly for: how to get this for your wall! At present, the original is available (though my friend Keashia says she is very tempted to get this because it will match the decor in her new house) and you can purchase it through Daily Paintworks. For larger (or even smaller) art prints to fit the empty spot over your favorite reading chair, browse the selection at my Pixels store. I uploaded it to my RedBubble shop so you can get it printed on apparel, accessories, and fun swag.

So, one last question: who is brave (or crazy) enough to get this printed on a puzzle?

Feature Friday 6: Summer sunflowers

It’s almost August, and summer is in full swing here in humid Florida! We come into the house after morning chores totally soaked with sweat, and have about six to eight weeks more of that to look forward to. According to the news, we aren’t the only ones this year. While it is past the time for sunflowers to bloom here in the very deep south, apparently they are blooming in parts to my north. Honestly, here in the US is there anything that says summer like big, blooming sunflowers?

Summer sunflowers

our volunteer sunflower plant earlier this summer
our volunteer sunflower plant earlier this summer

Kicking off the Friday features are a pair of posts all about sunflowers, complete with enough good photographs to make up for the snapshots I am inflicting upon y’all.

  • Bill Swartwout started it with this collection of recent sunflower pictures. He even includes some interesting facts about sunflowers, which appeals to my inner geek in a major way.
  • Also feeling the sunflower power, Bob Decker shares his recent sunflower photos from North Carolina, along with the mention that sunflowers were a part of the “three sisters” gardening by native tribes.
volunteer sunflower next to the chicken fence
volunteer sunflower amid the volunteer squash in the compost pile

More art blog features for your summer reading pleasure

Getting back to my Friday features from around the art blogosphere, I think this is the perfect place to continue a conversation that started in the comments of my post about my Daisies in tinted charcoal, then Steven expanded his thoughts and added photo examples for a full blog post on how much software editing is considered fair game in fine art photography. If that wasn’t enough, he seems to be exploring his software filters and asks which filter is better for a photograph of an historic and landmark brick building on campus near him, then applies a completely different filter to some photos from his recent trip to Alaska. I find it soothing to see someone else who thinks about his art as much as I think about mine. More feature links:

  • Anne Haile has an intriguing post about the ancient language of flowers. While I’ve known that various flowers have had specific meanings throughout history, but particularly in Victorian England, I’ve not explored that topic with my usual geek intensity yet. I really need to research this, as it has some very interesting application to floral painting.
  • Jim Cook from HotShot PhotoGuy caught some fascinating photos of some eastern bluebirds – first two males squabbling over who would nest with the female, then the happy couple nesting in a wooden birdhouse he has.
  • Sharon Popek has done more book-themed photo compositions that involve multiple photos, including using her edition of Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook, one I have on my cookbook shelf as well (great resource, if you ask me). I would never have thought of doing photo mashups like that, but that is what makes the art world so interesting!
  • PencilPaws has a new drawing, this time an apparent family of monkeys from Bali. She used tinted graphite, which I have seen at the art store and looks similar to my tinted charcoal. She has the patience to do the finely detailed lines of the fur, so be sure to check it out.

Final thoughts – I need to draw and paint some sunflowers

Writing up this post made me realize that while I like sunflowers, and have joked about having “sunflower envy” in the past, I have not yet made any drawings or paintings featuring these lovely cheerful flowers! (Insert shocked gasp here.) I know all spring just about everyone and anyone was doing up sunflowers as the national flower of Ukraine, which is actually a bit odd considering sunflowers are a new world plant and did not appear in Europe until after the 1500s (similar to the potato and its association with Ireland among other European countries). I remember thinking at the time that if I did one it would surely get lost in the shuffle, but I don’t have any excuse for prior to that despite having several potential reference photos saved at Pixabay.

The big takeaway here is that I should try my pencil and brush at doing a bit of sunflower-themed artwork. It is definitely on my to-do list now. I have an oil pastel flower piece currently in progress, and I do have some artwork that I still have not blogged, so I need to try to keep out of the summer doldrums and just power through, sweaty mess and all.