Summer Jalapeno acrylic painting

I am finally getting to the final image from the black and white challenge, which ended up being a photograph I took in early July of my husband’s jalapeno plant, cropped, straightened, and with the color taken out. I had a busy day out of the house that day, running errands up in Palatka, and was tired both physically and mentally once I got home. I really was not happy with the result, and immediately planned to redo it and replace the image with something better, something more “me” than a cluttered and busy photo.

black and white photo of my husband's jalapeno plant with blossoms and peppers
greyscale version of my reference photo

That something else ended up being the very next challenge, which I started with the Calla Lily painting in acrylic. Since the theme for the next challenge was “anything goes,” I figured to do up three images from the black and white challenge in color, using acrylic paint since I could use the practice with that medium.

Starting the painting

Some days, the paint just flows perfectly, and the painting comes together “like magic,” as the saying goes. Then, there are days when I feel as though I am fighting every step of the way … and the first day of this painting was definitely a struggle. I blocked out the position of everything easily enough, but my first stab at the background color turned out too purple, so I mixed up some more paint and tried again, with this time being too light a blue. Then, when that dried, I noticed I didn’t cover the too-violet paint well enough in some spots, so I went over it a third time, using the paint straight from the bottle. Then, I turned my attention to the green leaves and stems.

Trouble getting the green of summer

At the time, I only had two shades of green at hand, and neither one was dark enough to be a good jalapeno green. I tried mixing, but at this point it was time to put the critters up for the night and I was frustrated enough I needed to suppress the urge to throw the canvas across the room. That’s usually a clear sign to stop working on it, and try again the next day. So, this painting knocked me out of the short, three-day “anything goes” art challenge, which requires one completed work each day of the challenge. Dropping out of a challenge is only a minor disappointment for me, and one I actually prefer to posting up something I don’t like.

After officially dropping out, hubby was home and asked me what part of the painting had me so frustrated. When I got to the part about not having a good green, he started digging around his bunch of paint (he has used this brand for several years now) and started pulling out half a dozen shades of green for me to choose from. Then he remembered some blending medium that slows drying time that he tried but doesn’t use often, and also a wet palette setup to keep the paint you mix up on the palette from drying while you work.

Finishing the painting

With the expanded selection of greens available the next day, this painting came together so much easier! This one I actually like, and it is currently on display at El Amigo Mexican Restaurant – because that really is a perfect place to display a painting of a jalapeno plant that has a couple white blossoms, one dark green fruit, and two ripe red peppers (when jalapenos turn red, they are called chipotles). This particular painting may not be perfect (and to be honest, it isn’t because I can spot mistakes) but I like it much better than the photograph.

Summer Jalapeno, acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Summer Jalapeno, 11 by 14 acrylic painting on 5/8 deep stretched canvas, original available $175 USD

I’ll likely do a similar painting, or maybe recrop the photo for a more close-up view of it, and hopefully it will have fewer mistakes and be less frustrating. For those who may want a print either larger or smaller than the original 11 by 14, check out my Pixels store. If you want this printed on apparel or swag, look here on RedBubble. For the original, you can purchase through Daily PaintWorks – or call the number on my business card at the restaurant.

Two Calla Lilies white on black

Circling back to the black and white art challenge, this piece was the fifth one I drew, although it will technically be the last I post of this series, as I will explain in another post. I actually made this drawing of two calla lilies before I did the single Calla Lily, and I was pleased enough with this piece to do the other. Like the others in this series, the reference photo used is color, but has enough contrast in values to make for a nice monochrome picture. Like the previous calla lily I posted, I am thinking of doing this one in color with paints, though I am still trying to decide between using acrylic versus oil paint.

Two Calla Lilies, white pencil drawing on black paper
Two Calla Lilies, white pencil on black paper, 9 by 12 inches, available $80 USD

Just like all the others in this series, I used 9 by 12 inch black paper and two different brands of white colored pencil. If you are interested in purchasing the original, you can arrange the sale privately or buy through Daily Paintworks’ website. I do offer shipping, which is extra, but I will pack it to minimize potential for damage. Like the other drawings in the white-on-black series, I can add color for additional cost (for an example, see my Christmas Candle post).

If you prefer to have a print either smaller or larger than the 9×12 inch original, check out your options at my Pixels store. For this picture printed on apparel or accessories, browse my RedBubble store.

I still have one more image in this series, although I have replaced the original black and white photograph with an acrylic painting. That post will be next!

On the Easel 1: Garlic and Chives

The working title for this is Garlic and Chives, and it is an acrylic still life on a black 10 by 8 inch stretched canvas. I am working from a reference photo, and I have been stuck at this stage for about a week. Something seems a bit off, and I am still not quite sure what. Part of the challenge for this is the reference photo has two light sources out-of-frame, which throws odd but interesting shadows.

acrylic painting Garlic and Chives in progress
Garlic and Chives, 10 x 8 acrylic on stretched canvas – in progress

Photography versus reference photos for painting

I am feeling a bit frustrated with the very narrow range of reference photos for garlic as a still life subject. Most of what I have found is lighted for photography (duh) which is actually not so good for painting. In painting, especially a still life, you want dramatic lighting with definite contrast between the lit highlights and the shadows – in art jargon, a high contrast in values. The test I use is to take all the color out of a potential reference photo and see how it looks in greyscale (also commonly called black and white).

What seems to be the obvious solution to the lack of good reference photos – set up my own still life arrangement and paint it from life – is not so simple when you start to play around with trying to light it. Most artists who do this on a regular basis have a box and specific lamps to get the desired effect … oh, and usually a cat-free studio. That is my dream: a cat-free studio, with windows that are high up on the walls, with the right lamps to cast the right shadows. Until I attract a wealthy patron, or get a winning scratch-off lottery ticket, it is still in the realm of dreams. But hey, everyone needs to have a dream for what the end goal is.

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 Calla Lily, white pencil drawing on black paper, 9x12 inches
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 purchase it through Daily Paintworks. 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, acrylic painting on stretched canvas, 8x10 inches by 5/8 inch deep
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 purchase through Daily Paintworks. 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.

White Rose: floral close-up in white on black paper

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.) So, back to drawing white-petaled flowers for the rest of the challenge.

The fourth piece of the white on black series

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

Rose image recycled

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).

How to purchase White Rose

The original drawing is currently available through Daily PaintWorks, 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. Personally, I think the dramatic contrast of a white rose on black paper will add to a room no matter what size you choose. 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.