Three Dragonflies acrylic sketch

We started a new art challenge yesterday. It is a short duration one, only three days, with the theme of “three.” Separate from this, but hosted by the same moderator, is an “Edit This” challenge where we are given a photo to edit, draw, or paint in whatever way we please, as long as the hosting moderator can tell you’ve started with the given photo. Inspiration struck first with the ET photo (that sounds funny to me!), then quickly blossomed into an idea where I can do both, plus get the first day of the November 30 day challenge which has the theme of “red.” First, the sacrificial photo:

photo of a purple mushroom for the Edit This art challenge
Edit This #54 photo

It’s cute, and painting mushrooms seems to be a thing right now, so first I thought butterflies around the mushroom, but then I thought dragonflies, or maybe even fireflies … or better yet, dragonflies around the mushroom by day (on white paper to start) and then fireflies around it by night, which would give me the perfect excuse to try out my black gesso on white oil and acrylic paper to see if that stuff is as strong as it looks (spoiler alert: it certainly is!). And so that brings us to day one of the 3-day “three” challenge and the first of my entries into the Edit This challenge: Three Dragonflies.

acrylic sketch Three Dragonflies
Three Dragonflies, 9 by 12 inch acrylic on paper, available, $80 USD for original

It turned out cute, a bit on the whimsical side, mostly simple in layering and color, and overall I like it. I listed the original on Daily Paintworks last night, as well as uploading the high resolution scan to my Pixels site for prints. This morning I uploaded said hi-res scan to my shop at RedBubble for the apparel and accessories, positioning the image just right for the clock. At some point, I will get myself one of those clocks … once I decide which artwork to have on it. I doubt I have enough wallspace for all the ones that look nice on that clock face, not to mention the amount of batteries I’d need to keep them all on the right time.

I started the firefly version, as alluded to above, by first testing the black gesso. It’s almost dry enough to start painting now!

First place, TWICE!

Apparently, last evening after I had checked my email for the night, I received not one but TWO emails with the subject line saying, “Congratulations from the North Florida/South Georgia VA Healthcare system.” I immediately knew what it was: I had entered the NFSG’s Creative Arts Festival competition. In fact, I had sent in three entries, as I had artwork for three categories listed: watercolor, monochromatic drawing, and multicolor drawing. Both emails informed me I had won FIRST PLACE in the watercolor and monochromatic drawing categories, and my entries will be automatically advanced to the national level to represent our region.

digital certificate of my two awards
The pdf attachment of my award – both looked the same

The image in a pdf file was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Yes, both attachments were the same, but I really am still feeling a bit too jazzed about taking top spot two out of three times to quibble. Now, what did I enter? Interestingly enough, all three entries were the result of various art challenges I participated in over the summer (entry deadline was at the end of August).

First, the one that didn’t place: my colored pencil on black paper Christmas Candle, which happens to be my friend Keashia’s current favorite. In the watercolor category, I entered one of my favorites, Flamingo in Rippled Water. I need to do up an “on the easel” post for the 16 by 20 inch acrylic painting I am working on, based off this watercolor, but that can wait for another day. And in the monochromatic drawing, I entered my Dew on a Calla Lily piece, which is my favorite from the black and white challenge.

The emails mentioned the regional coordinator is putting together a showcase of the winners scheduled for December, and I am very interested in that … so the two winning pieces have been placed on hold and will not be available to ship or be picked up until after that. I’ve amended the listing for Flamingo in Rippled Water over at Daily Paintworks, and have not listed the calla lily drawing yet. I suppose that technically I could sell these, but hold them until after the winners’ showcase. Eh, it’s not an issue yet, but right now I am quite thrilled, as this is the first time placing in an art competition since I was a schoolkid. Hmm, it’s also the first one I’ve entered in about as long. Either way – I won first place, twice!

Dew on a Calla Lily, white pencil on black paper
Dew on a Calla Lily, white pencil on black paper, 9 by 12 inches
Flamingo in Rippled Water, watercolor painting
Flamingo in Rippled Water, watercolor on paper, 12 by 9 inches

Pumpkins in the Sun watercolor painting

I started a new art challenge today – and am actually blogging this painting the same day! Woohoo! It’s a start. This is a seven day challenge, with the theme being Halloween and/or Samhain (Celtic harvest festival). I have my reference photos picked out and cropped, with a smaller theme of pumpkins, and decided to start with half a dozen pumpkins in bright afternoon sunlight, laying on the brown ground. As an additional inspiration, I had my headphones on and was playing The Nightmare Before Christmas once I had the six squash sketched in place and began to apply the watercolor paint.

I’ve mentioned before how sometimes it feels like the painting is just flowing out onto the paper or canvas, and this pumpkin painting certainly flowed out as I listened to the movie-musical. The weather has been rather dry here in Florida, so I didn’t need to wait long for the layers to dry, and I was done with the paint stage in about three hours – which is quite good considering I had to really layer the shadows. With watercolor, the trick is getting shadows dark enough, and often requires multiple layers.

watercolor painting Pumpkins in the Sun
Pumpkins in the Sun, 12 by 9 inch watercolor on paper, available $100 USD

As the caption states, the original is 12 by 9 inches watercolor paper, and it is sealed with wax medium to protect it from humidity (and spills). You can purchase it through PayPal via Daily Paintworks here. Prints both smaller and larger are available through my Pixels page here, and apparel and accessories are at my RedBubble page here.

While I am at it, could I get a little link-love on the various social media platforms? I am only on Facebook, and to be honest I don’t really like it. I would not be surprised if the algorithm has a line of code to detect that … or they are just trying to extort ad revenue from anyone with a business page (no matter how small-time we are). When this challenge wraps up, I will be making a big announcement to hopefully get my name and art out there more.

Jack-O-Lantern painting for Halloween

This will probably be my only Halloween-specific painting I do this autumn, mainly because the local county tends to dress everything in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month (and I have three aunts who have been through that!) but Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Well, except the year I got chicken pox in third grade, but that’s irrelevant even though my mom might mention it in a comment. Now what says Halloween more than a carved Jack O’Lantern?

The first painting attempt

My previous painting of the pumpkins in sunlight inspired me to do up a carved jack-o-lantern. While I still made the effort the get the shading and light correct, this one is a bit more whimsical than realistic. This is actually the second painting, as I was not quite finished with my first attempt when I noticed the sheet of paper had a flaw where the paint just would not adhere … right on one of the teeth. Once I noticed it, I had to redo the painting, because it was a couple of white splotches that stuck out like stark white pieces of spinach, and the position of the flaws reinforced that. (My friend Keashia happily took the flawed painting, saying she would never have noticed it if I hadn’t pointed it out.)

The final painting

So yesterday I cut the flawed sheet off the watercolor block, transferred the general outline to a new sheet, and went to painting it again. I think this one is actually a slight improvement over the first, and I have the general feeling that this painting is fun to look at, in a very Halloween way. I was particularly pleased with how the orange skin, yellow flesh, and interior shadows worked with each other for an overall mostly realistic but a bit whimsical Jack O’Lantern. The only thing missing would be a lit candle – something to do for next summer.

Jack-O-Lantern watercolor painting for Halloween
Jack-O-Lantern, 10 by 10 inch watercolor on paper, original available $100 USD

Now, for all the links for those who are interested in owning either the original or prints or apparel (because it makes for some awesome shirts, and even more awesome face masks!). The original can be purchased either directly from me or through Daily Paintworks through PayPal. Prints and one style of masks are available through my Pixels page. For this image printed on all kinds of apparel and accessories, including two different styles of face masks, see my page at RedBubble.

Pumpkin Close-Up still life watercolor

Occasionally, a bit of artistic magic happens and the art piece just flows out onto the paper or canvas. That happened yesterday, and the result is a return to my watercolor paints, and what can best be classified as a still life, as it is a pumpkin in the sunlight.

I must confess to a fondness for drawing and painting squash. That will probably be obvious as time goes on, but I think the skin on squash is visually interesting. It gets even more interesting when you slice it open and reveal the flesh, pulp, and seeds, like in my charcoal drawing of a quartered squash with a wedge. Since I felt inspired to play with color yesterday, the focus visually was more on the orange of the pumpkin skin and how the sunlight and shadows modified the color.

Painting details

Believe it or not, I started this painting with blue – indanthrene blue, to be exact. I only left the one corner of that blue uncovered, but it is lurking in the bottom-most layer of the shadows. I only used two oranges: a bright, cheerful yellow-orange, and a strong, vibrant red-orange. I actually used more colors on the stem than the pumpkin flesh, but part of that was trying to tweak the tan. And a note for fellow watercolor artists, I used only my Mijello Mission Gold paints, on Stonehenge Aqua paper.

Now, for the reveal:

watercolor still life painting Pumpkin Close-up by artist Katrina Gunn
Pumpkin Close-Up, 14 by 10 inch watercolor painting on paper, available $140 USD (shipping extra)

I couldn’t think of a more-original title than “Pumpkin Close-Up,” but perhaps I used all the creativity getting the shades of the skin just right to look like October sunlight is hitting this symbol of autumn. I suppose whoever buys the original can rename it. At 14 by 10 inches, this is actually my largest watercolor painting to date, though I would like to go a bit larger once I can put together a cat-free zone. I still have not forgotten finding a cat’s-paw print on one of my early watercolor exercises.

Purchasing links for Pumpkin Close-up

For those who would like this painting but in a different size, prints are at my Pixels store … along with jigsaw puzzles. I think this would be a fun puzzle to put together (in a cat-free zone, of course). My RedBubble store also has a puzzle option, along with apparel and other accessories. I’m partial to the zipper pouches, if you can believe it, though the new hats are nice also. Finally, if you are the person who wants to put the original on your wall, you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks and PayPal. Oh, the original does NOT have the domain name on it – that is something I add to the scan because I know image “borrowing” is almost as old as the internet itself.