Feature Friday 7: Our first virtual art walk

Feature Friday is back, and with a new twist this time. This week, we’ve all made a post of our personal favorites from our art portfolios, and today that is what we will all be linking. The inspiration for this is something art galleries do in the physical brick-and-mortar world, the art walk. In between links, I am posting some floral snapshots from before the hurricane with the story behind the flower at the end.

The art walk downtown

Going back to when we lived up in Clarksville, Tennessee, the downtown art galleries got together on the first Friday of the month to host an art walk after normal business hours. Along with being open in the evening, most of the galleries also had small refreshments available, and some would arranged a themed display when the artworks in their gallery had one. In particular, I remember one when my husband was home (as opposed to being in South Korea or Afghanistan) and my son still lived at home, and it was a beautiful late spring evening when the temperature was perfect and it seemed everyone we saw was in a good mood.

September-blooming white spider lily
Day 2 was the first decent snapshot I got

Our virtual art walk

Starting the week off, Jim Hughes posts his favorite photographs from his portfolio. His main criteria for this list is: he had a plan, a mental image, then a photo. The nautilus shell is cool. I think I like his funky-colored flower (zinnia?) best though.

two spider lily blooms open - and a cat lounging on the railing
Can’t crop out the lazy cat on the rail, but I really wanted a snapshot of one of the flowers in the sun

Jo from Siena Blue has posted her recent favorites in watercolor and gouache, along with an acrylic painting and one of her drawings from this year’s Inktober, done in ink and colored with coffee. I think I like her seashell best of all, and not only because of the unusual medium.

spider lily with four of the six blooms open
day 4 – and at this point I had figured out the plant was opening one bloom a day

Cannot forget my post from yesterday about which paintings I think make excellent jigsaw puzzles.

Finally, we have Steve from Backyard Image, with his best photos that are not from his back yard. The two that feature the color pink are my favorites – one the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. and the other that gorgeous sunset sky from his Alaska cruise this year.

About that spider lily plant

We bought this property in the summer of 2012, spent a week’s leave down here in September of the same year, then moved in for good in February of 2013. In the almost ten years we’ve lived here, I have never seen this plant under my window even bud. I had not idea what it would look like if it did.

Then, a couple days after the autumn equinox, I noticed it was going to bloom.

Once the first bud opened, I knew I had seen pictures of this flower before, and the name that sprang to my mind was spider lily. Yup, a quick search showed I was right … but there are quite a few species that are called spider lily, and most are white like mine, so I began to read which ones bloom in September and I think I have nailed it down to Hymenocallis occidentalis, also called Hymenocallis caroliniana though Wikipedia says this in incorrect while another botanical site says it is. Either way, its common name is certainly spider lily, and the possible reason it didn’t bloom until this year is probably because this summer has been very wet. Several of the lookalike spider lilies for Florida says they prefer wet ground, and this may be the first August and September when we got enough rain.

Yes, there is a spider lily painting in my head now. It’s just a matter of time before I wrestle it onto paper and canvas.

My current favorite paintings as puzzles

I enjoy working on jigsaw puzzles, but with three cats in the house that is something I need to do digitally these days. Back when I was a child and we had a cat-free house, we kids would put jigsaw puzzles together on the back of a game board, so they could be moved off the table for meals. Once completed, and after a sufficient time to admire the accomplishment, the puzzles would be carefully taken apart and mixed back up in the box for either the next time or when a sibling wanted to put it together. Given this brief bit of my childhood, is it any surprise I am fascinated by current print-on-demand technology that can put my paintings onto jigsaw puzzles?

Digital workaround

I mentioned my cats as the main reason I cannot do physical jigsaw puzzles, but the secondary reason is flat surfaces in my vicinity just do not remain empty for long enough to put a puzzle together either. Along with the obvious art supplies, I also have sewing stuff and yarn crafts stuff around my desk. Using Microsoft Jigsaw, I can upload up to four of my paintings and have the game create puzzles ranging from extremely easy (only 12 pieces) to very challenging (grandmaster 588 pieces). It may not be as challenging as to 1000-piece physical jigsaw puzzle, but it does keep me amused without taking up space or becoming a cat’s toy. The biggest downside for me is that MS Jigsaw limits me to only four at a time. So which four did I upload first? That is why I am writing this post!

I’ve already started featuring a puzzle on Mondays over on Twitter and Facebook, using my own hashtag #PuzzleManiaMonday, and have shown the “expert” level 196 piece level in MS Jigsaw for the past couple Mondays, so it only seemed natural I write it up into a blog post here.

Goldfish oil pastel painting as a puzzle

The first one I actually tried to use in the game was Book Reading By Candlelight, which has a vertical (portrait) orientation and did not work well. Apparently for their custom puzzle feature, the images need to have a horizontal (landscape) orientation. The second painting I picked to make puzzles out of was my oil pastel painting, Goldfish, which I posted way back when I was still on blogspot and have added to the story of its creation when I moved here to this domain. While it may seem like it would be rather difficult because of all the blue water around the fish’s orange and cream-spotted body, I figured the gradient aspect of it would help … and in the process discovered that my gradient is not exact from one side to the other, despite how it may appear.

my oil pastel painting Goldfish as a jigsaw puzzle
my oil pastel painting Goldfish as a puzzle

While it may appear daunting, this is very fun painting-as-puzzle to occupy some time and tease the brain just enough to keep interest high. I particularly love to work one of the puzzles while sipping my afternoon mug of coffee. Order your 500 or 1000 piece puzzle from Pixels here, while if you are a RedBubble customer you can get puzzles with as few as 30 pieces up to the big 1000 piece challenges. I don’t see this one making that good of a group project, but that could just be a failure of imagination on my part.

Apples sketch painted in acrylic as puzzle

For my second one, I knew I wanted to use one of my apples still life from last November. Between the two, I went with the acrylic paint sketch where I worked to get the red and green variations of the Honeycrisp apple skin. This is a bit amusing, because at the time I painted both, I liked the all red apples version better. This seems to be another case of my opinion of an artwork changing over time (like the ox-eye daisy drawing). Considering I used only about half a dozen colors in this, I think I did better than I originally thought. It makes for a fun puzzle as well.

acrylic sketch Apples as jigsaw puzzle
acrylic sketch Apples as jigsaw puzzle

Pixels customers can find 500 and 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles here, while RedBubble’s software seems to not like my image, even the higher-resolution version I uploaded this morning. I may need to fill out a support ticket for that.

Sunset Over the Hay Field oil pastel painting in puzzle form

Another no-brainer for my short list of favorite paintings to turn into puzzles is the oil pastel landscape Sunset Over The Hayfield. I guess my oil pastel work is a bit over-represented in this sample, but how could I NOT play with this image for a jigsaw puzzle? The colors in the sky and clouds are just so much fun to piece together, then the stubble over the mown hay field provides the challenge. Check it out:

oil pastel landscape painting Sunset Over the Hayfield as jigsaw puzzle
I always get this far before I take a break!

RedBubble offers jigsaw puzzles in five sizes: 30 good sized pieces for your young beginner puzzlers, 110 piece puzzles for the intermediate level, 252 pieces for a good one-afternoon puzzle session, and of course the 500 and 1000 piece options for longer more complex challenges. The one thing to watch out for is some of the image options on the website show their software adding sidebars to some sizes – I have submitted a ticket on this. Pixels offers the 500 and 1000 piece options, and seems to have better flexibility on the aspect ratio for images.

Pumpkin Close-Up watercolor painting as a jigsaw puzzle

Finally, my fourth puzzle is my watercolor painting Pumpkin Close-Up, which looks like it could be a real challenge. In some ways, it IS a challenge, but I find it to be an extremely fun challenge. All these autumn colors! All the noticeable brushstrokes! Check it out:

watercolor painting Pumpkin Close-Up as jigsaw puzzle
I use the brushstrokes and colors to match pieces – this is a fun break from blogging or painting

Personally, I say get the really big puzzle for this one. Why not? Just think of the hours of fun, either by yourself for maximum cool points or with family for a rainy day around the table. Pixels offers the 500 and 1000 piece options, while RedBubble has the smaller options for the youngsters that either live with you or invade for holidays.

Come back tomorrow for our first virtual art walk

Why this fun little favorites list? This is the preparatory post for our first virtual art walk tomorrow, October 14th. Come back this weekend for an online equivalent to an art walk, where each of us participating will be featuring our personal favorites from our portfolios!

Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month

Yesterday was the first of October, but it didn’t really click for me until I ran into town to pick up some critter feed and saw a couple of businesses with the flocks of plastic pink flamingoes: October is breast cancer awareness month, and locally that means it’s time for Pink-Out Putnam again. Local participating businesses will not only decorate with the standard pink ribbons, but since this is Florida it means there will be a population explosion of those wonderfully tacky plastic pink flamingo yard ornaments.

Along with pink being one of my favorite colors to wear, and flamingoes being one of my favorite birds to paint, there is a darker personal connection for me. Both of my mom’s sisters and my dad’s surviving sister have all gone through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Thankfully, all three are still alive to tell about it, but having women on both sides of my family get diagnosed leaves me at a higher risk of developing this myself. (For the record, my appointment for my next mammogram in early November. VA healthcare system takes this seriously.)

My pink flamingo watercolor series

Last year, I did a series of six watercolor paintings that featured flamingoes in or near water as part of an art challenge, which included my first place winning Flamingo in Rippled Water. I’ll be taking the series to various local businesses to see if any new small mom-and-pop places would like to display them.

Pink flower paintings

Pink flowers are also on my list of favorite things to paint, and I have some of those to share for this very pink post. I did a cherry blossom watercolor painting this spring, actually a little earlier than they bloomed, but it is very much an annual thing and I love to see photos and paintings of them in March. I also did two pink rose pieces last year: one in watercolor and one in oil pastel. Gathering up the links for this post made me realize I have not yet blogged one of my pink flower paintings yet …

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus watercolor painting by Katrina Gunn
Pink Hibiscus, 10 x 10 inch watercolor painting, original available $100 USD

First things first: yes, if you look closely you can see the grid I used for sketching the proportions out properly. I had used a red watercolor pencil to do this, thinking when I painted over it would dissolve. It was a lesson learned. Not all pigments in watercolor pencils will disappear with regular application of water. I should note that this was the last time I did my grid-and-sketch directly on my watercolor paper. Now I sketch in one of my sketchbooks and use graphite transfer paper to make my marks on the watercolor paper. The punchline here is that people who see it don’t seem to care. Feedback on this paintings has always been quite positive despite the graphite outline and grid lines showing. I guess folks feel that shows this was painted by a person and not a software program.

Purchase info so you too may “Pink Out” like Putnam

Along with overlooking this piece here on the blog, I had also forgotten to upload it to my gallery over at Daily PaintWorks, which is the online venue where I prefer to sell my original artwork. This has been rectified. I had also forgotten to upload it to my RedBubble shop, but I fixed that as well now, so those of y’all who want your RB swag with this painting can have at it. Finally, for those who want an art print larger (or smaller) than the original 10 by 10 inches can order it at my Pixels shop.

So pick your favorite pink painting for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Please feel free to share this post, because this is an issue that has affected my family … and perhaps yours as well. My county will be decorated to the nines with pink ribbons, pink signs, and of course plastic pink flamingoes everywhere, and I invited everyone to join us! I have at least one new pink flamingo painting in my mind already, so stay tuned.