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.

Christmas Candle still life drawing

I did another Christmas card artwork sooner rather than later, and yes this is related to another art challenge. The theme was not announced until the evening prior, and the prompt was, “after dark.” I have actually intended to do this holiday-themed still life for a while now, and just hadn’t sat down and done more than just a rough sketch and obtain a good reference photo. This turned out to be the perfect excuse to just do it. What I’ve had in mind is a Christmas-themed still life arrangement with a lighted candle, and for the level of detail I wanted to capture, colored pencils are best. I may not use them nearly as much as my other media, but when I do it is for something specific and detailed.

Christmas Candle still life drawing in only white on black paper for a minimalist look
Christmas Candle, white on black first stage 12 x 9 inch –

I stopped long enough to scan the image in white-on-black, just in case I was still not satisfied with the coloring-in by bedtime. Surprisingly, several of my fellow artists and challenge participants like this better than the final color version. Comments received so far include “surprising,” “minimalist,” and just plain “cool.” I do not have an original for this version for obvious reasons, but I could probably make one if requested. I only have this version up at my Pixels site for prints and even cards.

Adding color to the drawing

I have to confess, I expected the coloring-in phase to be more of a battle than it was. I often say, “Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug,” and yesterday went smooth enough to qualify as being the windshield. The black paper has a laid texture to it, and is made for charcoal and soft pastel, so it didn’t take the colored pencil as fully as smooth paper would, but I like the effect and will be using it again. If you would like to own the original, you may purchase through Daily Paintworks here.

Colored pencil on black paper, Christmas Candle still life with pine cones and colored lights
Christmas Candle, colored pencil still life on black paper, 12 x 9 inches, $100 USD

I do love how the pinecones turned out! Y’all will likely never see my first attempt at drawing a pinecone, which is probably for the best. The colors pop against the black background so nicely. Finally, the contrast between the still life objects in focus and the colored lights being completely out-of-focus in the background came out just as I had hoped. Prints and cards are at the Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble.

So, time to ask your input: which version do you like better, and why? Should I do up a new white-on-black version? I suppose I ought to joke, “Asking for a friend.”

Christmas Card Art, Part One: ornaments in watercolor

The days are beginning to get shorter here in the northern hemisphere, which means it is time to get ready for the upcoming holiday season that kicks off with Halloween and ends with the New Year. Here at the beginning of August, it means it is time to think about what art you want on your Christmas cards! I have two paintings from last year, both five by seven inches, both ornaments hanging on the tree that I have not blogged yet to go along with my Winter Snowman watercolor painting also from last year.

The why behind the art

This was actually a test of a company’s watercolor paper; the red one is on hot press and the blue one on cold press, which really matters more to me as the artist than anyone who doesn’t paint. (The brand is Legion’s Stonehenge Aqua, for other artists reading this who may be wondering.) After finding a reference photo that I really like, I painted them side by side. I was pleased with how both turned out, and it gave me a good idea of what to expect from each … along with two cheery and festive paintings that both look just right for cards!

Blue Ornament, watercolor painting on paper, 5x7 inch
Blue Ornament, 5 x 7 inch watercolor painting

Where to purchase this artwork

Both originals are currently available for $35 USD each either in person or through Daily Paintworks, and are the perfect size to fit inside most greeting card envelopes. Prints and card pack for the blue ornament are available at this page on my Pixels site, and for apparel, small prints, and cards through RedBubble click here.

Red Ornament, 5x7 inch watercolor painting on paper
Red Ornament, 5 x 7 inch watercolor painting

For the red ornament, here is the link to prints and cards at Pixels, while the RedBubble link is here.

As for why I have titled this post “part one,” I plan to paint more designs for greeting cards through the year and for more holidays as well, so keep an eye here for the newest ones!