After a week’s delay, we are now doing our holiday edition art walk all weekend on our blogs. That means I will edit this post as more folks find the time to add their blog to the art walk, so check back here in a few days and you’ll likely find even more posts from art bloggers listed!
First up is Rebecca of Beyond Essential, with her stunning captures of wonders of the Old World, in particular Istanbul’s famous mosques like the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and (a new one to me) the Basilica Cistern, along with the archetype of the mountaintop monastery, Meteora Monastery.
A Cityscape photo and some opinion
Jim Hughes seems to be trying to cultivate a curmudgeonly reputation in regards to the big hype over digital art software, in particular the text-to-image generators. As a photographer, he asks the valid question of “What is left?” in the wake of so much computer-generated imagery. I certainly agree with him, and see the same question needing answers on the more traditional art side of this equation as well.
Interlude for an image
This being an art blog, every post ought to have some kind of image – drawing, painting, doodle, etc. Here is that poor jack o’lantern I am still working on from October. It’s a little bit further than this scan because I did work on it for two appointments in Gainesville, which is roughly a two hour drive each way.
Bob Decker left the comment on one of my first post about the text-to-image software saying he does not see himself trying it out because he loves to go out into the woods and get his own images. He then demonstrated by taking a hike and bringing back some lovely photos of the Cape Lookout National Seashore area of the Crystal Coast, and even tells us a bit about this secluded slice of nature in his area of North Carolina.
Almost Heaven – West Virginia
Steve Heap says his part of West Virginia had an absolutely beautiful autumn season, with gorgeous fall foliage colors and perfect weather for photography. Despite going a round with the RSV virus, he managed to get enough good photos from around Morgantown (where he is based) to put together an entire year’s calendar of fall foliage photos for 2023.
Digital art posts to resume in a few days
I will be continuing my series on my successes and humorous failures using the text-to-image software to make a bit of digital art next week. Looks for the first of the floral barrage to commence Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, I offer my first two posts on the subject – my introduction and new avatar/internet face as well as my Christmas digital art for those who may have missed them.
Alright, fellow procrastinators: It is now the proverbial “last minute” as far as ordering custom greeting cards to send out for the winter holiday season. It does not matter if you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Yule, Kwanza, or just the generic Festivus – it’s getting to be crunch time for ordering custom gifts or greeting cards if you want to receive them in time to send them back out! On my end, it’s crunch time for creating and posting Christmas artwork. That means I need to post up some digital artwork for the holidays since I procrastinated too long on the painting I started (in August).
Custom artwork for the holidays
I did post up a handful of hand drawn and hand painted artwork last year, and those are all still available. See my Winter Snowman, the two matching ornaments, and (my personal favorite) the colored pencil Christmas Candle for purchase links. My intent was to add to the collection, but I really do have problems getting into the holiday spirit in the summer. I guess I should not move to the southern hemisphere any time soon. Instead, I suppose I’ll just do my usual “one holiday at a time!” that has been my mantra for so many years, and promote this year’s Christmas and Yule artwork next summer. The other option is:
Digital art for the holidays
Honestly, if you have the patience to fine tune your text prompts and modifiers, then digital art is the quick fix. Once you have zeroed in on a good target prompt phrase, then you can have the software churn out multiple versions and simply choose the ones that have the right look and correct object shapes. I did some more playing and tweaking over the weekend, and here is the cream of the crop, so to speak.
Decorated Christmas Tree digital artwork
In a way, this one was both the easiest and the most finicky to get a version that didn’t have me saying, “It’s almost good except for …” I have a virtual folder at the NightCafe site with a good-size bunch of also-rans, but this one was one of the first and also one of the prettiest images of a fully decorated Christmas tree. I did need to crop off the sides, but the result fits the 8:10 ratio perfectly.
You can order this image as a fine art print, or printed on a greeting card, puzzle (oh yeah, this one makes a great puzzle!) or home decor items at my Pixels store or at my RedBubble shop. Being digital art, there is no original to buy, but I may be inspired to try my brush at it in the darker days ahead.
Victorian Christmas Scene digital image
This one has a bit of a backstory to it. What I was attempting to get was some kind of image of a species of aloe plant often called a century plant with Christmas ornaments hung on the wide, flat leaves. It’s something you see down here in Florida, since southern pine trees are tall and sparse and very fast-growing (which makes them ideal for the lumber industry). There are a couple houses within a few miles of me that do this on a semi-regular basis, but I have never stopped and snapped a photo of this to use as a reference for a painting. Next time those houses decorate that way, I will certainly get a snapshot – even if it isn’t good enough to post here.
So, I used the text prompt “century aloe Christmas decorations,” and the software had no idea what it was supposed to display. Along with three that were just weird, I had this image, which I call Victorian Christmas Scene. It looks very quaint, like it ought to be a color plate in an edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Until, that is, you get a closer look at the greenery. Yup, some of that greenery is aloe plants.
The proportions are a little off on some things, but overall it makes a very pleasant picture. The sky certainly looks like a winter afternoon, and all the lights and garlands lend a festive air to it, even though there are no people on the street at all. The bunch of aloe-like plant in the lower right corner aren’t obvious until you are putting it together as a jigsaw puzzle – which I am doing digitally since I have three cats in the house. For fun, here is a screenshot of this as a puzzle.
Like the others, you can order this image as an art print, a puzzle, apparel, or home dec item either at my Pixels shop or at my RedBubble shop. Like my other digital creations, there is no hardcopy original, and I really don’t see myself sitting down and drawing or painting this one. It’s a pretty street scene, but cityscapes just don’t appeal to me.
Red Poinsettias, the Christmas flower
Y’all had to know I’d get to this one eventually. It’s time for some red poinsettias, the official flower of Christmas. There are many reason why this flower is so popular, but the main one is all about the color combination of cheery red petals with yellow centers (stamen?) framed by the rich green leaves. Add in a strand of Christmas lights, and you get my next piece, unoriginally titled Red Poinsettias.
My husband chose this one of the two poinsettias images that turned out well, saying the lights and softer focus look goes better with the other two. “It’s like a visual theme,” he explained. I’ll roll with it, since I asked his opinion because I was having trouble choosing. He’s an artist also! Links to buy prints and home accessories at my Pixels shop and for a selection of apparel as well as more accessories at my RedBubble shop.
More digital artwork to come!
I am still not all the way through the categories from just my first two weeks of playing with the program that generates these images. I have a lot of flower bouquet images, and wanted to spotlight those in their own post. It looks like there will be at least two flower posts now, as this past weekend I hit upon a combination of modifiers that I really like. I’ll keep working on those posts, as well as working on refining my text prompts to see if I can get even better images, but I really wanted to get these up for my fellow procrastinators to order those custom Christmas cards … or you’ll have to wait until next year unless your family and friends are used to getting holiday cards in January.
I am in Florida, and we got lucky with the named storm that blew through here. Actually, it didn’t fully blow through as it shifted south. Knowing I would definitely lose my internet access (we are on satellite), and possibly even electric power, I decided to assign myself some hurricane homework for my offline time. I decided it is time to work on my artist’s statement. I do have a simple starting artist statement: “I make art to bring some beauty into this world,” but I feel I need to expand on that.
For the past couple years – since my husband persuaded me to get back into art – I have just made art that makes me happy. Some pieces have succeeded quite well (see this year’s entries into the regional VA Creative Arts Festival) and some I think I need to redo them better, but I picked up a series of articles on crafting a personal vision statement that I printed out and read through while hiding in the house from wind and rain the past couple days.
Vision statement series overview
This series of blog posts or emails breaks down what a vision statement is, why it matters, gives some examples of personal vision statements (including a couple from famous people), and then walks the reader through a four-step process of crafting a vision statement. It’s quite general, since it was written to be broadly applicable, so I intend to work through it here on the blog so anyone who wants to can come along for this small personal journey. I will of course be applying it to the concept of an artist’s statement, which is the lens I am viewing it through, but this can be used in any context.
So what is a vision statement and how is it different from an artist’s statement?
Generally speaking, a vision statement is a tool used by business and organizations to convey their mission, values, and goals succinctly to employees, shareholders, and other parties. It also helps guide decisions to stay in alignment with the overall purpose of the business or group. A personal vision statement – which this series of lessons is focused on – is using this idea on a personal level to focus on goals and values. Sometimes this will include a purpose in life or a desire to leave an impact on this world as your legacy.
An artist’s statement is a more-narrowly defined vision statement. I received a great email on the subject back in the spring from Inside Art, but apparently this is another email-only article. I’ve emailed the author to ask if he’ll post it so everyone can read it, but two very short quotes will get today’s idea across: “An artist’s statement is a paragraph that introduces viewers to a body of your work,” and “Your statement is actually crucial to how art professionals understand, talk about, draw attention to, and attempt to generate interest your work.” If you stop and think about that for more than a minute, you begin to realize that is some serious and heavy lifting for just a sentence or two!
So this is what I am starting: a series of blog posts about crafting a personal vision statement and/or my artist’s statement. I’ll know later in the series if I am doing one or two statements as I work through the steps. I am inviting all y’all (that’s the plural) to join me in this endeavor, either as a fellow participant and traveler or just as an interested spectator. I am happy to share the process here, as it often helps me to get feedback.
Artwork still in progress
The other thing I intended to work on during the storm was this sketch that I started earlier in the week, only intending it to be a simple line sketch to transfer to my watercolor paper to paint. As I was working on it over the previous weekend, I realized I am enjoying the drawing process so much I just keep going on with it. There are two main limitations to my drawing time, and both are cats in the house. They were both all about cuddling my lap for their comfort while the wind gusted and the rain fell. Here is where I am still at as of this morning:
Behind the storm, we have cooler temperatures and now the sun has even come out with a lovely cool blue sky that reminds me of the watercolor painting I did last December call Make Hay While the Sun Shines. My mom loves the title of this painting, as her parents used this phrase a lot when she was growing up (Grandpa was a farmer all his life) though Mom says I put “too much” sky in this particular piece. I told her that is how it feels down here on a cloudless day.
We didn’t even need to run our generator yesterday because we only lost power from midmorning to midafternoon, so the gas in the fuel cans will likely go into the truck’s tank. Here’s hoping this is our only late-season named storm for the year.
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.
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.
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.
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.