I have started a new art challenge at the usual forum, where the challenge mastermind Abbie has been running a series of three-day challenges which started with the “fire” challenge, then moved to two challenges that had themes that just aren’t in my repertoire, bedroom items and aircraft. When I saw the theme for this challenge, I knew I wanted to to do it- daisies. I have a folder of reference photos on my computer marked daisies, not to mention a collection of more ref photos over on Pixabay – which reminds me: I really ought to start linking to the original photos I base my paintings and drawings on so y’all can see how I interpret them since I do not actually copy the reference photos.
This will also address a second challenge from here on the blog, the blind contour drawing challenge I linked to in last week’s Feature Friday, so this first piece covers both. I pulled out my almost-full sketchbook that has served me so well these past two years, then grabbed three oil pastels (because I am still in a bit of an oil pastel mood) and set up my inspiration: an unfinished acrylic painting that has been waiting for its feature in an “On the Easel” post here, or for me to feel like finishing it. I’ll likely work on it today when the storms roll in and knock out our satellite internet connection (like yesterday). I didn’t close my eyes, but I didn’t look at my sketch – I looked at this:
I had started this so enthusiastically a while back, then had to stop working on it to put critters up or something to do with the critters, I honestly don’t remember exactly why, but I put it on the easel the other week and my mother-in-law saw it last time she came down and remarked how much she likes it so far. (Note ref photo for this is here on Pixabay, for those curious.)
Blind contour daisy drawing
Now, for the blind contour reveal. I’ll say upfront that it isn’t bad for not looking at it – I tend to have a good spatial memory, and if you tilt your head to the side and maybe squint it looks like the unfinished painting on the easel.
Blind contour drawings can run the range from abstract to primitive to just downright funny-looking, and this one fits in there somewhere. It’s a fun little exercise, and often provokes laughter, which is a good way to start out for a day’s art session. Art doesn’t always need to be so serious. For those who missed it last week, Siena Blue came up with this idea and will be posting links to all the participants on the 15th for an old-fashion blog hop/link party (which is another fun thing we used to do back in the day that I would love to see make a comeback).
So, who else is brave enough to post up their blind contour drawings?
It is June already, and 2022 is almost half way done! Oh wow, I have about a month before I need to start posting artwork for holiday cards, because things are just weird in the various supply chains and delivery. Usually, I am all about, “One holiday at a time!” but this year it looks like if you want to order something to be printed up and shipped to you, it will be a good idea to do that earlier than usual. We could cry and moan about it, or we can adjust fire and use however many brain cells are still working to plan ahead. I am trying to stay ahead of supply chain hiccups by buying when things are in stock and also on sale, instead of waiting until we are low. Sometimes it works, other times it just doesn’t despite my best efforts.
This being a visual art blog, I’ll bet some of y’all are thinking, “Where are the pictures?” We’ve had a couple minorly busy days with family visiting earlier today, but I do have an in-progress snapshot to appease you. This is my third in the candles’ flame series I started last week as an art challenge that came to screeching halt when our ISP upgraded and our equipment was no longer compatible. (My internet doesn’t feel faster, though we do have more bandwidth.) I am still thinking I’d like to do this in watercolor as well, just to compare how the two media turn out when put side-by-side.
Now, for your weekend reading enjoyment, here is the link round-up part of Feature Friday!
Interesting and fun art blog posts I’ve recently read
Steven from Backyard Image shares photos from Kauai, Hawaii where he takes advantage of jet lag to be awake early enough to get sunrise pictures. Apparently he has been doing this off-and-on since 2014 and has quite a collection at this point. I know both of my parents think Hawaii is the most beautiful state in the union, and they love to visit when they can. Looking at some of the photos, I can see why.
Sharon posted some nice photos of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. While I have been to DC, we didn’t get to go to the Smithsonian so I was interested in the beautiful building. I’ve visited the train station in DC the most often now, usually with a layover to change trains.
Jim of Ramblings of the Hotshot Photoguy posted photos from his visit to the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas (north of Dallas). Another place I have not been to, as when we lived in Texas we were closer to Houston than the metroplex. I had to look up where in Texas it is, because Texas is BIG, even the way my aunt drives (and Dad says Grandma drove fast too).
Bob from Carolina Footprints posted wildflower photographs, some of which grow down here in Florida like the coreopsis and daisy fleabane (which I can assure you, do NOT repel fleas, I am disappointed to say because I have these wild on my property). His post shows why he is the photographer, and I am not. If you missed my snapshots of wildflowers in my second Feature Friday, it makes for an … interesting … comparison.
Finally, a Facebook post instead of a blog post, but Daily PaintWorks featured my watercolor painting Pumpkin Close-Up on Wednesday, which gave me a feeling of validation. Sometimes, it is the thing that looks minor to others that just gives that wonderful feeling of, “Someone else likes my artwork also!”
June 2022 frame and art giveaway
Since it is June, and I did have a new frame (and artwork) giveaway planned for this month over on my Facebook page, I thought I’d post links and the image. For the record, that frame was not easy to get a decent photograph of – since it is brushed metallic, I had to turn off the flash. Then of course there is the constant challenge of getting it all in frame and in focus. Making it into a graphic in Facebook’s preferred size was the easy part for me. The post will be pinned to the top of my page at FB, so people should not have any issues finding it, but just in case (never underestimate FB’s ability to mess up your searches) here is the direct link to the post itself. I should probably stop there, since I really don’t want my feelings about FB to take over what should be an enjoyable feature here.
Oh, one last thing – the voice on the Anchor/Spotify podcast thingy isn’t me. I suppose I should find a decent enough microphone and start recording my own voice at some point in the near future.
Y’all can probably tell from the title that this isn’t the third candle picture. Don’t worry – I can explain … that’s why I have a blog! So yesterday after posting in here in the morning, I picked up my 11 by 14 inch sketchbook, turned to a new page, and then gridded and sketched out my third candle picture. I had to at the very least mark off the boundaries to make it 10 by 14 inches, because that is the size of my watercolor block I plan to use and also because I had cropped the reference photo to a 5:7 aspect ratio because Microsoft’s photo editor does not have an 11 by 14 aspect ratio as an option. (Or, if it does, I have not yet found it.)
So, sketch completed (I am scanning it as I type right now) I picked up my 11 x 14 in oil and acrylic paper pad and opened to the top page … and stopped, because there was a sketch already on it. I immediately recognized it, and remembered exactly which ref photo I used to sketch it, though I didn’t remember which medium I had originally planned to use to turn sketch into painting. Had I meant to use my oil paint? Acrylic paint? Or oil pastels? Whichever I intended back when I sketched it, I was in a definite oil pastel mood again yesterday, and I can point to Judith at Artistcoveries for that because she has been blogging her progress with the oilies as she clambers up the somewhat steep learning curve with an enthusiasm that reminds me of my decision to learn how to use these. (See her Zinnias post for a good example of the progress she is making.)
So I pulled out my oil pastel sets (yes, plural) and set up my painting tray once I determined the cats were napping and started in on it, because this is a piece I am still enthusiastic about making – as the post and artwork title suggest, it is a landscape featuring a sunset over a hayfield. I would probably have to do a whole series of meditations and journaling to figure out why I just love hayfields as an art subject, but right now my main concern is making them and analyzing later. Y’all may recall I painted a hayfield back in December in watercolor which also featured the large round bales. My mom’s comment was I had too much sky in it, but honestly there are definitely sunny cloudless days here in the flatlands of Florida where the sky feels huge, and that feeling was in my painting.
The good news is I remembered to snap a couple photos for some in-progress pictures. The even better news is they turned out pretty good for me and my cheap old digicam! The main problem I had was positioning myself to avoid casting a shadow on it. This is after the first layer, using my big Mungyo Gallery (standard) set which is just above the the sketchpad on my old-fashioned TV tray I use for painting at my computer desk.
After blending in the first layer using cheap cotton swabs, it was time to switch to the softer oil pastel sets, the Mungyo Gallery Artists’ series and the Erengi Art Aspirer, which has colors Mungyo doesn’t. These aren’t as soft as the Sennelier brand, which isn’t exactly a bad thing down here in Florida. I have a small set of six Sennelier, and am hestitant to try to take them outdoors during the summer for fear of them just straight-up melting like ice cream. (For the record, spellcheck hates all of these brand names.) After a while of making marks, blending, and then layering over, it was time to lay the first layer of ModPodge, which I did right before joining hubby outside to feed and put up our various critters. When I came back in, the ModPodge still wasn’t fully dry, which is normal on a day with better than 20% chance of rain.
This morning while working on my second mug of coffee, I scanned the finished and dried oil pastel painting, then laid down a second coat to make sure I didn’t miss any spots or have too-thin areas where I built up my layers of oil pastel. Here it is, in all its very colorful glory:
So, about that third candle painting? Since I still have not decided if I want to paint it in watercolor or oil pastels, I think I will do both. I’ll also try to remember to take more in-progress snapshots, and will group the sketch scan with the finished pieces. If I can maintain this level of motivation, I may even have it done in a day or two! Wish me luck.
I had plans for this past week, which included participating in a short three-day art challenge with the theme “fire,” and had a virtual “seat” at another blogging symposium scheduled to start on Wednesday, along with my usual posts here.
A good start: Lavender Candles still life
Monday started off as planned, and even though I had an appointment and errands to run up in Palatka, I still came home and worked up my first piece for the art challenge, which I call Lavender Scented Candles. I often like to work on a theme-within-a-theme for these short art challenges, and this time was no different with my narrower theme being lighted candles. I had chosen three (and only three, this time) reference photos, and the only question I had Monday afternoon was which I thought I could do in a shorter time frame. I decided to work in oil pastel for the first one, and found a photo of two lit round candles on a tray, looking like those lovely lavender scented candles I so adore. (Lavender scent tends to evoke a relaxed feeling in most people.) Only two layers and a couple breaks to stretch my fingers, and it was time to put a coat of ModPodge over it so I could scan it, since oil pastel will indeed smear all over the scanner glass if not sealed with something, and ModPodge dries relatively quickly and adheres to the oil pastel in previous pieces.
I didn’t build up enough layers to cover the laid pattern on the paper, partly because I like being able to see the texture and partly because I was working to finish within the time limit of the challenge, which is one piece both started and finished in a single day. Prints are available at my Pixels store, along with a few accessories and home decor items … and of course, puzzles for the adventurous. If I had a cat-free zone, I’d totally try one of these puzzles. For the folks who like the swag over at RedBubble, here’s your link with a note that RB has added some new items like caps, pet blankets and mats, and even a pet bandana, which is triangle and doesn’t seem to go well with most of my artwork. If you want the original, and are not local to me, you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks, which uses PayPal although now you do not need a PP account to use it. All things considered, Monday went smoothy for me, even though I had to stay up an extra half hour to wait for the ModPodge coat to dry enough to scan it and then upload it.
Needing to improvise: stylized Holiday Hope Candle
Y’all have probably already guessed Tuesday didn’t go quite so smoothly. I gessoed a 9 by 12 inch canvas with my black gesso, and lightly sketched out the main components of my planned painting with a hard graphite pencil, then began to paint with my acrylics … and got to a point where it felt like no matter what I was doing, I just could not seem to paint my way out of the Ugly Stage. Right before we went out to round up the various critters, feed them and put them up for the night, I had a stroke of inspiration. When I came back in, I pulled out a small 6 by 8 inch canvas pad that was already primed for both acrylic and oil paint, and started painting a very stylized red candle with no background other than the white primer. Less than half an hour later, I had my second piece completed and dry enough to scan and upload, and maybe even get to bed at the normal time. I call it Holiday Hope Candle, and did no shading. Prints and greeting cards are available through my Pixels store, and the RedBubble link for apparel and accessories is here. I have plans for the original now, but if you’d like to commission another one, just let me know.
And then things got weird
This is the part where my week went all sideways on me. We had some internet troubles on Tuesday, but it was episodic and came back up, so we didn’t think much of it … until Wednesday morning when the satellite connection was completely down with no weather-related excuse for it. Hubby got on his touchscreen phone to see if there was anything about the outage in local media. He found an announcement of an upgrade for our area, then we had to figure out how to force the company’s automated phone tree to connect us with a real person in tech support to find out whether our modem was compatible with this announced upgrade. Eventually, we navigated that obstacle, and tech support said no, our reliable old modem (purchased in 2013 when we moved here) was not compatible with the upgraded system and we needed a new one, and she could schedule a contractor to come out Thursday afternoon at the earliest. I had planned to draw or paint my third piece in my candlelight series while listening to another blogging symposium on Wednesday. So much for that.
So we went through all day Wednesday and half of Thursday with absolutely no internet. Zip, zilch, nada. The contractor came out on time, got right to work, and then made sure everything worked before he left, all in a professional and competent manner. Then it was a matter of trying to get caught up on whatever we missed. I am still not caught up on reading all my email, though I did see that the blogging symposium had been delayed due to a storm knocking out the power in the city of the person putting it on, so I was not the only person having technical difficulties this week.
Since I knew I would not be able to upload anything on Wednesday, I did not do my third piece. I was frustrated and out of sorts, so hubby put on an audio book to entertain us and I tried to play video games while listening and providing a lap for my cats. This seems to be a bad habit I do, giving up and walking away (sometimes literally) when I know it won’t get the result I desire. I need to work on this, and I think I will do that this weekend and finish my candlelight challenge even though the deadline has passed. I had been saving the best reference photo for last, and while I haven’t decided whether to do it in oil pastel or watercolor, I would like to have a third one for the series.
Feature Friday ought to return next week – some of those emails I have not read yet are from the blogs I read, and rather than try to rush anything, I’ll just get back on track and back in the saddle next week. Who knows – I may have a new and appropriate drawing by then as well.
Continuing my self-audit of artwork created versus art pieces blogged, I find myself missing yet another of last summer’s art challenges, the green challenge and the elephant ear plant in my pasture. I meant to write about these last autumn, but apparently it just slipped my mind once “new project fever” swept up my last two working brain cells. I tend to get the new project fever in some rather big doses.
So, let’s travel back in time to July of 2021, which would put us after the flamingo series but prior to the blue-feathered bird series (which starts with the hyacinth macaw painting – I really need to do a roundup of that series and revisit those paintings with a fresh eye). It was another short challenge, with the theme “green,” and I just happen to have the perfect plant model that regrows each year in the goat pasture. Before the challenge started, I was out back with my old Kodak EasyShare digicam (I certainly got my $109 USD worth out of that thing!) to get reference photos of what my husband and I call the elephant ear plant for obvious reasons.
Since I was curious what its real name is (the plant was already here when we bought this place) I posted in a local Facebook group to see what it might be. Answers came in ranging from colocasia to taro to a xanthosoma species, and when I went researching what the differing names, I decided my specimen looks most like Xanthosoma roseum. (Edit: it may be Xanthosoma sagittifolium, which is native to the south of us and this one might have been brought up a county or two.) The largest leaves are often 18-20 inches long, and we sometimes joke about it being an escapee from the set of Jurassic Park.
For the second day of the green challenge, I decided to zoom in on one leaf of the plant, because it really is a fun-to-draw shaped leaf (like Monstera species). I also decided to switch media and pulled out my oil pastels and the oil-primed practice paper, also a Canson product and one I like using. This piece captured the brightness I was hoping to achieve, and honestly it looks almost as if it is glowing. I so enjoy that about oil pastels – if you want serious, saturated COLOR, you can do it with the oilies. The original is also 9 by 12 inches, which is my favorite size for drawing and sketching, and it is sealed with ModPodge, which really works great for oil pastel work. Prints in larger or smaller sizes are available at my Pixels store, as are 500 and 1000 piece puzzles for those who love a good challenge and don’t have cats to “help” them with all the pieces. RedBubble swag is here.
For some reason that I cannot recall, I dropped out of the green challenge after this second piece, despite having a good half a dozen more reference photos already chosen and cropped and still in a folder on my computer labeled “green.” Since yellow fly season has started here, I will be spending the majority of daylight hours hiding in the house from those vicious biting monsters that seem to wait outside my door for both of us, which means I will have plenty of time to “art it up,” as hubby says, and maybe this summer I’ll blog more of the results.