What a week

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.

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.

Scented Lavender Candles, 9 by 12 inch oil pastel on paper, $100 USD available

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.

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 I’ll edit this to include the RedBubble link when I upload it in the morning (I forgot to do this morning). As usual, the original is available through Daily PaintWorks.

Hope Holiday Candle, 6 by 8 inches acrylic on canvas, $45 USD original available

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.

Goat photos by request

So when I posted on Friday, apparently some of y’all expected to see a snapshot or two of my new goat, and two even left comments saying about as much (though politely phrased). When I read the second one Saturday morning, I decided to go through some quick photos hubby had taken with his phone of our new girl, whom I have named Capri. While looking through the folder on my PC, hubby calls me on the phone to inform me I need to bring a towel out to the goat pen because, “You have a new baby out here.”

my new nanny goat Capri
Capri starting to clean off her new kid
mostly dried-off newborn goat kid

And that kicked off a couple days of the two of us (nonphotographer types, one each) attempting to get decent photos of the new goat kid and his mama, who was not handled much at her previous home and is therefore skittish and jumpy. This is the best I can get at present:

Capri and little Billy, one day old

I am sure y’all remember when the triplets were born in mid-February. Well, we kept the boy to be our junior herd sire (because his sire is ten this spring) and call him Pepe. Later this summer, we will start using his full name, Pepe Le Pew. He has certainly grown.

Pepe eating of the feed tub he used to nap in with his sisters

Hope you enjoy these snapshots.

Some Odds and Ends

Looking through what I have uploaded to my Pixels site, I realize I am missing a blog post. Then I realized the scan I had uploaded that was (past tense now) available was from my old scanner, and that needed fixing. So, I rescanned the page from my sketchbook and replaced the old, smaller file size scan, and now I can proudly say you can get a print of this either a little smaller or a whole lot larger … like 45 by 60 inch at the biggest. That’s even bigger than my largest canvas right now! So without further ado, here is one of my favorite pages from my sketchbook, a monarch butterfly on a coneflower, rendered in charcoal.

Monarch on coneflower, charcoal, 9 by 12 inch sketchbook page

In other news, there is a county fair this year, after a two-year hiatus, and I remembered in time to check for when they are accepting entries for the art category. It is Thursday evening and Friday morning, and I have that time block free. I will be taking up two works, the two first place winners from the VA Healthcare show. I still love how my Flamingo in Rippled Water turned out, and when I showed these two pieces to my neighbor who stopped by yesterday, he told me if it doesn’t get bought at the fair to come to him because he really wants my Dew on a Calla Lily drawing. Actually, he tried to persuade me to give it to there on the spot, but I am used to that routine by now, after living just down the road from him for nine years now.

Final bit is you may notice I have added an old style blog roll in the sidebar. Right now it is all art photographers, but I am hoping to find a drawing and painting blogger to also collaborate with soon. I blogged back in the days before social media was even a thing, and remember not only the sense of camaraderie we had, but also the fun things we used to do to help each other like link roundups, blog hops, and blog carnivals. Once I get through the busy part of spring, it will be, “Game ON!” with those ideas, so something to look forward to once the yellow flies come out of the swamp.

Interlude

Just a quick post about not doing as much art right now. It’s the best of reasons: Francis kidded Tuesday around sunset, and this year she had triplets! She has given me the little billy I was hoping for, with two future milking nannies. All three are now on the bottle, which is the fastest I have been able to get an entire sibling group to accept the bottle. At only three days old, their little stomachs cannot hold much per feeding, so right now I am going out every three hours to feed. Now, for the obligatory baby goat photo – these three are not posing for me, so this is the best I can do right now (after more than two days of trying – I have quite the collection of photos of their rears).

first goat kids of 2022

While I will likely be sketching these cute little dirt monsters soon, and even the out of focus photos help with that, I just wanted an excuse to post the goat kid photo, because I know a few of y’all love to see them and aren’t on Facebook. Enjoy!

Apples 3 in Charcoal

I am still on my charcoal drawing kick, and still enjoying both process and results. Today, I finally finished up a simple (not the same as easy though) still life of a pair of apples, which is one of the tutorials I bought last month though I took the reference photo and made a different crop, which results in a different finished piece.

I actually started this late last week, but decided I wanted to take my time and see how well I liked the end product. The answer is, “I like it.”

Apples 3, 12 by 9 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

Since this started out as an exercise in my bedraggled, almost-but-not-quite-full sketchbook, I cannot offer the original for purchase, although I would be happy to redo it on better paper that doesn’t have two corners curling up. I did scan and upload it to my Pixels store, so print are available all the way up to 60 by 45 inches. Have I mentioned recently how much I love my scanner that I bought with stimulus money the other year?

The charcoal drawing I did prior to Apples 3 is not as impressive. It’s another study for portraiture, and also in my sketchbook and not available for purchase. Here I was focusing on the nose and mouth of a face. The reference photo seemed a little off to my eye, and my drawing seemed to bring that out. Oddly, I still like it enough to share here.

Nose and mouth study, 9 by 12 inches, charcoal, in sketchbook

I still need a bit more practice before I can claim to be able to do portraits of people, but in all honesty I have drawn worse than this. If nothing else, this is a marker on my journey to draw and paint people.