Magnolia bloom in white on black

After the blue-feathered bird series, I shifted gears as the next art challenge was black and white, or greyscale in photo editing terms. No other hues, not even hints of actual color other than black, white, and the neutral greys in between. I did not start out with a particular theme-within-a-theme, but I did end up staying in one major category and did all seven challenge pieces with white colored pencil on black paper.

White Magnolia, 12 by 9 inches white colored pencil on black paper, original available, $80 USD

I started out with this lovely reference photo of a white magnolia bloom in mostly shadow, with just the furthest forward petals hit by sunlight. While I’ve wanted to draw this image for a while, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the traditional black on white paper. Since I had been experimenting with colored pencil on black paper, and laying down a white layer first (see A Single Candle and Christmas Candle) I knew as soon as the theme was announced that this would be my first work.

I actually had to use two different brands of colored pencil to get this effect, but I had just bought five new white pencils that work great for laying in most of it with a more translucent white. The really fun part of these pieces was that instead of working to darken in shading, I worked to bring the lights lighter as needed.

I haven’t actually sealed this yet – I had been toying with the idea of putting a color layer on some of these – but that can be accomplished in a day, so if anyone wants the original, you can message me on Facebook or email me directly (artist at this domain dot com). If you want this image but smaller or larger, you can order a print at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble – note that all links offsite open in a new tab/window.

Scarlet Macaws have Blue Feathers Also

Finally finishing up my six day blue-feathered bird series from the other week is a pair of scarlet macaws. Personally, I’ve always thought we should call them rainbow macaws, because while most of their feathers are a lovely shade of scarlet red, they also have bright yellow, vivid green, and brilliant blue feathers, as you can see from their multicolored backs.

Rainbow Macaws, 11 by 14 inches acrylic on paper, original available, $140 USD

I was extremely pleased with how the tree limb perch came out, although getting the scarlet red with shading was a challenge. In retrospect, I think the green background is not quite right, and probably needed to be toned down a bit more. The birds themselves look more Impressionist style than realist, but since this was for an art challenge I had a (self-imposed) time limit on how much I could fiddle with it. Being the last day of the art challenge, I was not inclined to drop out to fuss over it. As usual, prints are at my Pixels store, while swag and accessories are at RedBubble. If you are interested in the original, you can reach me on Facebook or email me directly (artist at this domain dot com).

I have to say that I am loving these art challenges organized on an art forum that I participate on. I particularly love the themed challenges, as it feels more like a group activity, instead of just me as a solitary artist trying to capture fleeting images from my mind. I remember that one semester of drawing I took in the autumn of 1991 in Texas, where there were about forty of us situated around the large room, all drawing the same objects in the center, but from forty different angles and by forty different hands. I like to listen to an art podcast while doing it, which reinforces that feeling, as we used to discuss the drawing subject while we did it.

I have finished another art challenge, seven days with the theme of “black and white,” and will be starting a shorter three days (“anything goes” non-theme) tomorrow. I may even get caught up over this week, as I am planning to redo at least two of the images I did for the black and white challenge, in color on stretched canvas, but in a different aspect ratio – 8 by 10 inches instead of 9 by 12 inches all the black and white drawings are.

Stay tuned for the next two challenges!

Blue-Feathered bird series: Peacock Portrait

Continuing the blue-feathered bird series I completed the other week, this Peacock Portrait is the fifth acrylic painting. A close-up head study of this beautiful crested bird, I feel I was able to capture a small (but significant) bit of why I love to look at these birds. Yes, I know they can be noisy, but they really are pretty and make a challenging subject to draw or paint.

Peacock Portrait, 9 by 12 inch acrylic painting on primed paper, $100 USD (shipping extra)

This is actually the first time I have attempted to draw or paint peafowl, believe it or not. This was part of the six day “blue” themed challenge, so something about an art challenge feels like permission to try things I might feel intimidating; permission to push my boundaries and try new subjects and media. The part of painting a peacock that feels most challenging is trying to capture the elusive, shimmering iridescence of the feathers, without going too far and having your bird look more like sunlight sparkling on water.

This painting scanned nicely, so if you want a larger print you can get that through my Pixels store. If you want it on some RedBubble swag, the scan works well there also. The original is 9 inch by 12 inch unframed, and if you want that, contact me directly via email at “artist” at this domain dot-com.

Great Blue Heron: Acrylic study

Day four of the six-day art challenge with the theme “blue,” which I narrowed down to “blue-feathered birds,” was a difficult one for me. Not because of the subject nor the medium, but my back decided to act up in a most uncomfortable way.

I was actually quite excited and enthusiastic about this painting in the early stages. First, the sketch went smoothly. The paint went on evenly for the sky, then I started painting the sea with three or four shades of blue to give the appearance of waves rolling in from the horizon. I painted the handrail after that, and was even more pleased with how well it resembled weathered wood.

Great Blue Heron, acrylic on paper study, prints only

Painting the heron proved to be not QUITE as easy as I anticipated. I mixed shades of the blue-gray, dabbled a bit of brown in some for the neck, and still was not satisfied as my back began to really hurt. I didn’t want to drop out again, since I had dropped out of the “green” challenge a couple weeks ago when my second piece needed more work than I had done in one day. Then, I had the idea to lighten the sky and see if that made the colors and shades on the heron work.

It did! I felt like I dodged a bullet there. I started to do a little more on the heron, then noticed the white of the paper showing around the bird’s feet. Ugh – I hadn’t painted close enough on the wooden railing. At this point, I said , “Good enough!” and scanned it for the challenge then went to lay down for two hours.

As I was laying down, I decided I would NOT finish this piece. Instead, I will be doing it again, in oil paint on a traditional stretched canvas. Since the stretched canvases don’t scan as well as flat canvases, panels, and paper do, there will be no prints of the painting to come, nor any of the fun little accessories with the painting printed on them. So, the oil original will truly be an original, and the only prints will be of this acrylic study on paper, available through my Pixels store.

I’ll try to post the fifth in the blue-feathered bird series tomorrow, depending on weather – satellite internet gets fussy during thunderstorms.

Blue and Gold Macaw

I have finished the series of six blue-feathered bird paintings, although I did fall behind on blogging them in a timely manner. I hope to get caught up before I start my next series. Here is the third blue-feathered bird, the blue and gold macaw parrot.

Blue and Gold Macaw, 14 by 11 inch acrylic painting on paper, $140 USD (available)

He looks like quite a cheerful and playful parrot, as he cocks his head to one side while looking at the camera (for the reference photo). He is probably someone’s beloved pet, and the main change I made from the reference photograph was to take out the concrete and chain-link fence in the background and just use a muted orange for a background color. I think I caught the macaw’s expression, and spent a bit of time on the eye, face, and patch of green feathers on top of the head.

Out of all the parrots, I like macaws best as subjects for drawings and paintings. They have the most brilliant colors in some very saturated hues, and the color combinations are so pretty. I have already done the hyacinth macaw, and there is one more macaw to come (already painted).

For those who want a print of this painting, those are available at my Pixels store. If you prefer to wear your art, or have it as usable accessories, check out the RedBubble store. If you want the original but are out of the area, you can email me at “artist” at this domain “kmgunnart.com” and I can ship.

Until tomorrow!

Eastern Bluebird

The second of the six-day blue art challenge, which I narrowed down to blue-feathered birds, is this male Eastern Bluebird. He sits atop a simple wooden birdhouse, and the yellow-green background complements his rusty red-orange breast as the midmorning sun warms his blue back.

Eastern Bluebird, 14 x 11 inch acrylic on paper, original available for $140 USD

I am still getting accustomed to acrylic paint’s characteristics, especially how quickly it dries – not only compared to oils, but it seems to me that it dries even faster than watercolor. I feel like I am doing a bit better with it.

Prints are at my Pixels store, and assorted accessories at RedBubble for those who want. Meanwhile, I have started painting blue-feathered bird number three …

Blue-Feathered Bird Series: Hyacinth Macaw

I have started another art challenge on one of the art forums I read, and this one is six artworks in six days with the theme of “blue.” I have narrowed that down for myself to be blue-feathered birds, and have found a variety of reference photos wit work from with the first being the bluest of blue-feathered birds I have ever seen, the hyacinth macaw.

Hyacinth Macaw, 14 x 11 inch acrylic on paper, $140 USD original available

I have seen these birds in person before at zoos, and they really are that brilliant a shade of blue. In the sunlight, they are a close match to my tubes of ultramarine blue. I did this in acrylic paint, having succumbed to an impulse buy at WalMart on Friday and coming home with a 12 bottle set of acrylic paints marketed to the crafters, but my husband likes to use on his little figurines that he paints. I think I like them as well. This is only my second acrylic painting I’ve done myself (excluding one my husband helped me with – I’ll need to blog that one as well!) and I am pleased with it.

Along with the original being available, I have prints at my Pixels store and the usual swag at Redbubble. I intend to post up my challenge series the morning after I complete a painting, since I feel as though I write easier in the late morning. Until tomorrow!

Christmas Candle still life

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 piece for a while now, and just hadn’t sat down and done more than just a rough sketch. This turned out to be the perfect excuse to just do it.

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.

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.

Christmas Candle, colored pencil 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

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 design you want on your Christmas cards! I have two paintings from last year, both five by seven inches, both ornaments hanging on the tree.

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.) I painted them side by side, and 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, 5 x 7 inch watercolor painting

Both originals are currently available for $35 USD each, 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, 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 usual, outside links will open into a new window/tab.

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!

Sunrise at the Beach

After six flamingo paintings, I guess I got restless and on a whim I painted this lovely little beachscape, which is my term for a landscape that features a beach (rather obvious). It also has elements of a seascape and a cloudscape, but the sand and some shore grass tip it firmly into the beachscape classification in my opinion.

The original is on paper that was sold as ten inches by ten inches, but a careful measure shows one dimension to be about an eighth of an inch short. This was the first time I had noticed this deficiency on the block (glued pad of pre-stretched watercolor paper that buckles much less than taping a sheet down myself) even though I have already done a previous painting (will post that soon!). While I can fix that on the scan, the original is not quite square. I am not at all versed in the intricacies of framing art, so I don’t know if that will have an effect.

Sunrise at the Beach, 10 x 10 inch watercolor

Overall, I think this is my best landscape so far. Then again, this is only my fourth landscape I’ve done this year, so not a whole lot of competition there! I am asking $100 for the original, and will ship for the cost of packing and postage. Prints are available at my Pixels page, and apparel and accessories are at my RedBubble page for those who like to wear their art.

I do still have a pile of paintings and pastel works to post, so stay tuned!