Summer Jalapeno

I am finally getting to the final image from the black and white challenge, which ended up being a photograph I took in early July of my husband’s jalapeno plant, cropped, straightened, and with the color taken out. I had a busy day out of the house that day, running errands up in Palatka, and was tired both physically and mentally once I got home. I really was not happy with the result, and immediately planned to redo it and replace the image with something better, something more “me” than a cluttered and busy photo.

greyscale version of my reference photo

That something else ended up being the very next challenge, which I started with the Calla Lily painting in acrylic. Since the theme for the next challenge was “anything goes,” I figured to do up three images from the black and white challenge in color, using acrylic paint since I could use the practice with that medium.

Some days, the paint just flows perfectly, and the painting comes together “like magic,” as the saying goes. Then, there are days when I feel as though I am fighting every step of the way … and the first day of this painting was definitely a struggle. I blocked out the position of everything easily enough, but my first stab at the background color turned out too purple, so I mixed up some more paint and tried again, with this time being too light a blue. Then, when that dried, I noticed I did cover the too-violet paint well enough in some spots, so I went over it a third time, using the paint straight from the bottle. Then, I turned my attention to the green leaves and stems.

At the time, I only had two shades of green at hand, and neither one was dark enough to be a good jalapeno green. I tried mixing, but at this point it was time to put the critters up for the night and I was frustrated enough I needed to suppress the urge to throw the canvas across the room. That’s usually a clear sign to stop working on it, and try again the next day. So, this painting knocked me out of the short, three-day “anything goes” art challenge, which requires one completed work each day of the challenge. Dropping out of a challenge is only a minor disappointment for me, and one I actually prefer to posting up something I don’t like.

After officially dropping out, hubby was home and asked me what part of the painting had me so frustrated. When I got to the part about not having a good green, he started digging around his bunch of paint (he has used this brand for several years now) and started pulling out half a dozen shades of green for me to choose from. Then he remembered some blending medium that slows drying time that he tried but doesn’t use often, and also a wet palette setup to keep the paint you mix up on the palette from drying while you work.

With the expanded selection of greens available the next day, this painting came together so much easier! This one I actually like, and it is currently on display at El Amigo Mexican Restaurant – because that really is a perfect place to display a painting of a jalapeno plant that has a couple white blossoms, one dark green fruit, and two ripe red peppers (when jalapenos turn red, they are called chipotles). This particular painting may not be perfect (and to be honest, it isn’t because I can spot mistakes) but I like it much better than the photograph.

Summer Jalapeno, 11 by 14 acrylic painting on stretched canvas, original available $175 USD

I’ll likely do a similar painting, or maybe recrop the photo for a more close-up view of it, and hopefully it will have fewer mistakes and be less frustrating. For those who may want a print either larger or smaller than the original 11 by 14, check out my Pixels store. If you want this printed on apparel or swag, look here on RedBubble. For the original, you can email me (“artist” at this domain) or message me on Facebook – or call the number on my business card at the restaurant.

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.

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!