Three Fireflies

As a companion to yesterday’s Three Dragonflies, I present the nocturn version (a nocturn is a fancy word for a painting depicting night) Three Fireflies. I like this one better than the day version, just because the colors came out that much more … insert another fancy art jargon word here. My mind is on today’s painting, but I am waiting for the black gesso to dry. (As an aside, I may need to write up a product review on this stuff at some point: Golden black gesso.)

Three Fireflies, 9 by 12 inch acrylic on primed paper, original available $80 USD

The painting scanned so beautifully! Honestly, unless you look at with under strong light, it looks a lot darker in person. I am still quite pleased with this scanner I bought with pandemic stimulus money last year.

The original of this is available, on 9 by 12 inch gessoed paper, through PayPal via Daily PaintWorks. Prints both smaller and larger are at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at my RedBubble shop.

So far, the other art challenge participants seem more enthusiastic about this painting than they are about the first one, but that’s okay because I agree with them. At some point, I will want to revisit the whole fireflies nocturn idea, but today kicks off a 30 day, “red” themed art challenge while also wrapping up the three day one, so today’s painting will need to satisfy two art themes (which thankfully do not conflict!). So if I am able to stick with it this time, expect a whole month of paintings involving red … which will definitely include some poinsettias.

Three Dragonflies acrylic sketch

We started a new art challenge yesterday. It is a short duration one, only three days, with the theme of “three.” Separate from this, but hosted by the same moderator, is an “Edit This” challenge where we are given a photo to edit, draw, or paint in whatever way we please, as long as the hosting moderator can tell you’ve started with the given photo. Inspiration struck first with the ET photo (that sounds funny to me!), then quickly blossomed into an idea where I can do both, plus get the first day of the November 30 day challenge which has the theme of “red.” First, the sacrificial photo:

Edit This #54 photo

It’s cute, and painting mushrooms seems to be a thing right now, so first I thought butterflies around the mushroom, but then I thought dragonflies, or maybe even fireflies … or better yet, dragonflies around the mushroom by day (on white paper to start) and then fireflies around it by night, which would give me the perfect excuse to try out my black gesso on white oil and acrylic paper to see if that stuff is as strong as it looks (spoiler alert: it certainly is!). And so that brings us to day one of the 3-day “three” challenge and the first of my entries into the Edit This challenge: Three Dragonflies.

Three Dragonflies, 9 by 12 inch acrylic on paper, available, $80 USD for original

It turned out cute, a bit on the whimsical side, mostly simple in layering and color, and overall I like it. I listed the original on Daily Paintworks last night, as well as uploading the high resolution scan to my Pixels site for prints. This morning I uploaded said hi-res scan to my shop at RedBubble for the apparel and accessories, positioning the image just right for the clock. At some point, I will get myself one of those clocks … once I decide which artwork to have on it. I doubt I have enough wallspace for all the ones that look nice on that clock face, not to mention the amount of batteries I’d need to keep them all on the right time.

I started the firefly version, as alluded to above, by first testing the black gesso. It’s almost dry enough to start painting now!

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.

Calla Lily two ways

I did both of these pieces from the same reference photo, and both turned out nicely in my opinion. I worked this drawing first as the sixth in the black and white challenge, done on 9 by 12 inch black paper with white colored pencil. I included as much detail as I could, keeping the pencil point sharp to even get most of the dew drops on the white petal while trying to capture the light and shadow.

Dew on a Calla Lily, 9 by 12 inches white pencil on black paper, original available $80USD

As the black and white series progressed, I found myself enjoying these white on black drawings a lot when I chose a good subject for it. I will be returning to this medium for more white flowers in the future, with and without additional colors.

As I’ve noted in the caption, the original work is available (unframed). I will ship (packing and shipping costs are extra) so if you want the original, you can message me on Facebook, or email me direct (artist at this domain). If you prefer a larger or smaller print, those can be ordered at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble.

I will likely be revisiting this particular reference photo for more work … as I already have. The art challenge immediately after the black and white challenge was “anything goes” in terms of theme or subject, and I wanted to redo the calla lilies in color on black canvas, using acrylic paints since they do dry quickly enough to scan the same day. I chose this particular photo reference for my first painting, and had two 8 by 10 black canvases gessoed to my desired smoothness prior to the challenge starting. On that first day of the new challenge, the painting flowed smoothly from my brush with ease.

Calla Lily, 8 by 10 inch acrylic on 5/8 inch stretched canvas, original available $125 USD

I think 8 by 10 is going to be the smallest I paint for now. I know some artists love working on a small scale, but I must confess to dreams of working on LARGE canvases at some point in the future. That will likely involve a cat-free studio space, so for now 18 by 24 inches is probably my upper size limit, while 8 by 10 looks to be the smallest I can be happy doing.

For the acrylic on stretched canvas, the original is available, again you can either message me on FB or email me directly. Prints large and small are at my Pixels store, while swag is at RedBubble. I should probably mention that the image I uploaded to both print sites is the original high-resolution scan, without the domain name on it. I am going to be putting the domain name onto all my smaller and lower resolution images because the battle of image theft is about as old as the internet is. I should have done it as soon as I got this domain name.

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!