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!

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.

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!