If this image of my most-recent calla lilies painting looks familiar, it’s because I used the same reference photo as I did for the tinted charcoal calla lilies drawing over the summer (of 2022). This time I flipped the image (reversed it) so the front calla lily opens the other direction, and then I omitted the third flower in the back. I did this one in oil pastel, and I really do love working with my oil pastels, so of course it just made sense to do a calla lilies piece with them.
Also, I used my Arches oil paper for the first time on this piece, and love it. It is not a standard size, even in metric, but I figure Arches does that to give a bit of room to tape the paper to a board if that is how you like to work. It’s likely meant to be practice paper for oil paints.
First, a quick confession: I did this over a year ago, as you can likely tell from the date on the signature. It is now almost a year and a half later that I finally get to writing it up. Maybe I’ll do better in 2024? It could happen.
Since I decided to flip the original image, I needed to do the basic drawing from scratch again – which is not a hardship for me. I did my usual 3 by 3 grid to make sure everything fits on the page as I want it to do, and then started on the background because that would still be my darkest dark on the image. First I used my darkest purple, then my darkest blue.
I seem to be missing a couple or more in-progress snapshots. I was so certain I had more, but not even Windows 10 search can find them. To summarize the missing photos, I worked on the greenery after the background, then worked on the flowers last. Then I went over everything again, to even up how thickly I put the oil pastel on – especially for the calla lilies.
Purchase the original artwork or get art prints
As of posting, the original artwork is available to purchase through Daily Paintworks, which handles the transaction through PayPal and just makes it easier on both of us. The actual size is 31.0 cm by 41.1 cm, which is approximately 12-3/16 inches by 16-3/16 inches. Not a standard size here in the US, so it will likely need a custom matting to fit a standard frame or a custom frame if you aren’t fond of using matboard. I sealed this piece with matte finish Mod Podge to prevent smearing.
For art prints, I like Pixels which is part of Fine Art America. You can order a wall print from as small as 6 x 8 inches up to as large as 43 x 60 inches. It is also available on various home decor items, stationary, and of course puzzles. If I had a cat-free zone, I would happily get puzzles of my artwork, but more on that thought later.
Apparel and accessories with this art printed on them
When it comes to artwork on apparel, my mother and sister both like Redbubble’s print shop. They have a lot of options available, and since this pastel painting is vertically aligned, it fits on most of them. When my sister said she was trying to decide which apparel product to get this image printed on, I whipped up a simple vertical video to hopefully help her choose. She ended up buying the A-line dress.
Alright, fellow procrastinators: It is now the proverbial “last minute” as far as ordering custom greeting cards to send out for the winter holiday season. It does not matter if you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Yule, Kwanza, or just the generic Festivus – it’s getting to be crunch time for ordering custom gifts or greeting cards if you want to receive them in time to send them back out! On my end, it’s crunch time for creating and posting Christmas artwork. That means I need to post up some digital artwork for the holidays since I procrastinated too long on the painting I started (in August).
Custom artwork for the holidays
I did post up a handful of hand drawn and hand painted artwork last year, and those are all still available. See my Winter Snowman, the two matching ornaments, and (my personal favorite) the colored pencil Christmas Candle for purchase links. My intent was to add to the collection, but I really do have problems getting into the holiday spirit in the summer. I guess I should not move to the southern hemisphere any time soon. Instead, I suppose I’ll just do my usual “one holiday at a time!” that has been my mantra for so many years, and promote this year’s Christmas and Yule artwork next summer. The other option is:
Digital art for the holidays
Honestly, if you have the patience to fine tune your text prompts and modifiers, then digital art is the quick fix. Once you have zeroed in on a good target prompt phrase, then you can have the software churn out multiple versions and simply choose the ones that have the right look and correct object shapes. I did some more playing and tweaking over the weekend, and here is the cream of the crop, so to speak.
Decorated Christmas Tree digital artwork
In a way, this one was both the easiest and the most finicky to get a version that didn’t have me saying, “It’s almost good except for …” I have a virtual folder at the NightCafe site with a good-size bunch of also-rans, but this one was one of the first and also one of the prettiest images of a fully decorated Christmas tree. I did need to crop off the sides, but the result fits the 8:10 ratio perfectly.
You can order this image as a fine art print, or printed on a greeting card, puzzle (oh yeah, this one makes a great puzzle!) or home decor items at my Pixels store or at my RedBubble shop. Being digital art, there is no original to buy, but I may be inspired to try my brush at it in the darker days ahead.
Victorian Christmas Scene digital image
This one has a bit of a backstory to it. What I was attempting to get was some kind of image of a species of aloe plant often called a century plant with Christmas ornaments hung on the wide, flat leaves. It’s something you see down here in Florida, since southern pine trees are tall and sparse and very fast-growing (which makes them ideal for the lumber industry). There are a couple houses within a few miles of me that do this on a semi-regular basis, but I have never stopped and snapped a photo of this to use as a reference for a painting. Next time those houses decorate that way, I will certainly get a snapshot – even if it isn’t good enough to post here.
So, I used the text prompt “century aloe Christmas decorations,” and the software had no idea what it was supposed to display. Along with three that were just weird, I had this image, which I call Victorian Christmas Scene. It looks very quaint, like it ought to be a color plate in an edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Until, that is, you get a closer look at the greenery. Yup, some of that greenery is aloe plants.
The proportions are a little off on some things, but overall it makes a very pleasant picture. The sky certainly looks like a winter afternoon, and all the lights and garlands lend a festive air to it, even though there are no people on the street at all. The bunch of aloe-like plant in the lower right corner aren’t obvious until you are putting it together as a jigsaw puzzle – which I am doing digitally since I have three cats in the house. For fun, here is a screenshot of this as a puzzle.
Like the others, you can order this image as an art print, a puzzle, apparel, or home dec item either at my Pixels shop or at my RedBubble shop. Like my other digital creations, there is no hardcopy original, and I really don’t see myself sitting down and drawing or painting this one. It’s a pretty street scene, but cityscapes just don’t appeal to me.
Red Poinsettias, the Christmas flower
Y’all had to know I’d get to this one eventually. It’s time for some red poinsettias, the official flower of Christmas. There are many reason why this flower is so popular, but the main one is all about the color combination of cheery red petals with yellow centers (stamen?) framed by the rich green leaves. Add in a strand of Christmas lights, and you get my next piece, unoriginally titled Red Poinsettias.
My husband chose this one of the two poinsettias images that turned out well, saying the lights and softer focus look goes better with the other two. “It’s like a visual theme,” he explained. I’ll roll with it, since I asked his opinion because I was having trouble choosing. He’s an artist also! Links to buy prints and home accessories at my Pixels shop and for a selection of apparel as well as more accessories at my RedBubble shop.
More digital artwork to come!
I am still not all the way through the categories from just my first two weeks of playing with the program that generates these images. I have a lot of flower bouquet images, and wanted to spotlight those in their own post. It looks like there will be at least two flower posts now, as this past weekend I hit upon a combination of modifiers that I really like. I’ll keep working on those posts, as well as working on refining my text prompts to see if I can get even better images, but I really wanted to get these up for my fellow procrastinators to order those custom Christmas cards … or you’ll have to wait until next year unless your family and friends are used to getting holiday cards in January.
So I finally have a photo from Whitney, who won the June 2022 frame giveaway, with her face and her prize both in frame. She says she loves it. It may not be big – the frame holds only a 4 by 6 inch picture – but she can always look at it knowing she won the frame and was able to request a realistic ladybug painting to go in it. Personalized art is the benefit of working with living artists!
Planning and painting the ladybug
When Whitney entered the giveaway, she had said she wanted some kind of pretty plant – her exact phrase was, “Surprise me!” Once I messaged her to let her know she had won, she changed that to ask if I could paint her a ladybug, as she wanted to use a ladybug as part of her logo. Not a problem, as I already had a reference photo selected for when I got around to doing up some more pretty bugs in my art.
Ladybugs are not complex objects; in fact, compared to butterflies and dragonflies, they are really rather simple until they open their wings. I expected the trick for this painting to be more about getting the blade of grass right, so it looked curved with just the right amount of texture to it.
The canvas is from a 6×8 inch canvas pad by Paramount, and seems to have a smooth-enough surface up until I did a bit of drybrushing, then the texture also showed up in the scan. I used the quick-dry acrylic paints that my husband has used for years, and are sold at WalMart under the names Apples Barrel and Folk Art, made by Plaid who also makes Mod Podge that I use to seal my oil pastel pieces. I painted two layers, and thought that was sufficient to cover the graphite pencil lines … but if you look closely at the scan you can just see them on the ladybug’s carapace. I need to remember to do a minimum of three paint layers for the next one.
Realistic ladybug art prints and accessories for sale
The original painting was put into the frame and mailed off in a timely manner – Whitney probably doesn’t realize how significant that statement is. The point is, if you want the original, you’ll need to try to talk her out of it. Personally, I have my doubts anyone will be able to do that within the next decade. You can still order yourself a ladybug art print though! As usual, art prints are available to purchase through my store at Pixels, along with a few printed accessories. If you want to wear my artwork, then check out the apparel options at my RedBubble store.
In addition to being mother to small children, Whitney runs the online business Healing Over Everything. We met on Facebook in a blogging group we both participate in, and she asked for links to her Facebook business page. So, you can check out her Healing Over Everything page on Facebook, and maybe even check out her blog (which I am working on a guest post for).
Continuing my self-audit of artwork created versus art pieces blogged, I find myself missing yet another of last summer’s art challenges, the green challenge and the elephant ear plant in my pasture. I meant to write about these last autumn, but apparently it just slipped my mind once “new project fever” swept up my last two working brain cells. I tend to get the new project fever in some rather big doses.
So, let’s travel back in time to July of 2021, which would put us after the flamingo series but prior to the blue-feathered bird series (which starts with the hyacinth macaw painting – I really need to do a roundup of that series and revisit those paintings with a fresh eye). It was another short challenge, with the theme “green,” and I just happen to have the perfect plant model that regrows each year in the goat pasture. Before the challenge started, I was out back with my old Kodak EasyShare digicam (I certainly got my $109 USD worth out of that thing!) to get reference photos of what my husband and I call the elephant ear plant for obvious reasons.
Since I was curious what its real name is (the plant was already here when we bought this place) I posted in a local Facebook group to see what it might be. Answers came in ranging from colocasia to taro to a xanthosoma species, and when I went researching what the differing names, I decided my specimen looks most like Xanthosoma roseum. (Edit: it may be Xanthosoma sagittifolium, which is native to the south of us and this one might have been brought up a county or two.) The largest leaves are often 18-20 inches long, and we sometimes joke about it being an escapee from the set of Jurassic Park.
For the second day of the green challenge, I decided to zoom in on one leaf of the plant, because it really is a fun-to-draw shaped leaf (like Monstera species). I also decided to switch media and pulled out my oil pastels and the oil-primed practice paper, also a Canson product and one I like using. This piece captured the brightness I was hoping to achieve, and honestly it looks almost as if it is glowing. I so enjoy that about oil pastels – if you want serious, saturated COLOR, you can do it with the oilies. The original is also 9 by 12 inches, which is my favorite size for drawing and sketching, and it is sealed with ModPodge, which really works great for oil pastel work. Prints in larger or smaller sizes are available at my Pixels store, as are 500 and 1000 piece puzzles for those who love a good challenge and don’t have cats to “help” them with all the pieces. RedBubble swag is here.
For some reason that I cannot recall, I dropped out of the green challenge after this second piece, despite having a good half a dozen more reference photos already chosen and cropped and still in a folder on my computer labeled “green.” Since yellow fly season has started here, I will be spending the majority of daylight hours hiding in the house from those vicious biting monsters that seem to wait outside my door for both of us, which means I will have plenty of time to “art it up,” as hubby says, and maybe this summer I’ll blog more of the results.
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.)
The painting scanned so beautifully! Honestly, unless you look at with under strong light, it looks a bit darker in person. I am still quite pleased with this scanner I bought with pandemic stimulus money last year.
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.