Mostly realistic Ladybug painting only art prints available

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 ladybug painting to go in it.

Whitney holding the framed realistic ladybug painting she won
Whitney holding her framed painting

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.

Ladybug acrylic painting
Ladybug 4 x 6 inch acrylic painting, prints available

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.

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. 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 art, then check out the apparel options at my RedBubble store.

About Whitney

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).

More pretty insect art from me

If that is not enough bug art for you, Tatiana at GiftSmart has a cute macro photo of an insect on a green leaf that does look like it is laughing.

The green challenge and the elephant ear plant

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.

my elephant ear plant, likely a Xanthosoma species and the inspiration for the green challenge
my elephant ear plant in midmorning sun in the pasture

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.

The artwork

The first piece I did is similar to the above photo/snapshot, and I worked it in soft pastel (aka my “dusties”) on a blue sheet of Canson Mi Tientes paper, which I am still not enamored with except to use with colored pencil. Overall, I feel I got the shape right, but was hoping it would be brighter in the high key values (highlights) than it turned out. It isn’t awful, but I was hoping for it to be a bit more … just a bit more. The original is 9 by 12 inches, heavy paper, and lightly sprayed with fixative. Prints in larger and smaller sizes are also available at my Pixels store, and here it is on RedBubble apparel and accessories.

Xanthosoma in Morning Sun, soft pastel on paper
Xanthosoma in Morning Sun, 9 by 12 inches, soft pastel on paper, $100 USD original available

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.

Elephant Ear Leaf, oil pastel on primed paper
Elephant Ear Leaf, 9 by 12 inches oil pastel on primed paper, $100 USD original available

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.

Three Fireflies nocturn painting

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, an acrylic nocturn painting
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 bit 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:

photo of a purple mushroom for the Edit This art challenge
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.

acrylic sketch 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 acrylic painting

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.

black and white photo of my husband's jalapeno plant with blossoms and peppers
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.

Starting the painting

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 didn’t 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.

Trouble getting the green of summer

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.

Finishing the painting

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, acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Summer Jalapeno, 11 by 14 acrylic painting on 5/8 deep 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 purchase through Daily PaintWorks – or call the number on my business card at the restaurant.