Still life drawings with charcoal and graphite

I’ve been doing some art this month, though I just didn’t get around to loading up the blog until this morning. It started the way it often starts for me – with an art challenge. While folks are doing the Big One, one a day for 335 days out of the year’s 365 days, I knew I would not be able to keep it up once the goats kidded and I must bottle feed every two to three hours during the first week. Bottle feeding goat kids is my annual spring joy. So, while sitting out the Big One, I jumped on a shorter seven day challenge with the theme “from the kitchen.” I would love to get a nice long series of drawings and paintings featuring the kitchen and cooking motifs, and I have a LOT of reference photos from October when I spent over an hour taking photos of produce on my table, so I was in on the shorter challenge.

One good photograph out of over a hundred

I made it through day four before I just had a bad day and dropped out on the fifth day of the challenge. Sometimes I just feel too poorly to even draw, and I was out of photos from that set that could count as an honest entry … which is to say I used my second photo from over a hundred. For me, that is an excellent success rate, and here is the one I used:

digital photo of an orange in still life arrangement
Orange 1, digital photo from still life series

This was actually sort-of an accidental photo, as I had set the digital camera on the table to change the towel in the background, then noticed before picking it back up that the image in the viewscreen had really nice composition. The other good one from that photo shoot has an apple that sits off to the left and was used as the reference for my apples paintings in November. While the idea of someone wanting a photograph I took tends to really puzzle me, I do have prints and stuff at my Pixels site featuring this. This was the first day of the challenge.

Probably my last graphite drawing

For the second day, I used an apples photo from the same shoot, but one that is noticeably out of focus – but that isn’t a big deal on an object that is both familiar and simple. I did this in graphite on my Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper, and once finished, I decided I am now certain I don’t like graphite as a medium anymore. The drawing is not bad, I just dislike the grey instead of black, and really dislike the shininess of graphite that becomes obvious the darker you attempt to make your shadows. Prints are available at my Pixels site, and the original is for sale and can be purchased through Daily PaintWorks or by contacting me directly.

graphite drawing of apples in a bowl
sketch for Apples 2, graphite on laid paper, 12 by 9 inches, available $80 USD

Still life drawing in charcoal

For day three, I went back to my dog-eared sketchbook, and also back to working in charcoal instead of graphite, and also back to that collection of photos for this drawing of a bowl full of citrus fruit: a total of two oranges, one lemon, and two limes, one inside the bowl and the other sitting in front of it. I was pleased with how it turned out … until I noticed the right side of the bowl droops down. Oops! Aside from that, it turned out nicely, but once I saw that I could not unsee it. It was good practice though, and if anyone wants, prints are available on my Pixels site. The original will stay in my sketchbook though.

charcoal still life sketch of citrus in and in front of a bowl
Citrus Bowl sketch, charcoal 12 by 9 inches, prints available

The orange composition in charcoal

For the fourth day of the challenge, I returned to the orange reference photo, and worked it up in charcoal on the Strathmore charcoal paper, and uploaded this:

charcoal sketch of an orange in front of a bowl and towel
Orange 1 sketch, prints available

While not a shabby result for a good three hours’ sketching, I did go back and work on it some more. The not-quite-finished version does currently have prints available, although I will likely change that at some point. I think the final version is an improvement, and the original of it is available through Daily PaintWorks, or by contacting me directly. Here is how it looks now that I went over it again.

finished drawing of the still life orange
Orange 1 (final), 12 by 9 inches, charcoal on laid paper, original $100 USD

My intention to finish the challenge up was to go back to each of the three images and paint them in acrylic, and I do still intend to make that happen. Right now though I seem to keep reaching for my charcoal and paper, and so I am just rolling with it. I should probably break here, and continue tomorrow or so for the rest of it, for there is definitely more to post.

Pumpkins in the Sun watercolor painting

I started a new art challenge today – and am actually blogging this painting the same day! Woohoo! It’s a start. This is a seven day challenge, with the theme being Halloween and/or Samhain (Celtic harvest festival). I have my reference photos picked out and cropped, with a smaller theme of pumpkins, and decided to start with half a dozen pumpkins in bright afternoon sunlight, laying on the brown ground. As an additional inspiration, I had my headphones on and was playing The Nightmare Before Christmas once I had the six squash sketched in place and began to apply the watercolor paint.

I’ve mentioned before how sometimes it feels like the painting is just flowing out onto the paper or canvas, and this pumpkin painting certainly flowed out as I listened to the movie-musical. The weather has been rather dry here in Florida, so I didn’t need to wait long for the layers to dry, and I was done with the paint stage in about three hours – which is quite good considering I had to really layer the shadows. With watercolor, the trick is getting shadows dark enough, and often requires multiple layers.

watercolor painting Pumpkins in the Sun
Pumpkins in the Sun, 12 by 9 inch watercolor on paper, available $100 USD

As the caption states, the original is 12 by 9 inches watercolor paper, and it is sealed with wax medium to protect it from humidity (and spills). You can purchase it through PayPal via Daily Paintworks here. Prints both smaller and larger are available through my Pixels page here, and apparel and accessories are at my RedBubble page here.

While I am at it, could I get a little link-love on the various social media platforms? I am only on Facebook, and to be honest I don’t really like it. I would not be surprised if the algorithm has a line of code to detect that … or they are just trying to extort ad revenue from anyone with a business page (no matter how small-time we are). When this challenge wraps up, I will be making a big announcement to hopefully get my name and art out there more.

Jack-O-Lantern painting for Halloween

This will probably be my only Halloween-specific painting I do this autumn, mainly because the local county tends to dress everything in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month (and I have three aunts who have been through that!) but Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Well, except the year I got chicken pox in third grade, but that’s irrelevant even though my mom might mention it in a comment. Now what says Halloween more than a carved Jack O’Lantern?

The first painting attempt

My previous painting of the pumpkins in sunlight inspired me to do up a carved jack-o-lantern. While I still made the effort the get the shading and light correct, this one is a bit more whimsical than realistic. This is actually the second painting, as I was not quite finished with my first attempt when I noticed the sheet of paper had a flaw where the paint just would not adhere … right on one of the teeth. Once I noticed it, I had to redo the painting, because it was a couple of white splotches that stuck out like stark white pieces of spinach, and the position of the flaws reinforced that. (My friend Keashia happily took the flawed painting, saying she would never have noticed it if I hadn’t pointed it out.)

The final painting

So yesterday I cut the flawed sheet off the watercolor block, transferred the general outline to a new sheet, and went to painting it again. I think this one is actually a slight improvement over the first, and I have the general feeling that this painting is fun to look at, in a very Halloween way. I was particularly pleased with how the orange skin, yellow flesh, and interior shadows worked with each other for an overall mostly realistic but a bit whimsical Jack O’Lantern. The only thing missing would be a lit candle – something to do for next summer.

Jack-O-Lantern watercolor painting for Halloween
Jack-O-Lantern, 10 by 10 inch watercolor on paper, original available $100 USD

Now, for all the links for those who are interested in owning either the original or prints or apparel (because it makes for some awesome shirts, and even more awesome face masks!). The original can be purchased either directly from me or through Daily Paintworks through PayPal. Prints and one style of masks are available through my Pixels page. For this image printed on all kinds of apparel and accessories, including two different styles of face masks, see my page at RedBubble.

Pumpkin Close-Up still life watercolor

Occasionally, a bit of artistic magic happens and the art piece just flows out onto the paper or canvas. That happened yesterday, and the result is a return to my watercolor paints, and what can best be classified as a still life, as it is a pumpkin in the sunlight.

I must confess to a fondness for drawing and painting squash. That will probably be obvious as time goes on, but I think the skin on squash is visually interesting. It gets even more interesting when you slice it open and reveal the flesh, pulp, and seeds, like in my charcoal drawing of a quartered squash with a wedge. Since I felt inspired to play with color yesterday, the focus visually was more on the orange of the pumpkin skin and how the sunlight and shadows modified the color.

Painting details

Believe it or not, I started this painting with blue – indanthrene blue, to be exact. I only left the one corner of that blue uncovered, but it is lurking in the bottom-most layer of the shadows. I only used two oranges: a bright, cheerful yellow-orange, and a strong, vibrant red-orange. I actually used more colors on the stem than the pumpkin flesh, but part of that was trying to tweak the tan. And a note for fellow watercolor artists, I used only my Mijello Mission Gold paints, on Stonehenge Aqua paper.

Now, for the reveal:

watercolor still life painting Pumpkin Close-up by artist Katrina Gunn
Pumpkin Close-Up, 14 by 10 inch watercolor painting on paper, available $140 USD (shipping extra)

I couldn’t think of a more-original title than “Pumpkin Close-Up,” but perhaps I used all the creativity getting the shades of the skin just right to look like October sunlight is hitting this symbol of autumn. I suppose whoever buys the original can rename it. At 14 by 10 inches, this is actually my largest watercolor painting to date, though I would like to go a bit larger once I can put together a cat-free zone. I still have not forgotten finding a cat’s-paw print on one of my early watercolor exercises.

Purchasing links for Pumpkin Close-up

For those who would like this painting but in a different size, prints are at my Pixels store … along with jigsaw puzzles. I think this would be a fun puzzle to put together (in a cat-free zone, of course). My RedBubble store also has a puzzle option, along with apparel and other accessories. I’m partial to the zipper pouches, if you can believe it, though the new hats are nice also. Finally, if you are the person who wants to put the original on your wall, you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks and PayPal. Oh, the original does NOT have the domain name on it – that is something I add to the scan because I know image “borrowing” is almost as old as the internet itself.

Goldfish in oil pastel

 I did this piece as a test of a new set of Mungyo Gallery oil pastels along with a new DVD art lesson on how to use oil pastels effectively. As I followed the instructions and sketched out the goldfish with my new oil pastels, I quickly realized the beauty of the lines and colors, and decided to finish it into a completed painting.

A vivid and colorful goldfish changing direction effortlessly and gracefully in the blue water, its scales seem to change from a deep gold to a fiery orange. This is not a complex piece of art, but elegant in its simplicity.

spotted goldfish in blue background to simulate water, worked in oil pastel
Goldfish, 11 x 14 inch oil pastel on paper, prints available

My mother has claim on the original piece, which is oil pastel on 14 by 11 inch primed paper and sealed with Mod Podge to prevent smudging.  She also has a watercolor I tried to do of this image, but made a mistake on and my husband refused to use it as a fire starter for our woodburning stove. Mom agreed with hubby, so I gave her that, along with my first ever oil painting, of the exact same subject on flat canvas. Mom complained that I did not sign either the watercolor or the oil paint pieces, so I promised her this one after ensuring it has a legible signature and date.

Prints are available through my Pixels store, and shirts and accessories through my RedBubble shop. Update: RedBubble has started offering pet mats, and one is in a general fish shape, intended for cats. I love it! It appeals to my (probably corny) sense of cute.

image of my oil pastel artwork Goldfish on a fish-shaped mat for cats
My oil pastel painting Goldfish on fish-shaped cat mat