Entries for this year’s creative arts festival

Y’all recall last year when I placed first in two of the three categories I entered in the regional VA healthcare-sponsored creative arts festival? I am entering again, but this year picking the artwork to enter seemed much more difficult, given I can only enter three pieces again this year. I work in six media categories, not including mixed, and have made multiple pieces in most of those categories in the past year. So I took to Facebook and even Twitter to ask for opinions on which pieces I ought to put in the competition. This actually did not help as much as I hoped.

Oil pastel artwork

Oil pastels are not judged in the pastel category for this competition, but against oil painting as they define the category to include oil paint, oil sticks (which I have yet to try) and oil pastel. Basically, they want anything that includes pigment with some form of oil to fix it to a surface, which is not limited to canvas either. I felt my two best pieces from the past year are my Sunset Over the Hayfield landscape and my candle still life, Book Reading by Candlelight.

Folks on Twitter preferred the hayfield, while folks on Facebook preferred Candlelight, and when added together the votes were just about a dead heat. Any wonder why I asked for help deciding? In the end, I stopped to think (while milking goats) about the category and potential competition, and went with Candlelight because a bit of the textured paper shows in Hayfield, which might be enough to knock my piece down compared to the more traditional paintings.

Book Reading by Candlelight oil pastel still life
Book Reading By Candlelight oil pastel still life composition

Picking a watercolor painting

For this category, it was pretty easy for me. I simply love how my Pumpkin Close-Up came out last autumn. Truth be told, I really have not made many watercolor paintings over the past year, and this particular pumpkin one is my favorite of the three I did last fall (even though my mom just loves my Jack O’Lantern).

Pumpkin Close-Up watercolor painting
Pumpkin Close-Up watercolor painting

Picking a charcoal drawing

If y’all have been reading since the beginning of the year, you will know I was on a major charcoal drawing kick that started prior to New Year’s Day and continued through the spring goat kid bottling season. I made quite a few charcoal drawings, both traditional black and the tinted charcoal I am still experimenting with.

I managed to get my short list down to three, then once again asked on Facebook and Twitter which I ought to enter. The results surprised me. Personally, I had been thinking to enter my Apples 3 still life, but my husband said he really likes my Two Flamingoes. Meanwhile, my Single White Rose (in the same post as the flamingoes) tends to get positive reactions from folks. Both Twitter and Facebook enthusiastically said I should enter the flamingoes, though the rose was in second. What sealed the deal for me was the comments about how flamingoes usually aren’t depicted in black and white, and that I nailed the expression on the front bird’s face.

Two Flamingoes charcoal drawing
Two Flamingoes charcoal drawing

So, there we have it: my three entries to this year’s creative arts festival. I sent them off this morning, because today is the deadline. For whatever reason, I seem to always wait until the last day to enter. Perhaps it ties in with my usual answer when asked what I think my best piece of art is. My answer is always, “The next one.”

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.