Feature Friday 5: Let’s get blog-retro

It’s Friday once again, and this week I grew a brain and started this post the day before, in the spirit of the old army saying: “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Soldiers being the eloquent creatures we’ve been since the dawn of time, call this “the five Ps,” although most would add in a sixth word starting with P that is not family-friendly. Last Friday I failed to plan, and when the thunderstorms rolled in about midmorning to mess with our satellite internet, I had nothing ready to go. Once bitten, twice shy … at least for now. With two weeks’ worth of links to share, let’s get this round-up started!

Blog links for your weekend reading

  • Jim Cook at Ramblings of a Hot Shot Photo Guy took some lovely travel-brochure style photos of a Japanese garden in Fort Worth, Texas called Mono No Aware. I think he captured to quiet beauty of the place so nicely. (Remember, I make no claims to being a photographer myself, as I have proven in previous Feature Fridays.)
  • Sharon Popek posted photos from her experiments using clear glass and liquids. I always thought photographing liquids in transparent or translucent glass would be so much easier than drawing or painting it, but apparently I am mistaken in that idea, and there is real technical know-how required for photography as well as drawing or painting.
  • Bill Swartwout freely admits he was in the right place at the right time to get the gorgeous colors in his beach photo at Ocean City, Maryland. I could so see that as a painting, or maybe three paintings – and I mean that in a nice way. It’s a great photo, but the painter in me would love the chance to try my brush at it.
  • Siena Blue posted her blog hop featuring the blind contour challenge. Overall, she is happy to have gotten someone new to play old-fashioned blogosphere party games (that would be ME) and is thinking of doing another one. I’m down for that! Let’s bring back all the fun stuff bloggers used to do back in the day like link round-ups, blog hops, link parties, and if we can get enough art bloggers who are up to it, maybe we can resurrect the old blog carnival idea. (If you blog your art – or are thinking about blogging your art – do join us. It really is a fun and motivating way of blogging.)
  • Hiding behind the pen name of Pencil Paws, is another animal and wildlife graphite artist who looks to be restarting her blog with a lovely drawing of her two cats, along with the story of they came into her life (spoiler alert: they were rescues). I like her careful and meticulous style, and hope she decides to continue blogging her artwork.
  • Finally, the blogging powerhouse known as Judith shows she isn’t shy of tackling a deep and somewhat dark chapter in art history with her exploration of the “degenerate art” of late 1930s Germany, along with some commentary about being lefthanded and how back in the day adults tried to “correct” this. Her post gets deep from almost the first paragraph, but it really impressed me, not just her research but some of the conclusions she reaches by the end. I am the type of person who believes we should know all of our history, not just the pleasant parts, because when we forget the bad stuff, we have this bad habit of repeating our mistakes.

Links to art supplies

For a few years now, I have been splitting my art supply budget between Jerry’s Artarama and Dick Blick art supplies, because each carries some items I like that the other does not. Jerry’s does not have an affiliate program … but Blick does! I signed up this week, and am now an affiliate as well as a customer, which means if you use my links to purchase something from their site, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Personally, I love it when they run the eCard sales, where you get an eCard code in a certain amount that arrives in your inbox two weeks after you’ve ordered. I still have to figure out where all the promo items like images and banners are in the platform, but I figured I would make a general announcement. I’ll be putting together a page with my personal recommendations, because I do indeed have my favorites from them. If the link looks funny to you, it’s because it runs through a tracking system. Both Blick and the platform have a good reputation online.

Obligatory eye candy snapshots

This being a blog all about my visual art means I need to have at least one image in the post, even my link round-ups. I thought this week I would feature the squash plant(s) that have grown out of the compost heap that are still going strong despite the heat of summer settling in (and wreaking havoc on my poor Swiss chard plants). This started out back in the autumn, October or November, when I bought some picturesque produce to get reference photos for my still life drawings. The butternut squash got wet and started to mildew, so we tossed it out on the compost heap to let it continue its breakdown. Usually, I don’t expect seeds from a grocery store-bought vegetables to sprout since I figure they are picked early to keep them from getting too bruised in transit. The seeds sprouted, and they must be dreaming of world domination at this point.

the squash plants have spread out from the compost heap and are shading the grass in the chicken yard
this is only about one third of the squash plants’ growth

Just an FYI: this particular snapshot is from a week or so ago, and the plants are colonizing the open area on the other side of the fence con mucho gusto. My husband has needed to trim some off to keep the footpath to the pumphouse and water spigot for the pig pen clear, because squash vines can be a bit tangle-foot-ish.

yellow squash flower among the green leaves
big yellow-orange squash flower in among big squash leaves

We’ve been trying to get nice snapshots of the flowers I can use as reference photos to paint, and I got to say it is difficult to get nice photos in the bright morning sun here in Florida, especially on the humid mornings when there are dew drops everywhere reflecting the sunlight. I still intend to keep trying for that one decent photo of a big honkin’ squash flower – seriously, the one that opened yesterday was bigger across than my hand. I also need to start bringing some of the squashes in for a nice picturesque pile. There will also be bean blossom and bean group snapshots soon as our summer garden beans are budding.

I still have one more daisy piece from the three day challenge over last weekend, plus a daisy drawing I forgot to post on the blog from last summer that may interest you. I also have the final painting from my candle light series a couple weeks ago that I just have not gotten around to posting. Then it will be time for a new art challenge – if I don’t see one that I like, I’ll just post one here and see who wants to play along with me.

That’s pretty much all I have for today, though I will leave y’all with this market research question: When you have bought artwork (original or prints) what was/were your main motivation(s)? Inquiring artists want to hear!

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.

Charcoal Still Life Quarter Wedge Squash

A charcoal still life of a squash, with a quarter cut out and a wedge sliced off to reveal the rich flesh and seeds within.  Vegetables are a popular subject for still life works, right up there with flowers.  I did a little research into still lifes, and discovered this was an art category that women play a prominent role in, even back into Renaissance time.

charcoal still life drawing Quarter Wedge Squash
Quarter Wedge Squash, charcoal on (European) paper, original available $80 actual size is 23 x 31 cm

The original is roughly 12 by 9 inches (23 cm by 31 cm, made in France), on 100% cotton paper, with a coat of fixative, and available.  It is currently on display at El Amigo Restaurant in Crescent City, Florida. If you live outside the area, you can purchase the original through Daily PaintWorks and have it shipped to you. Prints are available at my Pixels store, and accessories and more styles of prints are at my RedBubble store

I revisited the idea of charcoal still life drawings again, with my Apples 3 in charcoal being the one I like best (so far). Even more charcoal artwork is here, and I will continue to add more simply because I enjoy the medium so. I will also be doing more still life art, because there is just something classical about it that appeals to me – and on occasion, I even manage to bring in some produce from my attempts at gardening, including more squash.