Apples 3 in Charcoal

I am still on my charcoal drawing kick, and still enjoying both process and results. Today, I finally finished up a simple (not the same as easy though) still life of a pair of apples, which is one of the tutorials I bought last month though I took the reference photo and made a different crop, which results in a different finished piece.

I actually started this late last week, but decided I wanted to take my time and see how well I liked the end product. The answer is, “I like it.”

Apples 3, 12 by 9 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

Since this started out as an exercise in my bedraggled, almost-but-not-quite-full sketchbook, I cannot offer the original for purchase, although I would be happy to redo it on better paper that doesn’t have two corners curling up. I did scan and upload it to my Pixels store, so print are available all the way up to 60 by 45 inches. Have I mentioned recently how much I love my scanner that I bought with stimulus money the other year?

The charcoal drawing I did prior to Apples 3 is not as impressive. It’s another study for portraiture, and also in my sketchbook and not available for purchase. Here I was focusing on the nose and mouth of a face. The reference photo seemed a little off to my eye, and my drawing seemed to bring that out. Oddly, I still like it enough to share here.

Nose and mouth study, 9 by 12 inches, charcoal, in sketchbook

I still need a bit more practice before I can claim to be able to do portraits of people, but in all honesty I have drawn worse than this. If nothing else, this is a marker on my journey to draw and paint people.

A Month of Drawing

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, wile 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.

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:

Orange 1, digital photo

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.

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.

sketch for Apples 2, graphite on laid paper, 12 by 9 inches, available $80 USD

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.

Citrus Bowl sketch, charcoal 12 by 9 inches, prints available

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:

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.

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.

Red Apples 1 still life

The theme for the 30 day art challenge running the entirety of November is red, so I started off with an obvious choice: an apple still life. It is a classic in art because it is simple yet elegant. For my first attempt, I did a trio of honeycrisp apples, but had difficulty nailing down the gold-green of the variegated skin. This trio was also my third painting for the 3 day three themed challenge, and while it does look interesting, it just was not what I wanted to paint. I did upload it to my Pixels store, and input a few prints of it, but until today was not sure what to do with the original. It has kind of grown on me, I guess. Anywho, this is the opportunity to test out Daily PaintWorks’ auction feature. Interested? Bid here.

Apples sketch, 12 by 9 inch acrylic on paper

Since my first attempt wasn’t what I was trying to paint, I did a second painting of these apples, flipping/reversing the photo to just be different, because sometimes that results in a better piece. I am quite pleased with this result: it is bright and colorful.

Red Apples 1, 12 by 9 inch acrylic on paper

Ah yes, this has a bolder feel to it. In fact, it is almost Christmas-y in the bold reds with the green of the background. The original is listed at Daily PaintWorks, while both smaller and larger prints are at my Pixels store. For this image printed on various apparel, check out the listing on my RedBubble page here.

I think this covers all of this episode of apples as still life subjects, for now. I will be revisiting these reference photos – even after we eat the final apple.

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.

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.

Now, for the reveal:

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.

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. 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.

Summer Jalapeno

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.

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.

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 did 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.

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.

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, 11 by 14 acrylic painting on 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 email me (“artist” at this domain) or message me on Facebook – or call the number on my business card at the restaurant.