Watercolor birds

Pelican resting

I did get some time over the holiday weekend to spend in the studio.  Since there is a little bit of down time when using this misting technique, I decided to try and paint two at once.

Pink flamingo

I found these two pictures from a long zoo photography session and thought they might be fun to try.  I got a little carried away with the frisket and in the future I will probably peel off the larger blobs, but I guess that is part of the experience.  Also I am still having a problem with the paper curling with the heavier washes.  I painted these on the Arches watercolor paper which I taped down but, especially with the pelican, I got some stretching that didn’t go down after it totally dried.  I have put them under some heavy books and maybe that will help.

I did most of the initial pen and ink with the water spritz first and then started to painted the birds.  I went back and added some more ink with a little bit of water outside of the birds, creating a little bit of extra grey wash.  When I was done, I decided to embellish their bases and the background a little.  I added most of the wash on the right side of the pelican at the end because I didn’t feel that he was grounded enough.  I think it looks more balanced too.

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An internationally selling artist.

The last few days have been filled with overcast skies, fog, and rain.  The lake has risen a couple of feet and the grass has stayed quite green with the warmer temperatures and abundant moisture.   Not that I am complaining mind you.  Last year we had about 15″ of snow already and I certainly don’t miss that.  Another evening of rain and then the sun returns with temperatures in the 40’s.  I can get used to that.  I’m not going to miss a white Christmas after last year.

The final pastel

I was going to post the last photo of the finished entryway yesterday, but when I looked at the pictures I had taken, I realized that I didn’t like the lack of shadowing behind the flowers in the front.  So it was back to the drawing board with the colored pencils and pastels.  I made a few more minor adjustments and improved it I think.

And now to the title of this post.  You are currently reading the blog of an internationally selling artist.  Much to my surprise, last week I got an inquiry from a woman in the UK concerning one of my etsy listings.  Would I consider doing an international sale?  Would I?  You bet I would!  It was really just an illustration style pen and ink of a barbershop window that I created as part of a mustache related challenge within one of my etsy teams and listed.  It was small and simple and I never dreamed that it would actually sell.  I looked at it as just a fun, playful piece, but she and her business partners wanted to purchase the drawing and then use it as a logo and for signage.  You could have blown me over with a feather.  So it is currently on its way to Wales. I guess there is no telling what will appeal  to someone out there and we shouldn’t box ourselves or our artwork in.  I have asked her to send me a picture after the sign is made and placed.  I know it’s not much, but it was pretty thrilling for me.  Perhaps one of these days, one of the larger, more elaborate pastels will follow.  I might have to raise the postage though.

Another experiment

I was inspired by Leslie of http://www.lesliepaints.wordpress.com to try a new technique of pen and ink with watercolor using a spray bottle to spread the ink a little before it dries and then paint the watercolor over it.

a carved flower pot

I had a few small pieces of watercolor board left over form the larger pastels and I thought this technique was so interesting.  She has two wonderful examples on her blog as well as some instructions that you may want to check out linked on my blogroll.  I did these kind of on the fly today just to see how it might work.  I had photographed some vases and pots around the house a while ago and decided that these two would be sufficiently simple for me to try and not get too intimidated.  I think I like the little vase better.  The reds of the dried flower sprigs seems to go nicely with the brown of the carved vase.

Ivy in a red pot

A hand and 3/4?

I went to see the hand doctor today and the report was all good. He was pleased with the healing’s progress and said most likely I could get rid of the splint in 2-3 weeks.  But since he is out of the office between Christmas and New Years, I’m guessing it will be three weeks. I don’t think I am making that decision on my own.  I have been using my freed thumb and 2 fingers with some care not to overload my hand.  It’s harder than it might seem because if I can grab it with those fingers, the tendency is to lift with it and that’s not a good idea quite yet.  Even so, I managed to get quite a lot done over the last few days. 

All gussied up with color

I drew, inked and colored this cute little commission in record time.  Because it needed to get out in time to be a Christmas gift, I had to compress my normal work schedule to one day for each phase.  I still want to leave a night between each because I truly need to get away to see it clearly.  Today I packaged and sent it off.  I kind of like the way it turned out and I hope they do too.

Someone asked me earlier about the fixatives I use and I actually managed to remember to bring them to the computer with me.  I most often use Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating  #1303.  It provides a gloss finish that pops the firm pastel colors for me.  I first clean up the drawing and the borders with my eraser because it is not a workable fixative and then spray a light coating to enhance the colors.  I know that this a permanent fixative that is supposed to be a final coat but I have colored between coats and artwork that I did 20 years ago still look fine.  I don’t overdo the spray and usually I am just adding some colored pencil or topcoat of pastel and  little bit more ink.  The drawing is already 90% done by this time and I am just adding shadows and reworking the ink detail.  On occasion I have used Krylon workable fixative #1306 but it doesn’t pop the colors in quite the same way even if I later use the 1303 to make the final seal.  I always use it outside and let it air out there for about 10-15 minutes because it is truly noxious when first sprayed.

Learning to work with a hand and a half

This week my time in the studio was not quite what I expected it to be.  I’m fortunate that the thumb and first two fingers of my hurt hand are free and I can use them.  With a little experimentation, I’m figuring out how to use my left hand without putting weight onto it – not as easy as it sounds because if you are able grab something with those fingers, the tendency is to use the hand too much.  I can feel it if I grab and pull or try to carry something too heavy.  Right now I try to use my forearm if I need to balance a weight.

The little country house

I didn’t end up finishing the latest entryway because I got a frantic e-mail Friday from a person who needed a home portrait in time for Christmas.  We quickly exchanged info and pictures and I put up a listing on Etsy for her so I was able to start the pencil drawing on Saturday.  I spent today inking it in.  It is only a 6″x8″ size so it did go pretty quickly.  As you can see, it is a cute little house located in WV and occupied by the client’s mother 20 years ago.  She only had two pictures to use but we managed to work out the details.  It is a little flat without any shadowing but I will touch up the inking tomorrow with fresh eyes and then start coloring with the pastels.  I am pleased with it so far and happy I could work with my hand.

Good to go – almost

My baby sized splint

Oh happy day, as the song goes. As scheduled, I went and saw the hand specialist today and the news was all good. While I was told the original cast was overkill (rightly due, I think, because I was from out-of-town and would have to travel home to be treated) the manipulations done to get my wedding ring off and taking the x-rays actually managed to rotate the bones back into alignment.  The doctor felt that what was appropriate at this point was a much smaller hand-made, removeable splint.  No surgery as the broken portions were well aligned!  I will have it 4-6 weeks, but it will be so much easier to deal with than what I had.  I should be be able to wear my own clothes and not have to worry about getting a hard cast wet.  I certainly will be able to get back into the studio and finish my latest drawing for which I am eternally grateful.  Still, I have to be careful.  The main thing is not to lift with that hand at this point.  The physical therapist who made the splint said not to be afraid to move the fingers and wrist.

As you can see, my fingers are swollen and somewhat discolored but all in all not too horribly so.  My palm and the back of my hand are a nice mixture of greens and yellows but the doctor actually thought it didn’t look too bad.  The swelling has already been reduced although my fingers and hand have been twitching just a little in the sudden freedom.  It feels quite odd and  a little achy but I am overjoyed that it has turned out so well.  I just have to not to bang it, which, for me, as you now well know may not be as easy as it seems.

Klutzes are us – or maybe it is just me

I am a klutz. I admit it freely and Saturday I struck again. Unfortunately for my hand, it was myself that I hurt. We are helping our son ready his house for sale and during a trip to the big box home store I fell, stupidly running and slipping on the concrete floor. I whacked my left hand on a wooden bin and then on the floor trying to catch myself.  Three hours later, in the ER,  I was told that I had broken the 4th metacarpal in my hand.  The doctor splinted it in a kind of half-cast and said “Go see someone at home.  They can decide if you need surgery, a pin, or just a cast.”  What?  Wait!  Aren’t you supposed to give me at least a hint?   What might be a good guess?  Still,  I feel fortunate that I will be able to see the hand specialist I want on Wednesday morning.  I just have to make it until then without further mishap.  Not necessarily a sure thing at the rate I am going.

My arm in the sling on Sunday

So here I am typing with one hand thinking about how this is going to play out.  I’m wearing my husband’s flannel shirt (because I can’t get any of my winter tops on over the cast) having somewhat successfully dressed myself for the day.  At least it is not my right hand was injured.  I am so righty that it is pathetic.  I wouldn’t be able to work at all.  There isn’t a lot of pain or swelling so that is good.  I’ll know how bad to feel after I talk to the bone guy.  It will be at least six weeks of something anyway I look at it.

And just so you know, I could be a multiple winner of America’s funniest home videos if it came down to it and there were a camera on me.  Once, when the kids were small I was going to clean the gutters.  We had an old wooden straight ladder from my dad that we kept out back in the weather because we had no basement or garage.  I got up several rungs before one snapped and I broke the rest with my butt before hitting the ground, just like in the cartoons.  I think I cracked my tail bone because I could hardly sit and get up and down for a long time.  Funny now, not so much then.

Then there was the time I stepped on an unsecured board that lay across the deck joists my husband was working on.  I reminded myself not to step on the end that extended past the joist, lest it flip me off.  Two minutes later guess what I did.  Yep, you’re right.  It’s amazing how much  you can think about in just a few seconds with disaster impending.  Mostly though I hoped I would not break my face or my teeth and ruin my upcoming birthday celebration at a professional baseball game that the kids had put together and spent big bucks on .  I ended up with just stitches in my lower lip and scrapes on my legs.  It made for interesting birthday photos.

And the sad part of it that there are plenty of more stories just like these.  We won’t go into the time I ran into a brick wall in the dark at 5 AM in my family room a few days before my daughter’s college graduation.  At this point, I just embrace my klutzdom and don’t get too concerned without a lot more blood and/or pain.  I do plan  to get back to the studio this week to finish the entryway details depending mostly on the doctor schedule.  Wednesday should be interesting and I’ll update then.  I sincerely hope that most of you don’t join me as a charter member of “klutzes are us” even though I know there must be a few out there who would be eligible.  It’s a painful club.