More color for the still life print

More color

More color

As I said last time, I wanted to add more watercolor to the still life linocut.  I did like the starker black and red, but it felt like it still needed something.  I made two of the heavier paper prints and decided to throw caution to the winds on one.  Originally I thought to just add some mossy green behind the plant, but then I decided to use yellow ocher as a base first.  I’m glad I did.  It seems much warmer to me.  Now I’m not so sure about the original print.  I also wonder if I shouldn’t put a bit more shading on the teapot now.  What do you think?

I don’t really consider myself a graphic artist so in some ways the linocuts are really hard for me.  At least the way I do them, they seem more graphic than traditionally fine art.  I wish I could do more delicate work like some beautiful prints that I have seen, but that’s not where I am right now.  Mostly I am working with positive/negative space on these which has always been a focus in my ink work.

I have always wished I had had more graphic art training.  For many years, graphic art was not looked on as “real art” because it was usually work for hire, but when you think about it, the Old Masters were commercial artists too.  If they were lucky, they worked for rich patrons and often created specific pieces for them.  I don’t know when the idea that art had to be suffered for to have value came in, but it has done a great disservice to many wonderful and creative people.  Worked hard for, yes, but a necessarily ruinous life, no.

Still life linocut

A ltttle still life

A ltttle still life

Here is the first of my little projects for this busy month.  I had originally purchased a number of mounted and unmounted 5×7 sized linoleum blocks, not knowing which I would prefer.  I ended up liking the mounted ones better but had one piece of the unmounted ones left.  I also intended to use a few of the linocuts on some of my acid free card stock, but when I discovered that the blocks were going to be too big to easily print on the card, I cut this last one in half. John mounted the two 3.5×5 pieces on a piece of board a few weeks ago and I was ready to go.  I didn’t want to get too complicated because the block is small to work on. The idea of a plant on a table with a teapot seemed to fit the bill.  The question ended up being whether I should cut out the flowers and greenery or leave them in relief.  Once I made that choice, I debated quite a long time on how to handle the teapot.  Should I cut out the teapot or the flowers on it?  Ultimately I decided I wanted to paint the teapot a bright color so I would have to cut it out.

A red teapot

A red teapot

I knew right away I wanted to make the teapot red.  I really wanted it to stand out. So far I like it.  Tomorrow I may decide to add a bit of color to the background – my treasured green.  What would you think of that?

Abstract flowers and family obligations

We just got back from a short trip to see a relative for her 86th birthday so I haven’t had a great deal of studio time lately. And with my parents moving closer to us over the next month, art time is still going to be at a premium.  And to top it off, my old Dell laptop decided to aggravate me today.  Although I always have it plugged in, today the internal battery finally died and for some reason it decided that the wall plug-in was inadequate.  No editing program for the pictures so you get to see my unadjusted photos.  I’ll have to figure out something pretty quickly so I can at least crop and reduce the jpeg size to post.  I am quite frustrated right now.



Today I painted an abstract background on a small watercolor board and after it was dry, I picked out some floral shapes with the nib and the technical pen.  Then I went back and added more watercolors to define them better.  I washed the background with yellow ocher to unify it a bit and put on some dabs of white to brighten the flower centers.  I am not quite sure how I feel about it yet.  I actually painted it rotated 90 deg clockwise, but I liked it better hanging this way.  Tomorrow will tell the tail.

So it seems that I will be concentrating on squeezing in some smaller pieces for the time being and no large, elaborate architecturals.  Maybe studio life will be a bit more organized by the 4th of July.

Okay, so I was able to update the photo.  Here is a better picture.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all out there in cyberspace. I had a houseful today, as a mother and a daughter. The day was clear, but on the cool side. And, yikes, another chance of patchy frost tonight.  I worry most for my Japanese maples. Between the late frost last year and the 3 years of drought or semi drought, they have taken quite a beating.  They look better this year than they have for a while, but another frost might be deadly.  Then the temperatures are supposed to be in the 80’s by midweek.  Weather whiplash.

Spring at last

Spring at last

The cool spring has delayed the trees so greatly that some haven’t haven’t fully leafed out even yet.  The leaves are still quite minimal on more than I would have expected mid May. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the reason our lakeside poplars look so bad.  As you cans see, some are completely dead, while a few are putting out a very reduced amount of leaves.  They have taken the recent drought years and the massive scale infestation quite hard.  We will probably cut down the dead ones in a few weeks.  Some of the ones that are bad looking we may cut off and hope some shoots come up off of the remainder of the trunk.  They would grow quite fast with an intact root structure.  I think we will have to wait and see what develops over the summer but the prognosis is probably not good.  In any case, I will miss having those trees there.  I thought they enhanced the view of the lake.

Ending on a good note, I want to say thank you to all of my followers.  I crossed the 100 mark this week.  Two and a half years ago when I started, I could never imagined how much fun it would be and how many wonderful people I have met writing this.  I hope you have enjoyed my wandering art journey, the wildlife updates and the landscaping adventures.  Here’s to the next years of blogging and new friends.

Touching up the backyard bridge watercolor

abstract2a_fl2_5295I let the backyard bridge watercolor sit for a day and it became apparent to me that it needed something else.  While I was pleased with the inking, the colors were too similar in value and the inking got lost.

I decided to add depth to the foliage with greens and browns and I defined the branches more strongly.  I added shadows under the bridge and by the pond stones as well as in the background shrubs.  The flowers are a bit redder.  I am hesitant to add too much more definition at this stage because it is so easy to overdue the adjustments.  You can compare the changes I made by looking at the last post.

I think I’ll try one more and throw caution to the winds in terms of adding more defining colors.

A Florida abstract architectural using positive and negative space



This has been a weekend of cool, rainy weather, perfect for spending time in the studio.  It is pouring again for the umpteenth time, even as I write this.

Before I started, I decided I wanted to take advantage of the beautifully colored landscaping in my pictures from Florida.  I created a colorful background to use as the basis for the abstract architectural.  This time I used a 10″x10″ piece of watercolor board to shorten the prep time necessary and also so I could work on a smaller scale. Here you can see the background I prepared earlier today. Again, because I had a photo in mind, I placed the colors with a little bit of purpose.  I let it dry and then actually remembered to take a photo before I began the inking.

...and after

…and after

I based this sketch on an interesting photo of a backyard pond and bridge.  I used the nib pen for a change and unfortunately it managed to leak a large drop of ink (twice!) while I was working on the bridge, so this also became an exercise in positive and negative space.  After it happened the second time, I figured there was something wrong with the nib itself so I discarded it and used a spare.  I will look at this tomorrow and see if the black still looks balanced enough and if I need to add a bit more color. I think I will add something for shadowing, just as I did with the porch on the last one. I was so mad over the ink blots that I forgot to do that, which may be why it doesn’t look quite right yet.  That will only take a short period of time to do, but should vastly improve the watercolor.

Is this abstract enough?

Architectural abstract

Architectural abstract

This picture has been somewhat of a process.   After I stretched the paper Sunday and  let it fully dry overnight, I rewet it and then threw on the watercolor washes, reminiscent of the method for gift tag blanks. I must admit it was not totally random as I put the reds for the flowers on the bottom and some blues on top.  I didn’t know what orientation I would end up using so I spread the red and blue around.  My main concern was that there was enough color saturation at this point.

It took another day to dry and for the ripples to flatten out.  You can see where those were by the more flowed areas.  In the meantime I flipped through my Key West photos because of the vibrancy of the foliage and home colors there and combined the look of two houses.  After the basic freehand ink lineout, I added colors to further define the elements of the architecture and then touched up the inking for the positive/negative balance.   I am not yet convinced that I shouldn’t do more, but I don’t want it to muddy up, so I am a bit hesitant.  What do you think?

I was inspired by Leslie and Cindy to make this painting.  Cindy has suggested making something with wilder colors for the buildings and Leslie has been showing some paintings based on abstract backgrounds on her blog.  Check their blogs out for a wonderful treat.