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.

1 year and 100 posts later – who’d have guessed

Who would have guessed?  Certainly not me.  This is my 100th post and it’s hard to believe that I am coming up on 1 year of blogging on October 21st.  When I took the social media class for artists at the community college extension, I thought it would be the least of the things I did. Instead, it has turned out to be the most fun and rewarding of all. I have tried to post on Wednesdays and Sundays because I need to have some sort of schedule in order to get anything done and I felt that twice a week was something I could keep up with while maintaining a reasonable studio and online store schedule.

When I started, I feared I would have nothing interesting to say or show and that no one would care to visit.  There in an inherent trauma in going to your blog and seeing spam for your comments and little or no views.  No one who doesn’t blog can understand the joy of the first comment made by someone you don’t know and the appearance of the first subscriber.  Heady stuff you know.   At least for me.

Flowers to all of you

I have met so many wonderful people who encouraged me along the way this year, not the least of whom are Leslie and Linda, who were among my first visitors.  They kindly made wonderfully positive comments, so special thanks to them.  In the course of this year, I have seen some beautiful works of art created by this community as well as laughed myself silly over some FP blog.  I have enjoyed sharing not only my artwork, but stories of the wildlife that surrounds me (especially the coyote puppies on the porch  and the the deer stalking the heron) and the beautiful countryside where I live.  It is a journey I plan to continue and I hope you come along.  A bouquet of flowers to you all – past, present and future.

It’s still so hot, hot, hot

Today was about our 14th or 15th day in a row above 90 degrees. I was so tired of winter that I don’t want to complain, but I wish we could have a little more rain here. I’m not sure if we have had even 1″ this month. Many of the storms in the area seemed to just go around. So, I am grateful at least for my air-conditioned studio and the little bit of precipitation that we got this week.

The layout

Amongst other things, I managed to lay out and ink in the small commission drawing ordered earlier in the week. It is a little more complicated than most because it is a remodel and not everything is finished. Most notably the color scheme is totally different from the pictures. I was able to get chips from the paint manufacturer, but now I have to be careful that I put everything in the proper place.  I have found that for me, the most complicated phase of a picture is often in the layout.  I have to determine the crop out and then begin the pencil drawing, deciding just how much detail I want to start with.  This one was a little more difficult than most because not only were the colors altered, but they wanted it to fit nicely into a standard frame.  Personally, I find it very difficult to work in a standard size.  I start out with a common size layout and it just doesn’t work with what I see and I have to expand it into my extra margin space.  This time, because of the specific request, I felt I had to do the best I could to accomplish that.  Fortunately the vertical townhouse gave me a little leeway with the adjoining homes.  I was able to fit it on an 8×10 board and work with a 1″ mat.

Inked in

I am fairly happy with the inking except for one thing – I had a brain cramp and mislayed the sidewalk lines.  As I was doing it I kept thinking this looks a little odd , but of course I didn’t stop to refigure.  I had layed them out with the roof lines instead of the primary perspective.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I may have to speckle out the sidewalk more.  Fortunately the lines are not solid and I may be able to finesse it with a little effort and color.  Ink is so unforgiving.

I am about 2/3 colored in right now and hope to be all done on Wednesday.  It may seem odd, but I usually find that the color aspect is the fastest.  The inking usually takes the most time.

Rain at last

I felt the earth breathe a sigh of relief this afternoon After more than two weeks of super hot and dry weather, we finally got some rain this afternoon. The temperature dropped about 15-20 degrees in a short period of time as the rain poured down accompanied by some lightning and thunder. It was wonderful.

Day lily

I managed to spend some time this week in the studio even though I had to work three days on a set of architectural drawings on the computer. I decided to stay with the flowers because I have so many fresh ones outside right now and it is probably better to work from life for a change instead of from of a photograph, even if it is not really plen air.  I have some very lovely large day lilies blooming in a kind of deep mauve with a yellow throat and brown undertones.  I think I worked on it over two days, but  I don’t feel it is quite done yet so I will play a little more with it this week.  The painting is on the small side as these things go.  I had one long piece of leftover board that I cut down to two with an image size of 3″ x 5″.  I like the colors but I think I may want to try for a little more definition in it.  I haven’t totally decided.  I really don’t want to overwork it and muddy the colors.

The mustache challenge

The second piece turned out to be something for a challenge within one of the etsy teams I belong to and it had to involve a mustache of all things. I really don’t illustrative or cartoon art, so I had to think long and hard about what to do. I finally came up with an idea for barber shop scene. I wanted it to be fairly stark black and white with maybe just a little splash of color to catch the eye.  It is just a little piece done totally for fun.  I think the barber pole is actually the best part with its small amount of shading.

The Third Experiment

I was able to work on this latest watercolor over the course of several days this week. And while I am happy that I made the effort, I think I like it least of the three. I picked several flowers from the beds and went from there.

Just the watercolors

After two sessions, this is basically what it looked like.  I was okay with the purple flowers and the background, but the yellow ones just got muddier the more I worked on them.  I decided to let it sit for two days and then see how I felt.  I was just dissatisfied enough that the pen and ink were looming in the background.  When I did come back, I felt that the yellow flowers needed more definition and I didn’t want to muddy them more, so I got out the ink.  Unfortunately, I got too carried away for the smaller flowers.  I think the ink must have bled a little more than I expected because it quickly overwhelmed them in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.  From there I had to add more ink into the background – more than I had intended and things kind of went down hill from there. 

After the ink overlay

I quit after a short while so I could look at the black areas the next day with a fresher eye and also tone them down with a little more watercolor.  I am not sure where I want to go from here with this painting.    The pictures actually look a little better than the painting itself.  I had to take them indoors under my daylight fluorescents because it is so hot and humid out that my camera lens fogged over outside.  I think that I may just let it sit for a while and maybe adjust the ink somewhat later in the week.  I do have two small 5×7 pieces of board left and will probably do something simple and quick on them.  Then I will probably feel like moving on to something else.

Ohio entryway, updated.

Well, it finally stopped raining for a few days, so there was some indoor and outdoor work accomplished. I have gotten most of the annuals planted and have started the arduous task of weeding.  Only a few things left to do, including deciding if we are going to buy some more fruit trees.  We can’t determine if we want to keep planting them in the same spot or start over in an area that we would fence.  Easier to decide now before more things go in.  Since we have had so much damage from the deer it is a very real decision.  You’d think they’d respect that we don’t hunt but they just treat my gardens like a cafeteria line. 

An elegant Ohio enrtyway

Anyway after letting the picture sit a few days, I went back and put on the color. It was fairly quick this time as the picture was smaller than the recent ones and I knew pretty much what I wanted to do. I like the fact that the slate roof wasn’t the standard blue/green/grey tiles.  It is a rosy grey that distinguished it from many of the other slate roofed homes in the area and I think quite lovely.  It fits well with the dark red bricks and limestone accents.  I love the architectural detailing that was put on residences in the early part of the century but is generally unaffordable now except in the most expensive of homes.  I let the picture sit for another day and a half before returning to make some minor adjustments and filled in the time with making some more mini tags. Last weekend I sold nine to a friend to use on her weavings and she also wanted to give a few away to her weaving compatriots. It was nice to see her go though my stack and pick out ones she liked for herself and for some to give away. It is always fun to see someone enjoy your work.

The only hang up was a near disaster with the new picture. I always try to spray the fixative outside and then let it dry out there, leaning face in against the wall for about 15 minutes if I can, because the odor is incredibly noxious. My husband had been working on the lawn outside and then started started spraying some bug spray at the various door lintels.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye and ran to my door yelling STOP.  Fortunately I caught him before he got to my inward facing artboard and no damage was done.  He was contrite, but my heart stopped beating there for a second.

Southern Grand Entry II

Aack. I almost didn’t get to post today. Monday evening as I was browsing the net I got a computer virus. Fortunately, I wasn’t connected to any of my own sites and the other computer was off, so the damage was limited to mine. The Geek Squad was able to turn around the fix in one day and I just got it back. Hooray (except for the cost). Anyway, I’m back on line and able to get at the files that I need to.

Souther Grand Entry II

I have been working on Southern Entry II for the last week. I really enjoyed drawing the last one and looked through all of my reference photos and came up with this. It too is grand, but in a different way. Instead of all of the glass around the entryway, it has major stonework around massive double doors.  To get an idea of just how big they are,  look at the placement of the door knobs.  Yes, they really are that low.  I’ll bet that those doors are easily 8 foot tall.  I liked the grand staircase and the fact that the entry was softened by the large plantings behind the fences.  This one also makes me wish that I could see what was behind those doors.  I have obviously finished the preliminary inking and am moving on with the color.  If all goes well, I will be able to finish it by the next post.  It is a bit larger than the last one and is taking a little more time.  I have to stand up at the table to work on the top portion which is not the easiest since the drafting table is a little slanted.  Not quite tall enough, I guess.  But I love my table.  It has served me well for almost 25 years now.

I have listed a few more aceo/gift tags and bookmarks in my etsy store so take a look if you have the time.  I have had a great deal of fun doing them.  They are quite freeing after the detail of the pen and inks.

Spring has sprung

We just got back from a few days away and it is amazing how much everything has grown in the mean time. The daffodils have been liking the cooler weather this year and have already lasted two weeks. The vinca has come back with a vengeance and is blooming like crazy. There were even a few blooms on the forsythia I planted last year. With the extended drought last summer and into fall, and then the long, cold, snowy winter, I was really afraid that a lot of plants wouldn’t make it. instead, all of the flora seems to have been invigorated this spring. Maybe all of the snow cushioned the cold and since we had so many smaller snows, the ground was slowly resaturated. I don’t know, but the flowers are really beautiful this spring.

Grand entryway

I  did finish the color on the entryway before we left, but  I wanted to let it sit for a short while so our short trip was perfect.  The photograph is not the greatest because it is raining outside and I am depending on my studio lights.  It is hard to get the balance of color and sharpness with just the fluorescents even though they are full spectrum.  I will try again later and maybe tomorrow when we are supposed to have some sun and replace it with a sharper one.  Sometimes the camera seems to have a mind of its own.  I normally take 2-3 shots that should be exactly the same and they turn out slightly different.  I am just not that great with the camera and usually let volume of pictures help compensate.  Heck, if National Geographic takes a thousand pictures for its articles, why can’t I take a few dozen if I need to.

I am thinking also perhaps doing a few aceos with aspects of architecture and see how they turn out.  I still have some of the last group left and it might be artistically freeing.  I already have the latest picture lined out and that would be a good project when I want to let the larger picture rest.

And a link to it on etsy.

Onward and upward – into the raised entryway

A lovely entryway

The weather has been so beautiful for a few days in a row that it is hard to pull myself back into the studio and not get out into the gardens.  However, I did manage to finish inking in the latest drawing as I had hoped and have actually pretty much now colored it too.  I was really attracted to this house by the wonderful glass accents on the entryway.  Is that a sun porch in the front or a grand foyer? It makes me want to go inside and see.

I have been using the Faber-Castell pastels on this, instead of watercolors and put in a little detail with colored pencils.  I stopped after I sprayed the workable fixative because I was just fiddling and I really need to let it rest for a day.  I could see some things to work on, especially re-inking in the foliage, but I decided to wait and get a fresh view today.  It is so easy to make a snap decision at this stage and end up overworking it.  I should have it done very soon.  I think for my next few drawings, I am going to find interesting parts of buildings.  I enjoy the intricate details of older architecture when all of these extras were deemed more necessary and I guess were more affordable.

I spent the rest of yesterday making some more aceos.  I am really enjoying filling up the down time in the middle of a picture doing these.  I bought a package of sixty sleeves and am filling them up rather quickly.  I had my team’s baseball game on in the background (hooray for the start of baseball season) and in some ways it felt more like play than work. 

Here is the one I listed today.

ACEO gift tag

Waiting on the ACEO sleeves to come in

Not much done on the ol’ studio the last few days. We went to see Justin get an MBA honor and win a 25 km trail race last weekend, which is why this post is late. Just when we get to see him run for the first time in a while, the weather at 6:30 am is back down in the twenties. Still, a good time was had by all. He lent me some  running clothes so I had on running tights, jeans, four tops and my coat, hat, and gloves and managed to stay warm.

I went ahead and ordered the ACEO sleeves, so they should be coming any day now. When they get here I can make the determination of how to use them. I may go to the local craft store and get a fancy scrapbooking hole punch and some nice ribbon. I am thinking of marketing them in groups of one or three, just like the book marks, as frameable keepsakes. We’ll see. I’ve asked friends and family but there doesn’t seem to any consensus so I may just have to try them both ways and see what happens. I am rather anxious for the sleeves to arrive, so that I can move to the next phase.

An antique sewing machine

I have started lining out my next drawing.  I decided to work on an interesting entryway of a house.  It has good lines, unique sidelight windows and pretty landscaping.  I was in the mood for something a little different from what I have done recently on the architectural front.  It is almost drawn out and I may start inking the landscaping today.

Because I’m behind in the studio, here are a few watercolors which I painted a while ago and quite liked.

A white gable end and green shutters

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