Western house commission

Pencil drawing

Inked up

I had a bit of delay with getting the photos, but now I am on this latest commission from Nevada. It is pretty simple, all things considered.  I do kind of miss doing grass and trees, but it is good to see someone working with what is more natural to the area.

Finished pastel

Finished pastel

The second one was a pastel and I had a devil of a time with the colors.  The upper siding was a beige color with the garage doors and trim brown.  Add in the green door and shutters, the cream/red/brown brick, and it was quite the mix.  I ended up starting with the red brick, then moving to the brown and green accents, and finally to the siding.  I kept having to erase the color overmarks onto the light siding area and figured I would just leave it until last.  Then the shading ended up being too red and I had to shade it back towards the blue.  Finally, after fussing a bit, I decided I was done.

I do like to do the pastels for the coloring on the larger ones (14X9 and above.)  I think it allows a richer color from the gloss fixative compared to the watercolors.  The only drawback is the fixative spray has quite the obnoxious odor.  I try to spray outside, but that is not always possible in the winter. Then it’s off to the storeroom with a slightly opened window for a bit of cold air exchange.


New home portrait for Boise Idaho has been mailed


My second home portrait Christmas commission is finished and gone.  As it was a new build, I enlarged the landscaping and greened up the grass to help it settle into the landscape.  It was kind of fun to do a portrait from a far away place that I had actually visited near.

I did hear from the client that it safely arrived and that she was delighted.  I had wrapped it so that she couldn’t see it directly on opening the shipping box and she said it was like her own Christmas!  So happy she is happy.

Christmas commission 2

Pencil drawing

Pen before the watercolor

December commission two was medium sized at 10×8, but it too needed to have the landscaping cut back some.  The two trees in front covered most of the upper story so I moved the right one over a bit and lessened the spread of the left one.  Also, that let me show the bench and woodpile on the left part of the porch.

Lots of grass blades here so while I waited on some questions being answered, I went ahead and started those little strokes that seem to take longer than the rest of the landscaping put together.  I don’t mind it though.  I find it’s kind of relaxing creating all that randomness.

All five, finished

Florida 1

Florida 2


South Carolina

Florida 3

All the portraits are done and were in the hands of the buyer well before Christmas. I received a photo of them framed and hung at the base of her stairway, where they can be viewed daily. The 8×10 with frame was the perfect size for the area and they look great, if I do say so myself.

While very fun to do, each portrait had its own difficulties attached, not the least of which was color. The Floridas 2 and 3 and the South Carolina house were related to me as muddy taupe, but the photos showed mostly a pinkish tone to everything.  And what the heck is taupe anyway?  I should have asked her to go to one of the big box home improvement stores and pick out a paint chip, but, alas, I thought of that too late. Fortunately, my guesses must have been okay because the buyer was pleased.

Florida 1 had a mixture of landscaping and paint combinations that varied in the reference photos, so I had to find out what was apropos for when she lived there.

The Georgia house had lots of flowers (potted and otherwise) and bentwood porch furniture to add.  The house color was to be a brownish yellow, but the flowers were to be the special feature.

All in all, it was the largest commission I have ever done, but it was well worth all of the difficulty and hard work.  When the buyer saw the pictures she cried with pleasure.  It’s one of the reasons I love my work.

I finished the dog portrait


Silly me. In my eagerness to start the watercolors, I forgot to photograph the inked phase, so here is the finished portrait.  What a cute little dog this is.  After I started the watercolors, the overhead perspective from the photo made her harness start to look more and more like a neckerchief.  I had to widen the base somewhat to make it look right.  It wasn’t so apparent in the pencil up or even the inking, but about half way through the watercolors, the orange harness fabric started to bother me.  I widened the base with the ink.  Fortunately, that area is in shadow, so I could get away with it.  In the end, I am pleased with it.

Gizmo done


I finished Gizmo’s watercolor portrait, and I must say, I like it much better than the acrylic one.  I was able to be much more delicate in depicting him – and he was a very delicate little guy.  I think for portraiture (both pet and architectural) that pen and ink with the watercolor or pastel overlay is much more suited to my style.  I really need to take an acrylic class and get a better idea of technique.

Jasper color

Watercolored in

Watercolored in

The watercoloring is finished on the Jasper, Indiana streetscape and it is ready for listing in my etsy shop.  While it is not quite as colorful as some of the others, I do like the blue gray siding next to the red bricks.  We actually went into this shop and bought some gifts and a little sign. It is a lovely little store to walk into and explore.

I am going to have to go out this spring and take some local small town photos.  I really have enjoyed creating this set of streetscapes.  The big problem is finding a small town mainstreet that is as vibrant as Jasper is and lots of open, well cared for stores.  Small towns are having a hard time surviving.  Jasper deserves a lot of credit.

Watercoloring the German streetscape

Streetscap with watercolors added

Streetscape with watercolors added 

This drawing has quite a bit more color added to it than the previous one.  I started with painting the red timber trim and flower boxes and then moved on to the walls.  I left the upper area white but darkened the lower areas.  The brown building on the left also provided a nice contrast.  I grounded the building by darkening up the street.  Unlike the road in the last one with the brick patterns, this one has nothing to distinguish it.  I may decide to darken it up a little bit more.

I decided to get bold with the sky this time around.  I discovered that if I put some ink lines on another sheet of board and then wet them, I had a light watercolor to add quickly to the real painting.  I wet the sky area pretty well with clear water and then loaded up the brush from the prewatered lines.  I quickly dabbed the wide brush into the sky area and moved it around.  Prewetting the sky with plenty of water seemed to let the ink wash act more like watercolor and not just stain the board wherever I touched it.  I’m pleased with the effect.  Some of the pinks appear along with the blues, giving the sky some texture.

I’m not happy with the green foliage between the buildings so I’m just letting it sit a couple of days before I make any adjustments.  Maybe I’ll add some yellows to it.

Redoing the studio linocut

Redone linocut

Redone linocut

I wasn’t really happy with the color print of the backyard studio, so I decided to redo it. Part of the problem I have been having with the prints I color is that the heavier paper is more textured and it is difficult to get an even print.  I went to the local box craft store to see if I could find an acid free heavier paper without so much texture. They carried a pad of Strathmore acid free mixed media paper with a smoother finish that had possibilities.  I bought it and made a couple of prints.  Definitely it was easier.  This one had better ink pickup on the whole than the more textured paper.  It isn’t quite as absorbent as fast, but if I take it slower and allow the watercolors a chance to sink in and dry, it does work.  I just think I need to practice with it some.  Because the black is more consistent, the watercolors have a chance to pop the image more.  I think I’ll keep trying it for the next few linocuts.

I had some new prints made from from my digital files this week, too.  After the last few years of work, I have pretty much run the gamut of the usable photos from my old analog camera, so I went ahead and made a few from my digital files.  It is so nice now that I can just look at my files and only print up the ones that turn out.  I used to have to take rolls and rolls of film to make sure I got some good shots.  It is certainly a lot cheaper too.  I have some shots from a visit to an outdoor dinosaur museum in Kentucky off of I-65 that have the makings of a few little boy linocuts and also downtown shots from Jasper Indiana where I had the paintings in the art show last September.  Maybe inspiration is striking again.  Anyway, those projects will be up in next weeks.

On a totally different note, please indulge a little motherly pride.  Our son ran in the 2015 USA Track and Field 100 mile National Championships in Texas on January 31.  A long time runner, he placed 12th in the men’s championship field and 23rd overall out of a field of 367.  Here is a link to our daughter-in-law’s blog with a picture.  I also have her blog in my blogroll if you can’t use the link for some reason under Beth’s Healthy Lifestyle Blog.  It is the previous post to the one up. https://treetoptrainingcultivation.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/endurance/

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