Japanese maple linocut

Japanese maple print

After I sold several linocut prints this spring, I decided to cut a few new ones.  I wanted to experiment with some new printing papers at the same time, so I ended up making this new piece and printing it and the replacement ones for sale simultaneously.

I have a lovely Japanese maple tree outside my front door which provided the inspiration for this piece.  One year we had a very early spring and the tree fully leafed out way too soon.  When we had the inevitable later frost, the tree was severely damaged and I though I might lose it.  I did some serious pruning on it and after a few years of looking on the funky side, it is now back to normal and I look at it with pleasure every day.

The cover piece

When setting up the other drawings for the book, I forgot all about the cover piece. So here is the pencil and ink up.  I wasn’t happy with the first drawing and ended up adding some vegetation to the foreground in the inking for more color.  I like it better, now.

Cover piece

Inked in cover piece

Another little fox drawing

Arctic fox 2

Arctic fox 2

I enjoyed creating the last fox painting and decided to use another picture from the zoo visit.  Once again I used the ink to delineate him and then filled him out with the watercolors.  I used the same color palette so they make a nicely matched set.  I think I’ll list them as a pair in my etsy shop later this week.

We hiked our north and south paths today in nice weather.  The high temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s lately and we finally had a chance to go out and walk.  It was a little muddy but otherwise a lovely day.  We have had some high wind gusts lately and expected to have to pick up a lot of fallen branches, but it really wasn’t bad.  There was more debris in the back yard than on the trails.

Daisy vase linocut

Daisy vase linocut

Daisy vase linocut

I saw some pictures of sunflowers recently and decided to make a floral linocut. I found a reference photo of daises that I had picked and put in a vase on my counter top a few years ago.  Also, I wanted to make a companion piece  to go with the other little linocut I made a few months ago and possibly make a matching set of blank greeting cards for my etsy store.  I plan to color one of the prints, as I usually do.  I think the flowers will be yellow and the vase, the mossy green, maybe with a touch of red so it will go a little better with the red teapot print.  I’ll decide tomorrow when I paint it.  I give the thicker paper a day to make sure the ink is fully dry.

Floral card set

Floral card set

Mr. Turtle’s Portrait

Mr. Turtle

Mr. Turtle

I am still pretty busy outside of the studio these days so I have been choosing smaller projects that I can pick up or stop easily. I have talked about Mr. Turtle before and decided that a small water color/ink portrait of him would fit the bill.  I also need more animal portrait samples for my etsy shop and the picture I took of him last month was pretty good for that.  He is a lovely shade of dark brown with golden markings.  I think the markings are so distinctive to the individual that each one can be identified by them.  As you can see, he was peering up at me when I took his picture.  I never tried to pick him up so he wasn’t too afraid.  He kept his head out the whole picture taking session, even when I walked around to photograph him from both sides.  I think we have come to an agreement.  I kind of like the look in his eye.

I have been using the nib pen and india ink to sketch out a base for the watercolor in the animal portrait work.  I like the fluidity and variation of the pen stroke for the animal art versus the technical pen for the architecturals.  Also, I am not really using the nib pen for a lot of detail in these.  I want to keep a sketch like quality to the work.

And Mr. Turtle has been living life on the edge lately.  Last week he had to be picked up out of the way a riding lawn mower and relocated to a safer spot.  All I can say is “whew” for him.  He’s fairly good size but seeing him in the tall grass was fortunate.

Primitive horse painting

In keeping with “small art” in June, I decided to use a primitive horse chatchke as a model.  I got him as a gift many years ago and he now lives on a dresser in my studio framed from behind by a 26″ flat rice basket.

Primitive horse watercolor

Primitive horse watercolor

I had the worst time sketching him out.  I am using a rectangular piece of watercolor board and initially had it in landscape layout.  He has over long legs and I kept running out of room for them.  Finally, it occurred to me to just turn it to portrait and that worked out much better.  I can be slow sometimes.  I outlined sketchily in ink and then put down a base layer of watercolors.  His legs and head are metal, but the base and body are wood.  I used a dark sepia on the metal parts and yellow ocher for the wood.  I left it alone over night and today added more of both.  I put down some green to ground the figure and decided to highlight with purple.  At the last, I went back and added more ink.

I’m up in the air how I feel about this one.  I don’t dislike it, but I’ not overwhelmed with it either.  I’ll let it sit for a few days and decide whether to list it or not.

And, I have been keeping an eye out for Mr. Turtle this spring. The last few years I have seen him plodding down the gravel driveway when I was out weeding, but I missed him this year.  I was concerned about his survival given the months of drought, but fortunately, John saw him last week under the deck so he has already made it around the house.  I’m glad to know he is back even if I wasn’t the one to see him.  Maybe he’ll decide to head into the hillside flower bed and I’ll get to say hello.

Little watercolor still life

I made a triple cut mat for the first time for a holiday gift and decided to use the leftover pieces for some small pieces of artwork.  I had to practice what I was doing before I made the actual mat, so I had several small cut outs to use as possible mats.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

You might have noticed that I rarely make a piece where the predominant color is blue. The mat was blue/gray so I decided to use it as a color inspiration.  I laid out a small piece to fit the inside of the mat, but wouldn’t you know, when I penciled out the size, I did it incorrectly.  I made it too short.  Since I colored it edge to edge I couldn’t use it with the mat.  Fortunately, I like the way it turned out.  I have been obsessing a little bit with dragonflies lately and I thought that one with blue wings would be a great idea.  I love seeing them around the house and pond.  The iridescence of their wings is always so beautiful as they flit around.  I went with a complementary color palette for the background to set him off.  Too much blue if I went for a water effect.  I went for cattail colors.

Vase_4770When I redid the layout for another small painting, I was more careful and ended up with the still life you see here.  I think I like the dragonfly more than the vase.  The vase isn’t quite properly grounded and although I have fiddled with it some, it is still not right.  I think I will let it sit a few months and then look at it.  It may only need a simple fix, but I can’t see it yet.

Bamboo linocut

Bamboo linoleum block

Hooray!  My linoleum blocks came in the mail today.  I have been eager to cut out the bamboo idea that I had last week when I couldn’t find my last one.  I penciled it out based it on a little sketch I had done, and then adjusted it as I cut.  Sorry about the flash sheen, though.  I got a late start this afternoon and was not able to photograph it outside.  I tried four different ways and the flash just bounced off of every one.  If you click on it, however, the enlargement is a bit better.  I upped the contrast some, so it actually looks a lot like the print will.

I think I will once again make both a straight black ink print and then add some watercolor to a few.  I really like the mossy green that I used before, so I probably use it and maybe something else.  It is so hard to decide before I see an actual print.  That will be tomorrow’s task.

Daisies in ink

You know, sometimes when I put something in a safe place, the only thing it is safe from is me. I had been looking at my reference photos for my next project and found one with some bamboo in it. I though that it might make a nice linocut, but when I looked for my last linoleum block, it was nowhere to be found.  Sigh.  Off to order some more.

Daisies

I had bought a small bouquet of daisy-like flowers at the grocery store for $5.00 and decided to base a quick painting on them.  I made it in the proper ratio for the print company, but  just a little bit smaller than the recent architecturals.  I penciled it up quickly yesterday and without too much thought, inked it up today.  I changed the placement of  a few lines and increased the number of leaves, but it basically is the same as I drew it.  I have found that usually my first instincts for a drawing are the best, provided that I make no major error.  I have a tendency to over think these things, especially with something that has an abstract quality to it like this.

With any luck even with the holiday, I will have it finished over the weekend and ready to post.  I am taking inspiration from the little black-eyed Susan painting I did earlier in the year.  I would have submitted that one but alas it was too small for their specs.  I hope this one turns out as well.

Gretchen

I am not one much for little dogs, but Gretchen was special.  A golden-red, smooth haired dachshund, she was a sturdy, unregistered purebred.  My mom wanted a small dog (and dad wanted none), so we ended up with her.  She was an active dog that loved going places in the car.  All you had to do was jingle the car keys and there she was right next to the front door, ready to go wherever.  Though I shudder to think about it now, her favorite place was up on the ledge under the rear windshield where she was out of the way and the view was good.  It seemed made just for her.

Where’s the toast

She adored buttered toast and no matter where she was when the toaster clicked up, she was in the kitchen in less than 5 seconds.  Mom always made one for herself and one for Gretchen.  Who could ignore those  begging eyes.  She could also flip a treat off of her nose into her mouth without skipping a beat and it was so funny to see her crossed eyes watching the little morsel until we said “okay”.

She had a blanket in her bed and when she wanted to sleep undisturbed, she burrowed in so completely that you would never even know she was there.  She used a quick flip of her long, pointed nose to shift the blanket up and over herself, slowly but surely burying her sausage body within its folds.  When she deigned to emerge she was as warm as the toast she loved.

And one weekend when I was alone in the house, she jumped off of my bed and ran down the stairs headed for the kitchen.  She stood in the dining room barking her head off towards the rear windows as I turned on lights and cautiously called her from the second floor hallway balcony, from which I could still see her.  I am convinced to this day that she stopped our home from being burglarized.

Of the four dog portraits I have done, I think I am the least satisfied with this one.  I don’t really like the head and eyes much.  The skull dome is not quite right and the eyes are a little off as a result.  I have been fooling around with it for the last hour or so and there has not been much improvement so I think I’ll just let it go.  Of all of them, I like Ding Dong Dog the best and then Brandy’s portrait.  They ring the truest both emotionally and artistically.  I think I will be back on the architecturals next.  I’ve finally gotten into the mood to work with the pastels again.

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