The last portrait is out and a new one is in.

Pencil drawing

On the day I mailed the last commission, I started another.  At 20″X14″, this is a large one.  I rarely do something this big.  When I point out to a potential client that the framed painting would be about 24″X18″, some reconsider.  A piece of art that big really needs its space. However, in this case, it will be hung over a king sized bed so it should be fine.

This a gift for a parent selling the  long time family home and it has an unusual addition.  The barn was added as a special memory even though it is not located exactly where it is placed.  We went through several renditions of the barn’s size and exact location before it finally ended up there, looking like that.  It was hard not to make it a second focal point and I will have to leave it a little bit softer so it doesn’t take too much attention away from the house.  After a day of inking, I am only about 20% or done.  Slow going.  There is a lot of landscaping in there and I am combining some photos, so I have to be careful with the perspective.


Commission finished

First layer of color


I finished this smaller commission and am pretty happy with it.  As an end unit of an apartment or condo building there were few special features to highlight and I had to guard against everything just looking cut off.  There was another door just to the left of the one shown, so I couldn’t even move it over to center it a bit more.

I was forced to maximize what I had. The shrubs and flowers helped, along with the concrete frog, but with the doorway off to the side, I had to make sure the colors were especially appealing. The green canopies sure helped.    I don’t know what I would have done without them to liven up the exterior.

Still, it is someone’s treasured home and I hope I did justice to it.

Home Portrait Commission

Home portrait


I received a local commission this month for a lovely two story brick house in the older section of Bloomington.  The woman was moving away from her long time residence to be closer to family and someone wanted to give her a nice memento of a home she had lived in for many decades.  It was a bit hard to get the pictures because it was to be a surprise, but stealth prevailed and we got the job done.

I wish there had been more colorful landscaping in the front, but I have the feeling she was no longer able to keep much up exotic landscaping.  There are nice flowers on the front porch, however, to add a little pop to the picture.  I also like the little wrought iron fence on top of the doorway and the curved railing.  They are fun little details and add visual interest.  I am coloring it with pastels instead of watercolor.  It was a larger size and I like doing brick with the pastels as it gives a richer color than the watercolors when the picture is bigger.

10,000 blades of grass…

10,000 blades of grass

10,000 blades of grass

….or at least that’s how it seems. Three and a half hours in, and all I’ve done is pasture.  That is about how long I can work before my eyes stop focusing on all of the little ink lines.  I do like it so far, though.  I plan to add some yellow and white wild flowers in the foreground to break up all of the green.  Fortunately, the barn is classic red and the house is white.  This is definitely going to be a test of my positive/negative space skills.

More grass and then the trees are next on the agenda.  Last will be the house as the pictures show 2 different facades – one with a screened porch and door and the other with a simple railing only so I need to talk to the client and find out which is correct.

(I have actually tried to estimate the number of grass strokes made and came up with almost 6,000!)

Cattle farm landscape

Farm landscape

Farm landscape

This one is a little different than my normal home portrait. If fact, it’s pretty far away, seeing as the house and the barn are way back there and it is really more of a landscape.  The drawing measures ~18″x7″ which is also a change from my usual working sizes.

The inking will take a lot of time here – lots of grass and trees.  In talking it over with my client, I decided the pastels would be more suitable than the watercolors. The richness of the sprayed hard pastel will enhance the landscape, although I will probably use a little watercolor on the small fence areas and the barn, just because it will be easier to lay a color base and then just shade a bit with the pastels and maybe a little colored pencil.

Think pink!

Surprisingly pink entryway

Surprisingly pink entryway

I finally got back to work on this massive looking wooden entryway located in Germany.  I have always like the pink facade combined with the huge wooden doorway.  The last time I looked at it was before the Christmas rush, so now that I’ve caught back up, I thought I’d get back to it.  I didn’t really have much left to do, but I deepened the colors some as well as the shadows.

This exemplifies what I like most about Old World architecture – the use of vibrant, unexpected colors.

We have been having a little bit of wildlife excitement here the last couple of days.  This year’s crop of coyote puppies has made its appearance.  I think they are denning across the lake as the mother hangs out past the far end of the dam just outside of the woods.  The boldest 4 of the 6 puppies (!) have crossed the dam and come to hunt and play in our back yards.  I am surprised the parents let them roam so far away.  It might take them 10 seconds to get over here if there was trouble, but I guess they are not too worried about us after all this time.  I took some pictures, but even with my telephoto lens, they hung down too close to the lakeside for really clear pictures.  If some manage to turn out, I’ll post them.  The last time they appeared in 2013, we saw them every afternoon for about 5 days.  I hope we get to see them at least that often.  These are younger than the 2013 group we saw early that July.

Color, finally

Wooden doorway

Wooden doorway

Color, finally, on the doorway.  I have made a preliminary fixative spray as I was having trouble deciding how rich the dusty rose for the woodwork was going to turn out.  So far, so good, but I definitely think I need to darken and delineate the shadows more.  It’s too flat yet.

We’ve had an up and down fall so far.  First very warm and then quite cold.  The animals have been hiding too, perhaps because some of the hunting seasons have started.  We’ve been hearing gunshots in the woods lately so hiking the south trail may be a bad idea for a while.  I did see flocks of tom turkeys twice this week, so that was nice.  And coyotes have been howling some.  Too bad we didn’t see pups this year.  The flower beds have given up the ghost, although I had one wayward white iris that decided it was okay to rebloom in November.  That didn’t last very long, but it was pretty.

I started an instagram account under ruthsartwork a couple of weeks ago.  Slowly, with the help of my son, I am being dragged into the social media webs.  LOL  It’s been surprisingly fun so far, though.

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