Well, Blech is about all I can say about this

More color

More color

This is not going as smoothly as I had hoped or remembered it being.  For a change, the photo actually looks better than the real piece of artwork.  I think the only part that is passable is the foreground.  The stonework is sketchy and I haven’t quite figured out how I want to do the metal roof and the door.  I am having trouble making fine details with the thicker acrylic paints and I definitely need a smaller brush. I should get a thinning medium also.  Although I have a drying retardant already, I think I may need something more.  I will consider taking an acrylic class this spring too, just to help me remember what I need to do.
The best thing about this is that it is an experiment. I am free to try whatever I want and if things don’t go well, I can use the circular file. Nine canvases from the package to go.

Back to work in a slightly different direction

Acrylic base coat

Acrylic base coat

Well, after a nice holiday break, I’ve finally gotten back into the studio. I have been watching an interesting British show called “Portrait Artist of the Year” for the last few months (on the Ovation Channel if you get it.)  I really enjoyed seeing all of the different styles and techniques of dozens of artists and judging for myself which I like and which I didn’t.  I know from watching it that I am NOT a portrait painter, but it has inspired me to try my hand at acrylic painting again after about a 25 year layoff.  I had no supplies left of course after all of that time, so I used some of my Christmas commission income for a little bit of judicious buying with Michael’s coupons to help me get restarted.

One thing I have already discovered is that I need to have the right size brushes.  I have a few, but this little painting (8×10) will tell me what I really want to use.  I bought a package of 10 canvases to play with.  I’ll know after that if I want to keep it up or was just feeling inspired to try something new by the tv show.

This is just the base layer for the barn.  I wanted something fairly simple to experiment with and I do love my stone barns, don’t I.  LOL  I sure hope things improve as I add details today.  It’s kind of blah right now.

Spring fever is making studio time a little harder

Spring has sprung here, at least for a little while.  My daffodils had a few buds last Thursday and yesterday I picked some blooms.  I’ve never seen them develop that fast.  Not complaining, mind you, because I wait all year for this.  I love my daffodils.  Yesterday I planted 4 grape vines that I bought at Sams Club.  Two whites and two reds.  I hope they make it but of course I won’t know for a while.  The red and gold raspberries  and the blueberry bushes we planted last fall in the midst of the drought have started to bud out also.  I have been trying to grow the red raspberries for many years after my first sets finally died out without much luck .  This year I am going with some mir-acid in hopes they all make it.  At least the winter didn’t kill them.

More tags I

I did make it back into the studio to work again on the tags the last few days for a little while.  It is funny how, sometimes, it is hard to get going on a project again.  I stared at the blanks for a while before I could start to draw on them.  I felt a little intimidated at drawing over the colored background in fear that I might ruin them.  I finally started on the ones that appealed less to me (although I really liked them all) and by the time I had done a couple, I got into the creative  flow.  I ended up using up all but three.  I really like the blend of colors on those and am not sure that inking over would improve them.  Perhaps I’ll just sell them as they are.

I investigated the aceo sleeves and they appear to have 1/2″ extra in both dimensions.  If that is true I will be able to punch a hole in the holder, keeping the tag intact and useable as an aceo.  I may decide to put in a white backing sheet (unattached) where someone could write a short note to be saved or discarded at a later time. I ordered the sleeves yesterday and will have to wait until they arrive to make a final decision.  In any case I have decided not to punch a hole. 

More tags II

 This has been a lot of fun and I have the next sheet ready for cutting.  I will probably cut it today and then start lay out for my next drawing.  These smaller projects are good for the down time when I am letting a picture rest so I can look at it with new eyes. 

And because I said I would show it, here is the last drawing.  It’s up in my etsy shop already.

Onto the gift tag project – the circular file revisited – or not

Since I’ve finished the latest stone barn picture, I decided to try out the gift tags project. I thought that it would make a nice accompaniment to the bookmarks – just not laminated. I decided to try to run the watercolor base on a whole sheet of paper instead of each individual piece and then cut it up and decorate it. Easy, right? Guess again.

Wavy paper mess

I have this nice little watercolor paper stretcher thingy and tried to use it. It holds a sheet of watercolor paper about 14″x21″ and I thought that if I ran some mixed color washes over it, it would make some interesting backgrounds for sketches on the tags after I cut it up.  I followed the directions for stretching the paper and locking it into the frame, but I must not have soaked it thoroughly enough. When I tried the washes, major buckles occured.  The colors ran in not so interesting fashion and I spent my time trying to “artistically” mop up the pools of color.  Not good.  I had to stop and let it dry, hoping that it would at least flatten out again and maybe parts would be salvagable.  the good news is that it did dry flat enough to use.  I am going  to try to cut up the paper into useable pieces.  I am afraid if I rewet it and add more paint, the colors will run into a more muddy mess.  I hope that at least a number of pieces will be usable when I cut it up – otherwise most of it will end up in the circular file.  I will have to be better at stretching the next piece today. 

I am encouraged enough after the bookmark experience to try again.  I think most of the difficulty arises from my inexperience with the heavy watercolor paper.  I need to keep experimenting with it and maybe use a lighter weight.  I just have a large stock on hand of the heavy.  I’ll post a picture of the barn next time.  Next on the list of to-dos is to put it up on etsy.

Time change, schmime change. Let’s just leave the sun alone.

I live in a state where the time change that the rest of the country dealt with was not adopted until a few years ago. I had grown up with it so originally it wasn’t a big deal when I moved here, but I tell you, after almost 30 years without, I unknowingly got very used to it. It wasn’t ever a common thing to think about, of course, but it was a comfortable thing to live with. The only hassles were trying to explain to people in other states that our time relative to them varied over the course of the year.

Well, a couple of years ago, someone in the governor’s office got too smart for his pants and somehow managed to push through a law to get us onto daylight savings time. And I think much of the state, for the most part, was happy with the way things were before. It was a little bit of distinction out here in the Heartland.  We weren’t so ruled by our clocks as others.  I could even tell you the approximate time of day depending on where the sun was.    For years this was screwed up for me, and it is only lately that I can do it reliably, minus a few weeks around the change.  And I think that the rationale for it has certainly changed.  The farm population has dropped dramatically and many work at outside jobs, so the farm work has pushed on into the night, as has the use of lights on the farm equipment.   Do we really need to have kids up until 10 or 11 playing outdoor games and small children put to bed in almost full daylight?     Now, we have light in the summer until 10 pm and the “noon” sun comes about 2:00.  Do they have DST in Europe or Asia?  Does it really improve productivity anymore when we are now on a world wide 24 hour a day schedule?  I have my doubts.   With all of the studies on the sleep deprived population in the US, why add onto all of the stress that we have in our lives already.  AND, if anything, we should have been put onto Central time.

Enough about that, I guess.  It just irks me twice a year to have to do this for what I believe is no real reason.

I’ve started coloring my barn this week, but it’s not done yet.  I’m going to use the watercolors mostly, I think, and add in a little colored pencil.  I took advantage of the nicer weather we have been having and spent a little time outside , pulling up some of the dead plants in the bed. I  know, I should have done most of it last fall, but oh well.  My daffodils have finally started to come up about 3″ now.  It’s a little late but after the cold of the winter I am glad to see that most of the shrubs and flowers have survived.  My cold tolerant  herbs seem to have made it through and the lilacs and newer forsythia plants are starting to show buds.  It’s a relief because it was such a bad winter.  I heard the birds start to sing ouside at the barn where I keep my aging quarter horse mare.  I was worried all winter that she would fall in the ice and snow and since she can’t get herself up anymore that she wouln’t make it through.  But she did and is now shedding out small dogs in anticipation of warmer weather.

Confused Christmas Cactus

In honor of the long winter that started early and stayed late, here is a photo of my confused Christmas cactus.  It is reblooming for the third time in the last six months.  I prefer to think that it is merely giving me a little bridge to the spring and summer flowers that I love so much.

Studio update – a new piece of furniture

I’ve been so busy lately since I got over my illness. I made a lot of the bookmarks and have gotten everything laminated at the big box store. If things go well, I will consider purchasing my own office size laminator. I can’t justify it yet, but I would like to have more control over the process and lamination thickness and not depend on what I can buy and the skill of the laminating clerk. If somethings gets ruined, I want to be able to blame myself.

The new studio table

 And here is the new table.  I had been using our old kitchen table with a leaf insert that my parents bought at an auction and refinished for me 30 years ago.  It was relegated to storage for a number of years and then used as my studio table in the new house. It has served quite well for the last couple of years while I was getting up to speed in my first dedicated studio space.  Unfortunately when the kids used it in the stained glass project and I started making the bookmarks, its flaws became more obvious.  When I was just sitting at it, putting projects or mail together or painting small watercolors on my plexiglass sheet, its center bow didn’t really matter.  However, when the kids were cutting and snapping the glass pieces or I was trying to use the mat cutter for the bookmarks, it challenging at best.  I had only a specific place on the end where the cutter could lay flat for me and the kids had a lot of trouble snapping the larger glass pieces apart against an edge without them shattering.

Fortunately, we live in the vicinity of a large state university and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that they get rid of.  The university operates a surplus store that sells outdated computers, older but serviceable chairs and tables, and office furniture.  I take a peek in there once in a while and in fact that is where I was able to buy my map size flat files at a great price which I snapped up without hesitation.  (They were a little dinged up, but at 10% of new ones, I wasn’t about to complain.)  My sister had just gotten a great work table there so I decided to stop by and see what was left.  There were, in fact, two tables to choose from and this is the one that I got for only $50.00.  It has a metal frame and laminated top, but is the whole surface is flat and I can work anywhere on it that I want.  It has a drawer on the other side and measures 30″ x 60″ – big enough for just about any project I might have.  I got it home, washed it off with a bucket of lysol, and it looked even better.  I hate to think what I washed off but it is about as clean as I can make it now.  If the scratches bother me after a few weeks , I’ll get some metal paint for it.  Right now it is great to have a really flat surface to work on.  I’ve broken down the old table and will keep it for a while to see if the kids or nieces may want to use it for a work table  in the future.  It’s always good to have an old table around.

Watercolor bookmarks

Here’s my latest etsy bookmark listing.  I’ve started work on a new stone barn and hope to have it finished this week.  It’s a little different in that it is of a whole barn and not just a smaller view.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/69454434/laminated-watercolor-bookmark-1-12-x-8

Success in the Art Studio. Back to Work

Once again, they are predicting snow, but this time with a little ice added in. Remind me again why I should like winter. It has been so cold out that I haven’t been able to take pictures in the outside light. I am too afraid of getting condensation on the inside of the lens to try it. The change from drier high sixties indoor air to single digits or teens is more than I want to gamble on. I can’t really take them next to a window or door either because we have a little bit of tinting to keep out some of the uv rays over the summer and it alters the spectrum a little. Even so, I tried to take some photos next to the window and under my ott light and daylight flourescents. Guess which ones I ended up using. I  really prefer to use my photo stand outside when I can. Mother Nature is NOT cooperating. I’ll just have to redo several things when the weather is more conducive.

Anyway here is what I have been working on. I did another of a stone barn that I like in pen and ink with watercolor overlay. I find the stone walls of the barn really appeal to me for some reason and I like to do one when I feel stuck. Here is a link to it in my etsy store.    

http://www.etsy.com/listing/64378926/stone-barn-2-in-pennsylvania-10-x-8-pen

I also worked on a quick (relatively speaking) pen and ink of the cat we had when the kids were growing up.  We affectionately called her crabby cat when she was all grown up, but here she is while still a kitten.  It has all worked to get me back to more inspired work.  I am already almost finished lining out my next project.  I’ll probably list the Perkins picture in a day or two.

Pennsylvania Stone Barn 2

Perkins kitten