Mini tags

Just a short little post today for fun. When I was first working on the aceo/gift tag idea, I took some that I had made to show to my book group. All were appreciative but a woman who is a fine weaver (she has a very large loom where I would have a studio) asked if I could make some in a smaller size that she could use as a tag on her weavings.  She liked the larger ones but felt they were too large to use as a tag only. 

I said I would try, and the next time I had some down time letting a drawing rest, I cut  a few of the aceo watercolor blanks in half.  I also had a few odd pieces left from the big sheet cut down and recut them a little smaller.  These will have to have some sort of hole punched because they are definitely to be used as tags, but I find that I don’t have as much a problem with it as I did deciding on the aceo sized ones.  I think I will let her pick out some and list the rest as straight gift tags.

Mini gift tags

Why are we sometimes intimidated by our own work and afraid to ruin something we are creating?

One of the aecoe gift tags

The aceo sleeves arrived shortly after I made my last blog post.  I spent the next two days selecting which aceos I wanted to photograph and then preparing them for listing.  It is quite a project to do all of the photography and edit it for listing online, especially if there are multiple items.  I have to take several shots shots of each one to account for the light and the focusing aspect since sometimes the automatic focus on the macro lens  changes its mind between shots.  I want the pen and ink lines to be as crisp as possible and sometimes the lens is a little finicky.  I don’t want to have to redo a lot of photos  because the pen lines are blurred and I can’t always tell from the digital playback on the camera. 

I decided to prepare 10 cards in an initial run.  First I had to punch the ribbon hole in the sleeve and select an appropriate color ribbon to attach.  Then I took pictures of each one a couple of times in and out of the sleeves and ended up with 55 shots to go through.    All in all it took over a day to get it all done but I am pleased with the results.

This whole project brought to mind other thoughts concerning me and my art and the lurking aspect of the circular file.  Would I just be making something that would end up there?  After I had made the watercolor background and cut up the sheet into aceo sized cards, I felt quite intimidated by them and actually felt like I might “ruin” them by drawing on top.  Some of the cards were rather pretty on their own and I wasn’t sure how I was going to use them to their best advantage.  I actually stared at them for quite a while, working up the courage to start drawing on them.  I had to select the ones that were the least intimidating for me in terms of the color combinations and just start somewhere. 

Perhaps this feeling of intimidation goes back to those teachers that told me that realistic art and what I liked was not worthwhile – that the Old Masters had done it all already so just give it up.  If  it wasn’t abstract, it was passe and irrelevant.  I think that now if I was told those things I could slough it off more easily and move on.  In some ways I guess I am still working them out of my head.  At least now I can actually go ahead and do it, even if it takes a while to get started. 

I have started on my next picture – a lovely entryway that is about 1/3 inked.  I felt like going back to a close up drawing of a pleasing architectural feature .  Sometimes the part is as intertesting as the whole.  If I have finished the inking by Wednesday I’ll post it.  Not too many “mistakes” yet on it.

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

Tags or ACEO – What should I do?

First of all, let me wish everyone a happy first day of spring.  I can’t think back to when I have been so glad to see the back end of winter arrive.  Whew, but I can’t wait for my daffodils to flower.  And I already have buds on a few.

Now onto the tag project – or is it ACEO?  I can’t decide.  I went back after the big sheet of watercolor paper had dried and fortunately it was flat again.  I stared at it a long time trying to decide what to do.  I decided to be bold for a change.  What the heck – it was only a sheet of watercolor paper and I had plenty.  I would try to add some more washes and some heavier color. 

Cut watercolor sheet

I lightly put on a clean water wash over the previous day’s work, being careful not to brush down hard where I had color layed.  I saw a very little bit of movement from the older wash but not enough to be concerned about.  Then I layed in some more washes and drops of color.  When I felt that I had covered with enough colors, I let it alone to dry. 

I came back the next day and stared at it again for a while.  Should I add more or start to cut it up?  I opted not overdo it – always a hard decision on where to stop.  Overnight, laying in bed, I had the thought that rather than cutting up the paper in business card size for gift tags, perhaps I should make them the little bit larger ACEO size and expand my options.  So I plotted out a few areas that I thought would make a pretty background and then started cutting.  This was actually easier to do mentally and emotionally than the last time I cut up what I had done.  I was glad, as it turned out, that I decided to make them bigger.  I think that it took better advantage of the colors.  Odd how just a half-inch size change could make such a difference but I think it did.  Here above are some of the pieces.  I think they are pretty nice on their own and haven’t decided what to do with them.

I like them all well enough that I don’t know whether or not I want to punch a hole in them for use as gift tags.  Perhaps I could get some ACEO card holders and punch the hole in them instead.  That way they could be used as a gift tag with a little bit of writing on the back and kept as a keepsake. I’ve not bought any holders yet so I don’t know what is possible.  I guess that I will be working that out over the next few days.  It’s nice to feel satisfied with something I have done for a change and to be looking at options instead of the circular file.

Inked over cards I


Inked over cards II

A colorful Florida streetscape

This kind of shows the progression of how I do my artwork. I first make a rough pencil sketch with not an over amount of detail. I usually start the pen and ink with the landscaping first since it frames the buildings front and back, and then move on to the windows. I will add a little more pencil detail as I need it, but never put too much on, as I feel it can overwhelm the flow of the portrait. I find that then it can become too harsh and linear and overwhelm softer effect that the color supplies.

As in the pen and ink stage, I like to start with the foliage when I add color – whether it be pastel, colored pencil, or watercolor. I lay appropriate background colors and build from there. Often I will add a little more definition with the ink. Finally, I spray with a permanent fixative. Many artists don’t like to use a fixative, but I do. I love the way the colors all pop and since I have been doing this so many years, I can predict where the color will be deepened and enriched. So pretty and I know the portrait is protected. Hope you like this, too. I do.

The pencil sketch

The pen and ink with a little color started

The finished product

Where watercolor buildings came from

A few years ago, I took a watercolor class with my sister.  I did it mostly to spend time with her since she and her husband had just moved to the area  and get out of the house.  While the class itself wasn’t anything special in terms of new knowledge and skills, I looked at it as enforced artwork time.  I would be creating something one evening a week no matter what else was going on. 

We washed our paper with varying colors and then looked at it to see what appeared.  It is a technique that I adapted later to my pen and ink buildings for use over an initial watercolor wash.  I took one of my photos of an interesting section of a building, made a rough wash, and then quickly inked in the details without rigorous regard for where  the colors actually were.  I like the effect and it is very freeing in terms of my more normally detailed work.  I am thinking of using it on occasion for other things like animal portraiture just for fun.

Red flowers in the watercolor

Blue flowers in the watercolor

New series of artwork

I have decided to start a series of new drawings.  I enjoyed doing the southern streetscape with the colorful buildings and evidently, so do my viewers on etsy.  I have started another one and pulled several pictures of streetscapes with vividly colored storefronts from my backlog of trip photos.  There should be enough for 3 or 4 more pieces without any more thoughts on it.  I find it is easier to get into a flow if the planning is already there and I don’t have to make so many decisions between projects. 

I also pulled some animal pictures to intersperse drawing between the buildings to keep it all fresh.  Besides, my husband likes the animal ones.  I think I will alternate a few of the loose watercolor/pen and ink ones (like below) just because they are fun and mentally freeing. 

I have taken pictures of the initial pencil drawing and then the pen and ink overlay already.  I plan on taking a few shots of the overlay in progress and will post them when I have finished so everyone can see the progression.  I like to take about a day between each phase to let me have a different perspective of the work.  Sometimes I get so involved with the process, it is valuable to step back and look at it with fresh eyes.  A few days after I think I’m done, I look at the artwork again and tweak it if necessary.  One has to know when to stop tweaking, though.  That is often a big decision in and of itself.  If the football games ar crummy today, I will end up back in the studio early.

Here’s the picture

Forgot to insert the picture. Here it is. One of these days I’ll have it all figured out.

watercolor sketch

Out my window

Here is a look out my studio window. Fall has arrived and the lake is down because of the extreme lack of rain.

I want to start featuring a piece of my past artwork every week and then posting what I am working on currently several times a month. Hopefully, this will serve as inspiration for the creative process.

As you can see, I do most of my work with a pen and ink base and then overlay color onto it. I use hard pastel chalk, watercolor, and colored pencil – whatever I feel will work best with the subject matter.