Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hattie's Rake Makes the Flowers Happy: The Inspiration and Process

Hattie's Rake Makes the Flowers Happy
oil on 16 x 20 inch paper

The Inspiration

This past Spring I did a lot of yard work.  I raked every inch of our backyard hoping to aerate the lawn and of course clean out the flowerbeds.  The hard work paid off because the grass became lush and green, and the flowers perked up with joy.  And as if all that raking wasn't enough, I went crazy and performed a brick patio facelift...pulling every brick up and replacing them in a more pleasing way.  Of course all this backyard activity sparked  a sketch in my sketchbook sweetie Moleskin and then ultimately this painting.  A self portrait?  Not really.  But it was very inspired by my own backyard.

 I wish we really could grow sunflowers just off the patio, but it's too shady to do so.
Below are some up-close pictures for you.  I plan to mount this painting to a hard board once it is dry and then it will go to Tessera Fine Art Gallery to hopefully find a new home.




The Process

This has been in the works for quite some time.  It went through many phases and then all of a sudden it looked done.  Just like that.  I had planned to experiment with texture, but somehow getting the composition just right took over my process.  At one point there was a large tree trunk along the left side of the painting, but I painted it out and things just seemed to work from there.   Also, the sunflowers were at first just three circular shapes in a row (very boring), so I changed those to give them various heights and ultimately some movement.

 I used Daler-Rowney Georgian Oil Paper, which comes in pads. It stayed nice and flat the whole time I painted which surprised me because this is not a top-of-the-line brand.  I did not tape the edges down, I just held it in place with a clip at the top of a large wood board. I thought the edges would curl and was pleasantly surprised when they didn't.

Color Palette (various brands):
Ivory Black
Titanium White
Titan Buff
Prussian Blue
Cerulean Blue
Naples Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Burnt Sienna
Vermilion (Hue)

Favorite color combos in this piece:
 Cerulean, titan buff and a touch of ivory black for the sky...I love a moody sky.
Vermilion and titan buff makes the prettiest soft pinks.
Burnt Sienna makes everything look like the earth.

walnut oil
mineral spirits
Gamlin Solvent-Free Gel

Have a beautiful rest of the week.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Year Ago Tomorrow

One year ago tomorrow, this is what was happening.  I painted a portrait using one of my "sketchbook sweeties" (tiny sketches in a tiny Moleskin).  I have always liked this painting.  She is now in a frame hanging in my home studio.

Below are some progressive shots and a little bit about the process.

The photo above is why I don't show progressive photos of my art too often.  Yikes.

 First, I glued down one single sheet of scrapbook paper using gel medium onto a canvas panel.  The paper was cut to fit the 9 x 12 inch surface.

Then I paint directly onto that.  I really love painting on paper, but you have to be so careful.  However, gluing the paper down to sturdy surface like a canvas panel makes it easier to be a little more aggressive with paint and even a little bit of sanding which is what I did here.   

I painted, sanded, painted sanded.  Sanding makes the work look a little aged and it also is great for adding highlights where you want them.

Like the eyes...

or lips.

I used a Pitt pen to make marks on her clothing.  As you can see they are really simple, but when you stand back from the painting it looks pretty neat.

mixed media on 9 x 12 inch canvas panel

Above is the finished painting.  I used oil pastels to highlight the roses and cheeks.  I was tempted to do corrective things like widening the shoulders and trying to make the face more symmetrical, but it just seemed so finished this way so I didn't. 
 I never named it...for some reason I could not think of one for this painting.  

I love to look back at my photos a year ago from the present's like looking through a journal.  
Now I am in the mood to paint with acrylic and get the sandpaper out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sunflowers, Kansas, Sketchbook Sweeties, and Birds

Detail of WIP
16 x 20 inch oil on paper

Slow progress is being made on the 16 x 20 inch oil on paper painting.  Above is some more detail.

Trail at Pawnee Prairie Nature Center
Wichita, Kansas

I have been hiking quite a bit at our Pawnee Prairie Nature Center.  Lots of beautiful Kansas scenery makes the senses go wild.  I am not sure what I do most of...hike or take pictures.  The above photo is very Kansas...fairly flat with lots of grasses, wildflowers and big open skies.

Our backyard this morning after a storm

We have had so much rain here in Kansas and everything is so green.  It sure does make it a lot easier to pull weeds.  I have been spending hours and hours in the backyard working.

sketchbook sweeties
graphite in a tiny moleskin

Of course no day would be complete without at least one little sketch.  The above sketches are from weeks ago....the crazy girl on the left is a favorite.

sketchbook sweetie
graphite in a tiny moleskin

 I've been doing a lot of bird watching too and this sketch was done last night.  


 Kansas has gorgeous birds...Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles, Golden Finch, Purple Finch and if you're lucky, you might spot an owl from time to time.  I often stand at the widow waiting for that perfect picture.  This is an Oriole...a little blurry...but you get the idea of what a gorgeous bird this is.  Its song is about five notes long and sugary sweet-sounding.  What kinds of birds do you see where you live?

Until next time!  Have a beautiful week!