A Few New Works

I’m in the midst of my teaching credential program and don’t get a lot of chances to post new work when I have it…but I have some! And I’ve made time for a post.

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This one was started over our last trip to the East Coast to visit Grammy and Grampa, and it shows what it’s like to be at G&G’s house! So many animals and birds to watch and places to explore and flowers to pick!

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And here’s one of a sailboat, with a sperm whale and giant squid…I see more sea scenes in the future 🙂

I’m going to be working on a few for the 2019 holiday card selection for Collage this whole weekend! While I’m learning a lot in the program, I can’t wait to be finished so I can work on art and writing more often…

Snowshoes and Chickens

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Finished one I started a while back, inspired by a trip to Donner Lake near Tahoe. The area has a gruesome history, but it sure is beautiful. And scary, too–my daughter did not want to go on the trails behind the cabin we stayed at. Just a little too close to complete remoteness for her, I think.

I just finished reading an essay in Wendell Berry’s collection Home Economics about this very subject: it’s natural to feel wary and apprehensive about pristine nature, even while being in rapturous awe of it at the same time.

He believes we feel most comfortable living with nature, not in it, and I have to agree. He mentions the ecological phenomenon of  “edge effect.” I live on those special margins that seem to bring out and nourish the health of the wildlife in the area–my garden and little orchard and “developed” land abut a big track of oak forest that covers the side of the canyon we live atop. I’ve seen more birds, animals, insects, etc. than I ever have immersed deep in the woods (fox, moles, squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, turkey vultures, crows, wild pigs, deer, swallowtails, western jays, finches, doves, owls, praying mantises, skinks, fence lizards, garter snakes, to name some).

That being said, Berry also talks about how we “need” wilderness, as much as a physical reality as an idea in our collective mind. I, for one, definitely feel that necessity to know that there are still wild, scary places out there, with creatures that could, in fact, kill us.

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Also finished another drawing, inspired by my girls feeding the chickens. They love to dig for worms in the compost pile and feed them to the chicks!

And I’ve been featured on the Doodlewash watercolor blog and community…thank you so much!

Steppe Horse Revisited

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Drawing and drawing colored in with Photoshop of Steppe Horse. The horse was inspired by the Land of the Midnight Sun painting by Eyvind Earle, and this has always been one of my favorite drawings I’ve done. Not just because of the subject matter (though I do really love horses and the steppes), but because I feel like my style really came into its own with this one. I always knew I would revisit it in watercolor, and I’m excited to be working on that piece now.

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I like stylizing horses this way because I think it compliments the expression of their movements and personalities. It’s easy to focus on line when depicting horses because, for me, that’s really what makes a horse a horse. I like making them a little stockier (like Mongol and Icelandic horses) too because I find that shape more aesthetically pleasing.

I’ve been collecting images of the Mongolian Steppes with mountains and hills in the background, but I need to do a little more research to find some steppe plants I’d like to depict in the painting…I feel really good about this one 🙂

Work and Leisure…

…pretty much the same thing for me 🙂

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Working on a snowshoer. This one is inspired by Eyvind Earle, one of my absolute favorite artists. Our family recently went to Truckee around Donner Lake, and we did a bit of cross-country skiing. I hadn’t been skiing in 20 years, so I fell a lot in the beginning…but by the end, I had the hang of it!

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Don’t my kids look thrilled?

Also went hiking in Sunol, probably my favorite nearby park. And lucky for us, the Wildflower Festival was going on, so we brought home a mason bee house, some seed bombs, and some pressed flower bookmarks. I have a lot of pictures, a few of which I’m going to post later when they get uploaded, and many of these pictures are going to be interpreted into paintings. I’ve found that I really enjoy painting landscapes in the style I’ve developed.

I tend to get distracted by things and have been doing a lot of late night reading recently instead of more painting (which I want to do). I’m finishing up Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, after just reading Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. I’m also getting into David Orr’s Earth in Mind…and I have to say, all of these books, while having Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society, Merchants of Doubt, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Manufacturing Consent, and The Overspent American under my belt to name just a few, are not making me feel too optimistic about the future. But, these books are also getting me pretty fired up about teaching, and I hope after completing my credential program I’ll land an Environmental Science job.

Genius–Guiding Spirit

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Finished a painting I started a while ago! This color palette was one of my favorites when I first began the piece. Using middle-grade cold-pressed watercolor paper, and I can definitely tell the difference between this and my normal Arches (the best!). But it still works pretty well with the tube watercolor pigments.

I notice that when I’m working with the mid-grade paper and Dr. Ph Martin’s liquid watercolors that the paint tends to bleed a lot more into the individual fibers of the paper. I’m working on a bigger painting where I only used the liquid watercolors and will post about that later–how the qualities of those differ from tube watercolor pigments.

I decided to name this one “Genius,” and the animal is supposed to be that–a guiding spirit. Potentially part of my oracle deck…still a long way to go with that project! And I still have a whole backlog of paintings I have to finish and a picture book I’d like to complete. Just need to take it day by day…

By the Lake

Finished a new watercolor for a postcard. Some friends who met in the Finger Lakes, NY are getting married, and they asked for a landscape with a lake and trees and sailboat. I think they are going to use the image as part of the wedding invitation!

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I think you can really see my major influences in this one: Charley Harper, Eyvind Earle, Kay Nielsen. This has also made me remember a few other paintings I’ve wanted to do featuring lakes: one about Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree and one about Pope’s Ode on Solitude.

I’ll be putting up a print of this in my Etsy shop soon! Need to start painting on a regular basis again, as it is definitely therapy for me, a way to relax. And I get something to show for all of my relaxing at the end!

Getting There…

Finally got to work on my painting today and am making some progress! Hopefully, I’ll be done with this one by the end of the night!

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I’m going to try and condition myself to paint more often, even though my free time only comes in hour-long bits of time. If I can paint an hour a day, that would come out to a 5×7 painting a week! So, even if I have to work on smaller pieces, I’ll be able to see the work I put in come to a complete painting in the span of a mere week 🙂

I’m going to try to aim for 15 new pieces over the next 3 months–HOWEVER, a lot of pieces that I’ll be including in that tally are already started and just need to be finished! So this is a project for tying up a lot of loose ends 🙂

Second Card: Genius

Working on my second oracle card, “Genius.” You can see the finished painting of “Lack” on my Patreon page. You can also find sketches of this one there, exclusive to Patreon patrons!

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Going to finish this one up and then finish up an acrylic-on-wood piece I’ve been working on for a commission.

I’m really enjoying working on this particular one, probably because of this loose style and approach I’ve adopted for this project. I feel like I’m being true to my style, but I’m trying to actually concentrate on the process of painting, rather than making sure everything is turning out the way I initially envisioned. I’m not thinking, just painting…and this is helping me get more done.

Quiet but Busy

Hello! I haven’t updated my blog as often as I would like, but that’s because I’m having a bit trouble staying focused on one particular project. I tend to get bored easily and switch my attention on a whim, but this time, I would like to concentrate and follow through with a project.

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I am now working on a deck of oracle cards, this being my first image. When I complete 5-7 cards, I will explain meanings and the method behind the deck. I want to focus solely on this project and dedicate myself to watercolors, with a few commissions thrown into the mix.

I am also working on opening up a Patreon account, which is very exciting for me!

Finishing Touches

Finished the 5″ x  7″ unicorn painting. I took a few progress pics to show those who are interested my process. Most of the time, I just make things up as I go, stopping periodically to look at the composition and deciding how to continue, which shapes to integrate, coloring and tone, etc.

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I thought I was going to take a more asymmetrical approach with this one, but then I decided to add similar gingko shapes to the other side in order to create an arch.

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After I finished up the background, I needed to distinguish the unicorn a bit more, make it pop. So, I added some black foliage in order to really contrast with the white. I think I’m going to make this a limited edition of 25, hand-embellished with metallic bronze paint, matted to 8″ x 10″. I’m really excited to be painting again!!

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Pumpkins in the garden are getting orange!!