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.

Paradise Country Progress Pics

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A work that has been picked up again and again over the past few weeks and finally finished today! I always start with a rough picture in mind, but I never sketch it out. The foreground and focal points are the first to be paint-sketched in.

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Next comes the broad strokes and general shapes of the middle ground. I gradually build on these, adding more and more detail. I always take a step back and look at the painting after each layer I do.

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More detail and more interesting shapes are added. I wanted to add one deciduous tree for a load of OCD-like detail, just because it’s like therapy for me–when I can get lost for a few hours. I was going to put in a windmill to the right of the house, but the tree overtook the space a bit.

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Next I add the tree-topped mountains in the back, along with the night sky. The darker value of the sky really sets of the shapes set against it.

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And…finish up with the details of the details: chicken feather colors and patterns, greenish-gray rock foreground and middle ground, ground cover next to the house, and all the little details of the house itself (which I LOVE). AND I add the stars: first I just dot the already-colored sky with plain water, let it dry and bleed to make a very shimmery, translucent area. Then, I dot some of those spots with white acrylic, to really make a glowing effect.

I’ve really been rediscovering the differences between liquid watercolors, like Dr. Ph Martin’s, and tube watercolors, like Grumbacher or Daniel Smith or Da Vinci. Also, the quality of watercolor PAPER really makes a difference too!

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…

Inspired to Draw…

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…after I majorly cleaned and reorganized my studio. I’ve been writing recently, and that’s been taking up most of my time, along with preparation for going back to school this coming summer.

This drawing is part of the series of the couple that came before it. I hope to complete between 40 and 48 for this personal project. It’s difficult keeping with it, with everything else that goes on in life–I’m sure everyone has a similar experience/story. But I’ve also processed this POV to its logical end, and came to the conclusion–well, what the hell else am I going to do?

So, how much time passes between drawings is irrelevant–there will always be another drawing. Or painting. Or novel. There will always be a work in progress.

Seeking Warmth

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Drawing number 2 “Seeking Warmth” is finished. This is a drawing of winter, when the cold in the air outside has a bite and keeps everything still and quiet. When the sound of falling snow makes you think of wood fires and yellow light and mulled wine and reading books for hours. The animals are in the burrows and dens, huddling into their coats and snuggling up to each other.

I grew up in an underground house and loved coming in out from the dark cold into the bright warmth inside of our little hobbit hole. The dog would curl right up under the wood stove, loving the blast of heat; in fact, she still does that. You could smell biscuits or bread baking in the oven; the tea kettle would be whistling; the radio would be playing softly in the background. The blue of the outside through the window contrasted so well with the cozy yellow of the kitchen and living room.

Drawing and a Trip to the Farm

I’ve become an early riser this week in order to get more drawing time in during the day. By the time early evening comes around and the sun starts to go down, I’m beat and I don’t want to do anything other than drink tea and read a book. So, all this week I’ll be setting my alarm clock for 6, maybe even earlier if this is a successful venture.

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This past Friday, the girls and I went to Ardenwood Farm. I LOVE going to farms: so much inspirational material! The girls love the chickens and the goats, but my littlest is not very fond of pigs in the flesh–she loves the movie Babe, but stand her anywhere near a pigpen and she’s not a happy camper. I love them, though. They have the life (at least until they get to be optimum size).

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I love going to this farm in particular because of the beautiful eucalyptus trees and old farmhouse with its lovely cottage gardens and gazebo. I like the mix of plants: there are a lot of traditional cottage flowers, like irises and columbine and roses, but there are also a lot of tropical and subtropical specimens. I’m planning a drawing of a cottage garden for sometime in the near future–they are just so magical. You can almost see the fairies fluttering around the leaves and petals!

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I need to find my little Canon Elph camera for our next excursion. I like that better than using my phone, and combined with a little Photoshop Elements, I really like how the pictures turn out.

Hopefully will finish the “Stillness” drawing this afternoon!

THROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;
And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.

–Walt Whitman

Finished Growth

Finished my first drawing “Growth” and now on to the second one “Stillness.”

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“Stillness” is going to be a calm winter scene: a little forest cottage, snuggled into the snow, sleeping critters, and geometric trees. I’m looking forward to the cold of fall and the quiet of winter, even though winters are a bit different here in California. It’s nice to take a breather after a crazy season of gardening and just curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and my drawing pad.

Working on Something New

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I’ve gotten back into the swing of things with pencil and paper! Pencil is much easier to work with than paint when you’ve got two young kids and are constantly needed for something or other…you can just put it down right then and there and come back to it when you’re able. And I can add ideas that come a little later, after I’ve started a drawing– just a little erasing here and there. AND I can probably get in up to 4 drawings a week, which is what I’m aiming for.

I have a good idea for a project that I believe I can actually finish!

I do miss painting with watercolors for hours and hours at a time, but I just can’t spare that big of a stretch right now. Maybe in a year or two. Even so, I’m definitely going to keep painting when I can; I don’t think I could ever stop completely, even if it is difficult to find the time presently…

I am also changing my 15 Paintings project to 15 Drawings–this is a much more attainable goal! And instead of completing them in 3 months, it will be closer to 3-4 weeks.

Hope to be posting more regularly, so stay tuned!

Oracle Card #1

I finished this a while ago but forgot to share.

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This is the first in a series of 45 paintings I’d like to do for an oracle card set I designed. I mentioned it a while ago and haven’t really been working on it lately. I’d like to get back to it soon. I based my system on Joseph Campbell’s A Hero’s Journey and Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale.

This one is called Lack. It is meant to convey that there is something missing in this young woman’s life, her potential not fully met. Her head is full of soaring ideas and dreams of adventure, but she hasn’t taken any steps to solidify those ideas and dreams. There is something missing in her life, but she has not yet taken the steps to fill the void.

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!