You Got This

This was a very challenging piece. 

The knowledge, that being uncomfortable and not knowing exactly what I am doing, leads to growth, really carried me through this one. 

I embrace these times. 

In the past, I would’ve put the painting to the side when things got tough and probably never finished it.

Thanks to training and books like: War of Art by Steven Pressfield, that help with identifying and breaking through the many forms creative barriers can take on. That feeling of resistance is no longer an issue.

An Elliism, Elli Milan from art school, that is so fitting, “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”❤️

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February, the Month for Birthday Celebrations

Both my husband and I have birthdays in February and today is his special day.  We will be having the family over for dinner so I will be cleaning the house and cooking throughout the day. :)

We have been married for 30 years. How did we meet? It was a rainy day, on a campus bus, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

 I was with my parent visiting NAU, Northern Arizona University. Ryan was the bus driver and tour guide. I remember my parents saying, "Now that is a nice young man." Mom and Dad know best. :)  We got married at the end of my sophomore year and his senior year. He was a hall director so housing and meals were a part of the benefits. We both continued with our schooling, Ryan getting a masters and I finishing an undergraduate degree. Interestingly enough, my degree was not in art.  Before we got married, I had been studying art. I liked everything from drawing, painting, jewelry making and fashion design. Sewing cloths for myself was probably my favorite.  I remember the lined wool suit that I made from scratch and tailored it to fit me perfectly. My instructor strongly encouraged me to enter a contest with it. I was very shy and the thought made me anxious. I don't know what I was afraid of and I'm not happy at myself for not participating. At the time, I didn't know it was good to push myself outside the comfort zone; that the most growth occurs then. I know that now and have strategies that help.   So, now that I was married and had to get serious about a career that I could do from any place my husband would go for work, I decided to switch from art to Elementary Education.  I taught art for 15 years in many schools, staying at each place for two years before venturing to another campus. I had a restless heart and still do. I like experiencing new things and meeting new people.

I was with my parent visiting NAU, Northern Arizona University. Ryan was the bus driver and tour guide. I remember my parents saying, "Now that is a nice young man." Mom and Dad know best. :)

We got married at the end of my sophomore year and his senior year. He was a hall director so housing and meals were a part of the benefits. We both continued with our schooling, Ryan getting a masters and I finishing an undergraduate degree. Interestingly enough, my degree was not in art.

Before we got married, I had been studying art. I liked everything from drawing, painting, jewelry making and fashion design. Sewing cloths for myself was probably my favorite.

I remember the lined wool suit that I made from scratch and tailored it to fit me perfectly. My instructor strongly encouraged me to enter a contest with it. I was very shy and the thought made me anxious. I don't know what I was afraid of and I'm not happy at myself for not participating. At the time, I didn't know it was good to push myself outside the comfort zone; that the most growth occurs then. I know that now and have strategies that help. 

So, now that I was married and had to get serious about a career that I could do from any place my husband would go for work, I decided to switch from art to Elementary Education.

I taught art for 15 years in many schools, staying at each place for two years before venturing to another campus. I had a restless heart and still do. I like experiencing new things and meeting new people.

Stretching Canvas- Creating Neat Corners

This video tutorial is about creating neat corners. The corners are the trickiest part of stretching the canvas. There are many ways to tackle the corners. This is the way that works for me.

*Note, when cutting out the excess canvas square in the corner, leave about 1/4 inch inside the fold lines for tacking down and folding under.*

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Stretching your own canvas can save a lot of money. This past year I had painted on unstretched canvas and decided to hire someone to stretch it. This set me back $100 for a 24" x 30" x 1". That price included the wood stretcher fame and labor. I now stretch my own canvas. For a couple of dollars and a few tools, it is very easy to make the wood stretcher frame and stretch your own fabric. 

In this video I am stretching a 7 oz. Cotton Duck Canvas, Double Acrylic Gesso Primed canvas. This is something I had on hand. In the future, I will purchase cotton duck canvas from the fabric store and prime it myself after stretching it, another money saving trick.

Creating depth

Elsa and Koda, Acrylic on paper, 20" x 26"

 There are tricks to creating the illusion of depth on a two dimensional surface.  In these two paintings, the closest part of the dog to the viewer are the snouts, so that is the area that got the most detail, the darkest darks and crisp edges.  The placement of the snouts are in the lower-middle section. Generally, the lower an object is on the picture surface the closer it appears to be.  Color is another tool. Warm colors tend to come towards you where cool colors recede.  The warm red-orange on both of the dogs' faces push the blue on the cheeks forward.     Line also helps in this case. Notice the directional, contour lines on the face and neck of the left dog, Elsa? Her snout appears to pop out even more than the dog on the right for this reason in addition to others factor, size and overlapping shapes.   Varying the size of a shape can create an optical illusion. The blue area on Elsa's cheek to snout starts out narrow and widens as it meets up with the nose.   Overlapping shapes is one more way that makes Elsa's snout come forward. Her head is at an angle that allows for the nose to overlap the background and her neck ad top back to be positioned behind her snout. This creates a stacking of four areas.   Elsa, the dog on the left, is definitely the stronger of the two in the depth category. But that doesn't mean the painting of the dog on the right of Koda is any less special. This painting has captured his essence, that smile, the soft fluffy fur and loving eyes. He looks at you straight on because he has no reservations and gives all his attention and heart to those in his pack.    I am fascinated with how the eye perceives two dimensional space and how body language and color can be used to encapsulate character. M.C. Escher is my all time favorite artist for creating the most fascinating optical effects with his architectural illusions.  Many artists are very perceptive and can convey feeling in their artwork so there isn't just one that stands out. In reflecting on my paintings, I can see my soul. I am a romantic; a dreamer creating a world on canvas of the best that I see or can imagine. 

There are tricks to creating the illusion of depth on a two dimensional surface.  In these two paintings, the closest part of the dog to the viewer are the snouts, so that is the area that got the most detail, the darkest darks and crisp edges.

The placement of the snouts are in the lower-middle section. Generally, the lower an object is on the picture surface the closer it appears to be.

Color is another tool. Warm colors tend to come towards you where cool colors recede.  The warm red-orange on both of the dogs' faces push the blue on the cheeks forward.   

Line also helps in this case. Notice the directional, contour lines on the face and neck of the left dog, Elsa? Her snout appears to pop out even more than the dog on the right for this reason in addition to others factor, size and overlapping shapes. 

Varying the size of a shape can create an optical illusion. The blue area on Elsa's cheek to snout starts out narrow and widens as it meets up with the nose. 

Overlapping shapes is one more way that makes Elsa's snout come forward. Her head is at an angle that allows for the nose to overlap the background and her neck ad top back to be positioned behind her snout. This creates a stacking of four areas. 

Elsa, the dog on the left, is definitely the stronger of the two in the depth category. But that doesn't mean the painting of the dog on the right of Koda is any less special. This painting has captured his essence, that smile, the soft fluffy fur and loving eyes. He looks at you straight on because he has no reservations and gives all his attention and heart to those in his pack.  

I am fascinated with how the eye perceives two dimensional space and how body language and color can be used to encapsulate character. M.C. Escher is my all time favorite artist for creating the most fascinating optical effects with his architectural illusions.

Many artists are very perceptive and can convey feeling in their artwork so there isn't just one that stands out. In reflecting on my paintings, I can see my soul. I am a romantic; a dreamer creating a world on canvas of the best that I see or can imagine. 

When is a painting finished?

Koda, 20" x 26", mixed media on watercolor paper

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When is a painting finished? That is a very interesting concept. It is not always easy to know when to stop but you realize after the fact if you have overworked a piece. It is an education. The more paintings I create, the easier it is to know when a painting is finished. Taking photos along the way to look back on, is a great habit to get into. 

Sometimes while painting a picture, I find there are multiple directions I can take it. That is what happened here.

My painting process is a flexible one that allows for the painting to emerge. As you can see with the picture on the left, I bring about surprises and options in the early stages, and the painting dreamily defines the dog and background. I love how the two planes flow in and out.

With commission pieces, as this one is, the client receives photos as the painting is being created. Upon seeing the image on the left, the client asked for a more defined separation of the background from the subject. This is where the painting goes in another direction, see the picture on the right. I love how there is an interesting pattern of leaves in the background that contrasts with the vertical lines and large resting areas in the dog. With a few more highlights, this will be finished.   

Both of the stages above are amazing in their own right and I love how my style gives me the options I need to explore the piece. It is like walking down a branching path where your destination is undefined and enjoyment comes from the many wonderful sites along the way.

Painting on Paper, Day 1

What a beautiful day to paint outside. The temperature, on a January day, in the 70s, unbelievable. Me, in a T-shirt, in January, inconceivable. 

I am prepping sheets of watercolor paper.

I tape off and wrap the sides and back to keep the white of the paper clean.

Sharing these steps today live, on Instagram.

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Taping  masking paper to the front.

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Folding the masking paper over to the back side and taping in place.

Starting with acrylic washes,

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in Vivid Colors,

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while painting loose with a large brush.

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Next step, spray paint using stencils.

 Seal paintings with Golden Heavy Gel (Gloss) medium

Seal paintings with Golden Heavy Gel (Gloss) medium

HAPPY 2018

It is the year of the dog and this is the first painting of the year.

Butters is a lovable foster dog. Late this past year, he made his way into the hearts of a couple who are just starting out. They are moving into their new home together and this is their house warming gift. I can't wait to give it to them.

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The sun was a little strong and bleached out the colors but the photo gives you an idea of scale.

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Here is the basic process I use for my paintings.

 Start with washes of transparent acrylic paint

Start with washes of transparent acrylic paint

 Spray paint, using stencils and lace

Spray paint, using stencils and lace

 Define the shapes and lay down layers of color

Define the shapes and lay down layers of color

 Reference photo

Reference photo

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Color Scheme

 "Butters" 14" x 18" acrylic and spray paint on canvas

"Butters" 14" x 18" acrylic and spray paint on canvas