Thursday, September 29, 2016

Spiral Barrel Fire

Spiral Barrel Fire
11 x 11
Pastel on UArt 500

Barrel cactus are fascinating to me - well all plants are fascinating to me, but barrels are particularly interesting. I love their really strong pattern. I love the ribs and especially the top down view of the spiral. I am a big fan of spirals - a very ancient image. Think petroglyphs in the desert, Nazca lines, the galaxy! I built a labyrinth in my backyard many years ago - Rick says it's a beacon for the UFOs- kind of like a crop circle. Anyway....on to the painting. I've been working on this one (another struggle painting) for several nights.

This painting is different for me in many ways: 

1. I needed to do something in a square format, I'm usually more of a rectangle gal. As many of you know, I like to paint in a series. Last month, I did a square painting on recycled mat board knocks outs called "Mother of Hundreds". I liked the top down view of this plant. My framer did up two frames from remnants of my custom frames in the 11 x 11 format - so I needed a second painting. Enter the barrel cactus.

2. I reused a painting that I didn't care much for that I did in a class. I cut down the paper to 11 x 11 and wiped down the old image. Retrospectively, I probably should have washed it down to free up more tooth in the paper.

3. I did not have a full reference photo for this. I had one photo of a top down barrel cactus spiral - but without flowers. I had a second photo from a friend of a downward view of blooming barrel cactus. I had to 'compose' and adjust and change the light. Not as easy as it sounds. I also consciously decided to not make a perfect ring of flowers - as it's pretty uncommon to see a barrel with a perfect ring. Life is about imperfection and the beauty of imperfection.

Lessons Learned

1. I need more tooth in my paper. I really felt my pastel was moving around alot - so wash the recycled paper - when possible. Not all sanded papers tolerate this - but UArt does.
2. I like painting in squares.
3. Think of alternate complementary colors in the painting. In this case, I added turquoise to the cactus itself.

Anyway, that's all I know about that. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

One Night Bloom

One Night Bloom
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix Black

A few nights back my night blooming cereus graced me with 3 blooms over 3 nights. Being that my mind is easily distracted, I just thought of Three Dog Night - so there may be a painting in that - like 3 Bloom Night. Anyhoo, here's a study of one of the blooms. I may have to do this again. I want this to have more drama, more punch...but not sure quite how....yet. 

I'm forming the thoughts in my head around a series of these.....

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Monk's Halo

Monk's Halo
14 x 18
Pastel on Canson Mi Tientes (Indigo Blue)
Some days you have it and some days you don't. I wish I could figure out why. Some days paintings flow, and some days I fight with them.  However, sometimes through the fighting, we learn something. I was really struggling with the translucency of these yellow flowers. First of all, yellow is a difficult color for me. Translucence is another issue as well. I realized as I thrashed about, that I was going for too much saturated color and needed more muted tones. So, I grabbed a grey green and VIOLA! It became translucent yellow.

I also struggled with what to do with the texture on the body of the cactus. The actual specimen has a dot like texture. I could not see myself pulling that off without it looking cheesy. So, thank goodness for pastel and it's normal nature of creating a netted pattern. After all the fighting, I'm pretty okay with this painting.

The 'Real' Monk's Hood Specimen
The common name of this cactus is Monk's Hood. The proper genus/species is Astrophytym ornatum. I considered naming the painting by it's scientific name since I felt this cactus was in a very ornate state with it's showy flowers. In addition, the latin name sounded very religious - hah! I could just imagine the monk saying mass in Latin. But, being the heathen I am, I opted for something based on the common name. Since I really liked the glowing nature of the flowers in the photo, I decided this monk had a halo. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ruhu and Blue

Ruhu and Blue
5 x 7
Colored Pencil on Aquarello Hot Press Watercolor Paper

This little Rufous hummingbird is a favorite of mine. It reminds me of a birding friend I met in Michigan during a corporate work assignment many years ago. He was one of the kindest people I've had the pleasure of meeting in my lifetime. He was always the voice of stability, reason and most importantly, compassion and peace. He did all this while being detail oriented and thorough. Through our time together, we learned that we both enjoyed birding. After the assignment was over, we remained in touch through our mutual interest in birds.

In September of 2013, I was so excited to share with him that I spotted a new bird in my yard - the Rufous hummingbird. I remember how this little bird was a 'lifer' for me. He wrote back to me and called the little guy a Ruhu. A few weeks later, my friend passed away. I knew he had been sick, but that didn't make it any easier. Since that year, the little Ruhu has returned 2 of 3 years that followed. I hope I see him again this year as he always reminds me of my friend.

This one's for you Ed - you will always be missed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chipper Costa

Chipper Costa
7 x 5
Colored Pencil on Fabriano Aquarello Hot Press

For a change of pace, and to prepare for some upcoming shows in late October, it's time for some small works in colored pencil - specifically hummingbirds. I started doing these in the spring as a diversion from my colored pencil botanical illustration class. Of the 10 I completed, 9 found new homes over the spring and summer shows. They seem to make people happy and I like doing them. Pencil coloring is even more meditative that working in pastels if that is possible. The only drawback for me is the sitting and my hand starting to cramp after awhile.

This little guy is a Costa male hummingbird. I found him at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden just hanging out on a branch by a walking path. He sat on his little branch while people stopped and took his photo. As I took photos, he stretched his little neck out and crowed like a tiny little rooster "twwweeeee!!!!" Such a chipper little guy and so cute! A tiny bird with a HUGE personality.

In my photo of him, he's on a simple branch. For this drawing, I gave him a nice flowering yucca stem.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Passionate Duet

Passionate Duet
25 x 19
Pastel on Sennelier LaCarte (Dark Grey)

I'm absolutely tickled purple painting these passion flowers. So much fun!! This pair belong to my cousin. I really like how these two were in a shadier spot vs the prior painting of my neighbor's flower (Singular Passion) which was in full sunlight.

I feel free painting on these larger pieces of Sennelier LaCarte. Even better is that the sanded papers were recently on sale at Jerry's Artarama. I may have to call and see if they are still on sale and go get more. I have 3 more pieces left and so many things in my head yet to do. Trust me, you do NOT want to be in my head! It's a very busy place - exhausting sometimes.

So, in my prior post, I shared how I've been working with the same company for 15 years. This morning, I received an email with codes to redeem prizes for my years of service. I am absolutely thrilled that it includes coupons for Dell! I am in the market for a new laptop with a high end video card and screen resolution.  All the better to see my art with my dear! The award along with employee discounts means I'll be getting in for under 1K!! Further, Dell is putting out some nicer Ultrabooks Oct 4! The universe just lined up and made all this possible for me. I am grateful. I am blessed with two wonderful jobs - corporate and creative.

I am also grateful for the artistic gift I have been given. This painting, like Singular Passion, just flowed....easily and simply. I try to think about what my particular value proposition is for my art work. What I am coming to believe is that it's my 'job' to share the beauty of nature. I am concerned that so many are unable to enjoy nature with the density of our cities. So, I hope to give individuals the opportunity to bring nature indoors - in a very low maintenance way. As Frida Khalo is credited with saying "I paint flowers so they do not die."

Here are the progress shots of Passionate Duet. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Singular Passion

Singular Passion
19 x 25
Pastel on Sennelier La Carte (Salmon)

I'm really enjoying taking a departure from the agave/cacti and diving into tropical flowers. I started with some Birds of Paradise, and am moving now into the Passion Vine. This flower is oh so very fascinating in color and structure. This is the first one, and I'll be completing a duo next. 

The intricate detail of the Passion Flower is part of it's appeal. It was good to get into some really amazing floral structure. This particular flower/vine belongs to my neighbor. Later, I'll be doing one that belongs to my cousin. There are a lot different varieties of the Passion Vine, so come Spring, I'll be searching for more at the garden store. I know I've seen some in a light blue as well as a scarlet ones!

I've named this painting to not only represent the single flower, but my singular passion of painting and creating in general. Today was my 15 year anniversary at my employer. I've been blessed to work for two companies in my lifetime. One for 17 years, and the current one for 15. Ideally, in 7-9 years, I'll be moving fully into the third phase of my career life. For now, I build the business. I'm getting VERY close to being in the black this year, and these larger paintings will help me get there - hopefully faster. 

Here's the progression of Singular Passion. 

Sam and Sheila's Flower
I took artistic license and moved it to an off center placement for the painting.

The Drawing stage - on Salmon colored Sennelier LaCarte

The color selection

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Paradise Trinity

Paradise Trinity
29 x 19
Pastel on Canson Mi Tientes Board

This painting had it's genesis in Corpus Christi, Texas at a celebration dinner. We had a long and very hot and windless day at the Arts Alive show. Thirty minutes before closing one of my larger paintings found a new home. After the show, my show neighbors Amy and Brian Schultz from Unplain Jane Studio went out to dinner. On my way into the restaurant, I spied some gorgeous Bird of Paradise - and of course, they screamed "Paint ME!!!". So I snapped some photos and here we are today.

I enjoyed this departure from agave and it felt cool and tropical to paint the depth on these leaves. I hope they impart the shade and coolness of where these were planted. I'm also enjoying painting on some larger sized pieces. Having the real estate to spread out it delightful. Here's the source photo and progress shots. This is one of those paintings that just that feeling.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blue Flame

Blue Flame
25 x 19
Pastel on Sennelier LaCarte
I'm baaack!!! Oh how I have missed my easel! I was literally going through painting withdrawals. I was cranky, forlorn, and despondent all at once! I wasn't sleeping well, eating well or engaging in life. I had basically withdrawn! Wow - I needed my fix!

At first, I struggled with this painting. So much so I wiped it down. The blues on the right side were too violet and didn't work with the turquoise. Once I greened them up, it felt better. I'm working without my favorite Terry Ludwig Eggplant #v100x. If you go to their site, you'll see it is THE most popular color in that hue. I've got to put in my order. It's my go to blue/purple. So, I worked with a very dark blue Ludwig - almost grey blue. It was a good exercise. 

Some of my upcoming paintings will include some Bird of Paradise. While at my last show, Arts Alive in Corpus Christi, TX, there was a nice clump of them blooming at the restaurant. We were celebrating the sale of Blue Agave Supernova who went to a new home that afternoon. I was glad that I could share my blog w/her collector so they could see the development of their painting. 

Here's a couple of progress shots of Blue Flame...not many, so a good reminder to stop and take photos!