Quick note...

Due to the holidays, I haven't been blogging much.  I do plan on doing a new entry complete with photos soon!  I have new items I've listed and a custom order I'm dying to talk about.  But I can't until the customer gets it early next month, as she wanted part of it to be a surprise.  She reads this blog, so I don't want to ruin it for her!

But I also wanted to let everyone know that I have set up a fan page on Facebook.  If you'd like to stay updated with all the latest news, promotions and new items listed to Quirky Dame Designs, you can become a fan at http://www.facebook.com/quirkydamedesigns!  I'll be doing a drawing for some free note cards to start the New Year in a good way!

Before I sign off, I'd like to wish everyone a spectacular, blessing-filled New Year!  Much happiness to you all!  :)

Christmas Gifts

Like many others, I've been crazy busy the past couple of weeks.  Adding to that this year was my decision to create a piece of art for certain people as their presents.  As I've written recently, my best friend and I started doing this last year.  So I finished two pieces for her.  Plus my parents, now retired, have declared that we (my sisters and I) are not to give them presents anymore, exceptions being things we make or bake, etc.  Well, I did get away with giving them a digital photo frame as an early gift (and it was a hit!) but I wanted to make them something special.

My father had requested a couple of months ago that I do a drawing for him to hang at his cabin.  My father feeds all manner of critters at his cabin, but most special to him is his squirrel that we named Spike.  There have been a number of Spike's through the years (we name them all that) but there was one in particular that really stood out.  When Spike would hear my father drive down the driveway, he would run to greet him.  When my father would call his name, the squirrel would come running.  He'd even climb up onto his knee or shoulder to be fed.  So when it came time to decide what to draw, it was pretty simple.  :)  Here's the final piece, a composite of two photos I took this summer:






I also reworked a painting based on a photo I took in Hawaii.  I'm giving that one to my mother.  I have a similar one that was part of a commission I did for a condo in Hawaii.  This one is meant to just be a soothing, peaceful painting with all the blues of the ocean.  The lighting on this one isn't the greatest, but I'll post a picture anyway.  It's really hard to get a good photo of this one:



Since my last post, I also added a few more mini paintings with easels to my shop.  I'm having a blast doing these and am currently working on a custom order for someone that involves two of these.  So much fun.  Here's a few pictures of the ones I've listed:



 

All three owl mini paintings have been sold, but I will be working on adding more as soon as possible!

 





Plus I've added new note cards to my shop as well!

Well, I'd best sign off.  I don't believe I'll have another chance to post before Christmas, so let me wish each and every one of your reading this (and your families, too) the merriest of Christmases and may you all have a blessing filled New Year!  :)

More experiments with paint!

So, I had thought I would work a little more on the cat on the woman's head painting.  And I will this weekend.  I"ll be house-sitting which will leave me with lots of free time.  I'm hoping to finish it and list it in my shop by Monday.  *fingers crossed*  But I didn't work on it tonight.

I went to Target with my mother.  And at Target I ended up getting six little mini spray bottles.  They are much larger than the previous ones I had been using, which were only 1 ounce.  I use these bottles to spray backgrounds for some of my paintings.  For instance, the background on the (now completed) paintings for my best friend were done by painting the background burnt orange and then spraying various shades of that orange and gold on it.  Here's a few pictures of the completed paintings:


 
 


So there's an example of the backgrounds.  They are a blast to do.  I spread a sheet on the ground - this gets messy - and then lay the canvas down.  Then I just start spraying away.  The hard part is forcing myself to stop and let it dry after a bit.  If you don't, it can start to run and get muddy.  Then to top it off, I love to spray a little watered down gold or silver paint on top.  Gives it a beautiful shimmer.  For the ones above, I used gold.

So when I got home from Target, all I could think about was the spray bottles.  I couldn't resist them.  :)  I grabbed two extra canvases that I had laying around and got to work.  On one canvas, I drizzled blue and white paint, then brushed it out until it covered the canvas with gorgeous streaks of blue in various shades.  I left the other canvas blank.  Then I mixed up the spray bottles using three shades of blue paint, one green and then a beautiful sparkly silver paint.  Then I just started spraying away. 

I ended up quite pleased with the final results.  Here's a photo of the canvases.  I used my iPhone to take it, so the picture is not the best.




The canvas on the left is the one that got the intial coat of paint.  It's very splattered, quite similar in style to the one I did for my best friend.  The one on the right is the one that I didn't cover in paint.  It's a smoother kind of background, colors flowing nicely without streaks and splatters.  Both have a delicate silver shimmer to them that I just love.  Blue and silver is a favorite combination of mine.  I love both effects and am now working on the designs to put on each.  I'm excited to see how they will turn out!

To be honest, I've got a number of paintings planned out that I want to do.  So many plans and inspiriations and so little time to work on them.  :)  But for now I must sign off.  I have to go to bed - must get up for the day job far too early for my taste - plus the computer battery is almost dead.  :)  Night!

Just listed...

Had quite the productive day!  I grabbed some coffee, ran a few errands, then hauled myself home and started working on the creative stuff.  I started my father's Christmas gift - a sketch of a squirrel on a tree stump - then finished up my best friend's present.  I'll be posting pictures of that soon.  :)

While I was out running errands, I had to stop by JoAnn's to pick up some paint.  I ran across some little 2.5 x 3.5 canvases (ACEO sized) and little 5 inch easel's to go with them.  Since there was a 50% sale happening, I snapped up four of them.  :)  After working on my bff's present, I decided to just start one.  A little while later, it was complete and I found myself taking pictures and listing it in my shop. Here's a couple of pictures:

























2010 Christmas Cards

At my day job, we have a monthly staff meeting.  We all gather in the gym for a free lunch and a 1 - 2 hour meeting, sometimes some training afterward.  For the December meeting, we have a potluck, trivia contest, raffle drawing and generally a good time.  They dressed up the gym in holiday style, including putting red and green paper on the tables and laying markers and crayons down so that we can draw and doodle during the festivities.

Let's just say I went to town with the drawing!  Plus I requested we do that every month.  Hey, some of us listen better when we doodle.  *g*  But one of my doodlings has now become a design for a Christmas card.  Unfortunately, there's no way I can have the cards ready for this year.  So I now have two designs slated for cards for next year.  The first design is still being reworked.  But I thought I'd post a little sketch of the second one, just for kicks:



I'm still working on him a bit, so there may be more changes coming.  But I'm REALLY looking forward to painting him.  I think this little guy may end up being my own personal Christmas cards, too!

Painting Updates

So I've been a little busy tonight working on a few paintings.  (And trying to get my iPhone to sync Christmas music!)  So I thought I'd do a little update.  First of all, the cat on a woman's head painting - really need to come up with a catchy name for that one!



Next I have to work on the woman's face - first attempt did not end well.  Then I have to clean up the background and this darling painting will be ready to list!

Next two paintings... the ones that are for my best friend for Christmas.  Again, should she happen to actually check this - and I'm guessing she won't because I haven't told her that I'm updating it again - DON'T READ THIS!  And the sick thing is, she won't.  She hates ruining surprises.  Doesn't want to peek at presents.  Me?  I was an expert at scouting out hiding places and slicing the wrapping open to sneak a peek.  :)

Here is is:




It isn't complete yet.  There's some changes I need to make, but could I find either of my burnt umber paints?  Of course not!  Couldn't go any farther without it, so I had to stop for the night. 

Okay, I need to post one more picture.  This one is a new listing in my store and the very first oil painting!  It started as an exercise in a painting class and this little red pepper was quite the hit.  The original background was just... not good.  So I messed around and had a little fun.  This fun little painting can be found in my shop at http://quirkydame.artfire.com. Hope you enjoy! 



















Now I'd better sign off.  It's 10:30 pm and I just remembered that we're having a potluck at work tomorrow.  I really need to go make something to bring to it.  Keep your fingers crossed I win the big raffle prize - two tickets anywhere in the US!  Okay, so I'm not holding my breath, but wouldn't it be nice?  :)

Free Shipping and New Product Soon!

Just a couple of news items regarding my Art Fire shop...

I am offering free worldwide shipping on everything in my store through December 31, 2009.  I've already had one customer take advantage of this special offer!
 
Plus I will be listing a new product over the next few days.  I will be offering blank notecards featuring my artwork and photography, both single cards and sets!  There will be various themes, such as flowers, Hawaii, puffins, and landscape, to name a few.  Here is a little preview of some of the cards:




  There are more!  I'm quite excited to be able to expand my shop and offer more products.  This is something that I've wanted to do for a while.  This first batch will include mostly my photography, but I plan to feature cards with more of my artwork in the near future.   
 
Thanks for checking out my blog.  See you next time! 

Work in Progress

So I took a bit of a break from the latest cat painting to do some work on the diptych paintings I am doing for my best friend.

Alicia, if you actually check this... DON'T LOOK!  :)

I'm a horrible friend.  We decided last year to do a piece of artwork as our present for each other.  She gave me a beautiful hand-painted mask.  I started a painting for her, but it went bad.  VERY BAD.  So, I'm doing the diptych paintings for her - one painting for last year, one for this year.  LOL!  Thank God I have a wonderful and very understanding best friend.  :)

I still have more work to do on these paintings, but it's off to a good start.  The background has a subtle golden shimmer to it that I just love and the sides are painted the same dark brown as on the design below.  I have to touch up some of the brown, then on the whirls and flowers and birds, I'll be adding flourishes of the burnt orange and gold from the background.



I think tomorrow after the Thanksgiving get-together with my family, I'll be settling down and working some more on both this painting and the one of the cat on the woman's head.  I really, really want to get the cat's face painted and then I need to sit down and get the woman's face painted.  I did an initial layer of the skin tone, but it just didn't come out right.  Hoping the second times the charm!

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Julie

Quirky Dame Designs on the Virtual Craft Show!

Starting today, my shop - Quirky Dame Designs - has joined the Virtual Craft Show at Cafe Handmade!  I am proud to be in the company of other wonderful artists and their gorgeous creations.  Seriously, I'm seeing some unique, beautiful things featured.  You can check it out at:

http://cafehandmade.com/index.php/category/virtual-craft-show/

Take a peek at the shops.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll find a present or two for the people on your list.  Or a treat for yourself!  And if you see something that really catches your fancy, leave a comment or vote for your favorite shop.  I guarantee you, it'll make that person's day!

Want to see the latest progress on the painting of the cat perched on the woman's head?  Here's a little glimpse of the cat:



My next step is to paint his face.  So looking forward to seeing what he looks like when he's done!

Latest Work In Progress!

So yesterday at work, I found myself daydreaming.  Not an unusual occurrence, but an idea came to me that I felt I had to sketch.  So when my co-worker came to cover me for lunch (I'm a receptionist, so someone has to cover the desk whenever I step away) I grabbed my sketchbook and pencil.  I had that feeling, the one that I have begun to realize is a sign that I need to sit down and sketch immediately.  It was one of those moments where the lines seemed to go down on the paper just as I wanted them to, where things just fell into place and I didn't have to draw and erase lines a million times before I got them right.  I love those moments.

So I did just that and got those lines down on the page.  Just a bare bones sketch, so that I could fill in the rest of the picture when I painted.  Here's the sketch:



So today at work, I kept looking at the picture and working it out in my mind.  By the time I left work, I had decided to head for the art store to pick up a canvas.  I didn't plan on painting tonight, but that's what ended up happening! 

I had made a large copy of the drawing on 11x17 paper so that I could paint a larger scale version of it.  I ended up getting a 16x20 canvas and plan on doing a somewhat realistic version of it with oils.  However, I also picked up two 6x12 canvases while I was there.

Driving home, I realized that the sketch would work wonderfully on one of the 6x12 canvases as well.  So when I got home, I ended up transferring the sketch onto the smaller canvas and began to paint a smaller acrylic version.  Now, normally I don't allow myself to paint faces with acrylics.  It ends up being an exercise in frustration for me.  I usually just stick to oils for portraits.  I simply adore doing portraits in oils, it comes very naturally for me.  Much easier to get that blended look that I prefer.  But since only half of her face is showing, I figured what the heck! I'll do an acrylic version.

So I have most of the first layer of paint down on the canvas.  I decided to wait to do the skin tones until I had several hours to spend on it.  Basically, until I could do it in one sitting.  :)  So here is the progress I have made so far:




I have also sketched this cat (sitting on a ball, instead of a head) on two aceo's (they are 2.5" x 3.5") that I hope to paint soon.  I plan on listing all of this on my Art Fire store as soon as I am finished.  But so far I am very happy with the progress!  

Speaking of my Art Fire store, I have a special promotion going... free worldwide shipping during the holidays!  Please take a look if you're interested... http://quirkydame.artfire.com

Thanks for reading my blog.  I'll be sure to post another update on the painting soon!

Julie

Trippy Owl

I was just sprucing up my blog and preparing to make my next post when I realized that I never posted the finished picture of the owl painting I had been working on.  It's now listed on my Art Fire shop (also have one on Etsy) so it's about time I posted it on here!  So... without further ado, may I present...

Trippy Owl!


Art Fire Blog

Hello!

Just wanted to do a quick post letting you know that I am also posting blog entries on my new Art Fire shop. If you are interested in seeing more, please visit me at:

http://www.artfire.com/users/quirkydame/blog

From there, you can read my blog, see past paintings I've done and check out what paintings I currently have for sale. There's also my bio and links to other places I can be found on the internet. I hope you check it out!

I also plan on posting to this one, as well. :)

Julie Behm
Quirky Dame Designs

Hummingbirds and Owls... Oh my!

Introducing the latest painting added to my shop!



It's titled "The Hummingbird" and it's done in acrylics on a 12x12 canvas. This one came out quite differently than I had originally planned. See all that white on the bird? That was a not-so-pretty shade of purple. :) I do intend to do more of them, trying out different techniques for the background and in different colors.

Remember that sketch of the trippy owl from my last post? Well, I've started the painting! Here's a sneak peek of the progress thus far:



The blue and white stripes even carry over onto the sides. LOVE how that turned out. This one will be done in shades of blue, purple, green and yellow. I'm looking forward to seeing how this trippy little guy turns out! I'll try to post an update on this guy soon. I'm glad I have the long weekend to work on him!

Owls!

Okay, so as I mentioned a few entries earlier, I've recently become enchanted by owls. They really do seem to have made a comeback, don't they? Well, I decided it was time to put my own unique touch on the subject. And wowzer, have I been having FUN!


This little guy below is the original owl I was talking about. The Neurotic Owl, as I called him, is on his way to Los Angeles to go live with his new owner. I'm hoping they'll both be happy.






After I did the above owl, I had someone contact me about doing a custom order for her boyfriend's soon-to-be 12 year old daughter. It was an awesome opportunity. We talked about what she wanted and once I had completed the painting, I listed it as reserved in my store. Well, before that customer had a chance to buy it, someone else saw it and loved it so much, they bought it instead! So the very next weekend I painted a second one for that customer as well. So now there are two of these critters, one in Anchorage and one in Los Angeles. I'm happy to report that both owners are thrilled with their purchase!




This next one is the latest in the owl series and so far, my favorite. I just completed him last night and I'm quite please with the results. (I have him hanging up in my office until they are spoken for!) So happy that I get to share him on this blog! I'm calling this one "The Odd Couple" and hope they find a home soon. If you're reading this and are interested, they can be found at Quirky Dame Designs.





I have a few more owls to do and the next one will be taking me in a new direction. I'm really looking forward to this next challenge! I'll share a little sneak peek:



This is going to be such a blast to paint! Right now I'm carefully considering the colors to use. I want this creature to be trippy, but not TOO trippy! I should be able to start painting him on Saturday. :)

Thanks for taking a look. Oh, and if you are viewing this blog entry on quirkydame.com and the photos are not showing up, please click on "Imported from external blog" below and that will take you to the original blog with the photos. Sorry for the inconvenience!

August Update

The past few months have been quite busy for me! I've finished up three custom orders, one of which consisted of seven pieces and have shown my work, along with several other artists, at a local house concert in town. The singer that night was Marian Call and I can't rave about her enough. I urge you to visit her website and learn more. I got to meet some wonderful people, eat some out-of-this-world food, and see some awesome art. Here's a picture of the paintings that I had displayed:



I've been keeping busy with the custom orders, but now that they are done, I'm working on building up inventory for my Etsy store. I have a number of sketches just waiting to become paintings! We're talking more owls, hummingbirds and even a flying pig! I'm currently working on a piece with two owls sitting in a tree. It's nearing completion and I hope to post a photo soon.

I have also set up my own website at www.quirkydame.com. It integrates this blog and my Etsy listings into one site.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog and I promise that the next update won't take as long as this one did!

P.S. If you are viewing this blog on quirkydame.com and the photo is not showing up, please click on "Imported from external blog" below and that will take you to the original blog entry where you will be able to view the picture.

My brain's all atwitter...

Feeling very ideaphoric today. Not surprising that I tested high on ideaphoria - an experience where one feels a constant onslaught of new ideas, creating a euphoric state of idea creation. (From Wikipedia)

My brain is just so active tonight. I've got so many paintings that I need to work on and hopefully complete by July 10th, but so many more are springing up in my mind right now. Not only ideas for paintings, but for photos, too, that may eventually also become paintings. ACK!

Plus I have this neurotic little owl just waiting to be painted. He's so cute. I seem to be getting this obsession with neurotic, colorful and/or whimsical owls. I'm totally into owls lately. And cupcakes. Not just baking, decorating and eating them - though I certainly do enjoy that - but also pictures and paintings, etc.

I just need to write down my ideas and do quick sketches, then work on the things that really need to be done. If I do feel a strong pull to work on one particular thing, I will take a break and do it. Right now I'd like to finish up my hula girls. I brought them out with me while I'm house sitting so I'd to do a little work on it tomorrow.

Should sign off and hit the sack. I love laying there, painting in my mind as I drift to sleep. Such a wonderful way to drift away into slumber...

At long last... an update.

It's been a very busy time lately, but the past six days have been heavenly. I took four days off work, plus the weekend and have been painting every day. My sister and her husband will be leaving July 10th to get their hawaiian condo ready for rental. So, I'm on a mission to get as many paintings done before then as possible. I love the challenge that this has created for me. It's got my creative juices flowing and me working on a steady basis.

So the past six days have yielded the following:



The half circle on the top is going to be a welcome sign that says either Aloha or Aloha Friends. Something like that. The big yellow circle will eventually be a sun. The two paintings are the hula girls set. On the sides will be partial palm trees and some taller bushes next to them. A smidgen of sea and sand will be there, too. All three of these are done in acrylics.



This one is an oil painting of a heliconia plant. It, along with the rest of the paintings, is still a work in progress. I had to let it dry a few days so that I could continue working on it.

I did have two more canvases that I worked on - finished the backgrounds of them. However, they are a gift for my sis for (last) Christmas and she reads this blog, therefore, no pictures yet. Once they are in her hot little hands, I will be sure to post a picture. :-)

I've got a number of other paintings planned for it: hibiscus, possibly plumeria and two beachy type scenes. Oh, and a painting that is just sea and sky, in all sorts of beautiful shades of blue, based on a picture I took in Maui last Christmas.

The only bad thing is that my leave has now come to an end. And I'm feeling sort of sick and depressed that these wonderful days of sitting out on the back porch, painting all afternoon in the sun are over and real life of working the 9 to 5 job and dealing with the over-the-edge curmudgeon at work is back. Oh well. The painting itself won't end and that's what really counts. :-)

Flower Silhouette No. 2 is done!

Here's a look at the latest acrylic painting...



Done! Listed in my store and on the VAST Team blog at http://vastgallery.blogspot.com/. It's in very good company with lots of other art by other artists.

Now next on my list is to take the hour or two I need to finish the portrait I've been working on. Plus I have to start sketching out ideas for art for the Kona condo. I love it. :-)

Orange painting update...

I'm in the middle of my latest acrylic painting, very similar to the one in my last post. Here's a not-so-good-but-all-I-have picture of it so far:



The flowers will remain black on this one, too. However, in my next one, the blue and purple one, I think I will experiment with adding touches of color. We'll see. Plus one of my sisters and her hubby just bought a condo in Hawaii. They'll be flying over, probably in July to paint, furnish and prepare it for rental. I'm moodling over ideas for artwork for the condo. I told them I'd do a few paintings with their condo and the color scheme in mind and if they like any, they can use them. I've got a ton of ideas and need to start sketching some out. I've already decided I'm going to take a few days off, probably next month, and just paint my little heart out for those days. I did that earlier this year and it was GREAT. :-)

Latest Painting

I finished one of the paintings from the last post! I worked on the blue and green one first and here's final result:



The sides are 1.5 inches and painted black, so it doesn't have to be framed. I'm looking forward to working on the orange background canvas next. And I've started a blue and purple one where I will paint the flowers in a dark blue, rather than black. Creating the backgrounds are quite fun and really freeing. I'm already planning the color combos I'm going to use for the next set of canvases!

Color, color, color!

What wonderful timing! My brand new acrylic paints arrived on the very first day of April. The Creative Every Day theme for April is color. And I've been dying to get my hands on those paints so that I could get the very colorful background for my newest non-portrait paintings going.

I decided to work on two canvases tonight... though I'm itching to go do another one, it's too late and I need to get some sleep tonight! I chose the colors I wanted to use. I wanted vivid, vibrant colors for these backgrounds. On the one, I chose to do a combination of blue and green. The other was a few shades of burnt orange with some yellow mixed in. Here are the results...



What you can't tell in the picture is that the orange one has a delicate golden sheen to it and the blue/green one has a blue sheen to it. It's a beautiful effect when you see it in person.

My next step will be to tape off the sides and paint them black. When that's done, I will paint (in black again) on each one a flowery/curly/swirly design I've drawn and then I might use the background colors to accent the black design. I'll give it a try and see how it turns out. I am so looking forward to experimenting with these! I love the colors and can hardly wait to experiment with new combinations of color.

Studio in progress

I have had quite the busy week. I am finally fulfilling a dream of mine. I've been setting up a studio in the extra/laundry room downstairs. This has required moving furniture around, sorting through a myriad of belongings, etc. Right now, the space is an unholy nightmare - boxes and boxes of stuff needing to be unpacked, organized and put away. They are just piled on and around the tables and storage cubes in the area. Plus I have two easels taking up room, too.

It had become quite obvious that in order to make any sense of this mess, I needed a lot more storage containers and perhaps even a plastic cart with drawers or two. So I dedicated my Saturday to visiting thrift shops around town. I needed to do this on the cheap, and quite frankly, I'm not too concerned about getting nice, new, matching things. Yes, it would be nice, but I don't want to be worrying about messing up my pretty new things. With this stuff, I can just concentrate on creating and who cares if it gets splattered with paint and hot glue. :-)

I had a BRILLIANT time! I ended up going to five different thrift shops and I scored some awesome stuff. My very first stop, I scored the plastic three drawer cart I wanted for only $5.25! Turns out Salvation Army (or Sally Ann's as they're now being called) was having a 50% off sale all day. :-) So of course I visited two more of them, along with two others in town.

I found bins and little storage boxes, big stacking drawers and all of this for less than I would have paid for just one new three or four drawer cart. I even found a huge frame with glass that I could use to make a big palette for my paint. I turned it into that palette last night and as soon as my studio is up and running, I'll get to start using it. YES! I will finally have plenty of room to mix up all the paint I need. I've been using a 16x20 palette, but I keep running out of room. Not any more. :-)

So now, all I need is the energy and perseverance to go through all of this junk and get it put away. It feels good to know that I'm getting closer and closer to making this dream a reality.

Awesome new art blog

I love to paint. Especially portraits of women. I like to do fun decorative paintings, such as the flowers and sun that I blogged about earlier, but I'm most passionate about painting women. Even as a child, that was what I preferred to draw. So when I found this newest art blog, I was thrilled. It's called Women Painting Women: Favorite paintings of women by women, with a focus on contemporary, living artists.

It's providing me with much inspiration. Do check it out! I'm being introduced to many new artists through this and hopefully you will, too. :-)

First portrait from class

Just wanted to post a picture of the nearly-finished portrait from my class. There's one more, but it's still a work in progress. It's amazing how much I've learned from this class. Loving it!



Plus I've become obsessed with some flower sketches I've been working on and as soon as I finish up this next portrait, I'm going to start experimenting with them. Lots of color - bold and vibrant!

Sharpie Doodle ATC's

I mentioned sharpie doodles in my last post and thought do a quick post on those. I have recently become obsessed with doing sharpie doodle artist trading cards. They're easy, fun, and let me stretch a bit with the imagination. Plus I can do them while I watch my favorite shows. :-) This is the first batch I did:



This is the second and latest batch that I've finished:



I've got a bunch more that I've started. Fun little things and very addictive. Plus I'll be able to use them for swaps!

Finally!

I am finally able to log onto the internet! I've missed it. On the other hand, I think it was actually quite helpful. I was freed from the temptation to waste hours and hours of time on the internet and instead, I used many of those hours to do all sorts of creative projects, from artist trading cards to sketches to making my resin covered magnets/pins/pendants/keychains to painting. It's been good!

My Portrait Painting in Oils class has been wonderful. I mean, I am learning SO MUCH from it. I just finished up my first portrait from the class. It's a 20x24 portrait of a model named Holly. And I would post a picture of the portrait but... when I went to my house this afternoon, I remembered to take my camera so I could get a picture, but I forgot to get the memory card from my laptop, which meant I couldn't take a picture. GRRRR! But I will hopefully be posting one in the next day or two.

A week ago I started my second house sitting job for my sis Alicia and her darling kitten Penny. I decided to take three days off work to paint. It was the best decision! Dedicating that time to painting just did wonders for me. But having to go back to work on Thursday? That was hard. It was so painful to tear myself away and go back to the normal routine. One day I'd love to have the painting be my normal routine.

Monday I didn't get any painting done, but I did go to see the movie Slumdog Milllionaire. Loved it. Tuesday and Wednesday I painted, painted, painted! The only painting I'd been doing for a while was the portrait and I needed to take a break from it. So I took some little sharpie doodles I'd been doing and decided to do some fun decorative paintings with acrylic.





They came out pretty good, but I'd like to try them in oils. I do better work with oils. I did do backgrounds on two other canvases and I think I will do both of those in oils. They'll be flowers, too.

I started a new portrait in class on Wednesday. I did the underpainting in sap green and I sketched it out on the canvas. The paint is pretty dry now, so I'll be starting on the actual painting soon. I'm trying hard not to think of the class ending this month. I hate to see it end. This class in particular has been the most helpful. I'll have to keep my eye out for additional courses and in the meantime, keep up the painting.

Linda, the artist teaching the course, recommended a couple of books by a teacher at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. That's where Linda took a workshop in portrait painting in January. I received them in the mail Wednesday and have been delving into them. I'm starting with "Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Tradional Studio Practice" and then I will continue with "Classical Painting Atelier." They are quite fascinating and the art inside is inspiring me.

I need to focus more on my drawing skills. I've been sketching a lot lately, but it's vague ideas for paintings or my sharpie doodles - like the paintings above. I've always preferred drawing/painting people over landscapes, even as a child, so I need to realy start sharpening my skills by doing more figure drawings. I know of a place or two in town where I could attend some figure drawing sessions, so I'm may try to get my courage up and attend.

I think my experience with them in a previous art class has me scared about it. I felt so inadequate, I was floundering around and doing a crap job with a lot of the assignments and the figure drawings. (It didn't help that partway through the class my life kind of blew up in my face and I was really struggling emotionally. It was BAD.) We had to work with charcoal A LOT in that class. Charcoal and I HATE each other. I despise using it and just can't get the hang of it. Plus I felt like the information presented in the class wasn't always the clearest or complete. But it wasn't all bad and there were times when I was pretty happy with the results. Like this:



This was my favorite of the figure drawings. But honestly? I want to do better. And I know I can. And that blasted fear of doing more figure drawing classes is a sure sign that I really do need to take them. I hate the way that works!

Anyway, it's past 1:30 am and I need to go hit the sack. I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow. :-)

Just in case anyone is actually still reading this...

I am around and I do plan on updating soon! I've just been house-sitting for a couple while they're in England and as my luck would have it, the connection I get with my modemy-thingie is so weak, I can't get online. This is killing me. At least I can check my email and do some surfing on my cell phone. However, typing out a blog entry using my cell phone? Oh heck no! So I've been sneaking what I can at work, only they've cracked down a bit more there and I'm sneaking home when I can.

However, I have been working on my art and I have been taking some pictures. I will be switching over to a different house-sitting job on Friday and I know for sure I will get internet access there. Thank God! So I will be back soon and showing all sorts of pics. Plus I'll finally be uploading some stuff on flickr.

I miss the internet!

Value Studies

I was quite productive today... went shopping with my sis, came home and cooked dinner - chiles en nogada and homemade refried beans - then I finished the value study I did in class and did two more.

The whole exercise was to to learn to look for shapes of values first thing when painting. So we each picked out at least one photo to paint. I picked one for class, then three to take home. We were to do a quick sketch on our canvas - nothing detailed - and just noticed the shapes of the lights and darks. Then we would start with the darkest darks, filling them in, and working our way to the lightest lights. We weren't to try and do anything detailed or blend, etc. Here's what I ended up with:



This was the one I started in class. I got about 2/3 of it done in class and finished it up at home.



This was the second one I did. I don't normally paint men, so it was an interesting change to work on this study.



This was the third one I did and the one that Linda demonstrated in class.



A view of all three.

Next class we will be working with color. It'll be on 20x24 canvases. The studies were done on 8x10 canvas panels. I'm looking forward to seeing what Wednesday brings!

Also on my plate is experimenting with creating resin pendents. I will be doing a number of them at the same time, several of them Frida Kahlo ones. One of those will go to my partner in the Frida handmade jewelry swap. That is, assuming at least one turns out, one will go to my partner. If not, I'll be attempting something else!

I'll also be creating several works of art with my beloved four year old niece tomorrow. She's been begging me to paint with her and since we're having a girl day tomorrow, it's the perfect time. :-) I bought a cheap sketchbook with a plain, flexible cover so that she could decorate the cover herself and have a sketchbook to draw in just like her auntie. :-) I am so looking forwarding to hanging out with my princess tomorrow!

La Catrina

I had done a Dia De Los Muertos sharpie postcard swap a few months back and decided the other night that one of the designs I did needed to become a painting. :-) The perfect activity on a Friday night after a wicked long day at work answering the blasted phone (I was seriously ready to throw it out the window.) Here's the final result:



I actually used this painting as an excuse to try painting on a gessobord... and I loved it! I have two more 7x5 gessobords to use, so now I'll try doing an oil painting on it. I have a feeling I may be doing more paintings on the gessobords then on canvas.

Now my next project is to finish the value study I did in my oil painting class and maybe do another one or two of them. :-)

Opening up a bit...

Apparently my brain has been pretty active the past 24 hours and I ended up having a very interesting dream. But a bit of lengthy back-story first…

I’ve been in a bit of a reflective mood lately… thinking of hard choices and sticking with them. Doing what scares you. Taking that step and hoping that the net truly does appear and that you don’t end up going SPLAT on the ground. *g* Trying to do what you think is the right thing, what you feel God is calling you to do, trying not to look too far into the future and then start faltering. (My specialty.) It’s hard to press forward, keep the faith, and stay focused on the present. Yep, this is about the whole art thing… from the class I’m taking to etsy to what the future holds.

For instance, I ordered a set of moo cards the other night before I went to bed. You can have up to six lines of text on the back, so I chose to have my name, my email address and… my etsy store address. I’ve been planning on opening my own shop for a while and the other night I got a wild hair and listed the only painting I have available. (I’m hoping to have another couple of things to list within the next week or two.)

What’s the first thing I wanted to do when I woke up the next morning? (Besides go back to bed?) Order new moo cards (because it's too late to cancel the other order) that don’t have my etsy address on them, because it’s not going to work, I only have one thing so far and no one will ever buy it, the new stuff I make won’t be good, who wants my stuff, I’m not good enough, I’m embarrassed to even let people know in case I fail, they’ll all laugh because who is she to think someone would pay for a stupid painting, etc, etc, so on and so forth. I couldn’t possibly send those cards to people.

Sheesh! The battlefield of the mind is one brutal thing. And never-ending! Logically, I know that all of that isn’t true, that it’s that evil, nasty little abusive voice in my head spouting off. :-)

No, the store thing may not work out, it may never take off. Maybe it will. Maybe I’ll sell something in a few months. Maybe I’ll make a contact out of this that will lead to something else entirely. We’ll see. I have to say that joining that Creative Every Day thing and actually posting a link to my site for this week has been awesome, as has joining Swap-Bot and posting pictures on Flickr. People who don’t even know me have been so supportive. I’m stepping out, finally participating and things are happening. Just have to keep the faith and not retreat back to where I was.

I wrote the above to one of my sisters who then kindly corrected my delusions and gave me some straight talking and support. :-) She’s good at it – been doing it for many, many, many years!

So then I was reading another artist’s blog and found this…

"...a Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively....If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to what has been created for our appreciation....We are all in danger of thinking, "Some day I shall be fulfilled. Some day I shall have the courage to start another life which will develop my talent", without ever considering the very practical use of that talent today in a way which will enrich other people's lives, develop the talent, and express the fact of being a creative creature."

--from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

For those who are not religious, feel free to ignore the first part. :-) But I think many people (of all belief systems) can relate to the rest of what she says. How many people in this world feel that way? Do that exact same thing? I know I did for many years. So I had all this brewing in my brain when I went to sleep. That’s when my subconscious had a field day.

I had this dream that there was this werewolf that came out every night to devour people. There were only two things that could protect you… If you were sleeping, he couldn’t get you. But if you were awake, the only way to protect yourself was to be touching canvas. It was like it made you invisible. So throughout the dream, if I was awake at night, I would grip this canvas wallet type thing I had (and when I woke up this morning, the hand that was gripping it in the dream was aching from me gripping it in my sleep.)

The most vivid part and the part I remember the most was the end, where I was in this big room, I think it was a restaurant, and the werewolf came. It was sort of a U shaped room and he entered through the other side from where I was. I stood against the wall, mostly facing it and gripping that canvas thing like crazy. I could feel the werewolf coming towards me. I thought that if he brushed against you, he would figure out you’re there and turn you into a tasty little snack. But when he brushed against me as he passed by, he never figured it out.

After he passed me by, I turned to look at him and I was so surprised. He didn’t look scary at all. Don’t get me wrong, I could sense the danger in him, but he looked like a whacked out grown man with a frizzy bush of hair doing this exaggerated prancing tip-toe thing. Nothing like a wolf at all. It would have been absolutely ridiculous if he didn’t have that underlying sense of danger to him. He made his way back through the room and left. That’s when I woke up.

I'm not usually big on dream interpretation, but every once in a while, a dream will stay with me and be rather obvious. Interpretation? The werewolf is those fears that haunt me regarding my art. Obviously art, because of the canvas. Boy, my subconscious is not subtle. LOL! If I’m sleeping - ignoring my creative desires like I did for most of my life – the fear has already gotten me. Of course he’d leave me alone. If I’m awake and not concentrating on the work, those fears can distract and hurt me and I can let them prevent me from being creative, from working on my art.

The fears can brush against me, but if I’m DOING the work, keeping my attention on the work where it belongs, it won't stop me. And when I really stop and look at the fears, I see how powerless many of them really are, unless I give them the power to hurt me. Now, the fact that the canvas was in the form of a wallet… I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be making money from the art in the future! :-)

All in all, the dream was actually kind of cool and reassuring. :-) Not so cool was the fact that it woke me up at 5 am with a horrendous headache and an aching hand. *g* But it’s given me some food for thought.

Now I'm off to go work on a quick Dia De Los Muertos painting and then finish my value study. I'll blog later about my art class and how it went!

Update


Just wanted to post the latest update of the oil painting. She's now got (incomplete) eyes and I've layed down the first layer of hair. I've still got to finish her hair, the paintbrushes in her hair, her eyes and the background.

I usually have a hard time adding the darker values. They scare me. *g* When I painted in her hair tonight, I realized that some of the shadows on her face weren't nearly dark enough. And here I thought I had gotten some good dark values in! So I darkened some of them even more. I must learn to lay in the darker values first! It really does help. :-)

Oil Painting in progress

This past Wednesday I was supposed to start a ten week oil painting class (for portraits - my favorite!) but due to weather conditions, it was cancelled. So, I was sitting around tonight, jonesing to paint something and decided to go for it. Here it is:



I've wanted to do this picture for a while. Last year, on the night before Halloween, I was wandering around the house, wondering what costume I could scrounge up before work the next day. We work with kids, so a lot of us dress up and try to be quite festive. All of a sudden, it hit me... I could be an artist! :-)

This painting was inspired by that. Like the woman in the picture, I pulled my hair up and stuck paintbrushes in it. (Even went to the doctors and the store like that!) Plus I wore my grungy, paint-stained sweatshirt and brought one of my paintings and a few sketches to decorate the office. I even dabbed paint all over my face and carried paintbrushes around with me. I just wish I'd had different kind of palette that I could carry around with me. The ones I do have wouldn't have worked. Anyway, it was awesome!

It was good to sit down and paint again tonight. I haven't done an oil painting since my last intensive class in August, the week before my mother went in to have both her knees replaced. I was one of two primary caregivers for her during that period, so I knew that I wouldn't be getting much painting done after that class.

I'll be sure to post another picture when I work on it some more! First, I have a couple of swaps that I must work on, but I will be painting again sometime this weekend!

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