Friday, October 2, 2009

Beautiful Fall Day

Just thought I'd share a few memories from a beautiful fall day somewhere in Colorado between Steamboat Springs and Wolcott.
The beautiful gold colors usually peak the third week in September, but these photos were taken this week, and as you can tell there are still a lot of green trees.


These next ones give you a feeling of flying, and the one on the right below feels like vertigo; it's hard to figure out where the horizon is.

The last one is one of my favorites. It makes you wonder where the road goes. It provides inspiration for a painting, I think.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Birthday Unicorn

Just recently I undertook a project which put me totally out of my element. My granddaughter asked me to paint a unicorn for her birthday. Explicit instructions included size (big) and color (pink with green eyes and pink and blue hair). Now I might add that my granddaughter is an extraordinarily talented young artist herself, and her grandma is very proud of her. (Not that her grandma would exaggerate, but she spends her spare time creating art a large percentage of the time!) She would much rather paint or draw with markers than fill in coloring pages, and she really is pretty good for being just six years old.

The unicorn was not a subject I have ever tried before. I know a lot of girls draw horses when they are young, but not me. The number of horses I have tried to draw or paint, ever, could probably be counted on my fingers. However, this was a labor of love, and I grew to love it and hope she will as well.

The original acrylic painting is 16 x 20 inches. I may do prints, and if I do I would put them into my shop, DreamON, sometime in the future.

So here is the unicorn, and I hope you enjoy it. Copyright 2009 by Mary M. Hamilton.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Glenwood Springs Fall Art Festival

This is the best art show! The Glenwood Springs Art Guild has been putting on this indoor open entry show for 47 years now, and boy, do they do it right! The show is held in the lower level of the Ramada Inn in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It is one of the best opportunities both for buyers and artists around. The art is always good. In addition there are demonstrations by the three judges and sometimes an additional artist also. This year's judges are Tanis Bula, Charles Hardy and Tim Wedel, and Cindy Brabec-King, an outstanding watercolorist, will give an additional demo. Judging is done Wednesday, and the show opened when judging was completed.

My entries this Fall are "Bliss" and "Tina's Dance."

The entrants are broken down into Professional, Advanced and Amateur classes. Media accepted includes hand-thrown and hand-built pottery, sculpture, oil/acrylics, watermedia, mixed media, graphics and pastels. There are landscapes, still life, portrait-figure, animal, sculpture and pottery categories for which ribbons are awarded. Cash awards are reserved for Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion in each classification of entrants.

Another real plus for artists are the artists' Friday night dinner and Saturday night's banquet and "artists' bash." The most appreciated feature of this show would be the patrons who support this event every year, but a close runner-up would be the hours and hours of work put in by the Glenwood Springs Art Guild. These are the folks who have made this event possible for the 47 years it has been occurring. Thank you to both!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Texture is fun, but more than that the added dimension it adds to a painting is becoming to me like putting salt and spice on my food.

The textures that can be added to every kind of two-dimensional media vary, but more and more I am looking at texture as a necessity rather than an addition to a painting. In this first example entitled Music For Martinis, texturing the background happened before the idea of the painting was hatched.

In this next example, He Gave Me Flowers some of the background texturing happened as the abstract still life was being painted, but much of it was created after the fact.

The two examples are used to show that texture can happen at any stage of a painting to add interest and excitement to the artwork.

For added information about either painting, you may want to click on the images to read more.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Did We Lose Our Common Sense?

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is a law that was passed last year and went into effect in February of 2009 for products manufactured after November 12, 2008. Such an outcry has resulted that a minimal version of the law is currently being enforced, with more the stringent requirements to follow in August. At that time the lead paint limit for products intended for children under 12 will be lowered from the current 600 ppm to 90 ppm. At the present time, third-party testing for currently effective limits of lead by an accredited third-party is required for products manufactured after December 21, 2008. To learn more about this act, go to the official website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s CPSIA site at .

The CPSIA happened partly in reaction to the toys, jewelry and other items imported from China containing lead and pthalates and partly because of the U.S. Government’s ever-increasing recalls of dangerous toys in the recent past. Make no mistake, the last thing we ever need is dangerous toys for our babies and children. Yes, we need to be assured that imported and mass-produced items contain no harmful substances that would make children sick or harm them.

On the other hand, and considering that lead and children have co-existed in the world for a very long time, most of us who are breathing right now are not aware of having suffered any ill consequences from it. No one denies that children have been harmed from eating or chewing on items that have been painted with lead or contain lead; however, in historical terms it is a relatively recent discovery that lead harms children. Lead-based wall paint was taken off of the market in the USA for that reason. It is incomprehensible to us now that anyone would still be painting toys with lead-containing paint; however, the government felt it had to strengthen the laws because products containing lead did get into our children’s hands.

But this act takes protection to the absurd, and it is hitting the small producer of handmade items for children extremely hard, because it requires testing that is way too expensive for them to do. Why not require the original manufacturer of the goods or at the very least the importer to test and not the middleman who bought the goods to make their products from? As an example, I just cannot believe anyone ever intended that the home sewer of baby dresses or crocheted booties should be the victims of this ridiculous legislation. Why not require the maker of the yarn or the buttons or the fabric used to make a garment to do the testing instead?

To me, one of the most absurd facets of this law is that old books printed prior to 1985 contain lead in the printed type and that those books should be destroyed. Talk about a total overreaction: this is just incomprehensible. Libraries, already short on funding, are falling under the law’s requirements to have old books “intended” for use by children either tested by third-parties or destroyed. If this were a valid requirement, then all of us who learned how to read prior to 1985 would be morons staggering in the streets, clutching at our throats with our eyes popping out from the deadly lead in the type of our textbooks and all of the other vintage books we read in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just Discovered - I've Gone Blue!

"Curacao In Venice" [SOLD]

Unconsciously, once again, I have found myself painting most everything in the same triad of colors. The last time I did this, it was red, yellow, orange: that was my Orange Period. This time I'm stuck in the blue, violet, green combo. It takes awhile to become conscious of this, because not absolutely everything comes out in these colors, especially landscapes. However when I look over the body of work I have created for the last month, it is readily apparent that I am in my Blue Period. Hm!

I remember from studying Art History that certain famous artists had their red, blue, green, purple or yellow periods. I thought at the time that this was awfully pretentious! So coming into my second color phase - at least that I've actually noticed, and it amuses me to have discovered this. It's most curious. Have any of you other artists ever experienced this?

The photo above at the left is of my painting entitled "Curacao In Venice." It was even more orange before I gave it a treatment of purple long after it was first painted along with the rest of the orangies.

Here are some of my latest (my bluies). First, on the right is "Abstract Pansies."

Back again on the left is "Before You Were Awake."

On the right, "Connection" [SOLD]

And my latest painting which is entitled "Connection." I did three that day, but that was a conscious thing that they were all the same colors, because I had seen a painting done by a friend of mine in those same colors. Her painting was a different subject and considerably larger, but the color combination totally resonated with me. Why is that? Looking back I can see it's the Blue thing.

It's proof for me that when we paint or write poetry and who knows what else that our inner thoughts and emotions enter into the product.

Except for Curacao in Venice(sold) and Connection(sold), the other two are available in my Etsy shop. You can click on the photos for more information.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blogging Guilt

Every day that goes by is fraught with guilt about not updating my blog. I know how important it is to establish and maintain a regular habit of writing something. As a visual artist, it is also essential to include a photo of either my art, a technique or something valuable to artists reading the blog. At least this is my goal. Therefore blog guilt sets in when day after day passes and I haven't made a contribution here.

However, being an artist involves far more than just blogging, running an Etsy shop, checking email, reading other people's blogs or other types of social networking. And these are just the web-based activities. I sometimes feel like I need to clone myself in order to keep up. When do I just get to paint????

The following article really hit home for me. It was written by Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizBlog fame. Hope you will enjoy it and take time to think about it.

Return to Your Art

When times are good, artists make art.
When times are bad, artists make art.
When time stands still, artists will continue making art.

Artists who are true to themselves do not make art for the marketplace, but for themselves--to start a dialogue with their viewers, their fans, and the world. They make art because they have something to say that is best said not with words, but through a creative act. They make art because they have to. The marketing stuff can come later.

Through this newsletter and the Art Biz Blog, I give you ideas for promoting your art and building your business. Too many ideas. You can't possibly implement these ideas as fast as I generate them. And I'm sure I'm just one of the sources you're hearing from.

The result of all these ideas may be a feeling of overwhelm. The result of overwhelm can lead to forgetting about your art. And the result of forgetting about your art can either be no art to market or art you're not confident in.

Never neglect the studio. Always return to your art. The disciplined practice of making art is mandatory. Everything else is optional.

Know This . . .
Artists make art--regardless.

Think About This . . .
Have you been neglecting your studio time?

Do This . . .
Return to your art. Remember why you are an artist. Recall the thrill of your best work. Hold on to that sensation and revisit it when you're feeling overwhelmed or uninspired. Just get back to the studio!

Share your thoughts and listen to the podcast on the Art Biz Blog.

Art Biz BlogDon't miss these posts on the blog:

  • Podcast: Promote an out-of-town event

  • We need art now more than ever

  • Artist-inventors who have changed the world

  • Arbitrary art grant

Read everything and sign up for updates at

Copyright 2009 Alyson B. Stanfield. Alyson takes the mystery out of marketing your art and making more money as an artist. Visit to get articles just like this one delivered to your inbox.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Small Beachy Watercolors

"Exile Island" [SOLD]
This is one of my latest beachy watercolors that I've been painting this week. I call this one Exile Island. I guess I've watched entirely too much Survivor, because the name just seemed to fit. While I'm thinking about it, how come they always pick the most beautiful-looking locations that have such horrible weather? I mean it rains on those people most every night, and of course, they have nowhere to go, so they're just miserable and wet. That must be a prerequisite in picking locations.

Anyway, this painting seemed to name itself. Most of the time I agonize over titles. If nothing clever presents itself, I can sit there and groan over naming a painting for an inordinate amount of time, only to come up with something dopey like "Red Boat." I think I need a Painting Namer - now there's a whole new profession!

These paintings I'm presently working on will be for sale in my local locations - at least for now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fun With Acrylics - ACEO Style

Abstract Flowers 2[SOLD] Abstract Flowers 3[SOLD]Abstract Flowers 1 (Available)

For these latest three ACEOs I started with backgrounds of Napthol Red Medium, Naples Yellow and Chromium Oxide Green Golden Liquid Acrylics combined with White Gesso. These three colors make some lovely shades when combined. As soon as the backgrounds dried, I drew floral images on each of the ACEO-sized pieces of watercolor paper. This size is always a constant 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. Using some darker green combinations of the same three colors and changing the colors frequently from a more green to a more red combination of these colors, also varying intensity and temperature, I painted negatively around my drawings. Then I putzed around a bit to paint in stamens and centers.

The colors proved difficult to correct the photo and adjust for accuracy, but I finally achieved a reasonable likeness. The images look quite nice together against a background of neutral rice paper with a border courtesy of Corel Paint Shop.

ACEOs and Note Cards '>to view ACEOs later in my Etsy Shop in my ACEO Artist Cards Section!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Winds of March Sale!

I decided to have a sale of some of my pieces that have been in my Etsy Shop, DreamON, for quite some time. It's time to get some new artwork going in; and clean up, clean out, sweep out with the March winds - some things that have been lurking there in the corner unnoticed. So I'm posting a few of them here.

They're all great buys at their newly reduced prices!!! Please go check out my Winds Of March Sale Section.
Click here to be transported. The first one is called
A Bit Squirrely.

This next one is titled
Heceta Lighthouse. The Heceta Head Lighthouse as seen in the distance from the twisting highway along the Oregon coast makes you want to get up close, but the traffic moves right along, and before you know it, you've driven right past. My original painting has real seaweed collaged onto it now.

This next one is called
Kitty Daze. For whatever reason, I've always loved this one. The bright and cheerful colors with the cute little sandpaper kitty collaged on just appeals to me.

I had just discovered that the foam thingy that came with my ultra-spendy Stein Mart watch made a wonderful stamping tool that I have gleefully used and used until it just fell apart. It's a happy painting. And, you know, I just love kitties!

The last one in the post is
Wind For Sale. It is all one painting that has a black gesso border dividing it into three panes onto which collaged pieces add a slight, colorful quality to the otherwise all black and white. It had a moonlit marina theme. It's not meant to be realistic, but to have that special quality that moonlight casts on objects in darkness.

There are eleven pieces of artwork in the special Winds of March Sale. You will find them all in my Etsy shop at

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ramblings from the Islands In Wet Carpet Land

Yesterday was kind of a lost day. We made a trip to Tampa for an 11 am appointment and had to be back home in time to have the carpet cleaned at 3 pm. In between we searched for a restaurant that we never found. (I thought I knew exactly where it was until we got there and nothing looked familiar.) So, being really hungry by then, we kept driving until we found a place that almost made us wish we'd skipped lunch. By that time it was 1:30 anyway, so why bother to eat a "Greek" salad they forgot to put dressing on with petrified shrimp nestled in for a treat? I did ask for and receive dressing from the waiter, but even with the dressing this salad wasn't good. The people at the next table over made a complaint and got something comp'ed, I didn't listen carefully enough to figure it out, but I know the waiter gave them a freebee. I just didn't have the heart to make his day any worse by making it two in-a-row, even though the petrified shrimp did qualify.

So on to the carpet cleaning saga. The people on the phone had quoted a price which had to be verified by counting square feet when the carpet cleaner guy arrived, and that price actually turned out to be less than quoted, because our square footage was less. Here's the part that ALWAYS turns me off: the quote didn't include Scotchgarding the carpet, and the guy presented this $114 "extra" as if it were expected. (I hate having one price quoted and finding out a service is much more expensive than expected.) My thing is I don't remember ever paying for scotchgarding a carpet before, and there were times in the past the whole job didn't cost $114 - let alone as an add-on! So our carpet is "unprotected" and will probably shrivel up and crawl away before the end of the month or something. Also it's still damp this morning after keeping the A/C on all night like the guy recommended so it could be completely dry in 5-6 hours. Yeah, right! As soon as it warms up I will have the windows open, thank you very much!

Well, it was a weird evening sitting on our furniture islands in the midst of the wet carpet ocean around us watching TV. We watched Survivor, and this time I think the TV audience was "blindsided," because everyone but the sick guy voted off the sick guy and not Erinn who had been painted as a grinning she-devil by Coach, that we thought they were all going to vote off. Next, watching a taped American Idol, I guessed the winners again. Yay! I'm 6 for 6.

So today I can look forward to coming home and putting all the stuff back in its place from the carpet cleaning yesterday, but first I have to truck my paintings over to Ruth Eckerd Hall for the exhibit. Maybe I can even get some painting done by dinner time. Maybe, I hope!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Palm Island

As I was sitting at the Artists' Guild Gallery yesterday, I painted this landscape of Palm Island. The day had started out pretty cool, and having the door open early felt pretty chilly, but as customers came and went and sales happened, the temperatures heated up also. It was a good day with enough of a lull at times to paint, but also quite a few visitors kept me busy.

One comment still has me chuckling. A lady said that she thought my husband was posing for me. Well, hello! Unless he looks like a tree, I think he was just sitting there reading. People can be kinda funny, I think!

This one is available in my Etsy shop, DreamON. Click on the photo of the painting for a link to my shop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Matting 101 - How To's

This is a brief description of the process for figuring out how to mat an original watercolor into a single mat for a standard size 16 x 20-inch frame. It is the method I learned from a professional framer. There are, of course, other methods people also use.

The original painting is 15 x 11 inches as it is facing right side up. The outside dimensions of the mat will be 20 x 16 inches (also facing right side up). In this example, each side of the mat is going to be 3 1/4 wide. That leaves the size of the opening at 14 x 10 inches. This allows the mat to overlap one-half of an inch on each side, top and bottom of the painting. This is enough to adequately cover the painting without having to worry about an edge showing, and I would recommend no less than that one-half inch.

Also, I would like to say that standard size mats can be purchased from a number of retail outlets. The need for a custom mat comes into play when your color choice for a mat is not something sold in stores or when the size of the painting is not something that will readily fit into a standard size mat.

This example shows the entire painting laying on the foam core. I left the photo with more contrast just to show edges and how it looks laid out.

With the painting on top of a piece of foam core cut to the exact same outer dimensions as the outside of the mat (20 x 16). Place your newly cut mat on top of the painting, and make sure that it is placed where you want it when the mat is aligned with the foam core top, bottom and sides. Take a pencil and mark the upper corners on the foam core when the painting is aligned.

Flip the painting up from the bottom (as if it were hinged at the top of the painting, keeping the top of the painting aligned with the pencil marks you just made).

This photo shows the painting attached to the foam core by tape hinges. To make the hinges, cut acid-free framer's tape (or similar product) in four even strips all cut to approximately 3 1/2 inches long. Tape a piece perpendicular across the edge of the painting attaching the painting to the foam core evenly spaced from the right side and from the left side. Attach a second piece of tape adjacent and overlapping slightly each piece of tape. Then cut four more pieces of tape each 4 inches long.

Tape these parallel to the top edge and perpendicular to the tape strips you just adhered. Two are all that are necessary and those two would be to the foam core, but tape seems to fail here in a humid climate, so I frequently use the additional two pieces as shown on the back of the painting.

The first example shows how the painting looks in the finished mat. Of course, the real mat doesn't have all the numbers scribbled on it.

If you want, you can hinge the mat to the frame at the top. Place the mat face down aligned at the top edge (where the hinge will be) of the side with the painting affixed to the foam core right-side up. Place one strip of tape parallel to the top edge, across the joint between the mat and foam core backing. This joint will be on the wrong side of the mat and the right side of the foam core backing.

All that remains is to put the matted watercolor into your frame.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Visiting Manatees

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

We spent our day driving around Tampa Bay, literally. We took the long way, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and up the east side with a stop at Apollo Beach for lunch at a place called Circles, which was very good, but the food could have been more spicy to fit my spice-craving Colorado tastebuds. I ordered the Nut-Crusted Grouper that advertised a Chili sauce, and I was thinking hot Thai Chili sauce. Oh, well, get over it, Mary!

The next stop was at the Big Bend Power Plant where manatees love the warmer water generated by the plant in the winter. A sign posted there said that many manatees had been saved by these warm waters and those of the natural springs whose temperatures year-round stay somewhere just above 70 degrees, as I remember. The temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico this month have been as low as 56 degrees Fahrenheit during a recent cold snap. When the Gulf temperatures fall, manatees move to these warmer areas. They can't live in cold water.

Our favorite area to see manatees is up by Homosassa Springs, but this was a day for a short trip. One big problem for these huge mammals, also called Sea Cows, is when they migrate inland up the rivers to the natural springs, they are clipped by boat propellers when boaters are not extremely careful. Manatees need to come to the surface to breathe, doing what they do naturally, but many boaters forget about them. It is, in fact, hard to avoid them. As my picture shows, this one has come to the top of the water for its breath and a large portion of its body is close to the surface of the water. Here at the power plant, there are no boats, but that isn't true in the rivers and bays around here.

I've seen lots of bumper stickers that say, "Look out for motorcycles - they're everywhere." Just a reminder for boaters, "Watch out for the manatees." They could be anywhere in the shallow areas this time of the year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


It was fun this afternoon painting these new ACEOs. They are, like all ACEOs (Artist Cards Editions & Originals), exactly 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. These are all painted on Arches 140-lb. Cold Press Watercolor paper. I loved painting these little stylized poppies.
I laid them all down on a shiny black gesso-painted tissue paper surface, and thought it was fun how much they look like they were almost meant to be together as one. I will be putting them into my Etsy shop soon.

Speaking of black gesso-painted tissue paper, the black gesso makes an extraordinary transformation happen when it is applied to ordinary tissue paper. To try this, make sure you have a plastic bag underneath while painting. The white kitchen bags with the drawstrings work nicely if you cut them open on one side and the bottom and then open them out. The reason for using the shiny white plastic as a surface to paint the tissue paper on is that when it's dry, it's easy to peel off. The resulting product is almost rubbery and makes an interesting collage material. I used it for Molly's hat in my latest Fashion Diva. See previous post.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fashion Diva Series Continues

I haven't posted any of my Fashion Divas lately, but just so you know, the series has been quite successful for me, and I just sold the original of Amanda last week at the Artists Guild Gallery on Anna Maria Island. There are no prints at this time. Here's what Amanda looks like (on the right).

The selling of Amanda has prompted me to create Molly. I had the song "Devil With The Blue Dress" running through my mind as I created this painting. Molly is the star in the lyrics of this old 60s (I think) song. It brings to mind a funny thing that happened when I was in college.

The memory that runs through my mind here is my freshman year in the dorm, a few of us who lived on my floor had a party one Saturday night. At that time it was totally illegal to have alcohol in the dorms. Some other girls had gotten caught smuggling beer into the dorm in a pitcher (dripping, I think) earlier in the year, so we knew we had to be smarter than that. One of my friends came up with the idea of getting our beer in by putting it into one of those year-supply size of Kotex boxes, and it worked like a charm. We had a great party, complete with dragging out someone's red dress and a wig hat to dress up in and dance in all decked out, when this other song with those lyrics was played on the radio. (I can't remember how that song's title or how it goes right now). We all had a fabulous time, didn't endanger anyone by driving, we didn't get caught, and nobody got hurt - except for my roomie who ended up with a big hangover.

Anyway, Molly is shown above on the left. She's going to make her debut at the end of this month at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, for our Studio1212 display there in March and April. She is an acrylic with tissue paper collaged on over magazine pictures and a recycled acrylic painting underneath. So there were many layers involved in the creation of Molly. The base is 140-lb Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fallout of Poor Economy and Flourish Boutique On CNN

Through my Etsy shop, about a year ago I was contacted by Vanessa Cooreman-Smith of Flourish Boutique & Gallery in South Bend, Indiana. She had had a life-long dream of owning her own business, and it was coming to fruition later that year. She was interested in certain artists who fit into her concept. To make a long story short, I sent her some of my artwork, and she put it into her store. When we were on the road home from our trip last fall, my husband and I stopped in and met her and saw Flourish Boutique in person.

This is a segment of an email I received earlier this week:

"Dear Mary,
FLOURISH is on today!
Last week, I filled out an i-report on on how the changing economy is impacting my life and business. I was then contacted and interviewed, for the story that is now on Click below to read the full story, on how my husband Stephen and I are working to achieve our dreams despite the economy."

The story has apparently solicited so many comments that CNN decided to feature Vanessa and her husband today live on CNN. This is from an email I received late yesterday:Flourish Boutique & Gallery
We will be on CNN TV Live Tomorrow (Sat 2/7/09)
at around 10:35 am

Tune in to hear more about our personal story!
CNN will be broadcasting our 4 minute live interview from the studios at ND. Our story is one in an ongoing series on how the changing economy is impacting families and small business owners around the country.

Wondering Why we are sharing our story, or want to hear more straight from me?
Click here to read my blog:

Vanessa Cooreman Smith
Flourish Boutique & Gallery

Steve talked about the value of having attended sessions of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a program for learning about the importance of reducing debt-load and advocating everyone's need to get out of debt. The two of them talked not only about how the economy has affected their businesses (Steve's a Realtor), but also the personal sacrifices Americans are beginning to make to mitigate their increasing financial woes. Vanessa talked about the changes she has made to the lines of clothing she carries in her store, and how she hopes that will be reflected in sales.

I wish them the very best! The success of small businesses is the lifeblood of our country, because big business has show an amazing lack of fiscal responsibility and planning.

The way I see it, jobs are critical to this economy. People will stop buying if they are not employed. Companies should be rewarded for putting American people to work, not just for their existence, and especially not because they have gotten themselves into trouble by over-compensating executives who thrive on cheating everyone they can. Companies seeking cheaper production costs and sending our jobs overseas has put Americans in real peril. Our government is borrowing against the future and dispersing money like rain. And this makes sense how?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Painting On Tissue Paper

I had what I call a spirit painting on a piece of watercolor paper with a variety of pastels that seemed a bit too bright for a background. To get a good background this way, wet the watercolor paper thoroughly, let it reach the "sheen" stage, and then drop in the watercolor colors you want. This technique works well to start a modern type of floral where you aren't painting from reality, but you can tell it looks like what it is supposed to be. It's a good start from which to begin painting negatively.

So anyway this particular background was too intense, so I got the idea to cover it with tissue paper which muted the colors considerably. I just applied pieces of tissue paper to the watercolor paper using acrylic gel medium. I liked the result and ended up making two paintings out of it. One of them is a cute little clothesline painting using the scenes I remembered from our Italian trip.

It makes a nice little piece of whimsey! It's painted in acrylics with black marker and a white gel pen to finish up.

For more information, click here.

(This painting sold in February.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Awareness

Now over a week has passed since I last posted about my asthma attack. At the time, I thought I was over the worst of it, but little did I know the dimensions of the event that was unfolding. It has been up and down over and over, and while I can say I think I'm over the worst now, I also have to admit how little I really know about this disease. I have been extremely depressed at times, and I'm sure that has contributed to the uphill road I have found myself on.

When I went in to the doctor for my follow-up visit, I was so weak that the thought of performing the expected breathing test seemed like a hill too high for me to climb. When I realized they weren't going to let me go without doing the test and I finally did it, the results were that the doctor thought I hadn't made any improvement since my hospital visit.

I find myself now on a steroid for a month that has bad side effects, including potential bone loss, which for a person with a family history of osteoporosis is depressing and far-reaching into an old-age like my mother and grandmother suffered. (Expletives deleted.)

To say I am down is so minimal. BUT. . .

I have begun to paint again. This is a painting like those we did in the Mark Polomchak workshop, but on 140 lb. watercolor paper. At the workshop he provided a special illustration board that was fabulous for his techniques. The techniques have to be adapted and thought out to make them work on regular watercolor paper, so I think that I will be working on this for awhile. But anything that makes me think and takes my mind off of myself at this point is good therapy!

Click here to see more details about this painting.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This Describes It

OK, so now I've managed to have an asthma attack; my first one ever, and it has not been any fun at all. After about 12 hours of coughing and really sensing that I could not get a good breath, I had my hubby take me to the E-room. They told me I had bronchitis and that since I have asthma, it couldn't be distinguished from an asthma attack, so for about the next three hours in the early morning today, I was stuck, x-rayed, wired for EKG and hooked up to a breathing machine. I much prefer sleeping!

So I looked around my files for a painting that describes the ucky feeling. I came up with this one, whose real title is Brain On Martinis. Of course, had it been martinis, it would have been more fun, and it wouldn't have lasted so long or worn me out to this extent. This painting is acrylic on a CT-scan of some disgusting body part or other. I have no respect for the films, especially not tonight. OK, and now photos aren't loading, and this post needs the visual. OK, I got it to load.

Anybody else have experience with this asthma thing, and how do you know when you need help? Because 12 hours is probably way too long to wait, I think.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Results: Two Days Well Spent

This was my painting that I produced on day one of Mark Polomchak's Bradenton workshop. These colors are difficult to adjust from the painting to the photograph and then to the screen, but probably as close as I can get them. As I said in the previous post, I was amazed at how well all of the paintings turned out - a tribute to the instructor's tried and true techniques, clear instructions and so forth.

This was my painting which was done on the second day. I had really messed up the sky, trying to be cute with clouds and blurring the horizon, but a little scrubbing and airbrushing made it turn out looking amazing, thanks to Mark. I was coming down with a cold, and on my own probably would have abandoned painting for the day, just chalking it up to one of those days that painting doesn't go too well. I am glad I was at the workshop and ended up sticking with it.

These are workshop paintings, and neither will be for sale. I think I'll keep 'em.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mark Polomchak Workshop In Bradenton

Today was the first day of an art workshop I'm attending which is being given by Mark Polomchak, an affable instructor from Crown Point, Indiana, with a lively teaching style who paints a variety of subjects from Amish scenes to animals. I got the impression that Mark's art would have wide appeal to all sorts of different people.

Many times in workshops I have had the feeling that though an instructor is intensely competent, and I have learned something I felt was significant, the fact is that artists are the main group who admire the techniques. How many people who are not artists are impressed by really cool negative painting?

Admittedly, negative painting is extremely important to the development of an artist, and being able to do it competently is no small fete. However, the average person on the street has probably no idea what it meant by negative painting, no more than the average bird knows what a nanosecond is.

I was also impressed by his teaching skills, which were evidenced by what seemed to be all-around, pretty decent paintings by everyone in the workshop. That tells me first of all that Mark's teaching techniques were most effective, and he kept the attention of all participants. In addition, even those who claimed to be beginning painters came up with quite nice results and didn't leave the session frustrated as so often happens.

Also, I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Since it is dark now, and my photography at night is not the greatest, I will post my painting from today another time.

See Mark Polomchak's website to view his work and for more information.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fruit of the Gods

What's Up In The Kitchen? What A Fine Fruit, in the spotlight for tonight, is a watercolor honoring the Bosc variety of pear. The Bosc is known for its long neck and brownish skin color.

Called by Homer, the ancient Greek poet who wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey, "the fruit of the gods," the pear has a lot to live up to. In the United States, second in popularity only to the apple, pears are actually related to them genetically. Most pears are grown in Washington and Oregon where the mild, moist climate promotes optimum growth.

Pears are said to be a healthy choice, being free from fat, cholesterol and sodium. What makes them soften, however is the gift of sugar created from starches as it ripens. It provides the sweet nectar advertised by Homer who was thought to be blind, and therefore who must have been oblivious to the characteristics of over-ripened feminine pulchritude when exposed to a diet of such sugars. Pears, on the other hand provide a wonderful amount of fiber, potassium and Vitamin C. Such is life; balance the benefits against the disadvantages. Enjoy pears! You can especially appreciate this one because its inedible and therefore calorie-free eye candy.

This little pear has been captured and held by a digitally created boundary of burnt sienna which enhances its quinacridone base color. I painted this while I was gallery sitting at the Artists' Guild Gallery this fall on one of the quiet days that season provides. The original painting is a 9 x 12 inch watercolor on Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper. Prints will be for sale here in my Etsy shop, and pears can be found in your local supermarket.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Spin On Margarita

What's Up In The Kitchen? This week I've found a new toy while editing A New Spin On Margarita. Not that the toy hasn't been available to me ever since I've had the Corel Paint Shop software, but I just found it, and I've been having fun trying out the "picture frames" on my new series of paintings which for the most part have a white background. This very lacy one reminds me of a valentine. I had to try it out in six or eight colors before deciding on this one. What's cool is I can print it out this way (on the right) or I can print it out without any background at all.
There are other options available also, including a small band of color, which I like the best of all. Aren't new discoveries wonderful?

Check out A New Spin On Margarita in my Etsy Shop to see this one. Then, come on back!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pizza For Pam

What's Up In The Kitchen today? Well, it's Pizza for Pam! Who doesn't love pizza? It's a cinch that Pam loves pizza. Sometimes I wish I had a dress shaped like this. Why? Because Mary loves pizza too. Too much that is.

More about pizza. The first pizza I ever remember was the pizza that was served in my junior high school, and I thought it was terrible. We never had pizza at home, because my dad hated anything that had onions, cheese or garlic as an ingredient. Meat, potatoes and vegetables were the fare in the home I grew up in. Consequently, we never had pizza at home until I purchased a Chef Boyardee pizza mix to try. That was pretty awful too. At this point I could NOT figure out why my friends liked the stuff so much. I didn't find out about pizza at all until I was living away from home at college, and then I found I loved the stuff. A whole new world of culinary experiences was opened up for me. Now I know the pizza in junior high was pretty awful. Ditto Chef.

Some of the world's best pizza places are dumpy little places. Our current favorite pizza comes from one of these. It's possible to eat the pizza there, but a much better idea is to go and get it, and bring it home. We have another favorite restaurant where they have live Blues bands outside on weekends, and that's pretty fun, and the pizza's real good too. Yeah, outside in Florida, even in the wintertime!

Pam is going to come to my Etsy shop in the form of prints, hot off my Epson printer. The first one will be listed tonight. Then you can link to Pizza For Pam right here.

According to the Epson web site, "fade-resistant DURABrite Ultra Inks are light resistant and fade resistant up to 100 years. Light-resistance rating based on accelerated testing of prints on Epson special media, displayed indoors, under glass. Actual print stability will vary according to image, display conditions, light intensity, paper, humidity and atmospheric conditions. Ratings based on ink only; some papers may discolor over time. Epson does not guarantee the longevity of prints. For maximum print life, display all prints under glass or lamination or properly store them."

I never considered that the ink would last longer than the paper it was printed on. That's something I can just picture: images and letters hanging around after the paper disintegrated. Well, I know that's not what they mean, but the vision is fun to imagine.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Wine

What's Up In The Kitchen? New Wine is my painting for today and joins the series. There are no "kitchen peeps" in this painting. Anyway I had been wondering how long wine needs to age before it is drinkable. (This painting sold in February).

So I was exploring the net and found Wine Spectator's top wine for 2008 was a 2005 wine from Chile.

Casa Lapostolle
Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley 2005
96 points / $75
5,987 cases made

In fact the majority of the top ten were bottled in 2005. Numbers 9 and 10, however were a 2007 vintage.

Shiraz McLaren Vale Carnival of Love 2007
95 points / $90
2,596 cases made

Zinfandel Sonoma County 2007
93 points / $24
68,000 cases made

If you want to see the whole Top 100 list of wines for 2008, here is the link for Wine Spectator's list in a PDF :

Undoubtedly the most famous quotation mentioning new wine is in the Bible in passages where Jesus is questioned about fasting by the disciples of John the Baptist. In Matthew 9:17, "Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

The practical application is that wine was stored in the skins of animals in those days. When new wine is put into a wineskin it stretches out, once. If new wine is put into an old wineskin that has already been stretched out, and the fermenting causes bubbles that need to expand, the wineskin would rupture and the wine would pour out. So new wine needed to be put into a new skin, and neither the wine or wineskin would not be harmed in the process.

This is one of the parables of Jesus, using a practical illustration to get across His point. My (while others may agree or disagree, keep in mind it is just mine) simple interpretion could be that Jesus, is telling the followers of John that He is the new wineskin, their legalistic beliefs are impossible to live up to, and now that He has come they need to put their trust (wine) in Him, and not depend on what works they do themselves (old wineskin) to earn salvation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's Up In The Kitchen?

I'm back after taking a holiday break, and I have a new series I've started called What's Up In The Kitchen?. These are kitchen peeps who live in vegetables, fruits, glassware and who knows where else they'll turn up. On the left is Girl Caught Hiding In The Celery. I guess there must be kind of a little miniature celery forest out there in the celery fields, and before they come to the kitchen the little peeps must be out there playing hide and go seek.

I have no idea where the motivation for this series came from, but right now I'm finding the kitchen peeps rather fun to paint. You can just never be sure what's going on in the artist brain, but it's for sure different than what's up with the brain of an average Joe.

My dear hubby reads the newspaper every day. Once upon a time I read the newspaper too - the front page section, the weather, the section with ''Dear Abby" in it, the sports section and sometimes the classifieds. Now I find no time to read the newspaper. I have Etsy to play with, and kitchen peeps to paint, and lots of other art-related activities to attend to. I'm not that one-dimensional, but reading the newspaper just doesn't come to the top of the list very often.

The peeps on the right side are called Carrot Dancer Understudies. I was thinking about calling them Carrot Dancers Waiting For Their Wings, as kind of a play on words for "waiting in the wings", but I decided that understudies conveyed the idea, without making them wingless. After all carrots aren't lacking appendages of any kind, are they?

In any event, I've just started the series, but I can tell you that some of the paintings have peeps and some don't, but they all have to do with nefarious and not so nefarious kitchen activity. Stay tuned.

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