Jun 222017

Paintings completed on lunch break, not paintings of lunch

I mentioned previously that I’ve been painting on my lunch hour, but haven’t shared much of it. Since I recently started a new sketchbook for this, AND managed to share the first two paintings, I’m going to keep it up. At some point I’ll go back and photo/scan all the first sketchbook, but that is a later project.

Slick named this creature a Slork. I was explaining my snippet of dialogue as a thing to do if you meet a strange creature on your morning constitutional. Be reasonably friendly, introduce them to good things in your world, like coffee. This led to an interesting discussion about the addictive nature of coffee combined with the eventual potential for 30 Slorks waiting for you every morning and how expensive that much coffee would be over time compared against the natural benefits of being generous to appreciative recipients and potential supernatural benefits that might come to you from the tribe of Slorks.
We have silly discussions with non-silly connotations sometimes.

This one was inspired by two very active rabbits I could see from the window during this morning’s (over-long) meeting. I knew I couldn’t capture their speed and frolicking, but maybe what they’re doing in their downtime. They’ve put up a sign in their borrowed burrow (did you know cottontails don’t make burrows? They make above ground nests, but will reuse abandoned burrows or cubbies) to make it more cozy.

Foxes in the coffee shop, yawning.
Sleepy foxes, starting their day. Free rodent with triple shot.

Painting from my poem.
Poison Pie, a summer special. Inspired by one of my poems I stumbled across again this morning.

One day I’m going to make a book/booklet/zine/some sort of collection of my poems with my art together. One day.

Jun 152017

Many months ago, I noticed I was working through most of my lunches. That, of course, it a bad idea! My working time includes an hour of lunchtime, I should NOT be working for it. It took a few weeks to break the habit, but I’m taking that hour to do something creative, which is very good for nullifying work stress. My two “at desk” projects are a small hand stitching piece, and watercolor paintings in sketchbooks. Here are two of those.

I like opossums and wanted to portray one in a “pretty” setting to help counteract the negative opinion that many people seem to have about them. This was my first shot at it. I liked it a lot, but I saw that my lines were messy and (for some dumbass reason) thought I should do better. This is a dumb thought because these paintings are quick sketches, fast and loose. The lines SHOULD be all over the place. This is a larger size (new sketchbook) and more detail and color than I normally use for a less-than-one-hour piece.


The next day I did the same painting again. I spent more time on the layout planning and line work preparation. I don’t normally do much or any linework – generally a couple marks here and there to remember where to put what color paint. That alone took most of a lunch hour. Most of the painting had to wait for the second day.

It is more controlled, cleaner lines, but the same general idea of painting. This is fine, but I think I have a miniscule preference for the first, loose and fast style.

So, there you go. Two paintings, almost the same, but different.

Feb 132017

When you use more than one medium in a piece, it becomes mixed media.

This sketch of a lilac-breasted roller uses water soluble markers, charcoal, graphite and white pastel on Stonehenge shaded paper. It was created as an ArtSnacks Challenge piece, which I enjoy the challenge part of. Not as exciting as last time, but still good to do for myself. It was more difficult than you might think to find good examples of roller prey in Somalia via photos on the internet. That said, all hail the internet!

Jan 122017

The January ArtSnacks box arrived a week ago and I have to say I was a bit stumped on what to make for the Challenge with the items – something that would be really fun. The ArtSnacks Challenge is to use all and only the supplies in your box. Obviously, you can add a canvas to work on, as they can only fit small samples of papers in the slender boxes.

The box held two bottles of fluorescent High Flow Acrylic paints in blue and green, a Princeton Snap paintbrush, a Kuretake double ended marker in blue, and a Koh-I-Nor Magnum graphite pencil. This is rough. The blue water-based marker is the same hue as the blue paint. The graphite pencil says HB, but marks like an H – which means it only got a gray instead of close to black. This means I have a very limited color and shade range.

While falling asleep a couple days after unboxing these items, the idea came to me all together, complete and ready to spring into creation. I just had to make it happen.

Acrylic paint on watercolor paper, in green and blue. Another pair of creatures was the teal combination. Since the paints are somewhat translucent, I could layer them, but they wouldn’t get darker than you see in the bottle on their own. Oh, I guess I could have tried burning the acrylic. Next time. The acrylic paint went over the graphite very nicely with minimal to no smearing.
Now to make new colors.

Laying down graphite and covering with acrylic got me far, so I shaved graphite off the pencil and added it to the paint to get a darker shade. It was gritty and required much stirring, but it worked!

The marker being the same blue meant I couldn’t get a new color, but it would help. I drew the diamond cone flowers in graphite, then carved lines in the paper with the razor knife, and colored it with the marker which made the blue darker and different, before coloring over them with the paint. That paintbrush is good for my varied work – I will pick up a couple more when I see them in stores.

This is the finished set, with all the pieces cut out, edged and stuck to some boxed over lines of watercolor paper. In the end, I managed to get a handful of variations from a limited palette; although I did completely use up that marker! It is dead and dry after the swirly background. I propped up everything in a box, arranged a couple lights and took about 80 photos. Movie Maker and some CC music later, a movie!

It is only 15 seconds, but that is enough. It is simple and cutesy and makes me quite happy.

Dec 252016

Happy day off to all – stay warm.

Playing with some pearlescent semi-moist watercolors by Jack Richeson, which is the company that makes my favorite carving block. Of course, the shiny of the pearlescent doesn’t show up in a photo, but it works in general for a quick watercolor play time anyhow.

Dec 062016

One Crazy Bird. Stayed up late last night because I couldn’t resist breaking into the December ArtSnacks box. I mean, I was already staying up late because I’m painting the Solstice Legends cards, but I had to wait for some to dry, so I did this meanwhile.

Begin Art Supply Talk

Photo stolen from the internet because I failed to take one of the supplies together.

These are Caran d’Ache Supracolor Soft water soluble pencils, plus a blender, which I used as a resist. These pencils are so soft and creamy! I’ve never liked watercolor pencils this much. I will seek them out for use in the future. You might recall that I also like the Caran d’Ache Neocolors II as a pastel; so this brand is sticking with me. The ArtSnacks box contained a five pack of the pencils, red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, so the bird is a bright one. I managed to use all the colors, although you can barely see the green blended into the blue at the bottom.

The Higgins Black Magic Ink marker was a nice format. It was different to have that ink in a free-flowing marker form. I’m more used to using that ink with a dip pen, using nibs, so making thick, loose lines of pure blackness was kinda exciting. The KUM long point sharpener is a welcome addition to my stash. The Stabilo pen was not exciting, rather a throwaway item as far as I was concerned. But, mine was in red so I found a place to use it in the feather transitions of the bird. The drawing was done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. That thick, sized paper is good for pretty much every random thing I throw at it, which makes it great for trying new products like this.
End Art Supply Talk

It was a fun break, but I still have more to paint on the Solstice Legends cards before I can even being printing their guts. I’m going to have to go nonlinear and start printing envelopes while the cards dry. Oh well, if people can’t figure out when the party is likely to be (or just ask if they can’t) by now then they aren’t people who’d be invited anyhow.

Oct 062016

Spirit Fox

ArtSnacks is a subscription box service I get. Every month they send you a small box with a few art supplies in it, along with a tiny snack. The snacks go immediately to Slick each time, but the art supplies are my kind of candy. I also subscribe to SketchBox, which does the same deal of art supplies, but no snack. Clearly, I have an art supply addiction. Anyway, they have a challenge every month to create a piece of art using only and all the supplies in the box and this is the first one I’ve played along with. At first I was having trouble with an idea because it is October and I kept thinking of Halloween (skulls, bats, pumpkins) and autumn (trees, leaves, wind) and being stuck. Finally, I pushed the seasonal thoughts aside and thought about what the materials would fit and this idea bubbled right to the top. A spirit fox in a dark wood.

I’ve had a number of animal helpers in my dreams, but the first one I really remember was a snow fox (Vulpes lagopus). Of course, I’ve never seen one and they aren’t telepathic like mine was, but it was snowing in my dream and it was a dream so it made perfect sense, in the way dreams usually do. Seemed like if I was going to draw a spirit animal, I should choose the closest thing I had to one. I thought of using a different animal because foxes are “so hip” and “on trend” right now, but that isn’t fair. If you change your behavior due to a trend, whether for or against, it is still influencing you. Ignore it, that’s the best. So, I ignored it. Of course, you can’t tell that my fox is a snow fox because it is glowy spirit white already, but whatever.

As the ink was drying, I went right into button-making mode. After that 30 day challenge, it was almost a habit; it felt natural.
Spirit Fox Button
The button badge is good, but not great. Some of the fine, light details are lost and the spirit floaty sparkles are barely visible, so I put a spot of micro-fine glitter ink on it before the mylar layer – not that you can see it here, only IRL.

This was a good evening art playtime, especially since I couldn’t do what I was supposed to be doing, which is hand stitching on the latest quilt. I’d taken it to work with me so I could stitch during my mandatory lunch hour, but I was a bit stressed and had terrible posture while I was doing it. That made my neck so sore I had a headache and could not bear any more stitching, good posture or not. Inking was easier, despite a similar pose. Maybe I was just that much happier to be at home in the workshop making art.

Sep 022016

Maned Wolf with Cannabis button, 11/30 button badges.
Maned Wolf with Cannabis, 2.25″, Black Magic ink, Kuretake Gansi Tambi watercolors, Canson WC paper.

This one requires some explanation. This animal is the maned wolf. It isn’t a wolf, fox, or canine; it is the Chrysocyon Brachyurus and it is alone in its genus, the only species. It is native to South America and the tall grasslands are why it has such long legs. It is an omnivore, eating bugs, rodents, veg and fruit – especially a fruit called a wolf apple. The wolf apple is a huge staple in their diet. The maned wolf likes them so much, the apples were named for it. The maned wolf has, expectedly, a thick mane of darker fur at their shoulders and neck which they fluff up when threatened. Read more about them here.

They make an incredible sound, something between a short roar and a bark, go to this YouTube link to hear it. If you close your eyes and imagine hearing that when you’re standing in some dusky woods, I bet you get a chill. However, the maned wolf is a shy and skittish creature, not aggressive. If you watch the start of that same video, you can see it bolting away from the camera a number of times.

Finally, the maned wolf has a strong odor. It makes perfect sense for the territorial and solitary animals, but humans find the smell is similar to that of cannabis. This smell is so strong and identifiable that police have been called to zoos because patrons fear that folks are smoking weed next to the maned wolf cages. When Slick and I read about this, our immediate reaction was that it was the maned wolves that were smoking weed. That was when I knew I had to paint this. Thus, a maned wolf, in front of a stand of cannabis, smoking a joint.

~ Begin art supply talk:
These Kuretake Gansi Tambi watercolors are newish. I got them a month or two ago, despite having two other travel watercolor sets. I was resistant because you don’t really need many watercolors – they last forever and mix easily, but every time I wanted to use WC, I had to go upstairs or to my car to steal the travel set. (I keep art supplies stashed wherever I spend time, like my car. Having a dull day at work? Take your lunch break in the car and paint! Out for coffee on a Saturday morning; have a quick sketch while you drink.) I found these Japanese WCs on Amazon for a steal and went for it. This was a great decision. Not only do I NOT have to run around to find WCs now, these handle nicely. My set also included an iridescent ivory paint, which I’ve used on the joint in this piece. I also used a crow quill pen and some India ink again. I like having the ability to make razor thin lines or fat bold lines all in one tool, as well as being able to use it with the watercolors, too.
~ End art supply talk.

Lately, every time I finish a piece of button art, I am convinced I have lucked out and used up any creativity I had left, that I couldn’t possibly come up with any more ideas or make anything else, ever. This feeling exists simultaneously alongside the certain knowledge that I have SO MANY IDEAS that I can’t even manage them all in the spreadsheet, database, and sketchbooks I have – that my biggest problem is usually selecting which idea to bring to life. This is another thing repetitive work like a 30 day challenge or other set goal (a dozen quilts a year) will help with – the idea that you couldn’t or would have trouble doing something. After a dozen quilts, it drills into your head that you can make a quilt. After thirty pieces of art, you absolutely know you can make something every day.

Dec 142012

Last weekend I finished off my drawing class. For our final project, we focused on an artist we chose from a list provided by our instructor. I chose contemporary artist Amy Cutler. Her style was not dissimilar to mine already, so I figured it would be something I would enjoy and get into.

A study of an Amy Cutler drawing.
The first part of the final project was to do a study of our chosen artist’s work. We were to find a piece of theirs and draw it faithfully – in other words, draw a copy of their work. While doing my research reading, I did a number of small, piece sketches to get a feel for her style. She does drawings, paintings in gouache, etchings and lithographs. I chose one of her drawings to draw myself, above. I don’t have a shot of the original image here, only my drawing copy above, but I assure you it was very good. I did it three times larger than her drawing that I found, so that scaling was the most challenging part.

Friday, asleep in my office chair.
Friday came to help by pawing at my legs, meowing for attention and finally giving up and sleeping in my office chair, for hours.

Moxie, asleep on my footstool/guest seat.
Moxie, finding that I was not giving out kitty attention, and a sibling in the chair, curled up to sleep on the footstool/storage ottoman that lives next to my desk for when Slick wants to come visit me while I’m on the computer. That white bit of t-shirt material in the corner is her binky. Whenever she (rarely now) gets the urge to knead and suckle, we give her the binky and after a minute she is fine again. Weird cat.

It was nice having them in the room with me, sleeping while I worked. They were my furry moral support. That drawing took forever, mostly because I draw slow and I had to do a lot of work to get the scale right all around.

A combination of Amy Cutler style and my style, for my final project.
The other big work of the final project was to create a drawing or painting that combined the artist’s style with our own style. For my synthesis, I chose to do a personal narrative painting. Cutler works in gouache, but I don’t care for them, so I used my preferred ink washes to achieve a similar color value. Also, she does her fine lining with a brush and brown paint, while I stuck with my microtip pens in black. Still, this was a good combination of her work and mine. I was pleased with the finished product. After that, I banged out a quick little paper, which was the third component of the final project. I scored high on my complete final project, which matches how I feel about it.

Drawing class is now done! Completely done. The forced hours of drawing and homework definitely improved my drawing skills and having specific, helpful and informed feedback did help me refine my technique quicker than if I’d simply drawn more on my own. So while I am happy I took the course and raised this skill level, I am very happy to not have class at night and weekend homework. I look forward to finishing my workshop in the basement – it has been so long. I have big projects I want to make and this enormous workshop project will let me get to it.

Sep 012011

You may have noticed me Tweeting about working on some teensy-tiny paintings. A couple weeks ago, I was craving some small, short project to feed my creative desires. Of course, my future workshop is literally in rubble and ruin right now, so I had to choose something limited to supplies I could find in my old art tote. I signed up for the Inchie, Rinchie, Twinchie, Oh My! Swap on Longtime readers already know what inchies are since I was in this swap a while back.
My post about the inchies I made for the last swap.

In summary, inchies are square inchies of art. Rinchies are round inches (1″ circles) of art. Twinchies are two inch squares of art. This swap was for one Twinchie and two each square and round inches. With three others in my group, I made a total of 15 pieces of art for the swap, according to their suggested themes and tastes.

These first five went off to the UK for Antidigger.
The British sci-fi piece, ended up with two rinchies cut from it.
This is the full base painting for two rinchies for the theme of British Sci-Fi. I loved painting this, even though it isn’t precise.
The British sci-fi piece, with two rinchies cut from it. Photo by Antidigger.
Photo by Antidigger.
It was a bit difficult to punch two circles out of it when it was finished as I was fond of it. Slick liked it too, so I’m going to do another, larger version of an alien invasion of Cheyenne.
The British sci-fi piece, with two rinchies cut from it. Photo by Antidigger.
Photo by Antidigger.
The twinchie I made for her computer theme. This is part of an old video card, cut on the bandsaw by Slick, bordered in Apoxy clay by me and then sanded near to death after I clayed it too much. But, the resulting edge was smooth and excellent, especially after a couple coats of Golden Fluid Acrylic silver paint and some glossy varnish. The moth I painted and adhered in homage to the first computer bug. The hole in the corner there means this could be worn as a pendant easily.
The British sci-fi piece, with two rinchies cut from it. Photo by Antidigger.
Photo by Antidigger. This is for the theme of vegetable gardening and reptiles. Some cutaway carrot action and a bearded dragon, which was a blast to paint.

The next five went to Kaeleira in Canada.
Art sent to Kaeleira.
Some of her themes were flowers, birds, trees, nature, etc. The twinchie is an indian paintbrush for her flower theme. The birds are another red-winged blackbird and an indigo bunting. That daisy inchie is a gazani – it was fun to research and paint. The inchie for nature started off as a spot I cleaned a brush on and it developed into a twee scene. A few people said it was their favorite – never know what is going to go over. So that worked out.

The last five went to Smmarrt in San Francisco.
Art to Smmarrt in San Francisco.
Twinchie, theme: birds; red-winged blackbird. This was the very first painting I made in this whole series and it is my second favorite.
Top inchie, theme: Things with eyes that don’t normally have eyes; If volcanoes had eyes, they would be angry eyes.
Top Rinchie, theme: birds & things with hats that don’t normally have hats. I liked this oriole I painted on his own, but I thought he needed a bowler. Ended up with a standard short top hat type thing instead. I didn’t start off thinking I’d add a hat, so after I did he was too big to fit in the inch circle and his tail feathers got cut off.
Bottom inchie, theme: tea, teacups, teapots’ self-explanatory. Pleased with the silver on the pot and the pouffy white steam.
Bottom Rinchie, theme: teacup & things with mustaches that don’t normally have mustaches. This one looks a bit dark, but my partner likes bold colors. Love how the teacup turned out. Difficult to get the right detailed fine lines into such a small space. Once I added the mustache, I swear the teacup became French, hence the “oui”.

General supplies used were Strathmore watercolor paper (not my favorite, but I can tolerate it if I use the back side), Inktense pencils (ink pencils I shave off, add water and treat like watercolors), Coptic fine line markers (.003 & .005. for lining and details) and Soufle pouffy gel pens (for steam, edge dots and swirls – they create raised gel ink lines) and the occasional Prismacolor Lightfast colored pencil, which I’m not fond of. I don’t know if my box of pencils got crushed at the store or if all the pencils of the Lightfast line are so flawed, but the waxy colored center (we’ll call it lead for the sake of tradition) of these pencils is broken more than every inch. So, you try to sharpen up a point and the whole ‘lead’ section simply falls out. Very frustrating. The pencils are wildly different lengths due to this, which would normally indicate a color preference or a specific color story of work, but their lengths are due to structural failure and seeing their disparities irritates me every time I look at them, or even the box. It nearly put me off Prismacolor, which is a respected brand, but I’ve had no problem with their other products.

I want to carve some soft blocks. I want a workshop again. What I really want is this nigh-mythical, excellent workshop and office with shared lab space in the basement that is only a dreamy plan for the future at this point.

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