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Fall Home Painting

A few weeks ago I was able to complete an autumn themed house painting. This painting was really fun to work on because autumn allows me to use more colors than I traditionally get to use in landscapes. I love it when I can pull out my full Chroma red, orange, yellow, greens, teal, and violet pastels and use them quite liberally.

While painting a home seems pretty straightforward they can actually have their own unique set of challenges. For example, a reference photos might be set in the wrong season and I have to figure out how the yard and house would change with it being winter instead of summer. This commission in particular had several challenges. My reference photos were from the summer and the painting was supposed to set in the fall. I also needed to age the landscaping up. The home I was asked to paint is only a year old without any mature trees in the yard. So I had to research the types of trees they planted in the yard so I could paint them to resemble how they will look in the future. I also had to adjust where some of the landscaping was in the yard including the fence so it didn’t block too much of the house. I also removed the shop behind the house and the neighbor’s home on the right. The extra buildings were distracting and removed the focus from the house.

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Sketch

Like I always do with commissions or complex pieces I used a quick sketch to work through any potential problems. Doing the sketch I was able to figure out the sizing for the house, proportioning of the trees, how I want the branches to grow, sky to look, and shadows with the sun setting on the left side of the house.

Thankfully, the final piece ended up being over 4 times the size of the sketch and was more able to accommodate detail. The texture and detail of the house was more important on this home than on my previous home paintings. Because this house has rock, brick, and stucco it was really important to differentiate the difference surfaces so that the house didn’t look flat. When a home is all siding its really easy to imply the surface with just a few horizontal lines.

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Lately, I have been into adding unusual colors in in areas of the painting toward the end of the painting process. With this autumn scene I really loved the effect that teal, bright purples, and royal blues had in the shadows. I particularly loved what it did to the shadow side of the tree trunks. It kept them visually interesting without being distracting.

I was really excited to with how this painting turned out and was excited to give it to its new owner in person. Seeing her face light up when looking at is the reason why I paint.

I wish I had had a chance to get a better picture of it before I delivered it but my tight schedule didn’t allow for me to wait for natural lighting (an increasingly scarce resource with winter setting in). The colors in this picture are even more stunning in person.

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Fall Watercolor paintings

Here are some of my favorite small paintings I have done this fall that I haven’t shared on here yet.

I did a lot of watercolor paintings this fall in an effort to prepare for a highly detailed landscape commission I was working on (more on that later). During this time I would either work on a landscapes or still life paintings.  Whatever I decided to paint I would work to add a lot of detail and make it as realistic as possible. I wanted to improve my skill at a technique called glazing (layering transparent layers of paint), painting wet into wet, and looking at details.

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-Lauren

2017 Holiday sale

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It’s that time of year again when we are busy shopping for unique gifts for friends and family. I know I have been brainstorming what I want to give my friends and family. I have a list of ideas for each person written in the back of my day planer (I will have to be more careful once my kids learn how to read).

If you have been eyeing any original paintings, fine art prints, and holiday cards for yourself or a friend this week is a great time to order them. All orders $20.00 and over will receive 20% off. This includes any original artwork that is listed on Etsy. The sale will run from November 24th – December 1st. No coupon code is needed for this sale.

Good luck with all your shopping and thank you for supporting my small business.

To Grandmother’s House We Go

As a kid I went to my Grandparents home almost everyday. I even went on vacation with them. Words can’t describe the love and appreciation I have for them. Their influence helped me to become the person I am today.

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I was my Grandmas shadow, following her wherever she went and “helping” with whatever she was doing. This included volunteering at the local nursing home. I watched as she cut and styled the hair of the residents, painted their nails, and danced with them when the local band would come play. I learned how to cook, garden, bottle peaches, sew, repurpose furniture, and how to make house work more fun by playing dancing music as loudly as possible. To this day I get the sudden urge to “dance clean” when any Bee Gees song comes on the radio. My creativity and fearless nature in learning new skill was cultivated by my grandma who demonstrates it daily.

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My Grandparents and I at my wedding. My grandma made my wedding dress.

My Grandpa worked in the car industry for many years but when I was seven he decided to change career paths and start a cabinet company next door with his sons. This career change allowed me to spend even more time with my grandpa. I remember going over and “helping” him build the cabinet shop. This included me picking up nails, stacking scrap wood, painting the siding, and sweeping up the sawdust. When the next door neighbors needed help redoing the irrigation system for their alfalfa fields my grandpa handed my brother and I a shovel so we could go help him dig the trenches for the pipes. He taught me how to shingle a roof when he was hired to do an addition to a neighbors home. As hard as he had us work he always tried to teach the concepts of working hard, finding satisfaction in a job well done, and playing hard when the work is done. He would often let us pick out a drink and cookies from the gas station on our way to the dump. Or when we finished a big project he would teach us how to ride their three wheelers.

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My Grandpa helping me blow out my birthday candles

The holidays are always a magical time but it was especially magical at their home. The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole Christmas albums would be blaring out of their living room speakers while my grandpa set up the tree and my grandma decorated the house. The house would be filled with the smell of treats cooking for neighbors and upcoming family dinners.

Christmas Eve was the peak of excitement. Every year we would drive down the street to their house just as the sun was about to vanish behind the mountains. The Christmas tree could be seen sparkling from their big living room window. All the lights would be reflected on the snow. That warm glow meant I was about to spend the evening eating homemade rolls, a delicious dinner, playing with cousins, and opening the Christmas pajamas made for all the grandchildren. After the celebrations we would find make our way out to the chilly car, ready for a night of sleepy anticipation for Santa’s arrival.

Last year when my aunt called me about doing a Christmas themed painting of their home as a family gift. I excitedly agreed. I have never known more clearly what I wanted a painting to look and feel like more in my life. I wanted it to convey the warm, colorful, joyful feelings of Christmas Eve that I experienced arriving at their home as a child.

I started the process by doing a practice drawing of their home. This was important because I had never drawn or painted a house before and was still pretty new to using soft pastels at the time. The study allowed me to work through which colors I wanted to use, how to do light reflecting onto the snow, and the order to apply the pastels to achieve the look I wanted.

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The 9×12 Study

I ended up finishing the painting on Christmas Eve. When it was finished I was giddy with excitement because the painting had turned out exactly how I wanted it to. Looking at the painting sparked those feelings of the joy, excitement, and love I felt in their home as a kid.

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“Christmas Eve” – The finished painting.

I felt that same joy and excitement when I watched them open it on Christmas day.

2017 Christmas Release

Creating winter/ Holiday themed paintings was an idea I got last year. However, I didn’t have enough time to create the pieces in time for the holiday season with all the commissions I had been hired to do. This year I remembered to make more time for creating them before the holiday commission rush came in.

winter cardinal card

 

There were two themes that I came up with for this year. The first was wreaths hanging on a front door. I came up with this idea while searching for houses when we were getting ready to move to Montana. I love brightly colored doors especially when they are decorated for holidays. When we would look at houses I would envision how cute the house would look with a brightly colored door all decorated for Christmas. Since I currently get to live in a house with a boring white front door I decided to live vicariously though my paintings.

Christmas wreath on red door

green door wreath card

The second idea that came to my mind was Red cardinals. I love Cardinals and how striking their coloring is against the muted colors of winter. Red cardinals always make me think of winter time. Generally, its only male cardinals are shown in pictures because they are much more vibrant.  However, I found their female counterparts to have  beautiful coloring with tones of yellow and orange. This yearI decided to showcase the beauty of both.

female cardinal in snow

winter cardinal

These five paintings that I created will be available both prints and as Christmas cards with several options of sizes. This is my first time offering cards with a printed image of my artwork. They are printed on a smooth cardstock and turned out absolutely beautiful. The smooth paper allows the details of the painting to really be show cased. The cards come with white envelopes of the appropriate size.

red door wreath card

female cardinal in snow card

Some of other new developments is the sizing available for the Giclee prints. I will be offering several of these new prints in square dimensions both 8×8 and 12×12″.  The square dimensions will add more creativity for creating a holiday Gallery wall. I will post more on this later.

green door wreath square

christmas wreath on blue door

I hope you enjoy these new paintings as much as I do and that they help put you in the holiday spirit.

 

-Lauren

 

 

Last Dance

If you have read very many of my posts you’ve probably picked up on the trend that I listen to a lot of music especially, when I am creating. Music keeps me from being overly analytical while I create and lets me just be in the moment. Often I am dancing and singing around my studio as I work on colorful watercolor painting and large pastel pieces. Its similar to how Cate Blanchett looked in this scene from the movie Bandits. When I am working on tight realistic pieces I often listen calmer music because it allows me to focus on the detail of the painting.

Well a few months ago I had this idea that came to me. I thought it would be cool to create a series paintings of some of the most influential musicians of my life. I started creating a list and looking for reference photos. This included artists like David Bowie, Tom Petty, Janis Joplin, Dave Matthews, and Bob Dylan. I was really excited to work on this project. Then life and commissions kept me too busy to get a chance to make any more headway on it.

Then with the passing of Tom Petty last week I knew I had at least completed my painting of him. I talked about my love and appreciation of his work in a previous post. In that post also shared a charcoal portrait I drew of him. The charcoal piece is more of calm thoughtful piece. For this painting I wanted it to have a feeling of movement and lighting – like he was in the middle of putting on a concert. I painted it to have an impressionistic edge to it so it didn’t get bogged down by details.

 

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Last Dance – Watercolor painting of Tom Petty

In the past I have painted many animals in this colorful style but this is the first person I have painted while using this style. I learned a lot from the process and am excited by how it turned out.

More pieces will be added to the musicians Series over the upcoming months.

-Lauren

 

Southern Accents – Tom Petty

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Southern Accents – Charcoal Portrait of Tom Petty

Tom Petty is the most influential musician and lyricist of my life. I was eight or nine when I really became aware of his music (late 90’s). My love of his music became borderline obsessive. I woke up to the greatest hits album every day for three years. To this day I feel like I’m waking up when I hear the opening notes to American girl. While my peers gushed about boy bands like The Backstreet boys and N’sync. I was following Tom Petty’s nasally voice down the rabbit hole of Rock Music. My love of his music led to my introduction to The Traveling Wilburys. Which in turn caused me to develop a great love of Bob Dylan.

My love of Tom Petty was something that helped me find common ground with my new step dad. I cant tell you how many times we watched Concert For George DVD together in which Tom Petty played. When I was 12 my mom took me to a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert for their Last DJ tour. Later, When Ipod’s came out songs like “Running down a Dream” and his cover of “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” were staples on my running playlist while I ran miles for cross country practice. When I was 19 and working at a fruit stand I listened to his Wildflowers album approximately 500 times because it was one of two CDs the owner had in a building that didn’t get radio reception. I would listen to his music as painted. When I rocked my babies to sleep at night I would often sing to them:

Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love

May God watch over you from above

Tomorrow I’m workin’ what would I do

I’d be lost and lonely if not for you

So close your eyes

We’re alright for now

I’ve spent my life travelin’

Spent my life free

I could not repay all you’ve done for me

So sleep tight baby

Unfurrow your brow

And know I love you

We’re alright for now

We’re alright for now

-Tom Petty, Alright For Now

In short he has been the soundtrack to my life.

When I found about his passing I went down to my studio to watch his biography, shed some tears, and put my feelings on paper. When I was done I entitled the portrait “Southern Accents” after one of my favorite songs he wrote.

Tom, Thank you for 40 years of music and poetry.