Sketchbook portrait

Just popping in to share a fun sketchbook portrait I did while taking a break from some  commissions I have been working on.

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Portraits and figures still make me nervous. If the thought of drawing/painting something makes me nervous it is a sign I need to keep practicing it so I have been painting a lot of portraits and parts of the body to become more familiar with them.

Here is a picture of my latest portrait. I am always drawn to faces with twinkly eyes, lots of wrinkles and facial hair. Most of my charcoal portraits include at a least one of those features but usually two. I decided to practice painting wrinkles and facial hair in watercolor. It took some planning ahead of time to mask and look at the areas I wanted to preserve the highlights in.

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Overall, I am really pleased with how it turned out.

-Lauren

Blue Lion

Blue Lion

Something that I have been enjoyed painting lately is hair and texture. I have also really liked using analogous color pallets (color next to each other on the color wheel) for my colorful animal paintings. The color combination used can really affect the mood of the painting.

To experiment more with color, mood, and texture I did another portrait of a lion. This time I chose to do a lion that was looking straight on. The lion in my reference photo had such sad eyes that I chose to mostly use cooler colors like greens, blues, and purples. I also had the lion’s faces completely surrounded by an exaggerated long and wild mane. With his mane taking up so much of the picture I used various a metallic inks to add to the texture and dimension to it.

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When I do a painting I typically cycle through various emotions of excitement, love, frustration, and sometimes despair ( yes, I am dramatic). I know this is part of the process and its not a big deal. I try to take it as a sign that I need to keep working on it.

Well this painting was more of a struggle to get to a point to where I liked it. Looking back on it my biggest problem was that I wasn’t taking enough brakes from it. When I get frustrated with a painting or tired I know I should stop and take a break. But I was feeling particularly stubborn that day and didn’t heed my own advice. So I worked until I was almost ready to throw it away. Then common sense kicked in and I realized I should just go to bed. The next morning I awoke with fresh eyes, flipped the painting upside down and realized what was bothering me about it all along. I grabbed my paints and made the changes it. I now love my blue lion with his long wavy mane.

So the moral of this story is that food and a nap can help you problem solve.

Have you ever let your stubborn pride get the best of you even when you knew better?

 

 

Red Rhino

Red Rhino

Ever since I painted my Rainbow Elephants piece I have wanted to paint another wrinkly animal skinned animal so I can use those same techniques. I finally got that chance with this painting of a red rhinoceros. I had so much fun layering on the masking fluid between layers of paint to create the textured effect.   This painting brought so much joy to me heart as worked on it and it refreshed my desire to be creative and experiment.

If you’re wondering what inspired the color scheme it was actually Dr. Seuss. In his ABC book there is a girl named Rosie who has a red rhinoceros. As a kid that was always one of my favorite illustrations from that book, so to pay homage to the master of silly words and illustrations I decided to paint it red.

I hope you enjoy watching the speed painting. From start to finish of actual painting time this painting took me about 2 hours to paint. Because I have to get the paper so wet to get the effect I want and have to let it and the masking fluid dry completely before the next layer it took about 7 hours to do.

The original  of this piece are available at my etsy shop.

Have a great day!

-Lauren

Being Brave and Growing Past Self Doubt

“You can, you should, and if your brave enough to start, you will”

-Stephen King

 

This quote summarizes my relationship with art. I have always loved crafting, drawing, painting, and creating. My spirit thrives on creativity. I wanted to be an artist from the time I was a little kid but self doubt and fear crept in to my mind and held me back.

I saw my friend’s artwork and felt inadequate. I didn’t feel talented enough to actually become a professional artist and worried I would become the “starving artist” I so often heard talked about. Fear of failure caused me to turn down opportunities and go down a different path.

I still created but I stayed in my “safe zone” by limiting myself to doing crafting things like scrapbooking and card making. I could create within those boundaries without feeling self -conscious when other people looked at my work. If I was only giving it to family and friends I wouldn’t feel as self conscious about whether they liked it or not.

As I got older I started caring less about what people thought of me and started pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It started with selling cards and tags online no longer limiting myself to family. Then it turned into designing the cards and tags from scratch while avoiding predesigned elements like stamps or die cutters. The more I infused my genuine creative self into my creations the more successful my business became. Then I decided to push myself further by entering a 30 day drawing/art challenge in an effort to develop my drawing skills. I started it with the initial idea that it would help me design my own unique line of cards and tags.

To hold myself accountable and let go of fear I decided to share what I was drawing on social media. I fell back in love with drawing and to my surprise strangers loved what I was creating. People I had never met started buying my artwork so I kept working at developing my skills as a fine artist. Painting and drawing took so much of my time that I ended up having to change the direction I took my business. I eventually stopped selling handmade stationary and focused all my free time to art.

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First Day of the 30 day art challenge
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Day 10 of the 30 day art challenge

 

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Day 30 of the art challenge

If I hadn’t had those moments of bravery where I put myself outside my comfort zone I would still be wishing I were an artist instead of actually being one. I have not only grown as an artist but as person. I have learned to be brave and to push myself outside of my comfort zone because that is where I have the opportunity to experience a life I never thought possible. I have also learned to worry less about what other people think because in the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is being my genuine self and realizing what I do and create is important. Yes, other artists may draw or paint better than I do but that doesn’t undermine what I am creating.

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First Charcoal portrait
Tom Petty - Charcoal
Charcoal Portrait of Tom Petty

When self doubt starts to creep back into my mind and threatens to paralyze my growth I remind myself of all the wonderful experiences Ive had because I didn’t let fear hold me back. Besides if there is anything I would like to do better the only way I am going to improve at it is by practicing.

-Lauren

 

Family Legend Painting

In the late fall of 2016 on of  my old coworkers contacted me to see if I would be willing or even able to do a really complex and personal idea for a painting.

She told me about how her father would make up folk stories to tell his children while on family road trips. As he started telling these legends he started to give his children symbolic names related to their personality and would use them as the characters in the stories. These stories became an important family tradition and every new family member added through birth or marriage received a new name that was woven in to the family legends.

Her painting idea was to have a realistic nature painting that incorporated all 23 names in a cohesive manner. Some of the names like “Bear”, “Cascading Falls”, and “Many Bends In River” were pretty straightforward in what they could be represented by in the painting. Other names were more abstract like “Sky Writer” and “Secret Whisperer” which required me to come up with something that would accurately represent each person and why they were given that name. Another challenge was that although some of the names had a straightforward visual representations connected to them they were difficult to incorporate into the picture in a cohesive manner and had to be modified.

As you can imagine that with complex nature of this painting it was going to take a while to figure how to represent the each name, how to balance the layout, find reference photos for each item, and paint it in a manner that made it look like a unified painting and not like elements were just copy and pasted together. I had to spend a day just figuring out how I was going to do the lighting on the painting because the painting had a lot of back lighting from a sunset that was in the painting to incorporate the name “Sunset Cruiser”. I had to figure out how the back lighting would affect each element in the picture because more often than not my reference photo wasn’t a picture with back lighting. I also couldn’t let the backlighting from the sunset cause too much silhouetting and darkening of the foreground because all the name elements in the foreground still needed to be prominent.

This took months of back and fourth brainstorming with my friend, moving states for me (and countries on her part), adding more names (their family is still growing), and learning various watercolor techniques I knew I would need to paint this project. I was finally able to complete the painting in the fall of 2017.

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This painting stretched me as an artist and pushed me outside my comfort zone in every way. For a while I had a lot of anxiety when I thought about this painting. Some of the anxiety was because I knew I needed to develop my skills as a watercolorist before I would be able to paint it well. But most of my anxiety and fear came because  I knew how much this painting meant to the family that commissioned it and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Thankfully, with a lot of prayer, practice, and time to work on this painting we ended up with a finished product that we were all happy with.

The family was able to give it to their dad for christmas and later told me the painting brought tears to his eyes. That is the greatest compliment I can be given about my work. I want the art I create to bring feelings of love, joy, happiness, and peace and its thrilling when I succeed.

-Lauren

 

 

Path By The Seaside: Beginner Pastel Tutorial

I have some big pastel commissions coming up so to help switch my mind from watercolor to soft pastels I have been doing some smaller pastel paintings. I figured it would turn this little painting into a tutorial for those who interested in learning how to paint and draw with pastels.

With it being in middle of winter here in Montana I wanted to paint something warm and sunny. I found my reference photo on pixabay.

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Before I start any pastel painting I look at my reference photo and I pick out the pastels I am going to use to paint it. This just helps me stay in the zone when painting because Im not constantly stopping to sort through hundreds of pastels deciding which ones I want.

When picking out pastels I make sure to grab some harder pastels like the pastel pencils and Nupastels from Prismacolor along with the softer ones. The harder pastels are great for the base layers of the painting because they don’t fill in the tooth of the paper as easily. With this painting being  fairly simple and smaller in size I knew I wasn’t going to be doing as many layers as normal so I didn’t grab any of my super soft pastels like my Sennelier or Schmincke . The softest pastels I used for this were Jack Richeson pastels which I find to be about medium softness.

Another thing I do when gathering my pastels is to  grab several values of each color. Pastels aren’t like watercolor where you can just add water to it to make it lighter or more paint to make it darker. You need to make sure you have a variety of values in each color. These are the colors I picked for my pastel painting and when I was painting I ended up needed more darker tones. I will show you in the video how I worked around that but if you decide to do this painting I would pick some darker cool blues, greens, and violets.

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After selecting my pastels I gathered the rest of my supplies.

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For this piece I used 6×11 inch UArt sanded paper in 600 grit. I really love Uart paper because it can take a lot of layers really well. It is also easy to tone the paper yourself using watercolor or with pastels and rubbing alcohol (which is my preferred method).

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Some other tools I used with my painting include some old paint brushes and rubbing alcohol for the underpainting. The Ink is for blocking in the darks of the painting. I like to use rubber shapers and plastic pallet knives for blending the pastels. For this piece I only used the rubber shaper with the rounded tip which i found really helpful in shaping the clouds. Not pictured is a T Ruler that I used to draw my horizon line with.

Here is the complete list of supplies and tools I used and links so you can look into them in more detail:

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil https://goo.gl/qgq9ew

Jack Richeson Soft Pastels https://goo.gl/kPCgvn

NuPastels https://goo.gl/Bf3aBV

Dr Ph Martins Bombay Inks https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Uart Sanded Paper https://goo.gl/2Uf46y

Krylon Workable fixative https://goo.gl/aKKaVn

Rubber shaper https://goo.gl/rhDSEk

Plastic Pallet Knives https://goo.gl/nskzKU

Oil brush https://goo.gl/t2SVof

White Taklon Brush https://goo.gl/oNrgWj

T-Ruler https://goo.gl/GZRy1v

(Affiliate Links)

I hope you learn some new skills from watching this tutorial. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

A New Set of goals

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It is that time of year when we become reflective on the past year and become hopeful for the fresh start the new year brings.

Being the “semi goal oriented” person that I am I have thought about how my previous years goals went and what I want 2018 to look like. If you are wondering what “semi goal oriented” means, it means I swing back and forth in my desire to be a super focused driven person to the other end of the spectrum where I want to read books in bed all day while eating cookies. Sometimes times I find balance between the two forces but doesn’t always last. I’m hoping to find a more sustainable balance this year but more on that later.

2017 was filled with its shares of ups and downs. There were many goals that I didn’t quite reach because situations arouse outside of my control and I had to shift my priorities because of that. February brought with it a whole slew of unexpected responsibilities that ate up a lot of my time and then a few months later I had to shut down my business for over five months as we prepared to move to another state and get settled into a new stage of life. Even with these set backs and not quite reaching the specifics of some of my goals I was able to achieve others and kept moving in the direction I wanted to go. Some of my highlights included:

A large pastel landscape that I painted for my husbands school that was the gift from the 2017 graduating class. It was the largest painting I had ever done that wasn’t a mural. It turned out absolutely stunning and I am really proud of it.

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“Autumn Light” – The Painting I did for the university

Another goal that I achieved was to get involved in the art community in my new state. I achieved this by participating in the Montana state fair. At the fair I competed at the professional level for the first time. I entered it with just the desire to meet other artists and push myself outside my comfort zone. I ended up winning 3 first place ribbons at the fair, which is always a fantastic surprise.

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Finally, my favorite goal I accomplished in 2017 was successfully starting my business over again. I started 2017 knowing that I would have to put my business on hold for a few months but didn’t know for how long. I lost all the marketing and momentum I had worked so hard to get the previous year. With a lot of intentionality and hard work I was able to gain traction and get my business back to where it was before I temporarily shut it down. This was the perfect reminder for me that my success during the previous year wasn’t just a fluke or luck. It was hard work, consistency, and dedication that made the difference. So now when self-doubt tries to fill my mind I remind myself that I can do hard things, I can learn new skills, and the art I create is of worth.

After reflecting on all of this I spent time pondering what I wanted 2018 to look like. I then got together with my husband and we set our personal, Family, financial, and career related goals.   This may sound like overkill but keeps my husband and I on the same page and it acts as a beacon to guide us through the year. I have big plans and goals for this year and I can’t wait to share some those with you in the future.

What about you? Have you set any goals for the new year?

Star Wars Fan Art

I grew up watching the original three Star Wars movies that were untouched by CGI. I remember watching them at my grandparent’s house in their playroom.  My favorite movie was (and still is) The Empire Strikes Back. I have always loved the twists and turns in the story with its genuine surprises and plot twists.

Years later, I spent hours playing Star Wars with the little boys I babysat every Saturday. They loved the shows so much that I could always use the promise of watching the movies as a bargaining chip for good behavior.

With these shows being such a big part of my childhood I always love it when I have the opportunity to do paintings related to it.

Here are my favorite Star Wars paintings that I have created.

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Princess Leia – Charcoal
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Boba Fett- Watercolor
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Darth Vader – Watercolor

What about you? Do you have a favorite star wars movie? Are you going to go see The Last Jedi?

Let me know in the comments below.

-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

Tom Petty - Charcoal
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.