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.
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?
The Other day, I took a break from designing commissions to paint this colorful lion. Between being sick for a few weeks and constantly working on commissions since October I haven’t been feeling super excited to paint lately. I love doing commissions but there hasn’t been much time to do paintings that recharge me creatively.
When I realized I was just spinning my wheels and not making any progress on any projects. I decided to do something about it. Over the years I have learned the best way to cure artist block is to paint something that inspires me in a loose and colorful style while my music is blasting away. I don’t think about any other upcoming projects or my ever growing “to do” list. I just paint. I’m not concerned about whether it turns out perfect or if other people like it. I just focus on how the paint and water interact on the paper.
So I found some lion reference photos on a commercial use website that I liked, picked a color scheme, and turned up my music. It took a few minutes to really get into it but then like dam bursting, creativity suddenly started flowing through me. I had all kinds of ideas about how to use my brushes in unusual ways, how to layer paint colors, and about which direction to take the painting.
I love how the painting turned out and even more importantly the feeling of all that creative energy flowing through gave me the jump-start I needed to finish my other projects.
What about you? Do you have a routine that you do to help you get out of a creative funk? Let me know in the comments below.
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.
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.
My Last commission of the 2017 was of a little boy dressed as his favorite superhero, Henry Danger.
The idea of this painting was so fun that I was willing to push myself outside of my comfort zone to do it. I am a not very comfortable with painting portraits in watercolor. In fact it had been well over a year since I had painted any and they were all mixed media pieces. Meaning I only used watercolor for the base layers of the face and then added details with markers and colored pencils.
Thankfully, my skills with watercolor in general have improved greatly over the past year. My ability to mix colors, glaze, and control the brush have improved with my daily practice. These skills are a must when doing a portrait. Color mixing is particularly important when making skin tones because it is really easy to make skin look murky or too orange. Because I was in such unfamiliar territory with this painting I scheduled myself plenty of time so i could do multiple practice pieces if needed. Thankfully, As I worked on the first practice piece my fears of doing a portrait immediately subsided because it was coming to me so much more easily than the last time I had painted one.
I still have a long way to go in developing my skills in portraiture to where i want them to be but I am proud of how far I have come.
This painting brought back memories of my years babysitting three little boys and the superhero games we would play. We would often dress up as superheroes and run around the house, pretending to save the day. We would even pretend to fly by jumping from one beanbag to the other.
Kids are so magical with their imaginations, self-confidence, and energy. It was fun creating a painting that perfectly embodied the imagination of this little boy.
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.
What about you? Do you have a favorite star wars movie? Are you going to go see The Last Jedi?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope you enjoy these new paintings as much as I do and that they help put you in the holiday spirit.