Monday, June 28, 2010

En Plein Air

I dropped my daughter off with my mom this morning and was smart enough to take my pastels.  I stopped at this house that I have driven past for years and just been in awe of how beautiful the yard is.  I always assumed that they planted their flowers to sell but after meeting Carolyn, the owner,  I found out that she is just crazy about flowers!  She does sell them when they multiply but that is not why she plants them. She plants them just for herself.  The pictures I posted show only a quarter of her yard!  It is absolutely amazing!  She said that she had a stroke about 3 years ago and couldn't use her arm.  She told God just kill me now if I can't use my arm in my garden.  Here she is 3 years later though, weeding away!   Talk about having a passion!  

I am pretty new to painting en plein air (its a fancy way of saying painting outside).  I have this great pastel box that my father in law made for me, shown below.  I mount it on a tripod and pack everything else in a bag and carry with me.  In my excitement this morning I forgot to pack the all important baby wipes!  Thats pretty much the only way to get your hands clean. Today was the first time that I have worked in an area that wasn't flat so I ran into a new problem....making sure I set up some place comfortable.  Without thinking I picked some pretty flowers and started painting.  About 10 minutes in I realized that I was slipping out of my flip flops.  I looked down only to notice that I was on a steep incline.  I know, know, I know I should have figured that out when I was adjusting my tripod but I didn't.  I just ended up taking lots of breaks and taking my flip flops off!  Next time I won't let the flowers distract me from the entire set up (that may be a little white lie).  I'll post pictures of what i painted soon!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My 3 year old put me on the ground!

My daughter who is three, hates to get her face wet.  Which means that when its time to wash her face or rinse her hair its a fight!  We were in the shower and it was time to rinse her hair, I picked her up and was putting her under the water, she was screaming and wiggling then she pushed off on the side of the shower....I was not expecting her to do anything like this so, out we went!  I had one hand holding onto Faith the other hand grabbing at the shower curtain!  Luckily we didn't hit anything, me just barely missing the toliet and Faith just barely missing the edge of the door.  When we landed I just started laughing hysterically because there we were 2 buck naked girls laying in the floor with my legs still in the tub, the shower curtain half torn down and water going every where!  Luckily Brian was at home or else I might not have been able to get up!
I did a quick sketch of what we might have looked like.  Faith is crouching over me trying to decide if she was funny or was bad....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


                                                                3.5x5 Coreopsis  Sold

There are lots of great things about craft fairs.  The most exciting one is selling your artwork.  There is nothing better than selling something that you have made with your own hands.  Yesterday I met a lovely lady that bought 3 originals plus a handful of handpainted original bookmarks.  This Coreopsis painting was one of them.

Another great part of being at a craft fair is meeting all kinds of people.  I got all kinds of great information from other vendors there.  Its a great place to exchange tips and help out your fellow artists.  Of course every once in a while you will run into that one artist that doesn't want to help anybody out (there wasn't anyone like that at the one that I was at Saturday).  It always perplexes me when people act that if they have never needed or wanted help before.  Speaking of an awesome is a great blog to check out by a helpful watercolor artist I met at a craft fair last year Laura Poss.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Craft Fair of the Season

I know its kind of late in the season to be starting craft fairs but because of my day job that is just the way that it has worked out.  I would have liked to have done some earlier ones but "say la v"  (thats my American spelling!) The wonderful Alamance County Arts Council hosted a family fun and art day.  Artists were allowed to set up out on the lawn.  I am so grateful that they allowed me to participate!

Last week I bought some new displays that I really like.  What I haven't figured out is how to arrange my booth.  Saturday I thought it looked pretty good but now that I'm seeing it through my camera's eye I can tell why I didn't have a ton of people interested...because it didn't look really inviting...or interesting!  Any ideas of what I can do to make it look more exciting?  This last picture I moved one of the displays to the middle in the back.  Before it was behind the sign. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Here is my baby girl!  She just recently got her bangs cut and I wish I had done it a long time ago!  It keeps the hair out of her face, which is such a relief!

Friday, June 11, 2010


My new favorite way to have lunch at work is a little picnic under a shade tree.  I basically work in a plant nursery so I'm outside all day.  When I go to lunch and sit inside the air conditioning for an hour I'm always miserable when I come back.  I have solved this problem by bringing a beach chair and a sheet and having my lunch in the shade.  Who would have ever thought that at work I could relax in the shade and put my feet in the grass!  Of course like any good artist I take my sketch book.  This was from my first picnic.  I traced the shadow of a leaf and a clover flower.  I added the veins in the leaf after I traced the shadow.  I was surprized at how hard it was to trace shadows.  I had to deal with my hand shaking as I was holding it and the wind kept blowing them out of position.  It was fun though!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Painting with Pastels

I started and may have finished a pastel painting today and thought that I would show my process.  This is the next step that I take after drawing which I demonstrated in a previous post.  I roughly laid in some color.  A painting is very ugly in its early stages!  I want the Iris to pop so I put a dark blue in the background.  The technique that I am using for this painting involves layering the pastel.  I will put other colors on top of the dark blue.  When layering your pastels remember that the base color will affect the final layer!

In this stage I added some darks and lightened the background.  The edges are starting to emerge but some are still ambiguous.  Colors are important but so is value.  Don't ask me which is more important because I think they are equally important!  There are a lot of artists out there that are Pro Value and others that are Pro Color but I say why not have both?  To determine your values squint at your subject.  Squinting gets rid of the details and lets you see in bigger chunks making painting easier.  You'll look silly but believe me its worth it!  Another valuable tool is a value scale.  I bet you didn't know that if you squint and put your value scale over it you will find a value at which even the brightest color will match one of the shades of gray on your scale.  I hope you understood that last little bit, if its unclear just comment and I'll try to clarify.

At this point I've gone back and defined more edges.  Added some more darks back into the background and noodled around (put in details) in the flowers.  The last step is to put in the lightest lights.  Its good not to overuse your highlights because it has a tendency to wash your painting out.  I have keep this painting loose and showed all of my marks.  If I wanted a smooth looking Iris I would blend the pastel with my finger or color shaper.  Instead, I have chosen to let my marks be apart of the flower.  I said at the beginning that I may haves finished a pastel today because I always like to leave it up on my easel or leaning against the wall so that I can pop my head into my studio and check it out.  Over the course of a few days I will be able to tell if I need to change anything but as for right now I am calling this one finished! Update....It is finished and you can purchase it on Etsy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Memory of Mackenzie Robertson

This beautiful baby girl belongs to my friend Natasha, who unfortunately lost Mackenzie to SIDS.  I have to say that this was the by far the hardest painting I have ever done but also the most rewarding.  I never got to meet her in person but through Facebook I was kept up to date on all of Mackenzie's cuteness and this was one of my favorite photos.

"Daddy please don't look so sad, momma please don't cry.
Cause I'm in the arms of Jesus, and he sings me lullabies.
Please try not to question God, don't think he is unkind.
Don't think he sent me to you and then changed his mind.
You see I'm a special child, I am needed up above.
I'm the special gift you gave Him, a product of your love.
I'll always be there with you, so watch the sky at night.
Look for the brightest star and know that's my halo's brilliant light.
You'll see me in the morning frost that mists your window pane.
That's me in the summer showers, I'll be dancing in the rain.
When you feel a gentle breeze from a gentle wind that blows.
Know that it's me planting a kiss upon your nose.
When you see a child playing and your heart feels a tug,
Don't be sad mommy, that's just me giving your heart a hug.
So daddy don't looks so sad and momma please don't cry.
I'm in the arms of Jesus and he sings me lullabies!