Thursday, January 31, 2008

Illustration Friday - Tales & Legends

My subject for this week's IF topic, Tales & Legends, is Esther. She was a real person, a heroine whose actions saved the Jews living in exile. Her inspiring story is found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the book of Esther.

One of my goals is to learn how to draw & paint people. This is only my second people painting and I purposely did not labor over it too much. So PLEASE be kind. I used a 5x7 clayboard that I prepared with a mixture of gesso & aqua acrylic. Most of the painting is done with Liquitex heavy body acrylics, but I did use some watercolor pencil for a little detail work.

I worked from my imagination and a collection of photos. Her eyes were inspired by a 60's photo of Sophia Loren.
Esther ended up looking older than I planned. I also hoped to make her more beautiful. I was thinking of her as an innocent young woman who went through a year of preparations before she was presented to the king for his approval. Esther was so favored that she was chosen to be queen.

I enjoyed this topic. I also considered Joan of Arc for my subject and researched her story, too. Now I have material to work from later when I have more time.

Thanks for looking as I learn.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Watercolor Tiles

I've been putting together Valentines with paper I watercolor painted and stamped. Today I took a break from the heart theme and made a card inspired by an article in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Somerset Studio: "Mosaic Collage" featuring the artwork of Jeff Sochen.
I started with a sheet of paper I painted last week using a wet into wet technique and a trio of colors. In the Somerset article, the artist used calligraphy to decorate his paper. I stamped the alphabet with chalk ink. The paper is so porous that the stamped image doesn't stand out, so I added embossing powder for more contrast which was set with a heat gun.
Next, I cut the paper into 1x1 inch squares. I've got a nice little stack of them. I selected 9 which I glued to card stock and made a card.
Before I cut up the decorated paper, I scanned it. I can print it and use it for future projects. I can also alter it with PS Elements.

There are still spaces in my watercolor workshop this Sat., Feb. 2nd. Contact me if you are interested.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pink Cone Flowers Painting

Sometimes I just have to paint! I recently approached my art table with no concept in mind, I just wanted to paint. I looked at what paint was left on the palette from my previous project, and decided a cone flower - echinacea - would work. After putting some initial strokes on the canvas, I went to my computer for flower images that I photographed from my garden. I didn't paint that image of fuschia colored echinacea, but I used it for inspiration.
This was worked with Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics. I kept it pretty loose, which was a challenge for me.

Valentine Hearts Mixed Media

I've been inspired by artists I've met in blogland and by images in Somerset Studio that led me in this new direction for me. It all started with little wood hearts I picked up at Hobby Lobby and a Dover publication of vintage images.
The hearts were painted with gesso, walnut ink and blue acrylic paint. The vintage images were adhered with Liquitex matte medium. I distressed the edges a bit by filing them with a nail file (yeah, the kind you get at Sally Beauty Supply.)

I wasn't sure what to do with the hearts at this point. The backs were also finished. I had adhered tissue paper and added some distressed paint finish. I thought about adhering them to ribbons for bookmarks. I even dyed some jacquard ribbon in walnut ink, but I wasn't satisfied with what I came up with.

I decided to try laying some hearts out on a 6x6 gallery wrapped canvas. Hmmm - there were possibilities to this idea.

I covered the canvas with gesso that I mixed with a little walnut ink and matte medium. Then I brushed in some verdi gris paint. I loved the colors together. Once that was dry, I stamped scrolls using a dark brown chalk ink pad, which I heat set with my heat gun. After playing around with several ideas, I finally ended up layering squares of cardstock (filed the edges), painted wonder under, the hearts and a stamped message. Final embellishments are silk & plastic flowers that I added acrylic & Shiva paint accents. The paper and wonder under were adhered with Liquitex Matte medium. I used heavy gel medium to adhere the hearts and flowers. The stamped message is on card stock that I adhered with foam tape.

To paint the wonder under, I mixed about equal amounts of gesso, matte medium and walnut ink. I heat set and distressed the painted wonder under by placing it between sheets of parchment paper and applying heat with my heat gun. Then I just tore sections of it to layer. Once it was adhered to my canvas, I added touches of copper and gold Shiva Stick.

Knit Stole with Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair & Trellis

I love knitting during the cold weather months. My current project is being knit with a luscious white Alpaca yarn I purchased from Prairie Fibers Company. I'm knitting a wide lace scarf in a very simple Feather and Fan Pattern. It's worked on a repeat of 18 stitches. Row 1:knit, Row 2: purl, Row 3: {(K2 tog)3x, (YO, K1)6x, (K2 tog)3x} repeat across, Row 4: knit.
I added an extra stitch at the beginning and end of the rows. I always slip the 1st stitch knit wise, and knit the last stitch. It makes a nice edge.

This image is the stole I recently finished. I used Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair and Trellis and was inspired by a scarf pattern. This stole was worked lengthwise starting with about 160 stitches on a size 15 needle. I'm not impressed with the hand of the Moonlight Mohair, but it is very pretty. There are 2 strands on this yarn - one fuzzy, one with variations of sparkle and contrast. The Trellis yarn is a ladder yarn & very slippery. I think I should have knotted the tails before I weaved them in. I did make sure to leave the tails long, but I already had to rework one end when I was finishing the ends. I added 2 rows of crochet with the MM yarn before adding fringe. The fringe is 2 strands of MM with 1 of Trellis.
Now, for a date night so I can wear it!

Illustration Friday - Plain Butterfly 1

I've been checking out Illustration Friday for a few months and finally I'm submitting something for the weekly topic.
This week is "Plain". I have the perfect piece. In my last post, I showed one of many versions of a Blue Morph Butterfly's wing.

This submission is acrylic painted on 12x12 masonite. I prepared the board with heavy gel medium to give some texture to the painting. I covered it with black Liquitex heavy body paint. The next step was done with watered down Liquitex gesso. Originally I had planned to add colors, but I liked this piece just like this.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I've been working on a mixed media piece, watercolor workshop preparations, reading (The Lady & the Unicorn). I'll be showing you some of these in days to come - but I need to take photographs and I'm saving that for another day when it is earlier. My creative juices tend to go overtime at night and that is not good for my sleep pattern. I know I have a lot of company out there.

But for tonight, I will share one of my favorite subjects. This is a version of a Blue Morph Butterfly that I altered with Photoshop Elements. I have worked this image several times and would like to do more with it.

The verse is from one of my favorite Psalms of the Bible and can be found in Psalm 91. I listened to a CD this week that I hadn't listened to for a while. My favorite track is "You Are My Refuge" by Shannon Wexelberg. I love songs like this that remind me of where my safe place is. It's easy for me to worry and let troubling thoughts take over. But God has promised to be a refuge. He is my hiding place.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Watercolor Painting Workshop - Valentine Cards

I will be teaching a watercolor technique workshop on Feb. 2nd at the Swinging Bridge Studio in Story City.

I love to take a sheet of watercolor paper and fill it with color and texture. It can be used as a background for collage/assemblage or torn up as focal pieces on a greeting card. The finished paper can also be scanned or photocopied. When scanned, further manipulation of the design is possible in a program like Photoshop Elements.

Here are just a couple examples of what can be done.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

January Thaw: Is it too early for Spring Fever?

Here's my first posting of 2008 and I'm thinking about Spring! We've had a couple days of thawing temps and I'm longing for a stroll out in nature - no snow, no mud, no jacket. Warm sun on my BARE arms.

But it IS January, so a trip down memory lane will have to suffice for now.

I hiked with friends at Effigy Mounds National Monument in the Spring a couple years ago, which is when I took these shots.