Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Hey Folks! I know I fell off the Blogosphere there for a little while. My husband was in England for two weeks at an academic conference and doing some dissertation research. When he returned from across the Pond, we wanted to have a little escape together so we hopped in the car and headed to Seattle. I'm back now, and trying to sift through everything that piled up while I was away (and I was only away a few days!!!). The freelance design projects are coming in a mile a minute, which is a mixed blessing. I appreciate the work and the extra income to help us through, but it also cuts into my art and blogging time! Anyway, here are a few pictures from our trip to tide you over until I can put together a real post.

Seattle has some great public art, including this sculpture of
an umbrella that moves with the wind.

The Seattle Public Library is an architectural wonder.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Painting 29 - Mountain Lion Sketch

This is a really fast watercolor sketch of a mountain lion that knew my husband. (Yes, you read that right. More in a minute.) When we lived in the Philadelphia area, there was a wonderful little zoo in Norristown, PA that specialized in North American animals. I loved going there more than the Philadelphia Zoo because 1). parking was easy and free 2). it wasn't crowded and 3). you could see everything without exhausting yourself. They had a prairie dog town, pronghorn antelope, elk, foxes and wolves, bison, a great assortment of owls, etc. And they had a mountain lion.

This mountain lion loathed Paul. We have no idea why, but it did. One time I went on ahead and positioned myself so that I could see the lion as Paul approached. It was just hanging out, lying down, watching the world. Then Paul came into view some distance away and that cat went from laid back to Red Alert in half a second. I was amazed. If Paul remained in front of its enclosure for any amount of time, the cat would start snarling and occasionally even lunging. So as not to upset the animal too much, Paul usually observed it from a distance. This is what was happening in the photo that I did this sketch from; Paul was a ways away and the cat was keeping an eye on him. I was hoping to catch the intensity of the cat's gaze, maybe even a hint of aggression in this painting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Painting 28 - B is for Blackbird

Taa-daa! Still working the kinks out with the lettering, but I am loving this! I used an X-acto knife to scrape away the paint to create the fluff on the cattail. I have also discovered that painters tape - the colored stuff you use to protect moldings and create a clean edge when you are painting walls - works very well to preserve the edges around these watercolor pieces, too. Go figure.

You may remember the quick sketch I did of this bird a few months ago - I used the same pose for this piece. It makes such a difference having my own reference photos! The avocet in the previous painting was a made-up pose based on a bunch of different photos from various sources and I think it showed. So from now on I'm going to try to choose birds that I have good photos of. It makes such a difference. Hmm, I wonder what I've got in my photo collection for "C"...

I do find that the imperfections in the lettering attract my attention away from the piece as a whole though, and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should skip painting the lettering by hand and just do it digitally. (Please let me know YOUR opinion on whether I should go with digital or handpainted lettering or even include any lettering at all, in the comments section. Thanks!!! )

These ABC pieces take a lot of time and planning, so the paintings are not materializing as quickly as they were before and I have fallen behind in my 100 Paintings Challenge. I am thrilled with the series, but I'm not about to abandon the Challenge. And this is still quite a ways in the future, but I'm also wondering what I am going to do for the letters "X" and "Z"!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Painting 27 - A is for Avocet

Happy September! As I drove through town today, I noticed some of the maple trees starting to look a little less green; a hint of yellow in their leaves. And the local meteorologists are claiming that the morning lows will dip below 40 F mid-week. Can this be possible already? Ah well, I've still got a couple more months before I have to dust off the snowshoes.

I know that I haven't posted any paintings in a while. I think I needed a mini-break to recharge my batteries. But hopefully Painting #27 will make you think I'm back with a bang. (I did paint a Number 26, but it was no great shakes, so you didn't miss anything.) I spent Labor Day laboring over this one. I did not use any masking fluid this time - it has caused me no end of headaches lately - so I chose to freehand this one. I think I did pretty well for my first venture into the wonderful world of lettering in watercolor. The concept for this painting has been floating around in the gray matter for a while. A friend had a baby shower over the weekend and while I was deciding what to make her, the idea of a ornithological ABC series popped into my head. ABC series have been done millions of times before, but I still like them. I ended up making a baby quilt for my friend, but the painting idea remained with me and I began to sketch and research and, well, here we are with the prototype! A little different style than my usual, but it is fun and refreshing to break away from the norm sometimes, not worry so much about being anatomically correct and just to get the essence of avocet down. Personally, I love the color scheme. I think it leans a little towards Halloween colors, which is just around the corner after all!

A HUGE Happy Birthday to Laure over at Painted Thoughts!!! She's being very hobbit-like and giving presents on her own birthday. Check it out!