Every Single Ripple (painting reflective water)

"Venetian Duck"
12 x 16 Chalk pastel on flat canvas
Click here to view large or purchase
Water is one of my favorite subjects to paint.  It's also one of the most difficult subjects to paint (for me, anyway).  I took the photo for the above painting in Venice, California.  We took a walk along the canals and happened upon a duck (apparently the locals nicknamed her "Daisy.")  I took the photo because of the reflections in the water, knowing I would like to try to turn it into a painting.

I tried it out on textured paper with dry pastel, but I kept losing my darks.  It came out much better on the second try, when I pressed wet chalk pastels directly onto flat canvas to get those nice dark shapes.  It took many layers of wet chalk, fixative, and dry chalk to get the final result.

It you're going to paint water, it helps to remember a few things:

*Water is always horizontally straight to the eye.  That means any horizontal lines you make in your water have to be straight too.

* Without deep, dark shadows, there will be no bright lights.

* You may have some vertical reflections, but you need to pull those colors into the water around it (no hard vertical lines in your water!)

*Don't make any horizontal lines that go all the way across your piece.  Alternate them throughout the piece in shorter strokes to show ripples.


 Painting water can turn into a time-consuming process.  This piece took me many sessions of tweaking and reworking because of the reflections in the water, and I wasn't even being that faithful to the photo!  The end result is worth all the work though. If you get tired, put it aside for a while to give your eyes a break and try something different.  When you come back to the painting with a fresh eye, you'll see what areas you can change to get the result you want.

"Apple and Books"
9 x 12 Chalk pastel on canvas
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This little still life is a piece I started last summer when I wanted to paint something simple.  It initially had an earthy-red background, but I didn't like that and put it aside until this month.  Working in the layer of purple made it much more effective.  The books are miniature encyclopedias from the 1930's, and the green apple was one of the few things I could stand to eat while I was pregnant.  It reminds me of my teaching days-- I always preferred green apples over red.


Avocado Card 7
5 x 6.5 Mixed media on paper
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Avocado Card 9
5 x 6.5 Mixed media on paper
Click here to view Etsy listing

I sold a couple of these mixed media cards in frames at the Avocado Festival, and thought I would put the rest of what I have (without the frames) up on Etsy.They're all hand-created, numbered, and signed, and make great kitchen decorations. 

I also sold the original of one of my personal favorites, my little black cat with the attitude problem:
"NOW What?"
It was a bittersweet moment, as I was happy to make the sale, but sad to see her go.  I guess I'll have to get started on a new kitty in the near future, since I have plenty of priceless faces available in my photo collection.  I really enjoy selling my artwork in person, as it gives me the opportunity to meet the buyers and hear their stories.  I also like putting a table out for kids to come in and paint; this year they made cards for Mothers Day, and it was great to watch them get creative with the pastels, glue, and paints.  It's a good reminder that painting is supposed to be fun!

Last but not least, I did another little study that's going on Ebay:
"Tiki Flower" 6 x 9 Pastel on paper

My daughter's a fan of the Enchanted Tiki Room, so I took some pictures of the flowers outside to paint.

Click here to view my other recent artworks that are for sale through my website:
http://www.nikihilsabeck.com/art-gallery/recent-artwork/

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