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Friday, April 26, 2013

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
Click here to view large or purchase
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
Click here to view listing
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/

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Frog in Boiling Water

"Avocado Lights"
24 x 30 in Acrylic on Gallery Wrap Canvas
ORIGINAL SOLD
Click here to view print choices
It's Avocado time again...April is the month of the Avocado Festival and Art of the Avocado show in Fallbrook.  The piece above is my entry in the Art of the Avocado, on display at Brandon Gallery in Fallbrook, California through April 27th.

What do frogs have to do with avocados?  Nothing, except that if I hadn't realized I'd turned into one, I wouldn't have finished my piece for the Art of the Avocado show. 

I've heard of the phrase "frog in boiling water," meaning that if you cook(?) a frog in boiling water that starts out cold, the frog doesn't realize what's happening until it's too late, since the water heats slowly, gradually increasing in temperature.

I spent a couple of months feeling gradually more and more fatigued, until I got so tired I could barely stand to get through the day.  I thought it was a post-baby issue. After all, waking up every few hours to feed a growing baby does take its toll.  I finally went to the doctor, who determined that I had a major vitamin deficiency.  Several weeks and a few heavy doses of prescription vitamins later, things are much better, and I am squeezing in some time to paint again.

I even managed to make it to a yoga class, and once I started the familiar stretches, I wondered why I had waited so long to go back to an activity I used to love.  I do the same thing when I go through a little painting dry spell-- when I finally get those materials out and start covering a surface, I end up chiding myself for going so long without painting.

I think it's one of those situations where fatigue begets more fatigue, and anxiety begets more anxiety.  I read somewhere that the fastest way to change your mindset is to just jump in and start doing whatever it is you'd like to accomplish.  Having a deadline helps, so if you find yourself having trouble getting your paintings done, try commiting to a show so you have a deadline. 

And don't forget to take your vitamins.

I'll be getting everything ready for my booth in the Avenue of the Arts at the Avocado Festival on Sunday, April 21st.  We don't have to use centralized checkout this year, so I'll be bringing lots of small pieces and prints in addition to a couple of bigger acrylics.

Here are a couple of little pastel studies going for auction on ebay...bidding is starting at a penny for these.
"L'Orange" 6 x9 in
Original Sold
Click here to view prints


"L'Orange II" 6 x 9 in
Click here to view listing