Showing posts from 2014

Stages of Painting: a Basic Breakdown of my Painting Process

It's a long haul from that moment of inspiration to a finished work.  I'm constantly snapping pictures for future use, but to find the time to paint the things that inspire me has grown increasingly difficult.
It doesn't help that some of the photos I take are so stunning, it's tempting to just enjoy them as pretty photographs.  I credit technology and the beautiful sights of Southern California for this phenomenon--my photography skills are limited to mommy moments and art references!

Stage 1: Committing to a subject

I've been struggling lately with committing to what I'm actually going to paint.  I have two very vocal children, and by the time I get a few minutes to sit down and start working, I'll catch myself flipping through photo after photo (on my phone or actual printed pictures), unable to decide what to paint.  My main concerns are usually time, energy, and tenacity: will I have time to finish what I started?  Will I have energy to keep working, …

The Joy of Alla Prima Painting

After a busy couple of weeks, I'd only worked on a few small pieces-- as usually happens if I haven't painted in a few days, I got the painting bug last night and set up my acrylics.

I don't often break out the acrylics and brushes-- usually I paint with acrylic and a knife to create texture for a mixed media pastel painting.  I was lucky enough to get a full painting session in last night, so all I had to do this morning was wake up and add a few finishing touches and sign it.

I've painted this flower before with oil pastels and chalk, but I never felt that I captured the vigor of the flower in that painting, so I decided to revisit it with acrylic.  I spent quite a bit of time working the background of the piece, hoping to strike the right balance of color and contrast with the flower.  The colors were created with a simple primary palette: cadmium red and yellow and ultramarine blue.

One of the things I do miss about daily painting was the anticipation of getting up…

Taking Flight and a View of the Night

Been working on a night scene for a while...
"Luminous Night" is a painting of a night view of the Grand Tradition in Fallbrook, California.  The popular event destination features stunning grounds, complete with a small lake.  The gazebo is a popular spot for dancing, especially at the annual Fourth of July celebration.
I painted the piece above using wet pastel sticks on Canson Canva-Paper, layered with dry pastel for a textured, impressionistic effect.  I've often been inspired by Van Gogh's night Cafe scenes, and enjoyed creating the reflected light using abstract shapes and contrasting lights and shadows brightened with color.  I've learned that although light and shadow are important in painting a night scene, it's the color that really brings it to life in a pastel painting.
I've also been busy filling my website and Etsy shop with smaller pastel paintings, many of which feature some of our local birds: We get a lot of birds here in Fallbrook, and …

Small Victories

After a massive heat wave that ended with a fiercely stormy afternoon, we seem to have finally reached fall weather.  Hooray!

The paintings above feature a couple of scenes from my house--having a dog means that I get to go out early and see the beautiful morning skies, so I'll often snap pictures when I do.  "Stormy Dawn" was inspired by some of the storm clouds passing through our area-- it's been an active hurricane season on the Pacific, so the moisture has been traveling up our way and making for some interesting skies.
"Power Pole" was painted on one of the hot days-- too hot to go outside, so I sat in the kitchen and painted the view I could see out one of the windows.  In a funny twist, the power actually went out for a couple of hours as I worked on this piece.  I remember an art teacher saying that a strong vertical shape adds visual interest to a painting (as does a cruciform shape), so I often take advantage of the power poles and palm trees we …

Five Things I Learned at LeucadiART Walk 2014

I had a booth at the 10th annual LeucadiART walk on the 101 Auguast 24th, 2014.  It was a long day, but I learned a few things:

1) Quiche really does taste best from a French Bakery.  My sister brought me quiche and coffee from French Corner on the 101, and this turned out to be the highlight of my day-- actually my week.  It kind of ruined me from quiche from any other place, not that I eat it that often...

2) If you're at a festival featuring a large number of artists (in this case 100 or so), being physically located at the end of the festival makes for a long day. People are either stopping briefly as they begin the long walk, or are tired of looking at artwork by the time they get to your booth.  Being at the complete opposite of the beer garden didn't help-- although it was probably at least quieter.

3)  "Leucadian" is a word, and it's used with pride.

4) I'll never, ever adjust through the sound of a train barreling by at regular intervals.  I find thi…

Just for Fun

When perfectionism hits, it helps to have an escape plan...

In my case, I work in an alternate method.  I've been working with pastels all summer, but have hit the point where I am nitpicking over details.  When that feeling takes over, I switch to making fun collages.
When I create a mixed media collage, I like to work with big shapes and layers of texture.  For this piece, I began with a watercolor background, and layered in tissue paper to create big forms.  Once the big forms were in, I added a few pieces of recycled paper from bags (the stems), and began painting with oil and soft pastel.  
I was inspired to make the big flowers after seeing my aunt's large zinnia blooms, but felt compelled to add a little cat among them to exaggerate their size.  That's the fun part of making these collages-- I get to indulge my creative side, and worry less about achieving the detailed yet impressionist effect I strive for in my usual painting style.
Usually, after a few sessions ma…

Demo-licious Works

I've painted quite a few demo pieces in the past, but this year they seem to be ill-fated.  At least I got a photo of the finished product below before it disappeared:

These water lilies began as a demo piece at the Avocado Festival in April.  I had planned to give the piece away in a drawing after the Oceanside Days of Art event, so I completed it and brought it along to display during the Oceanside art fair.  Unfortunately, it disappeared Sunday Morning as I was setting up my booth for the day.  I backtracked, pulled everything apart, and looked everywhere I had been, but couldn't find it.  Assuming it was stolen, I set about creating a new demo piece for the rest of the Oceanside art fair.

The piece went along fairly well, and I figured I would complete it at home when I had recovered from the weekend-long festival.  Unfortunately, once I had it out again to work on, my son got a hold of it (along with a piece of bright orange pastel):

Luckily, with a little fixative and a…

Creative Challenges and Avocados

Although the show ended last month, I thought I would share a few of my Art of the Avocado entries over the last few years.

Each year, I try to do something a little different for the Art of the Avocado contest that coincides with the Avocado Festival in Fallbrook, California.  This year, I submitted two entries: the painting featured above, and an acrylic piece on canvas that I framed under glass.  You can see both pieces (along with my photobombing cat) in the photo below:

The painting on the right is called "Yin-Yang Yum," and features the way avocados usually look at our house: scraped clean and eaten!

The inspiration for "Squirrel Snack" came from a photo I took of a freshly snatched avocado, which appeared to have become the victim of hungry ground squirrels.  Anyone who has an avocado grove probably recognizes this view of an avocado!

I always find it challenging to paint anything with avocados, mostly because they're  Their surroundings are…

The Number One Reason to Love Pastel

I've spent the last 9 posts or so covering some of the most lovable things about pastel.

My personal favorite: it shows the artist's unique touch.

Brushstrokes are beautiful, and also unique to the artist.  Pastel strokes are made directly by hand, with no brush in-between.  To me, this conveys the artist's power directly onto the surface, making a clear connection between the artist's energy and the medium.  My favorite types of pastels to look at are those with obvious pastel strokes, so that the picture almost quivers with life.

A quick, textured pastel study holds so much more power to me than a detailed, well-blended painting.  Everyone has their own taste in art; for me, the immediacy of a rough pastel sketch is like getting a quick peek into the artist's mind.  Some think that pastels might be the first type of art medium used (think of cave art, most likely created by sticks of pigment).

I can appreciate almost any type of hand-created art, in just about …

10 Reasons to Love Pastel: A Plethora of Possibilities

Yes, I learned the word "plethora" from Three Amigos.  
There is some evidence that the earliest art created by humans was likely painted with an ancient version of pastels (think cave painting).  There is something about gripping that pastel stick in my hand that makes me want to scratch color on all kinds of things.
Pastel allows you to directly make your mark, with no brush getting between you and the color. I've used pastel on many surfaces: textured pastel paper, watercolor paper, drawing paper, canvas, Canva-paper, and stationery and envelopes to name a few.  I can now add cardboard to the list.  

I noticed that the texture of the cardboard itself makes a difference in the pastel's texture.  I also had to use fixative to keep the colors strong (particularly with the slicker cardboard I used for "Curiosi-tea").  I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to pick the cardboard up and carry it around with me (like I would a flat canvas), but definitely felt …

10 Reasons to Love Pastel: Easy to Learn!


This is my 200th post.  I was heartbroken to find out that my absolute favorite art teacher (well, next to my grandma of course), David Musser, passed away in December.  You can see David's art here.

I took my first pastel class with David in 2004.  Before then, I didn't even know what soft pastels were, since I'd only used oil pastels.  I struggled at first, and was especially mortified when he pulled a chair up next to mine and said he was going to make me his "special project," and that I'd be able to use pastels with ease in no time.  Fortunately, he was right!

I could fill an entire blog with things I learned in David's classes (I continued with pastel, and also took some basic drawing and watercolor classes with him over the years).  He was one of the most entertaining people I've ever met, and he truly enjoyed helping his students create-- he shared all of his artistic "secrets" openly, casually painting along with us as he told hi…