Rescued

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This portrait Is of my youngest daughter Hannah and her rescued pup, Victor. It’s definitely a “Who Rescued Who” situation.

Hannah sent me a photo and asked if I could paint it fo her  I did my best. Working on this, I was reminded of how much I love working on portraits  it’s a very personal experience .

 

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Happy . . . Ever After

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Happy . . . Ever After

Watercolor 14 x 14 on Arches 300 lb. rough. I have no idea who took the photo that this painting was done from but, credit to whoever it was 🙂

Two years ago in April, my son Daniel sent out an email to family and friends inviting us to a camp west of Kalamazoo for a  birthday party / proposal to His girlfriend Jennifer Jennings on June 13. The surprise was on us as we all waited, sipping our pre-party wine in the large camp pavilion, that was set with tables and chairs, drinks and snacks. The dining hall was decorated and set up with a feast catered by ChinnChinn.  Dan and His 8-Year-old son, Henry, were bringing Jenny into the camp site in a white, horse-drawn carriage; but it was taking forever.

Finally we heard the clip clop of the horse’s hooves coming down the lane toward the pavilion. Everyone got quiet and tried to hide behind the pavilion wall.  Henry was in the back seat of the carriage while Dan sat in the front holding an umbrella over Jenny to hide her from view. As they approached the pavilion Dan started laughing and yelled “come on you guys, do you really think I could have organized all this on my own?” Then Jenny popped out from behind the umbrella in her wedding dress and they yelled “SURPRISE! You’re all invited to our wedding. Please join us down by the lake for our exchange of vows.” Toph Theisen and his family had flown in, Toph (friend from birth)  to preform the wedding ceremony. As Jenny was walking down the aisle she asked Toph’s four-year-old daughter if she would be her flower girl. Jazz was thrilled as Jenny pulled a tutu out of a basket for her to put on with her Super Girl T-shirt and she scattered petals as she followed Jenny down the aisle beaming from ear to ear. The crowd was abuzz with surprise and delight. No one knew.

This painting is the Happy couple exiting to shouts of “you dawg” and “congratulation. ”

It was a day to remember.

KIA Classes

I fell into a little bit of a painting slump, feeling uninspired. So, I thought it might help to get myself into a couple of watercolor class and I signed up for an intermediate watercolor class with Don Marek and a Plein Air watercolor painting class with Susan Badger. It’s been fun and interesting. Both teachers are talented, inspiring and encouraging. I’m learning.

Here are some of the things we’ve worked on.

Week One – Parkview Hills Bridge

Parkview Hills

Week Two – Misty Milham Park

Misty Milham Park

Week Three – Cabin in the Woods

Barn in the Woods

Week Four – City Scape – Canal Street New York City

Canal Street New York

I enjoyed working on this city scape. It’s bad but I learned a lot and think I would like to do more, better 🙂

I miss painting portraits. But, this is good. I’m trying to loosen up and am learning to do value studies. I’ve always done them in color.

 

Bontanicals

My daughter, Miriam, has “encouraged” me to paint botanicals. She’s a lover of flowers and plants and gardening and things of beauty. Several months ago I found a book on painting botanicals in watercolor by .Eleanor B. Wunderlich

It’s a beautiful, instructive book. Here are a couple of illustrations I did from the book. I obviously have a long way to go, but I LOVE working on these.

Red Raspberries

Red Raspberries

Trillium

Trillium

Suki

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Suki died a couple of months ago and her owner commissioned me to paint her portrait as a Christmas gift to her son. Due to all the darks, I found her difficult to paint. But once I started on her face, I really started falling in love with her, looking into those eyes.  Rest In Peace Miss Suki. You were/are very loved.

Watercolor on Arches 140 pound cold pressed paper – 19.5 x 13.5

 

The Frog Stalker – Process

 

I’m hoping that maybe posting this sketch will give the courage to overcome the intimidation factor so it doesn’t sit here for weeks while I “think” about painting it. 😁

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And so it has begun. So much going on here, but I’m going to try to keep it simple and loose until I get to the figure. The grasses and leaves that I want to keep sunlit are masked out. The figures is also masked just to keep it clean while I work on the background.

This is being done on 140lb. Arches cold pressed paper, not quite a half sheet, 13.5 x 16.5 with lightfast colors from Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and Daniel Smith. This photo image looks very gray. It’s more green, so hopefully the next photo will be better.

 

Steps 3 and 4 more of the pond grasses go in and the masking comes off. Once the grasses that were masked go in, it will be time to start on the figure.

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Just a few more details on the background grasses and pond and I’ll be ready to start on the figure.

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And the figure has begun!!

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And we’re almost done. A little more detail on the face and hair, refine the shadows and I think I will be able to step away.

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And it is complete. I tried something new on the flesh tones, that I learned about on a Susan Winton video.  She uses new gamboge as an underwash, followed by scarlet lake or quinacradone red. Scarlet Lake is a fugitive pigment so I tried Holbein’s Gamboge Nova followed by Daniel Smith’s Naphthol Red. I really liked the effect. I’m not 100% happy with the facial features and may try a couple of things. But, not wanted to ruin it, I will go very easy and it may just stay as is.

Yes, I went back in. Mary Whyte said on her Mastering Watercolor Portraiture DVD that you are done with a painting when there is nothing that you can possibly do to make it better. I had to try to improve what I did not like about his face.

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I am happier with it.

Lucy – The Painting

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Lucy was commissioned and she was a joy to work on. She is painted on 140 lb. Arches cold pressed paper 1/2 imperial sheet: about 13 x 20. Colors from M. Graham, Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton tubes: Rocks – Burnt umber, winsor violet, raw sienna, quinacridone gold – foreground rocks have a little burnt sienna, sap green,  ultramarine blue, bits of peryrrol red and the water colors rolling over: undersea green (thank you Robynn), burnt umber and ultramarine blue. Lucy palette: burnt umber and ultramarine blue mixture, burnt sienna and quinacridone burnt orange.

Lucy – The Process

It’s been almost a year ago that I started painting again. In July, my son Dan and his wife Jenny and grandson Henry took me with them to our triennial family reunion in Estes Park, Colorado’s YMCA of the Rockies. Lots of family and lots of fun!!

While we were there, my cousin once removed, Nick showed me a picture of his dog Lucy and asked if I thought I could paint her. Well, of course, I said “sure, I’ll try.” I’d never painted a dog before, and the picture he showed me was pretty bad:lucy4

And I wasn’t real inspired by the elements in the photo. Lucy is lovely but the background wasn’t. After the reunion was over and we had returned home, I started working up some sketches. I texted Nick and asked if this was the background that he wanted Lucy painted in? Did he have other Pictures? What are her favorite toys? What’s she like, her personality. He sent me pictures of toys and profiles . . . aLucy5nd then finally he sent me this: OK, I can work with this. Nick said that this is one of their favorite activities and the place Lucy most likes to be. So, this is what I’d been looking for. I wanted to do landscape format, not portrait. So, I would have to work with the composition, expanding the image of the river and rocks. Nick wanted the background but wanted Lucy enlarged to take center stage. So, we’re off!! But I was soooooo intimidated. I’d, never done rocks, or a river, or a dog! HA! So, I worked up a sketch and put it down on 140 lb. Arches cold pressed paper. And there it sat. Then Dan and Jenny really needed help at the homestead. An old farm house they had purchased at auction. They had started on the floors and were in a pickle. WOW, were they a mess. I worked on them for two weeks, getting up the urine soaked pad and rusted out rotten tack strips, nails and staples.

THEN, the grandsons came. I’d missed them so much and the week of learning to swim in Grandma’s pool and late-night runs for ice cream at The Ice House, had begun! We had so much fun. But during this week my self doubts about why I had not urged myself to find time to paint during the years all my kids were home, were alleviated completely. I remembered what it was like with just the two! And I had 5 and worked part time and homeschooled!! How DID I do that?

After the boys went home to Chicago, I started thinking about Lucy’s painting again. But then I had to prepare for the exhibit at PIPP Hospital. Are you seeing a pattern here? I was seriously procrastinating putting paint to this watercolor paper. During this time, my friend Robynn had also sent me four sheets of paint dots. Mostly Daniel Smith, some Winsor & Newton so I had started experimenting with these colors. Anything but starting the painting of Lucy. paintdots

I started watching videos and experimenting with colors and techniques. I had found a color combination of burnt umber and winsor violet that I thought might work well for the background rock bank THRockswith the Terry Harrison “credit card” method of putting in rocks. And the “undersea green” that Robynn had sent me, mixed with french ultramarine was making up a lovely river water color. I loved the way it granulated and when you add a little water on the paper the yellow separates out a bit, leaving a glow in the water. So, when I took the boys back to Chicago, I stopped at Dick Blick and picked up a tube of Daniel Smith Undersea Green and also a tube of what I believe will become my favorite black (which a very rarely use) Lunar Black. It granulates heavilyLucySketch and dilutes to a very very light gray.

The time came when I could procrastinate no longer and I had to dive in to this long waiting sketch – So here we go . . . ummmmm . . . maybe if I work outside that would really help to motivate me. Yes, that would help. So now that I’ve told this very long story of how Lucy came to be . . . LucyPoolHouse

LucyProgress

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And now for the final reveal :

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I’m really happy with the way it turned out; the water, the rocks, the wet fur, Lucy. It all turned out better than I ever would have expected. My confidence grew considerably as I didn’t have to take out entire sections of the painting and redo them as I have with previous paintings. I went a little overboard on the wax relief in the water. But, all in all, pleased. And Nick is thrilled! His comments: ” THAT is unbelievable! Absolutely beautiful. Better than I ever thought possible; but not much, because I know your talent. Thank you so much! You have nailed it. I showed this to a co-worker who loves Lucy and she couldn’t believe it either. You truly captured her personality perfectly. There are not many artists that can do what you are doing. It is a gift. Keep it up”

With all the self-doubt and hesitation that comes with starting a portrait of “someone” you’ve never met, and overcoming new challenges, I can’t begin to tell you how much those words of encouragement mean to me as an artist.