Rabbit and Snail

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This rabbit study is one of my favorites.  I think I was able to conjure up a little bit of moodiness and mystery.

This is one of the 8 x 10 inch preliminary drawings for me Secret Garden series.

It’s also a great example of how the image changes each time I draw it.  The bottom drawing was the initial sketch and the top a second rendering.  You get to try different things out yet, improve on the areas you like.

This concept moves forward to the next stage…

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Fox and Grackle

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Here lies a third study in the idea process for my secret garden series.  Unfortunately this idea did not make the cut either. Reason being, why do I want old mailboxes in my secret garden?  My secret garden is going to be way cooler than that ;)

I do love the fox though.  He will make an appearance in a different composition.  I consider the blackbird my spirit animal.  I’ve had many special connections in my life with them.  In fact, when I have an abnormal encounter with a blackbird I really pay attention to what’s going on in my life and take measure.  So the black bird will make an appearance in the future as well.

A reminder, these paintings are little.  They are only 8×10 inches.  My thought has been that even if these “ideas” don’t make my final cut, I will still complete them.  With a big white mat, these little animal pictures are going to be really sweet and enjoyable to look at.

I have already re-sketched a configuration for a new fox garden painting. The new one is more “Mary” flavor which -if I am going to put in all this effort -better be what I would like to see :)

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Chickadee

This is one of the little 8×10″ watercolor studies that is getting scrapped.

For me, I guess it’s because it just doesn’t tell enough of a story.  I couldn’t answer the questions why are they there and why does it matter?  

I do LOVE chickadees and house wrens though. I love that I can look out on my lawn and not see them, but if I look just a little bit longer than usual, I realize they were there all along.  They blend in so well it’s hard to believe they are scattered throughout the yard!  For this reason, it sort of makes them difficult to paint.  If an animal camouflages itself in the real world how do you make it stand out in your fantasy world?

Here were two ideas for cropping to make a stronger composition:

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But alas, in the end, it was not enough to make it to the next round.  I will sneak the birds into a future study, but this scenario is a -no.

Candle extinguished. Voted off the island. Do not pass go and do not collect $200 dollars.

next!

 

 

The Great Horned Owl

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Here is my first study. It’s of a Great Horned Owl. If you’re a nature lover and you’ve ever seen one, you’d know they are beautiful, graceful and quiet. Their eyes pierce right through you.

In yesterday’s blog post, I explained that before I start on my larger more serious paintings, I am going to create some little 8×10″ studies in order to work out the ideas I have rolling around in my head. This series will encompass all the things I love. I am choosing the animals I come in contact with here in New England. As fascinating and exotic as lions and tigers can be, they do not impact me the same way the small creatures in my local habitat do. One day I was riding my bike through the woods when an owl swooped down in front of me. I will never forget how spiritual this quiet interaction with a piece of nature impacted me. It was just the two of us staring at one another.

This painting is so little I cant fit it all in, but let me tell you the ideas I have for it. The building is based on some of the funky Victorians found in Providence, RI. I want to add a chandelier because it’s my fantasy garden, and of course I would have chandeliers! I chose a smooth green snake because their color is fabulous. I grow the Chinese lantern pods and somehow I felt them fitting here. It gives me an autumn-y vibe. There will also be some insects when the painting gets large enough to fit them in. I plan on adding a praying mantis. My neighbor raises them so I live with tons of them in my yard. I’m adding a green monarch butterfly chrysalis to represent metamorphosis. Plus, living by the ocean, the monarchs visit in droves during the fall as part of their migration to Mexico. Every autumn I look forward to their arrival. And here’s another fun feature I am planning. What looks like stars in the sky are really going to be fireflies. Sadly, I get very few in my yard these days, but this is my fantasy garden, so they will be welcome in great numbers!

The last thing I will discuss is my culmination of ideas. For so many years, I have painted what I see such as fruit, a beautiful flower bouquet, landscapes of places I’ve traveled. This is my first foray into conjuring images from my imagination. I mention this because how do you take a thought and translate it into 2-D? When you dream are you focusing on what people are wearing? what the sun angle is? What is in the background? For me – the answer is no! So taking an idea and putting it on paper takes baby steps. What is the duck standing on? What would gravity do to a flower? How about shadows? First, I have to figure out how to draw an owl before I can place something in front of it or behind it.

So that’s what I’m doing. Now I could have simply created thumbnail sketches. Fill sketchbook pages and work it out there. But I liked the idea of these tiny little paintings. I liked the idea of finishing each one even if I changed my idea on the concept half way through it. I’m working out color and composition. Plus new ideas spring up spontaneously during the process. When you draw an object over and over again, the lines become intimate. It gets easier the next time. It gets easier to manipulate the object. I think they call this muscle memory. It’s good stuff. so I’m giving myself permission to slow it down, think, pay attention and change my mind simultaneously.

We shall see where it takes me. Here’s to step one.

An Artist’s Journey -Creating My Own Fantasy

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For the next couple days I am going to share what I have been working on since September. The photo above shows the “concepts” for a painting series I am working towards. It is going to be a series of 8 large paintings called My Secret Garden.

This is a very big deal for me. For almost seven years now I have been floating and experimenting without direction. I’ve asked so many questions of myself: Who am I as an artist? What is my style? What do kind of art do I want to make? Who am I making it for? What is the message I want to communicate?

The universe is kind of cruel like that. The more important something is to you, the more time it takes to get to the answer. I’m not a very patient person, so this journey has been brutal.

I’ve dug deep.

When I first started on this personal journey, I did not have the answers. I’ve tried everything: quilting, polymer clay, jewelry, wood crafts, painting with acrylic, watercolor and goauche, printmaking, teaching, graphic design, and pottery to name a few. I haven’t been able to commit. I like them all yet I’ve always felt like I’ve been getting nowhere.

Seven years later. I’m feeling a bit older, more mature, I don’t know that I can sustain that crazy chaotic creative energy anymore. I’m tired. What took me so long to figure out is that I had to try everything and that this is ok. It’s the type of learner I am ; an experiential learner. I’m the kind of kid that has to touch the stove to learn what hot means. I can’t take anyone’s word for it –ever. I’ve beaten myself up for this because it has taken so much time, but in trying so many things I have figured out what feels right and what doesn’t.

Another concept that has plagued me is the for who? Do I paint subject matter that suits me? What does suit me? What do I like? Do I try to figure out what’s trending? What other people might want? Go where the money seems to be? I’ve spent so many hours trying to figure out the balance between my own personal interests and making others happy.

So this September my soul said ENOUGH. Time to answer the questions. You are ready.

The seed had been planted in this painting I had done in the spring:

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This painting came from my stream of consciousness. I started with one blackbird, then a flower, then another, then another. The painting isn’t of something real. It is a fantasy. It comes from my own world that contains the things I love. In painting this, the answers came.

I LOVE color.

I LOVE flowers and gardening.

I LOVE the animals I find in my backyard.

I do 100% what I LOVE because there in lies my uniqueness.

When I stop apologizing for such simple concepts, beautiful things begin to arise.

This September I felt the strongest sense of clarity I have ever experienced. I now can answer the question – what do I like. I decided to be as disciplined as possible and create a vision through art that represents my LOVEs.

The discipline part will come from the many stages. I usually paint something and never think about it again. For this project I am asking myself to research, sketch, try things out, analyze what works for me and what failed, and do it again.

My thought is to create these small 8×10’s (which I just completed). Analyze them. Try it again. Fix the colors. Fix the contrast. Fix the layout. Then I am going to do 8 more small studies again. In hopes of creating a stronger vision before I embark on 8 LARGE watercolor paintings. I won’t be done then, because when I am through with those, I am going to do the entire series again but in a more abstract style.

8-8×10’s studies

8-5×7’s studies

8- 20×24’s finals

8-16×20’s abstracts

That’s a doozy right?

What you will see through the coming months is the same concept -but in a metamorphosis. What I like will stay. What I hate will go. The end product should be as strong as I am currently capable and in my wake I will leave evidence of my process.

There are a few more things that I love which I will incorporate in the larger paintings as well. These small studies were just too small to add this type of detail. However, I also plan on incorporating my great LOVE of fabric and mysticism. I am fascinated with the symbols of all cultures and what they have come to mean. So, I plan on hiding intriguing things throughout the paintings.

This is a big undertaking for me. It is the journey I have created for myself. It’s the path I’m choosing to take and I actually have the answers. Boy does that feel good!

WATERCOLOR – BACKYARD ANIMALS – GARDEN FLOWERS – FABRIC – MYSTICISM

My other hope is to put on my big-girl-pants and try selling this work online. Through Etsy or something. In the past, I haven’t felt “good enough” or “ready”. But it stops here. It’s time. And hopefully after all of this work I plan on doing, my art will be something I am proud of and ready to share.

I hope so. Because on a soul level, it will be the first time I feel like I’m sharing a real piece of –well, –me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Autumn is in full throttle.  I have been teaching, sketching, and painting away.  In the next week I will begin to share my more personal artwork, but in honor of Thanksgiving I thought I’d share this lesson plan from my watercolor class.

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I had some requests for painting pumpkins in my art class, so I devised a lesson that worked solely on glazing techniques.  If you read the tutorial it will walk you through the painting start to finish.

As I sit here, I am nibbling on a piece of pumpkin bread my neighbor gifted me.  It is a wonderful time of year to share such things.  I very much look forward to spending time with my family this Thursday and let’s face it, I can’t wait to eat :)

Enjoy the holiday. I hope you all find wonderful ways to make it your own.

Cheers! or as the Italians in my family say, Salute.

Compass School Commission

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For the last 5 years the principal of the Compass School has commissioned me to create a piece of art that celebrates the past year’s accomplishments.  The art piece is revealed at the school vision night and parents write new wishes or goals on the matting.  In this way, the artworks have become time-capsules.  We can see what we have envisioned and what has actually come true. Here are the past years:

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What’s kind of funny is the randomness of the things I am asked to incorporate in a painting.  Things that have been asked are could you combine a new garden, new farmer, a walking path, a soccer field, goats, sheep, a new basketball court, a family dance party and bank funding for a potential building?……   umm… I guess so?  Every year I have no idea how I am going to illustrate it, but somehow something comes out.

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This year the principal wanted to celebrate the completion of a new garden high tunnel, two calves named Fuzzy and Bulls-eye, a new soccer field, and the beginning of a new middle school that is being renovated from an old seed-mill.  This required incorporating, diggers and cement trucks which have become part of our everyday existence at the school.  I added a beautiful dahlia garden the 7th and 8th graders maintain and chickens.  The school always has chickens.  How could you not add the chickens?  Next is figuring out how to communicate these concepts when they are stretched out of acres of land?  This year I literally painted each idea separately , cut them out and then collaged them together.  I think each objects separateness, coming together, summed up the chaos of an elementary school!

So next year should be the unveiling of a new building, the new middle school.  This will be my son’s last year at the school, which in turn,  will be the last painting I contribute.

These artworks will be a nice legacy of the time spent at this school.

We can see how far we’ve grown literally and figuratively.

Reflections in Painting

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I found this lovely painting on  the internet and thought it a perfect lesson in painting water reflection.  You get two opportunities to practice water reflection.  One in the background and one in the foreground. So I made a tutorial of how to tackle this painting.

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As usual, my watercolor class nailed it.  I throw all sorts of things at them and they not only execute the concept, but they deliver it in their own beautiful way.  Here were some of the interpretations of the lesson:

CLASS PHOTOS

Ok. You’re turn. Now you give it a try!

Fantastic Foliage – a Watercolor

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If you are lucky enough to live in one of the leaf peeping regions, I’m sure you have been celebrating the stellar foliage. No two years are the same, but this year is noteworthy.  There are reds and hot-pinks I have not seen in years.  I find it difficult to make it to my mailbox without getting distracted!  In fact, because of this I collected up a bunch of leaves from my yard and brought them to the watercolor class I teach.

Here’s another cool thing:

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I needed a new phone and decided to transition from the I phone to the Motorola.  I have no regrets, in fact it’s the opposite.  I was able to purchase a Haselblad camera lens for my phone.  A real lens to add to my light-weight heavily accessible phone?  Yep. And I’m having a blast.  Here are some leaf photos I’ve taken with my new toy:

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I can’t get over the detail!

So here is to another autumn weekend.

You know where you’ll find me…  OUTSIDE!!!

 

Garden Days Are Here Again

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One of the final projects of my watercolor class I teach was home portraits.

I love doing home portraits because in looking back, they become little time capsules.

For instance, here is the portrait I did of the same house seven years ago:

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We had just moved in, the house was green, my kids were 5&7 yrs, we had our first cat Pina still with us and I had decided to do a little folk painting capturing all of the kid’s activities.

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Seven years later, I painted the house the color I wanted, created the gardens I envisioned, my kids are now teens, our new cat is Willow. Times have changed.  My plan is to keep the old paintings behind the new paintings in the frame.  This way seven years from now I can look back and reflect again.  I wish I had done a painting of my first house ten years before that, but I hadn’t thought of it!

I can’t talk about my home without instantly referring to my gardens.  My yard is small, the house is –a cape.  Not much out of the ordinary there. But my gardens are where I feel I have made my mark. It’s where I’ve turned my house into a home.

If your a gardener, you can’t help but take photos.  There’s so much going on in the garden! It’s almost like I need to look at it through photographs in order to process it all.  I also think that gardening is the largest inspiration in my artwork because it makes such an impact on my life. I absolutely love organic lines as well as the twists, turns and wiggles.  Gardens are like puzzles of perfect chaos.

So here is my inspiration for 2019. It has been a fantastic year for flowers.  I have moved every plant in my yard at least three times, but I am starting to feel like everything is now in it’s place.

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Back I go – into my gardens.

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