Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Setting up my studio--finally!

I spent this evening working on my studio. We moved into our house just a year ago. There is one room on the second floor that has a lot of built-in storage. It was originally a room for 2 children-boys we presume. There are 2 closets, 2 little built-in desks, and 2 built-in drawer units. In addition, between the two spaces where the beds were built in, there is another closet. I set my painting tables in one alcove and my mat cutting table in the other. There will be enough space to set up a couple of folding tables so that I can teach classes of 4-6 students. The problem has been that we needed to spend this first year putting a roof on the house, renovating the kitchen, and trying to figure out how to stop the water that was pouring into the basement every time it rained. My studio has been on hold. One of my big projects is "hoeing out" the surfaces and other stuff I really will never use. I have decided that I am concentrating on watercolor and Genesis oils and only doing acrylics when it is a project I love. That means getting rid of all the wood surfaces that can only be used with acrylics. What a job!!! I am really looking forward to being able to hold classes at home and also having a place to work comfortably. So, there was no painting or designing today. Just taking some time to varnish a couple of projects. Here is a Genesis piece that I will be teaching in April at a local retreat. The grapes are painted in grisaille (grey scale) and then glazed before the tints, highlights, and shadows are applied.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Finding Inspiration

Sometimes deciding what to paint can be a bigger problem than the actual painting. Sometimes, inspiration practically jumps up and slaps you in the face. One of my sisters collects elephants. Every Christmas involves an "elephant hunt". One year, I found some elephant napkin rings at Pier One. The napkin rings became the inspiration for painting matching napkins to complete the gift. If you look in the photo, you will see that the elephant on the napkin is the same as the elephant on the napkin ring. The napkins were painted using fabric paint so they are fully washable, and therefore, useable.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More unusual surfaces--some that worked, some that didn't

A little over a year ago, I was asked to paint some 100 cookies and then a wedding cake. I had not done such projects before, but I am relatively fearless about painting. I will try almost anything once. So, I went to the cafe and painted cookies. The cookies were all baked and had been frosted, so they were ready to go. The request was to paint rosebuds on them. They were to be for guests at a wedding. I used paste food coloring diluted with a little bit of water. It worked very well.

A week or so later, I got a call from the same cafe asking me to paint a cake. The cake was to have grapes and rosebuds on it and they were going to top it with bunches of grapes and some roses. This did not seem to be a difficult task, so off I went. This cake was covered with fondant and they gave me a piece of fondant to practice on so I could get a feel for it before starting on the cake. The cake turned out nicely. It had the look of a watercolor painting. The shop owner was pleased, and I went home. Because of the ingredients in the cake (there was buttercream under the fondant), it had to be refrgerated. When it came out of the fridge the next morning, the air immediately condensed on the cake and all of the painting ran. It was a disaster and they had to quickly do another cake with regular frosting decorations. I felt terrible. I have since learned that there is a company somewhere on the west coast that sells a painting kit for food. It is pretty expensive, but if I had to do such a project again, I would make that purchase. I would, of course, first ask if the product will stand up to refrigeration! We learn from our experiences, both good and bad.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another multi-use design

As I mentioned the other day, many times I develop a project in one medium and then decide to use the same design in a different medium. Here is another example. The original was drawn from a still life setup. Then I developed it as a watercolor to teach in a 9x12 format. Finally, I redeveloped the piece as a 2.5"x3.5" Genesis piece. The miniature was juried into the Miniature Show in Chambersburg, PA, in November. I was obviously very pleased with the result.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Interesting surfaces

I have often said that I will paint on anything that doesn't move, so don't stand still for too long! Most of the time my paintings are on very traditional surfaces: watercolor on paper, Genesis heat-set oils on gesso board or canvas, acrylics on wood. Occasionally it is fun to paint on more unique surfaces. Sometimes this involves the use of specialized paints: enamels for glass or fabric paints. Sometimes, though, it is simply a matter of using regular paints on an unusual surface. A fun project is to paint your own luggage tags. You can use regular acrylic paints like DecoArt Americana and paint on the leather luggage tags that come 2 to a package for about $2.49. You do not need to prep the surface, just paint. It is not even necessary to put any sort of varnish or protective finish over the completed painting. You will have a unique luggage tag that will help you identify your luggage in the sea of identical suitcases in which it floats. I painted a number of tags for our own luggage several years ago. These tags have been on planes, been dragged around in the car, stored in the closet. They stay on our luggage all the time. They look as good today as when I painted them. The purple cone flowers are on the front and the back of a tag. The sunflower design shows only the back.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Multi-use designs

Sometimes I find that a design may work well in several different mediums. The very first project I ever developed was a watercolor painting of an old enamel teapot and lemons. It started as a project for a drawing lesson. My teacher had an old enamel teapot and set it up as a still life with a couple of lemons--a very simple set up. I decided to paint it in watercolors. Several years later, when I began to paint with Genesis Heat-set oils, I used the same design. The original was a 9x12 watercolor. The Genesis piece is 4x6. I have taught both the watercolor and Genesis versions of this design several times. Now, I am thinking about using this same design in a watercolor batik technique that I learned from Kathie George. I have gotten a lot of mileage out of this design.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More clocks

Today I am thinking about clocks. My decorative painting club is sponsoring a workshop with Prudy Vannier in March and as the Seminar Chair, I am responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly. One of her projects is a large wall clock with a Christmas theme. I have 4 boxes of wood clocks in my foyer and living room right now waiting to be distributed to students on Sunday so they can do the preliminary preparation before the seminar. I have painted a number of clocks. Most of them are small table clocks. One of the most fun is to use an old CD. When you are going to paint on a CD, it is important to first sand the surface to scuff it up so that the paint will adhere. Then, you need to basecoat it with your background color. At this point, you will have a paintable surface and can paint any design you wish. When the painting is finished, apply several coats of a good varnish and then assemble your clock. You will need a clock works with a short shaft and you will need to find a large flat washer to cover the hole in the CD so that it is small enough to install the clock works. When you are designing a clock project for a CD, you need to make sure your design is off-center so that the clock works do not come up right in the middle of your painting. Here are a couple of examples. The apples are a class that I taught as a Make-It-Take-It and the penguins were a gift for a friend to add to her penguin collection. Small clocks like this make wonderful gifts. Something to think about when Christmas gift exchange season comes around. (or birthdays, or whatever)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Weather is warming. I spring on the way??

Today was such a treat. After weeks of temperatures that never even reached 20-degrees with snow every day, today was sunny and WARM--it got up to 46-degrees!! WooHoo. Still working on "haftas" but by the end of this week I hope to be able to move on to "wantas". Here is a little something you can do with an old CD or one of those CDs that you get in the mail or in magazines. Would this not make a great gift?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy President's Day

I taught the first of the classes for the seniors today. They loved the little project and the director was pleased that it was something that everyone could do. She said they were a little worried when they found out that I was going to do watercolor. It is always fun to see how 12 different people can take the same 4 colors with the same instructions and get completely different results and all of them equally wonderful in their own way. I have not been working on anything new for a couple of days--just trying to finish up unfinished things. But here is a photo of a watercolor I hope you will enjoy. This was painted from a photo my husband took in the park in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, a few years ago. The sleigh was just parked against a tree at the edge of the park.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do I sell my work?

A couple of days ago, someone asked if I sell my work or take orders for custom work. The answer is yess to both questions. I have my work on exhibit in a couple of local galleries and during Christmas I had some ornaments in a gift shop in Washington state. I particularly like doing custom projects. I have an etsy shop that needs to be updated before I publish the address again and soon I will add a folder to my picturetrail site for items that are for sale. In the meantime, here are a couple of custom projects that I did for Christmas 2006. The first photo is a silver spoon painted with an Orca. This was requested by a gift shop customer. The second 2 projects are painted on wooden picture frames. I thought the first one was a bit dark and I wasn't sure my customer would like it, so I did it again. He was so happy, he bought them both. His wife was thrilled when she received them for Christmas.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Class for Seniors

I have beeen asked to participate in a series of classes at Senior Centers and homes starting next week. This program is called a Taste of the Arts and is sponsored by the Meadville Arts Council in Meadville, PA. There are a total of 8 locations. I will visit a different location each week for 8 weeks and hold a 1-hour class. Here is the project I've designed for these classes. It is a little 4x6 watercolor. I will put the design on the paper with masking fluid prior to the class. The seniors will be given paint, water, and a brush. We will talk about creating puddles of color to paint from and they will be instructed to put whatever colors they wish on the paper so that the whole sheet of paper is covered. Once the papre is dry, they will remove the masking fluid to reveal the painting. I will mount this on top of a piece of mat board rather than cutting mat openings. I am told there will be between 20 and 25 participants each week. I hope they will enjoy the project.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The box is done!

I finished the box. I think it really looks like a Shaker box. Who would believe it is just papier mache? I have painted the inside of the lid and need to get some fabric to line the box itself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Box top is finished, I think

I spent today working on the quilt design. I think it is finished. I'll have to look at it again later to see if I need to make adjustments. Now I have to finish the sides and inside of the box. I think making it look like a Shaker box will finish it off nicely. I'm going to paint the inside of the lid and maybe line the box itself with fabric.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Progress on my box

I worked some more on my box today. It is finally looking like something. I can see where the project is going and when the final shadows are put on, it should be quite impressive. Some of the quilt squares are painted using lace fabric as a stencil. There is still a lot of first stage work to do: the tape measurer, spools of thread, bobbins, thimble, cookie. And then there is a little tweaking before the last shadows and "ooo-ahs" are put in. I am planning to paint the sides of the box so that it looks like a shaker box.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Starting a new project

Today I started working on a papier mache box for the Town and Country Decorative Painters. TCDP holds a retreat each year in April. This year the theme is "Patchwork Painters, Piecing Friendships Together Through Painting". The last event of the retreat is a banquet and one of the door prizes is the table centerpieces. This year, the centerpieces are large papier mache boxes decorated by members. I am painting a design by Connie Parkinson on my box--I could have designed my own, but we are bringing Connie in to do a workshop in September and I wanted to try out one of her designs. Her designs are exquisite and she uses oil techniques with acrylic paints. Here is my progress so far.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A winter painting

We have had snow just about every day in western Pennsyvania for weeks. It is cold and miserable. Even the dog doesn't want to go outside. We don't even have any birds visiting out birdfeeders--we think they all decided it is too cold to stay here. Our only wildlife visitors are a group of 4 deer who come down into town several evenings a week to forage. I am in my whiney winter phase right now and looking forward to a bit of warming that must come soon. Here is a watercolor of chickadees on a suet feeder in a snowstorm. It makes the dreary winters days seem a little more cheerful.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Miniature Paintings

I have been busy this week doing everything but painting. But while I've been doing what needs to be done, I've been thinking about new projects to start. There are a lot of show and conventions deadlines coming up and much to be gotten ready. One of the things I most like to paint are miniature or very small format paintings. This one is one of my very favorite paintings. It is 3.5x4.75 before the mat and frame. The work is called Williamsburg Bottles. It was developed using a photograph that my husband took in one of the historic homes in Colonial Williamsburg.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Retreat Report

I'm back from Ohio. The Buckeye Tole Painters retreat was a pleasure. I had small classes for both of my projects, but everyone was happy with their results and that is what counts. I had an opportunity to meet some new friends and build some new painting partnerships. The trip was well worthwhile. I had taken an extra, tiny project for the watercolor class just in case we finished the published project early. It turned out to be a very good thing because there were no electrical outlets in the classroom so we could not use hairdryers to move our piece along. Instead of sitting around waiting for paint to dry, we worked on the second little fun project in between steps on the big project. Here is the Simple Sheep project that we did as an extra freebie. The sheep were created by applying masking fluid to the paper using a small piece of cellulose (kitchen) sponge. Then the sky, grass, and brick wall were painted in before removing the mask and finishing the sheep. It was a fun little project.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it's off to Ohio I go

Today I am busy packing up to go to Ohio where I will teach two classes at the Buckeye Tole Painters annual mini-retreat. Packing for a retreat or convention is always a challenge. You not only have to pack your clothes, but you have to pack everything you need to paint. If you are teaching, it means making sure you have all your surfaces, pattern packets, paints, and miscellaneous items for students in addition to what you need to paint. I will be teaching a watercolor class Friday evening--a piece call Hometown Holiday, our Courthouse tower during one of our holiday celebrations with fireworks. Saturday afternoon, I'm teaching an acrylic class on a wooden pictureframe. I call the design Going Fishing.