Sunday, May 31, 2009

Daily Practice - Hawk's Feather?

I'm back and almost as good as new! I finally managed to get a brush in my hand today and keep it there and it feels so good! As always, Nature gifted me with a treasure on my recent walk outside. I found this cute little feather while I was strolling around about dusk. It was the first time I'd been out of the house since Monday! I am not at all sure that it's a hawk's feather, but Chris and I both thought it was independently before we discussed it. Maybe not a hawk, but we do know it's not from the usual suspects.  

This is done from life in my nature sketchbook. It is watercolor. I'm not sure how long it took as I was too busy enjoying getting to paint to notice the time passing. I'm seriously guilty of taking my health for granted until something goes awry. I did a long post in my gratitude journal about what it meant to be healthy, for me, in my current life. I remember my grandmother saying "To be rich is to have nothing. To be healthy is to have everything." At the time I didn't understand. You can bet I do now!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected

Or in my case, getting blindsided by it. My apologies for not being around this week and for the lack of posts. I have been savagely attacked by either a severe case of the stomach flu or food poisoning, though I fail to see much difference. I am not yet feeling like myself, but maybe by tomorrow, I'll be back to painting and posting. Until then . . . .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Perseverance is so necessary . . . .

. . . . to be an artist! I've lost count of the times I've drawn and redrawn Miss Sammy Jo. Here is the next to the last version I am now working on. 
I am working from a refined sketch of this sketch tonight. I have changed the context of the main image and have updated her to know fit within this new context. Her eyes still need some adjusting as do some other items, but I thought I'd go ahead and post and see what everyone's take is on this little lady. Thanks for your help!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Take Two!

Thank you for all of your comments in the prior post on the little girl. You all did a great job and gave me much to think about. Once again, I'm asking you to take a look at this little girl, Sammy Jo, and tell me what you think. Nitpick! I am getting closer to what I want to put into the final painting. Again, does she look "real" as she is fabricated? Does she look like a little girl playing on the beach? What would you change, if anything?

After reading through your earlier comments, I realized that no little girl with the courage to pick up something icky on the beach is going to be caught dead wearing pink (I wouldn't have at that age!) and I also wanted her to be a little older than a toddler but probably not more than five. Hence the change of clothes (she has boys to keep ahead of) and the coloring of her shirt will probably be a bright acid green.

Tell me what you think! And thanks in advance - you all are the best!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making Mistakes

I'm busy painting mistakes as fast as I can and I'm getting better with every one! At the moment I don't really have anything to share art wise. Perhaps tomorrow. What prompted this post was a recent (yesterday) conversation with someone who asked, "Does it bother you to post your mistakes on your blog?" To which my immediate response was "Nope! Means I'm learning!"

This individual has a fear of making mistakes. They wished they had a different attitude towards making mistakes and the following points are what came out of our conversation. I share it with you in the hopes that this might help anyone else who is suffering from a fear of mistakes.

If we not making mistakes, we're not learning! How did we learn to walk? By falling down and getting back up, and we did it with a grin on our face because there was somebody cheering us on. So what happened? We grew up and some where along the way we lost the grin. If you're not making mistakes, it means you're not taking chances. You're playing it safe. You're not growing. Comfort zones are wonderful places until they become a trap. 

In our society, we count the cost of mistakes, but not their value! How do we learn? By making mistakes. But when we make a mistake we focus on the time and materials wasted and NOT on what we learned! How else could we have learned it - through years of getting it right?

Every time I put the brush/pencil/crayon down on the paper I know I could fail. So what? No one's going to get hurt, nothing horrible (like the Earth might stop spinning) is going to happen and everyone will still love me. So I wasted some paper, some time and a little paint. What did I learn?  

Well, I could say I learned not to do something a certain way. But what else did I learn? It takes looking close to see what other lessons are there to be learned. I've found some really cool effects by making mistakes:
  • I've got an awesome background in one painting because I scrubbed it out so many times that I got a great texture. Would I have liked to have gotten it right the first time? Of course, but I've used that texture since and it won me a ribbon in a recent show!
  • I've found some really cool color combinations because I wasn't paying attention to where I put my brush on the palette. That taught me to pay more attention to what I'm doing and I also learned that some times an unusual color can really make a painting sing!
  • I've had the occasional "drop the loaded brush in the middle of the nearly finished painting" experience too. It is simply amazing how creative I can get when I have to find a way to cover up a stain so that I don't lose a painting!
Does it do any good to kick and scream and whine and cuss and tear out our hair when we make a mistake? No, though it can be mighty entertaining (at times) to others in the near vicinity! Rather than nash teeth, why not take a closer look and see what else there is to learn? Embrace the mistake and know that you're learning! Try to find ways the mistakes can make us stronger and better as artists. All things happen for a reason. It's up to us to figure out why . . . 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Help Needed

This little girl is "manufactured" so to say. In other words, she doesn't exist except in my imagination and I need your help - I need you to look her over and tell me if she looks like a little girl you would see on the beach or if there is something "off" about her. In the sketch above, these are both the same little girl but I am most interested in the one on the right. PLEASE nitpick! I need to make sure this is as good as I can make it. 

In case you're wondering this sketch is just a practice sketch and it will be refined for the actual painting.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where does the time go?

Here it is the end of the day on Monday and I still don't have any art to post! I've been fighting it out with a competition painting as I write this and at the moment, I'm not winning. Don't you hate that? When a painting gets the best of you? Arrrgh! Which means I'll probably have to start over. Sigh. That's not good, but what else am I gonna do?! It's for a competition painting for pete's sake! And I think, no, scratch that, I know that's part of the problem - I'm trying too hard. 

I've also had a lot of activities that have taken me out of the studio, and I've been putting in a lot of computer time lately working on some projects that I'm hoping will come to fruition in the fall. All this to say I haven't been making any art - that I can share. I'm hoping by mid-week that the onslaught of computer stuff will let up and I can go and sketch a bit so that I'll have something to post. 

Once again, the balance thing with keeping all the balls, some tea cups, and a couple of plates up in the air at the same time while you balance on one foot while chanting the a-b-c's as you kick a soccer ball with the foot up in the air, you know, that balance thing . . . . it's still eluding me. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On-line Classes

I hope everyone has had or is having a fabulous weekend! I am seriously considering taking an online art class this summer. There seems to be quite a few classes out there and I'm hoping to hear from some folks with hands-on experience as to what the classes are or were like. So, I am reaching out to everyone in the blogsphere for info and help on choosing a class. Could you please tell me: 

a) have you taken a class and what was the format (video, pdf, tutorials, etc.)
b) did you like it and why OR did you NOT like it and why
c) would you take another class and what would it be?

I'm hoping you can help and I thank you in advance for your time and input!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Woohoo! It's Finally Finished!!!

Strangers Among Us?
Detail from Original Watercolor Painting 
by Laure Ferlita, © 2009 All RIghts Reserved

This painting has been ever so patiently sitting in my studio for nearly 8 months waiting for me to finish it! It is nearly unheard of for me to go back to a painting once I've abandoned it. It just doesn't usually work out well. For one thing, being the goofus that I tend to be, I totally did NOT write down any of the pigments I used in this. I had one of the white pumpkins nearly finished and they other (which you can see in the post below) was nearly untouched. This is the one area where it would show the most if I didn't use the same/right colors. So, there's the first lesson - do a chart of the colors I use in a painting. 

The other thing I've learned - again - from this painting in particular is not to get into the details too soon. Recently, I've been trying a new approach to my painting and that is to paint standing up so that it makes it difficult to paint the details in the first place. This allows me to get the shapes in first, then go back and add as little detail as possible to get my message across. I've also been finding that it sometimes (usually) helps to limit the amount of detail in an image, and being the detail-hound that I am, I want to put it ALL in! 

The last thing I've learned is to be BOLD on the first brushstroke to the last - even if it's wrong. Get in, get it down (right preferably) and get out! I was rather timid with the color on this and I lost track of all the layers it took to build up the depth and heft of those pumpkins - especially on those white pumpkins. But I can tell you this, when I painted the second white pumpkin, it didn't take me nearly as long as it did on the first one. I had to do some fudging to get my colors to align on both white pumpkins, but it worked. 

Being timid nearly cost me this painting. It simply took too long and I got over it looooooong before I finished the painting! Not optimal, but I'm learning! Every single time I put that brush to the paper, I'm learning and that makes me happy!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Conceding to the Will of Mother Nature

Mother Nature stepped in and turned the lights out for over an hour. It's still storming and with the storms is coming much needed rain. This isn't a complaint so much as an explanation. Now that the power is back up, I've tried relinking to my documents for the post I was working on and I've got a corrupted file somewhere. 

Think it's time for me to heed Mother Nature's will and sign off and maybe go to bed early tonight. Or maybe I'll try reading. Haven't done that in a while. We'll try again tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Strangers Among Us
© Laure Ferlita
2009 All Rights Reserved

The image above is a portion of a larger painting I've been working on that may turn out to be a competition painting. It is not complete (as I hope you can tell). The white pumpkin still needs a lot of work and the shadows still need to be painted in. There is a companion piece that goes with this that I've not started yet. They are both long horizontal layouts. I want to get them finished as they've been hanging around way too long. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Daily Practice - Another Take on Little Miss Priss

Here is the last portrait of Little Miss Priss. I think this one turned out better - in some ways - than the one below. I also like parts of the other one better. You just never know how these things are going to turn out. Am I overjoyed with either one? Ummm, no, but you knew that. I can (and will) do a far better job on the next portrait. Again, so glad her mother will not be seeing this. 

On a totally different note, I found out today that I was awarded a Merit Award for "Cherries in Crystal"! There was a very unfortunate breakdown in communications and I was not notified of the award - I read about it in the paper, so, I'm sure you can imagine my surprise! If you would like to see the artwork, you can click on this link. Now that the excitement has worn off, it's back to the studio. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's Not Only Kids That Make Messes!

Or maybe "How NOT to Paint A Baby's Portrait" would have been better! There are so many things that did not go right in this that there are too many to list. I'm going to have to paint her again since I've made such a mess. And I am so glad her mother will never see this. Gaaaaaa!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Two Babies and A Show

Here is Little Miss Priss. This is the baby portrait that I started a few days back BEFORE I was waylaid by the Twilight Zone and a snake. I probably shouldn't be showing this portrait at this stage as she's really ugly with no eyelashes and hair. A lot of this is direct painting and is not quite right as I have some areas that are off. Rather than trying to correct it, I started over. The jury is out as to whether I will attempt to finish this - flaws and all.

Below is my second attempt on Baby and this is actually more closely related to the way I normally paint than the methods I used above. She still has an alien look and the shadow on her forehead looks more like a bruise. I'm going to put some time in on her tomorrow, and if we're not heading in a direction I like, she'll be seeing the inside of a drawer for a while. I don't find a whole lot of value in continuing to beat a dead horse. Or in this case, a dead portrait.
I have mentioned to some of you in email or on Facebook or in a prior post that I was entering a local show here. I went to a two hour critique today, given by the judge on the pieces in the show. I had two out of three pieces juried into the show. My award, I'm hoping, is to be found in her critique and insight into my work. She had some interesting feedback for me. 

I'm still absorbing all that she had to say (and it was a lot) and then I'll see what bubbles up to the top and will then take those suggestions and experiment with them. Entering and/or judging shows is always a difficult thing in that you're subjected to just one person's opinion. I enter shows with an attitude of "what can I learn?" and I do believe there is something to be learned from each experience.

I see a few more mountains ahead of me, and a couple of sheer rock faces as well, but then I always did like a challenge.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Twilight Zone

Which one of you nominated my life for an episode of The Twilight Zone and forgot to tell me I'd won?!! It seemed like an ordinary day to begin with . . . . did my time on the Beast (exercise equipment), went to take a shower and there on the floor of the shower is a snake. In. My. Shower. Luckily, he was already dead. Otherwise, I'm not sure which one of us might have died first. 

Chris had just left for work so I called him and asked if he knew there was a dead snake in the bottom of our shower. He replies, "Our shower?" Then a long pause. "Do I need to come back home?"

"No," I replied, "s/he's already dead. What do I do with a dead snake?" (Our shower? Like who else's shower would I be talking about?)

"Just put him outside" says the husband, in his truck, on his way to work, to his wife, who was just about to step into the shower. Not optimal. What to do?
I fished him out of the shower with a tissue and put him in the sink. I figured if he was gone after I got out the shower, I'd have a heart attack then. 

Half hoping it would be gone, half scared it wouldn't be there, I looked in the sink after showering, the snake was still there. Now what? After looking at him rather closely and admiring his coloring and scale pattern, I decided to do what any artist worth her salt would do - I painted him. 
Northern Ringneck Snake
Painted in my Nature Sketchbook
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
After painting him, I decided I probably needed to find out what kind of snake he was and whether he was poisonous. Hey, stop shaking your head! Better late than never. Beside he was dead, remember? Turns out he is a Northern Ringneck Snake and they like damp, moist places. Guess the shower was more than he bargained for though. We think he probably drowned last night when Chris took his shower. 

Which brought up another thought. What do you think my chances of getting out of a shower alive when/if a live snake crawled out of the drain during said shower?!!!! When I posed this thought to my dear, sweet, darling husband, he replied, "Stomp it."

"STOMP IT? With my bare feeeeeeeeeet?!!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sometimes It Works . . . .

. . . . and sometimes it doesn't! I started a portrait of a baby tonight as my daily practice. It was a bad choice and I knew it before I ever made the first pencil mark, let alone brush stroke, but if I don't get out of those comfort zones . . . . 

I've been running around ALL day, which is rare for me these days. I went back to the blueberry farm - more photos and art to be posted soon - and was able to take some really nice photos in the early morning light. Then to the eye doctor, then to the frame shop to pick up some newly-framed pieces of art. Back home to pick up another piece of art (already framed) that I forgot, and then on to the art show to enter them!

Let's just say the day did not run smoothly and things took much longer than expected. However, all's well that ends well. I finally found the gallery (Google Maps put the gallery in a lake), entered my pieces, and returned home not much worse for the wear. My kind husband even took me out for dinner after he came in from work! (He's a sweetie!)  

So starting a baby portrait was not a good decision. Since I have not done a real portrait in a couple of years, I probably should have chosen a) something/someone easier b) to not start it when I was tired c) started it when I had more time and d) planned to take my time with it. I haven't decided if I will just scratch this one and start over or go ahead and try to finish it. Either way, there should be a baby portrait on the blog at some point tomorrow.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Blueberries in my Nature Sketchbook
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved

In my artistic life, serendipity has a lot of presence. What do I mean? I mean I'm open to allowing things to happen that aren't planned for or even expected. Saturday, Chris and I went to lunch and then headed over to another part of town to check out an art show. On our way there, we passed a "u-pick" blueberry farm! By the time we realized what it was we were well past it, nor did we get a look at their sign to see what days and hours they were open.

No problem, we decided that after we left the art show, we would swing back by. As it turned out they had been open on Friday and they were open on Saturday with no further days listed. We decided to turn in. Was it in our plans? No. Were we prepared? No, not really. We went anyway. Well, it's a small world and Chris knew the woman that was running the farm! We had a very nice visit as well as the opportunity to take all the photos I could possibly want! Yippee!

I took a ton of photos, got ant bit (I was wearing sandals) and sunburnt (I was wearing a tank top), and I had a ball! In talking with the nice folks, I found out they would be open again on Tuesday, after the berries had a chance to ripen up again. Guess where I'll be Tuesday morning with my sketchbook and camera? This is serendipity!

The painting above was done in my sketchbook. I started it last night at about 9:30 and things went south. Since I was tired and had a list of other things to do, I stopped and started again this afternoon. For a sketch it's fine, but I'm thinking of doing a finished painting with blueberries in crystal to go with the cherries I've done.

P.S. We bought a pint of fresh berries already picked and brought them home and baked them in a cake -yum!!!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Daily Practice - Broken Bird Egg

Broken Bird Egg Shell
Nature Sketchbook

Nature almost always hands me a treasure if I have my eyes open when I am outside. And some of Nature's lessons are hard. Spring is the time of new nests, and courting, and nestlings. But sometimes, there's a dark note that we don't often see. When my husband and I were outside this evening, we came across this broken bird's egg. It still had some of the yoke inside so I don't believe this little one made it. It most likely was a predator's snack. 

Still, there is beauty in the shell itself. It is so very fragile, seeming to give way under the lightest touch, yet it doesn't. The outside coloring is a very pale blue-green with sienna and umber brown spots. The inside is a paler shade of the blue-green without spots. When we found the shell the ants were feasting on what was left of the yoke. Nature at her finest, continuing her work, wasting nothing.

This was drawn and painted from life and took about 17 minutes from sketch to the last touch of paint. Perhaps this little one didn't make it, but it will be remembered in my sketchbook. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

Wren in Watercolor • Nature Sketchbook
by Laure Ferlita • © 2009 All Rights Reserved

Another month gone! April was a particularly good month for me and May is shaping up to be great as well! I do love progress and I've seen quite a bit in the last month to six weeks. For some reason, I go on a walkabout and forget to use my day organizer/calendar/goals minder. Every time I do, production goes way down, things start falling through the cracks, and I get overwhelmed. This month I've had my day organizer and my list of tasks and I've stayed on track! Yay!

I am calling the "cutest little wren you've even seen" complete for now. I chickened out on the experimental idea, but haven't totally abandoned the idea. This always happens when I have a painting turn out better than expected - I stop before "I mess it up." Would I mess it up? Dunno. Not gonna find out either!

I signed up for Apple's one-on-one classes today. I've been a Mac user since the early 90's but there is so much more to these machines than meets the eye, and in just the 20 minutes I was in the store, I learned several things. I think it will be money well spent helping me to harness the power of technology in general, and my computer in specific!

I finished out the month of April with 30 little boxes on my Creativity Log painted in! Woohoo! Thirty straight days of doing something creative and most of that drawing or painting. I am now two months up of straight creativity. We'll see how long the streak will last!

Now with the wren finished, I'm off to go and find my next painting. I'm thinking flowers, but my muse is probably thinking something else. I've had a couple of visions of rusty stuff float by a time or two, so it may be time to do a painting of something rusty. Maybe flowers in a rusty can. And a bird. And what about a butterfly. Or a dragonfly . . . . .

A Kreativ Blogger Award!

Yippee Skippee! It is my lucky day as the lovely Ms. Susie of 1st Floor Flat has graced me with the Kreativ Blogger award! Susie has three wonderful blogs, and you'll find a really cool giveaway on one of them of a set of stamps that Susie has created! All you need to do is leave her a comment to enter and win!

The usual rules go with this lovely award: Link to the person who gave you the award, tell the world 7 things you love and share the award with 7 other bloggers. So, here we go . . . 

I love . . . . Barnies' Santa's White Christmas coffee • coconut anything • blogging • getting to create my life everyday • all the really neat people I've been meeting as a result of blogging • fresh veggies from the garden • my lime green crocs • and getting bloggy awards!!!

Now, I don't usually pass this awards out, but I think I really need to as I have discovered some wonderful blogs lately . . . .

Vickie of Vickie Henderson Art She has some hawks that have a nest near her home and she's just been able to see a fuzzy white head! She also does some fabulous art!

Andrea of Colouring Outside the Lines is a fine artist and photographer! She has some very gorgeous bird art that she has just recently completed.

Krista of Hope in Every Day is a wonderful artist and is taking a class with Alyson Stanfield on Blog Triage.

Gabrielle of Selling My Soul is another fine artist and she's sure to tickle your funny bone with her witty "About Me" section.

Gwen of Gwen's Daily Painting is an artist reaching out and trying new things on a regular basis. She's just recently tackled painting glass in oils.

Julie of Wabi Brook Studio is always featuring different types of work on her blog - her own as well as other artists. She has a very diversified background and I think it really shows in her work.

Kim of Kim Bennett's Studio is another fascinating artist that examines the process as well as the result.  

I hope that you will check out Susie's blogs as well as the others listed here as these are all great artists with something to share - thanks again Susie!!!