Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Class Schedule AND A NEW Tutorial!!

New Class Schedule Is Posted
I wanted to give y'all a heads up that the new 2015 Class Schedule is up over at ImaginaryTrips.com! We're going to new places, visiting some old place and there's something BRAND new as well. Come on over and check it out!

New Tutorial
I'm working on my next class project for Keeton's down in Bradenton, FL, where I do live classes and I decided to turn it into a tutorial. We'll be painting garden gloves on March 7th, so come and join the fun if you're close by!
Photo Reference
There is something about garden gloves, especially in Spring, that touch my creative spirit. Maybe because they're so…ordinary. Plain. Easily overlooked. 
Basic Line Drawing
I actually drew the gloves from life rather than using a photo and as you can see, my line drawing is very basic and slightly different from the photo reference. I've not added any detail except the knobby material with the dots that help me to get a better grip on things. I haven't indicated any shadows.

If you're new to drawing and journaling, you would be fine if you stopped here and started to add color.

 If you're adventurous…you might want to add a little more detail. I used broken line to indicate the stretchy texture of the cuffs of the gloves.

A note on lines…as humans, we like to see variety. Variety holds our interest longer and makes what we're looking at more intriguing. By using broken line, I allow the viewer to complete the lines with their own eyes.

I've also used the line to indicate the direction of the soft waviness of the fabric rather than just drawing straight lines.

By the way, notice the hole in the tip of the finger? I added that because I smeared the ink line at the top of the finger.

To "camouflage" the smear, I created the long string and the small hole.

This next step is optional. I've used Carbazole Violet and Ultramarine Blue to create an underpainting of the shadow shapes. While this step is not a requirement, but it's lots of fun!

The purples and blues will disappear as I paint the greens of the glove over it.

The reason for painting this layer is to begin to build in the shapes that give the gloves their soft shapes and to show dimension.

It also gives me a "shadow map," much like a road map, to know where I need to put my darker colors when I start to add local color.

If you opt to add this underpainting, make sure the layer is dry before add the next layer of paint!

Using Sap Green as the base, I added Azo Yellow to get the "spring green" and Ultramarine Blue to get a darker green for the shadows.

In some places I added the colors and let them mix on the paper and in other places, I added color that was mixed on the palette.

Notice the thumb areas that looked quite blue in the image above after the underpainting layer.

Once I added the darker paint, it made the thumb areas appear much lighter in value.

Values are relative to what is around them. In the image above the blues and purples were the darkest value. In the image to the left, the greens are the darker value which makes the blues and purples much lighter.

Again, this next layer is optional. I like to play in the dirt! Therefore, it only makes sense that my gloves would have dirt on them from a morning spent out in the garden, but I don't want dirty gloves in the house where I did the line drawing. Instead, I used my imagination to create the dirt on the gloves!

Using Carbazole Violet, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue, I daubed the colors together to give the appearance of dirt clumped on the fingers of the glove.

Next, I painted in a light cast shadow. You can see over near the thumb where I had a couple of bleeds because the paint wasn't totally dry.

If you decided to follow the tutorial, be sure to add your cast shadow before moving to the next step!

Once the dirt layer on the gloves was DRY, I added splotches of dirt around the gloves to give the impression that the dirt fell off when the gloves were dropped on the flat surface.

Note: If you try to add a cast shadow AFTER you put down the fallen sprinkles of dirt, it's quite possible you'll have a mess on your hands because the dirt color will lift and mix with your shadow color—we want dirt not mud!!

I've also gone back and added more splotches to the fingers of the glove as well as down into the cuffs and crevices of the gloves as the dirt would not be just on the fingers.

Next, I had to decide what, if anything, I wanted to say on the page. Once I had the words figured out, I looked the page over to decide how I wanted to arrange them on the page. I added pencil lines to give my guidelines for the lettering.

Since my right brain does not know how to spell, I wrote my letters out in pencil before coming back and inking them.
Final Page
Watercolor and Ink
I echoed the pattern in the gloves in the large G to tie the two pieces together. After all the paint was totally dry, I went back into the gloves and strengthened some of the line work to give the gloves more dimension.

At the very end of the project, I noted that I had once again smeared the ink in the word "dirt." Rather than trying to get the ink up, I opted to add "sprinkles of dirt" around the word to help camouflage the smear.

It is always fun to take the plain and ordinary and elevate it to something extraordinary!

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and if you decide to paint garden gloves, please leave a link in the comments so that I can see. I also hope to see you on an "Imaginary Visit or Trip!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spontaneously Happy and Totally Unexpected

Tribute to a fun day
Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook
Watercolor and ink
Valentine's Day has always been a minefield for dating couples or those who have just broken up or those who have just gotten together. Add that to the pressures of Madison Avenue to buy bigger, better, sparklier things and it becomes a hated holiday. And that pressure is also felt by those who are alone and would rather not be!

Chris and I don't ignore the holiday as we both feel it's nice to recognize each other, but nor do we get caught in the "Hallmark Trap" of trying to make it picture perfect with just the right card, gift and activities for the day.

As it turned out, this year's Day of Love came about as something a little more special than the usual with a surprise gift (for me, that I adore), a great movie (Kingman: The Secret Service), lunch with friends, discovery of a cool, new shop near the theater with some fun new finds for decorating our home!
Detail of journal page
They were giving out roses at the new store, so another surprise—two white roses. Not only have they opened, but Moby and her holy terror tactical team have left them alone! (UPDATE: I spoke to soon—we awoke this morning to find one of the roses visiting the floor.)

Lastly, we ended our outing at Ruby Tuesday's. We wanted to sit out on the patio because it was jam-packed inside and very, very noisy. After we were seated we heard others complaining about the 45-minute wait. Because we opted for the patio, which we had all to ourselves, we didn't wait at all!

That's when we remembered it was Valentine's Day. Oops. I assure you that had that little piece of info crossed either of our minds, we've gone home and rewarmed the leftover pizza.

Our waitress asked us how long we'd been together and of all the folks she'd served, we had been together the longest (22 years and counting).

I decided to put together a journal spread for the day and it became very busy, very quickly.

To help make the text flow…wait. Stop. Let me back up first.

The first thing I did was kind of a quick pencil layout where I wanted all the items. I then laid down a piece of the drywall patch* that I've seen used by others to help with the journaling.

I'm sad to say, it left a very nasty glue residue all over the page which would not be picked up by a kneaded eraser nor a plastic one. Grrrrrr!
Detail of the page
I decided to keep going, sans drywall patch, and just wing the journaling. To better help the text flow (which really had no flow), I decided to add the arrows in a different ink color.

I added the movie ticket, a logo from a bag from the new store and RT's logo to offset the art and journaling. It was a busy day and I kinda like that the page is busy as well.

After nearly completing the spread, I began to think of a few more things I wanted to capture and added them in yet another ink color.

A fabulous day all the way around!

I hope your Valentine's Day was a special treat as well.

*While the patch did not work out for me this time, I will try it again. If you want to give this a whirl, I STRONGLY suggest you adhere the patch to a piece of fabric (that you don't care about!) several times BEFORE you press it down to your page.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Some Days…I Am A Blooming Idiot

I truly wish studios came equipped with little guardians (maybe a daemon?) that were capable of body slamming and hog-tying us when we started to do something really stupid, but alas, they don't and I did.

It all started out harmlessly enough. I've continued to work in my Winter Interrupted sketchbook from the workshop a few weeks ago and I managed to paint the first sunset painting I've ever liked:
Our Last Sunset
Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook

And life was good.

Until I went into the kitchen and noticed a really cool texture on some new paper towels we had just bought that looked a lot like a beach towel-ish texture. Well, the brain synapse fired off—beach+sunset+beach towel=brilliant idea!

Yeah, except not so much.

I am FOREVER telling folks to experiment on another piece of paper first rather than commit to your artwork and risk being an unhappy camper. So I did and it kinda worked. I used a blue stamp pad on the paper towel and stamped it on tracing paper. It worked well enough that I decided to go for it.

It didn't work. My page was a much larger area and the towel was drying before I could get an imprint.

I should have just stopped. But oh, no. Nothing quite so brilliant crossed my mind.

(And I had no little guardian to say, "You are on the verge of a colossal mistake. Step away from the sketchbook and no one gets hurt.") 

Instead, I thought, "Hey, I have a stamp with a similar texture!"

Similar but not the same and apparently, the differences escaped my notice.

Our Last Sunset
Watercolor with stamping around image
Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook
And so I stamped it. Not bad, really, but NOTHING like I had in mind. The lines were too…straight and rigid. I wanted relaxed and flow-y. Meandering, maybe.

Annoyed with my results, I sulked for a while, trying to find a way to make the page work. Not too much later, a new thought struck!

In another moment of sheer brilliance, I decided to add gesso to the offending texture to "knock-back" the blue and hopefully obscure some of the lines.

Only, it didn't really work. (Grumble, grumble.)

So, this time, not in brilliance, but out of desperation, I decided to add some more color…blues, lavenders and grays.

(Do I at least get a point or two for persistence?)

And it sucked! I'm sure you are just as shocked as I was.

Thank goodness for gesso and baby wipes. I removed as much of the color as I could and in doing so managed to smear a bit of paint into the white border around the sketch. Oh, the horror!! I had to fix it!

(What do you mean, "Where's the photo?! I didn't want anyone to see that!)

In trying to fix the smeared paint, I touched the very dark paint and it BLED!

And then I had an even bigger mess.

("Arrrrgh, just shoot me now! Can you not see what you're doing, lass? Stop already before you've completely ruint the thing," pleads the imaginary guardian.)

But did I stop? No. I. Did. Not.

So in my final moment of staggering brilliance—you, in the back, stop with the eye-rolling and chuckles—I grabbed a couple of pieces of tape to use over the sketch so that the paint wouldn't run while I cleaned up the smear AND the bleeding.

And it didn't. The paint didn't run a bit.

But the paper tore and the paint lifted when I lifted the tape.

("For the love of Pete, woman, just...just stop!!" my little guardian would have been screaming at me.)

After repairing the smear, the bleed and the area where the paper tore and where the painted lifted, I was almost, but not quite, back to where I started.

In a quiet moment of admitted defeat, I decided to heed the advice of my make believe guardian and just journal on the page and call it finished before I did something I couldn't salvage.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the only true moment of brilliance I had through the whole, entire process.
The Final Sunset Page
(And if I had said guardian, at this point, his hair ripped out of his head, his voice hoarse from screaming, shoulders slumped, he would have tendered his resignation while muttering something about "bloody brilliant, my arse" as he trudged out the door.)

I think I'm in the market for a new imaginary guardian...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sometimes…Ya Gotta Go With What Works!!

Shoe Spoof from #WinterInterrupted
Stillman & Birn Zeta
Watercolor, Stamps, Ink
Is that color overload?! Yes? Good!! Mission accomplished.

While we were poking around in the shops of Pass-A-Grille Beach during Winter Interrupted, we happened upon a sign that said "Wild women wear outrageous shoes" that featured a pair of sky-high stilettos.

I seriously doubt my feet will ever see the inside of a pair of stilettos again, but the words still resonated with me because at the time, I was wearing those very shoes you see in the image. In fact, you can see them in the very first image in this post.

No one has to tell me they're ugly. I know it. No one has to tell me they're as comfortable as any shoes I've ever worn either. I usually wear them around the house or out in the yard. Just not in public. But here in Florida, well, let's just say you can wear just about anything at the beach and no one's going to so much as bat an eyelash.

But there's a reason—a very good reason I might add—why I opted to wear these outrageous shoes…back in the fall when we were in Maine, I slipped while climbing on a granite ledge below our cabin. It was slick with silt from the outgoing tide. I did quite the number on my knee and foot.

While they're mostly healed, my foot occasionally takes exception to overuse such as walking around all.day.long at the beach. When that happens, my foot swells and any other type of shoe becomes a torture device.

So, these were the shoes I wore all week long. Attractive? No! But they allowed me to continue to function through the week. Being raised on a strawberry farm as a teenager, I got over "looking cool" many long years ago. It was far more important to be practical and dress to be warm or cool, be able to move without binding or chafing, and to be able to stand on your feet for long periods of time.

There was simply no room for dressing cool for school. Besides, unlike at the beach, there was no one to see me on the farm and those that did weren't part of the school scene.

But I have to say, these shoes have one other feature that makes them perfect beach wear…they float and they dry in a hurry. Perfect for splashing in the water!

As for the color fest above, Florida beaches are nothing if not gaudy with all the bright colors and that was what I had in mind when I indulged in the neon colors! I gotta say, I kinda like it…it certainly chases away the gray days of winter.

Do you wear outrageous shoes?!