Sunday, August 31, 2008

An Apology

I have to make an apology. I didn't do what I said I was going to do. Actually, I didn't do a couple of things that I said I was going to do. I said I was going do a painting for the Virtual Sketch Date this month. It didn't get done. I also said before that that I was going to post sample sketches of a project that I am working on, that has never happened either.

All I can say is that the real world has intruded into my art for a while and I simply have not had time to do anything. I apologize.

With any luck, I will get several things squared away this week and be back to making regular posts.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birch Dryad

Ok, so I went ahead and did another one today. This one I like so much better. But, I had a major screw up that I couldn't fix. As a result the dryad turned out way too dark. She almost looks evil. So, the two major lessons that I have learned from the last two paintings:

  1. I do lots better when I work with small details at a time instead of large washes to cover large areas.
  2. I really don't like trying to reproduce someone else's work.
So what does that mean? It means my next watercolor piece is going to have lots of small details that I am going to work on and it is going to be an original, not copied. Oh, and I plan to do a WIP of it. So keep an eye out. I will try to post something tomorrow with at least some bits of pieces of ideas that I have for it.

Well, here it is, the Birch Dryad. This is another one of the lessons from the book that I mentioned in a previous post.


Well, here it is. Lots of things wrong with this thing. Way too many to even begin discussing. Let's just say that I learned a lot from this one just like I learned from the last one.

Like I said in the last post, this is not an original. This was a lesson in a book, so I can not take credit for the composition or concept, only the execution.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Next watercolor

This is the initial sketch of the next watercolor that I am going to attempt. I can not take credit for the idea or composition. This is from the Dreamscapes book that I was talking about the other day. This is one of the lessons. I don't know if I will be able to work on this tomorrow or not, likely it will have to be this weekend.

With any luck, I heave learned enough from my mistakes in the last couple of watercolors that I can actually make this one come out looking nice. At least, I am going to give it my best shot. I will let you all know as soon as I get it finished.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tree trunks in the park

Kylie and I rode our bicycles to the park this afternoon. Our goal was to take art supplies with us and draw whatever flowers were found there. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived at the park and there was not a single flower to be found....anywhere!

But as I was looking around I noticed that the trees had incredible character. Not the boughs of the trees, but the trunks! They were wonderful. So, I got out my sketch book and pencil and started drawing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am starting to get into drawing and painting images set in the faerie realm. This tree will make excellent references for when I really get to working in that genre. Just looking at these tree trunks I can see dryads peaking from around the back or gnomes leaning up against the base.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I know that I said I was going to post a comparison of the cheap watercolors to the new ones that I bought over the weekend. But my artistic direction was taking me elsewhere.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to by myself a birthday present. It was a book on watercolor fairies called Dreamscapes: Creating Magical Angel, Faery & Mermaid Worlds In Watercolor. Here is a link to the Amazon page for it.

Well, the book as some wonderful projects and they start out rather small and move up in detail quickly. I decided to start basically at the first real project. It was to create a glowing pixie. After a bit of trial and error I came up with something I like well enough. It isn't as perfect as I would have liked, but I have learned a great deal during the process. So, here it is, for better or worse.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Another watercolor experiment

Ok, I have made the decision to get good quality paints. I am using really cheap grade tube paints right now. And I do mean cheap. I do not like the way things have been going with these paints. So, I figure it is either me, or the paints. If I get new paints and I still have the same issues then I will know it is me. But if it solves my issues it will be well worth the money spent.

Here is a cropping from the painting I did today. I actually like this cropping a quite a bit, so the painting was not a loss.

After I get the new paints I am going to try this painting again. When I do, I will show you the full painting both with the old paints and with the new. When you see it you will understand why I didn't like the full thing.

Memories From Behind the Iron Curtain

As many of you know, Kylie and I live in a motorhome and we travel the country. We have been doing this full time for a little over 4 years now. Two winters ago we were in a campground in central Florida called Lake in the Forest. It is a wonderful campground that is a perfect getaway from the chaos of life. It is right in the middle of the Ocala National Forest, it is connected to a small lake and just about everything you could enjoy naturewise is there. Great place for artists, by the way. If you get a chance, you should check it out.

The owners of the camp ground are Bob and Debbie. Debbie's mother lives in a permanent house of the campground and is an absolute joy to visit with. After we had been there for a while she discovered that we were artists and writers, so she asked us to help her out on a couple of children's book projects that she was working on. Then she asked to do something very special :-D

She was eleven years old in northern Poland when the German's invaded in September of 1939. That invasion did not affect her family very much accept for the fact that her father and uncles were drafted into the war and were forced to leave the family. A few years later, however, the Russian's were pushing the German front line back through Poland. Both armies were destroying everything in site and few people survived the wake. The small town that she and her family lived in was right in the way and they were forced to evacuate.

In the dead of winter in northern Poland a mother and her children climbed into a horse drawn wagon and escaped to live in the streets, running from the war. Often, the war caught up with them and they were actually running down streets while soldiers were falling and dying beside them.

What she asked us to do that was so special was to write and illustrate her story for her. The more we worked on the project the more I realized that her story was a German Little House on the Prairie story. So I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and studied the art in them. The end result was self published through a year ago. It is called Memories From Behind the Iron Curtain. You can read the first chapter here if you like.

The reason that I am discussing this on my art blog is that this is an example of opportunity. Every where you go there are opportunities for art. Every person you meet has an incredible story. Listen to them, they will inspire you.

Here are a few of the drawings that I did for the book. I was inspired by the art if Little House on the Prairie and mimicked the style of that artist.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Another experiment - this time, watercolor

I just read a post by Rose Welty about the Importance of Failure. She is absolutely right. Many years ago, I would have considered the piece above a failure because it did not come out looking like I wanted it to. Half way through I decided to turn it into more of a children's book illustration than the soft watercolor that I was going for. To be honest, I was actually going for this kind of look from Cathy's Watercolors.

Even though I failed in my attempt to create my original goal, I still managed to create an image that isn't half bad. But the most important thing is that I learned many things from working on this. I wish I could explain the things that I learned, but I really can't. It is more of a feel for the medium than anything else.

All of my life I have been taught the importance of practice practice practice. And it is true, you can never truly be great at something unless you practice. When I was a kid in band I had to practice my trumpet at least an hour a day. I was supposed to work on scales. The problem is, scales are boring. I have the same problem now. Art practice is boring. Drawing the same thing over and over again is extremely difficult for me because I feel like I am getting nowhere. Yeah, I know what you are going to say, "You are getting somewhere, you are getting more proficient." This is true, but in my mind, if I am not actually working on a project of some sort I feel like it is a waste of time. I know it isn't, but that is just the way it feels to me. So, that means that my 'practice' is actually working on complete pieces.

Let me give you an example of a time that I simply tried to practice and failed. I had painted a dragon that I really wasn't that happy with. One of the things that bugged me was the eye. I really didn't like the fact that all I did was sort of hint that there was an eye there. So, I thought I would 'practice' drawing dragon eyes. I finished drawing the eye and it inspired me to complete this mechanical pencil drawing:

So, it was no longer just a practice piece. It was suddenly a complete piece on it's own. The problem with it was that I really liked it. But it wasn't in color. So, I got out my Prismas and went to work. This is the end result:

Is it perfect? Not by a long shot. But it was fun and I enjoyed it so much that it became the cover of our first book.

So, what is my point in all of this? I'm not sure I had one. I think I am simply reminding myself that everything I do with art should be enjoyable. It should be fun and I should love every second of it. Otherwise, why do it?

The flower at the top of this entry isn't a failure, even though I technically failed to get the result I wanted. What it was, was practice, just like the dragon eye. And I had fun doing it. So, as I close this entry, I raise a glass to one more successful failure.....Huzza !!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bit of a Slump

I haven't been posting much lately. I have been in a bit of a slump artistically. When I was growing up, I lived out in the middle of the woods. A quite a way from any civilization. Sometimes in the winter we would get snowed in and not able to get into town for days of even weeks at a time. I often suffered from Cabin Fever. That is sort of what I am in now. I am kind of stuck in a life situation that has me wanting nothing more than to get out, but for now that can't happen. Mainly because of lack of money. I am sure everyone can relate to that.

Anyway, when I am in this sort of slump I really have a hard time being creative. I KNOW I should do art work. I even want to do the art work. There is no lack of inspiration. I have tons of ideas of things that I want to do. The problem is I have no motivation. None, nada, zilch. My wife and I were talking about it this afternoon. We are both it the same rut and when you get in a rut it is really hard to get out.

So, my plan at this point is to at least start one of the art pieces that I have been thinking about. It will either be watercolor or pastel, I don't know yet which one will call to me the most. I suspect it is going to be watercolor and I suspect that I am going to do something small. I have been working on a larger scale for many years now. So, doing something small might be in order.

Well, with any luck, you will see something here tomorrow where I have at least started something. See you then.