Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Watercolor - On the Runway/Starting the Engines - Swamp Bathing or Call of the Robin

 I'm not sure what the final title will be, but today, as I put together a slideshow for inspiration, I suddenly felt like I heard 'Call of the Robin'. I am definitely a right brain/left brain person. These slideshows are created with my left brain to kick my right brain in gear. 

It's really dreary in Southern New Jersey today. I depend on natural light to paint, and it is so dark outside I need to find other things to do during the time I set aside to paint. Even double lights pointing at my worktable aren't helping. Bah!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Watercolor - On the Runway/Swamp Bathing


This sweet robin bathing in a nearby wetland Swamp is the basic reference for my new watercolor on the runway of planning stages. The day I took this photo the woods surrounding me was filled with hundreds of birds, most of them robins. It seems they don't fly south as they did when I was a child. I am combining several photographs to compose what I hope will be a magical composition. I am under time constraints with this watercolor, as it will be considered for public display. I am still not sure of the size I want to make it, perhaps when I combine all the reference photos, and decide which elements to use, I will have a better idea. 

The video below is the same little bird viewed in the photo. 

Stream of Consciousness for Swamp Bathing: elegant and poised, chirpy, sociable, svelte wings folded above a russet breast, eyes rimmed in white, golden beak, friendly though wary gaze, robins, many of them, a flock of what seems to be hundreds in the woods around me, they rustle as they fly, almost as if the shed leaves piled high beneath the barren trees, come to life, and fly upwards, so many at one time, it's magical, what is this, in a little glade of the wetlands, the overflow of the creek, amid early budding skunk cabbages poking their way upward in the midst of winter's start, mossy logs, laden with moisture, perches of damp velvet, a place for robin's feet to cling, a bather, splashing, the misty droplets create a foggy halo around him in the frigid weather, in nearby branches other bathers wait their turn, patient, I am his entertainment as I watch him watching me, the bather lifts each wing, fluffs the underside, then sits, content, his bathing complete, you can see robins behind him/her, making tiny splashes as they jump in the water, even swampy water reflects, stunning vignette, am I worthy, will I be able to capture how I felt watching the robins bathe...

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Watercolor - The Pond/Metamorphosis/First Flyover/Part 4

First Flyover / First Washes

I've laid in the first washes, preserving the white where I want a sense of dreaminess. At this point it is very pastel but will get darker as I make as many flyovers as it takes to complete it. I'm a bit concerned about the darkness at the right, but I am following the darkness in the actual reference. Let's hope I can pull out some darker shadows to bring depth. 


Monday, January 9, 2023

Watercolor - The Pond/Metamorphosis/Taking Off/Part 3

I am in the process of my first 'flyover' on the Alcyon Pond watercolor. The reference photo has been adapted with filters from the original Autumn Hue to an ethereal color scheme. Because the look is definitely a little mystical now, I wasn't happy with the indistinct swathes of the fallen leaves in the water. They look more like grayish blobs than something magical. I found a perfect reference photograph from this past summer to use in place of the leaves: Duckweed. The color and delicacy, yet strange tenacity, of the Duckweed makes it a perfect solution as a replacement. It has brought new excitement and confidence to my planning. I can't wait to lay in the beautiful color of the duckweed on Alcyon Pond.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Watercolor - The Pond/Metamorphosis/Taking Off/Part 2

 So....I'm still on the runway. I've never been good at flying by the seat of my pants, yet I am determined to paint faster this year. I'm in the planning stage right now, creating visuals, audios, answering questions. Not sure if this will work for me on this painting, but it is detailed, and there is a lot of white, a bit daunting. Once you muck up the white paper, your whites are not going to shine quite as brilliant. I want to be sure of what I am doing before I begin. The painting is also large, 16 x 20, which means mistakes will appear larger. Bah! I wrote a stream of consciousness paragraph while gazing at my reference photos. It is below, along with a quick audio/visual I created for inspiration. Yes, yes, yes, I know it seems like overkill, but I want my brushes and brain to be fully loaded before I begin. 


White beckons to me, magical, pure, ethereal yet with the definition that makes the white trees, tall, sparse, yet full in their winsomeness, the foreground leaf transposed to the background becomes a fly fisherman, the soft green that leads the eye has a come-hither look, wanting me to follow it around the bend that is out of sight, the foreground also has a bit of winsomeness in the foliage, the blue is brilliant near the foreground, reflecting the blue of the sky and then becoming more vivid by tenfold, the open water, places that do not have leaves give stark reflections, it is fall, yet some of the trees have given themselves over to winter, like a bride, everything, even the rust colors, is soft and subdued, I am hesitating my painting start, it is so beautiful, I want to capture it  completely, and right now, I'm not sure I know how.

The great Bob Ross always spoke of 'Happy Accidents.' I have one in my reference photo. There was a brown blob to the right, in the water. I couldn't figure out what it was, but oh my, how much it looked like a fisherman casting his fly into the water. I decided to paint exactly that in my watercolor. Later on, I realized the brown blog was actually a piece of foreground leaf. Yes, yes, yes, a happy accident indeed. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Paper Snowflakes - How to Cut and Finish with Wax Paper


This is a throwback post, and also a craft that's been around for countless years. Since the time of paper and scissors, adults and children alike have been cutting paper snowflakes for windows and gift packages.

I cut over a hundred every year for my windows. I've included a how-to video with this post, but I have tweaked my snowflakes over the years, and want to share a new tip or two.

The most important tip I want to share is to cut many different sized snowflakes. The snowflakes on my windows look more interesting if they are not uniform in size. I use squares of computer paper cut into a variety of sizes, four inches to eight, and everything in between. As long as you have a square and do the folding correctly, your snowflakes will be a success.

As always, the best way to store paper snowflakes is inside a book until you are ready to use them. Here is a true story and a tip too. Write down what book you place them in and where that book is kept. I lost dozens and dozens of finished snowflakes a year or two ago. I found them months later in the "safe" place I had stashed them.

To finish off the snowflakes, press them between sheets of wax paper with an old iron you reserve for crafts, or to preserve your iron and board, encase them in several layers of newspaper and press them in wax paper. When you pull the wax paper away, your snowflakes will have a protective layer of wax to keep off the condensation winter windows often form.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Watercolor - The Pond - Metamorphosis - Taking Off


On a recent walk, my husband and I passed this small pond near Alcyon Lake in Pitman, NJ. Not well known, in truth it is a little scummy and most likely polluted. It sits quite near the Lipari Landfill, a toxic waste site that has been cleaned up, and hopefully, somewhat contained. Autumn blessed the small pond's surroundings with beautiful color, and I took a photo as we passed. 

Another blog I illustrate titled 'Signposts', a visual blog of photographs, Bible verses and Inspirational quotes, was the first place I posted my photo. Tweaked in Lunapic with an art filter, I was entranced with the complete transformation of the humble place. The pond seemed suddenly enchanted. I knew I had to paint it in this high-key color scheme. Since there is definitely the air of the spiritual about it, I have decided to paint this version in loose watercolor. I will also paint it in realistic colors after this version is complete, and I am seriously thinking of attempting acrylics, of which I have little experience. We'll see about that later down the road. 

I decided on a finished size of 16 x 20, painted on Arches 140 lb Cold Press. I created a black and white reference for values and to help with sketching the basic shapes onto the canvas.

"Plan like the tortoise, paint like the hare." ~Edgar Whitney

I never do well creating a painting when I fly by the seat of my pants. Perhaps one day I will be able to sit before a canvas and just paint, but for now, I need to do a bit of planning. Creating a chart, like the one above, always helps me. I choose a main color, which I call the mother color; Antwerp Blue will be in every mix, even if it is just a drop. My planning is complete. Time to fly---

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Soft Resin - Necklace - Cladonia cristatella

As I related in Cladonia cristatella Part I, I searched for British Soldiers in hopes of creating a gift for my friend Sherry. I planned to encase the British Soldiers I collected, along with pressed Queen Anne's Lace, in resin.

Instead of the two-step pour and mix variety, I chose the softer, one-step product. I purchased Blue Moon Studio charm molds, UV resin, and a small UV light from a local craft store. The products were expensive, but I was lucky and found them on sale.

The directions in the package were simple. When followed, they yielded perfect results. The resin, as indicated, dried in two minutes under the UV light. One plus was the 'on' button on the UV light; when pushed the light stayed lit for only a minute. This helped me avoid over-drying the resin.

The charms popped right out of their molds. Beautiful! I couldn't believe I crafted something so tiny.

I gave the charms a bit more time in UV light and placed them in natural sunlight for a few hours. One final thought on finishing the charms. After I placed jump rings in the hole created by the mold, I strung the charms on a polyester necklace.

The polyester retained wrinkles from the packaging. I dampened the strand and hung it on the clothesline with a large weight. This straightened the necklace out in a few hours.

My tips after using Blue Moon Resin Products:

When I first tried to pour the resin from the bottle into the molds, I could not get the product to flow.

Why didn't I remember most liquid in bottles come with an inner seal? After a bit of frustration, unnecessary squeezing, and muttering to myself, I took the cap off, felt sheepish when I saw the seal, peeled it away, and of course, no problem at all afterwards.

I did wipe the interior of the molds with a bit of rubbing alcohol before using them.

Tweezers are a definite must for placing the Cladonia and Queen Anne's Lace in the poured resin.

I would never use the resin indoors as it dries under the UV light. Even on the porch, the smell in the air became noxious. Next time, I will be aware of the strong odor beforehand and move away.

I wish I remembered to thoroughly examine the poured resin before curing. After drying, I discovered a few trapped air bubbles. The directions state you can pop air bubbles with a straight pin before curing. When cured, they are a permanent part of your project. I plan to have a magnifying glass at the ready when I create my next project, and of course a sharp pin at the ready to pop those bubbles.