"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Bloom

        I have a vase of flowers in my bedroom that make me endlessly happy.  They are, of course, fake, but even that, because they never wilt or fade, brings me lots of joy.  I could look at the graceful lines of the branches forever and not get tired of them.  I love that because they are spring branches, the blooms are sparse, which only elevates their importance, and the leaves too,  are few and far between.
       That vase of flowers caught my eye this week as I have had thoughts of spring constantly on my mind.  It took me no time at all to get the canvas and brush out.
        I love my usual big bold, bright close-up flowers.  But there is something about the delicate features of a near bare branch that is just captivating.  I think part of it lies in the thought that winter renders those branches seemingly useless, and yet out of what looks dead, comes new, beautiful life in the spring.  I can't help but think that this is what God does in a person when we allow Him to enter our lives and bring His life to what was once so dead.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coneflower: It's all About the Angle

   I tried a couple of coneflowers this week.  One turned out great, one, well... didn't.  I think it was all about angles.  The first one (which I hesitate to show you, but I will for learning purposes :-) seemed like an easier choice to paint because  the position on the reference photo was your common side view of a flower.                                                                                                                                                                          

First, unsuccessful attempt

The result just didn't go like I would have liked it to.  The arches of the petals made for an odd looking flower.  What can I say, you win some you lose some. 
I did have another reference photo that I really liked, but the angle of it scared me a little.  My daughter, who really is into photography and just has an eye for composition, encouraged me to go for the awkward  angle photo.  She said it looked more interesting.  She was right, but I was a chicken. The  photo was from the viewpoint of just slightly below and  I just didn't think I would be able to  make it look right.
Obviously, I went with the easy side angle position, failed miserably, and went ahead and tried for the tricky angle view.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much better that painting (the big one at the head of this post) turned out.  And the best thing was, my daughter didn't even try to tell me she told me so!  
All in all a great learning experience.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Summer Sunflower

We are having a heat wave here in Iowa which is getting me in the mood for the changing of the season.  If you are not from Iowa than you may be a little surprised when I tell you that for us, a heat wave in February means we are no longer in the daily highs of the teens.  We have gone so far as to hit forty degrees which puts everyone in a happier mood and makes us all feel like any minute we will be able to get out the flip flops and short.  Of course in reality, I'm sure we will have at least a couple of more  snow storms before we even hit spring, but the point is, we are all getting in the mood here!  

   This must explain why I suddenly felt the urge to paint a sunflower.  It's my way of dreaming in paint. I was also in the mood for something big so I chose to put this sunflower on another 30x40 canvas.  It sat in my dining room for the past week as I was working on it (I guess I needed a change of pace - I didn't feel like being cooped up in my little art corner in the office, so I worked on it out where the rest of the family was gathering).  The whole family enjoyed opening the front door as we came home all week, and finding this big ole' piece of sunshine there to greet us.

     This, along with a dozen to fourteen other paintings, will be at the Lowe's Arts and Environment Center  in Marion during the month of March and most of April, for those of you who are local.  My paintings will be on display along with a tremendously talented painter (who happens to be a great friend), Charles Freitag.   Chuck's work is incredible and I am so honored and excited to get to show with him.  More details coming on that soon.
"Summer Sunflower" is a 30x40 oil on a gallery wrapped canvas (no frame needed!) and is for sale. Please contact me through the comments section if you are interested.

Friday, February 4, 2011


This 24x30 in. dahlia is finally finished and drying on my easel.  I started it a few weeks ago with the idea in mind to put to practice some of the glazing techniques that I had recently learned.  I began by applying, daily, a very thin layer of paint, mixed with medium to each of the thirty two petals.  Day two, after I was sure that layer one was completely dry, found me repeating step number one.  Day three - you guessed it, ditto to steps one and two.  Each layer  may have a slightly different paint color as I built up to the effect that I was looking for, and obviously, each petal has it's own unique color combination.  As I got closer to the finished painting I began adding some more opaque paints in certain areas depending on the effect that I was going for.  All in all I think I added approximately fifteen layers of glaze to the flower.  Once again, I am challenged (because I tend to be a modern girl who wants results  - now!) by how slow of a process this is.  But I do love the results.  I am always aiming for more of a "glow" to my flowers and glazing in this manner seems to help me get closer to my goal.
close up view
On a side note - I learned another valuable lesson with this dahlia - background is key!  I had originally planned on doing a semi white (with blue undertones) background for this one.  What was I thinking???You can view that lovely disaster below...

Dahlia with "yucky" blue white background

Once I realized that this was not the look that I was going for, I went through a total mental block as to what other background colors to use.  I froze, completely.  To get me out of my mental funk I decided to try something new.  I took a picture of my painting and printed it off (Oh the joys of modern wonders!)  Then I cut all around the flower, eliminating the background all together.  After that I held up the printed flower to all sorts of different color swatches - from painted walls, to materials, to paint example pages in art books.  I was able to really see what the flower would do under different circumstances.  It was then that I could see that it needed the warmth of the gold color to really bring out the glow of the flower and balance the overall painting.  
...Always a learning experience.


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