Clouds over grassy knolls

Progression paintings for the new 18″x24″ acrylic painting I’ve been working on.

I wanted a bright autumn tree against a dark sky showing signs of winter coming. Here’s the first layer:

The dark clouds in the sky felt way too dark. I tried repeatedly to get it to lighten up. You can see some of the background mountain and trees here too.

You can see the dark clouds lightened up quite a bit here and I’ve added the trunks for the trees I want to be in the mid-ground, Also working on the trees, brush, and ground on the left side of the painting.

I finally decided I had to quit tinkering with the dark background clouds and get to work on my main tree. I’ve put it in and a tree on the left a little closer in the foreground. Built up this grassy knoll on the left side too. I really didn’t know if I liked it or not, but why should the land be flat. I decided to let it be and see what developed with it. The fun is in the exploring, right?

The final painting. I pushed in more weeds around the grassy knoll, which did remain, but I discarded the second tree stump closest to the right side of the canvas. It just didn’t look good, especially when I started the younglings along the left side of the remaining tree.

I love how the road divides this, making it look like fall has taken a deep hold on the right side along with the incoming storm while the right side sees fall coming, but is holding out the last breaths of summer. Hmm, I wonder if that’s a good title for this painting. That, as of right now, hasn’t been decided.

I’m thinking about framing this up, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. It’ll have to wait until I get home from Wizarding Dayz.

Speaking of which, I should probably go continue getting ready for the show. I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the progression of this painting.

Happy adventuring.

Progress – February 11, 2019

I’ve been binge watching Stargate Universe, again. It’s strange. I’ve even had a few people point it out to me; I write fantasy fiction, but I love watching sci-fi. I wonder why that is.

Usually I watch television while I’m doing something else. Like right now I’ve got Stargate Universe on and I’m working on this blog post. However, I’ve had large chunks of time this last week when I realized that I was watching the show and not doing anything else. Then I panic and have to get words done. The only way that happens is by me turning on Pandora and listening to music.

But I needed some time to veg out. It gave me some creative space.

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Phoenix nebula

So I thought I was going to have a book cover reveal this week. Yep, that’s not happening, Life has blown this week out of the water. I’m counting myself fortunate enough to be doing this post, thought it’ll probably be short unless I find myself with something suddenly to say or rattling on like this sentence is. Yeah, I go off like that sometimes. *grin*

I thought I’d show you one of the paintings I finished last week. I do wish I had more work in progress pictures of it, but I wasn’t certain about this painting. It probably really hit rock bottom when I had just started it and my youngest son walked by and said, “So, Mom, what’s up with the eclipse and the alligator.”

Eclipse and alligator? Well he wasn’t wrong. Here’s sort of what he was seeing:

You see the “eclipse” at the top of the painting and the alligator at the bottom left. I do believe this is actually after he had made his comment and I had started a second coat, getting rid of the alligator’s open jaws so much. You can still see the two parts sticking out that originally made it’s mouth. Yep, can’t get much worse from there.

I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the first layer when I started, but I really did feel like I’d messed it up right from the get-go. Then the eclipse and alligator really made me question it. But I had this burr that I really wanted to work with, to try this, to see what would happen. So I continued. That’s when I ended up with the picture above, and then this.

This is after a few more layers and some stars added. I was tempted to go with the angel look here, but I decided to hold to the idea I really wanted.

More layers, added so black back to it, and more stars. This is the finished piece.

I really want to do this, or something like this, on a larger canvas. I am having so much fun with these space nebulae. I’m learning something new with each one. It’s definitely been an interesting journey. I never thought I’d be creating these as beautiful as they are. My first attempts at nebulae were so awful. I’m glad the urge to continue attempting to paint these never abandoned me.

Onward! Let us continue our explorations!

Nebula on a hexagon

My six-sided painting. I was pretty excited to find this canvas. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a space painting on this. Once I felt ready, I painted the canvas black. The picture above shows it all prepared and ready.

My first layer:

It’s hard not to block a painting in like this and not absolutely hate it and fear that it’s been messed up. But, the painting must continue.

Here’s the next layer:

Now we’re getting some of the misty cloudiness into the piece.

In the next layer, the stars start to shine:

More layers come next, more stars, and adding some of the black of space back in. Finally we end up with this:

There was a point at which I really messed everything up. I didn’t grab my phone to take a picture though; I knew my paint was drying quickly. That probably returned the fun to this painting. I’d started to take it too seriously and quit having fun with it. In causing a catastrophe on the canvas and knowing I had little time to fix it, I had to attack it with courage and release everything. Believe me, at the time I really wasn’t sure I’d be saving it. It was extremely hard to release the fear. Words make it sound so easy, but at the time it was horrible. I instantly projected myself into the future where I had to paint the canvas black once more to restart and regretted the past where I wished I hadn’t touched it so much. I was everywhere but the present.

Grounding yourself with courage puts you firmly in the moment. There’s an obstacle that must be overcome and only by stepping forward can this obstacle be hurdled.

This painting could have easily gone the other way where I did have to go through the future of repainting it that I had imagined. However, I’m glad I kept working it and gave myself the chance.

As my friend, J.D. Estrada, said a few days ago on an Instagram post, “Self doubt is an option, but so is believing in yourself.”

This weekend, believe in yourself.

Happy adventuring!

When things get torn…

After my last show of 2018, my son was helping me pack up the car. He was carrying 2 paintings out when he slipped on a patch of ice. In catching himself, he dropped both paintings. He, fortunately, didn’t hit the cement or hurt himself. But when he reached down to pick the paintings up, he saw that one of the paintings had gone through the other.

“Please be the waterfall,” he thought to himself. “PLEASE be the waterfall!” He knew that of the two, I would be less angry about the waterfall painting getting destroyed rather than the lotus painting.

It was the lotus painting.

He told me when we got home and we were unpacking the important things that couldn’t stay out in the cold and snow,. I could tell he felt badly about it; this wasn’t the first painting he’d put a hole in. I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Okay, the boy has even put a hole in my trailer wall — why he has to break everything, I don’t know!) Yes, actually, I do: he’s a boy. *grin*

The tear in the canvas was a clean 90 degree square. It wasn’t huge. It could have been worse. I figured this would repair fairly easily.

It took more patience than I thought it would.

I took a piece of muslin and some gesso, covering the back side of the canvas around the hole, and pressed it flat. Gesso squeezed up between the tear. I then covered the patch on the back with gesso, making it nice, smooth, and strong.

This is a picture of the gesso coming through the tear to the front.

In retrospect, I should have filled in the whole crack while it was wet. I think it would have been easier to fix the scar if I had. But, I didn’t know. I’ve only repaired one other canvas before so I felt I was still working on bare minimum knowledge in practice. I had learned a lot from that first painting and I knew I’d learn even more with this one. That I should have filled and leveled the whole thing then is valuable information I will take to the next tear should (when) this happen(s) again.

This was my first attempt at covering it up. I started out with some blue, then brought in some white. Like I said, I didn’t have a whole lot of patience and I thought this would be a fairly easy process at this point. As I layered up paint, I saw that I was going to have to do this in layers and it might require some light sanding in between coats.

Here’s what it looked like when I really started filling in the scar.

It seemed like I spent a lot of time alternating blue and white. It took a lot of coats to fill in the scar. Yes, I did some sanding too, very carefully around the edges. I didn’t want to take paint off of the scar where I was trying to fill in, only on the canvas so that it would retain some of the tooth.

I started thinking that I might want some pictures of the canvas that weren’t closeups. So here’s the picture from above as it is on the canvas. It looks big here, but this shot isn’t the whole painting.

Finally I start to get a good fill on the tear. It’s still visible, but just barely.

And here’s what the canvas looks like at this point:

Can you even see it? The second lotus petal from the bottom points right at it. Great, I’ll never lose the tear again now that’ I’ve noticed that!

Still building up layers:

At this point, I’m also bringing more clouds in around the vines at the bottom. They always bugged me with how they seemed to stick out. It looked like a lotus blossom superimposed over clouds, rather that actually being part of the sky. This is me fixing that because at this point, what do I have to lose?

Repair done:

Well, at least as far done as I have pictures for. I did add another couple of touch-ups last weekend while I was painting, a few highlights here and there.

If you look closely at this painting from the side, or get up close to the canvas where the tear it, you can still traces of it. I don’t think it would ever completely go away. Besides, the big white spot on the back is a sign that something catastrophic happened. Overall, I think I did a good job repairing this canvas. It’ll continue going with me to art shows until someone decides that they want it hanging on their wall.

Sometimes, you just have to heal the best you can and move on with your life. You can’t always hide all the scars perfectly.

It was a date, remember?

So on yesterday’s blog, I showed some pictures of a space painting I’d been working on in 2018 and thought I had done.

But then, as any good tale would have, conflict struck.

I painted another picture that made it look like garbage. Well, what’s an artist supposed to do?

I’d say that the correct answer is not to pull is back up on the easel and keep working on it, but I know that’s exactly what a lot of painters do. But I do understand the need to let something hang for a bit so you can look at it just to let your mind mull it over.

So let’s talk about this painting.

I started this painting the same night that I started the other two paintings, but I was way too embarrassed to show it. I honestly thought I’d be painting over it. I mean, what do you do when you have a mess like this to start off with? So I let it sit with some creative procrastination for a while. I figured if I didn’t look at it, I wouldn’t think about how badly I would feel at having to paint it over because it was a horrible start. However, I had some ideas I wanted to experiment with, so I decided I’d play and see what happened. I figured it was only a 8″x10″ flat panel canvas, so who cared if I messed it up so badly that I ended up breaking it in half over my knee like a ninja master? If nothing else, I would learn something.

But I sure as heck wouldn’t advertise my intent to fail.

Nope.

I took a picture for me to document my learning process and didn’t show it to anyone.

Then, on January 1st, I decided it was time to pull out the painting and play with it. How better to get a start at painting for the new year than to learn if I could or couldn’t pull this painting out of the fire.

This was the next layer. Honestly, by now I was a little wowed by the hole thing. It was so simple, and yet so pretty. Just brushstrokes.

Look at the depth now starting to come into this piece. There was a part of me that wanted to stop right here.

But, I’m a fool and I pressed on.

Here it is finished:

Yes, there are parts of this I wish I’d been able to express some self-control on, but I do wish the picture did it justice too. I’m happy with the lessons it taught me and and that I managed to save a painting I wasn’t sure would work out.

So, for hoots and giggles, let’s look at the “finished” painting from yesterday compared to this on:

I hope you see what I mean when I said it nearly made me want to cry. The “finished” painting seemed so clumsy and blockish compared to the smooth grace of the new one.

Now let’s see them both together after that 1st one had the reworking:

What a dramatic improvement, don’t you think?

I wonder what will get cooked up this weekend on my easel. Just after I continue working on my edits for Tangled Magic.

Progress – December 17, 2018

Adventures this week have been… oh, look, SQUIRREL!

Yeah, something like that.

It feels like two or three things have been going on all at once. Someday I swear I will learn to focus.

It’s just been challenging to get my words in this week, though I have been painting. It seems like that’s what I really want to be doing this week. It’s making me really consider making my word count next year into a rolling word count like I’m doing with my painting. There’s a little part of me that keeps saying, “You’ve already accomplished your word goal for the year. Give yourself a break and paint.”

Then there’s the other part of me that says that I have over 125 days into my writing streak. Do you realize how long that is of getting a certain amount of words in every day? Yeah, 125 days. Just because I have overflow one day doesn’t mean that I can just apply that to the next day. That’s not consistency!

It’s like the fight of the good shoulder angel and the bad shoulder angel. I’m tired of the constant blabbering in my head.

“But you’re doing it with your painting. Why not with your writing?”

Argh!!! Painting is different, don’t you understand that? What if I couldn’t count the words until the novel was completed?

“Maybe you’d finish more if you did that instead of bouncing between projects.”

BANG HEAD HERE!

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Finishing a space painting

Last week I wrote about three space paintings I was currently working on. I’ve still been whittling away at them, but I think I finally finished one of them. Maybe. At the moment of this writing, I’m waiting to see how dark the acrylics get after it dries and cures completely.

Let’s have a quick look back at the painting from last week:

Every time the starburst in the center dried, it got darker and darker. I kept having to paint it over and over to brighten the colors. Here’s the next layer:

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At this point in the painting, I was really thinking about painting this over and starting anew. I liked some of it, but it was no where near what I had in my mind. Yet, I likes the gaseous clouds, so I thought I’d keep working. What could it hurt, right?

Note how much the centered darkened after drying here on this next picture compared to the last. It might not seem like a lot, but it was. In fact, this might actually have had another yellow layer put over it before I took the picture. Anyway, this was the first star layer.

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Space – a continuing mission

I’m still continuing to work on the space paintings. Here’s my next step in their progress.

This one is the cloudy nebula.

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Trying to get a second layer on there without killing the first. The paints are still wet in this photo, so I’m certain they are much brighter than they will be when they dry. It really is scary to see how dark it gets. Its like I walk away from it, and then when I come back it’s so much darker and I feel like I’ve lost all the light. I begin to wonder if I will be able to pull any of it back in.

Here’s the next stage of another painting:

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