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 You can still see the two parts sticking out that originally made it’s mouth.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!

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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.

Landscape painting – WIP?

I’m starting this post for the second time. I went off in one direction and realized that it was a whole separate post. You’ll get it later in the week. You’ll know it when you see it because it’s about playing around. I think that was exactly what I needed to do when I started that post, along with solidifying the lesson in my head.

After all, these aren’t just pep talks for you, though I do hope they help and that you find some value in them. Often, they are present me giving future self advice: hey dummy, you learned this lesson once already; aren’t you ready to move on already?

But that’s not what we’re here for today. Rather, I thought I’d show you a piece I’ve been working on.

I’ve mentioned in a couple prior progress posts that I had been painting, but I never showed any pictures. So here’s one.

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It’s a 5″x7″ acrylic on Bristol board (though you can see my margin notes to myself which I haven’t erased yet). It’s also not quite as dark as it looks here. This looks almost like a blocked in painting. Sorry.

I “finished” this piece quite some time ago and I’ve been meaning to varnish it. I’d hoped to have it matted and framed for the last show I did, but I couldn’t get there. I wonder if that’s the process telling me that I’m not done with it yet. It all feels very symmetrical to me. I can’t stop the nagging feeling that it needs something. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to finish it yet. Maybe it truly is a work in process still. Am I learning to trust the process with my painting as well as my writing?

Time to pull out the charcoal and/or the sketchbook and start trying some ideas. Wish me luck.

Progress – 02/13/17

Fiction words written last week: 6,216 words

Blogs/Newsletter articles written:  1,687 words

Writing month to date total: 10,446 words.

Writing year to date total: 32,603 words.

Drawing/painting last week: 0 square inches painted.

Illustration year to date total: 131.25 square inches.

Audio: I spent almost 3 hours on editing audio.

Week’s happenings: I accomplished much last week. I finished reading through The Doorway Prince. I just kept having to add scenes to it. Adding, adding, adding until it clicked and announced that it was done. After that, it seemed like a flurry of activity to get it uploaded for pre-order. Watch for Wednesday of this week when I have an excerpt from the book here on this blog. I also got History of a Dead Man up as a print book. At this moment, it hasn’t been released and while not a new book, I hadn’t planned on it being in print version until I released the 4th Sacred Knight book. Surprise! Well, more on that in a couple weeks. I updated my Zibbet store to add items. I also updated my book website. I got my February newsletter out. What, you didn’t get yours? Well, be sure you’ve signed up. Click the “Sign up for Dawn’s email newletter” button off to your right to make sure you don’t miss out on more sneak peeks and fun stuff.

I’m surprised I didn’t get any painting done yesterday. I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday with this piece of advise someone in a dream was telling me. I couldn’t completely shake off the dream to write it down, but I remember waking up several more times during the night with it repeating in my head. The advise: “An artist who believes his canvas is white remains invisible.” This probably doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t paint, but I remember the context of the dream right before this line was said to me. I was talking to this unknown someone about the gesso (a preliminary paint used on canvas) being white already so why did I need another layer of white? I know that probably has no meaning for anyone, but let’s see if I can explain and maybe even I will glean some additional value out of it. In the dream, I was complaining that the canvas already had paint on it, white. How could I do anything when it had already been painted on? I was obviously having blank canvas syndrome.

After I woke up and began to write down the quote, I had to expand it. “An artist who believes his canvas is white remains invisible. A writer who believes his page is blank remains untold.”

That was when this really started to come together for me.

Many writers I have both known and heard about have faced the blank page, whether it be a literal piece of paper or a blank computer screen. They sit there and do not write. They fear that they won’t be perfect. They can’t get out of their head to tell their story. I thank my lucky stars that I have never been afraid of the blank page, even when I had writer’s block and spent many years not writing. Even then, I could always find the hole on the page and slip through it to another world; I just felt all my words were crap. Hint: that’s usually a sign that you’re leveling up. I know that now. The blank page never remains that way for me for long. I write. I tell stories. I don’t even care if anyone else reads them or not. I’ve shared if people want to access them. I’m moving onto the next story. No blank pages. I see through to another time and place; I take the next adventure. My page is never blank and so my stories get told.

My illustration on the other hand, is a whole different creature. My canvases are blank. I am remaining invisible. I don’t know who I am as an illustrator. That’s what this dream was telling me. I have to find that same hole and slip through to see the artwork that is already created. I don’t know how to do that.

Okay, so there are some people who would say to just start throwing paint at the canvas and see what develops. I’ve done that, and I’ve had success (which in itself can be scary because it’s a power one has no control over and yet needs to respect). When I have a story idea, I usually start with a character who begins just talking to me and won’t shut up. I don’t know what to listen for with the painting. I don’t know what to look for. I feel blind. It’s invisible.

And yet I really wanted to paint on Sunday. Badly. I’d written early in the morning and by the afternoon, I wanted to switch to painting, but I didn’t know what to paint. I didn’t even pull out my paints because I didn’t want to face the blank canvas. Or, blank Bristol Board as the case probably would have been. Do I believe that my painting surface is white? I must for my work remains invisible.

I remember thinking at one point last night as I woke again with the quote circling my head that I could paint all my canvases with a light coat of burnt sienna. But all that would be doing is changing the color of the canvas, not solving the problem.

I know the answer, for it is the same thing answer for the blank page syndrome for writers: Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. Just do something.  Give yourself forward movement. The block points to leveling up.

If I let my canvases remain white, the magic I want to share with the world will never been seen.

Pretty colors

Taste the Rainbow
Taste the Rainbow

Working along painting and suddenly flipped my paintbrush out of my hand. It landed in on my palette and not just in 1 color or 2. No, it had to land across 5 paints. But dang, it was so pretty. A rainbow of color on my brush. I often laugh that I don’t feel like I’m “at home with painting” until I have paint on me. Apparently my brushes feel the same way. 🙂 I thought I’d capture it to share before I wiped it off and went back to painting.