A pattern for July – Seashells

shellspattern
I really enjoyed creating this pattern. It brought me back to collecting shells as a kid and marveling at the patterns and colors. Oh wait, I still do that!

This pattern started with doodles in my sketchbook. I drew a lot of shells! I have jarfuls on hand for reference.
shells-2

Then on watercolor paper I painted shells using different colors. I took creative liberties with this step.
shellswatercolor-1

I scanned everything in, and layered the outlines and watercolors together in Photoshop. I also added a textured background. After I had my arrangement set, I repeated it to see how it worked. I had to shift things a bit when the shells overlapped.

I truly felt inspired creating this pattern. It felt very nostalgic for me. And I can’t wait to get back down to the beach to collect more shells.

Some paintings are easy…and then there is this one.

finalsunflower
When I say that some paintings are easy, I don’t mean that there aren’t layers and layers to add, and details to fill in. They just feel easy. Each layer and detail added makes the painting better and better. And you know it, as you’re working.
startofsunflower
But this sunflower felt like childbirth – ha ha. It was the petals! I needed to add something. I wanted the petals to pop – and I didn’t want to add ink details this time. I tried a few grey brushstrokes on each petal, but that didn’t do it. I took a huge risk and added a blue outline to the edges of the petals, all the while thinking, “I’m probably ruining it!”
blueoutline weirdblue stillneedssomething
I wouldn’t say the blue outline ruined it, but the petals still needed something! I added more yellow. I added more white. In the end I added ink lines to the petals. Oh well! 🙂

A morning dedicated to painting outside :)

rainbowfeather
It’s officially Summer and the kids are home, which totally throws off my routine. As I struggle to get a new schedule together, a priority is having time to paint and draw. The other morning I dedicated to painting, and because it was so nice out, I set up on my back patio.
tableoutside

It felt great! Everyone was still asleep and the weather was beautiful. I had tons of inspiration photos from days prior – a trip to the beach, a stop at a little lake, and an amazing sunset. When I looked down at the blank piece of paper I felt totally at peace. There was no stress about what I would do, I would just let it happen. And I quickly got into a groove. I even turned a test scrap into a feather! (See first pic in the post.)

Sometimes we can be so productive, if we just give ourselves the opportunity to do so. 

blank

I’m hoping to have more mornings like this one! 🙂

Poppies & Practice

poppy
A few years ago, I went with my husband to MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) to see an exhibit of Georges Seurat’s drawings and sketches. I was amazed at how many “studies” he did before he painted the famous “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” He painted the lake and the lady with the parasol separately several times. He also did many sketches of the people in the painting.

Yesterday I painted a pattern of Poppies in my sketchbook. Then I did one Poppy on watercolor paper. There were things I wanted to change and improve upon, so I did another version (above) of a single Poppy. I’m really happy with it which shows me that sometimes you have to study and practice a subject to get it right.
poppysketch

A Second Try – the painting redo

gerbera2nd
It’s happened to all of us. You get inspired by something, you sit down to paint, you finish, and then you look at it and see the mistakes. Ugh. I have to admit, sometimes I don’t notice the mistakes until I take a photo of the final piece for Instagram. For some reason seeing it as a photo, gives me a different perspective on the piece.

So…you made a mistake and you aren’t happy with your painting, now what? Do you dive back in and try again or say “Oh well.” For me it depends. A big factor is how long I worked on the piece. If it was a quickie, like the Gerbera Daisy below, I’ll dive back in. I also weigh how big of a mistake it was. I’ve learned over time, that I’m very critical of a piece right after finishing it, because I’m still “in it.” Several days later I’m much less critical.

For me, the mistake of adding 2-3 extra rows of petals was too big to ignore. I was so happy with the painting until I “saw” what I had done. I had gotten carried away. I immediately started another version.
gerberrows

I’ve had this dilema before and wrote about it, here and here. What I realized back then, is that painting a piece over doesn’t ensure success. It doesn’t ensure a better version. I might correct some mistakes, but lose other good things about the first version.

Do you paint a new version when you make a mistake?

Revisiting an unfinished painting.

girldiggingnew
I’ve been playing around with what I’m calling a “practice canvas” (see below) – a painting I never finished, didn’t like where it was going, and recently started mindlessly dabbling with (on). I’ve enjoyed this. While I’m comfortable with watercolor, acrylics still feel new to me. Playing around with this “practice canvas” has pulled me back to acrylics and to another unfinished painting.

Here’s the practice canvas, although now it is unrecognizable!
  practice1 practice2

Looking through my other canvases, I found an unfinished painting I call “Little Girl Digging.” Even though, I was happy with progress on this painting at the time, I set it aside. Probably because after “sketching” out the figure I wasn’t confident on how to proceed.
girldiggingrev

So this past weekend, I decided to work on it again. I wanted to see if I could get the little girl to pop off the sand. I had some success (first picture in this post), so I’m motivated to continue working on it. We’ll see! 🙂

Just get started…and the ideas will come.

settingup
I try to paint or draw everyday. The first step for me is to pull everything out of the closet and set it up on the kitchen table. This seems like an obvious step, but my point is I don’t wait for that bolt of inspiration to strike.

Occasionally, I know what I’m going to paint as I head for my supplies. More often, as I pull out my sketchbook and paints, I think, “I have no idea what I’m going to create,” followed by, “oh! I can paint [blank].”

I know if I don’t pull out the paints, nothing will get done. It’s rare that I’m about to put pencil or brush to the page, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do. The process of pulling everything out and setting up, usually allows an idea to form. I think this is only possible, because I stay open to inspiration. When I see something that strikes me, I take a picture – even at the supermarket! These inspirational moments are in the back of my mind. I guess you’d say I’ve done my homework.

Gerber Daisies at the supermarket:
supermarketpic

startofgerbergerbersupermarket

I’ve written several posts that relate to this topic of “What to paint?”

I remember very clearly the moments before I started working on two of my favorite pieces from last year. I sat down to draw and had no ideas. In both cases I stepped outside to the backyard and looked around. In one case I took a photo of the Montauk Daisies and went back inside to paint them. The other time, I collected a couple of leaves and other things and brought them inside and started to paint. You really don’t need much to get you going.

With watercolor, the painting often needs to dry between layers. So I leave everything setup all day, and from time to time, sit down to add details. It works better for me to finish in one day. If too much time goes by, my interest wanes, and the chances of finishing decreases.

My Process:

  • Setup
  • Decision on what to paint*
  • Start
  • Get in the “zone”
  • Add finishing touches throughout the day

*Sometimes my first idea isn’t the painting I continue with that day. It’s more of a warm up. But more often than not, I stick with that first idea.

How do you decide “What to Paint?” I’d love to hear! 🙂

I took this picture while I was out running. Maybe it’s my next painting…
futureflower