Baby Chicks, Oil Painting, & Thoughts on Being Creative

Hello creative Friends!

I hope today finds you well and happy. This week has been a little crazy around here.

We hatched our first batch of baby chicks for the year, and though we are not new to the process, it’s still a little nerve-wracking every time we set eggs.

We also tried out a new incubator which added to the drama. Would it turn the eggs properly? Would it keep the eggs at the proper temperature? Too hot? Too cold? Humid enough? Not humid enough?

To us a new hatch usually means interrupted sleep, hyper-vigilance over the incubator, witnessing the first pip, and the occasional rescue of a shrink-wrapped chick… Get the picture?

Think “maternal instincts on steroids”!

PHEW!

I am delighted to report that as of this morning we have added 9 little peepers to our menagerie!

So CUTE!!!

I don’t know about you, but when I have too many irons in the fire, I tend to lose my creative energy!

But now that the chicks have been moved to the brooder and are settling in, I was able to spend some time in the studio experimenting with water mixable oils.

Being more familiar with pastel and watercolor painting, I decided to take it slowly. For me, that means COLOR MIXING.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

(Color swatches with a black check next to them are the closest to matching the paint sample.)

I decided to start by gathering paint chips from my local hardware and big box stores. If you try this exercise, be sure to pick a variety of chips to include the major color families (hue), as well as lighter and darker versions of each color (value), and purer vs. grayer versions of each color (intensity). The best part is that they are FREE!

Next, using a limited palette of titanium white, permanent yellow light, ultramarine blue, permanent alizarin crimson, and burnt umber, I worked to match each paint chip’s hue, value, and intensity.

Essentially, I wanted to see if I could get close to mixing most colors from just these five.

Why?

Because it would be less confusing at first and it would teach me not only the possibilities, but also the limitations of a primary palette. (A primary palette is one consisting of a single yellow, blue, and red. White is for tinting and the burnt umber is for creating shades.)

Now, I knew going in that I would eventually be using a split primary palette (one with a warm and cool version of each primary color) like I use when I am painting in watercolor, but like I said, I needed this to be less confusing at first. 🙂

So looking at the pics above, these 4 chips were mixed using the colors of my primary palette. I did lots of these matching exercises, and I have to say it was fun in almost a meditative way.

It was also very enlightening because eventually I came across colors I just couldn’t match using this palette of colors.

  • That’s when I added in a warmer red (Pyrrol red, Royal Talens’ Cobra brand).
  • I also switched out burnt umber for burnt sienna (more orangey and just as capable of giving me a dark value when mixed with the ultramarine.)
  • So far, the permanent yellow light (Cobra brand) is working for all my warm and cool mixes.
  • I am also trying out adding in titanium buff when I don’t want my color to be lightened AND cooled like it would be using titanium white.
  • And the verdict is not in yet as to what other blue I would add in addition to the ultramarine.

I foresee that there will be times when these few colors will just NEVER give me the color I may need–think very intense, highly saturated (aka high chroma) color.

And that’s when I would pull out tubes with specialty colors.

Alas, my color mixing adventure will continue for a while to come. That’s ok. I have a lot of work to do in this area!


In my latest Instagram post I briefly write about being creative. Please check it out and follow me if you haven’t already! Click here to view today’s oil study and leave me a like and/or a comment with your thoughts.

Thanks for taking the time to read my latest musings. May you be well and filled with creative musings of your own in the days ahead!

Till next time,

~R

Fresh Off The Easel!

Hello everyone!

I wanted to share a new pastel painting with you. The subject: bluebird!

I just LOVE bluebirds. In my neck of the woods, we see them only occasionally. So it’s a real treat when we discover a pair building a nest or moving into one of the many bird houses we provide. 🙂

As usual, below are some of the progress shots involved with this painting.

Enjoy and Happy Spring!

“Bluebird” 6×8 inches, assorted soft pastels

Until next time…

~R

P.S. Follow me on Instagram for other sneak peeks!

2021: Artistic Reflections & Looking Ahead

Goodbye 2020.

I wish I could say I am going to miss you, but I would be lying.

Will 2021 be better? I sure hope so. But I woke up this morning to an ice storm, tree limbs across the driveway, news that someone has fraudulently claimed unemployment benefits on my hubby’s behalf, power outages, a finicky generator….sigh….

Not off to a great start….

On the other hand, my family is with me at home, safe and healthy. The power is currently on. (Yay!) Relationships in my extended family have been going through some much needed healing, praise God! And I have had the privilege to spend the last year creating art I love in a space I love.

I’m not really one to set New Year’s resolutions, but the quiet that comes after the bustle of the holiday season, especially on a day like today with snow falling onto a hushed world, lends itself to a little introspection.

I look back at what I have spent my time on this last year: caring for my family, homeschooling, music-making, painting.

But if I’m honest, I’ve also spent significant time and energy worrying, wondering, trying to discern, trying to control, trying to adjust, trying to let go.

As I reflect on the changes I have seen in our world in 2020, I hold on to the conviction that I want to do more of what brings light and life into this world.

I think that as artists we have a responsibility to share, to teach, to steward, and by doing those things, to love.

To that end, I thought I would share a little bit about some of my paintings from 2020–what I like about them, why I painted them, and what I learned from painting them.

First up: Pathways No. 1, pastel

Pathways is the genesis of a series of paintings I definitely plan to continue. They are experimental in nature. The scene is from my imagination and represents more of a “mood” than a place.

When I was painting Pathways No. 1, I wanted it to be moody, bleak, brooding, and a little uneasy because that’s how I was feeling. It was a sunny spring day when I painted it—incongruous to my emotions and a world in lockdown—and I needed to see the physical expression of my emotions.

Painting No. 1 was cathartic in many ways, and I remember feeling lighter, freer, and exhilarated as I stepped out the door of my studio when it was finished.

It’s one of those painting that I will never sell because it’s like a journal entry. I painted it just for me.

Next: Pathways No. 2, pastel

By the time Pathways No. 2 came along (above), I was looking for the challenge of creating something of a nocturne.

I strove to capture the sense of it being late in the day when the last light of a stunning sunset is leaving the sky—the time when you can still make out the slightest hints of the colors that flood the landscape during the day before they are lost to the night and your eyes can no longer discern them.

This painting reminds me that we can’t bottle time and we can’t hold on to light. We can only enjoy each fleeting moment and be grateful.

I will keep this blog posted when I paint the next in this series…

Next up: Golden Pines, pastel

Golden Pines was one of those paintings which seemed to paint itself. It didn’t take me long to paint, and it taught me that often simpler is better.

My goal was to capture the low angled sunshine hitting the pine tree trunks late on a winter day. As I look at the photo today, I can see a few things I would tweak. You might think that would make me unhappy, but it actually makes me excited. To me it means I am growing as an artist!

Next: Daisy Delights, acrylic on canvas

Daisy Delights was a delight to paint! (sorry… 😉

This painting seemed to scratch an itch I had to work with thick, impasto strokes of heavy bodied paint—something which is nearly impossible with soft pastels alone. I love the rich tones I could produce which make the painting seem to glow from within.

It was my first acrylic painting AND the first painting I had ever completed entirely with a palette knife—very freeing!

I completed Daisy Delights after viewing the channel “Palette Knife Painting Tutorials” on Youtube. Check it out if you are interested in seeing a how to.

Next: Bunny, watercolor and pen

Oh, that sweet little bunny! I saw the reference photo of this little guy on the line-of-action website I have referenced in a previous post. (I could not find a photographer’s name to credit the photo to, but it is not my own.)

There was just something about his pose and the softness of his fur that just begged to be put into a line and wash type of watercolor.

I love this kind of sketchy, loose look. And who doesn’t love a good scribble???

But my favorite touch was using a pen with watersoluble ink to make a border box. I loved touching the edge of the ink with a water brush to see it bloom and create a loose frame. I am now incorporating that technique to add tone to sketches. But more about that another time.

Next: Squirrel! pastel

Not too much to say about this furry critter except that sometimes a good painting comes out of experimentation and a letting go attitude—at least this one did! My hubby loves it so much he insisted we hang it in the house.

And finally: unnamed painting after Les Darlow, pastel

I wanted to include this pastel painting mainly because it was a huge departure for me. I painted it mostly with Pan Pastels, finely ground pastel in pan containers which are applied with sponges and other tools.

I painted this after viewing a demo by Les Darlow on Youtube—a search will bring it up easily.

I had used pans before mainly as an underpainting, but never to this extent. This painting does have stick pastel applied, mainly in the highlighted areas, and a little marker work in the treeline. Again, lots of experimentation for me, and I love the skyscapes pans let you achieve.

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed browsing through some of my favorite paintings of the year and hearing my thoughts on each.

I pray you are well and will strive along with me to continue developing your creative side as we walk into this new year!

Till next time!

~R

Goodbye 2019

Hello fellow Creatives!

Here we are….literally minutes away from a New Year as I begin writing this post. Maybe I’m getting more sentimental with age, but this year, I am kind of sad to see the year ending.

Don’t get me wrong–I am looking forward to all the “new” of the new year. For me, there are plenty of things to look forward to! But I can’t help feeling a little nostalgic for the waning of 2019.

I think part of the reason I’m feeling this way is because so many wonderful things happened this year.

First, I was given the opportunity to design my very own studio–talk about exciting! I got to plan and dream and work and decorate (more about that in a future post). I was involved from the very first step of laying the foundation to the last moments of hanging curtains and placing artwork.

And I loved every minute.

For those of you who don’t know, I have been working in a very small corner of a very small room in our rather small house. But no more!

I am so grateful to my dear husband, Matt. Without his “let’s do this now while we can still enjoy it” attitude as well as his hard labor and enduring patience while I revised, tweaked, and re-tweaked my vision, my studio would have never become a reality.

Thank you sweetheart! Xoxo

Second, I was given the opportunity to share my art in person with a larger world than just family and friends for the very first time during a Christmas open house. Which brings me to a third wonderful event…

I sold my first painting… EVER!!!

In fact, I sold 9 paintings, but that’s not the point. You see, I didn’t really know how my work would be received. It felt so risky be putting myself and my work out there, you know? I mean, family and close friends tend to love you and what you create no matter what….but others???

Well, I’m glad I took the risk! And that brings me to the fourth wonderful thing that 2019 brought to my life…

A better understanding of who I am as an artist.

Let me explain.

If you’ve ever tried to learn something new–how to paint, how to play an instrument, how to dance, etc–you probably started out by learning the basics. The what-to-do and the what-not-to-do. The “rules” as it were.

Well, the same is true for my artistic journey. I have spent the last several years learning about drawing, values, composition, color, perspective, different media, the materials that go with those media, and a host of other important subjects.

As I became better with the basics and could actually begin to produce art, I concentrated on replicating what other artists did. Replication is a time-honored way of learning and is how pupils learned from the old masters because it works.

But as I grew artistically, it was only natural that I begin to have a desire to express my own voice and vision. My style began to emerge and continues to develop.

I can only tell you that it is a very exciting time of growth, change, surprise, and forward movement for me personally. I am grateful that I have been given the time, support, and encouragement to continue on this path, no matter where I end up.

It’s a journey I am happy to be continuing into this new year…for as I glance at the clock, 2020 has arrived!!!

So for now, friends, if you have made it to the end of this last post of 2019, let me share with you a collage of some of my favorite pieces of the year.

And may I say with the utmost heartfelt sincerity, Happy New Year friends.

May peace that surpasses all understanding, joy to be alive and breathing, love that conquers fear and hate, and gratitude for our Creator and the ability to glorify Him by sharing in acts of creation be yours this year.

Until next time…

~R

Pastel Painting: “Cottonwood Strong”

Hello and welcome back!

As promised, today I am bringing you my most recent pastel painting based on a reference photograph I took near my home.

I am calling it “Cottonwood Strong” because cottonwood trees grow FAST and provide lovely shade even where they are the solitary tree as in this landscape!

“Cottonwood Strong” 5×7 pastel on Pastel Premiere

In the photo below you can see the thumbnail I created.

You can also see I prepared a piece of Pastel Premiere sanded paper with an acrylic ink underpainting in warm colors. I wanted a complimentary color underneath all the green I saw in the reference photo.

Thumbnail & Acrylic Ink underpainting

 

Hard pastel sketch & reference photo

 

Soft Pastel palette

 

Blocking In

 

Adding more local color

More color….

 

Nearly there….just needs signing!

I hope you enjoyed seeing this painting come together.

I am also posting on Instagram now, so please check it out!

Have a great day 🙂

~R

When Making Art Is A Struggle: Lessons Learned

Hello creative friends!  

I wanted to do a follow-up to my last post about the little painting study I recently did, “Never Give Up.”

First, I was drawn to this subject because of the interplay of light and dark in the cloud masses of this photo taken on a particularly stormy day this summer. I had skyscapes on my mind and was keen to build up my reference material for future paintings when I took this photo.

 I also had on my desk a new set of pastels I had purchased but had yet to try: Mount Vision’s Thunderstorm Grey set. So I decided to give this set a whirl!

Here are some progress shots:

Blocking in

Refining

All was going well, when…..CRASH!!!!!!!!!!

Over went my easel with my painting AND my set of Thunderstorm Greys….it had all crashed to the floor. 😦

Needless to say, this was quite upsetting and was the first time something like this had ever happened.
I spent the next half hour picking up and sorting broken shards of pastel off of the floor, vacuuming, and mopping up the mess.
The painting had a little damage, but nothing too bad.

More than anything, I was disheartened. 

Lesson #1:
Every month or so, check all the knobs on your easel to make sure they are hand tight—especially when the seasons change, as the changes in humidity levels can dramatically affect your easel’s stability!

After the “incident”, I returned to my little storm cloud painting, determined to complete it and get it off of my easel before another catastrophe.  But my paper (Uart Dark) was running out of tooth, so I decided to experiment with a new product: Blair Low Odor Fixative. Another artist I admire uses this fixative with great results, so I thought I would give it a go.

Fixative Fiasco?

As you can see from the picture above, it didn’t go so well…the blotchiness and spatters were NOT intended….

Lesson #2:
Don’t experiment on a painting you really like with something that might ruin your painting!

Sigh….

But I pressed on.

Indeed, I didn’t give up.  I figured, “Hey, what do I have to lose?”

Almost there….

Turns out, the blotchiness and spatters didn’t stop me from developing the painting further…whew!

Lesson #3: 
As I looked down at all the little pieces of broken pastels on my tray, I was reminded that
BEAUTY COMES OUT OF BROKENNESS.

I really do believe that. So I gathered all the broken pieces together and reconstituted them into “new” pastels.

The Reconstituted Pastels: Their shape may not be pretty, but their colors still are!

“Never Give Up” 6×8 pastel on Uart

 

Lesson #4:
If I had given up after my easel crashed and broke my pastels, or after I “ruined” my painting with the fixative, I wouldn’t have gotten my end result.

So,

Never Give Up. 

When every day can be a choice between hope and despair, never give up.

Never give up on life. Never give up your dreams. Never give up striving to be light and salt in a dark and troubled world. 

Never. Give. Up.

Blessings to you all this Christmas season.

Till next time,
Stay creative!

~Rhonda 

 

 

 

Fall Color in Pastel!

Welcome creative friends! I hope you are all enjoying Autumn. It’s come rather late to our area. I took the photo below last week, and our trees only began losing their leaves a few days ago!

Since autumn has lingered in our area, I wanted to take the opportunity to gather up some inspiration from the color that surrounded me. But how? I haven’t had any time to paint, but I did have time to do a little color research.

Ever notice how the color of leaves can look so very different depending on how they are lit? Well, I wanted to record some of these observations….so here’s what I did.

First, I gathered up a variety of leaf specimens from a few trees in full color.

Here are a few of the leaves: these are from Japanese maple, oak, and tulip trees.

Next, I took photos of the leaves held up to the light as if they were being lit by the sun. Then I took photos without this backlight. In the photo below you can really see how the leaf’s color is dramatically changed by being lit!

Backlit

Not backlit

Once I had my photos, I took a little time to select pastels in colors and values that I saw represented in the leaves under the various lighting conditions.

I used those pastels to make color swatches on white index cards, along with the tree’s identification for future reference. Then I enclosed the cards in self-laminating sheets to protect them.

Here are a few examples!

I loved this idea because it not only got me playing with fall color, but it was a great way to see if my pastel selection was up to the challenge of some autumn painting!

Let me know if you try this!

Till next time, stay creative friends!

~Rhonda

 

 

Charcoal Portrait

Portraiture!  I never thought I would EVER do a portrait!  I do not consider myself a portrait artist, but have lately been drawn to working on facial features.

Here are some examples of the practice I have been doing.

 

 

I am still working out what materials I prefer for portraits.  I love working with vine charcoal because it’s so forgiving and easy to correct mistakes, but I also like going in with charcoal pencils on top.

My expectation is to move into pastel portraits using my Terry Ludwig portrait set; however, who knows when I will feel inspired to actually DO that!

Here are a few more practice features….

I find myself very much in the experimental phase.  Trying out new paper, brands of vine and compressed charcoal, charcoal pencils, etc, has been frustrating and a little daunting.  

There are A LOT of opinions out there about what materials to use in every situation, but in the end, it comes down to 1) what I can afford, 2) what I can find, and 3) what I end up liking!  I have had to learn to be patient with this whole process….(sigh).

As I began experimenting, I knew immediately if a paper didn’t suit me, which was helpful.

It became more difficult when a paper let me get farther into the process, but then fought me.  This happened if it stopped grabbing the charcoal because of lack of tooth.

What compounds things even more is that my “process” isn’t really clear yet…. I am NOT an all pencil kind of person–don’t have the desire or patience for that.  However, for feature work as in the above photos, pencils got me where I was going.  

But discovery is what this blog is about, so…..

The following portrait was done in almost all soft vine charcoal, with highlighting in a white Nupastel.  It was done on  Canson XL Recycled Bristol 14 x 17 in paper (right side).  I will probably experiment next by using the other side of the paper, as this paper has a smooth side and a textured side.

This is a portrait of my beautiful daughter.  Wish I could’ve done better, but hopefully that will come with time and practice.

Incidentally, I also tried out Strathmore Bristol vellum paper.  I didn’t like it at all.

 

I hope to be doing more with my art as the school year comes to a close, and I hope you are all doing well and staying creative!

Till next time,

~Rhonda

 

 

Sharing Some Inspiration….

We have hit the season of “Sprinter.” Where everyone is dying for Spring, but Winter just won’t die. We are technically well past the official start of Spring. It is now March 30th. But Winter must not like us this year or it really just doesn’t want to end. I am looking out the […]

via “Sprinter” light bulb moment — Imperfection At Its Finest

I stumbled on this post from Imperfection At Its Finest today.  It hit me right where I am living in this busy season of life, so I thought I would share it with you!  I hope to get back to some easel time soon, but till then, Enjoy!

~Rhonda (one snowflake to another!)

Pastel ColorPlay Project #7

Hello Everyone! ColorPlay #7 is here.  

I will keep this particular post brief, as it deals with the same color scheme as in my last post.

I find that sometimes it is easier NOT to put away the pastels I used for my most recent painting, and I use them again.  

So this time I decided to try out a new paper for me….

     UART DARK 500


PAPER:

I am used to working on UART’s lighter sanded paper which is actually a sand color.  It comes in a variety of grits from a very toothy 240 all the way up to a very fine 800.  The higher grits are probably better for things like animal portraits or subjects which require a lot of detail.  I typically use the 400 grit for my landscape paintings.

UART DARK is a 500 grit, so a little finer than I am used to working on, but not vastly different from the 400.

What I love most about this dark sandpaper is how it makes the pastel colors look so vibrant!  

In the image above, you can see how the darkest violet of my palette “pops” against the dark of the paper.


COLOR SCHEME & HUES:

My intent for this ColorPlay was to use an Analogous Complementary color scheme using yellow, orange, green, and red-violet; however, this particular exercise turned out to be much more of a Complementary color scheme focused around the red-violets and greens.  Very minor use of the other colors….


PROGRESS SHOTS:

 

THE COLORFUL RESULT:

This might be one piece I pull out again in the future to do a little more with, as it feels a little “unfinished” to me; however, I am itching to do some more painting and posting about some of the pieces I haven’t had time to share!

 

So until next time….stay creative and colorful!

~Rhonda