Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Painting how-to

Early this morning I rode my bike to this spot and took a few pictures.  When I got home I made a quick black and white value sketch, stretched some watercolor paper and when it was dry masked out the areas I wanted to keep white. 
I then poured liquid watercolor over the paper. First yellow, then red and finally blue.

Here it is with the mask removed.
I then painted in the tree trunks and created more textures in the foreground and the bushes on the far side of the river. Unfortunately I didn't take any more process pictures, but here's the final result.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What I learned

At the end of 20 days of posting new art work every day I learned:

1. I can do more than I think I can
2. Ideas come. I may have no inkling of what I'll post in 2 days, but when the time comes so does the idea.
3. Even the rather limited accountability of telling my small online world of my plan makes it more likely to succeed.
4. Modest goals work better than huge ones - I couldn't have kept this up indefinitely.
5. Promising to do something daily gets people coming back to check and see what's next.
6. I even sold something.
7. I'm happiest when I'm creating (unless it's when I'm singing). I know this, but it can still be hard to get down to it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Subtractive watercolor painting

The basis of this painting was done back to front! I painted two layers of cobalt blue and then one of indigo before I started, adding more water as I moved down the page so that the bottom would be lighter. The cobalt blue is easy to keep smooth and even, the indigo much less so. I used a circle of masking tape to keep the moon white (and later softened its edges). I then removed color with a wet brush quickly followed by mopping with a paper towel. You can get almost all the way back to white paper with these two pigments (other colors are much more staining). The white on the fox's face and tail were not masked first, but just had their color lifted. I then added color to the fox, but the underlying blue helps keep him in the same moonlit spectrum of light - he doesn't show up quite as red in the actual painting. I added a little definition on the trees with indigo paint and a fine brush, but whereas I'd originally intended to make them clearly birches, I found that I preferred the softer focus of the subtractive process rather than defined markings. I also worked the middle section of the background so that it looks like a more distant hill.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

O little town

I enjoy the work of Lisa Congdon although her work is much more graphic designy and modernist than mine. Anyway she's done a number of pictures of little towns and they inspired me to try one. I decided to use gouache as I wanted the rather chalky colors that can provide. I liked what happened at this first stage and was a bit afraid of losing it as I added detail so I recorded it. I had originally thought I wanted flat color but ended up liking the variation that happened when I used the paint quite diluted.
I then went ahead and added black marker and white acrylic ink lines.
It's a little hard to know where to stop with the details...

Monday, April 21, 2014

My daily painting

I realized that followers of my blog may wonder what happened to my challenge to myself to create a new piece of art every day for 20 days. It looks as thought there are quite a few gaps, but in fact I've been posting my daily piece at my Facebook page, Alison Kolesar Illustrator. I've just used my blog to talk about pieces that needed a bit more explanation. Anyway here's today's piece.
It's a straightforward watercolor that needs no explanation other than that the blossoms are not painted from life - we don't get leaves or blossoms on the trees around here before May! And the bird's colors are made up, so if it looks like a kind you recognize that's just by chance.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Inspired by Norman Rockwell

I was thinking about Easter bonnets (as something to draw - I won't be wearing one), which brought to mind this image by Norman Rockwell
although I know it's just called "Walking to Church" and isn't specifically Easter.
This is the drawing that resulted
Then I wondered about superimposing these three on an old photo of a street and it turns out that this one is in the archives of the Norman Rockwell museum as a reference photo used by Rockwell himself.
So I had to put them together.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Learning something new

I enjoy looking at surface pattern designs, but have very little understanding of how to create them. I took a little step forward in my learning with this image. First I sketched a bunch of things from my kitchen. Here's one page from my sketch book.
Then I scanned them into the computer, played around with the relative sizes, placed them together on one page, and printed it out.

More work with tracing paper, moving things around, adding a few more objects, and then I inked the final piece.
Here's where the computer fun started. I scanned it back into Photoshop and tried out a few things I'd learned by searching online. First here's what happens when you go to Image, then Adjustments, then Invert.

But I wanted a white line and colored background. That involved going to Select, using the eyedropper to pick up the white, then to Layer, New, and Layer via Cut, which puts the line work on a layer of its own. You can then color another new layer and change the order of the layers so the white line is on top.

And here's a bonus one where I somehow managed to color the lines rather than the background. Still learning! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A great attitude to rain

As I was contemplating adding words to today's picture, I came across this great little verse by James Whitcomb Riley. I don't know anything more about him except that his dates were 1852 to 1916, this comes from a piece called Wet-Weather Talk,  and I'm guessing from the semi dialect that it was put into the mouth of a country character.

"It haint no use to grumble and complane
It's jest as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
W'y rain's my choice."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day Two

A quote from my favorite poet. I'm not sure I could offer this one for sale because of copyright issues (though some people say very short and attributed quotes are OK). Next time I'll look for something that's definitely in the public domain. The postcard was downloaded from a site that has lots of old images, some for free. (I can't now remember which site but there are lots.) No need to scour junk/antique shops any more for that sort of thing!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Challenging myself

I recently came back from a wonderful vacation. No prizes for guessing where we went!
I'd also been to Scotland to visit my father earlier in the month, so March wasn't very productive work wise. Now I'm trying to re-establish some good habits and therefore I'm setting myself a challenge - 20 new pieces of art work in the next 20 days. Here's piece number one.
I don't have any particular theme in mind and obviously they can't be too big or complex if I'm really going to do one a day. It'll be interesting to see what emerges.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bird Collages

Here are some of my recent bird collages grouped together. Apart from the subject matter and the format of these 6 x 6 inch panels, I'm not really thinking in terms of series, but it's fun to see which ones work with which others in terms of color and degree of abstraction. I guess of these the only pairing that doesn't really work for me is the last.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Trying something new

I recently saw work by the artist Rogene Manas. She uses paper clay to create bas relief art work. I don't know what her recipe for the paper clay is, but I decided to try doing the same using the mixture I had made up for making my little 3-dimensional birds. It was on the wet side and tricky to use. I know there's a commercial product available that I might try another time. But in any case here's my design in paper clay on a wood panel. The white round the edges is from gesso that I applied to the sides of the panel.
I painted the whole thing dark grey, making sure to get my brush into all the nooks and crannies.
I then brushed the blue background just on the surface so that the grey would show through. The surface was quite textured. Some of it is just the way the paper clay is, but some was added by rolling it out between layers of plastic wrap.
And here's the final piece. The 3-dimemsionality is less obvious now that the color is there. Part of me thinks I might prefer the all dark version. What do you think?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Name that chicken

To celebrate getting to 50 items in my Etsy store, I'm holding a little competition. The best name for this chicken (as judged by my friend who will not see who's posting ideas) will win your choice of any item $12 or less from my store. I'm also running this on my Alison Kolesar Illustrator page on Facebook.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Collage step by step

I've been making a lot of collages recently so I decided to document a bit of the process.
At this stage I've already made a lot of the decisions - background color, color of the sides of the panel that the collage will sit on - but nothing is glued down and I'm still playing with the placing of the various elements.
I liked the shape of this little bird, but gave it different colors to fit better with my overall color scheme.
I'll often draw on the back of a previously painted piece of paper and then cut out the shape. It's fun to see just how the colors appear on the right side afterwards.
Starting to stick the various elements down. The berries on my table were the inspiration for the now cut spray on the table to the left. The wonderful textures in the background are made with alcohol inks.
Adding the bird, along with a longer branch to sit on.
That bottom left corner seemed a bit empty even after the berries - trying to decide whether to add another plant shape there.
The finished piece. It'll go in my Etsy store once the varnish has dried and I've taken a few more pictures.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hand carving stamps

I recently found a blog by an artist living in Mexico, Geninne Zlatkis, who, among other things, makes wonderful hand-carved stamps. She wrote a book about how to do it too, Making An Impression: Designing and Creating Artful Stamps, which I got for Christmas. Here are a few photos of some stamps I carved recently.
Pencil images are very easy to transfer to the stamp carving block. I used Moo Carve which is easy to cut and good at not crumbling. (I had used a different product before which wasn't bad, but this stuff is better.)
Here you see my first prints of the tree and birds. The exacto knife beside my sketch book is used for trimming the outside of the block.
This picture shows the lino cutting tool used to cut the lines in the stamp and a couple of ink pads. I was given the lino cutting tools years ago but hadn't used them in a very long time.
I decided to add veins in the leaves and the fox, as well as trying the tree in different colors. I don't have a lot of different stamp pad colors - the green one is from a kids' stamping kit that is rather running out of juice.