Love Those Oil Sticks

Love Those Oil Sticks

“Bright & Brighter 1” (Oil sticks on 10×10 inch gessobord)

Remember those oil sticks I mentioned a few weeks ago?
They are becoming a real distraction for me.
It was 11pm.
I was supposed to be finishing a long list of chores and packing for a road trip.
I was completely engrossed in an impromptu art session.

“Bright & Brighter 2” (Oil sticks on 10×10 inch gessobord)

There’s a term in Chinese pronounced “shong-ying.”
My best translation for it is something tempting or addicting.
One might say eating a favorite food is “shong-ying.”
The more you eat it, the more you want to eat it.

That’s how it’s becoming for me with my R&F pigment sticks.

“Bright & Brighter 3” (Oil sticks on 10×10 inch gessobord)

In the midst of my studio cleanup,
I decided I had time to draw just one little vase of flowers.
(Recall the recent flower painting obsession)

I pulled out one gessobord and my cigar box of oil sticks.
One board became two.
Then three.
Then four.
Suddenly it was 1am.
My studio still a mess.
Suitcase not packed.
Chores not done.
Family road trip just hours away…

I was tempted to do just one more.
Except I was dizzy.
And out of boards.
I reluctantly stopped for the night.
Traveled & played hard all week with my family.
And you know the first thing I did after I came home & unpacked?
Yup, that’s right.
I went right back playing with the oil sticks.

“Bright & Brighter 4” (Oil sticks on 10×10 inch gessobord)

“Woodland Animal” Inspired Drawing List

“Woodland Animal” Inspired Drawing List

I have a new project in the pipeline.
Once Christmas madness passes,
I intend to hole up in my studio and tackle this new series.
It will be totally different from what I’ve done so far.
I’m excited about it.
But, also a little wary.
This one requires me to be detailed and meticulous.
Two things I have little patience for.
But this idea won’t be ignored.
So, here goes nothing…

To prep, I’m working my way through a new drawing list.
It’s “woodland animal” inspired.
Cute but not too cute.
Nature and animals without actually having to smell or touch them…
(For me, the idea is more appealing than the reality)

Want to draw along?
Please see my list is below.
No particular order.
Look for my pen and ink sketches on instagram:

Woodland Animal Inspired Drawing List:
Pine cones
Field mice
Acorns and oak leaves
Fluffy little bird on a branch
Bird’s nest with eggs
Wild flowers

Happy drawing.

Because of Golda

Because of Golda

I’ve been obsessively painting flowers.
It’s all because of Golda.

My friend, Golda, paints flowers and flowers and flowers.
I see her reflected in her gentle, dreamy blooms.
One day she’ll be holding a fresh bouquet of flowers.
The next day, there will be a new flower painting hanging in her studio.
I was intrigued by the quiet peacefulness of her flower paintings.
How could I not give them a try too?

“Craspedia in Blue Vase” (Oil on 11×14 inch canvas)

My flowers aren’t in the least bit peaceful.
They are bright, bold and a tad sloppy.
Shapes are simple.
Foliage and filler, for the most part, left out.
I doubt anyone would find them “intriguing.”
But perhaps they will catch the eye.
Maybe even add a little surprise cheer.

“Ranunculus in Copper Vase” (Oil on 11×14 inch canvas)

There’s something honestly delightful about painting flowers.
The round ones are my favorite.
No fancy petals, thank you very much.
Forget the orchids, lilies or anything delicate or fussy.
I love the blowsy peonies.
Bright yellow craspedia.
Tightly petaled ranunculous.
Cheery sunflowers.
I didn’t know I’d enjoy painting flowers.
Til now.
Thanks Golda.

Art Journal as Warm Up

Art Journal as Warm Up

I’ve upped the ante on my daily art discipline.
The new goal is 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Though it may not sound like THAT much to you,
it’s actually a big challenge for me.

First I need make the time each day to BE in my studio.
And then I have to actually DO something while I’m in there.

Carving out this much studio time means treating it like a job.
When my kids are home, they take first priority.
But, once they are off to school, I head to my studio to work.
I confess to being easily distracted.
I’m learning to put the never ending list of chores and errands on hold.
I’m working out in the early-early mornings.
I’m saying “no” to extra-curricular activities.

Once I jump the first hurdle of getting into my studio,
the challenge changes to actually being inspired to create art.
Sometimes,  I know exactly what I’m going to paint, draw or craft.
But often, I’m still fussing over some mom-duty-thing.
The last thing I feel like I can do is switch over to artist mode.
That’s where the warm up comes in.

From Val’s art journal. Inspired by Lynn Whipple’s “Expressive Flower Painting.”

Some mornings,
I warm up by puttering around my studio.
I tidy up the previous day’s painting debris.
Rearrange my craft tchochkes.
Play on the craft side of the room with beads or wool.
Make lists of the chores & errands I’m ignoring so I can tackle them later.
But I’ve discovered a more efficient way to transition into artist mode is via art journal.

From Val’s art journal. Inspired by Lynn Whipple’s “Expressive Flower Painting.”

I keep multiple art journals.
One for pen and ink.
One for watercolors.
One for mixed media.
You get the idea…

Sometimes I do super anal-retentive exercises;
Like creating a perfect grid to test my Shmincke pan of 48 watercolors.
Other times,
I draw rough thumbnail sketches of ideas for paintings or projects.
Or, if there is another artist’s work that I greatly admire,
then the art journal is where I “copy” those works.
I say “copy” because the truth is,
I never follow anything 100%.
Well… except baking recipes and I’ll even tweak those occasionally.
The flowers you’re seeing in this post were inspired by a painting in Lynn Whipple’s
“Expressive Art Painting.”
The piece on page 48 was the one that especially caught my eye.
I liked the shape of her vase.
So I copied it.
But with each flower, my piece slowly grew into my own work.
And when I finished this art journal entry,
I was ready to pick up my palette knife and face my easel.


Acorn Bling

Acorn Bling

For the past 10 years,
I’ve compulsively collected acorns every fall.
I rarely use them for anything.
The joy is mainly in the collecting.
I love searching for “treasure.”
I can comb beaches for hours looking for shells and sea glass.
A crowded flea market sets my heart pounding and my eyes endlessly roving.
And when the leaves turn color and the temperatures drop,
my hunt turns to acorns.

Most years,
I toss my acorns in bowl and display them in the state I found them in.
  I usually discard them once spring arrives.

But this year, I decided to add a little bling to them.

Did you know that acorns differ in size and looks?
Some are bigger.
Some are smaller.
Some have fragile little caps.
Some have weightier caps.
I like the big meaty acorns with caps that stay stuck to the nut.
This year I came upon an oak tree with just the right kind of acorn.
All the other trees had released their acorns.
But the branches of this one were still loaded with acorns.
One such branch grew at the just the right angle and height so that
I could stay on the sidewalk,
gently pull down a branch and harvest to my heart’s content.

Since I plucked this batch right off the branch,
I deemed it unnecessary to clean them.
I let them dry.
Then grabbed a bottle of gold spray paint and a shallow cardboard box.

Just a couple of precautionary notes if you’re feeling the urge to spray paint acorns too:

Spray paint outside.
No matter how careful you are, the paint will create a little mist when you hit that nozzle.
You’re NOT going to want that drifting onto something in your house or garage.

Stand upwind.
Remember that paint mist.
It travels.
You don’t want to mist yourself either.

Think multiple light layers.
Keep your hand moving as you spray the paint.
Initially, you might just see a sheen on the objects you’re trying to paint.
Let it dry.
Shake the box a bit to allow the acorns to roll around.
Then hit it with another light coat of paint.
I went 3-4 rounds with my acorns.

Know that if you spray paint on humid days,
it takes longer for the paint to dry.

Et voila.
Acorn bling.
I still don’t know what I’m going to use them for.
But I do like the look of my golden acorns.