Saturday, August 23, 2014

Feel Like a Kid Again in My New Fall Classes

Remember how much fun you had with art as a kid? Back then you felt free to create without fear or self-consciousness, and you were limited only by your imagination. Your style wasn't like anyone else's and you didn't care what anyone thought of your artwork - you did it just for yourself, for the joy of creating. Wouldn't it be great to experience that feeling again?

Well, that's what my sketchbook journaling classes are all about - about having fun with art again, about silencing that little voice in your head that tells you this will be too hard, or you won't be any good at it, that it will take too much time and you'll probably give up.

With my guidance and encouragement, it won't be too hard, and you will be good at it. It won't take too much time, and you won't give up! You'll learn to draw (yes, you!) and paint with watercolors (really!) and you'll discover a whole new way of looking at the world.

I'm offering two 8-week sessions this fall. These are comprehensive classes that teach drawing, composition, watercolor techniques, hand-lettering, and page layout and design. They're loaded with information and inspiration. I hope you'll join me!

 Sketchbook Journaling 101
at Summerhill Studio near Ruff Creek, PA
8-week class
Tuesday evenings
September 23, 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28, November 4, 11
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Sue, from my Spring 2013 Summerhill class

Sketchbook Journaling for Beginners
at Wash Arts in Washington, PA
8-week class
Thursday afternoons
September 18, 25, October 9, 16, 23, 30, November 6, 13
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

My Winter 2013 class at WashArts

Click here to learn more

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Flashback to the Fifties: Alice's Jello Salad

Here's a fun commission piece I did recently...

This is a recipe that's been in my customer, Pam's, family for generations. It's a favorite at every large family gathering. The long-running joke is that it's usually forgotten in the refrigerator until after all the other desserts have been eaten. Then suddenly someone will remember Alice's Jello Salad, sitting in all its pink, fluffy glory, just waiting to be devoured.

Do you have a great idea for a unique gift
for someone special?
Contact me today to discuss the possibilities.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mushroom Sleuthing

I was on a quest. A mushroom quest. As I rambled through the woods, I had noticed a few colorful little gems peeking out from under the carpet of dried brown leaves beneath my feet, and that only made me want more.

Aquabee Super Delluxe sketchbook, 9" x 12", watercolor and Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pen

I felt like I was on a treasure hunt, as my eyes darted this way and that, looking for bright pinks and yellows, as well as the camouflaged tans and greys.

Aquabee Super Delluxe sketchbook, 9" x 12", watercolor and Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pen

If I hadn't been paying attention, I would have missed them...

I sketched the mushrooms directly in ink while I was there in the woods and snapped a photo of each one.

It was dusk by the time I finished, and the mosquitoes were finding me every time I paused to sketch, so, after filling two pages in my 9" x 12" sketchbook, I headed indoors.

I spent the next hour or so with a field guide to mushrooms, trying to identify the ones I had drawn. I'm not sure I was too successful - so many of them look similar to one another. 

 It sure was fun tromping around in the woods, though, just seeing what I could see.

I need to give myself permission to do this more often. To wander, to paint, to really look at the things I might normally pass by.

I need to remember that my to-do list will still be there tomorrow, but summer will be over in the blink of an eye. 

 I'm going to savor each moment.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Step-by-Step Watercolor: Lake Scene

I visited my mother last week at Alpine Lake, West Virginia, and while I was there spent a wonderfully relaxing couple of hours following the walking trail that meanders through the woods along the shoreline. There are so many pretty, sketch-worthy scenes, but I finally chose this one:

Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook, 7" x 7"

Sketching provides a great excuse to slow down and enjoy life. What could be better than to sit by a lake on a beautiful summer day just listening, watching, and painting?

Would you like to see a step-by-step of my sketching process? Well, blissed out and relaxed as I was that day at Alpine Lake, I actually had the presence of mind to snap some pictures as I worked on this page. I thought you'd enjoy seeing them. Here's step 1...

Step 1 - Quick sketch of the scene

I had a new toy to play with, a set of Koh-I-Noor "Magic Pencils", so I used one of them to do my sketch. It gave me a soft variegated line that would easily blend into my watercolors later as I painted.

"Magic Pencils" by Koh-I-Noor. I used the second one from the top for my sketch.

The lines are colorful yet subtle.

I painted the sky first, wet-on-dry since I didn't want too much spreading of the color. I softened edges where needed with a damp brush.

Step 2 - First washes (sky and grass)

The grass was a bright yellow-green, so I laid in some leaf green, olive green, and cadmium yellow light, allowing them to mingle on the paper. In the lower part of the page, I dropped some ultramarine blue into the wet paint.

In step 3, I began painting the masses of foliage, varying my greens to add interest.  I also added the first indications of the dirt path and foreground grasses. The boulders received their first light and medium tone washes.

Step 3 - Began painting leafy foliage, path, grasses, and rocks

I always think of this part of the process as being the awkward adolescent stage of a painting. It's hard to foresee a satisfactory outcome, and I'm usually thinking, "Augh, this looks so bad!" I try not to get discouraged at this point, though, because I know things will get better if I just keep plugging away at it. 

In step 4, I defined the tree trunks, first with a light grey wash, then a darker one after the first had dried. I added some spattering in the tree foliage and painted the deep green undergrowth behind the tree trunks. The boulders received their first layer of shadows, and the path had some darker tones added to it. More texture was added to the foreground grasses with spattering from my paintbrush, a size 6 or 8 round.

Step 4 - Tree trunks, undergrowth, foliage spatters, rock shadows

A lot happened between steps 4 and 5 - I painted the distant hills, began painting the water, added deeper shadows on the rocks and foreground foliage, and further defined some of the branches and leaves.

Step 5 - Add darker shadows, hills, grasses, and water

Step 6 shows the final touches: trees on the distant shore and a few touches of darker shadows here and there.

Step 6 - Distant trees, spots of darkest color

Total working time was about an hour and a half. I like the way this turned out using the colored pencil for the drawing, rather than my usual ink lines. It's a looser, less defined look.

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