Make a Splash 16 & 17 Florals

So I had to make an edit to my last post about Every Day in May, apparently I’m not doing that at all since it’s a very specific set of challenges.  Which is fine, at the moment I feel very full doing my Make a Splash challenge paintings.  Of course realising that I didn’t need to do birds everyday was equally liberating because I got a sudden urge to do florals again.

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#16 Peonies.  I love the composition on this and how it turned out.  I am keeping up with the more illustrative approach that I used for my Wagtails and I love the effect.  My husband even commented how it reminds him of stained glass.  It is rare for me to genuinely like a piece of my own work so I am gifting this to my mother for Mothers’ Day, hope she likes it!

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#17 Icelandic Poppies.  Maybe the composition isn’t as strong on this one but oh those deep rich colours have been something I’ve been chasing for a long time.  Much happier with the detail on this too, I used a very tiny brush for the hairs and a script liner for the veins on the petals.

Every month of my art challenge so far I feel like I’ve been a different sort of artist enamoured with a different style and medium.  And that is part of the fun really.  Some days I just want to pick up a pen and go do some urban sketching, or life drawing but this watercolour challenge has forced me to focus in a way I haven’t done before.  The last 3 pieces have all been full A4 sized paintings, finished paintings.  It’s a goal I wasn’t sure I’d even achieve by the end of this year.  5 months in I’m finally starting to enjoy my own work and see where I want to be going as an artist.

Have you had an artistic epiphany?  A moment where you felt like it was all starting to click?


Make a Splash 11-15

I have a feeling that I’m addicted to challenges, at the moment not only am I doing my personal 365 day challenge and the Cass Art Make a Splash challenge but also the popular Every Day in May.  Maybe it’s because the crossover of making art everyday makes it easy to sign up to anything that helps keep it up, and being prolific is the best way to improvement.  I’m not sure exactly what the etiquette for EDIM is but I decided to do birds for Every Day in May.

Just realised that Every Day in May is a very specific set of challenges each day (draw something hot, draw a tree…) so I’m actually NOT doing that.  One less thing to think about!

2015-04-29 22.22.54 #11 Mistle Thrush.  Very disappointingly overworked! 2015-05-01 21.19.56 #12 Redstart.  Again I think I overworked this with the details a little, it’s a fine line between keeping something simple and then going overboard.  The white inking is a lot of fun so it’s hard to show restraint sometimes. 2015-05-01 21.45.13 #13 Robin.  Much much happier with this one, I love how simple it is and I started using colours for design a bit more, so it’s less accurate than my birds in the past but maybe more charming? 2015-05-02 22.38.50 #14 Turtle Dove.  While I really enjoyed painting this again I think the final details look overworked, so this is obviously something I need to keep in mind when I’m working on a piece. 2015-05-03 21.42.30 #15 Grey Wagtails.  This I am really rather proud of, it has just the feel I was looking for.  A simple design with very clean colours.  I sacrificed accuracy in colour (these are more blue than grey) but think they still come across well. So only 35 more to go, I feel like I need a bit of a push to get some more done this week before we go on holiday(!) but I think I might just make it.

Cassart Make a Splash Challenge 1-4

The last couple of days I have been attempting to catch up with the Cass Art “Make a Splash” watercolour challenge to make 50 paintings by May 30.  That means nearly 2 paintings a day for a month for me.  I feel a little insane attempting it but the benefit is that I’m finally diving into paintings with ideas I’ve had swimming in my head.

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I’m attempting more of an illustrative feel for these than my usual sketches.  Learning to simplify and still make an image come across is so hard without pen for me, but I’m finding it a lot of fun trying.  Simplifying this landscape is one of my top challenges, I want to get a little more depth into this.

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So inspired by the spring leaves emerging on the trees lately.  I love these vivid greens (much more vivid than real life obviously), and playing with tree shapes.

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All the birds around here have been gathering materials for nests.  This is my first attempt at a piece that tells a story.

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Birds again (surprise surprise).  I love the elegance of barn owls, though making the chick cute was a challenge!  I actually liked the finished product enough to make it into a simple Mother’s Day card with some hand lettering.

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This wasn’t an official entry in the challenge, but the weather has been so fine today that I couldn’t help going out and sketching some of the beautiful spring trees I see from our garden.  It’s always good to practice since I”m sure I’ll be doing lots more trees in the next month!

Do you have any personal challenges coming up for May?

Dandelion Three Ways

Today I had a bit of time to do some sketching in a playing field while my children were at the playground.  Of course this time of year it is filled with dandelions, they might be a menace but I still find them charming.

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Here is the spread of dandelions I did in different ways.  As I gain confidence with this art thing I like to play around with the style of a single subject.

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I always love pen and ink, something about the bold line of the pen always seems to feel right to me.  I also get to splash on the colour very loosely this way.

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This was done directly to watercolour, no pencil or anything underneath.  I tried to use the strokes and values to indicate the shadows and petals.  While I like it, it seems to lack a bit of impact for me.

The final one (seen in my original shot of the spread) is where I used a darker watercolour outline in a similar way to my penwork.  I was looking for a more graphic look without the pen.  I did end up muddying it up a little, but maybe I’m getting somewhere with that idea.  I was using a waterbrush so the marks ended up pretty thick.  I also did some very loose watercolour dandelions but they just don’t read like the flower to me.

In the end I’m still not sure which one I like best, pen and ink or the one with watercoloured outlines?  I’ll keep experimenting.  Do you have a particular “style” that you tend to stick to?  Or do you like to play around?

Milestones and Giving Thanks

A few days ago I reached my 100th day of daily art (barring those couple of sick days).  I felt so surprised that 100 days had already passed, but at this point it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t draw or paint everyday.  The sketch I did on the 100th day was not exceptionally exciting, another loose watercolour sketch.

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But to celebrate my milestone instead of rewarding myself I decided I wanted to give thanks to a friend of mine who has been a constant support throughout my artistic journey.  I met her online a few years ago but have since met her in real life and she’s just as wonderful in person.  She is the proud owner of two very handsome specialty siamese cats.  I’ve seen a few photos of them online and decided to do a pet portrait especially for her.

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This is the prototype for her red siamese, Rio.  You can tell that I really overworked this, particularly his face and the shadows.  But that’s okay because this was just the first draft and I was trying to work out what colours to use and how to approach it.

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My second attempt turned out much better, I feel like I captured a bit of a likeness here (long face, very large ears and regal look).  I kept the shadows lighter and not so grey and did away with the distracting shadow underneath him.  I sent it off yesterday and am crossing my fingers that she likes it.  It is the least I can do for someone who has cheered me on every step of the way.

Do you make art for others, as a way to give thanks or to mark an occasion?