Archive for March, 2009

Here is a brief post about how I went about applying layers and the watercolor pencil colors I used. I am finding photographing suede matboard eternally annoying. As the day progresses the light changes and thus, the suede never looks the same, no matter how much I play with it in photoshop. (sigh)

Watercolor Pencil guide abbreviations
Windsor Newton Rexel Derwent=RD
Faber Castell=FC

The Base Colors
RD Burnt Yellow Ochre (the yellow color)
Followed by FC Brown Ochre. (more of a brown gold)
Then I apply FC Sanguine (the orangish color)
As always, my pencil strokes match the direction the hair runs.

After FC Sanguine is applied over entire surface (not completely done in this photo)
I begin to work in the medium tones and darks.

Midtone Range Colors
FC Indian Red
FC Venetian Red
FC Cinnimon
RD Terracotta
RD Venetian Red

Dark Color Range
FC Wine red
FC Caput Mortuum
RD Chocalate
RD Delft Blue
RD Medium Dark Violet
RD Black

I finish in with the darkest darks and the highlight areas.

Light Range Colors
FC Medium Flesh
RD Flesh Pink
A #429

That’s pretty much it. After the foal is done I will go in and adjust highlights and shadows to appear more uniform. Then again after the background is added.

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Current Foal WIP On Suede

Here is the latest on my foal. The suede photographed more golden than it is in reality but the foal is pretty true to color.

My reference photo is many years old (like around 10) and was taken at the Black Hills WiId Horse Sanctuary. I’ve had it in my to-do pile pretty much ever since.

Sometimes it takes just the right combination of medium and substrate to make me say, Hey, that’s just the right photo for this application.” And apparently suede matboard was just such a trigger.

I am working on a 17×21″ piece of Tru Grit (that’s the name of the color) suede matboard made by Bainbridge. The image itself will be somewhere around a 14×18.”

I chose this particular mat for two reasons.

    Number 1. It is a neutral that I can work both light and dark on, with relative ease.

    Number 2. It was the first chunk of neutral colored suede that I ran into from my stock pile that was about the size I was looking for. Had I chosen a color, I would have looked for something slightly more golden


I decided I wanted to make the foal a little more cute (like baby horses aren’t cute enough.) So I made her a blood bay in color, lengthened her stripe and ended it with a bit of a pink nose. I’ll also have a least one white sock.

So that’s what I got so far. Next post will be a step by step from the neck area covering colors used and layers.

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I recently read an article about a couple of artists who work on suede mat board with colored pencils. I know several artists who use pastel on suede and I have always admired the effects they achieved. But I had not heard of colored pencils being used on suede. Apparently the artists used some turps to intensify the color of the pencils.

So I thought “Well heck. I should have a go with water color pencils. As long as I keep the water use to a minimum it shouldn’t affect the matboard adversely.

Since I didn’t want to ruin the suede by trying to erase on it, I began like I do with my handmade paper pieces. That is, I drew out my image on a separate piece of paper and traced it over, onto the suede. This worked quite well.

It is way too early for me to develop any concrete opinions about suede matboard and WC Pencils, But so far I am liking it.

I think that anyone wanting to go for that photo-realistic look would be pleased with it. (Which of course is common knowledge to pastel artists and apparently colored pencil artists as well.) The suede maintains a soft look no matter how many watercolor pencil layers I apply. It is almost effortless.

I should also say that after the initial few minutes at the beginning I haven’t added any water. The WC Pencils seem to have strong enough color without adding the liquid.

Tomorrow I will post the reference photo and talk a little more about size and matboard color used as well as any additional wip photos..

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Two New Book Reviews

I am a voracious reader. In my downtime months I can work a 40 hour week and still easily plow through up to 3 books. That being said I rarely pick up a book that wasn’t recommended by someone, where I know nothing about the story or the author.

I went to the Rolfe Library to get the Dewey book (see below) and the book, How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth) by Henry Alford was sitting out on the counter. The only reason it caught my eye was because it had a wrinkly Shar Pei dog on the cover. However the title made me smile. I flipped it over and read the back which was all glowing praises. Apparently this was a book written from many different interviews of people over the age of 80. Some famous, some not so much. And so intrigued, I checked it out, without so much as cracking open the book to read the inside cover.

I must say I was rather disappointed in this book. It just didn’t deliver. There were more words about his personal life (a gay man in his 40’s) than about the actual interviews. I mean seriously, he interviewed Phyllis Diller. Surely she warranted more than a few paragraphs. I guess I might have liked the book, had I not expected it to be something different that what it turned out to be. It was kinda like going out, expecting fine dining, only to be taken to a burger place.

Maybe I’ll read the inside cover next time.

What Budda’s Reading Now

We also just finished Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. Not withstanding my great love of critters I don’t often read stories about animals. Not sure why. Probably they lean a little on the smaltzy side.

So why did I pick up this book you ask. Well mostly because I have been asked repeatedly if I’d read it yet. But also because I met Dewey and the small town in question is about an hour away from where I live.

In general I enjoyed the book. It gave quite a bit of Spencer’s history which I would think would be interesting to anyone from the area. (Perhaps not so much if you live anywhere else though.) Also, it talked allot about how Dewey brought comfort to many library patrons, including the elderly and disabled. Also she talked openly about her fight with cancer and how Dewey made life bearable through such a difficult time. (I’m a sucker for a book about critters helping people on an emotional or spiritual level.)

Budda liked that it was about a cat (for once.) He gives it a resounding 3 Paws up.

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A Tail Of A Thousand Cockleburrs

. . . and mane . . . and forelock. . . .

Okay so it’s hard to see in this photo, but trust me they’re there. I usually pull a few burrs everyday because he gets large round bales of oat stubble for nibbling on, kicking around and taking long naps in the sun on. And since we’re organic most bales have a few burrs in them.

But this last bale was packed with both burrs and worst still burdock. I nearly had a fit when I came out and seen his mane sticking out in every direction like it had been teased into some punk fashion. (Burrs tend to make a rats nest of his mane) Photo below after some major de-burring.

The best horse ever
Fortunately my horse is eternally patient while I pull his hair out a few strands at a time with each burr. And while I’m perpetrating these minor acts of torture, he stands at liberty and nuzzles my back, legs or shoes. I spent well over an hour with him last night and felt so calm and content that only the darkness and cold of night made me stop.

I am a firm believer that animals (much like people) come into our lives for a reason. They may not be the animal that you wanted but they are the animal that you needed.

Chicory is exactly the horse I wanted and needed. I am almost always relaxed and centered after spending time with my big boy.

BTW I brought the camera along so I could take some photos. It has been many (many) years since I’ve done Chicory’s portrait and that is my plan for the piece on suede. Nope, still haven’t started it yet. Hopefully will get it begun by Sunday


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Spring feels like it’s here!
I apologize for being MIA the past several days. I am swamped with filling out artfair applications and oddly enough the gallery is hopping, (to the point that the past few nights I am getting home around 7pm.) Then because of this glorious spring like weather, I slap something together for supper and race outside to spend whatever daylight is left with my horse. (Also was late coming in the other morning for the same reason.) All this sunshine makes it even harder to walk away from Chicory. That, and he is shedding out so it makes his grooming almost euphoric for him. As a result I have fallen woefully behind on my blogging and non-essential emailing.

But I do have some plans for upcoming posts (probably something to do with the artfair application process) and a new artistic experiment (new for me that is) involving suede matboard and watercolor pencils. Haven’t begun it yet but will of course chart it in the blog.

I finally said Yes.
So far this year I have had several requests to teach a workshop and since it was on my to-do goals list for this year I gave them alot more consideration than usual. Generally teaching makes me want to curl up into the fetal position and mumble to myself about my “happy place.” (Kudos to those of you that do it, teaching that is, and do it well.)

I was asked by an equestrian center looking to host several art workshops (kinda like the Kentucky Horse Park does) to benefit a theraputic riding program. Everything is still in the planning stages but will let you know all when things get finalized.

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Comfort Food

Recently I made a pot of hot dish that I haven’t made in many, many years. Why? Well for the most part (meaning whenever I don’t feel dog tired) I like to cook whole foods. So a typical meal might be a crockpot roast with steamed potatoes and some sort of veggie like corn from the garden or spinach salad. Simple food, nothing fancy here, (herbs, onions and garlic are my friends) but also not much in the way of boxed or over processed.

Feeling Nostalgic
When I was very young my family was poor. I mean really poor. (like eating oatmeal for every meal when it got close to payday kind of poor.) We never went hungry, though occasionally we came close. When I got older things were much improved. Eventually we had such a beautiful home and gardens it was featured in local magazines and newspapers.

In between the poor and the not so poor times, I worked to earn my own money. I bought my own school clothes from a very early age. This goes a long way into explaining my work ethic.

My brother has the same work ethic. He has a great job and yet he has created a successful business on the side making duck and goose calls. This is the artist in him. The calls are things of such beauty and yet extremely functional. He has won numerous national awards for his calls including Call Maker of the Year more than once. He is also humble enough that he generally jokes off his accolades by saying “Yeah, it’s kinda like being known as the spatula king.” Meaning what importance does his calls really make in the world. The truth is, he creates them with such love, (like incorporating gold bands with hand hammered designs,) and cuts them in such ways that, as I’ve already said, they are works of art and they bring in the birds. His website is taylortalkers.com.

We got our keen ability to work from my father. He was the hardest working man I know, and no matter how bad things got he always remained happy and generous.

Back To The Food

So my mom is not a cook. (She is however a painter and has an amazing eye for design.) She does not enjoy cooking and frankly this hot dish was as close as she ever came to making a homemade meal. This had nothing to do with being poor (as I said things got much better when I was older.) Cooking is just not a part of who she is. As a result we ate alot of boxed prepackaged foods. She often burnt whatever she made. To this day I still like my pizza (and many foods when I think about it) a little on the burnt side.

Okay I’m digressing a bit. Back to the hot dish. Somehow this food makes me nostalgic.

The Recipe
At this point the carb conscious among you should avert your eyes.

So my pasta consists of:

No Yolks pasta (any brand pasta would work of course, No Yolks is what we always used.)
3 cans of tomato soup
i package onion soup mix (dry)
Hamburger fried up loosely like for BBQ’s
ketchup to taste

I’ve added:
At least 1 whole onion finely diced.
I package frozen or canned tomatoes

That’s it. Boil up the pasta, dump in all the other ingredients and there you go. The pi’ece de resistance is to sop up the juicy stuff with over processed white bread. Yummy! Ahhhh . . . just like mom used to make.

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A Family Resemblance
Oil Pastel on Handmade Paper
10 1/2 x 13

Well here they are all finished. I got a little glare from the glass but I do have a photo at the bottom of this post with no glass (and thus no glare.) The photo with the glass is more accurate in color and so it get’s the place of honor. I don’t really have much more to say than what I’ve already said in the work in progress posts.

I’m not sure what I’ll do next. I’m feeling a little bit like working on something more serious. I’ve done quite a few of these little paintings lately and I’m wanting to stretch out a bit.

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Rabbit Painting Update

A Family Resemblance
A Work in Progress
Oil Pastel on handmade paper
10 1/2 x 13

I was uncertain whether I should put up a pic of this since it is at an ugly stage (at least I’m hoping it is just a stage.) Actually it is pretty close to finished, just some minor tweaking left.

Seriously It’s not quite this ugly in real life. A lot of the subtle coloring is lost despite my best photoshop efforts. But you get the idea. I think there is a good chance I would have been happier in my original sizing. Ah well.

My bunny muses
I took a bunch of photos of these New Zealand White rabbits at a local tourist trap.

They had about 30 rabbits of varying ages (and sizes) that you could pay a quarter for some bunny kibble to feed them. So of course I did.

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An Exercise In Subtlety

One of things I really like about these small paintings is that the work doesn’t have to be “serious” art. I can try some off the wall idea or merely do a simple portrait that would not quite make it as a full blown large scale piece of work.

This little rabbit painting is kinda one of those situations. It’s going to be all white and pink with very subtle coloring. It might even go over into the realm of “too cute.” But because it is the size it is, I’m okay with that.

The challenge here of course is to create enough contrast to keep it interesting. All this white needs some balance. I’m pretty sure that when I get all my rabbits in then I’ll go back in with shadows and whatnot. However I may not bump up my contrast too much because part of what draws me to this image is the confusion the image brings at first glance. You have to “think” about what it is for minute. I am rather fond of images that challenge the eye.

Next WIP post I’ll include a few reference photos and talk a little about the bunnies.

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