Tag Archives: gifts

…And the first painting of 2014

I actually need to post Thanksgiving and Christmas, wonderful in part due to the presence of my older daughter, but I first want to put up this most recent painting. My daughter requested it in order to make some lacy felt pieces she was given into fairy wings, and I JUST got it finished in time for her to take it on the plane with her as she returns to the States tomorrow.

All color blocked in with the underpainting.

All color blocked in with the underpainting.

My daughter agreed to pose for me, as I really am not one of those artists that can work from imagination alone. Besides, I have never actually painted a human figure before, so this was a first.

Must. Hurry!

Must. Hurry!

I placed the braid too far right for the felt wings to place properly, so I had to go in and move it. Have I mentioned how much I love painting with the very forgiving acrylics?

The final painting, but not the final product.

The final painting, but not the final product.

I really took this one down to the wire. It is the only thing still waiting to be packed, so I knew I didn’t have time to attach the wings myself. Myriah will have to do it herself when she gets it home, but we have modeled the final fairy, complete with wings, although the photo isn’t too good.

Some day she will earn her wings!

Some day she will earn her wings!

I was glad to have something personal to send with her!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Art

The Last Painting Projects of 2013

I am pretty sure I never posted my acrylic interpretation of the Swiss lake that I did in watercolor. Here she is…

I still see things I could improve, but I am trying not to mess with it.

I still see things I could improve, but I am trying not to mess with it. Mostly I learned how to make the water look more like the dense pool of color I saw while there.

I also painted a Christmas gift for my secret prayer sister here, which they call a Sonflower. She is a lovely French lady who has a real heart for Michigan, an area of the States she has visited in the past and where she has friends. I also have visited Michigan, so I chose a lighthouse I have actually been up in! (I am pretty sure I have photos here somewhere. I’ll have to see.)

first layer

first layer

A lot of my paintings I seem to work in circles. I’ll rough in some color, highlights and shadows of the background, then move to my subject and do the same. I’ll return to the background, moving around the composition, and bring up more detail and mostly finish it before focusing on my subject more completely, and then clean up the background again. For most of my projects, even landscapes, that results in these spiraling circles from out to in and back out then in again.

Not here. This painting firmly declared it would be worked in layers. I pretty much completed the background here first, and did most of my subject, the lighthouse, as well. Then I moved to midground and pretty much worked it up, too.

Other than touchup in lighting, what you see is mostly what you get in the end in the midground.

Other than touchup in lighting, what you see is mostly what you get in the end in the midground.

This the final painting, although I added a short verse along the snow, bottom right. I enjoyed this one, too, and might even make myself a print of my photo of it for myself someday, if the photo holds up. I didn’t really shoot it for printing.

My final painting with its reference image.

My final painting with its reference image.

I found a photo from that 2009 vacation, in a rather odd spot, but for proof that I have been in this lighthouse, check here.

Lastly, I wanted a gift for the lady who had been praying for me, but I had very little time. Both of these paintings really did need to be done before Thanksgiving. So, I took my waterfall study from years earlier, cut it free from all the positioning work I had done with text playing around with it, and attached it to a canvas board. I printed the verse it had been inspired by (chosen by my Kansas friend) and attached it as well. I then painted a unifying color and texture around them. It doesn’t have the elegance of the original, but for a quickie, I think it works.

Well, actually, looking over the digital image I’ve changed my mind. *sigh* It’s amazing what looks ok when you are rushed compared to what you like when you can really examine something. C’est la vie. I don’t think I’ll even post it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art

Finally! Getting to paint in France

And no, the big cardboard O’Keefe-ish flowers don’t really count. They seriously are wall insulation. (I’ll return to Swiss posts shortly.)

First up, I have been slowly working on a gift for the wonderful couple who kept Theo for a weekend and help us out in more ways than I can count. They literally live beautiful, Christ-honoring lives of blessing others. Their wedding anniversary is this month, too. This one took awhile, mostly because we were still homeschooling, and grabbing two uninterrupted hours (a minimum, really) is challenging. Not to mention all the rain this spring; I really prefer painting in good light. It’s hard to be sure of my colors in gloom. So here it is, before I added their names to the bottom left:

A gift of love. :-)

A gift of love. 🙂

The rose in my photo was positively luminous, and I had hoped to capture that quality, but no success this time. I will have to play with it again and try another idea or two I’ve had. However, the rose did have that velvety look of a romantic rose, so it actually worked pretty well for an anniversary present. And while this adorable couple still love each other quite obviously, they both love the Lover of their Souls far more, and He will truly make their love as unfailing as His!

One of the things I have longed to incorporate into my painting (an ongoing theme, in fact, if you have read old art-lady posts) is more energy and looseness. Less depiction and more Life! Unfortunately, this would seem to go right against my nature, as most of my paintings come out looking restrained, if not overworked, however I may try. So this summer, I really want to mess around and see if I can’t loosen up! Ironically, I began with another study from a book, on an uninspiring subject–radishes.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these.

The French radishes in the marche are just like these, all long and rooty.

The goal was to not get too worried about actually capturing the veg as to capture color and texture, and use the gel medium. To be honest, I felt like radishes didn’t lend themselves too well to this exercise. So, with all these lovely colors mixed, I decided to try for GERANIUMS!

I do think geraniums are energetic. They aren’t so delicate that they cry out for watercolor, but they aren’t too complicated, like roses, either. The leaves have great texture, and the colors are vibrant. I was going to go out and buy a perfect painting subject at the jardinerie, but although a month ago they were everywhere, I am guessing geraniums are reaching the end of prime season, because there were not many out there. And what there was, was just sad. Two pitiful-blooms-and-some-buds sad. My thinking was, if it turns out nicely, I’ll give the plant and the painting to my geranium-loving French neighbor! Oh well. I bet I could have found one in Switzerland! So….a photo instead.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

Geraniums in terra cotta.

The radishes did not work as a finished painting, but I learned a few things. While this painting certainly has its flaws, I think it is the first I have ever done with a loose impasto technique that actually works. The terra cotta is actually done as a watercolor wash, and frankly, parts of it bug me, but hopefully I’m one of the few who will notice. The effect of letting the otherwise heavy pot impart a sense of texture rather than building up true texture allows it to recede beneath the plant visually and in importance. I really tried to discipline myself to use brush direction to suggest the leaves rather than actually painting out leaves, and mostly I think that worked. There are a couple of dead spots, but I feared overworking yet another painting. I am mostly happy with my fluffy geraniums as well. I think the composition turned out ok, although I wonder if I overdid the red in it just a tad. With red, less is often more.

But, voila! I have finally gotten to play in my paint. There are holidays here where you stay at a B&B and use an in-house studio’s supplies and instructor along with other like-minded people, and I want to go SO BAD! Someday….

I have another try at geraniums on a  French window I want to tackle, and maybe Lake Brienz in Switzerland. I still have plenty of canvasses and canvas board to play with!

(A clarification: it doesn’t take me two hours to do a painting; I just need two hours to do any step or layer. Most paintings are at least 6-8 hours, thanks to fast-drying acrylic.)

3 Comments

Filed under Art, France

Toulouse Christmas Market Part 2

The Christmas market is sort of like a gi-normous, very festive version of Toulouse’s weekend market. It is also in the Capitole plaza, and is row after row of vendor stall. In this case, though, only a few are for produce, meats and breads. And many of the stalls seem to be for handmade items.

Vendor booths fill the whole Capitole square.

Vendor booths fill the whole Capitole square.

doghat

macarons

These little meringue sandwich cookies are VERY popular here. Some vendors even have savory flavors just for the holidays!

pretzels

spices

Fresh spices to the fore, and fresh tea mixes to the back. My youngest son loves fresh, looseleaf tea mixes!

I wish I had taken some photos of the scarves and wood carvings. Find the rest of the market here

Leave a comment

Filed under celebration, France

Wishing for a Do-Over

At the end of the year, my school third through sixth graders made pendants to give a mom or grandmom. I showed examples of pendants. We talked about the variety of shapes pendants come in, and designs that would be pleasing to moms. Then I took them in to their ball of clay and let them create a pendant.

Some of my younger students invested thought and creativity, and got some cool results. Most of my older students did, too. Some of my photos didn’t turn out so well, unfortunately.

amanda in third grade

third grader julia (the camera glare keeps the detail and the texture of the flower from showing, unfortunately)

a fourth grade girl’s, but I didn’t mark which one.

sixth grade erica’s

fifth grader dresden

fifth grade carter’s leaf

These were the good ones. The rest pretty much had words scratched into them. If it hadn’t been so late in the year, I could have sent them back for a do-over right then, but we had a deadline to make: Mother’s Day Tea. So if I do this lesson again, I won’t leave it so open-ended. These creative offerings don’t quite make up for the others. I would probably require a flower, show some techniques that could be used in creating a flower, and then let them form their pendant within those parameters. Sometimes kids NEED more structure to help them rise to the level of their capability, and this was apparently one of those occasions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Troubles with “leaving” my work at work?

Perhaps it’s the way snowfall (even computer generated) makes everything seem so quiet and muffled, but it has definitely been quiet here on the ol’ blog. Mostly, this is because I have been crazy busy. I spent about 20 hours a week of my December wrapping gifts at an upscale department store. Combined with Bible Study Fellowship responsibilities and teaching art at school and to homeschoolers, I’ve been busy. The blog definitely took a back seat.

a home demonstration of my mad wrapping skills, from practicing 4-6 hours a day

My daughter noted that, in my increasingly busy state, I had overlooked posting her favorite fall project, the perspective blowing leaves. This was a project my third and fourth grades did, first practicing watercolor washes and applying their knowledge of horizon line. Then they were supposed to paint a branching tempera tree near their horizon line, although one table was obviously NOT listening as we went over this part. However, we got to do some problem-solving to still achieve the objective of the lesson the next class, and that was fun and helpful. At that class we added our painted leaves in tiny, medium, and large-and-running-off-the-page, with greater detail added to the largest leaves with Sharpie. Some students had very successful projects:

4th grader

I like the random scattered-ness of these leaves, though workmanship will have room to improve

4th grader

And some in spite of overcoming their tree right in foreground…

this third grader's leaves still seem close in spite of the proximity of the tree, as they fly off the page

Some students are still growing in their concept of space, of course.

third grader

third grader

Basically, and not surprisingly, more fourth graders “got” the concepts in the lesson than third graders. I introduce horizon line, relative size, and lower and higher on the page as space concepts in first and second grades, but we really work to incorporate it more, and get into the three grounds specifically, in third and fourth grades. By the end of the year, the students who don’t really “see” it now, likely will. I love watching them grow in their perception and application!

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Two for One, almost

This past week we got a letter from our Compassion International sponsored child! When this happens, T and I are like the cast of Blues Clues. We have even been known to sing the “We just got a letter” song. We got to hear about rainy season for them, and see that it really does take two to three months to get a letter from there to here. And then, only a few days later, we got ANOTHER!! Woohoo! This was a thank you for our birthday present. This wasn’t only dictated, but also written in her native language, and it is amazingly beautiful. Just an artwork itself. We got to hear that she bought a dress and shoes, and the letter made it sound like they are now her only shoes. I mean, the translation requires a little translating itself, but that may well be the case, because she was definitely admiring her legs in shoes. I LOVE it! It is so perfectly an 8-year-old girl! My son and I felt like we had actually had an impact on someone’s life, to be able to provide them with their only pair of shoes. I hope she can tell that we are full of love for her from our letters. It is already time to wish her a Merry Christmas.

Letters from Pavithra

Leave a comment

Filed under Compassion Intl

A wedding gift for…

librarians?

My college freshman daughter is a library page, and has two co-workers who are getting married. They met at the library, and they are getting married at the library. I get the impression they LOVE the library. My girl needed a wedding gift for the couple, but as a teen college student with a car payment, funds are a little tight. So I volunteered to make a gift. This is what I came up with:

pen

The bride and groom’s names are incorporated as titles, with their new joint last name as well. I considered giving just this, but I had originally planned it with a watercolor wash, and so I shoved aside the scaredy-cat, color-shy part of me and dove in.

books with watercolor wash

The couple aren’t Believers, but they are appreciative of Western Civilization and good literature, so I didn’t think they would be offended if I sought to put a blessing over their new lives together. I added, in very small print, two lines on the spine of the last book: “These three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

We framed the artwork, and it was gifted at a shower tonight. I hope they enjoy it for a lifetime.

3 Comments

Filed under Art

Trotting out Art

I saw a photo of this horse and it just called to me in pastels. I tossed off a quick sketch for a friend’s horse-crazy daughter, and voila!

pony sketch in pastels

I will add Psalm 139:14 in collaged typography and seal this baby. It’s fun to do something quick!

Leave a comment

Filed under Art

Happy Birthday, DAD!

Well, actually, his birthday is tomorrow, but I mailed him his present today.

Dad's Hummer

Leave a comment

Filed under Art