Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 30: Cat named Popcorn in Mixed Media

7" square - pen, gouache, watercolor and acrylic on paper

White whiskers are always difficult for me. I'm still searching for the right opaque white to use for them and the right brush or technique to do them right. I considered masking them and decided to use white acrylic this time. More effective than the white watercolor but still a little difficult to control.

This is my third cat from the Weekend Drawing Event hosted by jlloren. The reference was seriously overexposed, made it hard to see whether Popcorn had white markings or was just bleached out by strong light. I decided to more or less follow the photo rather than compensate for the distortion as I didn't have any other photos of Popcorn to reference.

This time I penciled, started with Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and then decided to use gouache for the black background instead of pure pen-watercolor. Let it fade out to transparent above my signature and liked that effect, then had fun with quinacridone gold and quinacridone burnt orange on his face and body. Final touches with Payne's Grey and a little quinacridone red in the nose mix and ear pinks along with the burnt orange really worked - then acrylic whiskers. They may look a little like he's looking up from drinking cream but I liked the effect.

Ari has bold white whiskers so I'll be trying something new on his the next time I paint his portrait in wet media. I love doing cats and one of these times I'll really get the white whiskers right! White gel pens have not done the job.

Best of all, I did it! Within the 48 hour window I succeeded in doing 30 paintings in 30 days without sick day gaps. Now I usually try to paint daily or at least sketch a gesture. I still get some bad days or things happen to distract me and turn a meh day into a bad day or at least a no-art day. The 48 hour rule worked, so I may stick to that and see where it goes - if I miss a day, make it up the morning after and do something easy so that I can do two that day.

It also helped to do some ATCs. When getting slowed by circumstances, working that small and doing familiar subjects helps!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 29 Orchid in Pen and Watercolor

3 1/2" x 7"

Another reference by jlloren for the September 25, 2015 Weekend Drawing Event. This pot of two flowering orchid stems that may be the same plant was very artistic in itself, shot against what looked like a gradated charcoal background, the flowers were overexposed. It was the form of the entire plant and the little glass ink pot with incense sticks in it that were the main point, not just the flowers. I could not detail them or even tell what kind of orchids they were.

But the overall shape fascinated me, so I abstracted hte form a little. Penciled and then inked with that magic Pentel brush. I'm getting better at the delicate control needed to get thick-thin lines where I want them instead of a shaky hand and a weird series of blotches. Watercolor was something that I'd meant to put in a wash leaving the overexposed flowers white... but once again it reached a point of "No. This is done. Not one more stroke. Don't ruin it."

I have no idea what I'll do on the other side of its page but it will have to balance properly with this, the white space is an important part of the composition. Might be something vertical-ish about that size coming down from upper right to make a diagonal composition.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ari Cat from Life

Ari Cat from Life
7" square

I love that Payne's Grey for monochromes. This was done with a Winsor & Newton Watercolour Marker, on my Stillman & Birn Delta journal.

I had planned a more elaborate pen-watercolor or watercolor painting for today from one of the great WDE references this week. But I couldn't resist grabbing the tool when my fuzzy boy posed for me. He crouched on the bed and gave me the cute look. Had to start and work fast.

The more often I use these markers, the more accurate and elegant these sketch paintings are. I love the way they wash out smoothly. I let it dry completely and then touched up a few details with the bullet tip end of the same marker, giving hard edges to the pupils in the eyes and so on.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 27: Goshawk in Watercolor

5" x 7" watercolor on paper

I meant to sketch this with Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers and just wash in a smooth background gradient with Pthalo Blue watercolor. But once I got started with the watercolors, I decided to go pen and watercolor.

By the time I finished the watercolor, he needed no pen accents and was done.

That happens sometimes with process. I used the little 5 x 7" Bockingford pad that came with the markers, a paper that's very sweet with them and has its own special feel and texture just as most good watercolor papers do. Now I know how it behaves with pure transparent watercolor. I found it easy to get crisp hard edges, soften edges, go wet into wet, it's lovely paper in its own right.

Winsor & Newton makes some specialized pads for use with the Watercolour Markers, but I was very happy with the performance of the Bockingford on previous uses. I have also bought full sheets in all five colors so this is going to be fun. I should probably trim them down and start using them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 26: Cat Named Puff

Cat Named Puff
7" square pen-watercolor

Another cat from the Weekend Drawing Event, from photo posted on by jlloren. This cat, named Puff, and two others, Popcorn and Pizza, are up for adoption. Check out the "Weekend Drawing Event IMAGES" thread at or click on jlloren's name on the site and message to ask about adopting one of the cats.

Brown tabby was very handsome, short hair but his daddy's coat and mom's Maine Coon size. Big fellow! Had fun getting his sweet expression and big kitty proportions using three different watercolor sets to get everything just right. Pen is the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and paper is Stillman & Birn Delta journal, warm white or cream color paper.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 25: Leopard in Pen and Watercolor

7" square

Today I went all out for the Weekend Drawing Event on, hosted by jlloren. Joel provided great photos including two cats, this leopard, a goshawk, two whale shark views, a pair of giraffes, Ethiopian stone castle with banyan growing through a wall or built around it... just all wonderful stuff. Started with the toughest.

Leopards are a pain with all those spots. I penciled his shape first, then painted him and background, then inked, then added some final color notes glazed over the previous including the shadow under him. He's male, look close and you can see that. A gorgeous cat prowling through the brush. 

I detailed whiskers wth a Pigma Micron and then decided to do all the inking with it. I'd meant to use the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen again but liked the familiar feel of the Pigma Micron. It was fun. More cats to come!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 24 - Nectarine in Watercolor

Watercolor in Moleskine Pocket WC journal

Painted this from my own photo in several layers. Started at my clinic visit yesterday, waiting for my shot, with a flat bright yellow wash over the entire fruit. Then whle it was wet brought in first a warm red and then a cool red, letting the watercolor pool and run. Blotted out that yellow patch on the side wile it was damp and glazed over part of it again today in warm red.

I did the shadow today. Same thing, started with wet Ultramarine and then brought dioxazine violet and quinacridone red into it. Love those clean saturated colors. I've got everything but green in this one.

I seem to start a painting the day before I post it, finish and start the one for tomorrow. But it works. I've been keeping up. Only six more to go and I will finish out this September with all 30 paintings in 30 days in my collage! That's a last cool litle thing Leslie Saeta does, connects to a service where I can make a creative collage of all the paintings I did and see how they looked together.

That'll show me things in aggregate that I don't notice one painting at a time - favorite colors or composition types, favorite mediums, whether I progressed. I've learned a lot this time. I feel as if both watercolor and the brush pen are coming easier now. It's a great feeling.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Unseasonal Holly - Day 23 of 30 Paintings in 30 days

Unseasonal Holly
3 1/2" x 5" watercolor on watercolor paper

Painted this for an example in a discussion thread on about color mixing. I used muted blue-green leaves framing fully saturated red-orange berries with a little yellow in their bright highlight to show the complementary pop - how to shade up colors without losing intensity was the discussion.

Warm colors can shade up with yellow, either pure bright yellow or a mix of yellow and white, to be more intense. Greens shaded up with yellow look brighter too and keep intensity because yellow's a part of green. Blues and violets shade up best with white or a light blue - in many mediums such as pastels or colored pencils, using a light color instead of pure white will keep saturation better. And of course a muted background makes saturated colors brighter, also a complement will make them pop. So a muted complement really makes them pop and look saturated!

Bright berries. Fun subject even if it's Not The Season. Better than the last holiday holly just sketched out of my head, like how the faded leaves under the main ones worked in the design and I added more leaves than my usual three. Also more berries with an odd  one not in the tight cluster to look more natural. I'll keep playing with this idea, eventually my improvised seasonal card stuff will look better and better!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 22: Red Peonies in Watercolor

Red Peonies in Watercolor
8" x 4" bas de page

Derived from yesterday's oil pastels painting, this quick study of the same flowers fills the bottom of the same page in my Stillman & Birn Beta watercolor journal - the 8 1/2" x 11" one. I've got a barrier sheet of tracing paper folded around the previous page to prevent the oil pastel from smearing onto the fruit still life in the milk glass dish and the colorful abstract below it.

So here's the entire Red Peonies page:
Red Peonies Page

I like the overall effect, even if they're a little offset from each other. One of the things I'm exploring in the larger journal is layout and using two or more paintings on the same page. This month has been exhilarating!

I've done daily art before and always enjoyed it, but this September's been a time for bold experiments and surprising discoveries. I've loosened up but also sometmes become more accurate in my sketching.  I've gotten better at composition and recognized that easier when I get it right.

It's a lot of fun! I'd recommend the challenge to anyone who feels like they're on a plateau with their art!

Day 21: Red Peonies

Red Peonies 
6" square, Sennelier oil pastels on watercolor journal

I finished and posted this yesterday on Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, but forgot to blog again here. So today may have a double post due to catching up!
I actually sketched this from a photo by Ural Jones on WetCanvas back on the 20th, but did the chrysanthemums faster since I knew this one would be some work and I wasn't sure what medium I'd use for it.

Sennelier oil pastels are the very softest. They are very nearly paint, with a texture similar to oil sticks. Blended them with a Derwent color shaper, which I happened to have handy. I also used a little odorless mineral spirits to dissolve the light green and yellow background elements for a smoother texture, saving the heaviest painterly textures for the flowers.

I think it's one of my better compositions, surely one of the more complex ones. I like the value pattern and the way the red-green color harmony breaks the mid-dark area dramatically into foreground flowers and background leaves. The colors pleased me and the whole painting came out better than I expected.

My first thought was to use gouache or watercolor for it, but I like this better. Toward the end I wasn't sure if it was too rough and textured. Then I stood back and pow, yeah, that was just the "under my nose" effect. You can't really tell about whether a painting works when you're focused on one small area right on top of it. The best test is to stand back. 

If standing back physically is too hard, as it sometimes is for me, takng a photo and looking at the thumbnail is a good way to get an overall view of the composition. When I saw this an inch across, it surprised me how well it hangs together. Definitely a step forward in composition!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 20: Chrysanthemum ATC

Chrysanthemum ATC
Caran d'Ache Neocolor II on Light Green Mi-Tientes

I also started a larger piece with red peonies yesterday, sketched it but didn't want to post just the penciled outlines. So this morning I was inspired to do something small and colorful with my favorite watersoluble crayons.

Here's yesterday's done this morning. I'll post again later when I've done Red Peonies. Might use the same crayons but wash them, it's on watercolor paper.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day 19 - Star Cat - pen and watercolor

Star Cat pen-watercolor ATC

Star's photo was posted on by KreativeK for this weekend's Weekend Drawing Event. I couldn't resist the stark lighting on a mostly white cat with a distinctive face! Had fun playing with hue and value.

I love doing cats. Can never get enough of them, it's so much fun!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day 18 of 30 in 30 - Silver Tabby in a Garden

Silver Tabby in a Garden - 6" square

Painted earlier today! This is part of the Pastel Spotlight monthly challenge, photo reference by SweetHuia from I meant to paint this cat sometime during the month. Today I felt good enough to do it!

Theme of the challenge is Line, so I did something tough - picked out the main subject with linear accents and added some lighter ones to the vegetation to unify that. I used very soft pastels for my early layers. Blue Earth for a local colors underpainting softly blended on light green Canson Mi-Tientes. Then went looser over that with Great American half sticks. No blending on that middle layer or layers, did several layers of color in some areas. 

Finally, when I knew hard pastels wouldn't give the effect I wanted, I tried Girault over the softer pastels. Girault are firm but in some ways act like very soft pastels. They lay down that easily with that much density from very fine-ground pigments, they're heavy in the hand from pigment-rich formula. They gave me good lines when the paper tooth was mostly full, so this worked in a big way. I'm happy with it and looking forward to more this month!

So far have gotten 18 of 18 posted on their proper day's blog at 30 Paintings in 30 Days. The weather's getting better and the landlord removed the radiator that turned my room sweltering whenever the temperature goes down a notch. It's bright and lovely, not sweating hot or bitter cold, I can relax today and maybe even get in two paintings, get ahead for once!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 17 - Primary Abstract

Primary Abstract
4 1/2" x 8 1/2" watercolor on paper

On the bottom area of yesterday's still life, I started playing around with some new watercolors to create graceful shapes. Began with yellow, brought mixed orange and some red over it, got some dry brushing in because I used paint right from the tube. Not just an experiment with this brand ut with some unfamiliar techniques. I like the "Cat's eye" shape on the left, it happened by itself and got some nice soft mingling going on within it. Some of the rest became dry brush. Blue was last but mixed very well with the Ultramarine.

Green's a bit muted because that's a warm yellow, but very glad to have purple cast blue and blue cast red for a combination.

For me abstraction itself is a huge experiment. I'm normally a completely figurative painter but today I thought I'd have a go. Not always my thing but I like this one, it's got figurative elements with the three plums but the rest is just shapes wandering around it. I guess the purple willow strand rambling left to right is also figurative but that's how my mind works - not in total abstractions. Or in keeping primaries unmixed. Some nice violet tones vanished in the photo being too dark. I also love the rough paper in the Stillman & Birn Beta journal for giving me that great dry brush effect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 16: Pears, Plums and Clementine on Milk Glass

Pears, Plums and Clementine on Milk Glass
8 1/2" x 6 1/2"

Today I felt a good deal more ambitious and did this painting in several sessions with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons in my Stillman & Birn 8 1/2" x 11" hardbound journal. I love that heavy rough white paper, it has deep tooth and is very absorbent, works well with anything I throw at it.

Sketched this still life from life. A friend gave me five milk glass plates that are curved at the sides almost like a shallow bowl, I put one of them out for use. Then my home care guy went out and bought me fruit. He had an eye for the pretty ones, since he's also an artist! The big bright green pear, the two strange gold and reddish plums and a giant peach and beautiful nectarine now eaten were all a delight. I got photos of the nectarine. The peach was too irresistible.

Now that this is painted, I can find out what those plums taste like! The clementine and tiny brown pear came with my lunches from the food program I get, they were just right to add to the setup. 

I might even do another something today since it's not that late. I have the bottom of this page to do something else in water media. Might continue with those crayons or go back to the W&N markers or mess with watercolor pencils.

NC-II crayons are a lot like layering with colored penclls but softer and bolder. The light colors are translucent and somewhat opaque, though it helps to reserve pure whites. Texture is softer than the Cretacolor watersoluble oil pastels, still on the firm side compared to oil pastels. They wash out in a unique pigment rich lush color, not quite gouache as they have a little waxy shine and lack the matte effect of gouache. They can be used like it certainly! They rewet easily, going back into washed areas can create unintended lifting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day 15: Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams ATC

Monochrome Winsor & Newton Watercolour Marker, Raw Umber. I like the feel of an old time photo that monochrome brown gives a painting. This one was an exercise in values and shapes, an icy creek and snowy landscape with scattered pines and some other grasses or bushes. Even the sky is just pale clouds and slightly darker color.

Monochromes are fun. Not always black, any dark color will do. 

Light colors obtained brushing a wet Niji waterbrush over the tip of the watercolor marker.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Days 13 and 14 Candle and Rose

Red Candle ATC  

Rose ATC

Love these Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers. Red Candle, yesterday's daily art, started as an idea of doing Fire for the Dick Blick "Elements of Nature" contest. Meant to do a wildfire, wound up doing a candle from memory.

Rose is from life from a silk rose sitting next to me. A little tighter and more accurate than the one in pastels and a different angle, I still had fun with it. Again, deepened the colors, the model's a very pale salmon pink. But I liked the shapes and just started rambling through them, simplified a little, painted expressively.

These ATCs are great for bad days. Today was a serious chronic fatigue one with long nap and much dizziness, but I still painted! Keeping up!

WOW! This is my 150th post! Very cool. Got to keep this up too!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 12 30 in 30 Challenge, Ari Cat Bathing

Day 12: Ari Cat Bathing, ATC size
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Stillman & Birn Beta paper

Love my stash of the great 180lb white rough Beta paper. I can do anything I want on it - and as you can see, its rough texture still allows fine expressive penwork and yet I can do good pastels or dry brush watercolor textures.

He posed and I sketched rapidly in pencil before he moved. His first pose was even better but he moved his far leg down before I could pick up the pencil. Then he shifted position a bit but was still close enough that I could ink and get the direction of his fur with those loose thick and thin strokes.

The longer I practice with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, the more expressive it is. For artists who like doing Japanese kanji or Chinese calligraphy, this pen is a fountain pen with a genuine brush tip, a small round with a very tiny, tight point for small marks. Writing with it in English is tricky with its pressure sensitivity. I had no idea how much I bear down on certain marks while signing my initials!

Still to come, I have a nice triad of American Journey watercolors that I got on sale and will enjoy painting with, see how well they handle and blend. Good primary color choices should give me a full range with it. Especially Ultramarine. I can stand knocking back greens a touch but I like getting a good strong purple and a cold red with Ultramarine and a bright yellow is a favorite combination.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 4 through 11 catching up!

 Day 4: pink rose, pastel on paper 6" square

 Day 5: Brush pen on paper, Ari Cat sleeping from life

 Day 6: Archaeozoic Random, brush pen on paper

Day 7: Cenarth Falls Snails  watercolour marker on paper

Day 8: Sea Dream W&N Watercolour Marker on paper 

Day 9: Abstract City watercolor on paper 

Day 10: Water Lilies - pastel on PastelMat coated paper 

Day 11: Harley Cat, pen and watercolor on paper.

Sorry about the long catch-up post! Been keeping up on 30 Paintings in 30 Days but often at the very end of my day. 

Everything's an ATC if size isn't specified. 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" - I found a nice stack of beautiful Stillman & Birn paper, 180lb white rough paper that takes anything I throw at it and a stray piece of light gray PastelMat that worked out great with Rembrandt pastels. 

I'll keep this tab open and try to update more often. But so far I've made it. Posted each within 48 hours of the post. Last time I didn't quite have 30 images. This time I will! 

Going to try to get ahead a little to be sure of it!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Day 3 Ari Cat ATC Pen and Wash

Ari Cat ATC
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen & Watercolor on WC paper

Very, very tired! Didn't paint today till 11pm and got up at 4am. So wanted something fast and easy - and to use that fatigue for some elegance. 

Naturally after doing 14 ATCs for an animals exchange, I decided I wanted another one to keep or swap. So I looked at my cat, did him in the pose he started with, did not even pencil him.

The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen has a slow learning curve. It's extremely sensitive. I can get wonderful very fine marks with it or good broad ones or thick-thin lines. I've had a lot of practice with other brush pens and love them, but this is a challenge by way of quality. I know I can do more. Watercolor I kept simple in three colors - Sepia, Payne's Gray and Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

All in all, success! Even on days when I almost didn't do it. This really felt good, especially when today was a very bad day. I forgot to take my medication and spent most of it in mind-blotting chronic pain after it wore off. That ate most of the day but I was in a good mood and an hour after I realized it and took it, I was fine. C'est la vie - it's why I'm not an addict.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Square Fruit Still Life 30 in 30 Day 2

Pears and Orange
6" square pastel on paper

Second day of Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I painted earlier tonight at 8pm and added more forms, this time in a different color harmony. Originally I had black lines but warmed them with a dark brown.

Once again I painted intuitively. I focused on the color harmony and went almost abstract working with the shapes. I worked from life again, my lunch included a real pear so I posed that with my light yellow green plastic pear and a very red-orange orange that caught some light on a section of the sphere.

The live pear was the same color as the plastic one. That didn't suit me so I used warm yellows in the same value pattern. This one started with Oyster Canson Mi-Tientes paper color - a light muted orange. So that called me to use orange, yellow and green with a red-orange form and then pink and lavender accents toward the back - moving around the spectrum toward blue but opposite the greens.

Hm... that's the full spectrum. Cool. It hasn't got that rainbow feel because the background accents are lighter and  less intense. I like the intense spectrum as a color harmony and may use that on another one, just go through the spectrum and sort the colors by values. But this pastels set has a blue violet and a magenta, not a strong mid violet.

So my palettes are also exploring the 24 color Cretacolor Pastels Carre' range as a limited palette in itself. I haven't used other pastels yet, set these supplies up as a physical convenience to be able to paint on bad days with field supplies.

At least one will be pen and colored pencils, this month's CP article. All will have a theme borrowed from the September Pastel Spotlight on - Line. That lets me explore any subject but keep it simplified, and I can explore different ways to use lines in painting. Yet use whatever medium fits for the day's energy, time and physical ability.

Two days in and I have hope of completing it this time. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day 1 of 30 in 30 - Pear from Life

Pear from Life
6" x 9" Pastel on Paper

I just started Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. Almost missed the first day of the challenge because I got distracted by offline stuff including home care visit, then stayed up a bit late. 

Sometimes tired can make you loosen up! I chose the paper color and ignored local color, started with that blue violet line intending line to predominate and kept going building color intuitively. I let it build on itself and stopped when it needed no more.

Fatigue can turn off all the rational fussy detail-worried mind and let creativity flow deep and wordless!

Pastels are 24 Cretacolor Pastels Carre' and paper is Light Green Canson Mi-Tientes, smooth side. I might mat it to 6" x 8" because of the bit at the top that was under the clip of my drawing clipboard.