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  • Abstract Games

    Sometimes Art is Like Playing

    There are times when I sit down and I know exactly what I am going to paint or draw.  I have a definite plan, and stick with it.  Other times though, I just start to put paint down… and I play.

    That is what is what I’ve been doing with a piece I currently have in progress, I just felt like playing, so I took a palette knife and started to cover a canvas in gold paint and modeling paste.  Then I put some back and modeling paste, then copper.  I am doing a little here, a little there, and waiting for it do dry in between.  I am not really trying to make it look like a recognizable object, but rather, I’m just doing what feels right, and ending up with an abstract design.  Its relaxing and fun, like a game though it is a little costly to put so much modeling paste down on one canvas.  Sometimes when I paint abstract like this I come up with things I really like, and other times I don’t care for the result at all, either way I had fun playing in the paint.

    Here is what the piece looks like so far:

    abstract palette knife painting, gold, black, copper, waving lines
    I’m not 100% sure what will come next, but I’ll probably stay with the three colors I already have on the canvas, or at most add one more into the mix.


    Other Projects are happening too.

    The drying takes a long time when the paint is put on so thick, so I also have other projects going at the same time.  One of which is that I am experimenting with oil paint.  I haven’t really worked in oils, so its a learning process, and so far I don’t have anything in oils that I’ve finished.  Soon though I will complete at least one oil painting and post it on here.

  • “I’d Love to do Art, but I’m No Good”, One piece of Advice

    Be Brave, and just start creating.

    If you are one of those people who says, “I’d love to do art, but I’m no good at it.”  Or, “I’d love to do art, but I can’t draw.” I’d like to offer you a piece of advice, be brave.  Just start creating.  Don’t worry about if your work is as good as the next person, just start. Explore different mediums, explore different styles, remember, there is more to art than realistic drawing, and there is more to art than just painting.

    Get a book on mixed media art and start exploring the techniques, there are many, you can crumple tissue paper and glue it down to a board or canvas with acrylic medium, rub some acrylic paint on a piece of bubble wrap and then press it on top of part of your canvas to leave a design, go align and fine public domain images and cut out parts you like to arrange on your piece, glue down pieces of fabric, add in some little jewelry findings, some artificial leaves or real preserved flowers and leaves.  If you have a camera go take some photos and cut them apart and add them to your piece.  Just explore, rearrange things until they look pleasing to you, and only then glue them back down.

    Randomly splash watercolor or ink here and there, glue down lace.  Pick colors you like, or that you think will go with your decor.


    Here are some videos you can watch that show some ideas and techniques you can use to create awesome art, even if you can’t draw a stick figure!

    These videos show you how to create awesome art, even if you can't draw a stick figure! Click To Tweet


    So that is my advice, don’t say, “I can’t”, just start doing something!

  • Metamorphosis of an Old Work Part 1

    The Need for Artistic Metamorphosis.

    I am going to write today about the need for artistic metamorphosis, no, I am not talking about the artist’s need for personal growth.  I am talking about those works the artist steps back and looks at, and thinks that the work itself needs to be transformed.  I’ll explain…

    Promising Beginnings before Apparent Ruin

    Every artist has those works that started out with great promise, but which, during the process of creation, took a turn for the worse.  You those works that started out great, and then at some point the artist steps back and thinks, “Oh… now look at that… I’ve completely ruined it.”

    Most often, when this happens to me, I do one of two things.  Either I’ll grab some gesso or some titanium white and paint out everything on the canvas so that I can use the canvas for something else.  Or, I’ll toss the canvas into the back of a closet or cabinet, thinking, “Maybe someday I’ll I’ll figure out how to fix that, but for now I just don’t want anyone to see it!”  If I choose the latter, the work usually sits in that closet or cabinet forever.  It seems I never do pull them back out to rework, or almost never, sometimes there are exceptions.

    The Diamond in the Pile of Coal

    Occasionally, I’ll see something in the painting that I feel is worth salvaging, some element that I feel has enough potential to make it worth the extra effort of fixing the mistakes. A little diamond hidden in what is otherwise a pile of coal.

    For example, there is this painting:

    A painting full of mistakes
    This painting started with promise, I love the covered bridge, but I got carried away with fall leaves in the foreground, making it impossible to see the background at all, and destroying any appearance of depth.

    I started this painting during my first year of painting.  I hadn’t yet learned many of the tricks to creating realism and depth in landscapes.  I started with the covered bridge and did a really good job.  I really liked what I saw with the bridge, especially inside the tunnel.  I felt that it was really going somewhere.  Then I started adding in fall trees in the foreground before I had done any background landscape, this caused the picture to look really odd in the places where you could see through the trees.  So, I made the trees thicker, until you couldn’t see through them at all.  This eliminated those odd looking spaces, but also gave everything but the bridge a strange one-dimensional appearance.

    Not only that but I didn’t have any detail in the foreground trees.  They would have looked fine off in the distance like that, but up close I felt I should have given at least a hint of definition in the leaves.

    I tossed the painting in the cabinet, and left it until today.  I got it out again and started looking at it.  I still really liked the bridge, but now I noticed problems I hadn’t even noticed before.  The road leading to the bridge seemed off, like the angle of the railings didn’t quite fit the perspective of the rest of the painting.

    The Metamorphosis Begins

    I decided to rework the painting, salvaging just the covered bridge, and redoing everything else.

    The first step in doing that was to white out everything I wanted gone with titanium white, and then paint in the parts of the bridge that had been covered up with the leaves.

    Here was what I whited out first, but later decided I needed to cover more.
    Here was what I whited out first, but later decided I needed to cover more.

    Later, I decided I needed to white out even more, and it now looks like this:

    Okay, so now my diamond is freed from the coal all around it, but it still needs to be set in a lovely piece of jewelry.
    Okay, so now my diamond is freed from the coal all around it, but it still needs to be placed in a nice setting.

    This is what the painting looks like so far.  I will update as its metamorphosis continues, and we shall see if I can salvage the diamond from the coal mine, and make it into something worthy to be shown to others.

  • Finally, a Chance to Breathe… and Paint!

    Life Intrudes on Art and Vice Versa

    I’ve often heard the saying, “Art imitates life”, and I’ve also heard the opposite stated, “Life imitates art”.  However, what has been true where I’m concerned is that life does not imitate art and art does not imitate life, but rather, life intrudes on art and art on life.  A constant tug of war goes on until finally one thing yields to another.  Sometimes, the mundane tasks of daily life win out, and art is put aside in favor of sweeping a floor, or making dinner, or washing some dishes.  Other times, art wins out and I find myself at my kitchen table, painting while ignoring the ever growing stack of dirty dishes behind me.

    Seeking a Balance

    Ideally of course, I’d strike a balance that gets all the chores done, makes it to the gym to work out, spends time with my husband and kids, visits with my grandchild, makes time for friends, and still gets artwork done.  As of yet though, I haven’t found that balance.  I come close at times, but then I get lost in a painting and fall behind of everything else.

    Speaking of Getting Lost in a Painting…

    Speaking of getting lost in what I’m doing, I’ve been working here and there on lots of different art, even though I haven’t posted all of it yet.  For quite some time I was lost in the painting of Sphinx Dude.

    The first Sphinx Dude painting came about almost by accident.  I was preparing a little mini canvas for doing an abstract, and I was laying on texture with a palette knife.  I set the painting aside to dry the background, and when I picked it up, my eyes saw, in the random texture patterns, a picture!  I saw a Sphinx with wild curly hair, then I saw a shape like a dragon, or a seahorse coming out of the sphinx’s mouth.  The abstract was forgotten as I painted in what my mind saw in the patterns.

    Below is a picture of that background, can you see the Sphinx Dude?

    Sphinx Dude comes alive
    This was a random background, until I saw something in it.

    In case you couldn’t make it out, I have another photo that I opened in MS paint, and quickly outlined what I saw.  So now you can compare the two photos:

    Sphinx Dude begins to take form
    So I outlined the shapes I saw with purple. Can you see them now?

    So, long story short, I had to paint this!
    Spinx dude regular 2

    So with that, Sphinx Dude was born, but I had the nagging desire to further develop the concept.

    Sphinx Dude Grows Up

    So, I started another painting, this time, not a mini canvas, so I would be able to let Sphinx Dude develop and mature.  In the process of maturing, Sphinx Dude grew wings and took on more natural coloration.  I titled this second piece, “Sphinx Dude’s World”.

    Sphinx Dude Space painting dragon
    Sphinx Dude’s World THIS PIECE HAS SINCE SOLD

    Both of the Sphinx Dude paintings have sold, but I have plans for a third.  I am trying to decide between two possibilities for further adventures of Sphinx Dude.


    Growing as an Artist

    Sphinx Dude isn’t the only one who has been growing.  I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and mediums in order to grow as an artist.  Sphinx Dude was born out of my palette knife painting experiments.  Here is another painting done completely with a palette knife, the only thing I used a brush on was the signature.

    Cherry Blossom palette knife paitning
    Cherry Blossom painting completed with a palette knife.

    In addition to playing with palette knife techniques, I’ve been trying watercolors as well, but more on that next time.

  • Sunday Skies #4

    Learning to paint skies.

    As my regular readers know, after one particularly frustrating experience of repainting the same canvas over and over and over again before finally being satisfied with the way sky came out, I decided to do a practice painting of a sky.

    I am happy to say that I feel my overall painting skills are improving as a result.  This shouldn’t surprise me, after all as they say, “practice makes perfect”.  Well, I’m not sure about perfect but I am finding that…

    When it comes to art skills, practice makes steady improvement.

    Today’s painting was based on a photo of the sky at sunrise which I took a couple of weeks ago.  Photos never seem to capture the true colors of sunrises or sunsets without some post processing, so I edited this photo immediately afterward until I felt the sky in the photo looked like what I had just seen outside. It was a cell phone photo, so some details in the landscape weren’t very clear, but for my purpose it was fine.

    It is interesting to note that while this is sunrise, the most colorful view was in the western sky, at least from where I stood.  Of course, some towering trees blocked my view of most of the eastern sky, so that might have the problem!

    The colors of the sky are often the hardest to capture.
    Ironically, on this particular morning the western /south western  sky was more colorful than the eastern sky.

    I am getting better at painting sunrises and sunsets in acrylic paint.

    Now, skies like this are a challenge, they are difficult to render so that they both capture the dazzling spectacle you see, and still remain believable, so that people don’t look at them and think its just fanciful embellishment.

    I think this week I did better than any of the previous times I’ve tried to capture a sky with colors like this.

    Now, I know it’s not a perfect duplication of the photo, but then again, I am not a camera! Excuse the glare, the paint was still wet, the kitchen light was shining down on it, and I had to get the photo so I could publish my Sunday Skies blog post on Sunday and not Monday!

    Morning Sky acrylic painting
    If i had made done this with more pink, and less orange and yellow, it would have been closer to the photo.


    While I can still some room for improvement, I can see that I’m already learning more about painting the sky.

    When it comes to art skills, practice makes steady improvement. #learntopaint #acrylics Click To Tweet
  • What’s a Good Artist?

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    What does it take to be an artist?

    Well, it takes a desire to create art, and the initiative to act on that desire.

    If you’ve ever drawn a picture, molded clay into a form you’ve imagined, glued paper scraps into a collage, or in some other way have designed and assembled a creative work, then you ARE an artist.

    What does it take to be a good artist?

    Some would say it requires a Bachelors or a Master’s degree in art, and yet one of the world’s most well-known and best-loved artist, Van Gogh, attended several different art schools with sporadic attendance, and didn’t actually graduate from any of them.  He also disagreed with much of what he was taught.  In spite of that, he produced a great number of treasured, beautiful works such as the two below.

    “Starry Night Over the Rhone” by Vincent van Gogh – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.



    VanGogh-starry night
    Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


    Grandma Moses never went to Art School at all.

    1918 fireboard byGrandmaMoses
    By Grandma Moses [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     In addition, there are, or have been many other accomplished artists with all levels of art education, from none at all, to those holding several degrees in different disciplines of art.  So, it would seem that educational level is not a valid indicator of what makes a good artist.

    To me, it stands to reason that a good artist is an artist who creates good art.

    So What is good art?  Answering that question, is of course,  impossible.  There are as many definitions of what is “good” art as there are people to look at art. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes good art, from Jackson Pollock’s seemingly random spatters of paint, to Picasso’s distorted-looking portraits, all the way to pencil drawings so realistic they can be mistaken for a black and white photograph.  Such as the works in the video below, there are many different kinds of art, all “good” in their own way.



    In my opinion, the best way to decide if you are a good artist,  is to ask if your art is something that brings you satisfaction?  Not just in the creation of it, but in the finished product as well.  Do you look at what you’ve created and feel pleasure, or do you feel nothing but frustration?  Now, I don’t mean that when you look at your work you should see no problems, or see no room for improvement, but overall, are you pleased with your work even though you may still see some problems or areas you need to improve in?  If so, that is as accurate a definition of good art as any I can think of, so if you’ve created even one piece of art that meets that criteria, you are a good artist!

    In that sense,  I too can call myself a good artist.  There are many of my works that bring me pleasure when I view them.  However, not all of them do.

    Those who have followed my blog for some time are aware of how dissatisfied I often am with the skies in my paintings, and how even with the few that I am happy with, it was usually a huge struggle and challenge to get them to that point.  Any sky with more than a tiny wispy cloud in it is the bane of my existence as an artist.  The idea of plain blue skies in every painting also doesn’t really appeal to me.

    So, I’ve decided to tackle that problem the way I do every challenge I face as an artist.  I will practice, and practice, and practice some more.  I will look at the work of those I feel have mastered that element, and I will try to learn how they did it, I may even reproduce it (though not to claim as my own, just for practice).

    I will persist with this practice until I look at the sky in front of me, or at a photo I’ve taken of the sky, or even just imagine the sky I want, and render it in a painting to my satisfaction without hours of struggle and repainting.

    In order to do that, I’ve decided that once a week, I will paint a practice sky, it will usually be small, on paper, possibly as small as an index card.  One a week, until I no longer feel that a sky is an insurmountable challenge to me.

    No matter what day I actually do the painting, I will post it on Sunday, and call it “Sunday Skies”. I will begin this feature on Sunday, January 25th.


    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+.   See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.


    My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.

  • Trial Error, Error, Trial, Repeat

    Yesterday was another day of website building.  There are some things with WordPress that drive me crazy.  When I post the link to my website on Facebook, it doesn’t have a thumbnail image on it, and I’ve tried all the tutorials to fix the problem, but it persists.

    In spite of that, my website is coming along.  I am making progress with it.  I’ve imported past blog posts there, and for a while I’ll be posting on both, but soon I’ll be moving.  I hope that those who have followed me on blogger will come over to this  WordPress site and follow me here as well.

    In addition to the website work, I’ve added up the cost of doing business as an artist over the past year, and compared that to what I’ve made in sales.  I  just wanted  to find out how much money I’ve made lost as an artist.  Well, I won’t share details, but I will say that I can see where the term starving artist comes from!  I didn’t expect to make a profit over last year, but I did expect a smaller deficit than I saw.

    On an encouraging note,  there were a lot of expenses that I won’t have to repeat any time soon, like buying a canopy for art shows, tables for the canopy, a cart to move supplies with at art shows, and other big-ticket items like that.  I also had quite a few prints and cards made of my most popular paintings.  I  still have some leftover stock of those that will carry into this year and perhaps make me a little money.

    Last but not least, I actually got a little painting done, I’m still not happy with the clouds in my sky, but I’m getting closer to what I want.  One thing I am figuring out with this sunset though, is that I have to stop in between colors and let things dry, otherwise my oranges, and purples mix into brown, and my yellows and blues mix into green.  Here are two photos, neither one seems to really be right in color, the first one comes closer but is brighter than the painting really is I think…oh well,  what can you expect from a cell phone?

     IMG_20150118_240431_681~2 IMG_20150117_235650


    During my next session I will bring the purple and the blue up further in up in the sky, and cover those strange finger like projections I called clouds.  Then I will try putting in some less finger-like clouds.   Then,  I’ll bring more color into the darker blue water, I’ll cover the lighter blue area with land,  and there will be more land on the other side also, so that the bay comes between where the viewer “stands” and the other side of the bay.  I can see it in my mind now, when before I couldn’t, so hopefully I’ll be able to translate that to the canvas.


    I’m not really concerned about how much experimentation this is taking, I mean after all, this is how I’ve learned EVERYTHING I know about painting so far, by trying, messing up, and trying again, until I get I get it right.


    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog by entering your email address at the bottom of the page,  or follow me on Google+.   See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for unsigned Prints of all my Paintings.


    My Etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals that I haven’t added to this site yet, I sell a few select prints there also, and there you can choose if you’d like me to  sign them before shipping!  Eventually I’ll move all of my fine art products to this page, and leave only crafts on Etsy, but for now my art is in both places.