• Tag Archives landscapes
  • Winter Wonderland Paintings

    To Everything there is a Season

    Being an Artist holds many challenges, one of which is that every season seems to demand a response from the artist.  In spring we have blossoms, birds everywhere, rain showers, sun breaks, baby animals, rainbows.  In summer, there are ocean side picnics, sand castles on the beach, sunsets over the ocean, children playing in the sprinkler, lazy afternoons under the tree in the yard.  Then fall bursts onto the scene with its fiery colors, school buses full of children heading back to school, spooky skeletons, orange pumpkins, turkeys and pumpkin pie by the fire.  Right around the corner from fall, comes winter, with its frozen ponds, snow blanketing the ground, Christmas lights, children building snowmen, dark skies, and colorfully decorated trees.

    For the artist who wishes to sell their work, we must work at least one season ahead, so that our delightful scenes of blossoming branches and baby birds become available when people are just getting excited about spring and wanting to celebrate it.  That means we have to remove ourselves mentally from the current season, and look to the next.  In late winter we need to finish up our springtime paintings if we hope to sell them soon, rather than storing them for  year before selling.  Similarly, in summer when what we want to paint is the delightful scene of the beach in front of us, we also need to already be thinking about pumpkins, ghosts, brightly colored leaves, and the like.  And while everyone else is celebrating the cool fall season, we need to think ahead to the snowy winter. Of course, we can also do our share of painting the current season, knowing that we most likely won’t sell that work for about a year, but that we can enjoy making it.

    I tend to a mix of both, painting the scenes in front of me, while also trying to work in a few paintings that look ahead to the coming season.  That means that this fall, I’ve done my share of fall images, but I’ve also been working on some winter scenes.  I have two that I recently finished, which I feel would make lovely holiday gifts.  They are so recently finished that I haven’t titled each of them yet, but I am calling the series my “Winter Wonderland” series.  Not very original, but classic nonetheless.

    Take a Walk in My Winter Wonderland

    I invite you to enjoy these winter wonderland paintings for yourself.  For the first one, I’ll just show you the finished product.  Then for the next, I’ll let you see it unfold through photos the creation process.  In this way, it will as if you are walking with through the painting as it progresses!  I haven’t done a lot of winter scenes before this, so I started with a small painting, and after getting a better idea of what methods produced the results I wanted I started a second, larger painting.

    Here is the first scene, it is a small painting, on 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide.  I haven’t listed it in my etsy shop yet, but if anyone wants them right away, they are welcome to contact me.  Sometime in the next few days, I will post the paintings on etsy.

    Two little bunnies play in the snow near two outdoor Christmas trees, while a lone skater glides over the pond in the distance. 5x7 acrylic on canvas by V.J.Maheu
    Two little bunnies play in the snow near two outdoor Christmas trees, while a lone skater glides over the pond in the distance. 5×7 acrylic on canvas by V.J.Maheu

     

    The next work is similar, but I used a bigger canvas because I wanted to put in more detail.  I didn’t just want to recreate the same scene larger though, I wanted to make a completely different scene, just using similar methods to accomplish it.

    First, I painted in the sky, making loose brushstrokes, and graduating from a lot of white in one area, but getting more and more blue as I worked away from that area. Then I added trees, first a background layer of very light, faintly visible trees, then two more layers of trees getting progressively darker and more green. All of this was done wet on wet, which can be accomplished with acrylics by adding retarder medium to the paint and by working quickly.

    Creating some atmospheric perspective by having the trees start out very pale in the background, and become increasingly darker and more visible as they get closer.
    Creating some atmospheric perspective by having the trees start out very pale in the background, and become increasingly darker and more visible as they get closer.

     

    After that backdrop was done, I let it dry.  Up until this point I had been working wet on wet, so that the layers mixed slightly and didn’t have a lot definition, but at this point I wanted to let this backdrop dry, so that my next layer on the canvas could be more defined.

    You can see that in this layer I added a much more clearly defined layer of trees, with clearly visible snow on the branches. I also added hints of snow in some of the trees from previous layers. Then, decided I needed a little cabin sitting among mounds of snowdrifts. I also began the outline of what would be a little river running through my painting.
    You can see that in this layer I added a much more clearly defined layer of trees, with clearly visible snow on the branches. I also added hints of snow in some of the trees from previous layers, I added in some underbrush in the background as well.  Then, decided I needed a little cabin sitting among mounds of snowdrifts. I also began the outline of what would be a little river running through my painting.

     

    At this point I once again allowed everything to dry, and then moved on to the next stage.

    Here I worked on shading the snowdrifts a little more, and I added in some texture, highlights and and darker areas in the river.
    Here I worked on shading the snowdrifts a little more, and I added in some texture, highlights and darker areas in the river.

     

    The painting looked like it was nearing completion at this point, but I still had in mind the most detailed and upfront part of the scene.

    I added more detail on the far bank of the river, painting in some exposed mud at the point where the water and snow meet, and I added in more background brush on the left side of the canvas. Built up the snow near snowbank, and added in the foreground tree with snow sticking all over its bark. Then I added the shadowy reflection of the tree on the surface of the water, and added in some more highlights opposite the shadow.
    I added more detail on the far bank of the river, painting in some exposed mud at the point where the water and snow meet, and I added in more background brush on the left side of the canvas. Built up the snow near snow bank, and added in the foreground tree with snow sticking all over its bark. Then I added the shadowy reflection of the tree on the surface of the water, and added in some more highlights opposite the shadow.  I also added in the light coming out of the windows of the little cabin.

    At this point the painting was almost done, but I felt it needed more.  Something to make the river stand out more from the background.  I decided to use just a tiny amount of iridescent pearl on my painting, to add a bit of actual reflection to the water.  Of course, in a photograph or a print, you lose some of that effect, but it makes the original even more special.  You can still see some of the effect, even in a photo.  I also worked on the snow a little more to make it look more “fluffy”, and added a few stars to the dusky sky.

    Here you can see the finished painting. A bare snow covered tree on the bank of a river at dusk in the middle of winter. On the other side of the bank, a quaint little cabin offers a cozy refuge from the cold. The first stars are just becoming visible in the darkening sky.
    Here you can see the finished painting. A bare snow-covered tree on the bank of a river at dusk in the middle of winter. On the other side of the bank, a quaint little cabin offers a cozy refuge from the cold.
    The first stars are just becoming visible in the darkening sky.

     


  • 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.


  • I’ll Let You in on a Secret

    As an artist I have a secret.  It haunts me with every landscape painting I do.  I don’t know how to paint clouds.  I mean, yeah, I try… but they never come out realistic enough for me.  I do acceptably with small wispy white clouds in a blue sky, but big puffy clouds, or storm clouds I’m just never happy with.  I’ve gotten lucky on  a few paintings and had reasonably satisfying results, but usually its a wrestling match to get there.

    For example, my recent work in progress.  I first painted the whole canvas blue, because it is going to have water and sky.  I wasn’t really concerned with coating the entire canvas evenly, because I had in my minds eye some spectacular clouds that would cover most of the sky portion.So here is what it looked like after that first coat of paint:

    Well, I proceeded to try to produce my vision of these clouds, and I came very close.

    This was almost exactly what I wanted, I was thoroughly pleased with the lower left section of sky, but moving away from that area, I felt it looked worse and worse, until finally up in the right hand corner I felt I was looking at blue camo rather than clouds. I posted it to my facebook page, and to several art groups asking for advice, and was assured by everyone the clouds looked fine, but I couldn’t shake the impression of looking at blue camo.

    Maybe I should have listened to everyone, but NO, not Mrs. Perfectionist Vicki!

    I tried to fix it, but only made it worse, and finally, in frustration, I did this:

    So, I spent most yesterday evening painting, and the net result so far is a blue canvas.  NICE!

    Some day, I’m going to figure this cloud thing out.  I think I should start practicing on paper for a bit, until I get it, so I don’t have to paint over a canvas.

    ***************************************************

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. 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 Prints of all my Paintings.

     
    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!

  • Finally Decent Photos!

    Way back LAST YEAR or a week and half ago, however you look at it, I posted a cellphone photo of my painting, “Inlets to Illusion” and promised that I would soon have a quality photo of it to share.  Well, my setup for photographing my paintings is not ideal, I have to rely on outdoor weather to be just right, namely, it must be overcast over the entire sky, but not raining, not windy, etc.  So, I’ve been biding my time, waiting, and yesterday the weather was perfect for photography of fine art!

    So finally I get to share with you not only my “Inlets to Illusion”, but also the painting that I finished on Friday and posted cellphone photos of on Saturday.

    First things first, here is “Inlets to Illusion”, if you’d like to see it bigger, which I highly recommend to fully appreciate the optical art qualities, click on it, it will take you the website where I sell prints of my fine art paintings, but there is no obligation to buy just because you looked!

    Photography Prints

    And now, for the impressionist and intuitive “No-Brush Painting” which I ended up titling “Sky Ablaze”.

    Art Prints


    So that’s all for today, Happy Sunday!

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. 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 Prints of all my Paintings.

     
    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!

  • Don’t Leave Me Hanging!

    Don’t you hate it when people leave you hanging? They start to tell you about something, and then never finish, or never let you know the outcome to something they were excited about?

    So do I, but sometimes I still end up doing just that.  An example would be that way back in May of 2014 I showed my readers a painting from start to finish, and told them it was going to be entered into a juried show.  Then I neglected to let anyone know if the painting had been accepted to the show or not.

    Well, better late than never right?  To refresh your memory, this was the painting:

    And it was one of three that I was going to enter into a juried show.  Well, it did get accepted, it was the only one of my paintings that did get accepted.  Now, this show gets hundreds of submissions, and rejects most of them, only showing a handful of what is submitted.  So even being accepted is a huge honor, especially for a completely self-taught artist like myself.  However that wasn’t the end of the honor.  When I went to the exhibit, I noticed this attached to the wall next to my painting.

    It turns out that in the category of paintings they gave three prizes, and I didn’t win one, but each Juror also got to select ONE work from ALL categories that he personally felt should have been awarded the prize, and give it an honorable mention.  So juror Venker chose my painting from every single work in the show, and he personally told me that he had voted for it to win in the painting category.

    Okay, so sure, I’d have liked to have won a prize, but to get accepted was a big deal, then to get an honorable mention out of all the works there.  I was very pleased.

    I will soon be adding this painting to my etsy shop, I have to photograph it in the frame as well as the photo above so people can see how it will look in their home.  However prints of it are available right now, the photograph below is the print quality one, that best shows the true colors and values of the original.  Click on it to see a much larger version on Fine Art America.

    Photography Prints

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. 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!

     

  • Stretching Myself

    One of my Index cards from the ICAD challenge.

    Before I first started painting in June of 2012, on those index cards that seemed so innocuous but proved to be carriers of the deadly “art attack” virus, I had no idea how much I had missed art in my life.  You see, way back when, years ago, in Junior High School and some in High School, I took great joy in creating.  Drawing, using oil pastels, markers, colored pencils.  I didn’t paint much back then, though I’m sure at some point I must have used paint a little, I really don’t remember, but it certainly wasn’t a medium that I used regularly… at any rate, at that time I really loved art.  For some reason, shortly after high school, I stopped. Perhaps it was because the responsibilities of adult life left little time for it, and little money for supplies.  Perhaps it was because of other issues I was dealing with that caused me to feel unworthy of something that would bring me joy.  Perhaps I just didn’t get around to it.  For whatever reason though, art was no longer a part of my life.  Occasionally I would do crafts, make Christmas ornaments, crochet baby clothes, something like that, but drawing, or “painting” with colored pencils or pastels, was completely forgotten.

    After starting the ICAD challenge though, I quickly realized I was hooked, not just on art, but in particular on painting.  It wasn’t long before I wanted to move beyond the index cards and onto a canvas.  Since then, I’ve painted and painted and painted.  Having had no formal training, I have learned most of what I know by trial and error, often with many errors repeated again and again (when will I finally automatically paint background objects BEFORE foreground objects???).  I’ve watched a few how-to videos, and read a few books, but mostly I’m self taught… I’ve been learning to paint by PAINTING.  Eventually I might like to go for my BFA, but in the meantime I just continue to paint.

    Recently, the gallery owner where my work is sometimes displayed suggested that I take part in a local juried show.  He felt that it would give me more exposure, and also give me a chance to see how my work compares with other local artists and to get feedback from more people.  I looked over the work I had, and felt that there were many things I had learned recently that didn’t show in those pieces, so I decided to create three pieces specifically for the show, being mindful to apply everything I’ve learned up until now.  In other words, I wanted to really stretch myself to the limits of my current skills and abilities, so that I would be submitting the very best work I am currently capable of producing.

    Here is the first piece as it took shape:

    This first photo shows the work after my first painting session, I have no idea how much time I spent up until this point on it, but it was all one painting session.  I used three reference photos I had taken, but didn’t copy directly from any of them, just used them to spark ideas and give a general outline of what was happening.

    I decided to block in some general darks and lights in the background, so that when I added background trees gaps in them wouldn’t show stark blue sky, because I’ve noticed in some of earlier paintings that sky showing through like that often makes the landscape look flat, or fake.

    Then, here is the second in progress photo, a little more has changed at this point, one back ground tree has been added, and one more foreground tree.

    Then I added the other background trees.  Notice that I made them lighter and less distinct than the ones in the foreground, I’ve been trying to learn to implement atmospheric perspective.
    On to progress picture number 4, here I have lightened the trees in the background more, plus added some more foreground elements. I know that the picture looks very different in color here, but it hasn’t changed.  All but the final two photos were taken with my phone, and it is very sensitive to changes in lighting.  The slightest difference in available light causes a whole different color cast over everything.
    Next I simply added more detail in the foreground, such as some flowers on the bush in the lower right hand corner, and some more reflected light on the pond.

    Then I thought I was done, so I took a good picture with my good camera, but afterward, I noticed that the sky above the background trees looked “dirty” because of all the times I’d painted over to obscure the trees a little more in trying to achieve the atmospheric perspective:

    So I fixed the sky, and then took another picture with my good camera.  I printed several samples to compare the color to the original, and edited until it matched.  And here is the final result:

    So there is the painting that will be my first entry into the juried show.  Because I am keeping it for the show, I can’t offer it for sale yet, however prints of it are available on my Fine Art America page, and if the original doesn’t sell during the show, it will be offered for sale afterward either in my local gallery, or in my Etsy shop.

    Art Prints

    Thank you for reading! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you! Photography Prints


  • I’m back, and I have a Lot of New Work!

    I haven’t been posting as regularly as I should, and there are many reasons for this.  One of them is that I’ve been very busy actually creating art, and therefore taking less time to blog about it.

    I’ve made a lot of new pieces, and I’ve been showing them every chance I can, here I is my stuff at a local Art Walk in August (that’s my hubby sitting on the chair feeding his face!):

    I know this blog needs to made a little more interesting, so soon I will be doing some video postings about art.  

    Here are some of my new pieces:
    Photography Prints Photography PrintsPhotography PrintsPhotography PrintsSell Art OnlineArt PrintsSell Art OnlineSell Art Online 

    Thank you for reading! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you! Photography Prints


  • New Painting, “Dusk On Puget Sound” progress

    Well, my new painting titled, “Dusk on Puget Sound” is finished… well almost.  I actually still need to get a good, high quality photo of it, and then varnish it, along with a few others that I’ve finished lately.

    I finished the actual painting tonight though, and took a quick snap-shot of it to share, I’m afraid the colors on the photo aren’t quite accurate… when I get the good quality photo I will post that, but for now this is the best I could do.

    Thank you for reading! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you! Photography Prints