Inktober In Review; Week One, “Enchanted”.

As a quick recap, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Inktober is a fun art challenge that lasts through the month of October. It was started in 2009 by Mr. Jake Parker. An artist who said that he started it as a “way of challenging himself to improve his inking skills, and improve drawing habits.” It has become a fun, (sometimes stressful) way for many other artists to do this as well. Mr. Parker posts a list of words to be used as prompts to get you thinking about something to draw. He does mention however, that people can draw whatever they like, and many people do. I usually try to stick to the prompts. I did post the first two drawings of the challenge last week, so I thought I would stick some older Inktober or Drawlloween (another great challenge), sketches here as well to keep it interesting. (You can see these, and more from a past Inktober challenge on my blog post from July 9th, 2019, “Challenge Me”)

Some, maybe most of the one’s I did last year, had a decidedly more sinister aspect to them. I did this in keeping with the whole, Halloween month theme. I may do some in this vein this year, who knows? The following are the images I’ve done for the first seven days of this year’s Inktober, beginning with Day 1 “Ring”.

As mentioned in my last post, I decided to start out with a simple, easy picture for the first prompt, “ring”. (above), no pressure. You might ask yourself, ‘pressure? Why is there pressure’? Is there a prize involved, (no). Fame, fortune? (Nope). So why do literally thousands of people join in this challenge? Of course I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so I will give you my reasoning. I have no reasoning. No just kidding. I do like a challenge. It makes me think, often way outside the box, and gives me a chance to stretch my artistic chops so to speak. For me there is some stress involved though. And from different comments I’ve read on the Inktober twitter page, I’m not the only one. When I commit to doing something, I like, nay, I am compelled to follow through. Even though I do it basically for myself, I sometimes put pressure on myself. But then I remember the spirit of it, and find it is fun to do, and to interact with other artists and to see what they come up with. Day 2 is “Mindless” I decided not to go into the whole reason of why I ended up re-using an older sketch, as I explained it last week. So if you’re interested and (gasp) didn’t read last week’s post, you can find out why there. 🙂

For day three the prompt is “bait”. Trying to avoid the obvious, I went way out on a limb and did something that is maybe a little too sweet. But I was happy with it, so that’s all that matters, heheh.

Day 4 is “Freeze”. You may notice a little running theme. I had had it in mind to try to do all of my pieces with elephants as central figures. I’ve already missed a few on that. But again, no big deal. I did receive a very thoughtful compliment on this one, and that is always really appreciated. Like I mentioned folks doing this are extremely nice, and encouraging.

Day 5 is “Build”. Again, maybe I’m being a little corny, but this is a subject close to my heart, and if I can influence even one person to be kinder, and to want to help animals, then that’s OK.

When I’m doing any of these challenges, I don’t look at what others have done for prompts until after I’ve done my own so as not to be influenced. Drawings run the gammit from very simple, to extreme crazy-amazing work. I won’t lie, I do feel sometimes that I have to “up my game.” But that’s only for my own benefit. As an artist, I am always striving to stretch. These challenges aren’t a competition, and people are kind and honestly enjoy each other’s work. I highly recommend it for anyone. We are a week in, but you can jump in at any time.

Day 6 “Husky” This was a total “gimme” for me. I have a husky, and she loves to pose. (Really she just lays around a lot.) This is Kota.

Other than when I am painting abstracts, I’m mostly a realist painter. I have always admired fantasy paintings, and the artists who have the ability to bring that to new heights. So this last prompt for the week, “Enchanted” was a little trickier for me. I didn’t want to do anything trite, but again, it isn’t my usual style. After thinking about it a bit, I think I came up with a good mix of realism, and fantasy. Many times when I’m drawing or painting, time slips by me. I have often looked back at a piece and thought how it didn’t seem as if I’d done it, as if my paint brush, or my pencil is… “enchanted”.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe learned a few things. See you next time!

Make Up My Mind

How does one decide what they want to paint, or sculpt, sketch or write? When it comes to writing I have struggled with that mind numbing empty void often. Although I’ve been told that I’m a passable writer, unlike painting, writing has never come as smoothly to me. I think people who like to talk, or have “the gift of gab” tend to make better writers. I neither like to talk a lot, nor have that particular gift. I tend to stumble over my words, or think after the fact that I should have said this or that. I guess in one way, writing is easier than talking for me, because I can proofread, and change things around. Or simply because there is no one interrupting my train of thought. But still, not my best skill set.

So what of art? That empty sheet or canvas that sends shivers down the paint brush of so many artists?

Well, here’s the thing; I have too many choices of things I want to paint! And I want to do them all yesterday!

There was a time when this insatiable need to create also included miles of crochet work.( One of my grandmothers taught me when I was four years old,) and along with a stint of about ten years of embroidering everything in sight, (oh those fun 70’s), and the occasional macrame, my hands and mind were never still. Interwoven among these creations, which also included years of quilting, I sketched and painted. And somewhere within all of this, I became a wife, then mother… four times, worked sometimes two jobs, and moved house 15 times while my family was growing. But I digress. Eventually these things went by the wayside, (not the kids, heheh) but I never stopped sketching and painting. So now when I’m not working my “other job”, I mostly paint. Although I still occasionally do something else like making a macrame rope lamp, or a cheese board from a barrel lid.

As you can see, I never want for something creative to do, As for painting, the list of things I want to paint, is endless! It’s choosing one to settle my mind on that is difficult. Of the many family outings, to vistas I see on hikes, things my pets do, other animals that I love, or the fan art I would like to do, deciding what I feel like doing and have the time for, is never easy.

Every so often it is easier, as was the case with a recent painting I did of one of my daughters, or these paintings I did some time ago. I’ll get a clear feeling that this is what I want to do. But whatever the case may be, for me I’ll never have painter’s ‘block”.

I hope you liked this post, I wish you abundant ideas, and energy to see them through! See you next time!

From The Easel; Building A Love Note In Paint

When painting a portrait it often feels like a love note in paint for me. The following pictures are some of the steps to creating one such “love note”. I recently painted this portrait of one of my daughters, Nikki and our puppers, Kota. It had started out as just a simple sketch of a nice summer day, but I liked the pose and decided it would make a nice painting. The following are some of the steps taken to build on this portrait and create something both meaningful to me and interesting to the viewer. I call this; “Walking On The Fourth” as I completed it around that time. Enjoy!

After I had lightly sketched in the initial drawing, I then started to block in the basic shapes with an underpainting of the general colors I planned to use.

I then began filling in the facial features, and added more to the background as well as added some more smaller details to the figure. Then I began to layer in more detail on the fence and on the piece of wood on the ground. Adding more trees as well as more colors and leaf shapes to the trees that were already there, gave the background more depth. At this point I also added some more shading and fur to Kota’s image.

Unfortunately I hadn’t gotten enough sequential photos to show all of the details used to further flesh out and finish this painting. Needless to say, there was some reworking, and a bit more detail work needed, such as the layers on Kota’s fur, and darkening Nikki’s hair. I did this until it felt finished to me. (Something I’ve gotten better at over time, is knowing when a painting is finished. Maybe I’ll tackle that topic soon!) I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the steps that brought this painting to life. Thank you for stopping by. See you next time!

From The Easel; Steps of a Commissioned Piece

Having had some dental issues in the last few weeks, I didn’t get a chance to post anything yesterday. But as they say; “Better late than never”! I have wanted to post a series of photos that chronicle the making of a painting for some time. About a year ago I was given a commission and I had photographed many of the stages of creating it. I feel that this is a good representation of the making of a commissioned piece. So here I give you, “Mack”.

I was asked to create a painting that represented something that is very important in the lives of this family, for their young son. The father is a truck driver, and their son is crazy about trucks. Other than that, I wasn’t given anything else in particular to go on. I found this to be a good thing as it gave me a little more free reign to design this heirloom for them. As Their son was still quite young, but kids grow quickly, I decided that it should be playful, yet be something that he would be OK with having for some time as he grows older.

In this first image, you can see where I had lightly sketched in the body of the truck, and the beginnings of aspects that would make it feel more substantial. I then added some paint to begin “fleshing it out”.

Blocking in the background gave me an idea, and feeling of place.

In this photo I began to paint the sign on the side. As you can see, I left highlights where the metal of the truck bumps outward. I thought at this point to leave parts like this to give the sign a somewhat “worn” look.

Here I began to block in different areas to give it more depth.

At this point I started to add some fun elements. As you can see, the truck is now hauling a load of candy, peeking out from under the tarp at the top of the truck.

In this image I’ve blocked in a layer of under painting to begin building on and continue giving the painting more depth. I also added the name of the truck.

In the above three images I had begun to give the truck more realism, filling in the tires, and adding highlights to the fenders.

Here I’ve added more candy, and lights to the top of the cab of the truck. At this point I also began changing the walls where the “dig” was, showing that this was a candy “mine”.

Things were coming together, and I then added more whimsy to the over all look of the sign.

Here I added more highlights, and color for depth, as well as added the name of the young boy to the door of the truck.

After adding some work on the back and fore ground,(and adding a shadow of a man driving), this painting was finished!

It is always a bit nerve wracking to do a commissioned piece. You never know if the client will be pleased with the finished product. But I’m happy to say, they loved it! I hope you enjoyed seeing how this painting came together, and I hope to do more like this in the future. See you next time!

Born Out Of Time

Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.

One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.

The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!

It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.

Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.

This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.

I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.