On Saturday, me and my friend Girl Power spent forty-five minutes shoveling my car and driveway out from under a pile of days-old snow. When I was finished my arms were so tired that I didn’t even feel like I could hold a paintbrush. My husband would roll his eyes if I told him that–he knows what a weakling I am! He shoveled everything else and didn’t even bat an eyelash! I, on the other hand, am pretty sure that one of my fingers got a little frostbitten…or at least frost-nibbled.
So, I am a little behind on this painting. This morning I covered the canvas with a quick coat of burnt sienna. I used acrylic paint because it dries fast.
If you already know the reason for the burnt sienna paint, you can skip this paragraph. If you don’t know why I did this, keep reading if you care to know. The reason is because my next step is to capture the values (lights and darks) of the image using black and white paint. If I paint black and white paint on a white canvas, it is really tough to accurately perceive the values I’m painting with, because the canvas is already so light. If I use a mid-tone like burnt sienna, my canvas is neither dark nor light, so I can get a better idea of the correct values.
I hope to get back on track soon. One of my many goals this year is to complete paintings in a shorter amount of time. I’ll keep you posted, but I must warn you that more snow is on the way tonight. Let’s hope I’ve learned my lesson about shoveling right away, and not waiting for days. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just send Girl Power out on her own.
Remember the practice sketching that I did on Wednesday? Well it really helped me when it came down to transferring my reference photo onto a canvas.
I decided to use a grid to transfer this image. I often do this when I want to work from a reference photo that is a lot smaller than the canvas itself, or if the composition is a bit more complicated. I used a grid for this image because I love the composition, and I didn’t want anything to change.
So I drew a corresponding grid on the reference photo and canvas, and transferred the image onto a 20″ x 16″ canvas.
I think I’ve mentioned before that drawing a grid is a valuable time-saving device. I could have taken the time to draw everything out without the help of a grid, but it would have meant spending loads of time erasing and redrawing things.
After I drew the image, I went back and erased the grid lines. Next time I use a grid I’ll try to remember to draw the grid itself with a light pencil. The heavier the lines, the harder it is to erase. The harder it is to erase, the more you have to press down on the canvas which can stretch it out.
And now, I have to spray the canvas with fixative spray. This will keep the pencil lines from coming off when I start the next step.
I decided that my next painting is going to be of this picture:
Although, it doesn’t seem to be the general favorite, I love this photo. The lighting is so unusual, and I love the expression on my nephew’s face. This painting is going to be called “The Entourage.”
This morning I did a few quick sketches from the photo. One of the reasons that I like to sketch is because it helps me to better understand the image. As you can see in some of these photos, I’ve been having some trouble getting my nephew’s face right. The first is a five-minute sketch that I did, and the second is a 10-15 minute sketch.
Each time I draw him, I can pick out what is wrong in the drawing and what needs to change. The idea is that when I finally get around to drawing him on the canvas, I’ll know in advance what my weakness is in drawing this particular image. Think of it in terms of a city fortifying its walls in preparation for an upcoming attack…only much less dramatic.
Sketching this morning was especially difficult, because my heart wasn’t in it. I am so ready to start painting, but I don’t want to skip this step because I believe that it is important…like eating your vegetables before dessert!
It’s that time again, I tell you! Time to hatch a plan. I have a blank canvas upstairs and I need to find inspiration. When I’m stuck, I like to look through my old photos to gather ideas. Here are a few photos that I’m considering:
Can you believe the picture of the dog licking my niece!? So I’ll be thinking about these four images as I go about my day. I hope to decide on one by tonight.
Now that my hobby has become my job (read about that here), I’ve decided that I need a new hobby. I find myself lounging in front of the TV whenever I’m not working, so I want to find something more enriching to help fill my spare time. The question is what can beat watching reruns of Glee (gah! I admitted it!)? Or watching the movie The Holiday for the cagillionth time?
My mother-in-law gave me her copy of the local community education catalog. I looked through it last night and circled a few classes I found interesting:
It’s no secret what a weakling I am. Maybe this class would be good for me, and maybe I’ve dreamed of kicking butt since I saw Kill Bill for the first time, but there are things I’d rather be learning.
I like the idea of exercise that I have to go to. What I need is a set exercise time that I can’t wiggle out of…but wait! I think I’m wiggling away from the idea of an exercise class. I’d rather just watch this clip from a brilliant beyond brilliant movie:
Another possibility is:
Now, I know what you’re thinking…Quilting? How totally uninspired! But really, I wish I knew how to sew better. I think it would be nice to have another skill to add my arsenal. If I learn how to quilt, it will open up another realm of art possibilities. And if stereotypes hold true, something tells me I’ll be the youngest one in the class!
And last but not least, Ukulele!
I played guitar for years in high school, but I think the Uke suits me better. I’m small and I love the beach, so I’m pretty sure I’ll love the Ukulele too! Also, my name is Melody and I don’t even play an instrument…LAME!
So I’m mulling it over. Anyone else looking for a hobby? Anyone have a hobby that you love?
I just listed four new items on my Etsy shop. I made these shadow boxes a month or two ago. I had so much fun making them, and am hoping to make more soon!
It’s finally here! My first in a series of video tutorials. I realize that I have already posted once on how to stretch a canvas, but I think (and hope) that this video will make things a bit more clear. This should be a useful tool for those of you who would like to try stretching your own canvas, but are not sure where to start.
Stretching your own canvas is more time consuming than picking one up at the store, but it’s also a lot less expensive. Another advantage is the fact that you can custom make a canvas according to your needs.
A huge thank you to my minion, Harmony, for filming and editing this video for me!
I’ll also include a list of tools and where things can be purchased in case you’re interested in trying this out for yourself!
- Stretcher bars (available at utrecht.com, dickblick.com, and Michaels)
- Canvas (fabric stores, utrecht.com, dickblick.com)
- Staple Gun and staples (hardware stores, Walmart)
- Rubber Mallet or similar item (Wal Mart, hardware stores)
- Gesso (Michaels, utrecht.com, dickblick.com)
- large paint brush (hardware stores, Walmart)
- Canvas Pliers, optional (dickblick.com, utrecht.com)
Today I buckled down and cleaned up my studio. I am now ready to start working in it!
As you may be able to tell below, there are some storage issues to work out. I have a good amount of space, but it’s not being used very efficiently.
Although I am entering this New Year with some fear and trepidation, there is also excitement in the uncertainty of it all. I liken this excitement to what I think a parent would wonder about his or her child. I wonder, what will my paintings look like? What will their personalities be like? What places will they go? Who will they spend their lives with?
One of the best things in life is a good skeleton key. These keys are utterly intriguing to me. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a small pile of old keys at a yard sale this past summer. They were going for $5, but I asked the man if I could have them for $3 and he agreed. I would have paid $10!
I had an old shadow box that I bought from another yard sale for 50 cents. I kept it for a while not knowing what I was going to do with it, but when I found the skeleton keys I knew I wanted to put them in a place of honor.
I took an ordinary piece of corrugated cardboard and cut it to the size of the inside of the shadow box. Then, using rubber cement, I adhered book cloth to the cardboard.
I chose some of my favorite keys and placed them in different arrangements on the cardboard.
I chose my favorite alignment (the last one) and took a picture of it so I could remember where all the keys were supposed to go. I took a pin and punctured a few holes near each key for the thread to go through. Don’t be fooled by the picture. I did it while the keys were still on. After I was done punching the holes, I took all of the keys off. Then, using clear nylon thread and going through the pre-punched holes, I tied one loop around the neck of each key and knotted it in the back of the cardboard.
Even with this close-up shot, it’s hard to see the thread.
Next, I mixed a brownish-black color with acrylic paints, and painted the shadow box.
Once dry (acrylic paint dries in minutes), I glued the cardboard/keys to the back panel of the shadowbox, and slid the glass into place.
Here’s the final outcome! It was really easy, and didn’t take long at all. And the total cost? $3.50!
I bet you’re wondering if I started my schedule yet. And the answer, I’m ashamed to say, is no. I owe it partly to laziness, partly to my messy studio, and partly to a crippling lack of confidence. It’s been so long since I’ve painted that part of me wonders if I can still paint. I faced the same thing last year when I took a break from painting to make books. The key to confidence in this area is just to dive in, and stick with it even when things don’t come out right. I know this to be true, but I still can’t seem to make myself sit down at my easel. I mean this figuratively, but literally there isn’t a chair up there yet.
Here is a picture of my messy room, that I have yet to clean before I start…