Thursday, August 21, 2014

Latest Watercolor Portrait and Studio Update

My summer has flown by and it's back to school which makes me sad. I've had almost two weeks to start adjusting to the back to school carpool schedule which is sometimes a welcome break in the afternoon.

I just completed a portrait for my aunt and uncle, two of the most photogenic people in Rhode Island. Everyone is delighted with it including myself - especially since it ranks among my most difficult portraits. The reason is because the image I had to work from is a 72dpi 100kb black and white file from 1966. My mission was to transform it into an 11 x 14 colored watercolor. The color part was actually the least of my worries. I spent hours trying to get my drawing correct working with this very blurry black and white photo. I wouldn't do this for someone I didn't know because it really helped that I know what they look like and had other photos to use for reference. I had my moments of doubt, but I pressed on.

And I am so glad I did. 

Other fun things I have been working on this summer include a Country & Western and a soon to be released Dance/Gymnastics scrapbook paper collections for Big Busy B's as well as some clip art collections I've added to my Etsy store (Back to School, Halloween, Black Cats and Sunflowers, Pumpkins & Mums). 

And I also took the plunge and participated in Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search. I'm hoping to make it to round 2 and as soon as the gallery is open for the first round, I'll be able to share my wall art design.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Clown Fish Watercolor

I thought I'd continue with the aquarium theme that I started with sea horses. This painting was actually more fun and I think maybe it's because I liked the close crop and definitely the happy orange color. It's 8 x 8 on Aquabord. Original available in my Etsy store here. (Prints and digital download also available in my Etsy store.)

Monday, June 09, 2014

Seahorses & Clownfish Watercolor on Aquabord

I said I'd be part of a project on Facebook that is 101 days of painting and on about Day 4 I realized it was messing with my head and the perfectionist in me started to rebel. Then I was bummed out and at a standstill. I was working on a client project so that made me rethink my focus which is really more about getting actual illustration jobs and licensing rather than pleasing my few fans on Facebook. Around the same time, I came across two articles which gave me reassurance that not checking into FB every day, hour, minute is OK. I'm so glad because being the introvert that I am, I'd rather not worry about all that social stuff on a daily basis. I loved not being on it actually. So I took a look at my calendar and planned my week. Then I picked this painting back up and really focused. It's been a good day.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

New Illustration - Kids Climbing Trees

I have been thinking about doing this illustration ever since I snapped some pictures of my niece and nephew while on vacation. It brought back memories of climbing trees and I was just really interested in playing with the composition and colors. Like most things I had a vague idea in my head but wasn't sure what the final painting would look like. I was pleasantly surprised to end up with something pretty close to what I was thinking. Below are two progress shots and the final. It measures 12 x 18 inches.

More ideas started popping into my head as I finished this painting. I don't want it to be a stand alone so I'm thinking of doing a series. Last night I started sketching and my next version which will definitely include a treehouse!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Illustration Friday and New Daily Project

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is "Temptation". It was much easier to come up with something vs. last week's broader topic - Universe. In my pursuit of drawing realistic looking children in an illustrative way, I feel like I'm starting to make progress. I have decided that using reference to get started with the face helps the kids look more human and less cartoony rather than trying to invent something out of my head. I can still do that, but I like the way they look better when I have some kind of reference to start with.

My question to whoever feels like commenting is, do you think the floor looks realistic? The illustration needed something else in the background and I thought this would look nice, not too distracting and add some perspective. My husband thinks it looks like a giant floor and maybe the tiles are a little too big but I did want to emphasize the small child. The cobalt blue table top got lost in my scan so I painted one in with Photoshop.


I have done two monthly projects where I painted daily for one month. In October 2010 I did a daily pumpkin painting/illustration and last August 2013 I did a month of portraits. I've made a bigger commitment this time having joined a group on Facebook who are doing 101 Days of Painting. I know some of them are just doing weekly paintings but the point is doing a project along with a group for support. I'm not going to post every daily painting here on my blog because I will probably forget and honestly I hate bothering people with daily email. If you would like to see them all, I will be posting them on my Facebook page.

I did share this one on Facebook today - Day 1. 

One more thing...I'm going to be sending out my June newsletter this week. If you would like to receive it, please sign up at 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Illustration Friday - Universe

I started with a circle and the idea of looking through a telescope then I decided to just play and see what happened. I worked wet in wet, dropped in alcohol, salt and spattered paint. Then I fooled around with the background a little bit in Photoshop and stopped when I thought it looked interesting. It sort of looks contained so I'm not sure if it reads "universe" but I like the spacey design and texture.  ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just start. Ideas WILL happen.

Something I have learned during the past year designing scrapbook papers is that I just need to get started. I never know how my collections are going to look. What I have discovered is that as I get started, I get more ideas. It's like going for a walk and deciding which street to go down next.

Delicate Splendor Collection
These scrapbook papers are image dominant so there's got to be some art on each page vs. just a pattern and all six papers need to read as a cohesive group. My client is terrific to work for. My specs are to use 3-4 main colors (backgrounds) based on the given theme. The rest is up to me. A little daunting the first time, but I decided to just dive in.

My process is more relaxed now than when I did the first set. I don't do as many thumbnail sketches or try to plan out everything before I start because my designs end up evolving as I go - so I brainstorm different objects, colors, and textures that go with my theme and then I look for reference material (my own photos or online). I start drawing in my sketchbook. Then I paint all the pieces of "clip art" on watercolor paper.

Autumn Splendor Collection
Usually I want to start designing before I have all of my objects painted so I scan what I have and get started. As I start on a page, I get ideas for other pages. I use the images I've created to inspire background color choices and I make several layers and try out different colors and textures and fiddle with the blend modes until I get something that I like.

So the lesson I have learned is to just start and trust that I will discover other solutions as I continue. I also have learned to give myself permission to redo. If I approach my art knowing that if I don't like the way it looks, I can start it over, then I am more relaxed. You can have a many tries as you want. I learned how to paint portraits this way. And it doesn't have to be a huge labor intensive encounter. I usually get my answers sooner than I think I will.