Posted in Uncategorized

2021: Artistic Reflections & Looking Ahead

Goodbye 2020.

I wish I could say I am going to miss you, but I would be lying.

Will 2021 be better? I sure hope so. But I woke up this morning to an ice storm, tree limbs across the driveway, news that someone has fraudulently claimed unemployment benefits on my hubby’s behalf, power outages, a finicky generator….sigh….

Not off to a great start….

On the other hand, my family is with me at home, safe and healthy. The power is currently on. (Yay!) Relationships in my extended family have been going through some much needed healing, praise God! And I have had the privilege to spend the last year creating art I love in a space I love.

I’m not really one to set New Year’s resolutions, but the quiet that comes after the bustle of the holiday season, especially on a day like today with snow falling onto a hushed world, lends itself to a little introspection.

I look back at what I have spent my time on this last year: caring for my family, homeschooling, music-making, painting.

But if I’m honest, I’ve also spent significant time and energy worrying, wondering, trying to discern, trying to control, trying to adjust, trying to let go.

As I reflect on the changes I have seen in our world in 2020, I hold on to the conviction that I want to do more of what brings light and life into this world.

I think that as artists we have a responsibility to share, to teach, to steward, and by doing those things, to love.

To that end, I thought I would share a little bit about some of my paintings from 2020–what I like about them, why I painted them, and what I learned from painting them.

First up: Pathways No. 1, pastel

Pathways is the genesis of a series of paintings I definitely plan to continue. They are experimental in nature. The scene is from my imagination and represents more of a “mood” than a place.

When I was painting Pathways No. 1, I wanted it to be moody, bleak, brooding, and a little uneasy because that’s how I was feeling. It was a sunny spring day when I painted it—incongruous to my emotions and a world in lockdown—and I needed to see the physical expression of my emotions.

Painting No. 1 was cathartic in many ways, and I remember feeling lighter, freer, and exhilarated as I stepped out the door of my studio when it was finished.

It’s one of those painting that I will never sell because it’s like a journal entry. I painted it just for me.

Next: Pathways No. 2, pastel

By the time Pathways No. 2 came along (above), I was looking for the challenge of creating something of a nocturne.

I strove to capture the sense of it being late in the day when the last light of a stunning sunset is leaving the sky—the time when you can still make out the slightest hints of the colors that flood the landscape during the day before they are lost to the night and your eyes can no longer discern them.

This painting reminds me that we can’t bottle time and we can’t hold on to light. We can only enjoy each fleeting moment and be grateful.

I will keep this blog posted when I paint the next in this series…

Next up: Golden Pines, pastel

Golden Pines was one of those paintings which seemed to paint itself. It didn’t take me long to paint, and it taught me that often simpler is better.

My goal was to capture the low angled sunshine hitting the pine tree trunks late on a winter day. As I look at the photo today, I can see a few things I would tweak. You might think that would make me unhappy, but it actually makes me excited. To me it means I am growing as an artist!

Next: Daisy Delights, acrylic on canvas

Daisy Delights was a delight to paint! (sorry… 😉

This painting seemed to scratch an itch I had to work with thick, impasto strokes of heavy bodied paint—something which is nearly impossible with soft pastels alone. I love the rich tones I could produce which make the painting seem to glow from within.

It was my first acrylic painting AND the first painting I had ever completed entirely with a palette knife—very freeing!

I completed Daisy Delights after viewing the channel “Palette Knife Painting Tutorials” on Youtube. Check it out if you are interested in seeing a how to.

Next: Bunny, watercolor and pen

Oh, that sweet little bunny! I saw the reference photo of this little guy on the line-of-action website I have referenced in a previous post. (I could not find a photographer’s name to credit the photo to, but it is not my own.)

There was just something about his pose and the softness of his fur that just begged to be put into a line and wash type of watercolor.

I love this kind of sketchy, loose look. And who doesn’t love a good scribble???

But my favorite touch was using a pen with watersoluble ink to make a border box. I loved touching the edge of the ink with a water brush to see it bloom and create a loose frame. I am now incorporating that technique to add tone to sketches. But more about that another time.

Next: Squirrel! pastel

Not too much to say about this furry critter except that sometimes a good painting comes out of experimentation and a letting go attitude—at least this one did! My hubby loves it so much he insisted we hang it in the house.

And finally: unnamed painting after Les Darlow, pastel

I wanted to include this pastel painting mainly because it was a huge departure for me. I painted it mostly with Pan Pastels, finely ground pastel in pan containers which are applied with sponges and other tools.

I painted this after viewing a demo by Les Darlow on Youtube—a search will bring it up easily.

I had used pans before mainly as an underpainting, but never to this extent. This painting does have stick pastel applied, mainly in the highlighted areas, and a little marker work in the treeline. Again, lots of experimentation for me, and I love the skyscapes pans let you achieve.

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed browsing through some of my favorite paintings of the year and hearing my thoughts on each.

I pray you are well and will strive along with me to continue developing your creative side as we walk into this new year!

Till next time!

~R

Posted in sketchbook

The Other Side of My Easel: Whimsy Sisters (part three)

Hello Friends! 

It is wet and blustery here in the Hoosier state—a great day to stay indoors doing something for my creative side.
I hope that you have had some time to get creative too!

As promised, today I bring you the third and final installment of the Whimsy Sisters. If you missed the last two posts, click here to go back to part 1 and get caught up. 

Drawing these girls has been very freeing and fun….freeing because they could be anything I wanted them to be, and fun because, well, they could be anything I wanted them to be! 🙂

Seriously, you never know what will come out of your imagination when you give yourself permission to PLAY
And that was the whole point…

So let me introduce you to the third of our trio:  Lucinda

 

Lucinda

What is there to say about Lucinda?

Well, to start with, she’s somewhat homely, unlike her other two sisters. She doesn’t wear the nicest clothes or have a fashionable hair-do. She doesn’t attract others with a sunny disposition or sparkling charisma. 
But she is practical and friendly. 

Lucinda is, in fact, the glue that holds everything together in her family of three.
For example, she is the one who makes sure that the meals are made, the cat gets let outside, and the plants are watered. She is the one people can count on.

When her other two sisters have a problem, they go to Lucinda. You see, she is a good listener and a steady friend.

Did I mention that she carries an umbrella and a little bucket around with her? The bucket is for collecting her tears which she uses to water the flowers, and the umbrella is for, well, you never know when it’s going to rain!

See? Practical.

Here is the start of Lucinda:

Line sketch of Lucinda

Initial watercolor washes

Lucinda’s palette

 

And finally, here is Lucinda with her two sisters, Penney and Maggie, after I added a fun background of dots using the leftover colors on my palette.

Whimsy Sisters

I hope you have enjoyed this series. I have enjoyed sharing it with you!

Until next time,

~Rhonda

Posted in sketchbook

The Other Side of My Easel: Whimsy Sisters (part 2)

Hello Friends! I hope this day finds you well and living your creative dreams!

Today I would like to continue sharing my series of sketchbook Whimsies…those make-believe characters that take form in my mind and live on the pages of my sketchbook.

In my last post I introduced you to Penney, the youngest of the three Whimsy Sisters.

As you may recall, Penney is sweet and modest, bringing sunshine wherever she goes, befriending animals and people alike.

Her older sister, Maggie, is quite a different character:

maggie

 

“Free-spirited” describes Maggie’s true nature. Preferring dramatic entrances and exits, she can be counted on to sport a wardrobe resplendant with halloween costumes from past years. She doesn’t take anything or anyone (including herself) too seriously, and she never takes time to comb her hair. To some, Maggie might seem aloof, insensitive, or full-of-herself, but in reality, she is simply lost in her own little world of make-believe and is too enthralled to notice anyone else noticing!

Here is a peek at Maggie’s creation:

Sketch

Initial watercolor washes

Color palette and secondary washes

Detailing

 Well, that’s it for today. I hope you are enjoying this peek into my sketchbook!

Until next time,

Stay creative! 🙂

~Rhonda

Posted in sketchbook

The Other Side of My Easel: Whimsy Sisters (part 1)

Hello again Creative Friends!

Today I would like to introduce the first in a series of illustrations I call Whimsies.

Whimsies are my take on quirky, make-believe folks that come to life in my mind and live in the pages of my sketchbook! 🙂

Whimsies are a lot of fun to conceive of, draw, and paint because I am limited only by my imagination—there basically is no wrong way to draw a Whimsy!

So without further ado…

Let me introduce “Penney”—one of the three “Whimsy Sisters.”

“penney”

Penney is a sweet girl. One of three girls in the family, she doesn’t like fighting or arguing with her two older, rather bossy, sisters. Instead she much prefers things to be civilized and beautiful. Birds and animals are her friends. She has by far the most beauteous heart and countenance of the three, though she would never say that about herself, and she brings sunshine wherever she goes.

Let’s take a peek at how I created Penney: 

Pencil drawing and initial watercolor wash

Secondary washes and color palette

Added shadowing and detail

I hope you enjoyed meeting Penney!
I plan to introduce her sisters in upcoming posts.

Until then, make time for your imagination.

Have fun!

~Rhonda 

Posted in sketchbook

The Other Side of My Easel: Sketchbook Whimsy!

Hello, my creative friends!

Let me ask you a serious question. 

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF AN ARTIST???

Think about the question for a minute. You may be wondering where this is going, but let me ask you a few more questions:

  • Do you tend to lose track of time when you are in the creative process? (I call that being “in the zone”.)
  • Do you find yourself wishing for, craving, even needing time spent in some creative activity?
  • Do you feel better (more balanced or centered) after you have gotten to spend time in your creative process?
  • Do you feel unfulfilled, anxious, or restless when you don’t get enough time or opportunity to create? 
  • Do you miss the time you could have spent creating when other priorities in life arise?

I think that if you answered “yes” to any of the above, you, my friend, are an artist. 🙂

But what does any of this have to do with this blog?

Well, let me tell those of you who don’t personally know me that I absolutely adore and am committed to the pastel medium. For me, its immediacy, vibrancy, and tactile nature make it my number one choice when I want to get seriously creative.

But one can’t be (or shouldn’t be, I believe) serious ALL the time. As I grow in my ability to express myself with my art, I can more clearly see the need to incorporate some serious PLAY-TIME (sorry, I couldn’t resist…) into my artistic life! 

So today, I am throwing caution to the wind and opening up my sketchbook to share with you some of my latest play-time creations. 

First up: A Nesting Composition of Colorful Butterflies

Nested Butterflies — watercolor and graphite

I LOVE doing nested compositions. It’s an easy way to practice and experiment with shapes, colors, and layout using a single subject. No two are ever the same! Pop the finished piece onto a colorful piece of scrapbook paper and attach it in your sketchbook, or adorn the top of a blank greeting card and send it off to a lucky person!
They can read it and then frame it!

Next up: A Nesting Composition of Mason Jars

Nested Mason Jars — watercolor and graphite

I plan to do more nesting compositions….balloons, teapots, and toadstools are on my play list! 

Here’s one more pic showing my shortcut to drawing mason jars….

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I plan to share more of my sketchbook creations in the near future, so stay tuned!

Before I go, I would like to mention the book The Art of Creative Watercolor—Inspiration & Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting by Danielle Donaldson. This book is AWESOME!! It’s where I got the idea for nesting compositions. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is looking to foster a more playful creative process. Check it out!

Till next time,

Stay Creative!!

~Rhonda

 

 

Posted in line and wash

Remembering Spring – Line & Wash

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Well, here we are in the middle of autumn with Thanksgiving just a blink away.  The birds who fly south for the winter are well on their way.  I don’t know about you, but last winter was sooooooooooo long that I developed a real appreciation for spring, sunshine, longer days, and the return of our friends at the bird feeder.

So here is my ode to spring–an American Robin sighted in our pasture way back in spring of this year.  Here’s hoping that this winter will be shorter and without any “polar vortices”!

Winsor & Newton watercolor markers, Micron Pigma ink, and water brush in 8 1/4 x 5 Moleskine sketchbook.

Posted in line and wash

Watercolor Markers: “Watchful Papa”

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This little sparrow was a lot of fun to draw and paint!

I was drawn to his slightly grouchy expression which I managed to photograph through the window of our home.  He warily watched me as he sat guarding his family’s nest from the top of a birch birdhouse hanging on our front porch.

The initial drawing was done with a Pigma Micron pen on Winsor & Newton watercolor marker paper.  Then I used Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers and a waterbrush to add colored washes.

Posted in watercolor

Bird Bath

Taking a little break from the bird house series to work on something else with ink and watercolor.

This is on Arches 140# cold press with a Platinum Carbon Pen and a mix of M. Graham and Winsor & Newton water colors.

As an aside, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the Platinum Carbon Pen! Amazon link

Unlike my Noodler’s Creaper pens (which are now dried up and trashed), the Platinum Carbon Pen has never failed to start right up.  The nib is slightly flexible for nice variation in line, if I want it, and the Platinum Carbon ink is waterproof!  Perfect for washing over with watercolors.

As for the art itself, the background was an experiment all its own, leading me to realize I need lots more practice with backgrounds!  😉  I do like the fall colors, but there is something else I can’t verbalize didn’t quite hit the mark.

Drop me a comment and let me know how YOU would have handled the background!

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Posted in line and wash, watercolor

Watercolor Experiment Series: Birdhouse

I am really drawn to watercolor.  While I love the purity of watercolor as a medium on its own, I am absolutely smitten 🙂 with line and wash….or wash and line, as the case may be!

To that end, I am starting a series of posts on watercolor & line and wash experiments whereby I paint the same subject (a birdhouse) in a variety of ways on a variety of papers.

I hope this will help others who are newer to the medium or stuck in a rut to be inspired and perhaps do a little experimenting on their own!

Here is my reference photo of the original birdhouse:

 

Original Birdhouse
Original Birdhouse

And here are the first three treatments of that subject:

The first and second painting are both done on Arches 140# hot press watercolor paper.
In the first painting, the watercolor was done first, followed by the ink work (Micron Pigma pens – 005, 01, and 05.)
In the second painting, the line work was drawn first (Platinum Carbon Pen) and then washed with watercolor afterward.
(Click on the gallery circles below for full size images.)

The third painting was done on different paper; specifically, Handbook Travelogue Watercolor Journal (90# cold press).
The front half of the birdhouse was inked before it was washed with watercolor; the side view of the house was inked after being washed with watercolor.

What I Found: It is worth noting that all line work was done with waterproof ink. And I was intrigued to find that on both papers, when I inked the drawing after applying watercolor and letting it dry, the ink lines ever so slightly softened; that is, the ink lines did not “bleed”, but the lines were a touch softer than if I had inked the line prior to washing it with watercolor. In fact, the ink laid down prior to the wash was left undisturbed by brush and watercolor.

This softening effect is probably imperceptible to the viewer, but noticeable to the artist as to how the paper “feels” as one applies the ink on top of watercolor, and probably only perceptible upon close scrutiny.

I also found that the hot press is extremely smooth for ink application, while the Handbook Travelogue paper is not quite so smooth, but definitely smoother than Arches cold press.
🙂 More about this in the next experiment in this series!