Self Portrait

I was pretty proud to have learned how to French braid my own hair. I did this self portrait while Adele sang about some heartbreak. I used oil pastels for the first time since I was a 10 year old, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the end result was. All I remembered was how annoying they were and how I couldn’t get the colors to spread out nicely. But then, I used a tissue paper to clean up a spot and lo’ and behold, I finally got what the deal with them was!

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Tissue Peonies

I love peonies. Now, I’ve never actually seen one in real life (I know, I know) but that doesn’t stop them from quite possibly being my favorite flowers.

When I saw this blog showing a do-it-yourself way of making peonies from tissue paper, I was thrilled, because I never seem to find the actual flowers here, whether in flower shops or looking for seeds. I wanted some on my desk but didn’t want them quite as big as she made them in her blog and more within the limits of an 8-10cm diameter sphere. So here’s my slightly adjusted recipe for making gorgeous peony tissue paper flowers.

1a- Take 3 normal tissue papers and cut them in half.

1b- If you’d like different color flowers, get colored tissue, or alternatively (like I did) just get some watercolor and use a brush to gently dab a light solution of your favorite color. Leave to dry on a tray.

2- Layer the 6 halves on top of each other, and fold into an accordion shape.

3- Tye a string in the middle to hold them together, and cut the square edges to create a curved or circular shape.

4- Carefully separate all the individual tissue layers from each other, opening up your flower.

5- Find some sticks. I have a dried up basil plant on my window sill, so I got 3 sticks. Make sure they are of an appropriate length to the vase you end up using.

6- Paint the sticks green, and leave to dry.

7- Find the string amid all the “petals”, add glue, and push the stick in. If you need to, hold it in place for a minute until the glue dries.

8- Place your flowers in a vase or glass, snip the edges until they are arranged just right.

9- Enjoy the view.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is no longer a “weekly” art project. Good news is I’m back, after a grueling semester, a rough bout with influenza (from which I’m still recuperating), and all around misery of graduate school applications (hello next year’s round of apps? Sigh.)

Finally done, this a scene from a garden in Sedona. I did not want this painting to be done with perfect realism, but something else. I’m not sure if I quite captured what I wanted. There’s something I really like about this and something not so much. This will leave me thinking… perhaps I’ll return to it whenever I figure out what it is that is bothering me.

Rana, this post is dedicated to you =)

I had not forgotten this blog nor did I stop painting.

I just seem to have taken on a slightly more time consuming and detailed painting than I had anticipated. Sometimes you never know just how much work a painting will require until you are half way through, and realize that it took you over 2 weeks to get there!

In the meantime, I thought it’d be nice if I just posted some pictures of my current painting at different steps along the way. I found it cool to see how the painting progresses and goes through different stages (some not so flattering) on the way to being complete.

I started by painting the brown base for the large pot in the background with burnt sienna, and using medium yellow to paint all the light green leaves and yellow highlights of the large bunch of small white flowers in the foreground.

I continued by painting a base for the red flowers and blue pot in the foreground. I used Prussian blue over the yellow to get green where needed. I also painted the base hues of the walkway to the side which is bluish white, but goes from a red/purple hue in the background to a darker shadowed one in the foreground. I then painted a layer of Prussian blue over the background pot.

This is my painting as it is right now. It’s finally starting to take shape. I added more yellow, blue, and green to the leaves, highlighting their veins and shadows. I also added little shadowing to the flowers while I figure out what my next move should be, along with a red layer for the background pot. I painted the darker side leaves with several layers of viridian hue (which is a bluish green color) and black. Plus a little more shadowing and random details all over.

I think the reason all of these take so long with me is I’m always uncertain how to proceed. I need to think a lot on it until I get a good idea and just do it.

Until next time when, hopefully, you’ll get to see this all done.

I was walking on campus in the rain a couple of weeks ago by some aloe plants (the exact species eludes me) that had recently flowered. Flowering in winter, the tall stalks end in a head with clusters of orange red flowers. I got pretty excited when I saw at least three or four humming birds flitting from flower to flower. Naturally I had to stop and take a picture. Let me tell you, balancing two bags, an umbrella, and a camera while trying to take a picture fast enough to catch the birds before they fly away to the next flower is no mean feat.

I’m starting to realize how much learning photography has helped in my artwork. Perhaps I’ll do a future post on that. For now, here is my second plant life painting: “Humming Bird and Aloe Flowers.”

Spending two weeks on a detailed painting is all good and well (which will be coming, hopefully!!). But, more importantly, I want to be able to just do a fun spur of the moment one-sitting-painting that just captures whatever it is I want to capture.

While watching the latest Epic Rap Battle of History on youtube, I found my way to marydoodles. Mary does watercolor, and doodles (as you may have guessed). She’s really good, fun, and instructive to watch (see video below). After watching a couple of her videos, I was just encouraged to go for it!

No fretting on subject matter! If you haven’t been inspired, just paint what is directly in front of you. And so here’s my one-sitting-painting doodle. Just picked up my brush and started.

Marydoodles:

This is my fourth and final still life, “Cup of Tea and Jewelry Box.”

Upon discovering a couple of painting books, one on watercolor and the other on oil, I discovered glazing. Apparently, the art of layering transparent washes of color to paint, rather than using opaque dabs of paint, is called glazing. It makes use of the bright white of the paper, and imparts its own quality and style to the painting, like what you usually think of when you think watercolor.

The painting was a little complex, and my technique is still under development at this point, which is why it took me two weeks to finish this. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing at first and spent the first week mystified, only to learn that my problem was that I was using too thin solutions of paint. That meant that to reach the right color I had to glaze a bunch of times, waiting for each wash to dry before the next. The second important thing that I learned, and I could’ve only learned this from experience, was that I should paint and glaze the backgrounds and shadows on everything first, making use of my newly purchased masking fluid and masking paper, then add the color and details. Finally, my watercolor wash skills could use improvement, and I did feel myself getting better the more washes I had to do.

All in all, I think I did well for my first time painting using only glazes, as watercoloring should be.

I’ve been thinking that next month’s theme should be “plant life.” Yup. I like it.

Toodles.

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