#Artober 9: Birch Forest!

I really like this one! It’s definitely my favorite Artober painting so far. It’s 5×7 gouache on watercolor paper, based on this photo from Unsplash, my favorite source of free-to-use images.

I painted this one at work, and I’ll probably hang it there. It’s an example of what I want to do with my painting classes – what I hope I’ll get to do next year. Acrylics are most approachable, but I find more watery mediums easier to work with, and gouache (especially the acrylic variety) is far less intimidating than watercolor.

img_9025In other interesting news, I got this book today. I preordered it from Our Amazonian Overlords around March when it was announced but forgot about it until I got a shipment notification the other day. I’m super excited. It weighs in at a whopping 700 pages, so it’ll take a while to read. I hope it’s better than his last novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which I didn’t especially like.

Now, to descend into the world of kittehs and wells.

#Artober 8: (Probably) Utah Landscape!

Today’s watercolor is based on a lovely photo by Robin Sealark, who has very kindly offered her collection of reference photos to her Patreon patrons. She’s an artist with a very interesting YouTube channel and is responsible for the success of my very first oil painting (and why I decided it might be my favorite medium. Srsly check her out and subscribe):


A few oils later, and it’s still my favorite. And those were student paints! I’ve already upgraded to Gamblin.

ANYWAY, back to today’s watercolor. I got home tired after the library’s annual Staff Development Day (which was somehow fantastic! The best yet!) and wasn’t in the mood to art. I had no idea what I was going to do, and her photos popped into my mind, so I looked through them until I found something inspiring.

I know this one isn’t my best. The sky is too dark and the perspective is a little off, but I’m okay with it because I powered through. By this time last year, I’d given up on finishing a painting a day (the main difference is that I’d only started painting a month before and everything was still new and difficult), so I’m already ahead. I really like the idea of doing some sort of art every day, though after this month it might be more like working on a painting rather than finishing it. I’m currently midway through a close-up poppy oil painting that I’d like to finish, but I’m putting it off until after Artober.

But hey! Eight days down, 23 to go.

#Artober 7: California Hills!

Today’s painting is based on a photo I wish I had taken of California deserty terrain. The vegetation there fascinated me because it’s entirely different from anything else I’ve experienced.

I’m not going to post the photo because I found it on Instagram. It was taken by my new favorite contemporary artist, Colie Ryan, a landscape oil painter from Fort Worth. She had some amaaaaazing palette knife landscapes at the Revel. I wish I could afford one, but her originals are way out of my price range.

I’m okay with this one. Palmer says he doesn’t see a reference for size, but I was super limited on time and just stuck some very faint electrical poles in the distance. At some point, I’d like to come back to this one and add more details.

#Artober 6: Pastel Sunset!

Okay, so this was soooooo not what I was planning. Here’s what I was planning, except in oil:


Is that not a beautiful sunset? It’s the special kind of sunset we only get after a good rain.

Why did I end up with a very dissimilar watercolor, you ask? The short answer is that I don’t have a pinky oil color to mix the sunset properly. My first solution was to use acrylics, but they dried too fast, and I got mad:


MEH. Once you paint a gradient in oils, you’ll never want to try it with acrylics again.

So I figured watercolor was my best option. Except I’ve been lazy and using an old pad of Strathmore 4×6 postcard paper, and the paper isn’t really good, so I quickly ended up with an orange streak down the middle that you can see if you look closely. Hence the clouds which, granted, are also in the photo, though in smaller numbers. I was going to use gouache for the buildings and trees, but the random landscape happened because I was running out of time because (you guessed it) I have to work at the Revel tonight.

This one isn’t terrible. It’s generally okay, and I’m okay with that.

#Artober 5: Waterlilies!

Here’s another work painting. This time, it’s for a series of children’s art programs I’m planning early next year. They’ll learn about an artist and how he worked, and then they’ll produce their own art based on that artist’s work. First up is Monet. A few months ago, I ran across this blog post about a school art program in which students learned to paint Monet’s waterlilies. It’s been high on my list for months, but it’s been eclipsed by Revel preparations. Now that the Revel is almost over (come on, Sunday!), I can get back to my regular business, which has to be done quickly because I can’t order anything after November 10 until January.

The kids will be painting on small canvases with acrylics, but I didn’t have the right size canvas or the right colors at work, so I opted for gouache on watercolor paper. Gouache is a lot more portable than acrylics, and I like it better for smaller formats. I followed this tutorial on YouTube, which the blog post suggested.

I’m happy enough with this painting, though the more I look at it, the less happy I am with the top reflection. The paint was too well blended. That part is much easier with heavy body acrylics, so I might try it again with those.

#Artober 4: Wee Duck Pond!

This is a little 5×7 oil painting on canvas board of a local landmark we call the Duck Pond. It’s pretty much in the middle of town, and it features a big playground. There’s also a big hill where I (kind of) learned to skateboard when I was a kid.

Here’s the reference photo I took while on a work outing in May:


I’m still getting used to oils. I’m pretty sure this is the first oil painting I’ve finished without a tutorial. I have another in the works, but it’s bigger, and since this is #Artober, I’m keeping paintings small right now.

One thing that frustrates me about any medium is my urge to paint every last detail. For instance, that little concrete outcropping along the shoreline. I tried and failed to paint it, so I just took it out. I was going to add in the overhanging branches, but I decided not to because I’m running out of time: I have to be at the Revel in an hour. That, and I didn’t want to ruin a painting with which I’m pretty satisfied. I’ve learned quickly that it’s much harder to paint every tiny detail in oils, but I assume I’ll get better at it with practice.

#Artober 3: Witch Sisters!

Aaaaand here’s today’s painting! I actually did this at work today. Every month, I teach a painting class at a library branch, and this one’s for October 20th. It’s not my first go-round with this one. I painted this last October, and it was probably my third or fourth painting ever. Here it is:


I like the first one better. I used the brushes patrons will use in my class, and I had major problems with them. For the program itself, I’ll be sure to bring my own.

They’re based on this tutorial by one of my very favorite people, Cinnamon Cooney, the Art Sherpa. In fact, all of the programs I’ve done so far are based on her tutorials. She has a Labs program that I should be a member of to teach her tutorials, but I haven’t been able to join. Non-profits and not-for-profits, which includes public libraries, can get a free membership by emailing them. I’ve sent three emails and gotten zero responses. I’ll try again soon because I want to be legit.

Here are a few photos from my programs. This one’s from September. I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures. I took this one after a couple of people had finished and left.


These are from August. Everyone always seems to have a good time.

And, finally, here are a couple from my first program. Some of these people might look familiar: a few of them keep a close eye on the library’s Facebook page to be sure they get one of the very limited (free) tickets.

I’m so glad I get to do these programs. I have them booked through January so far, and they’ll continue through next year at various branches. I’ll also be doing some kids’ and teen art programs soon. It’s gonna be awesome!

#Artober 2: Hydrangea!

I’ve wanted to paint a hydrangea for a while now, but they intimidated me because I had no idea how to paint so many tiny flowers to make up the whole. I spent most of yesterday resting after the first Revel weekend on my sofa with the dogs, watching art tutorials on Youtube, and I saw this one by Shibasaki (everyone’s lovely Japanese grandpa) and decided that I just might finally be able to pull off a hydrangea.

I’ll let you judge my success for yourself, but I’m happy with it. It’s 4×6 watercolor on 140 lb paper. The trick appears to be to use a palette knife to scratch the surface of the paper and remove paint for the highlights. I want to try again because it seems like I had to damage the paper excessively to get the paint off. It probably had something to do with the fact that I used a pre-cut Strathmore watercolor postcard instead of my usual Arches.

Two days down, twenty-nine to go! That’s actually a lot…

It’s #Artober 1!

Yeah, it’s technically Inktober 1, but as I’m not particularly a fan of ink (or drawing), I try to create one piece of art every day in the medium of my choice. We’ll see how it goes, as this is terrible timing: the Red River Revel started last Saturday and goes through next Sunday, so I’m super duper busy and exhausted when I’m not working. I’ll write a post about that soon.

Here’s my painting for today. 4×6 acrylic gouache on 140 lb watercolor paper. It’s loosely based on this photo I took a couple of weeks ago:

I’m okay with it. I’m trying to stay realistic by keeping my sessions under an hour. This one took about 45 minutes.

Wish me luck!

And now for something completely different

I made this glorious little machine at work today. It’s an arduino with a game shield and a speaker attached, and it plays ocarina songs from one of the best games ever, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but only if you remember the right buttons to push. (Here’s a list of right buttons to push.) I made this quick video after I finished it.

It was super easy. I just ordered the parts and followed this excellent tutorial on one of my favorite techie sites, Hackster.io. I did have to learn how to install libraries on the Arduino IDE so they’ll download to the arduino along with the program. That was easy, too, with the help of a board on another one of my favorite sites, Stack Exchange.

There are a couple issues I need to look into. One is that after a few seconds of music, the speaker seems to spaz out. That, and it’s super hard to hit the buttons perfectly enough for the arduino to decide to play the music in the first place. I’m not sure how to fix the speaker, but a thorough look for the code will probably help me solve the second problem.

If you want to see this thing in action, you have a few opportunities coming up: I’ll be at the library table at the Shreveport Bossier-Mini Maker Faire on September 22, Digifest at the Bossier Civic Center on September 26-27, and I’ll be doing a series of programs at various branches called Microcontroller Mania soon. Those dates are TBA, so keep an eye on the library’s calendar for those.

I have lots of other stuff in my office waiting to be put together, too…