#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!

I don’t like it either

I’m calling this one done. Abandoned might be a better term.


Aside from the sky, which I really like, there’s so much I don’t like about this one that it’ll end up stacked against a few others on the floor of my library until it’s eventually thrown away. Here’s a photo from the end of my first session with this one:


I was more hopeful at that point. I really like that, even an hour or two after I paint a section, I can just wipe it off if it doesn’t look right. Hence the light brown next to the planted field. I’d made it far too wide.

My main issues are the trees and field. With all the paint I added, the trees are an opaque mess. The field has the opposite problem, and you can see the gesso underneath. I just got frustrated and wasn’t having fun messing with it anymore.

But I learned something! Part of the reason I think the cloud worked out so well was that I had an acrylic underpainting underneath. Here, it’s just white gesso. If I had used that technique here, I think I’d be much happier with the result. I’ll definitely be making that underpainting next time.

Another problem could be that my oil paints are student grade Soho. I know from experience with acrylics and watercolor that there’s a huge difference between student and artist grade paints, so maybe I was wrong to try student grade first. I’m seriously considering ordering a set of Gamblin and seeing if I like those better. I’m pretty sure I would.

Hello (again) World!

Sooo I’m finally back. You might remember my old, long-running book blog. I’ve finally tossed it out. (Not really. It’s archived. I might post that archive somewhere at some point, but for now, it’s essentially gone.) I stopped blogging a few years ago because it started to feel like a job: I was in a hurry to finish books so I could review them, and I got tired of that cycle. So I took a roughly 3-year break with a few posts on and off.

No, the book blog isn’t back. Sure, I might talk about books from time to time, but my new focus is more generally Stuff I Like to Do. It’ll mostly include art and tech and, of course, dog photos. Part of my reasoning is that I have a new job where I basically get to go to work and practice my hobbies, then teach other people how to do them.

I’m the Programming Specialist for a 21-branch library system. Until May, I had a super boring back office records job, but now I get to have more fun, and I have more time to explore my interests. I hope you’ll enjoy sharing those interests with me.

One of said interests is new, and it’s oil painting. I’ve been painting in general for about a year (my first time was at a library program!), but I just picked up oils for the first time this past weekend. They’re sooooo different from anything I’ve tried before (if you’re wondering: acrylic, watercolor, and gouache), and they’re a big challenge. Here’s my first oil painting, based on a Youtube tutorial by Robin Sealark:


I am soooooooo happy with how it turned out. I fell in love with oils immediately. They blend beautifully! One thing I’m having to adjust to, though, is that I can’t seem to get the level of detail I can get with any of those other mediums, which is driving me crazy. It seems like oil paint brushes are plain ol’ bigger, and the paint tends to goop up on them. I have some linseed oil to thin it, but I don’t want to use too much because I started out with cheapish (Soho) paints to see if this iteration of my art hobby sticks. Here’s a photo of the painting in action, including the ton of brushes required:


That’s another thing I’m having to adjust to: with acrylics, you have to be careful to clean each brush as you stop using it so the paint doesn’t dry on it and ruin it. With oil paint, you have several brushes going at once – and I’m quickly finding that I don’t have enough! I’ll be ordering a bunch more soon.

I’ll call that it for the first post on my refreshed blog. I have some others planned that have nothing to do with art (and everything to do with art), so stay tuned.