#Artober 17: IT’S A DOUBLE RAINBOW!

Yes, this counts. Sharpie markers on plastic cut to kite dimensions. One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to go to programs like this. This one was at Broadmoor, a branch I rarely visit. There’s a kite enthusiast conference of sorts in town this weekend, and really nice man from Pennsylvania volunteered to lead this program at the library. Other volunteers led programs at other branches.

Everyone I talked to had an awesome time. People of all ages made kites to fly. Here are some photos I took while I was there:

I’m so glad this organization presented these programs. I hope they spark the imaginations of patrons of all ages across the parish. I certainly had a good experience.

#Artober 15: Sing, Unburied, Sing!

One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to paint on the clock. Today, I went on a little voyage to do it, to a town called Mooringsport in the northwest tip of Caddo Parish, about 30 miles from Shreveport. I’d seen the exterior of this library, but I’d never been in. It looks and smells like an old schoolhouse.

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I went up there because a local artist, Eric Francis, is doing a series of painting programs for the library based on Jesmyn Ward’s novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, this year’s One Book One Parish selection. Today, we painted the crow on the front cover. Unlike my painting programs, Eric starts with a very helpful pencil sketch, which is way less intimidating for first-time painters than an entirely blank canvas is.

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The turnout was amazing and far more than I was expecting. Everyone was enthusiastic and proud of their work. Some people made amaaaaaazing paintings.

I was super impressed by the whole program. Since the turnout was so high, I’m planning on bringing my art and tech programs for kids and teens. Too bad the branch is closed on Saturdays, or I’d schedule a Paint Studio program there.

Good times at the library!

#Artober 12: This counts, right?

It’ll have to because I’m exhausted again. I did more Pirate Storytime this morning and another round of Jack o’Lantern Paper Circuit this afternoon. Both programs went really well.

Kids are even more into the paper circuits than I thought they would be, which is good because I still have 4 more programs to do.

For now, though,I’m going to enjoy my first weekend off in too long.

#Artober 10: Starry Starry Night (kids’ edition)!

Here’s another work project (so many excuses to paint!): my own version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night for a series of children’s programs I’ll be doing in February! The idea came from a lesson plan by Misty Poe. The sky is painted with acrylics. The mountains, town, and willow tree are all construction paper painted with nupastels. I used spray sealant on the construction paper, then modpodged the whole shebang together.

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It turned out super cute! Of course I couldn’t help myself and made mine more complicated than Poe’s example. I might end up making a much simpler one before the actual program.

It sucks that due to the cheap construction paper I used, this one probably won’t last very long, though until then I think I’ll frame it and hang it in my office.

#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):

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.