Monday, April 29, 2013

Confessions and Pope Francis Portrait


After being knocked out of painting for a week with a bad cold I finally got back to the Pope yesterday and finished him up. I am so excited to give him to my Parish. I think having someone waiting to get a painting makes the process even more exciting. I love to hear that my work is appreciated. Some days after posting a new Blog I keep on checking my stats over and over just to check if anyone is looking at it or, best of all, left a comment!

 photocopies taped to canvas
pencil layout for painting
I have started laying out a new painting which will be for my cousin. She makes wonderful needle felted animals and figures and has agreed to barter a nativity set for a painting.

And this is where the confessions come it.

I am not very good at drawing, I never am satisfied with the way that I draw, especially people and especially from life. When I paint people I almost always use pictures and either grid the drawings to enlarge to scale, or like I am doing for this painting, I blow up the images on my printer  cover the back with charcoal and then trace the image onto the canvas. I think this must be a major disgrace in the painting community. I do it because I want to paint realistically and get so frustrated if things are not in the right proportions.  I am trying to get better at drawing, but until I improve a lot or get the chance to paint from life I am going to keep on using the tools I have available. I would love to get the chance to paint from life but with kids that is currently fairly impossible.

I have started a daily sketch project, I am trying to sketch from life everyday. Some of my sketches have been of the kids which is a real challenge because they will not stay still. I am working with a pen because I want all of my marks to be purposeful and I have not worked with pen much in the past.

Today I went to the art store and picked up two more whites to add to my pallet. I am learning a lot about how to use different whites in painting skin tones. It can make a big difference which white you use. I bought Gamblin Titanium Zinc White and Winton Soft Mixing White, I will need to do some experimentation to see how they work. I also bought a new brush because it felt so wonderful in my hands. It is a Catalyst by Princeton with polytip bristles. I hope it feels even better with paint on the tip.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Some days there is just no hope of getting any productive artwork done. Between being puked on multiple times by the baby and once buy the biggest kid, staying up too late on multiple nights to paint the Pope and having a rotten cold I am not sure I can stay up till the kids bed time let alone stay up to paint.
I am currently wearing puked on pants and just had to change two layers of shirts. All of my other pants are in the laundry, are unsuitable to wear except to bed or have also been puked on. I used a wipe and tried to scrub out the puke but it is impossible to get it all.
 I have a dentist appointment scheduled for today, the first one in over 4 years. I have not been making time for such things since my oldest was born. I used to go every 6 months and always kind of enjoyed getting them cleaned, even as a kid I loved the dentist because the lady who cleaned my teeth was so nice and I got to pick a toy when we were done.
It can be so hard as a mom to look past the daily grind to schedule things especially for ourselves. I never let a regular appointment for the kids get lost in the shuffle but I always let appointments for myself get pushed farther and farther back.
If I don't diligently guard and make time for my art, the same thing will happen to that. My art will get pushed aside in the hustle of diaper changes, finger paint, cleaning tossed food off the floor, washing dishes and of course puke.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Recently I have been thinking a lot about how to determine pricing. How do I decide on fair value for paintings when I have not yet begun to sell?
I have looked at the prices of other paintings in exhibits I have showed in and seem to have a comparable price to most of the other paintings but most of them are not portraits and non of them are commissions. Commissions are always harder to paint than projects I think of myself.
When I look online at artists that I think are similar in ability but have established themselves in the art market I see prices much higher than mine.
I do not know whether to have low prices so that people will be able to afford them easier, or do I price them at the range I think they are worth and that more accurately reflects the hours of work I put into them, and work much harder to find a market for them?
I would like be able to sell to friends and family but most of them do not have the extra income to invest in original paintings at fair market prices.
I also want to be able to start working on commissions for people.  I have been asked for pricing by several different people and I am hesitant to give it to them because I would like to get paid fairly but I also do not want to drive them away with pricing that is higher than they were expecting. How can I build up a market without starting somewhere?
With nothing New to show you, here is a painting I did while in college. "Rutabaga Lady" reflects my roots in South Eastern Kentucky and currently hangs on my Parents Dining Room Wall. Painting the Rutabagas was one of those painting moments when everything just worked and the brush seemed to fly and every brush stroke just worked. Those are painting moments to remember and hold in my heart when things are more painstaking.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day for Reference Photos

Today I prepared for a future painting by asking a photographer friend to take photographs of me nursing baby Goose. She took some wonderful photographs in between nursing breaks for big grins at the camera. It was very distracting for her to be photographed while eating.
It was wonderful to have help getting reference photos I never could have captured on my own. She will be editing the photos slightly and getting them too me soon.
After getting the kiddos to bed I got out "Hogan on Guitar" with the intention of working but after staring at it for an hour and printing of extra reference photos I gave in to my lack of inspiration and pulled out what I really wanted to be working on.

I had only minor changes to make but it still took me hours to accomplish. Painting is now 95% complete. Sometimes the last 5% takes as much time as all the rest and it is not as exciting because the changes are not as extreme.
I have been so excited to have lots of people following my new facebook page. . A fellow artist shared my page on hers and my cousin who makes beautiful felted animals also shared my page so I am beginning to have an audience slightly larger than friends and family. I means a lot to get "likes" from people I have never even met. Being able to share my work with others who truly enjoy it is inspiring.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tidepool complete

Today I finished "Tide pool" and I started a new Facebook page to highlight my work.
I still have lots of labeling to do and I need to figure out how to best utilize it. I would love to get some followers that follow simply because they love the work and not just because they know me.
Of course ones mother will always say that you paint well but you need a stranger to say it before you start to think it is not just a biased opinion.
Last night I stayed up late again to continue working on Pope Francis. It is kind of addictive to be working on a new painting, I just want to be working on it all of the time. It was hard today to focus on Saturday cleaning when I wanted to get my paints out and get to work.

I am planning a new painting that will be titled milkweed, and am excited to get going. It seems that the more I paint the more ideas I have. I used to think that I could not paint anything because I did not have much that really inspired me but I have discovered that if you just start painting more and more inspiration will happen. I have so many ideas of paintings now I could be busy for a while. I would love to have some sell so that I can fund all of these upcoming paintings, so if you have seen a painting you like let me know!

The Baby aka Goose has been extra fussy for the last few days, not wanting me to put her down much at all. Also waking up more at night. I am operating below par but so excited about paintings I don't want to give up my late night painting sessions.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Painting with a baby on board

Today I had just gotten the baby fed and down for a nap, gotten the big kids fed and settled for quiet time in their rooms, pulled out my painting and gotten my paints ready to go, touched the brush to the canvas several times...
 When the baby woke up again. In order to get something done I nursed her quickly and then strapped her on my back to paint some more. This worked for a while but was difficult because she wiggles and I needed to have controlled brush strokes. Eventually she made her way to the highchair with a heap of puffs and the big kids got up and did some art at the table. I also sent the big kids outside for a while to dig in the dirt. Baby was generally unhappy today and I could not quite tell what the matter was.

Sorry to have so many short bursts of the blog, but I like to document as I go before I forget it and before I loose the chance.
Please leave a comment if you like the blog so that I can know it is getting read.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pope Francis developes

Work continues on this darling face. After looking at the photographs I am noticing areas that need work, but over all I am very pleased with how this portrait is developing.

To see the Final Portrait go to

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pope Francis Portrait

Tide Pool is almost complete with mostly some texture still to complete on the hat.

To begin the painting of Pope Francis I applies several layers of neutral grey gesso to the canvas and sanded it after the final layer. I wanted to start with a neutral grey in order to be able to build up the light areas and down the dark areas. I thought that the smoother surface from several layers of gesso would make for a nicer working surface but I am not pleased with the result. The gesso is too smooth and my paint will not soak into the canvas as it usually does. I often do a lot of fairly thin layers at first and allow the canvas to show through some but with this surface my usual technique is not working.
I  drew out the layout on the canvas and showed it to the Priest at my Parish for his approval. He gave me the go ahead and this is the result from 2.5 hours of work.
 Pope Francis Detail
 Progress on Suzanne at the Beach, coloring in the forehead is nice but I still need to fix the hue, of the other shaded areas
And for any of you who wonder how can a mother of  3 young children find time to paint. Here is the pile of laundry I needed to tackle yesterday because I have been putting it off for too long, And there were three more loads still in processing. Some days I need to push housework aside in order to have time to paint and some days I need to buckle down, and as my husband commented, be a folding machine. Most days I need to give hugs and cuddles and read books and fetch sippy cups of milk and nurse the baby. The children are more vocally demanding than the laundry and I will always have laundry, but will not always have babies. And at least with painting there is a sense of accomplishment after my hard work. Laundry is never ending.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Art Reception and walk in the woods.

Today was a very busy day with Church followed by the Art Reception, all during regular nap times. Because there was not much time between when church was over and the reception was supposed to start we took a picnic lunch and played at the church playground rather than heading home.  We also decided to follow a path thru the woods to figure out the shortest route to walk if we ever decide to walk to church. We ended up at a fun playground.
I took the opportunity to take our traditional swing picture. We have large framed pictures of the older two kids  in swings at around 7 months on our living room wall and need to get one up of the baby.

The Art reception was interesting with 3 kids along. Most people seemed to enjoy the kids and their energy but it was hard for me. I had to keep them from touching every grape on the table, taking all of the strawberries, eating yet another serving of brownies, jumping up in the middle of adult conversations with an outstretched rock "look at my rock" and on and on. I was very relieved when they decided they wanted to go pretend to be dalmatians outside on the front steps.
It was very interesting to listen to the comments from the judge and to think about how hard it must be to pick the winners. One older lady was muttering about how the judge did not choose correctly.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sleep, What sleep?

The last few nights have been late ones. I have been staying up to work on painting and the baby is teething so I am feeling a little tired. Sometimes the fact that I am not getting much rest makes me feel more obstinate and I end up staying up longer just to not let my tiredness win. Maybe not the best approach but at least I have been getting some painting done.
After Nap time

After Bedtime
I have not yet worked on the hair or the hat since block in and only put in a lowlight on the cup.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shirt Dress

 After seeing several dresses made from men's shirts on Pinterest I decided to make my own. I picked up two blue shirts from goodwill costing under $10. I wanted to retain the collar so I chose the smaller of the two shirts for the top of the dress. I then cut the collar off of the second shirt to use for the waist in the back. I ripped out the bottom seam on the collar and cut it in half. I cut directly under each set of arm holes and used the full width of both shirts for the skirt.  The light blue layer of skirt is gathered and the darker blue layer is pleated.  The skirt is reversible so that the skirt can be either shade of blue, simply button the waist collar in the front or in the back.  I made bias strip from a section to finish off the arm holes and cut a front waist band from part of the sleeve.
If you want to make this and have any questions please let me know I would be happy to help if I can.

This evenings painting session focused of skin tones and the white dress.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


In art class today I worked on "Hogan on Guitar", "Suzanne at the beach" and started "Tide pool"
This is my first painting on linen, so far I have not noticed any differences. I scrubbed a neutral ground of burnt sienna and then used a paper towel to remove some of the color from the highlight area. I also started laying in some shadows.

I contacted the Pastor of my church to see if he would like me to do a painting of Pope Francis for the church. He looked at the blog and said that he liked my work and would be interested! I am excited by the prospect that my art will be hung up at church for thousands to see. And by donating it I can use some of my talents for God. Tithe can be Money, Time and Talents.
I have a meeting on Friday to discuss size and any other desires he has for the painting.
I already received permission from a photographer to use his images of the pope.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Honorable Mention

Over the last week I have made some progress on several paintings. A new series of painting classes started at Reston Community center and I worked on three different paintings. I feel like I am working very slowly and would like to finish one of the paintings I have been working on for months.

 The painting Suzanne on the Beach is becoming much more difficult than I thought it would be. The shadows have such blue highlights that I just am having a very hard time duplicating. I also need to soften many of the smile lines.
 I am hoping that my mother in law likes this painting more than "Shades" the first painting I did of her. She is a very authoritative person which showed in "Shades" but she is also very kind and loving which I am trying to capture in this painting. Unfortunately I have not yet come close to capturing her beauty. 
"Shades" did win an honorable mention in an exhibit at the Vienna Arts Society, and my husband had to make sure he teased her about it. I wish that she did not hate it so much, because I really like the painting.
We had a full house last weekend for Baby's baptism. It was wonderful to have everyone here to celebrate with us.

Enjoying the Easter Bunny

Spring has come to our front yard, crocuses have come and gone, flowering quince is in bloom and so are the daffodils.
The kids and I have been enjoying walks in the woods, playground time, the backyard sandbox and hammock and front yard picnic dinners. LOVE spring.