Dec 30, 2015

A Special Goodbye


As the year comes to an end there is always a moment of reflection and good bye to special moments.  This year ends with a special goodbye for me.  My little companion, Rusty has finally succumb to cancer. We said our last goodbyes this week.

The painters life can be a lonely life at times. You spend hours in the studio or the field pursuing that moment of inspiration.   Even my husband will abandon me in the bush, as I capture that special light as it reflects off the trees or the sun setting on the water.  But Rusty has always been there. 

He was happy to wonder for miles on the trails as we searched for just the right spot. Clamouring over logs, slugging in the mud, well okay.  He didn't really go for the mud and for that matter he wasn't a big fan of blackberry vines either.  I carried him over that.  But the rest of the time, he was there.  We would find a place and set up.  As long as he had his spot, usually on my lap, he was happy.  Did I mention he was a lap dog?  I think he could have written the book, How to be a Lap Dog.  He know all the tricks.  We would settle in and I would get to work.

Now this can be a dangerous time for Plein Air Painters.  (See my blog-  Beware: 5 Health Hazards of Plein AirPainting).

You are obsessed with the project.   You know what I mean, 'in the moment'.  Time stops. You see and hear only what relates to the goal. You are oblivious to anything else: bug bites, sunburn, thirst,  coyotes, you name it.  Rusty was my watch dog.  After a few hours, he would tell me: time to drink, time to stretch, time to move out of the sun and oh yeah! Time to move, that noise I had been ignoring was a group of coyotoes, howling in the bush.  They were kind of close, definitely time to move!!

Back home in the winter it was studio work for me. Rusty wasn't much of a lap guy in the studio but he did like to sleep there.  He had his own bed, well actually, 3 beds.  When I worked at my drawing and painting stations he curled up and slept.  I could always hear his soft  snoring as I paused to reflect.  His other beds were at my computer desk.  I think he liked the one at my feet because it was close to the furnace vent.  In the evening he would curl up there while I worked on my writing.  In the daytime he wanted up on the counter where his bed faced the window.  He was a real taskmaster then.  Telling me to hurry up as we needed to get out for our walk before the sun was gone. You know how short the days can be in the winter.  Important to get out there as the weather can change in an instant. 

So to my little guy a special good bye.  And don't worry Rusty, I have learned my lessons well. Painting or drawing, take time to stop, reflect and stretch.  And of course go for a walk every day. RIP little guy. 
Rusty - 1996 - 2015
 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar) Have a great artful day, Wendy

Dec 24, 2015

Christmas Wishes for Everyone


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Early Morning on the Mud Flats - 7.5 x 13.5 , Watercolour
Every few years the Snowy Owls come south to the Fraser River Delta to spend the winter.  It is an exciting time for bird watchers and photographers.  They settle on the Mud Flats and watch the excitement as people flock to see them.

When they were last here, Steve and I got up early and headed out before daylight to see them.  When we arrived there was no one around and it was still dark.  We headed out on the dyke, not quite sure what we would find or even where to look. We had only walked about 50 feet when suddenly we realized there were soft white bumps sitting on the logs right beside the dyke.  We couldn't believe it. They were not concerned with us and simply content to look around. As the morning light started to filter through the skies it was an awesome sight. There must have been about 50 owls, scattered among the bushes in front of us.  I got some great pictures.  Sad to say as the daylight settled in more and more people came and then the owls were nervous, they moved further out into the mud flats and were much harder to see.  Apparently there is plenty of food in mud flats for them, so they are happy to stay here for the winter before heading north again.

As I looked through my winter pictures I was drawn to my owls and decided this one was to be my Christmas Picture.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends, I look forward to sharing my thoughts and tips on art and art marketing with you again next year,

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar) Have a great artful day, Wendy

Dec 10, 2015

Adding Salt to the Mix - Watercolour Technique


Oils have their palette knifes and heavy brush strokes for texture;

Don't think Watercolours are left behind!

Different textures add life and interest to your work, I love to incorporate it in both my graphite and watercolour work.  However, like all things in watercolour, it can be created but not controlled!! There will be surprises.  (But isn't that half the fun of watercolour?!)

Steve and I had a spring holiday on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is even more of a rainy spot than the southern mainland. As we hiked through a forested area, I was really attracted to the mosses, covering the ground and draped over the trees.  I wanted to paint them.  I needed a star for my show and chose a Stellar Jay, a friendly face often scouting around our campsite.  To get some interesting texture for my mossy look I decided to use some salt.  No, the salt is not mixed with the paint.  It is a step of its own. The salt is the large coarse salt that has large crystals.  

Step 1 - tape paper to a support with the picture drawn out.

Working with salt requires a wet surface, with colours floating so I put frisket over the jay. I didn't want the colour flowing into that space.
Picture laid out with the Stellar Jay covered in frisket

Step 2 - mix your colours for the background.  Paint should be in the mid value range for the background.  Colour can be lifted for the lighter areas and glazed over for darker ones.

Step 3 -  wet the paper - not dripping and puddled but with a nice shiny look to it

use a wide brush to wet the paper down. (note the shine on the paper)
Step 4 - drop in the colour.  I try not to push it around too much but drop it in and angle my paper so colours flow and mix but still leave some pure colour.  I have my reference in front of me so I know where I want light and dark colours areas. Work quickly.

drop your colour in - notice the paper is shiny
Step 5 - If areas are drying a bit, spray them lightly with water. You want the paper still shiny when you drop in your salt.  Again I refer to my reference to see where to put it. 

colour is on and salt is dropped into place
Step 6 - The salt is down so move away from the painting and let it lay flat. (so tempting to fiddle at this point.)  At first it looks like nothing seems to be happening.  Just wait.  I usually leave my picture overnight to be sure everything is dry and had a chance to mix. 

close up of the salt and water - notice the salt is starting to draw the pigment and move it around

Close up of the salt and paint - after 10 minutes - move movement

Close up after 20 minutes - some colours move more than others
The next morning - lots of action happens when you are not looking!

Detail - Notice how some pigments have really been moved and others not so much.  
Step 7 - the next day, use your hand or a soft brush to rub the salt off the painting. You are ready to go.

Your new texture is ready to be left as is or glazed over.  I have done both with my pictures.  Here are some examples of my 'salt paintings':
a. My painting "Caught in the Light" of a barn owl has examples of the salt texture left as is; some glazed over lightly; and other parts have dark glazing so only a bit shows through. 
b. My painting "Fuchsias in the Sunshine" has the salt texture left as is.  I used the large coarse salt for the large "textured areas" and smaller table salt for the subtle "textured area" in the upper left background.  

Sometimes when you use the frisket the paint does not make a nice clean edge next to it.  Since it is the background you can glaze a few light layers to tidy up the edge and if you keep the edges of your glazed area soft it will read as a darker area in the background.  Do a sizable area rather than just a little dab to correct the area.  To see the corrected area in the finished picture go to Jan 14, 2016 post: Have you Considered the Light? - Art Tips on Using Multiple Photos.

No worries if paint is funny around the edges of your subject - glazing will fix this.
So get out your salt and have some fun!!

Extra Note: February is Marketing month for Artists and I have 2 Marketing Workshops scheduled to help you get your art business ready for the year.  Spots are filling up fast for both days so get your registration in now.  For more information see - workshops 

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day, Wendy

Nov 26, 2015

Words Artists Don't Want to Hear!!

Financial Records
Data Entry
File Management 
System Back up. 

Not exciting stuff!!!
 New paint, art books,  art show.  Much better!!

I was recently involved in planning an Art Business Conference.  One of the sessions was on "Managing Your Files for Your Art Business".  It was cancelled, not enough interest. 

You are an artist. You sell your work. You are a small business.  Let's take a look at your computer. What's on it, files for all your paintings. Yes, and you are probably going to say that you make a copy once and awhile on a flash drive or CD. 

Wait a minute, what else is there?.
Christmas Treats for Mr. Jay - This picture file would be lost
if there is no backup and my computer dies. 

Your sales record, your financial trail, and tax information.  What about your email trails for special events, shows, commissions.  Your contact info for collectors and future clients.  Templates for advertisement, course outlines for workshops and demos, images for publicity.  Oh, and now videos, slideshows, and more. 

Scary isn't it, how your computers has become the backbone of your business.  Not too long ago you would have paper copies of most of this information but now it is all on your hard drive.  

Is this information backed up?  Is a flash drive or CD really the safest thing to do?  Flash drives are small, easy to lose and if not handled correctly are notorious for failing.  CD can get scratched, need I say more.

For Backup think - 3, 2, 1!
Three copies of your data, on two different media and one off site!  This is considered the industry standard.

Don't panic.

It doesn't need to happen overnight but this is the direction you want to head.  Learn about external hard drives (they have amazing space for very reasonable prices), off site storage (the cloud is one possibility) and setting up file storage programs (many programs and devices have built in software to regularly do full and incremental backups, you don't have to rely on your memory).   No, this isn't rocket science, the computer world is ready for us non-techies and this is totally doable.  (Well  after a bit of research and the usual computer learning curve that sends me to the wall!!)

 The words Artists really don't want to hear are - your computer is toast and your files are lost!!

Google Backup Strategy 3-2-1 and start your research today.

February is Marketing Month for Artists and coming up fast. My Marketing Workshop Shop dates are set.  See Workshops/Private Classes for all the info.

Special Note: 
Did you notice the Change on my site? As we head into winter, gray and black seems to be the overriding colour in our clothes and the weather.  I thought I would try removing a bit of black from my world and give something new a try.  What do you think of the colour change??

Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)

Have a great artful day, Wendy

Nov 12, 2015

Answering the Call of Nature - The Business of Art


WOW!! There is excitement in the air.  You have just completed your most awesome picture ever!  Everything worked.  You know it has taken your work to a new level.

Those feelings don't happen every day in the studio but they do happen.

You decide to enter that picture into a juried show.  You send off your picture, wait, and wait.  It gets declined.  Your devastated.  Your sense of your work is shattered.

Stop right there!

Looking Back - Watercolour - Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show
Take a look at the file you sent.  Was it the right file size requested?  If the file was too big it may not have loaded properly into their software.  If the file was too small when they projected it for jurying it would have been fuzzy.  Not the best way to see your work.

Was the file named properly?  A picture file called "IMG_0150.JPG" can not be easily matched to your paperwork.  And will get lost in the system.  Most entries ask for a specific naming sequence but they don't a good standard is to name the file with: your name; image name;size;medium; price.

Now look at the image itself.  Is it a good representation of your work?  No glares, shadows, fingers, or frames showing.
These may sound like trifling things but I was involved in an International Watercolour Competition last year that received over 8000 entries.  40% did not make it past the first level of jurying because of these issues.  I was shocked when I saw those numbers.  (I was also relieved that my work made it to Level 2. No, I didn't make it to the top but my work was in there representing me.)

Your Art is your business and good images are your way of getting your work out there. Whether it is for competition, juried shows or publicity. Making some changes in handling your image files may be in order.

A Friend in Black - Watercolor - Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show
Naming files and adjusting file sizes does require software.  Photoshop, Photo Elements and Lightroom are good programs that will allow for setting different file sizes and resolutions and saving in a variety of formats.  They are also good programs for cropping out frames, fingers and fiddly things that sneak into the background.  But no program can deal with the glare and shadows of a poor photograph.  That requires a good camera shotwith good lighting.  
Hmm. .  Interesting - Watercolor-  Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show

No, you don't need to go and spend a fortune on camera and lighting equipment but learning more about lighting does help.  The salesman at your local camera shop is a good resource.  I spend a few hours talking with the fellow at the Kerrisdale Camera Store near us.(no, not all at once, I had to go back several times with questions) He really helped me understand what I was doing with my camera. The result was a mini photo booth in my studio.
Attending a few photography classes helps, and if you have a friend that is a good photographer take him out for dinner.  He can be an awesome resource.

Review your files, make those changes and get into juried events.

My cats are part of my Urban Explorers Series, they will be part of the Ensemble 2015, a digital juried show.  Show Opens Nov 21 and runs to Dec. 19, 2015.  The ACT Art Gallery, 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC.  Reception Saturday, Nov. 21 3:30-5pm,  Gallery open Tues-Sat. 11-4pm.

Your Art Business is an important part of you as an Artist. February is Marketing Month for Artists and I have two all day workshops set up: Sunday,February 21 & Sunday, February 28, 2016. Spend a day learning more about Marketing your art and developing your Market Plan for 2016.  (I do have room for out-of-towners).  Registration and more Information:  - Workshops
See more Marketing Tips on my Points to Ponder Page on this blog.

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day,

Nov 5, 2015

The Power of Suggestion & Fuzzy Pencils - Drawing Tips


I like to hike.  Not the marathon 4 day type, the one-dayer's: a few hours or all day.  It is an awesome experience to walk through our coastal forests or head up into the mountains.  Some of my favorite hikes are around the lakes nestled in the Coastal Mountains just northeast of Vancouver in the Harrison Lake Valley.  The lush green forests are draped with moss (yes, they do get LOTS of rain there) and the ground cover is varied and plentiful. The trail is soft and springy with its many layers of twigs, leaves, fir needles, and dead or dying ferns fronds.

That is the problem. 

VICTOR - 16 x 20 - Graphite & Coloured Pencil, Commission
You want to draw a forest scene.  You want to put a bird, animal or person in the scene.  They are the focus and you know they need the detail.  No problem there.  But they need a setting that is believable.  Before you know it, you are drawing every twig and needle on the trail, both foreground and background.  Not good.  Your composition strategy has gone out the window.  The principles of eye movement, focal point, and hard and soft edges seem to be lost and your pencil just doesn't seem to be listening.

Victor was my challenge.  A beautiful dog and joy to draw.  "We would like a background, the owners said.  A forest setting, trees, ferns that kind of thing
Okay. . .
I searched through my reference pictures and found some great ferns on a grassy knoll and with the magic of Photoshop, plopped Victor in the middle.  Great, we love it was the response.
I set to work.

The foreground was the problem.  That wonderful lush ground cover threatened to sabotage Victor.  The detail screamed to be heard but I didn’t want it.  I needed a plan.

My plan.
First a light value of graphite over the whole area. This is like the painters that block in an area to get rid of the white surface. Because I was putting coloured pencil on top I kept it light.  
Few key details laid out - large leaf and clumps of grass
Then I sketched in a few large detailed shapes: leaves and sprigs of grass. Now it was time to study patterns.  Yes, there are patterns in the groundcover. It is found in the lights and darks and their flow.  Using that fuzzy pencil again, 4B this time, I stroked clumps of lines, varying the value, the direction and the length.
Working the pattern of the ground vary the strokes in value and length

Working the pattern and changing the direction
As I did so I could see random shapes appear that could be bits and pieces of twigs, leaves, grass and mossy.  Some of these I darken and others I left.  The detailed leaves and clumps of grass surrounded by partially created shapes makes the forest bed take shape.  That is the Power of Suggestion.

Adding definition to the suggested shapes.
Working across my drawing you can see how this worked.  When I added my colour I continued this process: fuzzy pencils and stroking varying the value, the direction and length. It made my colours nicely blended.  
Close up of the ground cover with the colour added. 
Next time you need a busy foreground/background, use your fuzzy pencil and "suggest" away!

Not too late to order that pet portrait for Christmas.  They are an awesome way to celebrate a cherished pet and treasured gift for that pet lover in your family.  Give me a call and we can get started.  Gift Certificates are available as well.

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Have a great artful day, Wendy

Oct 29, 2015

The Zentangled Adventure Continues - Ink & Water Colour Techniques


Have you jumped on the Zentangle Bus yet? 

Looking for a fun ride, get to play, experience bright shiny things and the results always look great?

If so join us on the Bus.

(See my last post " Have you been on a TangledAdventure?" for the basics: materials, examples, resources.)

As I mentioned before, I have been working through Beckah Krahula's book, One Zentangle A Day, A 6-week course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration and Fun".   No, I am not even close to being finished but it has given me lots of great ideas.  Too many!  I am waking up at night with projects swirling in my head.  I am also torn between working further in my book or just jumping in and running with it. 

I decided to  Jump!!

My  plan: integrate my birds and animals into my tangles. You knew my Animal World would just have to come with me on this bus.

So I began.  

TANGLED ADVENTURE - 5 X 7 - Ink & Watercolour
My thoughts as I set up my tangle spaces was of plants: organic shapes rising from the ground. As I worked on my tangles I was very much aware of their values.  Some tangles are quite dark while others are lighter and more open.  For this I found it was really good to have some of my tiles to refer to. I also tried to work in 3's.  Each tangle was repeated 3 times within the Zentangle.  No, there is no rule, that was just my own personal one.  It seemed to work well in my practice tiles so I continued it. Once I had my Zentangle complete it was time to place my cat.  I really wanted her to be in adventure mode as she moved into the page. 

The colours came last. They came out of my cat and her colours with a little of their complement dropped in. 

The working surface was 140lb Arches Hot Press watercolour paper.  It was wonderful.   The pen work just glided across the surface and the colours popped.  Just a side note, Hot Press paper does not react the same as Cold Press paper.  The watercolour does not float on the surface, it is very quickly grabbed and held in place.  It does make for a great blended look, much like oil but is a bit of a shock if you have just been using Cold Press paper. 

When I was done I wanted feedback.

My local critics had lots to say.  And some comments were very surprising.

My husband, who I thought is a very realistic kind of guy, loves it.  My son is mediocre, 'it's okay. It draws you in.  I like the tangled stuff.'  My daughter, very much a realist, no surprises there " Ugly!"   Visitors and students also got involved: "It's great! It's surreal." "I love it." "Wow!!""It's Cool! Very different for you, Wendy" They were definitely encouraging.  However, the true test will come next week, as I have entered my "Tangled Adventure" into a juried show.  I will let you know how it makes out.

For me,  I  love the contrast of the crisp dark ink with the soft subtle touch of colour. The random mystic shapes of the tangles and the subtle realism of the cat.  (I know, deep down I am a realist too, like my family.)  But I am really inspired by it.  As I said before, lots of ideas are floating about:   Halloween is here, no time to draw, but can't you just see some spooky tangled shapes hanging down with a witch or goblin lurking by?  See what I mean, fun to dream up new Zentangle Ideas. 

Get your pen out - Time to Tangle!

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Have a great artful day,

Oct 22, 2015

Have you been on a Tangled Adventure? - Ink Drawing Techniques


Some say it is meditative, relaxing, calming 
but I say it is fun!

 ….Sharp, crisp lines of black, dancing and swirling on the page
…Long even strokes, short choppy ones, marching down the line
…Splash of colour, well maybe more than a splash,

What could be more fun!!
Day 3 - Tangles: Poke Root, Festune, & Hollibaugh with shading (an enhancer) and colour

Zentangles have taken over the world and although I have been slow to join I am now ‘on that bus’. 
First created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas in 2005, as a way to teach and encourage others to experience a sense of focus, well-being and relaxation through art.  Almost like meditation. “A zentangle is a collection of patterns not meant to represent anything.  It is created on a 3.5 x 3.5 piece of art paper called a ‘tile’. “ (One Zentangle a Day by  Beckah Krahula)

There are no mistakes, takes little time, always looks great - What more could you ask for?
Journal Page with Zentangles - for the early lessons you learn 2 or 3 tangles a day. Each day brings new surprises!! 

September was here, I was feeling like new beginning so I decided to see what this Zentangle stuff was all about.  I bought Beckah‘s lovely book, it is actually a 6-week course giving you a mini lesson each day.  No, I am not doing it every day.  But it is such a treat to sit down when I have a moment, open my book and work through another lesson.  Each time I learn a few new tangles (patterns) or some ways of enhancing my patterns (enhancers).  I am not sure if I am in a meditative state when I work but I certainly feel focused, positive and relaxed.  When the tangle is done, you definitely feel success.  They are right, everything looks good.  Even that little mark you thought was wrong!
My first Tangle with patterns Static, Tipple and Crescent Moon.  (Note my new Tangle signature. Just part of the Zentangle fun)

As I learn more about the tangles I can see that the patterns have really been with us all the time.  They are the random patterns of life, the cultural patterns of beadwork and paint, and the woven patterns of needle work all mixed into one. 

If you want to board the Zentangle bus and head out for adventure, I do have a few suggestions for your set up:
A few basic supplies for your Zentangle Adventure

A Journal : as you know, not all journals are the same.  You need paper that will take ink, felt pens, and light watercolour  ( I said you were going to have fun so of course you need some colour!!)

Pigment Permanent Pens:  Yes, you can use a plain pen or pencil but if colour is in your plans a permanent pen means things won’t run and you are not waiting for drying time

Sharp Tip/brush tip felts:  Ok, you can use anything really, coloured pencils, felts, crayons, paints but a nice set of dual tip felts will really get you creative.  You can add intense colour to those tight little circles and brush colour on large background fill area. 

A Guide: If you are new to Zentangles it is good to have some kind of reference.  There are hundreds of tangles and lots of “enhancers” to make your  zentangles sing.  The internet is full of demos, guides and sample lessons so check them out.  I personally like to work off-line at times so I am really happy to have a book.  I am enjoying Beckah Krahula book (from Chapters) but I know there are several more out there. 

So get out and start your  Zentangle Adventure today!
Day 7 - Altering tangles I have learned and adding colour.  Awesome shape, eh?!

Next post, my Zentangled inspired art.  (You knew I couldn’t just leave it on a 3 1/2 inch tile!!)

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day,
Not too late for that special Christmas Gift, a pet portrait of your best friend, order today. More Information

Oct 15, 2015

Tricks and Treats with Multiple Reference Photos


Are you filled with an awesome inspiration?

You go through your reference material and  . . .

Oh no, my dog is facing the wrong way.
Or, is that bird to big for the branch?
Even worse, my lighting, everything is different, the shadows are going everywhere.
But worst of all, I can’t see all of the person, that branch is in the way.

You can feel that awesome thought slipping away. 

But wait, don’t panic. 
True, no reference is perfect!  But you are an artist and there are “secrets” that will help you move on.  
Brian and Tula (On Texada Island)

Where is my Right? Who took my left?

Surprising enough the direction the subject faces can be easily solved.  Just use the magic of  Photoshop - Rotate Horizontally.  I know, now your are going to say I still need to worry about size and shadows. 

First you are left and now you are right!!

Who is bigger than who?  or is whom?

Now things are getting more challenging.  There is no handy dandy computer program that will tell you the proportions for your bird to the branch.   When I am working with birds and flowers, I take a few measurements.  The bird sizes are in my bird books and I usually use local plants if I can.  Not so easy with larger animals and people.  I often go to a park and work with the trees and plants there.  Again I have sizes from reference material to help. 
 In the case of Brian and Tula,  I knew in the summer that I was going to need a certain background with a person in it.  So I used my handy dandy husband as a model.  He posed in various places along the beach until I found a spot I liked for my background.  ( I might add he was very patient as we had to go several times. I forgot about the tide!!)

Have you seen the light?   

Here is where your creative genes can really flow.  In order to get the lighting right you need to simulate the situation.  No, you do not have to get a bear and shine a light on him but a model will work just as well.  A small clay model will work to get a feel for the shadows on his body and the ground around. I am often out in the backyard setting up props to photograph.  Whenever possible I like to use a 'real' situation as you get not only the shadows but a feel for the reflected light on your subject. (Yes, my neighbours have often given me a few funny looks!)  For this painting I was lucky, I had my 'model'. (see previous paragraph)

Where is the tail? Shouldn't there be 2 ears?

Now this really can be a challenge - missing pieces.  But remember, you are an artists. You can draw. Photographers are stuck with that branch hanging in the way but you can move it.  I know, that is the problem.  You leave it out but now there is a whole in your subject.  If it is a person, it is easy.  Grab the nearest person, put them in the position and photograph away. (Needless to say, my husband was back on the job again.)
Animals and birds are another thing.  I take lots of pictures when I photograph something.  My hard-drive is full of pictures with animals in the craziest positions. My techie, otherwise known as my son, often comments on the size of my picture library and all the storage space I need.  But when I try and delete some of it,  my finger just wont work!   You can never have too many pictures for reference.
Sketch on tracing paper to work up your subject
But I know things happen, this is your awesome idea from a picture you took on holidays last summer.  You only have one picture of your elephant and his side is covered by branches.  (You might want to consider keeping those branches in your picture, just a thought) You need more reference material. The internet is your next bet.  Do an image search for elephants. No, you wont find a better picture but you will find out what his side looks like.  Now you can finish the drawing.  I like to use tracing paper to work out my shapes. I can make lots of changes and get a feel for how it will look before I commit to my watercolour paper.  You can also include the shadows and check out your lighting ideas at the same time.

Don't let those awesome ideas disappear.  Get creative. Make a model. Make them happen!

Got your own tricks and treats for those pesky reference pictures? What are they?

Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page.
 Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day,
Not too late for that Christmas Commission, order today.  

Oct 8, 2015

6 Steps for Victory over the Monster in the Closet

 You want to sell your artwork.  
You have been showing with your Art Club and group shows but you know you need to do more.  You know you need to spread out, meet new people, and expand your network.  
Indoor or Outdoor Markets give you a chance to connect with your Collectors
You need to do some Art Markets -The Monster in your Closet.
This may seem like a crazy time to talk about it, the outdoor Market season is over, but it takes time to win that battle.

So take the Offensive and start:

Step 1.  Identify the Enemy
Not all Markets are the same.  Flea markets and craft markets may attract Art Lovers but not necessarily Art Buyers. Check out local Art Market events with other Artists to see what is happening.  Were they well attended? Well organized? Well advertised?  Were there sales?

Step 2. Reconnoiter the Enemy's Territory
Outdoor markets are finished for the season in BC but Christmas indoor shows and Art Crawls are starting up.
Wondering around Artist studios and Christmas Sales Events will quickly give you many ideas for easels, stands and display items.  Many can be made if your handy, Steve is my handyman and I keep him busy making all kinds of stands, shelves and easels to use for my displays.  The chief thing to remember is make them lightweight, sturdy, and sized to fit in your vehicle.

Step 3. Mobilize the Troops
For any battle to be a success the Troops have to be properly outfitted and prepared.  This I think is key to your success.
You need lots of original art both framed and unframed.  Also some middle and lower priced items, many will like your work and want to take something of your art with them.  Open stock small prints, art cards, artist books, calendars, and bookmarks are just some of the little things that artist will have on hand.  Of course all bearing images of your work!

The troops need more than just great art.

Never turn down a helper!  (note some of the containers in the background)

They need carrying containers, tablecloths, business cards, pricing labels, and a receipt book. Of course a float for cash sales ($100 is plenty) and a card reader for credit card sales.  I find the Square is great for that. Some of the little extras I carry are a Contact Book, brochures for my next events, calculator (never know when you will have a big sale), bags for purchases and a small portable dolly.  (You never know how far you will have to walk from your car to your spot.)

Your are not outfitted yet!
Loaded in, now to set up.
 Don't forget the weather.
Markets go ahead rain or shine.  

Will your containers keep things dry and protected?  At my last summer market it started to rain right after I off loaded my car!!  Fortunately it was only for a few minutes but it could have spelled disaster.  
Don't forget wind and sunshine?  You lucky artists with your acrylics and oils, my work is under-glass and needs to be protected from falling easels and hot glaring sun.  At several shows this summer I saw easels flapping in the breeze with horrifying results - ripped canvases and broken glass. 

Okay, take a big breath, it seems like lots but you can start small and gradually add to your supplies.  This is not a just a one shot event, you will be using this equipment many times over the coming years.
Rusty is checking out the flow pattern for my layout
Step 4. Outline your Strategy
Organizing your display ahead can save valuable time in setting up.  Most markets will give you a 10 x 10 space but it is not always a square.  They may provide a tent (Yeah!! if they do) and a table and chair.  Have your plan ready as to how things will be set up and where & what pictures you are taking.  There will always be surprises when you arrive so the more prepared you are the better.
Lists are always good.

Step 5. Plan a Skirmish
That's right! Get the troops out there for a few small missions.  Rent a table at a local event. For example,  the small business Network Group in your area often offers table space at their meetings.  This would give you a real life opportunity to run a small display.  You will quickly see how your display works and what more you need to do.

Step 6. Launch a Full Attack
The troops are assembled, your ready to go.  That monster will be shaking in its boots as you advance.  With a smile on your face you are ready to meet and greet all your new collectors. 
Set up and Ready to Roll
Art Markets aren't the only way to sell your work but they are a good way to expand your network circle.  You will meet lots of  people and have the opportunity to connect with your collectors.  Once you have mastered the local markets you will be ready for the BIG MONSTER under your Bed - the out of town market! 

I really wish you luck with your Art Markets, I have been doing markets for 11 years and have found it valuable in so many ways:
-      gained confidence in talking with people
-      learned more about my work and what people like about it
-      met and made some very good friends
-      mastered the feat of setting up a good display that fits in my Toyota Matrix
Of course it has also helped to my expand my network, sell my work and make solid connections with my collectors. 
  For more thoughts on Art Marketing see my page Points to Ponder - Marketing Skills

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar) 

Have a great artful day, Wendy

PS.  The stands I use were designed by a member of our Art Club.  Lightweight, sturdy, adjustable for large and small pictures, work great on uneven ground and stack easily for loading.   I would be happy to share the plans with you, just Contact me. 

Oct 1, 2015

Before Brush Hits Paper


When the call came, I was delighted.
 Take some pictures of Lucy and do a drawing. 
Lots of free rein.  My imagination went into overtime. 

Lucy is a lovely little Tortoiseshell Cat.  She loves to talk and will issue her commands in a very demanding voice.  Feed me! Where are my treats? Pet me! Treats are actually her favourite thing and if she thinks you have any well . . . She has a lot to say about it. She is independent.  She knows what she likes and knows how to get it!

She is black, well almost, one or two little white spots and a few light golden spots but basically very dark.  She is an inside cat which means the photo shoot is inside not much natural light. 

Lucy 1 - Graphite

Art making is about problem solving. So much is happening before you put your brush to paper. You know what it is like.  The excitement builds.  Plans start spinning in your head.  You can't sleep. You don't hear a thing.  You're in your own world. Trying this. Discarding. Sorting. Figuring .
Don't you just love this stage of a Picture!  I was on that bus.  I could hardly wait to get to work.

It was a sunny day so with camera in hand I started.  Lucy wanted to wonder so down on my knees I followed along.  (No head tilted pictures for me).   We stopped, she sat, she looked.  I clicked.  (thank heavens for digital cameras, you know what you have right away.  How did we survive with film?)  Lighting was bad, she was too shadowed. Adjust my settings. Oh oh, she moved.  In the sun. Adjust again. She jumped up on the chair. Turned her back. 

And so it went. Too dark.  Head turned. She's gone.  Too close.  "No Lucy I don't have any food for you."  ( I think she felt I should be paying her for the photos)  Click. Click. Click. Body turned.  Lights wrong.  Eyes closed.  Head down. Click. Click. Click. 

We took a break.  

Lucy 3 - Graphite

Of course the treats came out.  Lucy was happy.  She cleaned herself.  Settled down. Moved into shadow.  Rattled the treat bag. She moved. I crawled. Click. click. click.

Finally Lucy decided we were done.

The shoot was over but I had lots of material to work from. Working with the owner we narrowed it down to 3 of our favourites.  We couldn't decide so we didn't.  I did all three!

Not too soon to start thinking about a pet portrait for Christmas. They are a lovely way to celebrate a cherished pet. Give me a call and we can get started. 

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)

 Have a great artful day, Wendy

Sep 24, 2015

Wrestling Gramma's Stew


My husband is a meat and potato guy.  I'm not.
He loves a big heavy meal.  I like the cookbook "365 Days with Quinoa".

We each do our own thing for breakfast and lunch but dinner is a compromise.  His favourite thing is a Stew.  Not just any stew.  A full blown stew with dumplings.  A 3 page recipe, lots of prep, tons of clean up, hours to cook, more prep (for the dumplings) more clean up, finally dinner!  Not a task to be taken on lightly.

We do have stew occasionally.

FULL SUN  - Watercolour - 12 x 16
On a cold, wet, winter weekend the stew pot comes out.  And I must admit it is nice to have the aroma wafting through the house as rain beats against the window and everything is dark.  ( On the west coast of Canada that's what winter is like)  And of course the leftovers are great as well.  No meals to prepare for at least 2 days!!

This summer we had a massive heat wave.  (Well, on the coast the temperatures were holding over 30 C for days on end.  I know, for many of you that is not really hot but I am a 25 C person.  Anything hotter than that is way too hot.)  We were on Texada Island, right by the water, let me tell you that ocean breeze wasn't really working.  It was hot.  Too hot.

Time to pull out Gramma's Stew recipe. 

I had some great pictures of our rhododendron bushes that I really wanted to paint.  Several months ago I had cropped a section and had a plan in place.  That was as far as I got.  I knew it was a 3 page recipe: lots of prep, lots of clean up, lots of detail and lots of glazing.  (Not a picture that was going to work up quickly. )

I set up my studio in the shade and started working. There was no lovely aroma in the air but it was a great way to enjoy the heat. 
My outdoor studio on Texada Island
 There was lots of perks: wonderful view from my outdoor studio; the transparent glazes dried in a jiffy; I hardly noticed the heat; and it was easy to stop and pick up again.  ( Of course I had to jump in the water for a swim now and then!) 

The view from the our campsite
 "Full Sun" was the challenge I anticipated. It certainly wasn't for the faint hearted.  The blossoms were so intertwined it was easy to get lost. 

No extra meals for the freezer, but it was worth it.

I learned a lot about glazing: keeping it thin so the underlying colours could shine through.  Making sure it was really dry before the next layer.  ( I did have to scrape a few off at first as I got impatient.) Understanding how colours change with layers of glaze.  The main colours I used were Phallo Blue ( green shade), Alizarin Crimson, New Gomage, Brunt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. 

I learned a lot about painting white flowers. They really can be any colour in the shade, colours can be pushed, and darks need to be dark.  I put layer after layer in the flower centers, I couldn't believe how dark they needed to be. 

It really taught me a lesson.  Get those '3 pager' pictures out and get to work. There are plenty of lessons waiting to be learned. 

Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page.  Keep up with all the art events by joining my email  list  (see sidebar)

Have a great artful day,

Sep 17, 2015

Painters Just Wanna Have Fun!!


That is for sure!

Have you forgotten? Are you buried in your studio, working hard for shows?  Barely keeping up with things?

So easy to forget why you paint.  And how much you love what you do.
When you are in the trenches it is hard to see over the top. The world is whizzing by and you are missing it.

Breaking the cycle doesn't always mean a rest, a quick change my make the difference. 

Some of the Gibson Scenery
The Gibson Plein Air Festival was a great break for me. A perfect way to end the season and get ready to head into the Fall/Christmas rush.  Jan Poynter is the organizer and with her many volunteers she has put together a great 3 day event.  

Jan and Ruth with their demos - Sorry Edna I just didn't make it to your demo
Friday started with a morning demo on Plein Air Basics - how to equip yourself for mini to maxi outings in watercolour, acrylic and oil.  I was happy to assist with that demo and even though I do lots of outdoor work I was pleased to learn a few new tricks.

Sketch Crawlers Working Hard
In the afternoon we were off on a sketchcrawl, lead by Paula & Dennis O'Brien.  Stopping for 20 minutes at a spot to do a quick sketch.  I loved it.  I have been following a Liz Steel, a major urban sketcher blogger in Australia and I really felt like I was on one of her outings.  We chatted, we walked, we sketched, we shared.  And Gibson has so much to offer in such a tiny space!!

Some of the Sketch Crawl drawings
My Sketch Crawl Paintings
The evening was a barbecue, great to meet and greet everyone.  Lots of juicy discussions, met many new friends, and of course good eats and drinks.
Good to have time to chat
More Art talk happening, and others too

Saturday saw us up and on the docks by 8:30.  Setting up and painting. We blanketed the little town with painters.  Soooooo much fun.  

Working hard
1pm was a gathering time, showing off work and of course a picture moment.  

Our Saturday Painters 
Some of Saturday's Paintings

Early Morning - My Saturday Painting

Many went back to paint but many went to RuthRodgers Pastel demo.  Not really my thing but very interesting to watch.  Ruth did impress us with how quickly a pastel can be worked up and how many of the steps are so like working with oils and acrylics.  The late afternoon sun set most of us on our way for the day but a few were back to catch the light.  ( I must admit there was a golf course at our campsite and I could feel it calling me.  I got 9 holes in before dark!!) 

This fellow greeted us on the wharf Sunday Morning
Sunday was a little different. 

Our nice weather was starting to collapse, it was cooler and windy.  Well gusty, actually.  Made for innovative methods to keep everything together and paints wet. A few paintings hit the dirt and hats went flying but over all the painting went well. 
Some of the Sunday Group
Enda Bardell had a watercolour demo at 2.  I had to miss this as I was not finished my Sunday Picture.  Then at 4 we gathered at the Landing Gallery for show reception. 
Not too many photos for today as my battery died. ( Who checks and charges their battery at night when they are immersed in painting.)  But there are tons more pictures on Jan'sWebsite.   (Give her a few more days to get them up on her site.  She was tired by the end of the weekend!) 

Headed home on Monday morning, feeling fresh, inspired and full of new plans.  

Bring on the fall rush, I am ready for it!!

If a 3 day break doesn't work for you, try something shorter.  Get out, paint something new, kibitz with artists, revitalize your love of painting.  When that spark is back, nothing can stop you.

I know that you aren't all painters but you know what I mean.  You are head down, working hard, pedal to the metal.  Just taking a break wont do it.  Get out, try something new, kibitz with friends, revitalize.  Get your spark back. Be ready for the fall rush.

The Plein Air season is drawing to a close here on the coast. (I know some of you are out all year and I will be too on a nice day.)  There are more and more festivals and groups out there painting now. Good Starting Place to find groups or events are the Meetup groups, Urban Sketchers or  Start preparing for next year. 

Be sure to like and share my posts.  You wont's miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page.  Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list.  

Have a great day,