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!!)

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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?

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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