Archive for January, 2011

Familiar Territory

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 25, 2011 by Patti

It is collage week in Misty Mawn’s mixed media workshop, and I finally feel like I am back in familiar territory. Collage and I are old friends. It’s way spiffy to watch Misty’s videos and really be able to focus on the inspiration & new techniques rather than trying to translate the language of drawing or painting into something familiar. I speak the language of collage, though Misty speaks it with a different accent than my own. She comes from a region of painters & sketch artists, while I am from the digital side of the tracks. I am excited to visit her neighborhood. I’ll be able to spend some serious time in my studio later this week trying some techniques I haven’t played with before. Fun!

In the meantime, part of our homework is digital collage and that I can do right here at my trusty Mac. In fact, I’ve already started to play a bit. I haven’t taken the time to sit and do any digital work in quite awhile, and I’d forgotten how much I love it. I didn’t realize how very much I have missed it until I became absorbed in choosing and manipulating my images yesterday.

I’ve already done several pieces. One even showcases my painted portrait… a whole new dimension to this notion of collage for me. The one I’m sharing with you here today is the newest of the three, inspired by our writing prompt from Misty last week. It’s called Winds of Change.

I’m so grateful to Misty for inspiring us and sharing her knowledge and her substantial talent with us each week in this workshop. I am also unreasonably grateful to her for pointing me back to a lost love.


I did it! I am a portrait painter.

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 24, 2011 by Patti

After I finally got over my anxiety about putting paint down on canvas, I finally sat down to try my hand at painting my first portrait… you know, the one I spent last week obsessing about.

I decided to just do a really rough contour sketch with a few details for the underpainting rather than obsess about producing a fully realized drawing – I’d still be obsessing if I hadn’t – and then play with the paints and see how it felt.

It felt pretty good.

She doesn’t really look like the picture I used as a model… not much, anyway. I feel like I quit too soon – didn’t play with enough layers – because once I got something that looked like an actual face, I was afraid to go on with the fine tuning for fear I would mess her up. The skin tone isn’t quite right, so I need to practice the mixing. My inner critic sees plenty to work on still. She always does.

What I see, though, is that I painted my first portrait! I did something that I feared was impossible for me. And regardless of her flaws, I think she is beautiful.

My first painting… at the end of painting week

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 22, 2011 by Patti

I read Misty Mawn’s painting lesson for this week with excitement and enthusiasm on Monday. I spent my evening curled up with a nice cup of vanilla tea watching her painting videos for our class.

Then on Tuesday, I had errands and such to do during the day and my beginners knitting class in the evening. I came home and practiced knitting.

I continued to practice knitting on Wednesday. I did this because I was really getting into experimenting with the different stitches you can produce with various combinations of the basic knit stitch & the newly learned purl stitch, and because – let’s face it – I was putting off sitting down to paint. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving Misty’s class! I am just a little intimidated by the fact that her portrait painting video started off with an excellent basic sketch, complete with shading & contours. I am weak in the area of contouring and haven’t yet produced a sketch of a portrait that I believe worthy of turning into a painting. To be fair to Misty, she suggested starting out with color mixing and painting a banana.

As you can see, I finally took her advice and started with this banana… a mere 6 days after the lessons were posted and 1 day shy of the end of painting week.

What was I doing between Wednesday and Saturday, you may ask?

Well, I’ll tell you…

On Wednesday afternoon, I decided that perhaps I should start with something basic like color mixing. This required a stalling trip to the art store, even though I have tubes of primary colors in my studio. That was beside the point. At the end of this trip, I felt that I had done my painting assignment for the day by gathering the proper supplies and told myself that I would be all set to hit the ground running the following day.

Thursday came and it suddenly seemed like an excellent idea to browse my photo collection for pictures that I could use as models to sketch that portrait I am still obsessing about. I have many vintage images and managed to kill several hours assembling a selection of those to print out and have with my sketch pad when the mood struck to draw. I must not have been feeling very moody because, the next thing I knew another trip out to the art store to grab a pallet and some canvas paper on the way to pick up my husband at the airport seemed the most reasonable use of my time. Then, of course, hubby became the perfect distraction for the evening.

That brings us up to Friday. I spent Friday puttering about the house, running up to the studio where I did absolutely nothing except drop off a couple of things and make a quick run for it, and talking about the fact that I really needed to get started on my painting assignment. I did manage to get over to the grocery store, where I purchased a bunch of bananas, a tangerine, & a pear. I decided that perhaps starting out with the fruit was a good idea after all.

Which brings us to today. Finally, I have mixed my colors and attempted to paint fruit. I don’t love my banana, but I think it’s not so bad for a first attempt.

I’m fascinated with how difficult it has been for me to do something I was really excited about doing at the first of the week.

What was the hold up, really? Fear of failure? Fear of getting discouraged? Simple lack of focus? I’m still working that out… but in the meantime, I have painted my very first banana.

Yay me!


At any rate, it did make for kind of a fun post over at the facebook group for the class. Isn’t there something about when life gives you bananas…?

How to Paint a Banana

Step 1: Decided that your contours & values aren’t so good. Choose to practice for your beginners knitting class, and get distracted by yarn for a day or two.

Step 2: Come back to your sketch pad and doodle without doing anything to practice contours and values.

Step 3: Decide that you aren’t ready to paint because you haven’t got a basic sketch that you are happy enough with to attempt a painting of it.

Step 4: Stall on the sketch by going out to the local art store to buy paints and brushes even though you have everything you need in your studio. Feel like you have worked on your painting assignment by gathering the proper tools.

Step 5: Talk about how you are going to paint for another 2 days, during which you go back to the art store for a pallet & canvas paper.

Step 6: Go to the grocery store to gather a banana, a tangerine, & a pear. Who can say where inspiration will strike first?

Step 7: FINALLY, sit down to mix paint. Discover that the mixing is tricky to get just the color you want, but make do with what you can manage anyway, vowing to practice that better at a later time.

Step 8: Start painting & be pleasantly surprised at  the fact that it isn’t as bad as you had feared. It’s actually kinda fun. 

Step 9: Accept the fact that you are not going to produce a perfect banana like one of the Dutch Masters. Enjoy the process anyway.

Step 10: Discover that adding in the background is way harder than Misty made it look!

Step 11: Go back and fix the parts of your banana that you overpainted with that stoopid background.

Step 12: Decide that you have done ok for your first time out and admire your sad little banana.

Portrait of the Artist

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 18, 2011 by Patti

My attempt at a self-portrait…


Not so easy, this trying to draw yourself. I have to say, there’s something kinda fun about trying to represent yourself in some way other than a photo, though. I’m not sure this looks that much like me, but I do feel it conveys a certain sense of me. I still need much work & practice, but I kinda like my first completed attempt.

Knitting Cartwheels

Posted in Artistic Endeavors, Misc. on January 17, 2011 by Patti

Misty’s class isn’t the only thing I’m doing this month… in fact my plate may be overly full. So far all of my new adventures are complimenting each other nicely, though –  so I’m going with it.

The most difficult thing I’ve tried to do this year is a beginners knitting class at a local yarn shop. I mean, drawing is daunting but at least I feel like I kinda speak the language enough to not get completely lost. Knitting was just this jumble of string and clumsiness. When I started, I thought that the needles were going to end up as kindling, but I made myself practice… and practice… and practice some more. I think I finally have the hang of the basic stitch, but I spent the weekend practicing so I could reinforce the muscle memory before moving on to the purl stitch on Tuesday.

What does knitting have to do with cartwheels, you may ask?

Well, I’ll tell you. There was a very short-lived television series called The Return of Jezebel James. If you took the time to blink, I’m sure you missed it. The main character wants a baby , but she can’t get pregnant, so she asks her sister to be a surrogate for her. That is the basic premise. But it had this great quote… “Cartwheels are hard!” When the doctor tells her she can’t have children, she tries to tell him that he must be wrong because she can do cartwheels. She thought she couldn’t do them when she was young, but she practiced and practiced them and finally mastered the cartwheel. I know that is comedy for denial, but I like the notion that when something seems impossible, you don’t just accept that and walk away.  So whenever I come across something new that doesn’t come easily, I remind myself that cartwheels are hard.

They are… but look at me now!

Drawing faces

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 13, 2011 by Patti

I’ve  been practicing drawing faces the last couple of days, and I think I am ready to share one here…







I still need much work with the shading & such, but she’s better than alot of the other faces I’ve tried to draw in the past, and I like her.

Yay me!

Fuzzy McMasterson – Art Mascot

Posted in Artistic Endeavors on January 12, 2011 by Patti

As I have mentioned, I am taking this online workshop with Misty Mawn. We have an ongoing assignment to pick an item and represent it in some manner every day for the next 5 weeks… drawing, painting, collage, photography, words.

My object is a small, pink stuffed elephant. I found him just after Thanksgiving, while I was Christmas shopping, and I simply had to have him. It was a silly impulse, but I found I couldn’t leave the store without the little guy. I gave him his goofy name – Fuzzy McMasterson – and declared him my mascot for the New Year without knowing that he would be taking such an active role in my artistic life.

I thought perhaps I should introduce him, since I suspect you’ll be seeing a great deal of him over the next several weeks.

I started out on Monday doing a semi-blind contour drawing, which I will not be sharing with you. Today’s effort was a simple line drawing, but I haven’t taken a picture of it yet. Yesterday’s drawing was a practice in shading, and it turned out well enough to let you have a peek…

I have no idea what I’m going to do with him tomorrow. Maybe I’ll do a contour drawing, and add some watercolor to brighten the little fellow up.

In the meantime, I’m off to practice faces…