Spring? Spring!

I have a confession to make. I actually really like winter! I like doing inside things. I like eating comfort foods, watching basketball and piling on the layers. I feel cozy and comfortable and it's nice. There's a little part of me that get's a little sad when the sun stays out later. And March? Please. What a tease. You can take March. 

But once we hit mid-April, it's ON. Spring seems to be in town to stay and I'm ready to embrace it whole heartedly. For instance, earlier this week I took a detour from my usual running route to stop by the Kauffman Memorial Garden and I was BLOWN AWAY. The tulips were in full bloom. I almost couldn't believe my eyes. The very next day I said to hell with all deadlines (and other projects I can't tell you about yet) and took the day to visit the garden with my watercolors. 

Now I just want to ENVELOP myself in these yummy colors! And, thanks to the weird glorious site that is Society6, I can! I put my paintings on a whole bunch 'o crap so you can too! 

Summer State of Mind

While we're still quite a few months away from barefoot weather, a brief break from work and slightly sunnier days have put me in a summer state of mind. I'm hoping to take part in a few sales this summer and would love to start including some original paintings (a throughout studio clean out has emphasized the necessity of this). I've always wanted to revisit a quick plein air painting I did during "The Big Pic-Nic" at the Nelson-Atkins a couple years ago. Instant summer!

Hot Stuff!

I got a piece in Society of Illustrators this year! Neat. Here is the piece, lovingly titled Endless Summer. You know, that point in the summer, usually mid-August where the pool water is just a little too warm, the days a little too long and everything a little too saturated? It will be on display in NYC in early January, so yes, basically the furthest point from that time of year. 

I won't be able to attend the reception as I will be reenacting this scene in Hawaii at that time, so if you make it, snap a picture for me won't you?

Lil' Quickies

During the Brush Creek Art Walk I had an epiphany. I've always been of the mindset that watercolor is somewhat of a quick medium. It's not like oil or colored pencils where you can spend hours and hours building up an image. If you paint over a watercolor too much, you just get mud. While the act of watercolor is relatively fast, the thought process behind it can be excruciatingly slow. It's a lot of testing out colors to make sure you get just the right one (there's no going back, no command-Z!) and reverse thinking on how to get the highlights and shadows just right.

After being disappointed in how far I could get during the first two-hour quick paint competition at the Art Walk, I decided to keep it small for the second. This image measures 5'x5' and took about an hour and a half. 

It was a blast. So. I did some more. I think I would like to make this a regular thing. After all, I can always spare an hour and a half in the name of watercolor. 

And speaking of thought process, I took some photos of my plaza painting along the way to make this litter gif. I like gifs. 

An Obsession.

It's officially summer in these parts. And you know what, it hasn't been terrible! I've been keeping very busy these days teaching drawing at KCAI, working for Petite Alma, Storybird, and a very new exciting book project! I've also started up a drawing on location group here in Kansas City (just like the one in NYC last summer). It's been a lot of fun exploring my hometown, meeting new people and seeing everything through new eyes. 

Last week we met at the Plaza (and outdoor shopping area in midtown KC). I live near by, so I actually come down to draw at the Plaza quite a bit. I've been enamored with the J.C. Nichols fountain and the sculptures of the horses that represent four major rivers of the world (The Mississippi, Volga, Seine and Rhine). After Sketch Club was over, I passed by the fountain on my way home and was just stunned by how pretty it looked all lit up. It was a have-to-draw moment. 

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Of course, this isn't what I sat down and painted on location! I've been wanting to experiment with taking my sketchbook drawings and paintings and turning them into more refined larger paintings and practice my watercolor skills in the process. This piece is 12x16" and done completely in watercolor with a bit of white gouache (look ma, no photoshop!). 

Keep in mind, this was not my first shot at the fountain. I've been drawing it regularly all spring and have finally captured all four horses. Here are a few of my other Fountain pieces:

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece


Obsessions are fun, aren't they? While I sometimes post my location drawings on this blog, I always post them on my tumblr, so make sure to follow me there as well! 

Fruits of the Season

I don't exactly hate winter. I like all seasons. I just wish that this particular season was about a month shorter. With a good coating of ice on the ground, and some fluffier stuff on the way, let's think about some of the sweeter things that winter brings: citrus fruit. Orange, ruby, lemon, lime, these little gems are at their best when the season is at its worst.

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As I sliced up my orange at lunch today, and placed in my favorite bowl, I was blown away by just how gorgeous this simple pleasure it. And so, I painted it. Isn't that what you would do?

Lately

January has been a wee bit insane, and yet, I have almost nothing to show for it...or so it seems. With a few works in progress, I thought I'd share with you some sketches I did as research for a fun project I am working on that takes place in an old library!  I made a trip to our local Kansas City library and also my dear old Watson Library at the University of Kansas to draw in the beloved/creepy/deserted stacks (which I was thrilled to find have not changed a bit in the past 10 years!)

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Maine Rocks!

This past weekend my husband, father-in-law, and I took a little spur of the moment road trip up to Portland, Maine. I had never ventured north of Boston, so this was an entirely new experience for me. The coast of Maine doesn't look like anywhere else I've been before. It was simply breathtaking. We spent the first day bumming around Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Our second day was spent on Peaks Island. Zack and his dad rented bikes while I had a chance to break out my sketchbook. An afternoon simply wasn't enough on this quaint little island. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to go back!  

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How To: Scanning Cold Press Watercolor Paper

If you're facebook friends with me (that is, one of my friends or family members), you may have heard me going on (and on) about how overjoyed I was that I finally discovered a good way to scan cold pressed (textured) watercolor paper! I really love painting on the tooth. I like how quickly my paint dries and how the colors flow together when they are wet. And I love the results...IRL (in real life). But when I scan it, that's a different story. The light catches on all the little raised areas creating a shadow. In the darker areas, you are able to combat this by playing with the levels in photoshop and all is good. But it's especially a problem in light and white areas. In order to minimize the shadows, you wind up bleaching out all the middle level tones and making everything absurdly saturated. Of course, you want to keep a little bit of the texture, but still retain the integrity of the colors and values. It's frustrating to say the least.   The following images are a little tutorial of this technique I have stumbled upon

(want to see miraculous scanning in person? This image is available as a print from my etsy shop!) 

 

So. You have a finished painting. Congrats! Now let's put it on the internet so we can see how many people "like" it and justify our career in art (no issues here).

So. You have a finished painting. Congrats! Now let's put it on the internet so we can see how many people "like" it and justify our career in art (no issues here).

Ok. Scanned. Great. There's some exaggerated shadows showing up in the light areas, so I'm just gonna go fix that right up in photoshop... 

Ok. Scanned. Great. There's some exaggerated shadows showing up in the light areas, so I'm just gonna go fix that right up in photoshop... 

Oh wow. That's way worse. What am I going to do? Don't worry, here's what we're going to do...

Oh wow. That's way worse. What am I going to do? Don't worry, here's what we're going to do...

Scan it again, but this time rotate the image 180 degrees on the scanner bed.

Scan it again, but this time rotate the image 180 degrees on the scanner bed.

Next, place one image over the other in Photoshop. Then use the GENUIS auto align feature (if your photoshop is so out of date that you do not have this, you might as well stop here because lining these up on your own could take days...DAYS)

Next, place one image over the other in Photoshop. Then use the GENUIS auto align feature (if your photoshop is so out of date that you do not have this, you might as well stop here because lining these up on your own could take days...DAYS)

Once your two images are aligned, changed the transparency of the top to 50%. WOAH. Big difference huh? The shadows cancel each other out! If the effect is too smooth for you, give the top layer less opacity, say 75%. It's up to you. You can even mask out areas that you wish to have more texture or if certain areas are appearing a bit fuzzy since auto align is only about 99.9% accurate. This wasn't too much of an issue for me since I didn't have a lot of precise lines or details. That usually tend to be the case for paintings on cold pressed paper. 

Once your two images are aligned, changed the transparency of the top to 50%. WOAH. Big difference huh? The shadows cancel each other out! If the effect is too smooth for you, give the top layer less opacity, say 75%. It's up to you. You can even mask out areas that you wish to have more texture or if certain areas are appearing a bit fuzzy since auto align is only about 99.9% accurate. This wasn't too much of an issue for me since I didn't have a lot of precise lines or details. That usually tend to be the case for paintings on cold pressed paper. 

Now you can adjust and fiddle as you wish. I wanted to to bump up the contrast and saturation in my image because that's how vibrant I remember the sunset being. I recommend not doing ANY adjustments to your images until after you've done the auto align process. Happy painting...and scanning! Hope you get tons of "likes."

Now you can adjust and fiddle as you wish. I wanted to to bump up the contrast and saturation in my image because that's how vibrant I remember the sunset being. I recommend not doing ANY adjustments to your images until after you've done the auto align process. Happy painting...and scanning! Hope you get tons of "likes."

On Location: DUMBO

My Wednesday night drawing group has been going great this summer! While we could always handle a few more drawers, I've really enjoyed spending time with friends and also making some new ones! A couple weeks ago we went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo. It really is quite spectacular in the evenings. I've really been enjoying taking my little watercolor set out on my drawing adventures. A little color can make a big impact!

 

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Dad's Day!

Hope you all had a wonderful Father's day! I'm really starting to enjoy these holidays where people plaster their facebooks and instapages with old photos of their loved ones. So what if everyone does it? It's fun!  

I wasn't able to spend the holiday with my pop, so I have to make sure his gift was extra special. I painted him a picture of his favorite place (Milburn Country Club) with his favorite daughter (ME!). Going out golfing on golden summer nights is one of my favorite memories growing up and I have my dad to thank for that!  Also included are some details which, often times, turn out to be my favorite part of these paintings!

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