Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm up for the challenge ...

I am up for the challenge ....  Leslie Saeta's  '30 paintings in 30 days' challenge that is.  Leslie says  "I am starting a 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge on January 2nd. I think this is a great way to kick off the New Year and I invite you all to join me. It's very simple and easy ... all you need to do is paint 30 paintings in 30 days."  

I've often admired those many artists who have become 'daily painters' and the commitment it requires. Its a great way to get a lot of painting done and become a more skilled painter ...  and today after much thought I've decided to give her challenge a try.   

Back in June I started this painting and after the block-in was doubtful of how it would turn out and put it on a shelf.  Today while thinking about the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge I decided to try and finish the painting.  
Mail Call, 8" x 10" oil on panel, © Nancy Van Blaricom

The reference photo for this painting was taken a few years ago when we were in Canada and a float plane flew into the small port to deliver mail.  A familiar sight in some remote areas.

Mail Call, 8" x 10" oil on panel, © Nancy Van Blaricom

I'm very happy with this one.  I think I captured the sun glistening on the water and also the look of the plane.  Calling this painting a success I'm feeling more confident in my commitment to 30 paintings in 30 days.  Wish me luck and check in often to see how my challenge is going.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

When you can't find anything else to sketch ...

Hubby's Shoes as he naps in the recliner, pen & watercolor, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom

There are times when I want to sketch but I struggle to find something interesting near-by. More often than not my husband is near-by either reading or napping and that always gives me a perfect subject to sketch.

In the above photo you see my husbands shoes as he naps in his recliner.

 Hubby Reading, PilotP-500 extra fine pen, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom

This above sketch was pretty easy because even though he was awake he was so engrossed in his book that he had no idea he was being watched closely.  My model doesn't do much moving around if he has his head in a book.

Nap Taking, ball point pen, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom

The above sketch is dated 2010 but I don't remember much about it. It looks as if I had started out with something in mind then changed it and decided to sketch my husband napping instead.  Above the cuff of his sleeve, on the back of his hand, it looks like I was beginning to sketch some eye glasses, then the line comes down and goes back up....   Looking at the sketch I can see I glued the paper into my sketchbook, so I'm guessing that I sketched this on the only piece of paper I had at the time.

Give this a try, sketch your spouse when they have no idea you are stalking them *wink.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

Repetition ...

Because I sketch each day I can find it daunting to come up with a subject at hand while I sit at my desk each morning.

9 Days of Clam Shell Sketches, B & N  6" x 9", 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom

When I am having a hard time finding something to sketch I will sometimes just repeat what ever I drew the day before.  I had a small clam shell on my desk that I used for a small shell painting and for nine days I sketched a single shell in a different pose.

Film Canisters, 6" x 9" B & N sketchbook, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom 

In the above photo I sketched a film canister ... for four days I sketched the same canister in either a different light or angle, or with a different pencil.

Blow Dryer, 6" x 9" B & N sketchbook, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom
A blow dryer I use for drying watercolor paintings ... sketched three day's in a row.

I like the looks of these sketches when they cover a full page in my sketchbook don't you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree ...

This was a fun and fast oil painting and my intent was to do the whole painting with a palette knife and then part way through I changed my mind. 
 Oh Christmas Tree, 8" x 6" Oil on Panel, 2012, ©Nancy Van Blaricom

Back in November I introduced you to this little tree in a sketch.

Some years I put tiny white lights on it, but, this year I used it as a table decoration at the Holiday House Bazaar and I didn't think it needed anything else.  Plain and simple, straight forward with a touch of elegance with the gold pot. 

                                                      Oh Christmas Tree, 8" x 6" Oil on Panel framed, 2012, ©Nancy Van Blaricom

Even though the paint was still wet I wanted to see how it looked framed so stuck it in a black frame with the tree near-by.

I'm thinking I might add something in the lower right corner to add some balance ... or I might try painting this one again in a more serious manner ... then again maybe not and just move on the next painting.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

There are times when all I put in my sketchbook is studies of design and compositions

Its fun to explore when I sketch, trying to keep in mind that I can find different angles, divisions, and positive and negative space.  Sometimes I like to experiment with the elements of composition to find what might work best for a particular painting.
Basic design study, large sketchbook, 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

In the above photo I'm trying to learn more about design with a variety in size, shapes, values and textures. Each sketch is only about 2" x 3" and doesn't take very long to sketch yet gives me a great idea as to what is the best design for my still-life arrangement

Basic space and depth study, large sketchbook, 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

 The middle photo I'm concentrating on space and depth. These are about the same size as the sketches in the above photo.

Basic picture divisions, large sketchbook, 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

In the last photo I used a marker to help learn the basic design foundations of most pictures.

Working on design and composition like this gives me a break from my daily sketches where I concentrate on a certain likeness, plus, I feel I gain so much from his kind of study.  

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

 Spoons ... simple enough in design, yet, to sketch / draw the spoon takes some real concentration at best if you want to do a good job.

Single Spoon Sketch- graphite, 6" x 9" sketchbook, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

I sketched this spoon on September 13th, 2012 and although it was ok I thought I should have done some warm-ups first.

Gesture sketch of spoons- graphite, 6" x 9" sketchbook, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

So, the next day on the 14th I decided to do some gesture sketches of the spoon.

I think by doing some gesture sketches you really get to know and understand what you are looking at. When you gesture draw / sketch, you capture the character of the shape of the object, the feel of the subject ... my physical response.  Also you help develop eye-hand coordination by keeping your eye on the subject.

I should have sketched the single spoon after I did the gesture drawings.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Hot Cup O' Cocoa - Collage

I am the host for this months local Art Talk Group meeting and I chose the word Winter for our theme.

In trying to think of what I'd like to paint or create I knew I didn't want to do a typical winter oil painting of our normal rainy winter, but thought more along the lines of something more comforting ... like a nice Hot Cup O' Cocoa, with whipped cream on top.

Hot Cup O' Cocoa, 9" x 9" x 3/8" collage on hardwood, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

I'm not sure I will always do a collage for our theme word but I certainly did enjoy working, once again, in collage.

Side view of Hot Cup O' Cocoa9" x 9"x 3/8" collage on hardwood, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

The 9" x 9" x 3/8" board I was working on was already primed for an oil painting but I don't think it would have needed to be primed, it was just something I had laying around waiting to be used.

The above photo shows how it looks from an angle showing the small collage wrapped area.
Close up of Hot Cup O' Cocoa9" x 9" x 3/8" collage on hardwood, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

Above a more detailed shot of the scene.  Don't ya love the reflected handle of the cup ... diamonds no less.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Its All About the Hat ...

I'll admit I'm not particularly fond of painting people. I'm sure it's my lack of experience.  

Despite some issues I had with this small painting I find there are a number of areas I am really happy with.
 Its About the Hat, 6" x 6" oil on panel, © 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

I wanted some warmth showing through the greens and blues so I primed this small 6" x 6" panel with a yellow gold.  I had a happy surprise when I saw the warmth that shines through his arms and his shirt.  It just glows.  Also, I like how I captured the way you can tell its a bright sunny day.

Mahogany framed, Its About the Hat, 6" x 6" oil on panel, © 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

We talked with this man a few years ago in Canada and enjoyed our conversation about his hat.  He told us that this particular hat was made just for him. He looked great in it and was proud to be wearing it.    

Although I didn't capture his bright cheerful smile I'm reminded of it when I look at this painting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

I think I've mentioned that I try to sketch something each morning as soon as I sit down with my cup of coffee.  Some times I have something in mind before I sit down, other times I just look around my desk until I find something I might want to sketch.  

Last Monday morning when I was ready to sketch I saw the only holiday decoration I took to set upon my table at the Saturday Holiday Bazaar.  A small unadorned fake tree.

I love the this small plain tree sitting in a beautiful sophisticated gold leaf pot.  It's a small statement ...  the top of the unadorned tree to the bottom of the lovely gold pot is only 14" high.  Small yet a touch of sophistication.    

The juxtaposition speaks to me.  Plain and lovely.  I think it made a lovely sketch.

Small Christmas Tree in Gold Pot, Barnes and Nobel Sketchbook, © 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

Close up -Small Christmas Tree in Gold Pot, Barnes and Nobel Sketchbook, © 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

 The Art of a Sketchbook

Sketch from a magazine ad 2001 © Nancy Van Blaricom

I wanted to share with you a couple of ideas that you might like to use with your sketchbooks.  

This is a hardbound sketchbook, approximately 11" x 9".  Notice the White Ribbon in the above sketchbook photo?  I am always having a hard time finding the next blank page in my sketchbooks so I glued this white satin ribbon in between the cover and the pages, in the binding to use as a bookmark.  I used Elmer's white glue.   I'm sure and its been in this book since 1999. 

Sketch from a boating trip, 2012 © Nancy Van Blaricom

In the above smaller spiral-bound sketchbook, 9" x 6", I tied a red ribbon to use as a bookmark on the top spiral of the book.  I can untie the ribbon, if I choose, when the sketchbook is filled.  I like the idea of being able to find where I left off sketching last with a built in bookmark.

Pete's Net Shed, sketch, 2012© Nancy Van Blaricom

The the above photo I've glued a small manila envelope to the inside cover of my Sketchbook and use it to place a couple of cut mat boards to use as a view finder, maybe some notes etc.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Holiday House Bazaar

Here it is less than a week away from Holiday House Bazaar and I'm just now letting my followers  know about our local annual Bazaar here on our island.

Original Sea Shell Paintings on Wood Blocks

Original, Affordable, Art
This year I am very excited to show off my newest line of Sea Shell Oil Paintings on small wooden blocks. These Shells are from the beaches around us and look stunning.  The paintings remind us all of our most memorable day on the Beach.   
But the best part of all is that they are extremely affordable.  You'll want to pick up several for the last minute unique gift of Original, Affordable, Art.  

These small Original, Affordable, Art paintings will make wonderful Hostess / Host Gifts for the Holidays and House Warming Gifts.  Also, they are light weight for shipping and easy to pack as a gift in a suitcase for travel.

Along with my beautiful sea shell paintings I will have my lovely oil paintings to share with you and my ever popular note cards with some newest designs as well as my other favorites from my extensive line.

Click photo to enlarge

Please, if you are in the area on Saturday, November 24th stop by the Community Club on the island and say hello.  My booth is always in the Community Hall  (not the fire hall) up on stage right ... its hard to miss me and my art up there.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

30 Day Grid, pen & watercolor in sketchbook, © 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Click photo to enlarge
When I was looking through my many sketchbooks to see what would be a good blog post for this Friday I came upon this 2 page spread of 1 inch squares made into a 30 day grid of small daily sketches.

Each day I would find something ... I didn't care what and do a sketch of it.  A stop sign, a tree, a mug,  a salt shaker.  Anything to make sure I could fill a one inch square with a sketch.

It was a great way to get into the habit of sketching as well as fun to look for something to fill the square.

Give it a try and see if you enjoy this self challenge.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Autumn Leaf - Collage

Autumn Leaf Collage, 4"x 4" magazine paper on gallery wrapped canvas, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Autumn Leaf Collage from a different angle - sitting on mini easel, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Autumn Leaf Collage, from above,  sitting on mini easel, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

It had been many years since I had tried my hand at collage but when our local Art Talk Group decided to have a different theme for each meeting I decided this would be fun way to capture Autumn for this months theme.

I had the best time ripping apart old magazines ...

Sing along to the song Autumn Leaves sung by Eva Cassidy:

The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Story Teller

The Story Teller, 6" x 6" oil, © 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

A few years ago, Inquiring Minds  offered our community a lecture given by a native american storyteller for the afternoon.  Her tribe had given her the title of Storyteller and she was excellent in this position.  

I became inspired to paint her when I saw how animated she was in her button blanket cape as she told the stories that had been passed down to her. 

I learn something 
from most of the paintings I do... sometimes it's not so obvious other times like one its very obvious to me.  While working on this painting I learned I don't need a tube of black paint if painting something very dark because you can mix your own very dark, dark gray by mixing red, and blue to make purple then slowly adding small amounts of yellow to make a black that I was happy with.  Whoda thunk?

The Inquiring Mind Speakers Bureau offers libraries, museums, schools and community organizations an opportunity to bring some of Washington’s finest scholars, authors, musicians and actors to local communities for engaging and entertaining educational programs. Since its inception in 1984, it has impacted tens of thousands of Washingtonians in virtually every corner of the state.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

Bird Sketches from Barnes & Nobel sketchbook, Graphite, ©2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

I think I'm back on track now... and I haven't  forgotten about "Sketchbook Friday". Here are a few bird sketches I've done recently. 

These were all done in my Barnes & Noble sketchbook that I told you about back in September.  I've sketched in this particular sketchbook almost daily since I bought it back in July.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Another try at Orchids

White Orchid, 6" x 6" oil on panel, © 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

Having not forgotten my attempts at painting an orchid a while back I decided to try it once more.

This time I decided on a 6" x 6" format and cropped my original drawing to eliminate all but a couple of the flowers and focus was on the top one.

Most of the comments I received on the last orchid said I had too much middle value  ....  I think I like this one better because I don't have as much middle value, what do you think?

I'm calling my love affair with the orchid over ... for now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mini Pumpkin

Mini Pumpkin, 6" x 8", 2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Still very inspired by the work I did yesterday I grabbed another mini pumpkin from my box of fall decorations and got busy trying to keep focused on not being so uptight.

I'm pretty pleased with this one because I tried to put some paint down with my larger brush and NOT do my usual blending.  I still need to focus on shapes ... putting the paint down ... and moving on.

As you can guess, most of my fall decorations are now in the studio and not being used for decorating around the house.  *sigh, maybe I'll hang pumpkin paintings around instead. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

After Carol Marine

After Carol Marine, 6" x 8", 2012, Nancy Van Blaricom

 Carol Marine is such a talented and giving artist and her work is inspiring to so many of us artists that today I decided to take the panel of the latest (orchid) wipe-off and see if I couldn't paint one of my mini pumpkins I found in my box of fall decorations.  Setting it under a small clip-on light I just couldn't  get inspired to start and was feeling stuck before I even got started.  Then I did a little internet research and found Carol's mini pumpkin painting and with the aid of her painting and my mini pumpkin I completed this little guy.

I have heard other artists say that to copy other artists work you admire is a good way to learn.  I guess I was skeptical at this, but now that I've given it a try I feel I have learned a lot.

Thanks Carol for your inspiring work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Notan and the White Orchid

Wow, what I thought would be a simple painting for me has turned out to be an impossible task.  I did a small notan with a gray and a black marker and then one with my oil paints.

My 3 value oil study of White Orchid ( notan ?) 2012, © Nancy Van Blaricom

Graphite line sketch, 2012, © Nancy Van Blaricom

 I started out with a graphite line sketch of my newly purchased white orchid. I felt that turned out pretty good and confident enough to go on to what I thought was a good choice for a next step... a notan study of the white orchid.

Marker Notan, 2012, © Nancy Van Blaricom

I did this small notan with a gray and a black marker and then one with my oil paints (top photo). I just couldn't seperate my values enough to be able to tell what the painting was supposed to be. Looking at the black and white photo below I think I might be able to accomplish the painting if I would just have used it instead of trying to paint it from life .... geesh. Back to the drawing board.

Black & White photo of White Orchid, 2012, © Nancy Van Blaricom

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

The Art of a Sketchbook...

You probably think with all I had going on these last couple of months that I didn't do any sketching. Not true! In fact I have started a new positive habit where when I first come into my studio I do a sketch.  It need not be anything specific, just sketch what ever I want.

Clothes Pins, on 5.5" x 8.5" sketchbook paper, graphite © Nancy Van Blaricom

Some days it's only a sketch of a clothes pin and then repeated the next day.  Occasionally, depending on my mood, I may only do a gesture drawing, taking less than 2 minutes.  But, since July I have almost religiously sketched each day.

Sketchbook purchased at Barnes & Nobel

It feels amazing to have started a positive habit with my art. I love beginning my day this way.  By sketching each morning it gets me excited to go paint.   Give it a try maybe after your first cup of coffee or after breakfast, go grab your sketchbook and just commit to a 5 - 10 minutes sketch a day.  You'll love it.

I also wanted to share with you the latest sketchbook I purchased at Barnes & Nobel.  I found this in with all their Bargain Priced books.  It cost me $4.98 with a suggested retail price of $12.95 and I love it.  The paper size is about 8.5" x 5.5" and there must be at least 200 pages.  The paper seems a little thicker than most sketchbooks which I like so you can't really see through to the back of the page.   They also had different sizes, but I didn't pay attention to sizes or cost.  

So next time you are in the market for a sketchbook look at your local Barnes & Nobel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Painting more shells

I've really been enjoying painting more of the small shell studies I started earlier this spring. 

Each shell I find on the beach has the potential to become the subject for a small wood block shell
painting.  I started out just painting the half shells that I would find, but, now I have started painting the whole shell and they are a lot of fun to paint.

The muscle shells are a particular favorite of mine and I'm not sure it its because of the intense blues or the lovely smooth shapes. 

Shell Study #11, 3.5" x 3.5", oil on wood, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Shell Study #16, #11, & #13,   3.5" x 3.5", oil on wood, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

November, the week-end after Thanksgiving is our Annual Holiday House here on the Island and I'm planning on selling these little jewels at the bazaar this year.  I love having one main focus each year for this event. While these are small they are priced so people can afford to purchase an original fine art painting not only for themselves but to give as gifts.  They can be hung on the wall in groups or on an easel for a table top.  I think these will be a big hit.

Its been two months since I last posted on my blog....
What is the saying ... If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans?
Remember me telling you that I wanted to paint more plain air? do more sketching etc.  Read about my plans here.

Well, things just didn't work out as I planned ... My best friend who I had know since 3rd grade unexpectedly passed away.  We were in contact almost daily for the last 15 years.   It was a huge shock and I miss her tremendously.  

Then as if that wasn't enough my beloved 15 year old Casey passed away.  Still not enough???

Our daughter and her family who lived 3 hours away has now moved 3 days away.
All these events with-in the last two months. Uncle, I give.  No more plans for me.
One day at a time only.

Our beloved Casey
4-23-1997  -  9-2-2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

The Art of a Sketchbook

Crab Claws Sketch, 5" x 7", Graphite sketch, ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

Hey, hows your summer goin'? Are you getting out enjoying the weather while you can?  Are you Plein Air painting or sketching or maybe both?

I thought I'd share this sketch of a sun bleached crab claw I found on the beach.  I only found the one claw but turned it over to sketch a different angle, making it look like two claws. I like seeing one object drawn over and under the first sketch.  I stopped a bit early before I accomplished that but it was a fun sketch any way.  My apology for the horrible photo but it was the best of about 8 attempts, *sigh.

Also, I wanted to share a book I purchased recently.  You may own it already, heard of it or maybe have at least seen it around.  Its Danny Gregory's book The Creative License.  It's a fun easy read and gets you excited about doing some drawing/ sketching.  Danny gives us permission to sketch without thinking we need to create perfect art.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of a Sketchbook

The Art of a Sketchbook

Aquabee 9" x 6" Sketchbook, Contour drawing ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

My favorite way to sketch ... is (modified) contour drawing.  Nothing perfect, 
but you know what its suppose to be when you are finished.  Most everyone recognizes this as a Folger's instant coffee jar, right?  (What on earth was I doing with that! ? )

Aquabee 9" x 6" Sketchbook, Contour drawing ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

A gift from the florist of some beautiful white hydrangeas.

 Aquabee 9" x 6" Sketchbook, Contour drawing ©2012 Nancy Van Blaricom

And what about the above sketch, don't you think this is also a very
recognizable (modified) contour drawing of an umbrella?

Like I said, I love contour drawing.

From Charles Reid's Painting What You Want to See, he writes,
"Contour drawing is a valuable tool for several reasons.  First of all, it helps us later when we paint because it forces us to think in terms of shapes."  and also, "So just relax as you draw and don't try to be exact.  You're not a camera.  You're an artist trying to express what you see.  And self-expression and correctness don't necessarily go hand in hand."

So, what do you think ... wanna give modified contour drawing a try?  Go ahead and see if you like it as much as I do.

Until next time ... Keep on sketching.