I'm a designer, artist, maker, goal-setter, and dog mom with an enthusiasm for blending creativity and practicality. I follow my interests by digging deep, absorbing whatever I learn about them, and putting what I learn to use. (Making me a natural project manager, since I always have multiple projects going.)

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Design study 3 (3-A-Week Challenge)

10×8 study in design I used a photo from our Yellowstone trip as inspiration for this study. The photo is actually horizontal, but when I did the notans during the planning stage the vertical format was more interesting to me. I forgot to do the main value masses — my system is breaking down! lol Notan When I started blocking in the main color shapes it was looking super chaotic and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it together at all. But for the most part it’s making sense. The bright yellow flowers in the lower left could…

Design study 2 (3-A-Week Challenge)

8×10 study in design I chose a photo from our Yellowstone trip for this study in design. The full photo is an amazing view that stretches for miles and includes a dramatic cloudy sky, but for this study I cropped down to the land and put the focus on the road leading back into the scene. It’s hard to tell, but the blue at the top isn’t sky — it’s another layer of mountains turned blue from atmospheric perspective. My focus was to move some elements around in order to create a visual path that zig zags from foreground to…

Design study 1 (3-A-Week Challenge)

8×10 design study This week I’m focusing on the next topic in Matt Smith’s online mentorship program: design. For this study, I used a reference photo that I’m just crazy about because of the way the low sun is casting long blue-violet shadows across the snow, with the contrast of the warm-colored shrubs. The designing of this one involved removing our old car that was in the shot and rearranging some of the brushy elements to help move the eye around the visual path I was going for. I also made note of where I wanted strong value, color, and…

Value study 6 (3-A-Week Challenge)

10×8 values study I’m wrapping up this series of studies focusing on values with a reference photo from our Grand Teton/Yellowstone trip. I’m pretty happy with how the water and trees are looking, but I felt pretty stuck on the big areas of rock. The main problem I had was uncertainty about simplifying the colors shapes in the rocks, so they turned out really fuzzy and soft looking. Plus I couldn’t get a sharp edge on my brush, even though it was a flat. I think the issue is a combination of too little paint, and uncertain mark making. Notan…

Value study 5 (3-A-Week Challenge)

8×10 values study This values study is based on a photo I took at a local nature preserve over the summer. It’s a place that I’d love to go back to and paint on location, now that the weather is cooling off. When I was there scouting the preserve as a potential plein air spot, the evening rain storm was clearing off and the sunlight was coming back out. The clouds were this great purple-grey color and where the sun struck the edges it was yellow. And the trees had this interesting acidic-green quality that happens in some post-rain lighting…

Value study 4 (3-A-Week Challenge)

10×8 values study For this study I chose a photo from our Grand Teton National Park trip that had strong value contrast between the trees/reflection and ground/distant mountain. While value was my main focus of the painting, I did spend more time planning out how I want the eye to travel around it than I have in the past. So as I was working on the notan and value shapes, I looked for ways to increase contrast in the primary spots that would be on that path. One example of how this played out was where there’s a snow patch…

Value study 3 (3-A-Week Challenge)

10×8 study of values I’m continuing to focus on values with my 3-A-Week Challenge, as a part of my online study with Matt Smith. I like the way he breaks his course down into four main fundamentals of drawing, value, design, and color. I chose a photo from our Zion National Park trip a few years ago because it has a clear, simple, limited value scheme. The notan plan helped get me prepared for identifying the major shapes and values. I knew the in-shadow portion of the painting would have more going on than the sunlit areas. So in that…

Value study 2 (3-A-Week Challenge)

8×10 study of values My focus with this painting was value, and I chose this reference photo from a set that Matt Smith provided with his online mentorship program. I thought it was a good example of strong contrast, with the dark trees sandwiched between the light foreground and background. I like the way the dark shapes dance across the canvas from one side to the other. I planned out the painting a couple of days ago by doing a series of notans and a value sketch, and used that plan as a place to start. Notan   Major value…

A new painting challenge: 3-A-Week

8×10 study in values When a series of commissions and design projects came up toward the end of summer (including a Basset Hound portrait), I took a little sabbatical from landscape painting. I found that these projects left me mentally and creatively drained, and trying to cram in painting would have felt like a chore. Even though I missed painting, it was kind of cool because it gave me a little perspective on what I want to do for my next art challenge. My primary painting guidance is coming from the Matt Smith mentorship program from Tucson Art Academy Online….

Custom Basset Hound portrait

“Hunk” 8×10 colored pencil, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor paper I had a few projects come up toward the end of the summer that kept be really busy with non-landscape painting — including this custom portrait drawing of Hunk the Basset Hound. I fell head-over-heels for Hunk! The way his mom described his personality as an irresistibly lovable tyrant definitely reminded me of our own dogs. And I was particularly smitten with his long hound face and ears because of our Dachshund, Bosco. Hunk’s mom provided the idea for the tilted crown (inspired by a Biggie Smalls photo with the…

Limited palette color study

“Early Summer Serenity”, 8×10.5, oil on canvas panel After a couple of weeks away from my easel, I was itching to get some painting in today. I’ve been doing more sketching and working on engaging my right brain during the process, which makes me enjoy it much more. My favorite way to sketch these days is gesture drawing because I approach them in a much more loose and carefree way. Yesterday I pulled a photo of a local park out of my reference photo stack and did a quick sketch of it in two values. The foreground wasn’t very interesting,…

Limited palette color mixing study

Limited palette color study, 5 1/2 x 7, oil on canvas A couple of months ago I purchased one of Barbara Jaenicke’s excellent monthly lessons that was about color mixing for oils. It also included color palette selection for soft pastels which was great because I could see her thought process on both mediums as well as a demo from start to finish to see how her process differs between oils and pastels. Purchasing the lesson includes an opportunity to submit a painting to her for personalized feedback. And I was really impressed with the thought and care she put…