Day 8, “Makeshift Studio”

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As an artist I continually see beauty all around me in my daily life. This often happens throughout the day. Yesterday when I walked into our living room, I was struck by the beauty of the light flooding into the room. My mind began to envision still life subjects basking in front of the light filled window.

I immediately went into action, gathering props around my home and staging my still life set up. The stage had to be set quickly, so a love seat, coffee table and other objects found themselves in new positions in our living room. The room was quickly transformed into a temporary studio!

My “real” studio is in the basement, so I scurried downstairs to retrieve my supplies: paints, palette, thinner, and easel. I decided to do a quick study on Arches Oil Paper using only one color of oil paint– Terra Rosa. It is one of my favorite colors! I love its warm, cheerful hue and how it creates a glow when used as an under painting as well.


Painting the sketch was like a mini meditation session. The house was quiet and all that could be heard was my brush rustling around on the oil paper. During the sketch, I concentrated on various aspects, such as: composition, proportion, lighting, color and subtle color shifts. I also observed how the bright sunlight washed out the surface of the stand and areas of the African violet.


Plant study on arches oil paper

From my exploration, I concluded that this would make a nice subject for a future painting. My mind began to whirl again with ideas of other subject matter I could stage in front of the window. As long as the inspiration stays alive, I intend on creating a small painting in my living room. Since the last few days have been gray and dull, I will have to wait for the next sunny day to appear to once again transform my living room into an art studio.

I thought this quote summed up my spontaneous experience nicely:

“Genuine happiness comes from within, and often it comes in spontaneous feelings of joy.”  ~Andrew Weil

Wishing you fun-filled, spontaneous experiences in your day as well!



Day 7, “How Sketches Help”


My subject

Exploring the nuances of your subject with preliminary sketches, can definitely save you time for future  work.  A bit of exploration, even for a short while, can cause greater fluidity when capturing your subject in greater detail later. This point rang true for me recently when I painted a miniature orchid in my studio.


3x3in. sketches in pencil

Earlier in March, I had taken the time to draw a couple of pencil sketches of this orchid. I drew the sketches in the size and shape I thought I would probably paint them on.  My “playtime” with the bloom really helped me familiarize myself with its detail and work out compositional problems. The small amount of time this session took, really paid off later on.


Painting my subject about a week or so after I did my sketches.

When I began to paint the orchid in my studio, I really appreciated my earlier prep work. The drawing and painting of this new miniature went really smoothly. It was a very enjoyable and fluid painting session. Thus, taking some “playtime” with your subject can really pay off in the end!



Day 6 “Ivy in Window”


This was a quick warm up where I further explored the Ivy plant from yesterday. I was attracted to the way the light fell on it and the sweeping arc of the longer stem.


Blind Contour Drawing: is a line drawing that is created without the use of looking at the paper. Instead, one concentrates intensely on the item that he/she is drawing and tries to draw the many shifts of lines and tangents of lines seen. These types of drawings enhance one’s eye-hand coordination and create a better awareness of changes of form and space.”


Quick Pencil Sketch

I first explored the whole plant with a blind contour drawing and next drew a quick sketch of the sweeping arc. I love the flow and movement shapes like this present in plants. While drawing I was reminded of jig saw puzzle shapes and felt the shape of these leaves really reminded me of puzzle pieces.



Day 5 “Ivy Play”

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Set up for oil sketch in my studio

I decided to experiment with Arches Oil Paper as my warm up. My subject was a section of an English Ivy plant. I have used this paper before, but found it super absorbent when I initially began painting on it.  After browsing the internet I read where you could moisten the paper first with a wash of medium. It mentioned walnut oil, but since I didn’t have that I used linseed oil.

My findings were:

  • The wash created a slippery and very fluid surface to work on.
  • The oil paint almost felt and acted like water color paint.
  • Because the surface was so wet, some bleeding occurred which I rather liked as it created interesting texture and soft edges
  • It was difficult to create a point on some of the leaves due to bleeding, so I had to use a brush to lift some of the paint to create a more definite point on the leaf

Ivy oil painting sketch on Arches Oil Paper

I really enjoyed working on this sketch and can see me using this paper in the future for quick sketches when I’m painting on location. It would also be great to use as a warm up or to explore a subject I wanted to paint as a larger work.


My subject–English Ivy

Next time I would probably use a little less medium when I wet the paper initially. I would also like to play around with adding an oil wash before I painted my sketch to see how that would work out. All and all I really did love working on the paper when it was wet and less absorbent.

Have you ever used Arches Oil Paper? What were your findings? Here is a link to a painting I did using this paper without wetting it before I started painting.



Day 4 “Playing & Memories”


Finished drawing and subject

Oh I had so much fun playing and exploring with this subject and medium! This sketch brought back old memories from when I was nine years old and taking art lessons. I was actually afraid of my art teacher–honestly, she was quite old and strict.

I use to walk to my art lessons all by myself from home. None of my friends took art lessons. It probably took me about thirty minutes to get there. If it was raining or I was taking a finished painting home,  I would sometimes get a taxi . I had this hounds tooth box that I toted back and forth. There were some days it felt rather heavy when I started painting in oils.

I loved my art practice so much, it didn’t matter that my teacher made me nervous and  that I had to walk by myself. I am so grateful my mom signed me up for these art lessons. There really wasn’t much in the line of fine art in our area at that time.


My tools, vine charcoal stick, kneaded eraser, and dry paint brush.



My subject–I am in love with glass bottles. They are so reflective!









Immersed in these classes is where my love for still life was born. My teacher insisted that we worked in charcoal for a year. She set up still life on little stands and we drew from life. After one year, we graduated to chalk pastels and by the third year we were allowed to start painting with oil paints. It was one of the happiest days of my life!! I fell in love with oils and to this day they are my medium of choice.


The beginning


Finished Charcoal Sketch

For this creative exploration session, I decided to work on a large surface with vine charcoal, a kneaded eraser and a dry paint brush. I added lots of charcoal with a thin piece of charcoal to the drawing in sections. Then as I went along, I either blended the charcoal with my kneaded eraser, dry paint brush or fingers. The highlights were added by lifting the charcoal from the paper with the kneaded eraser.

Because the charcoal is so easy to manipulate and soften, I was able to feel my way in drawing the subtle curved shapes of the bottle. It was easy to make corrections with regards to proportions and shape. Okay this was definitely fun, fun, fun! I have always enjoyed working with charcoal and it was nice to go down memory lane. If you are an artist, I would highly recommend you giving it a try. It was very freeing! Cheers!



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Do you have any childhood memories around creativity? I would love to hear them!

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