Anyone who’s been following my slowly emerging art career over the past year will probably have noticed my work tends to stick to the realm of realism.

But after the scramble to get enough pieces of artwork of a similar style completed for my solo show, I wanted to experiment with a few new things before running back down the straight and narrow road of realism with my colored pencils (remember kids, no running with scissors!).

The first of my experiments was the Claybord piece (which I’m thinking of calling Petaluma) from a couple weeks ago.

The second project isn’t really an experiment, it’s just my own nagging to learn how to use watercolors without the results looking like a blind monkey got a hold of a paint brush (actually, that would probably look better than most of my watercolor work).

The third was to try something a tad more abstract. But even with my abstract work, I resorted to a bit of realism.

Inspiration in Glass

If you see any of Dave Chihuly’s glass art in person, you can’t help but feel inspired by all the colors and shapes – especially when you’re someone like me who loves bold colors and shapes in your own work. So when my mom and I went to Seattle’s Chihuly Gardens last fall, I ate up oodles of space on my camera card taking pictures of all the pretty things.

Last month, I finally got around to cropping a few of the images to create some reference photos that were a bit abstract, but still had some decent composition….and of course, interesting shapes and bold colors.

The original photo from my color-induced snap-happiness.
After some cropping and color enhancement, I had a reference photo.
After some cropping and color enhancement, I had myself a reference photo. (I know, I know, there’s probably a copyright law that forbids using this, but I can’t resist).

Getting to Work

When I began this piece out I thought I would make it exactly like the photo by trying to capture all the light reflections and shading and shapes.

tammie painter, colored pencil art
Ooh, so yellow!

It started out looking good and I have to say the waves on the big central area were fun to do even if I went a little cross-eyed at times.


If I did this piece again, I think I would change the reflection of the red “sticks” so they angle a bit toward the lower left corner, but by the time I thought of this it was too late to erase what I’d done (the bane of colored pencils is that flaws are really really really hard to correct).

tammie painter, colored pencil art

When I got down to the lower corner, it was time to step away from the photo. I didn’t want to have all the dark space there was in the original and instead wanted to carry the lightly colored waves and yellow bit from the top to the bottom to kind of tie things together. The yellow bit went fine, but the waves…um, not so much.

tammie painter, colored pencil art

Even though I wasn’t able to erase what I’d done, I was able to darken it to tone it down. The result kind of reminds me of something peeking out from under the central wavy part.

tammie painter, colored pencil art

And, in attempt to show off my work a bit better, I even remembered to snap a photo of the piece in a mat.

tammie painter, colored pencil art
Ooh, ahh!

New Works In Progress

I have a couple more Chihuly-inspired images I want to do, but I’ve also been snapping photos in my garden and around the neighborhood of all the flowers in bloom, there’s a stained glass piece from Delft (Netherlands) I’ve been dying to do, some rubber ducks in someone’s yard quacked their way into my heart….and of course there are those pesky watercolors to get to.


So, what’s on your creative to-do list? 

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17 thoughts on “Getting Abstract With My New Piece of Artwork

  1. Oooh, I saw this on your shiny new Instagram yesterday! It’s great to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the process… I actually thought it was nature-inspired (bracket fungus and bamboo, maybe), so seeing the glass art that gave you the idea was awesome! My creative to-do list is currently about a mile long… I see lots of machine sewing, felting and (of course) monster creation in my future 😀

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      1. He is a bit. My husband and I did see him when we were in Dingle. We didn’t do a boat trip, just walked along the shore of the bay and along came this dolphin checking us out. Kind of cute, kind of sad. 🐬🐬🐬

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      2. Yes, he is a bit of a curiosity, isn’t he? I’ve actually never met him, but I’ve been hearing about him for years… He must be pretty old by now. Maybe he’s the dolphin equivalent of a crazy cat lady… “Stay away from Funghie, kids! He’s really weird, and he’s got literally THOUSANDS of pet humans at home!”

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  2. I am so impressed with all of your work, my friend!!! What is your secret to staying focused and so fantastically creative?! My mind goes in a million different directions and I can barely think straight! It has been such a pleasure watching you grow as an artist 🙂

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    1. Believe me I can barely think straight either with all the thoughts of “I need to do this, that and the other” in my sad attempts to compete and get the word out about my endeavors. And actually, I don’t feel very creative, I just like drawing things I’ve taken photos of. Someday I’ll be more clever and come up with my own ideas for drawings 😃😃😋

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      1. At least you actually get your stuff out there! I allow fear to hold me back and don’t even submit my writing to outlets that *might* pay me for it :/

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      2. Writing is hard because there are so many places that are unwilling to pay, or that take advantage of writers. Right now I feel like if I throw enough lines out there someone is going to eventually bite, but if I never put stuff out there I’ll never know. Oh wait, some days not knowing of my lack of success might be a good thing. 😋😋😜

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      3. I need to know and yet here I am twiddling my damn thumbs ::sigh:: I have so many excuses as to why I don’t submit. Must. Stop. Doing. That!!!

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      4. Go for it! Your writing is really good. You’ll get loads and loads of rejections (or just plain ignored), but it’s always worth a shot. Besides magazines/websites you may want to look into the Soul Making competition – entry is super cheap and their non-fiction contest might be up your writing alley. Here’s the link

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  3. What a neat idea! I also tend to stick to realism just bc it’s easier to look and draw haha. I like how you took a photo of an abstract piece and applied realism techniques to recreate it. Seems like a great way to ease into abstract painting 🙂 I’ll give it a go someday!

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