Since spring refuses to get sprung here in Portland, I’ve had to resort to creating my own springtime with my two latest bits of artwork that are chock full of big blooms and buzzing bees. If I could only get them to have the scent of freshly mown grass, I could almost fool myself that spring really has decided to show herself.

Painting #1: Sunny Bee

Who’s that hanging out on that big red sunflower? Why it’s Sunny Bee! Sunny Bee was based on a reference photo** that I’ve had in my to-paint stash for a long, long time. So long that unfortunately, I no longer have the photographer’s name to give him or her credit.

Sunny Bee started out with good intentions of staying very true to the exact coloration of the sunflower’s streaks of red and orange and warm yellow. I thought I could lay down base layer of yellow, then do a sort of streaky red-orange thing on top so the yellow showed through. Well, so much for thinking.

First, I just couldn’t get the colors to match the photo. Second, despite the fact that my paints usually go on rather thin and translucent, this was the one time they were behaving opaquely. So my streaks just weren’t working. I eventually decided that being exact wasn’t required and used my own mix of colors on each petal.

As they will do, the center of the sunflower was a complex series of spiraling seeds. Sorry, but there was just no way I was going to attempt that amount of detail (going insane was not on my to-do list for the week). Instead, I simply stippled in several different browns, yellows, and even some metallic copper.

Surprisingly, Sunny Bee herself was a snap. Somehow the paint just landed in the right spots and there she was. I wanted to have some fun with the wings, so I used my gel medium to give them some wing-y texture.

I do find the center feels a bit off—, um, well, off-center, almost lopsided, but overall I like how Sunny Bee turned out (even if the photo makes it look a lot darker than the painting actually is).

Sunny Bee, 12″x12″ acrylic on panel

Painting #2: Coney Bee

This painting came from a photo I took last summer while I was watching my own honeybees buzzing around a patch of coneflowers in my garden. I went a bit snap happy that day, so there may eventually be similar paintings/drawings in the near future.

Taking a lesson from Sunny Bee, I decided not to worry too much over matching my colors exactly to the reference photo and found my own mix of purples and yellows and blues resulted in some pretty snazzy petals. As you can see, the background started out with a blend of greens, but the petal work got a bit messy and I ended up going with a black background.

I honestly had no idea how to approach the center of the flower and it was a bit of a problem-solving exercise. I knew I wasn’t going to go for the exact detail in the photo, but I wanted to give the impression of the fuzzy-spiky look of the cone. I kept layering different yellows and reds and browns in little streaks and voila! A cone for my coneflower.

Like Sunny Bee, Coney Bee fell right into place and I thought “Yay! I’m done!” Then I realized I forgot the poor girl’s wings!

Look Ma, no wings!

In the end I kept the wings very delicate. I then went over the cone and the edges of the wings with some gel medium to give them just a tad bit of texture.

“Coney Bee” 12″x12″ acrylic on Claybord…I think the lemon-themed tablecloth is a perfect backdrop :))

**A Note on Reference Photos

The website I use for my reference photos (the ones I haven’t taken myself) has put out a notice that using the photos in ANY way is a violation of the photographer’s copyright even on a blog to show what you used as a reference and even if if you credit the photographer as I always have done.

Because of this rule, I can no longer show you the photos I work from and I’ve tried to remove all the “non-mine” reference photos from previous posts. And, because the site requires signing up (password, user name, all that) to view the photos, I can’t even provide a link for you to view the photo. This kind of sucks because I know many of you like seeing the comparison between the original and my result, but I aim to respect copyrights as much as possible.

I’m Outta Here!

I’m leaving for London in a little over 24 hours, so I won’t be blogging again until the second week in May. I will probably throw a few photos onto social media so if you want to follow along with my explorations, be sure to join me there!

As far as the art show reception, well it was a major failure and I am probably going to be spending a lot of the 11 or so hours I’ll be trapped inside airplanes giving a re-think to where my art world is headed. But more on that when I get back. For now, it’s vacation time!!!

10 thoughts on “A Couple of Pieces That Are the Bees’ Knees

  1. Sorry to hear about the art show. I know you put a great deal of work into it. But the fact you did it at all is impressive. Most people wouldn’t have the courage or determination. And at least it gives you experience for down the road.

    If it makes you feel any better, I once attended a book fair for six hours and only sold one book. That was fun.

    Have fun in London! Very exciting. Such a great city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes, I did a talk once to which one person showed up. However I did sell her a book, so at least I can say I made sales to 100% of my audience!

      Sadly, the only people who showed up to the reception were my parents, but the introvert in me was secretly glad to not have to talk to any strangers. 😊

      Thanks for the encouraging words…I am proud of getting all the work up and actually having the guts to do the reception, it was just a bit disheartening having so many people promise to come plus all the publicity, then have no one show up. Luckily I’ve resisted drowning my sorrows in the leftover jelly beans. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow, I love your bees! And while those busy little ladies are perfectly done, I’m totally in awe of the way you captured so much texture in the centres of your flowers. Nice one! Now, have a super vacation (I’m going to have to insist that you take yourself to the V&A while in London, and also the Euston Tap bar for some excellent craft beer) and I hope you come back refreshed and raring to go! Please don’t let one disappointing show knock you off stride – just because people are flakes, it doesn’t mean you’re not doing great work. Enjoy your break! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m being demanded to go have beer?! What kind of beautiful world have I woken up to!?

      Glad you like the flowers…the textures were fun to play with, although I am surprised you didn’t notice that neither of my bees have knees 😜😜😜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do bees ever have knees? I suppose they’d have to, or landing on flowers would wreak havoc with their ankles… As for the beers, I think you’ve probably earned them! Bon voyage! 🍻


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