A Couple of Pieces That Are the Bees’ Knees

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!!!

Big Pigs and Belated Sketches

Oops! In my excitement to share the  installation of my art show with all of you last week, I completely ignored the fact that last Wednesday was the first Wednesday of the month and should have been Sketchbook Show Off Week. Since I would hate any of you to live in a state of disappointment over not getting to see my silly sketches, I’m making up for my mistake this week. But first, a couple announcements. Continue reading

The Art Show Begins Amongst Tragedy

The day for the beginning of my art show has finally arrived!!! Well, okay, technically it arrived a couple days ago on April 3rd, but who’s keeping track, right? Last Monday, Mr. Husband and I managed to complete the installation of twenty-nine pieces of my artwork without downloading any divorce papers. This post is all about that set up, but first….

A Little Tragedy

Cocoa the Guinea Pig died Tuesday. As far as signs go, this is probably an ominous one for the start of my show. Or maybe it’s one of those things-can-only-get-better moments (now I have that Howard Jones’ song in my head). Either way, Cocoa has gone on to nibble that big bale of hay in the sky. Continue reading

Read Your Way to Better Writing

What do writers like to do most of all? Okay, besides dream of red wine (or other tipple) coming directly from the faucet tap. It’s reading! Writers LOVE (or should love) to read. And the best part about this love is that, unlike the possibility of ever-flowing wine, reading will help you be a better writer.

But before we get into my recommendations for books that will help you be a better writer, I have… 

A little update on my own book

It’s almost DONE!!!! Well, this draft is almost done. I have just a few more chapters to work through and am hoping to be done with them by the end of next week. This is only the second draft (after many false starts on this damn project), but normally my second drafts are little better than my first drafts and most of the heavy work really comes in draft three. This time around though, perhaps because I’ve spent so long on this book, the second draft is going to result in a pretty-close-to-the-end-product manuscript. Continue reading

Time for My Flying Dragons and Little Buddies

That blog post title almost makes it sound like I’m starting a circus of some sort. While I’d love to have a herd of dancing elephants and a few tigers to add to my cat collection, there’s just no room in my garden for a show under the big top. Instead, the only show I have for you are a couple of my latest pieces of colored pencil art.

Hey, Buddy

The first piece was inspired by another terrific photo by Alicia Elliott (whose work also inspired a couple other recent drawings). I think this is actually a seed pod, but when I first saw it, I thought it was a flower bud, hence the title “Hey Buddy.” Continue reading