Friday, June 26, 2015

Holy Exploding Nail Polish Batman!

Just a quick blog post to share my latest foray into color & paint. I don't know if you know this about me but I love nail polish. It's the one place on my person that I allow myself to be very colorful and vain. I'm proud of my pretty manicures and I've learned to be an expert amateur application specialist (read: I put it on good). ;o)

My mother and aunt went shopping at the new Sephora that just opened in Nanaimo last week and of course, came home with nail polish just for MEEEE. Ya gotta love them! Aside: Did you know that Nanaimo is the largest online orders from across Canada? Ya, who knew? Not Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal. Nanaimo. No wonder they opened a new Sephora a block away from me. They must secretly know about my addiction to nail polish.

Anyway, that's what I decided to draw and paint up today, my new (and several old) nail polishes. And YES (if you're wondering if I actually wear these colors) I do wear them, I happily put blues, purples, pinks, magentas and all shades of green on my nails. That's how I roll. I embrace color in all it's forms. Besides, it's just nails, right? ;o)

Formula X Nail Polish Explosion
I love how the explosion of color came out! I've been practicing that for days and finally I think I've succeeded. After I had scanned the art I realized that I hadn't added the "Formula X" label on the front in white. It's hardly noticeable with all that color showing through the bottle anyway. We'll see tomorrow if I play with a white pen or not. My Uniball Signo white pen has been acting up so not sure if I'm gonna go there. I may just leave well enough alone. 

Anyway, thank you Tracey for the inspiration to find my way to this creative way of painting. I'm gonna try to apply this technique to veggies tomorrow. Ooh, holy exploding veggies Batman. I can see that as my next title or maybe I should include Robin in the title. I dunno, he was always such a wimp. I'll have to think on a good title. A friend used "Tales From The Crisper" as a title for a piece of art and I thought it was genius. Ya think she'd mind if I stole it for a title blog post? 

Obviously it's late and I'm getting a little punch drunk. Talk soon, after sleep. Later!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: "Wicked Charms" by Evanovich & Sutton

I've enjoyed reading many or Janet Evanovich's books in the past. In fact, I used to await the next book with baited breath every time I finished the latest offering. "Wicked Charms" by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton has a similar feel to Janet's Stephanie Plum series. The difference between the two series' is in the main characters Lizzy and Stephanie. Lizzy Tucker isn't as unskilled as Stephanie Plum. there's also a bit of magic thrown into the mix with this series, making the book fun and other worldly. 

Lizzy is a spectacular baker who works at Dazzle's, an old, renowned bakery in Salem, Mass., but baking isn't her only talent. She is also what is called an Unmentionable. Lizzy has magical powers. She has teamed up with Diesel, another Unmentionable, to find seven magical stones. Each stone has the power of one of the seven deadly sins, pride, greed, lust, envy wrath, sloth and gluttony. Power seekers and treasure hunters throughout time have sought to posses these stones even though possessing them is fraught with danger.

In this, the third offering of the series, Lizzy finds herself seeking the stone of Avarice which imbues the possessor with unlimited greed and monitory power. She and Diesel battle against a billionaire who is using his money to buy Lizzy's affection, he wants to publish her cookbook and put her name on hundreds of bakery products. This time the hunt involves pirates, buried loot, treasure maps and gold coins. Lizzy and Diesel just want to rid the world of this dangerous stone before any one person can wield it's power.

As long as you are willing to suspend disbelief, this book was fun for about two thirds of it's pages. At that point it just began to get so silly that I kind of lost interest. Because the major part of the book was fun and the relationship between Lizzy and Diesel is interesting and spicy to read, I'm giving this book three out of five stars. I think it would be an entertaining beach read in between serious mysteries. I would think of it much like a palette cleanser. "Wicked Charms" is out now (as of June 23, 2015) and can be purchased as a paperback, Kindle book or a hardcover. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dry Lips Lead To Art

I find that throughout summer (and in winter for that matter) my lips can be notoriously dry. I'm not sure my friend Tracey knew this when she sent me some amazing lip balm by Delicious Skin, I think she sent it because it smells like chocolate. Ya, she does know me well. It truly smells divine and as the title implies, DELICIOUS. Anyway, I thought the packaging was so cute, lip balm in a tiny metal tin that clicks open, that I'd memorialize it in a drawing. I added my trusty Burt's Bees nourishing Acai berry lip balm to balance out the painting and hey, when you're doing lip balm, they all want to be models. ;o)
Delicious Skin & Burt's Bees Lip Balm Painting
I really, REALLY like the way the yellow exploded out of the Burt's Bees balm but the pink and blue didn't work as well with the other one. One out of two isn't bad. I do love how accurately I drew the Delicious Skin one though. I love those clicky containers too, they remind me of my childhood back in the 80's. Those kind of lip balms were SO popular back then, nice to see them coming back!

Pink Mini Fan
I then thought I'd paint up my newest painting acquisition, a mini fan that plugs into my computer using it's USB port. Cool, huh? It's only like four or five inches wide and really does help in drying that annoyingly wet paint when I'm being too impatient to let it dry for the fifteen or so minutes it'd normally need. Thankfully, I scanned it before I tried making it look like paint was being blown around. That experiment did NOT work. Yes, sometimes one screws up royally. *Sigh, suck it up Jenn* It was surprisingly difficult to draw three dimensionally. In fact, I got three quarters of the way through the painting then realized I hadn't drawn the back tines. It worked out though, I like it this way, glad I have a scan of it before the disaster.
Pinecone Painting

Last night I drew up half a dozen veggies and fruit because I wanted to go back and revisit them again, now that I'd learned (haphazardly) how to make the paint explode out of the drawing. I wanted to explore the colorful nature of veg and fruit again. I had one paint blotch left in purple so I drew up a pinecone to use up that piece of paper. I thought I'd use it as a warm up  this morning and see what I'd learned over the months since I'd done pinecones previously. I think it turned out great. I used a few different colors this time, like a new gamboge underpainting on the places that were gonna be the lightest and I used PB60 (Indanthrone blue) instead of black or Payne's grey this time for the dark bits and I also added a bit of permanent red on the tips of the light parts. You can click on it to get an enlarged photo.

I do have to reiterate how GREAT it is to scan my art. I can't get over just how much better it looks with the color all exactly as I painted it. The light in our apartment can be notoriously dark so photographing can be really hit and miss.

Tomorrow I'll be back with either a book review (if I finish the book tonight) or more colorful fruit and veg. You'll have to come back to see what you're gonna get. 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Can Someone Answer The Phone?

So I'm playing with paint today. Not like before, I'm trying to paint with more freedom. I'm truly trying to splash paint around. I got another assignment yesterday. This was to really get creative with the paint splotches. Don't plan them out AT ALL. Like, don't even have any idea what you're gonna put on that page. Then pick five things around the house and draw them on the pages and get creative with the paint.

I thought I'd start with a little warm up, so I used the previous unpainted page of the left over leaves from yesterday. It was fun to get creative about color. I'm surprised that you can really paint something any color even if said thing is a specific color all the time. We still know what it is, even if it's color is wrong. 
Naked LeavesPainted Leaves
I found the rose leaves to be the easiest to do, probably because I made thousands of rose leaves over eight years when I made designer wedding cakes. I got to know the range of rose leaf colors and their veins intimately over those years. I have to admit that the four leaf clover was hard to get to look three dimensional but at least this page was meant to be a warm up. Onward and upward.
My Green Coffee Cup
My next plunge into paint was to try doing a cup, my most used cup, my hazelnut coffee cup. Ahhh, the love of a good cuppa must have inspired me here. I love how it turned out and I even figured out how to make the paint kind of explode out of the lines of the drawing. I've been wondering how Tracey Fletcher King accomplished that in so many of her successful paintings.

Finally, I tackled my phone. It has a strange shape and I have to admit that three quarters of the way through this one I thought it was totally ruined. It's amazing how white gouache and some good black pen lines can really rescue a painting. I learned a new thing, don't give up on a painting until the bitter end, lol.

Now I'm off to go fill that green cup with hazelnut coffee. I wish it was double the size, lol. Oh I wish I had some chocolate to go with it. *Sigh*

Friday, June 19, 2015

Let's Play In The Leaves

So I have a new challenge. I'm supposed to learn to relax and loosen up when it comes to my painting. I know I can do paintings that are accurate but I really want to learn to be more spontaneous. I want to infuse more me into my own art and that involves allowing myself to make mistakes. *sigh*. If you know me you know that this could be painful, lol. I'm a notorious perfectionist but I'm gonna slay that dragon so my art can improve. I want someone seeing my art to recognize it as mine.

Here's the challenge: Splash a bunch of colors across a page, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and then draw a bunch of leaves over top of the paint splotches. Now here's the hard part. Paint your leaves using only pure color, use only three layers then add shadows.

So, first there's the splotches with naked leaves.
Naked Leaves (A)Naked Leaves (B)
Here's the same piece of paper with the leaves painted. I've posted both upside down and right side up (so you can see all the leaves accurately). Click any picture to see an enlarged view.
Right Side Up Painted LeavesUpside Down Painted Leaves
So, I still have the other page to paint up tomorrow. I was surprised at how tiring this was. I guess allowing for things to go horribly wrong is stressful, lol. I did it though. I threw paint at the paper, I only put three layers on each leaf and I only used pure color, no mixing. I'm darn proud of myself and I've learned how to make my leaves more interesting and loose. *whew*.

Onward and upward. Tomorrow, more leaves and maybe I'll allow myself to do some green beans as a treat. Who knew I could be excited about green beans? 

Now I'm gonna go make myself a big cuppa hazelnut coffee and see if I can't hunt up some chocolate. Heeeerrrre chocolate - chocolate - chocolate... It doesn't seem to be coming when I call. Huh. Maybe I'll leave a chocolate trap out. ;o)


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I Wish Someone Would Bring Home The Bacon

(Photo by Lucas Zarebinski)
Wouldn't you just love a bacon and tomato sandwich right now? With some good mayo and vine ripe tomatoes, all red and delicious? Ya, me too. That's how I've been feeling all day as I look at the photograph I was using to paint up my tomatoes.

I actually have a great little story about that. Vine ripe tomatoes, that is. We lived with my uncle Bob years ago. One day he came home with  dead looking tiny tomato plant. He said that Thrifty's, our grocer, was giving them away because they had missed being watered for days and the store offered anyone who wanted some to take a dying plant and see if they could save it. I laughed at the pathetic looking thing and thought the poor little plant didn't stand a chance. As fate would have it, we were digging up the front garden that day. It was a mass of weeds piled up against the small retaining wall just before the house began. We all got in there and mounded new mulched dirt then added a bunch of fish fertilizer to it. We planted a huge amount of alyssum and that pathetic little tomato plant right in front so everything would spill over the retaining wall.

It rained all that night and through the next day, which was good for the garden. What we didn't know until much later is that all that rain right after fertilizing had washed ALL the fertilizer to the edge of the mounded dirt, right next to the reining wall. One month later we had the bushiest alyssum overflowing that wall and THE SWEETEST baby tomatoes I'd ever eaten in my life. There were only three little tomatoes on that tiny plant but that fruit tasted like ambrosia. I didn't think it was possible for a tomato to taste that delicious. The experience taught me that yes, in fact tomatoes are a fruit after all, lol. Every so often, when we get really good, juicy tomatoes I think of that truly delicious baby tomato and my mouth drools. Ya gotta love a good vine ripe tomato.
Painted Vine Ripe Tomatoes
Onward and upwerd tomorrow. I wonder what I'll paint next?


Monday, June 15, 2015

...And The Beet Goes On

Teacher: Tracey Fletcher King
Would you be shocked if I said I was painting produce today? You wouldn't? Really? ;o)  My crisper runneth over with beautiful veggies. My latest venture into painting produce is my  golden beet. I was helped by Tracey in Delicious Paint. She gave me a bunch of tips like to use some purple to darken the shadows and to remember that shadows of anything have that thing's colors within the shadows (especially for bright colorful things). So, that means that there will be some orange within the shadow of the beet.

Golden Beet (using scanner)
I also took the time to scan my latest art. Normally I take photographs with my camera. I noticed that the photo of the golden beet was especially off in color. I try to color correct all my art to get it back to white paper but it's been difficult lately, especially for the beet. Therefore I got to know my scanner again this afternoon. What a difference a scanner makes! The beet and the baby bok choy are especially noticeable. I thought you might want to see what they look like scanned.
Baby Bok Choy (scanned)
I'm gonna start scanning all my art from now on. It makes such a difference that I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. It's a little more work but then I don't have to fiddle with color correcting which can seriously be a pain in the keister.
Asparagus (scanned)
If you're interested in joining me in Tracey Fletcher King's class Delicious Paint I think you might still be able to sign up. I think there may be only one or two spots left though and they've been going fast. We've added ten new students in the last week. Smart people, them. The class is amazing and I've never painted better, thanks to Tracey.

There'll be tomatoes tomorrow. Someone bring the mayo! ;o)


Sunday, June 14, 2015

A-Pair-A-Guys & A Baby

No! not the movie Three Men & A Baby, instead we have two asparagus and a baby bok choy!! Time to paint the veggies!! Are you getting sick of seeing all the produce in my fridge? I sure hope not because I have a bunch more drawn up awaiting paint.  Today I bring you baby bok choy and I know I also I promised you some guys. The last post these guys were naked but now they are dressed appropriately for the occasion. I wouldn't want to keep you waiting, so here they are!!

I think they're looking pretty darn good, all green and delicious. What we need is a hot pan and some butter, what'd ya think? That would work for the baby bok choy too. I hear they're delicious cut in half, steamed and drizzled with some asian sauces, oils and salt. I bet they'd also be good sautéed in butter too!! Can you tell I have a penchant for butter? 

Well, right now all the bok choy is wearing is paint. BUT my model is now in the crisper awaiting some love. I think I just might have baby bok choy for dinner tonight. That seems like punishment to the poor baby who was such a good model. But think of it this way, his JOB is to be delicious and nourish us. :o) Hooray for produce!

Baby Bok Choy
Ok, I gotta go paint some golden beets... or maybe it'll be the vine ripe tomatoes. Ohh, I almost forgot about the nectarines and the artichoke... Who wants to be painted first, put up your hand.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Circles & Lines

Color Circles ll
So, today I'm playing with paint and color circles again. My two new colors arrived from (I love them for shipping to Canada, their shipping charges are so darn reasonable!) I didn't have Daniel Smith's burnt sienna or sap green in my palette, I had other brands. I hated the other substitutes I had as they didn't mix as well as I wanted them to. I found my old sap green was just to bright and leafy instead of that slight olive that the DS sap green is. The old burnt sienna (I also had quin burnt orange as a sub too) was just to browny-brown instead of that unique sienna color of Daniel Smith. I also love the translucent properties of the newer colors. Here's some close up swatches I culled from the web to illustrate the differences I'm talking about.
Holbein Sap GreenDaniel Smith Sap Green
You can really see the difference in the sap greens using the swatches from the internet. I find I use the DS sap on it's own and also as a mixer but the Holbein, to me, almost always had to be mixed as it's unnaturally Limey. I can mix an easy lime/leaf green with a good neutral blue and yellow like phthalo blue (RS) and hansa yellow medium or pure yellow from Schmincke. I find the DS sap much more useful.
Daniel Smith Quin Burnt OrangeSchmincke Burnt SiennaDaniel Smith Burnt Sienna
As you can see, both first swatches are very orangy. I love the unique color of DS burnt sienna.
Asparagus Drawing

Anyway, on to the drawing part. I have five drawings that are looking for some paint today. They're all vying for first place and I'm having trouble choosing which to do. Hmmm... Eenie, meenie, minie mo. Catch a tiger by the toe.. (why did we ever want to catch a tiger by the toe, and what the heck does that have to do with choosing anything??). Maybe I'll just close my eyes, shuffle them like a deck of cards and point. How about alphabetical? That would mean the asparagus is up first. That's probably a good choice since I've painted "a-pair-a-guys" before and this would be a good warm up. Then on to the baby bok choy.

Did I tell you just how CUTE the baby bok choy is?? Seriously, I don't want to eat him, all I want to do is stare lovingly at him, he's so adorable. This is him next to my green pencil. I didn't know they made baby bok choys. He looks like someone put him in one of those shrinking machines in a sci-fi movie. I can almost hear him talking to me in a high squeaky voice. I mean, when you're put in a shrinking machine your voice always becomes akin to becoming a smurf, right?

Golden Beet Drawing
All this drawing and painting is brought to you by Delicious Paint, taught by the ever illustrious Tracey Fletcher King. She's our super hero over on Community Thrive, where the class is being held. YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP for a short period of time but there are only A FEW PLACES LEFT so hurry. You'd be crazy to miss this class, it's amazing, terrific and a super hero is teaching it. Seriously, you won't be behind and Trace teaches you easy ways to tackle drawing and seeing your subject better, watercolor basics and then even more advanced tricks and tips. She also gives lots of encouragement and answers any questions you have. She'll give suggestions on how to improve your painting if you want that too. I mean, when can you get such great help and support for only $55? You'd be CRAZY to turn down this deal. (BTW, I get no compensation for telling you how great Tracey's class is, I just know how much it's helping me and giving me motivation to paint everyday. I don't feel scared to pick up a paintbrush anymore. I don't know how she did that. Did I mention she's a super hero?)

Here's the rest of my drawings all awaiting paint. They're so patient. :o)
Baby Bok Choy DrawingTomatoes Drawing
Nectarines Drawing
Come back tomorrow to see what happens to the naked "a-pair-a-guys". Well that's an exciting title, isn't it? Hehehe.

Talk soon? More art? Bring chocolate? GOT IT!! :o)

(hey, why am I bringing the chocolate, I'm supplying the eye candy, right? maybe we should all just have a cuppa. Summer's almost upon us and I have love handles to loose. Ya, let's go with that. Later Gator!)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: "The Insider Threat" By Brad Taylor

This is the second Pike Logan series book I've read and I absolutely loved the first one. "The Insider Threat" is the latest high energy thriller/mystery written by Brad Taylor and I couldn't say better things about it. It was spectacular. I also learned so much from this, the eighth Pike Logan thriller.

The Taskforce, a covert counterterrorist unit working for the United States government, has helped to deflect many attacks around the world. This time though, the chatter and the intel coming in just isn't enough information to help the Taskforce reach their goal, to take down terrorists threats. With Pike Logan and his team running head long into danger to stop an ISIS attack, it seems the terrorists are always one step ahead. What The Taskforce doesn't know is that there are actually two attacks planned and that's why the intel they're receiving isn't meshing. Always one step behind, it is only Logan and his team, joined by ex-Mossad agents standing in the way of a terrorist attack of unimaginable horror.

Not only was this an incredible thrill ride that kept me literally breathless as I turned page after page, but I also learned so much about how ISIS works. Until reading this book I really couldn't comprehend how Western youth could be tempted to join a Jihadist terrorist group. I now feel like I have a small grasp on what I'm hearing on the news each night. I also learned about how a highly trained military unit functions.

The book is made all the more real because I know that the author, Brad Taylor, is the real deal. He has actual experience. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a twenty-one year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces. He also had eight years with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment popularly known as Delta Force. Brad Taylor, who retired in 2010, writes from experience and it shows in the harrowing details he expertly weaves into his stories. I intend on going back and reading the previous Pike Logan books, what a treat that'll be this summer!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I Could Make A Seriously Rocking Salad

Color Splodges
So the next assignment was to paint up all the produce that I drew over paint splotches I splodged around on a 12" x 16" piece of Arches 140lb hot pressed paper. I'm loving the hot pressed paper, if you were wondering. Who knew? Seriously, Tacey had talked enthusiastically about hot pressed paper a long time ago but I liked the cold pressed. Now I like both, lol. I could actually see myself switching to hot pressed. Yep, you win the (unspoken) bet Trace, I owe you some chocolate.

The other day I posted the completed orange pepper, red chili, bananas and asparagus. This time I found the mushrooms by far the hardest to tackle. When using watercolors, light colors don't usually affect dark colors that much. I mean, a glaze of yellow will brighten up any orange, red or green (tip from Tracey) but putting a light buff titanium over the umber I already had down did nothing. I ended up using the buff almost full strength and then the color wasn't right. When I finished the shadows etc. I had to be bold with the white gouache, although the photo shows it so much bolder than it actually is.

Pea Pods
Onward and upward, literally. I had to turn the paper upside down to get at the poor pea pod and his little peas. It's weird painting something upside down as one wants to put shadow on the wrong side and highlight it's bum. It was a challenge and I'm supposed to challenge myself. Done. I only started liking the pods when the white gouache was added, until then it seemed to have little life. But then all came together in the end with a little black pen. As another student said in class when she painted up pea pods, OH Snap! LOL. Kristin Dudish's painting was spectacular, here's her blog so you can check out her work.

On to blueberries again. I love the color of blueberries but they're notoriously hard to give life to in my opinion. I did them a couple days ago and I'm not sure today's are any more lively. Here's a comparison...
Blueberries Days AgoBlueberries Today
Hmmm, I seem to devolved when it comes to blueberry rendering. The second ones don't look as sharp. I used a white pen for highlight in the first one and gouache in the second. I'll remember that in the future. The centers aren't dark enough in the second ones either. Interesting seeing them side by side.

Finally, we get to our last veggie of the day. The carrot. All that beta carotene giving them that spectacular orange color. Good for your eyes too, you gotta eat them for the benefit, not just stare at them on the paper though. ;o) I do love their wonderful glowy orange color, don't you? That's because of one of Tracey's tricks, put yellow as an underpainting before (and even after) to bring out that lovely glow. Yellow will bring back the glow of dull watercolors in a pinch. I had overworked these little babies but with a little pure yellow overtop, TADA, fresh and new again. Can't beat that right?

Finished Paint Splodges & Produce
Tomorrow I'll be having an in-home life drawing class. No, there will be no naked men (or women for that matter) sitting on my furniture. I bought the cutest little bok choy, chili and vine ripened tomato today at the produce section. The bok choy is truly adorable, someone seems to have put it in a hot dryer and shrunk it down to a fifth of it's regular size! Seriously, it's a baby bok choy. Who knew they existed? There'll be pictures and everything!

See you tomorrow for more tales from the crisper!


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