a portrait a day

Accordion Player - A Portrait A Day Revisited

Paintings of musicians are a popular theme that I have only touched the surface of. One of my artist friends, Nicola Lautre from Australia, paints them all the time and is amazing at it :) Do check her website out!

I started the painting below during my A Portrait A Day project a couple of years ago. It was inspired by an accordion player I had the pleasure to listen to and observe during a Sacramento Second Saturday Art Walk. See what this painting looked like in the beginning here.

"Steve" - 16x20" Watercolor on Arches watercolor board. Sold.

The story of this painting got interesting when the same accordion player found the painting online and wrote me an email. We have since kept in contact, I finished the painting and Steve and his wife bought it, and I've enjoyed his music many more times.

I also set up a gallery of my A Portrait A Day paintings that you can visit here.

Athena the Dog - Watercolor Portrait

Remember my blirthday photo competition? Well, out of the four paintings I intended to make as a result of the competition, two are now done! Meet Athena: dog portrait watercolor

I enjoyed working on this painting, even though it took me forever. I'm pretty pleased with myself for not overdoing and overdetailing it too much. I think I managed to keep the original exciting colors and amplify them a bit. Elza, the dog's owner, will be getting this original painting for free :) Read about how you can order your own custom portrait here.

Fontana Art Festival that I posted about last time apparently turned out well. We didn't make it there. Due to a number of little reasons, we left home running a bit late, stopped for food to save the starving husband from certain death, and then ran into a major traffic jam on the freeway. While wasting the precious time in traffic, we came to the conclusion that we wouldn't make it there in time to set up and turned around. We went for a dinner, movie, and even a 15-minute massage date instead. Beats working (which art fairs surprisingly are) but I feel bad about flaking out on the show organizers :(

Otherwise, I am feeling swamped...(insert a long rant about not having time to paint anything other than commissions, not having time to answer emails and comments, and in general not having time; being exhausted by my own kid and occasional marriage drama; not having a single soul to go have a cup of tea with; and an overall state of blues).  Yeah.

On a good note, I started giving private art lessons and it's been interesting so far. Tomorrow is our fourth lesson.



A Portrait A Day 62 - Julie (And Some Figures in Watercolor)

Hispanic Women's Profile Loose Watercolor Portrait Painting Julie is the beautiful model that I had the pleasure painting at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center during my trip to Sacramento. The watercolor above is a 15 or 20 minute painting. I did a very simple drawing with a yellow Nupastel and completed it with watercolor.

woman figure drawing standing nude watercolor

This one is a 5 minute pose. I wish I had more time and a steadier hand!

female nude sitting in watercolor and pastel painting

Julie sitting. Again, watercolor with Nupastel - this time, I did the drawing with light green. Unusual color as far as figure paintings go, but I like the way it softens the Quinacridone Red I used for the skin tones and in the background. 20 or 25 minute pose, which, on the whole, I'm pretty happy with.

That's all for now. In the next post, I'll share some of the sketches I did at the Sacramento Second Saturday Art Walk and the wonderful artists I've met there. Stay tuned :)

A Portrait A Day 61 - Wonder

original watercolor portrait painting from photo little boy 12 x 9" Watercolor and watercolor sticks on Canson Montval cold press watercolor paper. I'll let you guess who this could be...

As it often happens with these quick portraits, the painting doesn't look exactly like the reference photo and it's completely fine with me. I feel that I've done my job when I captured the mood, the essence of the person at a particular moment. Beyond that, art can stand on its own, without being constantly compared to the "real thing." This applies to any other subject. Unless your goal is to copy the contour of an object exactly, it doesn't matter if it's not perfect. Once you create a piece of art, it becomes a thing in itself and begins its life independent of what inspired it or served as reference for its creation.

Did that sound smart or what? :) Now if only I could pull the same trick with my artist's statement...





A Portrait A Day 60 - Audition for Shakespeare

audition for shakespeare a portrait a day 60 young woman speaking watercolor painting 12x9" watercolor on Canson Montval paper (which, it turns out, not only allows you to wash away paint very easily but can, with equal ease, get the paint smeared off during normal handling :/).

This one is based on one of the 600 or so photos I took at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire last weekend. The girl was auditioning for Shakespeare. Not sure what exactly she was reading - first of all, I couldn't hear her very well, and second, I read most of my Shakespeare in Russian.

We've been trying to be a bit more active last month. Went zip lining in Big Bear at the beginning of May (that was also our wedding anniversary)  and also to the Renaissance Faire last weekend. Both were quite fun, although I think I liked zip lining better... It was a rare kid-free outing and there were only two more people minus the guides with us. I'm all for less people = more fun!

Here's yours truly dressed up for the Faire and wearing one of the wonderful masks that were for sale there. I intensely wished I had more money to spend.

renaissance faire girl wearing corset and mask

More pictures from the Ren Faire in my Facebook album.



A Portrait A Day 56 - Lisa

woman profile watercolor painting 12x16" watercolor on Arches CP 140lb. Reference photo - Lisa K from Julia Kay's Portrait Party. I started with a wash all over the sheet, worked with a palette knife, let it dry, finished with a large round brush. Oh, and some salt for the background, used at the end of the first wash. Relaxing...

Which is what I don't get much at all. Relaxing, that is. Grumble grumble.

Ok, a couple of news (sounds awkward...can you count news? It took me a while to get used to the idea that you can't count advice in English, you can only distribute it in pieces. In Russian and Ukrainian, you will get hundreds of advices, more than you need, really. You rarely get a piece of it. The Slavic soul is generous).  So, the news. I joined an art society - Associated Artists of Inland Empire, which was the closest organization of this kind (only around 60 miles from here. Yes, I am being sarcastic). I am looking forward to getting a bit more involved, joining their plein airs, shows, and demos. Next month, Tom Fong will demonstrate his watercolor technique - and I hope I can find a babysitter!

Our first arts & crafts event this year will be next Saturday, March 19, at the Harvey House in Barstow. We are also participating in the Oceanside Days of Art (April 16-17, Oceanside, CA). Oh, the smell of the ocean again! :)

And the last news is that my husband is completely absorbed in his new hobby - stained glass. I think it is fantastic and I hope he sticks to it. Head over to his blog and see some awesomeness! I got some glass paint to try, well, painting on glass...


A Portrait A Day 55 - Elijah - my first pastel portrait

baby boy impressionist pastel painting 5x7"  Nupastel on Ampersand Pastelbord. Reference photo by the awesome Jordan Boesch and this embodiment of intense focus is my son Eliajh :)

Ooh...it HAS been a while! Various important and just unavoidable things kept me from painting (not counting commissions) for a couple of weeks :( I am looking forward to getting back into daily (or almost daily) painting.

I parted with two of my recent "moody" miniature landscapes but I was glad to send them to someone I got to know through a commission (step-by-step coming soon).

As for today's portrait, I have been interested in pastels for a while now and have tried some here and there, with varying levels of failure. I have never tried working on a sanded surface until a couple of weeks ago, when I did a figure study of my husband on a sanded Colourfix paper. What a difference! Like with watercolor, the surface your work on can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your work in pastel (unless you're a pastel genius and can work on anything?)

I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to pastels, but I like the process!


A Portrait (or figure) A Day 51 and 52

These are from the life drawing session last week, and I'm going to go ahead and claim them as portraits-a-day :P. Both are definitely well under an hour total. sitting nude watercolor painting

15x11 Watercolor on Kilimanjaro CP 140lb. This is Rachel, who is a talented artist herself and is now getting into art modeling. Last Thursday was her first time modeling and she was just fabulous. She is getting this painting as a gift from me, the happy figure-painting addict :) I would also love to work with her more, maybe do a real full-sheet reclining nude...Or a mysterious backlit sitting pose...

watercolor painting man figure

15x11" Watercolor on Kilimanjaro CP 140lb. Aaron (or at least, that's what I think his name is) is a model with some experience. He poses for a local college. If you are having difficulties understanding what is going on in this picture, I do not blame you. He was crouching on top of a cube, with his long-haired head hanging low and his hands trying to hold on to the cube. Pretty neat, actually, and I wish I had more time to work on this pose.

I will post more sketches and paintings from this batch when I find the time to scan and photograph them. Hopefully, soon. I'm experiencing a bit of a burnout lately...Which is probably due to the increasing volume of commissions (not that I'm complaining!) and decreasing duration of my son's daytime nap. I really need to go do something fun, like a concert or art walk or jumping off a bridge strapped to a bungee cord.


A Portrait A Day 51 - Eric (WIP)

young man sitting with his chin in his hand watercolor 18x18" Watercolor and watercolor sticks on Arches CP 140lb. His hand seems a bit too big, no? I will also cover those background shapes in the top right, they are distracting. It feels good to work larger, especially now that I have an Isabey Cat's Tongue Pointed Oval Wash (It is made of squirrel tails not of cat tongues :)) My dear brother got a size 8 one for me. Sometimes I wish it had more snap ("snap" is how springy a brush is) but overall,  I love it!

On a somewhat different note, six of my paintings are currently in a show at the Eclipse gallery. If you are local (high desert), you have an opportunity to see some interesting art. The theme of the show is "Work on paper and chairs" - and yes, there ARE some strange chairs, too :). I should have posted about this a while ago (the reception was last Saturday and was quite a success).

And finally, something I am very excited about - the above-mentioned gallery is hosting their first "figure studies" - a figure drawing (or painting in my case) session! Tonight! You are invited, too :) To read more about it, please click the link to the gallery's Facebook page above.


A Portrait A Day 49 - Emily

beautiful woman with flowers in hair watercolor painting Watercolor on Arches CP 140lb, 12x9". Emily...Emily Zych, despite looking like a princess, is actually a crown-maker. She makes "natural" crowns and gorgeous hair accessories for special occasions (read: weddings).

whichgoose wonderland crown

maiden floral vine crown

maiden floral vine crown

ophelia crown

For those of you who don't know, I didn't have a "real" wedding. We got married at a court house and I was wearing a symbolically white t-shirt, knee-length skirt, and flip-flops. There were several reasons for it, one of them being my intense dislike of parties, ceremonies, fuss, and fluffy white dresses. Now, looking at Emily's crowns, I found in me a desire to wear one of them...still no to fuss though :)


A Portrait A Day 47 - Jen

female face watercolor portrait painting This is what happens when I become bored during painting! Watercolor on Strathmore Windpower watercolor CP 140lb paper. Gave Strathmore a second chance and...well...this paper sucks. The reference photo is Jen of Julia Kay's Portrait Party - although this looks nothing like the reference photo..This is the beauty of JKPP: no pressure :)

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Lots of inspiration and great art to you in 2011!