daily painting

And now, to Yupo! And Sunflowers!

You know it was only a matter of time before I go back to sunflowers. They must be my most paintable flowers. They inspire me every time.

And, like I promised at the beginning of this challenge, I am painting on Yupo. I like having it mounted on a panel, so that's what I'm doing. For an excellent tutorial on how to mount any paper on board using double-tack film, go here.

After these are varnished, they don't need a mat, a piece of glass, or even a frame. Here's what this painting looks like just sitting pretty on an easel:

Or even propped up on a book shelf:

See more of my available flower paintings here. Not ready to buy an original? Check out the prints here.

I am also recording the process of most of these flower paintings, with the idea of releasing it later as the material for an online course. If you are interested in my future course offerings, please make sure you are signed up for my updates (below).

A look back at 30 Paintings in 30 Days (Round 3)

I survived :). Not only that, but I painted more than I would have otherwise. I know I was a bit too ambitious to take the challenge at this time in my life, but I'm glad I did. The daily thought that I should find something to paint, paint it, and blog about it was sometimes stressful, but mostly, it kept me motivated. I would make an effort and find the tiny pockets of time throughout the day to do what I love.

So, what's next? I plan on spending February's tiny pockets of creative time on a monument proposal for a local town (dust off those architecture skills!) and in March, I restart my watercolor painting classes. And, of course, I have about a hundred different things I want to do in-between.

Day 30 - Cape Cod Andirondack Chairs

After a short virtual trip to Cape Cod, I have added it to the list of places I would want to live in. Or at least visit in real life. And probably make more paintings of...

Today, just these two chairs overlooking a bay. Feels like a perfect spot to have a laid-back chat with a friend, or just relax to the sound of the water. Hope you like it :)

Days 28 & 29 - Abstract Landscape Watercolor Studies

Well, what can I say..In three days, I only managed to do a couple of small studies. And a few black and white sketches I won't post just because I don't have the time to scan them in. The 30 paintings in 30 days was not perfect this time around, but I did try and for that I'm proud of myself :). I am hoping to do another painting tomorrow for the Virtual Paintout, which is in Cape Cod this month.

On a different note, I am slowly getting back into teaching and will start classes in March, at the newly-expanded Burning House Art Studio in Apple Valley. I'm rather excited about that.

Purple and green study #1

Purple and green study #2

Day 25 - South Lake

A full sheet today. Sunrise at the South Like from Bodhi's Lake House. An interesting discovery is that something like this is quite doable as a daily painting...Hmm..Do I see a month of sunrises and sunsets in the future?

Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough watercolor paper. 22x30".

A baby and my feet for scale and a glimpse into my studio reality :) :

Day 24 - Casa Del Desierto (Barstow Harvey House)

Finally done with this painting! I started it on a plein air outing over a week ago and worked on it in tiny pieces of time since. It even went through an ugly stage (which is normal, particularly for paintings done in multiple sessions) and through a husband-critique stage (that's how you know it's getting serious ;) ). I

Watercolor and ink on hot press paper. Original sold. Prints and cards available.

A few progress photos:


First step: completed drawing at the plein air session. By the time I was done drawing, it was getting close to sunset and windy, so I decided to do the painting part at home.


Here, I am beginning to lay first washes. The paper is hot press, so I'm getting some nice blooms!


I have some white areas left here but most of the painting has a layer of paint. Evaluating if the contrast between the white columns and dark spaces between them is too dark. So it is. Also, not crazy about the foreground.


One step further: I toned down the white areas and lightened up the shadows between columns. I also decided to separate the far right side of the building from the background by darkening the tree area. The foreground got another wash of gray-blue to tone it down and ground the building. Brick detail on the left side and a bit of cleaning up in the shape of the columns and bottom of the building.


At this point, I got a feeling that my problem with the foreground might be because it was also too large. I began thinking about the best way to crop it.


Final, cropped version. The foreground is significantly darker and quieter. I took off some of the paint first, by wetting the area with a soft brush (to agitate the paint and make it liftable without damaging the paper) and blotting with soft tissue paper (like Kleenex). I repeated the process once or twice. Then, I covered the area with a fairly uniform wash of mixed gray (French Ultramarine + Quinacridone Red + Quinacridone Gold).

And that's the story :). I think I've lived in the desert for too long (4 years!), because I am beginning to find cool things about it and even like some of them...

If you would like to see an excellent virtual tour of the Barstow Harvey House, watch this:

Day 21 - Mimi's Cafe watercolor sketch

We went out on a date yesterday, also known as "let's-go-eat-food-I-did-not-cook" :). I brought along a sketchbook. This was the view from our booth...rather charming, with the chandelier, the oval mirror in an ornate frame, the little photographs and the big paintings on the walls. First thing that drew my attention, though, was the quiet and cozy quality of light. I tried to infuse the sketch with it. What do you think? Can you feel it?

Day 14 - En Plein Air, En Progress, and a Yucca

Today, I spent a couple of hours at one of the local landmarks, the Barstow Harvey House, also known as Casa Del Desierto. It was one of my scheduled paintouts with the High Desert Art Meetup. The meetup was a bit on the lonely side, as nobody except me showed up, but I didn't mind that too much. I was able to really focus on the drawing, which is probably why I spent around an hour and a half on it and didn't have time to paint and dry it.

So, I plan to finish that painting tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is another painting from a paintout a week ago. I added the background at home.

22 x 15" Watercolor on hot press paper.

22 x 15" Watercolor on hot press paper.

Day 12 - to France!

At least, virtually for now :) I got a few reference photos of windows and doors from Bix of France Painting Holiday and used one of them today. Not crazy about the result but happy that I actually managed to paint some. There are things I like and dislike about this painting, but in general, I declare it a dud, a stinker, a wiper. Any other terms for unsuccessful painting attempts? Often, my "wipers" turn into experiments (since I already know it can't get much worse, I'm not afraid to mess it up with wild ideas). On this one, I want to do a few things...One is to apply gesso with a bristle brush (for texture) over the timber and freshen up the color on top.


Day 11 - a few sketches from the days before

Things get crazy, no time for anything, etc. Here is a sketch of baby Ella (who is already 2 months old!):


And an animated gif of her created by the almighty Google through their awesome Auto-Awesome feature. I am having all kinds of fun with it. (Sorry if you hate pictures of babies...I can't help it! I promise I won't do it very often, though :))


The second sketch below is something I made based on a picture of a woman walking through an alley. Initially, I just liked the figure and the tall buildings around her (which were not dark or menacing in the reference photo). As I worked on it, though, it began morphing into an abstraction more and more and taking on a darker mood. I'm not sure it's finished. I like the transparent layers but I also want to see how far I can push it into abstraction and darkness. We'll see...


Day 8 - An Orchid

I have two orchid plants that somehow survived several years in my care. "Survived," because I am definitely not known for having green thumbs, and anyone looking at my front yard will be able to tell that :). But these things...they keep being alive and making me happy with gorgeous flowers. One of them just opened its first bloom of the season and I enjoyed painting it this morning.

Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico hot press 140lb watercolor paper. 5.5 x 7.5". Special price of $50 until February 1.

Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico hot press 140lb watercolor paper. 5.5 x 7.5". Special price of $50 until February 1.

Speaking of blooms, also known as backruns, or bleeds, or even cauliflowers - I like them. I don't always create or keep them but in general, I think they are fun. If you like them, too, and want to make them happen in your painting, the secret is using lots of water when you paint, so that you have puddles of paint. Additionally, hot press paper is more bloom-friendly than cold press.

Day 7 - Italian Window 4

I was too wiped out last night to post this, so...I was about to say that it means two posts today, but probably not. Small changes in routine seem to mess up my painting opportunities in a major way. Yesterday, I had the baby's 2-month checkup appointment in the morning and then, a sick 1.5-year-old for the rest of the day. So not much happened in terms of art production and marketing.

This reminds me of the popular artist-blog expression, "life got in the way." On one hand, I can relate completely: "life" can demand so much attention and energy that you don't have anything left to feed your creative self. Or, in another scenario, you have to constantly switch gears between "life" (in my case, it means being a mom and wife) and art-making or business mode, can't focus on either, and become very frustrated. Multitasking, you say? What is that?

Now, as to the other hand...I am slowly beginning to realize that life, the one that "gets in the way," is actually more important to me than, albeit more pleasant and fulfilling in the short term, process of making and selling art. (This may be the reason why women artists rarely "make it" in the art world).

Anyway, another window from Venice today. Hope you like it :)

10 x 7" Watercolor and ink on hot press 140lb watercolor paper. Special price of $75 until February 1.

10 x 7" Watercolor and ink on hot press 140lb watercolor paper. Special price of $75 until February 1.

Day 6 - Plein air by the Mojave River

Today, I went on a plein air paintout with a couple of local artists. I chose a location fairly close to home, where Highway 66 crosses the Mojave River. Beautiful place with a lot of different subject matter. I spent most of my time painting the view below, though the resulting painting is "unblogably bad." I don't have much plein air experience (at least, compared to my in-studio experience) and still get easily distracted and overwhelmed with visual information when I paint outdoors. However, I keep trying and I'm sure I will be making blogable plein air paintings more often :)


Another view I painted was of a couple of Yuccas. If you don't live in the desert, chances are, you don't know what those are. I didn't. These are also called Spanish Dagger, which adds a touch of drama...The painting below is not completely finished (I added light background wash at home but didn't take a picture of it yet). I spent maybe 15-20 minutes on it and was a lot happier with it than my first painting, which took 1.5-2 hours.

22 x 15" Watercolor on hot press watercolor paper.


....And I also dropped my pastels and, when I was about to pick them up, I noticed that they looked all nice and colorful, randomly arranged on top of the gravel, almost like an idea for an abstract, and I had to take a picture. So there you go :)


30 Paintings in 30 Days Round 3!

I may be crazy...because I'm doing it again! If you are subscribed to my blog and you don't want to receive an email with new post every day for the whole month of January, you may want to manage your subscription (so that you only receive a summary once a week). If you need help doing that, just drop me a line and I'll be happy to help :).

I decided to have a tentative architectural theme for this set of 30 paintings. And I also intend to keep them small and quick, which will, hopefully, help me survive and keep painting until the end of the month. The first painting was born when I was virtually walking the streets of Venice in search of an architectural detail I would want to paint. Instead, I got drawn into this little alley and attracted by the expressive figures. They aren't expressive in the sense that a flamboyant dancer is, they are just silhouettes of people walking with a purpose or enjoying their vacation in Italy.

Looking Back at 30 Paintings in 30 Days

And so, it was great, and it was hard, and it was worth it. In the beginning, I felt motivated and even, on some days, inspired. Then, about the time I ran out of energy (two weeks into the challenge), we went on a short family vacation to Catalina. Which, although exhausting in its own way, kept me going for the rest of the month.

I liked having a theme (landscapes and abstracts) and I am fairly happy with the results. I have 24 paintings and a sketch to show for it! I am also very grateful to all the artists, collectors, blog readers, Facebook fans and just friends who showed a ton of interest in my progress throughout the challenge and supported me with their wonderful comments, helpful suggestions, and the ultimate votes of confidence - purchases of my paintings. THANK YOU! 

 Some of the paintings are still available in my 30 Paintings in 30 Days section.

After a couple of days of a break, I would like to keep going. I am still full of ideas and I just got a shipment of paper and Nexus pens :). But I've been slowly cutting down on activities - mostly the fun ones, unfortunately, like the paintouts and figure drawing - as I've been feeling progressively worse. There are only four weeks left until the baby is supposed to get here. So, I'll be finishing commissions and painting a few pieces for a couple of winter shows I would like to get in to. Other than that, I will probably be laying low for a while. 

Day 30 - Avalon Pier, Late Afternoon

The day is finally here! This is the last painting of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. A few days late, but I'm pretty sure nobody cares except me, and I did have some tough few days.  

Avalon Pier. 11x15" Watercolor and Ink on watercolor paper. $120. Buy here. 

The painting is continuing (and probably not concluding) my Catalina theme. I put quite a lot of time into this one, beginning with a a fairly complicated drawing: and even some masking (and if you know me, you know I hardly ever use masking liquid):

I also wanted to keep the sky fairly dark and wasn't able to achieve that in the first wash (stuff dries quickly here in the desert!). So it took several washes to get to where I was sort of happy with it. The rest of the painting was just a lot of detail and small-brush work, which I don't do that often, either.  

Avalon Pier, cropped. 

I made the sky area large intentionally, but it seems to make the whole painting a bit too gloomy...So I am considering a more conservative crop. What do you think? 

Day 29 - An Old Church on the Isle of Wight (Virtual Paintout)

It seems like during this 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge, I couldn't stay away from architecture completely! It keeps peeking through the trees and suggesting itself in geometric abstract forms. But I did try :). Overall, I am pretty happy with how many landscapes I was able to paint during the challenge and I would like to spend a bit more time exploring the abstracts.  

11 x 15" Watercolor on paper. $95. Buy here.

So, with my challenge theme in mind, I gave the landscape a big part in this painting, while still keeping the church as the focal point. It was tricky modeling the building without any drawing - I usually like more structure in my structures. Here, I scraped the light areas of the church with a palette knife after laying in some color wet-into-wet. I added a few lines and reinstated the darks after it began drying.

Day 28 - A Seashore...Wet-into-wet!

I love bodies of water and I've always wanted to live near a largish one. My dream came true twice: first time, when I attended architecture school in Odessa, Ukraine, which is on the Black Sea. Second time, when I got married and moved to Oceanside, which is on the Pacific. My current plan is to at least retire (although, do artists ever retire?) on the water. Carmel sounds like a good place for that, but I will also consider other options :)  

7.5 x 11" Watercolor on Fabriano rough 140lb watercolor paper. $65 (until October 2nd). Buy here. 

And so, my painting today is a little piece of the sea. It was done wet-into-wet, with some palette knife scraping, lifting with a brush, and some coarse salt texture in the foreground. I am pretty happy with the result. I like how loose and abstract it is up close, while also clearly showing the subject matter at a distance. This would be interesting to do on a larger sheet. Title ideas, anyone?

Technically, today is the last day of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. However, I decided to stick to it and make two more paintings, even if that means extending the deadline. Weekends here are particularly tough to fit painting in, as both of my kids are home and my husband is at work.  

Since I'm extending the painting challenge, I will also keep the special pricing on the September paintings for two more days. Make sure to take advantage of the sale while it's on! You know you want to ;) 

Day 27 - A Tree-lined Alley in My Hometown

A memory of a memory. This is a view down a short stretch of an alley in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine. This place is next to the main town square, which used to have a humongous statue of Lenin, vandalized and then dismantled after the Soviet Union fell apart, leaving behind a plinth of polished black granite. This alley is also across from one of the art schools I attended as a child (I kind of failed that one..it was a multidisciplinary thing, with mandatory music, dance and theater lessons, in addition to visual art, and I didn't care for dance or theater). Anyway, I've seen it a few times :)

8.5 x 10" ink and watercolor on Arches hot press watercolor paper. $85 (sale price until October 1st). Buy here.

P.S. Incidentally, today was Khmelnistky's "city birthday"  - a celebration of the city. I just found out...an interesting coincidence. I must still be tuned in to the place I was born, even after ten years and across half a world.

Day 26 - A Wet-into-wet Watercolor Landscape

Initially, I wanted to try this very landscapey horizontal format yesterday, but I became intrigued by the vertical one and also, didn't have time for a wet-into-wet painting. So I enjoyed playing in water today instead:).  

Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough 140lb paper. 7.5 x 22". Buy prints here

This is another painting inspired by a recent trip to Big Bear Lake. It is such a beautiful location, and I can't wait to go on a plein air outing there.