Saturday, February 28, 2009

"How is your team coming along, Henri?" asked Choco.

"Oh, my peeps!!! They're coming together quite well, actually. I am so pleased with the progress we've made lately. Of course, I still have some concerns over the trouble spot I mentioned to you earlier, but it is still too soon to tell if it will work itself out on its own" replied Henri, short for Henrietta.

"Ahem, if I may interrupt . . . . Van will be arriving on the train in 20 minutes. If you intend to be on time for your appointment with him at Drummond's Apothecary, we must leave now" stated Lumen.

"Ah, yes, let us go. I wouldn't want to keep my brother waiting!" replied Choco, "He's traveled a long way to come and help us. It will be good to see him again. It's been years since we've worked together."

And with that, they started on their way to the Apothecary . . . . . 

© Laure Ferlita, 2009, All Rights Reserved. This may not be copied without my written consent!

And here is an update on our debonair Choco, resplendent in his brocade coat!

That coat took much of the afternoon, too! I also had to adjust Henri's cape as she was most displeased with the way it looked. Fussy little broad, but a good egg! I still have the details on Choco's coat to finish as well as Lumen. Once they are complete I will give my attention to Henri. And who is this Van, Choco's brother? Just keeps getting more interesting as we go! Please note that the story is revealing itself to me little by little, and it does not appear to be writing itself in chronological order. 

Since the story is not yet written, here's your chance to play a part - leave me a comment, tell me how you think things are going to play out, what's going to happen next, where the story line is going to go! I will do my best to work some part of your comments into the story line (please, just don't go too crazy)!! I am not sure how much I'll get done over the weekend, but I will try to get in one more "installment" for the impatient among you! ; )

Friday, February 27, 2009

"Hello, my name is Choc . . . .

. . . . but some folks still call me Choco. It's a leftover from childhood. Though I must say I'm surprised my mother didn't name my Seven or Nine when you consider how many children she had. Hmmm, guess I should tell you my full name is actually Chocolate M. Bunny, but Choc is fine." said the gentleman as I was painting him.

Interesting, I thought. Now what am I to do with you, I wondered out loud. Much to my surprise, he answered, "Oh, just keep painting. You'll see soon enough. Lumen and I have some very important business to attend to. Very soon, in fact. Could you darken the ears just a tad? They seem a bit pale."

Well then. All righty. I'll darken those ears a tad. While darkening his ears and adding some shadows to his shirt, I thought over what he'd said. Finally, it occurred to me to ask him who Lumen was. He replied, "Oh, that's my pocket watch, Lumen, short for Luminosity. Lumen is a magical watch that can see into the future and the past, and can see anywhere, anywhere, in the world at any given moment. And he can talk."

Wow, I thought. Yes, this is definitely going to be interesting. I thought maybe he had gone to sleep or was meditating as he hadn't said anything for a while. So it startled me when he said, "This is Henrietta. She will be helping Lumen and I."

And this is where we are as of 1:30 my time. What's going on? What are Choc, Lumen, and Henrietta up to? What is their business?

Look Who I Found!

When I went back to my studio yesterday evening I sat down at the table to start sketching out some ideas, and this debonair gentleman showed up! I am still in the process of figuring out his story - why he's here, why he has a magic, talking pocket watch that has a face within it, and what it might be saying to him. Hmmmm, intrigue!

The current stage of the painting is a purple underpainting to help give depth to the folds in his clothes, his head, etc. when the final color is added. When my husband came in to see what I was working on he asked how the bunny could hold a pocket watch noting that bunnies didn't have hands. Without missing a beat, I looked at him and in all seriousness said, "It's a magic pocket watch, silly, he doesn't need hands!!" To which hubby replied, after rolling his eyes, "Well, why wouldn't a purple rabbit have a magic talking pocket watch?" and strolled from the room. 

He hasn't told me his name or his story yet - do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Since I have no art for today . . .

. . . . I will give you a quote instead:

You can't wait for inspiration.
You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

My club and I are out on the hunt for inspiration. We should be back by sundown . . . . .  

Update: I have returned, my hunting did not produce inspiration but rather a much cleaner studio! However, in cleaning the studio, I "found" inspiration - it was there all along, quietly awaiting discovery, hidden away under piles of clutter, art supplies not put away after their last use, and the  general flotsam and jetsam of my artistic pursuits. 

I find that when my environment reaches a certain level of cluttered-ness I have to stop and find bottom. Clean, organize, pitch, put away, recycle. With inspiration found and in its rightful place again, I will hopefully have some art to show tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dreaming of London!

Not that I will be going any time soon, but I WILL be going eventually! I still think it makes sense to practice, practice, practice for those opportunities when I DO get to London and just about anywhere I go! If you have AAA Road Service, you probably received their recent travel magazine with a Buckingham Palace guard on the front cover - well, that's my interpretation of Bucky!

I put myself in the mindset of being across the busy street with a limited amount of time to draw AND paint Bucky before I had to get back on the bus to go to the next destination. This is what I came up with and I'm fairly pleased as this is some of that loose stuff that I really don't do so well. I need more practice.

I had to really keep myself focused on shapes and not detail. I had several missteps along the way where I chided myself for putting in waaaaay too much detail, but in the end it turned out well - I would be pleased if I had actually painted that in my travel journal whilst on location! Especially since I'm still trying to learn to paint on location! LOL! (One step at the time. Next thing you know I'll be moving from my studio to the kitchen!!)

Kidding aside, I have actually painted outside, at restaurants, and in my Jeep but have not completed anything to my satisfaction. There's still time to practice before I board that plane though! ; ) This sketch was done with my travel palette that is covered in palette mud as well as neutral tint and a couple of reds. I do need to figure out a better flesh tone than what I used. Bucky is painted on Winsor Newton 140 lb. cold press and is actually on the back of one of the failed paintings from Sunday. Maybe Sunday's work is paying off after all!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Problem with the Comments Field

I've had a couple of kind folks notify me that they were unable to leave comments. I'm not sure why this is happening as no settings have been changed. It seems to happen when I have to edit a post after it has been published.

If anyone else is have that problem can you please email me [laureferlita AT] and let me know? If you know how to solve the problem can you let me know that as well? Being new to Blogger and its quirks, I am struggling to find out - quickly - how to fix the problems. Thanks in advance for your help!! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring, Art Shows and Getting Loose - NOT!

Spring has arrived in Florida! Everything is budding out and blooming like crazy. Vehicles and anything else that lives outside has a very yellow-greenish cast to it from all the pollen floating around. Unfortunately, I'm blooming too - with runny nose, red, runny eyes, and itching like mad - as I'm allergic to all that pollen. But that doesn't keep me inside! Oh, no! Spring is not to be missed! Of course, our temps are suppose to back in the 30's tonight so apparently winter is not quite finished.

Sugar Maple Leaf Buds
In my Sketchbook

However, the weather was glorious this weekend so hubby and I went to an outside art show down in Sarasota on Saturday. It's alway a good show. There seem to be a lot less painters and more jewelry, fiber, mixed media, leather, and sculpture there than in the past. I was pleased to see many patrons actually carrying art purchases. Maybe the economy is not as bad as we think! 

I spent most of Sunday trying to "paint looser". I'm defining painting looser as less attention to detail, less polishing, get in, get it down, get out. No "go back and fix it layers". Hmmm, I failed gloriously! I can do the get in, get it down, get out part, but I am hopeless at less detail, less polishing, and forget not going back in to fix it! I have several new pieces for the "Under the Bed, Never to See The Light of Day Again" Museum under my bed!

I gave myself permission to fail, and fail again; to not like the work; to hate the work even, as long as I finished each piece. This proved a struggle at times as I just wanted to tear the paper up and start over. There are small parts on each piece that I think, "well, there's something to work on", but overall, it was a frustrating day. Painting loose is as counter-intuitive to me as driving backwards on the freeway at 70 miles an hour would be!!

I'll try it again though. As I believe it pushes me to think differently, it helps me to grow, and it shakes up status quo - always a good thing. If we do the same thing the same way as we've always done, it's not much of a surprise when we get the same thing. And if we're satisfied with that, it's a wonderful thing, but if we want to grow, and I want to grow, then I must push out of my comfort zone. To become faster. To become "fresher". To become better . . . .  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And next to the Oscars, and Grammies . . . .

. . . . are the blog awards! I am so very pleased to tell you that Sheona of Black on Grey on White has given me the following art blog award:


Sheona is a wonderful graphite artist with a keen focus on animals. Please stop by to visit her blog as you will NOT be disappointed! Along with this comes the additional seven details on what I love . . . 

Spring flowers . . . . . anything autumn . . . . . a fire in our outside fireplace on a chilly evening . . . . traveling to new places I've never been to before . . . . . baby animals . . . . . repurposing something into a new use so that it doesn't have to be thrown away . . . . simplicity . . . . .

As to seven other bloggers , well, that's a bit tough as I'm new to Blogger and don't know a whole lot of the bloggers yet! I think I tagged everyone I knew last time! Hmmm, wait a minute, I am going to tag Teresa of Blueberries, Art and Life! Another wonderful blog with a lot of fine artwork. Well worth the visit! 

But if you're reading this - consider yourself tagged!! And please share in the comments if you're playing along so that I can read more about you!

Again, thanks so much Sheona!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Learning to Just Say "Thank You"

Pink Spring Tulips
From my sketchbook

It always amazes me how hard it is, when someone compliments my work, to just say "thank you." After all, it is a comment sentence. Instead, I want to point all the things that are wrong, or are simply not right or could have been better. Sound familiar? Let me share a story with you.

While taking a class with an international instructor several years ago, the instructor told the students in her class this story as a way to illustrate the value of just saying thank you. She had a solo show in her hometown, and one of her friends, a doctor in town, approached her about a certain painting in the show. The doctor already owned several pieces by the instructor and complimented her on the artwork.

Instead of just saying thank you the woman listed all of the flaws, things not right, things that could have been done better, etc. After the painter had finished with her long list, she mentioned that it was not one of her better works and she really didn't like the painting very much. The doctor then informed her he had just purchased the painting! Eek!!! Now what?!! Needless to say she lost a sale. She also felt she had lost some credibility in the friend's eyes. I vowed I would never do that (rolling my eyes as I typed that).

And yet, I do sometimes. Every artist I know does. Why is that? So that folks know, that we know, the painting isn't perfect? Personally, I don't believe it's possible to paint a perfect painting, but if I ever do, it will be the day I hang my brushes up for good. Do we say what we think is wrong before someone else can say it perhaps to remove the sting? I'd love to know if you do this and if so, why think you do, as well as if you don't and why you don't.

Most folks don't see anything wrong with a piece of work until you tell them, especially if they've already fallen in love with it! Why would anyone want to undue that?!! Most of the time they'll even disagree with you about something being wrong! So, I could tell you all things wrong or not right or that could be done better with the painting at the top of the post, but I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to practice keeping my mouth shut, my heart open and move on to the next painting!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fantasy Preps and Artwork

Fantasy Nest* of Clear Gesso and Paper

Among other things this weekend, I finally got around to playing with the paper I prepped with clear gesso and acrylic medium. I read about this over on Toni Kelly's blog, A Spattering.  In fact, she currently has a piece up on her blog where she explains how she used clear gesso and the results are spectacular! I will admit to being a bit skeptical as to whether I would like this and/or could make this prep work for me. I am delighted to tell you this stuff is wonderful!

When I sat down to try the paper I had no ideas for artwork in mind so I started with some random calligraphic marks. These marks soon started to resemble the nest you see above. After the nest emerged, I went back and lifted the color with a damp brush and a tissue to create the eggs. Very cool! I also got a little heavy handed with the darks and was able to lift them and redirect some of the strands.

*This is not a real nest as far as I know. If it resembles an actual bird's, it's a happy accident.

Lifting Hair

After having fun with the nest, I started looking for other ways to use this cool prep. While at lunch on Saturday, I spotted a gentleman with a big bushy mustache and decided to see if I could lift "hair strands" to represent white hair. I lifted on the left side. The right side has no lifting. Again, a damp brush was all I used. This was done in about 15 minutes. My intent was not a finished piece, but to see if it was possible and I can see that it is! I may try incorporating this technique into some of my Santa pieces.
Downy Feather

The little downy feather was my last attempt and probably my least successful. I put the color down and then used a damp brush to diffuse the color to give it a more downy look. I lifted out the spine/quill area in the middle of the feather. I've done other feathers on non-gessoed paper with better results. I will try it again.

My take away from all of this is:
  • This prep would probably work well with other mediums like colored pencil. Especially on a paper or support where you wanted more tooth in a certain area.
  • You can glaze, and layer as you would normal paper.
  • It is best to put down washes and then add detail on top unless you want a diffused look. If you glaze or layer over a sharp detail, you will probably lose the sharp edge but you can repaint it. I realize this happens on regular paper, but because of the gesso, it is even more likely to happen in this situation.
  • I used one part clear gesso to one part acrylic gloss medium (a little goes a long way!) It dried matte, and other than touching it, you really could not tell I had prepped the paper.
  • According to Toni, you can also spray the artwork with Krylon's UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating and it is not necessary to use glass! Yay! Once I have a finished piece of art, I will be trying this next step!
I will exploring further as I think this has a lot of possibilities I haven't even begun to explore! A really big thanks to Toni for sharing her knowledge - I urge you to hop over to her blog and see her work as well as read her posts on this as she has other suggestions as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 2 of a Hyacinth in Bloom

hyacinth, nature, bloom, purple, sketchbook, from life
Day 2 - Hyacinth Bloom
From my sketchbook

Here is the second painting from the Hyacinth I recently purchased! This is about 16 hours after the first sketch was done - I am so totally amazed at how fast this plant is changing!! When I came into the office to scan the painting and post, I stopped by the breakfast nook to see how the bloom was coming along. About half of the individual blooms are either opening or open. The one on the bottom right is fully open.

Since I paint slower than slow, I have resorted to taking photos, and I will hopefully be able to create a few more paintings of the stages of opening before I do a final painting with all the flowers open. It's also beginning to smell really good in my kitchen - maybe because I have the Hyacinth, a pot of tulips and a pot of daffodils on the table! (Though I don't think tulips and daffodils actually have a scent, do they?) I started the tulips late today, but as usual the light failed before I could complete it. Perhaps tomorrow . . . .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Muse is a Spaz!

Purple Hyacinth
Page from the Sketchbook

For sure, a nice person, but a total spaz - absolutely no concentration! Take today for example, I was going to paint on my daffodils from yesterday and finish them up. She decides we need to paint on the cake/hat series, and um, that series is her idea too - cakes in the shapes of hats. I've no idea where that series is going to go (besides under the bed). Then, when that gets old, we started sketching out some more cake ideas. And gosh, what do you know? Now, we have one that looks like a Dalmatian. Don't ask. 

At lunch time, I went out to get the mail, and it's positively beautiful! I really wanted to just stay out there. As I get back to the front door she sees a Carolina wren - oooooohhh, let's paint a wren! No, let's not. We have cakes, and flowers, and a whole other bird page in the sketchbook to finish, remember? Hmmm, no, not really. 

Late this afternoon, she spots the hyacinth in the kitchen when I went in to get something to drink. Let's sketch that! We don't have to paint it - yet! Two and a half hours later . . . . I have a lovely new sketch in my sketchbook of the hyacinth! Where the hours went I have no idea, but it doesn't matter - it was so nice just to sit, paint, and not know the world existed for just a little while! And yes, she's a spaz, that muse of mine, but I guess that's why I keep her around - for days like this! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Work in Progress - Daffodils

Daffodils flower nature sketchbook
Daffodils in my sketchbook - WIP

I do love to paint flowers. Perhaps it is the winter blahs - we've been having nasty weather (at least by Florida standards), maybe it's all the yucky news about the economy, or maybe it's just me, but I haven't been able to paint much of anything that I really, really like! Dagnabit! Do you ever go through one of those spells? Nothing looks right, the colors are all wrong, the perspective's off, the shadows are wrong , the composition doesn't work, and on and on and on. Enough already!

Whereas I am not happy with the painting above, I am at least willing to share it! Hopefully, I'll have time to paint these blooms again. When I saw them at the market yesterday, I couldn't have been more excited - just what the doctor ordered to fixed the blahs! When I brought them home yesterday, I had 1 bloom and 3 buds. This morning, I was a bit surprised to find I had 4 blooms! I also bought a hyacinth to paint - it's just barely a bud, so I have a little time (I think!) to play with that one. 

I had hoped to finish the painting above, but the light failed before I could complete it. There will be another bloom at the top on the left and the bloom on the bottom left is not complete. I had put a wash on it, but was not happy with the way it was drying, so I washed it out and allowed that to dry. There is also a color change from the right bloom to the left as I couldn't seem to come up with the right shadow color for the yellow. 

It felt so good to lose myself in the work for a while. I get so tired of my own voice sometimes that I crave that escape of being in the zone, blissfully unaware of time passing, environment or anything except the art. And, there's always another chance to get it right tomorrow!

Friday, February 6, 2009

An Art Blog Award from the Lovely Ms. Teresa


A special thank you to Teresa over at Blueberries, Art and Life, for recognizing my blog with an award! Apparently, you're suppose to share seven things you love and pass the award on to seven other art blogs.

Well now, let's see . . . 

1. I love cats. And dogs. I have 3 of each - all rescues.

2. I love nature and especially birds, getting outside to take a walk is especially rewarding.

3. I love being creative - be it painting, drawing, designing, or cooking. It's when I feel at my personal best.

4. I love the Smokey Mountains, and hope to relocate there one of these days!

5. I love the Low Country of South Carolina with all the beautiful marshes and inlets.

6. I love the inspiration, knowledge, ideas, smiles and sometimes giggles that I often receive when I look at so many of these fabulous art blogs on the internet!

7. And I guess I would have to say chocolate is a huge love of mine as well!

And just as a bonus:

8. I love, love, love to read. Especially a good "whodunit" that I can't figure out before I get to the end! : )

Now, seven blogs in no particular order . . . .

Toni of A spattering


Lori of Twin Cedars

I guess it will be six as I am not sure who the seventh would be!

Thanks again, Teresa!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Above and Beyond

Bird Nest Watercolor   © Laure Ferlita

There are people you meet out in cyber space that touch your heart in unexpected ways - their kindness, their will to live, the joy with which they live. It seems that we, or at least I, seldom take the time to say, "Thank you for sharing your life, your joy, your time with me." I mean we don't really know them, do we?  And then sometimes we find out too late that we cannot say these words to them, our opportunity is gone.

I dedicate this post to Heidi, a cyber buddy, that has lost a fierce and ferocious battle with cancer. She lived life as much as she could, with an attitude of joy and thankfulness. She appreciated her family, her friends, and the online community that rallied around her in support with each new round of cancer treatments. She will be so sorely missed - she was one of the good ones!

I also dedicate this to neighbors that go out of their way to help in little and big ways. For being there in times of unexpected need. For caring. For lifting us up - sometimes physically - so that we are comforted. For being with us so that we don't have to be alone. Good neighbors are on the Endangered Species list, but they're not gone yet. 

I hope you'll take a moment to reach out to a cyber buddy or a friend or a neighbor and let them know you care, that you enjoy reading their posts, or their company. It only takes a moment. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Little Bit of Progress

Finally, I have a small bit of progress to show! Below is a photo of the first piece of Word Art that I have added to my Etsy shop:

glass tile pendant word bloom laure ferlita watercolor artwork
Glass Tile Pendant featuring my artwork and the word "Bloom"
You can see it here

It is amazing to me how much I learn each and every time I undertake a new adventure. Like what, you ask? Like how to make these pendants; how to photograph small objects without harsh shadows; how to list items in Etsy and on my blog so that all of the "spiders" in the world can find them and hopefully direct folks to the listing. It has been a challenge. At times fun, at other times, hmm, think I'll just leave it at challenging!

I shared on my other blog about choosing a "word-of-the-year" and that this year I have chosen two words: intent and bold. For intent, I want to remind myself to have an intent for the day, the project, the conversation, rather than being on autopilot and going through the motions. For bold, this word is to remind me to go boldly in the directions of my dreams, to be daring, to takes risks, as a lot of what I intend to do this year will take every bit of boldness I can summon!

I choose a word-of-the-year in place of making New Year's resolutions because resolutions just never seemed to work for me and most folks that I know. If you would like to know more about choosing a word, please visit Christine Kane's blog here. She is a delightful person with a lot of insight into being creative and showing up every day of your life!

I have a lot more words to add, but as usual, it takes me much longer than I think it should to get anything done. Take a look and see if choosing a word might be right for you. If you have a word and a piece of art in mind, send me an email and let's see what we can come up with!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nature in a Sketchbook

                                    A Page from My Sketchbook

This is the latest page I'm working on in my little handmade sketchbook! The sketchbook itself is 8" x 8" and is filled with Arches 140 lb. cold press paper. I painted the feathers in the upper lefthand corner first. They were in the yard near the birdfeeder. I thought the feathers belonged to a Bluejay that just nearly missed being the neighbor cat's breakfast, but after observing other Jays . . . . I'm not so sure. The Jays have a great deal of blue in their feathers and very unique markings as well. Maybe a Mourning Dove or a Mockingbird instead?

The feather in the upper righthand corner is from a Mockingbird. Unfortunately, as I was painting this last night, my husband brought me several more grey feathers. It would seem the great white wholly mammoth (also known as a Siberian Husky) that we affectionally call Susie managed to catch a Mockingbird. How she does it is beyond us. We've yet to see her in action, but she does catch birds from time to time. Anyway . . . .

The eggs in the center are Carolina Wren eggs. The nest portion of the painting is just a small fraction of a real nest. Their nests are deep cavities made out of dead leaves and grasses, bits and pieces of soft plastics (like old newspaper bags), strings, and what have you. This little nest was in our garden shed, and the male wren it in the exact same location that a field mouse had built their nest earlier in the year. We thought the mouse was back and went to remove it. Too late, we saw the eggs! When the female came back, she looked around for several minutes but would not go back into the nest as she knew it had been disturbed. This small piece of art is my way of paying homage to the little wren and her eggs.

I am using this particular art in a piece of jewelry. I'll post an image when I get it created. Hopefully, this week, but the weatherman is predicting rain and more cold temperatures for most of this week. Rain and cold temperatures seriously hamper the jewelry-making process!  I will be listing it in the Etsy shop as well.