Sunday, August 30, 2009

Daily Practice: Paris Pooch!

Watercolor Sketch* in Paris Sketchbook
by Laure Ferlita © 2009 All Rights Reserved

Isn't he cute?! Walking around the city* this afternoon, I could not help but notice all the dogs! They're everywhere! The hardest part was figuring out which one to sketch. This little guy was very well behaved and patient - he knew if he sat still just a little bit longer, he was going to get a treat from the nice stranger! And he did, after the stranger checked with his person!

This is a watercolor sketch in my Paris sketchbook. It took about 45 minutes total. Maybe 10 minutes sketching with another 35 painting. I will probably strengthen some of the darks when I get back to my imaginary hotel room tonight.

Details for An Imaginary Trip to Paris online class will be announced this week - I am hoping for September 1st! I will announce the web site here on the blog along with the link as soon as it is finalized and goes live. It has been worth the wait to get the details right - I know this is going to be an awesome class and will be lots of fun! Thanks for your patience in waiting for the details.

*This sketch is in preparation for An Imaginary Trip to Paris starting September 21st which will be a sketching and painting holiday for those who join me! (I'm not really in Paris, darn it!) More information coming this week!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Daily Practice: Can You Feel It?

A slight softening of the air? A deepening of blue in the sky? A hint of wood smoke in the air? A gentle slowing of time? An urge to wear a sweater when going for an evening stroll? Twilight coming earlier? Subtle changes in the trees, in their leaves?

Just a fleeting glimpse . . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sometimes It Works, Sometimes It Doesn't

Watercolor sketch with added Micron pen linework

Strolling around a quaint neighborhood, I came across this lovely bicycle sitting in a courtyard! Paris* is full of bikes, but most of them are quite modern looking. I wanted something with a little more . . . . personality. This seem to fit the bill. I sat across the street (the courtyard was locked and I didn't want to go in without asking permission) and sketched the bike. When I reached in my bag for my waterbrush I realized I had left it back in my room! Drats!!

Since I had already taken a photo of it, I left and continued to mosey around the neighborhood. Once I returned to my room, I painted most of this from memory with an occasional glance at the digital camera display (I didn't want to run down the camera batteries). Memory is faulty and I realized too late I had not really sketched enough info when I was at the courtyard. The background was and still is missing and so I improvised a little. And didn't do so great.

Am I disappointed? No, not really. It's a sketch from my trip. Will I remember the courtyard and the bike? You bet! I'll remember that it was kind of overcast with a slight breeze and there weren't too many people about when I sat on the sidewalk across the street to sketch the bike. Could the sketch have been better? Oh, yes, in a myriad of ways, some obvious, some only obvious to me, but it definitely could have more of a wow factor. As always, I learn every time I put brush or pencil to paper! Now, on to the next adventure!

*This sketch is in preparation for An Imaginary Trip to Paris starting September 21st, which will be a sketching and painting holiday for those who join me! (I'm not really in Paris, darn it!) More information coming very soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3, Testing . . . .

You may remember from the Eiffel Tower sketch that I was not too happy with the pen that I used because of how much it bled when I washed over the lines with clean water. Since then, I've been gathering up any gel ink pen I could find in the house and testing* it. There have been some surprising results!

You would think all black gel ink made by one company, under the same brand, would be the same throughout the product line, but they're not. If you look at the first four pens tested (upper right) you'll see they're all Uniball. The second pen down turned out to be a favorite as the bleeding was minimal and the ink has a slight blue (cool) cast. As I tested Kohr-I-Noor, Gelly Rollers, Pentel, Faber Castell, Pilot, Yafa, Foray, Papermate, Pilot, Itoya and a bunch of no-name black ink pens, I found the same variations in ink and the amount of bleed I got.

By testing out my materials BEFORE I'm on location again, I will (hopefully) eliminate anymore (unpleasant) surprises and may even be able to use the info to my advantage. Say if I want a pen that really bleeds, I would choose one of the Pilots. If I want just a little bit of bleeding, I would wait until the ink was drier, regardless of the pen I was using.

* To test the pens, I wrote the name of the pen on wc paper, then a scribble, some dots and a line or lines. I then immediately washed over the scribbles, dots, and lines with clear water. After the writing had an opportunity to dry (about 30 minutes) I washed over the names to see if they would bleed. The majority of the inks, once thoroughly dry, bled very little.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Butler Takes the Metro

I wanted to make sure that I knew my way back to the Metro (Paris' Rapid Transit System), so I asked the waiter for directions. Lucky for me he spoke far better English than I do French! I have been enchanted with the Metro signs all over the city - many have an Art Nouveau style. This was the first one I've sketched but probably not the last. I added the background to the waiter and the sign back in my imaginary* hotel room. Again, about 15 minutes, start to finish.

I added the sign to the page with the waiter because neither image is or was a complete painting. They're both little vignettes of things I see that delight me while I make my way around the city. I neglected to mention in yesterday's post that the only brush I'm using is a waterbrush - it is a brush tip attached to a water reservoir which is also the handle. These brushes are marvelous for painting on location as it eliminates the need for a water source, but you do need extra paper towels!

I'm sure there will be more of these little scenes I'll want to add (to the upper left) as I find them, and of course, the fing is half the fun!

*This sketch is in preparation for An Imaginary Trip to Paris starting September 21st which will be a sketching and painting holiday for those who join me! (I'm not really in Paris, darn it!) More information coming very soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Butler Did It!

Or, at least that's what himself said when he saw this sketch! I popped into a little out-of-the-way cafe in Paris* for a few minutes today. They weren't very busy and this gentlemen was taking advantage of the lull. He was actually leaning up against a table with his other arm, but I didn't get that far. I'll put it in a little later though. I wanted to see how much I could get down and get color on in 15 minutes or so and this is the result.

When painting on location,* it is seldom that folks hold still or one pose for very long. That adds to the challenge of capturing a likeness! Would this guy recognize himself? Probably. Would he say it looks just like him? Not so much.

Things I like: The light was on his back and I think I did a good job on the values of the apron, shirt, pants and vest.

Things I would do differently: Could have had slightly stronger values on the shirt, arm and his face. I need to familiarize myself with my paint colors to get a more natural looking skin tone. Proportions could be a little better. He also needs a floor and some furniture to place him in a cafe!

*This sketch is in preparation for An Imaginary Trip to Paris starting September 21st which will be a sketching and painting holiday for those who join me! (I'm not really in Paris, darn it!) More information coming very soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do You Belong . . . .

. . . to a great art organization? What makes it great or different or special?

Do you play a role in that organization? What might it be? How do you contribute?

I am searching for ideas and information on what makes an art organization a [great] living, breathing, growing organism. The kind of organization that you and everyone else WANTs to belong to, to be a part of, to contribute to its growth and well being, as well as be a proud, card-carrying, paint-brush swinging, pencil-dancing, art member!

Any ideas?

Your feedback and ideas are greatly appreciated!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summertime in Paris

Took some time out from the frantic pace of weekend life to sketch the Eiffel Tower. I was experimenting with combining ink and watercolors on watercolor paper. A bit labor intensive for using on site. I first sketched the tower and trees in pencil. Then I went back and laid in the sky wash. Blotted it with tissues to get the clouds. Then washed in the trees. If you look closely, you can see where the trees bled into the sky wash. Oops.

To make the bleed look like it was part of the sketch and not a mistake, I waited until it was dry and then added some darker color so the bleeds appear as a second row of trees. (Click to enlarge.) I then washed in the foreground (lawn). After everything was nearly dry again (oops! the ink started to bleed), I started inking in the tower, building and trees. I washed over the ink to blur the lines (even more) so that they too had a watercolor feel. Start to finish took about two hours.

Things I like: The strong contrast between the building and the landscape, the depth and scale captured within the piece and that second row of bleeding trees!

Things I would do different: Probably not so much ink, or maybe no ink. Maybe not wash the ink lines.

I will be trying other media to see what will work best for capturing the essence of the scene but without so much labor. Time is fleeting when you're on location. I want to make sure that whatever media I finally settle on will allow me ample time to capture the scene with enough information that IF I had too, I could finish the piece later from memory.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Come Play With Me!

Announcing . . . .

The plane will be lifting off on Monday, September 21st, and landing at Charles de Gaulle International Airport! We'll spend 8* glorious days* and 7 gorgeous nights in the wonderful city of light! We'll be sketching** and painting** at quaint cafes and courtyards, museums and street scenes with an occasional surprise thrown in here and there!

Learn to sketch in airports and on location, to pack light, which tools to bring and how to get the most out of those supplies, as well as how to capture the essence of a scene in under two hours! You'll come home with a sketchbook full of memories and ideas for future trips! Best of all, we'll be taking the trip from our very own computers! Come play with me!!

I will be sharing the details over the next few weeks as things are firmed up. Sound like fun?! Care to join in?!! Please check your calendars, get ready to book your flights and share a "painted adventure" with me and eleven new art friends*!

*The class will be for a period of 8 weeks starting Monday, September 21st and ending on Sunday, November 15th, 2009. Each week will represent a different "day" with several locations to sketch and paint as well as tips, tricks, and techniques for getting the most out of a painting adventure! Class size will be limited to a total of twelve students.

**This class will be open to all media with an emphasis on adding and working with color.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Celebrating You Home

Cynthia (Cindy) Carter Hunter
April 6th, 1965 ~ August 10th, 2009

Your journey through this world is complete, and now you're free. To fly, to shine brightly, to let the struggle of this life fall away. No doubt, you're already dazzling the angels with that bright smile and those mischievous, twinkling eyes. I pray that you find peace, that you're happy.

Say hello to Grannie & Granddaddy Harrell, and your dad for me. Give 'em a hug, too.

You're gonna be missed, girl!

Please note the comments have been turned off. Thank you for your understanding.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Best Blog Friend Award!

When I first started to read blogs, I was still working in Corporate America and I entertained the idea of starting one - briefly. I didn't think I would be able to keep up with a blog on a regular basis. For me, if I couldn't post on a fairly regular schedule, there didn't seem to be much point.

Then life turned upside down and I found myself working as an artist full time, and I haven't looked back since. Starting a blog just seemed to be the next right move. It turned out to be one of the best moves I've made so far! I have met such interesting, fun people, I have learned things I never would have learned any other way, and best of all, I've made some good friends. Some are art friends, others with garden interests, still others with interesting lives in far away places. Friends are so, so precious and often we don't realize the contributions they make to our lives. It matters little that I haven't "met" these folks in person, friendship knows no boundaries.

All this leads up to me saying that I recently received the Best Blog Friend Award from Kelly over at Red and the Peanut and I am tickled pink to receive it! Kelly's blog is an absolute delight and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Kelly is a very talented birder and artist that shares her fabulous trips to local and national parks, near and far, on her blog. Her photography is exceptional, but her "word portraits," as someone recently described them, makes the photos come alive. You feel like you're there with her!

I'm going to pass this on to the kind folks listed below, but there are oh, so many more that deserve this award! We have . . . .

Gabrielle of Inner Artist

If it were appropriate to do so, I'd pass this back to Kelly as she certainly belongs on this list, but I'm not sure of the correct blog etiquette in this instance. All of these ladies have had a profound affect on my life in different ways and I am so glad to have met them on this journey. They all have great blogs and I highly recommend checking them out when you have a chance. Thanks again, Kelly!

Please note: the links above are live, but Blogger seems to be in an odd mood this morning and is messing with links, typeface, type size, and color! Sorry for any inconvenience!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Well? Have You Begun Yet?!!

Part II of What Are You Waiting For?! Begin!: (To read Part I, please click here.)

We need to be deliberate in our choices: we will begin; we will begin now; we will begin now imperfectly. By being deliberate we take the drama out of the situation and get down to what's important - the reason(s) why we want to do [fill in the blank] in the first place! I am forever making a simple situation complicated by layering on worries, perfection, guilt, responsibilities and all manner of unnecessary stuff rather than just going ahead and beginning! Don't be a me!!

We often wonder how. How do I get to [art, meditate, sewing, etc.] when I need to do everything else? Schedule it on the family calendar where everyone can see it. Be deliberate about the choice of time rather than trying to shoehorn it into whatever time is left over after everyone else's schedule is on the calendar. Then honor the commitment by showing up for the appointment and doing [art, sewing, meditation, etc.] at the appointed time.

Be consistent with the appointment so that it becomes as much a part of life as going to ball practice on Saturday mornings or church on Sundays. Fiercely protect that appointment against encroachment. (If you don't take the appointment seriously and do what you say you're going to do, don't expect anyone else to take you seriously!) Be prepared to get the most out of that appointment by thinking ahead: what do I want to accomplish, what supplies do I need, what prep work do I need to do ahead of time? Then do whatever is needed.

Make a project list. Refer to the list for direction rather than do mental aerobics trying to remember that great idea you had last month so as to not waste unexpected opportunities. Keep a kit with you - a sketchbook and a pen or pencil at minimum - at all times so that you can take advantage of "downtime" opportunities as they come along.

And last but not least, focus on the good stuff! Ditch the stress! Beating ourselves up for not doing something, not getting enough done, and/or not doing it well enough is not only extremely counterproductive it serves no purpose. After berating yourself, are you really more motivated? Down that path lies discouragement, demotivation, and eventually, we may even abandon our goals as too hard, too much, too draining. Use that energy to celebrate accomplishments instead, no matter how small. If I drew 5 minutes every day this week, I'd celebrate that rather than beat myself up for not finishing a painting.

Some other ideas to explore: use a timer to put yourself on a time budget so as not to spend too much time on the fun stuff and not enough time on the not-so-fun stuff; be flexible; accept that with some things, good is enough; learn to delegate; learn to say no - every time you say yes think about what you'll have to give up or won't be able to do; change your focus to what you have and what you can do with it rather than what you don't have and wishing for it; be grateful for what you can do and for what you get done!

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Postscript: Lisa of Greenbow suggested doing an activity - like gardening - for 15 minutes a day! It's a great feeling to see a garden, a painting, or your special project happen by using just 15 minutes a day. Great suggestion, Lisa, thanks!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What Are You Waiting For?! Begin Already!

It seems a lot of us are suffering from being "out of sync", "out of balance" and just plain old "can't get it all done." This post is about some of what I've learned about time management, procrastination, the evil of perfectionism and the woes of not knowing where to start, what to do, or when to do what.

Here is Part I:

Act! Now. Today. This very moment. Now, wait a minute, I hear in chorus from those of you reading this post. Are you crazy? On what?! When?!! How?!! Read on!

Let's start with what. The "what" or "where" doesn't really matter - just begin! Instead of beginning, we waste time trying to figuring out the perfect place to start, the best method, which step first, whether we'll have enough time, how far can we get, what we'll do if we do it wrong, or get started in the wrong spot. Whoa, enough already! Just begin!

Be willing to begin imperfectly! When you think about it, what do we begin perfectly? Very little, it's just that we have more faith in other beginnings and so we do not mire them in guilt, worry, perfectionism and procrastination. Need a plan? Okay, make one, but don't mistake it for a start. Plans are good, even desirable, but they are worthless if we do not begin! Nor do they guarantee against misadventures, mistakes, detours, or interruptions. If we are willing to accept that a beginning, no matter how imperfect, is better than no beginning, we take a huge step forward.

If not now, when? There's always going to be obstacles to the flow, interruptions to the process, detours that will come up, unforeseen. Accept that, and begin anyway! Why wait for that perfect, uninterrupted block of time we all wish for, dream of and pine for when you know it's not likely to happen?! Consider that if we worked on our drawing skills for just 5 minutes a day, at the end of one year we would have worked on them over 30 hours! Unrealistic, you say? 5 minutes a day for 5 days a week and you'll still have over 21 hours!

How many opportunities do we let go by that we could be accomplishing something because they're imperfect - not enough time, there are other people around, it's too late, too early, too hot, too cold, it's raining, it's dark, it's light, too tired, too stressed, too [fill in the blank]. We procrastinate by confusing needs with wants. Do we need to do this thing OR do we want to do this thing? It comes down to acting on the imperfect choice.

To be continued tomorrow!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pink Petticoats Peony - FINISHED

Pink Petticoats Peony
Original Watercolor by Laure Ferlita
© 2009 All Rights Reserved
8.25" x 4.375" (20.96 cm x 11.11 cm)

Last week I mentioned that I had not been painting and was feeling out of sync. I thought I was going to paint that evening, but it didn't happen as planned. It was the next day and I think, by then, I was starved for color and for the fluid motion of watercolor. When it came time to do the background, I wet the paper and let fly with the color!

I tilted the paper to get the paint to move and then sat back to see what would happen. The difficult challenge on this piece was to put in the shadows on whitish-pink petals and still have them read as whitish-pink petals as well as to have the shadows look luminous and not too "heavy." It has been a fun and just what the doctor ordered! No more outta sync! This painting has also served to light the fire again and you can believe I'll be back in the studio tomorrow!

Available for purchase. For purchase information, please click here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Because We Never Know . . . .

This is a sad post tonight but one I feel strongly about as it carries an urgent message. My husband and I learned today that a family friend recently collapsed and was taken to the hospital with acute liver failure. She's now on life support. The family is gathering near as she cannot survive. The doctors are unsure as to how long she'll last as her organs have begun shutting down.

If there's someone you haven't spoken to in a while, and need to, or just simply want to, pick up the phone. Now.

If there's someone you need to settle business with, settle it. Immediately.

If there's someone that needs to hear you say "I love you," say it. Now.

If there's someone who needs to hear you say "I'm sorry," apologize. Now.

This woman has been a part of my life for as long and as far back as I can remember. I haven't seen her since November. She's only 44 years old.

You never know when it will be too late to say what's on your mind and your heart. Share it now. While you still can. Because we never know . . . . .

Please note, that I have chosen to turn the comments off as this is simply an urgent message, a reminder if you will, that we do not have any time but the moment we are in. Please use this moment wisely.