Friday, August 24, 2012

Meet My New Beastie!

You thought that was a typo, didn't you?
My Best Beastie Forever!
Earlier this month, Chris and I decided to replace our old "beast." Others would refer to this as exercise equipment...I would not. I started out calling our first exercise machine the Beast because, well, it was a beast.

It could give you a beastly workout. It would hurt you if you weren't careful.

But the computer brain started dying.

And it was hard to challenge yourself because according to the computer you never went faster than 1 MPH. Sometimes the clock worked, sometimes it didn't. Not much fun if you can't challenge yourself. And so the beast turned into a forgotten pile of metal and plastic parts upon which the dust faeries dance.

Enter the Millie Beast.

She is a much more brutal Beast than the prior Beast. She and I have spent the first couple of weeks circling around each other, feeling each other out, getting acquainted.

Then, one day out of the blue, she kicked my backside. All the way to the curb.

Just like that. No warning. No by the way. She just laid waste to me like I was a wimp (which I am, but don't tell her that).

And I decided that I would show her who was boss.

So she kicked my backside to the curb again, and she didn't even have the courtesy to break a sweat or breathe hard.

That made me mad. And I decided I would get even for that last like kick-butt she gave me....

I unplugged her from the wall.

Take that, Millie Beast!

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And now for our guest artist's addition to the original sketch:
Thanks, Chris, for making me laugh out loud!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Imaginary Trips' Kits at Daniel Smith!!

To view the Web page, please click here
They're here, they're here, they're finally here!! The new Imaginary Trips' Basic Watercolor Kit and the Imaginary Trips' Complete Kit are now available through Daniel Smith! You can learn more about them by clicking on their names or by following the link under the graphic.

This has been a long while coming and I want to thank all of the wonderful "travelers" that made this happen. All of you who have joined me in adventures big and small, trip and visits, foundations and explorations, thanks for making this a reality!

For those of you who already have a kit, you can still shop at Daniel Smith and save! Enter the following two codes at checkout to save up to 15%! Please enter WSCHOOL2 and TRP00362 at checkout. Please note the discount will not apply to the kits as they've already been discount MORE than 15%!

Your purchases will accrue points and when the points add up, Daniel Smith will be issuing gift certificates that I will be giving away on the blog and on the live trips with Imaginary Trips Made Real!

Again, thanks to all who have helped get Imaginary Trips and Daniel Smith together!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pen Practice in my Junk Journal

Pen and watercolor
Junk Journal
8 x 10 inches
One Thanksgiving evening some years back, I was puttering around in the studio without enough live brain cells left to actually create art, but still hankering for a creative outlet. In the days prior to the holiday, I had set aside some magazines and an old journal from my college days to be recycled.

My eyes fell on the journal and I decided to get some use out of it before I recycled it. It was old, the paper cheap. The pages were beginning to yellow just a bit, but other than the first 30 pages or so, it was blank.

I grab a couple of pens and went and plopped down on the couch and started to draw out some ideas that were buzzing around in my brain. I wanted them out of my head and into the world.

Too tired to care, I grabbed a turquoise and lime green Sharpie® markers.  Rather than go with the usual black ones, I played and scribbled and scratched.

It didn't take long for me to realize there was "gold" in this old, cheap journal. Creative gold!

There was no pressure to make "good enough" art. There was NO expectations that I would do anything with the journal other than test ideas, practice pen work or do thumbnails. I tried watercolor just to see what would happen...the paper puckered up like it had kissed a lemon!

The paper was so thin I started to use a piece of cardboard between pages to keep the ink from bleeding through to the next page, but if it did, no problem, I just scribbled on the page anyway. I was free to play without worrying about wasting "good paper." It felt fabulous!

If you're anything like me (and I think you are!), how often have you bought a fabulous journal thinking this will be the one, the one that you'll really start using today...only to get home and put it on the shelf with the other fabulous journals you have bought because you can't quite bring yourself to work on the "good stuff?"  

Do you make promises to yourself (like I did) along the lines of "when I get better" or "when I learn how to," then you'll start using the good stuff?

Let me suggest a compromise...get a junk journal and one pull out one of those fabulous journals you've put up on the shelf. When you have an idea for a journal page, use the junk journal to play, test out your idea, your layout, your lettering, or anything you're not sure about. Then, create the page in the "good journal."

You may still be nervous to be using the good stuff, but having played in your junk journal, you're much more likely to get results that you like.

I highly recommend either getting a junk journal or finding a journal you've purchased in the past and not used because of the paper quality/performance. Try playing and practicing in it before jumping into the good stuff—you'll be surprised.

The other cool thing about keeping a junk journal is that it becomes a treasure trove of ideas and progress! You can look back through the journal and see ideas that may spark a new idea for today as well as see the progress you've made with your drawing and layout skills.

My junk journals have become priceless tools!
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The sketch above was done the other evening when, once again, I had very few active brain cells. It was fun to play with no expectations of finished art, but rather just an opportunity to create without expectation.

Adding the watercolor on a whim, I was surprised to see that this paper didn't buckle as badly as the very first junk journal I started with, however, ink bleed through is still an issue.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Painting Standing Up and Upside Down! (San Fran)

California Poppies - Detail
Click to Enlarge
If you've been reading Painted Thoughts blog for any time at all, you know that I worship at the altar of details. Love, LOVE, LOVE details! It is in my nature to sit down and paint the finest of details for hours on end.

It's also crazy making.

When I don't have the level of detail I think I "need" in a photo reference or worse, when half way through the painting, I'm done. Finished. O.V.E.R. I.T. And it makes me crazy.
Such gorgeous oranges, yellows and pinks!
Click to Enlarge
Then I rush through to the end and invariably regret it afterwords.

One of the things that travel sketching as well as sketching on location has taught me is there is no time for detail-worship. You go for big shapes, smaller shapes in shapes and then a few well chosen details and you're off to the next location.

Yes, at first it bothered me to leave out those scrumptious details.

Until I realized that sometimes less is more. It's kinda fun to paint an image and leave just enough out that the viewer can and does interpret the work differently from me.
So easy to get lost in all that detail!
Click to Enlarge
Now, with this said, my default position is to get into the details waaaay too soon in a sketch or painting. I've had to get fairly "inventive" to outsmart my detail-loving-self.

I painted this standing up with the sketchbook turned upside down with a number 10 round with one hand tied behind my back!

....oops, wait, no, just kidding. I didn't tie my hand back.

Once the entire painting was dry, I sat down and painted in a few of the details—still using the #10 brush. I had to restrain myself from putting in every crinkle and wrinkle in those sweet, happy flowers.

And yes, it was hard not to go overboard with the details given to my desire to paint every stamen, shadow, crinkle, and hair.
Full Spread of California Poppies
11 x 8.5 inches
Click to Enlarge
I am so glad I didn't. These flowers were so beautiful swaying in the breeze with their bright happy faces lifted to the sun. We saw these all over San Francisco...in gardens, by utility poles, in sidewalk crevices. It didn't matter where they were, they were beautiful.

These are not as loose as some would paint, but for me, given my proclivity for painting every single detail, this is loose! I still fed my desire for detail by including "just enough" detail to balance out the loose. I'm a happy girl!

Join me in my happy dance, won't you?!
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I hope you'll consider joining me on "An Imaginary Trip to San Francisco!" The "trip" begins on August 16th. Click here for more information and I hope to see you there!