Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nature's Classroom - GIVEAWAY!

Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
Three or four years ago, I got an idea to paint old "specimen cards" that looked like they came out of a kid's science kit. You may remember them—they had a few slides, a small, low-powered microscope, and a manual about how to find "specimens."

I decided to start with a Google search of specimen cards. I came up with a lot of interesting hits, but nothing like I had in my imagination. I set about drawing out my idea and combined it with a paintbrush. The brush seemed more appropriate as much of my learning has been acquired at the tip of a paintbrush.

After the cards were drawn and painted, I decided to add some of the items from my personal "nature collection." Over the years, my husband and family have learned to save dead bug carcasses, butterfly wings, and bird egg shells (among other things) for me. Odd, I suppose, but each item is cherished!

From there, I was stuck. What to add next? Finally, I happen to be taking some photos of my journal with my palette sitting in the photo as well. I decided to add the palette. The palette itself is an old one from Winsor Newton that has 18 quarter-wells. A month or so later, I stumbled across a pair of binoculars my husband used to collect—into the painting they went.

Again, I lost direction and the painting laid, neglected and unfinished, for nearly a year.

The issue was that I could not figure out the background. I thought about rocks, grass, pebbles, or some other surface—outside. I wanted to get it finished, but just couldn't quite see the background working out. One day, Chris and I were in the studio and he asked why I hadn't finished the painting.
Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
I told him about my dilemma and he immediately started making suggestions. When he suggested the surface of his antique Federal Reserve desk that he uses as an art desk in his studio I knew that was my answer! It was a reddish oak with heavy graining and years of abuse—perfect!

Well, almost perfect.

I had not taken into consideration that I might be doing a dark background and I needed to figure out a way to keep the binocs from getting "lost" against such a background. I knew a piece of paper would work, but what kind of paper?

I wanted something that would tell a story. I had recently purchased some old French letters from an online store and with them came an old air mail envelope. That became my model with sketches and notes on it as if I had gone to the post office and become captivated by the falling leaves.

For balance, the compass and leaf were added. Now I only had one "blank spot." Imagine my joy (and relief) when the new hardbound  Stillman & Birn sketchbook arrived! A sketchbook! Yes! The final piece.

Nature's Classroom was (finally!!) completed this month. It has a little bit of everything in it as fair as medium goes, but the majority of it watercolor. I love the fact that there was never a "still life" set up—it was all created piecemeal until it came together as a whole.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of the odyssey, I will be offering one 8 x 10 print* of Nature's Classroom as a giveaway!  This is a win-it-before-you-can-buy-it deal. I will be offering the prints in my Etsy shop after the giveaway.

If you'd be interested in winning this print, leave me a comment below about what you've learned in Mother Nature's classroom! 
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*This giveaway is for one 8 x 10 inch print of Nature's Classroom. This is for the print only. No copyrights or rights are included. The print may not be reproduced for any reason without written consent from the artist.
Please leave a comment (just one, please!) on this post by Thursday night, November 1st, at 12:00 am EST. The winner will be announced on Friday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sassy, Rich, Decadent Reds!

Watercolor and Ink
5.5 x 7.5 inches
From "An Imaginary Visit To Autumn"
Online Class
Are you out and about taking advantage of the glorious show that Mother Nature is putting on right now!?! Whenever I go to an area that is just brimming with over-saturated reds, golds and rusts, I do my level best to try and capture all those shades, hues and tints of color on my page.

There is no better time than Autumn to really play in all those glorious colors we have in our paintbox. What happens when we mix red and green, red and gold or red and teal? Do you know? If not, or if you're not sure, get out some scrap paper similar to what you sketch on and create some color charts:
Just a few color swatches to see what I could create
with the color combos on my palette
Play, have fun, explore...this is the perfect time of year for it! What you learn in Autumn will come in handy when you go to paint the reds of the holiday season, the buds of Spring, and the blooms of summer!

There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to watercolors and the occasional refresher color chart will make you glad you decide to play a little!

So, what are you painting for Autumn? Please share!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Falling Into Autumn

As I visit friends around the blogosphere, I see signs of Autumn everywhere. Fires in fireplaces, folks in sweaters and jackets and Autumn's bounty have begun to show up in images posted over at Flickr and on the blogs. 
Watercolor and Ink
3.5 x 8.5 inches
It is not yet Autumn here in Florida though we have had a few low-humidity days that makes it feel as if Autumn is just around the corner. There's also been a change in the light quality that indicates the seasons are grudgingly giving over to change. 

The art pictured above is a piece I created a few years ago. So far, we haven't had much in the way of color, but we do have a bountiful crop of acorns! I'll be working with artists in An Imaginary Visit To Autumn starting October 18th. We'll be focusing on capturing the rich, varied hues that make this time of year such a pleasure to capture in our sketchbooks!

If you're interested in joining us, please click here for more information. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ever Wonder Why?

Taking Flight
Watercolor
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 inches
Who among us has not wished they could do something, like sketching or painting, with ease? 

How about draw or use color the way another artist does? 

And the perennial favorite, wished we could draw/paint/sketch just like _________________ (fill in the blank with the name of the current "art hero/heroine").

How many times have you thought about quitting, threatened to quit or actually taken the steps to quit because the process was a struggle, the work didn't turn out right, or worse, didn't turn out like that lovely piece of work in your mind or like your favorite hero/heroine's work? Again.

I've quit.

I've lost track of the number of times I've quit "art." 

But…one thing stays the same….sooner or later, I hear the siren's call and I have to pick up pen, pencil, brush and paper all over again. 

If you've quit, what made you come back?

Ever wonder why we do this "quitting" only to come back? And why do some of us quit over and over again?

Any thoughts you'd like to share on why or what you've learned?