Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the arboretum pond

PC and I went to the Arboretum on campus yesterday for a couple hours. We sat in front of this pond (which has huge freaking fish in it, by the way. and also frogs. lots of frogs) and he drew in his sketchbook and I painted with my watercolors.

We watched the geese meander up and down the hills and in and out of the water while we sat with our shirts off (and some of us in a swimsuit) on an old blanket in the warm sunshine.

I think it's kinda cute for a quick study of water (which I'm not at all good at painting yet, but maybe with some more practice?). But anyways, we both decided it was a good use of our time. We got to spend a couple hours in the sunshine flexing our artistic muscles. Even though we are both very different, we have some very neat similarities.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the finished project

Well, school has been out since Thursday, but here is my final project all finished. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

summer finals

Today was my last day of summer watercolor painting, so to celebrate we painted tractors. I know that just sounds super exciting, doesn't it? But well, really, it was a bunch of fun. This mostly stems from the fact that we got to turn the tractors into something they aren't and create a narrative with our painting.

My painting is a tractor gone horribly, horribly wrong. I took the idea of "Frank" from the movie "Cars" except that I made him into a zombie tractor who noms on people. I know - I spend too much time with video games and boys. But I think this picture is pretty freakin' hilarious.

And then Mr. Teacher Man let us out early to work on our final projects. I had absolutely positively no idea what to do. Nothing. I drew a complete blank. So instead of rushing right home to get on that whole idea of finishing my project, I kidnapped PC and we went to lay in the field. Because that's what you do when you're supposed to be doing homework.

We went to Ross and then to WinCo and then back home, where we played some Mortal Kombat and ate pepperoni pizza and I pretended to be thinking about something to do for my project. We finished the pizza, decided to be done with the video game, and I stared at my art supplies. Ugh.

I googled "white vase flowers spring" and combined two different pictures. One with pink and yellow flowers and one with blue. But once I sketched out the bouquet and painted the flowers in, I felt like it was a little empty. So I decided to add a little bee in my painting, just to give it some character.

Before I put him in the picture though, I had to practice because unlike oil painting, once you put something in a watercolor it's there forever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

some new stuff

The summer session is almost to an end. This is my last week of class! And we are rushing around getting everything finished!

Also, the weather finally (finally!) warmed up this week, so we are going to be outside! Outside!

This was outside at an abandoned pea factory on probably the coldest day of the "summer." I wore flip flops (that's right!) and my poor toes turned purple. Purple! I suppose I was asking for it with my questionable footwear? Oh well.

This painting took place in the middle of an alley way. I was questioned by two cops and asked to move out of the way multiple times. I embraced my inner rebel though, and I got the painting done. It was fun and now every time we see cops around the town my professor always says to me "Katie, I don't want you to sit in the middle of the road today."

That's funny for two reasons. The first being that my name is not Katie, that's just what he calls me. The second being that he always says it with a mischievous glint in his eye because really deep down inside he's five years old, too - just like me.

This painting is my master study for the semester. It's Winslow Homes' "The Green Dory" and I there are lots of things I like about this painting, but as with any piece of art there are also lots of things I hate about it. But I'll have you know that my aunt saw my post about it on Facebook and immediately laid claim. She's so spoiled! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

i'm getting better with green

This was my outside assignment. We had to do our own botanical illustration, so I painted from a picture that I took at the Botanical Gardens in San Diego. 

This one is from class today. We had 30 minutes to go pick a spot, paint a picture and get back to class. Then we were supposed to take what we had just painted and recreate it on a larger scale. I like the little one the best, so there you go.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I started my day off right, with a little wind and a little rain at about 50 degrees. We were outside the sculpture lab, clear at the other end of campus from where I'd regrettably parked my car - probably a twenty or twenty-five minute walk away.

Mr. Teacher Man told us to paint something we wouldn't normally paint - something ugly. I started sketching this little red shoddy looking Toyota pick up truck. My sketches were coming out great and I was ready to start painting when the owner came out of the building and drove away. I picked up my stuff from the middle of the small dirt parking lot and stood on the cement patio by Mr. Teacher Man. I had no clue what to do now.

There was a rickety old shack, but I like to paint rickety old shacks, so that was out of the question. There was an ugly sort of square metal cube sculpture that could be quite interesting, but one of my classmates was directly in front of it. And there was a giant red billboard way across the field by Jackson St. I opted for the enormous advertisement. If billboards are one thing, it's an eyesore. They wreck perfectly good scenery with bright colors and larger then life images. Mr. Teacher Man hates them, and since I was mostly at a loss for good ideas, he told me to paint the billboard.

I like the green grass on the right side of the picture, and the way the darker dips down into the lighter grass to give it a little bit more of a pop forward in the picture. And I'm totally digging the power lines. Love them. I had a lot of issues with the billboard though, mostly I struggled to get the perspective right.

Perspective is a tricky little snot. You don't realize how important it is until some part of it has gone awry. At first my billboard was backwards. The perspective and angles of the edges didn't flow with the rest of the picture, so I had to fix it. The billboard in my painting is actually a mirror of the billboard in real life, but it works.

This is what I painted after I got tired of messing with the billboard. I love mostly everything about this painting, actually. Mr. Teacher Man gave me some dun dun da Super Gouache! to use on the branches to make them just pop a little bit more.

And then it started to sprinkle and it ruined the nice smooth colors I had going on with little splashes of water. They're especially prominent in the lower half of the painting. But whatever. You know. It's cool. I suppose.

Know what else is cool? Bathroom pictures. Yeah that's right, I went there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

botanical illustrations are not my forte

I found it a little funny that a couple days ago I stumbled across a blog in the "Blogs of Note" that linked me to the author's gallery website. Take a look at her floral prints, they are beautifully rendered. The reason that this is slightly humorous to me because this week in my watercolor class we are focusing on plants - mainly close ups of different kinds.

Yesterday we worked from flowers in the arboretum, and there were those beautiful western irises we all love so dearly. Today Mr. Teacher Man told us to go outside and pick a flower that we would like to paint. There is a beautiful bleeding heart plant outside the building that I knew is the one I wanted to paint because it looks like this:

I have grown up being told not to pick the flowers. If everybody just wanted to take 'one flower' then there would be no flowers at all! So you better just leave those alone Natalie Dawn, lest you be in major trouble. So, it kind of hurt my soul a little to break off a stem of these pretty flowers to paint. And it hurt even worse when after I was done the pretty little pink blooms got tossed in the trash can.

(Sorry for the poor quality photo. The lighting in our classroom is really not that great and my camera was just my cell phone. It didn't really want to cooperate because it was up too late last night and didn't sleep very well at all. It always gets grumpy when that happens...)

But you can see what we were trying to do. Nothing like Miss Margarethe can do, but it's really my beginning attempt at this type of painting. The idea is to be very detailed, and well really, that's just not my strong suit. Have you seen my artwork? Detailed it is not!

On the flip side, I think I have a new favorite flower - calla lilies, poppies, and now bleeding hearts. I bet that would make a pretty bouquet though, don't you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

i didn't promise you a rose garden

I love flowers. There are so many different colors, shapes, sizes and smells of flowers that I don't believe you could ever be bored of them. I love vibrantly colored flowers the best, and there is a garden on A street that is full of bright reds and yellows and pinks that I simply cannot get enough of! I would love to have a garden that colorful, but I think my distaste for weeding overpowers my appreciation of fresh flowers, so I'm more inclined to just relish in your flowers than try to grow my own.

These flowers are Western Irises, and they are beautiful. These particular blossoms live in the Arboretum on campus, which, coincidentally, is also where we ended up painting today. I have not ventured into the Arboretum except for once last September with my new roommates in the dark. Therefore, I had no idea the wonders to behold when walking around the luscious green pathways. Did you know there are ponds down there? Ponds! With turtles! And frogs!

There are lilac bushes bigger than China and huge willow trees that look like they could swallow you whole.

We walked and walked and walked until we came out on the other side next to a big red barn. I love barns, especially big red ones. And this barn was behind a big garden with Western Irises, Bearded Irises (of every freakin' color you can think of!), Daffodils, more flowers that I can't remember the names of, different types of grasses and lovely, lovely trees.

Unfortunately the weather felt like being really uncooperative (how rude!) and rained for a majority of the time we were down there. I don't know if you realize just how difficult that makes trying to paint with watercolors...since it's water falling from the sky onto your paper and messing up your colors. Plus, your paper can't really ever dry if it's being constantly sprinkled on. My first paintings of the Bearded Irises turned into splashes of color instead of beautiful flowers.

But then around 3:30 the rain began to lighten up, and I moved on from the beards to the westerns. The gorgeous purple flowers were practically just begging to be painted, so I set up shop in order to record their loveliness.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

From A Distance

This is my brother. He graduates high school on Friday.

(now that is a scary thought)
go to i{heart}faces to see more "at a distance" photography

Squirrel Hair

So, I bought a new watercolor brush. It's made from squirrel hair and it set me back $27.50. I know, right? Cheap.

My friend Rebecca said that she would send me a squirrel from the side of the road and then I could just make the brush myself. But I opted for letting a professional build my brush, and this is the one I got:

Although, it might have been cheaper to go with Rebecca's plan, you think?

This is a size three brush. I wanted a four, but they were all out. Plus, a four would have been even more money (because it would be bigger) and well, I'm a poor art student. It works wonders though, this brush of squirrel descent. Much better than my mop brush.

Theses are the brushes that I had been using. The red one came with my watercolor paint set, and the yellow one is my mop brush made out of goat hair.

See how these brushes have stray bristles? There's not really a nice point on them, so they can potentially make marks where I don't want there to be any. This is because these brushes are really inexpensive and low quality.

My new brush is the best of both worlds, it's big to cover the space the mop brush does, and it has a nice tip on it, like the finer brush. I can cover a vast area and finish it with some detail all with the same brush. And it keeps the pigment longer than the other brushes. It's amazing the difference a high quality paint brush makes.

This is what I did today. I didn't use my mop brush at all, just the squirrel hair and my cheap little red one. But I like the way it turned out. It's surprisingly a lot easier painting with the new brush, but I still need lots more practice with it before I feel comfortable using it.

I just hope it doesn't start demanding peanuts and snack bars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

let's get steamy

 I've heard about people painting in the steam plant on campus, but I'd never been inside it until today. The Teach was telling us not to touch the pipes that run along the walkway because they're super hot and he didn't want any of our hands to burn off.

We started by painting the outside. Today I took pictures of what I was painting before I painted it in order to show you guys what liars us painters can really be.

My representation of the outside of the steam plant is not really like what it actually looks like. The idea is to simplify your painting into a few shapes, because if you try to paint everything that's in front of you you'll be sitting there painting until Kingdom Come.

Therefore, cut stuff out. And also, feel free to move stuff around or ignore other things all together. Painting can be really fascinating for this reason. It's art and therefore it's the artist's interpretation of a place. We're more concerned with capturing the mood of a place (something photos can't do!) than we are with getting every detail right.

(I like todays paintings better than the ones I did yesterday. However, I'm gonna crop the outside painting because when I took off the tape, it tore my paper a little bit. Plus, I don't feel like the bottom half (where it tore) is as strong as the upper half, so boom! Gone.)

We moved inside the steam plant, which was a lot nicer than being outside in the rain. Not only is it very warm, but also very diverse as far as what you can paint and the angles from which you can choose to paint it.

I went up three flights of stairs and sat next to this beautiful red pipe. It was love at first sight.

And I'm rather proud of what I accomplished. I think I just could spend every rainy day painting inside the steam plant.