How to Get Rid of the Winter Blues

This winter has been bitterly cold for some of you folks. It has been cold in Atlanta (12 degrees today plus wind), but we have nothing like the feet of snow piled at some of your doors. The lack of sunshine often brings on the winter blues for some.

Each new year I begin with a project or class to refocus my attitude and give me a case of anything but the blues.

This year I am taking an on-line class led by artists Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple. Last year I took a class with Carla on drawing faces.

Ink painted with eye dropper.
Ink painted with eye dropper.

I lived in Orlando so was familiar with Lynn’s work having admired it in festivals and studio open houses.

What could be more perfect than a blend of the two?

We are in month two of a year’s study. This is pure unadulterated fun. No talent or experience required. There is a monthly discussion of art business if you are slanted in that direction.

Here are a few of the projects I have completed.

The first exercises were one liners or as we used to call them in school, gesture drawings.

Bird One Liner
Bird One Liner
Bird Overlay
Bird Overlay

A little collage fun followed the one liner drawings.

Collage with Family Photo.
Collage with Family Photo.
Unc!
Unc!

A combination of new materials was ahead with plexiglass lessons!

My bags are Packed.
My Bags are Packed.
A Bird in the Hand.
A Bird in the Hand.

My winter blues have been swept away with this art adventure. “All will be revealed” as the year rolls by. I challenge you to take a class, in person or on-line. It is a great reason to get up in the morning and have to show up. Blues be damned.

 

Massey

I was fortunate to receive a request for a commission before Christmas. The lovely Kathleen asked if I could paint a portrait of her boyfriend’s dog Massey.

Absolutely!

She sent me photos of man’s best friend and I began. The blue adds to the depth in the color of her coat.

Blue Massey
Blue Massey
Those red eyes are scaring me Massey.
Those red eyes are scaring me Massey.
Much better.
Much better.
Hmmm, a dog and a car?
Hmmm, a dog and a car?

The eyes on a portrait, whether a pet or person are key to the success of the piece. The car and boat in the background are favorite things for Massey’s owner.

Beef up the colors and add a name.
Beef up the colors and add a name.

Putting her name on the canvas anchors the image and makes it more personal, no mistaking this is Massey if her name is there.

FullSizeRender (2)

I added some complementary colors around the subject to add some pizzazz to the background.

Chewy Spree.
Chewy Spree.

Massey had a nice drive in the car while being fed some Chewy Spree so I thought, why not? They are part of her story and they add some movement and color to the painting. The car and canoe are also getting more attention as I model their shapes with shadow.

Good dog Massey.
Good dog Massey.

The car is now in a picture frame portraying a photo of a favorite vehicle and handy dandy canoe, adventure around the corner with that.

Kathleen, Hank and Beth with painting of Massey.
Kathleen, Hank and Beth with painting of Massey.

The delightful couple with the Christmas gift in hand. Watching Hank realize this was his dog and his present was a wonderful gift to me.

Thank you Kathleen!

 

 

Cityscapes

Several months ago while sitting in a hotel in Austin, Texas I began to draw some little fantasy cityscapes. Odd shaped buildings, bright colors and people with pointed hats.

Big Town, watercolor and ink, 6" x 8", copyright ECR 2014
Big Town, watercolor and ink, 6″ x 8″, copyright ECR 2014

I really enjoyed adding watercolor to the little pencil drawings and outlining everything in ink.

watercolor and ink, 6" x 8". copyright ECR 2014
watercolor and ink, 6″ x 8″. copyright ECR 2014

Then I was asked to create a Calgary cityscape for a party in Canada. The bright colors seemed a little too bright for an actual city.

Calgary, watercolor and ink, 8" x 10", copyright ECR 2014
Calgary, watercolor and ink, 8″ x 10″, copyright ECR 2014

I was asked to do a cityscape of London. What a treat that was. This was for a lovely young woman who has become a friend of our family. In researching the appearance of the city I was surprised at what I found. In the early seventies we lived in London for two summers. This was not the same place I remembered, beautiful, but a real departure from my memories.

London watercolor and ink, 8" x 10", copyright 2014 ECR
London
watercolor and ink, 8″ x 10″, copyright 2014 ECR

Sadly the events in Paris last week prompted me to create a piece with that city as the focus.

Paris watercolor and ink, 8" x 10", copyright 2015 ECR
Paris
watercolor and ink, 8″ x 10″, copyright 2015 ECR

I will hope that future cities are depicted for joy and gifts of love and not as tributes to a tragic event.

One of my goals for this year is 12 commissions. If you are interested in a cityscape of your own or for a gift please drop me an email and I will let you know the particulars. beth@bethroomel.com.

 

Calgary Skyline

Last week I went to Calgary, Alberta for a Christmas event. There was going to be a traditional gift giving so I was encouraged to do more of these.

watercolor and ink, 6" x 8". copyright ECR 2014
My Town, watercolor and ink, 6″ x 8″. copyright ECR 2014
Big Town, watercolor and ink, 6" x 8", copyright ECR 2014
Big Town, watercolor and ink, 6″ x 8″, copyright ECR 2014

I researched the skyline of this lovely city and created this piece.

Calgary, watercolor and ink, 8" x 10", copyright ECR 2014
Calgary, watercolor and ink, 8″ x 10″, copyright ECR 2014

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

A Cup of Christmas

My dear friend Barbara Barth, also known as Writer with Dogs, has compiled an anthology of Christmas writings this year. A nice way to get into the spirit of the season with authors from around the world. This fun, free, and beautiful kindle book is entitled A Cup of Christmas.

Cup of Christmas
Cup of Christmas

It can be downloaded at no charge till Thursday, December 4th. After that the book will be available for your kindle for $1.99. All proceeds will be donated to First Book, a literacy charity.

First Book
First Book, a literacy charity giving new books to young readers

One of my short stories….and Mistletoe is a Parasite that Grows in Texas is included. It all starts here with our heroine:

This year Grace is entered in the Mistletoe Queen pageant. She looks down at her new pumps dyed red to match her ruby colored baby doll gown. They are mottled with dust from the dry Texas parking lot. Mama had parked the El Dorado in the handicapped space saying she was special today….

…and so it goes. You can read more of my story and more by some terrific authors by going to this link at amazon: Cup of Christmas

To kick start your holiday you may download the kindle version of this anthology for free till Thursday, December 4th, so be sure to check it out today.

Merry Christmas all.

Have You Reached Success?

Our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) local group of illustrators met at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens last weekend. We scattered throughout the park to find something that enchanted. That is always easy at this beautiful site. In October the scarecrow competition was on display, the fall leaves were showing their colors, and the mosaiculture sculptures are everywhere.

Mosaiculture gorilla.
Mosaiculture gorilla. It is hard to see scale, but these are about 7 feet tall.

I had been to the gardens one evening in the previous week. There I scouted for what I would like to draw. These heads representing the seasons were beautiful.

The maquette models for the giant sculptures outside.
The maquette models for the giant sculptures outside.

The actual sculptures are approximately 15 feet tall. They are beyond description, during the day or night they are wonderful and beautiful in their workmanship.

Outdoor sculpture at night.
Outdoor sculpture at night.

Michael Allen Austin, the nicest man in the children’s book illustrating business, had prompts for us to pursue as we drew and wandered the gardens.

I chose to turn my winter sculpture man into a character that was a gnarly sort of Heathcliff. I picture him wandering the moors brooding.

Winter Heathcliff.
Winter Heathcliff.

Heathcliff is on a 14″ x 17″ sheet of 98lb mixed media paper. I used watercolor pencils while at the gardens. Back in the studio I added the water and tried out my new watercolor markers. More color needed to be added with regular watercolor and detail outlined with black ink.

As always, seeing the group is a pleasure and inspiring. This time we all described how we would know if we had reached success. Write down your personal list and check it in five years. We all have a tendency to move the goal post so we never feel we have reached success. Maybe you already have and don’t know it.

Painting at Booth Western Art Museum

I was so honored to be invited to paint at the Booth Western Art Museum last Friday. A fund raiser for the Young Philanthropists organization was  held in the evening. Four artists were creating pieces while music played. We had about an hour and a quarter to finish our work. First we wandered this amazing museum, a jewel box of western art set in Cartersville, GA. The bronzes, the paintings, and the kindest, brightest group of people you would ever want to meet were all there.

I arrived with an easel, supplies and a large sheet of watercolor paper painted with a gray blue wash. The party begins with music playing and attendees mingling and enjoying themselves. I start to sketch.

and I begin....
and I begin….

Pencil on acrylic wash to get a sense of where I am going with this piece.

As the evening goes so does the painting.
As the evening goes so does the painting.

The paint goes on as the cowboy, horse, barn, fence, and trees begin to appear.

Adding some green grass.
Adding some green grass.

The grass, highlights, a few sparks of color to add some zip are the last things to add.

Finished art, Come with Me.
Finished art, Come with Me.

I was so happy to see my friend Kitty Klein at the event. She brought her husband, John and friend, Lee Ann.

Beth with Kitty Klein.
Beth with Kitty Klein.

As the artists finished their paintings cowboy hats were set out for raffle tickets. Party goers could put their tickets in the hats at each artist’s station.

The climactic moment arrived, with painting in hand I went to the stage to explain my painting. Both of my grandfathers had had horses. One was an actual cowboy in west Texas while the other was part of a mounted posse in Arizona. The latter actually passed away while riding his beloved Palomino. Horses have been a favorite part of my life as well.

The raffle ticket was drawn and the winner was the lovely Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and her new painting.
Elizabeth and her new painting.

What a pleasure to see my painting go to somebody who was so excited and pleased to have it.

Thank you so much to this wonderful organization for including me in this magic evening.

 

 

Competition Cat

Last weekend I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Birmingham, Alabama. This meeting was designated as Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK).

As the event draws to a close the prompt for the following year’s competition is announced. In 2013 the illustrators received their information: “Look out P.J. it’s a……” The artist fills in the blank and completes an image to enter.

I thought that I would like to use a flying cat since I had 2 models sleeping in my studio.  With the main character being a cat, the word feline seemed to be an appropriate part of the sentence. With dictionary open on my computer I began to look up science terms. Well, why not work with alliteration as one does in children’s literature. Back to the science terms under the letter F.

“Look out P.J. it’s a flyby feline fission flux.” These are all science terms that could pertain to space.

The Steampunk look was on my mind so off I went. Alli was on the floor stretching beside my chair.

Steampunk Alli sketch.
Steampunk Alli sketch.

Now who would P.J. be? Hmmm, who would be afraid of a flying Steampunk cat? Steampunk mice of course.

Steampunk mice.
Steampunk mice.

Some positioning thoughts.

How do cats fly?
How do cats fly?
How do mice look afraid of flying cats?
How do mice look afraid of flying cats?

One of my favorite tools is the white gel pen. Probably one of the simplest materials to use. It is basically a white ball point pen that is opaque enough to write on paint. On a blue background it would be fun to emulate a blueprint. What could be drawn? Buildings, machines? Oh, flying machines of course.

Flying machine sketches.
Flying machine sketches.
Acrylic on 18" x 24" cold press 140lb. watercolor paper
Acrylic on
18″ x 24″ cold press 140lb. watercolor paper

Everybody and everything is in its place. However, it is looking very flat. I took a photo of the art and opened it in Photoshop. This piece was going to be submitted on line and 8″ x 10″ prints were going to be mailed so the actual painting would never be seen. Now P.J. joins the ranks of digital art.

With shadows and enhancements added digitally.
With shadows and enhancements added digitally.

It neither won nor placed, but I am happy with the outcome. In my quirky art world cats fly, mice shriek in horror, and flying machines frequent the skies. I may be a little too edgy for children’s books. Part of my mission in attending the conference was to see if I could find the right fit for my artwork in the illustration business. I have not found it yet, but “this too will be revealed.”