Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lilac Blossoms

muted lilacsMuted Lilac Blossoms ©2009 Christine Pierce
Nikon D40 with Silver Efex Pro filter
(please click on image to enlarge)

Last week we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and my dear husband gave me a gorgeous floral bouquet filled with fragrant lilac blossoms and star-gazer lilies.

I was going to paint a picture of the bouquet, but then I got side-tracked taking pictures and experimenting with different Photoshop filters. My favorite filter of-the-moment is the Nik Softwear Silver Efex Pro plug-in. This filter lets you create fun black and white photographs with the push of a button. I am currently using the 15-day free trial, which is a great option to try-before-you-buy.

For comparison, here is the original, unretouched photograph:

lilacsLilac Blossoms, unretouched ©2009 Christine Pierce
Nikon D40
(please click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shiny Red Ballerina Flats Sketch

Title: Red Ballerina Flats © 2009 Christine Pierce
4x5 watercolor and micron pen
on Strathmore 140-lb cp paper
(please click on image to enlarge)

Sometimes all it takes to brighten a rainy April day is a pair of shiny red ballerina flats!

Title: Shiny Red Ballerina Flats © 2009 Christine Pierce
Nikon D40 with Topaz Labs Adjustor 3 Exposure Color Stretch filter
(please click on image to enlarge)

To see more ballet flats, you might enjoy a visit to Paris Breakfasts to read Carol's recent post on french ballerines.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Diana and Friend: Different Strokes Challenge

Title: Diana and Friend
5.5x8" watercolor and micron pen
(please click on image to enlarge)

This week's challenge at Different Strokes from Different Folks features Diana and her adoring dog companion.

As I was painting this, I remembered a useful tip in Stephen Quiller's book, Water Media Painting with Stephen Quiller. He states,
I use Naples yellow, cobalt violet and cerulean blue in many of my watercolor paintings.... I use the paints in many cases for aged architecture, stone walls or marble statues (emphasis added).

I found it really helpful to limit my palette, something I hardly ever do. In addition to those three colors, I added a touch of Quinacridone magenta. I look forward to working with more controlled palettes in the future; well, at least some of the time!

Here is a link to the DSFDF blog where you can see the reference photograph and all the other interpretations of this challenge.

Colorful Tulips in Portland

Title: Colorful Tulips in Portland © 2009 Christine Pierce
(please click on image to enlarge)

As I was zipping along in my little car yesterday, I saw these tulips out of the corner of my eye. I immediately turned my car around and went back to take a picture. These beautiful blooms, to me, are the epitome of spring!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date: Rhododendron Bud

Title: Rhododendron Bud (hot press)
4x4 watercolor, micron pen, Fabriano 90-lb hp
(please click on image to enlarge)

Title: Rhododendron Bud (cold press)
4x4 watercolor, micron pen, Arches 90-lb cp
(please click on image to enlarge)

This month's virtual sketch date reference photo features a vivid, magenta-hued rhododendron bud. I liked it so much, I decided to paint it twice. I am always trying to decide if I prefer hot press or cold press watercolor paper. Hot press is appealing because my micron pen flows smoothly across its surface, whereas cold press paper causes my pen to skip and scratch a bit.

But cold press paper is desirable because it gives such a nice texture to the painting. I'll let you decide: The top version is hot press, and the lower version is cold press. Your thoughts? Thank you!

And be sure to visit the Virtual Sketch Date blog and Flickr group to see all of this month's entries.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Inspiration Challenge: "One Way or Another"

Title: "One Way or Another"
4x6 (detail) Watercolor, micron pen, Arches 140 cp
(please click on image to enlarge)

This week's challenge at Inspiration All Around Us is based on a lovely nature photo provided by Dana Marie.

I don't often paint landscapes, but since this one included some animals, I thought I'd give it a try. Who knew a cow could be so challenging?!?

Here is a link to the original photo.

Thanks for another beautiful picture, Dana Marie!

Friday, April 17, 2009

High Contrast

Title: High Contrast ©2009 Christine Pierce

I was merrily clicking away, photographing cherry blossoms, when this barbed wire came into my viewfinder. I was at first startled, and then amazed, at what a contrast there was between the beautiful, soft blossoms and the harsh, jagged wire. It's totally the yin and the yang.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jack the Portuguese Water Dog

"Jack," a Portuguese Water Dog
(4x4; watercolor and micron pen; 90# Fabriano hp)

Yesterday I met the sweetest Portuguese Water Dog named Jack. He is barely one year old and is quite the boisterous pup! I love his unique coloring. Most Portuguese Water Dogs (including the new Obama dog, "Bo") are black with a little white fur. Jack is mostly white, with beautiful chocolate brown ears. As I noticed when petting another Portuguese Water Dog, their fur is SO soft!

Here is the picture I managed to take when Jack sat down:

"Jack" © Christine Pierce 2009

And here is a stylized version of the picture, just for the fun of it, using Photoshop filters:

"Jack" - digitally adjusted © Christine Pierce 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Passion for Painting Award!

I have been given the Passion for Painting Award by the wonderful artist, Charlene Brown of Weekly Painting Worth 1150 Words. She has lived in exotic places all over the world and her beautiful paintings are like a magic carpet to these delightful venues. I encourage you all to pay a visit to her lovely blog.

The rules of this award are to:

  • List 7 things you love
  • Put a link to the artist who tagged you for this honor
  • Pass the honor on to seven artists you feel should receive the recognition, and let them know they have received this award
Here are 7 things, well, 8, that I love (beyond the obvious of family, friends, art and travel):
  1. the fragrance of orange blossoms, both live and captured in a beautiful perfume;
  2. dogs with expressive faces, the ones that make you smile just to look at them;
  3. sun reflecting off of the Chrysler building silhouetted against a bright blue sky;
  4. the colors fuchsia and coral, preferably together;
  5. hot "drinking chocolate" at Cacao in Portland, the perfect afternoon pick-me-up;
  6. whatever flowers are blooming at the moment, particularly tulips and poppies;
  7. Paris;
  8. the sound of my 98-year old grandmother's crinkly laugh;
And here are seven artists whose work I admire and am always inspired by. Please check out their blogs; you're in for a real treat!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Clementines and Plum Blossoms

Title: Clementines and Plum Blossoms in Silver Bowl
3x5 inches; watercolor and micron pen
in Moleskine sketchbook;
please click on image to enlarge

This sketch is based on a photograph from my recent still life shoot. I did two versions, but my family was unanimous in their preference for this one. I really like this subject and look forward to painting it again!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Still Life Photo Shoot

Clementines and Plum Blossoms in Silver Bowl

Yesterday, my artist friend Jenny Mark and I spent several fun-filled hours photographing fruit still lifes*. We had two cameras popping away and berries were flying and backdrops were falling... But it was a blast, and we ended up with over 150 reference photos for future paintings. Of course, of those 150 photographs, there were probably 12-15 real "keepers."

It was a great experience and we learned a lot, including:
  1. using the same color background and tablecloth creates a unified look;
  2. a tripod is a necessity; a monopod would have been even better;
  3. two different cameras under the exact same conditions can yield vastly different results, especially in terms of color quality;
  4. using a tungsten light really makes the colors vivid. We used natural lighting for the majority of our pics, but the few photos taken with the tungsten light were noticeably brighter;
  5. some planning is good, but being open to serendipity is even better.
Here, you can see that the white background is too jarring:

The black foam-board backdrop is somewhat better:

The black velour backdrop is just right:

The bonus of photographing fresh fruit is that it makes for a lovely lunch afterward:

I'm sure elements from these still lifes will be appearing in my paintings and drawings for months to come!

(* Wikipedia informs us that the plural of still life is still lifes. It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm going with it...)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hydrangea Blooms

Title: Hydrangea Blooms
(watercolor 4x4 on Arches 90-lb cp; micron pen;
please click on image to enlarge)

This painting is based on this week's reference photo offered by Dana Marie on her blog, Inspiration All Around Us. Dana will be posting a photograph every other Tuesday to spark creative interpretations in painting, jewelry or pottery. What a fun new challenge! Thanks, Dana!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Droopy Tulips...

Thirteen Droopy Tulips, v.2
(watercolor 4"x3.5" cropped, micron 02 pen, Arches 90-lb cp;
please click on image to enlarge)

I've been on something of a tulip-painting binge of late. The above tulips are my final version of some tulips I painted last week. They were so bright and cheerful in real life, but my initial version (below) just did not do them justice:

Thirteen Droopy Tulips, v.1
(watercolor 5"x4", micron 02 pen, Arches 90-lb cp;
please click on image to enlarge)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pink Cherry Blossoms

Title: Pink Cherry Blossoms
on Tree Trunk
(watercolor, micron 02 pen, sketchbook)

I love cherry blossoms that are so wild, they grow all over the tree!

I also love the huge variety of cherry blossoms that grow in Oregon. Here are some darker pink blossoms:

And here are some less-ruffled but still-gorgeous pink cherry blossoms:

Is there anything better than looking up through a canopy of cherry blossoms on a beautiful spring day?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pug Sketch (Bamboo Stick & Watercolor Wash)

Purple Pug
(watercolor 5"x7"; bamboo stick and Lexington Gray Noodler's
Bulletproof ink; micon 02 pen; Arches 140# cp)

This little pug is another dog I met at the local dog park a few weeks ago. He looked tough and dear at the same time, ready to take on the world!

I drew him the same way I sketched yesterday's tulips. Here is a picture of my bamboo "pen" and Noodler's ink:

Bamboo Stick and Noodler's Ink

Sometimes it feels good to get back to the basics. And what could be more basic than a stick and some ink?!?

Here is the initial sketch of the pug:

Pug Sketch with bamboo stick and Noodler's Ink

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Opera Pink Tulips

Opera Pink Tulips
5"x7" watercolor on Arches 140# cp;
Noodler's Lexington Gray Bulletproof ink & bamboo stick; micron 02 pen

I love droopy tulips! Here's a helpful tip from my florist: if you want your tulips to droop, use a vase with a curved shape. If you want your tulips to remain straight, use a straight-sided vase. I've tried both types of vases, and have found this advice to be quite reliable!

For this sketch, I used a bamboo stick dipped in Lexington Gray Bulletproof Noodler's Ink. Then I used two fun, new (to me) colors: Holbein "Opera" pink and Winsor & Newton "Quinacridone Gold." These will both become part of my regular palette. (The green leaves are just a mixture of greens and a touch of brown). Finally, I added a few ink lines with my trusty micron pigment pen.


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