Secret Solstice Gifts: A Cowboy for Joan

© 2014 Mellanie Collins 4" x 6"  watercolor and markers
© 2014 Mellanie Collins
4″ x 6″
watercolor and markers

Here is the last gift for the Secret Solstice gift swap that I participated in last month.  This was the one I was most nervous about.  This cowboy painting was for my new art pal Joan.  At some point we had done an ATC trade and she had requested a cowboy drawing.  I made her a little pen drawing with a lot of hatching.  She liked it, so I thought I would surprise her with a larger cowboy painted in color.   The problem was I hadn’t worked in color for quite a while and I wasn’t sure if I could get my groove back by the mailing deadline.  But fortunately, I pulled it together and made some decent color choices. I sure would like to get more comfortable with the medium though.

Joan told me how much she liked the painting.  Boy, was I relieved.

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ATCs: Bulldog Drawing

ATC: Bulldog (traded)

Creative Commons License
Bulldog by Mellanie Collins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

2.5″x3.5″  gouache and colored pencil

Here’s a little bulldog drawing for an artist trading card I made by request.  I have mixed feelings about this drawing.   I think the eyes turned out okay, but it just seems to be missing something.   Maybe it’s that the whites are too white.  I’m still experimenting with gouache and not quite comfortable with it.

Lazily Copying From a Master: Van Gogh ATC

ATC:  Van Gogh Swap II
2.5" x 3.5" acrylic on canvas paper

One of the ongoing swaps over at is the Art History 102. Each month the host chooses an artist and we can make cards adapted from one of the artists works or create a work in the artist’s style. I signed up for the Van Gogh month and this is the best card of the three I did.

I wanted to try some acrylic painting.  Since I have a tendancy toward muted tones I thought working from some Van Gogh paintings would be an excellent way to experiment and practice.  I had no real interest in copying the painting exactly.   I just wanted to focus on color and see if I could get through a painting without it turning out brownish and dull.

I’m pleased with how this turned out.  Now that I look at it again I wish that I had kept it.

Every Day in May: Day 11 – Playing Catch-Up with ATCs

2.5" x 3.5" watercolor
2.5" x 3.5" watercolor

I’ve been working on sketches for cards I have due soon.  I’ve been having a heck of a time.  I signed up for something called a PAT or Pick-a-Theme.  You sign up for a group (usually about 5 people) and each group member chooses a theme for the others to work on.   Well, when I signed up for it two months ago I was all for moving out of my comfort zone and not being afraid, yadda, yadda…Anyway, now they are due soon and I’m panicking!

I’ve been making sketches, which I will not share, and I managed my first card on Monday.  It’s supposed to be a “wisdom-filled crone.”   I think I did pretty well considering I was working from my imagination.  Maybe she looks more cynical than wise.  I don’t know.

Well, three more cards to go.

Every Day in May: Day 7 – Incomplete Watercolor Portrait

8"x10" watercolor
8"x10" watercolor

I’ve been working on this for a few days. I’m getting close finishing it.  I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the background.  The hair needs work as well.   Heck, I’m still just trying to figure out watercolor.  I get some good effects, but they just seem so accidental.  I want to know what I’m doing!!!!  Argh!

*Whew*  Tantrum over.   No point in stressing about it.

I’m putting this aside for a few days and coming back to it.

ATCs: Lillian Gish

2.5" x 3.5"  watercolor
2.5" x 3.5" watercolor

I made these cards for a trader who liked my Buster Keaton card.  She asked if we could trade Lillian Gish cards.    I’ve seen lots of her silent movies and  find her face fascinating so I agreed immediately.  I decided to use the trade as an opportunity to practice a little brush work and move away from markers. These cards were done with Ultramarine and Indigo watercolors.

2.5" x 3.5"  watercolor
2.5" x 3.5" watercolor

Lillian Gish (1893-1993)  made 119 movies from 1913 through 1987.   Most of her films were silent.  One of her more famous (or rather infamous) films was D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation (1915).

Watercolor Portrait: Learning As I Go

2.5" x 3.5" watercolor
2.5" x 3.5" watercolor

Well, February is over and I’m not going to miss it.  When I started this blog I was determined that I wouldn’t use it as a platform for whining or complaining about things.    I looked through some old journals and found that February tends to be my worst and whiniest month, so that’s why I’ve not been posting so much.  So glad it’s March and I feel like I’m over my February funk.  Do you find February to be just a waste of a month too?

During my month of whining, fretting, and being generally dissatisfied with things I managed to get more practice in with watercolor portraits.   I used a photo of myself taken by my husband as a reference here.  I totally missed on the likeness, I was  focusing more on using color and observing how my glazes were working out.  Here I used raw sienna, scarlet lake, ultramarine blue, and violet.  I used a little payne’s gray in the hair.

This is one of my better efforts for the month and I’m really pleased with my progress with watercolors.  I have so much to learn about the medium and about using color, but I have good instincts, so I am encouraged.   It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was totally afraid of using watercolor.  Now I’m really enjoying it.

Trying Something New: Watercolor Portrait

watercolor on moleskine
watercolor on moleskine

I did this watercolor portrait in my little moleskine watercolor book.  And look!  No black lines!  There’s something new.  As much as I love my Microns, I was beginning to feel a little too dependent on them.   All of those solid black lines Iwas using were beginning to feel more like a safety net than an a tool for expression.  I’ll have to work out how I feel about that.

I was inspired by  Canadian arist Jean Pederson‘s book Expressive Portraits.    She uses  the wet glazing technique where you use transparent colors and layer them on wet paper instead of waiting for each layer to dry completely.  She shows how you can make gorgeous skin tones using this technique.   Here is a link to Jean’s portrait gallery.

I have so far to go, but this is a great start.   I’m definitely focusing on learning more about how to make striking portraits in watercolor.

Something Completely Different – Paint!

Acrylic Self-Portrait

I got out my paints and did this little self-portrait sketch in acrylics on paper. I hadn’t painted in two years, so I was pleased with how this turned out. After working with colored pencils, it was kind of a relief to work with paints. Painting is so much more forgiving.