Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lunchtime paintings

lunchtime painting: c'est moi
Yesterday I did this little watercolor sketch during lunch - as usual, this monkey seems to be speaking French, and is quite romantic. How do you like his little scarf? I'm particularly happy with that, and the little red hearts in the background. The little phrase above his head is "c'est moi qui t'aime vraiment", in English "I'm the one who really loves you." Odd phrases like this sometimes pop into my head for no reason and I Google them to see where I got them. I think I've seen so many films and read so many novels that it's hard to know where my ideas come from...

I'm excited to say I began my first (and so far only) New Year's resolution today - I joined a new group called 365 Sketch. I want to see if I can really sketch something every single day... the reason I'm trying it is often I waste a lot of time because I don't "feel like" drawing, but when I just sit down and do it, it's always so pleasant.

Like today, for example, I didn't have any specific idea in mind, but I was thinking about the cute dark-eyed juncos I saw in the park early this morning. I did a couple of quick sketches while looking at online photos, and later at lunch, turned them into small paintings:
sketch of a bird lunchtime painting: dark-eyed junco

My second sketch I painted right over my drawing:
lunchtime painting: slate colored junco

It was a cool, mucky day which got really chilly towards evening. I took a quick walk alone to grab dinner and loved the way the cold air made me quicken my step and my heart underneath my wool coat seemed to flutter in the chill. There were few people on the streets, which made me peer into the windows of chic hotels I passed by. I was charmed when someone actually got chatty with me in the elevator - I find it so refreshing when people take the time to talk, and I'm often so overwhelmed I'm not sure what to say. In this case I was asked what I was eating for dinner, and I think I beamed in response as I said "tacos."

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm alive! (with a finished monkey painting)

Hee hee, I went to see Xanadu on Saturday and it was super-fabulous, hilarious, and beyond dorky (but at least, on purpose). It's a Broadway spoof of the awful 80's Olivia Newton-John movie.

Watch this clip if you want to see how much they had to make fun of:

Kerry Butler was hilarious, and so gorgeous, has the voice of an angel, etc. etc. I watched this guy stare at her like he was proposing marriage the whole show. And a show is pretty seriously funny when the middle aged man in front of you cracks up so hard his wife thinks he's choking. It was that funny.

Watching Broadway shows, by the way, is always out of this world - even bad shows are good - it's just guaranteed you're going to see someone 5,000 times more talented than anyone you've ever met. Talented, beautiful, perfect pitched, elegant on skates, can do a full split while standing on their head and singing at the same time... yeah, that kind of talent. The only person I know who is that talented (ok, minus the standing on one's head and doing a full split) is my best friend, and I'm 100% not saying that just because she's my best friend.

I also finally added a message to the painting of Filbert:
a heart for you

Thanks for all the suggestions you made! I loved the idea of "heart on your sleeve" but I was worried I'd muck it up if there were too many words to paint! So I kept it simple instead (and French). He now says "a heart"... "for you". Last of all I applied a coat of varnish to protect it and... I so don't like the varnish. It's too glossy for my taste - although after a day of drying it has settled down a bit:

a glossy finish

My next painting I will definitely try the matte varnish instead. Hope you guys like this! This little guy is going to be a gift for a very special someone in honor of Valentine's Day... and I already have another romantic monkey painting planned.... :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Filbert thinks pink

So as you know, I wasn't happy with Filbert the last time I showed him to you, in his red phase:
monkey progress

I found the red so boring, flat, and too much like the painting of Siegfried... So I whipped out my heavy viscosity Portrait Pink (which I love, by the way) and pinkified him:

painting the pink background

I really liked that nice salmon tone created by the Portrait Pink interacting with the red, and next I added a bit of yellow and orange to create some different tones. I also decided to abandon use of black, and instead created a gray from mixing blue and orange:
after the green scarf, pink cheeks, face, and heart painting

So here he is, with a cute green scarf and nice valentine tucked under his arm:
Filbert thinks pink is nice

I'm in love with the pink - the only thing next is a cute message above... any suggestions for something sweet and cheeky to say? :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

a second monkey portrait; assorted ramblings

monkey yesterday

So, right after finishing my first monkey portrait, I dove right into another one which I've worked very slowly on for the past week. Progress has been slow because I'm doubtful about the colors - it looks a bit too much like the last one...

Wet paint and dry paint look SO different, so this has gone through many stages:

I haven't decided how to frame my portrait of Siegfried, so I put him in numerous "virtual" frames, thanks to the magic of Photoshop. I loved this one most, because it looked especially dramatic:


On Wednesday I knit most of a Golden Compass hat with my good knitting friend. We watched an old Dean Martin and Judy Holiday film called Bells Are Ringing. I loved, of course, the late 50's fashion, the cheesy ads, and the silly musical numbers. On my way back from her apartment I realized it was a Wendesday night and everyone else on the street was Dean Martin-drunk. I love looking at way drunk people and thinking "Have I ever looked like that?" :)

I walked in the path of 3 huge drunk guys who were linebacker size and 6'4 apiece. I tried to squeeze in between 2 of them to get by, and when I almost ran into one I said very quietly, "Excuse me." As soon as I was past them, he turned around and yelled "What the f--- did you say, bitch?" I decided that wasn't the best time to turn around and repeat "Excuse me", so I just kept walking. Seriously, I think people should have a license for drinking, just like you have for driving. And violent drunks should get their drinking license revoked. :)

This cold weather makes me even more of a homebody - I love few things more than spending time by the window, watching cars and people pass below, like a contented feline. I've been thinking about how difficult it is for me to focus on one thing - it's taken me a long time to notice. I love beginning things, but finishing is hard for me.

I feel like I just put everything out there into the void - take tons of photos and upload them all, and write and write and write, and somewhere in the mass of color and sound I find little snippets of beauty... a lot like this messy Moleskine page, which reminds me of the thoughts in my head... I've noticed how much I love the "design-y" type Flickr users with perfect photo streams that are minimal and expressive, and everything seems to fit together. My stream, and my brain, are nothing like that - which I sometimes feel guilty about. I guess I hope that people watching can also pick out the few good ideas, the few little diamonds that inspire me...

Friday, January 18, 2008

various thoughts, paints in progress, and being tagged...

go fly a kite

As you can see, I'm still painting almost every day. Do any of you painters out there feel like painting exhausts you? I'm not sure what it is, but after I paint all night at home, I feel almost like I've run a marathon (which by the way, I've never really done, so clearly I am exaggerating). :) Like my monkey with a kite? It's another one of my Valentine's Day-induced daydreams... :)

Speaking of daydreams:

I put this sketch together while listening to the Sundays "When I'm Thinking About You". The words they're speaking are: "I hope I'll never wake when I'm thinking about you," and "When you're searching your soul, when you're searching for pleasure, how often, pain is all you find."

It's a gorgeous little song I remember listening to, on a loop, for days one lonely winter when I had a unrequited crush. I'd listen to it while I painted my apartment, or laying in bed, and smile. Here's a version of it for you:

I've been tagged again by Bella of Bella Modiste for the "7 weird things about you" post and I hesitate to write it because... all you know about me are weird things! :) So instead I thought I'd post 7 songs that really move me, and what I'm thinking of when I hear them...

  • The Sundays "When I'm Thinking About You" - having a crush on someone one lonely winter

  • U2 - "With or Without You" - being 11 and watching this video for the first time, late at night after my parents fell asleep, with headphones plugged in to the TV and feeling like this was the most beautiful song on earth.

  • Cesaria Evora - "Linda Mimosa" - my mom

  • Elton John - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - watching "Breaking the Waves" and being totally destroyed by its beauty

  • Erik Satie - "Gymnopedie" - being 16 and feeling very young, and very old, all at the same time

  • Jimi Hendrix - "Little Wing" - laying under a tree in the hot Texas sun

  • Tori Amos - "Hey Jupiter" - being near a person I love with my whole heart

What songs move you, and why? Leave me a comment or put it your blog for me to find... :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

painting progress...

almost almost finished :)

Okay, I admit it, I didn't get a lot of painting done this weekend, but I did at least give Siegfried a face and paint his romantic message... By the way, thank you everyone for your great suggestions and support for my painting progress! I LOVED the idea of embroidering Siegfried's face (thanks Rach!), but in the end decided not to because I really need to practice doing fine lines (which I am currently crummy at). :)

I even like the way Siegfried looks without his message:
with face

I still have the whole circle/frame area to tackle this week. I'm trying to decide if I'll paint the ornate frame and if or how I'll stretch the canvas and/or frame it. Believe it or not, it keeps me up at night. :)

One teensy question for you guys: I painted Siegfried's mouth a bit... crooked. Is it charming or annoying? I find myself craning my head sideways every time I look at him which could be just me... I don't know.

Through the magic of photoshop I corrected his mouth - which one looks better to you?
mouth tweaked almost almost finished :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

come paint with me!

First of all, a quick "sorry" if you're bored by painting, but if you are interested, come paint with me! I very rarely work with paints, something I tried to change recently with my lunchtime paintings (done during my 1 hour lunchtime). So far I've only worked on paper, EVER, so I want to invite you to share my first canvas painting with me.

Here are my acrylic paints, inherited from my generous boyfriend 4 years ago who had them left over from a painting class. These are all the colors I used:
my boyfriend's acrylic paints

Now, onto the painting - I used canvas pad so I wouldn't feel bad if I made mistakes my first time around. I gleefully set up my painting corner, using a shower curtain as a drop cloth, and lined up my paints, brushes, tray, water, Ipod, and moleskine:
starting off

I did the background first (remembering this vaguely from a pastel portrait class and not even knowing if it applies to painting), using mostly red with a smudge of blue.

I HATED the color I came up with:
just the background

It was so drab and unimpressive, so I covered it with many succeeding coats of different variations of red.

Now let's skip ahead 5,000 steps:
skip ahead 5,000 steps :)

I was so engrossed in painting I didn't stop to take progress shots. Those of you who paint, draw or craft will know what I'm talking about. It's the stage where you look at something, hate what you see, and keep working and reworking it. You go from having a general plan and specific colors in mind to just randomly grabbing paint bottles and creating all kinds of combinations, without thinking. This is the part of my personality I've always found most difficult to explain - the instinctive part - I feel like I hoard ideas, colors, and pictures in my mind and at random moments they just emerge. I don't literally know what I'm doing, but on some level, there's a part of me that knows, and just does... yes it's quite silly to try explaining, but I tried. :)

There's my paint tray:
Just look at the paint tray

I added many layers of pinks and unbleached titanium to the background until I was happier with it. Also some very light lights and shadows on the monkey. :)

Here's Siegfried's scarf drying:
his scarf is drying

Last detail added- Rosy cheeks:
detail of the rosy cheeks

And that's it - there's my first canvas painting ever, so far (with my toes making a clandestine appearance in the mirror):
Almost done

When the canvas pad began to buckle under the wet paint I tacked it to a wooden stretcher frame to keep it taut. So far, I love the experience - using new brushes I'd never think I'd love - like a long handled, stiff bristled brush on the background.

What do you think of my first canvas painting? What details should I add when I finish it this weekend? :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

new watercolors

my new watercolors

I forgot my gouache paints at home a few days ago and found myself eyeing up the paints in a nearby bookstore. After much deliberation (which included: taking them down, staring at them, putting them back, staring at them) I finally decided to buy them. They were pricey (for cheap me) so I only bought the basics. But I had to come back the next day, goofball that I was, because I'd forgotten to buy black, so I snapped up 3 more colors in the process.

I love comparing the different textures of paints, pastels, pens and pencils. Each medium is like another country with a foreign language, new customs to learn, and new tools. Watercolor is so different from gouache and acrylic - it dries differently - looks so silky and majestic when it's wet, and certain combinations yield unexpected colors.... I also bought some cheapo paintbrushes and I was ready to go.


I'd been planning my paintings since the day I found these lovely embroidery thread cards. I printed them on the back of an old manila file folder, and while they were sitting there, waiting to be trimmed down to size, tiny monkey portraits miraculously appeared....

I used the tiny thumbnails as inspiration for yesterday's lunchtime painting, entitled Siegfried the Romantic:
Siegfried closeup
As you can see Siegfried is quite romantic and also speaks French.

Then, today at lunch I painted Filbert (or Filiberto, as his Spanish friends call him):
Filbert closeup
Filbert is quite enamored with valentines.

In defense of their wonkiness they are quite small, here they are in my moleskine:
lunchtime painting - Siegfried lunchtime painting - Filbert

It was so much fun painting these, and toying with the elaborate frames - I had no intention of rendering every detail but just kind of filled in general areas. I also made notes on a few of my color combinations at the bottom.

Do any of you love knowing the names of colors? As a kid, the only thing even more rapturous than coloring with the huge box of crayons was reading all the names. Then I'd go around freaking my parents out, telling them the sky was periwinkle or cornflower. In keeping with this weird habit I bought that tube of purple solely for the name: Dioxazine Violet. Isn't that a gorgeous name? Sort of like a disease or a shady comic book character... :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

time in Texas

Christmas hearts me

Here I am, back from Texas already, and trying hard to believe I'll be going back to work tomorrow... :(

Here is what I embroidered on my favorite hoodie on the plane:

what I did on the plane
With no movie to entertain me I was left to my own devices for 4 hours. And all this without scissors - 4 hours of chewing through embroidery floss and trying to discreetly pull fuzz out of my teeth... :)

hope you had a happy Holiday

On Christmas Eve, I made my best friend a snow monkey who, as you can see, enjoys gifts. We had a big plan to make Christmas cookies but instead spent most of our time at the supermarket choosing nail polish... :) I think I'm getting to that age where Christmas is a bit of a letdown - you plan and expect so much, and it's over too quickly.

Not to be goopy, but seeing my 2 year old niece perform in her preschool Christmas pageant did brighten my arrival:
the reason why she was the angel

I don't usually say goofy stuff like "she's an angel" but she's an angel. As my mom would say... "with horns" because she's also very stubborn. Just a few words and thoughts on this first day of the year. I hope your day was full of those you love and beautiful. :)