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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whiling Away the Hours

Whiling Away the Hours
or
How Do I Stay On Track?
Do you find yourself logging onto your laptop, iPad, iPhone or other device and then look up and realize you just spent 2 hours on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or some new social media craze?
Yeah!
It happens to everyone.
I'm going to give you one slick trick how to tame that beast. 
Wait till you see the app I installed on my computer.
Be prepared to be amazed.   
 I told you you would be amazed.
It's a $5 timer.
When I go into my studio, the first thing I do is check my email.  Now I set a timer for let's say 30-45 minutes to check my most recent email.
Timer goes off, I'm done.
Now let's just say  I didn't get it all done in that time frame.
I give myself another 10-15 minutes, and
BOOM !
I'm done.
Time to move on.
Now, I need to check my facebook account to see if I have any likes, comments or shares and I want to post a few things.
You got it!
Set the timer for 15 minutes or whatever works for you.
I know I need to get the important stuff done before the buzzer goes off.  No scrolling for me.
I do the same thing with Instagram.
and Pinterest.
Now if I only had a speaker that went off screaming,
Sharon, back away from the computer.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Motivation Monday From A Tree

Fulfilling the Measure of My Creation

My lesson from bradford pear trees!

 Bradford Pear trees are so beautiful!
They have beautiful blooms in the spring,
they grow fast,
they produce great shade,
they make quite the statement.


 We have them on one side of our driveway.
We live on a ridge line and sometimes have really strong winds, and things like this tend to happen.

 This guy is really trying to fulfill his measure of creation.
He got snapped off in a windstorm several years ago,
but he was still alive
and trying to be beautiful.
I often wonder how he feels in between
 two tall beautiful trees.

 Look at this beauty!

 This, however is how that tree looks from the back.
It's still beautiful from the front,
but the back was ripped down in a different wind storm.
It, like the little tree, is still trying to fulfill
its measure of creation.

And Then There Was the Mother of All Wind Storms

And the rest of the story . . .

 And all the branches that were left came down.


My husband Jim had to get out there with the tractor and haul all the pieces of the tree off to another part of the farm.

I had a nice blog post planned about being the best version of ourselves, even when WE think that doesn't measure up to those around us.

I don't think that wind storm really cared 
about my blog post. 

So, how can I turn somewhat of a disaster into a motivating blog post.

Here goes -
Things, don't always turn out as we planned.
Stuff happens!
Milk gets spilled.
The cookie crumbles.

We don't always hit the game winning shot!
We don't win the Pulitzer prize!
We didn't win the lottery!
BUT   
We can and should walk with our head high,
Look for the silver lining,
Get'em next time,
and never ever give up.

Even when all the branches were drug away and
 the stumps cut down,   
the branches became food for sheep,
places to hide and nest for birds,
and they will decay and go back to the earth 
and more plants will come up from them.

We all have dreams we'd love to accomplish,
Goals we'd like to meet,
and aspirations we work to achieve.
Sometimes rotten things happen
and then we really get to see what we are made of.

Keep putting miles on your brush!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Where ever you go 
and whatever you do this weekend,
I hope you take the chance to enjoy your friends and family.


See you on Motivation Monday.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Take A Step Back

See The Big Picture

. . .and what is the big picture?

I'm not sure what everyone's big picture is,
but, I am pretty sure you can't see it if you don't step back.

Let me give you an example.
  

  
What it's like to be beautiful but without enough light and out of focus. 
Not very interesting is it?
How can anyone see its beauty?
 
Artists are always talking about getting natural light to paint in and to photograph in.  
How do you get more light in your life?
I think we can increase light by surrounding ourselves with things we love, like family and friends, soft sheets, colors that sing to us, items we love and great music.
 
Another thing artists do, is when they are painting something,
especially en plein air, (outside) or a still life set up in the studio is squint.  Believe it or not, artists aren't always painting the object they see, they are painting the shapes they see and the best way to separate the two is to squint.
Squinting is great if you want that painterly effect, but if you want something to be crystal clear,
you have to focus.
 
 This is better because I corrected the amount of light getting into my lens, and I focused.

And then,
I stepped back.
 
Look at everything I can see now, just by backing up a bit.
 

And another step back

 And finally,
we see the whole subject.
 
But are we really?
 

 I stepped just outside my door near where this fabulous array of flowers was sitting, 
and this is what I saw.


And then,
I took another step back.
I'll bet you know what's coming next! 

 You're right!
I took another step back.
 
How do we take a step back in our lives to see better?
 
I'm not sure how it works for everyone,
but for me, I have to turn off all the distractions.
Yes, no netflix,
no pandora,
no ball game playing,
not three devices going at the same time.
 
I need a blank canvas to see better.
I need quiet and calm and be able to think.
 
I have brain storming sessions with myself
where I write out the problem,
then write everything about the problem.
What needs to be done,
What I can do immediately,
What I can't do immediately but would like to do,
What is so far out there,
What I'm receiving as inspiration during this process.
 
This part takes some time,
but it will put you farther along the trail of accomplishing what you want, than just being disappointed in your efforts, or lack of effort.
 
Once I've done that, then I see if a plan doesn't sort of just show up on my paper.  Often times it does!  Sometimes I have to look at all the pieces of the puzzle and try to put them together, but I usually get an answer in this part of my thinking.
 
Next comes the action plan.
Here I have to decide do I really want to solve this problem, plan this event, paint this series, or whatever the problem is.  And if I do, I have to put a plan into action to accomplish the thing.  I set some realistic goals, put things on my calendar, and set some deadlines.
 
Once that is all done, I usually can accomplish just about anything. 
 
Learning to think and plan and organize those thoughts is a process, but it brings so many benefits into your life
that I know it is worth the effort it takes.
 
Happy thinking! 
 
 If you want to learn to paint,
don't put it off another day.
 
At the top of this blog is a tab for some free painting lessons that I am always adding to.
And if that's not enough for you
Click HERE to view my online beginning painting course. 
 
While you're scrolling to the top of my blog,
on the right hand side is a place to signup to get in on the free painting I give away every month.
Sign Up and you're in.
 
Thanks again. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spppring!!!

Spring is Uplifting!

Wow!
The spring bulbs are up and beginning to open their beautiful fragrant blooms.

Why do I care?
It is just so wonderful to go outside and see all these beautiful flowers and colors after a long cold winter.

 Yes!  It's spring
Can't you just feel the warmer fresh air?



 Hyacinths!
Does anything smell better than hyacinths?
Not in my world.
What about yours?
 


I love crocus.
They are like a little surprise package popping out of the ground.
 
  And I have clumps and clumps of all different types of daffodils in my yard.
And I'm not even talking about the tulips.
Tulips are usually a little later than the daffodils.

Spring is so uplifting!
You just feel a renewal of life and with these beautiful flowers, I am sure I will be painting many of these flowers.

My husband Jim, is an avid gardener and he raises lots of fruits, berries and produce for our local farmers market.

 We'll all be eating really good in Carrollton in a month or so.
Jim grows a number of different lettuces, onions, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, beans and corn,
and raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, plums, peaches,  cherries, and pears.
And then there are the flowers he grows.

But in the spring, I love to see the lettuces coming up.  
They are first and it is a sign of wonderful things to come.

Just when you think winter will never end,
Up comes these beautiful flowers,
and delicious lettuce.
It's a an affirmation that things will get better,
warmer, sunnier, and delicious.

So on this Motivation Monday,
I hope you look at what motivates you,
what inspires you,
and what makes your spirit sing.

And then, remember it,
when things get tough,
sad,
hard,
and terrifying.
Remember that thing that makes you feel light
and happy and alive.
Let it carry you through the hard times.

Have a great day!



If you're interested in learning how to paint with acrylics, please take a look at my beginning online painting course.  
Click HERE to check out the course. 

 
  
 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

BUT - Change is Uncomfortable

Change is good.
 (right)

I paint a lot,
so I have a lot of paintings tucked away.

Some I like,
others not so much.

I've been working on skies and I didn't really care if I produced a sellable piece or not.
I am determined to improve painting skies.
I have always loved beautiful cloud formations and I haven't made the progress in painting them I wanted.

I looked through some old canvases I put aside to possibly redo, "someday" and today was that day
for one of them.

 There are things about this painting I love,
and some things I don't love, 
or even like.

This is one of my oldest paintings and I'm more than a little embarrassed to be showing it to you.
I love the left side of the painting,
but the right side and especially that tree is awful.
But I love that light on the lake and the grasses in the foreground are good.  

But the sky is very plain and I want to work on skies,
so this painting is my work space for the day.
I'm not going to show you all the steps, 
but here is where I was at the end of the session.


I know!
It's completely different.
I wasn't too sure in the beginning.
I thought for a while I was just going to have to gesso the whole thing over and start from scratch.
But,
my goal was to work on creating a dramatic sky,
so I pressed on.
 I learned a lot along the way.

But,
(there's that word again),
I wasn't happy with the tree on the right (again).
Before I added any leaves, 
I really liked it
but,
I wanted just a few leaves, as if they'd all fallen.
But,
I went a few leaves too many as you can see,
but
I wasn't sure how to fix it.
So, I walked away.
It came to me, what to do,
so this morning I went to the studio and 
put my plan into action.


So I fixed the tree on the right,
and put a little more highlight on the rocks rimming the lake.

Following my last post about learning anywhere,
I repeat, you can learn anywhere,
BUT,
you have to actually get in the studio
and paint,
observe,
think,
see,
experiment,
REPEAT!

Have a great day. 


Click Here for FREE painting lesson.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sky on Fire

Sky on Fire



The other morning in Kentucky
we had the most gorgeous sunrise.
It was stunning and it really felt like the sky was on fire.

You know what had to happen next, I'm sure.

Yes, I had to get out my paints and have a go at it.

Many artists, including the old masters,
paint on what is known as a toned canvas.
Nope, it's not in tip top shape from exercising,
but it means it has an under painting of gray or burnt sienna.
A favorite religious painter of mine from the 1600's is Carl Bloch and often he painted on copper.  

There are several reasons why you would under paint your canvas.  One is to cover the canvas so as you paint, there aren't tiny pieces of white showing through.  The second reason is, you can give your painting a warm glow or a cooler look depending on what you under paint with.
If you want warm tones you go with burnt sienna and if you want cooler you would use a gray.

 This is what I started with 


Then I started blocking in the darkest clouds and the foreground area.

I added the tree line knowing it will probably be moved or changed.  I'm just trying to get a feel for it at this point.


I'm beginning to get the dark part of the fire in
and I'm defining the darkest clouds.


Started putting in the brightest lights.
One thing artists often are afraid of is going too dark or too light.  If you don't do that, you loose the impact and it is difficult to see one without the other.

 Here I started adding varying colors in the clouds of cad orange and cad red, mixed with some alizarin crimson and defining the lightest yellows.

 At this point, I got out my trusty palette knife because I thought it was too tight.
I always loosen up with a knife as opposed to a brush.
I also added some even darker clouds using the knife and ultrmarine blue and dioxazine purple.

 Starting at the back of the foreground I added trees and  some orange highlights on the ones farthest back.


I added lots of trees and a road with my palette knife.  I've never done trees like this with a knife before, but I wanted a loose foreground.

Finishing the road and giving highlights to trees.
Also adding rocks in the right front corner.
I don't like where the road is going,
so that's one of the things I need to fix.
 
 Re-worked the road and brightened up the rocks.

However, after looking this over, I didn't like it either, so it's going to change again. 

 Changed the road here, but didn't like it either.
I did add some highlight back where the road meets the horizon and that I like, so it's staying.

Now, here is the final, (I think) painting.
One thing I don't like, is this photo isn't as close to the real thing as I would like.
I'll try photographing it tomorrow, but you can see the changes I made on the road and the rocks.


Anyway, you can see sometimes it takes a lot of adjusting to get it right.  It doesn't mean it was wrong necessarily, but to me it was wrong.   

Beginning online painting course.

 If you'd like to learn how to paint from the ground up,
you should check out the new online course I created especially for the beginning painter. 

Click HERE to view the course. 

What you'll learn:

How  to create and use a color wheel 
How to create a color chart and why
Which brushes do what
Composition
Perspective
How to practice
and
finally
video directions to complete two paintings.

WOW!   

About Me

My photo
Ghent, Kentucky, United States
I'm a nature artist and I love to paint old barns, rivers and lakes, trees and fence rows and flowers. I work almost daily. You can purchase paintings by contacting me at slgraves6@gmail.com and there is also a tab across the top of my blog for available paintings and one for small paintings with buy now buttons. You can also purchase through my Etsy shop using the name of Fine Nature Art. . Thank you so much for stopping by.