Saturday, December 27, 2008

Garden Frog Dances in Seattle Snow Storms

New Garden Flag Flying over Garden Frog

It all started so simply. It's not unusual to have a sizeable dusting of snow in the Seattle area in November or December, even before the official winter day of Dec. 21st. So, I put out the new garden flag, an early Christmas present from a young artist grandson named Sean in California who created the design. You know, the Bay Area that doesn't get this white stuff? I wanted to send him a picture to say "thank you" and show him the snowy flower bed. To read about Sean at his creative mom's blog click here.

New Garden Flag over Dancing Frog

The weather forecasters warned us! Multiple storms bringing more and more snow. In the Puget Sound area of Washington State the weather varies considerably from place to place because of wind flows, mountains, water, etc. and where all those intersect. Locally, it is the oft heard Convergence Zone. That means that the folks north of Seattle may get more because of the Canadian cold air. But, those of us on the south end can get more snow because of the amount of moisture from the Pacific Ocean skirting around the southern end of the Olympic Mountains. This time it didn't matter in which part of this area you lived. Everyone got snowed on, including our beaches.

New Garden Flag, but Where is the Garden Frog?

Another day, another snow wouldn't stop. It wasn't over yet. The last day of snowfall left the frog with only his higher raised hand peeking out of the snow. I had to resort to my Canon AEl camera rather than my Sony digital camera to show that hand above the snow, so I don't have the final photo to share with you. My internet connection went out in the middle of all this mess! We are rather short on snowplows and salt for our hilly terrain so I didn't get to the fix-it shop for a few days.

A very, very white Christmas we had! The storms forced all of us to Plan B for groceries, gifts, holiday celebrations, and on and on. Now the rain has started at the rate of an inch a day, so say the forecasters, to wash away the snow pile after pile. It's great to be back almost to business as usual.

What was I painting these last two weeks of "weather"? Various projects and lots of end of the year organizational actitivies, bookkeeping and filing, for example. I've also been intrigued with visual journalling. This has given me a creative boost as I use a variety of media to express the dailiness of life without prose writing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

White Irises Daily Painting, Colorful Painting by Artist K. Joann Russell

"White Irises Study"
5.75 x 4" Acrylic on Watercolor Paper

How time flies... when you're having fun! Right? It's been awhile since I posted to this blog. Lots of painting going on but no tiny paintings to add to this blog. Sorry, folks!

I finally did a small one as I prepare for a painting of white irises. The trick is painting whites using subtle shadows. It's kind of like the negative painting I like to do in watercolors.

An interesting part of this study was my "testing" of the effects of titanium white and "soft white" (acrylic label). The first is a white with a touch of "coolness", a tiny blue tinge. The second has a touch of yellow which "warms" the white. Have you ever dealt with this when painting white walls in your house? There's white and then there's white! Check out the white color chips at the paint store to see what I'm talking about.

I started this study leaving the white of the paper for the lightest parts of the flowers as I used a wash of ultramarine blue to indicate the shadow areas. Later I added titanium white to the light areas because the paper wasn't white enough to suit me. When I added mixtures of dark blues for the background areas the whole painting started to feel "cold" even though I added touches of orange. So, my last paint applications were of "soft white". That achieved the temperature I wanted and the contrasts to render the painting interesting.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I've been tagged!

Remember the childhood game of tag, you're it? Well, tagging is part of the blog world, too. It's fun when you have the time to participate. I chose today, Sunday, to spend some time playing tag indoors after enjoying the gorgeous sunny day in Seattle. What a contrast from yesterday when I painted the gray landscape!

A Canadian artist Joanne Griesbrecht, whose work I admire, "tagged" me on her blog.

This is how the game works:
1. Put a link in your posting to the person who tagged you.
2. List 7 unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know.

My list of 7 not-so-usual things about me, even though I'm pretty much a "garden variety" artist, are the following:

1. I did my first painting (pastels) of Woodside Store (California Bay Area) when I was in grade school as part of a Girl Scout badge project. It was really pretty good.

2. Until high school I never was in one school longer than two years because we moved. I survived quite well because I loved new places and new people. I still get the "two year itch" but find it hard now to pull up stakes when the time comes.

3. I learned to play soccer in grade school, played collegiate field hockey besides all kinds of other sports. I also was a member of the county junior posse drill team, riding horseback in drills while carrying a flag on a pole!

4. Lots of 4H(raising/showing cattle) and FHA (home economics) kept me busy and provided plenty of fun. I even raised/showed Berkshire hogs! Have you tried to make a pig go where you wanted it to by using the end of a pole?

5. I wanted to major in piano but the college I attended wouldn't approve my second instrument (saxophone......played in marching and dance bands). They would accept voice, but I flunked the audition! So, I majored in chemistry (which I loved.......colors, even then) and worked in teaching and research until job openings disappeared for chemists in my area.

6. I studied four foreign languages and can't speak nor read much of any of them anymore, but they're a great help for crossword puzzles.

7. I took a watercolor class in 1976 and instantly loved the flowing water and paint. I still have my first watercolor, a farm landscape, to remind me of that experience. However, my brother critiqued with his construction foreman/superintendent eye "the silo is not plumb"!

Here are the blogs I'll be tagging because I like these artists' work.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chromium Oxide Green - New Name in Daily Painting

Today on my way back from shipping a painting to a collector I went down the hill to the beach for a coffee break. I enjoyed the birds diving for their Saturday brunch, a seal stealing lunch from the fishermen, and the few minutes of sun breaking through the clouds.

All of a sudden I noticed, there's that chromium green oxide mix with cerulean blue out there in the water! I looked a bit more at the colors in the Puget Sound waters, then I grabbed my trusty sketch book to draw this composition. Even a small tug way out on the water provided some interest because it had a neat accent of red on the engine house, perfect touch for a tiny painting of greens. Everywhere I looked that green/blue mixture was staring at me. Aha moment arrived! That is what is known as "Seattle Gray"!

For those who haven't lived here nor experienced our climate, this area is known for the persistent gray sky that drips most of the time with moisture from mist to torrential rains. Seattle is absolutely gorgeous when the sun is out, but the fall/winter covers us with a blanket of gray. I've not associated that gray with this paint color that I'm about to toss from my supplies. (Read an earlier post about chromium green oxide).

For those curious about the geography, the dark land mass behind the tug is Vashon Island. The distant more blue land mass is the DesMoines area south of Seattle and near SeaTac International Airport.

Here's the little painting I did today after working on some larger paintings. I used color mixtures from only three colors: chromium green oxide, cerulean blue, and titanium white. Then I dotted the tug with a bit of cadmium red deep.

"Seattle Gray"
3.5 x 5.5" acrylic on paper
Free to the first person who requests it.
Update: Artist Julie Carnes of California who owns property on the island claimed this painting. See her work at

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunflower Study Three Times

After completing a detailed watercolor of a sunflower yesterday (you can view it on the home page of my website), I played with acrylic techniques today.

I've had a love/hate relationship with the color chromium oxide for too long a time. This grayed green does "match" the color of most sunflower leaves, but the color is so grayed that it can create "mud" really fast. You know what a dirty Army green looks like? I threw out the last of an old tube a month ago. Lo and behold, I found a new tube of it in my paint supply! So, I challenged myself to use it in these three studies of a sunflower. I used the same palette of colors in each of the little paintings.

In the first small sketch I used the paints in thick, opaque brush strokes. This is how I paint on canvas. The real challenge in this one, besides that chromium oxide mentioned above, was the angle of the sunflower and the bend in the head. I didn't fully pull off this tiny painting, but I liked the texture of the paint applications.

"Sunflower Study A"
6 x 4" acrylic on watercolor paper
Free to the first person to request it.
Updated:12/29/08 A person in Minnesota asked for all of these.
Click here to e-mail me.

Next I sketched in pen and ink a sunflower on watercolor paper and proceeded to add layers of acrylic colors in washes. This watercolor style lets some of the light of the paper show through the paint.

When I paint watercolors I use traditional watercolor paints which can be "lifted" from the paper unless they are staining colors. I can achieve all kinds of effects with "lifts". The acrylic layers do not lift, so it is hard to correct mistakes. I've often thought that I should switch to acrylics for my watercolor paintings, but I tend to paint "tight" every time I've tried it. I like the luminosity of the acrylic layers, though. Some day maybe I'll change the paints.

"Sunflower Study B"
6 x 4" acrylic on watercolor paper
Free to the first person to request it.
Updated: 12/29/08 A person in Minnesota asked for all three of these.
Click here to e-mail me.

The third study was done in opaque acrylics on watercolor paper with brushstrokes giving texture to the surface. I wanted to test this composition because I like the 3-D look of the sunflower with its petals pointing outward. I also wanted it with a dark background to emphasize the dimensionality of the sunflower head, so I used the chromium green oxide full strength with some cerulean blue to darken it more. More layers of blue and a dark red gave the rich background without reverting to using black. I may paint this composition in a larger painting.

"Sunflower Study C"
4 x 6" acrylic on watercolor paper
Free to the first person to request it.
Updated: 12/29/08 This little study is also going to Minnesota.
Click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Daily Painting or Painting Daily by K. Joann Russell of Sunflower Studio Art

What an education a blog gives me! The cyberworld “talks” all the time from the blogs created with words. The daily painters’ blogs delight with the colors and compositions of paintings. Today in the gorgeous sunshine that gives us a break from the wind, torrential rains, and persistent gray of the Pacific Northwest I pondered why my blog posts are few and far between.

My life is energized with creativity. I revel in colors. Show me clear, vibrant colors and my head spins with ideas in all kinds of media, two and three dimensional. Let me outdoors and I can dance at the sight of the autumn colors of leaves from deep reds to pale yellows against the dark greens of our evergreen trees. I’m awed by the gorgeous array of colors of the sunrise or sunset on Mt. Rainier viewed from my location above Puget Sound waters. Yet, I relish silence and solitude when painting as long as I have plenty of natural light.

Am I not a daily painter? Where are the daily paintings? Am I comparing myself to those who “produce” a “daily” painting…….completed, ready to be bought? Yes, I think so.

For me painting is a process, not a production line. I personally can stand the same ole’ same ole’ only so long when I’m bursting with new ideas. That doesn't deter from my ingrained work ethic. On the other hand, the methodical processes can offer me a calming effect from overly active days or doing things that require mental focus…….consider bookkeeping tasks.

Quick answer to long question: My painting daily goes right back to the process I was in the previous day. I rarely do tiny completed paintings as warm ups. I jump right back in where I left off. My warm up is the habitual palette preparation or rejuvenation routine. Consider filling the watercolor jars with fresh water…….spraying the acrylics in the sealed palette…….

So, as part of my explanation, I’ve included a photo of a watercolor in process. Translation: it is not completed yet.

Original Watercolor Painting of Sunflowers


What does process look like for this artist? Pen, pencil always with me plus blank and graph paper section in my personal planner and a sketch book nearby. I “talk” with my pen or pencil. That’s second nature for me, to illustrate what I’m thinking. Often I intersperse words, occasionally numbers or dimensions. I have a hard time “filling in the boxes” or coloring “within the lines.” When actually speaking I find it difficult to keep my hands idle. I’m gesturing naturally, sculpting three dimensional space as I do in interior design. I just “see” the whole volume and then the planes. I’m an artist 24/7 naturally. It took a long time to understand how I am wired!

I play with colors. Any “warm up” I do would look like a little abstract painting. I’ve thought of putting those on greeting card blanks, but I’d have to cut up my large sketch book pages. That would ruin my many, many sketch books that “journal” my artistic endeavors. I do go back to them on occasion as references or to refresh my memory.

I use more than one media. The watercolor shown today is an example of my penchant for meticulous drawing and multiple watercolor glazes. It is very time consuming but it gets the need for control out of my system. I seem to go to that when too much is going on around me. For example, overdue income statements and balance sheets, meeting exciting new people, spontaneously developing business ideas, rethinking studio arrangements after reading current Studios magazine, evaluating new online venues such as Etsy and Handmade Fuzion.

Then there are times when I “cut loose” and paint as I want to paint all the time with bright colors and visible brush strokes. I’ve done a few recently in acrylics (my winter media), but I need to do more before letting them out to the public. I’m hoping it is a breakthrough from a plateau for me, but it must be considered experimental for now.

I haven’t given up on myself for changing habits to produce a tiny painting each day. I’m seriously considering continuing to offer them free to the first e-mailer. That frees me from the constraints of presenting only one consistent style of art. Those in the art business world understand what I’m talking about.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Original Sunflower Painting, Daily Painting by K Joann Russell

5 x 7" acrylic on canvas - gallery wrap

Close Up View

Today as I started to set up my palette to finish a larger painting, I noticed one particular sunflower outside my windows. I switched to a new canvas, prepared it with a light orange wash of paint, allowed it to dry and then used a brush with dark red orange paint to draw the sunflower and the many leaves behind it.

The underpainting showed through as I played with various colors of yellows and yellow greens. I added light blue greens to cool those yellows a bit. I tried to make the brushwork expressive and made soft edges so that the image was not sharply defined. I had a lot of fun with this one.

The painting edges are painted as part of the imagery. A frame is not necessary. However, you could use one if you wanted to. The painting comes to you unframed. If you plan not to frame it, please let me know and I'll attach wire to the back of the painting.

Update: This painting was purchased by a person in California. To purchase other paintings or prints click here K Joann Russell.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Garden Flowers Nasturtiums Original Daily Painting by K Joann Russell

Morning Nasturtiums
7 x 5" Acrylic on Canvas - Gallery Wrap

Yesterday morning while having coffee in my garden I noticed that the nasturtiums were coming to the end of their blooming season. I picked three blossoms, put them in a small glass vase, and started my daily painting. As usual, I used a limited palette of 4 or 5 colors.

Today I put a few finishing touches on this small painting before working on larger paintings.

The painting comes to you unframed. The image is painted on the sides of the gallery wrap canvas. No staples show on the sides. Framing would be optional. If you don't plan to frame it, let me know and I'll attach wire to the back of the painting so that it is ready to hang when you receive it.

To purchase other paintings and prints, click here K Joann Russell

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Original Painting of Garden Flowers, Nasturtiums on Gallery Wrap Canvas

"Nasturtium Study"
5 x 7" Acrylic on Canvas - Gallery Wrap

This seemed the perfect day to rearrange part of my studio for the fall/winter months. The wall of windows facing east supply lots of light during the well publicized gray days of the northwest. The newly flowering tall sunflowers won't be there in the garden outside those windows when winter comes.

So, I kind of switched gears today and picked up the acrylic paints rather than the oils. Acrylics dry faster than the oils in the winter time. Of course, the sun came out gloriously by noon today!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Original Western Rural Landscape Painting, Southern Oregon Horses by Artist K. Joann Russell

How does one listen intently to the news on the television without watching the screen while at the same time paint? That's why it took longer today to finish this watercolor. What probably saved the day was the fact that I was painting a familiar subject --- "home" territory!

"Oregon Pastures"

9 x 12" watercolor

Close Up View

Close Up View

An original painting of "home" country for me -- Southern Oregon ranch country. The mountains, the evergreen trees, the dry pastures contrasting with the irrigated green pastures -- all on a bright day in the sunshine. The mare and her foal are typical of the ranches in this area.

This original painting comes to you unframed. To purchase, click here K Joann Russell.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Original Oil Painting - A Daily Painting - Study in Purple 7 x 5" Gallery Wrap Canvas

Some days get filled with everything but paint and paint brushes. This was one of those days. I may not have been painting but I surely was noticing colors everywhere I went.

That's how I'm wired. A color catches my eye and I want to do something with it! Even the simple wonder of the deep purple sweet peas peeking at me around the garage as I walked back from the mail box. But, the mail was more important at that moment.

So, all excuses aside, I admit I did not lift a paint brush today. Instead here's a little jewel done sometime ago as a daily painting exercise. Maybe it's the color purple that's "it" for me today.

"Study in Purple"
7 x 5" oil on canvas - gallery wrap

Close Up View

This painting is available. It's perfect size for table top easel display.

Today finished with some lovely compliments from people in far reaches of the USA. Thanks again to all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Original Watercolor Painting Sketch of Nasturtiums

The orange reds contrasting against green nasturtium leaves caught my eye when I went outside to enjoy my lunch in bright sunshine. These are part of the second blooming of tiny nasturtiums planted next to the cement patio edge. At first I thought of using acrylics to paint this one, but the light was changing so fast that I grabbed the watercolor palette I was already using today. The challenge was to show the bright colors of the flowers and make the larger size blossom "pop" out as it was doing from the ground and the various greens of leaves in shadows.

"Nasturtium Color Study"

5 x 7" watercolor on mat board

Can you picture me sitting on the concrete to get down close to the subject? I sketched basic composition lines then swiftly added color strokes using only #8 and #4 round brushes. The smooth surface of the back of the mat board allowed for washy strokes of color. I indulged myself in some negative painting (painting around the back of a color shape versus painting the shape directly). I love to do that. I also did some glazing to pull everything together (color wash over the entire piece). Yellow helped unify everything. I signed it with my #1 round and called it a day. I got what I wanted. The nasturtium flower "popped" off the sketch surface.

Do you like it, too? This one is free to the first person to e-mail me to request it. Click here to e-mail me. Update 11/04/08: An admirer of my work who lives in Maine asked for this sketch. I plan to offer free more little sketches, so check back on this blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Original Watercolor Painting of Red Poppies, 9 x 12"

Another original painting in a red poppies series, a follow up painting to the watercolor of a flower garden of red poppies. This time the paper is hot press watercolor paper which has a very smooth surface. The paint handles differently because the tiny indentations in cold press paper are not present for the paint to pool. The brush strokes are naturally more fluid.

"Poppies #3"
9 x 12" watercolor

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recent Painting - Red Poppies - Original Oil Painting

Finally I've joined the ranks of bloggers. I've been a daily painter for years. Here's the most recent new painting, an 8 x 10"oil painting in a series of red poppies paintings.

I'll get the hang of posting with some practice. Until I get used to posting and using PayPal buttons and links, please visit my website to purchase paintings. To purchase, click here K Joann Russell


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