Thursday, November 19, 2009

Playing With Colors in Artist Inspiration Journal of K. Joann Russell

Playing with colors gives me lots of fun. I have no subject matter in mind. I simply enjoy a select few colors and how they affect each other and what other colors come from their mixtures.

At the beginning of this year I started an art inspirational journal to encourage me to paint more interpretatively with loose brush strokes. The results have been quite interesting and I've shared a few on this blog.

As we approach the end of 2009 I've looked back at my entries and discovered that the most appealing pages for me were the ones with color splashes and quick black ink gestural lines.

I write around and on the entries with quotes, phrases, words. I often make it a spiritual journal. I've started to write in pencil on a page edge the color names I used because some really lovely color combinations have resulted. I want to remember and reference them for my paintings especially when I get in a rut using the same colors over and over.

So, I'm sharing three for the "price" of one today. Enjoy the colors and lines! Remember to click on the images for closeup views.

"Faith Test"
5 x 8.5" acrylic/ink on paper

5 x 8.5" acrylic/ink on paper

5 x 8.5" acrylic/ink on paper

I look forward to hearing from you or reading your comments.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Garden Flowers Colorful Original Painting SFA

"Dream Garden"
4 x 6" acrylic on watercolor paper

Can you find the colors I used to paint this original small painting? The mixes on my palette at the end of my painting day came from warm and cool colors of yellow, blue, and green plus a purple and a red violet.

This small format art (SFA) was painted over an underpainting of similar colors. Again the texture of the watercolor paper provides the sparkle. I put a white mat around the image to see what it would look like in a frame. The result: a bright, cheery piece of art. Perfect for a color accent in your decor during the winter months.

Find more small paintings, especially ACEOs in my Etsy shop KJoannRussell.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lavender Iris Original Painting ACEO ATC

"Lavender Iris"

3.5 x 2.5 acrylic ACEO on watercolor paper

Fun with purple! Today I used dioxazine purple, a red violet, thalo blue, and ultramarine blue to mix a variety of colors in the iris and the background. A little yellow and raw sienna added to the stems The dark value behind the flower makes it stand out, but the dark is not from black. I rarely, if ever, use black paint.

It's good that I had other demands on my time today or I would have been tempted to fiddle too much with the image to refine the color strokes. When to stop is a challenge most painters have to face each day. I'm getting better at telling myself , "that's it, the best I could do today", and moving on. Otherwise I could be ''fixing" for ever and ever on one tiny ACEO, making a bigger and bigger mess without growing as an artist.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blue Purple Pansy ACEO Original Painting Floral Art

"Purple Pansy" ACEO, ATC Original Painting
3.5 x 2.5" acrylic on watercolor paper

A few pansies remain in my garden among the autumn leaves. I find them happy little flowers in their colorful arrays. It's fun to watch for the little birds "hiding" in and among them as they pick up the leftovers from the feeders.

I used a couple of blues, a purple, a red purple and a yellow for this small painting. This was my play with colors before beginning a larger painting of similar flowers. Do you like it?

You can purchase my ACEO paintings in my Etsy store KJoannRussell .

Monday, November 2, 2009

River Valley Landscape ACEO, ATC Original Small Painting

"River Valley"

2.5 x 3.5" acrylic on watercolor paper (ACEO)

As usual, I just played with a few colors until a composition presented itself. This is a composite of the mountains around here with a river going through the valley. It isn't a realistic painting of the famous Rogue River that flows through the town of Grants Pass, OR on its way to the Pacific Ocean, but I like this small landscape result.

Be sure to click on the image for a larger photo of the ACEO.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pink Tulips Garden Flowers ACEO, ATC by K. Joann Russell

"Pink Tulips" ACEO
3.5 x 2.5" Acrylic on watercolor paper

This small painting was so much fun to do! I wanted to try a few select colors, a couple of reds and a couple of blues plus a lime green. The 140# watercolor paper provided a great texture for the white to show in places to give the painting a sparkle.

For those not acquainted with the term ACEO, it stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals". They originated with Art Trading Cards (ATC) among artists. The dimensions are the same as other trading cards. They are very popular currently.

Purchasing an ACEO is an economical way to collect original art. Some people have large collections of these. There are special display cases for them as well as other accessories. I like to see them framed in a group matting. Little colorful gems that are one of a kind!

Be sure to click on the image of the painting for a larger view that will show brush strokes and color nuances. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Original Rural Landscape Painting with Horses

"Oregon Pastures #2"
8 x 10" oil on canvas, gallery wrap

The greens in this small painting were so much fun. Lots of variations from only a few colors of oil paints. Horses pastured on small acreages are quite typical of southern Oregon.

An earlier painting with a similar composition I painted in watercolor on paper. The effects are quite different. You can view both on my website, K. Joann Russell

To read more about this painting Click here

Monday, October 12, 2009

Southern Oregon Valley Sketch for Landscape Paintings

"Southern Oregon Valley Sketch"
5 x 8" acrylic/ink on paper

Five minutes of playing with four colors plus white! The result seemed to be a composite sketch of the landscape elements around this part of Oregon...the mountains, forests, orchards and vineyards, the open lands, rivers and the changing cloud formations. The ink lines give more definition to the color shapes.

It is a month since my last post. Wow! Has it been that long? At times I've been tempted to use this blog to chronicle my adventures learning about a new town and its people, but I've resisted and kept the blog specific to art. I guess I need to do more super fast sketches.

To read my comments about my comings and goings, I suggest reading my tweets on twitter. @KJoannRussell

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Sunflower Painting from New Studio

"One Bright Sunflower"
12 x 9" watercolor on watercolor paper

Here's the first completed painting from my new location in Grants Pass, Oregon. I so enjoy the bright blue skies and I haven't tired of viewing the evergreen covered mountains surrounding this valley. I think the bright light influenced how I painted this watercolor.

After finishing the painting today, what a comedy to find and set up the camera tripod in a new lighting area. The funniest part was the hunt for my inventory sheets so that I could correctly number and label this watercolor. I had put them in a secure place during the packing prior to the move. Yes, I finally found them tucked in with the other precious files of decor prints.

Click here to purchase this colorful painting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

K. Joann Russell Joins Grants Pass, Oregon Art Scene

The sun still shines in this mountain valley along the Rogue River with blue skies rather than a background of gray. I can't get over the warmth even after a brief rain shower. More temperatures in the 90's forecast for the rest of this week.

Each day I'm meeting new people in this lovely area where a notable artists' community impacts the cultural scene. Today I visited a few galleries and the art museum. I'm getting tempted to display in galleries again. And I joined the local social networking site, The Grants Pass Art Scene. It's fun getting connected locally after being on the web almost exclusively for the last several years.

Yes, I've been painting amid the endless details of relocation. A sunflower watercolor that has "bugged" me for some time is actually evolving to a nice finish.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can a Rock Garden Grow Sunflowers?

Today I started to meet the challenge of a yard with a field of rocks. I've been digging in special areas of all those rocks to find the soil underneath. Yesterday it was a lot of hardpan clay. Today I found a few spots where the soil looks much more promising, so I've started to think of a design for my new garden that includes rocks, lots of them.

The sole sunflower plant I nurtured yesterday is still alive and well. So are the chrysanthemums and purple salvia. No, I didn't plant them directly in clay. However, I estimate that a lot of soil enrichment will have to be in my budget if I'm going to achieve any fall or spring planting.

I haven't chosen the spot for my sunflowers yet, but I will once I figure out the soil enrichment. I definitely will have lots and lots of nasturtiums because they do so well in poor soil. They'll make a colorful contrast with the dark gray rocks.

The best harbinger to encourage me this morning with this challenge was a dove that visited my new plantings. Several house finches surveyed my yard from the top of the fence. And the Blue Jays found the suet feeder in a small tree.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One Sunflower Garden is a Start

In my new garden in Grants Pass, OR I've planted one sunflower plant courtesy of the garden section of BiMart! That's a start. It's too late in the season to plant seeds, so one is better than none.

At the end of a week of moving, I was able to attend a Donna Downey workshop with both of my daughters over the weekend. I had assumed I wouldn't be free for the intensive multi-media workshop. That turned out to be the "ah-ha" time of the whole week.

In the photo below are Liz of Tacoma, WA, Donna Downey, MaryAnn of San Ramon, CA, and myself. The workshop energized all of us even though we were all travel-weary. Donna came from South Carolina to Grants Pass, Oregon!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunflower Studio Art Move to Southern OREGON

Did you know that Grants Pass, OR is famous for the sign over a city street that reads "It's the Weather"? Yesterday marked my move to this area of southern Oregon. Most of my landscape paintings come from my experiences in this region, "home country" for me.

Thanks to family and friends, things endured well the 400 mile trip last night in a four-horse/cattle trailer! I didn't have as much large painting inventory to transport on this move which helped immensely. Boxes are well labelled, so it shouldn't be long before I'm back to painting full steam ahead.

Watch to see how the light in the area affects my art.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Third Mountain Meadow Oil Painting Sketch by Artist K. Joann Russell

"Mountain Meadow Sketch #3"
5 x 7" oil painting on gessoed mat board

Do you see the difference in this little painting from the previous sketches...other than the size change? This was done in the early morning light. Notice the position of the long shadows and the bright light on the trees.

En plein air painting is so much fun. One has to respond quickly to the light on the scene before it changes. That means move than paint brush fast. No time to fiddle with little details. That's been my goal with my artistic journal this year, quick and loose painting. This sketch moves toward that goal. The biggest challenge was the evergreen trees, to show texture of branches without infinite detail. I had fun. That made my day and trip!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Second Mountain Meadow Oil Painting Sketch from Southern Oregon

"Mountain Meadow Sketch #2"
4 x 5 3/4" oil painting on gessoed watercolor paper

Working in a series or painting from memory surely sharpens our visual skills. This sketch I painted the same afternoon as the one posted yesterday. However, I remembered how the light brightened the meadow earlier in the afternoon. I added some complementary color touches of light lavender in the yellows of the fields and specs of red in the evergreen masses of trees. That added something to the composition and made it more alive. I even acquiesced to my brother's desire to have wisps of high clouds in the sky! Artistic license!

Which rendition do you like of the two?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mountain Meadow Oil Painting Sketch from Southern Oregon Trip

"Mountain Meadow"
4 x 5 3/4" oil on gessoed watercolor paper

While on my recent trip to Southern Oregon I spent two days in the remote mountains where the temperatures were 20 degrees below the blazing 100's in the Rogue River Valley. This is the first of a series of sketches I painted as I watched the light change on this meadow. This first rendition I painted en plein air late in the afternoon. Can you feel the coolness of those shadows from the evergreen trees of fir and pine?

The gesso sealed the watercolor paper and I've varnished the dried oil painting. Now you can frame this gem without glass as you would with a stretched canvas.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Original Oil Painting of Sunflower by Artist K. Joann Russell

8 x 10" oil on canvas, gallery wrap

Another sunflower painting is on its way to a collector. This is a busy day of shipping original paintings and decor prints. My supply of original paintings of sunflowers is dwindling. It must be summertime when new sunflowers bloom in the garden and provide me with new source material for art. Mine are a little slow, though, because of the spring rains and cold. However, nasturtiums are growing and coloring the world with their yellows and oranges. Those are so easy to grow from seed. A novice garden can't fail with them!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Garden Sunflowers Decor Print in a Double Mat with Dark Evergreen Liner from K. Joann Russell Painting

"Garden Sunflowers" Decor Print in 11 x 14" double mat

Decisions, decisions, decisions.... I'm in the process of choosing which prints to discontinue. The sale of the prints with mats continues. How everyone likes a sale! Later the decor prints on my website will be offered without mats so that collectors can select their choice of mat color. That makes it so much easier for everyone.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Closeout Sale Sunflower Decor Print with Mat

"Summer Sunflowers" Decor Print in 11 x 14" mat

Another sunflower print that I've put on sale. These sale decor prints are 8 x 10" images in mats with backing boards. They're packaged and ready to put in a standard size frame. A great gift idea!

Enjoy the sale.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Iris Garden Decor Print Sale

"Iris Garden #4" Decor Print in 11 x 14" mat

Have some fun this holiday weekend on eBay! I've listed this iris flowers print.

Even though I didn't get to my paintings today, I'm still working on the closeout of prints that include mats. Some editions are ended. When the matted prints are in their new homes, I'll be offering prints without mats. That will make it so much easier for the DIY people who like to choose their special color in a mat.

God bless America as we celebrate our unique freedoms in this country.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ACEO Garden Flowers Original Watercolors Painted by K. Joann Russell

2.5 x 3.5" watercolor

As I cleaned off a counter with a stack of papers today look what I found in an envelope! Yes, this is one of those popular ACEOs, tiny art that people collect with fervor today. I've struggled to paint in this size even though I started a series in 2006. It was a "One Brush Painting Daily Series". These two paintings are signed on the back with the series name, watercolor title and the date.

3.5 x 2.5" watercolor

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Pink Tulips Garden Flowers Decor Print from K Joann Russell Watercolor

"Pink Tulips"
Decor Print 8 x 10"

A lovely new print of delicate pinks contrasted with a variety of greens. In a white frame the colors and image really catch your eye.

Find it newly listed in my KJoannRussell Etsy Shop

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Decor Print of Sunflowers from Original Watercolor by Artist K. Joann Russell

"Many Though One #2"
Decor Print 8 x 10" Image

This gorgeous sunflower print with its blues, greens, and yellows is new today. The new prints will be offered without mats. People enjoy the freedom of choosing mat colors. Rather than spend my time increasing my inventory of mats, I'll paint more originals.

Until I finish the links on my website for purchasing this print, please click here to see it in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Red Poppies Garden Flowers Decor Print and Mat from Original Oil Painting by Artist K Joann Russell

"Red Poppies"
Decor Print in 8 x 10" Mat

The original oil painting of these gorgeous red poppies "resides" with a collector in the United Kingdom. The decor print has been very popular in its larger size that fits an 11 x 14" mat.

Today I listed this size in my Etsy shop because it works so well as a colorful gift.

Red poppies have been blooming in the Puget Sound area. They catch my eye while I'm on my morning walks. Yes, it is the bright color that I so enjoy.

Click here to go to my Etsy shop where you can purchase it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Landscape Sketch Using Limited Palette by Artist K. Joann Russell

"High Desert Landscape Sketch"
5 x 8.5" acrylic on paper
Click on photo to enlarge for details

My artistic journal sketch yesterday proved to be an interesting result from a challenging limited palette of colors. After a previous painting session I had leftover paints which I usually combine to form warm and cool grays to use with fresh colors. These were the colors: a yellow ochre-raw sienna, grayed cerulean blue, grayed red violet, a yellow-orange, and white.

I started with no definite composition in mind. The only connection with the grayed colors was a subdued mood and a desire to get out in the open spaces. I started at the top with the usual sky, adding cloud buildups. I mixed a lovely purple (one of my favorite colors) and decided to use it in the distance for a landscape without knowing what to add next for elements of the landscape.

At first, as I added mixes of the colors a level terrain of field shapes developed. I wanted to bring the cerulean blue of the sky closer to the foreground so one stroke of that color later became a lake. Likewise, I did the same with the purple. I so wanted to get this landscape to bright colors that I'm accustomed to, but I had limited myself with grayed colors.

I continued to add strokes of paint colors intuitively. Finally, it was time to stop and make some sense of the landscape that resulted. It reminded me of higher distant mountains behind hillsides typical of high desert country with brown trees rather than lush evergreens where more rain falls. The lake bed of marshlands formed at the lower elevations. The contrast of water and dryness seemed to be what I was expressing with this unusual limited palette. I definitely felt the limitation!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Red and Purple Petunias Fresh from K Joann Russell's Garden

Red and Purple Petunias
5 x 8.5" Acrylic on Paper

Enjoy my quick sketch of the bright red and deep purple petunias that are starting to bloom in my garden. In the warm sun they are especially colorful. Color is my passion. Acrylics dry so quickly that I needed to paint fast and bold.

This will go into my artistic journal for this day. I'm encouraging myself today. The contrasts in the colors is strong. Many years ago in response to someone's opinion that you shouldn't put those two colors together, I deliberately painted strong reds and purples side by side in watercolors for a gallery show. The art critic who reviewed the show commented how well I could pull off the unusual combination of red and purples.

Do you like the colors? By the way, I drew the shapes while looking at two different sections of the garden. Notice how I used pieces of color to relate the two color masses. I had fun, so that's all that counts on these quick sketches. Expressive color strokes rule today!

Be sure to click on the photo to enlarge the image so you can see the expressive drawing and painting strokes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

California Poppies Sketch from Artist K Joann Russell

"California Poppies Sketch"
4 x 6" acrylic on watercolor paper

This little watercolor is a sketch from the design project I've been working on. I focused on the yellow and orange colors more than defining the flowers petal by petal. If you look click on the image and look closely you'll see my pencil lines indicating basic shapes for the colorful flowers.

I think I like my previous poppies sketch from a previous post. Painting in a washy watercolor style with acrylic paints is different for me. When using acrylics I customarily paint opaque shapes with visible brushstrokes. This is a good illustration of painting techniques.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One of my most popular Sunflower Decor Prints featured today

"Many Though One"
Decor Print in 11 x 14" Mat

Wow, oh wow what a week! Lots going on as more and more people contact me about my colorful paintings and decor prints. I attended an online class last week for artists new to Facebook, Twitter and such. I've been working on developing my Facebook page Sunflower Studio Art in addition to learning to tweet on Twitter @kjoannrussell.

I used this print to display more sunflower art on Facebook Sunflower Studio Art. This has been a standout print for me. So many have commented on it. You can read more about it here

And I received a great compliment on my art today on Brushspace

All the above and the sunshine that is now appearing after a very windy storm makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Celebrating Sunflower Studio Art

"Sunflower Series #5"
28 x 20" watercolor on paper

Time to celebrate! It has been a long time since 1983 when this watercolor was featured in an article by the art critic at that time, Alan R. Hayakawa of the Portland Oregonian. He wrote of a gallery show of my work and commented on my bright flower paintings. Those were the days when I did gallery shows.

I've used this image as a logo for my website. Today I started a Facebook Page for Sunflower Studio Art using this logo again. Online networking has been keeping me busy learning and having fun in recent weeks. I don't have any paintings to show for all the clicking of computer keys, but I think this image aptly says, "you've come a long way, baby!"

Consider how many changes occurred during this time span. We didn't have websites then. Etsy wasn't a thriving marketplace. Cell phones, ipods, all the technology we consider essential now have changed everything, especially in the art world. However, nothing can replace the uniqueness of a handmade, one of a kind, bona fide original piece of art. We still treasure that human touch of creativity to our "things".

A special thanks to all those who helped me along the way to continue this artistic journey!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rural Western Landscape Sketch by K Joann Russell

Rural Landscape Sketch
5 x 8 1/2" acrylic on paper

Sunshine in Seattle! It is actually very warm today. Two days in a row! Everyone comes outdoors on days like these, including me. I've switched to oil paints with this warm weather. They take so long to dry in the winter damp.

I've been working on a rural landscape with horses in it, similar to a recent watercolor. The colors are a little muted and I wasn't getting the effect I wanted. I pulled out another unfinished landscape oil painting of bright colors in light and shadow. That's what I would like in all my landscapes.

Yesterday in the gorgeous weather I studied again my color mixes and considered a few new ones. At the end of the day without much time left I grabbed some acrylic paints and worked really fast to get better colors. This is the sketch I did in my artistic journal.

I like the vibrant colors and the spontaneity of the brushwork. The subject is not well defined on purpose, but that's okay. I achieved what I wanted.

A number of my spontaneous sketches of late have resulted in landscapes. I've received so many gracious compliments on my landscapes recently that I'm working my way back into doing more of them. Before an art professor suggested I paint all the flowers in my garden, I painted only landscapes. I assure you my sunflowers and flowers won't go away, but I'll continue improving my rural landscapes. Maybe I'll also do more horses.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for my infrequent postings. Where has the last month gone?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

California Poppies Sketch in Artistic Journal of K Joann Russell

"California Poppies Sketch"
8 x 5" Acrylic on paper

As I mentioned in this blog earlier this year, I've been using an artistic journal to help me paint in a more painterly, loose manner. It's working, folks. I've noticed it in my recent paintings. I'm encouraged.

Yesterday brought back some memories of my many precious childhood art experiences in California where I was born. My first painting of the Woodside Store (San Carlos-Redwood City area) was done in pastels. Today to "celebrate" the child in me, I did a quick sketch of the well-celebrated bright California poppies. I used only a yellow, a orange, a green, and a blue color plus a touch of white to make this little gem of a sketch.

I must admit that I may have overworked this sketch, but it did end short of disaster. At one point there was a spontaneous freshness that I "ruined" when I started to work more on parts of the flowers. Artists understand the dilemna of when to stop a painting and call it "done". I had fun playing with the colors and that's all that matters to me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Sunflowers Painting by Artist K. Joann Russell of Sunflower Studio Art

"Sunflower Coming Forth"
9 x 12 x .75 acrylic painting, gallery wrap canvas
Click here to purchase

After three days of intermittent snow and bright sunshine I finally was able to photograph this newly completed painting. It is a great illustration of painting surfaces and the sharpness of an image. The canvas grain prevents the type of hard edged shapes I often paint on watercolor papers. Even watercolor surfaces vary in texture. The peaks and valleys of the surfaces make for fun results. Add those to the brush strokes produced by a variety of brushes and you see how creative art can be.

I showed the watercolor version of this image in an earlier blog post. I'm becoming a fan of acrylic paints again. The colors can be so clear. I like to paint fast when such gorgeous colors surprise me. Besides, when it is cold and wet weather the speedy drying time is a big bonus.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mare and Foal Horse Art Collection includes K Joann Russell's Watercolor

"Quarter Horse Mare and Foal #2"
Decor Print of Original Watercolor/Ink Painting

Another nice surprise this morning from the Etsy Whoa Horse Art Team. The above art is included in a treasury collection of mare and foal subjects, some outstanding equine art by worldwide artists.

If you'd like to read about this registered quarter horse mare and her very talented colt, click here. You'll be amused.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunflower Ballet Original Painting from Sunflower Studio Art

"Sunflower Ballet"

8 x 10" acrylic painting on canvas - gallery wrap

To purchase click here

This sunflower reminded me of gestures and movements in a ballet. I painted the background a dark color to give the subject a dramatic look. The composition is a very simple series of shapes.

Computer monitors can't show you all the nuances of colors. The dark background is an excellent example in this little painting. On the monitor it looks black. I didn't use any black paint. I do not use black in my paintings. I got in that habit when I was introduced to traditional watercolor.

So, how did I get such a dark color? I mixed colors that produced various darks. Some have a blue, others a touch of purple, some darkened greens. That's so much fun to mix those. The opposites on color wheels or three colors equally spaced on the wheel can give you a starting point. All part of the fun of playing with colors. I used two blues, two greens, one purple and one red.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Colt Horse Art Decor Print by Artist K Joann Russell in Etsy Treasury

"Long-legged Stage"
Decor Print of Original Watercolor/Ink Painting

A nice surprise for me this morning! This decor print of horse art was selected for a Treasury in I was invited recently to join a group of horse artists, "Whoa Horse Art Team". One of the members selected a great collection of art to be featured around the theme of "Horse Babies". These artists own or have owned horses, ride and/or train or raise horses, participate in horse shows, etc. They know their subjects and it shows in their art.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One Minute Gestural Memory Sketching, Expressive Drawing of Horse by K Joann Russell

With love I share this less than a minute gestural sketch I did late last night. Yesterday was a full day and this entry in my artistic journal says a lot to me. I'm using this illustration to show you the many benefits of such a journal. I have not altered the image after scanning it, so that is why the lines are faint. Click on the image to enlarge it for better viewing.

It has been "ages" since I painted a horse picture although I have three large unfinished canvases of horses propped against a wall reminding me to do something about them. At the end of a long day I impulsively grabbed my pencil to draw expressively from memory a horse with stretched neck to get some nourishment amid crocuses. Note that one ear of the horse is turned as though the horse is cautiously listening to someone or something. The impulse is caution.

Gestural sketching simply uses quick, sometimes multiple lines to indicate the space orientation or movement of a subject. To finish the sketch I used a few strokes of watercolor to indicate the yellow color I spotted in crocuses popping up along a sidewalk as I walked in windy Seattle with temperatures in the low 30's.

I added in pencil a few words to remind me of people, events, etc. that gave further personal meaning to the sketch. My scripture focus yesterday was in Nehemiah 5:11 about the command to "restore" in reference to the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the peoples' well being. At the top I wrote "whoa horse team" because I accepted the invitation to join yesterday an Etsy forum by that name composed of horse artists. The name at the bottom refers to a gallery which represented me years ago.

To sum up the whole minute plus color sketch, it put me back in touch with my love of horses and my ability to express that love which was denigated by a "successful" artist whom I respected at one time. I've encouraged myself, as the Psalmist David did often. Yes, I can still draw horses, even from memory! Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Field Colors in Painting for Artistic Journal of K Joann Russell

"Field Colors"
5 x 8.5" Acrylic/Ink on paper

Do you recognize the colors from the beach scene yesterday? With the last bit of those paints I did a brief sketch in my artistic journal. My journaling efforts are short on words but long on images which I'll explain below. My schedule today is such that studio time will be minimal so I thought I'd use this to share my adventure into this art "form".

I've never been a traditional journaler. I write notes to myself on scraps of paper that get torn up or stashed in a file folder, mostly to be forgotten. I'm just not a prose writer. I enjoy crossword puzzles and have written formalized papers. I've used random words on a sketchbook page to decide a direction for a painting, but that isn't the usual journal that people talk about.

In December while working on year-end business tasks and new goals, I read a fascinating book, "The Creative Entrepreneur" by Lisa Sonora Beam. She uses multi-media journaling as part of her decision making process. Maybe you could say it is a variation on brainstorming. I tried a few trials for myself which were a little stiff at the start, but then it lit a spark in me for the new year.

I decided to use my new artistic journal to help me become a more expressive painter using colors. I didn't want to box myself in a corner by rigidly holdly to a daily schedule. I wanted to use whatever materials suited me at the moment. That meant a world of paper and supplies in my scrapbooking stash plus all my drawing and painting media. I wanted images to be my expression with only small amounts of text. I wanted to "cut loose" with acrylic paints which I have done freely on mat board scraps that get tossed. I wanted to get back into landscapes. I guess you could say I wanted to get my "voice" again.

I didn't need anything fancy, but it had to be durable. I found on the 50% clearance rack at the local Kroger(Fred Meyers) a journal with lightweight paper and large sized rings enough for a year. Then I found a sketchbook of mine that had unused papers in a heavier weight that would withstand water applications.

In this photo I left part of the ink lettering at the top to give you an idea of my completed page. I glue the heavy weight paper on the journal page and write in the margins words, quotes, etc. that give some meaning to the imagery. Remember how a picture is worth a thousand words? Mine are. I'm finding myself going back to pages in this journal to refresh my memory and encourage myself. It really is helping me keep focused. Why don't you try one for yourself?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Beach Color in Daily Painting with Favorite Brush

"Beach Color"
4 x 5.75" acrylic on watercolor paper

Most of today I've been working on a large seascape, so beaches have been on my brain! I had already cleaned up my brushes when I remembered about a small painting for my blog. I decided to paint quickly using only one large brush for the size paper and a few colors. Out came some fresh paint: naples yellow, raw sienna, hooker's green, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue, and titanium white.

The brush I used is a filbert brush #4. I really like filberts because their "scalloped" shape creates versatile strokes. I can draw lines or make broad strokes or lightly drag the flat or narrow side of the brush.

I had only a few minutes so I concentrated on colors I find at our Pacific Ocean beaches. I kept the surf relatively calm. The vantage point is looking down from a hillside to the sand and rocks.

I had fun and didn't totally make a mess of my composition as I did the other day. Another good illustration of the ups and downs for artists. This was a good day. I look forward to tomorrow being equally great or even better.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hydrangea and Irises in Colored Pencil for Scrapbooking

3 x 3" colored pencil on paper

While working on my visual journal last night I found in my supplies for scrapbooking these little treasures. My daughter Liz who designs scrapbooks, especially the digital ones that Creative Memories prints in book format, requested them a few years ago as an experiment. After my fiasco yesterday with the ACEO and watercolor pencils, I decided to share these with you to show what can be done with colored pencils without washes.

Three 1.5 x 1.5" colored pencil on paper

The three irises were intended to be used separately with a pleasing color of paper behind the tiny art. I scanned them all together to save time. I haven't made anymore of these tiny pieces of art because they are time consuming. But, I've painted with acrylic paints directly on my scrapbook pages when I've had the time and inclination.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Celebration of First Rhododendron of the Year!

Best Part of a February Rhododendron

3.5 x 2.5" ACEO "Learning Experience"

Yes, it is February, but I found a rhododendron blossom in my yard when I went out to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. I thought that rhodie would be a perfect subject to paint on some ACEO paper I received as part of a birthday gift. Besides, I've neglected this blog. I haven't painted anything very small recently to post here.

This has been an adventure doing this "failure" piece, but I think it is a great illustration of the ups and downs of an artist's endeavors. So, here goes on an account of the lessons I learned.

I started with watercolor pencils because I love to draw and thought that a few washes with lines would capture the tissue thin petals and the heavier buds. Yes, the drawing was great with expressive and flowing lines. I should have stopped there and stuck with using those pencils to sketch which I often do because they are so portable.

With watercolor pencils you can use a brush and water to make a traditional watercolor effect. And you can come back into the wash and make more lines with the pencils. That makes such an interesting effect. But, I couldn't get the values to be the same as the subject in front of me. To change up things, I moved to rendering a light blue grey background. That wasn't wonderful either. I worked back and forth, even using the fabulous white pencil that burnishes colored pencil drawings.

The tiny size of the paper was strange to me. 2.5 x 3.5" is really small when you've been working on large canvases. I did not want to give up. I so wanted to grab my acrylic paints and totally cover the parts that weren't working, but I was determined to see what I could do to "rescue" this piece just for the fun of it.

I learned long ago how to rescue botched watercolor paintings. Some could be saved and others had to be tossed or gessoed for another medium. A common rescue technique is to wash out a passage that isn't working. I tried that without much success. I resorted to the technique of using Chinese white paint to cover up or modify what isn't working well. Things were going downhill rather fast.

I ended with one part of this ACEO that was really nice, a postage stamp size painting. The rest was beyond rescuing, even the paper was starting to tear. So, I stopped and planned how to explain this learning experience. I picked up the package of ACEO paper to read the exact measurements and noticed for the first time that the watercolor paper is 80 lb. No wonder I had trouble after trouble. The texture was fighting the watercolor pencils, but most of all the paper wasn't the 140 lb. weight or heavier that I normally use. Duh, Joann!

If you've never heard of ACEOs, they are Art Cards Editions and Originals, an art format of 2.5 x 3.5" started by an eBay artist and marketed as Trading Cards. I've not been a fan of them. Do you think I had a subconscious block today? Tomorrow I'll be back on large canvases.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Year of New Paintings by K Joann Russell

I'm back to painting. I've been able to spend more and more time using my arm after a strange "bug" hit my back muscles. And the sun is out today which helps to boost my emotions during winter.

I've added a link today to an artist's informational site that unselfishly encourages artists in all media and especially the online shops on Etsy. timothy adam designs: Etsy Edit Hub

Because I did fiber arts most of my life, I really enjoy the creativity of the artists on I love reading the stories of the individuals and couples who've worked so hard to find their true art expression while at the same time balancing their lives with family and finances. I like to think of it as the true American spirit of integrity and ingenuity. Visit my KJoannRussell shop on Etsy.


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