Archive for the ‘Art studio’ Category

Today’s Affirmation:

“Life is sweet at its core.”

Maple tree symbolism: Balance, practicality, abundance, sweetness in life

May each breath you take today be infused with the sweetness of life. 🙂

Maple meditation 12-18-15

Trees are such spiritually sophisticated beings. I’m really grooving on them lately!

This piece started as a doodle. I had done some prayer work involving tree imagery for my friend Tanya English (a gifted healer, by the way, who does remote as well as in-person healings) a while back and she had an amazing connection with a golden Maple tree. She had asked me to do a piece of Maple art for her, but it didn’t come right away.

Then a short while back I started doodling on a long phone call, and this emerged. I hope to have time some day to use it as the basis for a watercolor. Tanya couldn’t wait, though, and printed it out as a coloring sheet!

Tanyas tree coloring

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guardian angel painting

Today’s Affirmation:
“Laughing makes me strong!”

Got back in touch recently with an old friend. She wanted to get together for coffee, so I picked a day at random and it turned out to be her birthday! 🙂

When I found this out shortly before our rendezvous, I quickly did a little guardian angel painting for her as a birthday gift. I thought at first that the second figure was another angel, but to my surprise it morphed into this amused lion-faced spirit guide.

It seems to me they are reading the book of my friend’s life (and she has had a heck of a life!) The angel seems loving and gently compassionate. But the lion dude(ette) (I’m getting masculine energy from it even though it has feminine features) told me to tell her, “Laugh. Just laugh! It will make you strong!”

As it will all of us! No matter what happens today, go ahead and laugh! 🙂

The holidays are not as far off as they seem. I’m taking orders now for custom guardian angel paintings to be delivered by or before mid December. Reply for details! 

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Lilah angelI first started being aware of angels when I started doing chakra energy scans for people. They often show up for me in people’s chakras.

Lately I’ve been doing guardian angel art readings, but this latest is a bit of a variation. I love doing portraits of children, and decided for this one to tune in to Lilah’s guardian angel and include the angel, too.

In this case, looks like Archangel Michael also has her back!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed painting it.

P.S. I’m guessing an angel portrait would make an awesome Christmas gift. If you’d like more information about that, or to request a free 15 minute energy scan, just let me know! 🙂

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I’m delighted to have recently taken on a wonderful new student. My 14 year old niece, Jenna, is a lovely girl and an amazing little artist. She came to me with a basic background in drawing, and about 2 (maybe more) years of oil painting lessons under her belt.

Jenna does wonderful abstract pieces, but I am a firm believer that developing a solid grasp of drawing fundamentals is an essential element in any artist’s education. Being able to draw really well from life means you can realize virtually any vision you can imagine. So, we’re gearing up for a lot of still life work this semester!

still life with plate and bottleI set up the above still life about 10 feet from where Jenna was working. The goal for this session was to pay close attention to proportions. I taught her how to measure the length or width of one object using a thumb or pencil held at arm’s length, and how to use that as a unit of measure to figure out the size of a neighboring object.

1 hour still life by Jenna Martin

1 hour still life drawing by Jenna Martin

Here is Jenna’s first attempt. It took her about an hour. She did a very good job and displayed a lot of patience on several occasions when she realized that some of her proportions were off, and she had to erase and re-draw.

I have to mention that the tilted plate was wicked on my part. Jenna did an excellent job with it given her level of experience.

Next, I asked Jenna to take out a new sheet of paper, and set the timer. She had five minutes to re-draw the still life from scratch. Here is what she did:

Student still life drawing 2

5 minute still life drawing by Jenna Martin

AWESOME! Her proportions on the 5 minute drawing were actually more accurate than the one she’s labored over for an hour, with very little erasing and re-working. The difference? A huge amount of observation. Plus, the time limit forced her to work more decisively and intuitively – which she could do successfully because she’d spent so much time looking at it and analyzing it in advance.

Most beginning artists don’t spend nearly enough time observing their subjects. Once you take the time to really get to know a subject, the actual process of drawing becomes much easier, as Jenna discovered today.

I think you could extrapolate this lesson to many areas of life, don’t you?

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Just finished this child/pet double portrait commissioned by a lovely lady in Marquette MI. The little boy, Gunner, is her first grandchild, who loves the family dog, Russ, very much. (And the feeling is obviously mutual!)

But what I loved was Gunner’s grandmother’s comment when I first emailed her the finished painting: “Oh my, the portrait of those two is just how we should spend our days…  ”

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait(“Have you hugged your child/dog/lover/friend today?” may sound like a trite bumper sticker saying. But I’m going to ask it of you anyway. If you haven’t, here’s your homework for the day: go give someone a hug!)

I actually had the presence of mind to shoot in-progress photos of this one.

Here is the underdrawing, based on a sketch made from the reference photo. In the original photo Russ (the dog) was chewing a bone, and it didn’t look very good. At first I thought I’d take a separate picture of him and merge the two reference photos into one drawing, but he just didn’t get how to pose for the camera. So I ended up moving Russ’s head and front leg a bit from the original photo. Luckily, it worked out.

I started with a very light wash of golden yellow. It’s not noticeable in the final painting (you can’t see it very well in the photo, either), but gives the piece a bit of warm glow.

under drawing Gunner & Russ portrait

Gunner & Russ underdrawing

Next, I went in and established the first layer of color in the figures. Most watercolorists work from light to dark, but I like to establish a value range right away, so I tend to go in and put in at least some of my darkest darks right at the beginning.  Here, it’s the back leg of the pants and the pupils of the eyes.

Gunner & Russ 1st layer

Gunner & Russ – first layer

For the next pass, I layed in the shadows on Gunner’s face and bare foot, and on Russ.

Gunner & Russ Layer 2

Gunner & Russ, Layer 2

Layer 3: From here it was simply a matter of deepening the shadows and adding details. (I love shadows because they often are full of color!)

Gunner & Russ layer 3

Gunner & Russ, Layer 3

I went in a few more times between layer 3 and the final layer but didn’t remember to take photos. Oh, well. But here is the final piece one more time (just to keep the sequence in order):

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait

Now, take a good look at the pure joy on little Gunner’s face, and go give someone a hug!

(And don’t forget to give yourself one, too!) 🙂

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Gotta do a still life once in a while…Red Pepper watercolor painting

This is a little 4″x4″ mini painting done on a watercolor board. I have a whole bunch of blank ones in a box somewhere. It’s time to go to the grocery store, I think. Perhaps a pear next, or a pomegranate, perchance?

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People think watercolor is difficult.

“You can’t control it,” they say.

And, “It’s so unforgiving!”

“You just need to learn its secrets,” I tell them. “When you do, your watercolors will take wing all on their own.”

Goshawk watercolor painting

“Goshawk in flight,” watercolor sketch 11″x 11″. Click on the bird to read about its symbolic meaning!

Here are the secrets of watercolor:

1. You don’t paint with watercolor. You set it up for success. You create the framework. Then, all you have to do is encourage the water to follow the framework. The water does the painting for you.

2. Watercolor isn’t unforgiving. You can lift it, scrub it, paint over it. Or just turn over a new leaf of paper and start over. The only thing that’s not forgiving is our rigid vision of perfection.

Doesn’t it sound a lot like life?

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Dug this out of the attic the other day. It wasn’t finished. I’d shoved it into a portfolio one day several years back after filling in just the background, the horses’ eyes and nostrils, and the mane and tail on one of the animals (can you guess which?)

Three or four moves later, there it was in my hand again. Blank white horses, flat as paper. Waiting patiently for brush and pigment to quicken them to life…

3 White Horses watercolor painting

It wasn’t until a day or so after finally completing the piece that I realized how significant it was that I’d picked this piece, out of the couple dozen unfinished paintings I’d started and abandoned over the past fifteen years,  to finish first.

Fifteen years of unsettled living, punctuated with excruciating creative blocks. Stressful times, and fearful times. Fear of not stacking up. Fear of losing control if I let myself follow my dreams.

Is this time different? Am I deluding myself to think that now, after starting up and drying up countless many times, I’m finally ready to let that creative river that’s been dammed up inside me for so long run free?

I’m not going to think about that. Instead, I’m posting this painting.

Orange. The color of the sacral chakra. The creative center of body and mind.

Violet, for the crown chakra: spirit and soul.

Horses. My personal totem animal. Horses to carry me over obstacles. Wild horses, running free.

Here is the message I hope this painting brings to the world:

It’s not too late. Dig out your buried dreams. Dust them off, and mount them again. Don’t think about where they’re taking you. Just enjoy the ride. So what if you fall? You will have tasted the wind.  

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IPainter at easel illlustration‘ve been doing some illustration work for the Partnership With Earth Foundation (PWEF), a nonprofit focused on raising sustainability consciousness.

They’ve begun an ambitious website project which will introduce a unique  approach to understanding sustainable living. I’m very excited about it and I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about it as the project unfolds.

Anyway, the  website will be interactive and highly illustrated with a multitude of little figures who represent different aspects of a sustainable lifestyle.

According to PWEF founder Lance DuRand, taking a more “right-brained”  approach to life helps to foster a more long-term-sustainable worldview.  So the figures I’m doing represent (for the most part) activities which use primarily that part of the brain.

Of course the arts are about as right brained as you get, and I was very pleased to be asked to create a painter and a potter.  Here they are!

Potter at wheel illustration


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