Painting

I always think it's so sweet when one of my students sends me a text from the paint isle at Hobby Lobby (or Michael's, etc.) asking what was the name of that color, or paper, or brush that I mentioned.  I guess I'm amazed that anyone was even listening or values my opinion enough to do that!  After all, it is just my personal preference as far as what supplies I like to use, and I think every artist has their own personal favorites as well that I'm sure differ from mine.  Still, of course I don't mind sharing what I might have learned along the way, maybe it'll save someone else a little time, money, and frustration from sorting through all of the options out there.

So, with that in mind I'm going to take my next few blog posts as I try to write to you once a month here, and let you in on some of my favorite watercolor painting supplies, in case you're interested in giving it a go yourself and would like a little direction in where to start.

#1 -Paints:  My very utmost hands down favorite has to be Daniel Smith brand professional watercolors.  I fell in love with these paints many years ago through trial and error and still get so excited when I get to order a new color (yay!) and then try it out fresh from the tube in a painting.  If you look them up, you'll see the colors are just AMAZING, rich, vibrant and so many beautiful options, agh- I can hardly stand to have to choose!  And then... when you start painting with them and they blend and swirl and mix, it's almost magical I think. DS also has this fabulous way of granulating, where the pigment separates sometimes leaving little flecks of pure color and texture that creates little "happy accidents" you maybe didn't plan on.  I know some watercolorists would rather their paint not do those things that are unpredictable and out of their control, but personally I think that's what makes watercolors so lovely, ...even as much of a control freak and perfectionist as I am. :)

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Finishing

As another year draws to a close, it's always bittersweet looking back to the things coming to an end, and the new things that are ahead for the upcoming year.  It's been a year of unexpected opportunities, amazing adventures, and challenging events as well.  Most of all I'm forever grateful to all of my encouragers and supporters, without whom I couldn't do what I do.  I'm humbled and forever grateful for your following!

Looking ahead, it's time to schedule new events, shows and exhibits, plan and dive into new works of projects that have been swirling around in my head just waiting to get out on paper, continuing to build, learn and grow my art, and seeing where the Lord takes me next.  Saying yes to the best opportunities and no to the ones not meant for me is sometimes difficult to discern, but it's all part of the journey, and I'm excited to see what 2018 has in store.

May the year ahead hold many creative adventures for you as well, and blessings for a most fabulous new year!

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Thanksgiving

Where do I even start, this is the day to count your blessings and think of all the things I'm thankful for, but I'm so blessed to have them all around me all the time, It's not just for this day. Family, friends, food, health, a comfortable home, running vehicles, getting to do what I love to do for work, I could go on and on. Yet it's so easy to get caught up in the business of life and the cares of the world that we so often forget to see, really see, all the little blessings. I guess that's why I have to do this, the beauty of nature, the details of creation, the colors and textures that fascinate me, they make me stop,...and see.  I hope that my work helps others to see too, and to stop to notice those little blessings.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Foraging

It's finally here, my favorite time of the year! The cooler weather, amazing changing colors of leaves, glorious luminous cloud formations and beach sunsets, apple orchards, pumpkin patches.  As fabulous as all of this is, in Michigan it also means the end is near of all things green and growing until next spring.  For a botanical artist, that means scurrying around to visit as many gardens and green spaces as possible with my camera and sketchbook, like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter.

Lately I've been able to take a little time to wander through some of my favorite secret gardens and soak in the beauty.  Draw, paint, doodle, photograph, observe, breathe, whatever you need to do, I hope you get out there too, it's so good for the soul. 

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Presenting

I've been told somewhere along the way, that if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, your work should be presented in the best possible manner.  I really believe this to be so and try to do my best at that. It's neither cheap nor easy to do a nice job of matting and framing your artwork, but it's a necessary part of the process.  

The standard for most botanical art pieces is single matting with clean white mat board matching the paper used for the illustration that's visible as the white background.  This is what gives botanical art it's clean, traditional style. I know it seems like a lot of white and who knew there were several shades of white watercolor paper (i.e. bright white, natural white, traditional white, etc.) and even more shades of white mat board to match it to!  Then you have the problem of keeping all of that white clean and white while mounting and sealing the frame.  Be prepared to wear smooth clean gloves or be washing your hands constantly and not cut yourself with the hanging wires or glass, yep- I've done that. 

Frames tend to also be simple and classic, though this can depend on the piece and whether it's for a commissioned project, gallery exhibit, or where it might end up.  Some artists tend to frame all of their works the same to keep a uniform style while others like to mix it up a bit for contrast.  I'm one of the latter tribe I guess, even if it isn't the proper approach.  I like simple dark redwood frames for some of my pieces, or rustic white for a more casual vintage look, and sometimes even something with a bit of shiny gilding just makes it more sparkly and fabulous.

I try to do my own framing and matting for my small pieces to save some money where I can, and have a local frame shop tackle the larger works because they have the equipment to do a better job than I do.  If you're the one buying the artwork, please take notice of the framing as well, I hope the entire finished piece speaks to you and is a good fit for your home or space.  I hope that you love the love I put into creating it for you!

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