The Wisdom of Mrs. Lee

Have you ever gotten to a point in a project where you feel like you’ve made a bigger mess than you started out with or that it’s going to be a complete and utter failure? I can’t tell you how many times I’ll start an organizing/decluttering project and when I see everything everywhere, I start to panic and get mad because this is NOT what I wanted to do and I should have just left it alone to begin with.

But then you work through it, and it gets better. Piles form, they get put away, and the space is cleaner and even if it’s not quite perfect, it feels like a breath of fresh air whenever you look at it.

Working on any of my art pieces feels like that. There is ALWAYS a point in the piece where it looks HORRIBLE. I feel like there is no way in the world that this is going to look anything like I imagined and that I’m the worst artist ever. If you’re an artist, you can probably relate to this.

But then the wise words of Mrs. Lee enter my brain:

“It has to get worse before it can get better.”

I may change it up to “It has to look worse before it can look better,” but the idea is still the same!

Who’s Mrs. Lee you may ask? Oh, just my high school math teacher! I’m almost positive that we were working through the quadratic formula or some calculus problem of doom whenever she’d mention this, usually prompted by the look of panic in our eyes. Little did she know that someday, one of her math students would become an artist, repeating this mantra as she created in her basement studio.

IMG_20190607_112552.jpg

I was working on a brand new painting this morning and I got to this point. I wanted to throw the canvas out the window, wipe the paint off of it, burn it, whatever I could do to get rid of it. But I said those words and pushed through…

It had to get worse before it got better.

And guys, it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait until it’s dry so I can share it with you!

 

Are there any phrases or words of wisdom that you repeat to yourself?

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Recharging the Batteries

January has been a very busy month, and it’s not even half over yet. I’m finding it hard to find my balance after the holidays; I can’t seem to juggle my wife and mom duties with the house keeping, and then trying to run a full time business at the same time?

I’m getting burned out.

Don’t get me wrong, I loooove having so many projects to work on! Boathouse Book 2 is making fantastic progress, I’m working on two drawings, and trying to stay on top of the Etsy store, paperwork and new products….it’s just hard.

In order to try and stay on track and feel like I’m managing it all, I’ve planned out what I’ll be focusing on each day (one day is Boathouse, the next day is photographing and editing product pictures, then the following day is commissions, etc), and then taking each day and scheduling my time into one or two hour sections for each item on my list in hopes that it will all get done.

Well, somehow my Facebook memories app knew what I was going through. A year ago earlier this week, my sister-in-law Jen sent me a post about recharging your batteries. The author talks about sometimes it’s best to just put the to-do list aside and just do what you’re in the mood to do in order to get yourself back and ready to tackle that list.

After thinking about that article, I reworked my schedule to incorporate what I wanted: a morning in my studio to paint.

Continue reading “Recharging the Batteries”

Epic

This is one of those pieces that was so much fun to plan, design and finish, but the whole starting and working on it was really really rough.

A year and a half ago, our friends Stephen and Vanessa were downsizing apartments and gave us their couch and love seat. As payment for the furniture, they asked if I would do a painting for their new place, and I happily agreed!

After a lot of meetings, reference image searches, and more planning, we finally agreed on what the piece was going to be: an 18″ x 24″ oil painting of some of their favorite fandoms. Stephen mentioned he wanted an epic feel for the piece; I’ve been calling it Epic ever since!

Finished

Title: Epic

Medium: Watercolor, colored pencil, ink (marker and liquid), and graphite on watercolor paper

Size: 11″ x 14″ with a mat and frame, bringing it to a finished size of approximately 14″ x 18″

When: Spring/Summer 2015

Time to complete: This finished piece was off and on for a few months; overall the project took a year and a half

Thoughts on the piece: First of all, I can’t wait to design one for my husband and I! I had so much fun working on this piece, and combining various fandom references that don’t go together into one picture. It reminded me of the Disney Vault mural, and it made me happy.

Challenges: Oh man, trying this piece in oil paint was a nightmare.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE painting in oils. However, I just do not have the technique or skill needed to make this piece as awesome as it was intended to be in oils. Every time I worked on it, I’d end up backtracking and redoing what I had done in the previous session. When I don’t have the opportunity just yet to get into my painting studio on a regular basis, that made things even harder.

When I started working on Boathouse color tests, I discovered I really really like colored pencil, watercolor and ink together; I can get great color and better detail with these mediums. I approached them about switching mediums, and they were totally flexible with whatever I wanted to do.

Also, I had finished the piece awhile ago. However, it was looking fairly flat and dull in just watercolor and colored pencils. I dug out my ink sticks that my husband bought for me on a whim, and the difference was amazing! The colors are really vibrant now.

Fandoms referenced:

Space ship: Serenity from the TV show Firefly

Serenity

Mountains: The Misty Mountains from The Hobbit

Misty Mountains

Castle: Hogwarts from Harry Potter

Hogwarts

Sleeping panda: Po from the Kung Fu Panda movies

Po

Horse and boy: Shasta and Bree from The Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia

Shasta and Bree

Favorite part: How the whole piece works together! I was taking so many different reference images with different color schemes and trying to make it cohesive, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Also, I love the way the mist turned out! I was terrified of attempting it. It was actually easy!

Mist

Least favorite part: There is one part where the ink dried before I could spread it out better. Ink is permanent when it dries, where watercolor can be persuaded to come up. I’m not going to tell you where the ink part is because it may drive Vanessa crazy too if she sees it, and I don’t want that 😉

Things I’ve learned:

– Oil paints are amazing if I’m doing soft abstract. Detail oriented pieces, not so much.

– I love ink! Ink and watercolor may just be my new favorite medium to work with.

Tree line

Fun tidbits:

– If you’ve been following this blog for any certain amount of time, you probably know that I love to include fun details into my work. This piece is no exception:

S&V
S + V ❤

– I’ll be using a very similar technique for the Boathouse illustrations!

How the piece is displayed: Thanks for sharing a picture of it hung up, Vanessa!

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Product availability: Available as prints by special request!

 

What fandoms would you have included?

Projects and Illustrations Update

The past couple of weeks have been awesome! I’ve been really busy working on a few great projects, and thought I’d share some pictures in progress:
Project #1: Epic
I’m not sure what this piece will be called yet, but we’ve been referring to it as “Epic”, so that might just stay as the title 🙂 It’s hard to show previews and talk about this piece without giving it away, but it’s going to be a drawing/watercolor painting mixed media piece of awesomeness, and will feature key characters/locations from favorite books and movies.

This project has been in the works for over a year. It was originally going to be an oil painting, but I’ve been struggling trying to get all the detail in with oil. It just wasn’t working for me; I felt like I was losing all the detail and it wasn’t looking as amazing as the piece deserved to loo. I went back to the people who commissioned the piece and asked if a watercolor drawing would be okay instead, and they were totally on board with that 🙂

Project #2: Rivendell, the second in the Lord ofthe Rings series

Well, I’m getting my geek on with this piece as well as the “Epic” piece! After completing A Bastion Against the Darkness (Minas Tirith), I started compiling a list of other Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations in hopes of doing a series of these drawings. One of my top picks was definitely Rivendell, but doing it as seen in the Hobbit movies.

I had a meeting with the winners of my gift certificate from this year’s auction, and guess what they chose as their piece?

Rivendell from The Hobbit!

It’s slow going as there is soooo much detail, but the going is easy so far (knock on wood!).

Project #3: My favorite anthropomorphic animal, Boathouse!

Have you seen on Facebook or on RV’s blog our big announcement? We have a tentative launch date for Book 1! We are hoping to have it available as early as September. I’m making great progress with the last few sketches; I’m sure it probably sounds like I keep saying that, but I keep tweaking each picture, adding more detail, making sure each piece is accurate. It’s a long process, but I know that from here on out I’ll have a better idea of what the process will look like and it’ll go soooo much faster!

To see RV’s blog post about the release date, check it out here! Make sure you keep checking back here, on my Facebook page, and RV’s blog for more updates as they happen 🙂

I’m also reworking part of my website, signing up for more online art classes that I’ll take this summer, sending out applications for more festivals, and keeping up with house/wife/mom/babysitter duties. Just over a week from now, school will be out, my daycare will closed for good, and I’ll be full time working on my art! It’s very bittersweet.

Which of these three projects are you most excited about seeing completed? Let me know in the comments below!