An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More progress pics of Annie~Portrait of a Wild Mustang

Thought I'd get this commission finished by this weekend, but chores, B's Scottsdale Dr. visit and an all day headache on Thursday kept me out of the studio most of the week.
I did make headway though these last few days and should (in a perfect world) finish tomorrow. Finally got her 'eye' done just the way I wanted so the rest should be fairly easy. Her mane is still just blocked in and needs finishing and a few value adjustments are needed on the shadow of her muzzle, but that's pretty much all that's left to finish.

So, here's where I left you last post.

I started adding warm colors and definition to her mane while still leaving bits of blue peeking out on the hair's edges.

And I wasn't digging the far right sky area, so I rewashed it with the Phthalo Blue until I decide what I want to do there.

Her coat and eye are still roughly blocked in here.
Here, I continue to fine tune her eye and mane.
I've also softened her coat and almost have the shadowing correct.
The shadow area of her muzzle is still blue. That will be softened to a light, almost white lavender at some point.

I've decided, before working on any other part of the painting, to get her eye completely finished.
It's the focal point and the window to her soul. It needs to be just right!

Yay! I finally have her eye just the way I want it!
It has so many pretty colors in it! 
And, she now follows me around the room with her gaze.
I love it when a portrait's eyes come to life!

Next, I'll soften some of the shadows on her coat and start working on her still blue muzzle.

This pic shows the client's reference photo on my laptop.
You can also see the small blue monitor on the easel's shelf for helping me keep connected to B while I paint.
No Luddite here, I love technology! 

Her coat is now shadowed and softened just the way I want it, I've almost got her muzzle done and I added a nice sky blue to the far right area of the painting. 
The value of the muzzle shadow is still a bit too dark so I will lighten it next.
I love the hints of lavender and violet in her eye, mane and muzzle shadow.

I've taken all these pics with my iPhone so far so quality isn't top notch but it's sufficing.

When the portrait is complete, I'll use the better camera for final pics. 

So far, I'm digging the results of this commission, but I've decided I don't like painting with a deadline. If I accept another commission, I'll be sure to add a few extra weeks to the finish date so I can spend more time with B.
But, this piece has definitely got me 'back in the painting saddle' again. And for that, I'm grateful it came my way.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Annie~Portrait of a Wild Mustang

Started a new commission piece. It's been a long time since I've accepted any commission work. As many of you know, B's illness has kept me out of the studio for quite a long while.

The gracious client of this commission is okay with me perhaps missing the delivery deadline if any issue with B's health pops up and keeps me out of my studio for a while.
That said, I've got a few days of painting in and I'm actually making pretty good headway so far. Hopefully (in a perfect world) I will be able to deliver this portrait of my client's wild mustang, Annie, right on time.

Annie's owner wanted me to work from a photo she had with this unusual cropping of her horse's face.
This cropping feels like pop art, so I'm taking a bit of artistic liberty, and will include very small hints of a contrasting color peeking out along edges here and there throughout the painting. This will add to the painting's modern, bold feeling, while still allowing me to be true to Annie's beautiful reds and golden white colors. It will be yummy!

Here, I began the painting by adding a black border on the
24" x 36"
canvas to accommodate the reference photo's unusual long, narrow size.
Then, I blocked in most of her dark lines with black and purple.
Next I washed the whole canvas with transparent Phthalo Blue and a bit of Thio Violet.
Almost all of the blue and violet will disappear as I add the opaque top coat colors. I will only let small bits of these under painted colors peek through here and there to add interest to the finished piece. I can control how much or how little I let show as I proceed and will let the painting tell me what is right. These hints of modern color will work great with the bold cropping.

Below I've started to add the opaque rusts and red tones of Annie's coat. I also worked a bit on her eye, although it still needs some tweaking to make it come alive. It is the main focal point, so I want it to be spot on when finished. It is, after all, the window to this beautiful horse's soul.

I still haven't worked on Annie's mane, which will be a warm golden color with white highlights. I'll start that in my next session. Remember, most of the blue you see will disappear, with only smidgeons peeking through around the edges here and there.

Here's a close-up detail of the eye. You can see the rough brush strokes that will ultimately be softened as I finish bringing her to life.

My 60's painting (below) is on hold until the commissioned piece is done.
I did block in a tambourine, VW microbus and another flowered square before I accepted the horse portrait, but those squares look like the pages of a coloring book, with just black outlined drawings. I still love playing with coloring books and it will be fun coloring in these new designs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Let the sun shine in.

'When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.
Let the sun shine in.'
excerpt from the song-Age of Aquarius/Let the sun shine in.

I liked this song from the '60's musical 'Hair'.
And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was born under the sign of Aquarius.
In fact there were several songs from that musical that I really liked. They had a fun vibe.
Growing up in the sixties was a blast. All our music was amazing, and still is.

Anyway, when I walked into my studio today to paint the next 6" square (of my still unnamed '60's painting), I was going to add a cropped portion of a keyboard. Instead, I got a crazy urge to paint this.
She was painted over one of the solid red squares, so you can see the red peeking out all around the edges.
I kinda like her. Although painting a request to 'let the sun shine in' may have had an unwanted effect on our weather. I was hoping we'd have another fabulous, much needed thunderstorm like yesterday, but it didn't rain a drop today. Maybe my next painting session should pay homage to the Cascade's 'Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain'. Just saying.

Today, while painting, I found myself listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, which gave me a crazy idea for another square that I may or may not use. It would always remind me of my son, so I may add it, but it may not fit with the '60s theme so we'll see.
I think this painting will morph into whatever it's meant to be. Six of twenty-four squares are done. And so far, it's been a fun, whimsical painting, that's also allowing me to become familiar again with how acrylic paints behave.
I'm not getting huge chunks of time to paint, but I'm getting enough. I'm trying to time my painting sessions around B's naps or when he's in his studio recording. If he's just chillin' with TV or something, I sit with him so we can be close. He's still numero uno to me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With a little help from my friends...

...this painting might get a name. I've been having a heck of time thinking of a clever title for this newest piece, so if any of you have suggestions, please let me know, either in a comment here or on my Millward Studios Facebook page.

In my last post there is a pic of the whole canvas with a few finished squares to help you get an idea of where this painting might be heading. I'm sure as more squares are finished and posted, a title will become more obvious, but for right now I'll just refer to it as the 'Music and the '60's' piece. Boring. 
I like clever twist-of-words or pun type titles.
I once named a painting of Brian's guitar slides 'Sometimes, you just have to let it slide', with a subtitle a la Rocky and Bullwinkle of 'No sense fretting about it.' 
I know there's the perfect title for this new painting out there and one of you will think of it.

I've decided to reveal the 24 squares of my 'Music and the '60's' (yawn) painting a few at a time as I finish them.
Then, once all the squares are done, I'll reveal the entire finished piece.

Here are first two completed squares so far:

All the squares are 6" x 6". So far, five are done. There will be 24 squares total making up the finished painting.
To help you with name suggestions, a few other ideas I'm toying with including on this canvas are a paisley design, a VW bus, tuning keys, a keyboard, song lyrics (probably Beatles or Dylan), a Vox or Fender twin's knobs, more flora, a tambourine, a macro cropped portion of a drum, McCartney's Hofner, John's Ric headstock and....????
That's just a portion of my list. There's a lot of neat stuff on this list and it remains to be seen what will make the cut design wise.
I'm having too much fun with this. 
Here are the 3 squares I completed today. :

The black and white checkerboard on this guitar square loosely represents the neat inner decorative strip known as purfling sometimes found around the front edge of a guitar's body. Martin & Co. uses a herringbone design purfling on their guitars that may show up somewhere on this painting too.

Brian's every two week visit with his transplant Doc yesterday went really well.
He's feeling good too so in theory I should be spending some quality time in my studio these next few weeks.
After so many many months away, I'm painting again! Pinch me!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Just Playing

I am playing with paint.
That means that B is doing okay and I've been able to spend a few hours here and there in my studio. Finding a balance is making me a very happy girl.
Many years ago, I did several paintings on 24" x 36" canvases that had been divided into 24 equal 6" squares. The subjects of these paintings were varied and apparently popular as all of them sold.
Back then, I had also started an abstract 24/6 painting that never got finished. I didn't much care for how the randomly created patterns of each square were turning out, and my ADD took over, making me grow bored with it. 
So, I set it aside, intent on changing it someday when my interest reignited. 

Someday arrived a few days ago.
I took that unfinished painting and gessoed over all the original squares to start new. Some of the previous patterns are still peeking through, but they will disappear as I add new pattern and paint.

I want this reworked canvas to be all about music and the '60's, with each square painted with bright colors and loose brushwork.
It will mostly feature musical things, but I do intend to include a VW microbus (of course) and a square or two of paisley patterns, and perhaps some text and.....who knows? ....the possibilities are endless. I will also probably leave a few squares of just yummy solid colors so it doesn't get too busy.
I am having so much fun just playing with acrylic paint again. 

This flower design is taken from an old 1969 hippie shirt I still have from a previous lifetime. It's a classic 1960's beauty with the long pointed collars and wide cuffs on long sleeves. I love this vintage shirt and wanted to give it's cool pattern a nod in this painting.

I'm letting the solid colors of each new square peek through from underneath the patterns.
Here I've used pink and white over orange.

Here's a photo of the fabric of my old '60's shirt. Isn't it cool!

Detail of acoustic guitars and a gold and white over red version of the 60's flower print.

Below is another 24/6 painting I did back in 2006.
This one was called 'California Dreamin' and featured 24 coastal scenes, including one with a VW microbus on the beach. I think it's Washington, DC owners have actually moved to California since it's purchase years ago.

Here's my original blogpost for California Dreamin'.

California Dreamin' 2006
24" x 36" x 3/4"
acrylic on canvas
Scolnik collection, Washington, DC
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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill