The blog of a horse-obsessed fashion-loving hippie artist.
10:58 AM By imaginealltheart
I recently had the opportunity to visit Windrock Farm in upstate New York – owned by Cari Swanson. The farm itself was a site to see! Seemed like no mater which way you looked there was a gorgeous scenic vista on the horizon. I brought my camera, of course…
Not a cloud to be found! My pictures don’t even do it justice…To see the full gallery, click here.
While the vistas were nice, I made the journey to meet (and photograph) some of Cari’s AMAZING horses – including some celebrity horses! Cari works together with Rex Peterson to train movie star horses!(Swanson Peterson Productions) Seen Hidalgo? Yea they did that. Secretariat? That too. UNBELIEVABLE.
I snagged some AWESOME pictures and footage of Rex working with several of the equine celebs…
Aside from being starstruck and speechless, I did have one task to complete which I was there: Photograph Loki, Cari’s new Icelandic Shepard puppy. Easier said than done, my friends.
I don’t think Ive ever met a woman so in love with her dog as Cari was to Loki. When Loki wasn’t perched in Cari’s arms, he was right at her heels. So cute!
And so, without further nonsense, the final (first) product of my trip to Windrock Farm was a puppy portrait of Loki, done in colored pencil and watercolor on illustration board:I won’t soon forget my amazing trip to Windrock Farm – and my next pieces will be images from that day, I’m sure!
Peace and Love!
Lately I’ve found myself wanting to try new things with my art – technique, media, surface. My last post feature the 2 King Charles Cavalier portraits – one right after another. I experimented with my surface textures and tinkered with watercolor for the first time in a VERY long time.
The past few weeks, between being sickly and bed ridden and insanely busy with my job, I’ve focused more on my forever love – horses. The image of a herd galloping through a pasture is infinitely peaceful and intriguing to me. I could go on and on about why I love it, but I won’t bore my readers with that…
These two pieces came one right after another. I was satisfied with the first one upon completion. The more I studied it, however, the more I because anxious to give it another go – as if I knew I could do it better the 2nd time. It wasn’t until after I completed the 2nd herd that I realized why I felt dissatisfied. The Color. Color, Color Color.
Ok, enough profound artist revelations for one day. The fact is, no matter the reason, I liked my 2nd attempt better. Can’t wait for my third!
Sometimes I come across a project that I’m not 100% confident in how to approach. Sometimes ints a new surface, new tools, or a new subject matter. In that case, I’ll often do a practice run to get the feel for what I’m working with.
This particular project was a combination of multiple new tasks. I was using a new brand of Illustration board for the first time. This was also the first project I’ve had with a large portion being dedicated to long white fluffy fur, which I was unfamiliar with. The best way to tackle both these issues at once was to do a practice piece. On the first run, a used a reference separate from what I’d be using for the commissioned work, but still one that would present the same challenges.
The Practice Run
To start, I’ll go over the surface: Canson acid-free Hot Press “Art Board”. I’m very accustomed to using Bambridge 80 Board, which is the best surface I’ve found when working with watercolor and colored pencil. The Canson worked not as well with the pencil, and I stumbled a bit with the watercolor. On the final piece, I prepared the background with a lot more water, and also was cautious to apply pencil very lightly before committing to tone and color.
My subject did not pose a high difficulty on my practice run (I thought). The pencil applies so smoothly to the Canson board that I rushed a bit. I committed to my color choices very early, and was unable to lift/darken colors to add depth. VERY FRUSTRATING. The end result was a puppy that looked very flat – with white fur that was more of a muddy deco yellow than anything else. On my final piece, I took a totally different approach (with new color selection as well) and applied the darks of the shadows while lifting the lights with a razor blade. PERFECT!
Oh – And I recorded it. Enjoy!
Printmaking is a process I learned years ago, and still take a great interest in. A printmaking project involves using a diamond tip tool to etch a design into a plate (usually, but not always plexiglass). After the etchings are filled with an oil-based pigment, the design is then transferred to a sheet of pre-stretched paper by way of a printing press.
Here is a close up view of a portrait print I made. You can see the etched lines. Its very important to start with an accurate line drawing.
You can also use any color ink – doesn’t have to be black!
I like to use a variety of tools to get different textures. Here, I used sandpaper and a rough scrubby sponge to achieve the background texture.
Its also important that your reference image has plenty of grayscale tones – if you have a large dark area with little or no texture, your drawing might look a bit flat.
This room once served as a boy’s nursery. My task was to make the room serve two purposes: A bedroom for that now two year old toddler obsessed with race cars, dinosaurs, and the Lion King, AND a newborn baby girl. Hmmm….
Lucky me, I happen to be craving some wildlife illustrating, and the Lion King seemed like a happy medium for the room.
SOOOOO….I went with this soft and warm safari room, complete with a male, female, and baby lion, 7 zebra, a giraffe family, an elephant herd, a couple of meerkats, and several antelope.
I recently completed the largest mural of career. It was an even bigger earning experience for me, on my any different levels. Let’s recap a bit…
In April of 2012 (7 months ago), I responded to an ad looking for a large mural to be painted at The Whitney Center, a senior living facility in Hamden, CT. (Before I go any further, let make it clear that this retirement facility was nicer than most hotels I’ve ever been in. It was GORGEOUS.) So, after an initial meeting with Mary, the Director of Resident relations, I began making sketches. Her request was rather vague – a European street scene that would span 40 feet in the facility’s cafe style area known as “the Bistro”.
I’ll spare you the boring details of the next 4 months of meetings, concept changes, sketch tweaks and just say that meeting with a committee of 8-10 senior residents who all want something different is not exactly something I look forward to doing again. The concept we settled on was a French marketplace – a Farmer’s market – complete with produce stands, wine booths, fresh fish, and a baker. Cobblestone ground, blue sky, few buildings, and few people.
The actual process of painting the mural was a bit labor intensive, and I found myself working 5-6 hour days instead of 8-
10 hour days like I planned. Climbing up and down ladders and standing on my knees for hours at a time left me finalizing my choice to paint more murals off site.
I will say that one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole experience was realizing how many people truly enjoyed watching me work. I’ve painted quite a few murals on site in a public space and never had such a loyal audience always there to compliment my work. I lost count of how many times I would look over my shoulder to see 8-10 people sitting around, just watching me paint. At times it was a bit awkward, but after a while it just felt good.
Here’s an article on the project by the New Haven Register: click here.
Here’s 40 feet of the finished product. Enjoy!
I’m pretty much obsessed with organizing. That being said, my studio space is often my choice of spaces to find new storage methods that are both useful and visually appealing.
One of my favorite ways to make something “pretty” is Mod Podge. Best thing ever. If you don’t have it, get it.
So in this case, I took this once ugly chai tea container (BEST CHAI YOU WILL EVER HAVE, by the way.) Clearly, once upon a time, it housed beads.
I’d actually had this thing bouncing around my studio for a number of months, serving no purpose at all. I often find myself holding on to anything that is re closeable. This also smelled like chai. =]
Anyway, here are all the things I used for this project:
Not a lot. In case you’re wondering, I chose to name this tin “pretty” because I covered it with a page from a Kensie catalog. Kensie is an absolutely amazing clothing design company. Their catalogs are just as beautiful as their clothing, so I usually hold on to them for projects like this. Their catch is “Let’s hang out and make pretty.” LOVE IT.
Step one: Cover the tin in ModPodge. I left the tea label on in this case – the ModPodge will adhere better to a porous surface.
Step Two: Wrap the tin in paper of your choice.
My cut out didn’t wrap all the way around, so I had to cut an extra scrap to cover the space. =]
Step Three: Use a razor blade to trim the excess paper. This can had a handy lip right under the rim, so I wedged the blade into that to make a nice clean cut.
Step Four: Cover the whole thing in ModPodge again. This seals the paper to make it stick better, gives it a bit of a sheen (depending on the type of podge you’re using) and prevents the paper from ever ripping.
Step Five: Let dry. Fill with random odds and ends, stick on a shelf, and feel great about recycling!
I’ve always been a fan of Goodwill. It’s hit or miss mostly, and some towns just have a better selection than others.
One thing you can count on in any case is a vast selection of mugs. Being the avid tea drinker I am, I collect mugs like its my job. So when I this earthy mug at the Torrington Goodwill, I had to have it.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this is the best tea in the world:
In addition to being invited to judge the 2012 Durham Fair, I was lucky enough to participate as one of four demo artists!
It was tough to decide what image to do, given that hundreds of people would be walking by, talking pictures, and asking me a million questions.
I chose a reference photo from a local farm in Middletown. The equine owner was THRILLED, and of course told all of her friends to come see.
Of course after the demo was over, Adam and I couldn’t resist the calorie-packed allure of some deep fried Oreos!