Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Art of Folding

Lighted table top birch tree, photo ©2018 Tina M. Welter

In November we bought a small lighted birch-like tree to add some ambient light to our dining room corner. After we set it up, I knew it needed a cardinal in it's branches. 

Of course I went to the internet for ideas and wow, do you have any idea how many astounding origami videos there are on YouTube? Of course there are duds, but mostly they are pretty good. I ended up with a whole wish-list of videos I wanted to watch. 

Lighted table top birch tree with origami cardinal, photo ©2018 Tina M. Welter

I certainly challenged myself by attempting to learn how to fold my first cardinal. I finally began therapy in December to get the strength and dexterity back into my left hand since the surgery in October. After two months of doctor ordered rest, my fingers were weak and I could barely flex my wrist. My poor hand was literally shaking by the time I finished folding and I was exhausted from the focus, but it was good exercise. I also learned a few things that I thought were important to share if you are a newbie to origami like me.

Card stock Cardinal, photo and bird ©2018 Tina M. Welter
Sad cardstock bird, can't even stand up without two walls!

 1. The kind of paper does matter! I bought super light-weight card stock that was a perfect cardinal red and tried folding that first. The edges cracked and it was really tough to get the smaller folds, plus the black paint I used for the face ended up looking streaky. Ugh!

Nope, I needed actual origami paper, at least for this particular design. What a difference! The folded edges were crisp, the tricky reverse folds went into place easier and all the handling didn't make the paper lose color or show fingerprints. I still had to use black paint for the face since I couldn't find black and red paper, but this bird looked so much better.
Cardinal designed by Roman Diaz, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter

2. The size of paper is important! I only have 6 inch paper and I tried to fold a super complex blue jay. Holy-moly, some of the folds became so tiny and thick. I finally had to stop folding and accept the bird I had. A larger sheet of paper would have been better for this particular design. Yes, I ignored the 10 inch paper recommendation on the video, I thought I could "make it work." :P

Blue jay designed by Seth Friedman, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter
Looks more like a blue bird than a blue jay.

3. Be precise and patient. Make certain you are meeting edges and points as perfectly as possible. Stop and start the video as many times as it takes until you understand what they are doing. Breathe, and start again, eventually it will make sense! Also, it is going to take you twice as much time as the video or more. Trust me.

Surprise, the cardinal design also makes a great blue jay!
 4. A metal ruler and basic wooden skewer are helpful for marking straight lines before you fold. The side of the skewer can provide a little extra pressure in creasing folds and the tip is great for getting into tiny corners that don't want to turn out.

Cardinal, Blue jay and Birch tree, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter

Click here to see Leyla Torres explain how to fold this cardinal designed by Roman Diaz.  
I like Leyla's instructions because she uses some of the names for the folds. I learned a lot from watching her...over, and over and over... This cardinal has a lot of "reverse" folds, trickier than it looks, but do-able.

Click here for the beautiful but challenging blue jay by Seth Friedman

Blue jay in the pine tree, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M.Welter

I couldn't complete Seth's design because my paper was too small, but mine still looks pretty good hiding in the branches. If you watch his video to see what this bird is supposed to look like, you will understand what I mean.

Click here if you love dragons!  

Green Dragon, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter

I don't know if being born in the year of the dragon has anything to do with it, but I really like dragons. So when I saw this video by Shinyorigami, I just had to make one or two or..? Surprisingly, this design seemed much easier than the cardinal or blue jay. Perhaps it is just a case of practice changing my perception! 

I do know that after my 8th cardinal, I figured out for myself how to do some shaping to puff the bird's chest out and get the tail at the right angle so he would stand on his tiny paper feet. Tada!

Standing Cardinal designed by Roman Diaz, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter

Sunny Standing Cardinal designed by Roman Diaz, photo and origami ©2018 Tina M. Welter

Happy folding!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Little ShihTzu for Christmas

The last week of November, I received a request for a pet portrait to be given as a Christmas gift. It's really fun to be a part of a Christmas surprise, but I also feel the anxiety of getting a special gift like that just right and ready on time! My strategy; make a detailed list of every step required and when it needed to be completed. It really helped my inner 'fraidy cat to get all that information on paper and out of my head! Here's the final portrait and the journey of how I got there.

"Sophie" 8"x 8"in., oil on gessobord, ©2017 Tina M.Welter  Portrait, Miniature Imperial Shih Tzu dog
"Sophie" 8"x 8"in., oil on gessobord, ©2017

Meet Sophie, a miniature Imperial ShihTzu and beloved work buddy of her owner. Isn't she cute? Out of the five photos that I received, I thought this one expressed her personality the best and featured a soulful expression in her eyes.

"Sophie" photo by Julie Merrill - miniature Imperial Shih Tzu

The portrait size requested was an 8x8 inch square. First step, order the best substrate for the job. I went with Ampersand's gessobord, a cradled hardboard on birch wood that has a smooth surface, already primed and ready to paint. When I work this small, I don't like the texture of canvas interfering with the details.

Next, I adjusted the color tones on the photo, then cropped it down to a square and created a grid to guide me in my drawing.

"Sophie" photo cropped and 8x8 inch grid added in one inch squares.

I forgot to take a photo of my first pencil sketch, lol, but here are the acrylic paint sketches made over that drawing on paper. This is where I worked out the color palette and composition problems.

"Sophie" portrait, 8x8 inch acrylic paint on paper, Sketch test 1 ©2017 Tina M.Welter
"Sophie" portrait, 8x8 inch acrylic paint  on paper, Sketch test 2 ©2017 Tina M.Welter

The  acrylic sketches helped me to decide to change the shadow color I started with and crop the image even tighter.

"Sophie" portrait, 8x8 inch graphite pencil drawing on tracing paper ©2017 Tina M.Welter

Because I changed the composition, I needed to make another detailed pencil drawing. In this photo, I am transferring it to the gessobord using graphite paper.

"Sophie" 8"x 8"in., oil on gessobord, ©2017 Tina M.Welter  Miniature Imperial ShihTzu dog portrait in process

 Finally, I get to the joy of actual painting! I begin working back to front so the layers of painted fur will look like they overlap each other. 

"Sophie" 8"x 8"in., oil on gessobord, ©2017 Tina M.Welter Detail,  Miniature Imperial Shih Tzu dog portrait

The water soluble oil paint I use dries faster than traditional oils, but it stays wet long enough to blend the paint layers with a soft brush and get that nice fur-like texture.

"Sophie" 8"x 8"in., oil on gessobord, ©2017 Tina M.Welter  Miniature Imperial Shih Tzu dog portrait

After finishing the painting, I stained the birch wood sides with a wood stain to match the sienna background and let the whole thing dry for several days before spraying it with Kamar varnish. The painting was delivered on December 23rd and best of all, was hearing the happy exclamations and thank you's I received when they saw Sophie's portrait. Definitely made the season bright for me.

Happy creating to all, and to all, success!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

One Golden Moment

"One Golden Moment" ©2017 Tina M.Welter, 4x6 inches acrylic on paper. Single yellow rose in bloom.
"One Golden Moment" 4x6 inch acrylic painting study for November.

Fall colors were on my mind when I chose this rose to practice painting acrylic on paper. I usually use acrylics like watercolor paints, thinning them down to make sheer washes of color, but I envisioned a painting inspired by a favorite photo of mine from Oregon that I thought might look good using acrylic paints in their thicker, more opaque state .

Single gold rose, photo, ©2016 Tina M. Welter
I love this photo. Just the right light, color, shadows and bloom!

Yellow flowers are sometimes challenging for me to paint. They often have shadows that are a mix of either purple, green or orange tones and getting those right without the shadow looking like mud can be tricky.
"One Golden Moment" First painting color choices. ©2016 Tina M.Welter Yellow rose, acrylic paint on paper.
"One Golden Moment" The first layers of paint.

My first color choices made the shadows look very deep orange to burnt sienna. Eventually, they just didn't look right to me. Plus I made the shadow on the right so dark, the bud didn't look like it connected to the stem!
"One Golden Moment" Compare the change in shadow colors from deep sienna to green. ©2016 Tina M. Welter
Compare the shadow change from sienna to green.

 After studying my photo, I repainted the bud shape and added either a yellow or green sheer paint layer over all the deep sienna shadows. Although, I did keep the vibrant orange center as it was. 

Being able to repaint over a mistake is one reason why acrylics are so great to work with. The sienna dot is the color the darkest shadow was before I gave it a healthier green glow make-over.

So my experiment in using just opaque colors resulted in needing to use the sheer layers too. Lesson learned. That is what keeps painting interesting to me, there is always a new problem to solve.

Happy creating!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Getting On the Grid

Magenta orchids, small acrylic painting in watercolor style.
"Soothe the Day"4.5x6 inch acrylic painting with 3:4 grid

Since I had surgery Oct. 5th on my left hand/wrist to release the ulnar nerve, I wasn't certain what kind of artwork or painting tips I would have ready to share this month. After 3 weeks, I'm glad to say I finally feel up to painting again. Although I am not allowed to put any stress on that hand for another 4 weeks, that's ok, it hurts to do so! I have become fairly creative at doing things one-handed, but I feel very lucky I can ask Jeff for help when I do get stuck! 

My new painting corner!

He kindly reassembled my large easel that has been boxed up and in storage since 2011. Plus he set up and stabilized the big 36''x48'' canvas for me. I'm so thrilled to have some actual studio space again, it's been six years since I last used this easel!

The main grid is made of 12 inch squares.

First order of business, measure and paint a 3:4 grid on the canvas to match the one I drew over the photo of the small test painting. Now I'm all set up for the fun part, sketching my design onto the large canvas.

36" x 48" canvas on easel with grid and orchid sketch, photo ©2017 Tina M.Welter
Wow, almost like magic I have large flowers!

Since the grid helped me to get the flower outlines in their correct places so fast, I played around with filling in the shapes. I wanted to know how the liquid acrylics would look and behave on the canvas. Thank heaven those paint containers have flip-top lids, screw-top lids on anything are really difficult for me to open right now.

I love how easy grids can make the task of enlarging a drawing.
 Original 4.5"x 6" painting and enlarged drawing.

Here's the small original painting to compare with the larger sketch. Some people don't like using grids, but I think they are an incredibly useful tool when I want to enlarge a drawing and get the proportions right. For me, they save a lot of  time and frustration and anything that decreases creative anxiety and boosts my art making confidence is worth the extra effort! 

Happy creating,


Saturday, September 30, 2017

We Have a Winner!

Thanks everyone for all the helpful comments on my last post! Sometimes some outside input can be really useful in sorting out my own thoughts. I just have to remind myself that it is o.k. to ask other people for help. ;)

The orchid photo won the most "yes" votes.

Red-Violet Orchids photo, testing painting ideas. ©2017 Tina M.Welter

I made a small 4.5"x6" painting of the orchids, this time using the acrylic paints I plan to use on the final large painting. 

"Serenity", 4.5x6" acrylic on paper, ©2017 Tina M.Welter

 Acrylics dry super fast,which doesn't bother me much when painting something small,but I am concerned about working with them on a large 36"x48" canvas. I struggled a bit with this problem on the 20"x16" Blue Iris painting.

To solve this issue, I bought some liquid acrylics and a medium designed to mix with the paints to slow the drying time down a bit. I can also mix the medium with my tube acrylic paints to slow them down too.

Color palette for "Serenity", Golden brand acrylics

I am often surprised by how different the character of a photographed image changes when I translate it into a painting. I do like the direction this artwork is going.

"Serenity" orchid painting, test photo for bedroom. ©2017 Tina M.Welter

Plus, all these little steps have helped me feel so much more confident and excited to get painting! 

Unfortunately I have another hurdle to overcome. I am scheduled to have surgery to release a pinched nerve in my left hand/wrist on October 5th. I will be glad to have the feeling and normal movement back in my pinky and ring fingers again since they have been numb and uncomfortable since July 2nd. The recovery is supposed take six weeks. It will be interesting to see what artwork I will be able to complete in time for next month's blog.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thinking Big

One of the best concepts I learned when I was in art school was that if a design works well small, it will most likely look good large too. It is also much easier and less costly to test out design ideas in a small scale first.

After years of moving around and being compelled to make small paintings, 8 x 10 inches or smaller, I finally have the opportunity to break out the big brushes and test my skills at painting larger artwork.

Since I have a couple of blank walls that are calling out for paintings and I found a great deal on two canvases that are 36 x 48 inches, I decided to take on the challenge.

Sure, attempting something new like this does make me a bit anxious, but my strategy is to start with what I know, which is to design small.   

I did three watercolor paintings of roses in the 3:4 ratio (3x12=36 4x12=48) I really liked this one, it is 5x7 inches, but I trimmed it down to 4.5 x 6 inches to match the canvas ratio.

Classic Pink Rose, watercolor on paper ©2017 Tina M.Welter

Next, I took a photo of the wall in the bedroom where I want one of the paintings to hang and combined the two photos using the Pixelmator program on my Mac.

Classic Pink Rose, painting for the bedroom, ©2017 Tina M.Welter looks pretty good, but not exactly what I had in mind. I feel like the colors aren't quite right. They are not capturing the "restful" mood I wanted, somehow the rose feels busy to me.

Here's a different rose design...

Fire and Ice Rose, watercolor on paper, ©2017 Tina M.Welter, painting for the bedroom

the simpler bud and warmer colors are nice, but I think I want to try some other flowers. Perhaps roses are not the answer after all!

I searched through my photos and found a couple promising ones. Photos don't have the same feel as a painting, but they could point me in the right direction. 

Soft Light Orchid, photograph ©2017 Tina M.Welter, painting idea for the bedroom

 I like how the vertical stems of the irises echo the headboard of the bed and the arch of the orchid blooms is really elegant. Shifting the color palette to subdued purples instead pink could be a better solution. 

Now I have some more small painting designs to explore! I have also decided that it would be wiser to use the acrylic colors I intend to use in the final painting instead of the watercolor paints. 

It's ok that my first idea wasn't a perfect fit. I think I am closer to solving the puzzle now. Hopefully more small designs and consistent small steps will yield big results.


p.s. Which one do you like?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Testing the Palette

Glowing Poppies ©2016 Tina M.Welter, photo of scarlet poppies with green background.

Last summer I was inspired by the gorgeous poppies in the neighborhood. They were just glowing with color and I wanted to bring some of that vivid scarlet intensity into our apartment. I envisioned a painting of these beauties hanging on the wall over the tv. 

Plus, I thought the poppies would fit really well into the color scheme of the apartment. This Kandisky print hangs over the dining area.

"Color study, Squares with Concentric Circles" Print over the dining room table, ©1913 Kandinsky
"Color study, Squares with Concentric Circles" Print, ©1913 Wassily Kandinsky
Colors on the chairs and curtains in the living room.
I also wanted to attempt documenting my whole process of painting the poppies for a video to share. Setting up for recording the video over time was trickier than I thought it would be, but that was nothing compared to all the editing needed after shooting the video. Yikes, I was intimidated! I filed away all that footage and hoped for increased courage and more time to deal with it in the future.

Well, surprise, almost a year later I did get the rare gift of more time! To boost my courage, I decided to try editing just the first part, where I mix my colors and choose my palette. I have mentioned before how much I love mixing colors, but it is also a key step that helps me feel less anxious about starting a new painting. It's like I have part of the map to where I am going. I definitely recommend it if you find yourself spinning your wheels and uncertain about where to start.

Some of you kindly asked for more video of my paintings and music after seeing the "Blue Iris". Thank you, your encouragement also helped me face my inner 'fraidy cat. I am pleased that I could figure out how to compress 22 minutes of video footage into 2:36 minutes to share with you.

 Palette test, a short video of my color choosing process.