Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Bring on the Roses

It's summer and that means roses! After all the study of pruning tutorials, healing of scratches and battling with aphids, it's finally time to get out the camera and capture some of those blooming beauties waiting outside.

As always, glamour shots require good lighting. 

Rose Cascade, photograph ©2018 Tina M. Welter
This is a pretty shape, a nice cascade of roses and leaves but where is the drama? Not enough light and shadow to bring out the character of the leading ladies.

Five Rose Bushes in a Row, photograph ©2018 Tina M. Welter
Now this time of day looks more promising, just look at those highlights and shadows. I'm going in to scout for some stunning close-ups.

Single Lady- rose portrait, photograph ©2018 Tina M.Welter
 Now that's a portrait. This single lady is looking fine.

Sisters Three, pink roses photograph ©2018 Tina M.Welter
 All three of these sisters shine.

Young and Old, pink roses- photograph ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Even the young and the old glow in this perfectly angled light.

It's always a thrill to find new stars just waiting to be discovered when I stop and photograph the roses.

Happy creating!



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Did Your Eyes Understand What My Paint Brush Was Saying?

Pink, white and green, Springtime Delight, 6x12 inches, acrylic on canvas ©2018 TinaM.Welter

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend who asked, "what if I want to try painting, but I can't draw at all?" and "would what I make be considered art if it doesn't look realistic?" We had a great discussion about how only using the elements of color, shape and texture is a completely valid way to make art.

If you have ever wondered this yourself, perhaps you would like to try the challenge of creating Abstract art. The on-line dictionary defines Abstract art as art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve it's effect using shapes, forms, colors and textures.

Personally, I find making Abstract art really challenging! It feels safer to go by the visual roadmap outside of me instead of the one inside of me. I know the beautiful things I see in the real world will most likely be beautiful on the canvas. It's kind of scary for me to go creating without a clear visual destination ahead. 

Many people think abstract art is so simple, a child can do it. Perhaps they can, but can you re-create that childlike creative freedom as an adult? Try it and see. It is possible to have an unexplored gift for this type of painting, so of course it would seem simple to you. Remember the best abstract art still has to balance the elements of color, shape, texture and design to be visually interesting.

Abstract art is also about exploring the emotional internal landscape and being able to successfully communicate that world to others without using obvious, recognizable images. See what I mean about it not being a simple art form?

What I find the most interesting about really good abstract art is how much it is an expression of the individual artist, like an emotional fingerprint or snapshot.

In the interest of expanding creativity by trying new and scary things, I am going to step out of my comfort zone of realism and put the the advice I gave my friend to the test.

The first element I am going to focus on for inspiration and some direction is color.

One of my all time favorite resources for color inspiration is a site called Design Seeds. The blog owner creates these beautiful color palettes from photos of just about anything. If you love color as much as I do, prepare to spend some time here. You can search by color palette or subject matter. Click on the button, "explore by" on the top of the page. Here is the page I found by searching one of my favorite colors, periwinkle. Design Seeds inspirational color.  
So many lovely choices! This is the one I decided to use.

Lovely spring colors, "Flora" ©April 2018, Design Seeds

Next I mixed up my palette from acrylic paints. I used three colors, Chromium Oxide Green, Cadmium Yellow Light, Prisma Violet and Titanium White to make the six color palette. 

Green, Purple, Pink, Color palette ©2018 Tina M.Welter

The next element I chose was shape. I went with circles, mostly because I had all kinds of various sized cups and bottles handy on my desk. Also, after choosing the color palette it gave me an idea of what I wanted to convey and I thought circles might be a good choice.

White circles, green background

I traced/drew the circles in pencil on the canvas and then painted the green background around them using brushes and a canvas knife.

Pink circles on green background

Next I added the purple and pinks... Yikes, I have hit the ugly stage and I have no idea where I am going with this! I know the emotion I want to express, but I'm not certain how to get there. I find I am thinking a lot about design and what I know about color. Hmmm...when in doubt, paint it out, i.e. bust out a big brush full of Titanium White! ;D

Abstract floral painting, pinks, green and white.

Whew, saved by the big brush! The white softened the hard edges of the pinks and purples and I felt I had a direction again. I started adding some little detail circles in light green and found myself naturally making the seashell swirl that I have been doodling since I was a teenager. I went with it. This is what I mean by Abstract art being a sort of fingerprint. Each artist has their own "go to" shape they naturally make and this one is mine. I haven't used it purposefully in a painting in years, but there it is.

Now, the important question. What emotion or idea does this little painting convey to you? Comment below or on the Facebook page. I'm curious to see if I was successful at sending my message to you. 

Happy creating!


p.s. If you want to see a masterful use of acrylic painting techniques in a short 3:22 minute video, check this link out on YouTube.    SurajFineArts - Abstract painting 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Diving In

Wild Canary takes a  break in the ornamental cherry tree outside my kitchen window. photo ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Wild canary takes a break in the ornamental cherry outside my window.

It's spring! Time to get out the camera and go flower hunting. Capturing flower photos isn't as easy here in our neighborhood in Nevada as it was in Baker City, Oregon but thankfully, I have a few in my own yard to enjoy. Plus, we seem to be in the flight path of more varieties of birds returning after their winter away and that has been a delightful surprise.  

Since we are living in a rented home, I suppose it wasn't surprising that the flower beds were a complete weedy tangle when we moved in last June. Most people aren't as motivated or obsessive, depending on your viewpoint, as I am about growing things. I was determined to get some bulbs in last fall before my hand surgery and happily my good works were rewarded with some early blooms.

Purple and white crocus blooms in my yard, photo ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Crocus Triple Play. Pow, what a display!

I wish I had some more paintings of flowers to share with you instead of just my photos, but I have a large illustration project that recently came my way about a month ago. I am working on 20 illustrations for a book proposal. I was hesitant to accept doing it since I haven't done illustration for so long and just the idea sent my Inner 'Fraidy Cat into a full anxiety tap dance routine in my head!

Daffodil Single, photo ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Daffodil Single. Just plain elegant.

I felt it was important to try stepping out of my comfort zone, so I insisted that 'Fraidy take off the tap shoes and I dove in. The part I love about illustration is the research and the internet has made that a much easier adventure. I'm old enough to remember the days before personal computers, when research meant spending hours in a library or buying books to find the reference I was looking for. Do you want to know what people were wearing in the 1800's? (Yes, this is a topic I needed to know more about.) No problem, just dive into the multitude of rabbit holes on-line. Here is a woman who records herself getting dressed in period clothing from the underclothes on up! Amazing. "Dressing Up" link = 9 min. includes helpful descriptions + great music.

Single purple Grecian Windflower, photo ©2018 Tina M. Welter
Grecian Windflower. Delicate and strong!

I like research so much that it is a temptation to get stuck in that comfort zone too and procrastinate the drawing and designing step. Again, I have to remind my Inner 'Fraidy Cat to "just dive in!" I can't solve all the design issues in my head, I have to get the pencil or paint on the paper first, then I can judge if what I imagined is going to succeed or not.

Test watercolor River, trees and temple at sunrise, LT project image #2 ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Test watercolor, LT project image #2 ©2018 Tina M.Welter

It helps to remember that it usually gets better once I take the creative plunge and give it my best dog-paddle!

Happy creating,


Saturday, March 31, 2018

What a Relief it is!

'Fraidy Cat paints a rose, 5:7 digital art ©2018 Tina M.Welter
'Fraidy Cat paints a rose, 7:5 digital art ©2018 
Expectations. Do you know what yours are? Whether we recognize them or not, we all have them. To keep from spending time in an emotional ditch, I've found it's definitely worthwhile to lift the hood and take a closer look at how that program running quietly undetected in my brain is interpreting my day. 

As much as I try to be aware of why I do what I do, I can get blind-sided by my own expectations, especially when it comes to creative projects. That road has an abundance of the bone-jarring little rascals. If I find myself overwhelmed with an intense case of disgruntled grumpiness, I know it's time to pull over and get out the shovel.

Expectation pothole #1. This finished project should look or sound exactly how I imagined it! Arrrgh. The disparity between what I imagine and what ends up existing in the real world can be very disheartening.

Expectation pothole #2. Why is this project taking so much %#&* time? It was supposed to be done by now! Thinking I can do more than I can in the time I have is an especially nasty pitfall for me.

Expectation pothole #3. I thought they would love that artwork as much as I do. Hmmph! It can really hurt when something you worked so hard on gets negative feedback, or gets dismissed as "not serious art."

Thankfully, over the years I have learned to keep some pothole fillers on hand. The most important of these was to make of up mind not to let these jolts stop me completely. The second was learning how to adjust my expectations.

Expectation adjustment #1   It's ok if this project doesn't look exactly how I imagined, the process of creating is after all, a process! What did I learn? What do I like about what I made? Make a plan how to do better next time.

Expectation adjustment #2  Accept my creative process as valid as it is and stop comparing myself to others. Keep track of how much time it really takes me to make something. Remember to include time for making mistakes!

Expectation adjustment #3  People are going to like what they like and I can't do one thing to change whatever that is and that's o.k. If I can make an adjustment to suit them, great. If not, send them to another artist. I will find other folks who love what I do as it is.

This is just a sampling, but next time you feel your overwhelm reaching the boiling point, stop and measure how high your expectations are. I can guarantee, it's a real relief to release some of that pressure! 

Happy creating,



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bust out the Big Brushes

Three plum colored orchid blooms in different stages. Acrylic painting on canvas.
Detail, "Serenity"  February 28, 2018

I made good progress on the "Serenity" orchids during November 2017, but then a portrait commission in December put everything on hold.

Getting a project rolling again can take so much energy, all the initial excitement is gone, plus often the midway point in a painting is like puberty, it just looks plain awkward. Plus, all the second guessing begins. Why I did I think those colors were a good idea? Good grief, this whole project feels stupid! 

Three plum colored orchid blooms in different stages. Acrylic painting on canvas.
"Serenity" Feeling stuck. February 16, 2018

So after noodling around with small tentative brushwork for over a week, trying to figure out how to love this project again, I decided to get out the big brushes. This tactic often helps me to stop obsessing about all the little details so much and just dive into the wonderful rhythm of painting with big strokes of gorgeous paint.

Three plum colored orchid blooms in different stages. Acrylic painting on canvas.
"Serenity" Now we're going somewhere! February 18, 2018

 If you find yourself feeling stuck on a project, challenge yourself to take a risk, think in bold strokes. Commit to a decision, make a change. For me, that means focusing on shape and value, cranking up the music and "doing" instead of "thinking." It really helps to break through those frozen gears and gets a stalled project back in the creative joy zone again.

I also find taking a daily photo helps. I can see how far I have come, or sometimes where I drove off the road completely.

Three plum colored orchid blooms in different stages. Acrylic painting on canvas.
"Serenity" In the beginning...November 7, 2017

I was sincerely hoping to have the Serenity Orchids completely finished for this post, but I am putting my perfectionism aside and sharing with you where the project is right now. It's close, but there are a few details and color balance issues that don't feel quite resolved to me yet.

Three plum colored orchid blooms in different stages. Acrylic painting on canvas.
"Serenity" Almost there. February 28, 2018

I challenge you to feel the thrill of reviving a stalled project. Get out those metaphorical big brushes and make a change!

Happy creating,



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!