Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

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.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Blue Iris, finally!

The Blue Iris painting , 20"x16" acrylic on canvas ©2017 Tina M. Welter
The Blue Iris 20"x16" acrylic on canvas ©2017 Tina M. Welter
I WAS doing a good job keeping up with posting the painting process of the Blue Iris painting on facebook, but like all good things, there is going to be a twist somewhere. I think moving to another state counts as a pretty good twist. I finished the painting about two days before we were scheduled to move.

Anyway, the boxes are sort of unpacked and most of the household is running, so I could get back to sharing the painting process in it's entirety. Since I don't want any grief with copyright, I composed some music to go with it too. I was happy with the whole production until I heard it on my computer speakers, it sounds much better with headphones or at least some speakers with some bass! 

Without further ado, I give you The Blue Iris (click this link to see the video) 



p.s. I am being brave and facing my inner 'fraidy cat by listing the YouTube video as "public"...but I am disabling comments. I'm not that brave!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Leaving as the tulips fade...

Red tulips with beautiful shadows cast on a yellow house. Perfect sunset light. ©2017 Tina M.Welter
Perfect sunset light on these red tulips.
Taking photos of the flowers in this lovely old neighborhood in Baker City has been a delight to me this year. If I was feeling tired, overwhelmed or just plain blue, I could grab my camera and step outside to go hunting for something beautiful to capture and I rarely came back disappointed. All winter I longed for the flowers to start blooming again. 
Tulip buds ©2017 Tina M.Welter
So excited for the blooming to begin!
 Spring was here early last year, so we missed most of the tulip blooms. It’s a fitting completion of our year that we will be moving as the tulips fade and the irises begin. 

Some of my thoughts to share if you have a hankering to go photograph flowers this spring/summer too! 

First, honestly, not all my photos are winners. Part of the fun is being surprised by which shots turn out to be the best once I can see them full size on my computer.

What I consider when I am out taking pictures:

What direction is the sunlight light coming from? Are there nice shadows and highlights on the flower to make the photo more interesting? Often low angle light at sunrise or sunset is the best, decide when those flowers you want to capture will have that light and plan to go out hunting at that time. 
Red and Yellow tulips, good morning! ©2017 Tina M. Welter
Wonderful morning light.
 What is the best level and angles? Does the photo improve by getting down on the same level as the flowers? What if I take a step to the right or left? 
Peppermint stripe tulip, top view. © 2017 Tina M. Welter
I thought I had the best angle, until...
Peppermint Stripe Tulip, side view ©2017 Tina M. Welter
I decided to try a lower viewpoint!

Be aware of the background. What is going on behind the flower, does it distract from the focus of that beautiful bloom? Zoom-in or move the camera, see I can get a more flattering backdrop. 
Red Tulips and blue grape hyacinths in nice morning light with car and garbage can. ©2017 Tina M. Welter
Lovely tulips...with car and garbage can!

Red tulips with treebark background. ©2017 Tina M.Welter
I took a few steps over to change the background.
Red flowers can be difficult to photograph in bright sun! Often my photos would have no detail and look like big red/orange blobs. I had to research to find out why this is, it can be so aggravating! Basically, intense shiny-red can overwhelm the sensors in your camera. P.S. your camera is not broken! 
There are discussions on this topic with all the geeky details. For example, the StackExchange discussion board covered this question about red flowers here.
If you are baffled like I was about what a “histogram” is, here is a very informative post on the subject from Todd Vorencamp who understands and can explain the technical side much better than me! How to read your camera's histogram. 

The super simple solution I took from all this information? Underexpose or try to photograph red flowers in partly shaded or filtered light. For example, one person suggested using an umbrella! I tried looking for red flowers with partly shaded light and I was thrilled with the results. 
Scarlet beauties. ©2017 Tina M.Welter Low morning light plus a little shade equals gorgeous tulip photo!
Low morning light plus a little shade equals gorgeous!
 Editing. I try to get the best photo I can, but the crop photo edit feature in my computer is my favorite tool. Sometimes just cropping a photo to get a better composition turns an “o.k." photo into a “wow" photo. 
White tulip with friends. ©2017 Tina M.Welter
This is a lovely photo full of color, but...
White tulip, wow what a soloist! ©2017 Tina M.Welter
 I also think this cropped photo has more "wow" factor.
So, there you are, all the things I think about beside hoping people won’t yell at me for hanging around their front yard! I do try to intrude as little as possible. Learn to use the super zoom and practice steadying your camera to get those flowers that are so tempting but are a little too far away, it really works. Double-check your focus, and if it's nice, shoot twice!

Pink Tulip Twins ©2017 Tina M.Welter I couldn't resist these, I had to capture them.
The lady who owns this garden is kind of grumpy, so I shoot long distance!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Playing with marbles.

I was delighted last winter when our landlady, Kelly, asked if we would be interested in doing some artwork to add to the sign that advertises her apartments for rent.
Palmer house sign, Built for Charles L. Palmer, owner of Palmer Grocery and Mayor of Baker City in 1902
Built for Charles L.Palmer, Mayor of Baker City 1902 
What Kelly wanted was to replace the purple wooden balls on the top of each post with larger globes that would have original art designed on them. Since the house was built in 1906 and one of my favorite eras for art, Art Nouveau, was still in fashion then, I was excited to begin looking for inspiration and start drawing designs.

Dutch art nouveau (Jugenstil) book cover, blue and gold flower motif - public domain
Dutch Art Nouveau style (Jugenstil) book cover - public domain

Art Nouveau takes it's inspiration from nature and often features flowing lines and floral motifs. I suppose it is not much of a surprise that I like this style so much. I made several sketches, imagining a copper metallic design painted over colored globes in this linear style.

Art Nouveau inspired pencil sketches ©2017 Tina M. Welter
This is only one of the pages out of my sketchbook!
Next, I started thinking about the color and design of the globe itself. Many of the Nouveau pieces I had been studying had metal work over beautiful glass. 

To see some of them, here's a link to my "Wonderful Nouveau" collection of images on Pinterest. (Because of copyright laws, I am not certain which images were o.k. to post on my blog!)

I was going to be using outdoor paint on metal, so I decided I would try a technique I have wanted to do for years, painting faux stone. Pinterest was also a great resource for finding tutorials on how to do marbling techniques. Here are a couple of good ones that I thought were helpful if you would like to try this technique out yourself...Hand painted faux marble tutorial and Painting marble fragments.

For color, I had access to the paint used on the house and the sign. The front door is warm purple, and I like the orange accent that is on the sign and in the front hallway of the house. I found photo examples of natural marble stone with purplish veining, but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I actually found a better color and texture match for what I was looking for in these polished amethyst beads.

Amethyst beads on Pinterest, by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads
Hopefully it is ok to use this image since it credits Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.
Putting all this information together, plus 
paint and brushes for several hours on a Saturday afternoon yielded this, my first result...

Faux  painting, purple marble globe, ©2017 Tina M. Welter
It is such a joy when one of my creative experiments works!

I was thrilled, sometimes you do get projects to go right the first time! :D The only problem was when I tested putting my favorite line design over the stone texture, it didn't seem to be working very well.

Nouveau inspired design over faux painted marble, ©2017 Tina M.Welter
Testing out ideas, another reason to like digital art tools!

It was hard for me to give up on doing the Nouveau style line-work since I had spent so much time on those designs and I really liked them! But, I do know from experience that making art is a balancing act and putting too many ideas into one art piece can overwhelm it. 

I still wanted some faux copper metal on the globe and Jeff suggested a simple band around the middle, like a holder for the stone.
Faux marbling, globe, ©2017 Tina M. Welter
I liked his suggestion, so I added one on the middle and around the base. I think it matches the line work on the sign and shows off the faux stone. Success! (Note: the small block of wood that is supposed to cover the metal rod hasn't been installed yet.

Full view of faux marble globes on Palmer House sign, Globes designed by Tina M. Welter
It's cool to think my art will be here long after we are gone.
Overall, I am really happy with the way this project turned out. Plus, I still have some great Nouveau designs that might come in handy another day!



Friday, March 31, 2017

Missed it by that much!

I love, love mixing color. I can’t wait to figure out a palette for a painting, it's like rushing to get to my favorite part of a story. I dove into this painting of a blue iris for my bedroom in that fashion, no drawing on the canvas, no blocking out, just color! Pure fun baby! That is something I love about acrylics, you can paint over them to your heart's content. No worries about getting it right the first time.

Blue Iris, acrylic painting in process, palette test, ©Tina M. Welter 2017
Blue Iris, palette test

Unfortunately, towards the end of getting most of the colors and shapes blocked out, I noticed that the iris wasn't fitting on my canvas how I wanted it to. The background, the left back petal and foreground petals seemed too small, the center section seemed off. What the ...? 

Blue Iris, acrylic painting in process, color blocking, ©Tina M. Welter 2017
Color and shapes blocked onto canvas, 1st time.

I kept looking at my drawing and my canvas wondering what was wrong. Eventually, it dawned on me. In my haste to get painting, I had forgotten all about proportion! The proportional size of the drawing that I created from my reference photo didn’t match the canvas proportion! Sheez, that is usually one of the first things I check when starting a new painting and I missed it. Harrumph!

Blue Iris, 1st line drawing, simple quarter grid ©Tina M. Welter 2017
First drawing,  4.5 x 6 inches,
wrong proportion for a 16 x 20 inch canvas!

I thought it was appropriate that I posted about failure last month, since I literally had to go back to the drawing board to correct my mistake this month. I re-proportioned my drawing and added a basic grid, then re-sketched the iris on the canvas using the same grid. I was absolutely making certain that I would flip failure on it's head!

Blue Iris, second line drawing, 16 section grid, correct proportion 4 x 5, ©Tina M. Welter
Second drawing, 4 x 5 inches
Blue Iris, acrylic painting in process, re-drawn with grid, ©Tina M. Welter 2017
Canvas size, 16 x 20 with new grid.

Of course I was a bit annoyed, I had made a goal with this painting to be more efficient with my time. Specifically, focus more on blocking out shapes and colors before details. I have a tendency to get caught up in the little details too soon and boy, I certainly missed seeing the bigger picture this time! :D I am glad I figured it out, since I am much happier with the result. As I finished blocking out the color the second time, everything fit where it should. Hurrah!

Blue Iris, color re-blocked and final position set, ©2017 Tina M.Welter
Color mostly re-blocked in, grid almost covered.

Thankfully, it's only a painting and one that was possible to fix when the calculations were off. It's not like having your space probe crash into a planet! However, it is a good lesson to remember next time I am tempted to start building without making sure my foundations are in place!



Sunday, February 26, 2017

Flipping Failure on it's Head

Learn to flip failure on it's head. Artwork illustration using type and one cat image, created by ©2107 Tina M.Welter
Well, I’ve had two months working on the 15 min. daily habit of creating. I started out pretty great, but after several weeks of success, I began to struggle a bit until suddenly I found myself in a complete crash and burn, i.e., me cheating on my creative time with a bowl of popcorn and a classic old movie on YouTube! Sigh.
Looking for some insight, I searched my "helpful suggestions" file and found a blog post from 2015 that I had saved from Zen Habits which gave me the exact shift in perception I needed.
Basically, Leo Babauta who writes Zen Habits suggests that failure is great when we start new habits because every time we experience it, we actually have real information on how to do better the next time. The good news is that the more times we fail, the more information we have to improve! How's that for flipping failure on it's head?
The key thing is to actually take a moment and try to figure out what is causing your failure. Make an adjustment and try again, and again, get the picture. Just keep failing and fine-tuning until you create the solution that suits you. This outlook certainly takes the sting out of FAILURE for me and that is already a huge help!
Looking at my own experience, I can see where my habit needs some fine tuning.  For example, I recognize that for my habit to be successful, I need to adjust to spending more of my daily 15 min. in relaxing creative play rather than always trying to create or complete something. I think I will do better with a little less pressure. All I can do is adjust and try again...
I do think focusing on making this 15 min. daily habit has had some success too, in that it has moved creating to the top of my priority list for each day. I do get more done on my days off when I can spend a couple hours on a project, because I have moved those ideas forward in little steps the rest of the week.
Here's the link to Zen Habits original great article:
& here's to learning how to flip failure on it's head!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

But I'm so little!

"But I'm So Little!" 6"x 8" watercolor on 140lb paper, ©2017 Tina M.Welter  Brown and white striped kitten with blue ball of yarn.
"But I'm So Little!" 6"x 8" watercolor on 140lb paper, ©2017

 Setting goals are out and making new habits are in! This is the message I have distilled from many of the other blogs and articles I have read recently for tips on making 2017 a successful creative year.

I think there might be something to it. If you can make a habit of doing something regularly, you are more likely to reach the destination you want. Kind of like taking a measured number steps up a mountain you want to climb. If you can keep going, eventually you will get there.

I struggle with believing that creating for only a small amount of time daily can help me move a project forward, but I am willing to try it.  

I was really inspired by Melissa Dinwiddie's blog about committing to "small daily acts" of making art. I was completely impressed by what she was able to accomplish with a 15 minute a day commitment. For example, she created a whole body of art, 150 pieces in 2011. Wow, that blew my mind!

My "mountain top" destination is finishing my seven song album, "The Upside of Down" that I started over two years ago.  All the songs are in various stages of completion and I just need to focus and finish them. I also have art-work in mind to go with each song, so those are included with this project.

Who wants to join me? Do you have a project that is haunting you that needs completion? Can you imagine a creative way you can take a few "steps" everyday? If you want some inspiration and ideas, check out Melissa's blog and podcast here.

I would love to hear about your stalled project and what habit you plan to do daily.  I will keep you posted about mine.

Here's to finishing even more beautiful things in 2017!


"But I'm so Little" 4"x 5" sketch, pencil on paper © 2017 Tina M Welter Small kitten with ball of yarn.
"But I'm so Little" 4"x 5" sketch, pencil on paper