Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Looking Ahead

It's the holiday season once more, the eve of Christmas and the dusk of another year gone.  This has been a huge year for me with lots of ups and downs.  I've spent much of it feel a little out of control with too many balls-in-the-air, so to speak.  

I've had some joyful moments, some nail-biting minutes, and I've burned the candle at both ends, but I've had a great 2014 and as I look forward to another beautiful Christmas with my little family, I'm brimming with gratitude.

As my children get older, and their needs intensify (especially Thomas') I am in a constant state of reassessment about my priorities and where I need to direct my precious and extremely limited time.  So many unexpected factors have nudged me in different directions and many well laid artistic plans have fallen through the cracks.

I am still working through how I will direct my time in the coming year and what I will be focused on.  I haven't released a 2015 schedule yet as there is still so much up in the air and I don't want to commit to anything I can't honor. 

I am still deciding whether I will produce any new online classes this year as I have several live workshop commitments that I would like to honor, plus, the online class realm is feeling very crowded these days, many with questionable quality and student expectations that are changing in ways not necessarily for the better. 

I have several heart-stopping opportunities on my slate, and surprisingly I am hesitating with commitments to them.  As a creative, I have very powerful waves of inspiration that leave me breathless, but as a professional artist I can rarely indulge these as I am committed to delivering a particular product.  The frustration can sometimes be overwhelming. 

But one of the elements I have craved desperately, and that is to paint for the pure joy of it.  I've done so little of this in the past year and I feel that this coming year may need to be a learning and growing year for me.

So, I will let you know of what to expect from me as things fall into place.

In the meantime, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support this past year, especially to those of you who have taken my classes and let me guide on this stage of your own artistic journey.  It's been joyful to see so many of you blossom as artists. 

I would also like to thank Stillman & Birn, ColourArte, DecoArte, Inchies Art, & Lindy's Stamp Gang for their commitment to creativity, and their support of me, other bloggers, and artists alike.

I hope you have a wonderful, peacful, joyful, love-filled holiday season, however you celebrate it.  And I especially hope that 2015 brings you all wonderful things.

Thank you for stopping by.  xx

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Sketches

Welcome to Friday Sketches.  This week, it's all about the holidays, so I thought I'd share a sketchbook page I did for the last week of my "Painting Watercolor Flowers" class.  Usually the last week of this class is focused on leaves and foliage, so in keeping with that theme we painted holly and poinsettia. 

This will be the last "Friday Sketches" for 2015.  I'll be taking a little blogging break over the coming weeks so I can focus on my family during the holidays.

2015 will be a year of changes for me as I plan my activities for the coming year. I look forward to returning feeling refreshed and inspired.

In the meantime, please link up your sketchbook pages using the link below, and most importantly, stay safe and happy, and enjoy your holiday celebrations. 

Thanks for checking in. xx

(Linking to PPF)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Embrace the Calm

Here we are in the midst of yet another holiday season.  Don't they come and go quickly?  

It's always such a crazy, frenzied, stressful time of year for me, and I start wondering what it's really all about.

We don't do the big commercial Christmas type thing in my house, we prefer to keep things small and meaningful.

We don't encourage the "Santa" myth with our kids, they know that gifts come from people and not a cartoon character.

We don't even embrace the "...time for giving..." philosophy, we prefer to focus on "...a time for sharing...".  

That doesn't mean we don't buy our kids a gift at Christmas, we do, but it's usually small and meaningful.
Their expectations have been managed a long time ago as we have tried to ground them in truth rather than commercialism.  

Anyway, with so many cultures observing so many different holidays at this time of year, I'd like you to know that I think your celebration is the right one.  

Your choice of observation, prayer, ritual, and belief is sacred to you, and respected by me.

So, today I'm sending my heart and strength to the people of Sydney and all of my homeland, Australia.  
 And I'm also sending my heart to all the people around the world adversely affected by religious fundamentalism and terrorism.  It's nothing more than desperate insanity. 

My wish this season is for the world to be calm, and embrace peace and tolerance!

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Sketches

Welcome to Friday Sketches.  Today is a special day for me, today my dear husband and I celebrate 10 extraordinary years married.

I can't say they have all been easy, in reality life has thrown us some pretty major challenges. But over the past decade we've built memories together, we've cried in each others arms, and laughed out loud over each others farts.  We have dreams and made plans. He has my back and I have his. We've held fast through the storms, allowed each other our human moments, shared success and failure, run scared and held tight.  But never, not for one tiny minute have we let go of our love. 

We've bought two glorious, unique, and truly wonderful children into the world.  We've made a home that has become a sanctuary, a place for us all to break down, have bad days, and tumble on the floor in a blaze of laughter. We've given each other the very best and the very worst of ourselves.

Life for us has been real, raw, and uplifting. He loves me when I'm bloated, head-achy, and grouchy.  I love him when he's indecisive, defensive, and unreasonable. There is no one in the world I trust more, and I wouldn't change a minute of the years we have shared...well, maybe one or two!

Anyway, today I'm sharing love's fickle rose.

What have you been creating this week?  Please share your Friday Sketches by clicking the link below.  

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend. xx

(Linking to PPF & AJED)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cover Illustration - Stillman & Birn "Epsilon" Sketchbook

This week I received a few of the Stillman & Birn "Epsilon" Series Sketchbooks with the newly designed packaging.  I am thrilled to share with you that the 6" x 8" spiral bound book bears my illustration of two blue poppies.

It was a huge joy and honor to have my art included once again on one of these premium quality sketchbooks. Previously, I was honored to have my illustration of an iris appear on one of the new "Zeta" books.  

Interestingly, when Stillman & Birn asked me to show them some potential illustrations for the new packaging I submitted a series of floral renderings that I had done in watercolor and ink, and it just so happened that they were done in an "Epsilon" book. So what a thrill when they chose this one to appear on an "Epsilon" range.  Here are a few pages from my "Epsilon" sketchbooks done in a variety of media including heavy washes of watercolor and acrylic:

For those of you who don't know, the "Epsilon" series sketchbook contains 150gsm (100lb) heavyweight, smooth, white paper.  Perfect for pen, ink, dry media, or light washes.  But to be honest, I've put this book through it's paces over the years and it holds much much more.  I use the "Epsilon" and the "Zeta" for most of my work.  

The "Zeta" is a super heavyweight 270gsm (180lb) version of the "Epsilon".  I use the "Zeta" a lot for final version illustrations and renderings, and the "Epsilon" for everyday art-journaling and sketchbook work.  Both are absolutely indispensable. Both books are available in a range of sizes in both spiral and hard bound.  Here are some illustrations I've done using the "Zeta" series sketchbook:

You can check out the entire range of Stillman & Birn "Sketchbooks" HERE.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Sketches

Welcome to Friday Sketches.  What a wonderful week it's been. The extreme cold has given us a break these past few days and the temperature has hovered around freezing, a nice relief that has given me the opportunity to get out and walk the forest trails.

I am amazed at how the winter has prematurely settled in.  The streams and rivers are all frozen solid, the forests are completely bare, and the few animals that remain active over winter have been gathering their stores.  It's beautiful to see the mid-western world settle into a long slumber, but for an Aussie girl like me, it's difficult to face the long winter months, knowing it could be anything up to 6 months before I feel the warm green grass under my feet again.

So in honor of natures endless and unpredictable cycle, I thought I'd share this sketch I did from September when I scribbled my thoughts about the end of summer.  Oh, what a glorious summer it was.  I'll be holding onto my many sketches and memories of the warm sunny days and the glorious garden until the summer arrives here again.

What have you been creating this week?  Please share your Friday Sketches by clicking the link below.

Grab the "Friday Sketches" blog button and post it in your blogs side-bar. 
Simply copy the html code from the box below the image and paste it onto your blogs html widget. 

Dion Dior

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for checking in. xx

(Linking to PPF & AJED)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Jimmie's Blessing" - A Commission

This week has seen me busy with lots of projects on the go, one of which has been this wonderful commission from a client who had a beautiful story to tell.

She wanted a painting of a "Hydrangea", specifically the periwinkle colored one called "Mophead".  They were her mother’s favorites and when her mom passed away last year, my client dug them up from her mother's former home in California and took them to Oregon where they are currently in pots trying to survive the winter. 

She wanted the format small so it could go on a special wall she has picked out.  It will be a painting to honor her mother and their shared love of Hydrangeas. 

My client wanted me to use Twinkling h2O's in the painting.  For those of you who don't know what they are, they are cakes of crystal and mica infused watercolors made my ColourArte.  They are truly stunning, but not easy to use on such a detailed and delicate subject.

I began by under-painting the flower head with flat watercolors, defining the clusters of petals and describing the shadow points and highlights.  Next came the Twinkling h2O layer in various states of intensity.  As these paints are strikingly vibrant, I had to work hard to control the subtle color changes and blends.

Once the main colors were laid down I used watercolor pencil to tone down some of the sparkle and introduce some flat, deep shadows. 

I then followed the same process on the leaves and stem.  The sparkle is a little more subtle in real life as the camera catches the light glares off the crystals in the paint.  The purpose of the additives in this paint is not only to give them a beautiful and subtle 'twinkle', but to enhance the vibrancy of the color pigment.  It uses 'refraction and reflection' to do this.  

Paintings done in Twinkling h2O's are always breathtaking and give the observer a sense of being able to pick the flower off the page.

The technical description for these blue hydrangeas is Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue. 'Macrophylla is the specific epithet and signifies "big leaf"; thus you will hear the classification "bigleaf hydrangea." 'Nikko Blue' is the cultivar name. (I hope I got that right)

And here is the finished painting. I've called it "Jimmie's Blessing" in honor of my clients mother.

It is done on 8" x 8" Sennelier Hot Press 140lb watercolor paper, and as soon as my client has this hanging on her wall, I will be making prints available in my Fine Art America shop.  

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my Society6 giveaway.  I was thrilled by the response and I'm very happy to announce that the winner via Random Number Generator is:

Angie Hay

Congratulations Angie, please email me to confirm your choice of tote bag.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Sketches

Welcome to Friday Sketches and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it.

There's no doubt that winter has settled in about a month too soon, so instead of fighting it, I'm just going with it.  After a huge feast with people I love, I'm now prepping for my daughters 9th birthday on Sunday and then thinking about the Christmas season ahead. It's a busy time of the year but my favorite. 

This week for Friday Sketches I thought I'd share a little scribble I did of some cinnamon tea in glasses with plums that I sketched from a photo.  In fact, more of my sketching now will be from photo reference.

You see I'm an Aussie, and that means that I do warm and sunny really well, but not so good with cold and snowy.  I don't fancy the idea of sitting outside in the blistering cold to sketch, so it's that time of year where I browse magazines and photos I've taken though the summer and enjoy the warmth of my studio. 

So just a reminder, my "Gifts & Giveaway" promotion is still running, so if you haven't put yourself in the draw to win a custom tote-bag with the design of your choice on it filled with art-supplies, then click HERE to enter.

I'll be drawing a winner next week.

So what have you been sketching this week.  Link up using the Linky tool below to share your weekly creativity.  And once again, please put a link back here in your post, many of you don't which makes the sharing one way!

You could also grab the "Friday Sketches" blog button and post it in your blogs side-bar. Simply copy the html code from the box below the image and paste it onto your blogs side column.

Dion Dior

Have a great weekend, and thanks for checking in. xx

(Linking to PPF & AJED)