how it's made

boom baby

Again another couple months between blogs, per the usual. #notsorry

So I made a cool thing can I tell you about it?

I made dis:

 paintings are so hard to photograph, especially when you use reflective colors and metallics

paintings are so hard to photograph, especially when you use reflective colors and metallics

It took me forever, oh my gahhhhhd did this take so long. But I like it so it was worth it.

So my fiancé and I took a canoe down about 7 miles of the Saint Croix River in Wisconsin last September. It was one of the coolest things I've ever done. It was so secluded and peaceful and beautiful the colors were gorgeous. The highlight was seeing a family of river otters playing along the banks. Seeing otters in the wild is pretty darn rare so it was so cool to see them and so close probably only 20 feet away.

So ever since then I have had like I don't know 30 otter paintings I've wanted to do and this is the first one I have finished. I wanted to a mermaid painting as well, and love the idea of mermaid and wildlife together, hence half the artwork I make features it. 

 give or take 4ish hours for each step here

give or take 4ish hours for each step here

The background was a learning process. I have done trees and landscape before obviously but wanted to try out new methods of painting for them. Trying to balance values and color pallet and give depth and detail but not too much detail since it is a background, is a fine line to walk my friend. 

 water reflections, harder than Bob Ross leads you to believe

water reflections, harder than Bob Ross leads you to believe

I must have tried so many different ways of painting the reflection in the water. Still water reflections are waaaaay easier to pull off. Moving water has motion yet reflects the image above, which makes it hard to negotiate with a paint brush. 

 hey cuties

hey cuties

Otters are incredibly hard to take a reference photo of. They move 100% of the time. My photos from my canoe are much to blurry, luckily I went to the zoo on Black-Friday and got a couple of pics while they were waiting for food and sitting much more still than they normally do. 

Notice the water is different again for the 4th time and I changed it again before finishing. 

 scales are hard work

scales are hard work

Finally the mermaid. I love shiny and iridescence, and wanted to use a lot of that in her. She has a lot of gold in her scales and face. I knew I wanted dark hair but wanted it to have almost an iridescent sheen to it so I used a lot of metallic blue and green. I haven't a person in a long while, I want to do more so I am happy with how her body and face turned out, I am finding retarder with acrylics helps with that a lot. It gives you time to blend but not sooo much time like oils where you have to wait days to paint over. Also... Hands are hard okay, don't look at them!

So I have to crank out a few more of these if I am to have my solo show and do art festivals this summer. It is going to be a busy spring!

i want my garmonbozia back

So Twin Peaks... It was all just crazy dream logic and I was wrong, I'm not okay with it! Laura is the one! Why would Coop try to save her [aka not save her] and destroy everything?! I hate alternative realities and un-canonizing the original series. Oh well, I'm just gonna pretend season 3 never happened. Or I'll just pretend Twin Peaks ended with Eddie Vedder's song, cos I flippin' loved that. 

So I finished a painting I have been chipping away at all summer. I am so about it.

 the bison I added but the rest is as it was when I was there in June

the bison I added but the rest is as it was when I was there in June

I love it but with the canvas was just a little longer. The bluffs went off so far and vast into the distance. What I remember most about the place was the rocks were so cold. I have a slight... obsession with feeling a place. Well more I really want to lock the place into a memory to store in the vault if that makes any sense, and feeling a place helps ground that. I guess because I am literally touching the ground. It was the edge of dusk where the sun is warm on your face but the air is cool. The breeze carried the pine-coney juniper scent of a million pine trees that filled out the canyon. It was quiet there, like crazy quiet but it wasn't scary like it is when your in your house and its super still it was a calming quiet. That is part of my weird memory "photograph" of the place and helps me get there in my mind and helps me paint it. 

Some of the places I've felt and kept in my memory vault are now gone. A good chunk of Glacier National Park has been lost and continues to burn. My cedar trees I felt and remember are being taken from the ages. While I never got to Sperry Chalet it was always a goal and partially why I started this venture in my life where I decided I was going to pursue art. The goal was to one day be able to be an artist in residence there. Having that goal be destroyed by outside forces does pain me a little bit but I think my drive or goal has become a larger force that can't be taken down so easily. 

Wildfire is also something that costs us many things like 100 year old buildings, the iconic vistas, the natural life of the area but it also allows for re-growth of new life. Glacier had a big fire the year after I was there on the East side of the park that scorched many of my places there. But it now has new life beginning to take the area back from the ashes.

 [Photo by Saturated/iStock / Getty Images] Post-Fire Regrowth Near Gorge Trail

[Photo by Saturated/iStock / Getty Images] Post-Fire Regrowth Near Gorge Trail

Waiting on my regrowth here to overshadow the burnt, I feel like wildfire scorched my life some years ago and the regrowth has started but its a slow grow, and I'm impatient. But what else is there to do but keep going at it and wait.  

I think when I paint these places I've locked away in the mind vault, a big part of it is longing and romanticizing these places in my heart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I'm okay with it though. When you get to revisit these places via art or in person it is never disappointing or not living up to my memory palace of it. It is almost like the memory palace has improved the impression or feeling these places give me. So maybe that is why I still do landscapes even though I've been told they aren't my forte. [well at least yet they aren't] I want to share that place with people I want to capture that place in a box and be able to go there when I physically can't. 

Another rambly blog, but ramblin' is what I do best. #sorrynotsorry

great faces, great places

For a hot minute I thought I should talk about the art festivals I've done so far this year or the gallery shows I've participated in their have had their ups and downs and take home positives and things I've learned, for me that is the logistical side of business and...logistics bore me! Hence why I haven't blogged since May. So I am just gonna talk about MY process which is A. My inspiration and B. How I make my stuff. Because I'm into it and could talk about it all day.

So I went to South Dakota, ya know that place you went with your family in 2nd grade and you'll probably never go back to until your kids are in 2nd grade. Its a lot cooler than you remember by the way. It is honestly kinda love everything about it, well minus the couple tourist trap aspects but I get it they gotta make that money.

The Badlands are where its at, well ok its tied with Custer State Park, they are equally awesome. The Badlands have the biggest bison I've ever seen, it was like a truck, tons of bighorn sheep, loads of black tail deer. I loved it I just flat out was in heaven.

 I love this little guy!

I love this little guy!

 and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

I want to like draw and paint every nature moment I had there. Caught some beautiful fish, saw some gorgeous deer and pronghorns, and a billion beautiful sunsets. I utterly loved it. I recently started this landscape of the vista from the needles highway in Custer. You don't really think vastness or mountains really for South Dakota but it really was, the Black Hills are a lot more breathtaking than you think.

 so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

I kind of love doing this cartoon-esque landscapes. I don't know if other people like it but I find them so fun and I like the character of it. I want to do some from the badlands too. There was so much color and life at the badlands that really surprised me. 

I also went to northern Minnesota to some mining lakes and want to do a bunch of Minnesota paintings now too. I started by doing a drawing of a Minnesota mermaid with a nice freshwater trout scene.

 I freakin' love it

I freakin' love it

So this is probably my best artwork to date. I have only dabbled in colored pencil in the past and this is my first completed colored pencil drawing. I still use copics for blending and "blurring" spots, I have to learn how to blend with mineral spirits still. I have started to try what I call effects, but essentially playing more with reflections and shadows than I normally do. I love the water ripple reflections on them both, I had no reference photo so its not perfect but I think it turned out cool. I think using tan paper helps give it the underwater murky feel. 

I want to make more of these, do a couple of different freshwater mermaids. I am really into fish lately, they are so fun and have so much texture and color that lends good to colored pencil. 

So maybe I will start a more frequent blog schedule and just talk about the things that interest me, probably what a blog is actually intended for. 

oops its feb

Long time no writey. Well I decided this year I want to make a lot more art, and considering its only February I think I have a considerable amount of new artwork made in the last month. 

I've started making some mixed media illustration drawings of naturescapes and faces of women. I am super into it and I know it is totally artwork just for me and no one else probably is even into it but I am loving them and they are so fun to make. I missed drawing people, I have shyed away from it because I also really want to capture nature in my art. So I guess this my atempt of satsifying both desires for my artwork?

 fishy is my favey

fishy is my favey

The bottom right drawing was my first, and it turned out a little more "cartoony" looking just because I am getting back into the swing of things drawing people, and even my more realistic portraits still look a little disney, I just don't like hyper-realism I like a little bit of stylistic type look to my stuff. 

This fish is so dope, it looks like a sticker and I am loving it. I for sure want to do a million more woman and fish paintings. Maybe I will do a series of endangered or threatened fish species. This one is a cut-throat trout currently endangered and numbers dwindling fast from Lake Yellowstone; shout out to my cut-throat buds stay strong my friends! 

I think I am going to do at least 2 more of these based on Yellowstone flora and fauna, but I want to do other parks too. I think it would be cool to do this as an illustration series of different national parks. National parks and art are my 2 passions , as you've probably gathered by glancing at my portfolio, so it only makes sense to mush them together.

I have also started trying to sketch daily. I get in at least 1 a day usually. Here are the greatest hits so far. 

 dying to do some Finnish goddess stuff too, but again nische market if there ever was one

dying to do some Finnish goddess stuff too, but again nische market if there ever was one

I am super into my animals, they look so cute and disney cartoony. I used to think realism is the goal but now that I have my fundamentals down I am leaning more stylized. Which I am ok with because I love how it looks, whether or not other do or will is another question entirely.

I LOVE the bison. I could draw bison and pretty woman all day long I tell ya. Bison have somehow become my sigil I should really work on making them my logo and ensignia.

I have also experimented in palette knife painting. It is hard. I want to keep practicing but omg it is for the very light of hand, and I am of the heavy handed variety.  

 pinky mountains are purrty

pinky mountains are purrty

I want to do some mountain paintings with oversaturated "alpenglow" the pinky snow at sunset, I am obsessed with how it looks and want to do a high contrast pumped up color redention of it. I am working with mediums in my acrylic now to get a thicker consistency to try to paint these mountains with a palette knife; so it is a lot of new stuff at once. 

 LOVE the island on this one

LOVE the island on this one

On this one the mountains got a little more pink than I would have liked but again finding the slight of hand balance is hella hard. I love the water and island in this one, but water and silhouetted trees I could paint with my eyes shut, its one of my favorite things to paint. I also really love the cloud, its so fluffy and soft. I think this one is better than my first try but I chose slightly the wrong color for the sky and mountain. I want to play with new colors on scenes but still am finding my color scheme it seems. I'll get there. 

So in conclusion... I'll keep making more stuff I guess. Still haven't figured out how to get it out into the world... idk Ebay? We'll see. 

balance

Couple things to get out of the way. I decided to roll the dice and do some art/craft fairs. I know they are a gamble and most likely I won't gain any audience or sales, but I gotta get out there somehow. As we know I am not a fan of the gallery scene just because its all concept no substance and its not about engaging with the audience, its more selfish type art, which I think is important but isn't my main focus. I like working with people I like hearing people, I like making artwork for people. So I am betting on my artwork and taking the plunge into arts/craft shows.

If you are so inclined [whoever if anyone is reading this] the shows are:

October 22nd 10am-3pm @ Knights of Columbus KC Hall in Hastings, MN

November 26th 10am -3pm @ Holiday Inn Hotel Conference Center St. Paul NE in Lake Elmo, MN

So I finished my commissioned bear painting.

 "Bear Family" 18" X 24" acrylic on canvas

"Bear Family" 18" X 24" acrylic on canvas

I like everything about it, except baby bear's face. That little face caused me more trouble than I care to admit. I am satisfied with how it turned out but wish it was better, my reference photo was so tiny that it didn't give me much help so I did struggle getting his little face in there and looking cute. The mama bear was a breeze, as were the lupins, I really had a fun time painting those. I just love adding flowers to paintings. I actually really like the willow branches, and how the bark turned out. I know I am not hitting it on the nose for photorealism but I am not sure if that is where I want to be heading. 

I also worked on a couple other paintings this weekend. I tried doing some experiment paintings where you just go with it and it usually turns out crap, so I'm still on the fence if it did turn out crap.

Ok I kinda love how this looks and also see the problems. I love the gold on blue, omg I love the gold. I get Klimt's obsession with gold leaf. Gold is fun. I think the elk photo I chose as reference was taken at odd angle so when it is silhouetted his body looks stumpy. I still like it though, real talk, I'm into it, as of now. I am sure I'll look back at this in a week and be like ew junk. 

I also attempted another northern lights painting, because I miss and obsessed with my old one.

I went too dark with the sky and too pastel with the northern lights. It is hard to find that balance yo. My blue's weren't doing it so I added a little black which darkened the sky too much. I think also this is a kind of painting that needs to be large, I keep trying to make it work on a small canvas and it isn't working. I think I need to go big with this and try again.

I have started a new dripping bird piece and am pretty excited to see how it turns out. I am pretty settled on an osprey but I don't know what bird to pick. I also toyed with the idea of doing another animal instead of a bird, but birds have the most fluid motion, that translates to the drips. 

I feel like I am in a better swing of things, now having weekends generally open to work on my artwork. Whether it be actually painting or preparing for art/craft show, or getting reference materials. I am hoping that I am able to keep at it like this and make the transistion to doing this as my main gig instead of my side hustle. 

14ft of awesome

Mural is finally finished! 

 Like my photoshop skills to have the gate on there? It's not actually mounted yet

Like my photoshop skills to have the gate on there? It's not actually mounted yet

It doesn't photgraph well from a distance. In person the details are much more vivid, so I took some closer shots so the "glasswork" can be seen. 

Each pane has beveled glass details and I absolutely love how it turned out. The iris is my favorite detail. I am a sucker for purple. 

Overall it took about 32 hours of work, which seems like a lot but it is a 14ft x 9ft space, so the sheer size is what ate up a lot of the time. 

This has been the largest project I have taken on and I am happy with the result as is the client. I am exctied to move onto my next project [bear painting] and hope that more comissions will follow. 

murals, commissions, life lessons & adventures

Welp, I thought by July I would have a ton of new paintings done that I could post on here but alas nothing new in a while. HOWEVER I have been busy. Which I'll get to in a minute, first going to talk about what I learned the hard way.

MN State Parks is getting their own MN license plate and held a contest recently for artists to render designs that they would use on said plate. I made a painting but had decided it sucked too hard to bother entering and thought there's no way I could have won so why even try. Well life made sure I will always try now. They posted the 3 finalists last week and they... well they... let's just say had I known that kind of quality would be finalists I would have entered in a New York minute. I guess I know now that always try, because you never know. 

So in spirit of try, I am going to do my own artist in residency of sorts in 2 weeks. I will be going to a rural yurt with my friend Anna for a few nights on the Southern Shore of Lake Superior in Upper Michigan. I plan to bring a couple sketch books and hopefully find some inspiration to make some new stuff. I took off 10 days for me to work on new stuff and work on some newly commissioned stuff. 

Recently I was commissioned for my first non-family/friend artwork. I know that sounds like oh wow finally someone who isn't related to you is asking for art big deal, but I don't know, it kind of feels like some sort of step forward? I am making a mother bear and cub portrait for her, with a forest motif. I am actually really excited to start this painting. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Here is the preliminary sketch. 

 wanna do lupins and lots of pines in background

wanna do lupins and lots of pines in background

I also have been commissioned to do a outdoor mural on the brick wall on the back of my aunt's garage. She had told me she wanted to incorporate her garden and ferns but wasn't exactly sure what she wanted. I went with a stained glass motif since she is a stained glass artist herself and I thought it would simplify the large wall space instead of trying to do life like detail on enough flowers to fill a space of 14 feet, and would be something unique to her. This was my original sketch, excuse the highlighter coloring since that was all I had available when I sketch this during an overtime shift. 

I primed the wall then sketched out in marker then went over in thin black paint to create the outline I am filling in with each "pane" of color. I will go over the outline in black again once the panes are finished to give the illusion of lead soldering. 

 had to modify the sketch a bit to fit the actual dimensions of the wall

had to modify the sketch a bit to fit the actual dimensions of the wall

I have started to add the color piece by piece and it is proving to be a lot more time-sucky than previously thought. I love how it is looking but I am glad I am starting with the small bits and moving towards the larger colors because I don't know I would have the patience for the small detail after doing the large scale colors.

 the border looks a little gryffindor now but once the other colors fill in it will balance out the cool tones

the border looks a little gryffindor now but once the other colors fill in it will balance out the cool tones

I will take more detail photos once more of it is finished. Each pane I have painted in the illusion of stained glass with waves and reflections on the glass. I think it looks pretty cool, and excited to see how it looks when I add more and more colors. 

dunraven pass... I think

During this painting specifically I've learned I struggle with paitence while painting. I love acrylics because they dry so fast, I would LOVE to learn to paint with oils but CANNOT imagine having the patience to wait for things to dry. However while working on this painting I realized how slow dry time would be helpful in the blending of large areas, so maybe in the future I will dabble with oils... we'll see. 

I tried to paint this exactly as I saw it the day I was leaving Yellowstone out the NE entrance, near the Tower area of Yellowstone. It was rainy overcast, the sky melded with the furthest hills and clouds mixed in with the steam from a distant geyser or spring. I also included some ferns that were near the road. I don't know how to explain it but when it is overcast the greens of leafy stuff like ferns just seem SO vibrant green again the dark forest green background. 

I think the large trees could use some more definition from the closest hill of trees behind it [picture doesn't show any but trust me there is some in the painting] but thinking back when I saw it in real life, there was little distinction and they kind of melted together. 

I know I need to work on detail technique in my landscapes but I need to work on having patience for little fine work like that. Overall I am happy with this, I think it captures the essence of what that place felt like to me. The place was misty and wet and vast and like most of Yellowstone it felt ancient, and I feel that when I look at the final product here. 

prismatic

Yellowstone is, let's keep it real, one of the best places if not the best place in America. Everyone knows it's great but if you haven't been there, know that it's 10 times better than you think. It is like nothing you have ever experienced. I am doing a whole series on Yellowstone so I am going to talk piece by piece about the inspiration from the park in each painting. 

So I'm gonna talk about the grand prismatic spring for a second here. It is huge. There are paths to see it from a higher ground to get a larger view of it but I really preferred it from the boardwalk point of view. There are so many small areas of beauty, it of course is amazing and beautiful as a whole but when you are up close and personal with it you get to see that it has so many more colors and it such a delicate feel. In the fields leading up to the spring the water flow on-top the mud has caused the bacteria to form these windy trails that look like arteries almost. I love when you see biology within other biology, it gives you a sense that we are connected to the natural world, because we truly are.

Midway geyser basin is the stop you need to make in Yellowstone, if you are doing a one day trip driving through this is the place to stop, not old faithful. In this one stop alone you get to see 2 gigantic springs [grand prismatic and the dormant excelsior geyser] and the incredible turquoise pool, which I will also be featuring a piece on. 

For this painting I wanted to focus on the edge of the bacteria line, where the vibrant colors are beginning to pop, and there are mounds of clay/dirt. I had a lot of fun time making this, abstract pieces are always interesting to play around with new methods of blending and application. I wish it had turned out a little less peach and more orange but I really love this piece. 

year of the bison

We all know that bison are the ish. 

I met a ton in the Dakotas and Wyoming, but it seems the ones I get to encounter close up [not that close though, I'm not about to selfie with a bison] are bulls going through rut looking a mess like this. 

 If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

Not that I have anything against grumpy drooly bulls, I just wanted to paint a sweet one. When I think of bison I want to nuzzle my face in their fluffy fur on their forehead. Knowing that I can't do that in real life [apart from the goring and death factor they kinda have a smell and are covered in nast] tears apart at my soul. 

Most of the bison I saw were in Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Yellowstone did have a lot as well but at TRNP they were bam right there and we lucked out and got to see an entire herd in motion both times I've been there. I would love to do a whole series on TRNP as well [I am already working on a Yellowstone one] because there is such cool stuff there and I feel like nobody knows about it. The Dakotas have so much just incredible stuff and I think it gets overshadowed by the tourist traps. Spearfish Canyon is one of the best scenic drives in the country, and you probably would never know about it unless someone told you, so here I'm telling you. If you go to Rapid City skip deadwood drive up 14 to Spearfish, stop in Lead at the bakery, and you can either go to Devil's Tower or back to RC.  

Anyways, back to the painting, I found it hard to get depth in the fur since they are so dark brown but overall I am happy with how he looks. I wanted him to be peaking out from behind some spruce, because I saw a ton shading themselves in the trees and I like giving animals a more [for lack of a better word] cute feel, although I have contemplated recently to do a series of grumpy animals. 

*clap*clap*clap*clap deep in the heart of zion

I got the chance to visit Zion National Park last month and it was pretty incredible. 

Somehow we were able to make it there the week before the shuttle system began, and thank god man. It was actually some sweet-ass driving in Zion. They really have their roads on point. Most mountainous national parks have some moderate to difficult driving on the way to and within the parks [not that I'm complaining I totally get why they have roads like that] but Zion was a dream for driving, in fact all the mountain roads and highways in Utah and Nevada were nice, god what life must be like without winter potholes. 

There was about a billion and a half people parked by Angel's Landing, and it had just poured pretty hard so I wasn't about to walk up slippery rock dropoff holding a wet chain, so we chose to do the Emerald Pools Trail. [which I highly recommend] Also, may I say the place smells so good. They got some fresh breeze/crisp juniper/light sage/cedary type of thing going on in the air, and I was digging it. Anyways, there's 3 emerald pools, you can hike all the way to the top waterfall to see the upper one, we didn't make it since rain was closing in, but it was still an incredible hike with cool sights. 

Most of Zion is accessible from the canyon floor, which gives you a really cool play on light and shadow from the bottom perspective. The rock gets 'dyed' from water run off and turns an indigo shade in certain places. I was there during winter, and even without the greenery of leaves there was still TONS of color in Zion, which lends itself nicely to painting aesthetics for a winter season artwork.  

As far as the painting is concerned it didn't really capture what I was going for. The rockfaces in  Zion are so drippy gooey dark blue and black on top of the vibrant red rock. But in paint its hard to walk that line without it getting muddy and unreadable. It's even difficult to photograph in person. The mountains have an iridescent quality and from the canyon dark and shadow can deceive the camera. Obviously most mountains or any nature scene doesn't live up to the reality of seeing it in person but Zion has this on a whole 'nother level. I'll consider this a practice and attempt another in future, but for now I am pleased how this turned out.