Friday, May 28, 2010

If All Else Fails, Forge Ahead!

My blog is not connecting to other sources such as blogcatalog. It's not updating and I'm not getting visitors. I switched to a laptop and this may be contributing to the problems. Unless...There are three other conclusions I may draw from my last blog:
  1. Either the similar name "Work in Progress" kept people away, thinking it was the same blog; (Actually there are two blogs. The first blog by that name, and the second, called: "Work in Progress II.)
  2. or, people didn't like the progress and didn't comment;
  3. or, There are graduations, vacations, etc. and people missed it!
At any rate, I had no visitors from blogcatalog to "Work in Progress II" and none from the usual people who visit. Feedback is so important! When you don't get feedback, you assume the worse. Feedback also tells me when I'm on track or off course.

So the subject of this blog is: Feedback! (Did you guess?)  Feedback is lifeblood to the artist. We sometimes call it critique (although it can be brutal!). Simply put, feedback provides guidelines, suggestions, and commentary when needed. Without feedback, an artist can get lost in a forest of zealous brushstrokes, vivid colors, and impulses that may be labeled "inspiration" when they're not. Feedback holds an artist's feet to the fire and keeps him or grounded.
Hot air balloons are wonderful! They sail upward in a flurry of color and they give you a sense of power and freedom. But if you don't observe the rules, the experience can become an overheated blast of hot air that comes dangerously close to disaster.

I've had a semi-love affair with hot air balloons. It began years ago in Kansas City when I saw my first festival. Now every chance I get, I see a show if there's one in our area. Balloonists are fun people. I even watched a couple get married in a field where hundreds of balloons awaited their scheduled flight. Everyone who attended, and all who participated in that event joined the wedding party. After the couple said "I do," they climbed into their balloon and lifted off with hundreds of others. What a sight!

So if I get too far afield on my hot air balloon (my art journey), don't hesitate to give me feedback. I'm just sayin'!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Work in Progress II

An update on the progress of my contest winning painting called: "Love;" the second in the "With These Hands" Series. I'm showing three different views: the first photograph, "Work in Progress I," and the latest update of my work.

From this point on, the painting will progress in values (lights and darks). At the same time, I will be refining the details almost microscopically. I make slight changes and walk away. A few hours later, I may see something else that needs to be moved or changed. If I'm even a fraction off, the likeness will suffer. This is a time for learning and growing.

When do I stop adding values and refining the details? When I feel I have captured the spirit and the likness of the figures. Having never seen the people in person, my scope is somewhat limited. I usually like to start with live models and then move into photographs for memory recall.

I'm going to work on the child's hands next and then finish her dress. The daddy is not the central focus, so I don't want him to dominate the painting. I'll work on him once the girl is finished. At this point, I can see that he needs some skin toning and some highlights.

What do I do last? Make sure the background items support the composition, and then make changes or additions as needed. Last, but by no means least, I add highlights in just the right places to guide the eye through the painting. At this point the girl's hair is too dark and I will lighten it and add the appropriate highlights.

Your comments and questions are always welcome. Sometimes other people can see what I may have missed. I hope these progress reports are helpful. I'm not sure if I will do another "in progress" on this painting. I may just wait and show you the painting when it is finished. Unless you think another progress report would be helpful. What do you think?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Squirrely over Squirrels

I like squirrels. They're furry and cute. They play games like twitch-the-tail, and tag-you're it. They play hide 'n seek with us when we're out walking. Sometimes they stay as close to the path as they can, and dare us to come closer. Then they take off like a shot up the nearest tree.

We were able to watch three squirrel families
nest and give birth in our cabbage palm out back.
I snapped some cute photos I'll share with you
on today's blog. I'm waiting for one painting to dry, ready to start another, and have one in process; not quite ready to share on this blog. I'm also breaking in a new computer, and trying to decide what to do with incompatible programs that have some vital stuff I need.

Please be patient with me through this transition period.

Mom and Dad set up housekeeping above.

I wanted to share some of the pictures I took during the time the squirrels lived in our cabbage palm. When hurricane Charlie, followed by Wilma, whipped through our area, the cabbage palm fronds were blown apart. That was the last squirrel nest we were privileged to witness. Some day (amid my many projects), I will write and illustrate a story about them. Enjoy!

Three youngsters looking at their new world for the first time. Very brave, they crept to the edge of their "front porch."

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Work in Progress

I'm usually reluctant to show my unfinished work; but hey, this blog is for learning, teaching and sharing my joys, my woes, and some of the things I've learned along the way. I prepped the canvas for my newest painting in the "With These Hands" Series. This painting is the winner of my Open Contest for a model for the series. This painting will be called: "Love." I first sanded the canvas with a fine sandpaper, applied white gesso, and resanded. I went through this process three times to be sure the canvas would accept my oils and would provide the smoothness I like for portrait work.
Oil paintings are done the complete opposite of water colors. The darks, the shadows and shapes are placed first, and the lights are added in subsequent layers. It is the lights that give the figures life. I was afraid to show you the painting at this stage, for fear the winners would freak out! Please be patient, there is light at the end of the painting.

The shapes and forms are now ready for the final details; the face, features and hair are awaiting their proper color, details and highlights. I invite your suggestions and comments, always believing that two heads are better than one.
You are seeing this painting in an earlier stage than my little cowgirl "Wonder" which I shared with you before its completion. This is the "scarey" stage of a painting. If I don't have the painting's composition and layout correct, it will effect the details that come after. Because oils take time to dry, I will not show the painting on my next blog. I'll get you up to speed in another week.

Note the piece of wood on the bottom right and the color pattern on the bottom are not part of the painting, but part of a bench I propped the painting on for this photo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice!

We hear this phrase: practice, practice, practice over and over again, and it's true! Getting a degree or taking classes is no guarantee that you'll be a great artist, or writer, or psychologist, or whatever when you get out. Skill takes years to develop and perfect.

I'm sharing with you some of my earlier drawings; all with artistic flaws. The first sketch is of a young woman who posed in a magazine. Her beauty captured me, and I decided to sketch her while I watched (or should I say, listened) to mindless TV. Her face is slightly off kilter. Her right eye is higher than the left. She had a high forhead, but I over compensated. I should have used the rule of 1/3's and measured her face more carefully. I should have used a ruler to be sure her eyes and ears lined up. Her mouth is slightly crooked, and her chin is too small. I should have focused more on form and alignment before I spent time on the details.

The next drawing is of my grandson, a young violinist whose mother is Korean. I really wanted to paint his portrait. I came close, but not close enough. I couldn't quite capture his nose and eyes. Practice, practice, practice!

The third drawing of a little girl was fairly successful, but I overworked the eyes, and then couldn't correct it. She ended up having a slightly cross-eyed look. I used a combination of charcoal and pencil, and the hair didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

The last drawing is my attempt at capturing Raquel Welch. I hope she'll forgive me! Again, I should have modelled the form before adding details. The principle of 1/3's would have improved this drawing. I didn't place the eyes into round, deep pockets; they look somewhat flat. Portraits are the most difficult for most artists. Drawing from both live models and photographs as often as possible is critical. And don't forget the Public Library. When you need a refresher course, the books are free and extremely helpful.

So now I've bared my earliest attempts at drawing the figure. I hope you see the progress I've made on my art gallery: and in my mini gallery on Facebook at AnfinsenArt.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amazing Mangroves

Mother's Day weekend, my husband took me to an outdoor preserve called J. "Ding" Darling on Sanibel Island. We had never been, and I was inspired to go after seeing my first swallow-tailed kite.

I was in the car, coming to a stop sign, and a large bird flew overhead. At first, I thought it was a hawk, but it was much thinner. What amazed me was how long this beautiful skimmer was. Its forked tail alone was a foot long. Its wing span at least four feet. Black wing tips and tail feathers contrasted against the snowy white plumage. An incredibly beautiful bird.

I'm told the kite can eat in flight, swooping down and snatching snakes, lizards, and birds from trees or large insects from the air. They spend March through August in Florida.

We were not disappointed in our trip to the Darling preserve, although, most of the birds have flown North. We did see a roseate spoonbill, an osprey feeding on another bird, some egrets and cormorants, and two osprey nests with activity. But what really impressed us were the mangrove trees and our knowledgeable tour guide. The trees themselves and the way they live and grow are too complex for this short blog, but I encourage all of you to take a run through the internet and find out as much as you can. about these fascinating trees.

The potential disaster that awaits us if the oil reaches Florida's shores is immense. If these vital habitats are destroyed, it will wreak havoc on Louisiana and Florida shores and the shrimping industry for many years to come.

Briefly, there are three types of mangrove trees: the red, the white and the black. The black mangrove is the only one that is able to take in salt water and excrete it via osmosis through its leaves. Wipe your thumb across a white coated leaf, and you will taste and feel salt.

Red mangroves are able to tolerate the salt water through an internal filtering system. When the tides come in, they close off their tap roots until the tide goes back out. Young trees cannot take root easily in the salt water, so the mother tree produces tiny trees on the branches. When the root pod becomes heavy, they are released into the water.

Some will take root and others will get washed out to sea. We saw many of these new trees growing on the branches, and others trying to take root in the shallow waters below where they had been released.

Space will not allow me to continue, but you can see how interesting these mangrove trees are. The illustration I used in introducing this blog was used in my picture book: "Inez Ibis Flies Again, The Story of a Courageous Ibis Who Never Gave Up." Book is available at Blurb (See the picture book link on this page), and as an eBook at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Contest Winners Announced

The winner of my "With These Hands" Contest is the above photo, which I will title: "Love." My thanks to Christy for submitting the photo (the names and identies of the winners will be protected). Christy's adorable photo of her young daughter loving her favorite beau--daddy, has universal appeal. Christy will receive a print of the original painting, matted and ready for framing. Please keep in mind that the process of an oil painting requires a longer drying time. I will keep you posted via e-mail when the painting is completed.

There were two winners in the "Honorable Mention" category. These winners will receive a free greeting card of the original painting and a chance to have their photo used in the series at a later time. I will keep you posted. I will need mailing addresses of all winners!

First runner up goes to Glenna's grandson that I will title: "Learning."

Second runner up goes to Kelly for her submission that I will title:"Experience."

I want to thank everyone who participated in my contest. There were so many wonderful photos that I would like to paint them all! If I decide to paint your entry at a later date, I will let you know. The possibilities were endless! Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

If you have suggestions for future contests, please use the comments section. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome! Thanks again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More on Art Shows

I'm not a fan of art shows.
• They're hard work.
• They take lots of muscle.
• They require lugging heavy paintings and supplies long distances over bumpy terrain making several trips in the process.
• The weather is unpredictable.

At one show, a violent storm blew up, whipping our tents and frames into a frenzy. We grabbed our paintings and ran for cover as the rain drenched us. Our outdoor venue turned into an indoor one. We greeted our guests with hair plastered to our heads, and water dripping from our soggy clothes.

At an outdoor mall, a gust of wind whirled through the plaza knocking over a large framed piece of mine that hit the pavement cracking an expensive frame.

But there are trade-offs; like the comradery of like-minded artists who share their dreams and their love for creating things of beauty. And there are people like you who show up to admire our work and give us incentive to continue. As my friend Kelly Bell the photographer and creator of "The Sorry Gardner" said: "It's not about the plants." And for we artists: "It's not about the money." If it were, we'd all be rich instead of starving.

Another trade-off: I get to share my picture book creations and illustrated stories and cards with my fans. I can share one with you here through the magic of the internet. Click on the link for a FREE sneak preview.

I'm not a fan of art shows, but they keep me in touch with people like you, and that makes the effort worthwhile!

Watch for my next blog. I'll announce the winner of the "With These Hands Contest." Stay tuned!