Art Adventures

Posts from the ‘Journey Back to Passion’ category

During a recent trip to the Oregon Coast, we popped into Bandon Dunes for a late dinner one evening. Having heard positive reviews on this particular restaurant, our party of 6 sat ourselves down in anticipation of a fantastic meal.

Er…not so much.

Since it was late, I had snacked a little beforehand and wasn’t ravenously hungry. I decided on the spendy crab cakes. Just two, mind you. When they arrived for consumption, I was a little shocked at the size. Maybe a couple of inches in diameter, and not thick; on a bed of…nothing. Okay, there was an artistic swirl of sauce and maybe a sprig of something as a garnish, but…really?

And, yes, I can do the small meal at an inflated price. IF it has a wow punch. Like, I want to eat every last bite even if I am stuffed full to the gills (which I wouldn’t be anyway, in this case). A punch of brilliant flavor. A moan-ful moment.

These cakes? Not only were they super small, they were … meh. I mean, it wasn’t bad? But it sure wasn’t great.

So you are wondering where this is going? I had been working on a fox painting before I left (photo reference from my fabulous photographer friend, Sue Dougherty @offleashphotography…thanks sue!  You must check out her photos…gorgeous). When I got home, and looked at my in-process fox painting, I thought: meh. Okay, but not great. This fox was a mediocre crab cake on a bed of nothing.

Here is how it looked when I got home:

Beginning Mr. Fox

Beginning Mr. Fox, with the ocean behind him.

After the fox and the background were almost complete

Fox and sand dunes…BORING

I had changed the background from snow (the original photo) to sand dunes and ocean. A string from produce netting meandered through the gesso base, symbolizing trails the fox travels daily, in search of food or a mate. Produce netting also provided an interesting texture in the background. You can see this in the up-close view of his face, around his ear. The red circle at the top of the painting is a lid from my recycled Costco nut jar that I use for my water container. I place it under the Plexiglas to tilt the surface as I paint. This encourages wet pigment to move and provide interesting patterns.

Mr. Magnificent Fox deserved more. More pop. More drama. More…something! I mean, Good grief. I was not a painter of a crab-cake fox! No more mediocre! No more BORING!

So! I went into the background again with very dark value black and blue. I began by covering up the ocean. Yes, it took a little courage.

Correcting a BORING painting

Correcting a BORING painting by covering up the ocean and sand background

After painting the top third with a dark value, I broke up the color a bit with neutral and somewhat lighter squares shattering the foreground white.

Working on the foreground.

Working on the foreground.

I adjusted the pattern, then the values, and finished with this:

Detail of fox, showing the poofy tail, string of trails, produce netting texture, and squares

Detail of fox, showing the poofy tail, string of trails, produce netting texture, and squares

Detail of string at fox's leg

Detail of string at fox’s leg and the produce netting texture.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that I changed the painting. No more so-so!

Fox, 20x16, original watercolor, gesso, paper, produce netting, and watercolor pencil on recycled Plexiglas. $550

Fox, 20×16, original watercolor, gesso, paper, produce netting, and watercolor pencil on recycled Plexiglas. $750

Now, the painting has movement, drama, and interest. Dark blues contrast sharply with his magnificent orange coat. There are poofs of splatter paint at his tail, showing softness and the un-boundry of his fur. The layout and placement of dark values draw your eye around the painting. Your imagination can fill in what you see in the background. It holds your attention. It pops! What do you think? Did it change how you feel about the fox? Does it hold your attention more?

Thanks for reading this blog and supporting my passion. Feed the beast!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

 

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There must be contrast for interest. Really. If life/art/people/etc. were all just the same, we would find ourselves uninspired and bored. Ethnicity, culture, race, skin color, height, houses, food, personalities, paintings; if it were all the same, where would be be? I shudder to think. The blandness of sheer repetition would cause dullness of the senses.

And so it occurred to me this past weekend when I went to Portland with a friend of mine (katherinetaylor.com). We went in search of potential gallery representation, as well as to enjoy Portland’s art scene. I was struck by the need for contrast. Not only concerning styles of paintings, but contrast within a painting. Contrast is an absolute necessity to create compelling interest.

We visited a variety of galleries. There seemed to be a disturbing amount of art that I wouldn’t want in my house. Much of it was seemingly simple, with dark themes, many hung without frames, and at exorbitant prices. Nonetheless, some of it was striking. Of the galleries we visited, a few stood out as representing accomplished artists of a range of styles, all employing the elements and principles of design in a compelling manner. Those galleries were Butters Gallery, Gallery 903, the Augen Gallery, and the Froelick Gallery. Again, we didn’t have time to see them all, but these were the best of those we visited.

Of the most noticeable common themes, texture seemed to be often employed element for many artists. Mixed media, tangible texture, and visual texture abounded. In addition to texture, contrast of value, such as darks against lights created compelling visuals. For instance, in a high-key painting of mostly light values, a shape, or line of black added at a focal point made the work sing. Or, in a mostly black/dark painting of war and oppression, bright spots of flags gave some relief in contrast and made the viewer look closer…longer.

So! To that end, I have come home very inspired to add contrast and increase texture surface to my paintings. As a result, I took one of my photos from my favorite artistic inspiration locale, Pikes Place Market in Seattle, of a flower vendor.

Flower vendor carrying flowers

I began with a basic reference photo.

I loved the way the flowers surrounded this girl as she carried a huge bouquet to a customer. In planning my painting, I cropped in closer to the girl and mapped out my values on a small thumbnail sketch. I wanted to produce an edgier painting, so planned a dark mass of value that connected her shirt, hair, and the bouquet to the edge of the painting.

Flower vendor value study

Value study. The arrows indicate visual movement of the dark value moving out of the edge of the painting.

Once I began painting, the texture came through from all the applications in the base of the gesso. This was a recycled painting, as well. It had a former life of being something else (that clearly didn’t work…). I had covered it and textured it up, but a little remained of the painting beneath, adding further interest.

Detail of the flowers around the vendor's face

Plenty of whites were left unpainted here in a detail of the flowers around the vendor’s face

Produce netting was used in various spots to create a honeycomb or a grid-like pattern.

Detail of produce netting pattern

Detail of produce netting pattern

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I added many pops of color onto a neutral background of black/grey/and cobalt. Above, the vendor’s shirt takes on many textures. Produce netting squares, small squares of paper, scribbles in the gesso base, and 3D lines were painted into the surface before the paint was applied.

The edge of the bouquet.

The edge of the bouquet. This detail describes both the netting honeycomb pattern and the painted-in squares of color for interest.

More texture.

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Watercolor pencils add a line element

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Scribbles and underscoring create complicated patterns in the painting.

Scribbles and underscoring create complicated patterns in the painting.

And finally, the finished painting:

Flower Vendor copyright

“Transaction of Color”, 20×16, $550. Original painting. Watercolor on gesso and collage.

This painting has a very fresh, open feel, accomplished both by the texture, the massed values, and the bright areas of color. Hopefully you get a chance to view this painting in person. I will be installing it at Hood Avenue Art as soon as it is sealed and framed. It is very interesting to view the different textures and colors up close. All in all, I believe I captured the contrast I was going after with the almost-blacks, the neutrals with pops of color traveling in pockets throughout the painting, the gestural strokes, patterns, and texture. Look for these qualities to come up in my future work. Expand the mind, people!

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All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

 

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Okay, okay…it’s a little corny, but I figured, hey, with this spring-like weather on Valentine’s Day? I’m a little cheesy.

As I painted this bunny, I thought about his expression. He is chewing on something. Maybe a thought. Maybe a piece of an herb. Perhaps it is something slightly bitter. He’s mulling it over, as it leaves an strange taste in his mouth. Like an ornery thought, or a wild hare (pun…), it won’t go away. It won’t let him go. He’s planning a crazy move. My kids have looked just that way before they do something naughty.

Watch out. He’s gonna get his funk on.

Bazillowres copyright

Bazil, 7×5 original watercolor and gesso on recycled plexiglas. $110

And, as it just so happens, it is my 2-year anniversary on WordPress today.I set up my blog on this day in February, 2014. My very first blog post was March 10th. At that time, it had been 3 years since I stopped painting. I decided to begin again with a blog as inspiration. I had a goal of starting one new painting and finishing a painting every week. I promised myself to blog about the finished painting every Sunday, with a short story about the painting. It would give me a reason to paint, and hold me accountable to produce work that was not only going to be visible to anyone on the internet, but also improve my skills as a painter, by simply painting every week.

To that end, after 2 years and 99 posts, this blog has kept me focused. I still have the goal to start one painting and finish one painting every week. I’ve improved not only my painting skills, but my writing skills as well. My readers have increased in numbers and have kept me busy with their positive likes and comments. I have met many new friends with this blog and other social platforms that have spun out of it. Over the past 2 years, my business as an artist has grown until I am busy enough to have trouble finding time to write! I am selling paintings, prints, and greeting cards, and have added a monthly Watercolor & Wine Class that fills quickly and has been extremely positive and fun. Much of that success has come from right here…

To any of you thinking about starting a blog for your business, hobby, or just for fun, I would say go for it! You don’t have much to loose, and much to gain.

Can’t wait for more to come! Great paintings, an Italy trip, new friends, and more sales!! Thank you all so much for your continued support.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes.

 

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

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This season…actually, this week, today, this hour, this minute, is time to be thankful.

Winter Sparrow, original watercolor on Plexiglas, Private collection

Winter Sparrow, 7×5 original watercolor on Plexiglas, Private collection

Love and happiness to you and your family. I so appreciate your support, whether you commented, liked, followed me, joined one of my classes, purchased cards, prints or a painting. You are incredible and so appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you and enjoy your family, friends, and the holiday season!

Let me know if you need any last-minute gifts. Cheers!

Sarah

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes.

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

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What…another week went by? Aaaaannnnddd here it is, our weekly small painting sale. My Thursday paintings vary in price from $30-$50. This painting is $40 today! As a nod to Halloween and Trick or Treating, here is “Very Beary”:

Very Beary, 8x8 original watercolor on textured #300 watercolor paper, $40 today. Matted with foamcore backing to fit into your 12x12 frame

Very Beary, 8×8 original watercolor on textured #300 watercolor paper, $40 today. Matted with foamcore backing to fit into your 12×12 frame

“Very Beary” is available today only for $40. Shipping outside Bend $12 additional. First come, first serve! Send me an comment.

Custom order your greeting cards of this or any other image through sending me a comment and placing an order.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes.

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

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Creating art can be a messy business. As an artist, I can personally vouch that we need a lot of stuff. We need stuff to paint on, stuff to paint with, objects to paint, scraping tools, masking stuff, taping supplies, drawing stuff, pencils, paper, glue, cutting tools, frames, wire, hanging supplies, books, magazines, cameras, and computers, just to name a few! Do we organize it? Rarely. Right, artists?

I went through my studio this summer, in preparation for upcoming classes and to make space for new work. I cannot tell you how much of my so-called “precious” art stuff was just trash. Okay, look. Do I REALLY need art supplies from Interior Design school circa 1988? Yellowed paper? Glue that had hardened in its container from ’05? Nope. But I had it. In spades. I pulled everything (almost…) off the shelves and out of drawers and proceeded to make an even larger mess on all available surfaces in the room. It takes making chaos to create organization, though, right? Ok, I just made that up. But I managed to fill several large bags for recycling and trash of miscellaneous items I no longer needed. My kitten, of course, was involved in all the decisions. This was her kind of day. She helped so much.;)

My cat, "helping" organize

In the drafting drawer, my cat, “helping” me organize. Hmmm…you should definitely keep this stuff…

Then I had the huge task of organizing what was left. I purchased a few plastic tubs and tried to fill them according to use or subject. Pretty difficult, given that I use many items for different end products. But organize I did, as best I could, and ended up with class tubs, greeting card supplies, and collage bins grouped and easily accessible. All my notebooks for contacts, galleries, licensing, and exhibitions line the top shelf for quick reference. Show supplies are on the bottom shelf.

Studio shelving organized. For now.

Studio shelving organized. For now. Not bad, huh?

At last, I got down to my day-to-day stuff; the supplies that I used every time I went into the studio to paint. That would be tubes of paint, paint brushes, and other supplies needed close at hand.

My boys had each taken a ceramics class in high school. I inherited their self-made vases. They make perfect holders for brushes, and remind me of their high school days. The little boots were given to me as a gift. Instead of holding flowers, I use them for brushes and pencils. The little nifty ceramic thing to the right is something my son made me to allow my brushes to dry on a slant. Pretty cool, huh? These items always sit on top of my drafting table.

Random ceramic containers for paint brushes and pencils

Random ceramic containers for paint brushes and pencils

I had been storing my tubes of paint in Safeway nut containers (handy little things) and old plastic tubs. This, I decided, just would not do. They were all different sizes and varieties. They didn’t stack, and, more importantly, didn’t look pretty. Right? Am I really that concerned with container beauty? In my studio? I guess so.

I ended up at a craft store nearby and came home with a prize for organizing my tubes of paint. It is a wooden box with four small drawers and a top lid. It feels old-fashioned, antique-like, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am each time I reach for a tube of paint, to pull open a cute little drawer and select a tube of paint. It feels…I don’t know…somehow more rich and authentic!!

Organized paint tubes in a wooden drawer box!

Organized paint tubes in a wooden drawer box! Neat, huh?

After all this, I was curious. What did my artist friends use? Did they grab any container available? Or did they carefully select an “artsy” container that gave them joy to use? So I put out an email to them. What do you use to organize your paints?

Most of my friends were reluctant. They felt that the messiness of their studios were a stain on their beautiful paintings, I think. My friend, Janice, though, Druian Studios, was generous enough to send me a photo of her paints:

Janice's tubes of paint

Janice’s tubes of paint

Look at all those yummy tubes of paint. Just waiting for fabulous creations of landscapes by Janice! She complains that it’s messy. But it works! Here they are, in all their glory. Organized by color in plastic containers. I mean, in the throes of creativity, does it matter from which your paint tubes come? Here is her studio:

Janice's studio. Beautiful, isn't it!!

Janice’s studio. Beautiful, isn’t it!!

What a beautiful studio. Ah, Janice. Amazing.

Another artist friend, Susan Higdon www.susanluckeyhigdon.com, sent me this photo of her workspace:

Susan Higdon's work space

Susan Higdon’s work space

See? That’s what I’m talking about. We artists use anything and everything we can. We are usually big into recycling, and as you can see by Susie’s space, she has boxes, recycled food containers, and maybe just a couple of purchased items specific for organizing. She produces amazingly creative work in this delicious studio of art supplies. It begs to be used. There is no fear here. As are her paintings: Fearless and beautiful.

My friend Cindy Briggs, cindybriggs.com, an accomplished watercolor artist and instructor, has a special way of organizing her watercolor tubes. I first noticed it when we had a workshop together. The small mesh plastic bags provide an easy-to-see, organized method for traveling with your paints. Out of these plain, unpretentious and simple plastic bags of paint arise Cindy’s gorgeous watercolors.

Cindy Briggs organizes her paint tubes in plastic bags

Cindy Briggs organizes her paint tubes in plastic bags

Does it make a difference to have a beautiful organizer for tubes of paint? I can assure you that it does not, as far as painting creatively. Reaching for that tube and squeezing out the juicy color for a luscious application of pigment on a canvas is all that matters. But there is a little something that goes “ping!!” when I have depleted cobalt blue on my palette, reach for it, but instead, pull open a cute little drawer full of blues (hah…pun), and select my cobalt. It’s pleasure, people. Pleasure for beauty.

What do you use? Does it make a diffence how you store your tubes or other supplies? Have you recently changed or organized? Does it work? Do you hate it/love it? I’d love to hear about your system.

In the end, it seems I wore out my little cat. Next time, little one? My clothes closet, I promise.

Exhausted from all the organizing.

Exhausted from all the organizing.

Cheers, everyone! Keep creating to Feed the Beast! And thank you so much to the artists who sent me photos of their studio paints.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes.

 

 

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I prepared myself for a grizzly encounter. I planned. While hiking, I would make plenty of noise, clapping, talking, and having my pepper spray in-hand (though you have to be 16 feet from the bear to use the spray…uhmm…wow…really?…yikes). More importantly, I had griz-photos all pre-determined in my head, imagining paintings of huge Alaskan brown bears, swishing around in violent rivers, sleek salmon in their massive mouths.

Alaska. I’d never been before. Growing up in Colorado, I thought it would be same-same. Just bigger and colder. Not so.

We headed up at the end of August for a week-long family trip, which included more family than the usual crew of myself, my husband and our boys. We were a group of eleven; extended family members as well as friends. We happily co-habitated in a home on the Kenai River near the little town of Soldotna (we all had to train ourselves to pronunciate the Russian name, Sol-DOT-na). And little town it was, gearing down from a busy summer. Some of the shops and restaurants were shuttering for the year. Fred Meyer, our oft-visited grocery store, however, buzzed with business every day. Mostly ours.;)

Back view of the house we rented on the Kenai River.

Back view of the house we rented on the Kenai River.

Most of our crew of 11 people fished every day, sometimes all day long! They could fish directly on the Kenai, just a few yards down a path from the house.

We lined the river, fishing for Sockeye Salmon

Our crew lined the river, fishing for Sockeye Salmon

While my family and friends fished, I painted in my journal, enjoying sunny, warm weather.

Painting in my journal on the back deck

Painting in my journal on the back deck

On one particularly sunny day, a nuthatch flew into the house through the open door and ended up confused, flying into a window with a clonk. I threw a shirt over him and took him outdoors. He wobbled around a bit, sat on my thumb until he was mindful, and took off.

Poor little nuthatch on my thumb.

Poor little nuthatch on my thumb. Cute, isn’t he?

In spite of the amazing fishing and the nuthatch encounter, I had my mind focused on bears, scared though I was with the prospect of an actual teeth-slobbering, claws-slashing encounter. BUT! Never, ever let anything come between a woman and her vision of a great painting. Even big brown scary bears. Even that.

We planned a hike to Russian River Falls, which is known for bear activity. Specifically, bears fishing.

Lower Russian Falls sign

Lower Russian Falls

There were plenty, plenty of fish in the Russian River

There were plenty, plenty of fish in the Russian River

The hike was a 2.5 mile stroll along a wide, pedestrian-friendly path down to the famed river and falls. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who wished for an encounter with bears. The path was well-worn, but since we were there at the end of the season, we encountered only a few groups of people. When we arrived at the overlook to the falls, I was dissapointed to find NO BEARS. Not a single bear anywhere! We saw fresh bear scat, but no bears. There were, however, millions of fish packed in the river, trying to head up the falls, exhausted though they were, to spawn in their own special spawning spot. No other spot would do. They were driven to jump the falls to reproduce. Their jumps were amazing, seeming an impossible feat for a fish. Hello? Note to fish: You are supposed to swim, not fly…

We headed back after a lunch of sandwiches and tangerines by the falls. We all had plenty of chances to take photos of amazing Alaskan terrain. You can bet I found plenty of subjects for future paintings.

On our way back, we met up with a friendly Fish & Wildlife guy, who offered to take us up to see the fish dam (or weir, as he called it), near Lower Russian Lake, where they count salmon on a daily basis. Wonderful! He was a trove of information on the fauna, and even the flora of the area. We arrived at the lake…gorgeous!

Russian Lake. Gorgeous!

Russian Lake. Gorgeous!

Wonderful hike. I would love to spend time in one of the lake cabins that the F&W guy mentioned, painting and hiking the area every day. Maybe I would even become a bear-whisperer.

One day, in spite of some major vehicular problems in which we spent all morning at the dealership then ended up renting a HOT Dodge Charger…(hello power, and welcome!), we drove to Homer.

Posing with two of my sons, in front of the famous Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer

Beautiful Homer. It featured a long spit on which rested the famed Salty Dawg Saloon (of course, we had to pose in front of it) as well as cute little tourist shops. Glacial-formed mountains swung steeply down into Kachemak Bay, providing shelter for many seabirds in its wind-swept waters. Stunning.

Homer spit

Homer Spit Marina

The next day, we decided another hike was in order. This one, called Skilak Lookout trail, promised incredible views of Skilak Lake. Everyone performed back-bends to get 11 people to their different needs and locations with one car this day, having returned the rental.

Skilak Lookout Trail

Skilak Lookout Trail

This trail was a little more sketchy than the other, being less used, more brushy, and in serious bear country. At one point, I heard a very deep moan-groan (no, it wasn’t me) that was “something” (“something” being an inside joke that family members from the trip will enjoy…). That “something” was probably a moose, we decided later, as we had fresh tracks all the way up to the lookout. At the time, though, we considered the very real possibility it could be a bear, and were on hyper-alert, our bear-spray warriors in the front and the back of our group, thumbs on triggers.

Top of Skilak Lookout

Selfie on the top of Skilak Lookout

My boys and I at the top of Skilak Lake Lookout Trail. Skilak Lake below

My boys and I at the top of Skilak Lake Lookout Trail. Skilak Lake below

Amazing, amazing views. The guides online and at the trail site were a little confusing. Online, the hike was supposed to be 2.5 miles round-trip. Turns out, it was 2.5 miles in, 2.5 out. No big deal for any of us, but took longer than what we had planned.

No bears(sad face). Bonus, though! On our way home, we spotted a moose!

Mama moose with her baby

Mama moose with her baby

Alas, we had to pack up and go home eventually. No bear sightings! I still cannot believe it! My visions of superb paintings of bears must be shelved! I took many photos, though, and have paintings planned and canvases primed to convey to you my impressions of Alaska.

Fish for home

Fish for home

Also? We had around 250 pounds of fish to take home and put into our freezers. Yum. Thanks, fishermen!!

Alaska. Bigger than Colorado indeed, but also more wild, more rugged, more extreme and wayyyy less tamed.

View from the plane of Alaska

View from the plane of Alaskan glaciers on our way home

Goodbye, Alaska. I’ll be back… 🙂

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

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Daisies! I can’t help it! ….must…paint…daisies…

I had fun painting these happy white flowers yesterday from my favorite daisy photo, incorporating a freehand watercolor border of sap green and deep purple background.

Daisy Detour 8x8 original watercolor on gesso-covered watercolor paper. $50. Includes matting and foamcore, ready to fit into a 12x12 frame.

Daisy Detour 8×8 original watercolor on gesso-covered watercolor paper. $50. Includes matting and foamcore, ready to fit into a 12×12 frame.

I named it Daisy Detour, because every time I see sunny daisies, I have to follow the daisies! They are so cheery!

Happy Thursday everyone!

To purchase, send me an comment. I accept PayPal and will email a PayPal invoice. Shipping extra. Prints available, sizes starting at 8×8 for $25. 4×5 greeting cards available as well.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals!

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

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Remember the animated movie, “Finding Nemo”? The entire time I painted this bird, I thought of the silly seagulls in the movie, saying over and over again, “Mine,” as they placed dibs on their next meal. Hence the title of this Thursday’s smally (my name for my little 8×8 watercolors). I took a pic of this seagull last year, while vacationing on the Oregon Coast.

Mine, original watercolor on gesso-covered watercolor paper, 12x12 matted, $50

Mine, original watercolor on gesso-covered watercolor paper, 12×12 matted, $50

You’ve gotta love his somewhat spacey expression. The textural blue background and rock he stands on is a great contrast to his smooth feathers and the lemon yellow edge hit by the morning light. Happy Thursday everyone!

To purchase, send me an comment. I accept PayPal and will email a PayPal invoice. Shipping extra. Prints available, sizes starting at 8×8 for $25. 4×5 greeting cards available as well.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals!

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted

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Mama duck gestured to the partially submerged log with her bill and nodded slightly to her many ducklings. “Hop up, youngsters, dry off, and practice your yoga stances.”

I was on my kayak at Hosmer and had been trailing her at a distance for a time, clicking off photos with my Canon SX50 Ultrazoom. I hoped there might be a hidden treasure in the photos when I viewed them at home. So I just kept snapping pics. The little ducklings stopped at a bank and fluffed their fluffy down feathers, organizing and preening themselves duckily.

It was by sheer luck, and much to my amazement, when the mother called to them and organized her little balls of fluff on the log, just for my photos. I was very close in the kayak, making slow, measured movements and holding my breath. After she gestured, they all hopped up. I sat, mesmerized, clicking off pics, and marveled  at how perfectly cute they all were.

I had taken about 20 photos before moving off and giving them their peace. When I got home, I combined the pics by selecting poses from each and aligning them just so for the painting. A little guy who had stretched out his leg became my focal point.

Photo reference, one of many, for Ducks in a Row

Photo reference, one of many, for Ducks in a Row

I painted the first wash quickly, deciding to use purple and quinocridone burnt orange as my two main colors, creating a somewhat neutral color palate with a strong horizontal line of dark value behind the ducklings. Since I wanted the small duck with his foot outstretched to be the focal point, I removed a chick to the immediate left to give him a little space. I had used liquid mask on all the areas of their highlighted downy feathers, to keep it sparkling white in the end.

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After the first wash of purple and quinocridone burnt orange

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the background yet, other than keeping it loose and letting it fade away. I stepped away from it and allowed it to dry, knowing I would relish adding detail to the little ducklings. While it sat, I ran across an article in a magazine illustrating little dots in the background. I knew it would work for this painting.

In order to finish it for my First Friday showing at Desperado, I quickly began working on it the morning of the show.

After I had painted the background and the general shadows on the ducklings, I removed the mask

After I had painted the background and the general shadows on the ducklings, I removed the mask

Once I had removed the liquid mask, I worked on each little duckling. I paid close attention to detail and softened the edges so that their down appeared fluffy.

duck detail 2

Duckling detail. I kept all the whites as pure background and painted the shadow area only

duck detail 3

I concentrated on keeping the downy feathers very soft.

I saved the last little duckling to the end, using intense color and fine detail in his form. I made sure to keep the background as dark as I could behind him and accent his little stretched out foot with a vivid orange hue.

Focal point

Focal point

The painting has rhythm, which I enhanced by keeping all their legs and feet very bright with an orange and red mixture, their colors about the same, and the top of the log completely white to connect them all together. The mother duck looks over at them, bringing our view right back to the small guy with the outstretched foot.

Detail of dot squares and texture in background

Detail of dot squares and texture in background

After the ducklings and their mother were finished, I addressed the background with the squares of dots I mentioned earlier. You can see in the photo below how textural this painting is, with the collaged squares of paper and the scribbles of gesso. I love the dot effect, which further illustrates the organization of the little ducklings.

Ducks in a Row, $450  original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

Ducks in a Row,  16×20 $450 original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

Early in the afternoon, I felt I had work still to do on the painting, but took it to the show anyway. It received much praise and commentary. There was plenty of discussion on the conversation of the ducklings and their mother. So funny! After looking at it all evening, I decided to leave well enough alone and announce it finished.

This is one of my favorite paintings. I love these little ducklings and feel it is a strong conversational piece. I’m happy with the suggestion of a background and the neutral color of the overall painting. Hope it puts a smile on your face as it did to the many people who saw it at the First Friday show.

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All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

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