Art Adventures

Posts from the ‘Step-by-Step’ category

Dreams can be powerful motivators.

Aside from daily tasks, jobs, school, and duties, dreams create motivation to reach for more. Something for yourself. Something that feels real, alive, and is worth feeding with time and energy.

I have dreamed of being an artist since I was a small child on our farm in Colorado. While I’ve painted and sketched my whole life, I’ve not had the chance to devote myself completely to that dream. But because it has ALWAYS been with me, I’ve pursued the dream in my off-times: when the kids were napping, or when they were at school; on weekends, in the evenings. I’ve kept that dream alive. It’s given me a direction and a purpose in life that is just for me, and outside of all other responsibilities. I’m motivated to succeed as an artist, and therefore driven to achieve that ideal. Because of that motivation and dream, I have become a more focused artist, with a network artistic connections, and a more efficient business plan.

Have you had a dream? I persistent thought that won’t leave you alone? Something that keeps you going through the muck and the mire that life throws at you? Has it been a motivator for you?

This painting, entitled “Dreams”, is a metaphorical imaginary landscape, illustrating our far-reaching hopes and desires, and the power those dreams have in our lives.

 

Dreams, 30x22, watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

Dreams, 30×22, watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

 

In Dreams, a large, expansive sky opens to aspirations above a lower area suggesting land, water, and trees; a grounding base to the dream. In the gessoed surface, there are circles and gestured scribbles, describing strength.  As dreams are sometimes convoluted and have many paths, textured squares and wrinkled tissue add routes to explore, and areas for contemplation. Dramatic darks intertwine with deliberate tree shapes, signifying action and power. The color palette is subdued, lending itself to introspection: building strength for the goal.

I love the ethereal, yet powerful gestures of Dreams. It needs to be experienced in person to catch the nuance of texture and pattern in the surface.

To see this painting, stop by Hood Avenue Art during their November show, where I am featured artist. Most of my work is in the entryway of this beautiful gallery in downtown Sisters, Oregon.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and events! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that we can meet at showings and to receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. I am planning an upcoming workshop on Textured Watercolors in January. Let me know if you would be interested in the 2-day class. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

 

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Artists see life differently.

I recently traveled to Colorado to visit my folks and take a mini-vacation. I grew up in Colorado and LOVE, LOVE, Love it.. I still consider it my home. We drove several times into the mountains to see fall colors. I think I took around 500 reference photos…just of trees, mountains, and landscape. Crazy, huh?

On one drive, we drove from Montrose towards Telluride to see broad views of the San Juan Mountain Range, along with several (or what seemed like thousands) of people pulling off the road and taking pictures of magnificent peaks. As we pulled out of a forest access road, facing the opposite (read: boring) direction from the mountains, I stopped our Subaru and hopped out, taking photos of a ridge across the road. My parents didn’t see anything amazing in the general direction of my camera focus. But I popped back inside, all excited, proclaiming, “THAT will become a painting!”.

Here is the “inspiring” ridge photo that so sparked my interest:

Ridge of trees in Colorado

Ridge of trees in Colorado

Now, MOST people look at that picture and think, “meh…”. Am I right? Do you see the potential? When I showed the picture to my husband, he could not believe I would be inspired by such a bland scene.

I, on the other hand, could not wait to get into the studio and begin the process of translating it into beauty I saw in my eyes and imagination. This, I think, is the magic of being an artist; the ability to translate and re-interpret daily scenes from life. We can explain it through a title or inject it with colors; perhaps with a feeling of emptiness in space around the focal point, or nostalgia with color choices, maybe impact with composition and value. In fact, I could take this picture and pull completely different emotions from my viewers with several different paintings.

Seeing a lone tree, a bottle, a slice of fruit, or a mundane landscape can provide an artist with an opportunity to speak about issues we all face in our lives and our world. Artists see life differently and give us a chance to join in that view.

That ridgeline? NOT boring. Instead, beautiful and metaphorical. Here is how I interpreted that very mundane ridge in Colorado:

The Ridge, original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas, 30x22

The Ridge, original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas, 30×22

Texture, ridgeline placement, empty space, color, and a sense of being on the edge introduce a thought of past and future with this painting. I am at a turning point in my life right now. I’m in the space between raising my children (one left…a senior in high school) and choosing my next step. Metaphorically, I’m looking at the ridgeline as a point of view, a destination to see the goal. Once I get up there, I can view past and future paths from the same point. I must work towards that ridge, though, and getting there might be rough, as you can see the landscape is tangled with roots, sand, and textural challenges.

Like I said…Artists see life differently. Would you be inspired by the photo of the junipers on the cliff? What type of connection would you have drawn between that photo and your life? Have you taken photos that you find meaning in, not necessarily just in the subject matter?

To see this painting, go to Hood Avenue Art in Sisters, Oregon later this week, where I will be featured artist during the rest of October and most of November. Make sure to come by the gallery and see me and visit about the new landscape work. I’ll be there Fourth Friday, this Friday, October 28th from 4-8pm.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and events! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that we can meet at showings and to receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. I am planning an upcoming workshop on Textured Watercolors in January. Let me know if you would be interested in the 2-day class. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

Cheers, people! And Feed the Beast!

 

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During our Paint Tuscany trip this May, we toured the beautiful hill town of Montepulciano. It was just as I had imagined it to be, but even more spectacular. A quaint little town of stone atop small hill with incredible views of the Tuscan valley below, Montepulciano also had unique stores, tucked along its streets, begging to be explored.

It was in Montepulciano where I found a hand-made book store, Legatoria Koine. Oh my. Such beautiful books! Such reasonable prices! I had to buy two. One for me (of course), and one as a gift (you know who you are!). Its heavy, torn-edged paper looks like old-time textured watercolor paper!

Hand bound Italian book. Leather outer, watercolor paper inside

Hand bound Italian book. Leather outer, watercolor paper inside

I can’t wait to fill it with artwork! It smells like leather, has rough edges, and came with a little note tucked inside. The woman who waited on us was a beautiful late-20’s Italian girl, who bound all the books (and painted oils on the side!). So cute.

Anyway, as we wound our way up through the town to take a look at the view as well as a garden near the top, I passed by a gorgeous alley, flooded in yellow Tuscan light, with views to the valley below. Breathtaking.

This is one of three Tuscan paintings I worked on this weekend.

Here is my reference photo:

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Montepulciano alley, showing views of the valley below

Can you see why I was so inspired??!!  And, weirdly enough, it wasn’t a terribly sunny day, but warm sunlight burst through the haze and flooded a golden glow to the wall.

I painted this scene for several reasons. First, of course, to capture the gorgeous Tuscan light. But I also love the archway and the dark foreground drawing us in to a misty Tuscan landscape. A couple pause to contemplate the valley view, which adds a human element to the scene. I am also drawn to the lamp on the wall to the right. I decided accentuate a triangular composition highlighting the window box, lamp, and people.

With the composition focused on the 1/3 RH side of the canvas, here is my thumbnail sketch. Doing a small value sketch always help me decide on placement of shadows and forms within the painting.

Sketching the basic outline, values, and layout of the alley

Sketching the basic outline, values, and layout of the alley.

I gesso-coated rectangular paper cut out and collaged it onto my Plexiglas surface, haphazardly placing tiles of paper to resemble old brickwork. Netting further provided a gridded surface, suggesting rough stonework in the walls. As I painted, I sprayed and splattered water and paint on the surface, giving it an overall aged feel.

A dark entry of warm stonework draws our eyes into the painting. We then dance along the shapes of window shutters, glance off a warm yellow wall, and find the couple enjoying the valley scene below. We then might find the lamp and pop back to the red flowers of the window box before contemplating deeper into the scene.

Hard to see in this photo of the painting, but I added a white skirt on the woman and placed red shoes on her feet. 🙂

Montepulciano lowres copyright

Montepulciano Alley, 20×16, original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

The resulting painting takes me back to my Tuscan experience and reminds me of our warm May day in Italy. I feel pulled in to the painting. I remember the cobblestone walls, stucco surface, rich smells, intimate windows, flowers, culture, and wonderful people. Imagine and allow it to draw you in to a beautiful moment in Montepulciano.

Find my work at Tumalo Art Company. In July, I will have my Tuscan work hung on their walls!

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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I had so much fun at the Willamette Valley last weekend! After hiking the Silverton Falls (10 falls, 7 miles…we shortened our hike and had 5 falls in 5 miles…gorgeous), we toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House (my favorite architect of all time…what a treat), then managed to fit in a stop at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm before calling it a day…yep, all that in ONE day, and heading back to our VRBO in McMinnville.

I was somewhat amazed (and a little disgusted, frankly) at the commercialism of the Wooden Shoe. I had different visions of a quiet, peaceful field of tulips, but instead, there were inflatable kid toys, bungee jumping, rides through the tulips on a “train”, a hot air balloon, you name it. But for my purposes, we headed straight into the fields, where I managed to shoot about 200 photos of tulips and people in the tulips. It was incredibly beautiful.

You will see several paintings from this trip, but the first one I had to do was this one, a man on a bike, riding through the field. PERFECT! I took several shots of him. He seemed to be leisurely poking along, glancing down at the flowers every now and again, clearly out for a casual ride to see the sights.

First wash of teal and yellow

First wash of teal and yellow

String, paper squares, produce netting and scribbles dance in the canvas, providing a crazy, fun background for the tulip colors.

Details:

Tulip guy detail 1

In the background, I suggested trees and a distant field of pink flowers. You can see the squares of paper, produce netting grid, and string

Tulip guy detail 2

Up close of Mr. Tulip Guy, where there is gridded pattern of netting and paper squares as well as a fruit tree in the background.

Tulip guy detail 3

Here is a detailed view of the bike, with string, painted grids, and paper collage. As you can see, the flowers are not painted as such, but suggested by mass and color.

Finished original on Plexiglas! One of my favorite areas is the background, where it seems a little surreal, or suggestive of trees, clouds, and haze. This turned out to be a fabulous painting!! It strikes the perfect mood.

Petals, 20x16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

Petals, 20×16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

The question was…Petals? Or Pedals for my title. After some deliberation, I decided on Petals. Why? Not sure, other than that I just love the flowers.

Cheers!

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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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

IMG_4350

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!

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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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.

IMG_4337

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.

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.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter 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 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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