Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lake Bonaparte - Commission

Last week I finished this commission painting of a family's cabin area on Lake Bonaparte in the winter. The lake was frozen and covered in snow in the reference photo that I was working from.  The final watercolor painting measured 11" x 14".

If you're ever interested in commissioning me to do a painting, just drop me a line.  My availability for commissions varies throughout the year depending on other projects that I'm involved with, but I'm always willing to talk with you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cool Angle

I've really grown to enjoy playing with shapes to make designs and patterns in Illustrator.  It's almost like creating a puzzle in reverse, making shapes and colors that fit together in a visually pleasing composition.  

This design is currently available for sale right here in my shop.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The White Whale

It was so nice to have a quiet afternoon yesterday and to get a chance to play with my watercolor paints.  The school year is winding down, which brings with it a whirlwind of events.  The next few weeks are going to have all sorts of things going on for my classroom at school - final projects, preparing for the first annual Night Of The Arts student art show, cleaning the room, etc. - so I'm glad I had a chance to get this image out of my head and down on paper yesterday.

The whole thing was done mostly with watercolor paint and masking fluid (you can see me peeling up the masking fluid in the photo below).  I added some extra texture at the very end in Photoshop.  

This painting is currently available for sale right here through my shop.  It looks particularly good on things like the area rugs and the shower curtains.  

Also, Society6 is having a little "beginning of the summer" sale, so until the end of today, 5/26, you can get $5 off all t-shirts, v-necks, and tank tops!  There is also free worldwide shipping on orders as part of the sale (excluding framed prints, stretched canvases, rugs, and throw pillows with inserts).

The sale ends tonight, 5/26, at Midnight PDT.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Calligraphy Workshop

Yesterday I took a 3 hour calligraphy workshop at the Syracuse CoWorks in the Tech Garden.  The class was put on by Christie from Bedsidesign and it was a lot of fun.  She's going to be doing more workshops, so be sure to check her website for more information if you're interested.

I have no experience with calligraphy, but I love the look of hand-lettering (I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to it), so I thought this would be a good opportunity to start learning some new skills.  Eventually, once I practice more and get better at it, I would like to bring more hand-lettering into my artwork and even do some lessons on it with my students in my classroom.

Christie had put together a nice little package of materials for us to use in the class.  For three hours, she walked us through how to make the proper upstrokes and downstrokes to form letters in the Copperplate script style.  We covered lowercase and uppercase letters, and the time just flew by!  It was a great workshop and left me eager to learn more.

I really enjoyed practicing the uppercase and lowercase letters.  My own handwriting is nothing phenomenal.  Even way back in grade school, ages ago, when there was actually a grade for handwriting on our report cards, I could never earn anything past a B.  My handwriting got worse in college when I had to take notes down quickly in classes and lectures (this was just before laptops started becoming more common among college students).

Now that I'm a teacher, I tend to notice a lot of things with my students' handwriting.  Cursive handwriting is largely being phased out at the elementary school level.  There's a good read here on PBS - "Is cursive handwriting slowly dying out in America?"  In general, today's students spend a lot more time using digital devices, both inside and outside of the classroom.  They no longer spend as much time writing as they used to.  I notice this lack of skill in the handwriting of a lot of my students, and even in their manual dexterity when it comes to drawing and painting.  This isn't an across the board truth, as every student is different, but in general I'm starting to notice that it takes students longer to make confident strokes on paper with their pens and pencils.  

I've had several students tell me that they can sign their name in cursive for their signature, but that's about as far as their cursive skills go.  A few weeks back, I had several 10th grade students asking me to write their first names in my own cursive handwriting, which I personally think is severely lacking in form and style, because they thought it was cool to look at.  I think it's sad that students are no longer learning traditional handwriting skills.

Eventually, once my own calligraphy skills get better with practice, I would like to bring some calligraphy and hand-lettering lessons into my classroom.  It's a beautiful skill to have, and I think it's great to expose students to letter shapes that are not made on the computer.