Swimming In Creation

I haven't forgotten my blog, I swear. I see it regularly as it's saved as a tab on my Google Chrome. But I was waiting for a little more material to post. And boy, have I built up some material.
Let me start with this:
Spring is here!
Yeah, not according to the calendar. And not according to some states on the east coast and in the midwest but you know what? I don't live there. Here in Arizona it is glorious windows open weather. I love this time of year. Spring and Fall are my seasons. I become so much more productive and creative. In the winter, I'm too cold to really get into things. Even with a heater running, my fingers and toes are always cold. It's better to curl up with good books.
And summer? Forget that. You go outside and fry. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little but it is more difficult to get out and enjoy things when you risk heat exhaustion by over-exerting yourself, or skin cancer if you don't cover yourself with goop every 30-60 minutes, wear a hat, wear sunglasses, and yes, they recommend long sleeves too. I've always said we hibernate in the summer like colder states hibernate in the winter. But you know what, it's maybe 3 months where it's really hot. And in a cold state you're cold from October into April so, I'll keep my extreme over the other.
In February, I captured a beautiful sunset. We had quite a few weeks where rain was falling a couple days each week. This particular night was cloudy, but no rain had fallen. I looked out the front window and was blown away by the deep hues in the sky. The photograph is in no way filtered, Photo-shopped, or otherwise touched-other than to place a signature.


Arizona Sunset by MRL













I liked it so much, I had an acrylic print made of it from ZNO.com. I took advantage of an offer from them that I received in my email which basically required me to pay shipping and nothing else. I'm really impressed with the quality of the print and the fact that along with the hardware (the bolts on each corner) they send along the screws and the wall anchors to hang it! I didn't want to screw it to the wall, so I wrapped some picture wire around the top two bolts and hung it that way.

Sometime around then, I came across an Amazon.com ad for a Plein-Air paint set. I was searching for a water brush, but all I could find were multiple packs, mostly in threes. I just wanted one to try out. When I saw the paint set, which included a water brush, I immediately snatched it up. The offer was cheaper at the time than the current cost-which helped me make my decision to go with it. 

I love it. The colors are vibrant and have wonderful spread to them. It's the perfect little set for working on my new project which I originally intended to be an art journal, but has become solely a watercolor journal instead. I painted a little sampler of all the colors and taped it to the inside of the lid with some double sided tape (the most awesome stuff in the world.) The waterbrush works pretty well. I wouldn't use it for a major, serious work of art. But for messing around quick-type stuff, it's handy.
I just grab this little set, and the small book and I paint something. Sometimes it's an image from online, sometimes it's one from my own head. 

A little note: The first two images were done with my Reeve's Tube watercolors. But the last two were created with the Sakura set. The water with the vines was inspired a little by the anime Mushishi. I love the art of that anime. It is so gorgeous. 



And I have been going Acrylic crazy lately as well. Some weeks ago, I painted two backgrounds. One was done on canvas board, another done on the same type of paper that I show above, (I love the vellum surface. It's a different feel and look to the rough canvas. Both have their advantages.) 
For the canvas board, I knew exactly what I was doing. Some years ago, I went camping with a bunch of friends up at Kehl Springs Campground. I took a photograph looking up into the trees. After painting the picture my friend Tonia took, I wanted to do one of my own.
Here's the photograph:
 

And here's the painting:


Not great, but it was my first time attempting trees. I found I was in need of a small brush that could do detailed lines for the branches, and the leaves. (I headed to Michael's the very next day.) But I do like how I did the trunks and got the light and shadow play on all of them. 

Then, the Mixed Media Paper was done with red, orange and yellow. For some reason I didn't photograph that before I finished it. However, I knew I wanted to do a silhouette type image over the colors, I just had no clue what-until this past weekend. While I was working, the idea came to me. I finished it last night.
My camera seems to want to smooth out the roughness that's in the background. So I'm showing the painting and a close-up so you can get a better idea.











It struck me after I finished it, that the way I laid out the silhouettes makes it appear as if the dragon is breathing fire at the horse and rider. The world looks as if it's on fire. I'm quite pleased with it. It's simple but effective. And, I am very happy with the way I painted the castle, so you can glean the appearance of bricks in the paint. 

Somewhere among all of this, I painted a couple more paintings. Both were done on the gesso primed canvas board but the black one was Acrylic on black titanium acrylic gesso primed canvas. I began painting, thinking I would leave the area with the water as it was, but I realized it needed something, so I painted an acrylic wash over it to give it the appearance of flow.
The mountain was all done with a single palette knife and I was over the moon about the texture. It makes me want to start diving into some oil painting next. I absolutely love both of these. 










And for some final bit of news, I went to the local Community College, to just get an idea on where I stand with classes and credits. People, I am a computer course, a lab, and a math course (or two or three depending on how I do on the placement test and YUCK, math) from having an Associates Degree!! I hadn't realized how many courses I'd taken over the years. I could kick myself for not finishing but, life gets in the way. And had I known, I might not have made that HUGE MISTAKE I did last year of attending that p.o.s. technical school. 
Whatever. Water under the bridge. Because I've decided not only am I going to finish my Associates in Arts, I'm going to obtain a second Associates degree, in Fine Arts. Yes people, I'm doing what my dad has told me for years and years; I'm going to art school!
As I was leaving the school that day last week, I could smell spring. Fresh grass, blooming flowers, warm sunshine, and it felt so right. Like I was walking the right path. 
As I was growing up I used to tell my mom that I would go to that school, every time we drove by it. I've gone to it, and I'm going back to finish what I started because that is my motto this year.  











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