This year for Christmas, I decided to personalize the cards I created for my friends and family with their pets. I spent time scrolling through social media looking for images to model the cards on to create cutiefied version of each pet. In some cases, I had to ask for photos, which probably gave way the theme in advance. The card was a departure from my typical style—especially the cards I have sent in the past, such as my Starry cards and Reindeer cards.
These were mixed media cards, but my primary tool was Posca’s fine point paint markers, which I have come to love for their very opaque colors. I especially liked the glitter pant markers for Christmas cards.
I don’t own any pets myself as I am allergic to dogs and cats, but I enjoy seeing other people’s pets. If the recipient did not own a pet, I sent a corgi card inspired by this lawn decoration.
I also sent festive reindeer cards which I will post separately.
A few months ago my family and I moved from the Western side of New York state to the Eastern. I have not been blogging and painting as much as I would like recently. With the move, new home, and a new job I have lost my daily practice habits. I am surprised how little brain power I have at the end of each day. I hope to reinstate my daily practice this spring as it is a vital component of my goal to improve my art skills. I also seem to be a happier and better-composed person when I am regularly creating.
Oddly one of the things I miss about Western New York is the snow. Much of Western New York with its proximity to the Great Lakes finds itself receiving many feet of snow over each winter. I am not typically a winter sports person being limited to snowshoeing and hiking in the winter months. I am not the person who watches a lake effect snow storm on the radar map with excitement for the next day’s ski trip. Although I am not the type to constantly complain about the weather I don’t enjoy cleaning off the car and shoveling the walk.
The Albany region receives snow but very little when compared to Western New York. I found myself wistful for a white Christmas as the holiday neared. Luckily a bit of snow did arrive before Christmas. As winter worn on I found myself thinking about the quite Forrest of Allegany State park covered in a blanket of snow just after a storm. Right after a storm, the woods are always silent as the animals have tucked themselves away to protect against the cold. There is something magical about fresh snow falling off pine branches in a sparkling cassacade illuminated by the recently unveiled sunlight. Then as the light warms things up just a few degrees the animals reemerge and the forest is full of bird song and other noises again. I guess you never know what you are going to miss.
In addtion to my son’s solar system (which I hope to blog about soon) some of the few paintings, I completed this winter are scenes featuring deep snow drifts. A couple of watercolors and oil pastel paintings. Which I am sharing here.
Interestingly most of the snow I have seen here fell during February and March with spring around the corner.
Soon the snow will be gone as the days grow longer. I look forward to Spring. Every season has something special about it we just have to take the time to look.
This year I made mostly stary Christmas cards. Nebula, galaxies, and the Milkyway are fun and easy to make utilizing wet on wet watercolor techniques. I find them delightful to view.
I am very fond of the work of Carl Sagan a science communicator best known for the Cosmos: A Personal Voyage documentary series of the early ’80s. One of the first to broadcast on PBS. He is often quoted as saying we are the stuff of stars. The idea being we are made of the atoms born out of supernovas. A supernova explosion occurs out of the death and collapse of certain stars. Many of the heavy atoms found throughout the interstellar medium are formed in Supernova. This is where the atoms that build our bodies come from. So we are literally created out of stars. I find this and the idea that even the stars in the sky are born, live, and die humbling and inspiring. More on this concept can be found at CNet’s article: ‘We are made of star stuff’: A quick lesson on how
For two of my cards I utilized:
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
I designed the cards to look like a nebula inside of a Christmas tree ornament. Two of which have the famous quote around the outside of the ornament with the complete quote on the inside of the card.
I made additional nebula cards in Christmas colors as well. But, without the famous quotes. I am still working on my hand lettering so that is not quite where I would like it to be. But, am happy with the little nebula.
My February Sketchbox arrived last week. It was a pretty fun box containing a 12 set of Inktense Colored Pencils, a red Prisma Color Brush Pen, a Ecoline Brush Pen in burnt sienna, a black Pigma Brush Pen, and a toned mix media sample pad by Strathmore. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on each item this month as I have in the past but I did want to briefly talk about Inktense pencils.
Inktense is a line of color pencils by Derwent. The ink in the pencils is water soluble but only once. This differentiates them from watercolor pencils which like watercolor paints remain water soluble even after drying. Inktense will not react to water after wetting then drying. This means they will not blend and lift like watercolor pencils. But, the colors will retain a higher degree of intensity. Mixing and layering will result in different effects from watercolor pencils. I prefer them for when I want intense color saturation over subdued tones.
This last week a raptor or bird of prey has taken up residence in my backyard. I am not sure what species as I haven’t been able to catch more than a silhouette in my trees. As a result of the new resident, the songbirds that frequent my bird feeders have made themselves scarce. As I have mentioned in my previous posts I get a lot of enjoyment and inspiration from my backyard. I am sure the little birds will return once the raptor runs out of fat squirrels who currently seem indifferent to her presence at their own peril. I do not begrudge the raptor everyone in nature needs to eat and this is how the food chain works. But, I miss my little morning friends out my window. So I took to drawing several with the Inktense pencils, which are perfect for feathers. I really enjoyed using these in conjunction with the toned paper and a white gel pen. I also used the brush pens in red, black, and burnt sienna that came in the box for most of the pieces. In some cases, I added a little traditional colored pencil from Prismacolor. The most common species in my backyard are Jays, Starlings, Juncos, Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, and Chickadees. I recommend the Cornel site https://www.allaboutbirds.org if you are interested in behaviors, recordings of calls, and images.
A Dark-Eyed Junco sitting on a rose bush branch.
Chickadee on a Juniper Bush
Cardinals and Rose-hips
I have not gotten to the Woodpeckers and Starlings yet hopefully, I will this week. My favorite two species are Chickadees and Cardinals. I love the little “fee bee” calls Chickadees make in the mornings. Cardinals bring a bit of Summer back in Winter with their splash of red against the gray environment of the season. I have linked a Chickadee bird call video form LesleytheBirdNerd‘s channel on Youtube. They really are cute little birds!