Category: Painting

tulip sketch

I’m getting back into the swing of art after taking a much needed break.

I’ve recently started reviving from a serious artistic funk in which I haven’t had the inclination or desire to engage in any sort of art at all. I didn’t even want to look at other people’s art, check Instagram, look for “inspiration” online, or anything similar.

I’ve never really experienced anything like this in the past. I wasn’t feeling depressed or anything of the sort, but I do think that I shifted focus to other areas of my life that were more immediately pressing (finances, etc.). I considered pushing on and continuing to work despite feeling very averse to the idea. The advice of many established artists is to “show up and do the work” and so forth. Instead, I truly felt like I just needed to rest my brain and to do nothing.

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I am focusing more on my art again. This time though, I am interested in expanding beyond floral art (not eliminating it entirely, of course). Throughout school and in the months following, I was drawn to florals because they made me happy and it was a subject matter that felt comfortable and easy to me. Now, I’m wanting to branch out and tackle some other subjects (other aspects of botany, rocks, and landscapes). I’m also working on some sewing projects and I’m imagining how I can incorporate sewing and embroidery into my art.

Cathy Johnson recently discussed her recent “dry spell.” I always like to read about how other artists deal with their creative ebbs and flows and it also makes me feel a little less uncomfortable with the whole process.

The following images are some of the pieces I painted in the last several months. Stay tuned for some new work in my next update.

tulip sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Discarded Tulips Sketch (5/13/2018). Pen and ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pansy watercolor
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Pansy. Watercolor and rubberstamping, 5 x 5 inches.

pen and ink watercolor flower sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Greenery (5/21/2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink succulents
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, US Botanic Garden (Feb 2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

camellia watercolor painting

Small Watercolor Florals

pink roses watercolor
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Medley of Pink Roses. Watercolor, 12 x 16 cm. For the 2018 Twitter Art Exhibit.

camellia watercolor painting
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Camellia from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Collection. Watercolor on a blank note card, 8.9 x 12.4 cm.
Lately, I’ve been interested in painting watercolor without a pen and ink drawing underneath as a way to improve my painting ability. I love pen and ink, but I sometimes find that I use it as a crutch for out-of-practice watercolor skills. It can be fairly easy to make a detailed ink drawing, slap on a few watercolor washes and come out with a really nice looking piece of art. Using just watercolor is trickier because flaws become more apparent, especially when using different techniques such as wet on wet painting.

I’ve found this video from Steve Mitchell’s The Mind of Watercolor so helpful in preventing overworked areas and understanding why they occur. I never took a formal watercolor course, so everything I learned comes from trial and error, instructional books/videos, and even a few kind souls who gently pointed things out to me about my technique. I still find myself returning to some of these same errors, especially “painting in the danger zone,” as Steve refers to it in the video. I highly recommend Steve’s videos. He has a ton of experience and I always end up laughing at his dry sense of humor.

flower sketchbook drawing

Year End Review and Lost and Found Artwork, Part 3

flower sketchbook drawing
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Exuberant Joy (1/28/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens, watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.
tulips sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tulips (5/11/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens and watercolor in large moleskine.
dichondra argentea garden sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Dichondra argentea (7/14/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

This is my last post of the year where I’ll review 2017 and look ahead to my art goals for next year. This is also the conclusion of my round up of unposted artwork from the past year. The above images were sketchbook pages in my large moleskine done from life. Even though my time was limited, I worked quite a bit from life over the course of 2017, which I am proud of and want to continue into the next year.

My goals for 2017 were to finish my nursing program and to incorporate more art into my life than I did in my first semester. I was successful with both of these goals, although my art activity fluctuated with my school schedule and I often went long stretches with no art making at all. My most productive times were in August and the end of April to mid-May, which coincided with my semester breaks. The least productive times were in September and November, which were also some of the busiest times of my entire nursing program. I posted to my blog 23 times this year, although 4 posts were written and pre-published the year before.

For 2018, I would like to work on making art on a more consistent schedule. I have some longer term projects/series that I am planning, but I need to create a lot of new work on a consistent basis to make my plans a reality. I also want to work more from life when possible. I did a lot of small nature studies this past year and I would like to continue on that theme. I also let my email newsletter fall by the wayside while I was in school and I want to start sending that out again.

I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I hope everyone reading this joins me in having a productive, prosperous, and fulfilling 2018!
blue morpho butterfly

Lost and Found Artwork, Part 2

kolanchoe watercolor painting
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Kolanchoe. Watercolor on 5 x 7 inch greeting card.
tulips watercolor painting
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Pink Tulips. Watercolor on 5 x 7 inch greeting card.
pink poppy watercolor
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Pink Poppy. Watercolor on a blank note card, 8.9 x 12.4 cm.
blue morpho butterfly
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Blue Morpho. Watercolor and white gel pen on a blank note card, 8.9 x 12.4 cm.

These are some of the blank greeting cards that I painted over the past year. I had a recipient for each of these in mind when I painted the cards, but it is a goal of mine in the upcoming year to paint a few of these ahead of time. I would also like to get some images printed on cards as well because while I like sending cards with my artwork on them, it is not always feasible or desirable to send original art. I also would like to find a replacement watercolor greeting card for the Strathmore brand that I currently use. I’m not entirely happy with the paper as it seems to give me uneven washes and I have a hard time lifting color.

mexican pond painting

Painting from Other People’s Travel Photos

mexican pond painting
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Exotic Swimming Hole. Ink, watercolor, and Inktense colored pencils, 7 x 5 inches.

A friend of mine took a trip to Mexico a few years ago and gave me permission to make a painting from one of his snapshots. I have been planning to make this little painting for ages now, but never got to it until now. I haven’t traveled in the past several years, but someday I would like to visit some beautiful locations and make some paintings like this in person.

I used a Pigma FB brush pen and went over it with juicy watercolor and some Inktense colored pencils. I removed all the people and buildings from the picture because I wanted a more peaceful and natural looking scene. This little painting was a lot of fun!

crocus watercolor sketch

Minimalist Art Supplies

crocus watercolor sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Crocus Vernus (5/12/2017). Watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.
A few weeks ago I came across this blog post about how to implement a minimalist strategy with art and crafts supplies. Some of the author’s opinions are a little extreme and I prefer high quality materials even for sketchbook work. That said, so many people out there have a problem with collecting art supplies and she definitely has some good points. I also have realized how much I have veered off track from my minimalist roots. Going through nursing school is tough (I’m halfway done with the program!) and I have definitely used art supply purchases as a reward for getting through school in one piece.

At this point, I have plenty of interesting supplies to play with and I’m going to focus on using them to their full extent. The biggest thing that has helped me maintain control is to decline purchasing supplies that do not relate to my chosen media. Right now I only work in watercolor, pencil, and ink. Until I have a bigger studio space, I have decided not to pursue acrylic, pastel, oils, printmaking, etc. It’s not that I don’t have an interest in experimenting with other media; it’s more of a practical way to stay focused. For the rest of the year, I am going to make a concerted effort to stay out of art supply stores and use up what I have. I do have some new supplies that I have not finished experimenting with yet, so stay tuned for some future blog posts about those.

watercolor landscape painting

Twitter Art Exhibit: Stratford-upon-Avon

watercolor landscape painting
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, The Wachusett Reservoir. Watercolor, 3 x 5 inches on a 4 x 6 inch card.
This morning, I mailed my submission to Stratford-upon-Avon, UK for the seventh Twitter Art Exhibit. The organization that is benefiting from the show is Molly Olly’s Wishes, which supports terminally ill children and their families. Over the years, I have really enjoyed participating in the project, as it has given me a feeling of being a part of something greater than myself. I hope to continue the tradition in the future.

About the painting:

I based this watercolor sketch from a snapshot I took this past July from a hilltop at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. It shows the Wachusett Reservoir and Wachusett Mountain/Mount Wachusett in the background. In 1842, Henry David Thoreau traveled from Concord to Mount Wachusett on foot over four days and wrote about it in his essay, A Walk to Wachusett. It’s a really interesting read, especially his comments on the Worcester accent, which apparently was a thing even back then.

winter house painting

White Christmas at the Château

winter house painting
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, White Christmas at the Château. Watercolor and white gouache, 8 x 8 inches.

Recently I got the chance to work on some album artwork for my good friend Robert Louis. He just released his brand new collection of instrumental jazzy Christmas songs, A Robert Louis Christmas. I’ve been playing it in the background and wishing for the semester break.

This was a fun and challenging painting to make with all the architecture, snow and monochromatic values. I love winter scenes!

Check out Robert Louis on facebook, listen for free on SoundCloud, or download the album on cdbaby.

aechmea fasciata painting

Selection of Pink Watercolor Flowers

Thanks to my membership at the botanic garden (and multiple visits over the summer), I now have a huge collection of snapshots of beautiful, showy, and unusual (to me) flowers to paint. Today I’m taking a look back at some pink watercolor flowers that I painted this past August in my large moleskine sketchbook. I spent quite a bit of time painting these—on paper that isn’t even intended for watercolor. It’s almost a shame that I didn’t use proper watercolor paper, but I think that the fact that it was in my sketchbook helped me to relax and enjoy myself more than I would have otherwise.

aechmea fasciata painting
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Aechmea fasciata. Graphite and watercolor in large moleskine.
watercolor hibiscus
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Hibiscus in strong lighting. Graphite and watercolor in large moleskine.

sleeping dogs painting

Sleeping Pups

sleeping dogs painting
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Sleeping Pups. Colored pencil over watercolor, 9 x 12 inches.
This is my most recent project—my first pet portrait commission. I originally was planning on painting it all in watercolor, but then decided to add colored pencil to give it some more texture. I also changed the color of the dog bed from seafoam green, cream and brown to Prussian Blue. I think the blue makes the dog’s fur “pop” a lot more against the background.

I’m glad I tackled this project, but it wasn’t what I would consider a relaxing painting to make. Still, I did find it rewarding when the owner was so pleased. Now, I am going to get back to a few projects of my own.