Return of the Light. Lessons from the Eclipse.

I¬†don’t mean to wax poetic about the waxing moon, but I just wanted to share a little moon moment.
One quick glimpse at social media and the flurry of blurry photos of light blobs on black backgrounds and you know that there was some sort of lunar event.
There was also ample warning leading up to the eclipse that made sure we all knew that there was yet another once-in-a-lifetime sight to see in the sky.
But imagine life before technology.
Imagine a time when instead of our little glowing phone screens, the only thing to light our night was that big comforting ball of cheese in the sky.
Imagine how terrifying it would have been when that big ole’ cheese-ball suddenly and unexpectedly turned an ominous shade of crimson, and we had no idea why — and we wondered if it was the end of the world.
Now we’ve got google and iflscience to light our way and explain these mysteries to us, so it¬†isn’t¬†scary. We know our beloved cheeseball is safe and sound¬†and playing hide and seek in our shadow — it will be right back and as bright and beautiful as it ever was.
If only all of life was that simple.
For me, this eclipse was a little reminder lesson about when we enter the dark moments in our lives. We have no control, and we¬†don’t¬†know if the light will ever¬†return.
We don’t have a magical website that explains the reasons behind the dark and scary moments in our lives –we don’t know how long they will last. We don’t have that same reassurance that like the eclipse, it is natural and normal and everything is going to be alright. We don’t know for sure that it is¬†not the end of the world until we start to see the return of the light.
Above is the picture I took as the September 2015 Blood Moon eclipse event was coming to a close. The moon was just beginning to free itself from the darkness. 
Don’t worry ’bout a thing, because every little thing is gonna be alright.

It is the return of the light.
Hang in there…¬†

I took this picture (above) of a ‘supermoon’ in its full glory a year or two ago.

Eagle Painting Tutorial with Sneetches on Beaches!

All too often I have seen artists that take themselves far too seriously. 

I imagine these people as Star-Bellied-Sneetches (by Dr. Seuss) with their Sneetch snoots pointed up in the air as they snort and guffaw at art or artists that they don’t think are artsy fartsy enough, or whatever it is that snooty-snoots look down upon.

I’m not going to put either of us through any of that in this article. 

Sit back and relax — let your guard down — this is a pretension free zone where I am going share my mysterious, highly classified art secrets how I made some art stuff. 

This is a digital painting, and despite what some of the snooty-snoots whisper to one another at their exclusive star bellied parties, digital painting is every bit as valid an art form as traditional paint on canvas.

Some people seem to think that digital painting is manipulating a photo in some way — or some sort of magical computer generated hocus pocus. It’s not.

It is a nearly identical process to painting on canvas — it is using the same skills that are developed over a lifetime of experience and practice. 

One great difference is that it’s FREE! FREE canvas and FREE paint! Starving artists rejoice! We can finally paint whatever we want without plunking down 95 bucks for one measly itsy bitsy tube of Cobalt Blue!

Enough of my ranting — on to the show!

Before we start, lets look at the brushes I used for this painting. This is a digital painting, and the ‘brushes’ are just the shape of the pointy-thingy that you paint with.

I used the basic brushes. One with a hard edge and one with a soft edge (top picture).

The brush below that is the one I use for moving the ‘wet’ paint around and blending work (we’ll get into that later).

1. On it’s own layer (separate from the background) — I drew the rough shapes. 

This is quick and rough and just for basic placement, but it really makes the painting take form right away.

Sometimes I practically close my eyes so that I am looking through my eyelashes — this makes it impossible to see the details so it forces me to focus on basic shape and form without concerning myself with anything else — it also lets me take a micro-nap so that I am well rested for the steps ahead (hardy-har-har).

2. More blocking in shapes, but a bit more refined, and bringing in more colors. 

When painting a living creature, I find it best to refine the eye as quickly as possible because that is the most important part of the face and it’s a great anchor to work around. 

It also causes the subject to magically come to life just like placing the magician’s top hat on Frosty the Snowman. Happy… Birthday!

This stage is bold and quick as well — squiggly scribbles and bright un-blended color everywhere with a hard edged round brush.

3.Now it’s time to do some real painting,blending, shaping and contouring using the paint laid on in the last step.

This stage is like gliding your paintbrush through the wet paint on a canvas.

I used the wet media blending brush (pictured below) for making soft wet painterly strokes (bye bye squiggly lines).

Here is an example of one stroke through solid color. 

See how it moves the color like gliding a paint brush through a blob of wet paint on the canvas? 

This is a wet media brush (on smudge) with strength set at about 50 percent.

4. Then back to the paint brush again, adding in more colors and washes of color while blending on the fly.

More and more refining, adding details, adding more color.

Back and forth painting and blending, over and over, adding color and working with the ‘wet’ paint.

5. Usually I am working on the background or at least laying down the main color for the background while I am painting on another layer. 

Unfortunately I did not capture that in these screen shots. 

I don’t know why I thought the steps would be clearer for a tutorial with the background removed — especially when the background color and the subject have to live together in the same space with the same light source.

So, contrary to the pictures, I do not recommend working on the background layer after the fact. It should be (and was) created hand in hand but on a separate layer.

Also, I do not recommend inviting a large bird of prey into your art studio, asking him to pose for a portrait and then foolishly slipping a bald joke into your polite banter. You can see in his eyes just how angry this made him. Stick to light conversation about the weather — and jokes about ducks. Eagles LOVE duck jokes.

There is always lots of work(and fun!) in refining the details, painting and accentuating the light and shadows, adding unexpected pops of color.

This is truly the most satisfying part of the process for me.

Details like feather edges are a pleasure when working on a separate layer.

You can glide the brush through the ‘wet’ paint to create wispy feather shapes and edges, pushing and pulling the color without fear of ruining the background.

That about sums it up. 

This tutorial is just a basic overview of one process used by one artist on one painting.

Take this information for what it is worth. 

Please don’t ever compare your art or your skill level to other artists, and don’t ever let those with ‘stars upon thars’ make you feel like you are less than you are.

You are unique and beautiful. Put a piece of yourself on canvas and let it shine — If all else fails just paint a star on your belly.

And now for some shameless self promotion!

If you’d like to own a print of this eagle painting, or you’d like this image on a mouse pad, postage stamps, collector plate, mug or tons of other awesome and easily customized goodies, click the links below for my Fine Art America page as well as my Zazzle shop.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a GREAT Day!

Sell Art Online

Superbowl Party!

So, here’s an embarrassing confession. Up until a year or so ago, I had NO idea that people celebrate Superbowl Sunday!¬†

I have made it my mission to celebrate every moment, so to discover a new ‘holiday’ was a jackpot for me!

Last year was our first Superbowl Party. All we knew was that guacamole was the official snack of the Superbowl, so we bought guacamole and seven layer dip and called it a day.

This year I amped it up a little bit. I decorated! 

I imagine that the way I decorated is unusual and odd to most Рprobably because I know NOTHING about football, or Superbowl parties, or any of the teams playing. 

I just looked at all of it from an artist and decorators point of view. A nice green color astro-turf, a nice brown color for the football. Then I assumed there must be some sort of trophies involved so I brought out the silver and twinkle lights for some razzle dazzle.

This is probably the girliest football party ever, but I don’t mind.

I know the standard fare for these parties is usually things like chicken wings and beer and other manly options that involve meat and alcohol, but again I went a different direction.

To start with, we made COOKIES shaped like footballs!

..and Coco Krispy Treats shaped like footballs!

..and Chicken salad¬†with Montreal Chicken Seasoning¬†on Croissant sandwiches …that vaguely in the shape of footballs!

For dinner we feasted on Hot Dogs, Steakhouse seasoned baked beans, and our traditional family recipe for Macaroni Salad and Potato Salad – always a crowd pleaser (all of which was gobbled up before I could even think of pulling out the camera).

We watched the half time show, on the couch with warm cuddly blankets while munching on hot buttered popcorn and drinking hot coco with mini marshmallows left over from the coco krispy treat ingredients. 

We even tried watching some of the game, and Peggo cried during the ‘like a girl’ commercial. What a girl! hee hee

There are about a million Superbowl Party ideas that floated around my head that I just never got around to completing in time.

My avocados did not ripen in time so my guacamole dreams were dashed! I was going to spread the guacamole in a sheet pan and pipe on the yard-lines and numbers in sour cream. 

The obstinate avocados also put an end to any hopes of a respectable seven layer dip.

Oh well, there is always next year!

As much as I’d like to say we spent the whole day celebrating Superbowl Sunday, I have to admit that we spent a good part of the day laughing hysterically as we worked on a project for tomorrow’s big event, Groundhog Day! Check back tomorrow to see what sort of mischief we got into!

Here is a sneak peek  at what we were working on that gave us a serious case of the Groundhog Day giggles.


Disney Haunted Mansion Painting in Progress

It’s time for a peek into the artist’s studio!

Here’s what I am working on right now… It’s pretty much finished… but I need to get away from it for a while and see it with fresh eyes..

I love Disney, I love Halloween..

Put ’em both together and this is what comes out…

Free Halloween Printable and Tutorial

Halloween is Creeping in…and creatures are stirring in the shadows…

If you would like to have some of the most well mannered mice in your house for Halloween, look no further.

  • Just print the solid black mouse printable below on card stock or other thick paper 
  • cut them out 
  • stick them to the risers on your staircase with circles  of tape on the back

or if you want to save printer ink and you have construction paper on hand, you can do what I did and print just the red outline printable on regular printer paper and use it to cut your mice out of black construction paper.

TIP! If you want to cut several sheets at a time, line them up in a stack and staple them in multiple places (outside of the mouse shapes) before cutting. Then your stack wont shift as you cut and you will get accurate cuts all the way through on detailed areas like tails and nosies and toesies!  Templates Below!

Use this template (above) if you are printing on light colored card stock!
Use this template (above) if you’ll be using black paper!
Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!!

Confounding Confection

Candy Crush Chocolate –
Far more evil than Devils Food.
Does your cruelty know no bounds?

The game Candy Crush has caused me to utter a phrase so foreign and false that it feels like blasphemy – a phrase so profoundly opposed to everything that I have ever known to be true:
“I hate chocolate”
I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Peachy Keen Photography

I have always wanted to be one of those artsy girls who never goes anywhere without her camera and is always digging in and snapping amazing shots of both once in a lifetime photography moments as well as quirky unique ways of looking at mundane everyday things.

I enjoy seeing photography that truly represents the inner workings of the photographer’s mind when all of the pictures are  displayed together in a body of work.

I really appreciate when a photographer is able to somehow let you look at life through a new set of eyes and communicate something to you  that just makes something in your mind click into place, and forces a miraculous shift in perception, or a deep and spiritual, life altering shift in consciousness.

I want to do this.

I realize I have set some lofty goals for myself, but I feel I am up to the challenge. I’ve already got my first finished piece done, and I am ready to share it with the world.

Prepare to have your mind blown.


Yeah, so? It’s a peach that looks like a butt.

Let me tell you there is nothing like the wave of pride that washes over you when you place your name and copyright symbol on a high quality piece that really speaks to who you are as an artist and a person.