one woman's view into a world of creativity

Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

TOMS Style Your Sole

Recently the Sustainability Stewards, TERRA, and student government at the College of Idaho worked together to bring us the event TOMS Style Your Sole.  In case you’re unfamiliar, with TOMS, it’s a shoe company dedicated to sustainable materials, and for each pair of shoes they sell, they give a free pair of shoes to barefoot children in developing countries.  So buying a pair of TOMS shoes is not only a way of procuring fashionable, comfortable, eco-friendly shoes, they’re also guaranteeing that you’re helping someone in need.

The idea of the Style Your Sole event is to buy basic, plain white TOMS and then decorate them with your own signature style.  When groups or organizations do this, they’re ensuring that many pairs of shoes will be donated.  This spring the College of Idaho held a Style Your Sole event.  I bought a pair of white TOMS to decorate.  I made it my first art project of the summer to decorate them with my interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  Now I have a pair of comfortable shoes that convey my love of art to anyone who sees them.


Owl with an Edge

The following painting is a project I did for my Little Sister of KKG.  At the time I made it, I couldn’t make this post for fear the surprise would be ruined.  Now that the cat’s out of the bag and I have some time on my hands, I’m free to share it with you.

The owl is the symbolic creature of KKG.  Red is my Little’s favorite color.  So, with black to evoke night, I painted this barn owl in black, white and red.  It’s painted on stretched canvas with acrylic paint, and it took surprisingly little time.  I’m guessing under eight hours, though I wasn’t keeping track.

The nature of the red paint gives it a violent look, though I was trying to avoid this connotation.  I hoped to evoke more of a serene and mysterious feeling.  I’m happy with the finished product, though I struggled to get the feet right.  I guess bird feet are just always awkward. 😛

I also scratched into the wet paint of the background, trying out a technique I learned from a classmate.  I think it adds a modern edge to the painting.

The Welder

Here’s another project I neglected to post this summer.  I was commissioned to do some artwork to hang on the door of a local repair shop.  After some discussion I settled on the image of a hunched-over welder lit with eerie light by the sparks of his welding arc.  I painted the image with acrylic paint and enamels on a large sheet of plexiglass.  It took me a long time to complete it, but I’m quite satisfied with the end result.

The Welder

The Welder

The Welder

The Palette As Art

Painter’s palettes are typically viewed as just tools used to create a painting.  But what if we turn around and look at the palette itself as a piece of art?  Think of it as a canvas in a different form.  Does it not transform with the application of paint, developing under the artist’s hand, just as a painting does?

I particularly am fascinated by this state of transformation because I leave the paint on my palette to dry, instead of washing it off.  I find it more convenient to peel it off once sufficiently thick layers have accumulated.  So my palettes can go for a long period of time, transforming in colors and layers to reflect whatever I’m working on.  These mountains of dried paint can create some really beautiful abstract images.

When I finally do decide to peel off the paint, the results can be surprising.  Sometimes the unseen underside of the paint layers is just as intriguing as the outer, visible layer.  The waves of color underneath reveal the progression of my paintings, going back in time to show the very first layers I put down.

Because I view my palettes as stand alone art I have hung them on my dorm room wall.  This is a functional way of storing them within easy reach while also displaying them as decorations with a personal touch.

A New (School) Year

For those mysterious beings called “followers” who supposedly read my blog, this summer was a disappointment.  But life is unpredictable.  Wait, scratch that.  The one predictable element of my life is that I’m always BUSY!  Work pretty much overloaded me towards the end of the summer, which accounts for the measly one post I made in August.

But now I’m back at school, and although I’ll remain ridiculously busy, I do hope to at least punch out a few artsy blog posts now and then.  One of the exciting aspects of this year at school (I’m a Junior – eep!) is that I’m taking an advanced studies painting class.  The way this works is I have to create a contract vaguely detailing what I plan to do for the twelve weeks of this term.  I have to pursue projects related to some central theme, and then twice a week I meet with other individuals in the same boat to share my work and theirs and share words of critique wisdom.  At first this was debilitating freeing, because I always have teachers to tell me what to do.  And suddenly I didn’t.  For twelve weeks.  I had absolutely no idea of what to do.  But eventually, after much racking of the brain and a meeting with my professor, I decided to paint landscapes.  I love to draw/paint things from nature, such as flowers and animals, so this was like an extension of that but from more of a macro view.  I’ve actually done very few landscapes.  So I’ll be painting in my faithful acrylics as well as experimenting with new oil paints and water-soluble oil paints, both of which I’ve never tried before.  It’s sure to be an eye-opening experience.  To liven up the experience I plan to paint various landscapes from around where I grew up, ones important to me.  I’ll also try reworking a few prior paintings, paint in a more stylized approach, work in different sizes of canvas, and limit myself with a few color schemes.  So I’ll try to keep anyone reading updated with occasional posts about my progress.  So until then, cheers!

ΚΚΓ Coat of Arms

Remember how in my painted door post I mentioned I wasn’t in a sorority?  Funny story, I am now.  In a whirlwind of decisions this spring I decided to pledge Kappa Kappa Gamma and I am now an official member.  One of the aspects of being a new member is the assignment of a Big Sister.  I love my Big Sister very much, and in April I embarked on a gift project for her.

It began in a conversation where she expressed an admiration for the Kappa Kappa Gamma coat of arms.  She very much liked the design, and felt it was very classy.  When I heard this my mind connected to a previous conversation where she said something to the effect of: “I can’t wait to see what Kappa inspired art projects you come up with.”  This was like a creative challenge to me, so when I learned of my Big’s appreciation for our coat of arms I decided to make one into a gift for her. 


So I started to look at the coat of arms, to familiarize myself with its design.  It struck me as rather flat.  Don’t get me wrong, I love our coat of arms, but the basic print uses solid colors (devoid of value) and outlines, both of which flatten drawings.  I wanted to give it a little pizazz.  I brainstormed ways to capture and highlight its classiness:  silver and gold leaf, glitter, swarovsky crystals, shading, three-dimensionality,  swirling curlicues, etc. 

I decided to experiment with three-dimensionality, a style I’ve worked with in the past.  In addition to introducing value, I would literally add depth to the seal with a glue-gun and caulking-gun.  First I sketched out the design.  Then I selectively applied glue to accentuate edges and applied caulk to make the banner-like swirls at the top stand out.  I also decided to make the key in the middle stand out, and created one out of hot glue.  If I’d had a miniature key available, I could have glued that on instead.

Here you can see where the glue and caulk elements pop out at the viewer.

 After I finished adding the 3D elements I painted in the colors, taking care to add value where necessary for a deeper look that also suggests rich silk and satin fabrics. Once the main paints were on, I added some gold paint on the key, the owl, and the letters.  I admit I took a little artistic license with the letters, which are silver in the original coat of arms.  I felt the gold balanced out the other areas and added to the elegance.  To further heighten the luxuriance, I added a Swarovsky crystal to the neck of the key and smaller crystals to the owl’s eyes.

The coat of arms of Kappa Kappa Gamma

I’m very pleased with the final result, and the look on my Big Sister’s face when she received her gift was priceless.  She had no idea what creative mischief I had been up to.

Nail Polish

I bought ten bottles of nail polish this week.  I know, it’s a bit of a splurge, but after this week I deserve it (and they were on sale for super cheap).  Plus I’ve been waiting a long time to expand my collection, so it’s not like I do this all the time.  I love nail polish, and I have an extensive collection – forty-seven bottles.  Yup, that’s a lot of nail polish.  But as an artist, I find the colors incredibly inspiring.  Having a plethora of color options is important. (You needn’t worry, most of these I’ve collected as gifts through the years. Some of them are quite ancient.)


My collection prior to the new additions.

I think my fascination with nail polish is closely tied to my artistic inclination and visual predominance.  I love nail polish because it’s a socially acceptable form of painting on myself.  It’s a form of decoration that is temporary – I can change it as often as I wish. Having a spectrum of nail polish allows me plenty of options for every occasion.  Every color carries a different mood, and owning many choices allows me to mix and match for even more variety!


I think at this point I own all of the major colors.  Because I’m admittedly a bit OCD I enjoy sorting my collection according to color.  The best challenge is to try to line up every bottle in a color spectrum from one end to the other, fading from one color to the next as smoothly as possible.  It looks pretty neat when I succeed.


This potential for color spectrum inspired a recent project in an art class.  The assignment was to create a color wheel prior to exploring color theory.  Naturally my nail polish collection sprang to mind.  I went home and created a nail polish color wheel for reference, substituting bottles where I didn’t have the right hue.


As I created the reference shot and sketched my initial color wheel, I was intrigued by the wide variety of bottle shapes/styles.  Some where round while others square, rectangular or triangular.  Some had sharp angles while others gently curved with smooth planar transitions.  Some bottles were stubby while others were tall.  There were white caps, black caps, gray caps and chrome caps.  The caps varied in height and circumference, some completely vertical while others widened toward the base.  Our schema of a nail polish bottle tends to be pretty simple, but when you start to analyze their designs you realize how different each brand is!


In my nail polish color wheel I incorporated these bottle design differences, making them different shapes and sizes.  The innermost bottles, the primary colors, I left without caps so that their “polish” might spill inward and run together.  The secondary color bottles I included caps on, and made their caps slightly darker than those on the tertiary bottles, to subtly define the different tiers.

 Because the focus of the project was on color, not value, I limited my use of shading, and instead gave the bottles faint highlights of white paint and shadows of black paint.  I kept the lines crisp and clean, so as to barely hint at a glossy glass bottle.


A nail polish inspired color wheel. Unfortunately my camera was unable to faithfully capture the darker colors. The blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet don't show well in this photo.

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