Category: Art

These posts focus on my artwork and adventures in participating in art and craft festivals in the Atlanta, GA area. I love dabbling in a range of mediums including mixed media, encaustic, oil paint, watercolor, acrylic, glass fusing, and ceramics.

While my main focus is currently one mixed media encaustic, it doesn’t stop me from exploring new materials and techniques. As an art teachers I have the opportunity to test out a variety of materials alongside my students. I will share these experiences in the classroom on my blog as well as the ones in my studio.

Interested in art education and lessons? Check out my posts about them here.

Teaching Watercolor to High Schoolers (when you don’t know how)

 

Every year I teach a landscape, architecture watercolor painting to my advanced level high school art students. The first year I taught it, I had to first teach myself how to use watercolors. Read how I did it in this post and check out a link to my lesson plan and resources.

A few years ago I began teaching a painting class, after taking a a three year break to focus on ceramics and sculpture. While I loved teaching 3D art, I was excited to move back to the two dimensional world. I always loved painting. and couldn’t wait to teach a course that focused on it. However, in order to teach a well rounded painting course I knew I would have to teach watercolor. And I hated watercolor.

My mom is an amazing watercolorist. Not only was she an amazing watercolorist, she was also an amazing portrait artist. Two skills that I am not naturally gifted at. Growing up I remember a number of times when my mom attempted to teach me watercolor techniques. Despite her many tips and suggestions, I was impatient and couldn’t wrap my head around the need to plan ahead and work in layers.

At the point when I took over the painting and advanced 2D courses, and realized I would have to teach an advanced level watercolor project, I had yet to create a successful watercolor painting. It was time. I was going to have to learn to properly paint with watercolors, because I was about to have to teach it.

How to paint a path using watercolor paints.

I started with the basics. I needed to plan ahead and pace myself. I knew from experience if you went too heavy too quick you could never get back to whites and lighter colors. Watercolor is about glazing, adding thin layers on top of each other, and letting the layers dry in between, to create detail, depth, and build in shadows.

I began doing watercolor testers. First, just blobs of wet on wet, dry brush, and adding other material such as salt. I watched YouTube videos and checked out a few watercolor books. Next, I began combining the techniques to create simple landscapes. The above path started with wet watercolor, allowing the first layer to dry, then adding in dark shades. I left lighter areas untouched, and tried not to go too heavy too quick. The final layers involved adding the detail such as the grass. I didn’t shy away from incorporating other colors, such as blue and purple, into the shadows.

How to paint a floral bush with watercolor paint.

I continued to work with combining techniques, planning ahead, and building my color in layers. I had my mom once again show me her techniques, and began thinking and applying them in a different way than I had before. I realized at heart, I am an oil painter. I like to throw down color, mix it together, and cover up mistakes as a I go. You don’t have the luxury of that with watercolor. You must plan ahead. You must work slow. You must think highlights vs. shadows before you lay them down. I had to change the way I thought about painting in order to successfully complete a watercolor.

For the example above I tested wet on wet by wetting my paper first, then adding green, yellow, and blue watercolor. I allowed the first layer to dry, then added brown and more blue to push my shadows and value. I then used a mostly dry brush and painted in a floral shape.

The first steps in watercolor painting, doing a base sketch and inking.

Once I felt confident in the watercolor techniques I was testing, I decided it was time to start my project example. The assignment was for my Advanced 2D art class, the last step before AP Art. They had to select a part of our school’s campus to turn into a watercolor painting. They could go inside, outside, it was up to them, but it had to have some sort of architectural feature in it. This assignment forced them to go out and take pictures to work from, making them consider angles, framing, and composition. It required them to focus on perspective and lines, with the architectural element. And it also focused on honing their watercolor techniques to create a realistic image.

Although they were focusing on a section of the school, I encouraged them to think about what part of the school was important to them. Where was their favorite class? Where did they spend the most time? What space best reflected their view of the school? While I focused on our school for this project, it’s also a great opportunity to have students think personally, and bring in a photograph of a place that is important to them.

For my example, I did not focus on a section of the school. Instead, I opted to kill two birds with one stone, complete an example and create a wedding present for my brother-in-law and his wife. I chose an image of their wedding venue, a beautiful southern house called Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

There are two ways I like to do my examples. The first, is complete them before my class starts the assignment to make sure I like it and it will be successful. The other way is to do it along with them. I chose option B for this project, which was scary since I was not confident in my watercolor ability. The benefit of working on my painting along with my students is I can tell them what issues I come across as I work through them. It also allows me to continue demonstrating techniques throughout the project. And although I wasn’t very confident in my watercolor painting abilities, it showed them that I could do it. I kept telling them if I could do it, they absolutely could as well.

Before I introduced the watercolor project, I completed my base drawing. I used pencil, then went ahead and traced over the lines using a waterproof pen. I kept the ink lines tight in sections I knew would be in full view, and loosened up in the areas that would have foliage overlapping it. I at least wanted to base drawing to be complete, so when I introduced the project I could go ahead and demonstrate some watercolor techniques.

A partially finished watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

Next, I began painting. First of all, I apologize for the huge jump from zero paint to 75% complete. I always intend to photograph throughout the process, but I often get caught up in what I am doing. I started with the sky, using wet on wet and blotting out the clouds. Next, I went into the roof and walls of the building using a combination of wet on wet, dry brush, and adding salt for texture. I then continued adding details and blocking out color for the background.

As I continued to add detail I slowly built up the shadows and was very careful not to go too dark too quick. I constantly told my students they could always go darker, but couldn’t go lighter. They were going to paint the painting at least four times through the layering technique.

A watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.

The final touches came with the trees and bushes that overlapped the front of the building and were the darkest color. I then went back in with pen and added more lines as needed.

I was very pleased with the final product and with myself for pushing out of my comfort zone by tackling a medium I had never liked before. Since this painting was completed, I have done a number of other landscape and architecture watercolor paintings. I have a new found love for it, and although it will never be my first choice, it isn’t one I will shy away from anymore.

A framed watercolor painting of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.I matted and framed the painting for them as a Christmas gift. I hope they cherish is for years to come.

My students’ painting also turned out beautifully. I love putting the campus painting on display in the school. It gives the faculty, administrators, and student body a chance to see their school in a different light. It’s always interesting to see what part of the school they choose to focus on.

Megan and Vince were married in gardens right next to the plantation home. It was beautiful with the Spanish moss and pond as a backdrop to the beautiful wedding party, bride, and groom. The reception took place on the porch of the house. It was an amazing day from start to finish.

A photograph at the pier in Folley Beach, SC

This was a picture of my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and myself during the wedding weekend. It was so much fun celebrating with the Panetta family and witnessing Vince and Megan’s commitment to each other. Nick and I also announced the coming of our first baby the same weekend, who is now a two year old wild man Cooper.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! You can find the lesson plan and all the resources I use to teach this watercolor project at my TPT store here. I have also created watercolor how to posters here and here. Also check out different ways I use watercolor in my visual journal here and here. Help me spread the word by sharing this post on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Every year I teach a landscape, architecture watercolor painting to my advanced level high school art students. The first year I taught it, I had to first teach myself how to use watercolors. Read how I did it in this post and check out a link to my lesson plan and resources.

Teachers Pay Teachers: Semester Long Painting Curriculum and Yearlong Advanced Art Curriculum

I have been posting a lot about Teachers Pay Teachers lately, but lately TPT has been my life. For another summer in a row, I have spent all summer planning, typing, and compiling lesson plans, PowerPoints, worksheets, and resources into new TPT products. Last year, my August and September earnings funded a ten day trip that took my hubs and I to Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam. This year, my August earnings have more than doubled, and my hard earned money is being put into our front yard landscaping, replacing molding around windows, and repairing our roof. Although these are less fun items than a European vacation, they are all in preparation for our next bundle of joy, baby girl Panetta, due November 27th. These things have all been possible because I decided to start putting a few of my lesson plans on a teaching website.


One major goal I have for myself is to create an entire high school art (adaptable to middle school art) curriculum. This would include yearlong and semester long curriculums for Introduction to Art, Painting, Drawing, Advanced 2D Design, Introduction to Sculpture and Ceramics, Sculpture and Ceramics II, Advanced 3D Design, and Advanced Placement Art. Last summer, I compiled my yearlong and semester long lessons for Introduction to Art. It has been my biggest seller the last year. This summer I was able to compile my semester long painting curriculum and my advanced 2D art (which is also adaptable for AP Art breadth) curriculums. They are both doing well, and I am getting a lot of great feedback. I am halfway through my Introduction to Sculpture and Ceramics curriculum, and can’t wait to tie everything up in a nice bow and get it posted to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I hope by this time next year my high school art curriculum will be complete, and I will be onto my next TPT task.

My painting curriculum includes:

-Semester long timeline
-Supply list
-Syllabus
-Get to Know you handout
-10 student handouts
-1 teacher aid handouts
-2 technology tie activities
-9 lesson plans
-12 PowerPoints
-6 rubrics
-5 grading checklists
-5 critique sheets

The lessons cover the three main types of paint: watercolor, acrylic, and oil (oil can be substituted for art teachers on a budget), as well as mixed media with the visual journal project I incorporate in every class.

With this curriculum students create a sketchbook, full of painting techniques, testers, and reference material, as well as 5 take home level paintings, and a visual journal book. With every curriculum bundle I include a timeline, so you know what to teach when and how long it will take, as well as a supply list.

My Advanced 2D Design art curriculum includes:

In all this art unit includes:
-Course Syllabus
-Tell Me About You worksheet
-Yearlong timeline
-Supply list for all 14 projects
-2017 August-December calendar for AP breadth adaption
-14 completed projects
-10 Lesson plans
-9 PowerPoints
-4 handouts
-2 printable posters
-9 sketchbook handouts
-8 critique sheets
-10 project rubrics

This class is a full year course and is the last art class before students take Advanced Placement (AP) Art. It helps prepare them for the rigor of AP and they create work that is AP quality they can use in their portfolio. They create artwork using a range of materials: pencil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic paint, oil paint, and mixed media, and participate in many group discussion and critiques. This curriculum also includes a timeline to adapt this to a semester long course, to fulfill the AP Art breadth section of the portfolio. I also have a printable 2017-2018 calendar as a resources for AP Art students.

I am really proud of all the work I have put into my TPT store, and even more proud when my work literally pays off. I you haven’t yet, check out all the amazing things TPT sellers have to offer! Support a fellow educator and get so many great resources for your classroom.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about art, TPT, crafting, and all things creating on your preferred social media site. Thanks for stopping by!

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Encaustic Art: A 36″x60″ Commission

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I created this 12″x24″ boat encaustic a few years back. It was one of the first that I tried carving into the layers of melted and hardened wax to pull out an image. I loved how the boat blended into the background yet popped against the colored wax painted around it. This piece has traveled with me to many art shows and is my most favorited piece on my Etsy shop.

In the spring I was contacted through Etsy by a woman interested in the piece. We went back and forth on price negotiations, and I thought the day had come for me to part with my little boat. I was very surprised when Amber wrote me again requesting quotes for a larger version of the piece. I was intrigued by the prospect, I always love a challenge, and it would be interesting to see how it would translate on a larger scale. I sent back a range of prices and sizes, with the largest size at 36″x60.” When setting up commissions I always assume the buyer will fall somewhere in the middle, so I was surprised when Amber jumped on the 36″x60″ size. I was thrilled at first, then slightly scared. Encaustic can be a difficult medium to work with, especially on a large scale, and this was by far the largest size I had ever tackled. But once the wood panel arrived, I was ready to go.

Layer 1

I started with a bare wood panel. When working with encaustic you must work on a rigid surface, such as wood, to prevent the wax from flexing and inevitably cracking. The first step was to coat the entire panel in layers of blue wax and fuse the layers by heating it up with a heat gun.

Layer 2

Once the panel had a good base layer I covered up the blue with thin, art paper. While it is shocking see all the beautiful blue covered up, once I add and fuse another layer of wax the paper ends up being absorbed into the wax and showing a lot of the layer below.

Layer 3

After the paper was attached I added a thick coat of encaustic medium, a clear wax. This was by far the most challenging step of the process. With every new layer I painted on, I had to fuse it with the layers beneath, while making sure air bubbles were smoothed out. The difficult part of working so large is the wax hardens fairly quickly. I would heat one section, move to another, and before I could get the two sections to blend together one would already be hard. It took many layers and a lot of fusing in order to get a solid, smooth layer.

After the encaustic medium was added I loosely painted natural white wax on top and fused it to create a smokey, hazy layer.

Layer 4

While it was still difficult to get a smooth, even look, it was much easier to work with the white since I had well fused and smooth layers beneath.

Layer 4 detail

Once I was satisfied with the general look of the background I carved the boat shape into the layers of wax using a pointy tool that I scavenged from by hub’s tool box. I lightly marked out the shape before carving in the final lines. If I messed up it meant melting and re-smoothing the entire piece. I then pushed Payne’s Gray oil paint into the lines to make them pop.

Boat Progression

Once the white wax was melted into the piece I painted a repeating diamond pattern in the background using oil paint. It added another interesting layer and helped tie the layers together in the background.

After adding the diamond pattern I added the layers of blue to create the water beneath the boat and the layers of white and yellow to create the sky. I loved how immediately the boat popped. At this point Amber and I were e-mailing daily, hourly, as I worked on the final touches. I would send images, she would send feedback, and the piece was tweaked. While it is important for my vision to come across I think it’s just as important for the commissioner’s vision to also be represented. I love working with my clients to get their work of art just right.

Layer 7

I was so happy with the final product and felt incredibly accomplished to have finished such a large piece.

Finished Product

I loved both the similarities and differences between the mini and the macro versions of my boat. It was fun comparing them before the commissioned piece was packed up and shipped out.

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I was terrified as I packed it in many layers of foam and bubble wrap to be shipped from my little Atlanta, GA bungalow to the other corner of the United States, Seattle, WA. I eagerly awaited Amber’s reply when she received the piece. It is a very different experience seeing an encaustic in person. The layered look isn’t done justice through pictures, and I could only hoped she liked it in person as much as she did through the many photographs she had seen.

Encaustic Reveal

Amber was sweet enough to not only let me know when she received the piece, but she also photographed the process of she and her kids opening it up. I felt like I was there during the big reveal.

Hanging on the Wall

In addition to commissioning an almost 3x larger version of the original, Amber ended up also buying the original to give as a gift to a friend. I love that both my boats live near each other on the pacific coast.

I loved every minute of working with Amber and creating this work of art. She gave me the opportunity to put my encaustic abilities to the test, work larger than I ever had before, and see how one of my smaller pieces would translate to a large size. I hope for many more opportunities like this in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about all things art, encaustic, and made in the south by sharing on your social network site of choice. I would love to hear your comments about this piece and encaustics in general! Comment below or e-mail me at [email protected]

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Joining the Art and Craft Fair Circuit

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After a two years of collecting parts I finally have my outdoor booth set up ready to go. It’s officially June, and I have two outdoor fests under my belt with one more before the month closes out.

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Atlanta is not shy when it comes to hosting festivals, the latest addition is the Mac n’ Cheese fest, often with multiple festivals per weekend come spring and fall. This makes weekend planning difficult, but it allows me to have a variety of options when choosing which festivals to apply to and participate in.

Chastain Park Arts Festival was my introduction into the outdoor festival circuit. The weekend couldn’t have brought more perfect weather. It was low eighties, a light breeze, and a good continuous crowd. I was pleased with my profit earnings and the connections I made in the Atlanta art community.

Joining the festival circuit doesn’t just mean I have another venue to sell my art. It also means I get plugged into the art community. I have a much greater opportunity to meet likeminded and goal oriented people. I have the chance to build relationships, learn more about my craft, and be inspired by others. I love feeling like I am finally part of the community I have observed from the outside in for so many years.

Virginia Highlands Summerfest came next with an even better weekend, better foot traffic, much hotter days and a lesson in rain. I learned to place my oil paintings at the front of my booth, to save my encaustics from the direct sunlight (and potential melting) that inevitably pours in. I learned that if there is a chance of rain everything that sits on the ground should be placed on a raised surface. The later was a difficult lesson to learn when I opened my tent the next morning to deep puddles and a bag of ruined mats and prints.

Next up is Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival in just a week and a half. In between spending time with my family on Hilton Head Island, I am ordering new mats and prints, gluing paper to panels, and painting a new batch of fruit and veggies. I can’t wait to see what comes from this next festival and the break afterwards until my schedule fills up for the fall. Check out more about my new oil paintings below!

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When I first set up my booth to take pictures I realized my encaustics could melt if it was warm enough outside and they were in direct sunlight. I began to panic. After all I had just invested a lot of money for my set up. What would I do if I couldn’t display my product outside?

Version 2While teaching an idea hit me. My students had just started oil paint studies of food. I was itching to paint with oils on canvas again and started my own so I could work along with my kids. I loved getting back to the basics of just paint and I was pleased with the way my bell pepper and pomegranate turned out. I wanted to do more.

After thinking about it I decided these would be the perfect solution to my encaustic melting problem. If I moved around my artwork based on where the sun was hitting I could keep my encaustic out of the sun by displaying my oils in the sun.

Since my bell pepper and pomegranate studies I have completed blueberries, eggs, a cabbage, orange, cauliflower, garlic, mussel, oyster, and I am finishing up a kiwi, tomato, onion, and papaya. Each of these food studies are 6″x6.” I start with an underpainting, typically choosing the complementary color of the food I am painting for the background.

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After allowing the underpainting to dry I mark out the shape of the food and add some detail before applying my first layer of white to the background.

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I like to leave hints of the underpainting peeking through. Whether it’s along the edge of a bowl or in between eggs, I think it adds another interesting detail to the piece.

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I also pushed myself to loosen up my painting style by trying out palette knife painting. I started with portraits of my chickens Rachel, Thackary Binx, Sir Sylvia, and Linda. I loved the texture and the sense of movement the palette knife marks made.

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I decided to go even bigger than the 12×12 chicken portraits and I completed a 32″x32″ positive/negative space painting of the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

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I will post additional information about my upcoming festival, Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival, next week.

With sweet Cooper, my 13 new chicks, finishing up teaching for the year, and prepping for four festivals, I have had little time to update my blog. I hope to get back to posting weekly this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by![subscribe2]

 

Craft Fairs: Setting Up My Outdoor Booth

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After a year of collecting the necessary parts, I finally set up my outdoor booth.

On a very hot day in March, I spent a day in pursuit of a booth picture. My hubby and I spent the afternoon pulling out my tent, grid panels, “S” hooks, tables, decor, and of course, artwork. I loved watching all the pieces finally come together.

After three years of dabbling in indoor art shows I decided I wanted to expand to outdoor shows. They are more frequent and have a lot more foot traffic than the indoor exhibits. After finally deciding it was time to make the transition, I began looking for shows to apply for. Every single one required a picture of the booth set up in order to apply. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to submit, and see what happens. I was going to have to invest a lot of up front money in the hopes of being accepted to a show.

Over the next year I spent hours on Craigslist, garage sale and discount websites. Slowly, but surely, the components came together. The tent came first, I finally gave in and bought one new. A few months after the tent was purchased a coworker contacted me about selling his booth parts. He tried selling his artwork for a year before deciding it just wasn’t for him. I was able to get six grid panels and weights from him. I then pulled tables from my indoor set up, two of the three panels I use to display work at indoor shows, and hanging supplies.

After getting all the pieces it still took months for me to work up the motivation to set it up. For hours I was running in and out of my house hauling artwork. I quickly realized I would never be able to do this solo. The tent is too cumbersome and the panels are too heavy. My first lesson in outdoor festival participation is making sure Nick is always available for set up and break down.

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I decided I wanted my largest pieces along the back wall. They helped fill the space, and would hopefully catch the eye of passerbys. The trickiest part I have to figure out is where to set myself up. I enjoy having a table to hide behind. I am a passive seller. Perhaps I would earn more money if I pushed my products on people, but I want them to purchase one of my pieces because they feel connected to it. My tiny little table is my comfort zone. My safety net, preventing me from getting my hopes up as people come in and peruse my work.

DSC_3750 I decided to hang my letter pieces on the right side panel, and my 6″x6″ silhouette paintings on the left side panel. My hope is these pieces will be more approachable as people walk by. They may assume the large pieces are out of their price range, but with $35 and $25 price tags, these are easy to pick up and take home.

I also wanted to set up a table with my letter prints, at $10 each these are an even better impulse buy item. I decided these would be best set up next to my letter encaustics and extending slightly out of my booth to break up the space.

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One issue that always lurked in the back of my mind was how my encaustics would stand up to summer Georgia heat. I got a little taste of it during the practice set up, the pieces that were directly in the sun began to melt. It was worse case scenario. After all the time and work I put into my set up, I was now questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to do this at all.

As soon as I discovered the melting pieces, I snapped my pictures, and began disassembling. As I carefully took each piece down, I examined it for signs of tackiness and liquid wax. Luckily, only the pieces in direct sunlight showed signs of the wax turning to liquid. The pieces with the sun hitting the backside of them felt slightly tacky and the rest of the pieces were fine. Although I felt a little better, I was still concerned. These were only up for 30 minutes, an hour at the most, what would happen at an all day festival?

After cleaning up I began doing some research. There are brave artists out there who display their encaustic in the dead of summer at outdoor festivals. You do have to play a game of rearranging as the sun enters your tent, but it gave me hope. A lot of the sunlight was coming in through the sides of the tent, but at a festival, in theory, there will be tents on either side. I decided I just needed to give it a shot, and I applied for my first show. The Chastain Park Arts Festival, opening the first weekend of May.

6%22x6%22 Oil Painting Studies

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To ease my mind even more, I have begun mini oil paintings. These will hang in the sunlight when my encaustics have to be moved. I am ready to expand my art career, and this is the next logical step. I will not let a melting work of art get in my way.

Today I find out whether or not I have been accepted to the Chastain festival. Whether or not I make it, I have a long list of other festivals to apply to. Hopefully I will soon have an opportunity to take my booth set up out for the real deal. Stay tuned!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my artwork by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!
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