Thursday, January 23, 2014

Petunias and Potato Vine

I love colour...  don't you?

This week I took some time to play around with my Derwent Inktense coloured pencils.  It's been a long time since I've used them and it felt good to sketch with them again.

I'm calling this piece "Petunias and Potato Vine" because these fuchsia petunias were growing amongst chartreuse green potato vines.  The contrast between the colours is what I was hoping to capture.

The Inktense pencil was laid down dry, wetted with a water brush, and accented with some additional dry pencil.  It was sketched in my 5" x 9" sketch book the pages of which aren't really meant for water media... hence the paper is a little buckled.  I may do recreate the piece on heavier paper... we'll see.  For now I'm happy with how this turned out and am linking it to Jenn's "The Artist's Play Room" over at the blog "Just Add Water Silly".  Pop on over and check out the work of other artist!

So, what fun creative things have you been working on... ?
: )  Fern

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Humorous Animals Are Now On Device Cases

After a bit of silence from my little corner of the world I have great news to share… my humorous animal photos are now available on cell phone, iPad and iPad Mini and cases! 

These are my 10 designs:

Keka Case - Fern Spackman Designs

I'm tickled to see my work applied to a format other than greeting cards.  How fun to have cute and/or sassy animals for cell phones and iPad cases!   It's been quite a challenge to decide which of the 10 designs I want to put on my cell phone and iPad first…  (Oh, if only all our challenges in life were so fun!  Lol…)

The cases are manufactured and marketed by the Keka Case company and are available online.  Each design can be ordered to fit the following:  iPhone 4/4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, 5c, Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4, iPad 2/3/4 and iPad Mini.  Oh, and Keka Case has a sale going on for the next two weeks -- 30% off and shipping is free!  Use the coupon code "Gift30" at the checkout.

On another note, I very much appreciate everyone's encouraging comments on my past blog posts and send a special "Hello" to Nini who gently nudged me to hurry up and blog about my current art adventures.  I get busy creating and forget to tell you all what I'm up to!  Nini, I will post more soon… I promise!

Now… off to do more artwork for another project I'm working on.  Sorry… can't tell you much about it just yet… but I'm having a lot of fun with it!  

So, friends… what wonderful creative things are you working on today?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Catching Up

Hello!  It's time to bring you up to speed on the creative happenings in my life the past few months.

The art show back in January went well.  I received wonderful feedback on the pieces I entered in the show.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the artists' reception so missed out on the opportunity to meet new people and celebrate participation in my first art show.  Not to worry... there will be more art shows and artists' receptions -- like the one in August that I have just been accepted in to!

I have a few new pieces to share since my last post:

Mount Baker, Watercolour, 6" x 12"  --  SOLD
The "Mount Baker" picture was inspired by the view from Cattle Point in Victoria, BC.  Mount Baker is in Washington State, USA, but on a clear day we can see it from Victoria, Canada.  The paint was barely dry on this piece when someone asked to buy it.

Beauty at Rest, Watercolour, 6" x 12" 
The "Beauty at Rest" watercolour was just accepted in to a local art show to be held during the beginning of August!

Peach Rose, Coloured Pencil and Water Soluble Art Bar, 5" x 7"
I am crazy about roses.  Aren't they amazing flowers?  The "Peach Rose" is another piece accepted in to the August art show.

Inspired by Kristy Patterson of Flying Shoes Art Studio, I have been also playing around with coloured pencil art on old book pages.

Pear, Coloured Pencil on Book Page

Tranquil, Coloured Pencil on Book Page  --  SOLD

Working on pages from old books has its challenges.  I think I prefer the look I get when I put a thin layer of white ink under the coloured pencil.  On the "Pear" piece I used coloured pencil directly on the book page and decided I didn't particularly like how the text showed through.  On the "Tranquil" piece I put a pale white ink wash over the entire page and a slightly more opaque layer of ink under the bird and flower petals.  I prefer how the ink "under painting" mutes down how much of the text shows through.

My camera has been busy, too.  I had opportunity to visit a petting farm full of adorable animals and even more adorable babies - particularly baby goats and rabbits.  Here's a sneak peek at some of the pics.  Perhaps some of these (paired with humorous text) will become future greeting cards!

So there you have it... some of the things that have kept me busy since my last post.  I'm currently working on more watercolour paintings, which I'll share as they get a little further along in the process.  

Hoping all is well in your respective worlds, and that you're finding time to nurture your creativity.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Taking Exciting New Steps...

Here we are at the start of a new calendar year and I can't believe I'm about to enter my first art show!  Wow... how did that happen...??  : )

I've been very inspired by fellow alumni of the "Creative Courage" e-course who have done amazing things like found galleries and shops to sell their work, offered on-line courses of their own, pursued licensing opportunities and secured studio space outside the home.  But I didn't think I could do those things.... at least I didn't think I could to them yet (and I really can't say when I thought would be the best time, either!... lol...).  Fellow watercolour artist, Richard Wong (whose masa paper paintings I introduced you to a few posts back) had encouraged me to join some local art organizations and consider participating in some of their events.  Somewhere along the line, the inspiration and encouragement tipped the scales (in a good way!) and I submitted artwork that was accepted for a local art show in January.  The show is specifically for emerging artists.  Somehow that feels like a gentle way to dip my toes in the local art scene - to display my work along with other new artists who may just be as apprehensive as I am!

What pieces have I entered into the show...?  I thought you'd never ask...  lol...

First is an 11"x17" B&W photo of a maple tree.

I loved the backlighting and how it accentuated the trunk and branches.  When I look at the branches on this tree it reminds me of the branching nature of veins and arteries so I've titled this piece, "Patterns of Life."  

Originally there wasn't going to be a second piece entered, but just a few days before the deadline I finished this watercolour painting and decided I should enter it, too.

This watercolour is 6" x 12" on 140 lb Strathmore cold pressed watercolour paper and I've titled it, "On delicate wings".  Funny, but so many times before it was finished I quite nearly chucked this painting.  It seemed to go through an eternally "ugly" stage and it wasn't until I was nearly finished before I decided I was really rather pleased with how it was turning out.  That's a lesson for me - don't write a painting off too soon!

I tried something a little different with this painting and decided to leave the background with a soft washy look rather than painting in stems and leaves.  My thought was that the soft, blurry background would focus more attention on the detailed wing patterns.  I also tried some different paints.  

One new materials was the Shinhan brand of Sap Green that I used along with my regular Winsor & Newton, Da Vinci and Veniza watercolour paints.  I've read that the Shinhan watercolour pigments are suspended in something other than Gum Arabic and that they behave a bit differently.  While my initial impression is that they do behave a bit differently, I'll have to try the brand again to really know how much differently they behave. What I am pleased with is how intense the Sap Green colour was - it was really a challenge to water the paint down enough to get a light green. 

In the picture above, the Art Bars and paint tube are sitting on a "test piece" on which I tested whether the Shinhan Sap Green would "play nice" with my other watercolour paints.  I love how intense the dark Sap Green is while still maintaining some translucency. 

The other new material I used was some Derwent Art Bars (water soluble).  They are amazing!  Derwent Art Bars and Inktense pencils are going to be a permanent part of my watercolour painting kit.

So that's my exciting news for the start of this new calendar year.  Let's hope the viewing public like the pieces I've entered into the show.  If you happen to be in the Victoria, BC (Canada) area please visit the show!  It's running from January 9 - 20, 2013 at the Coast Collective, 3221 Heatherbell Road.  

I've also checked out upcoming shows... who knows, I just might get brave enough to enter more!

Thank you to everyone who has directly encouraged me or indirectly inspired me to enter this art show.  A special thank you to Stephanie Levy for her "Creative Courage" e-course as it and the support I've found in the discussion group that grew out of that course have greatly contributed to me having the courage to participate in this art show! 

So, what's everyone else going to do that's creatively brave?
: )  Fern

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Collection of Hearts

Hello all!  A special "Hello" to Yvonne who FaceBooked today about dusting off her box of Inktense Watercolour Pencils and playing around with them.  I was playing with my Intense pencils today, too!   : )

It's been a couple of weeks since I participated in Jennifer McLean's "Artist's Play Room" challenge this week.  The theme is to gather five or so items from your home and create a still life.  Who would have guessed that while contemplating what to draw I would discover about myself that I have a number of heart shaped pieces of jewelry!!  (Interesting these curious quirks that we discover about ourselves from time to time... lol...)  So I decided to use some of my heart jewelry to create a jewelry still life...

This is the first time I've tried painting reflective metal surfaces.  What a challenge!!  The silver watch pendant actually turned out pretty easy... somehow silver was easy to capture.  Gold on the other hand turned out to be really difficult for me to paint.

This was done in my Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal with Intense watercolour pencils.  The gold... well I finally gave up trying to render it in watercolour pencil and brought out a bottle of gold liquid acrylic and a Pentel gold Slicci pen.... oh, and also a white Sakura Jelly Roll pen.  The outlines of the pieces were made with a dark sepia Pitt pen.

The liquid acrylic was painted over everything that was supposed to be a gold metal, and then I added bright highlights with the Jelly Roll pen.  On the heart pendant (on the right), the liquid acrylic seemed too dark and flat -- it didn't convey the many shades of gold on the piece especially around the top and centre of the filigree work.  Since the Pentel pen has a slightly lighter shade of gold than the liquid acrylic I used it to draw in some lighter shades of gold rather randomly around the face of the pendant and then I added the extreme highlights with the gold Jelly Roll pen.

I feel like I really stretched myself (my abilities and patience... lol... ) on this challenge, so thank you Jenn for bringing me to the realization that I seem to have a 'thing' for heart shaped jewelry and for providing an opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone.  : )  It will be interesting to see what the weekly challenges are for 2013.

The other fun thing I did this week was to visit one of my favourite art supply stores.  I  have a mixed media type project rolling around in my mind and needed to pick up a few supplies for it.  Well... that was the official reason for visiting the store....!  And you know how it goes... I came home with a few more items that I originally intended to buy and a head exploding with ideas for more art project.  : )  Don't you just love hanging out at art supply stores?  

So there you have it... that's what I've been up to creatively this week.  What about you??
: )  Fern

Monday, November 5, 2012

The "Heart" Challenge

Today Andrea Hiltbrunner from the blog "DreAm heArt sMart ArT" has challenged people to post something creative on the theme of "Heart".  Given how much fun I had participating in Jennifer McLean's "Shadows" challenge last week, I thought I'd participate in this challenge, too.  (I'm thinking that participating in these creative challenges could be a bit addictive... but in a healthy way, that is!)

So here's my heart...

It's a "Zentangle inspired" piece of art -- inspired by the art form of Zentangle doodling but not holding to the rules of it.

Back in high school I doodled a lot in the margins of my notebooks.  Then my inspiration game from faces -- I doodled eyes, noses, mouths, eye brows...  (In retrospect, it probably looked pretty weird to have disconnected facial features surrounding my class notes... but I digress...)

I was intrigued when I first heard of Zentangle art some months ago not only because I used to love doodling so much but also because I'd been reading about the stress busting benefits of doodling.  Doodling helps us relax... lowers blood pressure and heart rate... improves concentration and memory.  (Quick... hand me a pen and some paper... I need to save as much of what's left of memory as possible...!!!  lol...)  One article I read pointed out that as children we intuitively did things that were stress busting -- like hugging and doodling.... things we really should do more of as we navigate this complex adult world.

So to me this heart art is about more than art in the shape we associate with the heart.  The heart is often associated with creative inspiration, deep emotion, or our "true selves" and this art illustrates my journey to explore and reconnect with my creativity.  But in creating this heart using a style of doodling -- a form of art that brings health benefits to our physical heart -- I am also more literally nurturing and caring for my physical heart and the figurative source of creativity.

Hmm... that's a bit of a mind bender...  That something as enjoyable as art can also benefit us physically is one of those things that never ceases to amaze me.  Somehow I grew up with the notion that anything that physically beneficial - like medicine - will be unpleasant.  This (creating art) is the kind of medicine that's a pleasure to take!

So what kind of creative medicine are you "taking" today??  : )

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shadows and Skies

Today I'm being brave and trying something just a little different.

I've been following the blog, "Just Add Water Silly" by fellow Vancouver Islander Jennifer McLean.  She's a watercolour artist and hosts the "Artist's Play Room" where people share their interpretations of a weekly theme.  I've been quietly observing (and enjoying) the submissions to the Artist's Play Room all the while thinking that maybe it would be fun some day to be brave enough to join in...

Well... today's that "some day" and I'm joining in.  It's a little nerve racking to do something you've not done before and expose your art to a whole new audience... but (...pausing for a deep breath...) here goes.....

The theme this week is "Shadow" and below is my interpretation...

The artwork is based on some fall leaves I collected today...

When I began the art piece I rearranged the leaves and I positioned a desk lamp off to one side of the leaves to create more dramatic shadows -- the type of task lamp that creates a bright spot-light effect on things it is close to.  In real life, the part of the shadows closest to the leaves include a bit of reflection from the yellowy orange of the leaves.  I tried to suggest that in my shadows.  I'm not entirely satisfied with how that turned out, but this is all about trying things and learning from our experiences... right?  : )

The art piece was done with water soluble coloured pencils -- Inktense brand, to be exact.  I'm working through Dion Dior's online workshop about watercolour pencils and I'm really pleased with how the Inktense brand are working for me.  The leaves are outlined in a fine point Faber-Castell Pitt pen in Dark Sepia colour.

The next part of this post is in response to a blog post by Suzi - another alumni member of the Creative Courage class.  Suzi writes the blog "Vignettes de la vie by Suzi Poland" and in her post of October 26th she posted a beautiful pastel night sky picture and posed the question, "Have you been to the desert and seen how big the sky is?" Now, Suzi's in Australia and I've never had opportunity to visit that country (yet...), so I can't say that I've seen how big the desert sky is that she's looking at.  But I have been to Phoenix Arizona (USA) and I was blow away by what the desert sky is like there.  Suzi's post inspired me to find some of the sky pictures I took in Phoenix last winter/spring and share a few with you.  The sky here on Vancouver Island has (in my memory) never looked quite this amazing!!

Not much else happening creatively at the moment.  I'm hoping to do more experimenting with the Inktense water soluble pencils.  Perhaps Jennifer McLean's next Artist's Play Room challenge will fire up some more creative neurones in my brain... who knows where the creative whim will lead me!

So... what's inspiring you this week...??
: )  Fern