Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Crown in her Soul

'Crown in Her Soul' 
5 x 7 inches

'She's the kind of queen that knows her crown isn't on her head. But in her soul." Adrian Michael

This is one of my favorite paintings I've done in a while. I really loved the glow on her face and hair from the light, and the flash of red in her dress, and the colors of sunlight in her hair. And her smooth skin. . . cool shadows in her cheeks. . . I could go on forever I guess. The point is, I loved painting this one. 

I'm always amazed at how some subjects and scenes just click in my brain and it's like I vacate the premises for a minute and my body just paints it like it's on auto pilot. I guess that's called flow? It's a very cool phenomenon. The trick is figuring out what makes that happen and then do more of that haha! 

I'm super behind on blogging lately. I've been creating so much art, it's been amazing! But haven't taken the time to blog about it, even though I do post regularly on Instagram and facebook (crystalcookart on both). 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Learn to Fly

Learn to Fly
6 x 6 oil on panel 

"What if I fall?" 
"Oh, but my darling. What if you FLY?"

When I started this blog in 2010 I had a one year old, a 5 year old, and an 8 year old. Now I have a 9 year old, an almost 13 year old, and an almost 16 year old. My children are no longer babies. No longer toddlers. No longer needing my help so much, or needing their noses wiped, or wanting to cuddle with me on the couch. There are no more days spent holding little hands to guide their first steps and getting sloppy kisses from spaghetti covered faces. They are growing up, and therefore growing further away from me. As they should. It's part of the plan of life. They're supposed to grow up and live their own life and it's my job to prepare them for that. 

But it's so very hard to live through. The hardest thing I've ever been called to do. 

Now. I recognize this is a little melodramatic. Of course my kids still need me. I still need my mom and I'm 36 years old. Of course I still get kisses (but far fewer, and mostly from the nine year old, bless his heart.) But they are getting ready, someday not too far from this day, to leave our nest. Our beautifully, crazily, happy love filled home. 

And this my friends is breaking my heart. I don't quite know how to navigate this time in my life. How many rules and boundaries are too many? They have to make their own choices don't they? They have to live their own life. Be accountable for choices and decisions they make. I try my best to guide and direct them gently with all the love I have, and whatever small amounts of wisdom I have too. But is it enough? Is it too much? WHERE IS THE DANG MANUAL THAT TELLS YOU HOW TO BE A PARENT TO A 16 YEAR OLD??? 

I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm just trying to love them as hard as possible, so that they know it every single second of their lives. That it might guide them to make the right choices. To be safe. To fly instead of fall. 

So. . . all of that to say that this painting hits me hard on a deep level. Our children learn to fly from us. We prepare them for life outside our home. That is our purpose and calling as parents. And we have to have the faith that when the time comes, they will not fall. But fly. As they were meant to. As we've prepared them to their whole lives. 

It's a leap of faith. And we have to have that faith with them. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Heat Seeker

Heat Seeker

I can pretty much always count on two things when it comes to painting. 

1. It will take longer than I think it will. (amiright?)

2. I will ALWAYS choose the subject with the most beautiful light. 

This kitty was gorgeously backlit, making her ears just glow and causing beautiful catchlights in her eyes. I thought I heard angels singing when I saw the light but it might have been me. ;) 

Something I learned with this painting is to make sure and paint in colorful areas first so they don't get muddied by the surrounding darks. I think I have heard Carol Marine refer to this as her 'island to ocean' technique. 

Fell a bit behind with painting a single painting every day for September, but that's just life and I'm not beating myself up over it. I actually enjoy it more when I split the painting up over two days. . . at least at this size. 

Have a good night everyone! I'll be visiting blogs tomorrow! HUGZZZ, Crystal 

Watching: Blacklist
Listening to: Chiustream with Bobby Chiu
Reading: Love and Gelato
Snacking on: nada
Drinking: banana flavored bcaa's

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lost in Thought

Lost in Thought

You know that quote about art washing the dust out of the soul? I can't remember how it goes, but I absolutely love it. It is so true. I spent this afternoon looking at an art book and I felt so refreshed (Karin Jurick's museum paintings, love it!). Yesterday I spent the day sculpting for my Tumble Creatures line. And every day since September first I have made a whole hearted attempt to paint. It has refreshed my mind, heart, and soul so much. 

It is so easy to get stuck in a rut of daily life, and not appreciate the wonder that it is to be alive. Art helps immensely with that. Don't you think? 

The main thing I learned with this painting was, to paint the hand in as few strokes as possible. I am pretty happy with that hand because I think they are the hardest thing ever to paint. And ears. Oh and mouths. And don't even get me started on teeth. Okay it's all dang hard amiright? 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pink Pony Nose

Pink Pony Nose

What drew me to this image initially was that velvety pink nose. What little girl that had a horse didn't spend hours kissing her pony's nose? 

Also I discovered that scratching out highlights is a very effective tool for capturing tiny light struck hairs when painting wet into wet with oil. I love the look that gave to this horse's mane. Short post today, I'll try to have something meaningful to say next time! May your brushes stay wet and your palette colorful! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

30 paintings in 30 days!

'Rhino's Spot'

It has been quite a while since I've done a single painting in a single day for lots of days in a row. I've been so preoccupied with painting the dailies that I have neglected blogging or uploading them (although I am uploading them every night to my Instagram and Facebook, simply because it's so much faster and I'm usually soooo tired by the time I finish painting them at midnight haha)!

It has been incredibly FUN to have a new painting to complete every day. Sometimes I can get caught up in a big painting for MONTHS at a time. Which can result in really cool and impactful work, but can also be stressful. Incredibly stressful. I am enjoying the heck out of this challenge and approach each day with an excitement for painting that I haven't felt in years!

I've decided to paint all of them in oil, simply because it's faster for me and time is very, very short. I am learning a lot each day with each new painting. And it has been a great time of growth for me artistically. I'll try and share one thing I've learned each day. As often as I remember haha.

I'm very behind in blogging about these so I'm just going to start with my favorite one so far, not the first one. This sweet pup (Rhino) belongs to the family that owns the gym I go to. They bring him to the gym with them every morning and he is a huge hit with the gym family. Yesterday he was in just the PERFECT spot of sun and held still long enough for me to get some pics with my phone. We call him the gym mascot and he is the biggest sweetheart of a dog you'll ever meet.

With this painting I realized the importance of painting in your brightest colors first and then working around them. This resulted in the glowing ear, with no mud from mixing white or greys near it! Worked like a charm. I know I've learned this lesson before, but seems like I'm relearning a lot of things this month.

Listening to: Higher Health Radio
Watching: BBC's Sherlock (for the 15th time)
Reading: Love and Gelato
Drinking: Diet Dr. Pepper
Snacking on: Caramel flavored rice cakes

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sunny Spot, and a balancing act

'The Sunny Spot'
6 x 6 inches
oil on panel

So much of our every day life is just trying to keep everything in balance. Don't you think? Balance with work, family, hobbies, kids activities, school work, church work, yard work, house work. It's so tough to keep it all together. And I don't think any of us really do. Some do it better sure, but no one has it all together, as much as they want us to believe they do through social media posts.

The last few weeks my family has been really sick. My dad had surgery. And my sweet old dog, Chauncy is nearing the end of his life, and so we have to decide when to make that hardest decision that will separate him from us forever.

So my mind. . . it's been everywhere. My heart has felt so heavy. I'm not trying to sound like my life is terrible, because it's not. I feel so blessed to have the life I do. Loved ones that care about me, a warm comfortable home, and plenty of food to eat. But still. . . it's been tough, and I'd be lying if I said otherwise.

During this time of stress and sadness I've let a lot slip. But I've maintained as much as possible two things that help me feel balanced even in stressful situations.

Fitness. And Art.

I think we all have those things that clear our mind and rejuvenate us to tackle the day. And even if it seems selfish to take time to do them, we HAVE to. Otherwise there is nothing left of us to offer anyone else.

At the end of a long week of being a caretaker to many sick people and a dog I finally entered my studio. Turned on the lamp. Laid my brushes out carefully. And I painted. It lasted about 15 minutes. But it felt so good and restored something in my soul I had felt was missing that long week.

Art is so much more than just paint on paper. It is so much more than a profession. It is a balm to my soul. And I think that too often we forget that as we chase after professional goals and personal ones too. It was a good reminder to me. Hopefully it was to you too. When was the last time you got to do what rejuvenates you when you really, really needed it? I'd love to know.


Watching: The Walking Dead
Listening to: Nirvana
Reading: Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
Drinking: water
Snacking on: protein bars (G2G are my fave)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Like a Rusty Faucet

Gypsy Liberty
3.5 x 9.5 inches
watercolor on paper

I've always been the type of person to dive headfirst into whatever it is I'm passionate about at that moment. it consumes me and it's all I think about. I live it, breathe it, dream it. If I'm awake I'm either practicing my passion, or I'm thinking about when I next get to practice. 

But inevitably, that ends in a burn out. Well. . . most of the time. 

And then it's weeks or months on end before I pick up that passion again. And at first it's a little like an old faucet that hasn't been used for a while. It sticks, doesn't open right, and then after smacking the stupid faucet with some type of tool (a wrench maybe) it starts to trickle a little water.  Then the next time you try to use that faucet it's just a little easier to open. Doesn't take as much. . . abuse to get it to start flowing, even if it is still just a trickle. 

Slowly, if you're patient, and you don't give up, and you use that faucet every day, it flows effortlessly. Like it used to when it was brand new. Like it was made to. 

That's how I feel about painting right now. 

For a long time I let my skills get rusty. But with practice I'm back at home again. And back in the flow. 

It's a great place to be. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Luminous Berries and Art Life Updates

Luminous Berry
5 x 5 watercolor on paper

For the last several months painting has constantly been on my mind. I dream up ideas for future paintings, my hands itch to hold a brush, and I try to figure out how to get 26 hours out of each day, or require less than 5 hours of sleep at night, so I can get more painting time.

Since the new year came and the holidays are gone for another year (YASSS) I made a promise to myself that I would paint every day. If only for 15 minutes. Well. . . . I haven't kept that promise. Some days I just can't make it to paint. Which IS frustrating. BUT on the positive side I have painted more this month than I did the last six months combined. So I think I'm onto something here.

This painting is the first watercolor daily painting (never mind that it took me about 6 days to finish instead of 1) I've finished in. . . 3 years I think. And I have found a lot of satisfaction in that.

I'm excited to keep on painting, I have SO many ideas sketched out! We'll see how well I do at keeping this blog updated too.

Thanks for following along with my artwork!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bitten by the Painting Bug

6 x 6 oil on gessobord
click here to purchase

I miss painting.

I miss blogging.

Lately all I've wanted is to just paint my heart out. But time has not been my friend lately. 2017 is the year I change that.

How are you all? Does anyone still blog? Leave me a comment if you do and I'll come visit you too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Portrait Commissions and Sketchbooks

This year I've been kept pretty busy with some beautiful child portrait commissions to paint. This sweet girl above, Sadie, was finished a few weeks ago, and I have a little boy currently on my easel that is nearly finished as well. I feel so honored that these parents trusted me to capture their child and I hope I'm doing each one justice.

There hasn't been any time for personal paintings, but after this last commission is finished I'll be taking a break from custom work to paint some ideas I've had floating in my head for a while. I've had an idea of paintings of my boys I want to do that I'm considering using to get back into the juried show game, but we'll see how they turn out first ha! I haven't entered a painting in a competition for a long time, but I think this might be just the thing to help me push myself out of my comfort zone and level up my skills. Well. . . that's the hope anyways.

I have however been doing plenty of sketching as time allows. This is so crucial to my own satisfaction as an artist, and for personal growth. Even if I don't have time to paint on a certain day if I can squeeze in a sketch I feel like I'm still growing my skills, developing my career as an artist and that to me, is pretty priceless. Here are some of my recent faves:

I really miss blogging, but it seems to take so much time. I'm posting much more regularly on instagram if you'd like to follow me over there!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gypsy Whimsy

Gypsy Whimsy
5.5" x 8.5" 
colored pencil on toned paper

I'll just save all that HOLY COW IT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE I LAST POSTED blah blah blah and jump straight to the point. :)

I'm still drawing. A lot. It will always be something I have to do. I just love it so much. 

And I've been finding a lot of satisfaction, and joy, in drawing more whimsically. . . More illustrative I guess. I no longer am a slave to a photo reference and I LOVE that. While part of me still sometimes misses getting lost in realism, for now I'm very happy to be drawing this way. 

Thanks for sticking with me for so long CCA fans. I sure appreciate your support.I still have this omnipresent itch to get those watercolors out. . . But just haven't made myself do it yet. But one day soon I will!

Listening to: AWOLNATION
Reading: The Ruby Circle
Watching: New Girl
Snacking on: egg whites and chicken breasts (I'm on a diet BLERGH)
Drinking: Ice water (see the BLERGH diet above^^)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Paisley Illustration 30/30 #3

Paisley Pony Illustration
9 x 12
copic marker on illustration board
Lagging behind pretty bad on this 30/30 challenge. :) I knew it would be tough to fit a painting in every day since I'm pretty much working full time now, and honestly accepting the challenge was mostly just a shove to get me to paint again. And for that alone it's been  a success.
I did make a start on a larger watercolor portrait of my son the other day, but it's not really at a showing stage yet. (in other words, it's a bit scary right now. Ha!)
This is an illustration I did for a client, a new whimsical style I don't think I've shared with you guys before. It's a lot of fun and I love working this way.
Watching: Master Chef
Reading: Alla Prima
Listening to: the dog snore
Snacking on: Peppermint Patties
Drinking: dirty diet coke

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Retirement 30/3 #2

6 x 6 inches, oil on gessobord
Painting #2 for the 30/30 challenge.  I took this photo  few years ago one morning after I had dropped my kids off at school. This old horse, evident by the grey on her muzzle and her deep sway back, stood grazing in a field, with the sun just rising over the mountains behind her.

The rim lighting on her was so gorgeous, but what struck me the most was a feeling of deep sympathy for her. She looked in good health for being so old, she looked to have a good life, but you could see that she wasn't going to be in this world for long. It's something I can't quite put into words, but it really moved me and I've wanted to paint her ever since.

Still trying to get back in the painting groove. :)

Watching: Sleepy Hollow
Reading: Alla Prima II
Listening to: The Dead Weather
Snacking on: lemon raspberry scone (YUM)
Drinking: chocolate milk 
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