Do you keep Lent? Lent is a church season—a time of sober introspection in preparation for Easter—that my faith tradition mentioned only in passing. But I do love the idea of a faith calendar where one remembers and honours each season of faith at a set time each year.
In the spirit of discovering, appreciating, and “keeping” the season of Lent, a friend and I have begun a conversation about Lent in poetry and art. She began it last Tuesday with a poem that she sent to me. I responded during the week with a piece of art inspired by her poem. This is our call-and-response for Week One of Lent.
This week it’s my turn to prompt Laurel with a piece of art. I’ll let you in on the next bit of our conversation sometime early next week.
One of my favourite art teachers, particularly of watercolor, is Jenna Rainey. A couple of years ago, her book Everyday Watercolor introduced me to the wonderful medium of watercolor (reviewed here). Her newest book Everyday Watercolor Flowers came out in 2019 and my Kindle edition is well used.
The book begins with an extensive introductory section on watercolor basics including materials, colors, color mixing, hue, and value. In this section Rainey also gives a brief explanation of flower anatomy, leaf types and shapes, and demonstrates brush strokes that make those shapes.
The main chapters describe flower painting projects and are organized by flower shapes (star, circle, bell, bowl, trumpet, and combination) with four projects in each. That’s 24 projects plus a section on combining flowers into wreaths and borders…so lots to paint here. The projects in each category come in two types: loose and realistic (botanical). In the star-shaped chapter, for example, the cherry blossoms and anemone tutorials describe painting these flowers in a loose style (with little or no pencil drawing to guide the painting), while the clematis and orchid are painted more realistically (begin with a pencil drawing and adhere closely to the details of the plant and flower).
The book is beautiful! Rainey’s skill with paint and brush shines through each illustration. The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and interspersed with pictures of the project’s steps. Though the text does feel wordy at times (it would be easier to follow if it were in point form), its tone is encouraging and laced with tips and hacks. If you’ve ever visited Rainey’s YouTube channel you’ll recognize her voice, which comes through here in her writing.
I think beginners and intermediate watercolorists would enjoy these projects. If you’re looking for a book that is designed to help you gain skill in analyzing flowers by shape and has projects that are both loose and realistic, Everyday Watercolor Flowers is a great choice.
Some projects from this book that I’ve done: loose Sunflower, realistic Clematis, loose Dahlia, realistic Ranunculus.
If there was ever a great time to learn about art, this is it. Not only is the internet full of videos and online class possibilities, but books are easier than ever to purchase and use. For art instruction I love Kindle books. On my iPad they have a built-in stand (I don’t have to fight with stubborn pages to keep the book open while I’m using it) and the illustrations can be enlarged with a couple of finger swipes. One book I downloaded some months ago is Anna Koliadych’s 15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces. It is full of simple and fun watercolor projects.
The book begins with a section on watercolor techniques and exercises, and then is divided into chapters that name various categories: “Beautiful Landscapes,” “Dreamy Galaxies,” “Elegant Plants and Foliage,” “Flowers,” “Fruits and Sweets,” “Adorable Animals,” and “Fashion.” There are six to nine projects (paintings) in each chapter so lots of possibilities.
The paintings are explained step-by-step and include a list of materials, swatches of the painting’s colors, how to mix them, and illustrations of the project as it progresses.
The book ends with a list of supplies and a few hacks from the author in chapters titled “Supplies” and “Tips and Advice.”
This is a colorful, fun book. The instructions and illustrations are easy to follow. Though I wouldn’t call my projects “masterpieces” or art I would want to frame, they introduced me to a variety of techniques and subjects. They usually took me longer than 15 minutes because drying time was needed. But they were quick and a wonderful way to squeeze in a bit of art every day, even when I didn’t have much time for it.
Here are some of the projects I completed from Anna’s book.
“Mysterious Forest” and “Autumn in a Circle” are projects from the “Beautiful Landscapes” chapter. “Leafy Branches with Berries” is from the “Elegant Plants and Foliage” chapter. “Wreath of Flowers” is from the “Flowers” chapter.
Author Anna Koliadych also teaches watercolor online offering courses on her website. She is @dearannart on Instagram and her feed is full of short instructional videos.
Can you believe we’re already almost halfway through January?
Have you done any dreaming or planning for the year ahead?
I finally got to setting down some intentions and goals last weekend. I know many pooh-pooh this new year tradition. Not I! Even the roughest road map helps me feel more purposeful and confident that I’m heading in a direction to which I’ve given at least a little thought.
One of my intentions this year is to be more regular with blogging. I’m going to try for one post a week, alternating posts about art and writing. We’ll start this week with art.
A month from today is Valentine’s Day! Since I’ve opened my shop, I’m very conscious about upcoming celebrations—all the more because orders need to be placed in good time to allow for shipping (and I’m not Amazon!). And so I’ve spent my art hours this week making valentines (with accompanying memories of elementary school).
A Valentine trend this year, according to Etsy, is for vintage designs. I had fun trying to figure out and duplicate that look. Here are some of the cards you’ll find at Violet Nesdoly Art. (Several of them can be personalized.) What do you think, did I capture the vintage vibe in some of them?
How have you spent these first weeks of January 2021?
Original Watercolour paintings. Only one of each available – in various sizes and price points. For example, the pictured ones are 9×12 inches Regular price: $125 30% off: $87.50 (paintings only, no mats or frames included). (The blackberry painting- bottom right- is no longer available)
Free Under the Cloud download
Also on November 26 – 28 only get a free download of the Kindle edition of my latest novel Under the Cloud at your Amazon store:
During this time of social isolation due to Covid-19, various art challenges are popping up around the internet. One I have signed onto is Matt Tommey’s #quarantinedcreatives challenge. Starting on April 14th, those who signed up got an email with a daily prompt and challenge.
Yesterday’s challenge was interesting and stretching: “Make a process video.” That would be a video showing one’s art process (often shot as time lapse and then sped up).
I’m allergic to cameras and don’t have a camera mount to make such a video in any case. Instead of a video, I took still photos of the steps of my project, then combined them with instructions. Below is my project: “Sketch a Bird in your Journal.” I hope it makes sense!
What strange days we’re living in! Here on Canada’s west coast signs of spring are poking out and blooming all over. The coming of spring usually buoys my spirits immensely and this year is no different—and yet it is. For the black Covid-19 cloud looms on the horizon and we’re all living in obeisance by “social distancing” and, if returning from abroad, living in actual isolation. Closeted in our houses, condos, or apartments, we go out only for necessities and short walks, avoiding each other like the plague (which, we fear, anyone can be carrying, unbeknownst to them). It all feels so bizarre and unreal.
It’s gratifying to see how the online world has stepped up to fill work and recreation gaps. Lately I’ve heard more than once that this is a great time to spend unexpectedly free hours learning something new. My interest in art has familiarized me with that sphere. There, artists are offering all manner of online courses and tutorials, many free.
Another option, if you’d like to try your hand at art, specifically learning to paint with watercolor, is books. One I worked through last year was Jenna Rainey’s Everyday Watercolor – Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days.
This is an excellent book for a beginning painter. Rainey starts with the basics in sections called “Techniques” and “Form, Perspective and Light.” Her explanations of theory are followed, at every step, by projects. These range from making color swatches to completing complex scenes. I worked through the whole book and along the way learned about wet on wet and wet on dry painting, value and tone, light to dark layering, light source, shadow, and much much more.
Bookstores in your area are probably closed but no problem. You can purchase this book online, in fact, have it on your device in minutes as an e-book. I bought it that way and viewed the book’s projects on my iPad as I worked on them.
I have worked from home for years, but under the label of “social distancing,” it feels different. Every day health officials give updates in news conferences, which I like to watch firsthand (it beats getting the piecemeal summaries from journalists later). And every day the tone of our Federal and Provincial Health Officers grows graver and more urgent. How quickly new terms like “window of opportunity,” “flattening the curve,” “social distancing,” and “self-isolation” have become absorbed into daily life and experience.
Fortunately, my husband and I are well, though we are in the most at-risk age group. We have no grave existing conditions or chronic illnesses. We get our annual flu shots and this winter I haven’t even had a cold. So, I’m not that concerned about my own health or ability to weather a Covid-19 infection. But I am concerned about the health of others, particularly senior friends with fragile health.
As a result, my preference is to try and follow (in spirit and letter) the social distancing guidelines proposed by the powers that be—that is, stay home. We go for our daily walk, shop for supplies when needed, but other than that, we stay put at home. We’ve even cancelled a coffee date at the home of friends out of an abundance of caution for the wife, who works in a seniors care facility. Are we being extreme? We don’t feel we are.
One thing I do every day now, is remind myself more than ever Who is ultimately in charge—of this world and of my life. I do this through prayer and reading the Bible daily, saturating myself in accounts of God’s power and marinating in psalms like Psalm 91.
I also spend some time each day doing a little art. I find that the cares of life fall away as I get absorbed in drawing and painting. I’ve amassed a body of work doing daily art for over a year now and have been wondering, is there anything I could do with these sketches and paintings?
Recently I have become aware of a print-on-demand site (Redbubble.com) where artists can set up their own shops. I joined, and have uploaded art there. The company applies my art to a variety of products I choose. People can then order these things. Redbubble ships the products (with my designs on them) and I make a small percentage on each sale without having to manufacture the item, take the order, collect the payment, and send it out. Pretty sweet deal, I’d say!
I realize that right about now you probably feel about as much like shopping as I do—i.e. not at all. But if you become bored with all the news conferences and Netflix, need a break from doing puzzles and playing games, you might enjoy doing a little browsing on Redbubble, against the day when shopping again appeals. Just in case you’re interested, my shop is HERE. Some of the stuff you’ll find there …
And lots more!
Whatever you do during your time of social distancing, take care and be thoughtful, kind, and safe.
Even with its extra day, February is nearly history. It’s hard to believe we’re almost into the third month of 2020! My resolve to be better at updating the blog hasn’t resulted in much so far, but I’ve decided to, at least, write a monthly update post. Here is February’s…a list of things I did or tried to do
I continued with my daily art practice through February. This month I had two sets of prompts to inspire the subjects of my paintings (Opus Daily Practice and Doodlewash). I also worked on proper water colour paper (instead of my sketch journal). That was a good learning experience. I found through that, that I really like working on hot press paper (as opposed to cold press). Here are some of my favourite February paintings.
In January a children’s pastor at my church (Laurel Archer) asked me to do the illustrations for a booklet to be used during missions month. Laurel wrote the text, I did the paintings (except for the boy and girl; they are hand puppets already in use), then our church’s media department assembled and printed the book. This was a gratifying project!
Though I haven’t spent as much time doing writing lately, it still occupies some of my time and offers rewards for past work.
Pockets (a children’s magazine put out by the Upper Room Group) reprinted an article I wrote for them some years ago on Jean Vanier. It found its way into the final issue (January / February 2020) of that lovely little magazine. I was sad to hear that it will no longer be published.
I gave a short presentation on writing book reviews at the last meeting of our writing group (South Surrey Writers Group) Thursday, February 27th.
I am continuing to edit my WIP manuscript (working title: Under the Cloud, a sequel to the biblical fiction, Destiny’s Hands that I published in 2012). I am getting dangerously close to being ready to send that baby off to a real editor. Under the Cloud should see the light of publication sometime this year. I’m not making any predictions as to when.
I’m finding that as I age, keeping the weight off is a never-ending challenge. Even though my husband and I walk for about an hour a day, and eat a pretty healthy diet, the numbers on the scale were creeping up.
There must be an app for that…
There is! I downloaded MyNetDiary and have been keeping track of daily intake, weight, and exercise much more consistently and the weight is slowly coming off.
Well, that was my February…a busy, healthy month. Here’s hoping and praying March is the same. Facing the threat of the Covid 19 virus, I have taken to praying and claiming as a promise of protection Psalm 91:9,10
“Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”
I pray for protection for our land, and the survival of all who fall ill with this virus.
It seems we were just wishing everyone a happy new year and here we are, already into double digits of January. How does time slip by so quickly?
I resolved that this year I’d do a better job of the blog—even posting a little something regularly, like once a week. Now that I’ve blown that resolution, it’s time to at least get started.
In my journey into art last year, one resolution I did keep was to do a sketchbook entry every day. With the exception of a couple of days in early January 2019, I kept that promise to myself. In the process I’m well on the way to filling up my second 110-page sketchbook.
I’ve continued on with that practice this year. I use a simple 5.5×8” hardcover sketchbook from Michaels. It’s made of 75 lb. paper (not even mixed media weight), not meant for watercolours, but I use them on it regularly and it holds up remarkably well with never a bleed-through (unless I rub the paper raw).
To decide what to draw, most days I’ve been following drawing prompts from Doodlewash. These challenge me to draw everyday common things as well as things I would never attempt without a prod. On other days I draw what calls to me.
Here are a few pages from 2020, along with some of the reference photos (all taken by me).
If art is calling to you, keeping a daily sketchbook or sketch journal is a great way to get started and daily practice is a sure way to get better.