Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Inspires You?

Inspiration comes in many different forms.  As an artist, I know what inspires me.  It's the inspirations of other artists that intrigue me.  Almost every year I attend a benefit for the Assistance League of Cincinnati called Books and Brunch.  Each year they invite several authors, artists, and illustrators to come and talk a bit about their experiences.  For some, their work is a process, for most it's a journey.

The following images are a small representation of what inspires me.  At times, I'm so moved by something that I have to act immediately and head to the studio.  Other times, I tuck the idea, or nugget of inspiration, into my right-sided brain and save it for later.  Although it's much easier to keep track of these via my camera and my computer.

Naturally I am drawn to flowers.  Most of my work includes flowers.  I believe it's the colors and forms that make me want to translate them into watercolor paintings.

Light.....whether it's early morning light or late afternoon sun, the small miracles that occur during this timeframe are amazing.  Most photographers will attest to this.

Sometimes just looking at something from a different angle can be inspiring.

Colors can really get my creative juices flowing.  These VW beetles at a local car show inspired me to paint "Slugbug Green".  Greens and blues are particularly pleasing colors to me.

My love of animals provides me an endless supply of ideas.  I'm also inspired by artists who paint animals by trade.  I particularly enjoy painting horses.

Sometimes it's not the item as much as the shadow that is cast by the item that catches my attention.  I found these oil cans bathed in the morning sun at a local flea market and immediately knew I had to paint them.

Rounding out my list of inspirations are my children, providing me with daily inspiration to not only continue doing what I love, but to hopefully inspire them to be creative as well.

What inspires you?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wax On....

The image above is about midway through the batik process. 

After applying 5-6 layers of wax along with subsequent washes of color this is what the painting looks like so far.  The final touches of paint were the darkest values in the composition.  I have placed my final layer of wax over the entire piece and will wrinkle the paper slightly....just enough to allow the wax to form cracks, but not enough to cause it to come off.  Next I will coat it with one last dark wash of my choice.  Then it will be time for wax removal with a hot iron and lots of newspaper.

A close up image of the wax and color combinations.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Batik!

I've acquired a new tool in my studio.  It actually serves a dual purpose.  So after I finish using it to apply paraffin to my painting, I can pamper my hands with it as well!

My latest project is watercolor batik.  Something I've been wanting to try for awhile after seeing examples of it in my Watercolor Artist magazine.  Batik is not new to me.  I was first exposed to the craft in my high school Senior Studio class.  Traditionally, batik is a way to decorate cloth and is a centuries old art form.  The process involves applying hot wax onto the cloth and dipping the cloth in dye.  After allowing the cloth to dry, another layer of wax is applied over areas where the color is to be preserved.  Again, the cloth is dipped into yet another dye, allowed to dry, and wax is applied over the areas where color is to be preserved.  After a final dip in dye, the wax is removed by ironing the piece between sheets of newspaper. 

Watercolor batik is basically the same process, however instead of dipping into dye, color is applied using watercolors and a paintbrush onto rice paper.

The image above shows my sketch of tulips on rice paper.  I used a Pigma Micron pen for added interest in the painting.  The reference photo is an image I captured at the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio.

This final image is my first wash of color after applying the first application of wax which will preserve the whites.  You can't really see where the wax has been applied in this photo.  The tulips that are still white will be painted a light pink today.  Later, I will go in with another application of wax to preserve the areas of color I choose remain.

It's quite a tedious process, but I'm confident my end result will be very rewarding.  In addition, I can give myself a nice paraffin hand treatment!

If you would like to follow along with my batik process, come join me on Facebook.  I will be frequently posting my updates for this piece on my Facebook page at Gretchen Bjornson ART.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's The Little Things

I recently sold one of my ocean paintings.  Water is not an easy thing to paint and neither is a cloudy sky.  However, after a few failures and some practice I was content with what I had accomplished.  The warmer weather has prompted me to dig into more beach and ocean scenes.  After all, it is a favorite place of mine.  If I had the choice to go anywhere, it would be somewhere warm with salty air and sand.

I had to hand deliver this piece.  Since it wasn't being shipped via snail mail I opted to accessorize the packaging with something to indicate what's inside.  Making my rounds throughout the house I found twine, a sand dollar, some sticks, and moss left over from a school project.  After tying the twine around the package I hot glued the remaining items on top and finished it off with my name in stamps.  I had just as much fun packaging the piece as I did painting it.  I hope the recipient has just as much fun opening it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Waiting Patiently"

"Waiting Patiently" watercolor by Gretchen Bjornson
It seems appropriate to post this painting for those of you who follow my blog.  Since my last post was early January, I assume most of you have been 'waiting patiently' for an update from me.  I do apologize for neglecting my blog for such a lengthy period.  It seems to be the case lately with my busy schedule.  I will continue to update my blog and visit all the wonderful blogs I follow as well!

In 2010-2011 flowers were very common in my repertoire.  Late last year was a period of deviation for me as I moved away from the usual and expected florals and widened my painting horizons with some new subject matter.  What a refreshing change of pace!  I've painted VW bugs (cars), abstract trees, vintage dolls, and another one of my favorites.....horses.  It seems horses have been most inspiring lately.  I know I've said it before in a previous post, but painting horses in watercolor reminds me of working with clay as I add layers of color and slowly mold the shape and curves of the animal with my brush.  Not only is color laid down.......I also lift color off to create highlights and reveal the undertones of the painting that were created with an early wash of glowing colors.  The process takes time, but in the end is very rewarding.

I hope you all are surviving the last (hopefully the last) bit of winter.  It's been a mild one here in Ohio, but I'm definitely ready for sunshine and much warmer days.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Busy Morning In The Studio

Why is it when inspiration hits me, it hits me hard!  I suppose part of it is my lack of painting time due to the holidays and kids being home from school.  Now that school is back in session, all those creative juices are over-flowing.  In addition, Pinterest has given me a new found enthusiasm for trying new things.  All those items pinned on my "Art That Inspires Me" board are no good unless I take action, right?  So this morning, I took action.  Naturally, I had to have a neat working space so I pushed aside containers I had emptied earlier in the week.  Then I had to vacuum, because for some odd reason the resident mutt is shedding profusely mid winter.  After that I spritzed my paints with a bit of water and got to business.  These are the results of my morning.....
I found this lovely specimen while cleaning out boxes this week and knew right away I had to paint her.  For a Raggedy Ann, she is VERY raggedy. But still lovable.  I want her weathered and worn look, or as I prefer to say, very well loved look to show through in the painting and I think it will.  She still needs her red striped stockings and shoes as well as eyebrows before I can call her finished. 

As I had stated in my previous post, I'm trying to do more art journaling.  It may seem like a lot of doodling, scribbling, and scratching, but believe me, there is a whole different thought process that goes into this.  I try not to take it too seriously.....I leave that attitude for my watercolors.  Art journaling is my way to let loose, unwind, and just have fun with all kinds of art supplies and newly found tools.  Art journaling is my time to experiment and be as creative as I want to be.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011

As I look back on the year, I've learned that painting everyday makes you a better artist.  Even if it means squeezing in 10 minutes of painting between mountains of never-ending laundry, dinner preparation, and taxi service to soccer games.  Last February I learned this very important lesson as I challenged myself to painting 28 flowers in 28 days.  It most definitely was a challenge, but I accomplished my goal and sold a few of those paintings to collectors throughout the past months.  Thank you to those new collectors!

This year I was also invited to hang my art in a new gallery in town, The Whistlepig Gallery on Main, here in our own downtown Pataskala.  I absolutely love the coziness of the gallery as well as the enthusiasm and soul of the gallery director.  This was one of those situations where when one door closes, a window opens somewhere else.

2011 has also taught me the importance of peace and patience.  We all find ways to bring calm and tranquility to our lives.  Now, more so than ever, is it vital to have this virtue in our lives with our cell phones, emails, facebook, iPads, iPods, etc., etc., etc. taking up precious time.  We must live in the moment and not waste a minute.

The year 2011 was good......not great, but good.  I began 2011 sicker than a dog and ended 2011 in very good health......and to that I am thankful!  I look forward to being more artistic and more organized.  I have a head start in the basement as I empty cardboard boxes, pitch, label, and repack in clear plastic containers.  Since my studio resides in the basement it's of utmost importance to get things in order and have all my supplies at hand.  I anticipate more journaling for the sole purpose of practicing and discovering new skills/techniques. 

I also want to extend a huge "THANK YOU" to all you bloggers, Facebook and Pinterest followers, collectors, family, and friends who have supported me throughout the year.  My New Years resolution for 2012 will be to continue to create art in hopes of inspiring someone to pick up a pencil or paint brush.  Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Tranquility  4"x6"  Gretchen Bjornson©2011
It's been over a month since my last post.  School started for both of my boys and life, in general, got kind of busy.  Now that the soccer season has come to an end and things have slowed down, I'm afraid the roller coaster is slowly heading uphill again.  Christmas music is now playing all day on a local radio station and the stores are stocked with holiday merchandise.  The Christmas season is upon us, according to some.  But let's not rush into it.

My palette has been cleaned and fresh paint has been applied.  Lately my inspiration comes from subject matter outside my normal range of florals.  It's refreshing to paint something different and gain a new perspective on values, colors, and lighting. Todays painting seems to symbolize the calm before the storm.....that time when all is tranquil, but you know there is something brewing on the horizon.  It's important to remember to live each day to its fullest and never take a moment for granted.

The original and prints of this painting are available at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/tranquility-gretchen-bjornson.html?newartwork=true.  Greeting cards are available as well.  What a great Christmas gift for the boat lover!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Success at the Mansion

This is the beautiful Bryn Du Mansion located in Granville, Ohio, just a short drive from where I reside.  The city of Granville hosts their annual autumn art show in the mansion.  It is rich in history and is situated on 52 acres of lavishly landscaped property which includes a huge front field where you can frequently catch polo matches on Sundays in the fall.

This year I was fortunate to have 3 of the 4 paintings I submitted juried into the show.  One of which has already sold.  Below is a photo my son took of me standing by my piece that sold. 

I have to admit, I was thrilled to have sold a piece, however I had a special love affair with this one.  "Field of Poppies", for those of you who may recall, was the final painting (#28) of my 28 day painting challenge last February.  I'm sad to see it go, but pleased it will bring joy to someone else.  After all, isn't that what it's all about?

"Field of Poppies" is the smaller painting on top.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-do

I love it when I get an idea and can produce results without having to make a trip to the arts and crafts store.  Anytime I can dig in my junk drawers or recycle bin to reuse something to avoid buying new is alright by me.  Saves me a dollar, or ten, uses up "stuff" around my house, and saves the earth.....it's a win/win situation as far as I'm concerned. 

Since I can't say no, I have taken on the responsibility of my son's Art Club at his school this year. I really want the students to make their own art journals. I decided I needed to make one first.  I had been searching the Internet and several library books hoping to find directions for homemade sketchbooks and stumbled upon one that seemed the least expensive to put together. 

Low and behold, it cost me not a single penny to make this book and I was very pleased with the results.  After digging through several drawers, bins, and trash cans I was able to round up plenty of paper (all recycled).  I even threw in several pieces of used watercolor paper.....you know those paintings I'm not happy with that are put aside.....yep, some of those ended up in the book.  Other miscellaneous papers included newspaper (the arts and entertainment section of course), coloring book pages, a print out of a map, and a page out of a magazine.  You could use any paper you can find around the house......old text books, atlases, wrapping paper.  The possibilities are endless.  The cover consists of two chip boards from the back of an old notebook covered with some wonderful coordinating scrapbook paper. I sewed the pages together and voila.......instant art journal!  Free!  

 Here is one of my first art journal entries......."Meet the Kids"

Now don't think I've given up on my watercolor painting......I'll have some watercolor pages in the journal as well.  And I don't intend on making my blog about art journaling, but I will share the occasional "cool" page that comes along. 

The plumeria are still in the works as well.  I haven't quite reached my "a-ha" moment with the painting, but it's getting close.  I had to re-do this painting.  Well, actually I started over.  Don't be surprised to find the first attempt in one of my future homemade art journals as paper fodder.  Let me know what you think of the plumeria.  I'm in that stage where I could use some suggestions on strengthening the piece.  Happy Friday all!!



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