Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bay Hunt Seat

I can't seem to recall the name of this one.  I helped train this quarter horse and showed it in hunt seat classes a few times.  This horse has bay coloring.  Looking at the painting now, I could go darker around the muzzle.  He had a bright expression in the reference photo and I was able to capture that.  Thanks for following my progression of "Equine Challenge" week.  Tomorrow's goal is to mat and frame a painting recently sold so it's ready to hand deliver to a Cincinnati customer.  I plan to continue with my horses until I run out of horses to paint.  At that point, I'm going to need more subjects......anyone own a horse? 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Silver The Pony

This is Silver, my Grandma and Grandpa's pony and quite possibly the first "equine" I've ever ridden.  This painting was referenced from a photo in one of my old albums dated 1974.  As you can see from the actual image, it wasn't an easy photo to work from.  Making this one come to life was very difficult, much like riding a they can be very stubborn and difficult at times.  His eye was not clear and may have even been shut in the photo.  I did my best to recreate it.  His color was a challenge as well, but I really wasn't focused too much on getting the exact color match.  I think I was able to convey his "sour" expression.....and who wouldn't be crabby with 3 kids on their back?  His other ear is apparently back showing disapproval of the situation.  I wanted to be sure to get the bushiness of his mane as well. 
That's me in the front with red pants on Silver. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Belgian Paint" or Is It "Paint a Belgian"

 I grew up an avid equestrian involved in 4-H and then proceeded to take my horse to college to major in Equestrian Studies as well as Art.  After graduating from the University of Findlay I was able to work in the quarter horse industry training pleasure horses for three years.  After some life changing decisions I found the need to get a job that offered benefits and a regular salary and ended up working as a school photographer, which in turn led me to yearbook sales.  My saddle found permanent residence in my spare bedroom where I could occasionally catch the scent of the leather while dusting it.  I miss the smell of the barn and the companionship of my horse, who I had to sell to help pay for college.

Now horseless, I still hold the passion for riding close to my heart.  Last week my son's Cub Scout troop was given the opportunity to visit a barn to learn about horses.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic and quickly dusted off my boots.  Knowing I was an experienced rider, the Cub Scout pack leader allowed me choice of mounts.  I didn't care, as long as I could get back in the saddle again (no pun intended).  I ended up riding this Belgian/Paint who was truly a joy.  I was in my element.  My 8 year old son was kind enough to take pictures of me while I rode.  It was truly heaven.  

After my visit to the barn, I've been inspired to get back into painting horses again.  I primarily worked with oils in college, but watercolors have been my painting passion lately, so equines in watercolors it is.

I plan to continue painting horses this own challenge to myself.  It's all coming back to me...the anatomy of the horse, the gentle slopes of the withers and back, the depressions above the eyes.

Someday I plan to have a horse again.  For now, I will paint them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Black Eyed Susans

I had a request for a painting of black eyed susans and ran across a photograph I had taken over the summer of these flowers so I thought it would be a good idea to play with the colors a bit.  Green is a difficult color to work with, I think.  In this painting I didn't want the green too bright or too much like a grass green.  I ended up adding some winsor violet to my sap green to get a darker hue.  In error, I added a bit of hooker's green and was quick to decide it didn't suit the painting. 

I'd love to hear other artists' experience with you use colors straight from the tube or do you mix colors to get your greens? 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Warm Colors vs. Cool Colors

What a stark contrast between paintings, wouldn't you agree?  On the left is a leaf I photographed two weeks ago.  As I was walking through our backyard looking for "dog logs", I came upon this one leaf that had such amazing color I had to paint it.  I tried to keep as true to the colors of the leaf as I could and I think I did a pretty good job. 

On the right is my finished painting of oil cans.  I really enjoyed using the three cooler colors on this one.  Although my husband mentioned last night that he was hoping I'd paint them in their true colors.  Okay, I'll have to file that one away for another painting opportunity.

Fall Leaf  8"x10"
Oil Cans  10.5"x14.5"
Both paintings will be available for purchase at my shop
If you are interested in greeting cards with my art click on this link
Thanks again for viewing Gretchen Bjornson ART blog!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Ocean of Work

Working on several commissions currently.  This is a quick painting of a beach scene I've been working on today.  I have two other compositions of a beach scene for the customer to choose from.  It's a bit rough, but you get the idea.  I had to stop myself from getting too detailed, since this won't be the final painting.  The final painting will be over twice the size of this one, which is about 5x7.

I think I need to attack the ocean with a darker wash.  I'm afraid I tend to paint too delicately and end up having to use several glazes/layers to darken the values.

The waves are always a challenge, but I think I'm going in the right direction.......maybe add some darker shadows under the foam?  I'd love to hear some suggestions on making it better.  Thanks again for checking out my blog!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beautiful Oil Cans

Never in a million years would I have dreamed to put the words "beautiful" and "oil can" together.  But now I have, because they are. 

My husband and I were at a local Swapper's Day (think of it as an over sized garage sale) and I came upon a table with these oil cans for sale.  They were arranged just as you see them in the painting and the sun was hitting them just right to cast these wonderful shadows.

I still have a bit more detail work to do as well as building up darker values.  I chose an analogous color scheme of sap green, cobalt blue, and winsor violet.  I hope to finish this one within a day or two.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goodbye Summer....Farewell

I'm really going to miss the summer.....all the beautiful flowers and blooms that I love to paint.  "Daisy Field" is my farewell gift to summer.  I hope I have stockpiled enough images of the flowers I've encountered over the summer months to keep me busy once the cold winter days are in full force.  I'm sure by February I'll be craving paintings like these.

The fall does bring good things, although the cold is not one of them.  At the end of this month the Bryn Du Art Show in Granville, Ohio will take place.  Two of my paintings were accepted, however one of them has already sold.  I will at least have one painting on display at this show that will feature around 50 artists.  In addition, a few local artists in my town will be displaying and selling their art at the local fruit farm.  I hope to be one of them.  In the meantime, I'll be busy with brush in hand.

"Daisy Field" can be purchased at or you can email me at if you are interested in this painting or any of my other paintings.  Thanks again for viewing and sharing my blog with friends and family.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carter's Cornstalks, maybe finished

Okay, I really need to put this painting to rest.  This will be my last post of this painting, unless I do something groundbreaking to it.  I made the necessary adjustments to my son's shirt and darkened the background behind him....although I'm not completely happy with the results.  Also, I've decided the cornstalks are a bit broken up around the edges on the wagon.  I've tried to clean them up, but I just haven't mastered negative shape washes.  I'm not too pleased about the corn field in the background either. 

Well, enough of my negative comments.  I had big expectations for this one.  Half of it makes me happy, the other half doesn't.  On a positive note, I always learn something new from each painting I do. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Carter's Cornstalks

I built up some darker values on the cornstalk painting.  I came to a point where I wasn't sure what to do with the background.  I indicated a cornfield at the top, but was trying to avoid getting too detailed, which inevitably I do.  I really wanted to have more "lost and found" edges, but so far, it's not happening.  I decided to go darker with the background grass and maybe I need to darken it up even more on the left side.  I'm now wondering if I should darken up the area behind the boy as well?  Maybe that will help to push it back.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Impending Fall

The weather turned from 90's to 70's for the upcoming weekend.  My flowers are fading and I have replaced most of my potted plants with mums.  I've continued working on the field of daisies and once again I find myself on hold trying to decide where to go next with the painting.  When I find myself at that point I frequently move the painting to different locations around my house to help figure out what can be done to improve it.  So far, it's been in the kitchen, the upstairs hall, the spare bedroom, and outside on the porch (for a quick snapshot).  If any of you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Onto the issue of cooler weather.....
Fall is not my favorite season, however I do anticipate the wondrous colors nature has to offer in the leaves, mums, pumpkins, and corn fields.   It's a painters dream.  The painting above is the beginnings of a piece I've referenced from a photo I took of my oldest son pulling a wagon of cornstalks at my Grandma's house in Lancaster, Ohio several years ago.  A typical rustic fall scene in the country.  I have a feeling a certain "anonymous" viewer will have a comment for this one, but I won't name names.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time To Get Busy

Today was the first day of school for my youngest, who will be turning five this weekend.  He's begun Pre-K and will be there every day for three hours.  Which for me translates to additional painting time!  Don't get me wrong.......I do miss him and him turning five is quite a milestone for me as he is not a toddler anymore and has told me he is okay with leaving me and going to school.  However, I am anxious to be able to sit in my studio/spare bedroom for more than 15 minutes to work on art.

So, to mark this change in schedule for me I began a daisy painting.  Very bright and happy colors to reflect how I feel about my new free time.  Of course I do have other household responsibilities such as cleaning, laundry, and cooking meals that will require attention as well, but those can wait.


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