Monday, February 28, 2011

Just A Bit Behind....But Not Giving Up!

"Calla Lillies"  #25
4" x 5.25" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
"Sunny Day" #26
4" x 5.25" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
NO WAY am I giving up on this challenge.  I may be a little behind, but I will have 28 flowers painted by the end of this month....which would be today.  February has definitely gone by much quicker than normal since starting this experience.  I have learned quite a bit about technique, timing, paint, paper, and the list goes on.  Later this week I plan to post in greater detail the lessons learned from this challenge.  I will post painting 27 later today or early tomorrow. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Painters Block

2011© Gretchen Bjornson

How many days are left in this challenge?  I've hit a rough spot.  I suppose I should be thankful I've had as many agreeable paintings as I've had so far.  I am.

It's so disappointing to sit down with big expectations and then watch it slowly decline.  This one isn't quite as disappointing as yesterdays.  I think this piece still has possibilities.  The background needs work and the flowers need "something".  They just seem dull.  Yellow is a tough color for me for some reason.  How do you make yellow sing?

This is #24.  Four days, four paintings, four flowers to go.

The Good, The Bad, and The UGLY!

Not one of my prouder moments, painting #23 is the result of a busy day yesterday.  I usually get my posts completed before the end of the day.....that didn't happen.  The paint brush didn't even touch the paper until sometime around 7:30 p.m.  In my attempt to go simple I ended up going horribly wrong with every aspect of this painting.  It had potential in the beginning if I had spent more time and put more thought into it.  The color choices were poor and the brushstrokes were forced.

Well, no need to beat a dead horse, right?  I'll chalk this one up to lack of time and preparation.  This one doesn't deserve a caption or title and will most likely find a home in my reject closet or the trash bin.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Mood Flower II"

"Mood Flower II"
3.5" x 5.25" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

This piece is reminiscent of an earlier piece I painted titled "Mood Flower".  I used the same reference photo, which was taken by me, but kept the background lighter and airier than the original "Mood Flower".  In this painting I laid down a wash of Quinacridone Gold and followed that with a layer of Prussian Blue once the first wash dried.  I love the green that was created in areas near the bottom.

This is painting #22.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Sunflowers in Full Bloom"

"Sunflower in Full Bloom"
2.5" x 3.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

This painting completes my series for the weekend.  I hope you all enjoyed my series of paintings documenting the various growth stages of a sunflower! 

This also makes 21 paintings for my February challenge.  I have to admit, February seems to have gone by a little quicker than normal since I've been busy painting each day.  However, March seems to be coming in like a lion with everything I have on my "to do" list.  I'll be glad when I don't have to paint every day. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Painting #20 is #3 of the series

"Flower in Bloom"
2.5" x 3.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Can anyone guess this flower?  Notice it's not quite fully bloomed yet.  The petals are just beginning to spread.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

#19 "Sprout"

2.5" x 3.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

"Sprout" is painting number 19 in my monthly challenge and painting number 2 of my series of 4 this weekend.

Isn't it an adorable little sprout?  I wonder if any of you have caught on to the theme of my series yet?

Friday, February 18, 2011

#18 "Seedling"

2.5" x 3.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Painting #18 is the first of my series of 4.  Technically this is a flower.  It's just not in the "pretty" stage of growth yet.  This painting depicts the emergence of the seed from the ground.

Stay tuned for tomorrows painting! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Black Eyed Susan Duet

"Black Eyed Susan Duet"
4" x 5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Today I chose to go simple with my painting.  My oldest has a 4 day weekend so we're spending it in Cincinnati.  I had packing to do today for myself, two boys, and a dog.  I'm leaving the husband at home to spend time in his garage.  I'm looking forward to a break from the routine.

Now don't worry, I've prepared for being gone this weekend.  No excuses from me not to turn out paintings the next four days.  I had taken this trip into account upon accepting the challenge and knew I had to do something different. 

The next 4 flowers will be part of a series.  I had to "cheat" a bit as I realized I wouldn't want to drag my painting supplies along, so I've been working on these four pieces daily for the last two weeks.

I will post one for each day and if all goes well (I'll be using my Mom's computer) I will post the series as a whole on Monday.  You won't want to miss a day!  I hope you all have a great weekend!   

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"Butterfly Bush"
4" x 5.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Every so often I get lucky and finish a painting in time to take it outside in natural light to photograph it.  Today, I had no such luck.  As you can see, my image looks "dirty".  I photographed it under the light in my dining room without a flash.  Hopefully tomorrow I can rephotograph the painting and post a better image.

I would love to set up a mini photo studio just for photographing my artwork.  It would be of tremendous help during the winter months when it's difficult to get outside.  It's much easier during the spring and summer to take my work outside and capture a good digital image under natural light.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beginning Halfway...

"Pink Rose"
4" x 5.25" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
 I just had to paint another rose.  This time I wanted to paint a deep, dark red, velvety rose.  Well what do you know, I ended up with a pinkish rose!  My reference photo was actually a yellow rose.  At one point I was so focused on the photo I started adding greens to the darker values in the petals.....big mistake.  After correcting those areas with some Winsor Violet, I stepped back from the painting to evaluate my darks and lights.  I love the color combination of greens and pinks and I'm fairly satisfied with the results.

This marks the beginning of the second half of my painting challenge and I'm very glad I took on the challenge.  The rewards truly are great.  Thanks for sticking with me during the challenge so far!

Monday, February 14, 2011

#14 Goodnight...

Add caption
 I've yet to title this one....#14.  It's late and I'm going to bed.  I'll include details about this flower tomorrow when I can fuel up on coffee and not have to hit backspace so many times.


Happy Valentine's Day

Since painting #14 won't be posted until later this evening, here is a Valentine for all my blogging friends........painted courtesy of my son.

He actually made these for his classmates, but I couldn't resist sharing them with you today!  He did a fantastic job.  What girl could resist a hand painted Valentine?

Hope you have a wonderful day filled with lots of love!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Out and About

"Yellow Rose"
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

I felt a bit rushed on painting #13.  The sun was out and the temps hit the mid 40's today, so we opted to go to the Columbus Zoo.  After our visit we discussed which animals were our favorites.  My youngest enjoyed the Komodo Dragon, my husband chose the brown bears, my oldest was undecided (typical of his personality), and my favorite was the tigers.  It was wonderful spending some time outside without freezing for a change.

I completed this rose this evening and it seemed I was constantly waiting for it to dry so I could paint on it some more.  I think I rushed into the color choices.  I like the yellow, but I'm not so keen on the blue.  I may paint over the background and darken it up some....change the blue into more of a deep, deep purple.

Tomorrow is the halfway mark of my 28 day challenge.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Crocus" Painting #12

2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Crocus are said to symbolize cheerfulness and gladness.  Being one of the first flowers to push through the dirt (and sometimes snow) at the onset of spring, I know I will be cheerful and glad that winter is coming to an end.

So here is another painting to get you in the mood for the upcoming spring season!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tempting Tulips

"Tulip Field"
5"x 7" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Spring cannot come soon enough!  Living in an icebox is not my cup of tea.  We have had unusually cold temperatures this winter and they have managed to linger leaving us no relief from the cold.  I'm sure many of you can relate as it seems the entire country, in general, has been hit with one of the worst winters it's seen on record. 

One can only hope the groundhog's prediction earlier this month was correct.....spring will come early.

The weathermen are predicting temps to be in the mid 40's next week.  (That's 40 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you in other parts of the world.)  Let's cross our fingers for a continuing trend of warmer weather and sunshine to coax those tulips out of the ground.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Bouquet...

"A Bouquet"
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
It seems appropriate, with Valentine's Day around the corner, to offer a bouquet of lovely flowers as painting #10.  This would be a bouquet I would choose if I were to purchase flowers from the florist.  I love the mix of colors......the purple compliments the yellow and orange really well. 

The sunflower is lacking some highlights.  I was a bit too heavy handed with the yellow.  Other than that, I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lavender Memories

"Lavender #9"
7" x 10" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Whenever I see or smell lavender I am reminded of my 9 year old as an infant.  Motherhood for me was baptism by fire.  God blessed me with a baby who couldn't be consoled.  He cried from day one and through most of his first 6 months.  I tried it all.....everything from a car ride to a ride on the washing machine.  Nothing worked.  Everyone tried to help and offer suggestions, but in the end the only relief I ever really got was from my Mom.....who stayed with us the first few nights to rock and hold the baby at night allowing me some much needed sleep. 

So why lavender flowers?  One of the many tips I received to help the baby relax and sleep was lavender oil.  I was told to dab some on a cotton swab and place it under the baby's sheets.  Although I don't recall groundbreaking results, I do think it helped some.  I even used the Johnson and Johnson baby bath infused with lavender and believed it may have calmed him.  I admit I dabbed it behind my own ears more than one time for my own sanity.

Well, I survived that first year, as most of us do.  In addition, I was blessed again four years later with our second child who was the best baby a mother could have asked for.....sleeping through the night at just under 2 months of age and a happy baby who seldom cried and was content most of the time.  As I complete this post, I have two little boys peeking in the office at me.....both with smiles on their faces.  Life is good.     

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#8....It's A Mystery

Sometimes things just click.  Those moments are simply golden to an artist.  This is one of those rare paintings in which I managed to limit my palette to 2 colors and my layers to one.  What a simplistic painting I created, yet somewhat complex in nature. 

I'm not quite sure of the name of these flowers, but I believe the photo was from one of my Florida trips.  If there are any native Floridians viewing this, please help me out if this flower looks at all familiar.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Photoshop Frustration and #7

4.5"x6" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
Okay, so I've only had the program a day and I'm already frustrated.  I know, I just need to give it time and play with it....and I will.  I would be interested in hearing how my artist friends utilize Photoshop with their art.  My reason for purchasing the software is two-fold.  Obviously as an additional tool for my art, I hope to be able to manipulate images I've taken and merge things together or remove items that are too busy.  I'd also like to be able to take a color image and make it black and white...enhance the values so I have a better reference image to utilize while painting.  The second reason would be for creating digital scrapbook pages.  We have hundreds and hundreds of digital images stored on our computer and I'd like to start putting them into book form.  How do you use Photoshop?

Here is flower painting #7.  The background ended up being very high key.  I may just leave it alone at this point though.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Workout!

"Solitary Flower"
4.5"x5.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
 I'm one of those people who only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.  So while I sit in my office updating Facebook and my blog I'm keeping one ear open for commercial breaks.  I then jump up from my chair and run into the family room to check out the commercials.  Once the game is back on, I run back to my place in the office.  It makes for a great workout.

So far I'm not impressed by Budweiser, the TeleFlora commercial was kind of funny, and I get to suffer through another Transformers movie that's set to open July 1st.  (My boys love the Transformers movies.)

Once I finish publishing this post, I'm on to learning about my latest software purchase, Adobe Photoshop Elements.  I've read in a few artist publications about how it's been a valuable tool.  I'm anxious to give it a go not only in my artistic endeavors, but in my photobook creation endeavors as well.

Painting #6 is somewhat abstract for me.  My reference photo was provided by fellow creative mind, Chanda Cook.  She's emailed to me several great images of flowers and this was one of them.  Thanks Chanda!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daisies In The Blue for you...

"Daisies In The Blue"
5"x7.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson
I'm not so sure I can call this piece "finished".  Looking at it on the computer screen with my critical eye makes me think the petals need more detail.  I'm also wondering if I should go darker with my darkest blue values.  Along that line, I'd love to know how you get your darkest values.  Lately I've been really struggling for deep, dark values.  Do you add a black to darken your colors or do you add a complimentary color?  It seems the colors I enjoy working with the most give me nice dark values on their own, for instance Prussian Blue and Winsor Violet.  I tend to lean towards those colors when I need deep values.

Tell me how you accomplish your darks.  This seems to be a stumbling block for me.  And what are your thoughts on this painting....does it need "something"?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pondering the Puggle

 We have a visitor for the next two weeks....
My aunt's puggle, Lucy, will be staying with us while they spend a nice WARM vacation in the sunshine state.  I hope they have a great time.  In the meantime, our herd grew by 4 feet.  I'm sure I'll have some stories to share about Lucy periodically and maybe more pictures as well. 

On to the real business of the day....painting #4.
I really admire painters who can keep their paintings loose, yet still evoke a sense of realism.  Sometimes I find myself stuck in that rut of having to paint every last detail.  It's not my intention, it just happens.  I guess that's why it is so important to get up and walk away from the painting. 

This painting of a pink zinnia evolved from a wash of alizerin crimson.  How excited I was to see it bloom before my eyes as I added darker values of the pink hue to "indicate" petals.  For awhile I stewed over whether or not to add a background color.  Well, as you can see I did.  Not sure if it was the right thing to do, but what's done is done.  Enjoy!
4.0"x5.5" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Well, that was interesting...

Original Watercolor
©2011 Gretchen Bjornson

Wow, that winter storm gave us quite the wallop!  A good coating of ice and strong arctic winds left us without power for a good 16 hours.  That was nothing, compared to the power outages some experienced after Hurricane Ike blew through here a couple of years ago.  Some were without electricity for 4 days!  We were not one of those. 

I did have a painting to share yesterday and just as I was ready to hit "publish post", our phone and Internet service bit the dust.  Mind you, this happened a few hours after our power was restored.  Needless to say, I was a bit frustrated. 

So here are my two paintings (#2 and #3 of my 28 flowers in 28 days challenge).
"Lilly of the Valley"
5"x7" Original Watercolor
2011© Gretchen Bjornson

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Flowers Begins...

"Pair of Marigolds"
4.5" x 6.5" original watercolor
©2011Gretchen Bjornson
I am welcoming the month of February with a painting of a simple glass vase holding two bi color marigolds.  My reference photo came from images I took when my husband and I stayed at the Murphin Ridge B&B in West Union, Ohio this past fall.  Each table on their outdoor patio had it's own vase, such as this one. 

I'd like to paint this subject again as the lighting was so fantastic in the photograph and I'm not completely satisfied with how I attacked the reflections in the glass of the vase.  Okay, so enough of my own criticism.....enjoy the first of 28 paintings and feel free to offer your own critique. 

Besides enjoying the painting process this month and simply having a good time with it, my intention is to gain new insight on different techniques by trial and error.  Some paintings will work, others will not.  Some days painting will come easily to me and other days may prove wouldn't be called a "challenge" if it wasn't, right? 

So here's hoping the next 27 days of paintings offer you a little brightness in the form of a flower.  If you see something that tickles your fancy, send me an email or message me on Facebook.  These paintings will be available for purchase.  Oh and by the way.....spring is 47 days away!!   


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