The Secret's Out!

Well, I can finally show you one of my two latest "top secret" projects! I delivered the original this morning, and it has been given to the recipient for whom it was commissioned, so I can now share it with you! Here's the final piece....

This is a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy - isn't he a cutie? You can read more about the breed HERE. The friend who commissioned this piece asked if I would add the "in progress" pictures of this piece to my blog for the recipient to see, so below you can see the painting progress to its final finished state...

This was my reference photo from my client... from which I made my sketch...

 Once I got my sketch down from my reference photo, I transferred it to my watercolor paper...

I started work with laying in some of the background - leaves, texture on the ground, some pebbles...
Salt sprinkled over damp watercolors creates a nice "rock" texture...

Continuing with the background, deepening shadows, creating texture in the leaves, and starting to add in some of the soft browns on the face...

Deepening shadows, adding more "background" leaves, scumbling on the foreground,
 and starting to lay in some color on the paws...

Every doggy needs a nose!

On the reference photo, the background is so dark that parts of the puppy's dark fur blends in and gets lost in the shadows... So I lightened the foliage up a bit and added some highlights on the puppy's fur to make its shape stand out. (Incidentally, I saw one of these puppies at Petsmart the day after I finished this painting, and you wouldn't believe how soft their fur is! Wow! So cute and cuddly...)

I found the black part of his fur to be the most challenging - in the photo, it is so black and dark that you really can't see much detail and he gets a little lost in the foliage... So I tried to lighten it up a bit and add some "highlights" in order to suggest form and highlights, while keeping it dark enough to show the inky color of the real fur.

And finally, just touching up little details, deepening shadows, and finishing things off...
(Fueled by Cherry Herbal Dr. Enuf, the beverage of champions...)

Scratch in some little whiskers and highlights on the fur and leaves with an exacto knife, sign it,
 and - voilà- it's done!

I will have prints and cards of this little guy available soon on my website and on Etsy.
 Meanwhile, if you're interested in commissioning a portrait of your own furry friend, please contact me!

Thanks for being patient before the secret was out! I've got one more trick up my sleeve, but you will have to wait a while to see it! Meanwhile, I hope you have a lovely week...



IF: Propagate

Many of you have seen this before, but I'm trying to get involved in the fantastic blog, "Illustration Friday," so here's my entry for this week's topic, "Propagate."

I have the original of this painting available in my Etsy shop, and prints and cards available on my website. Please stop by and check them out!



Watercolor Wednesday...

Since my latest project is top-secret, I thought I'd show you (again) these watercolors, the ORIGINALS of which I have just added to my Etsy shop...

"Busy Bee"
Original Watercolor by Beth Stone
5"x7" on Arches 140lb. CP

"Love in a Mist"
Original Watercolor by Beth Stone

5"x7" on Arches 140lb. CP

"Koi Pond"
Original Watercolor by Beth Stone
8"x10" on Arches 140lb. CP

As I mentioned, I have just loaded the originals of all three of these paintings into my Etsy shop where they are available for purchase. Each is signed and framed in a dark brown wooden frame with white mat. (Pictures of frames on Etsy.) So stop by and check them out! I also have prints and cards of these available both on Etsy and in my Web shop.

Hope you're having a lovely week...



Tips for Tuesday

Well, nothing earth-shattering for you today....
I've been working in my studio most of the day, and unfortunately, I can't even show you the progress I made.... here's a little glimpse though, but you'll just have to wait to see the finished piece! (It's a gift that someone has commissioned, and I can't give away the secret!)

I can, however, show you the progress my little niece made on her piece....

:o) Her subject is my dog, Harvey...  I quickly sketched him out for her, and she's "painting" it in with these fabulous Crayola paint brush pens, which I highly recommend if you've got kids... You get the "brush" like quality that lets them feel like they're painting, but they don't drip, require no water or washing out, and the paint is contained right in the handle... So no mess! The caps pop on and off, so they're as simple as markers... And washable - you can't beat that. So there's my tip for the day - try these out for your kids (or nephews and nieces!) - we've had a pretty productive (and clean!) day in the studio.... :o)

Here's a link where you can purchase the paint brush pens...



Misc. Monday - Pumpkins and Other Odd Things

Well, since everyone else is writing about Valentine's Day crafts and such, I thought I might as well write about pumpkins...

Yes, I realize the timing on this post is a bit odd, but hey, that's what Misc. Mondays are for...

The truth is, I can't show you what I'm currently working on due to its being a surprise for someone from the person who commissioned it, and on the very slim chance that that person might actually read this blog, I can't post the pictures yet! So this will have to do for my creative offerings for today.

Once a month, I do art lessons with my home-schooled nephews, and January's project was papier-mâché. I unfortunately do not have any photos of the pieces in progress (due to the hazards of touching any type of electronic equipment while completely covered in Elmer's glue mixed with water - let me just warn you - papier-mache with three kids and one overly-ambitious, grown-up craft nut is not unlike a somewhat-controlled trainwreck..Do it outside if, like a normal person, you decide to make your pumpkins in September rather than January), so we'll just have to make do with the after photos... I will give you some brief instructions, however.

The boys chose to make the following:
  • a self-portrait bust
  • a race car
  • a cactus
    (Theirs aren't finished yet, so I have no photos of them to show you today....)
I had been wanting to try pumpkins ever since I saw my friend Barbara's papier-mâché pumpkins at a farmer's market last fall, so here we are...

Not quite up to snuff, but it was a rather long day, and I gave out about midnight - there's only so much Elmer's glue that already-chapped hands can take, anyway (I should add here, that the poor little children were NOT kept up doing papier-mache until midnight. No, they were taken home by my sweet husband, who was not covered in Elmer's glue, and had their dinner and were put snugly to bed at a reasonable hour). But I think they're okay - kinda quirky and lumpy, but I think they'll look cute tucked in around my other fall decorations (when fall actually rolls around again). (I'm talking about the pumpkins again now- not the kids, who are not lumpy and will not be tucked around in my fall decorations).

So, for simple papier-mâché projects, you'll need the following:

  • strips of newspaper (they rip easily - make your strips about 1 1/2" - 2" wide - a variety is good)
  • Elmer's glue - a lot of it (I got mine at a Back to School sale a year or two ago and wound up getting about 20 bottles for $2 or something crazy like that!)
  • water & a large container (plastic bucket, cool whip container,etc.)
  • balloons, cardboard, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, etc.
Start out by creating a "form." For the pumpkins, I used balloons of different sizes, then modified them slightly with cardboard to make the stems. Pumpkin stems apparently have five ridges, so I took two rectangles of cardboard, notched them and connected them, then taped an extra "rib" in between two of the other ribs. Then I used masking tape to attach this to the ballon (over the knot)

For other forms, you can fashion them with wadded up and taped newspaper, cardboard, ballons, or a combination of all three. Just make sure they're taped together tightly so they hold the shape.

Once you get your form created, then the messy part begins.
Mix 1 part glue with 1 part water in your container and stir well.

Then, you simply begin dipping your strips of newspaper into the glue mixture, "squeegee" off the excess with your fingers, and begin layering the wet strips over your form. Be sure to overlap each piece with the next, and make sure that they are tightly pressed to the form with no "bubbles" or loose ends flapping.

It's best to completely cover your form with about 2 layers of paper, then allow it to dry before adding more. (If working with kids, you may want to spread the project out over several sessions - they get restless, and allowing it to dry before adding more layers will help with the final results).

To create the "squashed-in" bottom and stem ends for my pumpkins (pun intended), I allowed my pumpkins (with 6 or 7 layers) to dry overnight, then "popped" the balloons the next morning with a straight pin. Once the balloon was popped, the paper was still pliable enough to allow me to push it down a little (so it would sit flat). Do this carefully though. (And make sure you have plenty of layers and that they are mostly dry first - I lost my first pumpkin because I didn't have enough layers of paper and only allowed it to dry about an hour... which led to a deflated, rotten-looking pumpkin. Gross. Bummer.)

Once they are thoroughly dry, you can paint them as you like! I used acrylic craft paint... and may touch them up a little still. The green lines are a little too prominent, I think. But we'll see... I've got other things I should be working on!

So there's a little tutorial... maybe I'll re-post this again in the fall, when you might actually WANT to look at or think about pumpkins, but I had to have something to show for myself.... :o)

In other news, I was honored to have my watercolor, "Sparrow's Nest,"  featured on the Christian Artists Street Team (CAST Team) on Etsy blog today. The direct link to the post by Phyllis Ducey is HERE. Her post, "Word Pictures," discusses the fact that throughout the Bible, God uses "word pictures" to illustrate Truth. Creation itself is full of evidence that is pointing us to our Creator, if we just have eyes to see it. A driving goal behind all of my work is centered around this concept - I hope that if you see anything beautiful or appealing in my artwork, it will point you back to the One who inspired it, whether it's a little attempt at conveying the beauty of His Creation, conveying the message and images from a great and theologically-sound hymn, portraying some aspect of what it means to be a godly woman, or some other Truth from Scripture.

 So, I'm excited and honored not only to have been featured on the CAST blog, but also because Phyllis saw in my work the quality that I am striving to put into it... yay!

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. - Matthew 10:29-31

(Prints of this and other pieces are available in my website and Etsy shops -
 check the sidebar for the links!)

Hope you have a lovely week....



A Recommendation...

I'm not feeling particularly philosophical today (due to a head cold), so I'll just recommend that you read this book: How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. This book traces the history of art and architecture and the worldviews that shaped each respective period and movement. I find it fascinating, and anyone who has an interest in art, architecture, history, worldviews, or philosophy probably would enjoy it too.

Hope you have a good weekend!


Artsy Wednesday - Reepicheep, My Hero...

Even if you've never read the books, you're probably at least familiar with the new-ish films based on The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. My favorite character from the series and from literature in general is Reepicheep, the valiant mouse...

(11"x14," oil on canvas panel, in my private collection)

This is an oil portrait of Reepicheep which I did several years ago. (Incidentally, this is NOT Despereaux.) I have prints and greeting cards of this painting available for purchase in my SHOP and on ETSY. One would look great in a child's room or even in a playfully-pompous library or den. It would also make a great gift for a fan of the books or movies.

If I tried to summarize Reepicheep's character or key passages including him from the books, I would do him and Lewis an injustice. So, let me just say, you NEED to read the books (which are excellent over all), if only to meet this little-BIG guy.  (The films are okay as movies go, but they don't compare to the books - read the books!). (Reepicheep appears in Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Last Battle). 

*** Interesting (maybe) Fact Regarding This Painting***

This piece has remained one of my most popular works of art. In fact, Reepicheep has been so popular amongst my friends and family that I have painted 4 other versions of  this painting. One of these paintings, a gift to my Dad, was stolen out of the frame from one of his exam rooms in his pediatrics office. So if you see a small version of this painting with my signature hanging in someone's home or office and they are not one of my relatives or close friends, it is stolen property, and you should contact the authorities (or me). So, I suppose I have joined in the ranks of the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, who has had his paintings stolen too. The only difference would be that his other paintings sell for millions and mine for gobs slightly less than that. And I'm hoping not to starve to death or go crazy. And I have no immediate plans to cut off either of my ears..... At any rate, it's a little bit flattering to have had something I painted stolen - that means at least they LIKED it - but I feel violated too..... rather like being whistled at. So there's my story.

Happy Wednesday....


Too Cute...

...not to show you! My sister in law made these adorable butterfly cupcakes for my niece's 1st birthday party last weekend.... Click HERE for the tutorial on Annie's Eats!