Still in a reflective mood, I’ve been looking back over these last few years, and remembering the highlights of this art journey I’ve been on. Oh, there have been low-lights, too, but let’s not look at them today. Maybe another time I’ll review some of those moments, but for now, I want to focus on the good times I’ve had with art.
So, I’ve gathered up a few of my favorite things when it comes to the art I’ve done. Here are my “top ten” favorite works of art and the memories attached to them.
10. The Inktober Dragon
I was proud of this fellow, mostly because this was ink. I didn’t complete the entire month of “Inktober” that year, but making this detailed dragon gave me a genuine feeling of satisfaction. Not only did I create an ink drawing that I liked, I also had a lot of fun doing it.
9. Graphite Landscape Drawing
I worked on this graphite landscape for quite some time. I’ve never been able to get a good photo of it, but I think you can get an idea of the detail included in the scene. I learned a lot from this drawing. I learned that good graphite drawing requires patience and persistence. This scene really bolstered my drawing confidence.
8. Birch Trees
I love birch trees, and all three of these watercolor paintings are favorites. I especially like the color palette I used. Since watercolor is a medium I find quite challenging, I enjoy looking at these paintings and seeing that on occasion, at least, I can create successful watercolor art.
7. Eyes That Have Seen Too Much
Another watercolor, Eyes That Have Seen Too Much, makes this list because of the emotion that went into this painting. I’m not an “activist artist”. I don’t seek to make political statements with anything I draw or paint, but as I worked on a project I called “Faces of Summer”, this child appeared. It was during a time of unrest in our country. I’d heard on the news about yet another child who’d been killed in a “drive-by” shooting. Today, this watercolor remains one of the most “talked about” pieces of art I’ve done. Friends and family members still remark on how moved they were when they saw this image.
6. Thirty-One Days of Tonalism
I’m not showing all thirty-one paintings here. This one — December 31 — was the final painting I did during this project. What you’re looking out is a very small oil painting done not on canvas or canvas panel, or even on a sheet from a canvas pad. During the month of December 2020, I painted a “tonalist” scene each day on a 3 x 5 index card. This was definitely one of the best “art projects” I’ve ever done. Some paintings were better than others, but overall it was a great art experience.
5. The Grove Where We Played as Children
I must, of course, include this painting in my “highlights” list. Although it looks odd to my eyes here — unmatted and unframed, this painting is near and dear to my heart for several reasons. The scene is from memory, showing a grove of trees where my sisters and I played when we were young. As I painted it, I hoped to express a lot of emotions. The painting had a narrative, and it resonated with a judge at a regional art show. I was beyond surprised when I saw the “First Place” blue ribbon award attached to my entry. That ribbon is still attached, and the painting is hanging on our bedroom wall.
4. A Bowl of Apples
You’ve seen this one before! This colored pencil drawing from early 2016 is what led me to start Artistcoveries. I had no idea, really, why I felt I should have an art blog. I just felt good about this drawing I’d done. I wanted to share it — not just with family and friends, but with anyone and everyone. So I started a blog, made a post, and then wondered what in the world I was doing! Me? With an art blog? Almost six years later, I’m still here blogging and loving the experience.
Abstract art remains a puzzle for me, but in the last year or so I’ve learned a bit more about creating my own abstract pieces. I liked this one because I liked the black and white contrast. There’s also a bit of deep, dark red there, although it’s hard to see. It made me think of all the connections we make in life. It was fun, so I thought it deserved a place on my “top ten” list.
2. Storm Clouds Gathering
Oh, how I love this painting, and if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might remember that this painting received an award at a regional show. That “judge merit” award was my first, and I was thrilled! It wasn’t until later, though, when I picked up the painting and award and saw my name printed on the back of the ribbon that it really “hit home” for me. I was a real artist. A judge thought my painting had merit. Had it not been for that encouragement, I might have given up. It was just the push I needed to keep believing in myself.
One of the reasons I won the award, in all honesty, was because of the beautiful matting and framing on the painting. In the photo above, it’s shown with a simple black frame. The actual “show entry” painting was definitely more impressive.
Yet another reason why this painting is such a favorite for me is because I put a bit of thought into it. It, too, had a narrative: we are small and insignificant in the larger scheme of things, nature is powerful, and storms do come our way.
In its original version, though, maybe I didn’t show all of that. Here’s how the painting looked when I stepped away from the easel:
Now, some of you liked the painting just as it was. Some felt that it needed nothing more. Yet in a process of “critical review”, I determined that the painting wasn’t really as complete as I’d thought. So I took it back to the easel, added the farm scene and landscape details, and went on to win that precious “Judge Merit” award. That, in itself, taught me a good lesson. Be willing to look at art with a critical eye. Be willing to make changes when necessary.
1 . The Sea Turtle
Yes, folks, of all the drawings and paintings I’ve made in the last six years, this sea turtle is — and probably always will be — my favorite. Why? Because this colored pencil drawing astounded me. Even now, I look at it and am amazed to think that I created this.
Remember how I’d decided to “be an artist” because of the colored pencil set I’d bought? Well, this was my first real colored pencil drawing. I’d gone through a basic “how to draw” class and had learned the elements of art through The Virtual Instructor. What next? Well, there was a “Colored Pencil Course” for beginners. I crossed my fingers and hoped I could make it through.
When I first saw the reference photo of this sea turtle, I despaired of ever being able to complete it, but I followed along step by step, first drawing the image and then slowly coloring it, learning the proper techniques for using those gorgeous Prismacolor Premier pencils I’d bought. I worked on this very slowly, and day by day I watched this drawing appear. Oh, my goodness! “I can really do this!” I was, truly, astounded to think that I’d been able to draw and color this sea turtle. Yes, it still amazes me.
I’d say no other drawing I’ve ever done has been so important to my success as an artist than this one. This was the one that convinced me that I really could learn to draw. This was the one that assured me I wasn’t just wasting time. This one taught me that what they say is true: you can learn to draw if you really want to.
Thank you for going on this journey with me. Putting this post together has been a lot of fun, and now having looked at a few of my “favorite things” in art, I’m really thinking how much fun it would be to share my “top ten” art disasters. Now, that’s going to be fun, for sure. Embarrassing, yes, but fun all the same. So be watching for another “Top Ten” exhibition coming up soon.
And, of course, I have to ask: What’s your pick from among my “favorite things”?