Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I'd invented it, because it is very true." ~Audrey Hepburn

Friday, December 23, 2011

Greetings of the Holiday

©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis

Could it be that the shopping is finished and the cooking will begin? Beep! Time's up!

I want to thank each and every reader who has scanned my pages of thoughts through the year and I wish all of you peace, health, and happiness with family and friends during the coming holidays and the new year ahead. May it be a sweet time for all of us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thought for Thursday

Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that. Charlie Brown: What is it you want? Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" 1965 Charles Schultz

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Found: Some Time to Paint

Winter Nest ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
10x14 Watercolor on Arches paper
With not much time to give to painting, I stole about 45 minutes from a busy day to paint this still life again. It's already out and available so it was a no brainer to just go to it. Yes, this one took a little longer to complete.

The method of painting quickly that I've managed to work out is keeping me in the game. The least amount of water possible doesn't saturate the paper allowing me to move on to another area of the work while the just painted area dries. Once dried I go back and add details. The pace moves fairly quickly.

Christmas is fast approaching and there are things that must get done. Painting is one of the things that just may not happen again for a little while. So the fact that I was able to squeeze it in is a big deal.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Photo for Friday - Time for a Small Watercolor Painting

Winter Cardinal ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x10 Watercolor on Arches paper
No time to yap, I have shopping to do! No time to paint either, but I did find twenty minutes to paint this holiday type of still life. I was determined to get something, anything on paper this week. Next week is another story.

Do you see my little friends in this painting? I'm talking about my friends the apple and the beach shell. Just had to pop them in someplace here.

Happy shopping time now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of the blank canvas, which says to the painter You can't do a thing. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of "you can't" once and for all." ~ Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Surprise Package of Christmas Pudding


Last week I had a delightful surprise I wanted to share, but with the latest watercolor painting just finished I thought to wait until now. And anyway, I needed to actually have possession of the surprise so I could take photos and really share!

Today I received a package in the mail. Around this time of year lots of packages start arriving. Some are from online shopping I do, some are my kids' shopping. Usually I am not surprised by the mail. This time I was looking at an unexpected delivery. When I looked closer I noticed a stamp that read Royal Mail. It was then that I remembered!


A blogging/artist buddy from the United Kingdom, Pat Elliott Paintings, had a give-away on her blog recently. It was a small watercolor painting of Christmas pudding. Readers were encouraged to comment and one of them would be chosen to receive the pretty painting.

Her cute dog, Missy, chose my name as the winner by eating her dog treat, where underneath was a number corresponding to a name. Imagine my surprise when I learned I was the lucky winner! I never win anything. Isn't it cute that Pat's return address label has Missy's picture on it? It's adorable.

(You must visit Pat's blog to see her post with the photograph of Missy waiting for the go-ahead to eat a treat, and especially to view her paintings. Pat does wonderful work.)


Enclosed with the painting was a Christmas card. I think it's such a nice thing to receive mail. Mail that you must open and read is just a wonderful thing, warm and cozy, as long as it's happy mail. Email is not the same, but the times are what they are.


And so here is my prize. Until I get myself out there to get a frame my Christmas pudding painting will stand on my fireplace mantel with my holiday collection of St. Nicholas' and Santa's in it's place of honor.

Thank you Pat, for this bright spot in my day. I will now brag to everyone how I have a friend across the Pond who sent me holiday wishes with her lovely work. I am humbled by Christmas pudding.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunflower Painting is Finished, and What I Learned

It's Friday and time to show you photos of the latest finished watercolor painting. I had some other fun news to share, but you will have to wait. Painting is happening and the sooner I get this one out of here the easier it will be to get the next one working and I will tell you what was so much fun.

First twenty minutes

There were a few things I learned while painting this work. Firstly, the height of my art table is too high. The dining room table is lower when I painted there, waist level while standing. This was not comfortable and I felt as if I couldn't get away from it by standing or sitting on a stool. It will need to be lowered if I'm going to paint there.

Secondly, the desk lamp is not natural even though I have a daylight bulb and an incandescent one. It's just way to bright and also too close to the work to gauge paint colors the way I wanted. I persevered.

Second twenty minutes

The third thing I learned is about the paper. After using Lanaquarelle, then Arches, I can tell the difference in quality. I bought this Canson tablet on sale, it was larger than I was using, and figured it'd come in handy when I was ready to work larger. 

Also it's a pad, not a block, and if not affixed to a surface it curls and rolls when wet. The painting surface is not that great either, leaving weird brush strokes. Well, I guess it's okay if you want those brush strokes to show. 

I'm using two different paint companies, MaimeriBlue and Windsor&Newton. When I painted a layer over an area previously painted, the layer beaded up. Was it the paint? Was it the paper? Or does that happen? I thought it was strange.

Blue Vase With Sunflowers ©2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
15x20 Watercolor on Canson paper
After I finished I took photographs while the work was still attached to the table. My problems were the same I had while painting: unnatural and too bright light, too close to get a good shot. I took the painting off the table, went to the dining room table and the nice northern exposure picture window to take a photo. See the difference? Washed out color in artificial light, more true to the paints in natural light.

The fourth thing I learned is that I'm getting comfortable using my photos to paint from. I don't want to get too cozy because then it'll take time to get back to painting from life.

I'll figure it out one of these days. In the meanwhile I'm still in the game. 


Thoughts for Thursday


“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.” ~Win Borden

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back to Painting the Sunflowers

First twenty to thirty minute session
So yesterday's painting sale was fun. Now back to business. Back to the drawing table. The sunflowers await. Twenty to thirty minutes of painting time is all I allowed myself on the weekend. It was just enough to get something on the paper. Something is better than nothing. Yesterday was a bust.

On my Sunday session, while the painting dried, I played with my beads. That's always fun too. I had to get away or I would over do the work. Even if I use a timer, my brain just ignores it and I keep on going. Bad idea most times.

But then I can become distracted by so many other things that I never go back to the painting. I'm on a schedule here. I have 100 paintings to get done!

Today's twenty minute session
Today I was determined to get to it. Maybe someone can explain it to me, but while I am painting I really don't like what I see. Yeah, it's the process I keep telling myself, but shouldn't the end result be somewhat pleasing after all that? I'm not just mindlessly drawing in a coloring book, there should be real art at the end, right?

After I photograph the work for all of you to see, I am surprised by it. I don't dislike it. There are areas I need to push, but overall it looks better than I thought.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Painting a Garden Gate

 Garden Gate 7x10 Watercolor on Canson paper
©2000 Dora Sislian Themelis
The post I planned for today was thrown out of the water when I awoke to find out a watercolor landscape painting in my Etsy shop sold over the weekend. Allow me to bask in my glory for a moment.

Honestly, I wasn't sure I would even get to paint on the latest work during the last few days. There was so much going on besides the usual running around.  I've decided to change the color of the foyer of my house, and when is that going to happen? Why do I do these last minute things?

Anyway, I'll tell you what I did to the latest painting tomorrow. Right now I have a SALE! Yay for me!

In the beginning of my watercolor journey, after the horrible intro to watercolor class a while back, I was determined to push myself to learn. The paints I was using were student grade, and the paper wasn't much better. Besides, it was all new to me. What did I learn at that class? Nothing. Imagine my guts, taking myself to paint in watercolors en plein air? What was I thinking?

Well, I did ok. Watercolor painting is difficult enough and I had to be outside with it.

Near the end of that summer, I took my kids to Old Westbury Gardens and Mansion near my area. It's a beautiful Gold Coast of Long Island, NY mansion and formal gardens. The gardens alone are breath taking in size and variety of flowers. The house is so large I could put my house inside the living room.

The weather that day was beautiful and we really enjoyed roaming around. While my guys looked around the garden I sat in a spot by this garden wall with it's intricate wrought iron gate and tried to sketch the scene. I was pleasantly surprised to find I liked the outcome of this. At the time I really wanted to push myself to paint more, what did I know about process?

A few paintings are in the Etsy shop I have, along with the bead jewelry I make and some small knitted items. Etsy may not be the right venue for fine artwork, but until I get myself together with my own website, some items have a home there. Imagine my surprise when I saw a notice that I had a sale.

It's a small work, but it will make another someone happy. I'm already thrilled, once more.




Friday, December 2, 2011

Resistance to Painting is Ridiculous

New painting
After a morning of errands, and plenty of procrastination, I kicked myself into gear after lunch to start working on a watercolor painting of the last of the sunflower photographs. I remembered I had a 15x20 pad of Canson watercolor paper and decided I didn't need to shop for paper after all. Not today.

The only thing about this paper is that it's loose sheets, not a block like I've been using. To work with sheets of watercolor paper I needed to tape it to a surface so that when it dries it lays flat.

There was no board this size to use as a surface so I taped it to my art table. You know what that means? It means I painted in my little studio. Can you tell I had the desk lamp on? It's not the best light, but it will have to do.

Today I had a plan. After a brief pencil sketch just to place the flower heads on the paper, I wanted to use only the brush strokes for the petals and leaves. I tried to use just enough water to put the paint where I wanted it to go, using color for the lights and shadows, without drawing them in pencil.

Other times when I pencil in my composition I indicate where the shadows should go. Not this time. The brush stroke was dominant and the color choices developed the shadows. Watercolor is a tricky medium. But I guess every medium has it's tricks. It's up to the artist to discover how to use them.

Twenty minutes was the allotted time, but I may have painted past that. I didn't use a timer today. When I felt I was too on top of this work, I stepped away to look over my table with jewelry supplies to distract myself. That was fun. More colors to look at, rather than ruin this painting with overwork.

When I said I kicked myself into gear, it was an understatement. There's no reason for me to put up road blocks. It's not laziness. It's not boredom. It is resistance. I dragged myself to paint, with the little inner-child-artist having a tantrum and holding her breath until she's blue.

It's so ridiculous.








Thursday, December 1, 2011