Researching Rosemaling

The last time I was home, my grandmother had set aside some artwork, fabric and other random things that she thought I might enjoy. One of these things was Rosemåling artwork that she had learned to do back in the 70’s.  Now I didn’t know alot about rosemåling other than I know it when I see it!

Rosemåling is a very distinct Norwegian style of decorative painting that originated in the 1700s with florals and flourishes usually painted on plates or other wooden objects. It consists of C and S curves and many of the brush strokes remind me of calligraphy. It is quite folksy and beautiful.  Some modern day rosemåling is produced with stencils and double loaded brushes while others still do freehand designs with layers of paint creating depth and outline.

My grandmother's Rosemaling artwork.

My grandmother’s Rosemaling artwork.

So this morning I did some research on rosemåling. There is a very talented lady by the name of Jean Honl from Roseau, Minnesota that creates some BEAUTIFUL rosemåling pieces. Plates, clocks, even a full hutch; it’s wonderful to see how much beauty and detail she has in her designs. She has a video below that shows how she creates these highly detailed pieces. You can learn more about her on her website.

Then I found a video of Sigmund Aarseth that freehands rosemåling on a huge canvas. It is worth it to watch the full 9 minutes! Amazing strokes.

Here are some more examples of rosemåling that I’ve found while researching the styles.

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This piece was restored and refinished by Honl.

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Turned wooden plate with Rosemaling

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Rosemaling 1974. The scroll work is beautiful.

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A Rosemaling Budstikke. If you are not at least a 1/2 Norwegian you have no idea what I just wrote.

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There are many types of Rosemaling. Telemark, Hallingdal, Valdres, Rogaland, Os, Gudbrandsdal, Vest Agder.

Taking on the Jellies

I love aquariums. I can spend hours just staring at fish and underwater creatures until my eyes go numb. If I visit a new city, the first thing I look for is an aquarium and try to drag whoever is with me to it.

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These jellyfish are from an aquarium I visited in San Francisco last year.

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My crappy iPhone takes wonderful crappy photos. But it’s all good. I basically need just the form.

And although I like all fish, my favorite is the jellyfish. Thriving on this planet for more than 600 million years, the jellyfish is beautiful, deadly and mesmerizing.  Their slow motion and trailing tentacles make for a hypnotizing dance that lulls you into a false sense of comfort.

They are truly alien and deadly. Completely translucent, they have no head, no heart and no brain and yet they can kill their prey in seconds.

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Almost all of them were “upsidedown”.

I have taken ALOT of photos of these wonderful creatures over the years and I’m finally going to paint them. Or at least one of them, lets not get too crazy. At first I was going to use one of my largest canvases but now I’m thinking  I might paint it on board. Which means I need to head to the store. I’m also dabbling with the idea of using acrylic since I can get more precise in my mixing. Not sure yet.

As always, I start off with a sketch.

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One of my first sketches. Its hard to make tentacles translucent.

Now most of the time, you don’t know if jellyfish are swimming upside down or right side up or left or right. In the ocean, or in this case a tank, there is no point of reference or distance for that matter other than yourself or the other fish around them. So I’m hoping that this painting can be hung in any direction. Slightly abstract, yet still recognizable. It will give me the flexibility of making it a horizontal landscape or a vertical portrait. I like this quirk because it can breathe new life into a painting that you have been staring at for years. Turn it upside down. BRAND NEW PERSPECTIVE! I do this with my abstract paintings all the time.  Which is probably not correct, but who cares! It’s art!

Dory freaks out

So OFF TO FIND A BOARD!

7 Things I Found Surfing the Internet

Back when I was working full time, I would take a few hours and surf for cool stuff during my breaks. It was a great way to wind down, get inspired, or just laugh a little with my partners in crime. So I’m bringing it back. My Sunday mornings are becoming my “Surf Time” while the girls are sleeping in and my husband is doing rounds. So here are 7 cool things I found surfing the Interwebs. Beware, I’ve very geeky and nerdy at times and my posts will reflect that, I blame pop culture, movies and comic books.  And alot of Doctor Who.

1. BATDAD

His wife Jen is going to kill him. But I can’t stop laughing.

2. THE DOCTOR’S NAME WALL DECAL

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It’s a ginormous vinyl wall decal of my (second) favorite DOCTOR in the world. You can buy it on ETSY here for me.

3. FLAT. SO FLAT.

I love dumb movies. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’M GOING TO SAVE IT WITH A SOLO!

4.  DRUMMING LIKE AN AUCTIONEER

Jazz drumming. Fantastic!

5. HARRY AND LLOYD, ON REPEAT

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My oldest brother and I spent 2 summers on a remote “island” in the wilderness of 1996 & 97 with twin beds, a VCR and a single crappy VHS tape of “Dumb and Dumber” on repeat. I’m not even kidding…. AND NOW THIS IS HAPPENING AND TOTALLY REDEEMED ITSELF!

6. WHAT IS THIS WORTH?

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Boba Fett finds out the value of carbonite on the next Antique’s Roadshow.

7. Rainbow Bookshelves

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A secret wish for my studio.

Sneak Peek of Quentin McFury Bookcover

Quentin McFury - The Last Defender Cover

Quentin McFury – The Last Defender Cover

For the past few months, I’ve been secretly designing a book cover for the wonderfully talented Patrick T. Gorman. If you are a Star Wars fan or have been to the Star Wars Celebrations, you probably have heard of the “Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes” or the “Star Wars Saga in 60 minutes.” Patrick is the creative genius behind these wonderful productions. He wrote and directed them. So he’s kind of a big deal in my book.

Star Wars Saga in 60 Minutes Cast

Star Wars Saga in 60 Minutes Cast

I was lucky enough to be introduced “digitally” to Patrick through our crazy mutual friend Nick Simon. (I have never actually met Patrick in person, or even talked to him on the phone! Cray!) But in this digital age of awesomeness we collaboratively created this book cover for his first novel “QUENTIN MCFURY – THE LAST DEFENDER”. And I could not be more pleased!

We started back in May of 2013 and over the course of hundreds of sketches, digital illustrations, type layout, color choices, font choices, synopsis writing and rewriting, we have finally come down the final stretch of artwork!

So here it is in all it’s glory! I can’t wait to get copies for all the readers in my family!

Quentin McFury - The Last Defender

Front and Back cover

SYNOPSIS FOR QUENTIN MCFURY – THE LAST DEFENDER

One September day, everyone disappeared…

Everyone except gawky, geeky Quentin McFury. When he fell asleep in English class, Quentin never thought he’d wake up with drool on his desk and no one else on Earth.

In search of answers, the teen will steal a spaceship, fall for a snarky purple girl, and make friends with a strange robot who denies he’s a robot. Together, they will fight through a universe Quentin never knew existed to rescue his people. But will he find his fellow humans before a group of mysterious pursuers catch him first?

“The best and only way to describe Quentin McFury: He’s sort of like if Douglas Adams and Nick Hornby had a love child and it was up to that kid to save the universe. I fell in love with Quentin as he bumbled his way through the galaxy.  And I’ll be honest, he broke my heart a little along the way.”

— SARAH WATSON, writer for PARENTHOOD and THE MIDDLEMAN

About Patrick T. Gorman

An expat Nebraskan with multiple useless degrees from USC, Patrick T. Gorman has made a name for himself out of letters from the alphabet. A Playwright-in-Residence for the esteemed stage company Festival Theatre USA at the young age of 23, Patrick T. Gorman stormed the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the writer of three plays that yielded sellout crowds and glowing reviews. Since then, Patrick continues to furiously write screenplays, plays, and anything else that his dainty little hands will scribble out, always moving forward like a chunky bearded shark.

You will be able to purchase Patrick’s book from Amazon in the next few weeks as he finalizes the interior chapters.

UPDATE!!!! It’s now available for PURCHASE!! Congrats to Patrick!!

You can find it here on Amazon:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Quentin-McFury-Defender-Series-Volume/dp/0615891004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382380929&sr=8-1&keywords=quentin+mcfury

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Quentin-McFury-Last-Defender-Series-ebook/dp/B00FY0NMQA/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382380961&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=quentin+mcfury

Nook Version: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/quentin-mcfury-the-last-defender-patrick-t-gorman/1117165794?ean=2940148405085

iTunes Version: Search for “Quentin McFury” in iTunes on you iPads, iPods or iPhones!

I can’t wait for you all to fall in love with Quentin, Trinta and Roddy as they make their way across the galaxy! Believe me when I say, you are going to LOVE this book.

Here is my daughter holding the original canvas artwork for Quentin McFury - The Last Defender!

Here is my daughter holding the original canvas artwork for Quentin McFury – The Last Defender!

Portraits. Why are they so hard?!

Portraits

Portraits of my daughters.

It’s really hard to admit your weaknesses. It’s easy to do what you’re good at, blog about it, tweet it, etc but very rarely do you show your failures, or not even your failures, but your attempts. Attempts at something that you are NOT good at. Showing how hard it was to get there, practicing and practicing until you’ve torn all your hair out in frustration and just realized, well, it was good try but I need to move on.

In my case, it’s portraits. In college I HATED THEM. Figure drawing was fine, body parts? not a big deal, but faces? UGH. Just take a photo already. Seriously.

And when you break down a face, it’s still lines and planes and color just like every other object on earth, but what makes it different is that there is a soul behind that face. There is a story that I can’t capture with my oils. It’s incredibly intimidating and frustrating to paint something that has more emotion in a simple smile or gaze without it looking like a death mask. Some people have that talent. To capture a Mona Lisa moment and make something that exudes this emotional feeling when you look at it. I avoid that subject matter like the plague. Because honestly, I’m not good enough. And I know I’m not.

But as I was unpacking some of my artwork, I came across one of my very first paintings. It was of two little girls playing outside. One was blonde, the other a brunette. It was one of the only paintings I made that had people as the subject matter.  We were having a housewarming party and one of our guests made the comment that it was just like our two little girls. (Premonition perhaps?) I laughed, no I said, I painted that when I was about 19 years old, probably models from a magazine, probably passed but barely and I realized after that assignment that I was TERRIBLE at painting people and from then on I stayed with my safe landscapes and my impressionistic style. Coward.

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Untitled. 1997.

 

The faces of the girls were actually quite small, in fact the one girl was looking away from the viewpoint. I hadn’t really looked at the painting for quite awhile since it had been given to my grandmother many years ago. I can by hyper critical about it now and rip it apart. Proportions are off, I didn’t mix colors very well, the background is flat, is that mud on her face??, on and on.  We are all our biggest critics, but it got me thinking. How would I paint a person now? Now that I’ve had some time and experience. I’ve never really given it a try since. Would it be easier or even worse?

At the same time, I had got to be pretty good friends with another local artist who does extremely realistic paintings. He’s VERY good at what he does. One of his prints hangs in my office and I’ve had time to really appreciate the time and dedication it takes to create one of his pieces. It’s incredible the amount of patience you need to get colors PERFECT, to sit for hours and barely make a dent in the hyper detail. We’ve talked briefly of our different styles and it got me thinking. I didn’t want to become stagnate. I don’t want to get to a point in my life and think, I can’t get any better. That this is my limit.

I’ve always been a free-for-all when it comes to artwork. I mix paints on the fly, sometimes I’ll mix media, I’ll just throw away brushes rather than clean them. Again, just spontaneous and undisciplined. Commissions are different of course, but just painting for me, its totally free, no rules.

While that sometimes works, I find I fall into a rut. The same colors, the same style, not quite growing as much as I want. I might be happy with the painting but I feel there is more.

So I decided to try portraits again. (Crazy talk! What are you thinking!?)

Then, who to paint?

I immediately thought of my husband in a George Costanza like pose!

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Maybe not so much…

 

Okay maybe not. And if I ever did, you can bet your tighty whites I’m not going to blog about it! You’re welcome.

So then after a good laugh, I thought of my daughters. People that I’ve seen every day for their 3-6 years of age. I’ve memorized their faces, I know their smiles and frowns. They are the only people that I could really try to capture if I was going to try.

And since they are little kids that will not stand still to save my life, I took photos. A cheat I know, but you have to start somewhere.

This is my oldest. Leia

 

Although I was more conscious of my colors, I still made it look like “my style”. Mouths are tough. I’m not going to lie. And eyes, if they are not right, then it doesn’t look like the person at all.

This last week I started my youngest daughter’s, and although I’m not done yet, it’s starting to look like her. Her eyes are so dark brown that they just suck you in.

Clara

 

Overall, I’m happy I’m trying this. It’s a personal challenge, a goal of mine to be happy with these two paintings (Which happen to be of two of my favorite people on this earth.) And while the paintings may not be perfect, they are pretty perfect to me.

 

Shabby Chic Medicine Cabinet

I tried my hand at hand painting a medicine cabinet for the girls bathroom and giving it some shabby chic character. I’m not a huge fan of “paint everything” but I do like a few pieces of furniture, shelving, etc that distinguish it from the rest. This is something I do in moderation. It can get too over the top when EVERYTHING looks old and distressed.

In this case I had an old oak medicine cabinet from our old house that needed some TLC. It’s not very high quality cabinetry, only the doors and frame are actual oak, the rest is mdf or particle board so it was the best jumping off point for me to take a crack at it. You can see the progress below. Enjoy!

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The original medicine cabinet.

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First step was sanding all the old varnish off and cleaning it up.

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I used a hand sanding block to get into the grooves.

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I used spray paint for this one because I was impatient. Next time I’ll probably use a brush.

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I used a combination of three different colors to get the graffiti look I wanted, plush I could show more highlights and depth.

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The doors I painted a solid green then let them dry. The I painted a two tone yellow and blue over the top and made “paint” layers.

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Added more blue highlights and dry brushed it.

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Here I added the blue and yellow to the doors an then dry brushed those colors to give more depth.

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Once all the paint was completely dry, I used a block sander and sanded all the raised edges, panels and door edges to get that worn look.

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I was going to paint the antiqued handles, but realized that I kind of liked the looks of the darker worn handles, so I kept them. Just sanded them up a touch.

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Put the hinges back on and hardware. When you paint the doors they may stick to the frame if you don’t have little stoppers. You can also use flat thumbtacks as stoppers as well.

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I also used a chestnut stain I had left over to darken the panel grooves. I also dry brushed on some white spray paint on the frame and raised panels. And here it is finished, only took a couple of hours!

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So I hung it above the girls toilet in their bathroom. My daughters decorated it with their toys.

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Overall I think it works really well with the colors we had going on.

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No medicine in these cabinets!