Revving My Artistic Engine....!!!!

I think I'm more excited about New Year's arrival than I was about Christmas. I've spent the last month preparing for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge that runs Jan 1-30. (It's free and it's not too late to sign up.)

To prepare, I collected, curated, photographed and chosen shells from my beachcombing to serve as the theme for this challenge. (About halfway through, I'm adding a bit of a twist, which I hope to be moving and well-received.)

I've even taken the last few days of 2015 to paint ahead. This will hopefully enable me to post each day without staying up to the wee hours to get THAT DAY'S painting done as I have other times that I've done the challenge. I have also chosen a few complex compositions that I want to tackle and I hope to paint a little on each of those on days that go quickly.

The collage at the top of this post shows nine of my sketches, captured from photos of my shells. I'm hoping to work a bit on losing edges in the darkness and using hard edges to make the shells pop or glow on the paper. I'm sure every day will not be a success, but I'm really happy with the first three that I've done.


All original paintings will be available for purchase. Sizes and prices will vary. The smallest will be 4" X 6." The largest will be somewhere around 16" X 20." Once a painting sells, the "click here to purchase" link will be removed.

Once the challenge is complete, I will make reproductions available of my favorites and/or those that are most enthusiastically received. I will also do a notecard set.

My daily painting will be posted here on my blog, which will also be posted on my Facebook page. I also plan to post on Instagram. If you would like to follow other artists on this journey, you can do that on the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days webpage.

Wish me luck! And, Happy New Year!


All I Want For Christmas

Add me to your Christmas list this year, but most items that I would like are FREE!

1. "Like" - If you are my real life friend or acquaintance, please "Like" my art page, Nancy Murphree Davis Art.
If you are thinking, "But, I don't like art," or even, "Nancy, I love you, but I don't like YOUR art," then "Like" it anyway and then do this:

Hover over the thumbs up Liked button, click Notifications

AND THEN change "default" to "unfollow"

(Why follow and then hide? It improves my page rank and helps me find new followers/customers, including when I run ads, plus, it makes me look more legitimate and popular to people who do not know me personally.)

2. "Share" on Facebook - If you are a fan of my artwork, and can't buy a piece right now, "share" my art page posts on your timeline when you see one that especially like. You can do this as often as you like. Also, "Suggest my Nancy Murphree Davis Art page to your artist and art loving friends.

3. "Follow" on Instagram - I'm NMDARTIST
These posts do show up on my Facebook Art Page, but since Facebook picks and chooses what you see, you might like to do both.

4. "Pin" - I have a Pinterest Board called My Artwork. I'd love it if you re-Pinned some of these. Other artists claim to have sales from Pinterest. It would be great to see that happen for me in 2016.

5. "Tell a Friend" - Almost all my art sales are from people I know or friends of people I know. If you hear someone say that they cannot think of a present for someone special in their life, perhaps they would like to commission me to paint their house or a scene from vacation or something. Send them my way.

6. Sign up for my newsletter - it comes by email. Forward it to friends. :)

7. "Shop" - Visit my website to buy artwork or note cards. (Okay, this one is NOT free.) If you would like a print of one of my paintings, ask and I will see what I can do. I can get it on canvas (even a watercolor painting) or as a print (on paper).


"Home Portrait" Painter

I received an inquiry today about a potential commission. I am always humbled when people ask me to paint a place very special to them, in this case "grandmother's cabin."

I happen to love architecture. In high school, I thought that I wanted to be an architect. I studied architecture for about a year and a half in college before realizing that I was much better suited to visual arts.

When I travel, I take many pictures of buildings. One of my early favorite paintings, currently hanging in my bedroom, is one that I did of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco around 1990.

When painting "for myself," I obviously take liberties with color and form. These works routinely get into shows and some have won awards, but as of yet, they really haven't sold well.

Somewhere along the line, I began getting commissions of homes (and a barn). They have been a joy to paint! Clients seem to have been very pleased with all of them thus far. I'll assemble them for perusal!

Whether you want a painting of the home you grew up in or a special vacation photo, I'd be happy to work with you realize that desire.


Critiquing Your Own Work OR "Is it finished yet?"

Whenever I go "off" blogging and return, I am shocked at how long it has been. February, huh? Well, a lot HAS happened since February. Since then, my son decided what college to attend, we found out we were moving to an unexpected location, I sold our house (myself), negotiated a crazy summer of planned travel, packed up two houses, bought a boat, moved into a new house, took son to college, picked daughter up from camp, and started unpacking. Months later, we are almost through. The last dozen or so boxes are waiting on my attention, but making artwork had to start happening to maintain my own sanity.

I've done four watercolors and one mixed media piece since the move. My style is starting to change, but that is a post for another day. Today, I want to share a bit about how I decide when a painting is finished and how crucial those last decisions can be.

My latest painting is titled Lots of Spots. I was so excited to paint this stingray when I took his/her photo in September. The challenge this would be started to dawn on me as soon as I began drawing. A yellow spotted stingray is all dots. ALL DOTS. Hundreds of dots (thousands?) are not fun to draw. I realized that they would not be fun to paint either. I completed the drawing and set it aside. Weeks passed.

Eventually, I decided I was ready for the challenge of painting this guy. I sat for a long time considering how to go about it. In reality, this stingray is brown. A bazillion different shades from ecru to golden brown to caramel to almost black. I could have painted it that way. But, I didn't. The palette that I had open was one that I got in preparation for Jane Paul Angelhart's portrait workshop. I've added a few personal favorites to her recommended palette, but I still think of her instruction when I look at the brilliant orange and the permanent green #1.

So, I decided that all "browns" would be created by layering complementary colors AND I would leave the edge of each color showing on purpose. I probably should have taken more photos along the way, but once I'm in "the zone," I hate to stop painting. I usually on take a photo when life causes me to put down the brush.

Here is the first photo:

As you can see, most areas only have one or two layers of color. I choose the colors rather randomly from the palette, knowing that almost every area of the painting will have several layers.

The next time that I sat down to paint, I thought I would be able to finish the painting. Above is the second photo that I took (for Instagram, hence square). I was pleased with how I was beginning to create dimension and a sense of depth on the back fin.

The following day, I really thought that I had only an hour or so left to complete this painting. About three hours later, I decided it was done.  I hung it on the wall and took the photo below:

 Something about it was still bothering me. My first method of analysis is to stare at the painting from about ten feet away. Often, things that seem great when you are ten inches from the paper are glaringly wrong from across the room. Most artwork will be viewed from a distance, so be sure to keep this in mind.

When staring at it on the wall didn't quite work, I pulled up the thumbnails on my phone. when the image is a half inch square, lights and darks are compressed and colors are muted. Solutions to visual problems are frequently revealed when you do this. I'm starting to get clues now! The foreground fin needs more contrast in value.

To better see where the darks are most needed, I saved the photo in black and white. Below, the flatness in that area is apparent, especially when compared to the background fin.

 So, I painted a little more. I experimented with losing the front edge into the background, but decided I didn't like it. Then I decided the background itself needed more richness and depth. I added several layers there. Then, I felt like the background didn't "match the image. It was dark and brooding. I decided it would benefit from tiny bits of bright color. At one point, I thought I had lost my mind and ruined the entire thing, but then, it started to make visual sense. The stingray began to belong in the painting instead of merely float in a rectangle. The flow of the background values began strengthen the composition.

To complete this post, I'll add the final version as a black and white photo too.

Can you see the increased depth and improved composition?

And....just for fun, here is a detail of the painting, so that you can see all of the layers of bright color that build the overall image.

Pointillistic in some ways I guess. Painting so many dots ended up being fun after all!

I hope that this post will give you ways of seeing your work with fresh eyes and help you know when a painting is completed. Additional methods for evaluating and critiquing your work that you can also try:
Look at your work in a mirror. 
Look at the work upside down. 
Put it away or facing the wall for several days and then look at it again.


Alcohol Inks on Canvas

For over a year, I've been doing alcohol ink paintings. I've painted on Yupo, ceramic tiles, plastic dominos, and glass. They are a fun and vibrant medium.

Yesterday, I went to my studio with the intent of doing some cherry blossom paintings on Yupo (synthetic paper). For some reason, I decided that I wanted to try painting with them on a blank and pre-gessoed canvas I had sitting around. It wasn't the absolute first time I have touched the inks to canvas, but it was the first time that I have done so as more than a mere experiment to see how the inks take to the canvas surface.

I took a few photos as I went along:

Inspiration photo, taken by me Spring 2013

Canvas with whites masked with Miskit. Usually the orange doesn't show up so much, but the bottle is getting close to empty and the coloration has settled to the bottom.

Squirts of ink! I'm now putting on my gloves!

Background now has it's initial coat of ink.

Masking fluid has been removed! Wow!

Now, I am painting in paler shades and detail. I love the white ink over the background!

Detail of Blossoms

I'm not finished with the painting. My plan is to come back in with acrylic paints and add some dimension. All in all, I am pleased with the start.


Under the Fir Tree - Alcohol Ink Series

"Under the Fir"
11" X 14"

The alcohol ink paintings keep coming. This was a painting derived from this photo:

I wish I had taken photos during every step of the process, but I neglected to. It is the process that I used in this blog post except I now use translucent Yupo paper which is much easier to see through. I also used a LOT of masking fluid in the making of it, but only in one layer. The background was somewhat of an afterthought, and I'm not sure why I put in a pink background, but I like it.

I've been having so much fun with these paintings this month that I'm now about to go find more images to continue the series. I hope you are enjoying them too.


Two More AI Gems!

I decided not to include these two alcohol ink paintings in yesterday's post because the photos were not recent. The one of the leaves is from last year. I loved the graphic nature of the branch on the road.

"Fallen Branch," 8" X 10" $175

In fact, this same branch is part of a paper litho print that I did last year,

("Whispers of Fall," 10" X 10," mounted on cradleboard is currently available at Stifel & Capra for $95.)

"Hollyhock Dreams," 11" X 14" $295

This painting is the second one that I have done using the inspiration photo of grain stalks (sorghum?) in Clovis, NM. The first one that I did sold very quickly and was in a different palette. I love how different days reveal different inspirations.

Do you see the resemblance? Which do you prefer?

If you want to know more about the method I use to paint these, I wrote about it here.