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1.31.2016

Mission Accomplished!



My thirty seashell paintings are complete! The month pushed me to use variety of watercolor techniques resulting in increased competence. I've learned a lot and I'm a better painter for it!

I hope you enjoyed the journey! I have appreciated all the nice comments. I've enjoyed looking at the art of all the other artists too. Well done, my friends!

Remember to sign up for my newsletter in the margin. Subscribers will receive a special offer related to these paintings.

1.30.2016

30 of 30 Murex (Broken Shell Series)


Tiny Flaws (Murex)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

The painting of this shell, which I believe is an apple murex, concludes my thirty paintings in thirty days challenge. The end of this is bittersweet. Truthfully, I'll not miss the urgency, but accountability yields great results!

In the next few days, I plan to add all of the paintings to my website, where you might like to go view them. When I choose which I will include in a note card set, you can order off of the website where it says CARDS!

A special offer (DISCOUNT) will be in my email newsletter which will go out on Monday. If you have not signed up to receive it, you can do that by filling out the form in the righthand margin. The only information that you really have to give is your email address, but if you include a (snail) mail address and I have an art show in your area, I will let you know by sending you a promotional postcard.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my shells. Tomorrow, artists in the challenge will share collages featuring all thirty of their paintings. It is my favorite day to stroll around the web and view all the artwork!


1.29.2016

29 of 30 Another Banded Tulip (Broken Shell Series)


A Rose Is A Rose (Banded Tulip)
5" X 7"
Watercolor

This painting isn't quite finished, but I'm in a workshop this week requiring driving back and forth and hour and a half, which makes for a long day. I also had the opportunity to attend a reception last night on a Royal Navy ship, so I wasn't even able to work on it last night.

The shell in this painting is below:




I forgot to add a coin to these photos give you a size reference; it is about 2" long and the one on the right in the bottom photo.

I'll be a bit late posting on the last day, since that painting is not even halfway at this point. At least I have no Saturday morning obligations! I cannot wait to put my collage together and see all thirty as a group. It's my favorite day to go look at other artists work.

This month has been thrilling. I've done at least ten paintings that I will have a hard time parting with.  I've found many artists to follow on Facebook and Instagram. I've picked up some followers of my own too! I love how the art world just keeps expanding in my social media outlets!

1.28.2016

28 of 30 Tulip Shell (Broken Shell Series)


Shining Through (Tulip Shell)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

Tulip shells tend to break beautifully and the thin nature of the shell allows light to shine in. I am obviously drawn to them.



The shell in the painting is this center fragment. I'm painting the striped on on the right for tomorrow.


1.27.2016

27 of 30 Crown Conch


About to Bloom (Crown Conch)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

This is one of my favorite shells. It isn't broken. I thought that it was just developing strangely, but after "googling," it appears that this is typical for crown conchs. I'd describe it as the awkward middle school stage before they get the wonderful crown.


I had only seen the "grown" conchs below:


I'm off to a three day watercolor workshop, so my blog posts may be less informative....we will see!

1.26.2016

26 of 30 Banded Tulip (Broken Shell Series)


Tiny Waist (Banded Tulip)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

It's amazing to me that this shell is intact. The spindle-y center is so thin! Yet, here it is with an entire spire!

At first, I though that this could be one of the rare juonia shells, but the dot coloration is too irregular. Plus, they aren't really supposed to be in the Keys. The coloration is similar to the alphabet cone, but the shape is wrong. It might not be a banded tulip at all, but that seemed most likely.



1.25.2016

25 of 30 Pear Whelk (Broken Shell Series)


Fading Away (Pear Whelk)
9" X 12"
Watercolor
$175

If you look really closely at this shell, you can see where there was once some golden coloration, but it has been bleached to the point it is not readily noticeable.


I had fully intended to paint this shell "white." Meaning, of course to pick a color of shading and render the shadows monochromatically. I'm not sure how early in the painting I abandoned this plan. First, I masked the whitest whites and put a dark in for the shadow. Next, I painted some purple in the background. After a few coats in the background, I put a light wash of yellow over the shell. Then, I started layering the lines of the tiny ridges. At some point, I must have gotten bored and moved to brighter and brighter colors! Despite the finished product being quite different than my original vision, I'm not at all upset about it. I think it is interesting in the same way as the tulip shell from day 10, but instead of using colors to build a brown, I used them to portray a white shell. I hope you like it!

1.24.2016

24 of 30 Another Hawk-wing Conch (Broken Shell Series)



Worn Smooth (Hawk-wing Conch)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

I hope you aren't sick of conchs. I do live in Key West!

This conch has lots of knobs going down the body, so I'm pretty sure it is another hawk-wing. It is missing the signature "wing," but the inside coloration would also fit with that identification.


I sat down to paint and just couldn't do another straight realistic shell. Shells, being mostly shell pink or tinted with gold, have led me to choose backgrounds in the purple, blue or green families for a considerable number of paintings. I decided I needed something different.

At the end of next week, I'm taking a painting workshop with Lian Zhen. On the supply list were some paints that I didn't already own, so I had purchased them, but not painted with them. I decided to give my new tube of Joe's Red! I love it's transparency! The background here has several other colors mixed in, but in general, I was happy with not pink cheeriness of the new color!



1.23.2016

23 of 30 Hawk-wing Conch (Broken Shell Series)


The World Stopped Spinning (Hawk-wing Conch, Juvenile)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

This fragment was irresistible because it answered a question that had been spinning about in my brain. I wondered if the beautiful exterior of shells remained that way as they become the interior walls as a shell grows. It seemed sensible to believe that they would. The particular way that this shell was broken provides the answer because it lays bare two inner walls.


It makes me both happy and sad to think of this hidden beauty within shells. I like knowing it's there, but I wish I could marvel at it without the shell being broken.

1.22.2016

22 of 30 Milk Moonsnail (Broken Shell Series)


 Cracking Up (Milk Moonsnail)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

This tiny baby moonsnail is solid white, but cracked and missing a chunk (and smaller than a dime). I took a photo with extreme lighting and decided to flip the script and paint the shell itself with cool colors while doing the background in warm colors. On top of the shell in the painting, you can see a reflection of the window in my studio, complete with a bit of the blue of the sky on a sunny day.

I like the geometric look of the shell in the composition....lines, angles and colors.

Here is the shell IRL:

It's a lovely shell. I hope that I eventually find an unbroken one.

1.21.2016

21 of 30 Chestnut Turban (Broken Shell Series)


Beaded Beauty (Chestnut Turban)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

I love the sculptural shape that this shell fragment has. I can't imagine how the long thin piece didn't get broken off, but I'm so glad it didn't!


1.20.2016

20 of 30 Juvenile Crown Conch (Broken Shell Series)



Young One (Juvenile Crown Conch)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

This broken shell is hard to identify. After giving serious consideration to the worn juvenile fighting conch, ribbed cantharus, chestnut latirus and gulf oyster drill, I finally decided that my best guess is a juvenile crown conch. If you think I'm wrong, please tell me. ;)


If it weren't larger than the quarter, I think the gulf oyster drill might have been my guess, but my shell book says they max out at 1".

I approached this painting (and tomorrow's) in a different way than the preceding 19 days. With the last few paintings, I found myself applying layer after layer to the background after I finished the shell itself. Today I decided that I'd try masking the shell image and doing the background first.


Was it a better method? The painting seemed to go more quickly. I only had to put one or two washes on the background to tweak it at the end. I'm not sure yet whether I'll continue it on day 22.






1.19.2016

19 of 30 Stocky Cerith (Broken Shell Series)


Coverage is Spotty (Stocky Cerith)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

Do you remember what these shells look like when whole? (If not, look here.)

These shells often turn up with little corkscrew ends, because the coral floor on the beaches acts much like a rock polisher. All that remains is a white shell with a row of dots. I think they are quite charming this way!


1.18.2016

18 of 30 Murex (Broken Shell Series)


Elegant Fossil (Murex)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

The murex is the cocker spaniel of shells. It is rather compact with beautiful folds, ridges and curves. I've found several partial shells and one whole shell, but it has two holes. (The whole shell may be from California.)


The shell I painted from is in both photos, bottom left in upper photo and bottom right in the lower photo. You may be able to tell that it is different in color and texture from the shells it is pictured with. It could be a fossil. Some fossilized shells are still in existence today; others have been extinct for up to fifteen million years! Almost all open pits of mining operations where these shells can be readily found are closed to the public.

I feel certain that is I keep looking, I will find an unbroken murex. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy the fragments.

1.17.2016

17 of 30 Banded Tulip (Broken Shell Series)


Never Too Old to Blush (Banded Tulip Shell)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

When the spire of a shell is broken off, the architecture within looks like a partially opened flower bud. This shell is sun-bleached and its lines nearly faded away, but it may have been a banded tulip shell, though it seems a bit sturdier, or thicker than the typical tulip.

video


I loved how the light in my reference photo caught the edges in this photo while bringing a glow to the shell from within, hence the title.


1.16.2016

16 of 30 American Stars (Broken Shell Series)


The Glimpse Inside (American Star Shells)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

I can't be sure when it started, but on my shelling trips, I've become more and more picky about which shells to bring home. Over Christmas break, my college-age son took a walk on the beach with me. He kept picking up shells and handing them to me. Often they were chipped or bleached. Since he isn't four and has had to pack up and move with our family six times, he knows that my collection has limits, I explained that I appreciated it, but that I am pretty picky.

This line of thought led me to thinking about beauty in general. TED did a talk on beauty that was quite interesting. Beauty can be hard to define. We know it when we see it; at least, we know what we think is beautiful when we see it.

I can't explain why I love the zebra arks and dislike the red-brown ark. I hoard the colorful moonsnails and toss back the smooth Atlantic tegulas. I adore the long-spined stars and don't keep the American stars when they are whole.

I do pick up a lot of American stars when they are broken. The American star shell is one of the prettiest shells when the waves take a toll on it. At that point, the chamber inside is more visible and the patterns of construction are revealed. I hope you like this painting, the first in a series of broken and worn seashells. There is beauty in imperfection. I hope to show you some of it.

1.14.2016

15 of 30 Zebra Ark (Turkey Wing Shell)



You Turkey! (Zebra Ark/Turkey Wing)
5" X 7"
$85

I have a whole bowl of turkey wings, from 1/2" long to 3" long. I keep telling myself not to pick up more, but as with most striped shells, a few almost always end up coming home with me. I have not trouble leaving the mossy arks on the beach, but turkey wings are another story!


Apparently, turkey wings are eaten in the Caribbean. I don't like oysters or mussels, but do like clams and scallops. I wonder if they are good.

14 of 30 Stocky Cerith and Friends


Freckled Faces (Stocky ceriths...at least the shorter ones)
9" X 12"
Watercolor
$175

Growing up, we called shells similar to these "periwinkles." It turns out that periwinkles are a completely different shell.


My shell book didn't make identifying these guys easy. They are probably all in the cerith family. The top left and bottom left in the photo with the dime are stocky ceriths. The others have brown dots like the fly-specked cerith, but are missing the protruding whorls. Perhaps they are juvenile or perhaps the top middle shell is just a long and slender "stocky" cerith, lol.

1.13.2016

13 of 30 Four-tooth Nerite


Baby Teeth (Four-tooth Nerite)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75

The teeth on these shells make me smile. They resemble that phase where a child only has 6 or 8 teeth with spaces between. This particular specimen has bright magenta markings. It seemed an obvious choice to play off this for the background color.

There are a lot of nerites on rocks on the gulf side of Key West. The often get left out of the water at low tide, but fortunately for them, they have a "door" that they can close to protect themselves. They eat algae, which is a good thing. I'm happy to have them around.

1.12.2016

12 of 30 Jasper Cone


Oh, Conus! (Jasper Cone)
4" X 6"
Watercolor
$75
I picked a different sketch today than originally slotted for Day 12. This may be the smallest shell I paint during the challenge. It's truly tiny! In fact, twice when using my hairdryer to speed dry the paint, I nearly blew it off the work table!



(BTW, the title is a sort of play on words related to military life; Conus is the scientific name for cone, but CONUS is the acronym for CONtinental United States, which seems to be my destiny for our entire military life.)


1.11.2016

11 of 30 Four Scallops


Takin' Some Ribbing (Scaly Scallop Shells)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85
Click here to purchase

The scallops I usually find here in Key West are small, brilliantly colored and fragile. Having grown up finding Atlantic Calico and Bay Scallop shells, which are large and sturdy, this was a surprise. I am enthralled with the brilliant orange/red color. I tried to capture it in this painting, but in life it is often nearly flourescent, so I may not have portrayed it bright enough.

The largest of these four shells is slightly bigger than a quarter:


I've also found some Antillean scallops, but they are so thin that you can see through them and they are about 1/4" high. I'm always afraid the breeze will blow them out of my hand or cup!


1.10.2016

10 of 30 Tulip Shell

video

Brown is Beautiful (Tulip)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

For Day 10 of the thirty paintings in thirty days challenge, I decided to do something a bit different as far as the blogpost goes. I took progress photos as I went along and put them into a "video." (Really, just a slideshow/digital flipbook). Here is also a collage of the progress photos individually.

Note to self: Do not wear a hot pink shirt if you plan to take progress photos while you paint. :(



The shell I painted from doesn't actually have all the colors that I painted (at least to my eye), but it did have a warm glow that I wanted to capture. Plus, it is fun to paint neutrals without using neutral paints. (Thanks Jane Angelhart for teaching me how to do that!)



Larger photo of finished painting (pre-signing...oops):


1.09.2016

9 of 30 Juvenile Conch, Revisited

Moody Teen (Juvenile Queen Conch)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

Before the thirty paintings in thirty days challenge began, I chose reference photos and printed them out. Then, I laid them out on the floor, put them in an order that looked interesting, numbered them and put them into a stack. Each morning, I go to the studio and take the top reference photo and get to work. I was a little worried that this would result in petulance and whining, but it has worked out well so far. Upon seeing the reference photo for this painting, I thought, "No, I've already painted the juvenile conch. I should pick a different photo." But, as it is with momentum, I decided it was easier to just paint and not overthink it.

Here is the photo I was working from:


Painting the shell went pretty well. The biggest challenge was figuring out how I wanted to treat the shadowed areas that disappear. I debated painting the background grey or brown, but it just didn't feel right. I decided to go in the opposite direction and paint it blue. Something was still missing. Then, I decided to lift some angled lines from the background. By the time I did the second one, I knew that it was the correct choice! The white on navy gives the composition a nautical flair that works perfectly with the shell theme!

1.08.2016

8 of 30 Long-spined Star Shell


"Prickly" (Long-spined Star Shell)
5" X 7"
Watercolor
$85

The long-spined star shell may have been the first shell that I picked up when I realized there were shells on the beach by our house. I had never seen them before, so they were like a wonderful treasure! Although (five months later) I still like them, there are a lot of them around, so they do not seem quite as special anymore. I still pick them up if none of the spines are broken and they are particularly spiky. The one in this painting is one of the largest that I've found (over 1").

As far as the process goes, this painting started well. I took one work-in-progress (WIP) photo:


About half-way through painting, I got "off" on my spirals. I kept working on it, but was just really unhappy with the result. I debated starting over. In fact, I set the painting aside and did a "sketch" painting to see if I could reclaim what appealed to me about the subject.


In a way, this painting is more how I envisioned painting the shells before the challenge began. Quick! Fresh! But, I have a way of painting and I am trying to incorporate new skills and ideas without remaking myself completely, so I refuse to stress over whether or not paintings end up as I envisioned before beginning.

After the sketch, I took another look at the painting and lifted and reworked a few things. I found my opaque white and used it to highlight a little (something I rarely do). When I stood back and looked, I decided that it turned out well despite the pain involved in bringing it to the finished state.

Sidenote: On Monday, I was three days ahead. I've since squandered my stockpile of paintings while grocery shopping and putting about 25 crockpot meals in the freezer. I need to get back ahead at some point because I am taking a watercolor workshop with Lian Zhen the 27th-29th.