Deep Thoughts from the Underground

view looking up to street level through sidewalk bricksI took this picture when I was in Seattle’s underground.  The purple squares are the little glass bricks that everyone at street level is walking on.  And underneath?  Ferns! That little bit of light is enough for them to take root and grow.  It is strange to think they know nothing of the enormity of things on the other side of the glass.

Just imagine what one of those ferns would think if liberated to the Olympic Peninsula? Would it be thrilled to be surrounded by Jurassic plants and trees or would it miss the underground where it never gets frostbitten or nibbled on by deer?  I sometimes see this picture and I think “poor ferns!” and other times I think that they’ve got a pretty sweet thing going.

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Signing Artwork and Prints – Who Knew??

As I’ve improved in my botanical work, I’ve been curious about how I might eventually create prints or cards from some of my works.  A couple of months back, I completed a botanical that I thought would be a good one to use in exploring this next step.

When I finished my picture, I signed it and sent it off to be scanned and to get a couple of giclee prints made which I’d hoped to eventually gift or sell.

The good great news is that I actually SOLD a print…and to someone who wasn’t a friend or relative.

What I didn’t know at the time was that there were many other steps that I should have thought through before I started selling prints. Here are a couple of things I learned…

Think about how you’re signing your original.  Do you want your signature to be bold or discreet on the original.  Are you going to sign the print too? Are you signing it in a way that would make a second signature look redundant?

beet with wrong signature

I not only signed my original in a not too discreet way…but also way off to the side.  I’m not sure why I did that! And when it came to the print, I didn’t sign it.  I didn’t know that you should. But had I signed it, I think it might have looked a little redundant.

2. If you are making prints, particularly giclee prints, are there a limited number of prints you’ll make?  You should think about that. Giclee prints are not just ‘copies’ of the original.

I didn’t even think about the numbering I see on prints  (“1/250” for example).  The numbering tells the buyer how many are out there or expected to be out there.  It would have been nice to give my buyer print number 1!  But I didn’t even sign the print, let alone number it.

My botanical instructor, Jeanne Debons, has helped me understand print numbering a bit more. You can order prints as you need them, but you need to keep track of what number you are on.  If I had done prints that were, say, in a series of 25, and I reached number 25, that’s it!  It wouldn’t be right for me to start another ‘series’ of the same print. Having said that…if you really think it will sell, don’t limit your series to something small like 25.  Maybe make them x of 250 or x of 500 🙂

So…I redid the signature on the original in a more discreet place.

beet with better signature

…got the original rescanned, and got new giclee prints made. I will sign and number my prints going forward, starting with #2 because I’m going to track down my first buyer and give her a ‘correct’ #1 print! And I know that my work is still improving, so I’m going to limit this beet series to 50.

I am sure there are still many other points I’ve yet to consider, but this is a learning experience for me and I welcome your feedback!

And here’s the beet!

golden beet

beta Vulgaris

pencils down…for a minute

I have been loving exploring colored pencils and learning more about how, when used correctly, they can give an illustration that watercolor look. I love this because I’VE ALWAYS HATED working with watercolor. It’s the most unforgiving medium I know of.
After looking at a lot of botanicals though, I see that watercolor is the medium of choice. Hmm…
Last weekend I decided to face two of my fears head on – driving in the snow alone all of the way over the hill to Bend, Oregon (fear #1) to attend a two-day botanical painting workshop in watercolor (fear #2).
The snow was a cake walk, and the workshop was a blast! Jeanne Debons is a botanical artist and instructor who lives in Bend. One of the classes she leads is a two-day workshop in the fundamentals of botanical painting in watercolor.
I attended the class with three others – all at varying skill levels, but all well above me. No problemo – I was there to learn 🙂
Jeanne started me on a reintroduction to painting shapes – spheres, cones and rods…enough to learn how to shade, and ‘move paint around’.

painting shapes


First thing I learned:
I learned that not only is it OK for watercolors to touch one another (I always thought that was a no-no), but that layering the color is what gives depth and luminosity to a painting. (maybe this is just so for botanicals – not sure).
Once I practiced a bit I moved on to my piece! A pepper. I had to sketch it, and then use that sketch as a base for a more detailed picture showing the shading. Then that piece was what I referred to as I painted. My pepper started out pretty lame though.
Second thing I learned:
Paintings go through a phase Jeanne calls adolescence. In this phase paintings look awkward, and you often want to pitch it, but they’ll grow out of this phase as you continue working with them.. An earlier me would have thought this concept hokey, but I saw it firsthand and its true! The eggplant in the first pic up top is still in its adolescent phase.

Painting a pepper

I worked on my little pepper for the rest of day 1 and a LOT of day 2. Sure enough – it started to come together. It’s not a perfect pepper, but I learned a lot in painting it.

Here’s my pepper after about 2 hours.

pepper after about 2 hours work

and here’s the same pepper after about 4 or hours:

pepper after about 4-5 hours work

The third thing I learned was:
patience.

I came home and continued practicing. This little tangerine has taken me three days!

watercolor tangerine