Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year and Friday Feature

Happy New Year Everyone,

I'm still in denial that 2011 is coming to a close.  As we enter a New Year I thought it would be a good time to have a look back at the Friday Features past:)  There are some great, insightful, and motivational interviews.  A look in to what makes these artist's tick, what there motivation is and their advice to you.

So Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy:))

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

"The Night Before Christmas" original watercolor on paper 9.75" x 9.75" BUY NOW
Hi Everyone,

I have just burned the midnight oil to complete my painting "The Night Before Christmas".  Crystal Cook and I pose a challenge to each other each month and this month it was my turn to come up with the theme.  Immediately the word "Believe" popped into my head.  So that was the inspiration for our entries this month.  Ironically even though I came up with the challenge I really had no idea what I was going to paint. But my idea quickly came to me as I was watching my little boys get so excited about Christmas.  These are fun years.  It is such a magical time when you have little people to experience the Holidays with.  So even though the components of my still life were becoming clearer to me I still had to round it all up.  That took some time.  We didn't own a copy of The Night Before Christmas that I could readily find, so off to the bookstore we went.  Once I settled on a copy that I liked the cover art, I then had to bake cookies and find the perfect dishes to display the cookies and milk in.  I of course went to my old standby the Candlewick dishes.  Oh, and I also had to wait for a day with sunshine to get the perfect photo reference.  There was a lot of planning in this painting.  But finally it all came together.  So I present to you my answer to believe "The Night Before Christmas"
"Christmas Magic" 6x6 original watercolor on paper by Crystal Cook
"Prince of Peace" 6x9 original watercolor on paper by Crystal Cook
 Here are Crystal's answers to the challenge.  I have to say my jaw always drops when I see her new paintings.   She does the most beautiful portraits.  The light she captures and glow are just amazing!!

"Anticipation" 23.5 x 32 original watercolor on paper by Carrie Waller
I also wanted to share with you that my painting "Anticipation" received the award of Outstanding Watercolor in the November Fine Art Studio Online Bold Brush Competition.  I am extremely grateful and each time I get validation, it pushes me to try harder and push myself to the next level.

I'll see you Friday!!!  Hope you're Holidays are in full swing and you're not up to your eyeballs in wrapping paper and tape.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Exciting Stuff:)))

Hi Everyone,

Nostalgia on page 36 of the Dec issue!!  So exciting!!!!!
This weekend I got the most exciting package in the mail from France.  I received the newest copy of the best selling French magazine Pratique Des Arts.  And if that wasn't exciting enough my painting "Nostalgia" was on page 36 in the International Portfolio section!!  The editor said it would be in this issue but until you see it in person it just doesn't seem real.  So needless to say I'm over the moon about this!  One of my goals for 2010 was to be in a major publication, I'm not sure I thought this was attainable, but you gotta dream big, right:))  It feels great to receive validation.  Not only that but our blogger buddy Kara Bigda was also in the issue.  That's some kind of special bond:))))) 
"The Night Before Christmas" WIP 9.75" x 9.75" watercolor on paper
I'm also going to give you a sneak peek at my newest painting.  Crystal Cook and I pose a  challenge for each other on a monthly basis and this month it was my turn to choose the theme.  I chose the word "Believe" as our inspiration.  My painting is almost completed but I'm calling it quits for the night so I'll have it posted in the next day or so.  Until then I'm sharing a glimpse:))
"Stacked" Gallery Award at Randy Higbee's 6" Squared show
I also wanted to share that I received a Gallery Award in Randy Higbee's 6"Squared exhibit in Costa Mesa CA, earlier this month!!  Extremely happy, I also have a sale from the show. 

And for a little Christmas cheer here's a picture of my boys with Santa.  This is the first year Steven, my 5 yr old would dare to go near Santa.  And because his brother would go so would Sam.  And let me tell you Steven didn't waste any time spitting out his list, which I will add was a surprise to Mommy so there may have to be another order filled at the North Pole.  Steven also was super concerned about where Santa had parked his Sleigh.  So cute:)


Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Feature: Iain Stewart

 Hi Everyone,
"Thurlow Dam from Fitzpatrick Bridge-Tallassee Alabama" 13"x9" original watercolor by Iain Stewart
Iain came on to my radar about a year ago when we were both in the Louisiana Watercolor Society's International Show.  I noticed that he also lived in Alabama so we became fb buddies and I got to meet him and his lovely wife in person in New Orleans at the LWS reception.  Iain has a great sense of humor and of course does amazing things in watercolor.

If you want to see more paintings by him check out his blog and website.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

My father is a watercolorist. Muir Stewart. I’ve watched him paint all of my life. That being said, I do consider myself mainly self taught. I know that sounds strange, but my father was not big on formal lessons. I’ve had maybe two or three from him between the ages of 10 and 18. I didn’t start painting in earnest until University. I am trained as an Architect and quickly moved into architectural rendering after graduation. Presentation was always a strong point of mine. I had thoughts of doing gallery work, but found myself too busy. That all changed in the recession. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing on my end. I was able to commit almost full time to a serious exploration of how I really want to paint. If I look at work from even 3 years ago I feel that I’m light years past it now.

"The Water house, Staithes, England" 14"x14" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Where were you born?
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
I’m fairly happy where I am now, but if we’re opening up real dreaming here I’d have multiple residences and do sort of a migratory progression to each one. Still, Europe, is really high on the list if we’re choosing just one.
"Santa Maria del Fiore" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Cityscapes. No question. As an architect I’m drawn to the built environment naturally. Still, I think it has a lot to do with how different elements become layers in such distinct ways. The buildings themselves are static, but at street level you have this beautiful orchestration of movement and energy. I also find the depth that can be achieved by taking a view from the middle of the street fascinating, although taking reference photography can get tricky.

Could you talk about your painting techniques?
My style seems to evolve rather quickly so I’m rarely tied to a specific technique. I’m very willing to test new ideas and to a certain extent embrace the failure as much, if not more, than success. I tell my students if you’re going to muck it up then make it a spectacular failure. I try to hold on to that myself.

As far as actual technique goes I believe you must build from strong drawing skills. Real comfort with a pencil will naturally extend to your brush. In drawing interest is achieved by mixing line weight, stroke, and texture. This is the same with watercolor. If I find myself becoming too careful that is usually a good indicator that on the next pass I need to loosen things up.
"5th Ave from Washing Square Park" 17" x 7.5" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you always work from a sketch or do you use photo references?

Both. A camera is invaluable when time is limited or you want to document a lot of information. The problem that arises when only using a camera is I find that I don’t actually become immersed in a subject. I need to work on location to continue to learn how to simplify what I see and get at the heart of the subject. I don’t think this can be done by only referencing photography. The work I do on site is selfish and all about me and how I see things. I know it will rarely be viewed by others. It’s my favorite work.

How did you arrive at your current style?
This is where we do get back to my father. He likens my artistic education to that of a farmer’s son. The son watches the father milk the cows and bring in the hay, or what have you, and he learns how to do those tasks. I’ve watched my father paint my entire life and there is a huge amount of him in me. I think I’ve only recently begun to paint in what could be called “my style.” The breaking away from my father is crucial in claiming my own style. I think it’s safe to say I don’t paint like him now. You’ll always see a little Muir in my work and I’m happy in that, but it’s more important that you see me.
"Sunlit Corner NYC No 1" 10" x 14" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Ok, these keep coming. Muir Stewart. See what I mean?

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Drive. The need to paint. Taking joy in the process of painting and allowing yourself to be selfish without feeling guilty about it. That last one requires a very special partner in life. Painting time is my time. It’s my job, but it’s more than that. It changes how I view the world. Once you learn how to use your artist’s eye you can never go back. Most importantly you have to enjoy, and I mean damned well love, what you do.

"St. Charles Line at 4th" 15.5" x 6.5" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Winsor and Newton without a doubt. My go to colors are cobalt blue, burnt siena, french ultramarine, raw umber, yellow ochre, light red, alizarin crimson, and neutral tint.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

Can you do watercolor in zero gravity? I made a 5 year plan 3 years ago. I’ve checked a lot of dreams as realized off of that list. I am unbelievably thankful for the direction my career is moving in. Quite simply I want to make a comfortable living doing what I love. I think that’s dreaming big. Ok, and maybe a few homes scattered here and there where I could have a sort of traveling artists colony thingy set up. Also a sailboat. A big one.

"Tallassee Alabama No 2" 10" x 6" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Plastics my boy. There’s a future in plastics. Seriously though, don’t do it unless you love it and be prepared to do other things in support of it. Find someone who is abundantly patient and don’t ask them to look at your work as soon as they walk in the door. Most importantly, enjoy it. I don’t subscribe to the tortured artist thing myself. It seems to work for Morrissey, but I have to like what I’m doing.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Paint a sky a day.

Chocolate or vanilla? Both.

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Both- preferably one after the other and repeat.

Book or movie? Book before movie.

Favorite author? P.G. Wodehouse.
"Dirty Santa" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Favorite movie? At this time of year? Bad Santa.

Romance or comedy? Comedy.

Favorite ice cream flavor? Rocky Road.

Night owl or morning person? I’ve had a lot of fun over the years taking the night owl side on in to morning, but nowadays. Morning person.

Cake or Cupcakes? Both.

Thank you so much Iain:)  Wonderful interview!


I'm still running my Holiday Sale this week, the USPS assures me there is still time:)) Great gift starting at $15 and originals starting at $100.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Sale and Sold It!!!

Hi Everyone,

Can NOT believe we are so close to Christmas!  Almost time to get used to writing 2012!  I still have more cookies to bake, presents to wrap, packages to mail and painting to be done, but it will be done some way or another.  I am thrilled that school is out after Thursday, we can all sleep in, wooooo hooooo!

I still have my Holiday Sale running through this weekend.  The USPS assures me there is still time to get things out for the Holidays.  So check out my sale!  Great gifts starting at $15, Framed, signed prints for $45 and ORIGINALS framed and signed starting at $100.

I also have prints available at 30% off right now through Imagekind.  I had a happy client send me a picture of her print, she had it framed and loves it:)
A print of "Anticipation" in a new client's home:))  Love to see where my art ends up!
I did want to share that I had a painting win a Gallery Award at Randy Higbee's 6" Squared Exhibition in Costa Mesa, CA.  I am beyond thrilled, it is such a great show:))
Gallery Award from the 6"Squared Show
I also want to Thank everyone that has purchased from my Sale.  And everything does come to you wrapped and ready to go, I even send along a package of free goodies:)

Carrie Waller Fine Art SOLD gifts:))  Already to their new homes.

 Here are some items that have SOLD:
SOLD at Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, Alabama
SOLD at Randy Higbee Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA

SOLD Framed, signed print from my Holiday Sale
SOLD Framed, signed print from my Holiday Sale
SOLD Framed, signed print from my Holiday Sale

SOLD Framed, signed print from my Holiday Sale
 Good luck to all of you with your Holiday prep:)))  Wish I could send everyone some elves:))


Monday, December 12, 2011

It's hard to admit this but. . . .

Hi Everyone,

Are you knee deep in Holiday preparations?  Are you as behind as I am?  Sooooo, I hate to admit this but, I haven't picked up a paint brush in 3 weeks:(  Am I going to remember how to paint? 

I am still having my Holiday Sale until 12/15.  Great gift ideas starting at $15.

It all started by going out of town for Thanksgiving and I just have been behind the power curve ever since then.  But that is okay, in lieu of painting I have been having so much fun with my boys decorating, making cookies, attempting to build a gingerbread house (we'll be giving that a second attempt this week).  We have decked our halls and it's feeling pretty jolly at our house!  So today I'm going to give you a virtual tour of our home and let you see what we've been up too:)

We got our outdoor decorating done first.  Steven my 5 yr old is obsessed with the inflatable decorations so this year we went from 1 snowman to an entire family of snowmen.   We now have a Daddy, Mommy, Sam and Steven snowman:))  

I always love to have our entrance to our home very festive, with the assistance of my boys who were terrific helpers we got it accomplished!

Our living room tree, notice the Carrie Waller ornaments:))  They really stand out!

The master bedroom snowman tree.  I've been collecting snowmen ornaments forever so now they have their own tree:)

The tag that is included with the ornaments
Steven, Sam and I made some ornaments.  They are adorable snowman ornaments using their hand-prints.  I saw these on pinterest and I'm going to make them with Steven's class this week.  I just love things that have their hand-prints on them.  They grow up so fast and I love looking back to see just how far they've come.

Steven's also been very inspired to do some snowman drawings.  These are his interpretation of our outdoor decor.
 And I bet you didn't know we had some celebrity help.  Buzz Lightyear helped us to Infinity and Beyond.

Have a great week, see you Wednesday:)


Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Feature: Kara Bigda

Hi Everyone,

This week I'm featuring Kara Bigda.  As soon as I saw her work I loved it immediately.  Each piece has such a great aesthetic.  She has a wonderful eye for composition.  They also have a lovely, inviting, homey feel.

To see more of Kara's work check out her blog and website.  

"A Vintage Bulb" 8.25" x 10"  original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

For as long as I can remember I always loved to draw and create: spending hours drawing scenes described in the books I was reading, and making books and “fashion catalogs” using Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics as my models.  (I would trace their bodies and design new outfits for them and describe the clothing in the margins.  How goofy is that?)   Also I had a great uncle who was a cartoonist and when we’d visit him he’d give me “art lessons.”  He was fabulous at drawing the figure.  As I mainly focus on still life today, let’s just say I wasn’t his most successful student . . . but he was a dear man.

As far as my journey is concerned, I took Art all through high school, attended a small liberal arts college here in the Northeast (Amherst College) and majored in Fine Arts.  I was sidetracked for a few years after graduation working in the insurance industry and came back to art through teaching.  I earned my Master’s degree in education and for ten years taught art, beginning in the elementary schools, moving up to middle school for a few years and finally ending up at the high school level.  I loved teaching each grade but found high school the most inspiring.  More and more I found myself wanting to do the lessons I was teaching and so in 2008, with the support of my husband, decided to resign from teaching and focus on my own art.

Where were you born? 

Holden, Massachusetts.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

I’m kind of simple . . . I really LOVE where I live now.  I’m sure there are more beautiful places where I would be very happy as well.  I have to say I love New England so anyplace where it’s VERY rural (but with a grocery store and shopping not too far away), there are beautiful old homes, lots of land (would love a pond on the property), and nearby family of course, I could be happy.  Think “Orchard House” from Little Women and the farm from “The Bridges of Madison County” with the sound of the screen door closing, from the “Waltons” all rolled into one somehow.

"Pomegranate Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I love the still life.  I like the challenge of creating dynamic compositions and playing with the space.  I’ve also always had a thing for design and I LOVE patterns and textures.  I love trying to capture the various surfaces in my subjects.

"Pumpkin Shadows" 9.75"x9.75" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?  Which was the most difficult? 

This is a funny question to me.  All of my paintings are enjoyable to paint – especially at the beginning, but I still always feel as if it’s a crapshoot whether a painting will come together for me in the end. (I must admit there are a lot that I scrap or put off until a later date).  However, I’m going to answer “Pumpkin Shadows” because I tried this painting numerous times (beginning last Fall) and kept failing.  The experience of a year provided me with the skills to finally make it work.  So I guess I could say this was the most enjoyable one to paint while the most difficult.
"American Pride" 10"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Oh geez . . . so many.  It’s like eating a potato chip – you can’t have just ONE!  Norman Rockwell has always been a favorite – Andrew Wyeth of course and Edward Hopper.  I was just turned on to T. Allen Lawson’s work as well.  I’ve also always been inspired by Vermeer, Jan van Eyck – and some of those other Dutch and Flemish painters – just amazing.  In addition I am constantly inspired and humbled by so many contemporary artists (those of whom I’d have never even known about, yet thanks to the internet I do now.)  However my biggest inspiration may be my former students, fellow art teachers and department head.  I can’t even explain how inspiring they were and continue to be to me – opening my eyes to the extraordinary – pushing me out of my comfort zone – inspiring me to do what I love.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Painting as close to every day as I can is very important to me.  I can’t stress how essential that is to improving one’s skills.  (Personally, it also keeps me sane – well, as close to sane as I’ll ever be!)  J  Also, the computer/internet has been imperative to my “success.”  Blogging and Daily Paintworks has completely changed my life – I’m laughing at that – it sounds so dramatic, but it’s true.  And because I arrange my still lifes, photograph them, then compose them with the help of Photoshop, also goofing with filters to better see temperature and value, I have to include my digital camera and Photoshop.

"Ma's Chair" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigdga
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I have just discovered New Gamboge through a class I’m taking.  LOVE IT!  It’s a great yellow.  I have found limiting my palette works best for me; otherwise I start getting muddy and all messed up!  Cobalt Blue and Alizarin Crimson are definite go-to’s.  Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna are pretty important to me as well.

Do you ever get artist’s block?  And what do you do to overcome it?

Yes, definitely. (when don’t I get it!?  --Ha!)  I just keep painting.  I used to tell my students – there are only so many yucky paintings/drawings you have in you so you might as well keep working to get them out of your system so you can get to the good stuff.  (I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems to work!)  :)

"Glass Apple" 9"x11" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years?  Dream big here.

Hmm . . . I’m really very content (or totally limited) so I’m not sure.  Let’s see:

1)      Get gallery representation (I think)
2)      Re-do the kitchen and upstairs bathroom (not art related and totally do-able, but would LOVE this!)
3)      Become financially independent with my art (thank heavens for my husband!)
4)      Would love to see Italy, Ireland and Spain
5)      Have my own private jet with an amazing pilot of course.  :)   This is related to #4 – I HATE public transportation, particularly air travel, so this would be my biggest dream ever.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

- Paint every day if you can. 
- Don’t ignore composition – I think this is probably the most important step because even if you have mad skills a horrible arrangement of the space won’t draw viewers to your work and your skills will be overlooked. 
- Get online – research other artists (so inspiring!).  Start a blog (it’s free and I’m tellin’ ya’ this has been such a wonderful experience for me, so encouraging thanks to all the wonderful people out there J -- and thank you Carrie!) 
- Take some classes if you can – learn to mat your own work (and even frame – such a great skill).  Learn Photoshop (you can design your own promotional materials and save oodles of $). 
- Invest carefully – KNOW what you are spending and what you are bringing in. – break it down and keep track.  You may not be making money for a while, that’s ok (if you can afford it of course) we all love our supplies and have to initially invest, but know that. 
- Join an art group if you can; connect with other artists, and enter some shows, get your name and your work out there.  (Daily Paintworks has really been amazing for me.)
- Finally, be patient – have goals but don’t expect too much.  It’s work, but I think it’s really fun and it can be soooo rewarding.

"Blueberries IV" 10"x10"original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

This really struck me recently:  I think artist Carol Marine once blogged something like “it doesn’t matter the color, but you have to get the VALUE right” – LIFE CHANGING moment for me – la, la-laaaaa! J

"Morning Tea" 6"x6" original watercolor on paper by Kara Bigda

Chocolate or vanilla? 
Chocolate (with jimmies on a sugar cone – both literally and figuratively) 

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat

Book or movie?

Favorite author?
Jane Austen

Favorite Movie?
“The Way We Were” (kills me every time!  Hubble Gardner – ooh la la!);  “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (close second – is Audrey Hepburn the most elegant woman or what?); “You’ve Got Mail” (can’t ever change the channel when this is on); and “That Touch of Mink” (oh Cary Grant, need I say more?  And Doris Day – want to be her and wear those clothes!)  (sorry for babbling, I know the question was in the singular)

Romance or comedy?
Despite some of my previous answers -- Romantic comedy

Favorite ice cream flavor?
“Cookies and Cream” or “Moosetracks”

Night owl or morning person?
Night owl by nature – but working on becoming a morning person

Cake or Cupcakes?

Thank you so much, Kara:))

Also I have a HOLIDAY SALE right now, click here.

Have a fabulous weekend:))