Queen Birdy Sketch

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And so, the lonesome “King Birdy” gets his Queen…

"Queen Birdy" (Pencil on Paper)

“Queen Birdy” (Pencil on Paper)

I’ve already started the painting. I’m trying to make the most of my time by working on this oil painting while simultaneously working up the sketch for the next larger painting involving a very lovely rabbit. That way there’s less time between paintings for me. I mentioned last time how I don’t like that lull. I love working on sketches in general, but when they are complicated – like the rabbit one coming up – I love them even more. I could work on it forever. Drawing is pure fun. And when you work on other people’s ideas all day long, it’s even better when you get to work on your own.

Oh and I got good news this week. There’s an art annual called “Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art,” and I managed to make the final cut this year! This year marks its 22nd year in publication. One of the judges (five judges total) mentioned that there were over 5500 entries this year, so the competition was pretty huge. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to be a judge with such a large amount of work to go through. See me under the “M” section under the artists tab. You can see my hubs’s name in the next column under “S” for Stewart. He usually gets art into this annual. I’ve entered probably 6 times in the last 15 years and this is the first time I got in. Won’t it be funny if our art ends up on the same page? A lot of artists’ work I admire will be in the book too, so it would be super cool to be next to their art too. I don’t know yet what piece got in. MS says they will mail an acceptance letter and tell me what piece to upload to their FTP site. This annual is pretty much an industry standard, so it’s a good thing to get into. The book comes out in November – just in time for my birthday – which is only about eight months away. (Yes – I count down the months until my birthday ALL of the time and I’ll be doing it every year I am lucky enough to get!). ;)

See you most likely after Spring has sprung! Eight more days in these parts!

“King Birdy” Oil Painting

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"King Birdy" (Oil on panel, 6"x6")

“King Birdy” (Oil on panel, 6″x6″)

 

"King Birdy" (Graphite on Paper)

“King Birdy” (Graphite on Paper)

Well, I’ve been so busy painting that I forgot to post the sketch for this painting before I did the painting! Ha! So here’s the finished oil painting and I threw in the sketch just because I should have done that before. I had great fun painting this fella. The fatness and coloring of his feathers made me think of portraits of medieval kings and/or King Henry VIII. For some reason, I feel strongly that he should have a Queen, so I’ll be working that up soon too. They will make a nice pair, I think.

I’ve been enjoying painting more regularly and I have a big goal this year. I’ll be displaying my work in a great art show in October! More information on that when the time comes nearer. I haven’t had a good goal in quite a while. I find it invigorating!

I’m getting a little ansty/fidgety because I’m still in sketch stages with the Queen Birdy and the next larger painting. I don’t want too much time to pass between paintings. I tend to forget valuable lessons learned rather quickly! On this painting, I put a medium cool ground of acrylic paint underneath the drawing. It made for a much quicker painting in that it prevented me needing to build up layers of color for opacity. It was a welcome change from the Chipmunk painting where I didn’t do that and I had to spend a lot of time building up color. There’s nothing wrong with that process – in fact it can yield glowing results – but for a girl with a full time job, she needs to make good use of every free hour she has available. Especially when most of her free hours are late at night when she’s already tired from designing all day.

Hope everyone has a good week!

See you next time!

 

Chipmunk Saint Final Oil Painting

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"Tamias Striatus." Oil and gold leaf on claybord panel. 11" x 14."

“Tamias Striatus.” Oil and gold leaf on claybord panel. 11″ x 14.”

“Tamias Striatus.” My little Saint Chipmunk.

I learned a lot with this painting, including how to gold leaf with genuine gold leaf, which is a little trickier than using composition gold leaf. For example, it will stick to parts that you aren’t expecting it to! So if I ever gold leaf a painting again, I’ll most likely gold leaf at the start of the painting. Another reason to gold leaf the area first was that it changed the look of the painting considerably…meaning the color of it made an impact on other colors in the painting. It made such an impact that it required a fair amount of repainting! It’s such a pretty thing to add to a painting. It’s going to be hard to restrain myself from using it more often. I don’t really want to make it a regular thing. But in this case, when I came up with the idea, it was obvious that the halo should be gold leaf. This is my little homage to the little character in our yards that makes a big positive impact on our ecosystem. Good job, little fella, good job!

Have a great Valentine’s Day everyone! Let’s keep the love going all year round.

Bunny Pencil Studies and The Fairy Godbunny?

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Fairy Godbunny? (Pencil on Paper by Me).

Fairy Godbunny? (Pencil on Paper by Me).

Funny Face Bunny Studies (Pencil on Paper by Me)

Funny Face Bunny Studies (Pencil on Paper by Me)

As you can see, I’ve been exploring the possibilities with bunnies. You can betcha the fairy godbunny will make an appearance in a painting this year, make no mistake. ;) Too fun to pass up!

Pencil Studies

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Pencil on paper. Bunny Studies by Me

Pencil on Paper. Bunny Studies by Me.

Pencil on Paper. Flower studies by Me

Pencil on Paper. Flower studies by Me.

Just a couple studies I did recently. I finally started the Chipmunk painting this weekend. Too early to show anything yet. I have a bunch of Fridays off until the end of the year because I had so many unused vacation time left.  If I can make good use of them, maybe I’ll finish it by then. That’s aiming really high, though! We’ll see what happens. I’m not in a race, mind you, but it would be nice to finish a painting in a shorter time frame than usual.

Off to get the Thanksgiving groceries list finished. I can’t believe next week is the big day! Here’s hoping the refrigerator doesn’t die like it did two years ago. Ha! Although, if it does, I have a backup plan in the back of my head just in case! I will prevail!

See you later!

Baby Animal Studies and My Favorite Things

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"Baby Bunny" study by me.

“Baby Bunny” study by me.

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“Baby Chipmunk” study by Me.

I like to give myself a reality check often. This week I pondered how happy could I be with only a few possessions. I was pleased to see how few things would make me content. I don’t believe I’m attached to things. I like things, and I like having things, but I know deep down, that they don’t mean all that much. For example, if I break a special Halloween item (the horror!), I get sad for about 5 seconds and think “oh well.” BUT, there are a few things I would take with me on a deserted island or if I had to live in my car. One of which is the greatest book I ever bought, which I picked up in Stockbridge, MA at a Harvest Fest a couple weeks ago: “The Art of Beatrix Potter.” See a few examples of the works collected in this wonderful out of print book:

Plate from "The Art of Beatrix Potter"

Plate from “The Art of Beatrix Potter”

Plate from "The Art of Beatrix Potter"

Plate from “The Art of Beatrix Potter”

Plate from "The Art of Beatrix Potter"

Plate from “The Art of Beatrix Potter”

Currently, I’d say this is THE book I’d keep with me. It inspires me and delights me greatly. I find her work sort of effortless looking. Sweet and simple, and a treat to look at. I could look at this book forever. I’d also keep the new Grover doll I bought in NY in the spring. I’m not a big doll collector, much less stuffed animals, but he reminds me of my childhood and all the happiness he and other Muppets like him gave to me. I become instantly happy when I look at him. INSTANTLY! I’d probably keep one or two key pieces of jewelry that mean something to me…and of course pencils and a sketchbook, for obvious reasons. That’s it. Oh–and my cat shoes. They give me instant joy when I look at them too!

What few things would you take on a deserted island? (And I’m not talking, matches, wood, and water. Let’s pretend that stuff is there. I mean luxury items.)

Chipmunk Love – New Painting Idea

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"Tamias Striatus" (Pencil study for new painting by Gina Matarazzo)

“Tamias Striatus” (Pencil study for new painting by Gina Matarazzo)

I have been studying rodents lately and I have come to dislike that they are usually vilified by humans as “pests.” Since I’ve been trying to see everything from a different point of view these days, I’ve come to believe that they are not in our world, messing our gardens and homes up. We are in their world, interrupting their natural lives, covering up their burrows, making their already dangerous lives more dangerous with traps and poison or scaring them off. If they are able to think in terms of society, I think they surely think that humans are pests.

We have been putting up what’s called a “Big ol’ Kob” in the backyard since late spring, and it’s been quite a display, watching all the yard animals fight over it. And they aren’t really fighting over it at all–which is the funny thing! They are mostly sharing. One morning, there was a big squirrel on top of it, shaking it and trying to knock bits loose, while a couple birds, another squirrel, a bunny and a chipmunk were on the ground around it, picking up the kernels and generally waiting for their share. Really looked like something out of a Disney cartoon. That afternoon I was inspired to look up information about chipmunks and I learned how important they are for the ecology. Among other things, their natural way of life (collecting nuts, seeds, etc.) helps to establish seedlings in the forest. If you look at the “Ecology and Life History” section of Wikipedia, it gives a little insight into this.

So, here we are, thinking of these little fellas as pests who dig in our yards, messing our grass up, when they most likely do more for the world during their brief lives than most of us ever will! And this of course, inspired me to portray a chipmunk as a little saint or angel in his natural habitat.

I hope to do color studies in the next week or so and start the painting in November. I’m not sure if I’m excited to do that frame or worry that I’ll be kicking myself over it. Haha. Time will tell. I had a fun time creating it, so I think painting it will be fun too.

See you soon!

 

“The Nest” Final Painting and Studio Revamp

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"The Nest" by Gina Matarazzo (Oil on Clayboard, 14" x 16 1/2")

“The Nest” by Gina Matarazzo (Oil on Clayboard, 14″ x 16 1/2″)

Finally finished this thing. If any of you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you were seeing sneaky peeky iPhone photos with glare on them. So here’s the final scan with no glare! Imagine, I thought this frame was a lot of detail to paint. Wait until you see the final drawing for the new painting next week! What am I thinking?!

My new studio setup.

My new studio setup.

On a side note, I’ve been super stoked about my new studio space. Early August, I got the urge to move stuff around so I can use my space more efficiently, utilizing my computer as an aid for painting and drawing instead of struggling with my phone and printing out reference photos. This make for piles and piles of paper all over the place and it was hard to keep everything organized. Now, when I find photo reference, I can keep it right on the computer and open it up in photoshop and zoom in/compare/contrast, flip things. It’s really silly that I waited so long. MS always bragged about how he liked having his computer so close to his easel. So now I have everything at my disposal. I can turn one way and draw at my drawing desk and turn the other way to paint. And what’s very nice is I can now look out my window too! Much better than the view of the railing and the air conditioner. Doing this freed up a lot of the space and now there’s more room for the printer and scanner and the peripherals are hidden behind my computer. The only flaw is that there is a drawer in my main desk…but I forgot and it’s against the wall now. Ha! There isn’t much in there, but there are some drawings. Ooops! But anyway, it’s so much better. And now it’s like…my stuff/MS’s stuff. Rather than my stuff, his stuff, my stuff, his stuff. If you get the picture.

So, this is an excellent time to take a break while we go back to the Norman Rockwell Museum tomorrow. We decided in July that we’d go back in October, and so off we go! We hope to do some hiking in the peak of Autumn in the Berkshires, weather permitting, and soak up some fun vibes at a Fall Festival and recharge. I don’t know about you, but I am still in disbelief that summer is over. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in front of the easel.

See you next time!

Work in Progress and that Tricky Fella, Norman Rockwell

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Below is a shot of my work in progress. I bet it seemed that I haven’t been doing anything! Lazy girl, you say! Not so, not so! I’ve been plugging away at the new painting a couple hours per day, four or five days a week. It appears I’m working my way from the outside in. It’s kind of a concentric image, so it’s just been kinda happening that way. Also, I like to work on the tedious things first, like the frame, so that when I’m done the rest of the painting, I don’t groan at still having to paint that part! So you can’t see it all (I’m sneaky that way!), but everything around the nest in the middle is painted in. Not that it’s all final just yet, of course. And you can see my inspirational Beatrix Potter reference in the background.

wipEginamatarazzo

A few weekends ago, we took a trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It’s such a beautiful area – part of the Berkshires. Seeing his paintings in person is always such a treat, and this time was no exception. In fact, MS and I noticed a lot more things in his paintings this time. I don’t know if it’s because a different set of paintings were on display than when we were there 10 years ago, or what, but there were little details we never noticed before. For example, if you are familiar with “Art Critic,”  you might get a kick out of this photo:

Detail of Norman Rockwell painting "Art Critic"

Detail of Norman Rockwell painting “Art Critic”

Check out those globs of paint on the palette. That isn’t a rendering of globs of paint, THEY ARE globs of paint! MS and I mused that there’s probably a speck of paint in that massive white glob that may still be wet! I can’t even imagine how he got it to Saturday Evening Post like that! Maybe he had it photographed in his studio? I wonder if anyone at the museum knows.

I remember hearing once that as an illustrator, NR knew that if a job had to get done and he couldn’t possibly meet the deadline, he’d just make sure he got the important parts finished. I had noticed that about some paintings in reproductions, but there were quite a few in person that I never realized had “unfinished” parts. Here’s the full painting of “The Boxer.” Notice the boxer’s robe. It is plain white with the underdrawing lines showing. I never noticed that before! I’m really enjoying looking at paintings more critically again. For so long, I’ve just enjoyed them more as images, but taking a second, third and fourth look to see how they were painted has been very eye opening.

Detail from "The Boxer"

Detail from “The Boxer”

After you see the exhibit, you are invited to walk over to his studio which is on the grounds of the museum. It was moved here from its original location in Stockbridge. Here’s the back view. Quite a nice set up. We both decided we’d take it, if given to us. ;)

Back of Rockwell's Studio on Museum grounds.

Back of Rockwell’s Studio on Museum grounds.

Since my Dad has passed away, I’ve noticed a lot of things about death (to say the least). One of which is how until you lose someone very significant in your life, you don’t quite realize how much their presence can be felt without them being here. Sometimes it’s almost as if they are more alive in some way in death than in life. I’m not talking ghostly apparitions or anything. For example, when I hear my Dad’s voice or the sound of his trumpet on a recording, he is SO real to me. In fact, when a song of his pops up in my shuffle, I say “hi” to him in my head. So it wasn’t really surprising when I saw this empty chair in Norman Rockwell’s studio, after seeing so many of his paintings, that it gave me that same feeling. It really felt like he was there. We have been so lucky to have met so many wonderful illustrators over the years in person. I would have LOVED to ask him questions about his work and just jabber over a cup of tea with him. But I’m pretty sure he’d get up pretty soon and tell me he had work to do.

In Norman Rockwell's Studio.

In Norman Rockwell’s Studio.

Here’s a couple new animal studies I’ve done lately. I’m liking tiny animal kings, for some reason.

"King Mousey" pencil study by Gina Matarazzo

“King Mousey” pencil study by Gina Matarazzo

Pencil study of chipmunk standing by Gina Matarazzo

Pencil study of chipmunk standing by Gina Matarazzo

I’ve decided to be a little more proactive about selling some of my artwork. I’ve put some of my original drawings up on Etsy. MS was kind enough to cut me some special custom mats the other day. Check the shop to see the drawings available! I haven’t put all of the available drawings up yet. I plan to do that in the next week, so stop back soon! Lesser expensive prints will be available too.

On a side note, I just can’t believe how fast this summer is flying by! Can you?! Some kids have even started school already! And what with this mild weather we’ve been having, it will be that much more difficult to know when to switch over to the fall clothing!

See you soon!

 

Final Oil Painting of “Sleeping Baby Bunny”

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"Sleeping Baby Bunny" by Gina Matarazzo (8" x 10" Oil on Clayboard)

“Sleeping Baby Bunny” by Gina Matarazzo (8″ x 10″ Oil on Clayboard)

Here is the final oil painting for “Sleeping Baby Bunny.” I’ve been sitting on it for about a week or so, and I’m ready to share. In retrospect, it was a good move on my part to work on this one first. I hadn’t painted anything in several months and I needed to get back into the swing of things with a smaller painting. Now I feel ready to take on the other painting, which is much more ambitious. The drawing is transferred onto the board, sealed, sanded and ready to go. Can’t wait to get started!

What's on my easel now...

What’s on my easel now…

Side note, MS and I saw “Maleficent” last night. Now that’s the Disney magic I remember! Just loved it. It’s so great when stories of familiar characters get fleshed out and you see a different side to the story (well, when it’s done as nicely as this, that is). All my needs were satisfied in the script too. I got worried a few times, but it turned out the way I had hoped. And BEAUTIFUL is an understatement. Just GORGEOUS visuals. Awesome creatures! Fabulous costumes! Do yourself a favor and see it if you have any interest in this kind of tale. Maybe try to watch “Sleeping Beauty” beforehand to see how it all connects. That’s something both MS and I want to do now, before we see it again to see how everything ties in. One of the cool little details is they play a new version of “Once Upon a Dream” after the credits and when you listen to it after seeing the movie, it really changes the meaning of the lyrics. Nice little detail. Here’s a link to the song.

Have you seen “Maleficent” yet? What did you think of it?

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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