Big Mountains on Small Canvas

My favorite way to remember a trip is to paint it. My favorite way to get over painter’s block is to do small paintings. Luckily this past year I took a lot of really great, beautiful trips so I had plenty of inspiration for when I wanted to do something small. Unfortunately, now my problem is that I want to move to the PNW (and I’m also running out of wall space). But these are good problems to have.

Crested Butte

I love Crested Butte. Not only do I always have the best times there (birthday weekend snowboard trips with amazing people) but the scenery is top notch. It’s hard not to be inspired to paint these mountains. The beauty and the memories make Crested Butte one of my favorite subjects to paint.

Crested Butte

Crested Butte in January. Acrylic on Canvas. 24×36. 2017

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Crested Butte in Color. 8×10 acrylic on canvas

Four Seasons Bear

After seeing my Inktober Hedgehogs, an acquaintance in Maine commissioned me for a set of seasonal teddy bears. I had so much fun painting these 8×10 watercolors. If only I could quit my day job and become a children’s book illustrator.

4seasons spring

Spring. 8×10 Watercolor on paper

4seasons summer

Summer. 8×10 Watercolor on paper

4seasons fall

Fall. 8×10 Watercolor on paper

4seasons winter

Winter. 8×10 Watercolor on Paper

4seasons

Four Seasons Bear

Inktober

My friend and I decided to do an “art a day” month beginning in October in order to be more diligent about practicing/making art. Turns out that the month of October is also “Inktober”. We didn’t follow the Inktober prompts but it was really neat to see what other artists did on a daily basis and being a part of that mini community was also a great motivator.  Since I’m just starting out with watercolors, I had a lot of new styles and techniques to practice. Below are a few pieces I did in October showing the different subjects, styles, and techniques I tried out.

Flatirons Practice

flatirons practice Sept 17, 2017

Trying to paint the most iconic view in Boulder requires practice and a lot of it. With that said, I’m pretty happy with how things are coming along.

Once I get back into the artisan fair rotation and begin to focus on my business more, I hope to offer my watercolors (mountains, flatirons, skylines, etc) as cards for sale.

WA in August 2017

WA in August 2017 Series

This August I finally made it to the PNW and fell in love with Washington State and the national parks they have there. Unfortunately, during my visit the the British Columbia wildfires were going on so the sky was constantly filled with smoke and hid the mountains in haze. I still had amazing views since the North Cascades and Mount Rainier are simply breathtaking, but this presented a new challenge when trying to paint from the photographs I took. Everything had to have more muted colors and softer lines with essentially zero visible details. This required me to focus more on the movement of the brush strokes and use of color than in trying to capture finite details (which is always great/hard practice for my perfectionist brain). Luckily, using small canvases makes that challenge a bit easier.

Engagement Paintings

People are really into engagement photos and capturing the moment the proposal happens. Typically in Colorado, that’s done in a beautiful place. By random chance, a friend’s friends got engaged at Dream Lake the same day I completed a 4×5 painting of that location. My friend immediately contacted me about buying it as a gift for them. This sparked a little idea of doing engagement paintings (at least as gifts for friends). A few days later that same friend contacted me about commissioning a painting of her engagement as a gift for her fiance. It was then I started to think that this could be a really cool market to dip my toes into: Engagement Paintings.

Colorado is full of so many picturesque spots that having an original painting of where you got engaged or tied the knot is a cool really unique way to memorialize it.

The painting I ended up doing was surprisingly way harder than I had originally anticipated, but I’m (and more importantly “the client” is) pretty happy with the finished product.

Engagement

Working small

Dream Lake. 2017. Acrylic on canvas 4×5.

I’ve realized the best way to get out of an artist’s block is to think small. So I bought a bunch of little canvases, gathered up photos and ideas from recent trips, and then poured myself a bunch of coffee. So expect a bunch more little paintings.

Portland headlight II. 2017. acrylic on canvas. 4×4

My mom special requested a small painting of Portland headlight (one of the best pictures I took while in Maine last October) so I used one of my mini 4×4 canvases and happily obliged. Once again, quick small paintings helping me out of my painting slumps.

Sam’s Aspens

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Sam’s Aspens. 2017. 48×36

My friend (and former roomie), Sam, bought a condo a couple months ago and asked me to help fill her walls– which I obviously said “yes!” The first spot to fill was, of course, above the fireplace. She gave me a target canvas size, color preferences, and “aspens” and the rest was up to me. It was really great to work on my largest piece to date and it was my first piece to paint entirely without photo references. It may have taken me a long time (at least 39 hours) but I’m really glad with how it turned out.

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picture for size reference

Resolution Bowl. 2017

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Resolution Bowl. 2017. Acrylic on canvas. 8×10

The best part about the Jackalope Art fair was the feedback I got from people. I got a lot of great responses for all of my work, but the pieces that people liked the most (and that sold best) were my black and white mountain paintings/prints. That made me incredibly happy.  My black and white mountains have really been my true style, but I began to doubt if people would be receptive to these pieces.  After seeing that strangers actually do really like my mountains, I can get back to working more on these pieces in the new year. It was almost fitting that the first painting I completed in 2017 is of Resolution Bowl at Copper Mountain.

Time to go on even more trips to the mountains!