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New Creative Avenues

Life has been a bit hectic lately with many things happening – except in the case of my art.  I haven’t actually painted in over a month, maybe even two and I’m really beginning to feel the lack of it.  That’s something I have to remedy soon. 

I have, however, been playing around with creative photography.  I’ve been using photographs that I’ve taken – either with my Canon DSLR or my iPhone – and running them through various apps to alter them.  One app I use is Instagram and if you happen to use it, you can check out my photos.  My username is quirkydame.  I’m especially excited because I have a five night trip to Honolulu planned for next month and that will give me the opportunity to explore and take many more photos that I can share with you all!

I’ve started offering cards and prints in my shops and some of them feature these altered photos.  I will be adding more in the future.  And I’m also trying out a few new things involving prints and photos.  I can hardly wait to start offering those products soon!  Just waiting for the supplies to arrive in the mail.  Hurry, US Postal Service and bring my stuff! 

 The photographs featured in this blog post are, yes, just two of my most recent altered photographs.  I love having the chance to exercise my creativity in this new way and look forward to much more of it.

Another project that I’ve started since my last post is Quirky Bunny.  I wanted a way to help out and give back using my art.  So I’ve started a section in each of my shops (Artfire and Etsy) called Quirky Bunny.  Any item in my shop that has a bunny in it is placed into this section.  Twenty percent of any purchase from this section will be donated to the House Rabbit Society (http://www.rabbit.org).  They are a fabulous non-profit organization that rescues rabbits and educates about them, as well.  I’ve relied heavily on them and the information they provide as I’ve gone through the process of rescuing my own rabbit and bonding with him.  I can’t recommend them enough.

Right now the selection of Quirky Bunny items is fairly small, but I am adding things every chance I get.  I have a number of sketches ready to use for paintings.  Having a bunny in the house provides many opportunities to sketch from life and I’ve been taking advantage of it!

Thanks again for reading my blog and I promise not to let several months go by without posting again!

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Yep, the Quirky Dame is back!

So it’s been a while!

I had a lovely vacation in Hawaii and it ended up being such a good break from reality.  I went with six other lovely people and it was so hard to leave.  So hard, in fact, that I had quite the difficult time getting my groove back when we returned.  It took at least a month to finally settle in to something resembling normal. 

Complicating matters was a certain little neighborhood rabbit.  You might remember I mentioned Hopper in my last two posts.  (If not, well, it has been a while!)  While I was in Hawaii, my wonderful and talented brother-in-law built a fabulous hutch and rabbit run.  It is truly an amazing little home for a rabbit and better than anything I could have bought at the store.  (Believe me, I looked!)  So, less than a week after getting back, Operation Rabbit Rescue commenced.  At 8:30 am on a Saturday morning, I was able to grab a very surprised rabbit and put him safely in his new home.  The next few weeks were full of adjusting to having a new pet and helping the new pet adjust to us!  

I have enjoyed every second I’ve spent getting to know Hopper and learn about his unique personality.  I can’t believe what a blessing it’s been.  He’s become such a happy, loving little bunny and a special part of our family.  And he’s also become a major focus of my artwork.  Every day after I get home from work, I go outside and let him out into his special playpen for two hours, twice as long on the weekend.  I sit out with him and spend lots of time petting and playing with him, then I use the rest of the time to read or draw.  I just received a portable easel for my upcoming birthday and will be using that to start painting out there. 

Hopper

Spending this time with him has given me the chance to observe him endlessly and record it with photos, videos and drawings.  I am inspired and now rabbits are popping up everywhere in my art!  One of the goals I am working on is to build up my collection of rabbit art and  I plan to donate a portion of every sale to a rabbit charity.  These furry little critters have hopped their way into my heart and it has become an important, heartfelt goal for me.  Plans are in the works and I am having a good time putting those plans into motion.    

The king on his throne

The latest piece of art that I am concentrating on is a block print.  A local gallery, the Upstairs Studio, features art challenges very month or so that anyone can participate in.  This time around they are doing a summer block print challenge.  I have completed my sketch and plan to start carving the linoleum this weekend.  I’ve been working on some others, as well.  It’s been great fun to get back into this medium.  As soon as my entry is completed for the challenge, I will be sure to post it on here.  (In case you are wondering, it does include a rabbit!)

I hope that all of you are having a wonderful summer so far.  I promise it will not take nearly as long for the next update!

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Pet portrait work in progress

Meet Hopper.

Photo of Hopper

I mentioned him in my last post and he’s still hanging around.  (He just started showing up around our house around the end of January.)  He just makes my heart melt.  I go out every night and feed him by hand while talking to him.  Slowly building up the trust with him and hoping one day I’ll get to hold him.  I took this picture recently and it’s one of my favorites of him.  I felt inspired and decided to do a portrait of Hopper using this photo as inspiration.

Initial sketch of Hopper

So I grabbed my sketch pad and pencil, then got to drawing.  First step was to create a sketch using the photo.  I’ve done a couple of simple quick sketches of him, but this portrait will be a more realistic version done in oils.

Underpainting of pet portrait

Next I transferred the sketch to the 16×20 canvas I’ll be using for this painting.  Then I grabbed some burnt umber oil paint and painted over it.

Initial blocks of color

After letting the underpainting dry, I then mixed up some paint and added the initial blocks of color to the painting.  Because this is a more realistic painting, I am using oil paints.

Progress so far

Then yesterday I got down to work.  I painted in the background and the branch on the upper left of the canvas.  Next up is to make any changes I feel are needed to both of those, then I get to start on the rabbit himself.  This painting has been quite wonderful to work on.  I felt a little lost with the background at first, but I’m pretty happy with it now.

I won’t actually be putting this painting up for sale.  I’m being selfish and keeping the original painting for myself.  I really want a special piece of art honoring this adorable little critter.  🙂  However, I do hope to add prints to my shop and will be using the image for my Zazzle shop, as well.

I’m hoping to finish this painting by the time I go on vacation, which is April 14th.  I’ll be sure to post updated pictures as soon as I can!

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Red hat owl painting and a new inspiration

Red hat owl painting

Just finished a brand new 7×5 custom acrylic painting for someone very special in my life.  I visited my aunt in November and, knowing that she’s been interested in my owl paintings for quite some time, we sat down and figured out just what she wanted.  She’s the one who came up with the idea to add the purse and I just love it.  I’ll be taking pictures this weekend – for possible prints and to add to products in my Zazzle shop – then I’ll be mailing it off on Monday.  I can hardly wait for her to get it.  🙂

Some new projects in the works involve a little critter named Hopper (thanks to my seven year old niece) who has decided to adopt us and steal my heart.  😉

 

Hopper and the sketch

I’ve gotten some great photos of my little buddy and used one of them to do this quick little sketch Thursday night.  I’ll be working on some art featuring this fun little fellow soon.

I’m off to go run errands now then hopefully do a bit of creating.  I really must finish up the last of the Art-o-mat blocks, as they are almost out of them.  Then I’ll be ordering 80 more and starting the process again!  I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

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Thinking of you…

That is the title of my new oil painting that is almost complete.  A bunch of artist from ArtFire are starting up a blog where we choose a monthly theme and create a piece of 2D art according to that theme.  This is our first month, so we went with Valentine’s Day.  It’s been cool to see how everyone interprets it and what they’ve created.  Here’s my (almost) finished painting:

 

Thinking of You

I still have a few tweaks to make and then the sides to paint.  After she dries a bit, then she’ll be listed in my ArtFire shop.  She was quite fun to work on.

I’m also hard at work on a new collection of paintings for my shop!  I have three completed so far and I’m planning to finish up at least five more before I introduce them.  I’m getting a new delivery of 5 inch round canvases tomorrow and those will make up half of the initial paintings, while the rest have been done on 5×4 inch canvas paintings.  My little inner child has been enjoying these mini paintings and I really hope that you’ll like them, too.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can finish up the other five this week and introduce them the week after.

Wishing you all a very creative and blessed week and I look forward to sharing the latest news with you soon!

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Mutual Admiration – An Original Oil Painting by Julie Behm

Initial sketch for Mutual Admiration A few years back, my best friend and I started a tradition.  For our Christmas gift (or at least part of it) we would create something for each other.  I’ve given paintings each year and in return I’ve gotten a wonderful hand-painted plaster mask, a painting and this year, a wonderful piece of art done with watercolor pencils, plus a gorgeous handmade necklace and earring set.  I’ve been very spoiled!

This year, I was pondering what to do.  I started out with the idea to paint a realistic nude and the initial sketch came out gorgeous.  Somehow, things went downhill between finishing the sketch and transferring it to the gessobord.  I didn’t like the composition and I found I wasn’t very excited about it and realized that I needed to rethink things.  I do enjoy the challenge of painting realistically, but honestly, I don’t want to do that every time.  And this time I wanted to do something different – something fun and colorful but not too realistic.  By the end of the day, I had a new sketch of a woman and her cat completed.  And I found myself getting excited about painting this one.  It just felt right.  By this time, it was already into December, but I knew that I wanted to do this one in oils.

So, I got to work.  The skin tones came together fairly easily.    Painting in oils was the right choice.  I’m so much more at ease with the oils, especially when it comes to painting people.  Working on this painting helped solidify my decision to focus more on oils this upcoming year and less on acrylics.  Some things, such as my owl and the Art-o-mat blocks will still be done in acrylics.  But the rest will mostly be done in oils.  And I’m really excited about that!

Mutual Admiration To the left, you can see the finished painting.  I’m pretty happy with it and feel that I made the right decision to scrap the original idea for now.  Best of all, it was done before Christmas and in time to exchange today, though just barely!  Thanks to thesunnysidebiz on ArtFire, it has a name, which is Mutual Admiration.  (I’m simply horrible at naming paintings and when I mentioned it needed one on the forums on ArtFire, she put forth her idea.  I’m very grateful!)   It was done on a 9×12 stretched canvas.

My next project is another owl, a special custom painting for my darling aunt.  This owl will be a red hat owl and it promises to be a fun project.  After that, another oil painting and I’m narrowing down the possibilities out of several promising sketches. I hope to spend New Year’s Eve doing what I love best… painting!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and may the New Year be filled with many blessings!

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Quirky Dame Designs available in Art-o-mats!

That’s right, I just received word that my mini paintings have been shipped to the following three locations:

  • The Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
  • The Studios of Key West in Florida
  • The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (Opening on December 15, 2010)

Ah, now I’m wishing I could arrange a long weekend in Vegas!  🙂  It feels great to know that my paintings are now out and about and available for purchase.  I have started painting backgrounds on a few of the remaining 30 blocks that I have left to paint.  Ideas are brimming in my brain and I’m excited to start creating some more pieces soon!  If you have found this page after purchasing one of my pieces, please comment or email me.  I’d love to hear from you and find out which painting you received!

While I was in Seattle at the beginning of last month, I had the pleasure of visiting a delightful shop called Venue Ballard.  It was full of wonderful jewelry and art.  I found a charming owl print that I just couldn’t resist.

Owl print

And how did I discover this business?

Art-o-mat at Venue

Art-o-mat!  Yes, they have one there and I was lucky enough to pick out six wonderful pieces, though I’m wishing that I had gotten a few more!  🙂  I took the pieces back to my Aunt’s home where we were staying and had a great time checking out the pieces I had purchased.  Here’s what I got:

The little robot dude makes a great pendant.  🙂  My aunt was kind enough to give me a silver chain and I ended up wearing him to the Art Walk the next day. I’m looking forward to the day when I have another chance to visit one of these machines!

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