Finding Comfort in the Binds of Books

A book is a dream you hold in your hands.  -Neil Gaiman

Inspirations come and go. So do likes, loves, and passions. My favorite color changes every day.

But I have always loved books. To read them, to write them, sure, but also just to look at. I admire their binds, pull away their sleeves to see the secret cover beneath, slip photographs and flowers between their pages.

Books are paper sculptures painted with ink and ideas.

And I don’t think they will ever go away. Even in today’s digital world, in which we can download a book in seconds, there’s nothing like the analogue. As we head deeper into screens and flashing lights, printed things become something to be admired. We become grateful for their simplicity. We remember why we have always loved them.

Last night, after spending an entire day sewing binds and covers for my most recent little handmade books, I made a short list of what my handmade books might mean. Because to me they’re not books. They’re fine art pieces (I mean this humbly and literally). I wish I could find a way to display them on a gallery wall.

So why am I making them? I’m still not entirely sure. A few of my bullets suggested that I make them because I want to express everything I’ve said in this blog post so far. Other bullets suggest I simply love the hands-on approach to the craft. The final notion was that I just…love books.

Whatever the reason, I’m inspired to continue down the rabbit hole that is bookbinding, and I feel like a piece of me is in each one of their little binds. I am closer to them than my wall paintings. I hate seeing them go when they sell. I wrap them in little packages and send them off to their new homes and hope they will be taken care of.

And I don’t print them. Somehow that makes them even more special.

My latest book, “Rooted,” contains seven original intuitive watercolor paintings that depict trees and their roots. For me this piece has special meaning, but I’d like to keep it to myself, so that those who open it can gather their own perspectives. Made of Khadi cotton paper, it was folded zine-style, then later sewn into its cover. Like the others, this one will not be printed. And, like the others, it is one-of-a-kind.

Click here to see Rooted on my Etsy shop.

Click here to see all of my little books that are still for sale.

I’m currently working on finishing up my winter themed book–still no title–a personal watercolor journal, and a mini blank watercolor journal for those who’d like to paint their own book. So keep a lookout on my Etsy as some of these will be appearing there soon.

Until next time…I hope your days are quiet, calm, and filled with book smells.

Bookmarks!

Happy November everyone!

I’m so happy to introduce bookmarks to my Etsy shop! I had a lot of strips of paper, leftovers from cutting other sizes to make larger pieces, and decided I should put them to use. The immediate love I got for these itty bitty vertical panoramas was immense!

I love working small, and these are just so much fun that I can’t stop! I’ve already got a new batch going.

My goal is to print these as well, but there will only be ONE hand-painted original for each design, which I think makes these even more special.

And they’re going quick! I posted them on Etsy yesterday, and in 3 hours I’d already sold half of them. I’m very excited, as this not only gives you guys the opportunity to buy original art for a smaller price, but this also makes my artwork useful, and if you’ve been following  my blog you know how important that is to me.

I’d love it if you’d head on over to my Etsy to check them out, even if it’s just to click the little heart icon. I appreciate all of you so much!

Until next time, I hope your days are full of wind-blown leaves and crunchy footsteps.

Capital Arts Exhibition: Artist Talk & Wall Photos

A little over a year ago I showed in my very first gallery. I meekly brought in a few of my woodland animal illustrations, sure I was going to be turned down, and was confused surprised when the director told me my work would fit the Fact or Fiction theme nicely. That show was also my first judged show, and was where I won my first ribbon, an honorable mention on my painting, The Guide.

One year later I’m now the Featured Artist at that same gallery, Capital Arts, in Jefferson City, MO. I currently have fourteen framed pieces on their walls–not an easy feat to put together, as I still have those twenty-five pieces at the conservation center–and was to give an Artist Talk during the reception.

And the theme for this show is Myths & Legends, which somehow brings all of this full-circle. Sometimes the Universe has a way of letting you know you’re on the right track.

During the reception I had a lot of fun chatting with my fellow artists and this awesome community in which I was immediately welcomed to with no question. So many of you guys have become more than just my colleagues/mentors. You have become my friends.

And for those of you who are here with me right now, reading this blog, thank you!

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These are the pieces currently in my little “featured” nook of Capital Arts Gallery. Behind the table, in the window, you will also see my daughter got her own little featured section, where she was able to display some artwork of her own.

Note: if you are interested in any of these pieces, please let me know here. Since these paintings are currently for sale at the gallery, I have to ask them whether or not paintings in question are still available for purchase. It’s kind of hard to sell a painting that’s already sold haha. Thanks so much!!

For those of you who’d like to hear my Artist Talk, you’re in luck! I was able to record it and have uploaded it to Youtube. Just like with those in my audience at the gallery, you can ask me any questions that I may not have answered.

Until next time, you guys! Thanks for being here.

 

Inktober so Far & Some Hidden Optimism

It’s only day 3 of Inktober, but I’m already having a ton of fun. Not only that but it’s finally starting to feel like fall outside. It’s been nothing but 90 degrees and humid for the past month, which has been pretty lame. But now it’s a crisp 60 degrees, dark and cloudy and super moody and I’m in the mood to just curl up with hot drinks and creepy movies and candles.

But first let’s chat art! Continue reading “Inktober so Far & Some Hidden Optimism”

My First Solo Exhibition

I didn’t grow up in this town. As a child, coming to the Capitol City was a treat. I remember, even then, marveling at the array of bluffs surrounding the buildings, a town nestled within its own protective wall, built ages ago by the river as it cut through to create what is now miles of lush green farmland.

And the city had a sound to me, a jazzy sound. As a pre-teen, I’d walk behind my dad as we made our way downtown to a local restaurant, the sun setting behind historical stone buildings, casting long shadows on busy sidewalks. Continue reading “My First Solo Exhibition”

My First Porchfest

Hi Friends!

Yesterday I got to be a part of my first downtown festival! This one was called Porchfest. Several historical homes on the same strip got together and donated time on their large porches for musicians and visual artists to come and perform live! It was a free festival, anyone could attend, and there was food, tie-dye stations, and super fun stuff for the kids like chalk art and face painting!

I myself got to nestle beneath a big tree with huge green leaves and display my art on a table while working live at my easel. I painted five little pieces total, three pretty landscapes, one sketch, and a fail. In between these pieces, I also worked on a larger painting I started on Friday evening.

It was super fun being surrounded by live music, live visual artists, and kids carrying balloon animals. Goo, my own kiddo, had a cat balloon, and a face painted like a rainbow. She had blueberry sorbet and made me a tie-dye shirt.

Next year I hope to have my own kiosk/tent where I can display my artwork better, and a much more efficient way of receiving payment (like a card swiper thing for my phone). Can’t wait!

Several of the pieces I displayed at this Porchfest are currently up on my Etsy! Come and see!

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Where the Witch Lives

Not all witches are bad, have crazy eyes and warty noses. In fact, the witch who lives in this house, though very introverted, is kind and cheerful. She keeps to herself, tending to her garden, the plants in which provide endless hours of alchemy practice in her study.

I like to think she uses flower petals and beet roots to dye fabric, which she later sews to make hardy dresses and quilts. And her cat isn’t black, but orange, with big bright green eyes that match the dried basil in her herb collection.

This piece was one of my “go with the flow” paintings, meaning I didn’t know what I was going to paint until it began to take shape on the paper. Contrary to what I usually do, which is paint on a flat surface, I used my easel set at around an 80 degree angle so that the watercolor would flow downward. I also used a wet on wet technique, only letting it dry at the very end, when I wanted to paint in some finer details.

Here is a timelapse of the painting process. Unfortunately, my phone died toward the end, so a good chunk of the video never saved. But I hope it’s enough for you to see how it all came together.

Materials used:

-Daniel Smith watercolors (moonglow, indigo, rare green earth, hansa yellow medium, and raw/burnt umber)

-Arches cold press 140lb

-Princeton brushes

Both the original and the print of this piece are available on my Etsy shop.

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All images/videos © Lina Forrester

Aussie Red Gold

When I saw Jean Lurssen using Aussie Red Gold in one of her YouTube videos, I knew it was going to be the next color on my list. But Daniel Smith watercolors are not cheap (this one was around 15$ for a tube) and so it remained on my wishlist for a month or two, until I found the means to splurge.

And wow this color rocks!

I think what I like most about this color is its warmness. I have a lot of cool yellows, but I’ve always gravitated toward my Woodlands palette for the warmer yellows and oranges.

So far I’ve only been playing with this color, testing its limits, but I do have a few ideas brewing of sunrises and golden autumns and sunflowers.

This morning, I shot a timelapse of my play, in which I mixed the new color with my other Daniel Smith watercolors, and then splashed around on a scrap piece of paper.

These are the colors I mixed on the video in order:

-Perylene Red

-Hansa Yellow Medium

-Yellow Ochre

-Raw Umber

-Burnt Umber

-Payne’s Gray

-Rare Green Earth

-Prussian Blue

-Ultramarine Blue

-Indigo

-Moonglow

My favorite mix of these was probably the pretty green I got with prussian blue, but I did enjoy the neutrals I got as well, with moonglow and ultramarine blue.

I’m not sure what my next color will be. As of right now, I’m pretty set, and the only thing I may need to buy soon is another primary set, as I’m low on those three colors. But you can be sure that when I buy a new color, I will definitely write all about it on here!

Until next time!

-Lina

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Watercolors to Oils: Three Things I Must Change

Let me just say how much I have loved oil painting these past few days. Since switching over to water-based oils, I can sense a bridge between my favorite medium, and the medium I’ve just picked up. I’m more comfortable with it, and feel more in my “element.” Even when I’m using a medium like walnut oil instead of plain ol’ water.

But there are a few things I’ve noticed about my painting habits/issues since playing around, and they are kinks that definitely need to be straightened out.

1. I Work Too Fast

I was working on an oil piece two days ago, and realized how fast I was moving my brush around, and how it was getting paint everywhere. Seriously. It was on me, on my clothes, and mussing up my painting in a way that would require an extended drying period before moving on. Forget painting tiny details. I couldn’t even get a block of color in without making a mess.

And I stopped for a moment and reminded myself that I was working with oils, not watercolor. With watercolors, one usually has to move super fast to get things where they need to be before it’s dry. But oils take for.ev.er. to dry. I forced myself to take a deep breath. My mess wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, it would probably still be workable tomorrow. I could chill.

So, obviously, my first goal is to work on slowing down.

2. I Lose Interest Quickly

With watercolors, a piece can be finished within an hour. If I take my time, it could take a few days but it probably still all adds up to only a few hours. Because of this, I’m used to busting pieces out pretty fast and moving on with my life.

But oils force me to take longer. Oils force me to wait, which can make me write off the drying piece altogether. The excitement has passed, and now I’m onto something new. Which works okay for watercolors…but again…this is oil.

So my next goal is to maintain my focus when working on a piece. As if it were its own individual identity (because it kind of is, right?). Perhaps each painting gets its own type of music, or its own easel. Maybe I will work on three pieces at once, but all with extremely different color palettes. Whatever I can do to separate them and bring something “new” to the easel when working.

Most of all, I will focus on each movement of my brush, each tiny detail. I will remain connected to my piece by learning everything I can about it. Even after it’s deemed complete.

3. I’m No Good At Values

This is hard to admit…but getting good values in my paintings hasn’t been my strong suit. In the past, I worked around this by inking in all of my lines. But now that I’m working with oils I find that I need to seriously practice my values if I want to make it anywhere in this medium. Not everything can be a midtone.

One way to help me through this is to photograph each piece and look at it in black and white. This will show me my highlights, midtones, and shadows, and whether or not they produce something with good contrast, or something that is nothing but mud.

As a photographer, I have been working in black and white for many years. I spent all of 2017 shooting with black and white film. I can make a good black and white photograph, so why am I nonsense at values when painting? I really have no excuse.

So my third goal is obviously to practice my brains out. Other than taking black and white photos of my paintings, I can also work on monochromatic pieces. In fact, I gave myself this same exercise as a photographer, and shot only in black and white for an entire month. You wouldn’t believe the things I learned about shadows and light and which colors showed up as a bland gray. Time to apply what I learned to painting.

I’ve only been working with these new oils for a few days now, but I really really want to get better at them so I can add them to my everyday work. I love their richness, their colors that never fade, and the fact that I feel like a Van Gogh badass when slapping alizarin crimson onto a canvas.

What about you? Have you gone from one completely different art medium to another? Did you see a few flaws that needed to be repaired? Tell me below!

Free Prints for First-Time Patrons!

For those of you who don’t know, Patreon is an awesome website where you can support the artists you love so that they can continue to create. It’s great because it allows artists to have a steady income, as opposed to the traditional, sporadic income.

There are times when I sell paintings weekly for a month, and then another month goes by with absolutely nothing on my end helping me pay the bills. Patreon fixes that by making sure I get paid at least once during those hard months.

Why pay me? Because you get cool stuff!

I recently shipped this print off to a very loving Patron of mine!

For instance, every new Patron of mine gets a free print! Sign on as a Patron and I will lovingly print any print you want that is available on my Etsy on cotton paper, lovingly package it, then lovingly send it your way for free. 1$ and 5$ patrons get a 4×6 print, and $10+ Patrons get an 8.5×11 print.

Patrons also can get cool stuff like handwritten postcards, coloring sheets, discounts on my Etsy shop, access to exclusive content and videos, and even free one-of-a-kind originals!

Want to know more? Head on over to my Patreon, where I hope I can make you super proud!

Also, a huge thank you to my current Patrons. You guys have helped me in so many ways!

Water-Soluble Oil Paints!

I’ve been wanting to try these for ages, ever since I gave oil painting a try last year. A few things kept me from buying them right away. One was a money thing, as they weren’t a normal paint that went on sale at my local art store. Two was the internet thing, where artists talk about the downside of water-soluble oils and how one should still use a medium other than water. The third reason probably had a lot to do with my big existential who am I crisis at the end of last year, where I–mistakenly–limited myself to one medium: watercolor.

But it’s 2019, Y’all! And my Limitless project is still on! So, the other day when I realized watercolors were getting a bit stale at the moment and I wanted to try something new, I bee-lined straight for the art store and bought the primaries.

The paints are Winsor & Newton Artisan series, and they are gorgeous. What I disliked so much about traditional oil paints–the cleanup, the need for mineral spirits–is a thing of the past with these paints. I have been using only water these past two days, but I will be moving up to linseed oil today. Because the online artists are right about that fact: you should still use a medium to follow the “fat over lean” rule of oil painting. But now that I have a bit more knowledge under my belt, I know that this medium can be something as nontoxic as a walnut oil or linseed oil medium.

Do I see a difference between water-soluble and traditional oils in terms of quailty? I say no, but I’m not too savvy with traditional oils so there may be a difference? I hear from other artists that they are slightly less buttery, that they dry much faster, and also that they’re exactly the same as traditional.

The only real differences I see so far are that they are much easier to clean up, and don’t get all over the place like regular oil paints. Also, a little seems to go a long way with these paints. Meaning I don’t need a ton to paint with. Which saves money!

This is only a second layer, but I used walnut oil and got more of the “fatty” consistency

They are also reminiscent of watercolors for me, just enough that it bridges the gap and provides a bit of familiarity to me. The first day I got them, I watered them way down and used them like watercolors just to play around and they were so beautiful! I know, I know, the nerve of Lina, right?

I think what I like best about these paints is that I can bring them upstairs to my table without worrying about killing my pet canary with fumes. They are also very easy to travel around with, so long as I bring an extra bottle for old water. Because, like many mediums, you don’t want to just dump that dirty water down the drain. The Earth will thank you.

Have you ever tried water soluble oils? How do you think they compare to the real deal? Please tell me all about it below!

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Telling Stories In My Art

“Ochre Sunday” Watercolor & Gouache

I painted this last year.

Despite everyone’s wonderful and uplifting compliments, I hated it.

When I told close friends or my husband about my real feelings toward the painting, I was reassured that it was beautiful and that I had done a great job.

But that didn’t help. The fact that it was beautiful didn’t make me love it.

Because that’s all it was. Beautiful. There was literally nothing else about it that spoke to me. It was a painting of some trees in autumn. Woo. Hoo. Everyone paints stuff like this.

“That Sweet Sunday Breeze” Ink & Watercolor (and maybe a little bit of gouache)

“Ochre Sunday” was meh, but “That Sweet Sunday Breeze?” Ahh! Give me more! Where is she going? What’s her name? Who lives in the house with the blue door?

So what was the difference?

Story.

Most people who know me in real life, and maybe even a few of my online friends, know that during my entire 20s I was pursuing a writing career. While it, ultimately, didn’t work out for me, I did wind up writing seven novels and several unfinished ones. Drafts. Short stories. Poems. You name it, I was immersed in words.

And I read! I read lots of books by amazing storytellers like Diana Wynne Jones and Lois Lowry.

I love stories.

“Ready for Fall” Ink & Watercolor

An artistic piece depicting a forest is okay and all, but tell me a story within that piece and I will fall in love forever. Tell me about the witch who lives in the deep shadows beside an uprooted tree, or the hare family with the rare fox friend.

Tell me a story. Or, at the very least, give me the tools to create one of my own.

These are the things I need to remind myself when creating: Who is my character? What does she do? Love? Hate? Where is she and how does she interact with her environment?

I realize these sound like the beginnings of a book, but I am often fulfilled just by painting/drawing a single moment in a story, and then moving on to a new tale entirely.

“The Twins” Ink & Watercolor

I’ve been working on a piece lately, a bunny portrait (of course), and the goal is to have her standing/interacting among a flurry of yellow birds. I feel so inspired every time I look at even the bones of this piece. I’m thinking up her name and why the birds are flying around her and where she is and what her dreams/loves are. I want to give her a backstory and tell no one. I want to give her a future.

And as I paint her, I’m not afraid she will disappoint me. The only fear I have is that normal I might screw this up. But even if I do mess up, I will keep going. This bunny will be my breakthrough into allowing myself freedom to tell these snapshot-length fairytales.

Hi, I’m Lina. I’m that weirdo in the gallery wearing bunny earrings and pink chucks. No, I didn’t paint that gorgeous mixed-media piece with the flowers and the forest. I actually drew the smaller one beside it, of a narwhal hot air balloon giving bunny children a tour above their town.

Let me tell you their story.

What Makes Art Useful?

I want my art to be useful.

This has been plaguing me for a little over a year. Perhaps longer. Maybe the thought was always there, just resonating without words.

I want my art to be useful.

And is art useful when it’s simply framed? When it is placed on someone’s favorite wall beside a large window that overlooks the sea? Is it useful?

I think yes…maybe…to the person who hung it there. After all, once a piece is finished, it is no longer serving me. Once my signature is there, it now belongs to the rest of the world.

Are the evoked emotions the usefulness of art? The joy someone feels when seeing a beautiful landscape, or the smile that draws upon someone’s mouth when she sees a painting of a baby with chubby legs. The satisfaction of the artist as she signs her name on a finished piece? Are these the usefulness of art?

Is the illustrative art more useful? The art that appears in our everyday lives, even when we don’t realize it? Advertisements, puzzle pictures, and even the design on our fabrics. Gerald the Giraffe dancing to the night sounds in a beloved Children’s Book. Are these the usefulness of art?

Is only the art that promotes growth or awareness useful? The powerful images of warfare or suffering, the gorgeous documentaries that beg the beauty of the Earth be preserved…

What makes art useful? What makes it not useful? Is that even possible?

Can art be pointless?

And maybe that’s my fear. I don’t want my art to be simply there. I don’t want to create just because. I want an underlying reason, meaning, or purpose to be in place. Sometimes my art feels very close to me and to my heart and to everything I represent. Other times my art is just a frame on the wall.

On these days, I am an unfinished smudge.

I know a lot of artists who can create the same type of art with the same type of medium and with only the same two colors. And I suppose with their own focused style they have gained an appropriate meaning. A purpose. These are the artists we know of, we love, the artists we recognize when we see a piece we never have before.

But I’m not that kind of artist. I will wake up one morning wanting to draw bunnies and make people laugh and then next morning I will wake up in a monochromatic mood and want nothing to do with the sunshine outside and will paint nothing but dark figures among bare trees.

My style can vary, as my interests vary, as my soul varies.

And thankfully I’ve met a few artists like me. Artists who can’t sit still. Always wondering, discovering. Always curious. We have a childish spark in our eyes, and we want to climb that tree! Is there a purpose for us in the world?

Does our art matter? Or are we just frames on the wall?

Silent. Voiceless. Dusted over and slightly bleached from the window’s light.

Meditative Painting & Starting a Wordless Diary

I recently started a daily habit of what I call “meditative paintings.” What I do is I focus inward for a moment, notice how I feel, what I’m thinking of, what is bothering me, what is making me happy, how I feel physically, etc., and then I use this self-reflection to make the following choices: Continue reading “Meditative Painting & Starting a Wordless Diary”

Back to the Basics: Drawing

So far my experience with Skillshare has been a blast! I’ve been learning all kinds of new watercolor techniques, even learned about the awesome that is liquid watercolor, and gained a few muses and art friends.

But so far I’ve only been taking classes on painting. I attempted an illustration course, but got bored and went back to splashing around.

And then I found The Art & Science of Drawing by Brent Eviston. It’s an 8-week course with five classes per week, and it’s all about drawing.

But Lina, don’t you already know how to draw?

Well, sure, I can draw a decent tree, and if I really put my mind to it I can scribble out a cityscape, but I know I’ve definitely learned some bad habits in my self-taught journey. Brent Eviston is a master artist, and has been teaching for twenty or so years, so I definitely knew there was something I could learn from his course.

And boy have I been learning.

Being a Skillshare course, I was able to take the first two weeks in half a day. We started with the basic of basics: how to hold a pencil.  Then we practiced circles, ovals, and straight lines. We learned about expressive drawing. We moved on to volumetric shapes.

Week three was much more difficult for me than the first two weeks, and so I took my time over the course of a few days. And now I’m finally on week 4. We’re drawing organic shapes and learning about perspective. Soon we’ll learn about shading, measuring techniques, and color.

So, is it helping?

I knew that improving my drawing skill would definitely improve my painting skills. But I wasn’t able to put that to the test until yesterday, when we were meant to draw some form of produce. I went with a pear. I did my homework assignment, and then I got out the watercolor paper.

I could already see how my painting was improving by knowing the three-dimensional shapes of my pear, and the way it takes up space. I sketched with a green pencil to make it more fun. Then I splashed on the paint.

A week ago, my pears would have been two-dimensional and probably outlined in black pen. Yesterday, my pears appeared to pop off the page. They’re not the greatest in pear-painting, I’m sure, but I am definitely proud of them. And I definitely see the improvement.

I plan on going all the way to week 8 of this course, and then I hope to take Eviston’s newer course: Figure Drawing.

Perhaps my fading love of illustration will be rekindled with new possibilities.

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The First Week of Inktober is Done!

And I’m happy to say I’ve kept up this whole time. I’m a bit surprised, as I’m also working on a Project 365, personal projects, and prepping for upcoming shows. But it’s been fun! And I plan on making it the whole 31 days.

So far I’ve been keeping my Hallow-bunnies in with the original Inktober 2018 prompts, except for day 5 when I really couldn’t find a way to incorporate chickens into a drawing of a Bunny Vampire.

What have I learned?

I think the only thing that’s improved in seven days is the broadness of my horizons. Drawing little things seems to give way to drawing more things, which gives way to bigger pieces I never would have thought up before. I’ve also gotten into doodling again, but this time with different colored Micron pens. It’s pretty exciting.

I will probably only make one final post about Inktober, once it’s all over, so if you’d like to keep up with my entries you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or you can head over to the growing collection on my website.

Have your own growing collection of Inktober drawings? Feel free to share links to your work in the comments below!