Watercolor sketch of 27th World Championship Fireknife
Without light there is darkness. Light in a painting creates value. Without light there would be no shadow side of an object. When light is blocked, we get cast shadows which create depth and interest in a painting. When you put the lightest light by the darkest dark, you draw attention to that spot. By manipulating values, you can guide the eye around your painting.
We went to the World Fireknife Competition. We watched the Womens’s Competition and the Men’s Preliminaries. How would I capture the energy of the drums and the fire spinning in the darkness. A painting becomes much more than what you see with your eyes. The experience of being at the competition adds a depth to your painting. You remember the beat of the drums and the smell of the fire, the flame spitting on the floor and streaking across in a line of fire. You wonder about the properties of fire as you see the contestants put the flaming Fireknife on their feet and to their lips.
‘I tried to capture the flickering of the flame by letting my brush dance across the watercolor paper. I loved capturing the form of the dancer by the light cast on his torso and the back edge getting lost in the darkness.
Clouds over the ocean in Hawaii.
As artists, we try to capture what we feel and see around us. There was a quote by President Henry B. Eyring which was displayed with his watercolors at BYU Idaho: “My motivation in all of my varied creative work seems to have been a feeling of love. I felt the love of a Creator who expects His children to become like Him—to create and to build.”
A sketch from 2 1/2” x 4 1/4” sketch book. “Where Are You Headed?”
”…..but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light,…” Isaiah 60:19 So as plants turn to catch the light, we should turn our lives towards the Savior Jesus Christ and towards more kindness, service and watching out for one another. Mahalo.
Some of the most asked questions in workshops and demonstrations I teach are “What brush are you using?” “What paints are you using?” “What paper are you using?” One of the nice things about art is that with a pencil or pen and a piece of paper or sketch book you can take your art anywhere. You can pull them out and discreetly practice capturing the scene before you. You can focus on value, motion, humor. You can sketch ideas that are floating around in your head. You can work on design principles. You can work on story ideas.
Thumbnails and details
Elder Gong and his wife Susan gave a devotional for young adults in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Sister Gong quoted President Nelson: “Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to.” That’s what practicing art does for me. The more I practice and immerse myself in art, the more likely I am to put the ideas in my head down on paper in some sort of a pleasing manner. Elder Gong said, “Art inspires new ways to see God’s goodness.” Those ideas and the ability to see the beauty around us has become a life-long pursuit for me.
‘Here is the link for the devotional if you want to watch it. Devotional
What emotions the shepherds must have felt that night. It was a night no different than any other. They are out doing what they’ve always done, watching their flocks. The quiet sounds of night surround them. Then the heavens light up and they are filled with fear. They were seeing things that they’d never seen before. They were told to fear not. Did the fear go away at once or did it slowly dissipate as the message from the angel filled them with wonder.
I’ve been in the middle of the Tabernacle Choir when they sang a Christmas Song, the music surrounded my whole being. did the music that night from the Heavenly Choir wrap their shepherd souls and fill them with hope.
I love Brene’ Brown’s quote on hope: “hope isn’t an emotion, it’s a way of thinking.” She talks about Hope happens when we set realistic goals, we can figure out how to achieve those goals, and we believe in ourselves enough to join the struggle.
The shepherds had hope. It motivated them to go see. What an opportunity that night to go see. It changed their lives. They left praising God.
What will your hope motivate you to do this year? Let’s bring some joy and kindness into our little corner of the world.
So it’s time to take off our missionary badges. It’s been an interesting time. We have been able to experience the Aloha of the people working and serving at the Brigham Young University Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors Center. We’ve grown to love students from all over the world, from Guatemala to Mongolia, from Tonga to Japan, from New Zealand to Texas. We’ve served and grown to love the steadfastness and perseverance of other senior missionaries. I’ve learned that the Lord has need of a crazy artist along with her religion teaching husband.
We had our world shaken up when we were instantly called home during a world-wide pandemic but still able to serve remotely online. I’ve taught art classes in person and on zoom (dealing with bad internet, bad vision, new adjustments for teachers and students). I’ve felt the love of the Lord for me and people all over the world. I’ve felt His influence for good in my life and in the life of those beautiful people around me. I’ve heard prayers given and seen prayers answered. There is so much good and beauty in this world.
So we’ve finished up at home but still able to serve. May God keep you all safe and able to help those around you. It bounces back into your life with blessings more than you can number.
“On the Road to Emmaus” watercolor with collage and varnished surface.
In 3 Nephi 10:6 it talks about full purpose of heart, returning to God with full purpose of heart. I think that is the way we should paint, with full purpose of heart. When I look around this beautiful world at God‘s creations, I am surrounded by inspiration. Whether it is the quiet stillness of a morning at Lake Powell where the water mirrors the beauty surrounding it or an older gentleman in an English market making his way through the square with his cane, I’m surrounded by paintings.
When we paint with full purpose of heart, we think only on the painting. We don’t let worries or negative thoughts come into our brain. We know where we want to head and we go for it. Confidence shows in the painting. We don’t want fear and timidity to show up. We want the pure fun of putting paint on paper to shine out from the painting. Even though we know where we want to go, I get great satisfaction from seeing the magic that appears before my eyes as I paint. No one is more amazed than I with the outcome. Gods creations give me the inspiration and I give thanks to Him for eyes to see and hands to hold a paint brush.
Painting in progress of man in front of a restaurant in England.
This little bear has been peeking in and out of a story.
This character has been growing in my imagination. I’ve worked with how this little bear should look. You have to dive into the work and get started before you can make any progress. Here is your goal and you start down that road and then there is a bend or a curve. You have to be open to the voice in your head that may say, what would happen if you tried this? But those ideas do not come until you’ve started the work.
Should the bow be in the middle of the bears head? What would happen if you put the bows on the end of her ears? What should she be wearing? It’s a zig zag course back and forth between the writing and the art. Many sketches are made in the sketch book to see what captures your eye and why and continually trying to make the sketch better.
But you have to start and you have to have enough faith and determination that you can keep going. You have to believe that the vision in your head can become a finished story somewhere at the end of your zig zagged journey.
Sometimes while traveling through this life we don’t recognize the blessings that accompany us on the road. This is what happened to the two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Even though their hearts burned within, they didn’t realize who walked with them. It wasn’t until after the experience that their eyes were opened and they saw the great blessing they participated In.
It’s good to spend some time just looking on blessings that the Lord has blessed us with and just recognize when he walks the road with us. He is there wanting to bless and help us with our long suffering, brotherly kindness, and patience.
Dave and I were able to travel to the holy land years ago. I didn’t know what use the photos I took would have in the future. I was able to use two of the photos as the background for this painting. I could remember the heat on the land and the color of the dust on my feet. It added to this painting. This painting is watercolor and collage with a varnish finish so it can be framed without glass. Art blesses the lives of those who view it. Some times with a smile. Some times with a lifting of our souls. Some times with seeing things we wouldn’t have seen any other way.
I love thIs quote from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland: “Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or when you embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.”
The confidence you feel when making your painting, translates and shows up in your finished product. So if you start thinking more about your audience instead of your painting, it will show up in your painting. If you are more worried about the finished product instead of finding joy in your process, it will show up in your finished painting.
It’s freeing to sketch right on your watercolor paper and dive into the painting. It gives you a different feeling from the making of a value study, color study and being so worried about the finished drawing. But it is good to do a bit of thinking before you start. I think there is a place for both methods and both results. You can find the recording of my live demo on painting faces on the Utah Watercolor Society Facebook Page. You can find my comments along with 23 other illustrators on Giuseppe Castellano’s Podcast The Illustration Deprtment Episode 57—our 1-year Anniversary Episode.
It’s nice to know a bit about the person you’re painting. I know this guy well. After all I beat him in a leg wrestle when he was 14 and I was dating his brother. When he came home quite sick from his mission for his church, skinny and as thin as can be, everybody cried except his grandfather who said, “You’re looking good boy.”
He brought his teenage daughter to my house so she could learn how to make French bread. He was opinionated and funny. He was someone you could banter with. He cared about life and his family so much that he withstood all odds and lived life. He would not give up and he hung onto life as long as he could. Life is a beautiful gift. There is joy and beauty all around us. There is great beauty and joy in the relationships we have with others. Take joy in those moments.
I love to see a project go from beginning spark of an idea to a completed project. It takes a great amount of faith, courage and perseverance. You have to believe in yourself and the project enough to see the completed project in your head and then move in that direction. Robert Wright had that sort of vision and moved to complete the idea in an amazing fashion. He envisioned a flood museum in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Becky Hartvigsen and I where delighted to get to know Robert and his wife while they shared their historic home with us in Nauvoo, Illinois. We were in Nauvoo for a Gallery Show at Havenlight Gallery. One of the great things about creating art is the people that come in to your life. Robert talked about a flood museum in Nauvoo while we were there and now it’s a reality.
If you are in the area of Nauvoo, Illinois and would like a good experience for you and your family, you can check it out. Check their website for times and safety concerns for the visit. You can check out a video by Mark MacDonald who does “Illinois Stories” for the local PBS Station at the link below.
“The Stones Would Immediately Cry Out” Like 19:40
As soon as “The Stones Would Immediately Cry Out” is framed, it will be on its way to be exhibited in The Flood Museum The inspiration for this painting was the Easter Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was not hard to envision the pure joy of the people as they waved their palm fronds. You can see the painting and purchase the Noah’s Ark prints at the museum.
Rabbi Alon Goshen Cottstein – Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute
Sometimes a face will grab you and you run to get a pencil and your sketch book. It could have been the lighting in the video or the angles on the face but as I was watching the interview of Elder Jeffrey Holland by Rabbi Alon Goshen Cottstein, the director of The Elijah Interfaith Institute, I jumped up and ran. First it was just a little itch in the tips of my fingers and then I had to try to capture on paper what I was seeing on the video. It’s a nice way to keep your observation and sketching skills up to date, besides the pure joy it brings of watching magic come from the end of your pencil.
Elder Jeffrey Holland
Below is the link for the Interview Video and a Link for a watercolor video I made on my process for painting a landscape at City of the Rocks, Idaho. I hope you enjoy the video. And I hope you spend some time with your sketch book.
Here is a video on my watercolor process, painting in City of the Rocks, Idaho