This was one of the most difficult paintings I did with gouache. I nearly gave up. I think it turned out fine, but multiple times I almost tore it up. It could just mean I need more practice with gouache. You might ask why I keep using gouache and not watercolor if it’s such a pain. I wonder the same, but I think I’m drawn to gouache because it’s very smooth when laying it down, it dries matte, and it’s more opaque than watercolor so I spend less time layering paint. There are probably other reasons too but these are the main ones.
I tried my hands at using gouache and I’m liking it. I like how smooth it goes on and that it dries matte. What I’m not comfortable with (yet?) is that it takes getting used to. There were a couple times I wanted to give up because what I was trying to achieve just wasn’t happening, or so I thought. Somehow, the paintings turned out okay. Gouache tests my patience. I think one of these days I will definitely just destroy an unfinished piece.
These are the paintings I made using gouache. They were for birthday cards for family.
Here are close-ups.
I typically try to practice a smaller version before attempting on larger pieces to get the hang of things. I decided to record my process to share how I do it. Since I’m new to gouache, I wanted to also share a swatching of the gouache I used. It’s the Art Philosophy brand. I chose this brand because I heard a lot of good stuff about their gouache and it wasn’t expensive. I may one day try Holbein, Winsor & Newton, and other higher ends.
I created this watercolor card for husband following a tutorial on YouTube.
Husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in Chicago, IL. We spent a couple of days in the city and made sure to have dinner at Giordano’s—the restaurant where we realized we liked each other, and so sat together. We thought we’d found the actual restaurant that we were at, but we learned that about a decade ago, that restaurant was demolished. I believe when we were there back then, there were only about three Giordano’s in the area. This time there were about eight. I can’t remember if the Giordano we first went to was the very first one built, but learning of its demise was a little sad. Nevertheless, it was a nostalgic experience to be in a Giordano’s in Chicago and remember old times.
Here’s a brief story about how we met.
THE MEET BEFORE THE MEET
It was the summer of 2000 and I decided to take a summer class to try to finish college sooner. There was a guy in the class who sat in the front middle row seats. He would always turn around and chat with the girl who sat behind him. I sat in the second seat in the row next to the door so just turning my head to the left, I could see everyone in the class.
I had just had a breakup with a guy I thought was “the one,” so I wasn’t looking for another relationship. I knew no one in the class and just wanted to be done with it.
We had to do a presentation in the class and a sign-up sheet was passed from the other side of the room. When it got to me, the only spaces available were first and second. I wrote my name in the second space knowing I’d have to go first. But to my luck, another student showed up on the day of presentation and went first. It helped my nerves, but still, I went second.
After a few other presentations, the professor called on the student who was always turning to chat with the girl behind him. He called the student’s last name a few times, but no answer. So, he went on to the next student. I remember thinking, “Who misses their presentation? It’s like 80% of our grade.”
***The student who missed his presentation is now my husband. Even though we were in the same class together, neither of us had any interest in each other or knew we existed. Later, husband said that he had also gone through a bad breakup and so he too wasn’t looking to be in a relationship.***
THE MISSED MEETS
It was fall 2000 and I decided that I was going to join the computer club. It would be good for networking and would also look good on my resume and job applications. I contacted the president of the computer club and said I was interested in joining. A few days later, I saw my name as a new member along with a list of others in the welcome email. I was ecstatic. In one of the emails, the president said she was looking for new officers since all the previous officers graduated. I ignored a couple of those emails thinking I’d never qualify as an officer. Every time the president sent a group email, she’d mention that they needed new officers and she’d list the positions that needed to be filled. Webmaster was one of the officer positions that I was interested in, but as mentioned, I didn’t think I’d qualify. More emails went out and the webmaster position was still not filled (the student in the position was finishing up his last semester so needed to hand it over). I decided to apply for it. If I didn’t get it, it was no big deal.
I ended up getting the webmaster position. I found out when the president listed the officers in an email and my name was next to the title. In this email, the president also mentioned that the club was going to a conference in Illinois, hosted by a university there, and if anyone was interested, to reply. I thought only certain special students got to go. I was a newbie and didn’t think it pertained to me, so I ignored it. The next email I got, the president listed all the people going to the conference and my name was on the list. I thought maybe she put me down by accident because I never responded to those emails. I had planned to email her to tell her she had my name on the list by mistake, but a part of me also said, “I’m sure she’ll catch her mistake.”
Turns out, it wasn’t a mistake. All the officers were going to the conference. The club had enough funds from past fundraisers to cover flight, hotel, food, etc., for all the officers—all seven of us. Since I didn’t reply that I didn’t want to go, she kept me on the list.
There were club meetings at least once a week and I’d gone to one or two but not everyone was there all the time, which was typical. I’d always miss at least two or three of the officers when I was there. The president told me that all the officers had met each other already except me, and that she wanted me to meet all of them at the next meeting where she was going to go over the conference itinerary. I made a promise I’d show up but that I couldn’t stay until the end because I worked. She said the officers are usually there early anyway so it wouldn’t be a problem.
I showed up to the meeting and mingled with the president and the webmaster (whom I’d already met and trained with previously). The other officers showed up a few minutes later and we got introduced and acquainted. The president then told me the treasurer was going to be a little late because he had to go make a deposit at the bank. So, I waited as long as I could before I had to leave. I ended up missing the treasurer.
The day we were to fly out to Illinois, I nearly missed the flight. I can’t remember exactly how late I was, but I had already accepted that I was not going to make this trip, so I was probably about half an hour late. I decided to try to make the gate anyway, just in case. To my luck, our flight was delayed by about an hour or so.
As I walked toward the boarding gate, and the group, I saw a few officers I recognized. We greeted each other, and then the president introduced me to the treasurer. While waiting to board, I took a seat across from the treasurer and another officer. They were classmates too, so they were talking to each other. I’d see the treasurer glance at me every so often. It made me nervous. I thought I had a booger hanging from my nose, so I kept rubbing my nose and hiding my face. ***Later, husband told me he kept staring at me because he liked me.***
We stayed in a hotel in Oakbrook Terrace where the university that was hosting the conference was. I got a room to myself which was across the hall from the treasurer and classmate’s room. We were there for about four days and three nights.
One evening, the group decided to take the train to Chicago to have dinner at Giordano’s. When we arrived at the restaurant, the waiter took us down some stairs and into a corner booth. It was a bit dark (as we both remembered it) and old looking. The food was good, but what I remembered most was sitting next to the treasurer who made an effort to sit next to me in the booth.
A couple of months into our dating and as I was cleaning my apartment bedroom, I came across a research paper I had written from a class I took the summer before. I had gotten a B on the paper because I forgot to underline a title or something. I showed the paper to my now boyfriend and said, “I wrote this for a class I took last summer. We had to research the topic, write the paper, and then present it to the class.”
He took the paper from me and stared at it, thinking. Then said, “I remember taking this class. I believe it was the same summer. I recognize the professor’s name. We must have been in the same class.” He started to laugh.
I said, “Did you happen to miss the presentation for this paper?”
He said, “Yeah. I hated that class and avoided it as much as I could.”
“Did you sit in the middle row and kept turning around to talk to that cute girl behind you?”
“I think so…”
[You all know how that conversation ended….LOL]
The weird thing about all this is that I ended up working for the university that hosted that conference, but not in the way you would think. After the boyfriend and I got married and had our first daughter, I was looking for part-time work and found a position in the paper for a receptionist for a graduate school. I applied and got the position. I later learned that the university that hosted the conference bought out the graduate school just before I had started, which meant I’d be working for that university.
The universe works in mysterious ways.
I started bullet journaling not too long ago. I’d say, less than three years ago. This is my second official bujo notebook. I did some bujo here and there in other notebooks before going official. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bujo so I followed a few Youtubers until I found what I needed for my lifestyle. As far as the artwork goes, I’m still working on that. Most the time I’m just tweaking from others.
I try to add my own touches like quotes. It’s not new or different. I just like flipping back and reading them. Some of them have meaning during that point of my life and others are just quotes that I liked.
Here was May’s page. For both May and June, I used this watercolor set from Altenew. Earlier in the year I learned Altenew was comging out with a pallet and it looked so pretty I had to have it.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how smooth the watercolor is to work with and by how vibrant the colors are. I’m no expert on the different watercolors, but to me, this one feels like it’s up there with the pros.
In April I tried to follow through with an Instragam “draw in your style” type drawing. Draw in your style is where an artist shares a drawing and others follow along by either drawing it in their style or try to draw it the way the artist drew (which is how I did it). I managed to sketch the drawing but it wasn’t until late May that I was able to color it. Originally, I was going to paint in Photoshop but I’m really stiff with digital painting so I decided to just watecolor. Maybe another time.
Here’s mine next to the original piece by the original artist.
I used mainly the Daniel Smith watercolors I added to the Schmincke set.
I hope to do more of these. They really help me practice my drawing and painting.
A watercolor from a reference sketch.
This was the watercolor set I used. The Shmincke Academie was a holiday set from a year ago. I ordered it through Ebay but then realized the same set was also sold on Etsy by the same person (Etsy is my preferred place to buy internationally…I just maneuver the site a lot smoother). I would love the new 125th anniversary Schmincke Horadam set but I’m not anywhere near professional, so maybe some day. I added the few paints I purchased by Daniel Smith and Windsor & Newton’s Cotman to the set. The Daniel Smith is pricey but I love how smooth it goes on paper and how well it blends. Not pictured but I also used a Micron fine liner in .05 to darken her eyebrows, eyes, and nose, and a white pen for the light in her eyes.
I’m in the process of moving some large files over to another external drive to make room for those REF files from my camera, so while that’s moving along in the background, I thought I’d share what I was painting the last couple of days.
This was done using a reference digital painting by Larry Wilson. I decided not to make the girl an elf since I wasn’t feeling it at the time, but I do love elves! I used watercolors by Jane Davenport and Copic Markers.
I’ve been reading and writing and just haven’t been able to post a lot. I’ve also decided to return to college to finish my master’s degree. I only have 7 classes left so I figured I might as well go for it. I’ve also begun to edit other writer’s work because that’s what I’d like to focus on doing while in the process of completing my novel.
Anyhow, life’s been busy with the kid’s school and after school activities so there hasn’t been much time to post. I just did a photo session of my niece early this week so I’ll be doing post production on those photos in the next few days. I was able to slip some watercolor + mixed media in my painting journal. Drawing and coloring (painting, etc.) have always been a stress reliever for me + music. This piece was done yesterday using watercolor and charcoal.
This morning, I found this beautiful piano piece and I think it kind of matches the portrait’s expression.
“Unbreakable” by Josh Kramer (emotional epic piano)
The kids are on spring break so I get a break from driving everywhere. With this little down time, I’m able to do a ton of stuff: write, draw, write, spend time on FB writing groups, etc. It’s nice. I’m also reading a book that I’m almost done with and getting ready to review.
A few song favorites that I have on rotation:
“Wayfarer” by Clau M
“About Me and You” by Clau M
“Where Is My Place In This World” by Soundmopi
“A Boy and His Cat” by Kari Sigurosson
Practicing on some quick portrait sketches. Wish I had more than just 5 Copic markers. I’m really loving them but I just can’t fathom shelling out the money for them as a hobbyist. As you can see, I can only really color one girl with the Copics. I want to give the elf queen in the top left grayish white hair, the girl in the bottom left red hair, and the girl on the bottom right jet black hair.