Painting the California Coastline – Part 2

I’m back with another update on my California Coastline art collection! In Part 1, I talked about some of the things that happenΒ beforeΒ any paint gets on the canvas. Here in Part 2, I’ll show some behind-the-scenes process for how I prepare my canvases.

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In general, I’ll prepare my canvases with a couple of rounds of priming and sanding. I’ll do this even for canvases I buy “pre-primed” – because I like to get the texture of the cotton to a smoothness I like. It’s just personal preference.

1 – Priming the Canvas

For me, priming is an important step that helps prepare the canvas for oil paint. I use a white acrylic primer that you can find at most craft or art supplies labeled as gesso.Β Having the primer as the base for my painting creates a continuous seal over the canvas, preventing my oil paints from being absorbed into the canvas over time. The primer will also help prevent fine cracks in the paint surface as the painting ages.

I use a wide brush like the one of the left to spread my white acrylic primer over an entire canvas (including the edges!) as a first layer.

2 – Sanding the canvas

Once the primer is dry (it doesn’t usually take more than 15 minutes), I’ll sand it gently. For sanding, I use a fine grain sandpaper – either 220 or 420 (maybe both!).

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Sanding the canvas between layers of primer helps me achieve the level of smoothness I want – the more layers of primer/sanding, the less texture when it is time to start the painting. I usually do two layers of primer with sanding after each layer because I like to strike that balance of a relatively smooth surface that also still has some tooth to it to grip my paint.

 

3 – Toning the Canvas

Earth tones are a popular choice for toning canvases – I especially like Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre. For the ocean scenes I’ve been painting lately, my go-tos have been either Yellow Ochre or Naples Yellow – they give a nice warm feeling to the canvas and compliment my heavy use of blue in the final composition.

Here is an example of a canvas I toned with Naples Yellow from my recent time-lapse video:

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Preparing the canvases overall is a step I really enjoy – it helps me getΒ in the zone before painting. It also helps me feel more confident – like I’m setting myself up for success by providing a strong foundation.

And a quick update on how the collection is coming along — remember the rough sketches from Part 1 where my ideas usually start? Here is one of those alongside how it ended up translating to the canvas:

 

I love a good before and after. πŸ™‚

-Kate

A March Day Trip to Sequoia National Park

Earlier in March, we took a day trip from to Morro Bay to Sequoia National Park. There are lots of cool things to see and do in both Sequoia and the nearby Kings Canyon National Park, but our mission was to see some of the tall sequoias in the National Forest and especially the General Sherman Tree.

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My number one hot tip for journeying up to Sequoia Forest in March? Check the weather forecast first!

We were definitely caught off-guard to leave Morro Bay in the upper 60 degrees F and find ourselves in Sequoia facing this:

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And this!

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All the cloud/snow/fog in that photo is obscuring the mountainside – we were at an elevation of about 6,000 ft here.

We weren’t deterred. We rented some snow chains for our tires and my husband put them on. He is from Minnesota so I figured, he knows what he’s doing!

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He told me afterwards he had never put snow chains on a car before, but he had put them on a lawn mower. Apparently, in Minnesota they attach snowplows to lawn mowers to clear snow in the winter! Me (from Atlanta)Β and the man renting theΒ snow chains to us (from California) were both gobsmacked to hear this.

When we made it to the pull off for the trail to the General Sherman tree, the lot was sparsely populated and looked like this:

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Still not deterred! We made our way to the tree in 6 inches of snow.

Worth it:

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The General Sherman Tree is the biggest living tree by volume in the world – 275 feet tall, and 36 feet in diameter….

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It was awe-inspiring to gaze up and take in the size of this tree surrounded by so many tall, beautiful sequoias in the forest.

We made it back down the winding mountain roads safely, turned in our snow chains, and headed on. On our way back we stopped at In-N-Out and chatted the whole way about what an odd but amazing day it had been.

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This was definitely a unique experience for me and a story I think I will be retelling for many years!

p.s. – But seriously… did anyone else know that there are places where they put snow chains on lawn mowers?? I learn amazing things all the time.

 

xo

Kate

Ocean Painting Time-lapse

Hi guys, hope you are having great week so far! It’s *almost* Friday and I am excited about that!

Earlier this week, I wrote about the preparation steps that are part of the process for creating an art collection. Today I’m sharing a time-lapse video of one of the California Coastline paintings:

In the video, I talk a little about some of the inspiration for this painting, as well as some practical insight into how I set up my palette, what tools I used, and how I moved through the stages of the painting.

Let me know what you think!

Have a good weekend,

Kate

Painting the California Coastline – Part 1

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I’m working on an art collection inspired by the Central Coast area of California in and around San Luis Obispo county. Β While I’ve been living in Morro Bay for a couple of months, I’ve been especially inspired by the ocean and the colors that form where the sky meets the water on the horizon.

I want to share with you guys the behind-the-scenes process. Part 1 here focuses on some of the things that happen beforeΒ any paint gets on a canvas.

1 – Finding Inspiration

First things first, some inspiration! It’s where the fun starts. πŸ™‚

An early afternoon by Morro Rock…

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A late afternoon hike near Los Osos, CA…

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Dusk on the first not-rainy day after a stormy week in Morro…

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2 – Sketching Forms and Making Plans

WhenΒ I’m organizing my thoughts about a place, I like to make some quick and rough sketches to play with relative scale, feel, and overall architecture of places I like. Like these:

Spending this time translating the world onto the page helps me decide which direction to take the eventual paintings.

3 – Study the colors

Along with the sketches (and before I start any work on the canvas) I like to play with mixing up colors to discover which tones I like, which hue best captures the feeling I’m trying to convey, and how well colors play together. I end up with a lot of splotches like these:

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And alongside the color experiments, I’ll do some just-for-fun/warm myself up paintings that focus on how I want the paints to come together and play off each other. For these I will use either some thick paper or inexpensiveΒ canvas boards from Michael’s (great for practicing on when you don’t want to waste a whole canvas!).

Here are a couple of examples of fast practice paintings I did to see how my colors might look in a composition:

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(When I work on these color studies, the kinds of questions I ask myself are: does the light seem right? Am I conveying the mood I want? Are the colors balanced?)

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So that’s an overview of starting the painting process! Finding inspiration, sketching out forms and plans, and studying the colors.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about how I am preparing my canvases and I’ll show more of the collection!

And this Thursday, I’ll post a time-lapse of the process for this painting:

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(I just love the clouds in that one.)

Let me know what questions you have in the comments!

 

Kate

 

Disney Vlog + 3 Tips for Visiting in 2018

As promised, here is the vlog from our Disneyland trip plus 3 tips for visiting Disneyland in 2018!

These are the 3 things that really helped keep our day fun and efficient:

  1. Disneyland App + MaxPass
  2. Start Fastpasses Early
  3. Rent a storage locker

I talk them through in more detail in the video starting at the 1:53 mark.

Let me know in the comments if these tips work for you or if you have any other Disney advice!

A dream is a wish your heart makes….

xo

Kate

Disneyland during Spring Break

Last week, we took my sister to Disneyland during her spring break! Wanted to share a few pictures.

Here she is in front of Aurora’s castle…

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We started off the day with my favorite ride: the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (the old Tower of Terror!)…

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Got some awesome souvenirs, we all l-o-o-o-ved our Disney mouse ears – I got sparkly ones!

 

But maybe the coolest ones were these light-up Star Wars ears….

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Had a good time hanging out with the Frozen crew and getting our snowfies

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And here we are with Tinkerbell (clap if you believe!)

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I’ll be back on Thursday with the vlog + my top three tips for visiting Disneyland for a day.

May the force be with you,

Kate

A #TinyHouse Tour

Happy Thursday friends! We are currently enjoying rural California, and I wanted to do a little tour of our two-week #TinyHouse AirBnb.

Tiny Homes seem to be getting more and more popular over the past few years (there is even a “Tiny House” filter on AirBnb now!), so I’m excited to see one up close.

Here’s an outside view…

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…and inside….

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Tiny homes, for a lot of people, are a chance to cut clutter, live more simply, and reduce impact on the environment. For others, it is a chance to be more cost efficient, or manage a smaller place in retirement, or to work on an interesting design challenge.

Here is the living room…

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…kitchen area complete with a gas oven…

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… and our back to back work station!

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If you walk past the kitchen, you’ll past the laundry on your left (across from the bathroom and the stairs to the lofted space) on your way to the bedroom.

Tiny houses areΒ all about creating storage space wherever possible – like the wall to wall closet and overhead shelf space in the bedroom.

And here the lofted space – perfectly kid sized!

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I am really loving being out in the beautiful California countryside – peace and quiet and it gets so very dark at night with sooo many stars.

And sometimes horses come right up outside our windows πŸ™‚

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As the Tiny House movements grows and some people want to live in them full time or keep their Tiny Home on wheels, more and more communities are trying to hammer out details of zoning laws, building permits, and answers to other obstacles for people in those circumstances. For those types of Tiny Homes, it can still be a gray area in lots of places.

If you are interested in more about Tiny Homes, you can search for short term rentals on AirBnb or even look for a Tiny Home rental community.

What do you think? Let’s talk the #TinyHouse movement in the comments!

Kate