Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Unsupervised Blog

I know it appears as though I have abandoned this blog—I haven’t, not really. Okay, well, maybe I’ve neglected it a bit. The truth is, I haven’t done a whole lot of painting these days, but I have been working on art projects. I simply haven’t had the time drive to post about it. So rather than leave my poor blog completely unsupervised, I thought I’d post a little about what I have done.

As you may know, I also do some writing. In fact, I plan to publish my second novel sometime this spring. Because I am self-publishing this one, I have a whole lot more liberty regarding the interior content, that is, interior art. While hoping I don’t push the boundaries of adult fiction into the juvenile, I can’t resist adding some black and white line-art. To facilitate this—and because I love gadgets—I bought a Wacom Bamboo tablet and stylus to supplement my art supplies. I haven’t really gotten the knack of anything elaborate yet, but black and white line art seems a good way to learn how to use the device. Here are a few samples of what may turn up in Spilled Coffee, a novel about coming of age...again...

Friday, May 18, 2012

A New J.B.Chicoine Header Underway

I had every intention of posting my progress incrementally, but—well…I simply wasn’t feeling real enthused about this project. Aside from my ultimate goal—designing a new homepage for JBChicoine.com—the need for which is pretty darn exciting (adding Novelist to Artist), the process causes me great anxiety. I guess that’s what sucked some of the enthusiasm out of painting. Aside from that, when I set my Reading & Writing watercolor beside it for reference, the favored painting taunted me. How could I produce anything that would not wither beside it? And this new painting is supposed to represent my art side of the Website! Okay, yeah, I allowed my negativity (and funner* graphics projects—more on that another time) to get in the way and stall my progress.

Yesterday, I finally sat down and forced myself to finish it. Overall, I’m please with the result—it’s not as dramatic as its sibling, but how can ‘blank’ compete with all that dramatic black? (see previous post). Just the same, it has a nice light and airy feel to it.

Here is an idea I had for making the transition between the two images (it was my husband’s idea to chop off my bottom). I really like the concept of having an image of the painter/writer in the heading, except the face belongs to me. Ha! Having ‘me’ so prominent makes me squirm a bit, but objectively, I really like the composition—I like all the juxtaposed angles.
Now, I have to pick a day when I’m feeling really fresh and in control and patient, and dive back into the software program I used to design my Website in the first place, and relearn it. I am not looking forward to that. I need a new chant…  I will not have a meltdown…” (that sounds too negative) …I can do it!...I can do it!...”

* although MS Word says “funner” is not a word, Merriam-Webster’s Multi-Reference Dictionary says it is.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A New Painting for My Website Header

Well, I decided it's time to update my watercolor Website, J.B.Chicoine.com, to accommodate my upcoming novel. Uncharted won't be released until October, but it will probably take me that long to relearn my Web design software. In addition to that novel, I have others I plan to publish, so I may as well take advantage of having a Website with my name and combine my "artistic" endeavors.  Anyway, I'm going to incorporate the header I made for my writing blog (which I painted here a while back). 
I'll use the above painting for the Author half the page header... and start a new one for the Watercolorist half--something along the lines of the watercoloring arrangement to the right. But I like the oak and post setting of the Reading and Writing scene. So, below is the drawing I've come up with. I took a photo of a new arrangement, flipped it horizontally with my graphics program and messed with the perspective a little. I'll keep the background light and abut the two paintings, end-to-end; the dark contrasting with the light.
That's the plan, anyway. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peeling Paint & Collecting Water: Done!

It's done! My eyes are glad.

I didn't go all out on the grass the way I wanted, but I still like it. I think I just got pooped out in the end. My favorite part is the peeling paint...or is it the collected water...

...now to find another nautical scene...

...and thanks again to Liza Carens Salerno for the photo to play with!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Paint Is Peeling!

I had to take a break because I was going cross-eyed. I've got a good start on the peeling paint--just have to work toward the stern when my eyes recover.

I have to admit, I'v been avoiding that grass. I don't want to imply, rather than explicitly define the it, especially since it's right in the foreground, but I must remind myself that the grass is not the focal point.

Yes, I messed with the sky some more and I need to get busy on the roof shingles (and fix the angle of the foreground gable). Oh, and there's a twiggy brushy thing in the left foreground that I'm going to add once the grass is done. Overall, there are lots of little details that should finish it up nicely.

The next post will be the final, completed work. Hopefully, by the end of the week or sooner.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Collecting Water

 Today I thought I'd post the image I'm working from (taken by Liza Carens Salerno) and a close-up of the boat, since that's the only area I've given attention since I last posted. It's so much fun working on all the boat innards! The outside still needs a whole lot of the work to get the paint peeling, and I'm by no means done with the inside (haven't gotten to the point of overworking, don't you know).

You'll notice I compressed the space between the two subjects (maybe you won't notice, but I did, just a little). I also cut some of the foreground, made some adjustment to compensate for lens distortion, and simplified the composition (that is, I removed the lobster boat and land on the horizon).

What drew me to this picture is, well, the peeling paint, but even more so, the water inside the boat. It's kind of an ironic version of water reflection. I could have simply painted the boat, which is cool in itself, but I love the setting--it gives the overall painting more of the 'feel' I was looking for.

To give you a sense of size, my painting is 8" x 11", and the section above is approximately 6" x 6".Now, back to the drawing table...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grass & Water

Painting the grass has been challenging. I usually work from the foreground and make my way toward the back, but the grass is sparser in places which means all the water needs to be in place before I can get too detailed with the grass. Aside from that, I've had a bunch of other things going on, so the painting has been slow-going. At any rate, I thought I'd post what I have  so far--yes, it's mostly just grass and water! I hope the difference is obvious...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peeling Paint and Poor Brushes

I focused mostly on the building and sky this time...still sizing up the grasses while defining them a bit more...and of course, I'm overworking the sky, but I'll fix that ugly ridge above the roof later. I think I want to add some white cloud there, anyway (if I'm going to overwork it, I may as well go all the way!)

And here's a picture of why it took me a few days to get back on track! Poor brushes! I gave them quite a workout. For reference sake, these are size 0 and 5/0 brushes--the old beside the new. What you're looking at is about the top 3/4" of the brushes. Kind of hard to paint good grass without a sharp point...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peeling Paint Progress

Making some progress, though I have a little bad news--well, not so bad when I consider what it means...
...I've worn my fine point brushes to a frizz. The way I paint--lots of blending (which looks more like scrubbing)--has turned those wispy sable hairs that once held and released paint in a controlled thin line now drags the paint around like a china bristle brush on a clapboard. 
...what that means is I've actually persisted at painting long enough to wear out new brushes! In case you didn't know it, that's a very big deal for me. Those brushes might even be frame-worthy!

Of course, this might hold up progress a little until I can get to an art supply store. Too many fine details are at stake! Then again, Todd says I won't be able to sit on my hands that long...we'll see...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Peeling Paint--Well, Not So Much Peeling Yet

I messed around with the building while I sized up the grasses in the foreground. You know how I love to paint me some grasses, but this grass shall be a challenge, coming out of the water as it does!

I am also reminded how permanent the pigments in cerulean and thalo green are! I got a bit carried away with cerulean--just love that word--on the stern of the boat. I washed some of it out and hope it will mute a bit more as I add the surrounding shades.

Thalo green is a color I don't often use. It's an odd color--sort of an unreal green--but I rather like a tint of it for the boat. The trick will be not laying down too much too fast. There will be no scrubbing it out! and I don't want this to end up in the abandoned heap for Liza's sake!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peeling Paint: Wash

...and here's the wash. I shall tie in the two main objects using the shaded water reflection. And I'm not sure, but I may make the sky a little stormy--but then, that will change the water reflection...maybe not a good idea...must think on that...

Anyway, I can't wait to define all those boat innards. Makes me think of the research I did on boat building... 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Peeling Paint & Collecting Water

I've been itching to paint lately--just looking for the right subject. I've had a nautical theme in mind. Something coastal--something one might see if they were to visit Wesleyville, Maine (if in fact that provincial little town existed outside of my imagination!). In my novel UNCHARTED, there's a dilapidated old pram, disintegrating into a heap of old lobster traps and buoys. This isn't the exact scene, but it puts me in that same place. It's such a sad sight, in a way. This little skiff used to have a mast and likely provided hours of leisurely sailing...now it's just peeling paint and collecting water

Thanks to Liza Carens Salerno for providing me an inspiring image (to be posted later). Many of you know her from her Middle Passages, her writing blog, where she has links to some of her other beautiful photography. She also has a professional copywriter Website, LCS Writes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Painting I Interpreted

by Pascal Gentil

Interpreted sounds so much better than copied!

So, here's the image I worked from--see how sneaky I am, not placing them side-by-side in the same post!

This Marlena has a little more chin than I wanted, and although her hair looks a bit matted, that actually fits into the story. Todd voted for prettier hair, so I conceded on that!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Marlena: Complete

...and here's Marlena finished, in all her innocence and exotic beauty. To accompany her is a  a small excerpt from UNCHARTED, when Samuel the shipwright gets his first glimpse of Marlena:

I doubt I would have noticed her at all, except she planted herself right in that place where the sun shot through that hole in the roof, which wouldn’t get fixed for a month. No one had seen the sun for two weeks, but in that moment, it split the clouds, thrust a shard through that narrow fissure, and reflected off every hovering dust particle surrounding her. Filaments of wild curls circled her head like a halo. Even her skirt radiated. I hate to sound like a spiritualist, or worse yet, a romantic, but at first glance, she seemed like an apparition. If not for her quirky suitcase, the size of a tackle box, I might have dropped to my knees.
Tomorrow, I'll post Pascal Gentil's  image that I worked from...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Marlena: Almost Done!

I know this isn't vastly different from the last post, but it is progress! One of the features that I love about this painting is the way that little curl juts out and obscures her eye, just a bit. In the story, Marlena's hair is always out of control.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Starting to Look Like Marlena

At this point, I started to feel more hopeful about the outcome, but her hair still needs a lot of work, and the complexion isn't quite right.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Little Better...But Not Much

Here's the next phase. I know--it doesn't look  a whole lot better, does it. Not to worry, just keep adding layers and try not to overwork it (yeah, telling myself to 'not overwork' it is kinda pointless.)

She's looking very ethnic at this point, and she is half Venezuelan, but she's fairer skinned than she appears here. All fixable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Marlena: Not Much Improvement, Yet!

I know, she doesn't look too good yet! At this point, I was wondering if I'd be able to pull it off, but that's pretty typical at this stage. As tempting as was to abandon the project,  I made myself add another layer...and hoped for the best... (but I still wasn't confident enough about her outcome to post it!) Perhaps it was the skin-tone that threw me--not enough pink.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No, I Haven't Forgotten How to Paint!

I know, we all thought I'd given up on painting! I haven't--I've just been preoccupied with editing my novel (yay, UNCHARTED is going to be published in October 2012). Anyway, I've been looking at a painting* I found online of a young woman who looks exactly the way I imagine Marlena from the story. As you all know, I need an image to work from and so I thought I'd try my hand at a watercolor interpretation of Pascal Gentil's painting* that portrays my Marlena so well. Normally, I post my progress as I go, but this time I was feeling rather insecure about pulling it off, so I finished it first. I'm still going to post it incrementally, but if you can't stand waiting a few days, you can get a sneak preview over at my writing blog. Next week, I'll post Gentil's oil painting.*
For now, here's the  wash. (I would have included the sketch as usual, but it turned out too light.)

* Edited to say that I just found Pascal Gentil's Photography Website only to discover his "painting" is in fact a digitally enhanced photograph, which takes a great deal of talent and in no way diminishes my esteem of his work. Oh my, how I'd love to paint many of his subjects! And in a way, it makes me feel all the better about my work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plein Air Follow-through—More or Less

Well, after all my posturing about getting out of the studio and painting en plein air, I made myself do it! I mean, what could be better than a 70° autumn day in New Hampshire?
I started with a pencil sketch and quickly got bored and my back started aching. Once I sketched out the basic lines, I switched to an indelible black ink marker and wondered why I was even bothering.
The Perfectionist sitting on my shoulder, whispered, “You call yourself an artist? Is that what you call perspective? You haven’t laid down one plum line! And that, after resorting to an eraser!”
“What—you think I can’t see that?” I kept at it, telling myself that I really hate sketching. I was about to abandon my aspiration and simply call it an attempt. Then my Motivational Critic jumped in.
“What! You’re not even going to follow through and break out the paint—Oh, how pathetic are you!”
So, I cracked open my paint. After about 60 seconds, I got bored again and just wanted it to be over with, so started laying down paint more quickly (it dawned on me that this was likely what I should have been doing in the first place).
I shrugged the Perfectionist off my shoulder and heard my MC whisper, “At least you can say you tried and followed through—good for you!”
“But I don’t have to do this again, do I?”
“Well, did you have fun?”
“Not really.”
“Then why do it?”
“I don’t know— It’s such a romantic notion…I just really wanted to be the artist who could whip out my paints anywhere and produce something really stellar.”
“I feel as if I’m stagnating in the studio.”
“Really? But you produce some pretty remarkable stuff in there. You like it—I’ve seen how you study it afterward with satisfaction. Why can’t you be happy with that?”
“I’m not sure…”
“Well, you need to figure that out.”
“Yeah, I know…maybe I’ll carry my paints and tablet around just in case…”
Sigh. “Whatever…” 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pushing My Envelope—En Plein Air

I haven’t painted anything in so long that I think I may have forgotten how! However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. In fact, I’ve been doing better than just thinking—I’ve been planning…

Here’s the thing—As you know, I work almost exclusively in my studio, from photographs. It’s a safe and comfortable place, and I’ve done some of my best work in my cloistered environment. The problem is, I feel as if I’m beginning to stagnate. I’ve been following Bruce Sherman’s blog, Journaling With Paint, for some time. Get this—he actually goes outside and paints! That’s right—Plein Air Painting! In fact, artists have been doing it for centuries! Believe it or not, I also have done it—years ago.
Look! I even made a field kit! (Okay, notice the EKC latch that I ripped off an old camera case—I do so love old latches.) 
I even covered it in a nice soft leather and purchased a Windsor Newton field kit to go inside. I did use it on several occasions, but found that my discomforts outweighed the pleasure.

The problem is, I am overcome with self-consciousness if I think anyone might come along and look over my shoulder. I’m certain it has a lot to do with Dumbbell Syndrome.

Anyway, the point of this post is along the same vein of why I started this blog in the first place. I won’t use the derogatory term ‘guilt me into it’ but I know that if I post this, I am far more likely to follow through. As an incentive, I am also posting these samples of what I accomplished—or tried to—back in the mid ‘90’s.

I really muddied up the shodow on this one...

Some big old house in New Harbor or Pemaquid Maine

I like architecture

Not sure why I didn't finish this cemetary 

This one I'm actually proud of. There had been a lot of tourist traffic, but I stuck it out. Eventually, I ran out of light, but fortunately, I snapped a photo of it before I left so I could finish it up at home.  

To ease myself into it, I think I'll start with something from my own back yard... 

Friday, March 18, 2011


I just can't seem to get my head into painting these past couple weeks. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that we are just about to put our house on the market--I mean for real--like we need to be ready to up an move, cross country, really soon...Then again, it could take months and months, but the last time we listed a house in a down market, we had a buyer in a matter of days, and then life took on a rythm of another pace altogether.

So, anyone know of anyone who wants to buy a gentleman's farm and an arsty house?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Finished At Last!

Yes, it's true, I'm finally calling it done--not sure that I can't improve upon it, but at this point, I don't care. I simply can't look at it a moment longer. I think the lace was probably more of a challenge than the glass--lace has fewer hard edges and requires more blending. I could have done more, but Todd was constantly over my shoulder saying "Don't overwork it!" As if!

Okay, I did overwork it a tad, but I'm pleased with the results. It is 8" x 10" and I now need a stronger pair of readers...

...so...I've got an idea for my next project...something highly reflective, small and sentimental...but I have to wait for some bright sunlight before I can start it, and in Michigan, well, that could take a while...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Not Quite Done...

I know I said I wasn't going to post again until I finished, but all the finer details in the cloth and lace--let alone the glass--is taking longer than I wanted it to. Therefore, I'm posting this just to show that I am progressing...

I also noticed that I needed to darken the tone in places, so, overall it looks a bit darker. Then once I'm happy with the tone, I can add the white glaze where I want to brighten it...

...and then there are all those hardline edges I need to add for the finishing touches!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Step 7

I feel the need to post something... Again, it may not look like much, but I workded on the lace, which is as painstaking as the cut glass. Just so it's not the same ol'-same ol', here's the photo, too. I won't post again till it's done. Hopefully that won't take too long...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Step 6

Okay, I'm just posting this so I can see that I have progressed...besides, I never pomised this would be exciting...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Step 5

I started out slow today, but once I got going on the eggs again, I found it oddly soothing. I must remember that for when I start feeling anxious; Paint Eggs.

Speaking of painting eggs—I can't remember if these where white eggs or brown, but I'm thinking white. This made for an interesting observation this late afternoon when the sinking sun crept in the window behind me, illuminating the photo from which I'm working. It highlighted and exaggerated the different hues of the eggshell. Ultramarine, crimson, ochre—colors you would never expect, right? (Okay, I did have a hunch they were hiding there). When the sun disappeared, the colors again subdued, but I like the color in the eggs so much better. Perhaps I’m getting creative with my painting and not so rigid…

I'll bet you wish you knew what the photograph looked like!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eggs, Glass & Linen: Progress

Not much progress, but I want to provide proof that I have been working on it--and more than just that lace loopy thing on the side...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: Step 3

Even though I've done a painting similar to this one, it was so long ago that I don't remember exactly how I approached all those facets of glass. This one is a little larger, and good thing!My eyes are that much worse these days (go figure). As I go along, I'm finding that the best approach is not to focus on one area for too long, and keep reminding myself that it always takes shape in time.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Eggs, Linen & Glass: The Wash

Well, most of it is 'washed', however I couldn't really 'wash' the cut glass. All those facets--well, each one is its own peculiar shade of gray and umber. At least you can gather the color scheme.

This will be more of a study in texture rather than color, and an exploration of backlight and reflection. It will be tricky going--I may even need to don the magnifying goggles, but I shall prevail!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Finally, A New Project

...yes, it's true, I'm undertaking another watercolor, but this is no ordinary painting; it may quite likely be the painting that drives me to the brink of insanity! (Yes I know that's not a far drive from where I'm at.)

I know it's probably hard to tell what it will look like from all those teensey-weensey lines, but if you've been to my Website, it may look familiar. It is, in fact, a variation on a theme I worked up several years ago, and I can tell you that it tested my wits even then (back when I had a few more wits about me). I posted something about that a long while ago, and even now I can't believe I'm considering this project (okay, I'm more than considering it, 'cause I've done the drawing and posted it).

I can't gaurantee that this will be a happy ride for observers, but I'm going to try hard not to whine about it. I can't promise I will finish it in a timely manner, but I may post more stages, just to provide evidence that I'm still working on it...

The finished painting will be 8 x 10 inches, and in case you're wondering, it is titled Eggs, Linen & Glass.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Troubled Mints

I know I'm not the only one who has a hard time in winter. Every day feels like a struggle. But sometimes, just one silly little thing can put a smile on my face.

I've been enjoying Altoids Curiously Strong Peppermints since back in the early '80's when it seemed the only place you could get them was through the Vermont Country Store catalog (I think they were curiously stronger back then, but that could be my imagination).

Yesterday, when I opened a new tin, this is what I found...

Just knowing there is a home for Troubled Mints* puts my mind at ease...perhaps then, there is also a place for me...

* I think Altoids may acutally be having a little fun with the 'troubled' Royal Mint... 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Header Design for My Writing Blog

Okay, so I thought it would take me a few days, but I went ahead and got busy on it…
This is what I’ve come up with as the new header for my writing blog.

Now to apply it and change the background and fonts and colors too (to the blog itself—not the header)—could take another day…maybe not that long….

...and of course, I couldn't resist putting my Story for a Shipwright for the book title...