Sometimes things just come together in one piece that make me smile. In this piece, it's the hot pink and turquoise color combination and the sweetness of the little girl looking down at her bird friend. I also got to use my new boho stencil collection to do those hot pink and silver markings in the tree roots. As a special touch, I've used real wildflowers in places, too. ;)
It's always an exciting day when a big painting project is finished. This one was intricate and required sunny days outside to complete, but I'm thrilled that it's finished and ready for the Girls on the Run show at gallery Zapow here in Asheville! Until the show, you can still purchase it for another day or so from my shop (and see up-close photos of the many intricate carved details). At 20x20 inches, this is a larger than usual size for me, but I think the tiny details in the large space feel really tactile and chock-full of growing, pretty things like flowers, animals and love.
This painting is a story, of course. In many ways it's autobiographical. I am, indeed, an artist girl living with a guitar-playing guy. :) Sometimes I hear beautiful music wafting into the studio, and that always makes me smile. Yet this is also a story about all of us -- and the way we make our own paradise by creating beauty and sharing it with the world.
This morning I was searching frantically through old CDs of my artwork for a high resolution image for a customer, and I stumbled upon this piece I painted of my friend Autumn and her two Chihuahuas when we lived in Venice, CA. It took me almost heart-wrenchingly back to the bright sun and friendships with "the girls" (Marisa, Melissa and Outi ) we were starting our careers in this paradisical land of art, sea and sun. It was a golden time. I love that there is a whole day -- Thursday - dedicated to reveling in nostalgia. So I thought I would share this piece and some of the photos from the "shoot" we did in Venice that afternoon. It's funny to see this painting now because it was from back when I used to use reference photos rather than my imagination for my work -- but you can still see here where I gave her a "tattoo" of my signature red bird and transformed all the paintings in the background into cartoons of my own work. I love painting from my imagination now, but it was also really fun to paint from photos. I may have to try this again sometime!
We glued, we stenciled, we composed and ate strawberries (and more than a few bites of dark sea-salted chocolate shhhhh...), and we transformed a colorless reference photo into scenes from our imaginations. It was a great time! I thank you, my friends, for attending the first workshop in my "storytelling in art" series. It was amazing to watch the ease with which my students collected bits of ephemera, colored paper and paint and made them into little narratives. Melissa put a fish in her blue sky and enormous blue flowers growing out of the beach. Lori couldn't wait to add a road traveling up the mountains as a pathway for her butterfly. I used my kilim stencil to add modern marks to my neon dream. We had some close calls, too -- one artist experienced some tissue paper bubbling, but everyone came up with solutions to the problem, and she ended up being happy with her finished piece! I served more chocolate, and it was a happy ending all around. I cannot wait to give more workshops!
"Mother & Daughter" - Gouache on Paper
I am really excited to announce the release of my new 2016 stencil designs available through StencilGirl products! I created them because I adore adding pattern as bits of whimsy to my narrative paintings. I used the Boho Pattern Stencil above in "Mother & Daughter" for the flowers in the hair and dresses -- it was such fun to pattern up the dress just by repeating that tiny flower on the bottom of the stencil. And the larger flowers make beautiful garlands as well as embellishments for hand-lettering. I also used my new Kilim stencil for the dress design itself. Look for more demos on how you can use these stencils in your own mixed media, encaustic, gouache, acrylic and fabric art!
Bach Flower Remedy Designs
People have been asking me lately how I create my highly textured flowers in beeswax encaustic (like the ones is 'Wildflower Crush' and 'Midnight Garden'). I find a great way to loosen up to draw flowers is to grab a sheet of black cardstock and a few Moonlight Gelly Roll pens. They are amazing because they pop on the black background. Then I either grab a gardening book or make up flowers from my imagination. I painted these three for a project I'm working on to Illustrate the flowers in Bach Flower Remedies. They were part of a really fun girls' art day at fellow Asheville artist, Lori Portka's beautiful studio. I am planning an online encaustic painting class in the future where I explain the process of making my beeswax flowers. Sign up for my mailing list if this sounds fun to you! :)
From drawing to laying down color in wax.
For the past few days I have been working on a large encaustic painting called "Tending Our Garden." It's both a love story and a metaphor for the role of the artist in society. When we create anything heartfelt and beautiful from an authentic place, we are contributing to the beauty of the world around us -- we are 'tending our garden.' Of course, like many of my 'stories in wax,' this one has a personal meaning, too. I just happen to live with a wonderful musician who is playing beautiful music downstairs as I type these words. :) Yay!
About the pictures here - I started with a pencil drawing of this piece, then etched it into wax and chose the gorgeous color palette alongside fellow artist and color savant, Melissa Moss. The rest was painting outside with pigmented beeswax from R&F encaustics.
You can follow my daily progress on this painting on Instagram @cathynicholsart.
I am thrilled that my painting, "if you want to get lost, follow me" has not only been selected for North Light's wonderful international anthology, but it has been chosen for the cover art as well! What an honor. This is a beautiful book, and it is available at multiple retailers such as as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The book is titled "Incite3: The Art of Storytelling - The Best of Mixed Media." It is edited by the wonderful Tonia Jenny, senior acquisitions and content developer for Create Mixed Media.