A View into My Studio – Making Original Artcards

With the galleries and boutique shops that carry my original abstract artcards closed for now, I’ve received several requests for them directly from my art fans. So, since my inventory is low, I’ve been ramping up production in my studio and want to show you a bit about how I make them.

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David Castle original artcard (oil and metallic silver watercolor).

I started making original artcards a few years ago as a way for folks to keep in touch with family and friends “the old-fashioned way” – a hand-written note sent snail mail style right to their mailbox. And, the artcards are designed to be ready to pop into a favorite frame and added to the art collections of your family and friends. Or maybe they’ll be simply displayed in your kitchen as refrigerator art or in your office on an inspirational bulletin board. I think it’s a pretty versatile little piece of original art!

My most recent “batch” of mini abstracts starts as a larger painting on paper – typically 12 x 16 inches – in my layered oil and metallic watercolor style that I call my Pacific Rains Series.

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Artcard original paintings… ready for varnish and the chopping block.

After a good week of drying/curing (the solid oil paints I use contain a wax component that allow them to dry quickly), they get a few coats of spray varnish to set the metallic watercolor layer and protect the painting from light damage.

Once the varnish layer has dried, I’m ready to cut the larger painting up into my mini abstract squares – each measuring 2.5 x 2.5 inches. I just use my artist’s eye to gauge where to make cuts so I end up with mini square abstracts that I like.

Finally, on some, I add a bit of acrylic paint to finish each abstract. Now they’re ready to glue-mount to blank cardstock. I use Italian-made Fabriano Medioevalis cards that I think present the abstracts nicely.

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Mini abstract artcards… mounted, signed and ready to send.

 

Just Popped This Mini Abstract…

I just popped this mini abstract into a fun, silver metal frame and love it! This’ll be a hint at another blog post to come about my mini abstracts that I mount for original artcards.

I haven’t been liking much of what I’m doing in my studio since the lockdown started nearly 2 weeks ago, but loved this mini so much that I just had to share today! And, the cool colors remind me of the now-closed Oregon coast beaches that I love so much.

I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy!

Mini David Castle Abstract (Oil and metallic silver watercolor)
Mini David Castle Abstract (Oil and metallic silver watercolor)

Back to Elementals…

It has really been too long since I’ve posted… but, over the holidays I did spend some good time in my studio going back to one of my old and favorite painting styles.

I occasionally feel the pull to go back to my roots of pure watercolor paintings after having spent the last few years exploring my mixture of oils and metallic watercolors. Fueled by this pull and the interest in submitting some work to the upcoming Western Federation of Watercolor Societies annual exhibit in Boise this year, I painted two watercolor abstracts in my “Elementals” style in December.

I rediscovered how a very steady hand is required for painting my Elementals! And how this is mainly achieved through lots of practice and patience, both of which I’ve been a bit out of while painting my oil abstracts. I consider my oil abstracts much more “gestural mark-making” while my Elementals are a more exacting and technical painting process.

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“Three Autumn Trees”, watercolor on paper, 28 x 20 inches.

I painted two Elementals to submit to the Western Fed exhibit, one (above) in a more representational style of autumn trees and the second (below) in a more true abstract style. I submitted both, so we’ll see what response they get!

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“Cliff Dwellings”, watercolor on paper, 20 x 20 inches.

 

Artist Intermission: Anxiety and Depression

I’m in a bit of an “artist intermission” full of anxiety, and the familiar depression that I’ve battled for many years. Nope, not a glamorous star here bringing awareness to those of us who live with depression and anxiety. And, I don’t have the resources to completely “take time off” to check in to a place of wellness to work on myself. Although I’m happy for those creatives who can work on their own wellness with time off and a dedicated (even inspirational) place to do it.

For me, I’m still here – in my home studio which has sat empty and alone for the past several weeks, just waiting for me to come back. I’ll admit that I’m acutely struggling right now.

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Not much going on here lately…

Meanwhile, some of you have asked what I do with myself?

Well, I sleep a lot. I’ve worked on office chores such as household budgeting and financial actuals. I sit in my green leather studio chair and pet studio cat Stan. I managed to finally update my website with snapshots from my Arctic Circle Expedition. I take pills and go to talk therapy. I attempt to help myself with hard-to-crack wellness workbooks. And, I generally try to get back into things I’ve enjoyed in days gone by like gardening… one weed pulled at a time.

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I’ve had this self-help workbook for months… I’m on page 18.  😦

I miss painting my abstracts… I really do. Hopefully a new and inspirational project will come along for me soon. In the meantime, I’ll just try to tread water.

And a big thank-you to my husband, Steve, who through it all, helps and loves me lots.

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Icy Inspirations

I’ve always been inspired by anything water – rain, puddles, the Pacific. And the frozen water of the arctic circle didn’t disappoint me in how it all inspired my paintings made onboard the ship and once I returned to my Portland studio.

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Arctic sunset behind the tall ship Antiqua.
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Flat icebergs in front of the glacier at Blomstrandbreen.
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Icy blues and greens near Ny-Alesund.
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Setting up a safe perimeter among the ice.

 

 

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Part 3

Daunted by the experience itself and the 900 snapshots I took on the Expedition, I’ve clearly taken several months off from blogging more about my trip. Today I finally finished going through all of my snapshots, pulling out the better ones for publishing here on my blog and posting on my website.

The good news is that in the meantime, I completed the last larger commissions for my Kickstarter backers in late February, so everyone now has their arctic abstracts – over 80 that I painted – all inspired by my time in the ice and cold of the arctic circle.

Preparing for the Expedition, I had thought I’d be able to possibly paint on a table set up on the outside deck of the ship. But after two failed attempts to paint in the cold, snow and wind, I set up a makeshift studio on my bunkbed in my shared cabin.  Tight quarters for sure, but I made it work and at least was out of the extreme elements!

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Tight painting quarters on the bunkbed in my shared cabin.
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Yes, for this hot-blooded guy, I did actually feel cold for most of the trip!
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Our first glacier hike.
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The glacier at Esmarkbreen.

The Arctic Circle Expedition – Part 2

By the way, I had two very simple goals for my time on the Antigua in the Arctic Circle…

  1. Soak up the frozen landscape: I was mainly looking forward to seeing glaciers and lots of ice and was certainly not disappointed!
  2. Paint my abstracts: I committed to painting smaller abstracts (12 x 12” and smaller) for my Expedition Backers (from Kickstarter) and completed them just before the end of the trip.
    Now begins the project to get them all sealed with spray varnish/fixative and ready to ship out in November!

Here’s a snapshot from the ship as we departed a calm but cold fjord (Ymerbukta) on the second day.

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The water in this fjord was calm enough to start freezing… you can just see the thin frozen layer in this snapshot. Every day was a new opportunity to soak up the frozen landscape around Svalbard!

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The Antigua from a hike up to a glacier in Esmarkbreen.

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I’m still working through all of the over 800 snapshots I took with my little travel camera, so will have more to post soon!