Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine Nest - gouache.

Valentine Nest
6x6in gouache on aquabord  $110. SOLD

Artist Note.
I am still on the 
valentine/love theme.

I love bird nests. 
They are truly a passion of mine.
I collect them and 
I marvel at them.
I paint them for my own pleasure
in all media and viewpoints.
Even so, this one is 
a bit different for me.
An imaginary nest.
I tried to make the nest 
look as if it was floating
over a diffused background.

The heart shape stands for love
The broken egg is symbolic
of a new life started 
from that love.

The idea for a nest shaped 
like a heart happened
when I saw this nest
I think the heart shaped 
interior was created by the
compression of the branches.
Anyway - it spoke to me.

I started off with exploring
some ideas with 
watercolor on Yupo 
It is a fabulous surface
to work out ideas on
because it is so forgiving
and lends itself easily
to make changes.

My first sketch
  I wondered what less color
would be like
so wiped away the background 
and left a border
Next I thought I would try 
for an abstract shapes
thinking tree bark
Still not speaking to me so I 
wiped it all off leaving 
the interior eggs,

Cleaning up even more
with paper towel
and took it down to a heart
with eggs.
From exploring through 
these ideas I had a better sense
of how I wanted to 
my nest to look. 
The background not as bright
 as the blue and not as 
geometric as the bark one.
I realized I had never altered
the interior -
the broken egg shell was
so I went with keeping 
it as the focal area.

Then I painted it on the 
aquabord...not as forgiving!


  1. You know, Julie, I never thought of using Yupo paper as an exploration surface to work out different ideas. Duh! If one wants something else you just wipe it off! Can't be any better than that! I appreciate you showing the different approaches you took to arrive at the sweet, touching and clever heart-shaped nest.

    1. I love to use it because I can "know no fear" and truly let my imagination flow. Amazing stuff Yupo.
      I am so impressed with your new painting. I sat and really enjoyed looking at all the subtle color changes. I am genuine in my admiration of your ability to use green in all different shades.

  2. Not only do I get to see a beautiful little painting but a lovely mini lesson. Julie, you are the best. Thank you.

    1. Hi Blanche - happy you enjoyed it. My pleasure at having Yupo
      to test things out on is genuine. I certainly make the most of it.
      I am so happy you are back painting regularly. Your colors are particularly beautiful.

  3. Julie this nest is very lovely. So enjoyed seeing how you developed your painting using Yupo. This is certainly something I am going to try. Thank you so much for sharing friend. Hugs!

    1. I really enjoyed seeing your delicate floral watercolor sketches on your new post. You have such a way with flowers.
      Yes - January flew by.
      happy you found this post interesting. Have a wonderful week.

  4. I love seeing all the different ways you experimented with the backgrounds. I have such a hard time getting anything to stay put on yupo that I've never thought of using it that way. Your final Valentine's Day nest is beautiful. I like the first sketch too.

    I was talking with a friend about painting on yupo. We go out sketching together and she said it wasn't a plein air material. So I told her how you have done yupo paintings in your car while you travel. She didn't believe me so I hunted for the post where you showed the painting as you were working on it and I sent the post to her so she could see it.

    1. Thanks Joan. I like the idea of you passing on to your friend about the versatility Yupo. Thank you. Tell her it is neat stuff. Not for soft transitions though and a lot depends on how much water you mix your paint with.
      Love your snowy trees. Oh MY...that touch of blue in the shadow grabbed my heart.

  5. Your birds' nests are always so special:)

    I like being able to see you think "visually". It's instructive. And your original source photo is interesting. You sort of wonder how the nest and branches go to be that way.

    Always a helpful visit. Thank you!

    1. I took the photo looking down into the nest, Libby. The side view shows the branch growing at an angle across it- creating the heart shape. I love it.
      Your collage series grows more interesting each week. I am learning so much by following your blog.

  6. I always enjoy seeing your paintings of nests...but amazed knowing you used yupo.
    You are SO talented my friend!!!!

  7. How sweet is this! a heart shaped nest---so beautiful. I totally love it!

    1. Thanks celeste.
      How neat that you are in a figure painting group. I love what you did and hope you do lots more.

  8. All your nests are wonderful and combining the symbolism of the heart just couldn't be better! Thanks as always for sharing your process... you always inspire me

    1. Hi Mary - you have painted one drop dead gorgeous waterfall! Such beautiful colors.
      Thanks for such a lovely comment. You made me feel gooood!

  9. What a fun journey, Julie! Your final painting has such softness, yet is very much three dimensional. I was especially intrigued to see how you worked through various options in order to reach the image that fulfilled your vision. I'm pleased I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to "see" what's visually best before I actually paint it. As a result, I end up re-painting a foreground or altering a background. Similar to your experience, my acrylics allow me to be relatively fearless and take a chance, later revising if necessary.

  10. Hi Helene - I always get a lift out of your comments. Thank you for taking the time.
    Acrylic are a whole different and forgiving experience. You do amazing things with oils though. I love your copper kettle and eggs.

  11. Hi Julie :)I really enjoyed seeing the photo of the heart shaped nest and your beautiful finished piece, but what I really enjoyed was seeing your process. I find it really interesting to see the way other artists explore pathways to finished paintings. I never thought of using Yupo for this before, so clever, it makes perfect sense to me now! We have just been enduring the worst heatwave since 1933 here and it's kept me out of the studio, but reading your blog has got me itching to get back into it! :)

    1. I also enjoy seeing how artists explore their different work habits and methods. I certainly enjoyed seeing your progression on Magpies in Space.
      I understand about the heat. I live in the desert. My studio is air-conditioned so it is never uncomfortable unless it gets humid. I have the type of unit which operates with moisture. A swamp cooler. In our monsoon season when the humidity rises, it is nowhere near as effective.
      I paint early mornings. great hearing from you - thanks Leesa.

  12. Liza Myers paints a lot of bird nest and uses them symbolically (
    Your nest and the process are lovely.

    1. I went immediately to Liza's link and loved what she does. A brilliant artist!
      I was surprised to see she is from N.M. and shows in Santa Fe and I have never heard of her or seen her work. I am going to make sure to seek it out.You took the time to give me a gift. thank you, Christine.
      I enjoyed seeing your new painting of a viewer in the gallery looking at a Winslow Homer. I love Homer!

  13. never thought about using Yupo like that, really great idea :)
    the colours in the final one are really nice :) and the birds nest texture looks perfect :)

    1. yes - it is like using a chalk board where you can rub everything out.
      I lot of artists use the computer to do all that now but I am a hands on person. I love paint, pencil - everything tactile.
      great little sketch of a thumb tack. Your ellipse is perfecto!

    2. I'm a computer person if I have to do prep work, doesn't save time really, just makes some things easier
      my tablet has a rough surface on it to try to mimic paper so you still have a sense of drawing on something

  14. Loving this theme Julie, and as always your nests are special. And the way you fight for a painting that speaks to you is keep going and wiping off until things are how you want them. To me it's brave to paint that way and also confident that you will to an even better place than before.

    1. Lisa, I have to say that your painting and post - Tahmoor's Table is a genuine treat to see and read. S
      Thank you for sharing your process on how you worked through all the steps of the painting. You are a true inspiration for me and I am lucky to call you my friend.

  15. Wonderful post - beautiful colors!
    Happy Valentine's Day Julie :)

    1. Thank you Teri - love your atmospheric painting of the farm where you grew up.

  16. This is a wonderful painting. And I love the way you showed the progression. Keep paintings!

  17. I always learn so much from you. I love the progression of this painting and why you did or didn't like the steps you had taken. Some things I wouldn't have thought about. You had me with the title of the blog. I knew it was going to be good.

    1. That is some post your have on your blog, Sharon. All about balance. You have me thinking...really thinking.
      Thanks for always visiting and being encouraging.

  18. This is the best Valentine, Julie, I am a big fan of your nests! I really appreciate being able to see your thought process, it teaches me a ton! I hope you get a special Valentine too!

    1. Thanks for this lovely comment Hope your Valentine's Day is wonderful.

  19. Julie I spent some time looking at this yesterday...can't believe I did not comment. I also love experimenting with different surfaces. This one came out great. Love the background and your nests are all beautiful. It is a great study of textures and how they differ.

  20. Oh, this one is exquisite, Julie. Love reading about your process. The soft background here so sweetly compliments the twigginess of nest--and also contributes to a lovely color harmony throughout.


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