No Title Seems to Fit this Post

It has been a little warm for me here in the great Northwest.  Yeah, 85 (ish) is not hot to some, but it is uncomfortably warm for me.  I do not like hot.

I did do some doodles on Friday, but they were very blah, and not worth showing.  I managed to finish one of the drawings in my phobia series late in the evening when the heat had dissipated.  I started on the next one on Saturday.  It is almost done already.


I had fun with this one. It was easy to do and I did not have to force anything.

It is kind of amazing how some works of art just flow out of you, unstoppable and virtually error free.  While others you have to force out, drop by drop.  Both types usually look equally nice.  Personally, I do not get more or less satisfaction from finishing either type.  Both give a type of joy when done.  Easy ones give joy because they were easy and you were at piece most of the time.  Tough ones joy, because it is finally done and you can rest.

The other thing that amazes me…  is how adding black ink makes a pencil drawing so much more alive.  This is really true for a lot of things.  Adding black to paintings for shadows and to add depth really makes certain things “pop” in paintings, makes them almost more real, in a way.  It astounds me to start a drawing in pencil, sketch out everything, exactly where I want it, and then draw it in ink.  It is amazing how much more tangible the final thing is.

It is not an idea anymore.  It has become a real thing.


This one was really hard to get out. I had trouble finding a good view point for reference. Everything just feels wrong to me.


I am not sure if I will be posting anything this week.  It is going to be busy.

I am also still adjusting to not having the convenience of my net-book near my drawing space.  It is a bit annoying to have to move from one work space to another.  I lose my train of thought (one of the reasons for no post of Friday, I got distracted.)

Have a good week!


Different Strokes

This year I set up some pretty good goals for myself. One of the goals was to do 12 pieces of “fine art.” A sub-goal, that I did not post, was to try different styles so I could learn. This post is the result of reaching that goal.

On dark and foggy morning... I took a photo with my cell phone.

On dark and foggy morning… I took a photo with my cell phone.

In the foggy depths of my morning commute to work (walking,) I took several photos. One was a view of a street on the other side of an over pass. It had this ethereal quality to it, like the lights might wink out at any moment, or maybe start moving, like some sort of foxfire torches in a parade. There was very little color and the trees made a very nice dark screen to complete the mood.

Once I had a good moment to look at the photo I took I decided I would paint it. Not just paint it, but try a different style. I had just been reading about Van Gough and thought that a “Starry Night” treatment could work. I did a teeny bit of research on Van Gough’s brush strokes. I wanted the feel but not the look. It still needed to be mine.

The second painting would be in my normal style, with a color treatment to the lights. Streetlight yellow is to boring for me. Blue would be a neat color and I have an awesome blue that looks great when blended with black or white.

Let’s do this!

I really wanted to do both on 2 panels, but I only had 2 that were the same size. I chose to do the Van Gough version on the two panels and mine on the single panel (probably would have been easier to do it the other way around honestly.)

Street Lights.  Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

Street Lights. Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

I started with the Van Gough version. I did not expect the intensity that came with the shorter strokes. “More, MoRe, MORE!” was all my brain and body kept shouting at me. I had such a hard time focusing on the strokes. “Faster, FAstER, FASTER!” My heart was racing and my arms were shaking. I had to stop every 10 – 15 minutes to get control of my mind and body. I have a new respect for anyone who paints with short strokes or in pointillism. It is challenging.

In the end it I think the piece looks like Van Gough ran into Seurat. Globs of paint that slide a bit and stop, then jump to the next. I have not officially named it, I am calling it ‘Street Lights’ for now. I am not sure I even like it. It was very challenging to do, and I learned while doing it. I doubt I will do it again though. I did not like the way I felt while I was painting. Frenzied is the best word I can think of to describe the actions. (It affects me even now, as I type. Frenzied words come from my fingers and my heart is racing. Strong stuff.)

Now my style! I like things calm and smooth. I like to relax and meditate over the strokes. I like to have through blends (where appropriate) and things should flow from one area to the next with little interruption and as few bumps as possible. It really reflects my personality and is probably why I had such an extreme reaction to the other style.

Eldritch Lights Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

Eldritch Lights
Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

I ended up doing this version (officially named’ Eldritch Lights’) three times. The first time the matte varnish was clumpy and very streaky. Something I have had issues with in the past, but I was hoping a new bottle would resolve the problems. Nope! I painted over it and tried again. I used a semi-gloss varnish on the second one and it cracked around the spots the other varnish streaked and pulled much of the paint away from the thick areas.

Third times a charm!

I stretched a new canvas and started from a clean slate. It may not look like it, but the trees are full of “fiddly bits” that are time consuming to paint. They require lots of concentration and control. 10-15 minutes of work and I had to walk away to relax my arm and mind. I got it done and I will not varnish it until I can find one that will not mess it up.

In the end I learned while on this project and I got 2 paintings out of one photo (and a LONG blog post.)

Thank you for reading and enjoying my work.

The World is my Muse

It is common for people to ask well known artists “what is your inspiration?” in some form or another. Some artist actually have a person, place or thing that they feel inspires them. These artists usually use this muse as the focus of their work. Love songs, sculptures, paintings and drawings all relating to the muse.

Some artists do not really have a muse. They create when they are moved by something or have an idea. The world is their muse. They can be walking down a street, for the 100th time, and see something, for the 100th time, and suddenly it is noticeable and amazing. They may be having a bad day and take it out on a canvas (or whatever medium they prefer.) The next thing you know there is something amazing where there was only white.

Of the artists that I know about half feel they “need” a muse to create good works. When they are museless they are usually moody and depressed, waiting for a new muse to show up. Most trudge on, but feel the art is substandard. Some do stop working completely and just mope until a new muse comes along.

I kind of think these guys create for themselves and luck out that people like their work. They have strong connections to their work. (personal opinion!)

The world is my muse. I create off the things I see and things that make me feel.

When I walk down the street and see that lamp post for the 110th time, it may just be the most amazing and inspirational thing I have seen all week. It might make me create something. On the other hand I may store the information for later use. Some of the things that are observed can create new and more interesting creations, if they have time to grow and combine with other ideas. When I get the urge to create I pull these ideas out of my head and put them on paper, canvas, computer, film, or whatever medium they call for. Sometimes it is a sudden creation, a few hours. Others take a lot of time and additional research and can take days or months to complete.

The other half of the artists that I know (me included) create all the time. They never seem to stop. They see something in the world or feel something and out comes art. They may like it, and they may not. It does not stop them from moving on to the next thing. Someone will connect with the piece and their job is done.

I kind of think these guys create because it is fun and are happy that others like it. They have weak connections to most of their work and are happy to “get rid” of it. More space for new stuff! (personal opinion!)

Whatever your stance on Muses might be. Creating something is amazing. Never stop.


I Made This!

Every once in a while I look through all the stuff that I have made (usually a terrible cellphone pic) and I think “That’s pretty good.”  Most of the time when I review my art I pick it apart and try to figure out what I could have done to make it better.  Then I plan to “remake” it.

I have not actually remade anything yet.  I do not think that I will ever “remake” anything I have ever made.  I may do something better with a similar theme, but never an actual remake.

This post is not really about that.  It is about trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone.

Out of my comfort zone is water color.  I do not really like to work with water color, and I do not really have the patience for it.  I certainly do not have the needed equipment for it.  Wrong paper, wrong brushes, wrong paint.  It still turned out interesting in the end.

The goal was to do an original “painting” for a flyer I needed to create.  A cyclist in a yellow rain coat in a city.  I had spent hours searching the web and stock photo sites, even art sites, to find one that was what I needed.  I could not find one so chose to try and make one (otherwise we were going to use an umbrella.)

city biking

Photo of a cyclist in San Fran (If I read the description right.)

I spent a little while looking for a good base photo.  I am not very good with perspectives, a good base photo is important for artists with my handicap.  Thankfully I found this wonderful image of a cyclist in a city setting.

Only, its not raining and he is not wearing a rain coat, and he has that messenger bag, AND I do not live in California (our street cars are white and blue, not green and cream.)  There is a bit of work that needs to be done on this to make it fit my needs.

My original idea was to tinker with it in Photoshop to make it work.  I quickly realize that was out of my league and would have to use what I am good at, sort of.  To the paint!

First thing I did was draw out the shapes, a bunch.  I did ten or eleven outlines.  I settled on this one.  It had the shapes and was not really dark (I also have a bit of a heavy hand.)

2014-09-07 13.02.48I altered some things to make it fit the space I had to work with.  I put a rain jacket and rubber boots on my cyclist.  I also changed the buildings to go better with what is in the area.

Now I had to figure out how I was going to make this look like water color without having water colors.  I ended up watering down my acrylic paints, and using them.  The paper was also an issue.  I do not have any proper watercolor paper on hand (not really a need of mine, most of the time.)  The best I could do was one of my sketch books.  I found two water color brushes, one a 3 and the other a 1.  Gotta use what you have…

I want to point out that watered down acrylic paint does NOT behave like actual water color.  There are many techniques that I tested that would have worked with water color and did not work with the acrylic.  Always test your medium to make sure you know what to expect.

Riding in the Rain_Start

About 1/3 of the way done. I only painted blocks that were not touching for quite a while.

First layers of paint went on well.  It did take almost two hours each layer to dry so I could do the next.  There was a lot of waiting.  I played a lot of World of Warcraft between layers.

Once I got the feeling for it I got everything else done in 48 hours.  Most of that was drying time.  5-10 minutes of work would leave me with 2 hours of drying time.  Big reason I dislike water colors.

2014-09-07 19.16.06

about half way done.

I kind of forgot to take photos after this point.  I think you can get the gist of what the process was like.  Paint a bit, let it dry, paint a bit, let it dry.

2014-09-17 18.40.54

Last of the painting!

Here is the last photo of the finished “water color” painting.

It does not have a lot of detail and I did not like it.  Looks kind of like a five year old painted it.  There are also several spaces that bled over because I was to impatient with the process.

I too a good, hi-res photo and imported it into Adobe Photoshop.  I scoured the internet to find some textures that I could use,  I found some trees, yellow rubber, brick, clouds, and road, plus an image of the local street car.  Time to get to work!

After lots of cutting, pasting, moving, cloning, and tinkering I came up with the below image.  I think it came out pretty good considering that I was way out of my comfort zone.


Riding in the Rain, Mixed Media, Carissa Carnahan

Don’t forget to be super at something, even if it is being cute like Guido.


Super Guido!! Super cute! ^^

Shooting Myself in the Foot

No, I am not really going to post about self sabotage.  Not directly, anyway.

This title has more to do with how someone could take the contents of the post.  Basically what I have to say is probably going to be a bit of professional self sabotage.  The topic has been weighing on my mind so I am going to post about it anyway.

While having dinner with an artist friend, the topic of what artists talk about when they hang out together came up in passing.  He joked that he would talk about the latest hot chick he had drawn.  If I drew people I would probably do the same (well maybe hot guys instead) but I do not draw/paint people.  This was just a passing topic, but it stuck with me.  Why don’t I like to draw people?

The answer is pretty simple.  I do not like people.  I do not see beauty in the human form.  I see aggravation and stupidity.  I suppose that is what happens when you work customer service your entire life.

Here comes the part where I “Shoot Myself in the Foot.”

This painting was tons of fun to paint.

This painting was tons of fun to paint, until I added the hand holding back the hair.  It just looks so wrong.  I know I should practice painting people, but they irritate me so much!

I wonder what happens to people when they become customers.  It is like they lose all sense and become dribbling idiots, that cannot process a simple directive or thought.  I am always amazed at how someone can transition from being an intelligent, logical and sophisticated individual to a bumbling idiot when they walk up to a person standing/sitting behind a desk waiting to help them. This phenomenon is not exclusive to people who do not work customer service, even we fall victim to being stupid when we become customers. Anyone can become a customer.  You do your best to be a “good” customer, but those are few and far between.

What does this have to do with art?

Artists create things that cause some kind of response, be it emotional or logical.  Some people think that the human form is amazing and find it beautiful and even relaxing.  Others (like me) do not see that.  The human form is complicated and only causes negative stress. It is hard to keep things in proportion, features create odd shapes and getting the skin tones correct is difficult. I paint scenes and things to get away from people.  No people in my paintings means no stress in my paintings.  Nature is much less stressful for some artists to draw/paint.  I can spend hours driving myself insane painting hundred of tiny tri-colored flowers and be perfectly relaxed.  The second I start adding human elements like a hand or bit of arm I start getting stressed out and stop having fun. All because I have negative thoughts associated with people.

The Green-Eyed Monster

I am embarrassed to say that I have been jealous all day.  Embarrassed because I know why I am jealous and there is no solid/logical reason for it.  Absolutely ridiculous.  I would love to just get over it, but I doubt that will happen.  Smush the feelings and move on.

Green-Eyed MonsterThis did cause me to paint a small painting about this particular sin, so the day was not an entire loss.

Jealousy is a terrible thing.  It makes you angry about things that you have no influence over, depressed about your anger and inability to control things.  It also makes you stupid.  Once you are focusing on things that you cannot control you lose control over things you can normally control. Once you lose control over the important things you are stick and may need help to get back on track.

There are many ways to deal with Envy or Jealousy.  One is to just recognize that you are jealous and then move on. You could also talk to someone if you are not able to move on.  They may be able to alter your view point enough for you to move on.




My Week in Summary


This week has been pretty good.  Yesterday was by far the day holding the week to such a high position.  I went to Michael’s Art Supply Store and got a bunch of canvases during one of those buy-one-get-one free things.  I got about 8 good sized canvases.  I also found that they modified their Military Discount to go 24/7.  I am super thankful for that.  I probably should have picked up some frame parts so I can do my own canvases, I have everything else.  I do like Micheal’s but I prefer a smaller chain, Dick Blick Studios.  They have reasonable prices all year and they ship pretty much everywhere.  I was able to get stuff in Iraq!  In addition to that, they are an actual art supply store, not more crafting, like Michael’s.

Two Guardians

I called it “Two Guardians.” The light houses guard the narrow rocky passage.

Once I got my awesomely discounted canvases home, I moved my easel upstairs (the basement is stifling my abilities) and got to work.  I have been thinking about something for my brother-in-law.  He wanted an ocean themed painting to go in his living-room, that is sea side themed.  I have been thinking about this for a while, and so it was easy to paint.  I loved being able to get something done.  A great burden lifts when I can get the ideas in my head out, be it in text or acrylic.

Even though I knew what I wanted it to look like, I had to do some research. The lighting at dawn can be weird and I needed to make sure that the lighting was as close to correct as possible.  I think it is a bit on the light side compared to the position of the sun, but it would be really dark and depressing, almost hopeless, if it was darker.  I also opted to have the lighthouse lights off.  I was not able to find good pictures of dawn lighthouses with their lights on and visible.  I did do a sneaky thing.  I painted bronze metallic on the light fixtures, that way when you walk past it they flash, like they are going off.

The other thing I like about this piece is that the sky feels expansive when you look at it.  It is 84 inches long and I really wanted the observer to see how expansive the sky could be.

I still need to work on my clouds.  For some reason I just cannot get good clouds.  These are by far some of my best, but they are still not all that great.  It was really annoying to spend so much time on them.  I think they took the longest and had the most layers (9 if I recall.)

Yes, ONE day made my week so much better.  Work was work, chores are chores, spending all of Saturday painting and drinking Earl Grey tea was the best.  Better than reading!  Better than reading in the bath tub eating bon-bons!  It was awesome.


I hope everyone has a great week!