Apr 25, 2010

Sisters - second charity Art Heart

Things are progressing with my work for Olivia's Heart Fund, a charity working to fight CHD (congenital heart defect). Pixel-Artistry has been redesigning the OHF website, and it has recently gone live! I know we will be making a few more tweaks, but the bulk of the work is done, and that frees me up to put more time into the Heart Art project.

As CHD awareness week lands in February of each year, the gallery event we are planning to show the series of   hearts will be in February of 2011. Now my original plan was to render 20 hearts - each for a person or family who has suffered with CHD. It is possible to hold the event with fewer hearts, but that is my goal. OHF  has been locating families who are willing to participate, and their stories are slowly coming in. To stay on schedule, I'll have to complete a heart each  2-3 weeks. As I'm working on the artwork, I remind myself that making the paintings too complex will slow my progress, and potentially paralyze me in the creative process. So it's important to balance narrative and simplicity.

original version - Sisters  10" x 10" mixed-media

The second heart depicts the story of sisters diagnosed with truncus arteriosus. 

For this painting, I wanted to depict the sisters, as well as the branching of the heart indicating truncus. With some internet research, I found a few medical illustrations of hearts with truncus, and began thinking about the branching and life - somewhat of a tree of life emanating from the heart. I sketched out the concept in Adobe Photoshop, settling on sisters holding hands, facing this tree, which represents both the defect and the life they are living beyond it.

The printed sketch

I printed the digital sketch, and transferred it to watercolor paper, where I began an underpainting. This helps when I am filling in with pastel later, so that the paper has more tooth, and the color has a lot of impact when it's blended in. It's also helpful to me in that I can brush out the background quickly without worrying too much about it looking perfect at first. As I worked on the underpainting, I made some changes from the original sketch. The heart in the background was just too literal, so I left the truncus branching, and let the heart become a full tree.

Detail of the branches in pastel

With that resolved, I started filling in the heart center with pastel. the linework in this design was delicate, so I used pastel pencils quite a bit. I felt the tree should have more life and more color as well, so I added leaves to the branches. Because the hearts of both girls are linked by this form of CHD, I added gold-leaf hearts to each of their silhouettes.

Detail of the gold leaf hearts

The last element was to complete the outside edge around the heart. I've been trying to create a vibrant, radiant effect for this portion of the paintings. This was completed with layers of soft pastel, transitioning through several colors. I really like the way this painting worked, and so I feel it is complete. It tells enough of the story to invite the viewer in, and perhaps ask for more.

Layering of pastel for the outside edge

You can read more about the OHF Heart Art here, and you can support the charity here.


As referenced here, I decided to make a change to this piece. 

At the time I created this heart, I was torn on whether to include symbolism for a third child who was not afflicted with CHD. As the painting was detailed already, I opted to focus on the two CHD sisters. But after some thought, I decided to incorporate symbolism for the third sibling. 

updated art - Sisters, 10" x 10" mixed-media  

As I pictured her looking out for her sisters, I thought perhaps she should be there, looking over them from the background. I envisioned her as a brilliant bird nested in the tree, watching over the girls.

detail of the nesting bird

Luckily I was able to add this symbolism as another layer over the branches using pastel pencils. The paper still had enough tooth to accept more detail, and I think the bird is just conspicuous enough without overpowering the design.

Apr 24, 2010


Wow! It's been a while since I blogged. My intention was to be posting at least every week, with some new artwork. But things have gotten busy on the digital side of my business, and so my focus shifted away from the  blog for a while.While I am grateful for the opportunities to bring in some regular business, I do not want to lose sight of my artistic goals. It's important to me that I balance the digital work with painting and creative pursuits.

So the further I get from creating my own artwork, the further I am from happiness. At least I have been able to create a few new pieces during my blogging hiatus. Since I am so far behind on posting the art, I'll try to catch up from where I left off a while back.

My husband and I were visiting with family in Attleboro, and we took a walk downtown to check out the Attleboro Arts Museum. Lucky me! Not only was the gallery there open, but they were having the opening reception for their Celebrating Diversity show (sweet!). I got a chance to check out some very inspiring artwork, see the museum space, and pick up information about their upcoming events. By the way - there was some fascinating work at the diversity show, and one of the first displays there was a series of small sculptures - Army of the Imperfectly Dressed by CA Stigliano, who was my wood carving teacher at MassArt! Something about art and my MassArt connections coming around again makes me feel like I'm on the right track.

After the show I became a member of the museum, and created two mixed-media pieces to submit for the 2010 Spring Flower show at the end of March. ...and WOOT! Both pieces were accepted! Since the theme of the art show was Light and Dark: a Celebration of Contrast, I worked from some of my flower photos that had heavy contrast and I hoped would make decent compositions.

Queen Anne's Lace  8" x 10" pastel

This first painting is soft pastels on black paper. Of the two, it was my husband's favorite. Someone at the show liked it as well, as it sold during the exhibition!

Sunset Blooms  10" x 8" mixed-media

This second painting is mixed-media - I started with a loose acrylic underpainting on a watercolor block, and then layered soft pastel over it. I really love the color of the flowers, and thought the deep blue would make a nice contrast. This piece was selected for a merit award by the judges (WOOT x 2!). So I have to say, I'm very happy with how things went at this show. The painted work by all of the artists was fantastic, and the show also included floral and landscape designs from several local businesses, each inspired by classic pieces of art. There were some really creative interpretations of the theme.

I have some more new work to post, so I'll be back on the blog (tomorrow, hopefully) to continue with the catch-up session. Some personal pieces, as well as more work on the Heart Art for the charity show coming up in 2011.