Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sources of Inspiration

contemporary floral still life in pastel on paper by artist janine aykens two flowers in light blue pitcher
"Light Blue Pitcher" 5" x 10" Pastel

The inspiration for this piece came from a British murder-mystery show I discovered on my Netflix account.  It is called Rosemary & Thyme and features professional gardeners who are also amateur detectives.  If you find inspiration in flowers, the show is a treasure trove!

I saw some very unusual flowers in a vase in the background of a greenhouse scene, and that became a springboard for this artwork.  It differs from that scene a great deal, but I find most satisfaction in a piece when I let it show me where it needs to go instead of adhering rigidly to references.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nifty Doodle, Crappy Paper

small doodle of flowers in pastel by artist janine aykens
Little doodle in pastel on printer paper
I was using soft pastel on the reverse side of printer paper to make a transfer for adding text to a Mother's Day gift.  I started "seeing things" in the mass of blue, so I started playing with it...came up with a nifty little doodle, but it's just on plain, ol' printer paper.  Not designed to last...but maybe I can make a print of it at least.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When it Pays to be a Pack-Rat

contemporary still life pastel painting artist janine aykens mid century modern post impressionist quirky orange flower and fruit complimentary color
"Three Orange Flowers" 3.75" x 5.75" Pastel
So even though I fight my pack-rat urges in most respects (or I'd have one of those tragic hoarder-house situations), I MUST keep my drop-out pieces from cutting mats. This little painting is the reason why; you never know when you're going to need a bit of matboard ready for when you want to play with the pastels.

Matted to fit a standard 8" x 10" frame, and available for purchase at my Etsy shop.  Don't wanna mess with frame shopping?  No worries!  I can frame this for you as well...find out more:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Building a cocoon...

I actually thought to get a few work in progress shots on this piece, not many, but a few.  I started with a non-objective charcoal drawing on primed foamcore, which I sprayed with alcohol to give a wash effect.  When it dried I repeated the process with a brown watercolor crayon and got this underpainting:

abstract art black brown charcoal watercolor alcohol foamcore underpainting
Black and brown underpainting
The wash effects can provide an interesting value map to use as a jumping-off point to develop the work.  I must say I wasn't particularly excited about this one, so it sat for several weeks.

When I did decide to go back to it, I started blocking in some color in oil pastel.  Once I started playing with the oil pastels, I got "in the zone" so I didn't think to get photos of more steps in the process.  I chose the colors intuitively, building off the brown that had already been established in the underpainting.  I was digging the soothing earth tones and neutrals, jazzed up with just a hint of green and a very pale pink to compliment it.

Good stopping point to snap a photo

This seemed like a good stopping point to check how the values (lights and darks) were developing.  Squinting can help, but I just use my camera on the black and white setting.  Normally I would just view it through the camera screen, but for the sake of blogging I snapped a photo:

Value check
Not too bad!  Maybe just unify the lights in the lower left a bit...

Final values
Yep, that's it!  So here's the finished oil pastel:

"Cocoon" Oil pastel, 6" x 9"

  The finished work is a small, non-objective abstract piece in oil pastel on primed, acid-free foamcore.  While I wasn't so gung-ho to work on this one, I'm glad I came back to it; I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

This piece is matted to fit a standard 11" x 14" frame, and is available for purchase from my Etsy shop:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rustic and Modern?

Can something be rustic and modern at the same time?  Sure, why not?

contemporary still life oil painting artist janine aykens rustic quirky primitive folk art flowers pears fruit
"Still Life With Two Pears" Oil, 8" x 10"

contemporary still life oranges flowers artist janine aykens rustic primitive quirky folk art oil painitng rose bouquet fruit cup blue
"Still Life With Oranges and Flowers" Oil, 10" x 8"

 Two recent, small still life works on panel.  They ended up with a sort of folk art look to them...so, yeah, contemporary yet folksy-quirky...?  Well, here they are, anyway.

Oh, and a close-up of the texture on the second painting below:

Please check out availability of these works and others at my Etsy shop, much thanks!

Friday, April 17, 2015


contemporary still life with yellow fruit oil on paper artist janine aykens potted plant blue yellow color scheme moody post impressionist
"Still Life With Yellow Fruit" Oil on paper,  12" x 9"

I've been tinkering with my oils lately; here's a still life on primed paper.  I'm happy with how it turned out, however I'm unable to offer the original work for sale, I'm afraid.  Silly me, I worked the paper edge-to-edge, and I managed to get oil seeping into the unprimed edge.

oil on paper unprimed reverse side example
Back of the piece, with oil seeping onto the unprimed side of the paper.

Of course I wouldn't have had this problem if I had used Arches Oil Paper...or if I had remembered to tape off the edges.  Live and learn.

The good news is, this piece is available as a fine art Giclee reproduction print in a variety of sizes from 10" x 8" all the way up to a whopping 36" x 28"!  How did U2 put it?  "Even better than the real thing..."

Click here to buy a print.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


windows non objective abstract pastel drawing painting artist janine aykens
"Windows" Pastel 5" x 7"
Small abstract in pastel; the shapes could be buildings, but they also remind me of stained glass windows.

Available for purchase from my Etsy shop, this piece is matted and ready to pop into a standard 8" x 10" frame.  I like to make things easy for you!