Making art is more than just pretty pictures!

When I decided to make large multi-panel paintings, I really didn't have a plan for making the panels. I looked into buying pre-made panels from art suppliers, but realized they would become very expensive, very quickly. I decided I should make my own panels. Since I had no wood working tools, and didn't know how to use them, I bought tempered hardboard and 1x2s at Dunn Lumber, had them cut down to size, and glued the panels in my kitchen.

Now that I have a studio, I have invested in some power tools, including a chop saw and a router. Panel building is still time consuming, but kind of meditative and zen. I've been working on the chopping and gluing for about a week. Each piece dries for 30 minutes before I can move it, and then cures for 24 hours before I can put any sort of strain on it, meaning I can't go on to the next step. Tomorrow, I will rout the edges!

**Note the very well-used painting table!

Adventures in Baby Painting

Painting: Giotto, Madonna and Child, 1320 or so

My brother’s birthday was last month, and being a painter, I decided he needed a painting by: You guessed it, me! The best part is that he has a new baby, Ava, and he is completely in love with her. His new favorite hobby is staring at his daughter. Great news for me, because I know exactly what to paint. The wrinkle in my plan: I’ve never painted a baby before.

I’ve drawn and painted people in figure drawing and fashion illustration classes, and in Monday night life drawing group. I painted watercolor sketches of my sister’s kids when they were little. But, Ava was going to be my first baby subject. 

I worked from photos collected from family so I could retain the element of surprise. I planned to use a smallish 11” square panel, so I thought I would just zoom in on Ava, and leave out everything else. My first attempt included her whole head, the top of her dress, and her left arm, silhouetted against a dark background. I wanted to try to paint her Renaissance style, using oil glazes, chiaroscuro, and detailing all the lace on the collar of her dress. The result was awful! The composition didn’t work, she looked angry, and her arm looked like a purple sausage. The more I worked on it, the worse it got. 

I should have remembered, Renaissance baby paintings don’t look like babies! At best, they look like small adults. Some are even weirder. Letting go of the Renaissance idea and having some fun with color solved my ugly painting problem.

Liz Ewings Ava 1.5, 2017

I decided to start over and zoom in on Ava’s face. I kept the same color palette of Prussian Blue, Napthol Scarlet, and Hansa Yellow Deep blended with white. I painted an outline sketch of her face using Prussian Blue, and blocked in the background in a soft orangish color that I mixed. Then, I painted in the planes of her face, mixing colors as I worked. Once the large scale pieces of her face looked right, I added the details of her eyes, nose, and mouth.

Ava has been growing like a weed. She’ll be two in July, and she doesn’t look like a baby any more! Pretty weird considering I look EXACTLY the same as I did ten years ago.



15 Minutes for Plankton

I am really excited to post my first foray into the realm of public art! It’s plankton, of course. 


This temporary art installation using my watercolor painting was coordinated by the Downtown Seattle Association to debut on a basketball hoop backboard at Occidental Park, Seattle during NCAA’s March Madness.


I collected plankton samples at Port Susan in Puget Sound while volunteering with the Ocean Inquiry Project and photographed them under a microscope at the UW School of Oceanography. I have been experimenting with plankton abstractions, and playing with the idea of painting diatoms like stained glass, leaving the paper showing through in a pattern of white outlines. The Occidental Park installation is part of this series. 


Now plankton are getting their fifteen minutes in the sun! Actually, considering the weather this month, it’s more like fifteen minutes in the rain, but they probably like that.