Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cards of my water colors for sale!

These are the 4 images I have chosen.  All rights reserved of course for any of my work.  Nothing can be copies without my permission.  You can email me at if you would like to order some.

If at first you don't succeed..............It's a real bummer!

Welllllllllll.  I am going to finish this Christmas painting even if it kills me!  Or so I have thought but I don't really want to die over this.  Anyway.  I like so much about this painting but the starring vignette of the whole thing is the one with Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  It really has been a struggle but I think that's because I've avoided the real work on it.  So, today I admitted defeat and pulled out the rubbing alcohol.  It takes acrylic paint off quite well.  I removed as much as I could being careful not to press too hard and ruin the tautness of the canvas.  At this point I don't care about the under painting at all.  I just want to move this forward.  So, that means a good coating of white paint.

I also sat down and did a meaningful sketch of the 3 of them.  I need a plan and I was trying to wing it just like with my sketches.  Loose and free.  But I had to get tight and spend time on how I want it to basically look.

I'm an artist that's willing to show my mistakes and that gives everyone some hope, doesn't it.  It makes artists that are so much better pat themselves on the back and say to themselves, "See.  I knew I was better than her and this proves it!"  Or other artists that don't feel as accomplished can say, "Wow.  If she really can do lousy work then there's hope for me too!"  I can assure you that there's plenty of lousy work that I've done in the past but as I wrote about a while back it's okay to throw things away!  Yes, you can!  But make sure you really want to because you can't ever get them back.  There are some garbage men that are probably thoroughly enjoying some of my paintings that I felt were duds (why, oh, why didn't I think to cut out the parts that I liked and keep them!?!).  Well, you do live and learn.

This was my main project today and I'm going to make more progress even though I really want to be a slouch and work on something much more enjoyable.

I should, also, say that if you aren't getting the results you want it's a good idea to just turn it to the wall and then look at it at a later date.  You might find that now you know what to do with it.  Just don't throw it away until you've made sure.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Free form painting that creates new ideas that were never in my head before!

"Brandon the Robot" by Julie Jacobsen

I just have too much fun doing watercolor washes and then looking at all the squiggles and splotches to see if I can make anything out of them.  It always happens.  Do you remember in school when your teacher would have you scribble all over your paper with a black crayon and then have you fill in the designs with bright colors?  Well, this is similar in the way that nothing is planned.  The only thing I did ahead of time was to make bookmarks for friends using swirling colors.  I tried different color combinations.  This one I happened to really love.

My main intention with this watercolor was to make a birthday card for my grandson, Brandon.  After I saw all the creatures that popped out I decided to write a story to go along with the illustration. It just flowed right out of me because I really am an illustrator at heart.  It was so fun.  The story and card are safely in the mail and, hopefully, will arrive in time for his birthday.

If I look at this painting I can see some color combinations on their own that really look so vibrant together.  If you look inside the gray snake you can see a light peach and yellow.  Then next to that I love the pink and yellow.  I might do something with that sometime.  I also love the bright cobalt blue band, the golden yellow inside of it, and the purple/burnt sienna underneath. 

It's a very good thing that I take photos of all the art work I do before it leaves my house.  That way I can look back on them for even more ideas and fresh approaches.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


"Mr. Grizzly Having a Sweet Treat"
by Julie Jacobsen

So, here we go!  Here are the steps towards my finished product for this commissioned work.
Keep in mind that this is a whimsical approach and not meant to be a photo realistic painting.  This is meant to be a tongue in cheek type composition meant to make a lucky recipient very happy for his birthday.  I hope it does!

Well, as I usually do with my acrylic or oil paintings I start with a brilliant under painting.  This is a combination of prism violet, cadmium red light, and magenta.  I just glob it on and allow some texture.

I began with a rough colored sketch using more brilliant colors so that when the painting is finished little bits of the colors will peak through and add life to what could be, an other wise, flat painting.

Jumping ahead I began to develop the landscape first so that I wouldn't have to be careful when I painted the bear.  It always works out better that way even though it's tempting to vault ahead and do the much more fun main subject matter.  Notice that I'm careful to add distance to the landscape by muting the colors as they recede.  It also helps that I have a lot of overlapping objects to create more depth in the painting.
Now that I'm mostly satisfied with the background I begin working on the bear.
I have a problem at this point.  The aspen tree on the left is becoming too dominant in the painting but I don't want to take it out because it adds variety and I really like the angle that leans toward the bear.  I'm beginning to set up a triangular composition to lead the eye around and around.
Because we went up to our cabin a lot this year I was able to more carefully observe the vegetation.  If I hadn't I would have been tempted to paint this aspen growing straight up but they don't always grow that way.  Often you see trees that sprout up in the strangest places-like this aspen did right next to a pine tree.  They often wrap their branches right around the other tree and become very tangled.  Also, notice that the pine tree is actually 2 trees.  We actually had one just like this on our property this year that was dead and we had to chop down.

Now this is really getting to the fun part.  I love to put the leaves on the trees and it was so fun to make the aspen tree become in individual one and not just a generic representation.  Above the aspen I've started to put in a hint of the pine tree.  Notice also that I've begun working on making the stream look more realistic.

At this point I remind myself that this is supposed to be a grizzly bear.  That's the main theme of the painting that's very important to the customer that commissioned this.  Grizzlies are generally lighter.  So, I lightened it up.  Also, it's more fun to have the bear do what bears often do-go after honey in the tree!  I notice that I need to make some judgements about the values (lights and darks) in the painting.  There are areas that really need a splash of sunshine to bring them out so they're more noticeable-like the tree trunk.  In addition to complete the triangular composition I'm careful to make sure that I have light values like the aspen tree on the bear's fur, etc.  It also adds continuity to the whole feel of the painting.

After I lighten and darken areas some more I come up with the finished product as seen at the top.   It's a good idea to look at the painting upside down to see if it has a lot of interesting areas.  It's nice that the sky isn't too busy because it's a good idea to have an area for the eye to rest.  
I'm liking it enough and feel that it's done so I decide to sign the painting with my date and copyright symbol (to protect my work from unauthorized copying, etc.).  It's also necessary according to law to add a date.  This adds further protection to my work.   My favorite art teacher, Robert Rumel, used to tell me that if you feel like you want to sign the painting it's probably done.  It's not a good idea to keep going until you "eat your painting"-as my mom used to say-and ruin it.
Whew!  Now I can relax and concentrate on the holidays as I've fulfilled my obligation to my client.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

More Watercolor cards!

Beautiful hollyhocks from This is the Place Monument in Utah

Autumn in Thousand Peaks Ranch by our cabin in the Uintah Mountains, Utah

Coneflowers at Red Butte Garden

"Miss Turtle in Her Gold Party Shoes"

Just a lovely little fairy

Easter Rabbits that conquered The Chicken!

There's nothing like swimming in the giant Easter Egg Pool!

The kitty family that has a pet dog!

Baby Halloween Dragon

Determined little witch swoops away!

Wheeler Farm kitty

Have you ever seen crocuses growing among the short tam bushes before!

The naughty little lamb!

Longwood Gardens in Pennysylvania

Wow!  I've been such a busy watercolor artist this year and the cards just keep coming out of my studio.   I'm working on another one today!  Loving it!  I hope that shows in the mood of my cards

Friday, November 17, 2017

I've gotten into watercolor!

I've started doing watercolors and I love it!  I'm not one of those fussy watercolorists that paint flowers that look so really you can smell them.  Sorry.  I've gotta be me with my crazy brain!

I find more and more that I can have so much fun with the freedom of watercolor.  Free to be as whimsical as I want!

This was from a sketch I did at least 15 years ago.  See why it's important to keep all your sketchbooks.  You never know what will strike you as fun in the future.

I have a lot of people that are really interested in cards and I've been testing which ones they like the best.  This little kitty is well loved and it's going to be my first test card.

I really like the calm feeling of this one!

Another favorite image that I had no idea what it was going to turn out like.

Talk about freedom!  Freedom from a ruler.  But I have found that so many really love the painterly aspects of something like this.  If you compare it to my house paintings on the side of my blog you can see that I really know how to tighten up.  These are some homes along the Hudson River in NYC that my daughter loves.

I've just been a painting fool and it's been wonderful!  I'm loving every minute of it even if I have to rip up and start over.  As I told you much earlier in my blog that you can always do that.....throw away that painting that you hate but be sure you think hard about doing it.  Maybe there's an area that you love.  Cut it out!  With enough room to restretch it.  Oh how I wish I would have done that with some of my earlier paintings but it's too late.

And just for the fun of it and we are coming up on the holidays.  I'm reposting my little acrylic Christmas painting that I love everything about (you may not agree-that's okay!).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sometimes you just need a little calm in your life

Autumn trees at our cabin-Julie Jacobsen 2017 copyright

While thinking of what I wanted to talk about tonight I thought about all the terrible violence that has happened within the last year in our country.  I really do despise guns and they are playing a starring role in my consternation lately.  Why, oh, why.  That's what I keep asking the space around me.  Why do we have to have something as destructive as guns?  In the hands of the wrong people they can ruin lives and not just the ones that are shot-not even just their direct family and friends-but all of us.  Are we going to have to start worrying about wherever we go?  Lately in my daily prayers I've been including a special one about our grandchildren.  Are they going to be in a place where they can be harmed by one of these maniacs that our society can't control?  Are the adults I love and care about so much going to be in a bad place where evil will strike again.

Is it worth it?  Worth ruining lives just so certain gun owners can have the novelty of shooting round after round in rapid succession?  When is this craziness going to end?  What will it take?  I remember when people were hijacking planes and we all were terrified that it could happen to any of us setting foot on a plane.  And we thought that could be the worst thing?  Not even.

So, today I choose to post a calm painting where we can pull ourselves in among the beauty of calming nature.  Wouldn't it be so lovely if we all could sit at a picnic table in this painting and open up a box of clay.  You know.  The kind that comes in 4 colors.  All we have to think about is whether we're going to make a turtle or a dog.  Or maybe what we're going to have for an afternoon snack afterwards.  I used to love to just take a blanket outside in the backyard when I was little and have my quiet time there.  One time I read an Oz book and had a big hunk of cold iceberg lettuce.  All I did was read about the land of Oz and munch on this crunchy wonder while I smelled the fresh grass, felt a warm breeze, and looked up every once in a while at our hawthorn tree that had little bouquets of pink flowers.  

Now that's what we all need right now.  Calm.  We loved spending a lot of our summer at our hillbilly cabin in the Uintah mountains.  It really is rough and not much to do in the way of city entertainment.  But we loved it so much!  It was so peaceful and we got to see lots of wildlife.  I can't wait for next summer when we can be back there to pause and know that life doesn't have to be scary all the time.