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. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A project that was supposed to be quick - STAIRS at the cabin

So, my project started out as a simple one.  The unfinished stairs at our cabin are almost the same color as the concrete floor and I missed the last step several times and almost killed myself!  I thought I would just paint a simple flower on the bottom step but, of course, I couldn't stop once I got started.  It was too much fun!

Of course I, now, had to do the next step.  I was on a roll!

I decided to paint the rest with the subject matter being what we love at our cabin in the Uintah Mountains in Utah.  So next came a moose because we see them there but it's usually quite rare.  This year we saw quite a few because we spent more time at our cabin than we ever have before.

Shocker's Pond is very close to it and we know that there can be black bears up there.  We actually have never seen one but our friends took a picture of one in front of our cabin when we weren't there and showed it to us.  Horrors!  Besides being eating by a shark-being eaten by a bear is one of my worst fears!  I know the likelihood of seeing one is so slim but I'm going to get some bear spray so I can feel a little better about walking around without someone else all the time.  Talk about a coward!

Trout is another thing that we see quite often.  We used to have albino trout that were planted by the Forest Service every year but they don't do it any more.  They were so beautiful-kind of a peachy color.   So now it's just regular trout.  Chris and I aren't lovers of fishing but Kip and our grandson, Brandon, really do.  Kip used to spend hours fishing happily by himself.  Our other kids feel too sorry for the fish and can't stand to hurt them. 

There are a total of 7 stairs and I have 3 more to go.  The cabin is pretty much closed for the winter now because it's a dirt road and, unless we had a snowmobile, we can't get to it.  They can't plow it.   Plus we don't have a fireplace or a furnace and it's freezing in the winter.  Long story made short-I'll have the rest of the winter and spring to paint the last 3 stairs.  I'll post those when I'm done.  

It's really fun!  By the way-there are layers of finish on top of the paintings to protect all my hard work.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What started out as one cloud turned into the Cloud Congregation!

"Cloud Congregation" by Julie Jacobsen

One day when I was having a chemo treatment I pulled out my sketch book and decided to play around with my new colored pencils.  I was going to do a little landscape with some cheery fluffy clouds but the cloud aspect got away from me.  Then, as in almost all my sketches nowadays, more and more cloud creatures appeared.  I actually think it's even better than what I had originally planned.  Definitely more interesting.  I've learned to let go and trust my instincts more.  It's like my brain has gone back in time to my creative days in high school and before.  How did I ever lose this drive?  I guess I felt like I had to plan everything out in a drawing, etc.  That's a real creativity squelcher!  I had to become a total adult and had forgotten that art can be just for fun.

It has taken me quitting my job and being in a non stress environment with not much to do to get me to this wonderful point.  I'm still doing planned out paintings but I'm doing all this creative stuff.  It's like my brain has burst and shooting stars are spraying out.  I keep thinking of all sorts of things.  I have even thought of 3D ideas and I have not been interested in that for years and years-except my broken china mosaics.  

Let the party continue (without any more illness.......oh please!!!!!)!!!!!!!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Yay!!! I'm back! Lots of progress!

********I'm starting this blog entry with the caveat that of course all of these images are copyrighted and can not be copied in any way for further use******************************************

Well, it's probably been more than 2 years that I've been working on this but I got a lot done on the Christmas painting.  I was at our cabin for a good deal of the summer and I was determined to paint!  So I did!  I'm still working out the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus vignette and my son, Kip, does not look right but at least the boy's hair isn't green any more.  I'm redoing Aren's face in the Christmas tree ornament because I didn't like it before.  But it's moving along!

I've been doing tons of sketching withing the last year and at times my sketches got pretty bizarre as you can well imagine since it was during my chemo treatments. When I had to take steroids for 3 days after each treatment it was like entering The Twilight Zone!  But I've really let my imagination stretch to almost the outer limits.

I've always been told by my teachers growing up that I should illustrate and I never followed that path but now that inclination is manifesting itself more and more.

I start out with light scribbles (that's why you can see sketchy lines) and as I keep doing it things pop out that I never would have been able to think of by just drawing.

Now, I'm thinking it will be very fun to write a story about each of these and personalize them for my grandchildren's Christmas.

There's plenty of good story material in each one.  I'm not a writer but I might try my hand.  I've been trying to get my son, Kip, to write about these.  He's a gifted writer!

When I look at my beginning sketch books I can't believe how much I've been able to extend my imagination through my pen.

I use a pen because then I can't erase.  Erasing would be a big mistake because a lot of times I come back to these and see more hidden creatures.    How in the world it happens, I have no idea, but I'm glad it does!

To further my recovery from my treatments I've decided I really need to get back to blogging more because it is such a good exercise for the brain and it's a great way to be in touch with the rest of the world.  I have one really fun friend now that I met through clicking on the "next blog" button.  We have so much in common.  So good or bad you're going to hear a lot more from me now!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Everyone "JOIN" Monday is Artday

This is my entry for "Join" and I hope it conveys the message that all artists are welcome and will make this blog a successful platform to display our art.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My new entry for Monday Art Day!

"The Paint Mines"

Last week's theme for Monday Art Day was "desert".  I chose to do a muted drawing of the Paint Mines in Colorado that I visited years ago.  It's a beautiful place with colors of yellow ochre, pinks, purples, and red contrasted with a chalky white.  I don't know if it's possible to go there now because it was on private land back in the early 1990's.  It's definitely worth a visit.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

More progress on the Christmas painting-Yay!

More work on the Christmas painting. I'm trying to bring each vignette to the same stage. If you look closely at the one with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the background you'll see angels. I changed the view of the kitty. Redrew Gracie. She was too big for her age in the photo I'm using. Darkened the Christmas tree scene background. Just noticed a mistake I need to fix!  Ha ha!  So much more to do!!!! It's a very dark painting right now but that will really change.
Sent from my iPhone

Monday, February 20, 2017

My post for Monday Art Day.....Finally!

So I belong to a very fun blog that's called Monday Art Day. I decided this would be a very good thing to pick back up again as I haven't posted on there for years. Each week there's a challenge. This week's was Folk Art done in a medium you aren't used to. Say what? So I decided to take a sketch that I used all my artist's skills on and turn it into Folk Art. You would think that it would be easy but it isn't! That's why I'm rotten at Pictionary. Artists can't forget what they've learned very easily. I also decided to use crayons. I had no idea how hard it would be as I forgot they have little tiny crumbs that smudge. Yuck! I almost started over with another medium but decided to make myself solve the problems. Here's my entry. I hope it looks folksy enough!

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Okay, so I know it's been way too long since my last entry but we've had so many major problems since then in our family. I don't know if I mentioned it before but our daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2015 and had a double mastectomy.  She carries the BRCA2 gene mutation like Angelina Jolie.  Then I was diagnosed with the same thing.  It means chances of having breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostrate cancer, and pancreatic cancer are greater than in a normal  population.  Note that I didn't just say female because men can get breast cancer also and there's the prostrate element in it also.   I listed chances in that order.  Gracie lives in NYC with 2 very small children and a husband that is a resident doctor at a NYC hospital.  Of course we were back there constantly to help and it was a good thing I had my job with jetBlue.  The company was wonderful about helping us and others to get on flights.

In April I had genetic counseling and they advised me that because I was older I didn't need to have a mastectomy but further screening as a precaution.  Also they advised me to get my ovaries out.  We decided that 2017 would be the year for that as we already had enough to deal with with upcoming help for Gracie.  Would you believe I started to fill bloated and when I ate I filled up too fast.  This was in September and I started to think this reminded me of my sister's ovarian cancer 17 years ago (she's still alive!).  The symptoms continued and I called my doctor to ask about it.  We were slated to go back to NYC as Gracie was having breast reconstruction.  The nurse asked if I was bleeding and I said no.  So she said I could wait until I got back to come in.  That's what I did.  In the meantime when I was in NYC I kept thinking what is the deal?!?  Why is my stomach feeling so fat?!?  I must need exercise.  So I was running up and down her apartment building stairs constantly the whole time I was there.

I came back and still had symptoms but I had an appointment for the doctor towards the end of November.  When I went in she ordered tests but the next day, as I was working, after 4 hours I thought this is ridiculous!  It will take days before the insurance is approved for the tests.  I told my husband we have to go to the ER.  So of course they discovered malignant cells in all the liquid that the cancer had produced in my abdomen.  Long story made short:  I had surgery for ovarian cancer 11/29/16.  Actually it's really Fallopian tube cancer.  They're sure it started there and usually does with BRCA2  patients.  Now I'm undergoing chemotherapy at a  great place in Salt Lake City:  the Huntsman Cancer Center.  I feel confident that, even though it's 3rd stage, I'm going to beat it just like my sister.

So, any women out there, please take note of my symptoms and don't ignore them. If I had I probably wouldn't be here.  A doctor told us that they hardly ever diagnose this type of cancer early unless the woman is in some kind of accident and they discover inadvertently that something is wrong with her ovaries.

Here it's the end of January and yesterday I felt well enough to paint, finally.  Chemo really takes it out of you.  I'll post later more about it but for now I just want to say that I'm going to try and keep up with my art.  It's hard as my hands are very shaky sometimes but I think it's very very important to have something about me besides my cancer diagnosis.

P. S. Gracie is doing so well!  So far so good!  Can you believe that this happened to a mother and daughter all within the space of a year.  Too strange for words!