Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Human Touch

I have been painting for over over 24 years.  My subject matter to date has been pretty common -- landscapes, florals, a few fruits and vegetables, and many images of buildings and architectural detail.  But sadly lacking from my portfolio are images of people.  Something felt missing from my work.  I think it is a human presence, the attempt to capture a moment in a person's day and interpret it into something more lovely, and impart a certain grace to the way a person moves and goes about their day.

 Capturing the human figure is a challenge.  It is not something I have just started doing -- many sketch sessions and drawing classes have made the journey a bit easier.  And I find it is more than just  capturing the body.  There is the essence of the person that you need to know how to incorporate in the most perfect of figurative art.  Otherwise you find it is, well, boring.

After over two decades I am feeling a bit more confident about adding a human touch to my work.  I hope you find my new direction enjoyable.

For more of my work visit my website:  Krys Pettit - Artist

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That

I come from a long line of chefs, cooks and restaurateurs.  I myself have a line of truffles that I produce for select clients. I find that tools are important to a chef but sometimes the same tools do double duty for me as an artist.

The above image gives you an idea of the go to tools I use when I work in watercolor.  Some are conventional but all are more than the usual instruments of brush, water and paper.

Paper Towels -- they clean your brushes but also make a nice texture when laid into wet pigment.
Salt -- shake it onto wet pigment and it absorbs the paint and leaves neat little snow-flake like shapes.  I always shake off the salt -doesn't add anything to the flavor the painting!
Bubble wrap -- makes for cool shapes when you press it into wet paint.  And it's good to pop when you are thinking.
Corks -- not to encourage anyone to drink wine (an added benefit) but they can be used to press into wet paint for unique round shapes- even cutting them in half will bring out an interesting pattern
Sponges -- big ones for clean up and wiping brushes -- but little ones are used to create subtle effects and patterns.  I like to sponge on multiple layers of color for a stucco effect.
Palette Knives -- scrape the paper from pigment, apply paint (even watercolor) on paper.
Exacto Knife -- king of the scrapers -- that fine blade makes a fine line - but beware it will cut you and the paper!
Toothpicks -- Nice tool for fine lines.  Handy for after lunch or dinner.
Razors -- can be scrapped on paper if you have a light touch -- also makes decent fine line.
Cut up charge cards--  great tool for lines, scraped streaks of paint on paper.  Also makes you feel good to cut one up when it's paid off.
A toothbrush -- dipped in watery pigment and tapped with a brush it produces a myriad of tiny dots, streaks--great for adding texture.
Straws -- blow through them on wet wet paint on your paper and see what happens -- what a tool to create a windy scene.  Also great for smoothies and margaritas :).
Fine mesh sifter -- pour a little diluted paint and tap on the handle -- you've a created fine texture that can be layered multiple times--gives depth.
Facial Tissues -- OK there is crying in painting sometimes -- but additionally these are a life saver for lifting and streaking and removing unwanted paint while its wet.  I actually paint with them in my hand at all times--lifting those little mistakes becomes effortless.
Plastic wrap -- crinkle it up or lay it flat on wet pigment and lift.  You will be amazed at the painterly abstract shapes this will create.  And it keeps that sandwich fresh while you slave away at some detail on a piece.

So now you know some of the tricks of my trade.  It makes a conventional painting a lot more fun and challenging and pretty unique. And helps me remember that I need to make dinner ;)!

To see my work and to find some of these techniques I described please visit my website:
Krys Pettit - Artist

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Note...Note...See Note

Every so often I will demo and have someone watch me paint.  It is usually not a fellow artist but someone who is genuinely curious about the process.  The response I get while I work is that it is beautiful (which is lovely to hear) but also "You make it look so easy."  After 24+ years of working in this medium it is a little easier than it used to be but there is a process that occurs that not many artists reveal that makes it look like its an easy accomplishment to create a painting that works.  It's called Pre-Planning.

I take notes -- lots of notes.  Little pieces of paper with notations on color combinations, how light or dark to make a painting, where the light is coming from.  


I like to keep these notes with me at all times -- the little tips and techniques I tell myself to do before I start the actual painting. Oddly, I rarely look at those notes when I finally work.  And sometimes I even abandon them.

I like to do a quick tryout of actual paint on paper on some of the trickier parts of the composition to see how the colors might flow and mingle. Watercolor is a fresh, flowing medium and I will tell you the it is RARE to get the same thing twice. But it gives me an idea of how it might look if I apply a certain technique.

I will then do a quick study of the actual piece.  I try not to let it look like a finished detailed work of art.  You will see  the study above is not close to the detail the final product will contain.  But it helps me loosen up, get less anxious and feel more comfortable with the colors and layout that I have decided on.

"Afternoon Rush Hour - Uskadar, Turkey"
Original Watercolor by Krys Pettit

Doing all these steps ahead time is sometimes a little frustrating because all I want to do is paint.  But a bit of careful planning makes it possible for me to create a a wonderful painting like the one above with complex detail.  When its done I feel I have done my job as close to perfection as I can.  All with a bit of pre-planning.

You can see more of my finished work (without all those scribbled pre-planning notes!) on my website:

Krys Pettit - Artist

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When Your Muse Has the Blues

I had planned to take time off from blogging for a while -- a nice relaxing summer with a few exhibits, then a week at the beach and back at it mid-September.  I am back at it but my usual effervescence is pretty much gone flat.

We had a visitor in Florida a few weeks ago named Irma.  And while most of you in the FL/GA region are sick of Irma by now, I have to say that she still is sneaking around my head most days.

Her presence actually started way before she came over my home.  A solid week of preparation was the preamble to her dancing her way into our hearts.  As I worked with my husband boarding up windows, prepping gas cans, filling receptacles with water, getting the generator ready I found myself shaking at times.  They say we never get hurricanes in the Orlando area.  I have been through at least 5.  And each time I take off my art from the walls, secure my painting supplies I wonder about whether I will have damage not only to my home but to the vocation that sustains me and gives me joy.  And I wonder if it is worth even continuing with my art. Taking photos of the exterior of my home and its inventory in the event I needed to file a claim excluded the 40-plus paintings stacked high off the floor and the other approximate 100 in my portfolios. I maintain an inventory on a spread sheet but an inventory is merely a formality when you loose 25+ years of solid creative output.

A week of prep, one night of Irma, and many days without power.  It seemed like a month rather than 2 weeks.  We were blessed with no damage except a solid pruning of trees by Irma and a slightly leaning fence.  Living without power for 9 days was a challenge and you develop a routine of making gas runs at 4 a.m,  refilling the generator every 6 hours,  and going outside for air and light at regular intervals.  Cooking consisted of cold ravioli some days and constant visits to the local grocer for fresh food.  Art was the furthest thing from my mind as I dashed in and out of cold showers each day.  But it was manageable and certainly not the hardship so many others have faced with the storms this year.

Life is somewhat back to normal -- things are washed, cleaned, put back.  Windows sparkle, towels are fluffy clean and Netflix is there all the time.  Debris continues to pile up (35 trash bags and more to go)  but the birds are back at the feeder.  The AC is humming.  Showers are warm and invite lingering.  My paintings are slowly getting hung back on the wall.  But the routine of painting each day is a struggle, especially when sleep still does not come easily.  The paints, brushes, paper and canvas wait patiently for me.  Not too sure I miss them just yet.  Is it worth it?  There is only one way to find out -- just keep doing it.

You can see my work, and a list of recent exhibits at my web site:
Krys Pettit Artist

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Will Be Exhibiting at the Lake Mary Museum Aug 5 - Sept 9, 2017

"Morning Pinks"
Krys Pettit
Watercolor on Paper
"Wild Oranges"
Krys Pettit
Watercolor on Paper

I love to participate in local art exhibits.  As much as I like to show my work outside of Central Florida I believe it is important for an artist to be a part of their local art community.
Therefore I am happy to announce that I am one the artists invited to show at the Lake Mary Museum of History in beautiful Lake Mary, Seminole County,  Florida.
I will be exhibiting two of my watercolors that I hope show the beauty of nature in Central Florida - "Morning Pinks" and "Wild Oranges."
The staff at the museum is one of the nicest and strongest supporters of arts in Seminole County, Florida and it is an honor to be a part of this group of exceptional regional artists.
For those of you who live in the Lake Mary and Central Florida region I have attached the link for the museum below.
If you would like to see the exhibit it will be showing August 5 through September 9, 2017 - Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10AM to 3PM and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11AM to 7PM. Admission is free.
Thanks for visiting and for supporting the arts in Central Florida!

Lake Mary Museum, Lake Mary, Florida

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Deep Purple - Or Is It?

"Starfall on the Intracoastal"by Krys Pettit
I have found there are certain color combinations I work with more than others.  I like the bright, warm colors on my palette but I often choose cool and calming colors andI mix blues and reds to get a variety of purples.

"Dream Time" by Krys Pettit
I wondered if purple was a valid color and Wikipedia sort of answered my question:
"Purple, unlike violet, is not one of the colors of the visible spectrum. It was not one of the colors of the rainbow identified by Isaac Newton, and it does not have its own wavelength of light. For this reason, it is called a non-spectral color."  

"Evening's Window" by Krys Pettit

Which got me to thinking -- do I paint with violet more than purple?  When you are instinctively mixing colors using different sources you kind of don't label the final product.  What you do is hope you can get that color yet again and match what you have painted.  All the colors I use is custom mixed by me at the moment I paint instead of using tube colors so there is no formula to follow.

"Moonlit Window - Bulow Plantation" by Krys Pettit
If I am indeed using violet instead of purple, it would be close to red on the color spectrum, while purple is closer to blue.  Just to make things more complicated I tend to mix the two.  It all sounds too technical for my artistic brain.

"Paris Window" by Krys Pettit

 I think I will just mix those colors, and see where they land.  Frankly it would be a whole lot less fun if I really knew what the outcome would be.  Which is why I love being and artist.

"Canyon Storm" by Krys Pettit

For an idea of how the masters used purple, check out this link on Google Culture to one of the great waterlily paintings by Claude Monet.  Who knew how to do purple in so many ways.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Capturing the History

"Murat House, St. Augustine, Florida" c. 1993
Watercolor by Krys Pettit
I am a frequent visitor to St. Augustine, Florida.  I enjoy strolling the quiet back streets of St. Augustine away from the crowds, snack food and cheap trinkets.  It's there I find many historic structures and my inspiration for paintings.  The image on the left is one of the first watercolors I did back in 1993 -- I was just starting working with the medium.  I incorrectly named the piece and in later years learned it was the Prince Napoleon Achille Murat House.  The Prince was the nephew of Napoleon and arrived in St. Augustine in the spring of 1824 but eventually left to reside in  Tallahassee.

I stay away from the heart of tourism, tee shirt and overpriced souvenir shops.  I prefer streets where I find gems like this one below.  The Marin House is on aptly named Marine Street. The property was acquired by a Minorcan colonist from New Smyrna Beach and the house is over 200 years old.

"Faded Beauty" c. 2000 Watercolor by Krys Pettit
Marin House, St. Augustine Florida, 2017

I love the unique coloring.  Much of the faded, mottled walls have been overpainted recently and the inspiration for my painting is long gone, along with some not-so-popular mold and peeling plaster.

Plaques like these are placed on historical structures all around St. Augustine, giving you a sense of how long these buildings have seen tourists and hurricanes come and go.

If you live close enough take some time to visit this wonderful city.  It may inspire you to learn more about the history of early Florida and perhaps even become an artist.

For more paintings and building portraits, please visit my website: