Americana

Another set of pictures wilting in the archives were of my Fourth of July manicure. For the holiday, I took a last minute trip to the Smoky Mountains and Nantahala River for some countryside views and relaxation along with a bit of outdoor activities.

I wanted to rejuvinate the classic red, white, and blue palette with a little bit of shimmer and flakie firework action.  The blue nails were Orly Royal Navy with two layers of China Glaze White Cap on top to serve as a play on the flag’s star field.  The red accent nail was China Glaze Ruby Pumps with Barielle Elle’s Spell on top for depth and fire.  I’m pretty sure I was rocking the high gloss Seche Vite top coat at this point in time as well.

Amusingly enough, the white cap polish had a deeper meaning as there were crests of swirling white on the river rapids…enough that they assisted in capsizing our small two person inflatable raft at the end of our river run.  I took these pictures after the incident while recovering from the adrenaline rush with an icy cold red, white, and blue themed American beer.  So the tipwear was probably a direct result of clawing at the upside-down raft that had flipped entirely on top of me while trying to assume a safe whitewater swimmers position to avoid getting bashed into rocks.  Considering there was minimal tipwear, I’m giving the polish performance a good grade.

I can’t say that I have ever really considered myself much of a “country girl,” but I have been out there before and I have really enjoyed my time there because there’s just a unique soul to the surroundings that I can appreciate.  This was outside of a quintessential river haunt, a shack called Pizza By the River which serves up some tasty pizza.  Most importantly, it serves it up where you can literally sit and eat it on the river rocks and wade your feet in the stream if you’d like.  They also have great little bonfires going in the evening as the river starts to kick up a thick mist on the surface.  Sometimes there seems to be banjo music drifting down the river as well that just makes the whole environment come together.

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Thinking of Blu

An artform I’ve greatly enjoyed experimenting with lately is vector drawing.  There’s something I really enjoy about the tedious process of organizing and separating an image into colors.  It really forces you to make decisions since the style I’ve been using allows each section to be only one color, so you have to create the illusion of blending, shading, and highlighting with single color selections.

My most recent illustration was my betta fish, of course.  His name is BluBo which was an unintentional,  silly riff on the former betta fish named BoBo that ended up sticking.  It’s been interesting watching his colors change as he has aged.  He was once a very vivid and iridescent teal green with  some slight red accents, but he’s become deeper blue and the red is only visible in certain lights.  Even still, depending on the lighting his former green-tinged iridescence can still be perceived.

I poured a bunch of work into this illustration in a short amount of time because I wanted it to be incorporated into a valentine’s day card.  I’m still pleased with the way it came out, and I hope to work with a more dynamically colored image of him next time to keep studying his range of colors.

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up close

I find myself quite often with my  nose more or less pressed up in the paper and my breath pushing the wet color around a little bit.  It’s always a little disorienting to see things from this perspective and then step back and look at the painting again when you’ve been intimate with each individual drip that encompassed most of your view.

In that regard, the following pictures are more of an accurate portrayal of what the previous painting looks like in my memory.

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for Bergie & BoBo

This painting was a surprise present for someone dear to me. We bonded over BoBo, the betta fish that I had, and he would speak fondly of his dear Bergie fish who had passed away a while ago.  Sometimes you get the privilege of the presence of a fish with a lot of personality, and I know I’ve spent many an evening watching a particularly expressive fish flit around the little garden I created for him. I suppose it’s part of that fondness for all things aquatic, but I can easily say I’ve been totally enamored with a dear fish or two in my time just as much as any other type of pet.  Sadly, BoBo passed away very recently, and while this was meant to be in the image of Bergie, I know that BoBo was very much an inspiration to me in painting this as well.

This is for them and for all of those who have loved a betta fish.

I had a lot of different thoughts on how I wanted to go about this, but as I sketched, I ended up wanting sort of an almost Chinese paper cut-type feel to the lines and kept them thin and delicate. I wanted to imply the edges of a bowl and keep the colors kind of muddied down for the most part while being very loose and watery. This is how it happened.

Here is the image I used as reference, and I changed the color and some of the proportions to match the descriptions of Bergie.  You can also find some other amazing betta photography there as well.

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something blue.

Inspired by the wedding venue and the fresh bridal bouquet that I was playing with a few days this week, I found myself reaching for the one polish that really got me back into nail polish.  I guess it was all due to a craving that I had in high school for the difficult-t0-acquire pastel nail polishes that only seemed to come in the then out-of-my-high-school-budget Hard Candy brand.  I sated that craving by choosing OPI’s What’s With the Cattitude? from their Shrek collection last year despite typically sticking to really traditional pearlized or pale pink hues for my nails on the off chance I got a manicure.  I felt the need to own it after taking the plunge and trying it.  Somehow that experience really opened the floodgates for owning numerous bottles of nail polish starting with a range of pastels.

There’s a bit of a bright punchiness to this pastel blue, and I always figured that it would be a great “something blue” for a wedding color so I pulled it out of its hibernation for the occasion. I had managed to forget what a pain pastels were to apply since last spring and summer, and this was no exception.  I spent some time leering at two coats wondering if the third would even it out, so I ended up thickening the third coat to some satisfaction.  I accented a nail on each hand with the grey-tinged vibrant peacocky cobalt Suzi Says Feng Shui.  For some reason, I feel like I ended up with a strangely gloopy bottle, however, and it shows.  I haven’t been as liberal with the thinner as I probably should have with this bottle, but it really needs it.

I enjoy these colors together especially against crisp wedding whites and springy greens.  Cattitude blue is reminiscent of an idealized vibrant blue sky which I feel I’ve been experiencing lately as spring unfurls itself, and I like the extra punch of Feng Shui to liven the palette up a bit more.

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shimmering palisades.

The perfect blue-tinged grey is one of my favorite colors.  It can be a calming hue on its own with just enough color to keep it interesting, but it has the potential to be a particularly charming neutral posed next to a bright pop of color.  In the nail polish world, Nubar Palisade is the shade of blue-grey that I find myself drawn to.  Alone, it can be a beauty in a mere one coat.  I discovered how to make it really come alive with a top layer of China Glaze White Cap.  The glass flecks of White Cap shimmer from a clean white to a golden yellow that can reflect a peachy hue.  Layered over Palisade, the effect is reminiscent of the way sunlight reflects off of slightly restless water.  I am reminded of many drives on the bridge glancing over at the way the sun low in the sky shimmers on the lake when I observe this combination.

First, I played with playing with the combination against broken concrete showing the more subtle side of the shimmer and showcasing Palisade.

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