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In the Studio This Week – A Horse, An Octopus, and A Birdhouse

In the studio this Week I finally felt better after the short illness and feel a little more motivated. I went on to finish the horse painting I had nearly completed before being hit with the bug. The next lesson in the Mastery Program directed the use of metal leaf as a mixed media tool, so I chose an underwater theme. Finally, I took an Artist Date break and met with my local artsy friends for a Galantine’s Paint Party!

Soulful Eyes Horse

I started this the painting previous week using rollers/brayers to apply the paint quickly. I liked the effect it had on the wood of the horse stable but didn’t like it on the horse.

This week I focused on the horse and used water mixable oils to give more depth, especially to the face and eyes.

I think the oil paint helped soften some of the hard edges and better defined the face area. The ears gave me a lot of trouble and they’re still not right, but time to move on.

Mixed media painting of a horse in a stable

Octopus with Metal Leaf Accents

I’m not sure what prompted me to choose an octopus as a reference for this painting. I do find them rather fascinating creatures but maybe not the easiest to paint as I found out.

I started with a wash of acrylic paint and drips.

Bakground painting with paint drips

Then I painted the outline of the octopus, water, and rock formation using transparent acrylic paints. He looks kind of like a cartoon character at this stage.

First draft of a painting of an octopus

I started adding opaque paint layers and working on the suction cups. At this stage I realized how hard it is for me to paint this level of detail. I finally used a pencil, dipping the eraser end into the paint and dotting it along the arms of the octopus.

Painting of an octopus

Then I worked on adding more visible rays of light in the water and more color variation to the I finished with a small amount of copper metal leaf on the rock formations and to highlight the octopus. I added silver metal leaf to accentuate some of the rays of light. Believe it or not, there really are eight legs to this octopus.

Finished painting of an octopus with metal leaf highlights

Artist Date Birdhouse

I am a big fan of author Julia Cameron’s teachings in The Artist’s Way. One of the techniques she recommends creative people use to enhance their creative journey is to schedule weekly Artist’s Dates where you go do something fun and playful to loosen up.

This week, our group of local creatives met for coffee and cookies to celebrate Valentine’s Day or in this case, “Galentine’s Day. Dixi from Dallas had acquired some birdhouses made from reclaimed barnwood.

Dixi painted a coastal scene. Judy painted a Valentine’s theme, and I went with a garden, complete with a Robin sitting at the entrance. We had such fun and plan to get together again in March for another Artist Date. I had been feeling so cooped up and this was just what I needed!

Rustic birdhouse painted with a arden scene and a Robin
Side view of a rustic birdhouse
Back view of a rustic birdhouse


I had been losing my motivation to create and wasn’t happy with the paintings I created. Taking the time to break out of a rut and do something out of the ordinary does wonders for loosening up and having fun with art. I mentioned to Dix that she could sell her birdhouses and she said “Yes, but that would take the fun out of it.” Something to consider.

Thank you all for continuing to support my progress with your comments and likes!

Photo of the author holding a finished birdhouse

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