The Portrait Project: Morgan


Alright, friends! This portrait is about 98% done, but as we all know, the last 2% is always the hardest. So, in the meantime, while I spend the last few grueling hours with that last 2%, I wanted to share this portrait. I really shouldn't be sharing it yet, and it's been cloudy here in Chicago today so I haven't even been able to capture the portrait in great, sparkly lighting. It needs that touch of sun sparkle. Alas, I am sharing because I just think this girl is the neatest! We're kindred spirits. I know it. She's a beautiful artist, too. Check out her Facebook page by clicking here. (But really, check back in a few days if you want to see the finish and a better shot of it.)

Morgan and I met because of her great networking skills on Instagram--aka she reached out to me and was wonderful, delightful, and everything nice. After a few months (or more than a few!) of being cyber friends, she SHOWED UP AT MY ART SHOW! I was stoked to meet her. She was just as sweet and fun as I imagined. Then I moved. :( But,we keep in touch, and despite me being halfway across the country, I just know our friendship is going to be a good one for years. P.s. She has the cutest cat. So that is the cherry on top.

--If you would like to see all the posts from The Portrait Project click here!
--To submit your portrait read this, there's still plenty of time!
--In other unrelated news, here are gift guides for the beginning artist. Give the gift of being an artist!

The Portrait Project: Ames - Baby Boy


You guys... This baby!!! Is he to die for or what?! He has been so fun to paint. Babies are so delicate! This little baby boy was especially wonderful to paint. When the submission came to my inbox and I first saw it, it was just one of those simple moments where I knew it would be a great painting and that he needed to be painted. Candy for the artist's eyes! I sent the confirmation email off to his mom one night to let her know I would be starting on it, but after hitting send, I was too excited to wait until the next day to start--so I pulled out the paint just then and got to work. I woke up early the next morning, a gorgeous sun-drenched morning, and painted late into the afternoon to finish him. It was just a great painting session all around. My kind of energizer. ;)

I have some amazing submissions from The Portrait Project! Thank you!!!! Thank you for submitting!!! Keep them coming! I will be taking submissions until December 2nd! If you haven't already read the guide to submitting or don't know how to submit, click here

My Favorite Quotes About Creativity and Motivation


Last night I was thinking about this upcoming Thanksgiving. Alex and I are going to be in California with my family which is always wonderful. I have at least a hundred old, old paintings of mine down in my studio there at my parent's house, and I was in particular thinking about those painting last night. I'm excited to see them all again. They're just full of nostalgia and sentiment, and I'm just that kind of person that enjoys that sort of thing.

I started to laugh at the memory of some of those old paintings though. For example, "Cake Face" is a portrait I worked on for days, and as the name suggests, after so many layers of paint, poor technique (I was 12 years old) and a severely neglected photo reference, the portrait began to look more like a frosted cake than a portrait. Actually it's kind of terrifying.

Another painting there is a rooster in a loft part of a barn. Let's call it "Fan of Feathers." I had some photo reference, but I got very carried away with the roosters tail feathers that after a few days of work and one night painting very early into the morning the rooster's tail feathers made him look more like a white, majestic peacock sitting on a throne of golden strings than a rooster sitting on hay. Those tail feathers are full of pastel colors! And I'm pretty sure they take up more than 3/4 of the canvas. YIKES. 

The real juice of this story is that as I was thinking about those old paintings I felt really grateful for every painting I've had the blessing of painting. And I really do consider each one a blessing. Of course, I've had my number of successful and unsuccessful, but I know that without having painted those crazy cake face portraits (because you know it's not just the one I mentioned earlier) and without the paintings that ended up in the trash that I'll never see again (including one from last month,) I wouldn't be able to pick up the brush again today and be confident in decisions I make while painting and I wouldn't be on the road to becoming the artist that I want to be.  

I feel grateful that I haven't looked at all the unsuccessful paintings I've done and taken to heart that, "wow, I really cannot paint!" because I have said that at times--but I just haven't taken it to heart. I just keep trying. And maybe that makes me crazy, but Van Gogh was pretty crazy too ;) and he said, "If you hear a voice inside you that says 'you cannot paint' then by all means paint!" 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk Happiness, Your Heritage brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I was thinking about this last night too. Those first words, if I watch the Mormon Message adapted from his talk, still give me chills regardless of having watched it at least a dozen times: "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul... Everyone can create." But I especially love the part where he says "remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. . . your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination." To me I read this as a sure knowledge that Heavenly Father is on our side!! He's made us. We are meant to create! And no matter what it is you create (for me it's my paintings, but maybe for you it's as simple as creating a smile on another face by cheering them up) we are fully capable.

My last thought on this: I had a quote on my studio wall for years. It was transferred on a piece of wood in black and white with an image of brushes in the background. It read, "the art is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work." How true is that? We all are given gifts and talents in some way or another (refer to Elder Uchtdorf's talk,) but those gifts are nothing unless we put the work into them to develop them and use them. I think this is another reason that I feel so grateful for every painting I've been blessed to paint; it's because in that collection of both successes and failures lay a ledger of work and effort that I can look back on and be motivated by. And isn't the simplest form of motivation a blessing in itself, too? 

Thanks for reading my thoughts, as scattered as they may be. I would love to hear your thoughts on these quotes. What do they mean to you? Feel free to comment below.

Gift Guide For The Beginner Oil Painter


I may be way too ahead of the gift giving season, but I just love Christmas and giving gifts so much that I am already preparing! (And maybe there's even a birthday coming up before then!?) Regardless, I want to share a few gift guides I put together with the beginner oil painter in mind.

When I was 8 years old I got an "artist's perfect Christmas" with a set of oil paint. It wasn't just a set of oil paints though, it was the gift that set me on a path to become an artist. It allowed me to be ambitiously creative. Now, a number of years later, it's more often than not that I get an email or phone call from someone who wants to start painting or has a child, friend, niece/nephew, spouse, or grandparent interested in art, but doesn't know quite where to start. Maybe this scenario sounds familiar even to you! I always get very excited to hear of these budding artists and want to do all I can to help foster those artistic dreams.

Below you will find three guides: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Each set is for the beginner oil painter ranked in terms of quality and price. (ex. Gold, high quality - higher price.) Of course, you can mix and match and splurge where you'd like, but you won't go wrong with any of these three sets. This is not a sponsored post, just me sharing some products I love and recommend for new artists. Happy gift giving to you and happy painting to the new artist!

Gold Set: (1) SoHo Urban Artist H-Frame Studio Easel from Jerry's Artarama. | (2) Blick Premier Traditional 7/8" Profile Cotton Canvas - I prefer standard sizes like 8x10, 9x12, 11x14, 16x20, and 20x24 (very large). | (3) Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits | (4) M. Graham Walnut Oil | (5) Grafix Dura-Lar Matte | (6) Holbein Brush Washer | (7) New Wave Wooden Palette -Palette should be held in the hand opposite your dominate hand. | (8) Williamsburg Handmade Oil Paint Sets - Set of 13. | (9) Blick Studio Tote | (10) Blick Masterstroke Pure Interlocking Bristle Brush -I like Filbert sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10.

Silver Set: (1) SoHo Urban Artist Wooden A-Frame Lyre Easel from Jerry's Artarama. | (2) Winsor & Newton Artists' Oil Color Sets - Introductory Set of 10. | (3) Winsor & Newton Liquin Medium - I prefer Liquin Original 75 ml. | (4) Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank | (5) Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal 12x16. | (6) Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits | (7) Blick Studio Traditional 3/4" Profile Cotton Canvas - I prefer standard sizes like 8x10, 9x12, 11x14, 16x20, and 20x24 (very large). | (8) Winsor & Newton Monarch Brushes - I like Filbert sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10.

Bronze Set: (1) Blick Studio Oil Color Start Set Of Ten | (2) Blick Crafter's Tote | (3) Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits 4 oz. | (4) Fredrix Canvas Pad | (5) Blick Studio Aluminum Tabletop Easel | (6) Winsor & Newton University Bright Long Handled Brushes -I like sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. | (7) Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank | (8) Richeson Wooden Palette -I like 12x16 rectangle.

The Portrait Project: Update!


After a week+ of being too sick to paint (the worst!), I'm back at it and The Portrait Project is going strong! Hurray!!! I have a beautiful lineup of portraits to paint this week and next, including this one from yesterday! To everyone who submitted--I'm BLOWN AWAY by your portraits! Every time I get a new submission I just scream "YESSS!!!!" Ahh! They're perfect! Thank you, thank you! I love seeing your beautiful faces! 

It is not too late to submit your portrait! I will be taking submissions until the middle of November. If you missed it, see this post on how to become a part of The Portrait Project! Be sure to read it thoroughly. All questions should be answered in that post, but if you have a question, please email me. :) 

I've been getting asked what my schedule is for this project, and although the end date is tentative right now--my goal is 50 portraits! YAY! I'm painting Monday-Saturday and typically have four or five portraits scheduled a week, and I'm LOVING it. Maybe I'll write more about my process for these portraits soon. What would you like to read and see in regards to this project? (Answer in comments below!)

Shown above: my palette at the very end of this portrait. I think it's so fun at the end of a painting to look at all the chaotic messes of color on my palette that match the colors in the painting. It feels like a really complex puzzle and takes on much more meaning to me. I always wish I had an endless supply of palettes so I didn't have to "clean" off their beautiful messes and that they could stay with their painting. Also, I found this leaf when I went for a walk after being so sick. It was cheerful to me, in every sense. This year it seemed that the leaves went from green to beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges in just a few days! So it stuck with me in my studio while I painted this cute girl. I can only image was she was looking at while looking out her window into this beautiful world.

If you're checking this blog for PP updates--you're in the right place! I'll be posting here frequently as well as on Instagram (@SarahCNightingale) and my Facebook Page (Sarah C. Nightingale Art.) 
| mlekoshiPlayground |