The latest photo from TruthBranchArt on Etsy

Same view different season! My favorite thing about this painting how it takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

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My Peppers; My Familia

familia-7Talking about Art is what I love to do! (see note on the bottom if you would actually like to hear me talk about art!)

So here is a story about a painting I did this August. While I was painting it I  took several pictures of my process. Honestly, I never seem to paint two paintings in the exact same way twice but I thought my friends might enjoy some insight into how it all works!

My neighbors are very lovely people and one day this summer they brought over a box of lovely peppers. Immediately, their fresh green skin captivated me. With their interesting shapes and reflective skin I knew I had to paint them. So I set them in a different arrangements until I settle with lining them up closely like a family portrait.

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These peppers were fresh enough to reflect their surroundings including each other. My family is affected by their surroundings and definitely reflect each other.So had the idea to  paint the word familia which means family in Italian with the peppers. My husband has Italian heritage and I have a great appreciation for all things Italian especially their love of food and familia!

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It was a beautiful summer day and I set up early to enjoy the cool of the morning. Since I was under a large tree the light stayed consistent during the day and it kept it relatively comfortable temperature as well. 

20160808_095814I like to start with expressive brushwork underpainting. Expressive brushwork of yellow-orange formed the first layer including the sides of the painting which are wrapped in canvas

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I added the word familia and then started to paint in the background.
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On the table you can see my subjects, the actual peppers!
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Defining the pepper contours in blue-green.
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Painting in the tabletop.
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Painting the main forms of the peppers.
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Capturing the colored reflections.

The spaces between the peppers create interesting spaces for the light to peek through.

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Adding the white highlights.
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Lastly, I repainted familia with translucent colors and it was done! Basta!

By the end of the day the pepper painting was complete and then it was time for dinner. Hmmmm, Pork with Peppers and Onions?

If you enjoyed this and would like to hear more about my work I was a guest on the “These go to Eleven” podcast with Nathan Bell and Greg Dutcher. During the podcast we talked about creativity and how that intersects with my faith. I share some of my journey as an artist and hope that it can be an encouragement to others to pursue the arts for the glory of God.

It will be uploaded January 24th, 2017 at 10pm. www.11podcast.com http://www.11podcast.com/e/gwen-cicone/

 Gwen talks to Greg and Nathan about art and faith

Bow-wow, Wow!

Or the not so secret life of pets!

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Our pets are really not that complex. Feed me, entertain me, let me sleep where ever and we will be buds forever! But the relationships we develop with them are much more layered and in a way mysterious. Why do we bond so heavily with our animals? Why do we have them in the first place? I think it has something to do with our desire for unconditional love. Our pets do not care if we have a bad hair day or that we just had a fight with a close friend. As a  matter of fact they seem to be their most adoring and adorable selves when we are feeling low.

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Animals look right through the fluff and seem to see our real selves.

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When life begins to spin out of control our pets are there to greet us with a fresh dose of reality.

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They enjoy the simple pleasures! Watching my dogs run at full speed seems to personify the word joy for me. When I began preparing paintings for my Etsy shop my dogs were my first inspiration.

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And to me nothing defines hope better than my little Jeremy looking patiently out the window waiting for us to come home!

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Our dogs are there to make us laugh!

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Keep us company!
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And show up at all the “right ” times!
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But boy we miss them!
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When they are gone!

So it’s no secret that we love our pets and the world is a better place because of them!

In memory of Bailey Ernst and Moira Sullivan!

So you wanna do a Craft Fair?

You have been making cool stuff and you are ready to show it to the world? I think you may be ready for a Craft fair! Here are my thoughts on my first art and craft fair.

joyCraft fairs can be fun

If you invite a friend to sell next to you and across from you it is easier to relax and if things get slow you have someone to talk to you! Plus I was the newbie and my friends could answer any “dumb” questions I had and assured me that I would be fine. I could  listen to how my neighbor talked about her craft and that gave me some direction. Having friends was definitely fun and inviting friends to stop by let me know that I would at least have someone stop and talk to me during the day! It was fun to see them! Meeting new friends was fun too! It does help that I am an extrovert and even though I love making art alone I also love to talk about it. (probably why my regular job as an art teacher makes sense, right?)

Craft fairs are a great way for many people to see your work

There were over 1200 visitors to the craft fair over the 5 hours that it was running. I am sure that is more people seeing my art than ever before!! Many people paused to look at the art and I received many nice comments. Several people asked me about custom work and it is doubtful those folks would have seen me on Etsy or Facebook since I am still building my “following”. Also I could ask them what they liked about the work or which one was their favorite. This painting: “Hope Dog” was a favorite among many I asked.2015-10-21-11-35-21

Craft fairs make you very space conscious

Measure out eight by six feet and this is your shop for 5 hours. How are you going to display everything you want? How are you going to wrap up sold merchandise and collect payment? Where do you store your supplies? How can you do this without spending a mint? These and other questions were answered by either 1. Searching on the Internet or 2. Creativity and sometimes both. I was happy we were able to display so much using furniture that I already owned, borrowed or altered in some way. Display easels were my daughter’s idea and with them we could display art without having to worry about hanging it up.

Craft fairs force you to be organized

abundantlyLimited space and limited time along with my limited budget, forced me to try to be as efficient as possible. Of course my brain hurt during the days before the fair trying to think through things and staying up late reading all those checklists of things to bring to your first craft fair! But it did pay off because I did get there with almost everything, set up in time, was able to cover all my expenses with my sales and we even were able to spend three hours  visiting at my in-laws later that day!! As usual I was reminded that God has it all in his control and that it is my job to trust Him and love others and he will work it out!

Tale of Three Triptychs: part 3 (finally!)

20150714_171614I had this great idea to write the tale of these paintings in the space of a couple of weeks but it has taken many months instead. As a painter and teacher my main forms of communication are speaking and making art and with that I tend to put off writing even though I wanted to share the stories behind these paintings.

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In October 2015 I got a tax identification number for my business Truth Branch Art and in March 2016 I was able to officially open my Etsy shop selling hand painted slates and canvases. Starting this business has been a wonderful adventure! I have learned so much already and I have enjoyed sharing my art on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram. But I still held onto the idea that I would eventually get back to my blog. My intention is to tell these art stories more regularly but for me that means less words and more pictures!

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Flower Triptych was the inspiration for the third triptych

So the third triptych was inspired by the flower triptych I painted for my aunt. My friend loved the flowers and wanted me to paint trees instead. She also wanted me to paint three of the seasons (she hates winter!). The weather permitted me to paint this outdoors which was wonderful since it allowed me to work on all of the seasons at the same time. She also likes my more abstract style so I tried to capture the feeling of each season as well as the way it looks. The final product pleased me and my wonderful patron who now has a piece of art that reflects her personal taste and creative ideas!

Little did I know that this set of paintings would inspire another set of trees but wait that’s another story!

Here is the Three Season Tree Triptych from beginning to end. Enjoy!

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The first layer of colors are applied in thin layers of acrylic using large brushes and gestural paint strokes.
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Next steps.
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More paint!
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Changing up the colors and developing more value contrast midway through the painting.
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almost finished!
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The finished triptych hanging in its happy home!
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Ta dah, my happy friend with her custom art! It makes a colorful statement every time you walk into her home! Making people happy with my art is what it is all about.

A tale of three triptychs (part 2)

The second set of paintings was started soon after we returned from Florida in July 2014. It was exciting to have a clear directive for a painting while also having plenty of artistic and creative license in creating it. My aunt and I measured the size of the area she wanted to cover. I took pictures of her condo to make sure I remembered the colors. And I was off!

the first layer
Creating a dynamic background to build on
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Blocking in the flowers and leaves
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Finished paintings commissioned by Eva Gimble