Saturday, December 29, 2012

Personal Christmas Joys

First of all, Santa did stop by the Tuliszewski house and left a few things which make my geeky artist's heart very happy.

Now my prize possessions, three Kolinsky Sable brushes.
These are the Porche of brushes, a fine point, amazing spring...
I haven't actually used them yet but can't wait!

I have been curious about the Photoshop program to use with my research phtotos as a way to enhance and manipulate the image.  A way to play around with the not so perfect photo or to experiment with the tantilizing possibilities.  And if you are thinking this is nothing really new, you are correct that I am late to the whole digitial show.  But I am trying to catch up!

And my ten years of Watercolor Magazine on CD.  I have only gone thru the first year and bookmarked some articles to go back to.  I find these helpful when I feel stuck, just can't get started or back to a piece or for plain inspiration.

My sister-in-law asked me to design and paint these bulletin boards for her grand daughters.
Which I was happy to do.  They were fun and so different from the way I usually paint that I found it a freeing experience.  Fun, colorful doodles!

And in the most creative gift category, my future daught-in-law, Jenni, made this very unique ornament for me.  Our shore town took a direct hit from hurricane Sandy this year.  We were very lucky in that our damage was minimal compared to our neighbors.  While Jenni was part of the Sandy clean up crew she found this fishing lore in the debris around our house.  She had it made into an ornament complete with engraving.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday and that 2013 will be happy, healthy and peaceful for all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stripes Galore

I began this painting with a set up and drawing in October.  While searching through my research, fully intending to begin an Italian street scene, I found it.  So, yes, side tracked yet again.  But the colors in this are so captivating to me that that I thought it's a good way to end the year.

I expect this to take me right to the end of the year.  And I am enjoying a lot of Christmas music as I go.
  Happy New Year,  friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

I wanted to do a design with this year's Christmas card that celebrated our trip to Italy.  
After Rome we stayed in the Chianti region of Tuscany.  These Chianti bottles were hanging around a doorway of a little shop where we had lunch.  It was a beautiful spring day with the locals passing by on their daily routines.  It still feels surreal that we were there at all but seeing these bottles reminds me of days like that not to mention all the wonderful food and wine we enjoyed.

Watercolor, 14" x 20"
Carmella Tuliszewski © 2012

I don't know if you can tell but this painting is a little different for me.  
It brought me back to my greeting card design days in that it's executed more loosely and,
 for me, less detail.  And it's really meant to be an illustration and not a fine art piece.
The ribbon, star and most of the leaves are invented rather than working from a reference.
Actually, after the bottles were complete I never looked at the reference again and worked spontaeously.  I am resisting putting viens in all the leaves and trying to be more looose and let the value be the defining force.  

Memories of one of many days in Italy.
                                                                     Buon Natale!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flower Feast Finally Finished!

This was an amazing project for me and I hope you enjoyed watching my progress over the summer and fall.  

Watercolor, 12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

"Snickers" was the first in this series.  And yes I have since changed the name to something more fun.  As I was painting these lovely little orchids they always seemed to be smiling at me.

Watercolor,  12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

I've kept this up on my board all this time because i just love looking at it.  The colors found in natural things are endlessly fancinating.

Watercolor, 12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

Another name change that I like much better.  I made this glow even more by darkening the blue background a bit and touching a little orange in the shadows.

Watercolor,  12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

I reworked this some also to give the flowers more star quality.

"Tuscan Suns"
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

The first work from my trip to Italy this year.  Really looking forward to devling more into the "Italy" paintings as it will be a challenge for me.  Less flowers and more people, architecture and street scenes. 

Watercolor, 12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

This is the one with which I really had my best moments.

I really hate to part with any of these!  But the paintings are piling up and it's time to share.
So, my ESTY shop is up and running if you care to take a look.  The link is at the top left of this site.
Am I crazy to open a shop for selling art in this economy? Maybe.
I am taking a very conservative business approach to this by keeping the prices on originals as fair as possible and offering  affordable Giclee reproductions.  I found a printing shop close to home that does just beautiful work and whom I can rely on.

I will move onto my christmas card for this year next and then to Italy!
So please stop by again.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tuscan Suns Complete

I love the color in this and it is a good piece to end my series on.  Next I will go over all six pieces, make corrections and enhancements and finish setting up my ESTY shop.  
I have found a great little shop to print Giclee prints and will offer a few prints of my work in my shop.
I will take a very conservative business approach to this as we all know the market is very tight these days.  I will be back with all six together and I would love to know which top two you think I should have printed.  Till next time, thanks for viewing!

"Tuscan Suns"
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tuscan Suns

So I thought that while I'm just hanging around waiting for the eye of an historic hurriacane to pass over my house I would squeeze some last minutes of what power we have left to share.

"Tuscan Suns", Watercolor, 12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

"Tuscan Suns" will be the last of my flower feast series.  With this piece I am finally getting to my references from our Italy trip.  While having a walk around the little town of Lucca we came upon a large flower mart in the center of town.  These daisy like flowers, among many others, were carpeting the ground everywhere.  The view I had of shooting straight down exploded into a beautiful array of circular goodness.  After I post this I'll keep working it until the much expected lose of power event befalls us.  I will, hopfully, be back soon with a completed painting.

Good luck east coasters.  We are in for a bumpy ride!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I think I've had a breaktrough with this one. 

Watercolor was a medium I never really was interested in other tham to fill in my pen and ink drawings.  Until four years ago.  As a Pa certified art teacher I needed to fullfill a certain number of continuing ed credits.  Well my deadline was fast approaching for that year so I enrolled in a quick watercolor class at our local community college.

And just fell in love.  Once I realized the extent of the detail the medium allowed I couldn't get enough.

After the class ended I found myself sitting for hours in the book store absorbing artists books on watercolor.  I played with glazes and values, subscribed to watercolor magazines and practice, practice, practice!  I retaught myself color theories and applications and I just started painting, thrilled with the amount of detail and realism I was able to pull off.  Color, glazes, washes, values- I got it and loved it.  But I never really got what watercolor is really about- the light- until now.

Watercolor, 12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

The light.  The white of the paper shining through.  Sometimes it's about what you don't lay down on the paper.  I feel like I just can't get to all the paintings I want to do fast eough.  One more Flower Feast piece to go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Special Day

I will finish this painting today.  I wanted to share how it's going.  I love the light in this one and I hope I can keep it through to completion.  I think this is a good addition to my Flower Feast Series.

I always start with a very detailed drawing.  I am a detail person and although I love to do the wet on wet technique for parts of my paintings, I mostly work wet on dry by glazing color.
The latter technique gives me the more control on the finer areas.  

Happy with the conposition here.  The strong diagonal is always an eye catcher.

The background light in here is what attracted me to this research.  Speaking of the wet on wet techniques, here it comprises the entire background.  It's flowing quality is what makes the tight rendering of the subject pop out.  More work to do and I hope to be back tomorrow with the finish.

On a personal note, today is my 30 wedding anniversary!  Larry and I met in a disco in 1979.
So funny to think of that now- he in his polyester suit and me in my shinny dance dress.
The luckiest night of my life.  He's been a fun, loving and supportive companion all these years and I hope many more.  He's not an artist, actually a business guy, and doesn't really understand how I do what I do.  But, bless his heart, he's been a constant supporter.

Happy Anniversary Lar!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Still here!

I have been working quietly here in my little studio drawing.  After finishing my last painting I felt the need to regroup.  I did like how it turned out but I deceided it didn't quite fit into the series I have in mind.  It is a nice decorative piece but lacked the strong light source the others have.

So I spent some time just going through my research and sitting with all my watercolor resources such as magazines and visiting shows and galleries.  No one is an island and sometimes you just need to take stock of your work and remember where you are headed.

This will be a new addition to my flower feast series.  These lillies are from my summer garden and the late day light shinning on and thru them has given me just the inspiration I needed.  I will start painting them today.  The size is 12" x 18"

So while i was at it, I brought out some propts into the afternoon sunlight and harvested some of the last blooms from my summer garden.  Wait until you see the color on this one!  Also has the sun drenched light souce I love.  Size 18" x 24"

I know this is difficult to see.  With this I am finally getting to all the beautiful research I gather in Italy.
We stayed in the Chianti region of Tuscany and these hanging bottles were outside a cafe where we had lunch one day.  Beautiful coloring and rather large for me, 24" x 36", and will be acrylic on canvas.

So there you have it.  I have been busy and look forward to the next steps!

Also, on a sad note, at least from my perspective.  I heard on the news that Hallmark has finally felt the down turn the whole greeting card industry has experienced since the age of e-communication.
They are closing one of their Kansas plants and laying off many workers, some of which will be artists.  Hallmark is still a giant in the business and I was lucky enough to be a part of it as a young illustrator in the late 70's.  It was really a very busy time for greeting cards.  I always had my assingment bin filled every day with projects.  And for a long time after I left Hallmark I was very busy freelanceing in the industry.  Most of that is lost now and it's a shame.

This was my first card for Hallmark.  I look at it now and see so many corrections I would make but the younger me worked tirelessly on this.  It also became their best seller for the year.  It was an innovative design at the time.  It folded in so that the left was the front and opened up to the boquet.  I was very proud of this.

Another from that first year and another best seller.  

As a 22 year old just out of college, Hallmark gave me a place to actually paint in full color at a time when many newly minted artists were doing black and white drawings or worse- paste ups all day.

As I sat writing thank you notes this morning for anniversary presents my husband I recently recieved, I realized that it's been a really long time since I actully wrote a note and mailed it to someone.  And that I rarely get anything in the mail that isn't a bill or advertizement.  E-mail, evites, texting and so on are good things, I know, but there is still something about sitting and handwriting a note to someone who remebered your birthday or took the time to pick out an anniversary gift for you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seeing Red

This fifth painting in my "Flower Feast" series is the most involved composition and the brightest color scheme.  The purple background was a daring choice and I may go back in and tone it down a little but overall I am attracted to the colors here.  Sometimes placing a piece up on the screen enables you to see it more clearly then when it's right in front of you.  Looking at it right now as I type, I can see spots that need more of an accent while other spots need to sit back a little.

"Island Fancies"
Watercolor, 12" x 18"
© Carmella Tuliszewski

One of the things that holds this together are those little light green leaves.  Having just the slightest touch of a red outline unifies the overall composition.  The reds are all over the color spectrum from hot pinks to slightly subdued oranges.  Very fun to work with especially when combined with red's complement, green.

Well one more to go in this series.  Then what?  More on that later.
Now that I have a nice little bank of paintings, it's time to look beyond each individual piece and toward how they fit together to truly be called a series.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prepping a Picture

I am now back to my research from this year's Philadelphia Flower Show.  The theme was Hawaii which gave me the opportunity to photograph florals not easily found around here.  This will also become part of my Flower Feast Series I.  

Here's my next painting, composed, drawn and ready to go.  As you can see I use a few reference points.  My ipad for streaming to the large computer screen, great for true color and zooming in for details.  Also notice the black and white copies.  As I mentioned in the last post, a picture often is more about the values than the color.  However, it can be difficult to determine correct values when the color is so absorbing.  As an artist it is my job to separate these two elements of art and then put them seamlessly (I hope) back together.  So I keep black and white scans next to the painting as I work.

You will recognize the Bird of Paradise flowers and the others are Hawiian Ginger plants.
Beautiful complementary colors of reds and greens on this one that I am very excited to start painting.

Well, I'm off for my second cup of coffee and back to a fun day of painting and music.  
My new favorite is the Disney station on Pandora Radio.  Yes, Disney, Little Mermaid and Belle just make my day! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sparkling Petunias

I found the research for these petunias in, of all places, Atlantic City.  While shopping with my daugther at all their great outlet sotres, I noticed many beautiful pots along the street just packed with flowers.  I snapped away ( I always have my camera) and this painting is from a composit drawing.

from "The Flower Feast" series
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
© Carmella Tuliszewski

I'm always attracted to subjects that glisten in the sun.  But that's because I love to paint the shadows.

These shadows are filled with Thalo Purple, Vermilion hue and Permanent Rose with a splash here and there of Hookers Green because complements make the best shadows.  Since greens are not staining colors they are easily picked up and thats how I add the veins.  Run a thin brush with a little water  along the line you wish and a quick pick up with a tissue does the trick.  

But this, as with most of my paintings,  is more about value than color.  I always keep a black and white copy with me while I paint.  It makes it easier to see the darks and lights.

It's great to get back to work after a very busy end of summer.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Legends

The following paintings are examples completed many years ago.  When my children were little I did some freelancing while they were napping or in school.  One of my projects included painting portraits of little girls as princesses in this series I called Little Legends.  I advertized in local papers (wasn't on the internet then) and in school and church news letters.

And the orders actually started coming in, I was so excited.  I worked out each illustration, transferred the line drawing and painted, adding the face from a photo sent of each girl.  The problem came with the repetitive nature of the series.  Painting these illustrations over and over again became too boring.  And reproducing full color illustrations was just not workable.  So I closed up shop on this endevor and went on to something else.  But the great thing I did get out of it was these paintings of my then six year old daughter in princess mode.  She was a great little model!

Each painting below measures 12' x 12" in Acrylic
© Carmella Tuliszewski

Friday, July 20, 2012


I have not painted roses since my Hallmark days. So my start on this was slightly hesitant but hopeful.
I loved the combination of the hard grapevine reeds and the ultra softness of the flowers. The coloring on yellow roses is tricky because the shadows are everywhere from golden yellows to olive greens.

I worked out the shadows with a lot of glazing and scrubbing out for highlights.  And the pragmatic painted that I am, I will admit to a touch of white for the highlights on the grapvine.  

from the Flower Feast Series
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

I'm pretty happy with the way this series is coming together.  I hope they will make beautiful prints and notecards that people might like to buy.  As much as I absolutely love painting flowers, I will take a break for the next work because I have a really interesting still life set up ready to go. 
A really good and productive summer so far!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Shaping a Series

You may remember the beginning of this Bromeliad a week or so ago.  I began with a detailed drawing, laying in areas where the light changes on the flower.

The colors on this very sculptural flower are stunning.  Laying in the base colors required a wet in wet technique, which I don't often do, and forgot how much fun it is.  It took a repeated build up of this method to bring out the rich layed look of the plant.

There are many varities of Bromeliad but I had never seen one like this.  When I walked past it in the flower show it caught my eye, what a beauty.  The glazing came after the colors were established with the shadows a build up of greens, purples, blues and reds.  This will go up on my board but, as always, I will touch up areas here and there every once in a while.  This is the second in my "Pua Lu'au" series.
So two complete makes it an offical series.  I am planning six paintings all together.  They are a standard size to make framing less expensive when I sell them or enter them in shows.

I have decided to title it "Promenade" as a slight play on it's name and because the species is so showy as to beg your attention.
from the series "Pua Lu'au"
Watercolor,  12"x 18"
© Carmella Tuliszewski

Friday, June 22, 2012

Color Collections

It has been very hot here in the east and since I kind of melt in this weather, I have been inside for three days now.  I do sneak out during the hours of 6 and 8 AM to water gardens and run to the food store, but otherwise I am very happy and grateful to be inside in AC.  So after working on a project around the house or taking some chicken out of the freezer for dinner, you can find me at my little drafting table.  I've started the next in the "Pua Lu'au" series paintings.  I haven't thought of a title yet but first things first.

© Carmella Tuliszewski

The colors in this are really an impressive show of nature.  I just hope my coloring skills are up to the task, which brings me to taking stock of my paints.  I wrote in an earlier post about how I like to make charts as an inventory of my colors.  Well, I picked up a few more tubes lately and thought it was time they joined the fun.  Is there anything better than meandering down an aisle of nothing but paint tubes- I think not!

My desk right now with my new charts.  I don't want to give the impression that I work like a robot matching colors for each section of a painting but it does help tremendously in those first washes and glazes.  It also is a reminder of the colors I actually have, because, as you can see, they do all start to 
pile up.  And having the charts is quite freeing once I start painting.  The products I prefer are Winsor & Newton and Grumbacher and, of couse, Arches 140 lb. cold pressed paper.

This little book is a valuable resource which I keep handy as I work.
If you are new to color blending or a long time pro, it's very helpful.
Every artist has their own way of working and this is one of mine.

At some point in each work experience and instinct takes over but, for me, starting out with some careful planning gets me where I want to be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It seems I started this painting a long time ago.  It's been sitting on my table untouched while I allowed myself to be distracted by projects around the house.  But finally, I took a seat and took focus to the finish.  This is the first in a series which I will convert to a collection of note cards.   

There is a lot going on here, wet in wet, glazing and lifting not to mention many, many colors.
Color reacts to the colors around it.  Placing a blue shadow next to an orange area makes that orange all the more brighter to the eye.  Most of my work is glazed by a careful build up of color layers.  
The "out of focus" grouping in the back was worked through a loose wet in wet and outlining the grouping with a very subtle halo of peaches and greens.

from the series
 "Pua Lu'au"
(Flower Feast)
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
© Carmella Tuliszewski

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Sweet Setup!

I'd like to share a solution my husband found for my little studio.  The laptop I've been using all this time actually belongs to my school.  Well now I have to give the laptop back.  Because I work with a lot of flowers, I need picture reference in addition to working from life.  Hard copies just don't allow for the true color I see using the color of light from a video screen.

So, my very clever and helpful husband put together this oh so sweet set up for me.

We already have a desk top and I no longer needed all the bells and whistles of a full on laptop.  We purchased an iPad and have that hooked into a computer monitor.  My photo reference is streamed into the iPad from the desk top on the other side of the room and connected to the monitor.  
                                       All for half the price of purchasing a new laptop.   

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Moving on...

This week I taught my last class as art teacher in my small private school.  It was a difficult decision to move on from this place but in the end I found myself distracted from my duties as a teacher to my own work at home as an artist.  During the past ten years, I have to say, that I learned as much as I hope my students have.

I made the choice to become an art teacher at the age of 45, at a time when I lost the incentive it takes to work at my own projects.  So, I thought, why not share what I can do with young people.  Since I had my BFA, I entered a certification program in Art Education.  I was the oldest student in the program and, let me tell you, I never worked so hard!  Writing countless lessons, papers, studying procedures, management and so on.   This lead to walking into my first class at age 48.  Yes, I was nervous and yes, I learned a lot as I went.  But I gained so much.  Teaching brought me back to a love of creating again, trying media I never worked with before and a renewed interest in Art History.

So now, at age 58, it's time to see what I can do as a painter, dig in my gardens more, travel more with my husband, and read that long list of books on my amazon account!

To the Class of 2012, who may be following this blog, thank you for a terrific year.  You are a great group of young adults and it was my pleasure to work with you.  We all are approaching changes in our lives, but these are good changes and exciting prospects.
The best of luck to you in high school and beyond.

Mrs. T.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Summer of the Series

With the prospect of school soon to end in the next week, I am very excited to have all the time I want to paint.  I have so much beautuful reference from both the Philadelphia Flower Show and my trips to Italy and Sanoma.  I will work alternately from one set of series paintings to another.  For now I start with the Hawaiian Series from the flower show.

"Orchid Peaches"
from the series
"Pua Lu'au"
(Flower Feast)
Watercolor,  12" x 18"
© Carmella Tuliszewski

I have to admit to feeling a little rusty.  It's been over a month since I've done any painting.  I am just beginning this one but feel good about it so far.  The orange glow inside the orchids is almost there but overall it still needs plenty of play time.   I frame each photo in the lens as a composition to paint.  When it comes time to draw from the reference photo, I make any necessary chages in that composition to compliment the arrangement on the page.  Then I'm ready to go with the fun part.

My plan for the summer is to find a local Giclee printer that I can work with to start creating note cards and prints of my paintings.  I will set up a web site with a credit card app and have a go at starting a business of greeting cards, prints and originals for sale.  But first comes all the prep work!

I'll be back with a finish on this soon!  Thanks for viewing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adirondack Chair Exhibit

When I picked up my chair in February the only back support was the seven thin rails you see on the ground, spaced far apart.  Not much of a canvas to work on.  So I took the chair apart and rebuilt it.

Now, I've done a lot of projects around the house over the years, painting, sewing and woodworking.  My husband likes to say that in our family I'm the one with the tool belt!  I purchased a few larger planks and reconstructed the back with some real space to work with.  Next came drawing the design and using a scroll saw to carve our some of the shapes.

Here is the finished product.

When I think of gardens from art history, I think of the Impressionists.  So I painted with acrylic in an Impressionist style.  The butterfly is a copper attachment done in repousse', meaning the drawing is inscribed into the metal with a wooden stylist for a relief effect. 

I deliver the chair tomorrow morning and sometime in May all the chairs will be displayed around Chestnut Hill, PA and the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia.  There will be a judging for prizes and the chairs will be titled and for sale.
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