index card art project update

by | Mar 20, 2019 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting | 50 comments

Through the month of March, I’ve been working on the #indexcardartproject with two of my Instagram friends – @mishwooderson and @openfieldmercantile .  It’s been such a great exercise for me in a lot of ways and I thought I would share my thoughts and takeaways so far.

First off, if you want to get into art in any capacity, a project like this is a great way to do it.  It’s a commitment to consistency, not to creating anything great or frame-worthy.  It’s about learning through putting pencil-to-paper so to speak.  And, with just 17 cards done, I have already learned a lot.   Here are five of the areas where I feel like I’ve grown the most.

one | shapes

I’m learning to focus on the larger shapes of a subject.  I seem to be able to do this with certain things, but I get bogged down with the details on others.  Since I’m approaching each card with the idea that it’s okay for the work to be unrefined and unfinished, I’m okay with a tree being represented with just a blob or two or three colors.  Then, the magic of paint and our own incredible human eye work together to make a tree of it.  It’s teaching me that I don’t need to overdo it in the detail department.

two | color

I have been going out on a limb with a lot of the colors I’ve been using and it’s been liberating.  From the beginning, I was mixing colors on my palette that I would want to use in a home decor application.  While that approach can be helpful if I’m painting a piece to fit in a specific room, it can be counterproductive if I want the painting to have a sense of reality at all.  While I’m not going for photorealism or anything even close to that, I want the colors to feel appropriate for the subject.  I’m learning to add more reds and pinks and browns to my favorite green, blue, and white color palette.  And just how it does when you add warm wood to a room or a touch of copper, it makes the cooler colors pop.

I’m also pushing the colors more…darker, lighter, brighter, more vibrant.  Pushing my limits helps me discover where they are.  Oh, that was too far for me or wow, this worked!

three | composition

I’ve been reading a book on composition and have been trying different ideas in my landscape paintings.  I am learning a lot about what makes an interesting painting, what leads the eye, and what fits with my personal tastes.  I think I was a little lazy about studying composition because I learned all about it as I was studying photography.  While many of the concepts are the same, they are totally different art forms.  What makes a great picture doesn’t necessarily make a great painting.

Taking the time to be a student of composition has improved my work already.

four | not being afraid of white

In so many books I’ve read about painting, the author reiterates how adding white to greens makes them chalky.  I took that as “don’t do it.”  But, as I’ve been playing with color and as I’ve been studying some of the impressionists, I am feeling free to add more and more white.  I’m going through tubes of white at a ridiculous rate now.  I’ve already been buying large tubes, but I think I might need to buy it in cans.

And I’m finding all of these lovely soft greens that I was afraid to mix before because I thought it was “wrong”.

five | contrast

Contrast and value are other areas I’ve coasted in for a while.  I have developed my eye through photography and decorating to notice contrasts and the way high contrast adds drama and low contrast is soft and gentler on the eyes.   But I’m recognizing how much more mindful I need to be about contrasts and values in painting.  I’m enjoying exploring those areas in these little paintings, especially in the skies and clouds.

I haven’t had a lot of time to work on larger painting projects over the past few weeks, but I have completed a couple of landscapes and cows applying these lessons so far…

I hung the landscapes in my 1/2 bathroom (on my mom’s insistence that I hang one of my own paintings in my house), but the originals of the cows will be for sale soon.  All four of these are available in prints and other products on Society6, though.  You can check them out HERE.

50 Comments

  1. Susan

    Can you please share what type and brand paints you use?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I using artist’s oil paints, primarily Windsor & Newton and Gamblin.

      Reply
      • Christine

        PLEASE. Let us commission your paintings. They sell so quickly, I really want to have you paint one for me. Thank you

        Reply
        • Marian Parsons

          You can send me an e-mail about it. I’m not taking official commissions at this point, but I might in the future.

          Reply
  2. Catherine

    Marian,
    I just have to tell you , “You are one VERY talented and creative young woman, and please DO NOT ever think otherwise!!! I just love ALL your art work. You are a real inspiration!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you for the encouragement, Catherine!

      Reply
  3. Karen Faasse

    WOW! …just…WOW!

    Marian, your progress is astounding and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your latest project – those cards are gorgeous…will I be seeing any of those on Daily Paintworks? *please,please,please*

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I haven’t decided on that, yet! I feel like these are meant to be small and I don’t know how they would look on a larger scale.

      Reply
  4. Amy Kaminski

    Those cows though…..💖

    Reply
  5. amy joanne mogish

    WOW! Little masterpieces! I just love them…..mmm, you’re making me very interested in dipping my toe into oil painting! Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      You should! You’ve already got the artistic ability!

      Reply
  6. Eileen

    Boy, I even want the index cards!!! Lovely work!

    Reply
  7. Kathy McDonagh

    The index cards look amazing all strung across your chalk board! And those cows! So much talent.

    Reply
  8. Carol

    Congrats on becoming an accomplished painter. These are fantastic. Your work just keeps getting better and better. Love them all.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!

      Reply
  9. Erica H

    Your paintings are so pretty – in any size!
    Out of curiosity, are you making significant money on the banner and scrolling ads on your website? I find them so annoying and they bog down the page and slow it down. I’ve never clicked an ad on a blog, so I can’t imagine that many people do.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Erica, yes, those are a significant part of my blog income. I’m sorry if they are slowing things down and I know they can be annoying! Advertisers want ads that are more attention-grabbing these days. Money is earned based on impressions (views), not just clicks. You can install an ad blocker if they are really bothering you.

      Reply
  10. Donna Doble-Brown

    Marian,
    Thank goodness for your Mom! These are WONDERFUL! I love every single one!
    💗

    Reply
  11. Connie

    I’m loving the pops of golden yellows in these paintings! I think each day’that is my favorite’, till the next painting appears!

    Reply
  12. Crystal

    You just continue to outdo yourself Marian! I’m enjoying your art journey so so much 🙂

    Reply
    • Nan

      What is to book with the different compositions that you have opened in your photo? It looks yummy

      Reply
  13. Carole

    I love your index card art! I taught US History (currently retired) and I used the same idea in the classroom. I called it Postcards. Students would write to family back home and share their experiences on one side of the index card and draw an event which they “experienced” (learned about). We hung the postcards on wire along the hallway. Even students who said they couldn’t draw creating wonderful art and wrote poignantly about an experience.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      What a great project and a way to show the students gifts that they might not have been aware of.

      Reply
  14. Lelanie

    I’m really loving this project too and you seriously inspire me. Can you recommend books or websites you are studying composition from?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I am putting together a resource page for art, decorating, etc. The books I use, paints, classes, etc. will all be listed.

      Reply
  15. Addie

    WOW!!!! Moooooove over landscapes…..the cows are awesome !!!! Could you share what tool or how you sign your name to a painting? It doesn’t appear to be with a brush. I oil painted years ago but they probably have new tools now.
    Everything you do is AAA+++++++++

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I use a pointed rubber brush and scratch my name in the wet paint. I have found that to be easier to me than trying to paint it on.

      Reply
  16. Nancy

    I just love everything you do, Marian!

    Reply
  17. Carol

    Wonderful landscapes! I need to try this!

    Reply
  18. Brenda

    I love the landscapes on the index cards. Do you think that you will ever sell prints of you work?

    Reply
  19. Elizabeth

    Wow…that’s all I can say! You are truly inspiring and amazing!

    Reply
  20. Laurie

    Marian, You have learned to paint! And pretty darn fast too! I’d love to see some of it on furniture or wooden boxes not

    Reply
  21. Sue Anderson

    Your landscapes are lovely. I’d like to take a walk in them!

    Reply
  22. Sally Smith

    Your art is so beautiful! I love all things sheep…hint- hint..any chance of some sheep paintings?? I hope so, thanks for sharing your talents!!

    Reply
  23. Stacy Saman

    As someone quite new to your blog, and an artist, I am truly amazed at how quickly your art is improving! I shouldn’t be, since your eye for decor is inspirational. I thank you for forcing me to take time to concentrate on skills I take for granted, or elements I haven’t seriously pondered in a great while. That sounded way too snobby! Aak!
    I wish I had your career, sometimes, too!

    Reply
  24. Kris

    How do you keep the index card strata from warping with the oils? How do you set up?

    Reply
  25. Barb K

    In my next life-my only hope. Just beautiful.

    Reply
  26. Jessica | Petal + Ply

    These are the best ever! I can not believe you are able to squeeze in so much detail and beauty on those little cards. Beautiful!

    Reply
  27. tracey

    You are an amazing painter! I love these, and I am in awe…sadly, I don’t have any talent in that area at all. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  28. Wendy Y

    Wow Marian your paintings have improved so much since you started the 100 meadows project! I love that you didn’t wait until now to share your paintings with us, because we would have thought you were just naturally always this good at it. It helps us see that practice and study really does work! (Thank you for sharing the books and supplies that have helped you too). We appreciate you! 😁

    Reply
  29. Marianne

    I’ve loved seeing your painting progress and I love the addition of more white too! Particularly I love #6 and #13 (peaking at the house through the trees!) . How do you decide on your subject? Are these from photographs, memory or just your fabulous imagination?

    Reply
  30. Hannah

    These are just so beautiful—I love seeing these petite landscapes all pinned up together. Wonderfully done!

    Reply
  31. DM

    Lovely art and you are inspiring me to paint again! What book do you have open showing the contrasts/complimentaries with the paint palette next to it?

    Reply
  32. Erica Swagler

    These small painting are so pretty, especially love them displayed so simply! I really enjoy following your process of learning – you inspire!! You mentioned studying photography, which is something I”m wanting to study. Would you recommend any good photography books?

    Reply
  33. fireboy and watergirl

    Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today I find it finally. this post gives me lots of advise it is very useful for me.

    Reply
  34. Carla Devine

    Hi. Which book is open with all the small landscapes?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It is called Composition of Outdoor Painting by Payne. it’s a great resource book.

      Reply
  35. temple run

    When they know I am open to suggestions and challenges, it allows cultivation of the best ideas, not just the convenient ones.

    Reply
  36. Nigel

    Good lord. “Not to create anything frameworthy or a masterpiece….” Then throws out the warmest, most serene farm paintings known to man.

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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