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The sky is not the limit: fun and pleasure with acrylic

Participants of the last Saturday Fun and Pleasure painting session definitely proved there is nothing too complicated when applying the right color on the right spot, so we painted sky in so many variations of red, blue and yellow, and we didn’t stop there.

I noticed a while ago that using full color images did not work very well for beginners or starting out artists’ classes and workshops. Why? It seems that when we are seeing the complete image it is more difficult to pay attention to underlying layers and not focus on final details. It happened so that details got the most focus at the beginning stage, and the entire picture was left out of site. I thought, it would make sense to go with steps and simplified layers leaving the more definite objects for the end.

This time, we taped down the eye level in order to apply all colors on the top part. Afterwards we worked out the base layers for the bottom part, adjusted shades and only afterwards placed larger trees. We adjusted some shades and added some details at the end. It is hard to believe, but even those participants who were practically absolute beginners got very nice paintings. We have to take into account that the total painting time was 2 hours and 40 minutes from start to finish. 20 minutes are devoted to recharging and lunch. Well, I’d say there is nothing wrong with adding some highlights after a while which could be some days later when the paint has settled down.

The main thing is: that was a lot of fun, great socializing, especially for people who don’t go to pubs and clubs, but prefer some more creative and more fulfilling activities.

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: one side of room

Art fun and pleasure painting

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: the other side of room

Art fun and plaesure

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: view from the end entrance

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: lots of works in progress

Art fun Jan's art

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: Jan’s art

Art fun Calia's painting

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday: Calia’s painting

Art fun: nice colors

We loved these colors

Sunset fun and pleasure afternoon

Fun and Pleasure painting Saturday

acrylic demo during workshop fun and pleasure 2 res

2 hour demo on cardboard

Acrylic Birch sunset demo painting 1 res

Finished up the demo version on canvas

Some pictures really did not come out that great because of light, I mean, too much light. There were also quite a lot of people, so it was tough to get everybody on a picture.

Next Fun and Pleasure Acrylic painting afternoon is on December 6!

Poppies pop and red is such a great color to lift our moods

Poppies is a much-loved subject, and since November is the month which many people in Canada associate with poppies and Remembrance day, we just couldn’t resist and painted some, too. Liz is our champion when it comes to speed since she gets home after class and keeps painting, that way she is always the first one to finish her painting. Well, we are not envious because all of these paintings will be adorable.

Red must be a good color for up-lifting one’s mood because I cannot remember when else we were joking and laughing so much.

The next class is about to start, so I have to be short.

The next acrylic fun and pleasure painting afternoon is on November 22.

Poppies pop Teens watercolor painting class

Teens watercolor painting class

Teens watercolor painting class

Teen group enjoyed painting poppies a lot

Poppies pop Adult acrylic painting classes

Wednesday group

Poppies acrylic painting class

Liz is holding her finished masterpiece

Poppies pop Work in progress adult painting class

Work in progress adult painting class, Gwen at work

Poppies Adult acrylic painting class

Bev’s painting can be seen in front

Poppies acrylic painting for adults

Rose started to attend our classes this fall

Poppies Adult art classes

Gordon has developed his own style, we love it

Poppies Demo and Liz's finished work

My demo never gets done that quick because I have to paint it over and over for 2 or 3 groups, Poppies: Liz’s finished work

Poppies Painting by Liz

This is how Liz’s work looks like, however, light was not that great for pictures, real painting looks way more impressive

Poppies Art classes for adults

Gwen working on her painting: it is going to be very great piece of art

Crafted and hand-made is the new luxury 2: nature helps with materials and subjects

I am slightly behind everything because my health was giving me hard times and, secondly, I had many workshops and classes recently. Although, I took quite a lot of pictures, I did not get a change to post nothing.

Returning to hand-made items and DIY art, I must say we were dealing with pumpkin still lives for quite a while. Therefore, all pictures will show different stages of just started, half-done and almost done fall still lives with pumpkins, apples and leaves which we used very directly, sometimes even placing on canvas and simply drawing around. Lots of fun and it is very easy way to straighten out our composition because leaves are an extremely decorative element, they can be in all imaginable colors and we can place them anywhere filling up all spaces that need some coverage.

Classes provide students with ideas about different techniques, steps, approaches and methods when working on some particular project or theme.

Tips for beginning artists:

Using pre-toned or pre-painted canvas speeds up everything. You can use a mix of gesso with some earthy, brownish-yellowish or greyish-brown shades. Good colors to cover canvas are something medium dark made of yellow ochre plus burnt umber plus white or small amount of light blue, or yellow ochre plus burnt sienna plus white plus raw umber, or the same with small amount of blue. Our goal is to have not very light and not very dark, but attractive medium light shade. Such canvas works much better than pure white canvas, unless your painting involves a lot of white objects or large white spaces. Pre-toned canvas allows seeing and perceiving objects in a more correct manner, therefore, it is much simpler to add shadows, dark values, and highlighted spots.

First layers of paint should be applied using generous amount of not much diluted color. Don’t be afraid because acrylic tolerates quite a lot, and everything can be adjusted and straightened out! Sometimes beginners use paint very sparsely. It dries out extremely fast, does not give a chance for washing out edges and looks streaky. It is also wrong to stop working on some area because of fear to damage this spot. This might take some additional time, but results will be more pleasing.

When in doubt, start with medium dark, however, many objects require starting with deep darks. Medium dark is a good spot to be, because you can lighten it up and add stronger darks, and that is really useful for still life objects and floral painting.

Leave the tiny details and small adjustments for the end stage. There is no need to work out perfectly parts that will be covered with other elements.

It is always important to simplify the scene or image we intend to work on. That means to start with very simple shapes, very simple edges, and basic accents.

It is easier to apply wet acrylic paint over dry surface, especially when we need strong highlight and strong values. That prevents the fresh part from mixing in with the rest, and if applied incorrectly, can be swiped off with wet paper towel. The edge is rubbed off with dry or slightly damp brush. That allows connecting the freshly painted part with the dry part seamlessly.

Fresh acrylic can look much lighter than it will be after it dries. No need to worry that some part looks too light while the painting is wet. Darks are achieved easier; lights sometimes require the use of multiple layers and repetition of steps. Do not be afraid that you need to repeat some steps and paint application sequences. That is a completely normal process.

I hope everybody can follow these simple steps. For more assistance, you will just have to attend some art classes!

We created quite a few of great works for our own decorating needs. Some still need some work.

Adult acrylic painting classes

Acrylic painting classes for adults: Wednesday group

Pumpkin season painting

Pumpkin season painting

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress 2

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress 3

Acrylic painting classes for adults

Pumpkin still life: works in progress 4

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress 5

Pumpkin still life: works in progress

Pumpkin still life: works in progress 6

Practically finished painting

Pumpkin still life: works in progress: this is practically done

Autumn art painting class for adults 9

Painting loosely can be of great advantage

Art classes for adults: fall still life

Art classes for adults: fall still life

Res MY Pumpkin paint

Art classes for adults: fall still life demo version, still needs some work, but I will probably call it a day

Crafted and hand-made is the new luxury 1

When reviewing some reports from trend analysis about home decor, gift and luxury item retail, I was very pleased seeing that anything hand-made and crafted was given the deserved attention. The real, the genuine, the one of a kind and hand-made things are predicted to become more and more important for our living environment in order to regain the personal touch which was lost in the long run towards the globalization. I believe we can go only so long with low-quality mass-made products which only fill up the space, but do not really contribute to the interior environment of our living and working spaces. The hand-made things have double value which is not always the cost which is put into this item in the way of materials and tools, but the added value resulting from our personal input, energetic vibrations and the esthetics of our creation. Such things are also unique, and always carry some special flare because of person who created them. There is no comparison between some inexpensive Wallmart or similar print which looks cheap, has no real value except for cost of paint and piece of plastic or sadly looking artificial canvas and self-made, hand-made or crafted original item or painting. No surprise many people express their interest in learning how such things are created. There is huge interest in DIY arts and crafts.Pleasure painting workshop Fun and pleasure acrylic painting workshop Sponge painting workshop for adults Sponge is a great tool for acrylic painting Autumn trees : sponge painting Autumn trees painted with brush and sponge Using sponge for acrylic painting Sponge is very helpful in achieving effectsAcrylic painting for beginners Acrylic painting for beginners Acrylic painting for beginners Lots of fun Saturday painting workshops attendees Attendees of pleasure painting workshop Acrylic painting for beginners Fun and pleasure acrylic painting workshops have usually more than just one goal. We learn how to apply new techniques, how to implement unusual elements, how to use new tools, and we also explore some subjects which are well-known, but always offer potential for personal approach. Trees have found their reflection in paintings and decorative art (decorative art is what actually makes minimum 50% of all available art) for as long as humans exist. We are not making a discovery of a century, but we are learning how to make painting within 3 hours without too much effort and sweat. It’s obvious that such paintings can be still enhanced after the workshop which outlines the basics; students can add more detail and more layers or highlights afterwards. The principle is what counts. This time we were applying sponge. Sponge has huge potential with acrylics, and the use of this approach is actually not limited to trees or forests. It is impossible to paint so fast with brush and the created textures make these works look loose, naturally attractive. Sponge can be applied in multiple layers starting from darks and moving up to lights and highlights. Sponge can be used for the entire painting, just adding some smaller details with a brush. This technique is a bit under-appreciated, but over time I intend to present for your attention more subjects which can be successfully painted with sponge. For beginners and for artists who would like their painting to look somewhat abstract, it is of a great value. Everybody can practice using sponge on their own because it is such a relaxing and easy painting technique. The only threat can be overuse of a particular color and paint colors which do not present strong contrast. Other than that, it is pure fun! Demo painting for acrylic workshop This is one of my quick demos for sponge application with acrylic. Try it! It’s interesting and you could be very satisfied with results!

Painting process mirrors life and that is fantastic

Art creation involves a large range of experiences and emotions: it is pleasure, but can cause problems; it makes us happy, but can be disappointing, achievements come after failures, and lucky accidents happen, too. Especially when paint spills all over your just finished painting, but it only lands on spots which really look better now, plus creates the feel of loose and natural paint application. Cannot happen that way? Well, there are some happy moments which arise from mistakes, and not only in art.

Should you be upset if you feel very attracted to painting, but so far haven’t had any chance to try it or are convinced you have no talent? Definitely not, because we learn painting or drawing with very various goals in mind: just for pleasure, as a hobby, for the love of color, desire to be creative, have something for yourself,  decorate home, paint a gift, prove yourself you can do it, paint like …, and so on, and so on.

When it comes to learning painting or drawing, it is no different from any other studies. Some people are fast learners, some are slow, some students like repeating the new approach at home, but the other ones only do something in the classroom. We all have distinctive ways of seeing and perceiving the reality, some of us have well-trained memory, some have plenty of life experience, and there are also people who can hear things better than visualize them and vice versa.

An art teacher gives directions, explanations, recommendations, advice and examples. During classes, your art teacher will show and demonstrate painting steps, paint application techniques, unusual materials and unexpected ways to apply paint; wrong and proper ways to place items or scenes on your canvas and good and bad mixes of paint. The teacher will make you aware about the fastest and the most effective methods to achieve the desirable effect and the simplest techniques when painting complicated subjects. However, the learning process requires that student’s involvement is as important as teacher’s, because the results directly depend on the effort students have put into their work. They depend on attention or lack of it, on willingness to take risks or not, on whether it is only an attempt or exploration of something new or serious interest and enthusiasm.

The most important part of learning process is our gain from it. That could be knowledge or skill, an idea or just inspiration.

What is the difference between an art class and workshop? Classes and lessons are usually ongoing and the particular matter is explored from simple to complicated, from easy to difficult, and from basic to advanced. There are sometimes classes which deal with very specific subject: trees in watercolor, water in acrylic, works created pouring paint, negative florals or glass in still life; or specific medium or technique: collage, ink and watercolor, watercolor and pastel and so on. Workshops are usually longer than a class and can have as an objective a completely finished work. However, students should not always expect any class or workshop resulting in ready to hang artwork, just because we have different learning and working speeds, and sometimes the new technique takes time to process it in our mind.

Secondly, the experience is an important part of any process. Even though, when watching somebody painting with ease, we assume there are no difficulties involved, that’s not completely true. We need some patience and we also need a positive attitude: if this did not happen today, it will happen sometime. And I can assure, it will. It is highly unlikely that nothing would suit us among millions of ways painting or drawing is done.

Pictures from our last week’s art class serve as illustration. This subject was much loved, and one painting is done, or by the end of class it seemed to be done. The fall gives us plenty of ideas and great things to use for direct observation and painting, not to mention the possibilities to interpret the fall colors! They can please everybody. Happy weekend with nice colors in mind and brushes or pencils in hand!

The spectacular show of the fall: plenty to capture, plenty to paint

Yellow, orange, rusty color and red: leaves say good-bye to their shelter tree and throw themselves into the swirling wind. It is the ancient show of the fall: the last waltz of leaves with the wind as they fall down, down, down …

While the fall is writing a summary about everything that was done during this year, the nature decorates outdoors with all its treasures: colorful leaves, acorns, rowan berries, chestnuts, wild mushrooms, rose hips, late fall blooms, vegetables in the garden and fruits on trees. This is the season of abundance, and this is the most genuine pleasure for our eyes and soul.

Well, the wind could slow down a bit, and showers could be not that freezing. However, they’re just doing their job whether we like it or not. What can be more soothing and relaxing than creating some paintings in the warm and welcoming fall colors? A cup of herbal tea perhaps, or flavor of chicken soup on the stove? These are useful things for nasty and chilly fall days, too, but they don’t replace the simple pleasure of creation.

If there weren’t these fantastic colors out there, the pain of the summer disappearing behind a dark cloud would be unbearable! I hope everybody can enjoy some hot chicken broth or a cup of tea with homemade pastries at this chilly night in countries where it is getting cold. Other than that: we always have our brushes, pencils and paints. Let us keep painting and drawing, and creating as the fall makes us seek for a shelter indoors! Let us lighten up our inspiration so that we don’t have to blame the darkness and bad weather for our upset moods!

I have attached for illustration the objects we used for painting during last week’s classes, some first stage demo images and also some of the autumn nature series paintings. Most are 3D, basically, it’s impossible to get a good picture of them. I mean in true colors, etc. So be it since I cannot make these images better.

Let’s extend our appreciation for culture and art beyond the Culture Days weekend

Many artistic and culturally enlightening activities will take place all over Canada during this weekend. I did not register an event myself since the number of attendants and visitors was no different from regular weekdays in the last 4 years, so I thought it didn’t make too much sense to go for the trouble again. However, the studio and the gallery will be open, and everybody is welcome.

We definitely have to evoke more interest about creative activities and visual arts in particular.  “By the year 2020, the World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide.” (http://www.psychiatry.wustl.edu/depression/depression_facts.htm)

It is important to express oneself, to be among other people, to share your ideas and thoughts and to be busy and satisfied with at least something in your life: that makes a person less sensitive and less vulnerable; therefore such a person will find easier ways to overcome periods of upset and bad moods, anxiety attacks and desperation. That is the straightest path to the mental freedom, and it takes us away from fears, doubts and despair. Everybody who finds the strength to participate in art creation and to meet other people who enjoy creativity and creation, sooner or later finds out that there is much more to these activities, workshops and classes. It is surprising how much engaging in creation of visual art can help! While most people assume, it’s just brushing around and playing with color, these activities have wonderful ability to fill up one’s mind and to keep it busy and undisturbed for the entire length of painting or drawing session. Such activities are completely under-evaluated.  The most interesting feature of artistic creation is its universality, it suits absolutely any age: kids and teens, youth, adults and seniors. Busy moms, tired workers, exhausted officials, lonely people, retirees, people who are addicted and seek an escape from their addiction, people who are stressed out and people who are completely lost in their lives: everybody can benefit from creativity. While we shouldn’t expect miracles: nobody starts to paint like Rembrandt just during one painting class, we develop a new set of skills, new methods to express our feelings and emotions, we have pleasurable experiences and we even create something beautiful which can be used in many different ways. This interest in creation can turn into our most favorite thing, as well.

The other amazing feature of art creation is its ability to fight cravings and addictions. That definitely is one more reason to keep out food and drinks of painting and drawing activities. The basic reason for not painting where one eats is the toxicity of all chemicals and paints. Art can help overcome addictions to food, alcohol, mobile devices, dependence on the internet, it also teaches how to organize oneself, how to get rid of useless and destructive emotions and how to enjoy what we have and our life.

Advantages of creative activities

Advantages of creative activities 2

Culture Days is a great initiative to remind us that we need way more than just daily bread and roof. Hopefully, the interest in cultural and creative activities which are realistically available to absolutely every one of us will not fade away once this weekend is over. I hope meeting at least some of my friend artists, students, potential students and art lovers at my gallery this weekend.

What’s on the easel?

Well, I had not posted anything in a while. The reason is: I was feeling quite terribly. It seems the early fall weather with abnormal humidity and heat at first and with rains and storms afterwards had really got me. I was keeping my schedule to minimum: I gave all scheduled classes since I did not want to disappoint my students, but that was about it.

I thought I would get done some paintings which I started back in August, but that was not an achievable goal. While painting keeps pain at some moderate level, it was still difficult to stay on top of all tasks and duties which I had set for me.

It usually takes some time to recover completely, and my new website and initiation of the other life style blog will have to wait for a better moment. Meanwhile, we have been working on some new projects. I have been doing some painting, too, regardless of all disturbing matters. I have nice frames for most of these paintings, and hopefully the final stage won’t take too long.

One more thing: when photographed, acrylic paintings never look the same what they seem to be on the wall. I am sometimes trying different camera settings, different light conditions, different distances and sizes, but I have to admit that only very large acrylic paintings look somehow similarly to their originals. I have a very good camera with an excellent lens, I’ve been taking photos of paintings for more than a decade, but only watercolors and pencil drawings come out nicely. It is sometimes very annoying because the photo sort of shows completely distinctive colors.

Change is always possible, but it will cost us some efforts

I’ve recently done quite a lot of reading, and articles were ranging from stress, life coaching, fitness, diets, moms and kids, teens’ problems, depression, anxiety to universe, loneliness, obsession, complaints and visual art. Well, the common thing most often was: everything is pretty much wrong and we should really work on some kind of improvement. Poets were less unsatisfied with life since they found something inspiring in being not that well off.

We are used to believe that humans are steadily progressing and we become better, smarter, more intelligent, stronger and healthier with every new generation. However, there has been only a huge technical progress, and only mobile devices and computers have become noticeably smarter and more advanced, but humans are meanwhile regressing. At a fast rate. Our health is terrible, and many earlier unknown diseases are genetically inherited, our mind gets much less used since there is always an answer on the Internet, and our human skills and the ability to interact and build personal relationships is totally neglected. Taking into account the abnormal consumption of toxic substances and chemicals, scientists have figured out we would last for just 30 more generations. That would be the moment when humans lose their reproductive ability because of genetic errors which the body will not be able to fix. Well, they might just learn to re-write the DNA and correct the broken sequences by that time.

Thankfully and despite the ignorance which is very characteristic for consumers society, the hand-made art is still surviving. One might think it is so silly to try to draw and paint for real when it is possible to do everything digitally. It sure is, and there are always new apps, but the gain and the goal is actually to maintain our humanity, and that won’t be achieved using apps. This might sound way overdone, but when we meet kids who rarely get in touch with nature, who have seen it mostly on the TV or computer, when we hear adults who complain about stresses and loneliness and how dysfunctional their lives have become, I am wondering why don’t they do anything to change this?

At the studio, we are about small droplets which build a huge waterfall and tiny leaves which make up a forest. I mean, one does not necessarily have to choose art as a career, there will be so many other benefits along the road. The ability to experience and create the beauty is just one of them.

I was just looking at grape leaves on vine in my backyard. What perfection, what grace in every angle, in every shape! The weather is fantastic at the moment, so the magic light of late afternoon was playing in these leaves and creating amazing patterns and soft value transitions. So simple, yet absolutely stunning! Nature does not love emptiness: we can fill ourselves and our time either with something useful, or with waste. We have actually always some choice, and we have plenty of choices when it comes to our leisure. Small changes lead to big results, although they still take efforts. I know, it’s much easier to sit back and stare at the TV screen. I do that, too when I am feeling totally exhausted and cannot even move, but that’s limited to just some 20 minutes here and there.

I had the largest number of workshops ever this August: 8 in total. I did not manage to take pictures of all works because there were just too many, but I still got a lot of watercolor sketching pics. Although, art teaching can be very tiring, I sometimes feel like re-energized after a long workshop, and this happens due to the great energy which is circulating in the studio. I wrote a mom who expressed her satisfaction for daughter’s successfully created art: the hugest and the most meaningful reward for a teacher is the student who has acquired new skills and new passion.

 

I must say things like poetry, writing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, drawing or painting cannot be even taught. A teacher is only providing with tools, methods, techniques and explanations about such processes, but the doing and learning is actually up to the student. As a teacher, I can show, demonstrate, advise, recommend, comment and draw attention to some technique or issue, but the student will have to apply these recommendations and tips on his or her own. The result or lack of it greatly depends on that person who is learning.

I will discuss in more detail next time why some great intentions lead to nothing and why there will always be somebody who drops out.

 

Let us not turn ourselves into robots: the rewarding artistic endevours

While we all love spring with its first greens and blooms, there is nothing as romantic as the fall for those who love contemplating, meditating and plunging into colors and foggy sceneries. Oh well, days are getting shorter and cool breeze reminds us that the fall is almost at our doorstep.

It is a busy season for me, as well. Not only because workshops are well attended when the weather quite often turns from sunny to rainy, but also because it is time to sort out everything what has been done so far and finalize the schedules for fall/winter classes, exhibitions and events.

There is something very special about people indulging in arts and creativity. Most of them know that our life is too short to achieve everything we dreamt about, yet, we are still trying to climb up mountains of imagination in order to reach some foggy tops, we are still trying to explain the magic and make it our closest companion. Some will succeed, but all of them will have amazing moments filled with feelings of discovery, filled with the sense we have understood something that few others will.

I had a chance to test whether art classes could potentially cure teens from computer addiction and dependence from mobile devices. Parents were very skeptical at the beginning because these were kids who would not leave their computer to have dinner. It still was worth a try. Unfortunately the time frame was too short, however, they not only were drawing and painting in watercolor with great enthusiasm, but they asked for more classes and more opportunities to use pencil, paints and paper. I had to leave, but they actually had acquired some skill which they were using on their own after I was not giving any more classes. That is a remarkable achievement, and that also makes me want to introduce more people to art which can be created from scratch without any use of photos, computers, edited images or printouts. This exercises our memory, brain flexibility, decision-making and focusing ability, attention, fine motor movements, takes care of confidence and brings more satisfaction into somebody’s sometimes boring and very predictable life. We cannot spend the entire life in a company of phones, computers and tablets. There has to be something to level this out and return us to a balanced state. Sports and dancing and is not for everybody, especially if they have some health issues, so I can see the huge potential in artistic endeavours.

Every person who has put down the glass of drink in order to pick up the paint brush is an achievement. Every person who has found a new content and purpose in their well-being because of doing art is a gain for society. Every kid who is growing up surrounded by harmony of colors and shapes, but not by images of horror movies, is worth a try. Finally, every person who is a bit happier today than they were yesterday is worth the effort. I am not saying this to give somebody false expectations of positive outcomes or just for the sake of nice content. I have seen this happening: talents unfolding, people becoming more humane and more interested in their lives, health issues getting less bothersome and kids experiencing more childhood, not more of computer games. I will keep spreading the word of the extremely great impact of arts on our human existence, and I would be happy, you do, too.

The attached images were done during intensive watercolor workshops for teens. I was in a big rush, teens works will follow because there were just very many.

Fall vegetables: watercolor sketches

Quick demos and sketches of vegetables and leaves

Late summer leaves

Grape leaves: pen and watercolor

Tomatoes: watercolor and pen sketch

Tomatoes: in the garden and on the table

Fall leaves: watercolor sketch

More leaves and vegetables

Green peas: watercolor and pen sketch

Green peas

Fall leaves and vegetables: watercolor and pen sketch

View at my demo pieces

Fall colors in leaves and tomatoes: watercolor

 

Fall colors in leaves and tomatoes: watercolor and pen sketches

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