Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Bigger on the Inside

At the insistence of many of my friends, I have given in and started watching Doctor Who. Yesterday I finished this painting as a Birthday present for my friend who so graciously offered to accompany me on my journey through the Dr. Who universe.

TARDIS - watercolor and pen

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ah hah!

So it turns out that trying to graduate by next May has kept me so busy that I have been very neglectful of artistic times. This means I have very few drawings/paintings to show for the past few months. I have taken a few hours here and there to create a few things, most of which are currently still in my "Need to be finished" pile.

Last night I had an "Ah hah! moment when I realized that throwing around paints and graphite is probably a much more therapeutic way to unwind than obsessively refreshing Facebook or getting lost in the archives of Tumblr (yes, I am guilty of both). I am going to try to remember this and hopefully have pictures to post here more often.

In the meantime, here are a few of the limited creations I've made this semester (Please forgive the incompleteness of most of them).

Stegosaurus in Space! This little guy hitched a ride on a rocket. Graphite.

Barn owl from the 2012 NC State Fair. Graphite.

A little root flower that popped into my head one night while drawing before bed. Pencil and Photoshop.

First portrait I've done in years. It was a fun experiment.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Art Sale Paintings of Awesomeness!

Here are a few of the paintings I've sent out so far! Be sure to check out my Art Sale post and you can get some little guys like this made just for you!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Buy Art, Help Me Go to School!

So here's the deal. I am a college student at North Carolina State University. I depend largely on Financial Aid to pay for my tuition/fees and books every semester. Despite maintaining satisfactory progress, a (pretty darn) good GPA, and the same financial status as in years past, I have not received enough financial aid to cover the costs of my next (and hopefully last) year of undergraduate coursework. Needless to say, this isn't such a great situation. But I have an idea.

Instead of griping about how frustrating it is, I'm going to make paintings, doodles, and sketches. Lots of them. Then I'm going to send them to anyone who "donates" $5+ toward my 2011-2012 school fund. You get a spiffy piece of artwork made by me, and I get to go to school this year without entering into loads of debt. Think of it as an investment in my education!

Since it takes a little more time to do paintings than sketches, here's a breakdown of what you'll get:

$5 - 5x5 Sketch or super fast painting

$10+ - 5x5 Watercolor painting

Below are a few examples of paintings.

I kind of have a thing for cephalopods...

...and space.

If you have a preference for cephalopods over space (or the other way around) just let me know. If not, I'll choose one for you and it'll be a surprise. A special surprise from me to you. I might also throw in a few non-space and non-cephalopod paintings just to mix things up a bit. Whatever you end up with, I promise to do my best to make it super spiffy.

Interested? Click the donate button!

You can also help by sharing this on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.

Edit: Removed donate button as this project is finished for now. Thanks to everyone who supported me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Painting through the Universe: Earth

It's been a while since I've worked on my Painting through the Universe project, but have no fear! I have a new installment to continue our journey through the solar system. This one should be very familiar as it is our very own planet Earth. The planet that we share and inhabit together; the only one we have.

Earth in watercolors

Friday, July 8, 2011

Four Jellyfish

I often like to doodle and paint whenever I'm watching a movie or television show or doing pretty much anything that involves listening (Note to my instructors: I'm still paying attention even if I'm doodling away. Probably paying more attention than if I wasn't doodling!). The other day I was in the mood to paint, but not really paint anything in particular. So while watching way too many episodes of True Blood (Yes, I'll admit it. I'm hooked), I painted whatever was in my mind at that time. Apparently jellyfish were on my mind. Why not? They are amazing creatures! Now, I'm hooked on painting them. Here's a picture of the ones I painted yesterday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I've been working on a couple watercolor paintings of labware recently. I've always loved glassware and glass sculptures. Labware is no different. Though its purpose is almost always utilitarian, I can't help but find it beautiful in its own way.

This is a painting of a titration in an Erlenmeyer flask. Titrations are used to figure out the strength (concentration) of a solution. A common titration often used in general chemistry labs is to start with an unknown acidic solution with an indicator (in my painting it is phenylphthalein) added. Carefully measured amounts of a known concentration of basic solution are added until the original solution briefly changes color. From that point, calculations are made to determine the concentration of the original solution.

My painting captures the moment when the phenylphthalein has changed color due to the addition of drops of basic solution.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Painting through the Universe: Eskimo Nebula

I've been taking a little break from planets for a bit and have gotten very excited about painting nebulae. At first I just played around with some different methods of painting them but last week I attempted my first real nebula.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of beautiful nebulae to choose from and so sent a quick request out to twitter for suggestions. The Eskimo Nebula came back as a suggestion from Adam P. Knave. I have to admit, at first I was not very confident about attempting this particular nebula but I decided to just go for it and see what happened. This is the result!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Squids in SPACE!

This little guy is a bobtail squid that I painted yesterday. Squids like this one are currently on their way to space on Endeavour's last mission to the International Space Station!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Painting through the Universe: Venus

After many attempts at Venus, I am finally somewhat happy with this one. I may or may not have several "practice" (aka failed attempt) Venuses laying around all over the place. But this project is about more than just making pretty paintings, it's about learning and trying new things too! That definitely happened while painting Venus...

Venus is a pretty awesome planet. Super hot, crazy atmosphere. Check out the NASA Venus profile and a Windows to the Universe Venus page.

I hope you like it!

Note: Venus isn't really purple. I found some false-color images in which the planet was purple-ish. Once I saw them, I knew I had to paint my Venus purple.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Painting through the Universe: Mercury

I've been hesitating about posting my latest Mercury painting for a number or reasons.

Initially I had a hard time getting started on this one. The source materials were quite varied and I couldn't decide what look to go for. Finally I decided to just start something and see what happened.

After a few watercolor washes and a couple of details were added, everything started to go a little more smoothly. Until mud happened. That oh-so-easy-to-achieve state where all the colors start to turn into brown/gray mush. I kind of panicked, made a spur of the moment decision, and in the process of trying to cover up the mud, just ended up with a bigger mess. Think mud on top of mud. 

The result is below. I did not originally plan for the background to be black or for the shadow to be there. They are both byproducts of the panicking and covering up process.

I was so intent on fixing the "mud" issue that I paid no attention to the correct placement of the shadow. If you're thinking to yourself that something about the shape is off I totally agree. I would like to go back and fix it, but I think I need to just step back from this one for a while before trying to "fix" things again. In the spirit of continuing my project and not getting stuck on Mercury I am going to go ahead and share it.

Thoughts and suggestions are most welcome!

Onward to Venus!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Painting through the Universe: About Mercury

Up next on our artistic journey through the Solar System is, you guessed it, Mercury! Here are a few quick links to learn more about this planet and get inspiration for this week's painting:

Nasa Mercury Profile

A Few Mercury Images from MESSENGER (on Bad Astronomy Blog)

National Geographic Information on Mercury (be sure to check out the Size Comparison tab)

Happy art times!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Painting through the Universe: The Sun

As I mentioned in my last post, the first subject for my Painting through the Universe project was the Sun. I was really excited about this one because I am often struck by how amazing our Sun is; without it we wouldn't exist! 

In my initial searching about the Sun I found two very helpful pieces of information. One, many NASA images are not copyrighted and are available for use by the general public. More on that can be found at the "Using NASA Imagery and Linking to NASA Websites" page. I was concerned about where I was going to find source materials for my Painting Through the Universe project because, like many people I'm sure, I don't have my own copies of space photos. The NASA policy on using images will be a great thing to keep in mind for the future.

The second piece of NASA awesomeness is this page all about our star

After all of that, here is my Sun painting! A lot of the process was me just experimenting with watercolors. I wanted it to "glow" but still have a crust. Several times throughout the process I thought I had completely messed up the whole thing. I grew up watching Bob Ross and his "happy little accidents" so instead of scrapping the painting and starting over, I left the mistakes. Sure enough most of them turned out to be "happy."

I'd love to hear what you think about it and see your Sun-themed art!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Painting through the Universe

Since I was very little, I have loved the solar system. I read as many books on the planets as I could find, and in the second grade I memorized the composition and size of each. When we went to the planetarium for a planet-themed show I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world; I'm pretty sure my face hurt afterwards from smiling the whole time.

My fascination with our Solar System has not changed but has grown into a fascination and admiration of the universe and everything it contains. Being always on the look out for ways to combine my interests with art, I stumbled on an idea: why not paint my way through the universe? What better subject material?

My goal is to choose a subject each week, paint it, learn some interesting tidbits about it, and post it on this blog. I would love it if you or anyone you know would like to join me in this artistic endeavor! I'll post the week's subject in advance and then we'll all get to work on our creations. 

I'm going to start with the Solar System and within the Solar System I am going to start with our beloved star: the Sun. 

Take some time this week and draw/sketch/paint the Sun with me!

P.S. I'd love to see your Sun-themed art! Send me a link to or an e-mail with a picture of your art and (if you want) I'll include it here in the Sun post. E-mail address: katyannc [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, March 19, 2011


 Today is the day of the 3/19/11 supermoon! I'm hoping to be able to catch a glimpse later if the weather doesn't have other plans.

Lots of great posts have been shared about the supermoon (and how is isn't going to cause worldwide disaster). I was particularly inspired by the one from Bad Astronomer to honor this momentous occasion with artistic fun times. The painting below is the result.
Note: while he may look like he has super powers, this guy won't cause disasters.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter Stoneflies are Pretty Awesome

A few days ago (thanks to twitter) I ran across this great Scientific American Guest Blog post about Winter Stoneflies by Dr. Holly Menninger. Before reading this article I knew very little about stoneflies, not to mention the supercooling winter variety! These critters have some amazing abilities.

The blog post and Dr. Holly's enthusiasm were inspiration for my latest artistic endeavor. What started out as a "quick sketch" turned into a "quick watercolor" and here is the result. I may have to paint more of these little creatures.

Find out more about Dr. Holly Menninger at her website: