It’s Been a While…

Hello All,

Remember me?

It has been a terribly long while since I’ve written anything here and my first order of business is to assure you all that it is not for lack of things to write or art to share but simply of the time to do so. It has been an incredibly eventful several months and I thank you all for tuning back in and taking the time to read after such a long hiatus. Among the numerous happenings monopolizing my days of late was the fruition of a long-held dream…

This past July I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to travel to a much beloved Emerald Isle. As I have alluded to in past posts I have a deep and sincere love for Ireland: Irish history, art, music, literature, food… everything. This began when I was a freshmen in high school and has gained steady momentum ever since. I can’t place a specific event that sparked this interest but as I began to learn more about it I was quickly drawn to its singular quality, the wild whimsy, the unique story, the essential Irishness of this intriguing Island.

A view of the southwestern coast of Ireland off The Ring of Kerry

One day as I was passionately discussing a book on the subtleties of fifth century Ireland with my ever-gracious Mom she pointed out the fact that I could “just go”. This thought had honestly never entered the realm of possibility to me and I was struck by it.  I began to look into possibilities and pray for open doors. Those open doors took the form of two amazing people who I will be forever grateful to: my dear cousin Hannah and her amazing husband Jonathan. These two made the whole trip possible and went above and beyond to make the experience utterly unforgettable.

After several months of working out the logistics I found myself on my first ever international flight headed for Gatwick Airport in England. A few days later I was on a plane bound for Dublin and the next two weeks saw me in a constant state of awe as Hannah, Jonathan, and myself explored Ireland and England. The trip was truly the trip of a lifetime and I am full of gratitude to the ones who encouraged me and allowed the experience to take place.

Obviously I have much, much more to say about the vibrant details and amazing adventures of those weeks however, for now, suffice to say, I have inspiration to last a lifetime —or at least until the next adventure arises.

I am hoping to be able to post with greater frequency in the coming days and I look forward to sharing the memoirs and art prompted both by this July and by life in general.

Thanks so much for reading!

“The Other Side of The Atlantic” 9X12″ Watercolor on cold press paper- Aliya Crippen 2018 



Pencils and Paint

Hello All,

I have recently rediscovered the importance of writing…

Throughout my life I have attempted a variety of written accounts ranging from my “dear diary” exploits of elementary school years to gushy hormone-fueled narratives in middle school and high school. It was for the cringe-worthiness of these early scribblings that I discounted the art of journaling altogether. However, as life throws brand new events and experiences my way the necessity of writing is impressed upon me anew; And this time, I think I have discovered my niche.


This niche is “stream-of-consciousness” style writing. This approach allows you to get thoughts out on paper without the restrictions of formatting or even grammar. You essentially just write whatever comes into your head. Then, if you’re so inclined, you go back through and organize those scrawled words into complete sentences and ideas. I have found this to be a marvelous tool for filtering through thoughts, feelings and ideas. It serves as a way to “unpack” your mind  and it is a wonderful practice for surrendering fears and anxieties to God as well. I have been writing this way since the beginning of the year and definitely plan on continuing.

The notion recently occurred to me that maybe this approach could be applied to other areas as well. Art, for instance. So I tried it: “Stream-of-consciousness sketching”

Once again it proved to be an excellent way to decode my thoughts. Only this time with images (my language of choice) rather than words. It ended up including objects and settings I wasn’t even aware of thinking about and the effect was quite interesting. I liked the sketch so much that I redrew it and used it as a model for a watercolor painting. It was a completely intriguing exercise that, like writing, I plan on making into a regular practice.

Aliya Crippen “Temporal” watercolor on cold-press 8X10″

Revisiting Gestures

Hello All,

Today I wanted to give a nod to gesture drawings. I have posted about them before but, I confess, my dedication to them has been half-hearted. For those of you who don’t know, a gesture drawing is a quick sketch capturing the impression (or gesture) of a person or object usually in a very short amount of time, say 30 seconds to a minute. These drawings are super useful for referring back to for poses and figures to put in other paintings, not to mention, great practice for drawing realistically from life.

The reason, I speculate, that I’m hesitant to practice gestures is because I tend to want to spend a lot of time perfecting details and focusing in on the particulars. This, of course, is not conducive to the art of the quick sketch.

So, my endeavor for the past several weeks has been to practice these speedy drawings whenever I find myself waiting around in a public place. This however, is easier said than done. The temptation in such opportune situations is to pick up your phone to avoid looking awkward. This, at least, is what I find myself doing. Apparently, a certain degree of awkwardness is inevitable. With that out of the way: waiting in line, sitting in a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, and even occasionally church all become opportunities to sketch. Subtly, of course. (: 54724927024__5B214D95-3BDC-4298-9F54-452CFC7E72E2

Here are some examples of recent gestures I’ve done. Not a masterpiece among them, but valuable practice all the same. Note the loose pencil lines and generalized shapes:

Posted in Art

Group Session Still Life

Hello All,

It has been a busy several weeks; Weeks spent wrapping up my first year as an art teacher, pursuing fun new (or old) projects, receiving exciting pieces of news, and LOTS of painting.  (There will be posts to come to alleviate the ambiguity there.) …weeks  invested well but not full of extra time for blog documentation.

As many of you know I am immensely blessed to be a part of a family of artists and have had the privilege of being able to study under them throughout my life.  This past week I had the unique pleasure of having a group painting session with my Papa and my Aunt Sara; two of the most gifted artists I know, not-to-mention two of my very favorite people (painters or not).

A little bit of background on them: My Papa, Reeves Stone, is a diverse craftsman, artist, and my close mentor. He is a veritable Renaissance-man with expertise in numerous areas from wood-working to mechanics. Currently, he works primarily in digital art, however, he has worked proficiently in oil, watercolor and pastel throughout his life. My aunt, Sara Pedigo is a successful professional artist based out of Saint Augustine, Florida. She is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art and Design at Flagler College and is frequently featured at numerous fine art galleries throughout the country. She has been a significant encouragement to me in my artistic endeavors and is a blessing to our whole family. Click here to visit her website:

Needless-to-say I was thrilled at the prospect of spending the day with these two!  On this particularly drizzly afternoon we staged a still life on my back porch, set up our respective Pochade boxes, easels, etc. and went at it. It was so much fun to be able to work alongside them and pepper them with questions as we painted. It was also very fascinating to see how we each handled the subject. Obviously, there are differing levels of skill taken into account but also the personalities of uniquely designed people approaching the painting from their own perspectives. It was a memorable afternoon and I loved getting to spend time with these two amazing people. I am very thankful to have them in my life and  look forward to more painting sessions in the future.

Here’s a look at our finished studies:

Sara Pedigo oil on canvas paper 12X9″
Reeves Stone oil on canvas board 16X12″
Aliya Crippen oil on gesso board 10X8″

More Art Nouveau Inspired Paintings

Hello All,

So…a while back I shared some flower themed watercolors reminiscent of my then recent discovery of Art Nouveau. They were some very preliminary explorations of the style and, unfortunately, showcase my inability to photograph art well. However, since then I have continued to play around with the lines and feel of Art Nouveau.

For those of you who don’t know, the term Art Nouveau refers to a style of commercial and architectural art that was popular in the 1890s and early 1900s. Based on what I’ve seen of it, its main hallmarks include: soft symmetry, organically geometric shapes, floral elements, lots of pleasantly swirling lines, and usually a sullen or wistful looking lady. To see some examples of Art Nouveau click here.

As I mentioned it was a largely commercial art form and is showcased most on advertisements from that era. Never-the-less, I am fascinated with it and love putting my own spin on the distinctive approach. I also, think that it translates nicely into the medium of watercolor. The main mood seems to communicate dreaminess and a sort of fanciful subject matter. That’s what I focused on with these paintings:


Scan (1)
This one I decided to call “Carnival Glass” I loved the idea of pulling out some of the colors you see in the reflection of bubbles and running with that idea the name just seemed to fit. You’ll notice the lines in the hair, dress, and embellishments are quite typical of the Art Nouveau style.  Obviously the area I need to work on is the accuracy of my geometric shapes.
Scan 2 (1)
This one went unexpectedly nautical on me. That’s not usually a theme I tend towards. However, I feel it worked in this case. A little more dark or desperate feeling but not without the whimsy of Art Nouveau.
Scan 1 (1)
Because of the nautical feel of the last painting I decided to take this one under the sea and use coral and kelp as my theme. More tropical and cheery… The three triangular embellishments pull out some very Art Nouveau designs. However, I “went off the deep end” (pun intended) with the rest of it.
Scan 3
And finally to round out the accidental nautical theme I went with a tide pool setting. I used the moon as the trademark halo and drew my inspiration from knots, shipwrecks and a grotto at night. Another more dismal feeling painting but I’m happy with the result.

A Study in Green


Today I am lucky enough to have two of my favorite things converge. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and those two things are the color green and anything Irish!

(I plan to post more about my love for the Emerald Isle in the future… so stay tuned)

This being said I felt it was only appropriate to conduct a study in green. Using my watercolors (a hodgepodge of Winsor and Newton and Holbein pigments) I experimented with a variety of combinations.  The result was the production of hues ranging from bright warm grassiness to murky shadows. I wrote down which paints I used for future reference.

It’s interesting how photographing pulls out tints and makes some of these shades appear much more blue or brown than they appear in reality.


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! pexels-photo-132420.jpeg

Chalk Art Contest

Hello All,

Yesterday was the chalk art contest at Rockledge Gardens.  The weather was perfect and I was pretty pleased with the outcome.

Here’s a little look at the process:

My preliminary sketch and blocking out colors.
More blocking on the wings… starting to suggest patterns.
Building up details and first layers on the body.
A few more details on Mr. Butterfly and the first colors on the illumination behind him.
Adding some dark chalk to make the brighter colors stand out. Building up the gold tones on the rim.
Originally I planed to carry the black all the way down… switched gears and went with purple. Also laid in some Art Nouveau reminiscent swirls.
Faded purple out to a more sunset pink and added some shamrocks for a nod to Saint Patrick’s Day.
The finished piece… It was a lovely day and I ended up placing second. (:

Plein air painting

img_3461.jpgAnother lovely day for some out-door painting…

A bit more successful then my tree-top fiasco that I wrote about several weeks ago. I have been using a small paint box that my Papa gave me and it is working quiet nicely. A bit more compact than a pochade box and, while there’s no official place to attach the the board to, it is easy to work off of. I’ve been using Windsor and Newton  water-mixable oils paints and I love them!! They behave just like traditional oils but without the need for strong solvents and paint thinners. Perfect for a quick paint in the park.


img_3454.jpgThe subject of today’s painting was an illusive patch of purple flowers with some stark pine trees. Didn’t quite get it to a place of completion but I’m pleased with it as a sketch.


Chalking it up

Hello Everyone,

I recently  signed up to participate in Rockledge Gardens’ chalk art contest on March 16th. It is a part of their “Spring Fling” event and I have had friends who’ve done it in the past and said that is is a great way to spend an afternoon. So I’ve decided to give it a shot…

I haven’t used chalk for serious art in a very long time; ever in fact. Some practice is definitely  in order. So, I busted out the sidewalk chalk and pastels:


Each contestant is  given a 4 ft by 4 ft square to work on and around 6 hours to work. With this in  mind I started to plan out what I would like to draw. My first instinct, for whatever reason, was a butterfly. The result:

IMG_3421I used large sidewalk chalk to block out my main shapes and then the brighter pastels to add details and pops of color. A nice little guy, but just a tad elementary… And I obviously have much more space to fill. I’m thinking of  doing it as an illuminated manuscript with the butterfly as the historiated initial (large capital letter) and some art nouveau-style embellishments. Hopefully that should provide enough detail and interest to fill the square. We’ll see…

I’ll do another post when I settle on a final design.

Make sure to check out Rockledge Gardens on March 16th. It is going to be a  great time! Also, I welcome any feedback and suggestions so don’t hesitate to comment below. (:

The Importance of Personal Painting

Hello All,

As I have continued to pursue the establishing of my Etsy shop I have been struck with the difference between painting to express and painting to impress. Now, you might say that these are closely related goals or that one simply follows the other— and this is often true. However, lately I have been faced with having to compartmentalize  these two sides of my art brain.

These are the most recent additions to my shop. Miniature gouache paintings:  cute & trendy. Add some bohemian props, throw in a hipster filter and the’re all set for the online market place.

…Plenty of Aliya went into these paintings, make no mistake. For no piece of art can really be detached from its artist.

(I believe this to be true about the canvas of creation as well but more on that later…)

However, there is a world of difference between a piece painted for Etsy, for a client, or in a class (painting to impress) and a piece painted purely for joy or necessity (painting to express).

This is something that I never fully grasped until recently. As my art life has evolved from purely recreational to more entrepreneurial, making sure that I allow time for personal painting  has become increasingly important.

As life drives ahead at full speed it is an indescribable relief to be able to communicate thoughts, feelings and fears in paint. Theologian John Piper made the profound statement that “We cannot bear the weight of our own souls.” This is painfully, pointedly, personally true. Creativity/expression of all types is, at its root, the human soul trying to relate to God. In our own finite ways with our own limited ability and stunted imaginations we try to reach out to the infinite, unlimited, ample creativity and perfection of the one who created us. This is why personal painting is so important to me… it is an outlet to give the staggering weight of life over to God, to celebrate the beauty of His creation, and to express the things that words don’t do justice to.

This sort of art has a certain gravity to it. For me it is so closely intertwined with my relationship with God and with my identity as His daughter that I endeavor to keep it separate from and more private than the art I choose to market and teach. It is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that I am profoundly thankful for.

…’Cause honestly, without this outlet implosion from the strain of living would be an ever-mounting concern.


“We cannot bear the weight of our own souls.”       -John Piper