Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Month Of Cats Day 1: Adder in the Garden

So as many of you know, I am starting a daily painting ritual today. I am painting a cat a day for the month of October. This is the first meow that has come by to say hello. Meet Adder peeking out from the garden. I love when cats lurk in the plants - quiet and partially hidden in their own little worlds. #MonthofCats

Sign up HERE to receive these cat paintings in your inbox each day for the month of October along with a snippet of inspiration, poetry, and magic.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chronicling the Making of Dawn Secrets (a digital painting by Nicole Piar)

When I found this quote, "The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep" I felt an immediate pull and saw this gentle moment bathed in dawn light where the wind was turning into a soft magical kitty and whispering in to a girl's ear. Yes, this was it! I have always loved the moments of quiet that we claim for meditation and inner reflection because that is where we meet a deeper part of ourselves and hear our inner voice. Yes, don't go back to sleep into the endless distractions and general busy-ness. Stay awake, alert, and listening.

I was also excited to try a new technique that I learned from Cory Godbey that combines pencil drawings with digital painting in photoshop.

Here is my visual diary of making this piece:

Pencil drawing scanned into photoshop. I also drew the letters with pencil but they are not shown here.
I painted a watercolor background and then scanned that in as well.
I painted in a solid neutral color behind the girl in photoshop

I started painting the different elements with a flat color. 

Blocking in flat colors across the whole piece.
Adding highlights and shadows. This is the more painterly stage. Experimenting with color.
Adding more highlights and shadows. Making some final color choices.
Playing with the saturation and the light. Adding the hand-drawn type. Tightening the color overall. 
What I Learned and Another Layer of Meaning

So, this was a completely new technique for me. Something I never tried before. About halfway through, I was very unhappy with this piece. It lacked a luster and a magic. It felt flat and dull to me and I have to admit my inner critic was getting annoyingly loud. I considered quitting and starting it again as a watercolor in hopes that as a real painting it would have more life. 

However, I decided to push through and keep struggling and experimenting. Eventually, the piece started to flow, a little spark entered, and it came to life. I could feel the energy of that first vision starting to emmanate through the piece. Yes! 

All of sudden, the quote had new meaning for me. While making this piece, I was wading through the darkness of night. I couldn't see where I was going and I was about to lose faith but I didn't "go back to sleep."  When the light finally broke and the dawn came, I had learned so much - so much more than I would have learned if I had just stuck to my tried-and-true methods. 

To reach the "secrets," you have to trust in the existence of the dawn even when there is not a hint of light in the sky. Yes, I think this definitely extends far beyond art-making but the process of creating can be a little microcosm - life condensed. 

What bits of wisdom you have learned through your creative process? I would love to hear them in the comments. Please share.  

"Dawn Secrets" is part of Lovely Ink. If you would like a free desktop wallpaper and 8x10"printable of this art, please SIGN-UP HERE.

You can also get laptop skins, stretched canvases, framed art prints, and phone cases featuring this art HERE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

$100 Dick Blick Art Store Gift Card GIVEAWAY

I am just so excited about this amazing giveaway that I had to give it its own post. This is my way way of saying thank you for being part of my art community. Enter and share with all your artist friends and spread the love.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blank Canvas Blog Hop or How I Took a Dream and Turned It into a Painting so It Could Speak to Me & $100 Dick Blick Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Fairytale Anime Illustration Owl forest magical Nicole Piar
Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid that it colors the rest of your day? A memory flashes and it takes a second before you realize that it wasn't from your waking life. It was from somewhere else. 

Or maybe it is a feeling that drifts around you like a vapor and slips away whenever you try to look directly at it or confine it in words. Yet, it feels significant. This is your inner world calling to you with a message, with a revelation about what is going on inside, deep beneath the surface. 

Sometimes, this same feeling can arise when we are alone and there are less distractions – less external voices to overpower the soft mysterious callings of the inner voice. 

On a late summer afternoon many years ago, there was a storm brewing. No one else was home but me. I was inside doing something ordinary that I have long forgotten when I heard the wind whipping up and all the trees beginning to shimmer and shake. Curious, I jumped up and ran outside.  As my bare feet hit the grass, my breath drew in, and time ceased to be. The sun was low in the sky, poised for sunset and hidden. Dark thunder clouds blotted out the light from above but the forest... the forest was glowing gold as if lit from within. Each tree was like a lamp, a candle, a flame under a sea of inky, tumultuous  sky. 

I stood suspended and unthinking. Then, lightening struck and the cold raindrops set the earth spinning again and I laughed. 

In moments like this, the veil between our inner world and our outer world dissolves. My imagination flooded outward and the forest and the storm flooded inward like a tide. The trees called out and I answered. Whether it is a sleeping dream or a waking dream, this is a form of visioning. Visioning is simply opening up the pathways between the world around us and the world within us.

So what does this have to do with the Blank Canvas and how we begin to make something out of seemingly nothing? 

Well, I have many different ways that I start to paint or draw but for now, I will just focus on this one: Visioning.

I begin with meditation as it helps me let go of all of the minutiae, the anxiety, and the random inner chatter that are like brambles blocking the gateway. I travel deeper and deeper into the center of myself and ask for a vision. I do not question its content. I simply observe every detail. I look around. I notice the places that are opaque like maybe I can't see the color of the light or the expression on the owl's face. I wait for those details to emerge. I am curious and I ask questions. How does this make me feel? What is over there hiding behind that tree? 

Since this is a very internal process, I have recorded a guided meditation that is similar to what I do before I start a painting. Try it out and see how it works for you. 

The meditation bolsters my intuition which will be my trusty guide as I coax this vision from the inside out. 

Nicole Piar
First, I sketch a messy, silly thumbnail drawing without judgment. This is a half-scribbled note to myself. For this piece, I saw an owl flying into the forest and a girl peeking out behind a tree with a white-light lantern. Everything was cool, damp, and blue like the earliest twilight. There was a feeling of anticipation, magic, a hint of fear, and wave of curiosity.

Next, I find inspiration to create a mood board. This helps to fill in the details and gives me a wider visual vocabulary from which to draw. It also gives me something to weigh my vision against. For instance, this owl looks very realistic but my owl is strange and other-worldly. The differences help me clarify my vision just as much as the similarities.
Owl Forest Inspiration Board Nicole Piar

Then, I draw a pencil sketch on watercolor paper to figure out the scale, proportion, and composition.

Last, I dive into my paints. This is the scary part because every painting looks a bit crazy in the beginning and middle. It takes so much faith and courage to keep going. There is a point in the process where I can get discouraged and critical. Sometimes, I step away, return to my vision, take solace in it, and trust that the essence will shine through despite my perceived mistakes. 

Pencil Sketch to Finished Painting by nicole Piar
In case you wondering, the color difference between the last 2 images is
the difference between taking a cell phone pic and scanning the painting. 

The magic at the end...
I made this painting specifically for this Blank Canvas Blog Hop and knew I wanted to talk about visioning. When it was finished, I could finally see the synchronistic and clever message it held for me. The owl is the voice beckoning; it is our spirit. The forest is our inner world and the girl is all of us shining a light and getting ready to follow the magic into the deep. I called it "I'm going in."


I am so excited to have the opportunity to giveaway a $100 Gift card to Dick Blick for Art Supplies. This is so exciting because it represents so much potential. Whoever wins will have to create some marvelous visions and share them with us all. I can't wait!!!! 

There is also a 2nd prize!
An Archival Art Print of "I'm Going In" 8.5x11" printed with pigment inks on fine art paper. That is the painting I made for this Blog Hop. I hope it will inspire the lucky winner to spend some time exploring their inner world.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want more tips for how to overcome the Blank Canvas?

Wow! This blog hop has been such a wealth of inspiration. I have so many new creative tools to try. Plus, everyone is giving away some amazing stuff. So, have a meander and be dazzled with all the creativity, uniqueness and honesty. 
15 artists explore the creative process and how they overcome the blank canvas
Sept 8 Karen Friedland  Giveaway: 16" Fine Art Print of any piece from her shop
Sept 9  Lezette Markham Giveaway: Simply Inspired Gift Bundle incld. Creative Workbook
Sept 10 Cynthia Patton Giveaway: Anthology of Short Stories / Essays
Sept 11 Jennyann Carthern Giveaway: 1 year membership to Society of Children's Books Writers & Illustrators
Sept 12 FRIDAY FRENZY featuring:
Kiala Givehand Giveaway: $25 Visa Gift Card Tori DeauxKaren Friedland
Sept 13 Jan Blount Giveaway: Hand-Painted Tote with a Hand-Bound Art Journal + Goodies
Sept 14 Effy Wild Giveaway: Book of Days Bootcamp E-Course
Sept 15 Virginia Simpson-Magruder Giveaway Wild Spirit Jaguar Pendant
Sept 16 Dariana Cruz Giveaway: 4 Dari Design Notebooks and aThrow Pillow
Sept 17 Susan Miller Giveaway: Customized Intuitive Soul Intention Painting | Freebie: Soul Intention Flag Workshop
Sept 18 Grace Howes Giveaway: Hand-made Photo Journal and Notebooks
Sept 19 Tori Deaux Giveaway: Find your Quick Factor Session + 2 art prints
Sept 20 Kiala Givehand Giveaway: Conquering the Blank Page E-Course
Sept 21 Martin Arkenstone Giveaway: Small Hand-painted Sandstone Sculpture
Sept 22 Nicole Piar Giveaway: $100 Gift Card to Dick Blick Art Supplies & 1 Fine Art Print

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Month of Cats needs YOU!

Black White Cat illustration Graphic Silhouette Nicole Piar
October is just around the corner and I am preparing myself for my #MonthofCats 
where I paint a Cat a Day. This is where you can help and participate.

What I would love from you for inspiration:

A pic of your cat (jpg or link to pic), your cat's name, and (optional) a word or 2 about your cat's personality 


A request for a cat personifying a favorite character or icon (Imagine a cat version of Neo from Matrix or the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.)

You can email me at
and perhaps you will see your kitty make an appearance in the Month of Cats.

Sign up for a Month of Cats HERE
and receive a daily email for the month of October with a pic of the daily cat, a snippet of inspiration, and a discount code to use for the special 10 day timed studio sale in November that will feature all these original cat paintings.

My Cat Story:
From before I was born until I was 14, I had a ginger, gold, and white striped cat named Bingo. He was a giant tom cat with a fiercely independent attitude and yet a depth of love and mystery. I lived in the forest down a little country road where you could not see a single other house from my yard. There weren't many people around and I spent many hours wandering through those woods by myself.

Almost everyday, Bingo would slip into those trees and go on his own adventures until we called him back inside at night. I was curious about his secret life so one day, I quietly followed him, staying far enough behind so that he could meander freely. He slipped like golden liquid though a lush green thicket and I slipped through behind him.

At the center of the thicket, everything opened up. The sunlight came pouring in and there was a perfectly flat boulder. Bingo hopped up and curled in the warm light. I scrambled up the rock and lay beside my cat. Bingo had found a place out of time, a hidden place where all was quiet and filled with sky light, and he had given that place to me.

These are some of the first cats that stated showing up during my daily paint doodle practice. They have whispered to me that their friends are are eager to join us here so a Month of Cats was created.


This is what I have been asking myself. I even made this little word collage to delve into what cats mean to me. 

A Myriad of Cats:
I have a Pinterest board called MEOW where I am collecting paintings, drawings, and illustrations of cats for inspiration. Come by and enjoy the furry magic.

Follow a #MonthofCats on my instagramfacebooktwitter and here on this blog.

and don't forget to email me pictures of your cat including your cat's name. Your kitty might just show up in a painting during my Month of Cats. (

Monday, September 1, 2014

Interview with Dari Design Studio

Dari Design Studio Fun is What I do

I am so excited about this month's Lovely Ink created by super artist sister duo, Dari Design Studio. Their piece is bold, bright, and playful just like them! Just looking at this piece puts a spring in my step and reminds me of that sweet anticipation of the first day of school (no not highschool, I am thinking more like 1st and 2nd grade when it is all new and fresh.) And imagine how cool this would look in a white simple frame in your work space. What a great reminder!

If you want to receive a free 8x10" printable and desktop wallpaper of this "Fun is What I Do " print sign-up for Lovely Ink here. Every month, Lovely Ink delivers free inspirational art to your inbox.

I have this super special interview to share with Dariana and Dariela. Peak inside their creative process and their inspiring and harmonious collaboration. Enjoy! 

Dari Design Studio Photo Portrait 2 sisters

Take us through your creative process of making your piece for Lovely Ink?
A lot of the times we realize we enjoy very small details of life. For example we love staring at a cute corner we just decorated in the house. Or when we move we will spend enormous amounts of time browsing for pretty home office decorations for the new space. It is hard to explain how much satisfaction of just staring at cute furniture put together in a space can give us. We have learned to notice these joyful sparks, because we know that attraction is a huge resource of our day to day inspiration.

Dari Design Studio Hearts and Arrows Pattern

In this case, we found ourselves going through lots of online places trying to find nice furniture pieces and other elements for the home office. We thought of how important it is to have an inspiring space to work from, specially when you work from home. That made us think of all the people out there also working from home and hoping to make their space better and more inspiring. When we put those two thoughts together Boom! The idea came to life! We started designing an art piece that could add a unique touch to a working space (we drew most of the pieces we wanted to buy) and that could also remind others (and us) that when we love what we do is such a joy to work.

What drew you to the inspirational saying you used in your Lovely Ink piece?
To us there is no other way to design and express art. It has to be happy!! We can't help but to work with bright and happy elements. The quote really came from what we feel when we design, and since design is what we do, it just made sense to say "Fun is what I do". Also we try to keep quotes handy as a reminder, inspiration and motivation. Remembering what our passion is and how good it feels to do what we do can serve us well on those days when business doesn't seem as fun.

Dari Design Studio Amulets, Tee-Pees and Arrow Pattern

Was there a moment in your life when you first fell in love with making things?
Yes, we both fell in love with crafting since we were young girls, we made little drawers to place our jewelry in paper mache together and we were always creating new things for our rooms out of paper or any other materials.

Where in your life do you find the most inspiration for your art?
Dariela: I find it in those unexpected moments, for example when I’m running outdoors I look at my surroundings and I get inspired to design based on what I see: the beach, the home decorations, the lifestyle of where I am at.
Dariana: In nature, in my enjoyment for the things I like, in the experiences I treasure, in what I eat, in my relationships, in amazing and easy flowing color palettes and in the streets

Dari Design Studio Bikes and Triangles Pattern

What would be your absolute dream project - no limitations?
To create and design a big line of bedding, home decor and stationery

Who are some of your favorite artists, illustrators or surface designers?
Jessica Swift, Helen Dardik, Elizabeth Olwen, Erica Hite, Masha Manapov, Dinara Mirtalipova, Lotta Jansdotter, Joy Cho, Jen Ramos, Susan Kitchen and many more!

Dari Design Studio Red Blue Modern Floral Pattern

What are your favorite design or art blogs that you would like to share with your fans?

Made by Girl:


A Beautiful Mess:

Oh Joy:

Design Love Fest:

Dari Design Studio Maps and Hearts Pattern

Free Inspirational Art Free Desktop Wallpapers and Free Printables

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Imaginary Cats, Month of Cats, and Studio Sale to Come

Watercolor Painting of a Anime Cat by Nicole Piar

I have really been delighting in these little fuzzy friends that keep visiting me through the portal of my watercolor brushes. I am  doing a Month of Cats for October in celebration of Halloween where I paint one cute meow each day.

Then, I would put all my original watercolor cats up for adoption in a one week flash Studio Sale the first week of December. What do you think of this idea?

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to enjoy my #MonthofCats
and if you really LOVE CATS, you can sign-up here to receive a daily email with a pic of the daily cat painting and a little quote, poetry or story snippet for the month of October.

Pink and Brown and purple Cat Illustration by Nicole Piar Anime

Pink Blue Grey Anime Cat Painting by Nicole Piar


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