Balloons Flying Off with Kitchen + Coffee Bean Characters

Painting by Niya Christine. Copyright

#85/365 Paintings

Apparently, I’m obsessed with hot air balloons going off with things: Houses, teapots, coffee beans, old vintage stoves and coffee bean characters amongst other things. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend about moving for an opportunity in another city. I loved my home. I wanted to hitch my house it up to a powerful flying machine and simply move it from one town/city to the other. Flying houses. I hope it can happen in the future.

Project notes: How this digital/watercolor collage came to pass. I was cleaning this weekend and found a painting (see image below) I began last fall for a book in progress (some of you will recognize the bean characters from previous paintings). The painting was unfinished because at the time I was trying to achieve some effects that only now I can achieve from all this painting practice and Carla Sonheim inspirations and techniques. I finished up the painting today. I took a good long look at it and decided I want an old stove like this in the future. Flying houses. Voila! The image above is a vintage stock image with parts of the watercolor below. Those beans!

Watercolor by Niya Christine. Copyright

Original Watercolor of Stove

Perhaps the earth can teach us

As when everything seems dead

And later proves to be alive.

—Pablo Neruda


Baa… Ba… Ba… BOOTS!

Painting by Niya Christine. Copyright

#56/365 Paintings

This post is dedicated to a subscriber and friend, Janine Harris (Neen). She hit the daily painting Jukebox with the request of wild, stomping boots. I realized there was no getting around this one. Boots are all about character! Great request Neen!

I’ve always been more of a boot girl than high healed shoes. In fact, I’m super keen in finding somewhat heeled shoes with boot rubber soles that bounce when you walk. Boots after all, have that “I’m ready for anything life has to throw at me today.” I’ll admit the whole boot thing went too far when I became mildly addicted to a kick boxing class in college. But other than that… lumber jack boots don’t look bad with printed dresses on a first date. For me, not a bad test of character in my date. And if you just need to walk all day. Hiking boots. Why not? They come in so many colors these days. What about a big talk with mom? Definitely cowgirl boots, or high boots to cover the fact that you forgot to shave. And mom’s have a way of seeing through phones. And, Uggs are fabulous for what Janine does a lot – trek through the snow. They are also great for a fancy meeting in Santa Fe New Mexico when you need warm feet to think. I learning this first hand. But on those crazy work days with more deadlines than brain cells? Lumber jack boots all the way. Gravity is the silver bullet on days like this.

Thanks Neen! Now go get on your super mom boots today and do what you do everyday… Be Fantastic and Awesome!

Owl in Love with Sparrow

Mixed Media by Niya Christine. Copyright

#47/365 Paintings

The owl let out it’s large talons, skidded on the dirt for a split second before scooping up the sparrow for dinner. The sparrow in his panic rolled several times before the snap of a wing and then dent of a pupil. He was done for. There was nothing uncertain about that. He dazed off as the great owl flew him to her nest. The sparrow had grown very weak. She pushed him aside as she prepared a small pocket of twigs around his body like a placemat on the dinner table. With her huge beak she pulled him from his non-broken wing. It confused her why she took care like this—not to hurt him, since she had just pummeled him and was about to eat him. He looked at her then from his torn up eye as if to say, “please… this hurts, go ahead.” It happened then. And she couldn’t tell you why this sparrow in particular. But she suddenly wanted nothing more than his wholeness. She pulled up the softest twigs she could find to support his wing. She fussed over him all night long. A red tail hawk tried to swoop in to eat him and she obfuscated him with one swift kick. What was she to do? She only destroyed tiny birds. She had no idea how to fix him. She put her body over him with special care that he breathed and kept him warm all night, hoping by dawn he would be whole again. She imagined the great adventures they would have together. He had a hold of her heart good!

In the morning she woke with a start. A shimmer of hope and happiness. She lifted her large wing and gently moved the twigs aside. She wriggled him. But it was no use. He was gone.

So this is how the great owl fell in love with the sparrow and kept him in her heart to this day.


Project notes: This piece is the result of the multimedia class that concluded today (mentioned in previous posts). I’m thrilled to have learned how to do this. My technique is the opposite. Simply draw and paint, I’d forgotten about so many fun things like charcoal, gesso, pastel and more. I love how the images emerge and layers and layers later they introduce themselves as the characters they are. There will be more of this style in the future, I’m sure.


Watercolor by Niya Christine. 2013

#45/365 Paintings

This painting is the result of a week long class I’m taking from a charming and excellent teacher in Seattle, Carla Sonheim. The class is exactly what I’ve needed for a long time to shake things up a bit. With her approach the painting finds itself after it’s done. That is definitely the case with this painting. I painted a few strokes aiming for two people kissing (tomorrow is Valentines Day after all).  But they ended up dancing. I discovered that he had a Spanish vest on long after the painting was done. Not a top rate painting as paintings go, but a learning painting. New tools and versatility hopefully will make the paint dance in future works.

Bees Gone Bad


"Bees Gone Bad" Gouache + Digital by Niya Christine. Copyright


Generally, bees are true blue honey workers. But every so often one or two go astray and indulge in the bean for that ‘extra’ buzz. Beans aren’t known for their balanced approach to life. It’s an understatement to say that they get obsessed. Now, the queen bee knows she’s making a fool of them. But she’s too far along in drinking the kool-aide (coffee) herself to do anything constructive for the colony.

We might shake our heads sadly for the bees. But how unhappy could they be? They are buzzed, working hard to bring in the beans and keeping their queen very happy.


Project notes: The ingredients of this painting are: Gouache, watercolor, digital manipulation and Balkan Beat Box Music to keep me ‘buzzin.’ Thanks for lookin at another version of the secret lives of bees.

Java Jamboree

12/365. Watercolor by Niya Christine. "Java Jamboree." Copyright 2013

Ah… those poor beans just when life is about as good as it gets—dancing in the vastly expressive bell of the sax, at the top of sound. But then nature vs. nurture hits, nature wins and their journey takes a turn to bits — then to our liquid cup of dreams. I think of the sacrifice of salmon. One moment they are dancing upstream, the next they are sushi. Thank you beans for putting your essence before your existence. We love you!


Project Notes: This is the only drawing so far this month that has a previous lifespan. I discovered the sketch in an old design notebook at the bottom of a box in the garage. It was a concept of 3 for the roll out of a new product for Sun Microsystems, their opening software screen design. I had always wanted to paint it but had forgotten all about it. The dancing beans got resurrected. YAY!

Coffee Bar ~ Drunk Pigeon

#3/365 | Coffee Bar~Drunk Pigeon Painting by Niya Christine

I think this Coffee Bar is somewhere tucked away down a cobblestone street in Italy. It wouldn’t be too odd to see a pigeon who’d had a few too many in these parts.

On an abstract… but somewhat related note, I learned today that color plays a vital role in the feeding behavior of young birds. More vital than I originally thought. The yellow of a baby’s robin’s throat is “releaser” signal to the parent to feed the baby. The color signal is so powerful that a parent will drop food into any begging baby bird with the same color and throat shape. Wow.. a little loyalty over here, please! I wonder if our drunk pigeon had some baby issues like this? We’ll never know. But he lives in Italy so it can’t be all that bad.


Project notes: This is super fun. I can’t believe I get to do it for a whole year. I think light source might take the full year to really get it right. In the meantime, I keep discovering new things. In this painting I discovered a slightly Faux painting effect when ‘staining’ the paper by applying pigment and then sponging it up quickly. I continued this with many colors for the walls of the building. I like how it deepened the overall texture.