Monday, October 29, 2007

No Pain, No Gain

"The Last Dance"

ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing

2.5 x 3.5"


Because I have recently begun working out at the gym with my girlfriend and workout partner, we decided to attend a new class tonight. The class is called "Super Butts and Guts" - should have been a clue.

The class lasted for a painful hour: the first half of the class, the "butts" segment, was designed to make it almost impossible to walk anytime soon without a limp and next to impossible to lower oneself gracefully onto a toilet seat; and the second half, the "guts" part, was planned to keep all participants from sitting upright from a prone position or from coughing without a spasm.

At one point, my friend and I looked at each other and decided that the feeling was reminiscent of labor pains (which I wanted to share with the only man in the class, but he already looked about ready to cry, so I left him alone). I also decided that, if offered, I would have accepted an epidural to finish the class without saying "Oh, my God" over and over again.

Anyway, my friend and I decided that, as in childbirth, the outcome is always worth the pain. (It's better be.) We plan on going back next week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Short North Arches Finally Finished!

Short North Arches

16 x 20"

Colored Pencil Drawing on Ampersand Pastel Board

I drew this piece right onto the surface of an Ampersand pastel board. After laying down the initial few layers of color, I realized I wasn't going to get the color saturation I wanted, so I used Gamsol to dissolve the wax and "paint" the color deeper into the board. I was then able to go back over the work with more layers of color.

Because I have admired her work for a long time, I asked Nicole Caulfield to share with me how she finishes her work in order to frame it without glass and she generously did just that. Nicole first sprays her work with Lascaux fixitive and then Krylon Kamar Varnish. I ran out and bought both products and am very, very pleased with the results. Thanks, Nicole!

Once I frame this puppy, I plan to show it at Studios on High Gallery in time for the holidays. I'll let you know if it sells! (Or, if you're interested, drop me a note!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Take it With You

After the Dance 2
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"

When I made the decision to do a daily (or pretty darn near daily) drawing, I knew that the art card size would be perfect for a colored pencil drawing. Since most of my drawings are strong on realism, I can spend quite a bit of time on one piece. But the art card size (2.5 x 3.5") lets me finish a drawing I'm happy with in about an hour.

I also soon realized that working on a drawing this size is perfect to do while waiting somewhere. In my case: orthodontist office, piano lesson, math tutoring, soccer practice, etc. So, I came up with a very small "kit" that I carry with me all the time.

Pretty simple since I start most of my drawings with a grisaille underpainting, I only pack gray and black pencils. I also toss in a small sharpener, an eraser, Bristol board paper precut to the standard 2.5 x 3.5" size and a selection of reference photos to work from. I keep the paper and photos in a small zip lock to keep them clean. It all fits in one of the newer Prismacolor tins.

Having this kit in my usually way-too-big purse keeps me drawing all the time since I have no excuses. Now if Cameron could just drive himself to all of those appointments, I could draw in the car, too.

Nah, I get carsick.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's in a Name

An Autumn Couple
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"

I have been thinking that the name "Fall" for this season should be officially changed to "Go" season or at least "Run Yourself Ragged" season. It is by far the busiest time of the year, especially for women, and triple that if you're a mom. Here's some of my reasons why:

  • School starts. Papers, papers, papers to fill out. Dates to keep track of. More papers to fill out and sign. Fees to be paid. Unnecessary stuff to be sold. Parties to plan for and be prepared to help out/attend/chaperone. Teacher meetings. Fund raisers. I have been doing this for 25 years (yes, 25 years straight!) and I will not miss this part at all when it's all over. No sirreee.)
  • Football. In our town, you do not plan anything on a Saturday in the fall, unless you check the Buckeye schedule first.
    Soccer. When our son plays on a Saturday, it's the only occassion the Buckeye schedule comes in second.
  • Art shows and art fairs. They keep me hopping and I love 'em.
  • Commissions. Everyone wants theirs before the holidays and preferably before the framer gets too backed up.
  • The Holidays. We all know what kind of work that brings. Gads.

So once we change the name of this season, let's change "Winter" to "Take a Long Rest" season or "Tropical Vacation" season.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to Basics

"After the Dance"
ACEO Original Graphite Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
As with most artists, my first tool was a graphite pencil. I have always appreciated fine graphite drawings and recently, have been thinking of doing a series of pieces to show. So, today was a good day to practice a little. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Day Off?

"Blaze of Glory"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"

Today (and tomorrow) my son is out of school for some obscure holiday - I think tomorrow is Columbus Day, but I have no idea what today was. Maybe Drive the Mother Crazy day. And to top it all off, I had two other little boys here with my son all day, too. But, I have no one to blame but myself.

Here's what happened: Last night, three couples decided that since the kids (6 total) didn't have to go to bed early, we could keep them up until 9 or 10. We all ended up at a local pub/pizza place on the outdoor patio (yes, in October!) with music and a fire and a few beers. Great fun. But after my two beers, I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and thought it would be a great idea to have a sleepover and the boys with me all day. (Never party with children is my advice....)

So, today was busy, to say the least. They're all good kids but it's amazing to me how when you add children into a room one at a time, the energy, mess and noise they create is exponentially multiplied! Boys throw things; a lot. They fight and wrestle; a lot. They are hungry; a lot. I cooked breakfast and lunch (I don't cook), reminded them to flush and wash their hands, had to referee a few fights, organized clean up duty (4 times) and finally, had to feign ignorance on their questions about gerbil reproduction. And, I now know why you can buy plaques that say "Mothers of Three Sons Automatically Go to Heaven".

Today's experience was good for a few things though:
  • It kept my son from nagging me all day about being bored.
  • It proved to me that drinking is bad.
  • And, finally, it reminded me why my three children are all ten years apart!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weekend Flashback

Current WIP

Short North Arches

16 x 20"

Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastel Board

(I love working on this piece! I am trying a whole new process here, at least for me, and I'll let you know exactly what I've done when it's complete. I am kind of finding my way along on this, so check back.)

Saturday night was my 30th high school reunion. What fun was had by all (some had a little more fun than others!), but I think we enjoy seeing each other more as we all "mature" (I won't say "age"; no, no, no!) and are each more comfortable in our skin.

Many had parents they were caring for or had recently lost, most of us have kids (but not all), and most of those kids are grown or still going through that painful process, and some of us are grandparents. We all have some wrinkles; most have a grey hair or two (unless the expert colorist at the local salon has worked some magic) and we just don't give a damn what anyone used to think of us anymore. It only mattered that we were still getting together, remembering and laughing about what a joy it was to share our youth with each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gotta Love This Poem

"Unconditional Love"
ACEO Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
I have always thought Jimmy Stewart was one of our great treasures even though he was well before my time. Who couldn't help but like him after seeing "Harvey", "Rear Window", "Vertigo" (some of my favorites) and, of course, "It's a Wonderful Life" year after year during the holidays.
Even so, after seeing this clip, I like him even more. Who knew he could write poetry, too? And about a dog! For all of you who ever loved a dog, grab a hanky and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Life Is Good

"Life Is Good"
Original Colored Pencil ACEO
2.5 x 3.5"
This new piece is a drawing of Capone, our neighbor's new adopted dog (they're great!) and Buddy's new friend. Capone is a big, beautiful, beagle/lab (is that a beagador or a labagle?) mix young male.
After he had gotten loose from his owner and run through our house looking for Buddy, who was not home at the time, I was able to snap a few pics of him. Buddy's absence, however, didn't seem to upset Capone at all. Like all labs I've ever met, he just seems to love life and is always happy no matter what. The look on his face seemed to say "Doesn't matter, there's so much in the world to to see, and I intend to find it!"
We could all take a lesson there.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pay It Forward

Short North Arches at Night
16 x 20"
Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

One of the things I love best about being an artist is meeting other artists and learning from them. Most of them are generous with their knowledge and tricks of the trade. As a member of a co-op, I have access to an immediate support system. If you are an artist, just starting out or working a long time, and don't have a support group, I recommend that you find one. Join an art league, take some classes, or use on-line correspondence to find one.

For almost a year I was a silent reader of other artists blogs, always a little timid about leaving a comment or asking for advice. Then, when I finally jumped into the blogger pool, I began to feel like "one of the group" and did reach out to communicate. The artists responses were warm, friendly, encouraging, and immediate. They didn't hesitate to answer my questions or give me honest, professional advice. I was amazed. (In particular, I'd like to tip my hat to Maggie Stiefvater and Nicole Caulfield; both artists have been wonderful in their responses to me!)

As a little girl, I recall stopping dead in my tracks if I would happen to see an artist at work. (I was usually at the fair or at Cedar Point and my father would have to pull me away just to ride the rides!) But, I would look at those artist in awe and wonder how I could ever get to do that thing they were doing. Well, this past Saturday at Hop Art, I was drawing away and felt a presence behind me (mind you there were hundreds of people around!) When I turned around, a young man about middle school age range was looking at me the way I know I looked at artists when I was a kid. I felt as if I knew him and that I knew how he felt. Immediately I asked him if he was an artist. He said yes a little breathlessly and then leaned in to me and said "I read your blog". I was so flattered and touched.

It is important to me to be able to pay it forward to other artists whether they're beginners or long-term artists, everyone has a question sometime. It is so important that any new or emerging artist get all the encouragement and support they can. It can be very scary when you are beginning to live your dream! So, if any of you have a question or need some advice (about art!), I will do my best help. Don't hesitate to leave a comment or send an e-mail!

On Saturday, I finally saw myself through that young artist's eyes, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. In just a couple of years, I have won some wonderful awards and had some great accolades, but none of that made me feel the way that young man did. He made me realize that I am living my dream. (If you're reading this, thank you!)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Out on the Street

"On the Rocks"
Original Colored Pencil Drawing
(on prepared watercolor paper)
4 x 7"


This Saturday I, and three of my compatriots from Studios on High Gallery, the artists cooperative gallery to which we all belong, will be making art on North High Street in the Short North Arts District in Columbus, Ohio. The art demo, which we do several times a year, is called "Hop Art" to coincide with the district's monthly Gallery Hop.

Joining me will be:
  • Jeff Shaw, my dear friend, is a professor at nearby Capital University, and fabulous creator of large abstract paintings. He also makes humorous, pen and ink character studies. (These are my favorite and I own two; I hope to get more!)

  • Debbie Jackson is a gifted master of her craft of polymer clay jewelry making. She is also the author of Polymer Clay Jewlery. Debbie is working on her second book about using metallic mediums with polymer clay, a technique she will be demonstrating on Saturday. Her jewelry is amazing!

  • Tom Harbrecht, a founding member of the Ohio Plein Air Painters Society, and painter of landscape paintings predominantly set in the mid-west. His paintings are full of light, atmosphere and draw you deep into the work; he's a master of his craft. I want Tom to teach me how to create landscapes like that one of these days.

I can't wait to hang out with these people this Saturday. We're all a little nervous because we're all more than a little introverted and are out of our comfort zones, but feel better when we have each other for support. AND, we're doing that "getting out there thing" to promote our gallery , each other and ourselves. Ain't we something?

We'll be there from 4 to 8 p.m. I'm going to work on a drawing on pastel board of the Short North arches, the area's most striking landmarks. I'll blog my progress on that later.

If you see us, please stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Diet for a Supermodel

Original Colored Pencil Drawing
(on watercolor paper prepared with watercolor wash)
4 x 7"
Send me an e-mail if you are interested in purchasing this piece.
Buddy is fat. The vet said so. He needs to lose 10 pounds. He's been such a great supermodel that I hadn't noticed that he was in the plus size category.
You know, they usually say that if your dog is fat, you're not getting enough exercise. However, this just ain't so! Between my neighbor, Wally, who walks Buddy 4 or more times a week at 4 miles a go, and me who will run several times a week with him for 2 to 3 miles, this big boy is getting more exercise than most college athletes!
So, what's wrong? Well, turns out, I am overfeeding him. Who knew? Seems I need to scale back on the doggy chow. However, I can offset his hunger pangs with cooked brown rice and raw carrots. (Expect much more pooping.)
This whole thing got me thinking that since I, too, need to lose ten pounds, I'm going to try the "Buddy diet" right along with him (just not the dog chow part). I'm going to eat 3 low-fat, high-fiber, low-sodium, healthy, APPROACHING middle-aged woman type meals (i.e., not much) a day and whenever I have hunger pangs, I get brown rice or carrots. (Expect much more pooping.)
We'll keeping you posted on ONLY the weight loss part of this plan; no other details will be forthcoming.....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sounding Off

ACEO Colored Pencil Drawing
"Bright Eyes"
2.5 x 3.5"
Having already spent most of my working life in corporate America or running my own small business, which was a highly monitored franchise, I have been able to apply those skills toward my work as an artist. The following are several things I think every working artist should know:
  • Keep track of stuff: set up files, notebooks, whatever, but keep track of your expenses, income, taxes, etc. Go to an office supply store and go crazy. If that fails, hire an accountant or an organizer!
  • Keep a calendar and check it often. It amazes me how many artists miss submission deadlines, openings, take-in dates for shows and more because they have forgotten about them. Figure it out; put it on your calendar!
  • Keep records of your work: Take notes, take pictures, take measurements, list the media, paper, or support you've used. You may be asked about any of this sometime or want to repeat a previous style. Also, the art historians will thank you - so will your progeny.
  • Keep a list of your customers! Yikes, if you aren't keeping track of who your patrons are, how can you expect to be successful? Mailing lists cost a fortune and these people have already found you, so keep track and send them notices of your upcoming shows, awards, classes, etc. Just ask a stock broker how much his "book" is worth.
  • Keep your appointments and commitments! We all have to cancel from time to time, but I have seen a little too much of this from my fellow artists; behave as a working artist and not a hobbyist - unless that's what you want to be.
  • Keep putting yourself out there. It's really, really hard to sell yourself and your work. I tell my friends that it feels like I'm singing naked on a street corner (I've never done that as I recall, but I can imagine). Nevertheless, people will not "find" your work or you if you stay in your studio. You're good, but not that good.
  • Finish your art. I have seen some wonderful pieces framed so badly that the client either backs out of the sale or negotiates for a lower price. Not good, not good at all. It reflects on you as a professional and changes the perception of the quality of your art. Learn to frame well, or find someone who can do it for you.

Reality check: You may have to spend 20% of your time "doing business". Sometimes, more, sometimes less. (Groan.)

Just keep in mind that being an artist can be so wonderful and such a blessing. But if you want to be a successful artist, you have to recognize that you and your work are a small business, and most small businesses fail, not because the owner doesn't have a great product, but because he doesn't know how to run his business. Go run your business!

Monday, October 1, 2007

This is What I Watch Instead of TV

Because today was a busy day with home stuff and art biz stuff which allowd me NO time to draw, I thought I would share some of my favorite "found" videos. You gotta love the internet for this alone!

I also had to take Buddy to his spa (groomer) for a day and he looks maaahhvelous; so he plans on posing for me tomorrow. So, I think I'll draw him then, too!

This first video is what Buddy and I do almost everyday. We just choose not to show off....

This guy is kind of cute/creepy, but we all have a love/hate relationship with him.

And, finally, for those of us with kids in college: here's where your money is going. (Even so, this one makes me wet my pants.....really.)

Wooden Spoon Prank - Watch more free videos