Thursday, December 11, 2008

December Virtual Sketch Date

"Winter Valley"
5 x 7"
colored pencil on pastel board

This month's VSD is a little early due to the holidays but I was able to eke out a little time to do this one and I'm glad I did.
I don't usually do many landscapes and when I saw the reference photo, I balked a bit. But I decided to plunge in and, as I usually do for the VSD, I decided to try to vary my style a bit. This one, I thought, should be rather pastel-like and loosely drawn.
My main inspiration for this style of colored pencil drawing I can directly attribute to a friend and a wonderful artist, Linda Wesner. I had the privilege of pariticipating in a small class and demo Linda gave at one of our local colored pencil guild meetings where she generously demonstrated her style and technique. Take some time and check her work here. She has won many awards and her work has consistently been selected for the CPSA International Exhibitions.
Linda's current body of work is inspired by "vanishing landscapes", rapidly disappearing rural areas due to suburban development. Intriguing, beautiful and contemplative.
Linda has also been a bit of a mentor and always treated me as an equal (as if) and encouraged my work. Thank you, Linda.
Boy, it's great to have artist friends.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Colored Pencil Color Mixing

In putting together a recent colored pencil class, I wanted to teach a bit of color theory and color mixing to my students. It's important, especially with a translucent medium like colored pencil, to work with not only the colors you have in front of you, but to learn to mix them. Unlike painters, we CP artists are rather spoiled in that we have such a wealth of premixed colors to choose from in our collections. However, there are always those instances where we do not have the exact color we need and have to mix (or layer) to achieve what we need.

Not only is it important to learn mixing but to learn a bit about color theory and how colors can work in a drawing. My absolute favorite writer/artist is Bet Borgeson whose books not only teach you about the basics of colored pencil but she also teaches the reader about some basic art concepts: form, volume, space, color theory, and composition. I highly recommend investing in at least one of these three books by Ms. Borgeson: "Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner" (my favorite), "Basic Colored Pencil Technique", and "The Colored Pencil - Key Concepts for Handling the Medium". Ms. Borgeson also has a website which gives you a quick overview on color theory which is both very clear and easy to incorporate into your work.

But to get you started, I will share my color wheel and mixing chart with you. You have freedom to use this for your own personal use; however, please do not use these in a class without my permission (you're an artist, you know the drill.) Because copy paper is not much fun for CP artists, you might want to print the charts out on a piece of 8.5 x 11" drawing paper (cut your own!) Have fun and leave me some feedback if you have questions or suggestions of your own.

My finished CP color wheel. The pencils I used are listed; feel free to use your own colors! Now, color your own wheel!

My CP colored pencil mixing chart; again, use your own colors if you want.

Now here's your own chart. Notice how the intensity of a pure color increases by layering. Learn and have fun!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

WIP - Final Portrait Series

12 x 14"
colored pencil on Bristol vellum
Finally finished with this one. I never keep track of the hours I've invested in a drawing (tried but am terribly poor at keeping count), but I know this one has taken a long time. I've enjoyed every minute of it, though.
I have another commission on my table right now (actually a series of 3) which I hope to show you soon but can't until delivery as they're a gift.
If you are a colored pencil artist, you should know that the CPSA has released the prospectus and exhibition information for the 17th annual Internationl Exhibition in Atlanta next year. The deadline is March 31, 2009. Check out their website here. Remember, you have nothing to lose if you submit an entry into the show, but won't win anything if you don't.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Portrait WIP - 2nd Round

colored pencil
12 x 14"
Here's my second post of the current portrait commission I have on the drawing board.
This is one of those pieces which is labor intensive, but one of my favorites to do. She is an exceptionally lovely young woman and it's a pleasure to honor her (and her parents) with this portrait.
It's always a huge responsibility and an honor when someone hires you to do a portrait of their child.

Friday, November 21, 2008

November Virtual Sketch Date

"Light Play"
colored pencil on Ampersand pastel board
5 x 7"

Here's my drawing for the November VSD. And I just have to say, I love participating in this monthly draw-fest. It's so much fun to interpret the reference photo in my own way and then check in on the other artists to see what they've done. I'm always amazed at how we all see things so differently and yet, each artist makes such wonderful work.

Check it out if you haven't yet here. You'll see links to work from all the participating artists on Sunday, November 23.

And, hey, if you can draw, you ought to give it a try. Be fearless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New WIP - Commissioned Portrait

Thought I'd share a progression of a current commissioned portrait on my table. I started this before the cruise and am now working hard to finish up.

The young woman is the daughter of a high school friend of mine; she has hired me to do portraits of her children at their graduation from high school. (Appropriate, no?) This is her youngest child and, alas, I'll just have to wait until she has grandchildren for the next round.

I am working this on Strathmore Bristol Vellum in colored pencil. It measures12 x 14".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cruise Recap

Our ship, the Carnival Pride

Here's some news and a few pics from my class on the Mexican Riviera Colored Pencil Workshop cruise. Thanks to Ann Kullberg who organized the entire workshop, I was invited to be one of the workshop instructors with Ann, of course, and Gemma Gylling. It was a wonderful trip with a wonderful group of workshop attendees. (I think I've made some new arty friends!)

In my workshop we focused on drawing marbles on two layers of Dura-lar Mylar. With this technique you can render an intense, glowing depth of field which works particularly well for glass objects. Below is my sample drawing.
This technique can be a little tricky and complicated since you have to work on both sides of the surface and ,therefore, draw backward from your reference photo several times. I wasn't sure how the class would handle this or react to it, but I was so pleased as they all came away with some wonderful pieces!

And, because I, too, thought of this trip as a little bit vacation, I took some time out on our balcony to enjoy a little refreshment afterwards. In the big comfy robe they provided. With warm sun. Ahhh. (See even if you're an introvert, like me, you can put yourself out there in the world; you just need a little R & R after!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bon Voyage

"Reclining Nude"
6 x 8"
colored pencil on canvas

I am currently sitting in a hotel room waiting to board the ship for the Colored Pencil Cruise (as I call it). And being one of the instructors, I am a little nervous. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally looking forward to it; the sun, the fun, the time away; but I'm still a little nervous.

Having been an instructor and business owner for over 15 years (owned a Jazzercise franchise), I know that being a wee bit nervous is not necessarily a bad thing. It tends to keep you sharp, alert and aware of every word that comes out of your mouth. I've found it can energize me, the class and the students.

Wish me bon voyage and to break a leg (what do you wish a workshop instructor!?) I'm hoping to blog a bit about my experience and show you some of the things I see and the people I meet.

Friday, October 24, 2008

October Virtual Sketch Date

"3 Pears"

4 1/2 x 6"

Neocolor II and colored pencil

Here is my offering for this month's collaborative sketch date known as VSD (Virtual Sketch Date). Check it out and all the wonderful artists who participate.

This month I decided to exaggerate the reference photo and use a more chromatic pallet using MiTeints red paper, Neocolor II watersoluable crayons and colored pencil to finish the detail.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Self-Aware and a Little How-To

"Self Aware"
6 x 8"
Colored pencil on canvas

This series has received such good accolades and, needless to say, I am thrilled.

Here's the story:

I have always loved figurative drawing/painting, even in art school when, shocked and a little embarrassed, I had to draw my first nude. However, I soon got over it and realized how wonderful it is to capture the human form in all its nuance and detail.

Several years ago, I asked some friends, who happened to be over 40, to pose for me. I realized that a "woman in her prime" is more comfortable in her skin and self-aware of who she is. I wanted to try to capture that in some of my work. Since that first grouping of pieces, I realized that I love doing this and seem to have a knack for making the women who pose for me to feel comfortable and to actually enjoy the process. I believe there is a great deal of trust involved on their part. But, I also think it's because I grew up with two sisters, spent a great deal of time in locker rooms as an athlete, and am comfortable in my own skin as well.

In response to some readers who wanted to know what I'm using for a support, I used a pre-stretched, pre-primed canvas. I applied two layers of black gesso (which has a matte finish and is great for taking colored pencil.) The canvas is not a fine linen; however, in some places I used solvent to "paint" the pencil wax into the canvas. In other areas, I let the canvas texture show through.
I really enjoyed working on the canvas and plan to do several more "colored pencil paintings" this way.

Oh, BTW, I have a rule for the women who pose for me: they have to be over 40. Unless, of course, they're a paying customer.

Swim Out

colored pencil on canvas
4 x 6"

When you step out of your comfort zone and experiment, good things can happen.

Obviously, I like to play with my pencils on different supports. From those experiences, I have had some wonderful opportunities come my way.

First, due to working on Mylar Duralar, I had a piece (Green Lucidity) accepted into the CPSA Explore This 4 show two in 2007. From that, Ann Kullberg asked me to write an article for her on-line publication, From My Perspective, on just how I did it. (Scaaarrry and way out of my comfort zone.) But from THAT, she invited me to teach my Mylar technique on her colored pencil workshop cruise in November.

And, after experimenting on canvas and hanging a show of a series of twelve small female figurative works like the one above, I have garnered a commission for a woman who wants a small series of these for her significant other. Sweet.

See how that works. It's so important that as artists, we don't get stuck in a rut. Don't be afraid to step out and take some risks. Remember, risk takers do reap rewards.

Here's one of my favorite quotes: "My ship will come in much sooner when I swim out to meet it." Swim, little artist, swim!

More New Work

"Morning Stretch"
6 x 8"
colored pencil on canvas

Here is another of my new figurative works on canvas. And for those who left all those wonderful comments on my last post - thank you. My self esteem is greatly improved and, with all my recent BIG LIFE DECISIONS, I really appreciate the boost.

This week I also had a wonderful opportunity to travel to Tennessee to make a presentation to a group of people this week concerning a the orphanage in Bolivia which is near and dear to my heart. We were able show them images of our trip last year and how we are building (physicallly and monetarily) a family home orphanage. They are interested in helping raise funds. Keep that in your thoughts for us that their decision is in our favor (and the orphans).

But, I am not fond of public speaking. Even though I seem to choose career paths that constantly call for it: advertising, owning a Jazzercise francise, and now art. However, making that presentation was a good leap for me; I did very well. Not nervous at all. (I think when you believe deeply about the topic you're discussing, you can just open your mouth and go.) This, too, was good for my self-esteem. All indications seem to point to the fact that my recent decisions may be good ones.

I have also been asked to sit on the Board of Directors of Global Gallery, a fair trade organization and the driving force behind the Bolivian orphanage. Again, another affirmation!

Now I'm getting revved up to teach on a cruise with Ann Kullberg and Gemma Gylling early next month. I so look up to these ladies; they set the bar rather high! So, if you want to get away and escape any of the frenzy surrounding the election, check out the cruise and consider joining us.

Never fear, I am voting early.

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Work - New Support - New Directions

"Kneeling Figure"
6 x 8"
colored pencil on canvas

I am so excited to show you my latest work. I did 12 (yes 12!) small figurative drawings with colored pencils on canvas. After priming the canvas with black gesso, it was a dream to apply the colored pencil. Some burnishing and solvents were used, but very little.

For this series, two of my closest female friends generously (and bravely) posed for me. I've been wanting to do a series like this for a long time. The premise of the work is to showcase how incredibly beautifully and vibrant women over 40 truly are. Both of my models soundly meet that criteria. My hope is that they are flattered by the work; I am truly pleased with the poses they gave me to work from.

This series is hanging, at this time, at Studios on High Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, an artists' coop that has existed for over 22 years. I have been a proud member there for over 3 of those years; however, I recently made an agonizing decision to leave because I have some personal and professional goals that don't afford me the time or money to stay.

I am going to take the next 6 months or so to regroup, explore some new media, new techniques, new marketing strategies, BLOG MORE REGULARLY, and begin teaching. I am also planning on returning to Bolivia to work on the orphanage there and to ramp up some fund-raising efforts for it as well.

One of the most exciting things I'm doing right now is mentoring a promising young artist who is currently in 10th grade where she attends an inner city school which has no art classes. My heart broke for her and I just had to help. She is a wonderful girl and hungry for more art in her life. I feel a very strong need to provide just that.

It's always amazing to me how we are put just where we need to be, meeting just who we need to meet, and given just the right tools to do what needs to be done. Very humbling indeed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September Virtual Sketch Date

Virtual Sketch Date - September, 2008
colored pencil, Neocolor II, watercolor pencils on pastel board
5 x 7"

Ok, I know, long time between posts. And I have plans to fix this soon. But in the mean time, the Virtual Sketch Date is keeping me honest. Be sure to check out all the other entries, too.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date

colored pencil sketch
5 x 8" moleskin journal

This is my first entry into the Virtual Sketch Date project where a group of artists ban together once a month to draw from the same reference photo. Each artist interprets the sketch in their own way and in their own medium and then posts the result on their blog. I have watched this for a couple of months and am fascinated by what each artist creates.

The VSD project was the brainchild of Rose Welty and this month's photo reference was contributed by Sherrie Roberts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Last of the Dandelions - Finally!

Dandelion Series - Stage 4

colored pencil on Ampersand pastel board

6 x 6"

It's finished! Actually, this series has been done for a while, but I hadn't photographed it. No excuses, just crazy busy (a good thing), loads of projects, a son home for the summer and an incredibly wonderful social life (lots of fantastic friends who I never see enough of). Not to mention, scootering around whenever I get a chance!

Here at the end of summer, I can get a bit frantic trying to fit everything in. I love summer; there's never enough of it. So, especially in August, I try to absorb as much of the waning season as possible hoping that somehow I can store it up for a long grey winter. (Central Ohio has one of the greyest winters in the U.S. Sigh.)

Next week school starts again and my young son starts fifth grade, so I will be back in "work mode" more often and will post several new works, projects and updates. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dandelion Series - Stage 3

Dandelion Series - Stage 3
colored pencil on Ampersand pastel board
6 x 6"

Here's the third of my Dandelion series and I'm having fun with them. (You artists out there know what I'm talking about when you're having fun with a project.) Loooove this Ampersand pastel board. Great stuff. Would like to do most of my new work on it. After I get through my next few projects on my "to do" list, I'd like to experiment with the board a bit and try mixing the colored pencils with some other media: pastel, watercolor, watercolor pencils, ink. I'm just going to play and see what I can come up with. I'll let you know.

In the mean time, check out the "Color On!" blog by Cindy Haase. She has some incredible work on pastel board with underpaintings done with pastel pencils, Neocolor II and Inktense. She graciously shares her work in progress and tips on "how to".

Now here's my new toy:

What fun! Plus, I'm also becoming a little greener, leaving a smaller carbon footprint at 100 mpg! I'm using this baby to run errands around my suburban hood (and terrorizing the neighbors as well). Now, I'm just looking for a gang to join....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dandelion Series - Stage 2

Dandelion Series: Stage 2
colored pencil on Ampersand pastel board
6 x 6"

This is the second of four in my dandelion series. And, yes, when I took this photograph, there was actually an ant on the flower.

For those of you who work with colored pencils and have never used it before, I encourage you to try the pastel board as a support. Here's some of what it offers:
  1. Lots of layering.
  2. Solvent use.
  3. Dry brush burnishing.
  4. No worrys of bending or tearing.
  5. Acid-free and non-yellowing.
  6. Great for mixed media techniques.
  7. Framing without glass.

Here are some of my favorite artists who do wonderful work on pastel board:

Kathrine Tyrrell:

Nicole Caulfield:


Maggie Stiefvater:

"Where can I get these great Ampersand pastel boards?", you ask. Here's a link to the Ampersand web-site with the "where to buy" information:

If you do try it, I would love to hear your thoughts about it and see your work. Ooh, and if you find some new as-yet-untried technique, please share!