Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Art for Orphans

"The Fisherman"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
50% of Sale donated to the Bolivian Orphanage Fund
If interested in purchasing, please contact me.
This image is from one taken in Bolivia, where we passed this lake at least twice on some of our journeys. On this particular day, the fishermen (there were many), the sky (which is SO blue), the mountains, and the water all just combined for a strong sense of calm in one extraordinary view.
While I'm sure many of these Bolivian man were fishing to feed their families, it seemed that they were also enjoying themselves. One can only hope.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Big News!


Now, I can tell all of you because she has posted it to her site (until then, I kept thinking I had been dreaming!), but I have been invited to teach a colored pencil workshop with Ann Kullberg and Gemma Gylling on a Mexican Riviera cruise this fall!

When I returned from Bolivia, and had to wade through all 500 e-mails (350 of which were in my junk box), there was a message from Ann Kullberg asking me if I wanted to teach with her on a cruise..... Mmmmm..... Let me think about that..... for half a second! I am a blonde, but not stupid (most days). What an opportunity! Of course I said yes!

Ann has asked me to teach students how to use colored pencils to draw on three layers of Mylar (I use Duralar) to create the illusion of depth in a drawing. She had seen my use of this technique with my marble drawings, one of which, Blue Lucidity, was accepted in the CPSA Explore This!4 show in 2007.

Ann Kullberg, who is noted for her portrait drawing ability, will be teaching students how to paint smooth, glowing skin tones, beautiful expressive eyes, and realistic looking hair. Gemma Gylling, whose animal portraits are fantastic, will be teaching techniques on drawing believable, touchable fur and (this you need in any pet portrait) how to really get the expressiveness of the eyes in your pet portraits.

Needless to say, I am honored and thrilled to be included in the company of such wonderful artists. Yes, I'll be teaching, but I plan on doing a bit of learning from these gals while I'm there, too. No matter how long you've been an artist (or writer, doctor, teacher, dog groomer), I believe you can always learn something new at every opportunity. These ladies, I'm sure, have a lot of knowledge which I plan on soaking up while I'm soaking up sun and fun on this trip!

And for those of you who set goals for yourselves, I have to share, too, that my one "reach big" goal for 2008 was to be invited to teach at a workshop. Scary, huh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shadow Play - Some Color Theory

Here is my latest contribution in the "Sketching from Life" project on Wetcanvas. The subject was cutlery or utensils, so I decided to use this juicer-thingy partly because I just thought it would be fun to draw but more so because it was white. I set this little tool right on top of a white table and went to work. I haven't done a white on white drawing for a long time; but after enjoying this one so much, I'll probably do a few more and sooner.
I thought I'd share what I do while drawing with colored pencils to create shadows and to keep them as a glowing, lively part of the picture: I rarely use black or grey -- almost never for shadows.

In most of my drawings, I shy away from using greys and black and if so, only in the last phases of the drawing. For my taste, I prefer achieve a believable shadow by layering various complimentary colors to tonally achieve a grey, but becuase it is mixed with the eye, it becomes much more vibrant and believable. When I first discovered this, mostly from studying the Impressionist painters, it was an "ah-ha" moment and I saw a breakthrough in much of my own work.
Here are a couple of examples of where I might have chosen to use grey, but instead used various colors and their complements to create a more lively grey.
For the "Aviators", I combined lavendars, blues, pale pinks and warm yellows to illustrate the folds in the musician's jacket. This was an outdoor setting and therefore, the change in value range in the shadows was rather subtle; thus the use of mostly pastel or lighter values for my pencil choices.

Here, too, in "Early Autumn Meditation", I chose similar hues, but with more chroma or deeper values. The model was indoors, with natural lighting, but deeper shadows were needed, therefore, I chose pencils with deeper values. Under the chair, I used Indigo Blue and Dark Green (Prismacolor) to intensify and darken that shadow.
All three of these drawings (either from life or the reference photos I shot) were done in natural light, which can make a huge difference when learning to render shadows without greys; you can just see the colors in the shadows much more easily. That is because natural light contains all of the colors in the spectrum.
But eventually, no matter what light is present, with practice and more knowledge of color and color theory, you can apply this technique to any drawing you do. You'll be able to reference an "ok" or even poor photo and create some amazing drawings. (The reference photos I shoot are usually not very good; I just know how to draw them better!)
I can honestly say that my color theory class in art school was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, and one of the most worthwhile. If you are interested on further study, read, read, read and then look at a lot of drawings and paintings (especially Impressionists such as Monet, Degas, Mary Cassatt, and if you really want to have fun, Seurat) on the internet, in books, museums, abd galleries.
Here are a few places to start:
  1. A thread on Wetcanvas discussing Munsell color theory.
  2. Fun and interactive site which briefly explains and demonstrates color theory (Iowa State educational site.)
  3. Color theory in a nutshell - great for printing and keeping!
  4. Color theory - some facts and thoughts on Watercolor.com, simple and easy to read with some excellent examples.
  5. Another Wetcanvas site, ArtSchool and loads of info on color.

A Cochabamba Concert

"The Shepardess"
Art for Orphans -
50% of sale will go to benefit the Bolivian Orphanage Project
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"

Overview: In March, I had a fabulous opportunity to journey to Cochabamba, Bolivia, to work on building an orphanage. While there, I made many new friends: the Americans whom I had travelled with, and many Bolivian people who, because of the great need to raise and shelter the epidemic numbers of abandoned and orphaned children, conceived and began the orphanage project.
In a very short time, I became very enamored of the people, the culture, the land, and the children and came home with the need to do more; hence, "Art for Orphans".

One evening, after working all day at the orphanage site, our new friends and hosts, Felix and Flora, invited us to a "concert" by some local musicians. Needless to say, we were all eager and excited to see and hear any local entertainment - and the real deal, no tourist stuff here.

We were escorted into an open courtyard in a small apartment/home/business place (some confusion on my part here, as it could have been all three). The black "ceiling" in the picture is actually open sky since the weather in Cochabamba is very temperate and lovely (think San Diego-ish).

Before the show, Felix explained the traditional clothing the performers were wearing and what each piece either represented or its purpose. (I believe the small bag is for Coca leaves.) But the colors, oh they are so rich and vibrant and are not adequately reproduced in these photos; but the Bolivian people, even in their daily clothes, do not shy away from color. Also, the men who are wearing fringe on their hats to cover their eyes are traditionally the single men. (I like to think it's so they can peek out at single women without being caught making eye contact - but that's just my idea.)

The performance was wonderful, strange and mesmerizing! They used a collection of flutes (the large items on the table that look like chair legs are actually flutes), pan flutes, drums and stringed instruments. The young woman also sang in a high, quavering and somewhat eerie voice. But it all worked so wonderfully together!

Our translator and leader, Connie, told us that the performers were very excited and nervous to be playing for Americans and that they had been rehearsing for months! That almost made me cry. To be so honored just because of where you were born and to have that fact alone carry such pretige was pretty overwhelming for me. Though I had never taken that fact for granted before, it was enlightening to experience it first hand. It made me realize what a huge responsibility that honor carries with it and that I should always do my best to use it well.

Here are some of the other audience members from that evening's performance. I'm not sure, but I believe they live in the building.

They, too, like the performers were very gracious and greeted us with kisses and then gave us the best seats in the house. But that's just typical Bolivian hospitality.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Child's Observation

Sketching from Life Prokect on http://www.wetcanvas.com/
Week 3 - Something from your refrigerator
45 minute colored pencil sketch

Recently, my young son was invited to a birthday party for one of his friends - who's father happens to work for Ohio State University and is one of the football coaches. The party was at the training center on campus.

Now, if you've ever been to a military base or Fort Knox, you have some idea of how hard it is to get into the OSU football training facility. Very few people ever get the chance. And around here (in Columbus), its equivalent to a shrine or holy place.

After two hours, we returned to the shrine and waited for it to open (we could not get in), and as he emerged he looked very, very tired. I, thinking he'd had an awful experience, was concerned; but no, he had just spent two hours training with the football team, hanging out in their locker room and rec room (read XBox 360 and any video game imaginable), trying on equipment and just hanging out with all the guys! My husband and I (both avid fans) turned around and shook him and said "Please, please tell us more!"

Because we also pressed upon him that he was indeed one of the few chosen to ever get inside, he began to share his experiences. (We were kneeling at his feet by then.) Then he told us that he got to go into Coach Tressel's office. (Gasp, the inner sanctum!) We both whispered "What was it like?"

He said it looked like an office for a god.

We nodded, comforted and satisfied.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Change is Good Occasionally

"Black & White"
ACEO Original Graphite Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
Today's drawing might seem like a bit of a departure, but it's definitely not a new medium for me; graphite was my first love and medium of choice.
I began to move away from using graphite as a fine art medium after art school, I suppose because it wasn't exciting or sexy enough. Color seemed to be very important at the time. It still is, don't get me wrong, but lately whenever I see a well-rendered charcoal or graphite drawing, it just seems to stop me in my tracks.
Here are two samples of what I'm taling about:
Marsha Robinett and her blog The Extraordinary Pencil: http://theextraordinarypencil.blogspot.com/ Marsha's banner reads "Where art allows you to see the color of life through your mind's eye." I look at a LOT of art on the internet and I see loads of really great stuff, but Marsha's drawings stop me and make me lean in every time.
The other day I ran across an artist I never had studies before, Frederick, Lord Leighton (1830 - 1896) http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/lordleightonsdrawings/general/default.asp. He was a painter, of course, but his drawings and studies for his paintings, again, made me stop and look closer.
So, here's what I've decided to do:
- Each week I'll post a graphite drawing or ACEO. (Gotta tell you, I am really getting a lot out of doing these frequent drawings and posts for this blog - it's pushing me to keep learning, growing and trying new things!)
- Each week I'll post a link or other info on some artists who do graphite or charcoal drawings (of course, one's I like!)
I'm really looking forward to digging into this. Who knows, this might lead to blogging about studying some masters of drawing (ala, Greywaren). Couldn't hurt, right?
If you know of any past or present artists who are worthy of us all looking at their work, please let me know.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Art for Orphans - "Young Mother"

"Young Mother"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
50% of the purchase price will be donated to
the K'illallaray Orphanage

Here is a video of some of the children who visited us on a daily basis while we were working on the orphanage. Since we had brought lots of coloring books and crayons with us, we decided to give our new friends a few. They gladly used them but when it came time for us to leave, they thought they had to give everything back! I had to (in my VERY bad Spanish) let them know that I was too old to keep them, and that they were for children only. That convinced them. (No surpise here.) They were happy and so were we.

The next day, being a school day, I saw Gonzolo (the little guy in the yellow shirt) who told me that one of the older boys had taken his book. He looked so sad; and so I promised he'd get a new one. The next day he got the best coloring book/sticker book we had: Diego! His whole face lit up; he was very, very happy and this time, did not refuse our gift.

Unbelievably that adorable little guy is eight years old.

We now have a blog with much more information about the K'illallaray orphanage. There is also an easy donation button. Please check it out: http://boliviaorphanage.blogspot.com/ Then forward it on.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Drawing on Black

"Salt Cellar"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
To purchase, please send me a message.
The last two ACEO drawings I have posted were both done on black paper which can be tricky to use as a colored pencil support. So, I thought I'd share with you a few things I've learned to create a more successful drawing:

Test your color choices first before you begin your drawing. You will find that many of the colors you normally use on a white or light support can change characteristics on black. Some take on a cooler cast; some can even appear slightly tinged with green; some blues can almost pop off the page and others disappear.

Usually when I work on black, I will do a grisaille underpainting with a very light color (white, grey, cream, beige, etc) to start the drawing, then will add darker hues later. As you can see in my example, several of the colors (especially red!) will almost disappear into the black paper without the lighter color underneath.

Practice a bit, try an easy subject to start with and be willing to learn how your pencils work on a dark or black support. You'll find that you can create some very interesting and dynamic drawings on black.

Remember, too, that whenever you're using a new support, medium, or technique, be willing to jump in and try. Don't fear the disasters; they happen to everyone - you just may not see them!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Busy as a Boy

"Pearls on Black"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
Today was a wonderful, busy day. There can be great pleasure that comes from having grandchildren and today I had a bunch of it. Both of my grandsons (3 1/2 and almost 2) were here with me today since their parents had been left in the lurch without a sitter.
Even though my youngest is only 10, it's so easy to forget how BUSY toddlers can be. Here's what we accomplished today:
  • Playing with the dogs, throwing lots of things for them to fetch.
  • Puzzles
  • Reading
  • Building with Legos
  • Snacks
  • Baking brownies
  • Coloring
  • Fixing, eating and CLEANING UP from lunch
  • Playing with about a million matchbox cars (I've been through two boys already)
  • Eating ICE CREAM (They ALWAYS get ice cream when they come to my house.)
  • More building
  • Diapers (THIS I do not miss)
  • Outdoor play: wagons, balls, roller skates, scooters, dogs, and a little water and mud.

THAT was just until 1:00 p.m. Exhausting and wonderful. I want to be the warm, fuzzy in their lives - no matter what. We worked on that today, I think.

One of the other highlights of my day, though, was when I just had to call my son-in-law (who thinks I'm a bit of a left-wing-hippie-kinda-person) to tell him that his two sons were dancing to Abba's "Dancing Queen" (it was on the radio, I DO not own it). He threatened to leave work, pick them up and to never let me see them again. Oh, that was rich.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sketching from Life

Weekly Sketches from Life
page from my sketchbook
45 minute sketch
A while ago, I made a confession that I had not been (gasp!) keeping a sketchbook regularly. I made that confession public, in part, to motivate me to be the person I want to be and begin keeping one. I bought one - ok several. (Those suckers are as addictive to shop for as shoes!) I DID take one to Bolivia and did do some fun sketches there; but I haven't been so great about using it daily.
So, while blog-reading the other day , I find out that there is a new monthly thread on Wetcanvas where everyone participating will be doing WEEKLY (less pressure for me) sketches in colored pencil! Voila! They even give me ideas! Love that.
(If you are an artist, crafter, hobbyist or are interested in any of those things, check out www.Wetcanvas.com. Great site by artists, for artists.)
For the month of April, all of the SUGGESTED topics are "In the Kitchen" and this week's is "something from your pantry". Yes, I ate it afterwards but I still feel good about myself because I sketched it first.


"The Laundress"

ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing

2.5 x 3.5"


The ACEO drawing today is, as promised, a reference, tribute and fund-raiser for the orphanage to be named K'illallaray in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Fifty percent of the selling price of this ACEO will be donated directly to the project.

Today, I thought I'd share a few of my photos from the trip (I took over 1700!).

K'illallaray in progess. A view, which, here in the U.S., which would be worth millions.

You can see the "laundress" in one of these photos. The water is a direct run-off from the mountains in the distance.
We did work pretty hard helping to clear an area for a small playground behind the building, moving an abundance of rocks from there to inside the building to be used as a sub-floor. We moved ton of these rocks! But, it was so cool to use what was right there as part of the building; can't imagine doing this for a new-build here.
Some of the local girls hang out with us, laughing at our attempts to speak to them. Connie, our leader, is bi-lingual, but the rest of us have limited abilities with Spanish. The girls think we are hilarious and just a touch stupid!

Lunch is brought to us at the work-site while we wash up in buckets of water brought up from the stream. Flora, one of the founders of the orphanage project and a fair trade advocate in Cochabamba, had prepared chorizo which she made into sandwiches for us while we watched, adding peppers, onions and avacado. She made sure the local kids had their share, too.

We take our few tools to one of the local houses to store for the night. And, yes, the sky really is that blue.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back from Bolivia

"After Her Bath"
ACEO Original Colored Pencil Drawing
2.5 x 3.5"
(50% of sale goes to Bolivian orphanage fund)

I've been back from Bolivia for about a week now. But I'm still sorting though everything I experienced and it's been hard. Lot's to digest and to figure out. I know there's more I have to do.
From the start, I knew this trip would not be a vacation, but a working journey. It was that, physical labor including pickaxes and shovels and altitude. But, being fairly strong, I did fine; I was prepared for that. I was prepared to see some things that would be difficult to see, and I did. I knew I would see and meet needy children, and I did.
That being said, I was not prepared for the emotional side of this kind of work. It's very hard to describe and to share, too. There were moments when I felt sheer joy and others when I felt extremely sad; and sometimes both emotional extremes at once.
Such was the case when we visited an already established local orphanage in Cochabamba close to where we stayed. We walked over hoping to meet the director and give some gifts to the kids. We ended up spending several hours playing, bathing and, most of all, touching the children. They so wanted to be held and touched. It was hard to leave. Joy and sorrow.
The child in today's ACEO drawing is a little girl of about 2 from that orphanage. She was fresh from her bath and just beautiful.
I know that I am fortunate in so many ways. For those to whom much is given, much is expected. I buy into this 100%. Therefore, I will be donating 50% of any work inspired by or depicting the people or places I saw in Bolivia to raising more funds to finish Phase I of the orphanage we worked on. I will be posting a "Bolivian" piece at least once a week.
A piece of my heart stayed behind in Bolivia. I'm going back as often as I can.