Monday, August 20, 2012


It's my birthday at last! It's been a pretty ordinary day on the whole, and while I'd rather have spent it in the studio - my papers and files from this past week's school administration will not file themselves. After a relaxing weekend, I think I'm excited to be getting some important work done today. I'm one thankful someone today!

To God be the Glory for another day in my life. I'm out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A rare chance for life drawing

This morning I had a rare chance to practice some life drawing. I've got a long way to go in trying to capture a likeness from a living, moving person (while he was watching Sesame Street!). Still this is the best sketch from life I've done thus far. The proportions of toddlers and young children are a new fascination for me because I only learned this week about the idea that the child's eye is so low on his head compared to an adult! So there's nothing to do about it than go alllllllll the way back to how I started my art studies in 1995. Yep. You guessed it. Drawing series after series of idealized human heads. Back then I started with Jack Hamm's book Drawing the Head and Figure. But that book was only concerned with adult proportions. Thanks to ye olde library I have been blessed with How to Paint Living Portraits by Roberta Carter Clark. This book contains a good amount of information to inform the practice of drawing children. Since I have so many children in my life, it'd be fun to see how quickly I can learn to capture a likeness and which method ends up working best for me. Joy Thomas' method of moving from general to particular? Sanden's method of economical use of line and deliberate placement? the inverted triangle method? So much to master! As I I seek mastery, to God be the Glory! I'm Out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

So what's up next?

    I decided on a whim to grab a number of portraiture books form the local libraries. One that was of particular interest was "Portraiture From Life in 29 Steps", by John Howard Sanden. I know this book has met with a lot of critical flack for his self-promotion of his own paint line and such, yet other elements of the book really got my thoughts moving!

   One thing that struck me was his apparent devotion to Christianity; he thanks a bible study group for their prayer support in the acknowledgements at the front of the book. Another thing that moved me was the vivacity with which he attempted an initial painting. Granted, he contrasts his under-two-hour studies with the full-blown portrait, but I thought, how smashing would it be to throw down a study in 2 hours in full color to work from? Not tiny sketches and little value and color studies, but a real "first draft" as it were, from which the work can only get better? Better to create something temporary to face criticism than to finish a work and have the sitter declare it utterly unacceptable.

    I like to work at lightning fast speed, capturing and image and adding flourishes in 20 minutes or less. When working with colored pencil, I find myself discouraged because of how long it takes to lay down an image. I have a very busy life with four little people living under the same roof and another on the way. It daunts me to think of endless repeated sittings of 30- minute snatches of time in which I can only hope to complete one or two layers in a mere section of the work. I find that many artists circumnavigate this particular challenge by simply waiting 20 years or so to start their art career in earnest so that there are no more little people afoot.

   I don't personally claim that route. It sees to me that God had a purpose in affirming me in the arts soon after I arrived in my new home-state and I want to follow that road wherever it leads.  The whole point of pursuing mastery in colored pencil and not some other medium, is to be able to deliver these tools one day into the hands of the battered woman seeking refuge in a shelter, to the war-torn youth in a third-world country, and to anyone else for whom the passion of art beckons while circumstances endeavor to forbid expression. If I can master this medium with no formal instruction and in adverse economic conditions, I can confidently empower those who do not have the luxury of paid instructors, sprawling studios, or easy access to a myriad of supplies.

     Imagine the runaway girl on the subway, with 5 pencils and a scrap of newsprint, being able to create something that can mingle with character, determination and prayer to catch the attention of a university arts program. Imagine a Liberian boy who knows no trade and has none to teach him, but with skills he attained from a missionary with a few bright sticks of color, begins to make colored pencil paintings with few colors, but with passion in his heart that tell the story of those around him with candor and strength that become a commodity that lifts his life and others out of the most dire poverty.

    A lofty goal, but it can never be realized if it is never pursued. So what is up next? The exploration of solvents. I need a way to push tone across the page with urgency. Perhaps for major works I'll still depend on the slow-circle application method with much painstaking layering. But for now, I will attempt to apply the Sanden method of oil painting to colored pencil work. This will require a way to quickly lay color, and I believe a solvent is the key element to this speed. I do not, however, own any mineral spirits or Turpenoid. What can I use? Right now I am experimenting with rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover and makeup brush cleaner, or RA, NPR and MBC for short. Thus far I favor the MBC.

     As I am refining my drawing skills and developing my own individual color palette, I am going to attempt to push for speed. A finished rough draft in 3 hours, and later in 2 and at last in a single hour or less is a goal I deem possible. It is said that Peter Paul Ruebens was a painter not only of great feeling and energy, but also perhaps the fastest painter of his time. While I am working in a dry medium, I continue to look to the successful painters of antiquity and modern times as the standard to which my colored pencil work shall aspire, rather than the newly popular photo-realism. I aim to steer almost completely away, within the next three years, from using 2-D media and second-hand reference to inform my compositions. Just as in songwriting the admonition is to "write from what you know" likewise an artist's indigenous scenery should be sufficient to develop his eye without turning to those images that have already been interpreted. I do not seek to make admirable copies of the work of my fellow creation, I seek instead to be instructed by the hand of the one who originated creation. Until next time, to God Be the Glory! I'm out.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Still at work

Long time, no post as usual! I'm still at work, but currently my focus has shifted to the pursuit of classical drawing techniques. I was able to grab an old photo copy from a Bargue plate, but I certainly would like to aspire to purchasing the Bargue Drawing Course. I'm also trying to create my own palate for producing skin tones. I think I may have to completely re-invent my approach and purchase some pencils that aren't *gasp* included in Ann Kullberg's palette.

I've also been doing a fair amount of sketching, but I am discovering that even sketchbooks ought to be made of high-quality materials. i picked up an inexpensive sketch pad and now the sketches of the past few months of which I was so proud are badly smeared. I have sketches in other, higher-quality sketch pads that are unchanged after nearly ten years of continual wear!

I suppose an artist is only as good as their materials allow at times. As I grow in technical prowess, to God be the Glory! I'm Out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Completed Art for the Month of May

Welcome back! I have been working like mad of late on a number of things. I graduated from Liberty University last month with a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies. My concentrations were Christian Counseling and Fine Arts, o'course. I also managed to meet an important member or a nearby art association and I am making plans for the November 2012 juried art show. Pretty big talk for someone who has only just completed her first official colored pencil drawing! It's on Stonehenge paper and I am one happy camper. This piece is my new profile picture!
In other news, I spent a few hours trying to wrestle with PhotoShop this weekend at another artists' home. I tell you, it's less trouble to develop solid sketching skills! I got my hands on a copy of Sketchbook Confidential Two, briefly and it has certainly renewed my belief on using good old fashion talent, not gimmicky tools, to lay out your work. If you can use PhotoShop well and it enhances your artwork, more power to you. Coming soon, I hope to review the new book I got as a graduation present: "Masterful Color", by Arlene Steinberg.
To God Be the Glory! I'm out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Other creative horizons

"Long time no blog," you say? That's because I have been pouring my God-given creativity into more 3-dimensional creative venues. No I haven't taken up sculpting, but homesteading! Since my last post I've re-built a goat fence, built (and this morning extended) a chicken yard, dug up 2 ancient herb bed,s replanted a Rosemary bush that is probably older than some of my children, started a new garden bed from scratch and started tending small livestock! And you thought i was just lazing around! :)

I've also started the switch to a low-garbage production and whole foods lifestyle for my family. I've started looking into the "Buy Local" mindset and I can't wait to make my first Farmer's Market purchase later this week!

In art news, I've made a video on how to render a "Skin Tone Bar" but that will have to wait until another time to be posted, since I've also taken up baking all of our bread, pancakes and noodles from scratch! Quite the busy little bee I've been! For my many endeavors, To God Be the Glory! I'm out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I had 20 minutes of doodle time to spare this morning, so I decided to try a technique. Sadly, it didn't work out as I intended because once I started this piece the paper started to fall apart like toilet paper! No amount of brushing would fix it as the paper itself is very old. Every layer I added lost more clarity and definition as peice of paper broke off and migrated every which way. I think I need some new supplies.