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.

Live sketching time! Score!

Yesterday was a BLUR of activity and I needed to focus, so I sadly had to leave my sketching kit at home. But, that certainly didn't stop me from firing off a few sketches of men in suits doing very important work. In some ways, lawyers are like the knights of Feudal society, I suppose. Some possess honor and valor and rescue the helpless for a fee. Some are villainous and greedy and make life miserable for others. Either way, they all do their best to out-do each other's armor and posture. I always feel like I am in a zoo observing wild animal territorial behavior when I am around a number of lawyers and I was able to capture some of that psychological positional jockeying in yesterday's tiny sketches.

In other news I am still waiting on the Watson-Guptill title "How to Paint with Colored Pencil", to come in at the library. While I keep visiting the library like a lovesick teenager hoping to see her crush, I did score some awesome books full of tutorial demonstrations. I am beginning to grow so convinced that the library does not list every book on the shelves in their online catalog. I can search for hours on a particular subject and turn up nearly nothing, but when I show in the library to return something, I leave with my arms FULL of creamy dreamy instructional guides. Such is the life of a Self-Taught artist determined not to break the bank on education this year.

Earlier this year I got my bachelors degree with a concentration in Christian Counseling and Fine Arts and I am convicted to build on that foundation. Right now I'm reading: Annette C. Compton's, "Drawing from the Mind and Painting from the Heart", Beverley Johnston's the "Complete Guide to Colored Pencil Techniques", and the Gildow and Benedetti Newton "Colored Pencil Solution Book". In essence, I am test-driving instructional guides and determining which are must-have references that further my artistic skills and which are self-promoting hype. Right now the publishers I dig are North Light, Watson-Guptill and David & Charles. Just a hint: When you can't find the title or subject matter you want in a library catalog, sometimes a search by publisher can yield a treasure trove of resources on the subject that may actually surpass the particular one you have in mind! It also doesn't hurt to be friendly with the library staff as they can be a huge help in finding titles that weren't on your radar.

In other networking news, I got the chance to pop in to C'ville Arts yesterday and get the lowdown on membership and talk to an artist that goes by the name "Flame Bilyue",
who uses colored pencil in her work. I'm still not so sure that's the right place for my work as they have wall art aplenty in there. The search for a venue goes on whilst I work toward developing a portfolio.

You can't imagine how lame and phony it feels to have to say "Sorry folks, no portfolio or samples of any kind to share yet . . .all my good art got stolen!" It's the truth, but it is very haunting to remember all the time-consuming effort put into my finest pieces and yet have nothing to show for them.

Well, Lord willing I will be empowered to make works that surpass even those dear departed ones that haunt my memories.

And when I do . . . to God be the Glory! I'm out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Beginning of the End

This home school year is starting to draw to a close slowly but surely. "Albert" has finished one of the first grade spelling texts that he was working in and "Jackie" has only 50 more lessons left in his math text. Oh the exciting finishes that march brings make fighting through the home school blues that are widely rumored to hit everyone hardest in February worthwhile.

With all this going on,

it has been hard to sneak in art work and I'm beside myself trying to make skin tones work without the colors I need. I have a feeling once I finally get them I'll find a way to work without them. Here is a value sketch I did for a sketch I did for a piece that I can't wait to work on more seriously.

I realized that with as little time as I have for art, it would behoove me to put some effort toward improving my sketching skills. (That and I already have all the tools I need for that!) I'm reading "
Fast Sketching Techniques" by David Rankin. I like his style but I do kind of bristle at his "You won't be able to," and "don't expect to . . ." about the speed with which a finished drawing can be completed. I've always drawn fast and I don't think I can afford not to unless I want to wait around for all the kids to go off to college before I pick up a pencil!

Today I made a VERY quick sketch of my sweet kitty Conan. I don't
mally sketch animals, but I guess that recent pencil study featured on Gurney's Journey piqued my interest.

To God be the Glory! I'm out!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hectic day Sakura sketch

Facing what will probably be a hectic day, I decided to get in a quick sketch before the kids get their wits about them. I used my trusty (though very old) Sakura Pigment Brush to sketch a model from a relaxer ad. Relaxed hair has a horrible tendency to look like a blob, so I think I gave it a little life.

I'd like to play with this image again when I have more than 20 minutes. Learning from yesterday's mistakes, I'm loading up my sketch kit this morning before I hit the road. Teeny tiny pieces of paper make people think you're writing a note to yourself or a grocery list, not sketching unsuspecting by-standers!

May my day and yours bring s smile to the One who planned all of our days long before BlackBerrys existed! I'm out!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After reading a blog post about making a "to-go" sketching kit, complete with 2.5X3.5 sized slips of paper to work on during lulls in outings, I had to give it a try today. Considering how long it's been since I did any kind of regular sketching, it wasn't too big of a failure. Lamentably, I forgot to include an eraser in my kit. Tortillons might not make a bad addition either. I haven't sketched like this since I got back from South America. Back then I had the luxury of a full-sized set up with handy pockets and different pads of paper and what not. These days any sketching needs to have the ability to be whisked quickly into my tote when the kids need me, or when an important phone call has to take front-burner. No one ever appreciates the simplicity of their life in any given moment until things get FAR more complicated.

Today's sketches were entirely in Prismacolor black colored pencil and no graphite. It was smooth like satin! But what I wouldn't give for a kneaded eraser and a larger range of grays from which to sketch. Acquiring grays will have to take a back seat to collecting a range of colors with which to render flesh tones.

For a first attempt at sketching on an Artist-trading-card sized surface, I'm relatively pleased. I started this sketch when I saw a child in black on a colorful inflatable slide and I was in the middle of creating the sketch from a moment's flicker of a pose . . .when the phone rang. Always with the phone ringing. Phones are the bane of my existence.

I sketched a second piece from a passer-by, but it came out very childish (which is ironic, because I was drawing a child) after another interruption jolted the mental picture out of my head. I spent a few minutes trying to recapture the pose, busily rendering the girl's purple three-tiered skirt to my own great satisfaction . . .only to see the girl run through again and see that the skirt had been BLUE and I'd bungled a whole host of other details as well.

I certainly can't say that today's artistic endeavors were without value as I started to integrate a host of new-found knowledge that I gleaned during recent months. Hopefully I'll have some time in the studio to freely explore and ponder these concepts more thoroughly before the month is out. Hello March!

- To God be the Glory! I'm out.