Monday, December 31, 2012

Ringing in the New Year (or drawing it in?)

This is my last finished project for 2012. All told, I completed around 22 pieces, which isn't so bad considering I had to squeeze them in here and there around a full-time schedule.

You can tell that the original photo was taken with a flash, which I encourage people to avoid if at all possible. In this case we couldn't get around it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Unveiling the surprises

So I've been sitting on these images and not able to share them until they were delivered to the new owners, but now I can let you see them. Woo hoo! They were fun to do. I can't wait until my next drawing. Who will it be?

Someone hired me right before Thanksgiving to do this portrait. Normally I'm a slow painter, since I tend to build in thin layers of color, so I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to get it done in time. Also, there was the possibility of more last-minute work which could show up at any moment (and did), so I was glad that I kept pushing and made the deadline. 

I knew about this project months before we actually found the right photo to draw. It was hard because it was a secret, but it was so worth it when the right image came in. A good photo to work from makes all the difference in a portrait!

As soon as I saw the baby's expression, I thought, "That's Winston Churchill!" Of course it wasn't really, but he did look kind of imperious, all the same. It's as though he takes life far more seriously than his older sibling who is in the middle of a belly laugh! Children are fabulous to draw!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The only thing I can post

I've been working a lot, but this is the only thing I can show you until after Christmas. It's not finished yet, but it's moving along. Took my last two Christmas jobs on Friday, and that's all I'll be able to squeeze in before the 25th. Afterwards I'll put up pictures of the drawings and paintings that were gifts. It's been so fun to work on these pictures, and I hope each person who receives one enjoys looking at it as much as I enjoyed painting or drawing it!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Art class Christmas party

I feel like I've completed one of the last hurdles before Christmas is here. We had our art class Christmas party on Friday for the younger group. The moms brought cookies, I made frosting and bought sprinkles, and the kids provided the creative talent. 

It was a little like doing Jackson Pollock art with frosting, so the clean up took a LONG time, but it was worth it. I'd show you pictures, but I was a little sticky at the time, and I've already eaten all of my cookies yesterday. (I have a feeling many of my students have, too.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Little by little

This is my most recent project. I can post it because it isn't a surprise for anyone, but was purchased at a silent auction.

This photo was taken with a flash,
so it's going to be a bit more challenging.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pencil drawing finished

Well, it's a little dark, because in the winter the sun goes down early and it's tough to take photos, but I finished up his hand and the right corner tonight. Busy this time of year, but I wanted to finish it.

: )

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Art class Friday : )

Art class, as usual, went over well on Friday, but not as I expected (also as usual). The idea was to do a 3D project of something kind of high tech/space age with robotic type critters. However, when I suggested that they could do household rooms, Christmas scenes, etc., they took off from there. My own and my eldest daughter's examples were the only mechanized creations. One boy did the Chicago Bear's locker room with football players. Another did a library. Yet another did a room in a house with a Christmas tree (and zombies). It went on from there.

Did they have fun? Yes. Did they accomplish the point of the assignment? Pretty much, since it was to make a 3D-ish creation with stand-alone characters of some kind. Were my junior artists satisfied with themselves? Immensely.

And I think that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Art class this week

This week's class is going to be fun, fun, FUN!!!!!

The idea is to do a 3D laboratory and fill it with robotic/mechanical type creatures.

Top view (sort of)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finished at last

I'm not a speedy painter, and I tend to rework things until they are where I want them to be, so it is with happy relief that I finished this in time to give it a gel medium protective coat and a final UV spray before the weather was too cold. (I always spray outside because of the chemicals.) If you want to see what it looked like at first (which was absolutely awful!) click on this link.

I'll be working on more portraits of the human and pencil variety from here on in, although there's a painting I'd like to try.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More secrets and art projects

Still more holiday secret projects which I cannot post in the works, 
so in the mean time, I'll post some of the images from our art class projects. 

We've been taking a lot of class ideas from Carla Sonheim's 'Drawing Lab' lately. For this project we enlarged quick marker sketches 250 percentand then used doodles of complementary colors to fill the shapes. (Also we used metallic markers. Kids LOVE metallic markers.)

One student working on her Picasso dog/cat
(also from Carla Sonheim's 'Drawing Lab').

This was my Picasso dog. It ended up looking more like
a Picasso pig, but I was okay with that.

My eldest daughter after two rigorous art class sessions.
We had to administer doses of chocolate to revive her. 

This class is almost entirely boys.
It makes for an interesting afternoon.

The later class has been making linocuts.
We're going to print this week.

This will be our project for the first group this week, partially courtesy of Carla Sonheim. (Her idea was to do a picture in the style of Dr. Seuss.) I like the idea of turning art into toys with moving parts, so I decided we could make it into a three dimensional pop-up scene with three layers of play potential. We'll see how it goes when they try it out on Friday. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Haven't been able to work on this for awhile, but there is a little progress since last time.

Happy autumn!

: )

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Celebration of leaves

I'm posting this drawing (a secret no longer) to celebrate the fact that we have finally cleared our yard of an estimated 23 to 24 million leaves. (We have a lot of large oak trees.) The yard looks beautiful!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Author Laura Hillenbrand to the rescue!

Thanks to the book club, of which I am a sporadic member, I've had opportunity to work lately accompanied by the fantastic writing of Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken. Her book tells an amazing true World War II survival story that you won't find (unfortunately) in any of today's history books. Definitely a must-read.

The happy upshot is that while listening to Ms. Hillenbrand's book, I've been able to finish two portraits and start another. Although the first two are top secret, I can share some of my progress on the third, which shows a big brother tenderly cuddling his new little brother, recently arrived.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sh! It's a secret

The only problem with this time of year is that there are so many secrets floating around that you have to be careful. Unfortunately, the next series of portraits that I'm working on are top secret, and although the internet is such a vast arena that it's unlikely someone might stumble across something they weren't supposed to see, it is possible.

So for now, I won't be posting my art until I have something that isn't a secret being kept from someone.

Happy fall! : )

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A weekend's work

On Saturday I made a commitment to put in some solid work time with art. Not easy although I was up by 6 A.M. By 9:30 I had done lots of work, but no art work. Finally got going, though, and I was happy with the result.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moving along

At last, after weekends of so much happening personally that my time was simply not my own, I'm back on track. Whew! This poor horse finally has some eyes. : )

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are you wondering?

Probably no one is as bothered as I am that I started a painting and didn't finishing it yet. Still, I thought I should mention that right after I started it, life stepped in and got very busy. I had to do some corrections/additions to a manual for our church (tight deadline), school started (I'm the teacher), and my father-in-law passed away after a very full 94 years (on Tuesday).

So I'm just trying to point out that I'm not procrastinating, but have been running on a crazy schedule that just bops from one major issue to another. Fair warning. I should be back to work on the painting this week.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The end is better than the beginning

My paintings always start out looking awful. It's one of the hardest things I've had to get used to, because pencil drawings and pen and ink pictures don't work that way. They kind of emerge from the paper, almost intact as I work left to right. Not so with paint. As proof, I'm going to give you blow-by-blow visuals this week of a horse portrait I'm working on.

Right now it looks like a paint-by-number gone horribly awry. This is when I can barely stand looking at it myself. I try to get through this stage of laying down the first areas of color quickly, because I'm hoping that I'll like it better as it looks more like the end painting I envision and less like spilled paint. (This is also the stage I think of as the humiliation stage. It's when people who happen to see your painting might ask, "What is it?" Don't laugh. It happens.)

After this I lay down more layers of acrylic over my base colors. At this point I'll add some white to my colors to give them more opacity. Little by little, it's beginning to look like a horse. (Yes!) There are lots of parts of this painting that I'm not satisfied with at this point, but I'm losing the light in my studio, so we'll see what we can do to this tomorrow.

Here's the link to the final image. (Boy, was I glad when it turned out better than the above. the color of this horse's coat was difficult for me, since the reference photos didn't agree with each other.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Final work

And it's done. I'm looking through photos to choose my next image while I work on a painting which was won at a black tie auction for the Valeo Academy.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Sometimes it's fun to see the progression of a picture as it's being drawn. Here's my latest project. I find that the more of these pencil portraits that I do, the longer each one takes. As soon as it's completely finished, I'm going to switch back to 8 x 10 and do a painting before moving on with more pencil work.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Just draw it

I like the alien best so far.
When I was young, my dream was to be a cartoonist. I did not become a cartoonist, but I do like to play around with them every so often. Lately I've been experimenting with a strip that I'm creating to add to letters to my daughter while she's in basic training this fall.

I thought I'd share a few of the preliminary sketches. I love the alien, and the family members are okay, but I'm having real trouble coming up with a look for the main character that I actually like.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

From the land before mom

Pen and ink: Hus

Lithography: The child

Watercolor: Mom and daughter

Pen and ink: Little mouse

Pen and ink: Rabbit in the snow

Pen and ink: Raccoon on the tree

Pen and ink: White wolves
Okay, technically these were all done before I was a mom. I found them in storage when our dehumidifier malfunctioned, spreading watery not-so-goodness across the basement carpeting. I'd forgotten all about them (twenty+ years will do that to you), and when I unpacked them because the corner of the storage box was wet, this is what I found. Fortunately, I had put them all in plastic, so they were fine.

Anyway, I enjoyed looking back at them. Hope you do, too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Learning curve

Three siblings on the beach
I finished my first panoramic-style pencil drawing today. (Normally I only do portrait close-ups in pencil, which was why this was different.) This was a learning experience, but as I look back over the project, I should have seen some things coming.

I wasn't expecting it to take me that long. If you look at the image, it seems fairly simple at first glance. It's just three children standing on the beach. No big deal, right?


Just as in the picture I did of my nephew who was getting his first serious hair cut, I underestimated the portions of the picture which were loaded with details and texture. His face went quickly. Everything else took lots of time.

It turned out the same in this image. The three figures were fairly easy and went quickly. Even the water wasn't too bad. It was the sand that was trouble. At one point, my mom asked me if I was drawing the grains one at a time. Upon reflection, I decided that, although it was bad, it wasn't quite that bad.

I'm happy now that it's done. It's always a relief once it's finished and safe in its protective sleeve, probably because drawing a picture is like labor. Tons of work, not always fun, but always worth the end result. I hope my client thinks so, too!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Something new

Thought I'd post my recent work-in-progress. It's not my usual thing, and I don't know whether I'm happy with it yet or not. There's a lot left to do, and unfortunately most of the undone portions are water and beach, but I'm plugging away at it until it's finished.

This wasn't a very good photo of it (sorry) because the reflection from my desk lamp washed out the left side and cast a shadow on the right, but you get the idea.

The moral? It's good to try things (pencil landscape with three kids) that aren't what you do the rest of the time (close-up portraits).

Friday, May 11, 2012

If you could see the look on your face

What's the joke?
I love to draw people. I don't know why. In college it was a way to pick up a little extra cash by drawing portraits of girlfriends for guys. There was still a big learning curve there, and I wince at the thought of some of those efforts, but it was good practice. The only bad thing was that I had to use whatever picture might be on hand for a portrait. The poses were generally stilted and traditional. You know the kind: a smile directly for the camera.

Now that the mechanics of drawing comes more easily, I've discovered that much of the success of a portrait is due to the picture chosen for the project. I try to avoid traditional poses at all costs. I want something different: a moment caught rather than a pose. The best photos are like this, too. It takes time to catch a picture like that to work from, but it's always worth it. I ask myself, "Would Norman Rockwell want to paint this? Does it make me smile?" If the answer to these questions is yes, then I'm certain that I'll enjoy drawing the picture.

With that in mind, I hope you enjoy my latest portrait created from a moment caught.

Do you like to draw? What subjects do you enjoy the most? Are there images you'd like to draw but are afraid to try?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Recent drawing

My very cute nephew.

And the drawing in progress of my very cute nephew.
His expression reminds me of a mischievousness embodied.