Monday, December 7, 2015

#35: Greetings

I can't believe I haven't posted since May. 
I can't believe I have ONLY posted 34 other pieces of art.
I can't believe....

I have actually finished a lot of pieces - I just haven 't cataloged them. I am guilty of not working on my art, as I've gotten involved with some other things that manage to steal the day away! I have a new grand baby. We have been traveling. I have been quilting. I have been taking care of horses. Busy!

This fall my husband and I went on a trip with Adventure Caravans. We spent 32 days visiting a number of National parks in the southwest. We saw amazing things and met amazing people. Among those people were Clif and Joan. Clif celebrated his 80th birthday with us. I hope I look that great and have that much energy when I turn 80!

For once I thought ahead and began a drawing of Clif and Joan standing on the rim at Canyonlands National Park. I presented it to Clif at his Birthday party, along with a poem. There is a lot of 'artistic license' in this picture. I loosely used a photo I had, but much of it was just made to look similar to what I had seen.
Colored pencil on vellum
6 X 9

What I liked about this drawing:
The colors didn't come across in the photo. They are quite vibrant when viewing the original. I like how I was able to blend the color pencil and bring in the colors of the canyon. In some areas I feel like I was able to show the depth of the canyon and the sheerness of the walls.

What I might do differently:
Some areas of the drawing are flat. For example, the area just over the heads of "Clif and Joan", and a bit to the left. I'm thinking I should have added more shadow to bring that hillside into three dimensions. 

What I learned:
I suck at drawing people! Poor "Joan and Clif" look pathetic. But... I also learned friends are not as critical. Clif loved his drawing and said he was going to have it framed with the poem!

This drawing led to my creating some other 'art', and printing it out to make greeting cards for each couple on the trip. I made six cards. Each had copies of the art work printed on white paper, approximately 2 1/2" X 4", layered on card stock with a label on the back identifying the piece, date and my name. The images were taken from the following:

Kaibab Squirrel - Jacob Lake, AZ
Pencil 5" X 8"

Thor's Hammer - Bryce Canyon
Colored pencil on vellum
8" X 9"

Cathedral Rock - Sedona, AZ
pastel on paper
11" X 17"

Bighorn Ewe & Lamb - Capitol Dome NP
Pencil 5" X 8"

Adventure Trails
12" X 18"
(This painting will be described in a future post)

Our travel friends enjoyed the cards. Several said they would never use them. Some said they were going to get them framed. 

I enjoyed the challenge of making the cards and think it is a wonderful way to celebrate our travels, providing a nice memento for our friends. I am experimenting with different papers that I can use to simply print the art directly on the card, and not do the layering of papers. We will be traveling again this winter, so I'll try it again!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

#34: Hollyhock

It was a rainy day. It was dreary and grey. I decided to bring some color into my day by drawing. I also was a bit behind in my online class, and had not tried incorporating a bee and a dragonfly. I like hollyhocks and I found a few pictures on the Web to use as reference photos. As I was half way through my drawing, I realized one of the reference photos had some water drops on a flower. I had never tried those, so decided to add some as well.

#34: Hollyhock
Colored pencil on 9" x 12" vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I used the technique I learned for drawing shiny fur to bring out highlights in the flowers. I think it was quite effective. I worked to make the leaves look 'blotchy' by adding small blocks of color. This seemed to work on most leaves. When I thought I had finished the drawing I realized it was very plain. I added the fence, and later some soft color,on the sky. 

What I might do differently: 
My bee, and to some degree, the dragonfly don't look grounded. I am going to add a bit of shadow under the insects to see if it helps make them look more realistic. I made an error in the composition and of the drawing. The water droplets look more like the bee peed on the flower!

What I learned:
I was really pleased with the way the foundation of dark umber created dimension in the flowers.  I was finding it difficult to lightly color he sky without pencil lines showing. I made a "puddle" do color on a scrap, and rubbed a cork in the puddle and then rubbed that on the paper. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#33: Iris

On a beautiful spring day I went outside to begin cleaning up my gardens. You know, weeding, dividing and moving perennials, that sort of thing. I noticed one perfect blossom on my dwarf iris plant. It was stunning. Since I had already tried drawing some iris from a  picture for my online Heirloom Garden class, I decided to try drawing one from life.

#33: Iris
5" X 8" colored pencil on vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I was really pleased with the depth of color I achieved by using many layers of colored pencil. The petals are very rich and almost look velvety. I used sgraffito to lighten up edges of the petals and expose under layers of different colors for highlights. 

What I might do differently: 
I used the wrong side of the paper. This is a rough vellum and up until this picture, I had been using the smoother, back side. I had a very difficult time covering the white of the paper. However, that may have been a 'happy accident' since the layers of colored pencil contribute to the richness of the end result.

What I learned: 
I discovered that I could burnish with the violet pencil, and still have other color show through. I tried burnishing a test spot with cream and didn't like how it dulled the colors. So, since the annoying white indentations of the paper continued to show,  I had no choice but to keep rubbing.

Sitting in the iris bed

Friday, April 24, 2015

I've Been Framed!

The picture below is another of my friend's pups. I have used the gouache "ink" technique on dogs with black and white before, could I pull it off on a totally black dog?
I sent my friends the drawings of her dogs, Brae and Shasta (#30). She loved them so much, she had two of them framed as a gift for her husband.

I like how she included the original pictures, and notes I sent her about the drawings on the back of the frame. She plans to get the last picture framed at some point in the future. 

#31: Brae

Reference Photo

What I like about the drawing:
Not much! Yeah, it looks like a black dog, but I don't think I captured Brae's personality very well. I am fairly pleased with the white charcoal highlights, however. 

What I might do differently:
I made Brae a bit too fat! Oops, sorry about that, girl! My gouache was not thin enough. It isn't visible at first glance, but if you had the picture in front of you, and held it a bit sideways, you would see areas that were quite thick and a even a few bubbles. 

What I learned:
It would be helpful to test the gouache on a scrap before beginning to paint. In a previous gouache drawing I lost sight of the lines of the drawing. This time I made a copy of my sketch before I covered the original with gouache and I found that helpful to use as a reference.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#30: Shasta

While taking the online Drawing Cats and Dogs class I practiced by sketching dogs that belong to my friends.  Shasta was especially intriguing with her short hair and her coloring. I created one drawing and shared it online. She went nuts over it, and asked if I could send it to her... she'd even pay! (I didn't charge her.) I decided it would be fun to surprise her and include another drawing... or two. 

#30: Shasta
9" x 9" pencil on vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I love the pup's expression. To me, she looks like she is inviting the viewer to come play with her.  I feel like I was able to show the dimensions of her face by using more strokes, creating a darker area. I am pleased with the background. I like the variation I achieved with smudged pencil.

What I might do differently:
I am not certain that her ears are accurate. Again (and again, and again...) I must move away at several stages of the drawing process to assess my work. I used very little shading by smudging the pencil. I think that might have helped differentiate areas of different color.

What I learned:
Val Webb (course instructor) says that the eyes are the soul of the picture, and I agree. Val puts them in, first thing. It certainly does make the drawing come to life, right away! I am not a patient artist. I don't like taking a lot of time with my work. I want to see it... NOW! Were I to take more time, step back more, and revisit the work another day I think my work would be more refined. I also find that view a picture of the art work helps me get that "view from a distance." I shall try looking at a picture of my work on my next piece.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#32: Echinacea - Botanical Drawing

This was one of the projects for the Heirloom Garden online drawing class I have been taking. 

#32: Echinacea and Swallowtail
9" x 12" colored pencil on vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I like the shading on the petals of the flower, and on the 'cone'. The blush of orange on the butterfly is pleasing. I think the shading on the leaves where they fold is effective.

What I might do differently:
The body of the butterfly is a bit chunky and clunky. I failed to do the underdrawing in Dark Umber, as was suggested in the instructions. Burnishing it with cream helped a bit, but it all seemed to get too large. There isn't much sense of where the light is coming from. The shadows are all over the place. I need to be more purposeful about selecting a light source and sticking with it.

What I learned:
I loved how the v's and inverted v's created the bristly look of the cone.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

#29: Pumpkins

I am taking an Heirloom Garden online drawing class with Val Webb. She is teaching us different techniques for drawing with colored pencils.  This was one of the projects from the class.

8" x 11" Colored Pencil on Vellum

What I like about the drawing:
The color variations are pleasing and help build dimension. The colors in the green pumpkin moved around a bit, instead of blending, but I like the end result.

What I might do differently: 
The middle pumpkin is a bit squared off. Although I like that the 'shoulder' looks like it has dimension, The bottom edge on the left isn't very good. The top pumpkin seems to be sitting on a slightly different plane. I probably should have reduced the size of the back side of the pumpkin to make it look like it was more upright. 

What I learned: 
I enjoyed blending the colored pencil and burnishing the final result. I like how the colors can be layered, and built upon, almost like using water colors. In a more recent class, Val cautioned us about burnishing dark green with a white pencil, as it turns it into a "strange bluish color". Aha! That is what happened to pumpkin #2! In this instance, I think it turned out to be a "happy accident"!

Friday, April 10, 2015

#28 Samson

Samson is Faith's big 'brother'. I sent the picture of Faith with a card I made to my friend's husband, and I made a card for her with Samson. Samson seems to be quite a character,  based on blog posts she writes, and pictures she includes. 
#28: Samson
5" x 7" pencil on vellum

What I like about the drawing:
Samson's white, fluffy coat looks quite realistic. I think I was able to create some dimension. I like his soft eye. My finished drawing is pretty true to the original.

What I might do differently:
The background is hideous. I like the crosshatch, but a little goes a long way. I probably should have taken more time with the tufts of white hair, using a sharp pencil to create more texture.

What I learned:
I need to practice different options for creating a background, and figure out when to only partially highlight a picture. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

#27: Have Faith

Inspiration: A blog friend's husband is in the hospital following a liver transplant. He is in guarded condition. But, had he not had the transplant it is likely he wouldn't have survived. Last year he acquired a darling puppy and named her Faith.  My blog friend posted a picture of Faith looking very sorry. I thought it would be a great exercise to try to capture the puppy's expression. As her husband improves, I'd like to incorporate the picture in a card for him.

#27: Faith

Gouache and charcoal pencil
6" x  9" vellum paper

Faith posted on

I was pleased with the puppy's expression. I enjoy painting with gouache, and then highlighting it with the charcoal pencils. My pup's face is a bit short. I think my original sketch was better proportioned, but then I covered the sketch with the gouache. My error came when I began to use the white charcoal pencil to define the features. 
The next time I use this technique it would probably be helpful to make a copy of the original sketch before covering it with gouache, especially if he subject has little or no white marks left unpainted. The black gouache totally obliterates the pencil marks.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#26: How Gouache

My fifth online lesson with Val Webb incorporated brush and ink with the black and white charcoal pencils I used last week. However, Val prefers the use of black gouache, thinned with water, to that of ink, as the texture of the dry gouache has more "tooth".



I used black and white pictures that Val provided through her online class.

What I like about the drawings:
I especially like the cat. I liked the way the white charcoal makes the flecked fur look very realistic. I liked the nose and the eyes of the Pug. In her instruction Val mentions that she likes to complete the eyes fairly soon in making a picture as they immediately bring character to the piece. I love how the cat's eyes looks very surprised, and the Pug's eyes are so very sad.

What I might do differently:
The Pug reminds me of a poster I had years ago that said, "Plan Ahea", with no room for the "d". I sketched my Pug with pencil, only to discover his foot ended up right on the edge of the paper. The cat didn't have as much light reflecting off of its coat, and that was so much easier to draw than the Pug.

What I learned:
I really liked working with the gouache. I love the way it flows, using just a small, round brush. It was also satisfying to have a basic image of the animal so quickly. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#25: Dog Gone It!

As I continue with my class on drawing dogs and cats, we switch from pencil to work with charcoal pencils, both black and white.

Inspiration: After working with grey paper and some subjects provided by the instructor, Val Webb, I decided to try my hand at drawing my two dogs.

What I like about the painting: I was pleased with the second drawing. I like the texture of Tucker's mane, and the lines of the face appear softer.

What I might do differently: I didn't take enough time with the first drawing. I did my lines, dusted off my hands, and sprayed the painting to fix the charcoal. The next morning I took another look at the drawing and realized how unfinished it really was.

What I learned: I MUST step back from my work and take that 6' look. I think it may also be really important to give myself a break from the work, and readdress it later, with a fresh eye. This should have become a habit a long time ago! I also found that the charcoal pencils are very frustrating for me. The point, especially that of the black charcoal pencil, breaks in the pencil sharpener far too often. (I just Googled how to sharpen charcoal pencils and the article suggests that you use an Exacto knife blade. Complete instructions are provided. So, hey... I learned something else!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pencil Sketching

I am taking an online class with Val Webb to learn more a out sketching dgs and cats. My hubby unearthed a photo of a cat we had about 10 years ago. 

I sharpened my pencils and this is what I produced:

I was quite pleased with the results!