Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Restrospective

Here is a look back at 2008.

Art Shows

  • I entered two pieces of artwork in the art show On My Own Time at my workplace. My leaf watercolor above won first place in the Amateur's Works on Paper division. Employers around the Dallas metroplex have this annual art show. Each employer awards prizes, and the winning art pieces go to a city-wide art show.

On-Line Groups

  • I participated in Illustration Friday (IF) for most of the year. I love IF because it fosters creativity. Each week, there are a large number of excellent entries which inspire me to do my best each week.
  • I did the Every Day Matters (EDM) challenges through September. Looking back at my EDM drawings, I see how much I improved by doing them each week.

Art Instruction Books

Art History

  • I started out the year intending to study an artist every month, but I abandoned this early on. I studied Maxfield Parrish (January), N.C. Wyeth (February) and Peter Max (March). I do not yet know how to usefully study artists' work.


To grow as an artist, I need to create my own projects to serve my own interests and vision, and not rely only on projects started by others. Towards this end, I created two projects for myself:

  • In June, I did an oil painting almost every day. This was very successful. I am not ready to commit to an oil painting every day for a year, simply because I need to still work on art basics (e.g., perspective). Once I feel comfortable with the basics, however, I will definitely consider becoming a daily painter.
  • In October, I started my 100 Heads project. I originally intended to do a head a day, but I could not keep up with that schedule. I am still working on this series, and I feel that I am improving my portraiture skills as a result.


  • I added oil paints and colored pencil to my repertoire. I know that I will eventually need to settle on just one medium (to be a professional artist), but I am not there yet.

Work Melt Down

  • In August, my role changed to a management one at work. It took me a few months to master my new role, and I did almost no art work. I was surprised at how long it took me to get into the swing again once I returned to art.


  • January through February, I took an on-line colored pencil class with a well-known colored pencil artist and book author. Each week, I accessed a lecture and reading assignment on-line. There were two drawing assignments over the course of the class. I e-mailed the drawings to the instructor, and she e-mailed critiques back to me. There was a student forum, but there were not enough students taking any given class at a given time to get a good dialogue going. This on-line instruction format did not work well for me. It didn't offer sufficient value beyond reading and working through instruction books on my own. I think WetCanvas classes actually work better for me, since there are typically a large number of people working through the classes at the same time.
  • August through December, I took two oil painting classes with Dave Kramer at the Creative Arts Center (CAC) in Dallas. These classes taught figure painting with live models, typically nudes. Dave is an awesome instructor, and CAC is an awesome art school. The students are serious about art, and Dave offers critiques and suggestions as we draw and paint (and he is able to do this in a fun and engaging manner). Having an instructor point out errors as you draw and paint is invaluable. Now that I know what good art instruction is like, I will continue to seek it out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5 a Day

We all know we should “Strive for Five” servings of fruits and veggies a day to keep our bodies healthy. Peggy Fussell tagged me with the task of describing the 5 things I do everyday to keep my spirit happy & healthy. This fun exercise fits right in with planning for a new year. Here are my top five:
  1. I get motivated by reading Ralph Marston's The Daily Motivator. The Daily Motivator message helps me start the day with a positive and balanced outlook.
  2. Walking my dog Shelty elevates my mood. Bonding with man's best friend is always a good idea, as is walking around my 1970's era neighborhood with its large lawns and mature trees. While walking the dog, I appreciate the beauty around me while also getting some exercise and fresh air.
  3. We always sit down as a family for a homemade dinner served on nice dishes and illuminated by candles. If I have been under a lot of stress during the day, I feel it melt away during dinner. We occasionally try to save time by getting take-out or going out to eat. It never works. It doesn't save much time, the food is not as nutritious as what we make ourselves at home, and going out to eat is harder on the environment than cooking ourselves. Eating at home also saves money, which eliminates future stress over credit card bills!
  4. Exercising every day is essential to feeling good and maintaining good mental health. There is definitely a mind-body connection. I like walking, aerobics, weight lifting, and yoga. This is the one item I need to do better at ... if I run out of time, exercise is the item I omit. Not good!
  5. Finally, I need to do art everyday to feel my best. And I usually do!

    I now need to tag 5 other bloggers. There is no obligation to participate, of course. Only if you have time and think it would be fun!

Monday, December 29, 2008

100 Heads: Head #46

This is a copy of the Julia Margaret Cameron photograph Mrs. Herbert Duckworth (1867). My focus is on using light and shadow to model the human head. I took a painterly approach to this portrait. I first massed in the darks, leaving the white of the paper for the lights. I then adjusted the darks to get midtones. I used a mechanical pencil and tortillion in a Canson Universal Sketch Book.

Friday, December 26, 2008

100 Heads: Head #45

This is a drawing of Bernini's Tomb of Pope Alexander VII [detail of Charity]. Actually, I thought I was drawing Bernini's Madonna and Child, based on this article on Britney Spears. As I was drawing it, I thought it was awfully sensuous to be a Madonna and Child. And now I know it is not a Madonna! Lesson: Do not take art history lessons from articles on pop stars. Graphite over pastel on card stock.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

100 Heads: Head #44

Another version of Michelangelo's statue Madonna and Child. Graphite over blue pastel.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100 Heads: Head #43

Angels we have heard on high.

I had fun experimenting with my Christmas cards this year. This angel is based on a photograph of a statue of an angel, but the final artwork doesn't look anything like the photograph. I started by applying blue pastel to a cream card and then spraying with matte fixative. I drew the angel using mechanical, 5B, 9B, and Ebony pencils. The surface was rough and hard to draw on, but the finished product has a unique look.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Illustration Friday - Rambunctious

Rambunctious is a word that sounds like what it means, so I used the word to illustrate the meaning. Those crazy letters! Every time I came back to the drawing, they were doing something different.

Monday, December 15, 2008

100 Heads: Head #41

This is a copy of a drawing by Michelangleo Buonarroti (1475-1564). The drawing is called Head of a Young Woman.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

100 Heads: Head #40

This is Christopher sleeping. I like to draw him in the early morning, when I am wide awake but he is still sleeping. I find he holds a pose for about 15 minutes and then shifts in his sleep.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100 Heads: Head #39

I am practicing pen & ink contour drawing, as explained in the book Painting by Design by Charles Reid. This is not blind contour drawing. I look at my paper as necessary. My goal is to get the proportions correct and to capture interesting shapes and angles. Anita Davies has talked about lead-free drawing and how not erasing helps you see your drawing strengths and weaknesses. I am finding this to be definitely true.

I experimented with pencil shading on the top contour drawing and pen shading on the bottom drawing.

I drew from a Julia Margaret Cameron photograph of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. You can see the photograph here.

Contour drawing is fast, so I can do a contour drawing even on days I am tired or pressed for time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

100 Heads: Head #38

This is my husband Bob. I again used Sarah Simblet's approach to drawing heads.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

100 Heads: Head #37

This is Christopher. He had ants in his pants during this portrait, so I had to draw him partially from memory. He was watching A Christmas Carol, the version with George C. Scott. Christoper is a Christmas fanatic. He has already watched the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol about 6 times. We'll see every version before the season is over.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

100 Heads: Head #36

I drew this head from imagination, using Sarah Simblet's approach to drawing heads.

Friday, December 5, 2008

100 Heads: Head #35

This is my son Andrew. I drew him while he was doing his homework at the kitchen table.

I used Sarah Simblet's approach to drawing heads (The Sketch Book for the Artist). I have scanned in one page of the book, so you can get a feeling for the approach. In Simblet's approach, the cranium, face, trapezius muscle, and neck are the foundation of the head. Using Simblet's approach to draw the head from a variety of different angles requires a good knowledge of anatomy and perspective, since you need to know how the cranium, face, trapezius muscle, and neck look from any angle. I think Simblet's method is good for achieving looser drawings.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

100 Heads: Head #34

This is a copy of the Leonardo da Vinci drawing Head and Bust of a Woman. I used a mechanical pencil and a kneaded eraser, but no tortillion or blending tool. As I draw the heads, I am experimenting with alternate drawing techniques.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Illustration Friday - Balloon

I created this sequence in April 2008. I am reposting it because it is a good fit for the prompt balloon.