Thursday, December 31, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pioneer

This pen drawing is roughly based on a photograph of Charles Darwin by Julia Margaret Cameron. The photograph is here. I was enchanted by the texture of his beard. I didn't use any pencil; I drew directly with pen and took my chances. Blue .05 Micron pen in a Canson Field Sketch book.

Both Darwin and Cameron were pioneers. I assume everyone knows of Darwin. Cameron (1815-1879) was a British aristocrat who took up photography the last 11 years of her life. She did portraits of many luminaries of her day, and her pictures influenced modern photography.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Snowing in Dallas!

Miracle of miracles. It is snowing in Dallas on December 24th. And it is starting to stick. We are hoping for a white Christmas. Here are some pictures of our house. OK, so this is nothing compared to what you get in more northerly climates, but for Dallas folks, it is a big deal. Kids are ecstatic, and grown ups feel like kids again. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Illustration Friday - Undone

She's coming undone.

.05 Micron pen on Bienfang Graphics 360 100% Rag Translucent Marker Paper, with a touch of pink Prismacolor pencil. I love the paper--there is absolutely no bleeding.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Illustration Friday - Hatch

A new crop of babies arrives in the cabbage patch. Here is a close up of the baby:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review: Sketch Book

Just finished reading Sketch Book: Conceptual Drawings from the World's Most Influential Designers by Timothy O'Donnell. The book profiles a number of different designers and shows pages from their sketch books. The focus is on graphic design, not illustration or fine art. The book is interesting in that the subjects use their sketch books as a thinking tool, not as objects of art. No pretty pictures here. I got the book from the library. I wouldn't buy it, but it is worth checking out from the library. It provides food for thought on how to make good use of a sketch book.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Illustration Friday - Entangled

When I saw the prompt entangled, I immediately thought of a thicket of bushes in my backyard. The tangles have long fascinated me, and I have been wanting to draw them for some time now. This prompt was a good excuse. I drew from life for about an hour and then switched to imagination. I developed the drawing in pencil and at the end added some colored pencil, colored pen, and pastel pencil. I left part of the drawing undone, because I think it looks more interesting that way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Box Figure

I am practicing reducing figures to basic shapes such as boxes. This drawing is based on a photograph in Yoga Magazine. It is a woman doing a yoga pose.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Illustration Friday - Music

The children eagerly follow the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

I am working on my silhouettes. I think the key to a good silhouette is (1) gesture and (2) details such as hair, ribbons, profile, and clothing. Arthur Rackham was a master at silhouette.

I drew the figures from imagination. I have been practicing figures and am finding practice pays off for imaginative work. The figures are drawn in Chartpack AD Marker on printer paper. The marker bled a little; next time I need to remember to use paper specifically made for markers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I first drew these pumps using water soluble graphite pencils, but I didn't like the results. So I went over them with charcoal. I don't think these two mediums were meant to go together, but I like the results.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Illustration Friday - Unbalanced

On Wednesday evening of last week, Mrs. Thea Gilberston from the town of Franklin was ajudged insane by Judge J.D. Perry and was taken to Mendota State Asylum on the Thursday afternoon train by Sherriff Buckley (Badger State Banner, April 13, 1893).

The above quote is from the wonderfully strange Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, which chronicles crime and insanity in the 1890's in Wisconsin. I drew this portrait from imagination in pastel and charcoal on a watercolor-toned board and then adjusted in Photoshop Elements.

After Durer

I love Durer's pen and ink work.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Figure Drawing Practice

This drawing is based on a painting by Emmanuel Benner. I am practicing constructing the figure.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Illustration Friday - Blur

As Albert aged, he found the years passed by in a blur.

I drew this from life using pencil, scanned it in, cropped it, and added color in Photoshop Elements.

In the Blue Grotto

Figure drawing practice. This is after In the Blue Grotto by Jean Benner, which I found on this site by Mary Van Deusen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hand and Foot

The foot is mine; I was looking down at it. It looks like a hobbit's foot, doesn't it?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Skull and Watch

I drew the skull and watch from life in pencil, and then I adjusted the color in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I did this for last week's Illustration Friday prompt flying, but didn't submit it. It is based on a Vanity Fair photo from the 1950's. Except the model in the photo is not wearing an aviator's cap and goggles. The drawing fits right in with the gorgeous but silly advertisements in magazines like Vanity Fair. Beautiful people in really, really expensive clothing in interesting scenes that are far, far removed from reality. I get my Vanity Fairs at the local library's used book table for a quarter each and dream about the good life.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bali Dancer and Flowers

I am slowly getting back into the drawing habit, after a month hiatus. I drew a little here and there but not much. This drawing of a woman was inspired by a "Flashback" photo of a Bali dancer in the current issue of National Geographic; the photo was originally published in National Geographic in 1939. The flowers were drawn from life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Illustration Friday - Strong

A strong padlock will keep your possessions safe. To render this drawing, I used techniques I learned in the book Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil by J.D. Hillberry. The drawing is on hot-pressed watercolor paper. I used pencil, charcoal, and frisket film to render the image.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Esther Neustadter 1929-2009

My mother, Esther Neustadter, passed away at home on Tuesday, September 1st following a lengthy illness. She took her last breath at 12:45pm. She was 79 years old.

She was born on September 12th, 1929 in Kitchener, Ontario to Henry and Susan Riediger. She grew up with two older siblings, Eric and Ella, and she had two additional siblings that died at birth. She grew up speaking English and German and was fluent in both languages. She worked as a bank teller before she was married, a job she enjoyed.

John and Esther met in 1949, when John, who was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was visiting relatives in Kitchener, Ontario. They met ice skating in Victoria Park. Although Esther was an excellent ice skater, she made a point to fall down frequently so John could help her up.

After John returned home to Lancaster, John and Esther wrote to each other. John returned to Kitchener for Esther’s sister Ella’s wedding, and John proposed marriage to Esther at Ella’s wedding. John and Esther were married on October 14th, 1950 in the Mennonite Brethren Church in Kitchener, Ontario.

After they were married, John and Esther moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they purchased a 64 acre farm. Esther’s first child, Tom, was born on January 19th, 1952. In later years, Esther would fondly remember her farm dog Penny, a Saint Bernard, and would recall the tornado that took the roof off of their barn.

In 1952, John and Esther sold their farm and moved to Jamestown, New York, about 60 miles from Niagara Falls. John bred cows for the Curtiss Breeding Company and Esther was a homemaker. Esther’s second child, Laurel, was born on March 9th, 1959.

In 1961, John and Esther moved to Vernon, New York. Once her youngest child was in middle school, Esther started working as a book keeper at a local feed store. She first worked for Don Mower in Vernon Center, and when he went out of business, she went to work as a book keeper for Pohl’s Feedway in Vernon. She worked at Pohl’s until she retired. She enjoyed book keeping and excelled at it.

In November, 2008, Esther and John moved to Dallas, Texas, in order to be closer to their children.

Although she lived in the United States for almost 59 years, Esther remained a Canadian citizen and never became a citizen of the United States.

Esther grew up in the Mennonite faith. In Vernon, she attended the Vernon Baptist church and later became a member of the Oneida United Methodist church.

Esther enjoyed reading mysteries and liked to visit used book stores to look for books. She loved dogs and had a pet dog for most of her married life. While her children were still at home, she enjoyed playing pitch (a card game) with other women once a month. Later, she enjoyed participating in social activities at the Utica Maennerchor Club, a German singing club. Other members always liked to sit at her table, because she was fun to be with and would make sure everyone had a good time. She and John traveled to Germany to visit John’s relatives in the Heidelberg area.

Her favorite holiday was Christmas. She loved buying and wrapping presents. Her children did not understand German, so she and John discussed all Christmas plans in German, in order to keep everything secret until Christmas morning. Christmas morning was always highly anticipated.

Esther’s greatest joy was her home and family. She liked being a homemaker and took pride in a clean and neat house, full of good food. While her children were growing up, vacations were visits to Kitchener or Lancaster to visit relatives. Once her children were grown, she frequently traveled to California and Texas to visit her children and grandchildren. She was happiest when she was with her family.

Here is my Mom and Dad's wedding picture. On October 14th, 2009, they would have been married 59 years.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Illustration Friday: Caution

Caution: Don't run with scissors!

Here is double trouble:

Micron red and black pen and Prismacolor pencils on Canson Mi-Tientes Pastel paper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Lately I am enjoying rendering complex textures and patterns. Here, I try to give the impression of plaid without drawing every detail.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let It Be

This drawing consists of images from the Sky Mall catalog. I choose photos that interest me and see where it takes me. In this drawing, I saw I was choosing serene faces on the left side and scary faces and animals on the right side. The serene faces do not seem to be too concerned about the situation, so I call this drawing Let It Be, after the Beatles song.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Insect Repellent Hat

I copied a photo in the Sky Mall catalog on the flight from Chicago to Syracuse at the start of my vacation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Illustration Friday - Wrapped

Just got back from my summer vacation in the Adirondack Mountains. I did this drawing in my sketch book, using a mechanical pencil. I was inspired by my teenage son asleep in our hotel room in Ticonderoga, New York. Thanks to moonlight coming through the window, I could see the general shape of his sleeping figure in the middle of the night, wrapped in a blanket. I quickly sketched the scene, as best I could in the moonlight, and then abstracted the drawing in an attempt to make the drawing more ambiguous and mysterious.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Illustration Friday - Impatience

The problem with winning the rat race is you're still a rat. - Lily Tomlin

Although being in a hurry and impatience are not exactly the same thing, I think they are closely related. After all, if you are not in a hurry, what is there to be impatient about? Last Friday, as I was driving home from work, I saw a runner dash past me. Later, my husband told me he thought an illustration about impatience should include a clock. Voila! I had a concept for my illustration.

I used Edward Muybridge's photograph sequence of a running man as the models for my runners. Here is the sequence I used:

Friday, August 7, 2009


This is my cat Max. Blue gel ink pen (Gelly Roll Fine Point).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Illustration Friday - Modify

After the wizard's apprentice turned his little sister into a cat, she howled with delight.

I have been itching to make a drawing that combines human features with animal ones. The prompt modify was a perfect opportunity. I combined two photo references into one graphite drawing and then tinted the drawing with color in Photoshop Elements.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sky Over Dallas, Texas

This is what the sky looked like yesterday over Dallas, Texas. It was rainy, stormy, and dramatic. I observed the sky as I drove around doing errands during the day and then drew it from memory last night. I used a 3B and H pencil in my Canson Field Sketch Book. I used a tissue for blending.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Illustration Friday: Idle

This is my submission for the Illustration Friday prompt Idle. I am inspired by Dorthea Lange's photographs from the Great Depression, a time when many workers were idle. This drawing is a quick contour drawing inspired by a photograph of a San Francisco bread line, shown below. I try not to copy her photographs but rather attempt to use them as a point of departure. My contour drawing looks more like a bar scene rather than a bread line, but happily this still fits the theme of Idle. The Great Depression meets Cheers? I like all the hats in Lange's photos.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's It All About, Alfie?

Fun with the SkyMall magazine on flights between Dallas and Washington, D.C. These are all images from the magazine. Doesn't everyone need Easter Island and zombie lawn statues? Of course they do! Mechanical pencil and colored Micron pens in my Canson Field Sketch Book.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

This pen drawing is roughly based on a photograph of Charles Darwin by Julia Margaret Cameron. The photograph is here. I was enchanted by the texture of his beard. I didn't use any pencil; I drew directly with pen and took my chances. Blue .05 Micron pen in a Canson Field Sketch book.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Illustration Friday - Hollow

Although drawn by her beauty, he eventually discovered her hollow shadows. Mechanical pencil in a Canson sketch book.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Illustration Friday - Shaky

The grim reaper meets his match. Is he shaking with fear?

I see now that the grim reaper should be more distinct. I need more reaper and less flames.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tissue Paper Flower

This is a tissue paper flower from my son Andrew. Graphite and colored pencil.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This is a continuous line drawing of my dog Shelty. Simple can be good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Toy Story

This is one of Christopher's toy knights, drawn in Micron pen. I love drawing action figures. They don't move!

Last Friday, NPR aired a piece called Artists Make Money By Forgoing Traditional Galleries. The piece profiles 3 visual artists, exploring how each makes a living. None make a living selling their art, but each nevertheless is able to create art and survive. Check it out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lady Liberty

This is a pen and ink drawing of the Statue of Liberty, drawn from a souvenir statuette from Ellis Island. My paternal grandparents left Russia in 1917, went to Germany, and then emigrated to the United States in 1925. They entered the United States via Ellis Island. My maternal grandparents also left Russia in 1917 and emigrated to Canada.

I did some consulting on Wall Street about 5 years ago and had an apartment in Battery Park, half a block from the Hudson and a view of the Statue of Liberty. The statue is beautiful. If I could afford to live in that area of New York City, I would move there in a minute.

I used a variety of Micron pen colors and experimented with blending colors.

Happy July 4th!