Monday, June 26, 2017

The Hummingbirds Just Won't Hold Still

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home

When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me

Practicing in my sketchbook
This powerful verse was written over 100 years ago by Civilla Durfee Martin (1866-1948).  Civilla was born in Nova Scotia and died in Atlanta, Ga. The poem “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was written in 1905 and has become one of the most influential gospel hymns and has been sung.

A Journal page dedicated to sparrows

Last week I was completely obsessed with drawing these tiny little song birds.  I didn't realize how many varieties of sparrows there are in the world and some time online researching trying to just determine what breed is the most common here in the Las Vegas area.  I finally concluded that I think they are Brewer's Sparrows.  They have dark beaks and the males have dark brown heads and throat.

It wasn't just pencils and pen this week that were busy creating feathers but I also decided to grab up my paintbrushes and have some fun with this little acrylic piece a small sparrow on a stump surrounded by black eyed susans and tall grass.  This is on an 8 x 8 gallery wrapped canvas.

All this sparrow drawing and painting helped me prepare for my biggest sparrow challenge of the week.  This 5 x 18 color pencil painting took me longer than I thought it would.  Each day I added another sparrow to my fence and then decided that some tall wildflowers added to the composition.  To get ready for this drawing I spent sometime sketching and painting sparrows.  I even dedicated a page to them in my artistic journal book and took pictures of the color pencil process on one of the birds to share here with you.

"Early Morning Flock Talk"- 5 x 18" original colored pencil painting

Here I have my rough sketch done in 4H pencil so that it is very lightly drawn out.  I used a light tan color and filled in almost the entire bird except for where I felt there were going to be white feathers or very dark areas.  My main concern here is to get rid of as much white paper as I can with the lightest color that is found on the feathers.  Don't worry if you cover up more than you want to because later the mechanical eraser does wonders with pulling off the waxy lead.

This second progress photo shows that I have used my Marvy LePen black to draw in the fine details of his face.  I have also added a darker shade of brown to the face and wings.  I always am amazed at just how much difference there is in a piece of art when you add the eyes.  The eyes are certainly the most important part of a face.

The third picture taken of my work in progress shows that I'm using the black Prismacolor to block in the chest feathers and the area around the eyes and beak.  I've also used this very lightly to add some contrast and shadows in the area of the chest feathers.

Using color pencils is really all about layers and as I work around the bird I just keep adding more and more colors to bring out the feathers and the detail.  I am really hooked on the way that outlining my subject with a black line gives it a more illustrated look.  I love the combination of the fine detail and the illustrated comic look.  I think it makes each element pop in the composition and so for now that is the style that I am going for.  So in this picture you can see I have now outlined the whole bird and the fence post.

On my next progression shot I show you one of my favorite color pencil tools and that is my battery operated Derwent eraser.  This eraser is amazing and I love the effects I can get with it on feathers and areas that I want texture not to mention cleaning up spots where I got a little carried away with my coloring.

With all the erasing you can really produce a lot of debris on your paper and rather than using your hand to brush off the bits of rubber missed with paper and colored wax, you want to use a brush.  I love this Langnickel 2" Large Area Artist brush for that.  The bristles are very soft but think enough that it does a great job cleaning up my paper with out smudging the colors.  I got this particular brush as part of a drawing set I ordered from pencil artist Darrel Tank (5 Pencil method).  I don't think he sells supplies anymore but I'm sure you can find this same brush at Cheap Joes or at Blicks.

As I am coming to the very last of the details, I often grab my white Reminisce gel pen to brighten the highlight of the eye or spots of white where I want the the brightest highlights to be.

In my completed piece that I titled "Early Morning Flock Talk",  this particular sparrow is number 2 in the line of 5 feathered friends.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Stamps and Stickers

This week I was watching a YouTube video on an Etsy Store Tips and I happened to notice that the girl had a custom rubber stamp that she used on post-it notes to attach to each of her orders that thanked them for their business. Crazy Fridays-Fran Meneses

I thought that was just a really great idea, so I placed an order for one of my own custom stamp to use. I liken this investment to the idea that "if you build it they will come." I'm stepping out in faith here and getting ready for the increase Etsy sales I believe will soon be coming my way.

I decided to support another local Etsy Business (Stampcouture) with my order and now I am so excitedly waiting for my own custom stamp to arrive.

Speaking of Etsy sales, I happened to do a search this week on what items sell the best on Etsy and was shocked to find out that this particular article listed STICKERS as the number one seller. Here is the link to the article if you want to check it out for yourself. What Sells Best on Etsy

I have been toying with stickers and talking about stickers for a few months now but when I took a look at the specific Etsy store highlighted in the article and consider the phenomenal sales, this 16 year old high school girl has sold over 86,000 sheets of her hand drawn emoji stickers since the store opened in 2016. That blows my mind. Go a head and check out her store and all her cute inventory. The store is is called: TheCoffeeMonsterzCO.

I can't help but think how I need to get busy turning my artwork into stickers that can be used in planners. I had some time today and worked up a few of these garden designs just to see how they might work as stickers. I LOVE the Pink Peony and the sun bonnets. This was a lot of fun today and I hope they can prove to be sticker material.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teach Us to Number our Days

My goodness you realize that we are already one week into the month of JUNE!

This past week, as we quickly approach the 1/2 way point in 2017, I started feeling that I needed to really roll up my sleeves and getting focused on my art and what I want to accomplish as an artist. I'm determined that I will not work any more part-time accounting jobs.  The last job I had was a complete disaster and I probably could benefit from a few therapy sessions.  Brad says, "You're letting her live in your head rent free."  It's been a whole year and  I still can't bring myself to drive down parts of Russell Road.   No...I'm determined to make this ART THING work for me and have it supplement our retirement income while doing something I love!

I have always been someone with a dozen projects going and struggling to completely finish any of them.  Multitasking can be a very good skill to have in the business world but not it can be somewhat of a problem when it comes to producing art.  Or at least that is my current belief.

Hanging on the wall above my drawing desk is a large dry erase board.  I dug around and found some good dry erase markers and decided to write my goals so that I could have a visual each and every time I step into the studio.


This past week I happened across a wonderful website that had what I feel is a good example of a licensed art portfolio to use and an example.  I'm SO happy to find the art of Becky Schultea.  A fellow sister in Christ and artist that seems to be doing a lot of things that I want to eventually accomplish and she is doing it right.  I have already started jotting down some ideas for collection themes and makes the need of me learning Photoshop even more evident.  I was really struck with her style of making her images appear to be floating above the background almost like a sticker.  This is similar to my color pencil drawings when I apply a shadow line that results in giving the image a pop off the page or a more 3-D appearance.

I just might be a wee bit partial, but I really think my "Down Country Roads" art would look good on coffee cups, flags, pillows and stationary so I just have to convenience the corporate world of that fact.

So this summer I have a lot to get accomplished and I hope that I'm up to the challenge.

Mostly, I just plan to KEEP drawing and painting, like I have before but focus more on making collections with my sketching efforts.  Learn from successful artists already in the field like Becky Schultea of Plantersville, Texas.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Yesterday my small studio space just got a lot more crowded.  All the pieces from my solo show at the Whitney Library had to come home and now they are stacked up like cordwood.  My exhibition time was over and all that was left to do was to bring them all home.  29 pieces in variety of sizes, some framed and some not.

So much time, effort and hard work goes into putting on a solo show and I'm not counting the many hours of painting or drawing.  Pretty much a solid year of effort went into my "Down Country Roads" collection.  It may be exhausting, but it is so rewarding to see all your work hung in a gallery on display.  Today there is a variety of mixed emotions.  I'm happy to have all my work back because the past two months there has been a strain keeping up enough new inventory to have pieces of high caliber to display at the other galleries that I show at regularly.  

This morning I am sitting here drinking my coffee and reflecting on the show.  I am also reading through the guest book comments that were recorded by the public during the two month of the show.  There were 10 pages of signatures and most were just a word or two.  There were lots of comments about color and detail.  A number of comments about my poetry and my sense of humor.  Several mentioned that the show reminded them of home or their childhood and some said I made them smile.  My artist heart is so touched by so many kind words. I thought I would share just a few of the quotes with you.

Channel- "Beautiful! Brilliant colors, put a smile on my face!"
Mary Ann- "I love your artwork; it brings happy memories of my childhood to me, thanks.?
Channel- "I had to bring my husband to see your amazing work!"
Unknown- "You brought so many memories back to my farm boy Vermont past!  Loved your talent!"
L.N.S.- "Very astonishing artwork! Mesmerized"
Unknown- "I love this work also I could feel the fishing hole, birds bugs and breeze.  Wonderful!"
Unknown- "Brilliant Poetry and lovely work."
Sydnee- "Ive never seen such beautiful art😀 Especially love the bunnies!"
Unknown-"Beautiful work & a great sense of humor!"
Martha- "Love your sense of humor.  So ably expressed in both words and art."