Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Did you hear?

Now that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner, I wanted to share with you my 2007 Christmas card.

It is a precious little donkey peeking out over the stall door. The original pastel is sitting on my fireplace hearth with an arrangement of things making a nice little vignette. As soon as I get the film developed (yes I still use film) I’ll post a picture of it.

I’ve decided for now I couldn’t put the original up for sale – at least not yet. Drawing the donkey was so much fun and I smiled the entire time I was doing it – there was just something about that face and the message it has behind it! When I chose the reference picture I knew immediately it would be my Christmas card. I knew I wanted it to be something special and exactly what it would say.

I imagined this little donkey being in the very place where Joseph and Mary stopped for the night seeking a place to rest. Can you imagine the awesome stillness in that barn that night when Christ was born? I don’t know if you have ever walked through a barn at night when the animals are eating or when they have settled down for the night, but there is something so very peaceful about it.

I believe that night the barn must have been extra quite as the animals instinctually knew something special was about to happen. I believe that any human or animal present must have felt the Holy Spirit in that very place. What joy that must have been! Then I just imagined this little donkey being so excited to tell someone of the great news of actually seeing Christ born and sleeping right there in his manger, where he and the other animals ate their hay. So here he is peeking out of the window saying to anyone who will listen, “Did you hear? A Child was born!”

Wanting to share this with others, I made 5x7 prints of the original pastel, put photo corners on it and mounted it to nice sage green card stock. At the bottom it reads “Did you hear? A Child was born!” On the back of the card I typed out the Christmas story from the Bible.

Having made up a stack of these cards, I sent them out to family, friends, co-workers and clients. This card has had a wonderful effect on people that I believe is two-fold. I think that little donkey itself is just too irresistible and you can’t help but smile. Also, it’s a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas and the two together just touch people – then the bonus is, I get such a blessing from everyone’s reaction! How cool is that?

So if it makes you smile, that is great but if he also reminds you of the real reason we celebrate Christmas that is even better! That is my hope and prayer anyway.

Did you hear?
A Child was born!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where has the time gone?!

It's been a while since I last posted. Computer problems plagued me for a while. In fact they stopped me cold. My old computer was on its last leg and my brother came to my rescue and built me a new one. Thanks John!

Since my computer has been back up I have been busy printing prints and cards getting ready for my next show. The two days right after Thanksgiving I'll be at the Thanksgiving Invitational in Fredericksburg, Texas in the historic Market Platz downtown. This will be my first show there and I'm looking forward to it. This last May I had a show in Kerrville put on by the same folks, TACEF. Despite the flooding and lousy weather it was a very successful show for me. I'm hoping this one will be just as good or better, and with better weather, especially since the day after Thanksgiving everyone officially begins shopping for Christmas!

I can’t believe the holidays are all but here! I just don’t know where the time goes these days! Anyway – if you are looking to do some Christmas shopping or walk off all that turkey and dressing come to Fredericksburg on Friday, November 23rd and Saturday, November 24th. I'll be there from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm in the Market Platz, on West San Antonio Street. You just might find that original pastel or pencil drawing for that certain someone, a print for a member of your family, or pick out a perfect Christmas card to send out to that friend you haven’t seen in a long time.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 8, 2007

There's A Horse Out There?

I live on about 2 acres and right now the grass really needs to be cut - especially the pasture. This point was made even more clear to me when I was driving home the other day.

On the main road, near my home, there is a clearing where I have about 3 seconds to try to spot my horse in the pasture. It's kind of a game I play with myself - seeing how quickly I can see him. Usually I catch a glimpse of him right before the trees obscure my view. On those days that I can't see him from the road my heart beats a little faster in anticipation of getting home just to make sure he is OK. When I pull up in my drive and go through the gate I can usually spot him right off, doing fine, just grazing. I smile at the sight of him and go in the house to change clothes to go and feed him.

One day recently, I didn't spot him from the road - or my driveway - or when I peeked through my bedroom window - or when I went out in my backyard! I was almost in a panic and started walking quickly to the gate to the pasture but then I looked even harder towards the back and there he was along the fence line grazing. With his head down and with the grass so tall just the top line of him was visible - but what a relief to my heart! Two seconds later he popped his head up acknowledging I was home.

Here is a 6"x4" pastel of that beautiful top line of Billy Bob that I saw that day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Plein Air Pastel

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had time to sit down to draw, much less write anything. I’ve been getting ready for my show this weekend – the Buda Fine Arts Festival. I’ve been printing, packing, pricing, taking inventory, getting pieces matted and framed, updating my signage and commission book. Whew! I’m tired. Thank goodness my sister and her husband have been helping out – it’s a long and involved process.

I did, however, take a break this weekend and did my first plein air pastel. Well sort of. I started it outside but when the tree I was sitting under dropped sap on the paper I went inside. It was a rather rough drawing. I was ready to throw it away but my sister encouraged me to keep at it saying that I quit to soon. So thinking about what she had said and that day I finished it tonight.

I did a rough sketch of my horse Billy Bob while he was in the pasture grazing in the tall grass. It really was a rather pretty morning. The sun had come out from behind the clouds but hadn’t gotten hot yet. The grass was moving with the breeze and the seed heads glowed in the sun. Billy Bob is a beautiful bay Appaloosa and when the sun shines on him he has wonderful range copper and mahogany colors throughout his coat. I’m not sure I captured all of that but I enjoyed being outside drawing even though I found I was easily distracted. There was a lot to take in and I was unsure of how detailed I should go with my drawing – it is only 10"x8" and I wanted to take in the open look of the pasture with Billy Bob standing in the tall grass.

At one point I had been sitting out there quietly drawing and I think Billy Bob had forgotten all about me being there. He all of a sudden got spooked when I moved and couldn’t quite figure out what in the world I was doing out there in his pasture if I wasn’t mowing the grass. I had a good laugh and that made it all worth while – so I think I’ll try it again soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Charmed - I'm sure." Maine Coon Cat Finished

I've finished the Maine Coon cat. I'm really pleased with the way she turned out. I had to do a few adjustments on her right leg. It was too fat and her foot was too far forward. It was easy enough to fix by adding darker pastels underneath her foot and over the bottom of her toes. On the leg it was just a matter of making more shadows and darker hair around the edge of her leg. I added a few shadows on the surface of the tree stump and decided that was enough.

Naming a piece can be a whole lot of fun. Sometimes you have the name before you even start, other times it will come to you while you are drawing. I didn't have her name until I was brainstorming with my sister and we came up with "Charmed - I'm sure." I think it fits don't you?

If you would like to purchase this pastel please go to my website (if it isn't there today it should be in the next few days) at for pricing on the original and giclée prints.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

All but the Tweaking on the Maine Coon Cat

I'm at the spot in this drawing where I'll let it sit for a day or two just to see if there is anything that stands out to me that needs to be added or adjusted. Sometimes after working on a drawing for a while you don't see things that need to be corrected or added until you have stepped away from it. Sometimes all it takes is to see it on screen and those little bits jump right out at you.

One of the corrections I made from an earlier post is I reduced the ruff around her neck. I had gotten carried away with drawing the fur and had made it too full. I just used the background color to "erase" the parts I wanted. I've made a few adjustments to the feet and finished out the tree stump. The tree stump was done by layering light and darks - browns, yellows, greys and black until I was satisfied with it.
This little cat is precious and so captivating with those eyes. I have really enjoyed drawing it. I hope you have enjoyed seeing it come to life and I hope my explanations have helped you to understand how I draw with pastels.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Update on the Maine Coon Cat

I've got a little bit more done on the Maine Coon cat tonight and started on the tree stump she is sitting on. I think you can see what I'm doing - layering the lighter colors on top of the darker colors and then even taking some of the darker shades and making them even darker creating the fur thickness and texture.

I used the white Conte stick to make the whiskers and the black to make the little tufts of hair on the tips of the ears. Even though the sticks are square you can use a corner to make really thin lines. If you look closely I've done quite a bit of the finished part of her fur that way too.

I hope to have her finished or at least to the point of tweaking and putting the finishing touches on her the next time I log in. I can see looking at the image on the screen there are a few places that need my attention already - like the feet. That usually happens. I try to hold my work up and take a look at it while I'm drawing because I can get too focused on one area and not see how it is in relation to the drawing as a whole. I think focusing on one area at a time is a good thing though. It allows you to interpret what you are drawing and to make it lifelike and not just a copy of a photo.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Maine Coon Cat Update

When I start to draw any animal or person I draw the eyes in first. I want them looking back at me while working on the drawing – besides it creeps me out to see empty eye sockets! I use mostly Conte sticks for the eyes. I have marked the pupils on the cat and for the iris I’ve put a ring of green around the edges even though this cat has rather dark golden eyes. If you look at eyes, even yours, they are never just one color. They have flecks of many colors giving them depth and sparkle.

Here I have darkened the outline around the eyes also with black then used several golds, oranges, browns and white to fill in the color of the eyes and put in the reflections. I also have taken a taupe brown color and added a shadow across the top of each eye – this sets the eye in the socket and gives you the impression of an eye lid creating a shadow on the eye itself. At this time also I have marked areas of white in the fur.

I decided I just want a plain background so it won’t compete with the cat and before going too far with the cat I’ve added some background color. This will help the cat to be seated well in the drawing and eliminate having to go back and "color" around the cat to put the background in. I have also added more darks with a Rembrandt black pastel and put some of the background
colors in the cat.

It is about at this point that I always wonder if I’m doing things right because it is at that ugly stage. I continue to add several shades of browns, beige and white to the cat forming the tufts and patterns in the fur.

Pastels can’t be mixed like paint. You just add layer on top of layer letting the under layer show through. So I continute to put cools next to warm colors, darks against light, creating depth and textures. I don’t blend too much either but do occasionally rub the color down in to the velour. This will dull the color a bit but more color can be added – at least up to a point. Eventually the paper won’t accept any more color because the pastels have filled the "tooth" of the paper. If you find you need to add a bit more color when the paper won’t accept any more you can take a small stiff brush and rough up the surface and remove some of the pastel. One time I even took a vacuum cleaner hose to another drawing to remove some of the pastel – it worked but you need to be very careful!

I have continued to add bits of color all over the cat. I will continue to do this building up color for the fur and create texture.

More updates to come later. . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Maine Coon Cat WIP

In October I have been asked to give a pastel demo to my art club, Artists of the South Corridor. I’ve never done a demo before. I have taken a drawing to my shows to work on while at the show but I have never given a demo so this will be a first. I thought I’d "practice" with this pastel of a Maine Coon Cat. I selected the reference from Wet Canvas’ reference image library. The photo was taken by a member named "Snag." Thank you Snag for sharing!

This will be on a piece of 11" X 14" sand colored velour paper. I love working on velour. It has a naturally soft surface with a velvety feel to it. In addition, really takes a lot of layers of pastels and cuts down on pastel dust by the nature of its surface. If you’re not familiar with pastels they can be toxic so be sure to read the safety warnings about working with them before using them. Pastels are made with pure pigment and formed with a clay binder so the colors are gorgeous.

So far I have just put a rough sketch of the cat on my paper with a black Conte pastel stick. Conte pastels are hard square sticks. I use both Conte sticks and Rembrandt soft pastels in my drawings. Rembrandts are considered soft pastels but are harder than most soft pastels and give a bit more control.

That’s it for now. . . . more to come.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

My Art Journal

This art journal will feature my graphite and pastel works in progress. I hope it will give you an idea of the process I go through when working on each piece of art. I will try to elaborate on the steps involved as well as give you updates on shows and general news.

I have a show coming up the first weekend in October. The Buda Fine Arts Festival. This is my second year to do this show. Last year I did well and hope to do even better this year! Preparation for this show and every show is time consuming but necessary to try to ensure it is as successful as possible. Tonight I have been printing my giclée prints. I sell most of my original drawings and have archival prints of each original for sale too. I'd love for you to take a minute to browse through my galleries on my website and see what all I have been drawing.

It’s been an eventful month so far. My pastel, Breaking Point, was chosen by international dog and animal artist and Editor of Starving Artists, Mike Sibley It is a great honor to have him choose this pastel as I respect him so much. He has so many wonderful artists submitting work all the time on his site and to be selected even made it more special.

Then Thursday, I was interviewed by the Buda Free Press, a local newspaper. They are featuring local artists who are participating in the Buda Fine Arts Festival. I’m anxious to see how that interview turns out – I’ll let you know!

Lastly, but certainly not least, I want to thank the Lord God Almighty for this talent I have been blessed with. What a joy it is to be able to look at what He has created and then try to describe it on a piece of paper with pencils and pastels! Thank you Lord!