Monday, November 30, 2009

Facebook has introduced me to another great artist!

I encourage you to check out the work of David Jon Kassan - A Brooklyn artist who, in a word, stuns me with his gorgeous portrait work.

David is an artist with the incredible ability to capture a human being as if they were about to take a breath, as if their next thought is forming on their lips, as if they just remembered an emotional moment.  They are beautiful because of how they are painted, and the dignity and thoughtfulness he brings to each subject. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Starting to see results...removing Food Dyes from my Son's diet. Behavior problems are improving!

I'm a mom.  I have an almost 5-yr old little boy and a 2 1/2 yr old little girl.  Both are precious, of course.  Smart, funny, beautiful.  They are both very creative, can entertain themselves, are great sleepers, and picky eaters (ok so are 90% of kids!), and watch very little TV.

Jack has always had issues with his temper.  He would have a COMPLETE melt down if he missed running to the mailbox to greet the mailman (I'm talking HORRIBLE screaming and crying...and of course the mailman always came right at nap time!)  If he didn't get to play with his little buddy next door, again- MAJOR melt down.

These outrageous reactions would happen everywhere - at the beach, at grandpa's house, on play dates, and at school.  School was the biggest problem.  He's been going 2-5 half days a week since he was 18 months old, and has been thru 4 different schools.  At every school, he ended up spending many days in the office because he couldn't control himself.

Our County stepped in to observe him in class, suggest "behavior modification techniques" (ooh- stickers! now I'll behave!) and try to "help" by placing him in a special school.  Long story short - the county didn't accomplish anything.  Stickers, charts, etc. didn't help Jack correct his behavior.  It was almost like it was BEYOND his control.  He couldn't stop himself from having these breakdowns.  He tested normally in everything - language, intelligence, etc.  This problem was un-defined by their tests.

Finally, I really started to look at what else could be causing these issues.  He obviously wasn't growing out of it, and he was about to get kicked out of his 4th school.  We had just experienced an exceptionally difficult weekend with Jack - he cried and wailed for almost 48 hours straight - he COULD NOT stop.  He was physically unable to stop himself from crying.  I made a connection - on Friday, he had 2 icees at a school festival - basically ice with a bunch of colored syrup.   I did a little research on-line and discovered that Food Coloring effects a lot of kids this same way - major behavior problems.

Two weeks after the icee incident, he had birthday cake at a party - frosting was SO colored even his BM was bright green for 2 days.  And - again - he had horrible behavior for 2 days.  So, I made a decission.  ELIMINATE as much artificial food coloring as possible from his diet.  I replaced his Flintstone's chewable vitamins with Yummi bears (no artificial coloring), threw out the bright blue Spiderman toothpaste and bought some Tom's of Maine, started buying different toaster sticks and pancakes for his breakfast (lots of waffles have yellow food dyes), and stopped making some of the usual treats - crescent rolls, chocolate brownies, etc.  All of our snacks, cookies, mac 'n cheese, etc are now dye-free.

Jack has had very few behavior problems since this new diet began.  He got 5 days in a row of good behavior at school, he says "yes mam" and "yes sir" with more frequency, shrugs and says "whatever" more than gets upset, helps with his little sister whenever I ask, and just...relaxes.  He cuddles with me more, he sleeps better, he WANTS to engage with his friends more.

Now, he may have also turned a corner due to the fact that he is also taking Tae Kwan Doe, and spending lots more one-on-one time with his Daddy.  But I am really excited to finally see consistent behavior improvements, and I really think it has to do with eliminating food coloring in his diet.

I keep thinking back to how the little suckers in my purse for those tough moments in the grocery store, or the frozen popsicles on had every day in the summer, or how even the healthy things - like brushing his teeth with blue toothpaste or chewing his daily dye-filled vitamin - could have been preventing him from controlling his emotions.  I wish, oh how I wish, that any one of his doctors had said at some point "you may consider changing his diet - beyond reducing his sugar intake or adding more vegetables.  There are TOXINS that could be effecting your son".

For now, I'm sticking with this diet as much as possible.  It's not that hard to fact today we made some delicious Pupkin bread that he devoured faster than he would have a piece of cake!  So to all you moms out there who have a child who sometimes just CAN'T seem to control himself, talk to your doctor about Food dyes and the possible connection.  And try eliminating them from your child's diet! What's the worse thing that could happen? You'll be eating a little healthier.

I love you, Jack.  You are such a smart, funny, caring, handsome little man who makes me smile every day.  I will do everything I can to help you be the happiest little man you can be :)

There are a lot  of great websites out there...I'll add a few of the ones that helped me later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two New Pastel Drawings of the Female Nude

Lovely, lovely model last night for our figure drawing group! Long limbs, elegant poses...wonderful "stage presence".  I was still a bit under the weather, but stayed long enough to do two drawings. 

The first is on Wallis paper.  I started with watercolor pencils and washed them with a wet brush, letting the paint drip a little.  I blotted lightly with a towel, and built up several layers of color - brown, blue, red and sap green (for no particular reason other than I liked those colors!)  I then switched to pastels and added some oranges, peaches, and prussian blue.  The face is a little hard to read in the photo, but in the drawing it has just enough info to indicate eyes, nose and lips.

The second drawing was a lot quicker, just a quick study using red, cream, and a couple light blues on mint pastel paper.  I've always loved the combination of red and mint green.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Lovely Model drawn Three Different Ways

Like many  many people I know, I have been fighting a bad cold for the last few days.  But, you know me, it takes a LOT for me to miss out on an opportunity to draw from the live model, and it would take even more to stop me from drawing the lovely model posing at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art this past Saturday.

The artists present agreed to three long poses.  I started out with charcoal pencil on white drawing paper, very simple, building up the values in the figure and the background.  I was trying to keep her elbow and the cast shadow the point of focus, so i did not push the features on her face or develop the drapery any further. 

The next drawing I used a mint green piece of textured pastel paper, and I loosely blocked in the areas of light and shadow, then I defined her form with a charcoal line..  I am not thrilled with the face right now - I erased her upper lip and now it looks like there is a hole there.  But I like the majority of her torso, the shadows and hilights on her chest, and the gestures of her hands.

Our last lounging pose was lovely from both sides (we were seated "in the round" and most of the artists picked up their supplies and moved to the front views of the pose - there was some wonderful light on her face and chest, but I thought the back was also beautiful!)

When I first started the drawing, I didn't like it, and almost put the cranberry away and started fresh.  But I "rallied the troops" so to speak and kept pushing myself to fix it.  I'm glad I did.   I really like the warm reflective light on her back and her legs, and the bright light on the pillow. 

I feel like I should add more, but I am still a little sick, so feel free to add your comments..tell me what to fix, etc.  :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pastel Drawing of an Elegant Nude Model...with LOTS of teal!

Last night our figure drawing group met in our usual lovely studio in Downtown Woodstock and set up a lounging pose for our very popular model....we were her third group of the day!  She brought this yummy shiny teal fabric that created beautiful reflective light on her figure and some wonderful hilights and shadows.

I wish I had my camera so that I could show you pictures of my pastel drawing in progress...we worked for over two hour on this pose, and I utilized ever second.  But I had a pretty serious issue develop as we approached our final drawing time - I had yet to establish a clear "point of focus" in my drawing, and althought it had a nice "feeling" overall, it was just one of those "well.  That's...nice" kind of things. 

I started to focus on the atmosphere, toning down the pillow on the left which was a lot brighter at first - competing with the figure in size and value.  While that helped a little, it still didn't help the viewer find a focal point.

So right now, it is in I define one spot further, or soften elsewhere? Do I darken the pillow more, or remove it completely? I am open to suggestions!

By the way...this is pastel on Wallis paper, 12" x 18".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Best Gift Bag Idea I've Seen Yet! Eco-friendly and functional.

I LOVE getting "Kraft Foods" magazine in the mail.  I have shared a few of my favorite recipes on my blog, including a fabulous crowd-pleasing dessert - the ultimate chocolate cake

Kraftfoods included a few handy tips in their latest issue to encourage "going green" and saving a few pennies.

I think that this is THE best gift bag idea I have seen in a LONG time.  Buying the re-usable grocery bags instead of the fancy paper kind.

Last time I took notice, most of the re-usable grocery bags were between $.99 and $1.99 - making them much more reasonable price-wise for paper gift bags of the same size, which are usually $3 or more. 

If anyone knows a great place to look for the re-usable grocery bags, or you know of certain stores that are using recycled materials or green mathods to make their bags, please share that info here!

Also...any tips on covering the logos would be great.  I was thinking about buying a couple and experimenting with painting over the printed images.  But maybe iron-ons? Sewing? etc.?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goody barrettes. A trip down memory lane. And a really embarassing flashback!

Yesterday I was shopping and passed by the hair accessories and of course had to stop and admire all the pretty bows for litte girl's hair! Ari's hair is getting so long and I really need to put it up every day.

Well  I saw a package of these Goody Barrettes and HAD to buy them (of course, I am a penny pincher and the $1.50 price tag thrilled me) but more than the cost-effectiveness...I remembered these EXACT same barrettes from when I was a kid in the 70's (that's all the info you get on my age).  OMG there's the duck! I remember the duck!

And the kitty cat!  The three flowers in a row - that's the one I always wanted to wear, and always had to battle with my two sisters to be the one who got it first.  Then there's that wierd one that looks like a miniature egg carton - the little dots in a row.  What IS that?

And then I got them home and Ari and I were playing with them.  She kept handing me the next barrette to put in her hair "This one. This one. This one" until she had all the colors and designs on her long ponytail!  And then the flashbacks really started to kick in...

I remembered making long chains of barrettes, connecting one to another, so Ari and I were making necklaces for each other.  Then we experimented making shapes - squares, trianlges, etc. (this is an important lesson in how to create even an odd sided shapes! See - math!)

OK and then other flashbacks REALLY started to kick in...chewed barrettes! Now, I'm not saying I did it, I have 5 siblings to blame for this...but it seemed like all of our plastic barrettes had been chewed.  Like a piece of gum.  The worst part was - we still wore these gnarly hairpieces!  You had to really WORK to close the tab in the chewed-up clasp.  And then - when you had to remove them from your hair - yikes! All the little teeth grooves would catch in your hair!

OK and here's where you should stop reading if you EVER want to speak to me again.  I mean, this is embarrassing, but I'm going to say it anyway. 

I remember that these made excellent ear cleaners.  The plastic wasn't sharp, but the perfect shape to remove that elusive ear wax that q-tips tend to miss.'m pretty sure they still got put in SOMEBODY's hair after they were used in an ear wax removal endeavor.

I'm so glad I found these barrettes again.  I just hope my daughter isn't as interest in ear maintenance as I was.

Just so you don't leave on that more cute shot of my little girl :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Artists who Tweet. The new Art communtiy on Twitter.

In case you haven't noticed, Twitter has been getting a lot of attention these last few months.  Oprah.  Larry King.  Basically any celebrity, A-list, B-list, TV personality, or otherwise has a Twitter account.  They sell their CD's, they promote their shows, they spill way to much info about their personal lives. 

But their are also those of us who are finding Twitter to be a wonderful way to connect with a huge array of people with similar interests, hobbies, or other common characteristics.  One of my favorite groups to connect with is fellow artists.

Artists, like myself, are finding Twitter to be a great way to share new work, discuss techniques, get feedback on on-line selling venues, find out about shows and competitions, and in general connect with other artists who are doing their best to share their work with the world.

Twitter has, however, been starting to become over-loaded with spammers and computer robots that fill the otherwise friendly banter with virus links and other land-mines.  It's becoming more difficult to find REAL people on Twitter to connect with.  So I'm inviting anyone who is on Twitter - REAL people who are on Twitter - who are interested in Art, Galleries, Museums, or similarly minded topics to post here.  I would love to get to know you on Twitter!

And hopefully, you will join in the conversation with others who post here, too!

I am

PS...I monitor comments, so don't panic if it doesn't show up right away - thanks :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Deal of the Day! Half off this very popular print!

A great deal of the day! Only $7.50 for this print - usually $15! I will keep re-listing if it sells...please try again or contact me via my Fine Art on Etsy Shop if it's sold when you click :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Experimenting on watercolor surfaces - Wallis paper vs. Aquaboard

Last night our (very democratic :) figure group decided to skip the gesture drawings and go right into a long pose! Few! Thank goodness I warmend up the night before!

The fabulous miss D wore her very long hair down and struck a powerful pose - full of confidence and attitude.  I worked with watercolor pencils on Wallis paper, not know if I was going to stick with just that media or layer on some pastel as well.

Well I was haveng WAY too much fun with the watercolor pencils! The Wallis paper worked great - I blotted my figure drawing a little (NO rubbing or the paper towel falls apart and sticks to the paper!), let the water drip and pull color down the page, layered several colors, and even up until the very end was able to "erase" any spots I didn't like with just a little bit of water rubbed into a spot.  I need to invest in some good watercolor "cakes" to really start playing!  If you have a favorite brand, let me know!

The second pose of the evening we shall refer to as "the fainting couch" - the studio has this sofa/love seat set that sucks you in so you NEVER want to get up. Very dangerous spot.

So our model sank into the sofa and I asked for a pose with her arms raised, and she came up with this great position.  I love the angles, the way the light fell on her torso, and the gestures of her hands.

I was using an "aquaboard", which was more slick than textured, like the Wallis paper.  It took me a little time experimenting to really understand how to work with the surface.  It seemed to absorb the water very quickly, and didn't allow for a lot of dripping.  So, maybe I need a better brush - one that holds more water.

I was able to layer quite a bit with out getting muddy, and the drying time was very quick.  Also, I was able to "erase" right up until the end, when I adjusted the shapes of the shadows on her torso.  So, overall it wasn't a bad surface!  But I think I'm having too much fun with the wallis paper :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Pastel Drawings of the Female Nude. Bright, Rainbow Bright, and REALLY Bright!

Ok I guess I have to re-learn how to load my photos on Blogger now...they have changed the format, and I don't know what I'm doing yet! So these are actually in REVERSE order from how I drew last night...

So let's start at the end, shall we?

This is my last drawing of the evening.  I wasn't happy with the rainbow one below, so I spent at least a minute just looking and thinking before I started drawing.  Slow down, find some interesting lines, push the shapes and colors...I was much happier with the result.

This is the second drawing of the evening - I was in a dark corner, and I think I got carried away with my bright colors.  At one point I added that huge shape of creamy pastel to her back to tone down all the colors I had layered on there.  It's not a total loss, but it needs...something.  Maybe a focal point? A better color story? Not sure yet.  I may have to stick it on the studio wall and see what comes to me.

This is actually the first drawing of the evening.  I only had a fraction of my Nupastels with me (I left the big box at home! urgh!) and I also forgot a paintbrush or terry towel - you can't wipe this paper - (I was working on the Wallis paper for the second time) - with a paper towel, as I learned last week (too many bits of paper towel get rubbed off on the paper).  Despite my frustration over leaving some supplies behind, I am really pleased with the figure.  Our nude model was very a elegant woman, and the lighting on her back was extraordinary - AMAZING shapes, low-lights and high-lights.  I feel like there is a bit too much blue right now, so I may add a few layers of color in the stand and the drapery, but that's about it!

PS...I also can't figure out how to do a "spell check" either - so please forgive my horrible spelling!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some local press! Saints and Angels Art Show - getting the word out!

Here is my very handsome model showing you some recent press for the "Saints and Angels" Show that opens this Friday in Woodstock, GA.  The top is the front page of the Lifestyle Section of the Cherokee Tribune, (Santa is looking at my painting! Photo by Ann Litrel)  and below is an article about the Raffle to benefit "Everyday Angels" in the Townelaker/Around owne Magazine.

Thank you to everyone who is helping us promote this great event!

I take the same photo every year. Fall Leaves on our front tree.

I'm pretty sure I take this exact same photo every year.
 This tree is so pretty, especially against a gorgeous blue sky.