Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm banning beauty magazines...and embracing my inner goddess!

Every time I travel I face the usual a new book or a magazine.  How shall I fill my time? (especially considering I get delayed EVERY TIME I fly...)  Since I had just finished "The Girl Who Played With Fire", I decided to buy a Vogue magazine to entertain me on my flight home from visiting family in Western New York. 

I love fashion photography, and have painted some of my favorite pieces inspired by beautiful fashion spreads in a variety of magazines.  But along with the inspiration comes the usual attack on my confidence in the "looks" department.  My crooked nose suddenly feels like the one Nanny McFee used to have before her nose job.  My teeth are haunted by the tormenting words of my older sister "what's with the Chiclets?".  And of course my legs are too short, my hair is not cut right...and let's not even get started on the bust-line problems.

After a few days of hating my whole body and wondering how anyone could spend $4000 on one of the outfits in the magazine, especially when the majority of my wardrobe could be replace with $100 and a quick trip to Target, I start to crawl out of my funk.  I mean, I look good, sometimes, and when you take a blurry photo of me, you can hardly notice the blemishes and crooked eyebrows.

I didn't really feel beautiful again until Wednesday evening, while drawing.  When I captured a warm hi-light on the models hip in my pastel drawing, I realized that those things - the perfect smile, mile-long legs, great hair - may be not part of who I am, but I am lucky enough to be able to Create beauty with a piece of pastel and a sheet of paper.  My DNA may not have granted me Gwyneth's cheekbones, but I got my Aunt's incredible talent, and my great-grandfathers artistic eye.  That.  Is beautiful.

My outer beauty may not be picture-perfect, and I'll still spend my nights wondering if I can afford braces or a nose-job,  but I know none of that can compare with being able to capture a beautiful figure, transforming a blank piece of paper into a Work of Art.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Staying in the shadows. Figure drawing on the shady side.

I'm not entirely sure why...but for some reason last night I purposefully set up my easel on the dark side of the model stand, pretty much staring right into the spotlight, putting the model in mostly shadow with a thin halo of light. This also put me in a position where I was looking at a lot of back poses...which I really enjoyed!

A beautiful pose, the model leaning on one hip, the other cheek slightly raised, a dramtic shadow grounding her form and creating some drama.

Another gorgeous 3-4 minute pose.  Wonderful curve in her back.  I am not happy with how I captured her profile, but love everything else.

This lovely back pose was about 30 minutes.  I (luckily!) snapped a photo so I hope to finish it.  The light was beautiful along the edge of her form.  I like how the tips of her fingers are resting on her hip.  Even the drapery was gorgeous, lots of light and shadow.

This pastel drawing is mid-way thru our last long pose (probably about 1 hr 20 minutes total drawing time) Our evening went by so quickly!  That happens, of course, when you have such a wonderful model!

I was a little worried about working on this sap green pastel paper...I wasn't sure what colors would work, would it be feminine enough, was it too dark.   Turned out to be a great color to work on.  The warmth on the right side was wonderful, and the cool blues also popped on the background color.

While drawing, I realized the pose was familiar, one I have drawn a similar variation of many times in the past.  That is totally fine - sometimes that creates a great challenge.  Can I draw this even better than the last time?  Can I make this pose exciting to me, and my viewer?  I hope I did...I feel like the colors are bold, the light is interesting, the figure...beautiful.

As always - one of the benefits of drawing in a group - the chance to check out everyone else's work!  Some of the beautiful drawings created last night...

The artist told me to photograph this flat, since he drew it flat, and that is the only way the perspective works! I've been there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great books. What makes you read a book more than once?

I am one of those people who goes thru brief periods where I read a half a dozen good books back-to-back, then take a break and get sucked back into my studio or to the computer, then cycle back to investing some time in a good read.  A few months ago I read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and have been looking forward to reading the sequel, "The Girl who Played with Fire", (TGWPWF) both by Steig Larsson
( about the author.  A very interesting death!)
Well I was not disappointed with the second book.  Perhaps even better than the first, "TGWPWF" kept me awake at night, trying to solve the crimes and connect the characters in my head.  While I occasionally felt overwhelmed by the number of characters in the book, Larson gives you a variety of interesting, fleshed-out figures to become interested in.

I don't like to give too much info about any book - I love discovering every nuance without pre-meditated thoughts from anyone else clouding my judgment, so I'll stop the book review there.  However, I do want to get to my question- how often, if ever, do you read a book more than once? What makes a god book great, and worthy of a second read?

There are several books on my short list of books that I really loved, that kept me thinking about the characters long after I shut the cover.  Most of the time, and my apologies to the authors, I am in such a hurry to keep reading, that I tend to gloss over areas in my pursuit of the next "big moment".   Then I am finished with the book, and I am left I want to read this again?  Now that I know the answers/ending, were there parts that I want to re-discover?

In many ways, I think that a great book, or a great painting, or a great movie, are all great because they keep you wanting more.  You keep coming back because it engages you in some way even long after you are finished looking, watching, or reading.  The characters become so real that you worry about them, you want to visit them, check in and see how they are doing. 

Are there books that you have read more than once - and why?  I'm always looking for my next great read.

Monday, July 19, 2010

American Art Collector August 2010 Portrait Artists Directory

I am thrilled to be included in this years' Portrait Artist Directory in the August 2010 issue of
American Art Collector Magazine.  This represented a unique opportunity to participte in a special section devoted to promoting portrait artists accross the country.

I chose to present my Pastel Portraits and included one of my most recent, "Reflections of Zen"

I chose this piece because it really reflects where my work is at this moment.  I am immersed in Nupastel...I am enamored of their palette and flexibility and I love working on Colorfix paper, which allows a lot of layers and interest in the piece.  You can see how I layer colors in this pastel portrait video.

Also, I think this portrait shows that you can take a photo, often a moment in-between staged poses, and turn it into something beautiful.  Intensify the colors.  Capture a fleeting glance.  Show an inner glow.  I love creating portraits where you can look at them again and again, finding new moments each time you look a them.

If you have questions about my work, or are interested in having a custom portrait created, please contact me at 81artist(at)

You can also connect with me on Facebook!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nude model with leopard print blanket. Perfect combination!

Our wonderful figure model did some lovely poses for our group this past week!  (And our group was VERY full!  It's so wonderful to see so many artists together in one room, enjoying the space, the company, the opportunity to draw!)

Unfortunatly I forgot my camera!  I was so upset because she really was a gorgeous model, and had this fabulous leopard print blanket that I would have loved to work on from a photograph.  Oh well.  Just gives us an excuse to schedule her again!

Our first pose, about 20 minutes.  White and black charcoal on a light purple board.  I love working on a medium-tone surface that allows me to quickly block in light and shadow.

The longer pose was also beautiful.  The pattern in the blanket added an extra bit of interest, and we lit her from behind, creating a little bit of mystery in her face. 

I'm thinking of toning down the hand on our left...I think the focus needs to stay on the right side of the drawing, where the light and high contrast of the blankets draw you in.

If you are intersted in joining our drawing group in Woodstock, GA, or want to follow more of my art, connect with my Fine Art page on Facebook!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beautiful Backside Drawings.

I just noticed last night that I've been drawing backsides all week!  Which is totally fine...I mean, they are all wonderful pieces to work on.   I just wonder if it was something I said..

A couple nights ago a friend of mine posed for this beautiful drawing.  She has wanted to pose nude for a while, and finally said "I'm ready!"  She has, I might add, a perfect posterior so we had to hi-light it in the drawing!  She is also a bright and colorful of course the drawing had to be, also!

The next day she sent me an e-mail saying "I had SO much fun! I'm officially addicted!"  And echoed my belief that EVERY woman should pose nude for a least once!

Last night our drawing group also had a lovely model, who brought with her a photo of a pose idea that inspired her to take this classic back pose.

I loved the white flower against her dark ponytail.  It really added a special element to the drawing.  The lighting was perfect!  This is black and white charcoal on grey mat board.

And then, back in my studio, I am continuing to make progress on the pastel portrait of the grandpa walking with his two granddaughters.  I am trying to finish the background before putting the final touches on the figures, so I know how bright and colorful I need to make their clothing and hair.

Maybe, someday, someone will let me draw their face :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Walking with grandpa. New pastel portrait.

There was no break from the studio over the 4th of July Holiday weekend.  Well, maybe a little break for boating and fireworks, and of course, food, but I did start on a new portrait commission!

Where it began...

I'm working with Nupastel on a brick-red piece of Colorfix paper, approx. 19" x 26".  I thought the deep red color of the paper would really make all of the turquoise in the little girl's dresses and grandpa's shirt "pop". 

I will create a step-by-step video when I am finished with the portrait, but until then, here is where I am right now.  I'm trying to develop the whole surface at once, making sure the values in the sky, greenery, and figures are all relating correctly to each other.

I love how the curve of the walkway and the fencing lead you into the space.  I think khaki pants are one of my favorite pieces of clothing to create in pastel...every color I pick up, I find a spot of it in grandpa's legs! 

When picking out a photo to work from with my client, we looked thru a bunch of options that might be considered more typical portrait photos of the girls and their grandpa.  But when we talked about this photo, my client couldn't help but get excited, talking about how she is always taking photos of her kids walking together.  Hearing her talk about it helped me encourage her to select this precious moment for a drawing. 

You can view more of my Custom Portraits in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Drawing a Male and Female Model Together

Our figure drawing group here in GA has had several weeks of fantastic we rewarded ourselves with another wonderful night of drawing two live models.  And not just any two models...two FABULOUS models (I know...I say that ALL the time...but I really mean it!)

We started out with a short series of 5 minute gestures, which seems like a long time for one model, but with two it's quite tricky! Especially when both models really put a lot of effort into making the pose interesting from every angle.

Here's a gesture drawing - my favorite pose! - where the male model sat, cross-legged and hunched over, and the female model arched herself back-to-back, making a gorgeous line. (SO excited...I was actually permitted to take a photo of this pose, soo you may see a more resolved drawing in the future!)

Then we moved on to the long pose for the evening.  One thing that makes our male model so awesome is that he is super professional...and really prides himself on finding great poses to incorporate into his pose repetoir (hmmm...I shouldn't use words that I can't spell...) Anyway, he brought some great photo references for pose ideas, and with the female model and a little direction from the artists, they set up in a fantastic pose.

I'm just going to post the progress shots as I worked in Nupastel on a purple sheet of Colourfix paper...
(I love seeing how other artists approach drawing from the same models!)

(I started with medium to dark tones, then slowly added the lighter skin tones.  I love working on a toned surface!)

And a few other shots of what was happening around the art studio...

I was really impressed with how everyone approached the pose, which was complex.  The scale and color choices were all wonderful!

Shane working with a wonderful technique...watercolor first, then draw on top!

And here is my drawing of the two models together...I want to resolve a few areas, especially making the connection between the two model a little stronger by developing her hand on his shoulder.

You can see more of my drawings from the live model in my Fine Art on Etsy shop! 
Do you live around Atlanta and want to join us for figure drawing? Follow me on Facebook to get updates on classes, locations and times!