Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just to make you smile...

'Cuz it made me smile...my 5 yr old son Jack's drawing of his little sister...

Finalists Announced for the Hudgens Prize

I was one of 369 artists in Georgia who applied for a unique opportunity - the Hudgens Prize.  Well I've been holding my breath, and hoping, for the last couple of months...but did not get selected.  Oh well! These things happen.  But I am inspired by the group of artists they have chosen, each of whom seems to have a distinct voice and opinion.  (Although, I was certain they said 10 artists would be selected, only 5 were chosen). There work had to clearly speak to the jurors, for it was only judged by images - there was no written portion of the application (which I found very strange for such a large prize of $50,000)

But I encourage you to check out their work!  Best of luck to each of you.

Ruth Dusseault of Atlanta (this was the only article I could find on her work)
Hope Hilton of Winterville
Gyun Hur of Marietta
Scott Ingram of Atlanta
Jiha Moon of Atlanta

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Busy weekend in the studio!

I tried to get some work done in my studio over the weekend.  First on the list was framing my latest pastel, in the effort to keep it safe from the pile of drawings and paintings building up higher and higher!

Then I started working on this new drawing of the male nude.  I had prepared the surface a few days ago.  It was a plain wooden artist panel that I coated with two thin layers of modeling paste.

I started with a light grid on the panel and the reference photo so I could place the figure exactly where I wanted it, with the shadow tucked right into the bottom right corner.  Working with a black watercolor pencil, I blocked in the largest shapes and then washed most of it away, leaving the light impression of the figure and some nice atmosphere.

Slowly adding more light and shadow.  On this surface, I have two choices when it comes to lightening an area - erasing the charcoal or sanding away the modeling paste.  I'm getting very good at folding a piece of sandpaper just right in order to sand a tiny area.

Still a long way to go, but I am very pleased with it so far.  I have to practice this technique some more, especially preparing the surface.   Some areas allow the charcoal to get dark and rich, while other spots fight it.  But there are so many great serendipitous moments as well, where the texture of the modeling paste enhances the drawing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Patterned Drapery & the Female Figure. New Acrylic Painting

I started this little acrylic painting on a 9" x 12" board during our figure group on Wednesday evening.

 I had purchased this BEAUTIFUL and bold patterned fabric during the day, hoping to incorporate it into one of our longer poses.   This is as far as I got in front of the model.  I was a little frustrated with the speed at which my paint was drying!  I was re-filling my palette and re-mixing colors more than I was actually applying paint to the surface.

But!  It was a good enough start to establish the major composition, sense of light, and colors.

Home in my studio, and working from a reference photo, I softened some of the shadows on the back, and defined the area under her backside.  I defined the beautiful patterned shapes, warmth and cool shadows in the fabric as well.  This was very challenging, but truly defines the painting.  Had it been a plain fabric, there would not be enough interest in the bottom half of the painting.

Towards the end, I softened the background and added a few shapes at the bottom - the footstool and the drapery on the floor - to help define the space.  I think it's 95% done...I'd hate to say it's finished...I haven't looked at it long enough yet!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mixed Media Drawing of a Male and Female Nude. Figuring Out Their Relationship.

I am really excited about this piece that I am working on.  I snapped this photo a few weeks back during a drawing session with a male and female model at our figure drawing group.  I am working on a piece of Clayboard, which I have never used before, but thought I'd give it a try.

I started drawing with black watercolor pencils.  I defined shapes and shadows, and then used a wet brush to move the pigment around, adding extra water and either letting it drip or dry flat to make pools.

When I was happy with that layer, I applied a thin, semi transparent layer of a mix of media (modeling paste and a clear matte glaze) over the whole piece so that I could use a charcoal pencil on top of the watercolor.  Because it is clayboard, and design to allow you to scratch the surface, I had to either embrace or fight that characteristic of the board.

In some place I used a nail, or an exacto knife, and even some sandpaper to carve out areas of light.  Then I would go back in with my charcoal pencil and re-define the shadows.

Another layer of medium on top, and then I applied some acrylic paint to a few places where I wanted the highlights stronger or the shadows deeper.

I think I'm about 90% finished.  I want to make the background a bit darker, and fix her hand, which still feels rather glove-like.  I'm really pleased with the male figure - I'm trying not to let myself make any more adjustments on him. 

While I was working on this, I kept thinking about what this piece says about this couple's relationship (not implying they are a couple in real life...they are a couple in the Art).  Is she taking advantage of him? Crushing him? Is he defeated? Or is he showing incredible strength and masculinity by supporting this woman?  I couldn't help but think the relationship could read completely different if her head was turned away, or her hand rested on his shoulder, rather than above her head.  I want to re-do this piece about 10 times, making ever so subtle adjustments to the little features, seeing how their relationship changes.

What do you think their relationship is?  Why is he in this pose, is he helping her? Is she hurting him? Are they happy?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shadow and Light - Dynamic Drawings of the Male Nude

I've said it before, I'll say it again...Wednesday our group had one of the best male model's I've ever worked with.  He studies poses, knows how his body "works", he's even said "when I get into a pose, I can just 'tell' when it looks right".  Truly - our model is gifted!  It's hard to believe he didn't start doing this until he was 50 years old. 

Well I have no gesture drawings to show you, because I was too busy taking a thousand photos of his awesome poses.  (With his permission, of course, and no, you can't see them! Get your own male model LOL!)

But here is a twenty minute pose.  I love these compact poses, where he becomes one mass of muscles and light and shadow.  I like how just a little bit of his foot caught the light.

That is actually the shape of the paper - a tall rectangle.  It adds to the emotive quality of the drawing, the quiet, all of that negative space above.  I think I will push the values a little further.

The second drawing was about 40 minutes, and I was working on a dark brown piece of colourfix paper. 

I was kind of standing in the dark, so I really didn't notice that I was making it SO colorful! The model actually looked at it afterwards and said "I look like a struttin' peacock!"  I thought that was funny!

On this dark paper, especially with the light forming very few intense highlights, I forced myself to stick to my darker Nupastels for the first 38 minutes - only bringing out the very light few for the last few moments, accenting the brightest moments - and only a few of those.

I had actually just organized by Nupastels into three boxes - the lightest, the reds, and the blues.  (I was going to say "warm and cool". but even within the reds and blues, the temperatures vary.

The last drawing, which is far from complete, is on a dark brown piece of mat board.  Again I started with the medium to dark pastels, blocking in large shapes and reflective light.  I was avoiding detail until everything was working together overall.

Luckily I got a photo, so I am looking forward to finishing this drawing.

And here is a drawing I started in the studio today, from a session with this male model and a female model we had a few weeks ago...watercolor pencil on Clayboard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Perfect Anniversary Gift. A Beautiful, Sexy Boudoir Portrait.

Let me tell you...I am surrounded by beautiful women in my life.  And I am not implying that I know a bunch of skinny supermodels.  I'm saying that I have the most generous, warm spirited, kind, funny, intelligent, loving and supportive women around me.  From my Bunco Babes to my Zumba Crew, to those I haven't even met but support me on-line thru kind e-mails and blog comments, to collectors of my Art, I am surrounded by beautiful women.

I believe that every woman should have the experience of feeling Beautiful and Sexy.  I love when I get to work with someone new for a live modeling session.  My goal is to make them feel comfortable in their own skin, to embrace their curves and their innate sensuality.  Every woman I have worked with has said "Everyone should do this at least once!"

Just this week I drew a good friend who wanted a Boudoir Portrait for her husband.  They are celebrating their 22nd Wedding Anniversary (yay! congrats!) and thought this would be a great gift.  We got together and discussed her ideas, poses, colors, where the drawing was going to hang, etc.  After deciding on a paper and settling into a comfortable pose, we got to work!

This pastel drawing is on a dark brown piece of Colorfix paper.  The dark brown was an interesting choice - it didn't say "feminine" at first, but when I layered the turquoise and warm oranges, purples and greens, it all worked beautifully on that color.  The moment feels intimate and warm.

Listening to music and chatting about our families, our session lasted about an hour and a half.  Other than a few minor adjustments I made afterwards, the drawing was complete!  And I was so honored that my friend trusted me with this beautiful gift, and that we got to share that time together.  And I thank her, too, for giving me permission to share her beauty with you!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pastel Portrait Video

I think I am done with the pastel portrait of the model with the olive head wrap!  I put together a little video of the piece from beginning to end on youtube if you would like to see the drawing layer by layer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Toughest Art Critic

My kids are in the studio with me all the time.  Usually they are so preoccupied with digging out their paints and pencils that they hardly notice what I'm working on, but the other day Arianna made me laugh when she picked up my reference photo and stood in front of my pastel portrait on my easel.

So I said "Well, Ari...what do you think?"
And she replied..."It almost matches".

I guess I'd better keep working!

I realize now (maybe Ari saw something I didn't?) that one eye is a little higher than the other.  Some adjustment is needed!  But I do like the colors, the head wrap, everything else so far.  I am debating on if I should add the elaborate tattoo that is on her left shoulder...I don't want to detract from her beautiful face. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pastel Portrait and the girl with the Butterfly Tattoos - Works in Progress

Sometimes there are pieces waiting for me in the studio, unfinished, unloved, needing me to resolve their needs.  It may take several months, or even longer, to not only find the time to finish, but to know WHAT I want to do!  This painting of the Girl with the Butterfly Tattoos is one of those pieces!

A few months back, and I am a little embarrassed to admit this, I grabbed some black paint and layered over the painting.  Too aggressive.  Too dark.  And I wasn't in the right "place" - rushed and un-focused.  I don't even think I have a picture of it in that stage...it was so bad!  I was so worried that I couldn't rescue the piece.

Well it still isn't 100% finished, but at least I have gotten it on it's way.  I layered some transparent modeling medium over the black paint, then glazed with thin gesso, and started re-working the lines and butterflies with black conte.  The repeated triangle shapes in her shoulder and hair are still a little harsh - I have to work on that corner some more.  It feels like a well-worm sculpture right now, one that has been exposed to dirt and rain, like she has some history, and a bit of sadness.  I'd like to add in a little hope, too.

Other times...there are pieces I can't WAIT to get started on and after thinking about them for a few days, dying to get into the studio...they pour out of me in a rush!  I took a few amazing photos of our figure model last week and decided to start a new pastel portrait today.

I knew that I wanted to capture that gorgeous wrap on her head, and the fabulous organic shape that the tie made to the side.  I am inventing the cooler light on her right side.  The light was there for the first 10 minutes of our drawing session - we started just before the sun fully set, so there was warm light from the spot, and cool light from the window.

Unfortunatly I took the reference photo after the cool light was completely gone.  I hope I am capturing that sense of two different light sources of very different temperature.  I worked for about an hour on this today, and I am very pleased with the start.  Let's hope a good beginning also means a good ending!

I will keep you updated as I finish these pieces :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Selling Fine Art on Etsy. What I've learned the last two years!

It was two years ago today that I had my first sale on Etsy, this beautiful original drawing to a client in New York.

I was SO thrilled! My shop had been open for just about a month.  In that first month, I spent a lot of time in the Etsy Forums, reading advice and meeting fellow sellers.  At that point, the only way I was promoting my shop was thru the forums and renewing. 

I also followed the excellent advice of several veteran sellers and built up my feedback.   I did this a couple of different ways.  My favorite way was buying some awesome products from other Etsy sellers and trading with a couple of sellers as well.  If you are interested in trading, check out the list of Etsy Teams for those focused on Trading.  Buying and trading helped me in so many ways beyond feedback as well.

I traded prints with a fellow artist in Canada.  That was a very valuable lesson in shipping to Canada.  First of all, I used UPS, which was a HUGE mistake.  They wanted over $20 in fees on an $18 print (that they didn't tell me about) that they were going to charge the recipient upon delivery.  She refused the shipment, sent me a very kind note explaining why, and I retrieved the package from UPS.  Then I went to the US Post Office and learned about International shipping and filling out customs forms.  (There is also a great thread in the forums that covers international shipping)  I re-sent the package and our trade was a success!  I was so glad that I had that experience with an understanding and experienced fellow seller.

I also traded with some artists here in the states.  At this point, I was shipping my 8 1/2" x 11"  prints matted to 11" x 14".  One artist let me know that even though I had stamped the package "DO NOT BEND", her print arrived folded in half.  *sigh* VERY frustrating!  But that experience led me to seek out a better way of safely shipping my prints.  I ordered no bend mailers from Uline and stopped shipping with matting  - just the print and extra cardboard inside a clear envelope, tucked safely inside the mailer.   So far...no prints have been damaged!

I also joined several Etsy teams that focused on Visual Art.  This was a wonderful way to network with fellow artists, get my Art included in team treasuries, and learn the ins-and-outs of selling Art on-line. 

As I continued to sell, I followed the advice in the forums and started a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page.  Twitter had kind of a "golden age" right before it got HUGE (I blame Ashton and Oprah!) where I really got to know several Clients and Etsy sellers.  I had several Original Art sales the first 6 months I was on Twitter.  I still think Twitter is great for my business.  I have connected with Interior Designers, fellow artists, local media, etc.  It does seem, like most social media platforms these days, that you need to post 4 times as much as you did just a year ago in order to be seen, while still remaining SOCIAL and not spammy.  As with anything - you will only get out of it what you put into it!  So decide what's the best network for your work, and your time!

One of the greatest boosts for my business came from my participation in the Storque.  Writing articles about my success on Twitter and my life as an Artist led so many new friends and clients to my work.   I know your next question...but how do you GET in the storque?!?! My best advice - write about what interests you on your blog or another platform, or start an interesting topic in Etsy's forum.  Etsy's administration and blog content team is watching.  They will connect with you if your story and advice is beneficial to the Etsy community.

So that's what's worked for me so far as I sell my Fine Art on Etsy!  A few things that I've learned that don't work for me..

1.  Creating what I think people "want", not what I feel compelled to create.  These pieces don't sell!  If I put my heart into my work, that's what sells.

2.  So far, expensive Blog advertising hasn't worked for me.  I have found that renewing and listing new work is the best way to make sales and remain "seen" on Etsy.  For more on blog advertising, check out this thread in Etsy's forum.  With any endeavor, there will be some trial and error.  Be prepared to try new things and see what works for you! 

3.  Thinking that you can sit back and relax when you are "on a roll".  Sometimes there are several great weeks, or even months, in a row of steady sales, and I'll sit back and think "I'm on a roll! I can relax a little bit."  You may be able to scale back your renewing budget a bit or spend more time in your studio than on your computer, but make an effort to promote a little bit every day.  You want that roll to keep going! Not come to a halt :)

4.  Trying every new venue for selling that pops up.  It seems that there is a new venue for selling on-line almost every week.  I've tried a couple of these, and for me, it just doesn't work.  Selling one Original Drawing on three different venues just doesn't make sense!  Etsy has more traffic and viewers than any other venue.  If you have a product that you can make tenfold, then perhaps, yes, having your work in several places is beneficial (soap, jewelry, make-up, etc.)  But as an Artist who sells a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces, I have discovered one thing that helps me sell more work - Create New Work!  And the more sites/shops I have to maintain, the less time I have in my studio.  So I found the best use of my time is one great shop on Etsy, and then CREATE new work the rest of the time!

I hope you found my experiences helpful.  I have SO enjoyed selling my Art on-line these last two years.  I love that I have sold Original Art from coast to coast in the US, numerous clients across Canada, and almost a dozen different countries around the globe.  I receive kind e-mails and notes from people who love my work or get inspired by my blog, which is so flattering and really boosts my soul!  I feel very lucky to be doing what I love.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Figure is one of many elements in a drawing.

I pretty much think that the artists in our figure drawing group are the luckiest artists...ever.  Each week we are treated to another beautiful and professional model, who inspires each of us with their gorgeous poses!

A couple of charcoal gesture drawings from last night, about 3 minutes each.  I love the long line of the standing pose, the big SWOOSH that captures the length from head to toe.  The seated pose was also gorgeous - twisting and curvy. 

We followed our warm up with a 20 minute pose on the high stool.  I loved the wrap around her head.  It created a wonderful shape where it tied off to the side.

For our long pose, I set up a charir, several pieces of drapery, and a beautiful yellow vase that sat at the model's feet.  When the model settled into the props, she became one of several beautiful elements.  Light and shadow.  Color.  Form.  When you can captures these things, in any kind of object, that's a great drawing.

A couple of pictures around the art studio as we worked.

I love this drawing on red pastel paper (I need to find some of this paper! It's awesome! But the artist can't remember where she found it)  The warmth worked perfectly for the background color, reacting wonderfully in layers under the icy blue background and the mustard yellow on her skin.

My drawing...almost done, I think.  Perhaps she needs a second eye...

Again, I loved the head wrap - the colors and shapes it added to her face. 

This is Nupastel on Wallis paper.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I've learned from my parent's 37-year marriage

Just this past Sunday DH and I celebrated our 11 year Anniversary.  Not so much celebrated as acknowledged.  I mean, we did say "Happy Anniversary" to each other, and there was some touching...but you don't need to know about that.

So here I am, all proud of us.  We made it to 11 years! Yeah! Aren't we great!  We can still stand to be in the same room, we talk, we laugh, we hardly ever throw things at each other any more.  Aren't we special.

Well, today is my parent's 37th Wedding Anniversary.  Kinda puts my 11-year happy dance to shame! 37 years.  And they are still young! Well ,to ME anyway.  So...what IS the secret to marriage longevity? How can DH and I hope to achieve the same number of happy - or, tolerable, at best - years together?

1.  The first secret to a long marriage that I remember my mother sharing with me - send your spouse on a week vacation every year.  With out you.  I'm sure my dad's annual all-guy fishing trips pretty much assured us 6 kids that their marriage was right on track.

2.  Get each other coffee.  Don't let one person serve the other all of the time.  This is just bad form.  Take turns making each other breakfast or grabbing cold drinks from the fridge.  Even if your spouse can't cook, they probably can scoop you a bowl of ice cream.   And don't forget the "Thank you".  Very important.

3.  Be sure you have a bottle of peach schnapps, or your drink of choice, handy.  Because when your spouse is snoring in the middle of the night, and believe me, every spouse snores, you're gonna need something to put you back to sleep.

4.  Embrace each other's family.  Even the ones you don't like. 

I'm sure there is more...

I remember my parents being individuals - not just being parents.  Having jobs, having friends, having a life.  For kids, I think that's important.  Even if we didn't realize it when we were very young, it was good for us to see them laugh and have good friends around.  To see them support their loved ones and engage with other adults.  While we probably would LOVE it for their whole world to revolve around us and our every desire, it was more important that we see ourselves, and them, as individuals. 

Happy Anniversary, mom and dad.  Wishing you many many more!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My latest pastel portrait commission - step by step video

I realy enjoy putting these videos together.  I've gotten in the habit of taking pictures every time I add a new color or layer to a portrait drawing.  It's exciting to see a blank piece of paper transform into a beautiful drawing!

You can see more of my Pastel Portrait Videos on youtube and more samples of my Custom Portrait work in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Watercolor in warm and cool.

Sometimes my unfinished work has to wait patiently for me to come and rescue it out of the "to do" pile in my studio...I kind of think it sits there like the toys in "Toy Story 3", just waiting, and hoping, that someday I'll remember them and pay them some attention!

While I finally finished this lovely watercolor drawing that I had started from the live model several weeks ago.  At first I was going to use Nupastel over the purple watercolor, since it is on Wallis paper, but that didn't have the right look.  So I continued to add layers using watercolor pencil, sometimes adding a little water to soften it and sometimes allowing the pencil marks to remain.

I'm pleased to offer original drawing - for a limited time - at a special Sale Price!  One week only.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Custom Figure Drawing is in it's new home!

I was so excited to get some beautiful photos from a Client who commissioned a charcoal drawing for his bath.  I love seeing how someone frames and displays my work!

The original drawing is about 30" x 40", mixed media on Watercolor paper.  The soft warm silver frame accents the drawing perfectly.

When the client sent the initial photos for reference, I noticed the marble top vanity, which inspired me to create a piece that accentuated the depth and variety of texture in that material.  The drawing has layers of charcoal and transparent medium that create a lot of interest.

I have always enjoyed creating Artwork for special places.  Figurative, Portraits, or abstract.  If you would like to get a quote on a custom piece, please contact me at any time.