Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making books

Over the past couple of months I've started working on a new form of art - bookbinding. I gathered information from the internet and I'm teaching myself how to make books. I'm absolutetly obsessed and I'm enjoying every moment spent cutting, sewing, and gluing.
Having spent many years working in colored pencil, I was finding it hard to stay motivated and challenged - and a colored pencil drawing takes a long time to finish when you're as anal about detail like I am. I can finish a book in a couple of days so the gratification is constant.
I've always loved paper and have collected little trinkets, beads, fabric and buttons all my life. I thought I could combine these and come up with something that I hope is unique.
I'm making sketchbooks, notebooks, recipe books, garden journals, wedding books, baby books, photo albums, scrapbooks, travel journals - the possibilities are endless.
I think it's a good idea to push beyond your comfort zone and try something new. We sometimes get stuck with something that we've become good at since it's a great feeling to master a skill. But learning is growing, and I highly recommend the challange.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This is one of those drawings that make me feel like I'm doing the kind of work that I'm supposed to be doing. I knew that I was going to draw this Panther as soon as I saw its photo in a magazine. I was totally immersed in the process - looking forward to working on it every step of the way.
It's this kind of work - the kind that brings you to that wonderful place where your concentration is so focused on your artwork - that reminds me of how grateful I am to be able to be an artist and to do the work that is so meaningful to me. I feel truly blessed to be able to do that.
Even though working with colored pencil is a very time consuming process for me, the end result always reminds me that it's worth every moment I spend on creating it. I just love being an artist!
This is colored pencil on Strathmore Illustration board, 8 x 11 inches.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Insect Art

I've always been fascinated with insects and think they're an interesting subject to draw. I like to draw them larger then life to bring out their beautiful colors and detail. My interest in insects is probably the main reason I enjoy doing scientific illustration.
I like drawing from life, using a magnifying glass to get all the fine details. This one was done from a very good quality photo - something that isn't always easy to find.
I have a small insect collection and have found the Internet to be a great source for collecting. I also go to museums to look at insects that are not commonly found where I live.
This is colored pencil on Stonehenge paper, 8 x 11 inches.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This little guy was done as an experiment on black paper. I often use a black ink wash for a background on white paper since I have had trouble in the past with getting the intense color that I want. This time I did a value study in shades of white and light grays - I think it worked well. For me, it was a little like drawing in reverse - I had to think about creating more light when I usually concentrate on creating darks.
I also decided to combine the black of the bird with the black background - it tricks your eye into seeing the whole bird even though the only place I used black was on the bottom of his beak. It was not something that I planned and was pleasantly surprised when I finished his chest and saw the effect. I love when that happens!
This is colored pencil done on Strathmore Bristol, 9 x 12 inches.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Here's a colored pencil botanical illustration that I gave to my Mother-in-law for her 80th birthday. She loves orchids and I'm happy to say that she was thrilled that I did that for her. Being the procrasinator that I am, I finished this, matted, framed, and packed it just 5 hours before we got on a plane to visit her. I didn't even get a chance to scan it or to take some really good photos of it.
I really like the simplicity of this piece - just a beautiful flower in all it's glory. I like doing this kind of artwork - botanical and scientific illustration meets my need for fine detail. I do enjoy art that tells some kind of story too, but I think this kind of artwork just stands on it's own in a very powerful way.
This is colored pencil on Stonehenge paper - 11 x 14 inches.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carousel Horse

A few people have asked me about the art that I used for my Bookmark Art post, (see Feb. 23) so I thought I would include the whole image here.
You can see now how the small sample for the bookmark gives the viewer just a glimpse of the original piece.
I donated the original to our local PBS station for their annual auction, but before I did, I made several reproductions from digital images. I usually make 11 x 14 inch matted prints available for sale as well as note cards - and of course, the bookmarks that I give away for free.
This was done with colored pencils on Stonehenge paper.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Boost Your Creativity

I don't know about you, but during my creative journey, I've had some experiences with 'artistic blocks' - and if you've had the unfortunate experience yourself, you know it really sucks. Recently, in my quest to overcome this horrible experience, I found artist Mary Gatling's web site. Mary not only creates wonderful art, she has also put together a workbook designed to help boost your creativity that I highly recommend.
Here is what Mary has to say .....
I am an artist with a background in advertising design and publishing. I love painting but also enjoy design, graphics and I am fascinated with the topic of “creativity”. This is why I have developed a workbook titled “Boost Your Creativity - A Four Week Workbook To Enhance Your Creativity”.
The purpose of this Workbook is to train you to think more creatively and get you in the habit of “doing”.
Creativity is broader than artistic expression. It is essential and required in many areas of life. Creativity is about problem solving. We are all creative and we all have ideas, but not everyone shares and executes their ideas. My hope is that you will get in the habit of bringing forth your ideas and executing them.
More information about Mary's workbook can be found on her web site

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring is in the air

This week I noticed the first signs of spring - the bulbs that I planted in my garden last fall are starting to appear. Here in Colorado, the beginning of March doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be any more snow this season, but I can't help feeling like spring is in the air.
These sunflowers seem to appear out of nowhere each year - I think a result of seeds falling out of my birdfeeders or squirrels attempting to store some food in the ground for the winter. I just let them grow wild in my backyard. I love the way they look and how birds, butterflies, and bees gather around them to feed - they are what inspired this painting.
This is the largest colored pencil painting that I've ever created - it's 24" x 36" - and it took me three months to finish. For the background, I used blue ink, which I applied with a sponge.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bookmark Art

I thought I would share an idea that was passed along to me by a fellow artist.
As a way of marketing my art, I've created bookmarks that I give out at shows, to my students, to friends and family members, or anyone who shows an interest in my art. I think that it's a better way to advertise than business cards since most everyone reads books and, let's face it, business cards usually get lost or end up in the trash.
People seem to like the idea, and it's a little different from what they would usually expect. Since I'm scaling down the size, and not using the entire image, the viewer gets a small sampling of the whole piece - just a little bit of a tease.
I take a scanned image of my artwork and crop it down to bookmark size in my photo manipulation program. I use Roxio Creator and Corel Draw, but any photo program would work for a simple project like this.
After I make any adjustments to color or exposure, I copy the image several times to fill a standard size paper. I then make prints onto heavy, cardstock paper and cut out each bookmark with an x-acto knife.
On the back of the bookmark, I put one of those sticky back return labels with the kind of information that you would normally see on a business card - my name, email address, and other contact information.
If you decide to try this, I suggest you use several different images of your artwork. I've found that people like to pick out a favorite.