Friday, January 30, 2009

EDM #31 - Draw something you collect

I think sketching is a great stress reliever. Have you ever noticed how sketching helps you relax? How you can’t sketch and worry at the same time? I guess you could sketch when you’re angry, or sad - but that sketching will actually help you feel calm. It does for me.
I realized as I was sketching these feathers that I was more relaxed - that concentrating on my drawing helped me forget about some things in my life right now that are feeling stressful. I also think that when I’m feeling stressed, it’s harder to get myself into the right mindset to draw. We have so much going on in our lives that we forget to take a break - that we really need to take a break.
The choice I made today about what to sketch really had a positive effect on me because it also brought back the pleasant memories of finding these feathers. I remembered the walks, and the hikes - with friends or by myself - being out in the fresh air enjoying the sounds and smells of nature. Sometimes, when it’s hard to find the time or energy to sit down and draw, I hope I can remember this. I’m going to try to remember that art really is good for the soul.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Fear affects us all. In useful ways, it keeps us from making choices that could put us in danger. But what about those fears that prevent us from reaching our full potential? That fear of failure, disapproval, or looking foolish that stops us in our tracks, keeps us up at night, and eventually robs us of possibilities. You know the kind of fear I’m talking about.
I remember when I was a kid and my mother would warn me to ‘be careful’ when I went outside to play. “Be careful of what?” I wondered - what was ‘out there’ to be afraid of? Whether intentional or not, we have all received messages that warn us of the ‘dangers out there’.
Our painful experiences are turned into fears as well - who hasn’t at one time or another been laughed at or made fun of for wearing glasses, being overweight or underweight, having red hair or freckles, wearing braces, your singing or dancing, wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes, having ‘stupid’ ideas, mispronouncing a word, or just being different. Is it any wonder why we’re afraid to express our creativity with all this negativity?
As an artist, you put yourself out there and wait for approval - that’s a scary thought! What if someone doesn’t like my work? This is some of the chatter I hear in my head almost every day -
“What are you wasting your time and paper on that for?”
“When are you going to grow up and get a real job?”
“Isn’t there something more constructive you could be doing?”
“I can’t believe you want to draw that!”
Sound familiar?
For years, I have struggled to overcome my fears only to find that the fear is still there. What I’ve learned is this - fear actually doesn’t go away, we just learn to manage it. I believe that the fear will be there - I can count on it and its just part of the process. I’ve learned to accept it, take a deep breath, and do my best to move forward. We learn to live with it and not let it control our lives. I try to be brave enough to not let fear stop me. It’s what makes us courageous - you can’t have courage where there is no fear.
Did I make that sound easy? Well, it’s not - in fact it takes a lot of work and effort and some days I can’t do it. Oh, but the days I can are wonderfully powerful and magical. That’s the feeling I try to remember because if it feels that good, it has to be right.
It’s much easier to turn to addictions, procrastinate, beat yourself up, or live your life wondering ‘what if?’. I’ve been there and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste any more time wondering ‘what if?’. There are ideas in your head that will never be expressed if you don’t express them - you owe it to us as well as to yourself.
Be courageous - don’t let fear prevent you from being your true, creative self - go for it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Everyday Matters Sketch # 15

I belong to an online group called Everyday Matters and this sketch is my first drawing challange - #15, trees, leaves, or branches. It's drawn from a photo in a book.
Here's the group's description: "Everyday Matters is a friendly community designed to encourage members to expand their creativity. Our main focus is on drawing and creating illustrated journals but we welcome creative people from all disciplines. Our group includes members of all degrees of ability and experience -- from total novices to professional illustrators, artists, and teachers. In 2004, our group grew out of Danny Gregory's weblog, and books, Everyday Matters, Creative License, and An Illustrated Life."
Members share their creative experiences and a
lthough it's not a requirement, the group has weekly drawing challanges - over 200 of them so far. There's great support and inspiration from more than 3,800 artists. Check it out at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Update - Can You Ever Have Too Many Pencils?

My last blog on pencils has raised a question from a few of you - what do I use to store my pencils?
Most of my pencils are in these very cool ice cube trays that I found at either Bed, Bath & Beyond or Linens & Things - I'm not sure since I've had them for years. They're actually used to make ice cubes for long, plastic drinking bottles and cost about $3. I have about 10 of them and you can see in the photo how I use them to group colors together.
I made my other storage container out of PVC pipe from Home Depot. I cut the pipe to the sizes I wanted (about 30 pieces cut to a variety of heights to accommodate both long and short pencils) and hot glued them to a round piece of wood. All this is attached to a lazy susan.
I hope the photos help to clarify things, but let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Can You Ever Have Too Many Pencils?

I confess, I’m a pencil junkie - in my opinion, you can never have too many pencils. I just love them! I even have a collection of antique pencils, mechanical pencils, and several sets of old drafting tools. My collection comes from years of experimentation with the medium. There's never been a question about what to get me for my birthday!
For my colored pencil work, I mostly use Prismacolors, which are a wax-based pencil. Recently, I’ve been using Faber-Castell’s Polychromos, which are oil-based. Other pencil brands I use include Derwent, Cretacolor, Koh-I-Noor, Lyra, and Bruynzeel. I also use a variety of different graphite as well as pastel pencils. I don’t use water-soluble colored pencils very much, but they can save you a lot of time with putting down a layer of color. When I teach, I give my students several different brands of pencils, and if you’re new to colored pencils, I suggest you try a few to find one that feels comfortable to you.
Leave me a comment and let me know what brand of pencils you use and share what you like about them.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First blog

Thought I'd start my first blog with a small daylily study I did in colored pencil - it's an 9 x 10 on white, bristol paper. I decided to use a black ink wash for the background after I found the white background made the flower look too flat and the black background seems to be more dramatic. I've worked on black paper with colored pencil before and have had trouble getting intense colors, so I think using the black ink this way may solve that problem. I do know that other colored pencils artists will apply an "underpainting" of white or cream over black paper to help make top layers of color more intense. That method doesn't seem to work well for me but may be worth experimenting with if you're having the same problem.
I also like the way the light hits on areas of the pedals - I want to work on that effect more. The center of the flower could probably use more darks too.