Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artist in the Classroom

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending 90 minutes in Mrs. Eastwood's high school art class talking about and sharing my love of colored pencils. It began with a request from Mrs. Eastwood to the Corvallis Art Guild for artists to spend time in the art room with the kids teaching techniques and discussing the business side of the art world. I was privileged in high school to have a very talented and enthusiastic teacher who introduced me to a variety of different art forms. It was under her encouragement that I learned the joy of the community of artist. I jumped at the chance to give back in whatever way I could.

Thank you Mrs. Eastwood and students for allowing me to share my colored pencil art with you. Thank you Mrs. Horting for your encouragement all those years ago.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rose in progress - Final Steps

I can now add a variety of gray pencils to create the petals and leaves of the rose. I began in the center of the rose and worked toward the outer edge. I was surprised at the amount of color that is found in some gray pencils. Some of the dark gray pencils have allot of blue in them and so would not work for a black, white, and gray painting. Some of the grays as most of you know, like French Gray's, have allot of brown in them. This was harder than I thought it would be and I had to experiment with different pencil combinations to get what I wanted for value. The background was pretty straight forward requiring only the addition of lighter values as planned. I was careful around the top of the rose to keep the white of the surface where the frost was for I had a special plan for this area.

Once the colored pencil was complete and I was satisfied it was done, I sprayed it with a fixative spray. Three or four light coats. Next I sealed the surface with three or four light coats of Golden Archival Varnish. I added Golden Heavy Gel (Gloss) with a toothpick to the frost areas and before it dried sprinkled a very fine crystal glitter on top. This gives the frost a sparkle when the light hits it. I titled the painting "First Frost".

Experimenting with this painting I learned several techniques I will apply to paintings in the future.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rose in progress - Next Steps

I have cut the Illustration board to fit my frame, 8" x 6". Now I need to think about the surface. Do I want to prepare the surface of the Illustration board or leave it as is? I have a very dark background around the rose and I do not necessarily want to try and get that dark with pencils or paint. I think I will cover the background with a coat of black gesso. That way I will only need to add the lighter values to the background. If I add black gesso to the background and not the rose this will leave the rose light enough to get the light values it needs.

I also think I need more tooth or texture on the surface, so I have decided to apply a thin layer of Acrylic ground for Pastels manufactured by Gamble to the entire surface first. This will give me a slightly sandy surface. I will allow this to dry, transfer my cartoon drawing, then apply black gesso carefully to the background. Once the gesso is dry I can begin to apply colored pencil.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rose in progress - First steps

O.K. I promised awhile ago to show my step by step process when I start a painting. So, here goes.

I decided to enter a "Black, White, and Gray" show. I have an old used frame used for oil painting with some black velvet and silver on it, so I thought it would work well for a B&W piece. The inside dimensions are 8" by 6". Not very big so it should not take too long to finish.

I know what size I want the piece to be, and I know what colors or lack of, it will have. Now I need a subject. My search begins with a trip through my hard drive going to all those photos I have been taking thinking I may want to use someday. After perusing my photos I found a rose picture I shot in the park one morning after a frost. I loved the way the frost lightly coated each blossom and I took several photographs that morning. This is the one I decided to work with.

Next I opened the photo in a photo manipulation program (like Photoshop or GIMP) and started playing with it to get a good design for my picture format. This is when all those design principles come into play. I am looking at what will be my main subject, where I will place the main subject. I am also paying close attention to the negative space and the edges of my picture. So I flip and turn and crop till I find something I like.

Next step is to convert the image to black and white. Now that I have a subject it is time to think about the surface. I know that I do not want to use a glazzing surface over the painting like glass or plexi, so I decided on illustration board. Illustration board can be sprayed with varnish to protect the surface. It will also hold up to all the abuse I might give it. So, off to cut some board!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Enid Joy Mount Gallery Award

Whoopee! My painting at the Keizer Art Association show won the Enid Joy Mount Gallery Award!
It is the one posted earlier on the blog of the fall leaf. The painting of the leaf is titled "Fall's Festival" it is 32"X 20". The painting is colored pencil with just a touch of gold and copper leaf along some leaf edges. The painting is sealed with fixative and then sprayed with varnish so no glazing is needed. I had fun playing with the hanging position. It looks and feels different depending on which way it is hung (Landscape or Portrait).

I could not decide the direction I liked best so I put wire on so it could be hung either way. Then I left it to the hanging committee to decide.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mrs. Cellophane

This is my space to rant and rave so here goes.

I recently had the great pleasure of being accepted into a juried show at a art center. Imagine my excitement at receiving an acceptance letter and not a rejection letter, we all have oodles of those. The time for the show approaches and I send out press releases to my local art guild. I get a response back telling me "It looks like at least 6 so I probably won't call out anyone specifically." I then find out my name has been omitted from the list of artist in the art center's press material. My name is not on the post cards, press releases, nothing! I get the art guild newsletter and guess what, they call out the artists who are in the show specifically, but of course my name is not among them. Needless to say I am quite bummed. I feel like Mrs. Cellophane, you know like in the Broadway Musical of Chicago. Well, there is not much I can do about it except to gripe about it on my blog.

So, if you have ever had a similar experience please let me know.

Oh, and my colored pencil painting titled "YIN YANG" is in the show.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall is the season for art shows!

OH, my! Here it is the middle of September and I have not had time to post anything on my blog this month. I am sure that time is moving faster. It seems as though the summer barely started and now it is nearly over. Classes will be starting soon and the weather will force me into the studio.

Don't you just love Fall's colors!

The leaves are turning and the Mums are blooming.
I have been busy all summer creating art for different art shows. It seems to me "When it rains, it pours" I have one show after another and they overlap in such a way as to not allow me to use the same pieces twice, Yikes! Well that is one way to get you off your backside and into the studio or outside creating.

Here is a rundown of the shows I have going:
Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath has a show of LBCC Benton Center Art Instructors. I have SIX colored pencil pieces in this show. Runs through October 4th.
Just dropped off a piece for at the Art Center in Corvallis for the 6th Around Oregon Annual Show. It runs October 2nd - 30th.
Have just finished a painting for the Showcase of Local Artists at this years Fall Festival Saturday and Sunday September 27th and 28th.
I am working on paintings to be juried Monday for the Vista's and Vineyards Annual Show at LaSells Stewart Center, OSU Campus. It will run September 29th to October 29th.

The painting of the leaf is in titled "Fall's Festival" it is 32"X 20". It is colored pencil with just a touch of gold and copper leaf along the leaf edges.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Drawing or Painting?

I was going to start a post on my step by step process on how I approach my painting but got a little side tracked. Instead I will share a few of my thoughts on the debate over what to call a CP finished work.

Recently the debate about colored pencil painting verses drawing has surfaced once more. Through my many years as a member of CPSA I have struggled with the question, are my colored pencil pieces drawings or paintings? I admit in the beginning I had little doubt that my works in colored pencil were drawings. Now, I have little doubt that they are paintings.

In my search for the answer I started with the definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines the verb "paint" as: to produce in lines and colors on a surface by applying pigments. The definition of the verb "draw" as: to produce a likeness or representation of by making lines on a surface.

My search then turned to past exhibition statements of judges like this one by Kaywin Feldman, director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in the 2004 CPSA exhibition. Kaywin had this to say: "How appropriate that until the late 18th century the term pencil was used instead of the word brush and the word penciling could mean coloring, brushwork, or drawing. Even a quick survey of the drawings submitted for this exhibition reveals artists who are often able to manipulate their pencils as though they used brushes or chalks."

In 2005 juror Suzanne Folds McCullagh, curator of the Art Institute of Chicago had this to say: "Who could imagine the variety of technical effects that one can achieve with that most portable and apparently simple of tools - a pencil? Although drawing with colored chalks can be traced to the sixteenth century, the availability of colored pencils and the profusion of works in them is certainly a more recent phenomenon... The two highest prizewinners demonstrate the dazzling achievement of widely different applications of the medium and resulting effects: while the first could rival any watercolor, pastel, or oil painting in its lush layering of the medium on its support, the second plays off adept and colorful lines against a generous sheet of paper with a draftsmanship and imagination that is at once exciting and powerful."

In conclusion I don't think it much matters if you refer to your work as a drawing or a painting. For me, having worked in a plethora of different mediums, I use colored pencils more as if I were painting than as if I were drawing and I refer to them as fine art paintings. "You say tomato, I say tomahto". I leave you with the words of William Martin Jean, director of the Continuing Education at Cleveland Art Museum and juror of the 1995 exhibition: "The 1995 CPSA Exhibition will demonstrate the scope and range of colored pencil as a medium. As with other media, it can be concealed in the rendering of the subject or it can be used more expressively and show the marks of the artist. Works can be explosive or subtle, colorful or subdued, textural or smooth, realistic or abstract; its limits have not yet been reached."

The debate goes on.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pun Intended

A friend and fellow artist has just written a book for photographers. He has a great sense of humor and is known for his puns.

"Upon discovering that Miles Black, the famous phrenologist from Yorkshire was going to take up yodeling to lonely goats in Bali, James White decided to balance four planks of wood on a beer keg and call it an abstract work of art in the style of a famous fourteenth-century architect, just going to prove that people will read any old garbage if they think there will be a good pun at the end of it."

Thanks Terry!

If you want more information about Terry's "The Handy Photography Booklet" let me know.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Art Museums

I just returned from the International Colored Pencil Show in Seattle. Wow, what fun! I attended two great workshops, ate yummy food, stayed in a very posh hotel, and visited with old friends, can't get much better than that. OH, but it did, before we left the city original built on seven hills, we went to the Seattle Art Museum and viewed an exhibit on Impressionism Painters. What a thrill to stand before such masterful works. I almost came to tears more than once just by being in the presence of these paintings.

So, let me know if you have had the same kind of reaction when viewing masterpieces at an art museum, or perhaps a different reaction.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Colored Pencil Art?

Wow! Where dose the time go? Here it is the middle of June already. I have been out enjoying our beautiful vistas and painting up a storm. I hesitate saying storm since we have been experiencing many showers this spring, as the growth of the weeds in my garden are attributed to.
Recently I have been experiencing confusion about colored pencil art as a "fine" art medium.

Webster defines painting as "to produce in lines and colors on a surface by applying pigments". Most colored pencil artists refer to their work as a painting because of the application of color washes as well as the color layers that are applied. These washes are not wet as with conventional forms of paint like oil or watercolor but are used in much the same way. Some even use paint brushes, as I do to blend color.

A little colored pencil history: Available since the early nineteenth century, a moderate range of 15-20 colors was manufactured in both America and Europe by the early 20th century. The pencils, however, were not highly pigmented and did not contain as much wax as today's products, nor were they marketed for artistic use. A circa 1905 catalog refers to "commercial colors for checking and marking". By 1924, colored pencils in over 60 colors were being sold for artistic use by A.W. Faber; that same year Caran d'Ache, a leading manufacturer of artists' colored pencils, was founded in Switzerland, with Schwan Stabilo in Germany following a year later. In America, Berol Prismacolors, advertised for their velvety texture and wide range of laboratory tested colors, were introduced in 1938. Today's artists have at their disposal an enormous range of colored pencils to choose from, in both water and organic solvent soluble varieties, as well as a professional organization to represent their interests, The Colored Pencil Society of America.

Most people when they think of colored pencils. think of the hard, pale colored pencils of childhood, the ones they used in school to color cell diagrams in science classes. Colored pencils have come a long way. It is the proportion of pigments, which are fairly expensive, versus filler material that separate artistic grade colored pencils from other colored pencils.

In the late 1970’s, after years of testing, light fastness standards were written for oils, watercolors, acrylics, and alkyds. Since then, paints suitable for fine artwork (IE: will not fade over time) are marked with Light fastness symbols I and II, providing artists the option of choosing materials that have been stringently tested for light fastness. In the early 1990’s, a standard for gouache was written. Testing has just begun for a pastel and ink jet ink light fastness standard.

In the early 1990’s, with the founding of the Colored Pencil Society of America, CPSA, and the increasing use of colored pencil for creating fine art, it became necessary to have a standard of light fastness for this medium. The impetus for a standard from artists and CPSA was overwhelming.

Research began in the early 1990’s and has just culminated in 2003 in the writing of ASTM D6901 Standard Specification for Artists’ Colored Pencils.

Artists choosing light fast colored pencils as their medium can now work with confidence in knowing that their art will not fade. Public awareness of this fact will increase their artworks value and profitability.

Some people will tell you that oils are the only valid medium for realistic paintings. Colored pencils are fairly new to the fine art world compared to oils. The exploration of this new medium has just begun and I think we will see much more in the years to come.

For more information about colored pencils go to

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Drawing Skills

You know, having the ability to draw has served me well through the years. I first made and sold felt cut outs of my school mascot in grade school and later in high school I made posters and sold them. When my children were in school I would draw images for their reports and help in the school plays by designing and painting the sets. I have a friend who is a surgical nurse and she is going in for back surgery. She requested that I draw the the three wise monkeys on her back "see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil". This is one of the most outlandish requests I have had but I figured, what the heck! I think they look quite hilarious! I am sure the surgical team will get a kick out of them as well.

Good luck Nancy, I will be thinking of you :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

En plein air

Hooray! Today I made my first outing of the summer to paint. I joined a group of local artists at a plant nursery this morning for some En plein air painting. En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. I am a member of a group that paints outdoors every Wednesday morning during the summer. This is a great group of artists and a wonderful opportunity to join together in the security of a group.

If you have not experienced painting outdoors I highly recommend it. There is noting quite like spending some time outdoors in a beautiful location painting. This is the painting I did this morning. It is quite small, only about 8x6 inches. I thought I should start small till I got back into the grove. I am just pleased as punch to be out painting again!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Artist or Not?

The other day, in one of my classes, I had a student say something like, "Well you are a professional artist...". Anyway, this is the part of the conversation I remember the most because it caught me a bit off guard. In another class I had a student say, "She was not an artist, just liked to paint". Why is it that we, as artists, find it hard to acknowledge our accomplishments? If you paint, sculpt, draw, photograph, sing, dance, play a musical instrument, are you not an artist?

Pat B. Allen wrote in her book Art is a Way of Knowing, "Art making is my way of bringing soul back into my life." How can we not call ourselves artists when we express ourselves, our soul, through our art? Granted, we may be at different stages, and even different paths in our journey as artists and we sometimes brand ourselves as such, saying things like: I am an amateur painter, photographer, etc., etc., fill in the blank. It seems to me that an amateur painter is still an artist.

A quote from Max Beckmann 1884 -1950 found in Clint Brown's book Artist to Artist: "Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement: for transfiguration, not for the sake of play. It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make." So, in searching for realization and transfiguration and the quest of our self, stand tall, take a deep breath, and call yourself an artist!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Artist Receptions

Yesterday I had the pleasure of the company of two delightful gentlemen at the 17th Annual Colored Pencil Society District Chapter 201 show and artist reception. My husband and a friend joined me on a trek to Oregon City for a wonderful afternoon of art and conversation.
I can't count the number of artist receptions I have attended through the years. They are to me both exciting and a chore. I very much enjoy going and mingling with the other artist, the excitement and anticipation of the awards seems to fill the space. On the other hand I sometimes find it hard to come up with chit chatty things to say and worry when the conversation drops to silence.
To my surprise and joy I was awarded a prize for one of my paintings. It is always nice to be recognized at one of these receptions, though I have entered many and not been awarded. Thinking back to the first show I entered, and this was a great many years ago, it was a competition during my years in high school sponsored by a local manufacturing company. The first, second and third place winners were to be awarded cash prizes, as usual, but the art was to become the possession of the company. As it turned out, the judge was aquatinted with the mother of one of the students who entered and the names were on the pieces being judged so, to make a long story short I did receive third place and my wonderful wall hanging was purchased for not quite what the materials cost. I came away from that experience a little bitter to say the least.
Well, I am glad to have that off my chest!
Back to receptions. Tell me what you think about artist receptions. Do you have an experience to share? Send me your comment.
Thanks Ted and Jim for a delightful afternoon and dinner.
Oh, the painting at the right is the award winner and the title is "Flavor of Rhubarb"

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Slowly but surely I am recovering from the tea party. Wow, what a lot goes into hosting high tea! All in all I think everyone had a good time. I have asked one of the guests to send me pictures, I was far too busy making sure my guests had what they needed to take pictures. As soon as I can I'll post some.
I had the pleasure of the company of five little girls at the tea, each dressed in their best dresses and shoes, some with hats, some with fine hairdos, ranging in age from nine to three. I think they were a bit put out at the fact that they couldn't go outside and play, but we drank tea and juice, had some great food and wonderful conversations. Thank you to all my guests and a big thank you to my daughter Jodie and her friend Lindsey for all their help.

Now I am reeling from the first week of spring term classes. The first week is always a bit chaotic. I had one class on my calendar at 10 and it started at 9! Oh well, stuff happens. It is also quite exciting to see new faces and learn their story and journey as artists.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Art of the Tea Party

This morning I am up early to finish the final preparations for a tea party. Every since my granddaughter was born more than three years ago, I have talked about having high tea with her grand ma ma. Well, the day has finally arrived. Today will be the first high tea.

In preparation I have discovered a whole tea culture. There is a plethora of web sites and blogs dealing with nothing but tea and tea parties. I had no idea. Anything and everything you would or could ever want or need to know about tea is out there, from recipes for cucumber sandwiches to what kind of tea to serve with different foods. We are keeping things relatively simple, some quiche and strawberries, scones and tea sandwiches, and of course tea cake.

I have discovered there is an art to tea parties. If you have a story you would like to share with me about your experience with the art of tea, please send me your comments.

Keep an eye out for photos of the party. It should be fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garden Artists

Yesterday was one of those rare spring days in Oregon, when it is warm enough and not pouring rain, to get into the garden and do a bit of spring cleaning. I spent the day weeding my flower beds and taking inventory of the plants that survived the past winter months. My back is complaining today.

I relish the time I have in the garden for it gives me time to think about things. Growth and renewal, plans for the future, what to fix for dinner. I found myself thinking about art and how gardeners are artists that paint with flowers. A bit of red here, a little white there.

So tell me, do you paint with plants in your garden? If so do you plan your painting or, do as I do and just let it happen?

This is a colored pencil painting I did several years ago of the Mohawk River (Earnest) Covered Bridge in spring time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A bit of Eostre Trivia

For countless centuries, around the first full moon of Spring, Europeans have held a festival in honour of Eostre, spirit of the dawn. She symbolises fertility and fecundity, qualities that were desperately important to the ancients. They remain essential to us all today. Without the birth of new creatures and the rebirth of plants after winter, everyone would soon starve. Eostre had a husband, Lepus, who took the form of a hare. According to legend, Eostre granted him the ability to lay eggs. Over time, the hare became even more emasculated. He is now the Easter Bunny. But even in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are reversed, the goddess, clearly, still holds her power.

Care of Jonathan Cainer web site:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Are Easter Eggs Art?

Why we dye, or color, and decorate eggs is not certain. In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts.

What is certain is that many of us dye or decorate eggs. I want to know if you express your creativity in the process, or is it just one dunk of the egg and your done?

I once went through a long process of blowing the egg, this was accomplished by piercing the ends with a pin being careful not to break it and then blowing in one hole and the insides came out the other. I think I had to sacrifice allot of eggs in the process. I next used oil paint and water to marbleize the eggs. They were quite beautiful when finished.

Of the many eggs I have decorated through the years those blown eggs are the ones that I remember the most. I thought at the time they were true works of art!

So, tell me about your egg art. Or, if you have one send a picture of your masterpiece.

Friday, March 21, 2008

About "Luckless"

When I started this blog yesterday I chose to add a drawing I did a few years ago of a friend of mine . She was playing the roll of "Luckless" in a high school play. I just loved the expression con-vied with the hands in the reference photo. I have completed two drawings of Kena one in color and the one I posted in graphite, which happens to be my first love as a form of self expression.

I started drawing at a very early age after seeing some of my mothers drawings of horses. I loved the way the horses came alive in the simple graphite renderings.

My graphite drawings were primarily still life till, one day I was asked by my students to teach them to draw portraits. For years I told myself I could not draw people. I needed to overcome that fear and learn to draw portraits.
I will share my journey of portrait drawing at a later date.

FYI: The header on my blog has a section of my son's portrait.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My New Blog

Ta-da! I have just created my blog.
I used Blogger and it was very easy.

Now I need more time to brows around and learn about more of the cool stuff I can do.

Drawing is in Graphite the title is "Luckless"