Cat Saves Man (prelim) -#27 & #28: 100 Face Challenge

I’ve not got far into this book, but I know it’s a keeper.   Here’s the Amazon link – it’s called “A Street Cat Named Bob And How He Saved My Life” by James Bowen.

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While watching TV last night, I was sketching faces in front of me the whole time.   (It’s a great way to practice, if you’re into faces.)  Time for bed, and I happened to see this book cover…and I just had to do a quick preliminary sketch, to see if I could capture their essence.   For a quick sketch, I was happy with it.   I’m happier with the man’s face than the cat’s, but I’d like to revisit this image and try and do it some justice.    Don’t they look like a wonderful pair?   Apparently, the man was a heroin addict, and this cat wouldn’t leave him alone.   He wound up turning the man’s life around.   I just love stories like that!

Enjoy your Saturday.   I may be dancing with a ski mask and gloves on today, but I’ll be dancing!   Stay warm and keep those pencils and brushes moving!  🙂

Dog in Profile (#19): 100 Face Challenge

I checked “The Artist’s Guide to Drawing Animals” by J. C. Amberlyn out from the library some time ago, and every now and then, I copy one of her sketches.   I’m finding this book really useful, as she breaks each animal down, feature by feature.    Love the expressiveness in her lines.   This is something I’m really working on this year:  loosening up and trying to let more emotion and personality come through in my work.

011616This was done with a humble graphite pencil in my mostly smooth (and definitely humble) Canson sketchbook.

I hope that you are enjoying the finest of Saturdays today.    Take time for yourself.   Read, create, relax with some beautiful music and fill up your soul.    Let’s make the world a better place, one sweet moment at a time.   Peace.

Sweet Friends: 100 Face Challenge (#12&13)

Lately, I’ve been hunting for interesting nonfiction books about birds and domesticated animals. I recently picked up the book “Citizen Canine” at the library, and I couldn’t resist trying a sketch of the cover. I just love photos of cats and dogs together. Yes, we CAN all get along! 😀

011016Isn’t this the sweetest?   I’m liking the marriage of Polychromos colored pencil and the Strathmore mixed media journal, which has a nice tooth.    I’m finding it helpful at this point to focus on value, which is why I kept this one monochromatic.

I’m really enjoying this challenge, and I hope that when I reach 100 faces, I’ll feel encouraged enough to ramp up my goal and keep on going!    Happy Sunday!   Peace and arty inspiration to you *flinging joy*!

Draw A Bird Day in January

Tweet Tweet!    Check out those bird feet!   hehe

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I’ve been sketching sketches from the book “The Bluebird Effect” by Julie Zickefoose. I found this on page xxiii of the introduction and couldn’t resist trying it. This was painted with my Cotman travel palette, drawn in Pitt waterproof pen in the Canson universal sketch pad. I was amazed at how well this 65 lb. paper took a light watercolor wash! It sold me on these books (which are under $4 for 100 pp. at Blick)! Hard to beat that.

I find I learn something every time I intentionally copy something another artist has done, particularly when there is pen work involved.   This book has been a big help to me, because she has tons of small illustrations (all her own artwork) throughout.   The book is worthwhile for those alone, but if you’re interested in birding, her stories about birds are wonderful.   I highly recommend it.

Happy FRIDAY to all!  Fly, be freeeeee!

100 Face Challenge: Less is More Experiment (#8)!

Recently, I decided to focus more on drawing animals, particularly in ink. In that process, I ran across the YouTube channel of an amazing artist named Alphonso Dunn.   He has a huge catalog of videos there, which he’s graciously produced and made available for free.   One that particularly caught my eye is titled “The Less is More Principle”.  Which led to this drawing.

010616Pen can be tricky, and as Alphonso teaches, it can be very useful to learn to be brief with your strokes, and capture the immediacy of the subject in that moment.   I wanted to capture the essence of this dog quickly, and I was happy with this effort.

Incidentally, Alphonso came out with his first book a few weeks ago.   He wanted to produce the kind of book he wanted when he was trying to teach himself how to draw in pen.    “Pen and Ink Drawing:   A Simple Guide” doesn’t disappoint.   He is passionate about teaching and about drawing, and he is one of the few artists I’ve come across who is really good at both.  He can boil difficult principles down to a paragraph or two.    (He has some wonderful videos on perspective, for example, that brought me closer to understanding this than anything I’ve come across.)

He is wonderful, and has such a gentle and gracious way about him, too.   By the way, he also works in pen and watercolor, graphite; he doesn’t limit himself to just ink.   I encourage you to check out his YouTube channel, and consider taking a look at his book (free preview on Amazon, here) to see if you might find it useful.   It’s already the #1 bestseller on Amazon in its category.   Congratulations, Alphonso, and well-deserved!

Happy Wednesday; we’re almost home free now!     I want to thank all of you for taking this journey with me.   Peace and creative wonderment to all.

Draw a Bird in December?

I couldn’t let December fly by without resurrecting Draw a Bird Day once again. I want to thank Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd for a photo that just kept calling my name, and Ann at AnnChristina.com for a wonderful, emotive painting that just made me want to really try and capture a beautiful little wren!

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Wrens are such exuberant, lively singers, and they are so chippy and happy too. I fell in love with Ann’s recent wren painting, and wanted to try my own rendition with the same photo.   Ann gave me a great tip when I asked about her painting.   She sometimes uses colored pencil for the underdrawing, or to add depth to her work.   I really loved that idea, so I decided to try using watercolor pencil for the initial sketch.  Once I sketched in the wren, including the markings, and liquified the pigment, I let it dry before going back in with my Cotman travel watercolor palette.   Considering it was done with student-grade paint in my little mixed media art journal on my lap in front of the TV (vs. using good Arches paper meant especially for watercolor and sitting at a proper table with my full M. Graham palette), I was pretty happy with it. I have drawn many of Kathy’s lovely wren photos since, and I’ve even made some progress rendering bird feet since this painting was finished (which was kind of like my impossible dream, lol)!    I’m making the journey, people. 😀

I also wanted to share a few paragraphs from a book about drawing birds that I’ve mentioned before, “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds” by John Muir Laws.   I have tremendous respect for this man, both as an artist and a teacher.   If you love birds as I do, and you’ve ever wanted to draw or paint them, let me assure you that you CAN do it.   It does take practice.   Just as you wouldn’t expect to sit down at the piano for the first time and play a symphony, you can’t expect to sit down and draw perfectly the first time either.   Drawing is such an amazing practice, much like meditation.    You will get back what you put into it, and I can tell you I’ve found rewards beyond anything I could have imagined when I started just over a year ago.

All my life I told myself I can’t draw because I don’t have “the gift”.   Well, often we believe what we tell ourselves, and in this case, I wasted over 45 years believing that!   I don’t want you to fall into the same trap.    Mr. Laws says it much better than I could here on page two of his wonderful book (please click the photo to enlarge):

I found this book at my local library, but if you have any interest in birds/making bird art, this may be one to purchase (or add to your Christmas list).    You may also want to check out the author’s blog and YouTube videos.    I promise you will be informed and entertained!    He is due to release a new book next month called “The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling”.   Based on my experience with this author, it’s sure to exceed my expectations.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.   Hub and I set up his homemade nativity scene in the front yard over the weekend, and I’m looking forward to doing a post on it soon.   Until then, peace and joy to all!

Draw A Bird Day (November rewind) and October recap!

*drumroll please* Here comes the long-awaited October recap of Draw A Bird day, which we last celebrated on October 8!   I hope you enjoy the artwork of the artists who joined us in October to celebrate our free-wheeling flying friends.   (If you’d like to learn more about the official Draw A Bird day holiday, visit A-Wing and A-Way here.)

We had quite a few first-time participants, listed first:

Moses at Art by Moses shared his favorite bird artwork with me and I’m sharing it with you!   😀

Michael of A Certain Line

Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd included a poem she wrote along with just a few of her amazing bird photos

Tree at Conversations Around the Tree

Haunani at Art and Moondreams

Surabhiakascarlette at The River in Me

Carol at Carol’s Creative Papers

Susan at Susan Feniak Art

And some old favorites who’ve joined us before, in random order:

Ann at AnnChristina.com

Kirk at Dumb Sketch December has two entries here and here

Charlie at Doodlewash

Catherine at www.catherinemjohnson.com

Sharon at Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Jill at Jill’s Art Journal

Jodi at Life in Between

Kerfe at Method Two Madness

Tequihby at One Stumble at a Time

Teresa at One Good Thing

Snehal at Snehal Kank

Beverly at Art Prescription

Cynthia at Sand Salt Moon

Myriam at Myr’s Bytes

Whew!   What a list!   If I missed anyone, trust me, it’s me not you…….please let me know and I’ll be sure to include you!

Hub made a new windowsill peanut feeder, which he installed recently, and the titmice have been using our deck railing as a runway ever since! They’re trying to fatten up for winter, I guess. 🙂  So for this month, I thought I’d post a recent page from my art journal in which I’ve been drawing birds from life. Talk about a challenge! They usually only give you a few seconds before flying off with peanut in beak, lol.   I like the two on the bottom best – I had a few more seconds on these poses, as the bird decided to start eating the peanut inside the feeder.    It’s lots of fun – I encourage you to get a windowsill feeder and try it!

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I also wanted to share with you a beautiful book I found recently called “The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds” by Julie Zickefoose.    If you love birds and bird artwork, you owe it to yourself to check this book out.   The author not only wrote but illustrated it, and even though I recently brought it home from the library and have not yet read it, I can tell you the writing and illustrations are both lovely.    The artwork alone is enough, really, but she has been fascinated with birds since she was young, has rehabilitated injured birds, etc. and I have a feeling this is going to be a wonderful read, filled with anecdotes from the author’s experiences.   I’m really looking forward to it!

I took a blogging break when we went on vacation in October, and I really want to thank everyone who emailed me, commented, etc. while I was away.   There is a great community of people here and it was nice to be missed!    Thank you so much for that.   I learned a few things from my break though, and the biggest surprise was how much time was freed up by not blogging!    I was spending lots more time on WP than I realized.   I’m still making art every day, and enjoying every minute of it, but I’m not feeling the need to return to blogging at this point.   I may pop in here and there, but if you don’t see me around for awhile, rest assured all is well.     Paintbrushes and pens are still flying over here…..I’ve learned I need to make art.   So, I will definitely continue!

Peace and purple paint puddles to you, and I hope you enjoy this beautiful Autumn season as much as I am!

Top of the Quilt (and the Morning!) to You

Here is the little art quilt I’ve been working on lately. This one is 9 3/4″ by 11 3/4″. I would love to get your knee-jerk reaction to this. Don’t be shy if you don’t like it, but if you could tell me what it is you don’t like, that’d be most helpful.   Or tell me what you do like, even better, lol!  😀

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I have not “faced” it yet (added the trim that will bind it with the backing and batting to make the quilt sandwich), or quilted it together. I’ll be adding whimsical buttons and some handmade beads to the top and doing some fun hand quilting to finish it off. I see it in a funky beach house. How about you?

The next one I’m planning will have warm fall colors, with more subdued fabrics. But I really love the free-form feeling I get from this, both as a viewer and as the creator. I was inspired by Rayna Gillman’s book, “Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts”, which I highly recommend!

Happy Autumn Tuesday to my northern hemisphere friends today!   Peace.

Abstract landscape

A quick mixed-media abstract landscape from last weekend out of my art journal. Brought to you by Inktense blocks, colored pencils (I think), watercolor paint and acrylic craft paint.

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I’m reading a book that I’m hoping will help me to create more depth in my abstract work, working toward abstract realism.   “Abstract Art Painting:  Expressions in Mixed Media” by Debora Stewart was published earlier this year, and you can check out a preview of it at this link.   Debora is primarily a pastel painter, but I’m finding that her tips about how to pursue abstractions would apply to an artist working in any medium.

Happy Friday, and as always, thanks for your visits and comments.   Peace.