Friday, December 31, 2010

Candy Apples & Salmagundi Club Exhibition

I'm burning the midnight oil tonight, even the dog is looking at me as if to say "can we go to bed now?" I had a tiring day with helping my elderly dad and needed to unwind when I got home. Mostly frustrating with my dad because he doesn't want assistance to help him walk and my heart skipped a beat each he slipped on ice today and refused my hand. So here I am unwinding, trying to portray luscious red apples on Pastelbord. This is a portion of my drawing that would fit on my scanner bed. The scanner has darkened the top white area so its not quite accurate. Yesterday I was having trouble achieving the smooth, shiny texture of the apples. Today I added solvent to the colored pencil and them more colored pencil on top of the solvent. I was very pleased with the ease in which the solvent dissolves the first layer of pencil without streaks and in some areas I didn't even need to add any more pencil. I still don't know what I'm going to do about all the red flecks all over my white Pastelbord but I have to finish the drawing before I have to worry about that.

Below are my two colored pencil pieces "Golden Glow" and "Cherries on China" which have been accepted into Special President's Exhibitions; Photography and Graphics Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club. The exhibit runs January 10 - February 11, 2011 and I am honored to have two pieces of my work selected for the exhibition by the president herself, Claudia Seymour.

Happy New Year everyone and thank you for following or visiting my blog! I really appreciate the support & encouragement!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Candy Apples on Pastelboard

I'm spending some time working on some new candy apple pieces because my others have sold, which is a good thing. More money for art supplies : ) This piece is for Bristol Art Gallery and will be used in the gallery's advertisement in American Art Collector magazine. For the surface, I am trying Ampersand Pastelbord for the first time. I chose white pastelbord because much of the background is going to stay white. Here are my observations; the pastelbord takes many layers but Prismacolor pencil flakes easily. My white background has red flecks all over it so I may have to add white acrylic paint at the end. The surface is rough and I'm having a bit of trouble getting very smooth pencil to portray the shiny red candy. So I will need to add either harder type of pencils on top layer or use solvent with the Prismacolors so they go on like paint.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Candy Apples on Richeson Board

This is an interesting surface to work on. It eats the pencils like crazy and they flake off a little but I found I could really get some intense color with this surface. I could also layer light over dark and the dark would still show through underneath. Some of the areas are one color and others are several colors layered so I had the option. I also was able to use mineral spirits successfully on this board to dissolve the pencil for the background and foreground and achieve even layers of the white and grays.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newspaper Feature

I have been lucky to have been featured this week on the cover and inside Newport Mercury Newspaper. The editor came into the Newport gallery where my work is shown and liked my colored pencil work. She emailed me back in September and asked if they could write a feature story on me and my art. Its a really nice article that not only features my art but also a little about my battle with cancer several years ago. Here is the link: You will have to click on the side bar to read the story because as of tomorrow the next issue will be highlighted on the cover page.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Candy Apples on Richeson

I've started working on another drawing of candy apples because I have to get several done for our colored pencil exhibit at the Wellesley, MA library in March. This time I'm trying a new surface, its Richeson Unison Premium Pastel Surface which is on gator foam and the color is terra cotta. The surface works beautifully with pencils, the pencils apply so evenly that I may not have to use mineral spirits to make them flow. I'm checking with the company to see if I'm able to use mineral spirits on this surface. Because its applied to gator foam, the surface seems to be a little more flexible than hardboard and the pencils feel better as they are applied. If that makes any sense!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Late Winter Beach

While looking through my photos for ideas, I found this quiet scene that I decided to draw. It attracted me because preparations the holidays seem to get so busy and rushed that my artwork gets put aside and I didn't want to let that happen. I found working on this serene view of Second Beach in Middletown calmed my spirits. The most difficult part was the fencing but old weathered fencing doesn't have to be perfectly straight so it wasn't that much of an issue. I worked on Strathmore vellum bristol board which doesn't take a lot of layers but enough and the surface fairly smooth. The piece is 7x10" so I was able to finish it quickly.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Open Studio

Come to our holiday open studio today if you're in the area! We're excited about our new artist members since our last open studio: Felicia Touhey, H. Hadley, Kathy Morton and Kim Kirby. We have a great group of talented artists in the studios with classes and workshops available.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Espresso with Lemon

This is another small piece for the holiday small picture show at DeBlois Gallery. I sold the Chinese Tea on opening night and this is the replacement. This is actually a very tiny tea cup that was part of my mother in law's cup collection in which I inherited. With the sun shining on the espresso it almost looks like tea. This piece was worked on plate bristol board and its a little bit difficult to add many layers to the smooth surface.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chinese Tea

Here is my second drawing. I loved drawing the tea cup from this unique vantage point and popped the tea bag inside the cup a for more interesting composition. Onto the next.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Fortune

I'm working on a series of small drawings (4 1/2 x 4 1/2") for a holiday small picture show. This is the first of four. When you see the next, you can guess my theme! Sometimes its fun to work small and finish a drawing quickly!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

High School Art Class Visit

This morning I was fortunate to have two art classes from Cranston East High School in RI visit my studio with their teacher Alice Gebhart to learn more about colored pencil because they are using colored pencils in art class. I explained about my process, how I sometimes combine mediums and showed examples of my artwork. I found the students to be very inspiring, they asked so many really good questions that made ME think about my art and my goals and also to remember when I was a student thinking about college and pursuing a career in art. It also made me wonder if I would have enjoyed teaching art in school. I would love to inspire students and help them find direction in art.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Exhibit & Awards Dinner

Here are Debbi Friedman and I at the National Arts Club in NYC at the CLWAC dinner with my piece "Samantha". Debbi received the Art Times Award for her colored pencil piece "Lapis Light". We had an enjoyable evening, great food, and met some talented artists from all over the US. Now its back home to start creating again. I'm working on another portrait that I will post soon!

Friday, October 29, 2010

CPSA Signature Showcase Book

I'm on the train to New York City to attend the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club award dinner this evening. No, I'm not receiving an award but my friend Debbi Friedman is receiving an award for her colored pencil drawing. I am happy to have my artwork "Samantha" included in the CLWAC exhibit. Stay tuned for a photo of Debbi and I on the blog. So as you can see, I've been playing around with redesigning my blog. I am still learning and still can't figure out what Networked Blogs are or how to attach this to FaceBook. Guess that's for the train ride home. Anyway, I'd like to put in a plug for this new Signature Showcase Book compiled by Vera Curnow that features many lovely colored pencil pieces by many talented colored pencil artists who are Signature Members of CPSA. Each artist has also written a little bit about themselves and their art. I received my copy last week and have enjoyed browsing through it and reading the different entries. I strongly suggest this book to anyone who loves colored pencil and it can be ordered from the website. Happily, my candy apples are included!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuscan Vista

I entered my pastel into South County Art Association's All Media Open Juried Exhibit II (No. Kingston, RI) and won an honorable mention. That excites me, its my first pastel to receive an award. The exhibit runs from Oct 28 - Nov 13 and the opening reception is Thurs, Oct 28, 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Autumn Leaves

Here is the project my colored pencil students worked on in class yesterday and each of their drawings. I gave them black Stonehenge paper and some autumn leaves to draw. Anyone who has used colored pencil on black paper knows it is difficult to get vibrant colors so I had my students work an underpainting in white pencil first. The underpainting is a value study in white (something to you really have to think about!) Lightest values have the most white pencil coverage and darker areas have less white pencil. The first and second photos show some of the white drawings underneath the color. The color on top of the white is very vibrant and the shapes of the leaves against the black make a very interesting composition.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I was asked to do a 6x12" commission piece of plums for a kitchen wall so this is the composition we came up with. Its colored pencil on the Colourfix primed Gessoboard that I like working on. The customer wanted a gray background and I like the way the background came out. I might not have thought of it myself. Plums are challenging, trying to achieve the light blue tones on the dark colors of the skin without making them look fake.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just about finished

My piece is finished for the time being although I wonder if I will ever think its complete. Every time I look at the rocks, I see something that can be tweaked because there are so many elements and I'm a perfectionist! I like this piece, there is something calming about it and something that brings me back to that morning on the rocky beach watching the foamy surf making its way over the stones. Ahhh summer!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Skipping along the stones

While I'm working on this piece, I actually feel like I'm moving along the beach and through the stones with my pencils. I start working on one rock and before I know it, I've moved to another and another and pretty soon I'm across the paper. So I'm back and forth adding detail and texture to each different rock. I've pulled out my Derwent Graphitint pencils and am using them along with the regular colored pencil. The Graphitints have a softness when applied and a subtlety to the colors which makes them perfect for rocks. I'm also using the colorless blender or very light gray, cream or white pencils to burnish the smooth rocks. The colorless blender intensifies the colors so it I want them to show reflection or light on the top, I burnish with the lighter colors.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Apples

Here is a quick, colorful still life I drew in pastels for Spring Bull Gallery's October exhibit titled "Step into Fall". Sometimes I feel like I have two completely different sides, one that likes to take lots of time with intricate colored pencil pieces and the other that likes to complete quick and loose pastel drawings. Hmmm.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Continuing on Rocks & Foam

I'm working on this piece a little at a time and really enjoying rendering the stones. I'm making them a little more colorful than they are in my photo, I do have some rocks in my studio to look at also. The colors I'm using consist of many grays and browns with touches of other colors; blues, purples, red/orange, yellows. The more I look, the more color I see so I have to back off a little from making them all to colorful and not realistic. My goal is soft and subtle rocks, foam and sand with subtle colors added. While I enjoy working on the sanded grounds in which the pencil can be applied quicker, I have to say my favorite surface is rag illustration board because its durable and takes the pencil softly. Once in a while I don't mind taking forever on a drawing because I enjoy the process and the outcome.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nantucket Lighthouse

This is a small colored pencil piece I did of Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket. Its 7x9" on Rtistx board. I used solvent to dissolve & smooth the pencil for the water and the sky so the texture of the board didn't show through. I used Prismacolor Verithin pencils to add details, they are perfect for this kind of drawing and adding fine lines or details. Thank goodness Nantucket is still standing this morning after Hurricane Earl came through last night. To our relief, it ended up not being much of a big storm at all.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rocks & Foam

On a recent trip to Block Island, my husband and I hiked down Mohegan Bluffs to the beach below. The beach is absolutely beautiful because of all the colorful rocks that have been tumbled in the ocean waves to a smooth finish. Since it was a little difficult to take the rocks and climb back up the hill, I took several photos and was inspired to start a drawing from my photos. I'm working from the top photo. I am drawn to the foam from the waves encroaching the rocks on the shore. I am weaving the white of the foam among the stones and also embellishing the colors of the stones. Its another intricate piece, why am I so drawn to such intricate subject matter?!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Samantha is going to New York City

I just found out that "Samantha" has been accepted into Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club's 114th Annual Exhibition at the National Arts Club in October. I'm very excited because this is the largest colored pencil portrait I've attempted. This is my third acceptance to CLWAC so I'm requesting full membership to the organization.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Progress on the tulips

I've added the reflections on the table but they're not completely finished. I also haven't finished the reflections in the glass vases themselves because I'm working on the background. Thus far, the background consists of Prismacolor Seashell, Beige Siena and Terra Cotta. On top I've started layering Artichoke which is a harder pigmented pencil so its working nicely to burnish the colors beneath it. In the margin on the bottom I've made marks for color suggestions. My goal is a warm brown neutral background with tones of color as to create a classic (?) still life and this drawing still needs work overall to tie everything together but its moving along!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Climbing the tower of St George's Cathedral

Today I climbed the tower of St George's Cathedral. St George's is a private (boarding) school located in Newport, RI and the cathedral was built in 1928. Fellow Spring Bull artist Richard Grosvenor, who taught art and was the head of the art department at St Georges, offered to give us a tour of the tower. Dick nimbly climbed the ladder (like he was still a teenager!) and opened the trap door at the top for us. Yes, I gathered enough courage to ascend the narrow staircase and ladder to see the view.

I found the gargoyles very inspiring. I might like to draw some of them sometime!

Fellow artists and tower climbers: Mike Chambers and Dick Grosvenor.

The view of the reservoir and Newport Bridge from the top.

I forgot this fellow's name. He sits in the stairway where we began our climb at ground level. Lucky for us, the heat and humidity had subsided a bit. While it was still warm, at least it was dry and breezy out.

I am working on my tulip drawing and will post it tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Japanese Woodblock Workshop

Judy and I have begun coordinating and hosting workshops in our studio. This past week we were lucky to have artist Daniel Heyman instruct us in the traditional art of Japanese woodblock printing. Daniel teaches at RISD, Swarthmore College and Princeton University and this year received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship Award. He has done some amazing projects and artwork in which we were awed by. You can find more information on his website In this photo, Daniel is demonstrating inking and printing.

I spent the entire week cutting woodblocks and printing. My piece consists of 4 colors so I cut 4-12"x16" woodblocks in which I started printing in class. Let me tell you I carved wood day and night, even burning the midnight oil at home. I still don't have a print of all 4 colors so I can put my woodcut on the blog just yet.

We all surprised Daniel today by wearing headbands. Joan even dressed in her kimono!
Even Bandit put on a Japanese bandana (although it didn't quite fit on his head).
Daniel is showing us his work and explaining his projects and art installations that are very much about the lives and emotions of different people that include Iraqi prisoners or individuals living in homeless shelters.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tulip blossoms are added

This weekend and over the next week, I am enjoying some free time in which I've been devoting completely to art. My husband is in Scotland and even though my son is here, the house is quiet, and I can live and breathe colored pencil. I just don't have to think about much else for the next week, which is really nice and sometimes I just need to immerse myself in art. When life gets in the way and I am not able to draw or paint, I start to get very irritable! I imagine that most artists might also feel this way because we have the need to nourish our creative spirits.

Today I've been working on the tulip flowers in this piece and have completed them. I started drawing in the reflections in the glass tabletop below the vases. I am happy with the delicate feel of the flowers and glass and am not sure what I'm going to do with the background. If I'm not careful, it could overpower or detract from the subjects so I have to give it some thought as I continue.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Glass and Tulips

I've started this new still life with various glass vases and bottles we have at the studio and some leafy green tulips. I spent about a week just setting up the glass and tulips and taking lots of pictures until I found a composition and lighting that I liked. I can work the glass from life but the tulips have since died so I have to rely on my photos. I'm working on white Strathmore 100% rag illustration board which I love. The surface is smooth but slightly textured and the board is durable.

I'm also starting with as limited of a palette of Prismacolors to make it easier for myself. The greens in the leaves are: 1004 Charatreuse, LF189 Cinnabar Yellow, 1005 Limepeel, 912 Apple Green, LF109 Prussian Green and 988 Marine Green. The grays in the glass are: 1086 Sky Blue Lt, Cool Grays 20%, 30% and 50%. The blue/green bottle has the following colors added: 992 Lt. Aqua, 1006 Parrot Green, LF110 Green Hue, 905 Aquamarine, 907 Peacock Green. Thus far, my tulip flowers are: LF915 Lemon Yellow, LF127 Lt Peach, 929 Pink, 921 Vermillion, LF122 Permanent Red, LF126 Carmine Red and Coloursoft C130 Deep Red.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Artist's Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition

My piece "Patti's New Bowl" has been selected as a finalist in the Still Life/Floral category of The Artist's Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition. Just my name will be featured in the December 2010 issue of the magazine so here is the piece. I'm really excited to have been chosen!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Japanese Koi

I took photos of colorful koi when I was in Napa Valley a few years ago. One of the wineries had a beautiful koi pond that really inspired me. And Providence Art Club is having a members' exhibit in which the theme of the artwork is vertically or horizontally much longer than the width. So I chose the koi as my subject. I worked on the cradled gessoboard and this piece is 6x24". I did change the color of the original water, it was more yellow green and I prefer the aqua blues and greens to compliment the fish. I like it so much because its more abstract than most of my work. Sometimes I like to move away from always being so photorealistic. So this piece is hanging at the Providence Art Club until August 31st.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Samantha completed

After 2 months of working on this portrait, she is finished. I can't tell you how many hours I have put into this because its been a learning experience for me and I really enjoyed it. I would stand the piece in my house so that I could walk by, look at it and think of what I needed to change. The most difficult part was capturing the dark values in her face while keeping the subtle flesh tones. I used a lot of black in her hair and dark values of Tuscan Red, Indigo, Sienna Brown and LF105 Cobalt Turquoise on the left side of her face to create the dark values of her face turned away from the light. The other challenge I found was the flower was competing with her face and I wanted her face to be the focal point. After putting all the colors and values in the flower, I had to readjust her face. It was amazing how pale the values in her skin became. Now I'm excited about working on portraits and I'm looking for another great subject to practice on!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Learning as I go

She's got a glow to her because the afternoon sun was coming in the window when I took the picture. Its not the best photo for now, but I think you can see the gist. Notice its taken me a month to get to this point. Its been slow going with my busy life and small commission piece I have been working on. I want Samantha to be the focal point and I think her face is competing with the flower as the focal point so I still have to work on that by changing color and value. The hair was such a challenge because it was dark in all areas. I found myself doing something I seldom do: using black to get the rich darks! I have learned that if you layer black over other colors or other colors over black, you can get rich darks. I apply the layers with a light even pressure and build up slowly. I'm not racing through this drawing, I don't care how many hours I spend on it. I am striving for quality and a beautiful depiction of Samantha.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pasteling in New York City

I'm jumping around again. Quite a while ago, I signed up for Richard McKinley's pastel & oil workshop through the Salmagundi Club in NYC so here I am. Unfortunately, its been cold and gray but we've been having fun. Here I am on Tuesday with my painting of Washington Square and NYU buildings in the background. Working in pastel on white Wallis paper. We painted in the square all day and what lively day it was. I've never met so many friendly people while out painting. Passers by were constantly coming up to us and asking questions. Today it rained so we painted inside from photos. It was helpful learning from Richard how to bring the photos to life on the canvas or paper. Tomorrow we go to Central Park and hoping its warmer and sunny.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Continuing work on the portrait

I've continued with the flesh tones in her face, building up values carefully not to darken her skin tones too much. Next I moved onto her eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows. For her pupils, I used Sepia and Warm Gray 90% as I found Black to be too strong and harsh. I worked the irises by layering Goldenrod, Burnt Ochre, Sienna Brown, Dark Brown, Sepia and Warm Gray 90%. I added a bit of Tuscan red to make her eyes pop but just slightly so I can erase it if it becomes overpowering. Eyelashes and eyebrows were worked in Dark Brown, Sepia and Warm Gray 90% very softly. I found if I applied the eyelashes to darkly, it looks as if she is wearing black mascara.

I'm breaking the portrait into workable parts so I don't get overwhelmed. Its approximately 15x20" which is larger than life (the way I like to work). I was ... and still am ... afraid that if I don't get the eyes just right, I can ruin the whole portrait because her eyes portray all the feeling in the piece. Now I am moving onto the hair. The left side is quite dark. I used Dark Umber, Sepia, Black, Chestnut and Prismacolor Lightfast Indanthrone Blue, which I prefer to Indigo because its a rich dark blue and less acidy than Indigo. I have more work to do on the left side but I have decided to leave it alone for now. I'm beginning the highlights in her hair with Clay Rose. Her chestnut brown hair has subtle highlights of reds and violets and so many strands. I'm finding it quite a challenge.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trying something new!

I have been inspired to work on a portrait of my niece, Samantha. My sister in law took this beautiful photo about two years ago and working from this photo has been on my mind ever since. I have my sister in law's permission to draw from her photo and feel confident because I can study Samantha in person whenever I need to because, luckily, she lives in the next town. I love the composition and the way Samantha hides behind the flower with dramatic eyes and my goal is to bring this to life in my portrait.

So, not being a portrait artist, where do I begin? I have Ann Kullberg's book "Colored Pencil Portraits Step by Step" as a guide and began the skin tones with colors and values recommended by Ann which is very helpful. My beginning drawing looks awkward because I am trying to accomplish the correct skin colors, tones and values before I begin adding all the other features. As Ann suggests, I have begun with giving the entire face a wash in Cream and Light Peach Prismacolor Pencil. You won't believe how many layers of different pencils are creating the skin thus far and you won't believe how many hours I've spent working on just getting the tones and values correct. But I'm not counting the hours because I've enjoyed every one. Here is a list of all the colors I've used: Cream, Light Peach, Deco Pink Beige, Pink Rose, Peach, Mineral Orange, Rosy Beige, Blush Pink, Clay Rose, Pink, Burnt Ochre, Henna and Prismacolor Lightfast Light Red Oxide. Samantha's skin tones are more pink than orange so I've omitted the some of the yellows and browns Ann suggests in her book. For the darker values and shadowed areas I have chosen my own palette of colors which include Luminance brand Manganese Violet, Prismacolor Dahlia Purple, Prismacolor Chestnut, Periwinkle, Coloursoft Grey Green and Prismacolor Lightfast Cobalt Turquise because she has green in her skin tone shadowed areas. For her bright pink cheeks I used Prismacolor Lightfast Carmine Red and Madder Lake. When you look at the photo of my drawing above, its hard to believe that I've used all those colors!