Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Through the Window

It's taken me a little while to get back to work and get back in the momentum of drawing and creating. I have the tasks of taking care of my dad's estate (other side of the brain!) and cleaning out my parents' house which is bringing back many memories but also giving me more ideas for future artwork. And then the holidays came along so I have literally been working on this piece at a snail's pace. I finally have enough done to post my progress here.

The idea came from a photo I took while in Kozseg, Hungary in May of 2012. I have been thinking about this drawing and composition since that trip because I am intrigued with the different window panes and looking through the panes of glass or broken glass. I tossed around the ideas of adding objects inside such as a bird or a nest but then decided my piece might just bee too busy or cluttered. I chose to let the shapes speak for themselves.

I am working on UArt 800 grit paper. My first layer of color is gently applied with Caran d'Ache Supracolor and Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils and a little bit of water. First I laid on the watercolor pencil dry then added water with a brush to blend colors together to create an underpainting. I chose this method because the UArt paper is textured and I didn't want any of the paper showing through, especially in the very dark areas. The top two small panes and just the watercolor pencil underpainting. In the lower part of the drawing, I have added regular colored pencil on top of the watercolor pencil. I like putting grays over bright colors and light colors over dark colors, because the pencil is translucent, colors will show through one another and I am able to achieve the look I want to for the weathered and peeling paint.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Red Sneakers Completed

Quite a few months ago I started this 6x8" colored pencil drawing on Ampersand Cradled Gessobord coated with liquid Colourfix primer. My first blog entry on the drawing is here. This piece was intended to be a small study for a much larger piece that I started working on simultaneously and ended up finishing first. The blog entry for the finished larger piece is here. I am happy to have finally completed this small piece. It is worked in colored pencil and solvent. The solvent melts the pencil and fills in the grooves of the sanded surface. I am pleased with my results, the brightly colored sneakers and rich dark background.

Thank you for reading my blog. Unfortunately, this has been a somewhat unproductive year. It has been a year of change and challenges. I have been managing my dad's care for the past several years and during this past year he was hospitalized four times, in a nursing home for two months and then home again with round-the-clock care. Most recently it had been a struggle to get him to eat or take his medication and one month ago he died. Since that time, I have been reflecting on his life and my life, thinking about life growing up with both of my parents (my mother passed away 17 years ago) and now cleaning out the house and finding so many memories. Thinking of how I can incorporate those memories into my artwork. It is bittersweet.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fundraising Raffle for our New England Chapter of CPSA

Three members of our New England District Chapter 112 of CPSA have donated gicleƩ prints for a raffle to fundraise for our chapter. Our recent exhibit at a gallery, which was enjoyed by many, unfortunately depleted our funds due to the usual gallery costs; invitations, postage, opening reception. We are hoping to find our chapter out of the red soon. Please help us by purchasing raffle tickets, the information is on the poster or you can contact me. Thanks!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelbord

Here is my finished piece from the colored pencil and solvent on Pastelbord instructional video I produced for Ampersand. Here is a link to Ampersand's blog post on the two instructional videos. For this piece I worked on 8x10" Gray Pastelbord and not only do I like the textured surface for layering colored pencil but the Gray is my choice of color for many of my drawings. The cool blue/gray toned surface creates a under tone for a warmer colored drawing on top. I've taken art workshops in which instructors have suggested layering warm colors over cool colors, over warms over cools, or vice versa to create vibrant color and color harmonies.

After I chose the vibrant red pitcher to demo for Ampersand, I tried several pieces of fabric behind the pitcher to see what worked best for the background. I chose this one with the intricate leave patterns because I was attracted to the organic shapes  of the leaves contrasted with the round, smoothness  of the pitcher. I also like the contrast in the grays and blues of the leaves against the bright red and especially the movement of the background shapes which complete the composition.

I finished the piece by spraying it with two coats of Krylon UV Resistant Clear and then four coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish, letting each coat of the varnish dry at least 30 minutes before adding spraying again. This way I won't have to frame the piece under glass.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Italy: 800 Photos and Tons of Inspiration

 Here I am in Vicenza on our first night in Italy. Such a beautiful little town, we ate dinner at an outdoor restaurant in the central piazza and just watched everyone going by. Many people came through riding bicycles, some stopped for a glass of wine and/or dinner at the restaurant. Families with children came through the square and stopped to talk while the children ran around giggling. Several couples walked through with dogs that happily sniffed around. I just sat and took in all of the wonderful sights and sounds of this charming town.

 These next several photos are of the 55th Venice Biennale. Our son traveled to Europe shortly after he graduated from college and returned with one request for me; to see the Venice Biennale. So it has been a goal since then. Above pictured is the Korean pavilion exhibit Who is Alice? I saw this suspended sculpture The Wing by  Xoo-ang Choi on line and just had to view it in person. I was just amazed at the contrasts in the materials used, the organicly sculptured hands shaped like wings against the metal hanging supports.

I was happy to see that realism and detail were featured in the art at the Biennale. I believe this piece was pen and ink or graphite.
This is one of many figures created and on display by Polish artist Pawel Althamer. The faces are of real Venetians, the bodies are made of wire and plastic.

Love and Peace exhibition by Croatian artist Ana Tzarev 

This amazing painting is by Asian artist Chuang Che.

One of the highlights of our trip was hiking in the lower Dolomites, north of Venice. We were about 7000 feet above sea level and the view was spectacular. The hiking trail is along the ridge, if you look closely, one of our group is standing at the edge. Not for the faint of heart!

A typical view of Venice. When I told people I was going on a trip to Venice, I heard so many comments, positive and negative. Positive: "it's so quiet because there is no traffic, only the sound of water". "It's such a beautiful, romantic city".
Negative: "The water is moldy and stinks". "The gasoline from the motorboats stinks". "The motorboats are loud". 
It is all in the eye of the beholder. I believe the positive comments, it is very quiet and it is romantic. I don't believe the the negative comments, I never smelled any mold and the motor boats are quieter than car and truck traffic. One has to walk everywhere, bicycles cannot even maneuver the sidewalks and steps. The only negative aspects, and the Venetians will agree, are all of the cruise ships descending upon Venice, displacing water and disrupting the environment. 
It was a wonderful trip so full of inspiration. Now I am slowly getting back to work.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ampersand Pastelbord & Accordion Star Book

Started practicing using Caran D'Arche Supracolor watercolor pencils and water on 5x7" white Ampersand Pastelbord as an underpainting for colored pencil. I started with a simple line drawing, then added the watercolor pencil dry. Next step, I wet the pencil with water and brush and dissolved the pencil flowing it around the surface as a wash. I'm experimenting a little with what colors I would use for my underpainting. I found that when I started working in regular colored pencil over the watercolor washes, I liked having darker background colors. I finished the piece with Prismacolor colored pencils, softening edges and colors. 

Here is my finished accordion style star book with finished cover pages and ribbons to tie it closed when not on display. I'm happy with the result and can't wait to find an exhibit to display it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bookmaking: Accordion Style Star Book

Over the years and through my travels in different parts of the world, I've taken photos of windows. I've been collecting photos and thinking of what I would do with the images or how I would present them in a piece of art. Earlier this year I took a book making class and decided to make my own book and incorporate some of my window drawings. I selected 14 images and drew them out in colored pencil, some with the image transfer technique first. I've been intrigued with the accordion style of book that opens into a star shape so I decided to try to put one together. It's a small book,  just 6x6". Top photo shows my drawings before I glue them onto the backing pages. The bottom photo is the book almost finished, my next step is to find a decorative paper to use for the cover and put the cover together. It's great fun to find a challenging project, something using my hands besides just drawing.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

CPSA Convention and Exhibition 2013

Here are photos from my recent trip to the CPSA annual exhibition and convention held in to Brea, California this year. It was a great trip and first I have to mention how much I enjoy meeting and catching up with the other artists whom I only see once a year at this event. I'm always interested to hear what everyone has been doing over the past year. I traveled across the country with Debbi Friedman and started the trip by staying with pal Elizabeth Patterson and her family in West Hollywood. 

 Elizabeth was kind enough to drive us around the area and let us be tourists. We stopped at Point Mugu and spend close to an hour photographing the various rocks and waves.

Here I am at the international exhibition with my piece "Fragile". I received my Signature Merit Award this year for have been accepted into the exhibit five times.

 This view is of Laguna Beach in which I absolutely loved. It does seem a bit touristy but beautiful nonetheless. I'd like to spend more time in this area.

 Here are pals Debbi Friedman and Elizabeth Patterson posing outside in the gardens at the Getty Center near Los Angeles. 

The architecture of the Getty Center is absolutely amazing as well as the collection of art and the grounds. I so enjoyed the visit and the trip as a whole. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Converse Sneakers

Last fall while our studio Art Boot Camp students were drawing from a variety of shoes, I began thinking about a composition of just the two pairs on contrasting Converse sneakers. I put the mens' black high tops with the womens' regular red sneakers. I'm working on UArt paper and the size is approximately 24x24". I started with a study of just the red sneakers (previous post) but was too intrigued with the larger piece so I abandoned the study for now and jumped right into the large drawing.

I love working on the UArt paper, it is one of my favorite surfaces for colored pencil. Because it is a rough sanded surface, it can take many layers of pencil and give me rich color in my drawings. I also like it because I can apply light colors over dark colors and they blend nicely. The lighter colors applied with a heavy pressure will also help burnish the piece to eliminate the texture showing through. I also burnish using a short flat bristle brush to rub out the texture in the paper.

My favorite part of the drawing is the shoelaces, I began with them using only whites and cool grays then added some light blues and purples. For pencils I used mostly Prismacolor and a few Coloursofts.

Take a look at the Colored Pencil Society of America's latest blog postings. Many of CPSA members, myself included, have donated a small piece for the silent auction. All of the pieces up for auction are posted in four different blog entries. There are some beauties! However, you must be present to bid and win and the auction takes place at the international exhibition in Brea, CA.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Red Sneakers

My drawing is a study for a much larger piece that I'm working on, but this one is 6x8" on 2" cradled Ampersand Gessobord in which I have applied a layer of Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer in a blue that I don't think they make anymore because I don't see it on their page. However, there are many other wonderful colors and I like the texture for my colored pencil. I bought a pair of bright red Converse sneakers at an outlet store and haven't worn them yet because I want to keep them pristine for my drawings. In the study and in my larger piece, I am loving working on the laces; the subtle grays tinged with color and the way they move and fall off the page. I am applying the colored pencil and then softening it with odorless mineral spirits to make it move around like paint and entirely cover the surface.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coffee and Tea

I did an colored pencil demo for Hope Gallery during the Bristol/Warren Art Night last week. I brought samples of my smaller works and did a demo of colored pencil and solvent on 6x8" cradled Ampersand Gessobord. My subject is the pair of red sneakers which are in front of me and I am also working from a photo of them. The lighting and the shadows in the photo are just the way I want them to be and that way I can keep the lighting consistent if I work in different locations. Approximately 80 visitors came to the gallery while I was there, many were friends or fellow artists and I really appreciated the wonderful turnout. I must also thank Krzysztof Matthews for taking this photo of me and give him the photo credit.

Here are three 6x6" image transfer and colored pencil drawings I have done on Utrecht wood panels. The question I am asked most is if I prepare the wood and the answer is no, I work directly on the wood. First I transfer my black and white image on the wood as I described in this post, and then I work right over it with colored pencil. I added backgrounds to the coffee cups and left the natural wood background behind the tea cup and pot showing. These three pieces are hanging at Angelina's coffee shop in Bristol, RI during the month of July along with several other works by myself and other CPSA members from New England; Debbi Friedman, Naomi Aho, Kathie Miranda, Kathy Clericuzio and Liz Patterson.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Beach Dunes on Wood and Upcoming Colored Pencil 2-Hour Workshop

I've just completed two more colored pencil on wood pieces for my beach dune series. The top piece Beach Grasses is 8x8" and includes image transfer under the colored pencil. I took my photo of the beach grasses, sized it to 8x8" and made it black and white. I put the black and white image into PhotoShop and lightened it quite a bit then used the Dry Brush Filter to manipulate the lights and darks into shapes. I then reverse the image and print it out on my laser printer. I tape the image onto the wood and rub the back of it with a Chartpak colorless blender marker, which smells like crazy so it's better to be around good ventilation. I sometimes need to go back over certain areas more than once and because the image is taped, it's easy to lift and check the progress. When I'm done, I have a good black and white image that I can pencil on top of and because I reversed the image it is now the correct orientation of my photo. This makes it quicker to apply colored pencil, you skip the step of drawing and the grays of the transfer make a nice underpainting.

The second piece Purple Skies is 12x12" and is drawn freehand in pencil before adding the colored pencil. I have varnished both of these pieces with Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish, brushed on 4 coats, letting each coat dry at least a half hour before applying the next.

I will be teaching a 2-hour colored pencil class on Friday evening, July 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Hope Gallery in Bristol, RI. The cost is $40 and all materials are included. Students will be creating notecards or postcards in colored pencil. Subject matter is optional, scenery or still life which I will also supply. For more information contact Anita at Hope Gallery (401) 396-9117 or email

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beach Dunes in Colored Pencil

I am working on a series of beach dunes and beach grasses in colored pencil and on cradled wood panels. The grain of the wood is showing through in some areas of the drawings adding texture. I've also left some of the wood showing in the areas of sand, the wood grain and wood surface make a nice addition to these organic types of drawings. Pictured are three, I am working on two additional all in different sizes so I can hang them together as a grouping. I'm also trying out adding lots of colors that aren't in my reference photos such as red and pink skies

I am varnishing the wood with several coats of Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish brushed on. I let each coat dry approximately 30 minutes before adding another layer of varnish.

I have work in a colored pencil exhibit titled "the Magic of Colored Pencil" on display through the month of June at Spring Bull Gallery, Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. Our New England Chapter of CPSA is sponsoring this exhibit which has many beautiful pieces of colored pencil artwork. I am pictured with my piece "Woman in the Window" (difficult to see because of the glare) which I am honored to say, won Best in Show in the exhibit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spinning in Circles

After several months and much thought I have finally finished this colored pencil drawing on two layers of Grafix DuraLar translucent vellum. To recap my previous posts, my original idea of working on layers was challenged by the fact the vellum is more opaque than I expected. I found I needed to add bright color to the bottom layer which would end up toned down when showing through the top layer. I also added color to the background horses and let them fade into the back. I'm happy with this piece now that it is finished and learned from the challenge of working on the multiple layers of DuraLar. Please read my previous posts for info on my process. I had hoped to finish the drawing with a fixative to keep the pencil intact just in case, however, when I test sprayed both workable fixative and Lascaux fixative on a scrap piece of vellum, it made small dots of spray on the vellum. I searched the internet for info but didn't come up with anything. If anyone has any experience with fixative on vellum, I'd be interested to know.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Work in Progress on Vellum

 I just realized that I haven't posted any work in over a month. I'm not quite sure what happened but I went away then came back and proceeded to get a cold and respiratory virus that hung on for about two weeks. When breaks like that happen, I find that I lose momentum and vigor for my artwork, particularly what piece I'm working on. I get out of the "zone" and it can take awhile to get it back. In the meantime I start doing things like cleaning the condo, cleaning the studio, cooking; all sorts of daily activities until I can get back into the the right frame of mind. Anyway, thankfully, I'm back and finishing up this piece.

As I mentioned in the last post about this piece, I am working on two pieces of DuraLar vellum and when I put them together, the top sheet is a bit more translucent so the drawing on the second sheet (behind) isn't as sharp as I would like it. In the top photo you can see how I've taped the two sheets together at the top and I keep laying the top sheet down to check for alignment, colors and values. On the bottom sheet of vellum, I had drawn the bottom of the carousel in black and the shadows in Prismacolor Black Grape. However, when I put the two sheets together, the shadows looked dull and gray so I erased the black and purple shadows. The vellum is easily erased with a kneaded eraser and then I cleaned up with a white eraser.

I am finding that if I use very bright colors on the bottom sheet of vellum, it translates much better when I put the two sheets together. I decided to use Prismacolor Peacock Green for the bottom of the carousel and Ultramarine Blue for the shadows.

Here are the two sheets of vellum as the drawing appears now. My next step is to bring parts of the background images forward by drawing them on the top sheet of vellum and letting other parts of the merry go round fade into the background. Hoping to finish today!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Drawing on Multiple Layers of Vellum

I've been intrigued by the thought of experimenting with colored pencil on multiple sheets of drawing vellum (also called drafting film in some cases) in which one layer would show through another to give my composition a 3D type quality. I purchased several 18x24" sheets of Duralar matte vellum and chose my photos of carousel horses for my composition. My intention was to use three sheets of the film; one for the foreground, midground and background of my drawing. I started this piece in January, using Prismacolor pencils and working first on my three foreground horses which will be the focal point. Next I moved on to the second sheet of vellum and began working on the next grouping of carousel horses as they recede for the midground (top photo) and the objective is to have these horses fade a bit into the background. I had planned the third sheet of vellum would be used for the shadows and part of the carousel center.

However, as I began to work on the multiple layers, I quickly found the vellum isn't quite translucent enough to achieve I color I need to show through on multiple layers. The vellum is smooth and takes the pencil beautifully, colors are rich and intense on the surface. What I like about the translucency of the vellum is that I am able to work with the colored pencil on both sides. The smooth surface only allows minimal layers of pencil and if I've saturated the front, I turn the sheet over and continue on the opposite side to achieve additional color and value. It is also easy to erase mistakes with a drafting eraser and I've also heard rubbing alcohol will remove smudges and fingerprints but haven't tried it just yet.

What I have learned so far ... I'm going to have to adjust my layering process. I may only use two sheets of vellum instead of three. I may add more of my composition to the top layer and let it fade into the next layer. It's trial and error as I work but learning and enjoying the process.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Grouping of Boxes

Started another grouping of my Ocean Life boxes on 5x5" Ampersand Claybord boxes. I have sold several of the last series of boxes and decided to create another series of boxes. Shown here are seven new cover drawings and three new inside drawings. All of the cover drawings are worked on white Stonehenge paper with image transfer and colored pencil. I adhere them to the Claybord surface of the box top with Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film. I like the bottom drawings to be sturdier so I use white Strathmore rag illustration board, again with image transfer and colored pencil and glue them onto the bottom. The box top drawings are sprayed with one coat of Krylon UV Resistant Clear, three coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish and then several layers of Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS to make them smooth and glossy.

In the last series I left the natural wood box sides showing and varnished them for protection. In this series I've decided to experiment with painting the wooden sides or collaging some of the box sides with rice paper. I'll explain that in my next post about the boxes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beach Stones and Water are Finally Finished

I finally finished this piece and I'm almost reluctant to say that it has taken me two months to complete. I started the piece in January just before my father went into the hospital with the flu and fluid in his lungs. He stayed for a week and then went into a nursing home where he has been since but will be coming home next week. I've been running back and forth first to the hospital and then to the nursing home almost daily. Now I am setting up the 24-hour care he will need when he comes home. He didn't want to have to go to the nursing home and now he doesn't want to pay for care thus, we've been arguing that this has to happen. What do you do when a parent becomes like a child and is totally dependent on you? It's overwhelming. I had been involved in his care previously but now it's become physically and emotionally draining. However, I have worked to get him back to walking, in better spirits and at a point where he can come home with care. Unfortunately, my art took the back seat for the last two months. I taught some classes and tried to get some work done but emotionally it was difficult. Besides this piece, I have also started a large piece on mylar and am going to be handmaking a book with small drawings. I'm excited about both projects and really need to start working on a regular basis, when I get away from my art I feel somewhat lost and very irritable!

Just to review, this drawing is 18x24" on Rtistx 300 Board. I used Prismacolor, Lyra Rembrandt and Faber Polychromos pencils. I wrote details on how I worked the rocks in this previous post. My next step was to continue upward and put in suggestions of more rocks and the sea foam encroaching the rocks. I decided to leave the top left predominantly white, I wanted to keep it somewhat abstract with just suggestions of rocks underneath the flowing water. This piece will be one of the entries I submit to the CPSA national exhibition but I have to title it first. Right now it's untitled and I'm in the though process.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Providence Art Club Colored Pencil Class

My class at the Providence Art Club has been working in colored pencil and watercolor pencil. The third photo of the Bird of Paradise images was the previous class project. We used the reference photo and the students worked in watercolor pencil on white Ampersand Pastelbord. The other three photos are the current class project working with the yellow tulip reference photo. The surface is Ampersand Gessobord covered with a layer of blue Art Spectrum Colourfix primer. The students are putting down a layer of colored pencil and then adding solvent with a brush to melt the waxy pencil and move it around. Subsequent layers of pencil are added after the solvent and blended in. I suggested to my students that they start on one area of the drawing and get the feel for applying the solvent with the pencil before they move onto the whole piece.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Art Boot Camp Watercolor Class

These are three photos from my recent watercolor class during the Art Boot Camp that Felicia and I teach at Beach Studios. The students are working from still life objects they put together according to their liking and what they wanted to paint. I had each of them decide on a composition in their viewfinder, then sketch it out in pencil on the Fabriano hot press watercolor paper I provided. The next step was to apply watercolor washes to build color after which they experimented with watercolor pencils and water. The resulting paintings were anywhere from very detailed to very loosely painted. I always enjoy seeing each student's expression and style evolve in their work.