Thursday, December 18, 2014

Metropolitan Art Museum

Today I spent four hours viewing art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I walked until my feet hurt and my brain was over stimulated from all of the diverse piece of art. This is the main gallery of the armor and weapons gallery. I wasn't planning to view any of this exhibit but wandered through the gallery and was amazed at the intricacy of the coats of armor, padding, helmets, etc; even for the horses. And the design of every piece was so complex, they should be in a museum (as they are) instead of on a battlefield.

Here is a section of the Met's Christmas Tree. I walked though this central gallery several times and each time, I could not get close to the front of the tree. There were so many people standing, viewing and taking photos. There were so many incredible artworks, below are just a few that interested me today.

 I was awed by this painting The Weeders by Jules Breton, I'm not sure my photo captures the light and the dusk, the figures are reflected in the orange glow from the setting sun while the crescent moon shines in the distance. I stood and stared for a long time, he captured the peasants pulling weeds with such emotion. 

This figure study by Manierre Dawson intrigued me, each figure is a series of shapes as well as the background. It creates an intricate design which interests me. 

Here is another realist painting by William Merritt Chase, serene beach scene with colorful umbrellas. The bright umbrellas fascinate me, pulled me right into the otherwise quiet painting.

This beautiful drawing is by a woman artist, Adelaide Labille-Guiard, titled Study of a Seated Woman Seen from Behind, it is black, red and white chalk on toned paper. It is very inspiring as I have been thinking quite a bit about creating a tonal drawing on toned paper. 

While I walked through the Met I looked at people as well as the art. I stood back at a distance and watched viewers behold the art and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a variety of ages; young to old and a variety of nationalities. Each person was quietly beholding the works of art, many were sitting on benches in the galleries and staring at pieces of art. As an artist I am really pleased to see art appreciated and valued in this way.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Student Work

I'm proud of my colored pencil students from my Newport Art Museum class who put work in the student exhibit at the museum's Coleman Center. The three pieces in which I've posted are also from three different lessons. Cindy's piece on the top is from our lesson that was drawing a variety of autumn leaves on colored paper. We used Canson Mi Tientes paper in which to work on.

The middle piece by Donna is from another lesson where we drew all white objects. The students had a set of 48 Prismacolor pencils in which to work and the 48 set contains only one or two grays so we mixed colors in order to achieve the values and color changes we needed.

The bottom piece is by Helen, our assignment was to work with colored pencil and odorless mineral spirits (solvent) on 5x7" Ampersand Pastelbord. I chose a simple still life of a few cherries on a colored surface so they could focus on the technique as well as the composition. Helen chose a fun frame for this piece also.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Oscar and Cooper Pet Portrait

This is the latest pet portrait I just finished for a woman in California who owns these two lovely cats, Oscar (left) and Cooper (right). I worked from a variety of individual photos she sent me of the cats to put them together in one 11x14" drawing (apparently these two aren't friends!). I could tell by her photos that Cooper likes to pose for the camera so he was easy to draw. I looked at several pictures of Oscar in order to get his face, body and coloring right. I drew this piece on Strathmore Artagain toned paper, in which I like the tones but the paper is very smooth and doesn't take enough layers of colored pencil. The piece is worked predominantly in Prismacolor pencil with a few Luminance added.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Student Work and Inspiration

I am teaching a colored pencil drawing class at the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI and I thought I would share our lesson on Friday.  My students are beginners to working in colored pencil although most have taken other art classes and open to trying new techniques with colored pencil. For this class, I had them work on 5x7" Ampersand Gray Pastelbords using colored pencil and odorless Gamsol solvent. They each have a set of 48 Prismacolor pencils and we work within the colors contained in the box. I chose cherries as a subject for them and let each person choose the background. They each began by deciding on their composition and then sketching it out. Next adding a layer of colored pencil and working in the solvent with a brush, afterward adding more layers of colored pencil to the wet solvent and later more when the area had dried.

On Saturday I went up to Boston with a friend to visit the Richard Schmid, Nancy Guzik and Kathey Anderson oil exhibit at the St Botolph Club and the Boston Fine Arts Expo. Besides being back in my old Copley Square neighborhood from my college days, I really enjoyed and was inspired by all the wonderful art at both events and the American Art Collector magazine I picked up on the way out. Although, there are mostly oils at the Fine Arts Expo, there were some pastels and watercolors but a very few drawings and no colored pencil. Much of the work was from the 19th and early 20th centuries, although some contemporary artists mixed in. Still inspiring but got me thinking how can professional colored pencil works become included?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two Pet Portraits and an Award

These are two 8x10" commissioned pet portraits that I just finished, Bella is on the top and Ruby is below. Both are worked on Ampersand Pastelbord, Bella is on Sand Pastelbord and Ruby is on white Pastelbord tinted with brown tones of watercolor. Both pieces are worked in colored pencil. I have added odorless mineral spirits to the colored pencil to smooth out the texture in the background to compliment the fur textures of the dogs.

I am very excited because my colored pencil piece Seafoam has won the Frank C. Wright Medal of Honor Plus award in the American Artist Professional League's 86th Grand National Exhibition. I was honored to have been accepted to this wonderful exhibition shown at the Salmagundi Club in NYC, now I am doubly honored to have won this award. Seafoam is 16x18" colored pencil on rag illustration board.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Colored Pencil Classes

I'm teaching one Colored Pencil Drawing class right now at Newport Art Museum in Newport, RI. Below are two of the class drawing assignments. We are using the Prismacolor 48 pencil set which limits the color range and is forcing us to mix colors to achieve a local color or value we may not have a pencil for. Below are my examples as I draw along with the class.

Drew autumn leaves on a colored background, using Canson Mi Tientes paper. Here I am allowing some of the yellow tones to show through my leaves and using limited colors. I haven't done much layering, just juxtaposing colors by laying them side by side.

This class assignment was to draw white objects on a blue gray background, also Canson Mi Tientes paper. It was a bit more challenging because the easiest thing to do would be to reach for a set of gray valued pencils to render a white object. We were  forced to create colorful grays with the pencils we had in our Prismacolor 48 color set. This is my small drawing of a milk carton and the colors I used along the bottom. For the lightest values I used White, Cream, Gingeroot and Light Cerulean Blue. Medium values I used  are Yellow Ochre and True Blue. For the darker values I used Burnt Ochre and Peacock Blue and for the darkest areas of value I used Indigo Blue.

All of these colors except Light Cerulean Blue are warm colors which worked well together, I chose Light Cerulean Blue because I needed a light blue value, but used it very lightly so it wouldn't stand out against the warm colors. The blue shades and yellow/orange/brown shades are complementaries and I layered to create colorful grays for the different values.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Invitational Pastel Exhibit

 Key Largo Palms

 Scarlet Vista

 Torreone Village, Tuscany

Cortona Hillside, Tuscany

Here are my four pastels that I have put into the invitational pastel exhibit at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport, Rhode Island. The top two abstracts were started in a workshop with Casey Klahn through the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod last October 2013. I had tucked them away and enjoyed completing them just recently. Casey challenged the class to work abstractly and in shapes and to sometimes change from using local colors.

The second two pastels were painted plein aire while in Tuscany, and also finished in the studio. I've learned to make good color notes because when I come back to the studio and try to finish from a photo, the colors and values have changed from working on location.

The exhibit is on through the month of November and includes nine other pastel artists: Rick Cardoza, Shelly Eager,  Sarah Fielding-Gunn, Janet Gendreau, Diane L’Heureux, Priscilla Malone, Kelly Milukas, Evelyn Rhodes, and Jeanne Tangney.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Works on Paper at South Shore Art Center

My book sculpture Homage to Aunt Helen was accepted into Works on Paper at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, MA. The exhibit runs from October 24 through December 21 with an opening reception Friday, October 24 from 6-8 pm. Only 100 entries out of 800 were accepted so I was thrilled to have gotten into the exhibit, I also am fortunate to have won an Honorable Mention in the exhibit.

Also on display until October 19 is a wonderful printmaking exhibit with some fine examples of different types and combinations of different types of printmaking.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Plein Air Pastel

My husband and I rented a villa in Tuscany and I brought along my pastel box and my pochade box which took up almost my entire suitcase. My thought is if I took the time to bring my supplies, it would force me to get outside and do some sketching in pastel. We stayed in Cortona, coincidentally right next door to Bramasole, the Under the Tuscan Sun house. Our villa was on a hillside with beautiful views so I didn't have to go far to find a nice spot for inspiring views. I was nervous because I hadn't picked up my pastels in almost a year. The last time I worked in pastel was last October, Columbus Day weekend when I took a wonderful workshop with Casey Klahn. The day that the workshop ended, my dad became ill, went into the hospital and he died a few days later. This has been a tumultuous year trying to settle his estate plus the normal grieving process.

So .... happily, but nervously I picked up my pastels in Italy and started working. The top photo is how I like to start my pastel pieces, just large shapes and a watercolor under painting. This piece ended up somewhat of a disaster and was wiped off the board a day later.

This is actually my third piece, which was right across the street from our villa. I stood on the side of the road and looked down into the valley. My photo doesn't show too many variations in the landscape but there were many shapes of trees and shades of green. The larger house on the left is owned by a watercolor artist who was teaching a class while I was drawing her house. It was too far away to see, I learned this when she walked up the hill and talked to me later on. Her students were looking at me in binoculars because they thought I was one of their artist friends!

This piece needs a little more work so I am finishing it in my studio.

This is my second piece. This little corner "village" is called Torreone. I was standing up the hill in the church yard and sketching the cafe down the street. My camera made the cafe look farther away than it actually is. The owner of the cafe walked up the hill to look at the drawing and he liked it very much. He didn't speak English and I don't speak Italian so we couldn't really converse. But he kept saying "bella, bella" meaning he liked the drawing and then said he wanted to pay me. My husband can speak some Italian and helped me negotiate the sale with the cafe owner. I am really excited to have sold a piece of art in Italy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pet Portrait and Printmakers Portfolio

 Here is Mylo's finished portrait which is 6x8" colored pencil on Rtistx board. I used the Icarus board to warm the pencil and smooth it out on the surface.

Below: I have been part of a collaborative effort of thirty one printmakers at the Providence Art Club and Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA, to create forty five portfolios of 5x7" prints. Each artist receives a portfolio and we sell the remaining portfolios. I believe there are only a few left for purchase. My print is below and is titled "Through the Reeds". My processes are solar print etching (turtles) and linoleum cut (reeds) then hand colored with colored pencils. We've been working on this portfolio project for a few years and are very excited to have it completed and opening this weekend.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pet Portrait of Mylo

I've been working on a 6x8" commissioned colored pencil portrait of this little dog, Mylo. I am working on Rtistx RTX300 board which has a nice tooth to accept the colored pencil and a surface I can varnish later. I can also cut the board and have nice smooth edges which I need because I'm going to frame this piece in a floater frame when it is completed.

For the first several layers of colored pencil I am working on the heated Icarus board in order to melt the pencil and have it go on smoothly and fill in the textured surface of the board where I need it. I can add more layers of pencil and build up the dogs fur with color and texture without too much of the textured board showing through. The Icarus board also helps mesh the pencil into the surface so I can build layers quicker. In these photos, the background hasn't been worked at all yet.

I'll post more photos when I have the portrait completed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Coffee? Or Tea?

These are my latest small works in colored pencil. These are four 6x6" Utrecht Artists Wood Panels made of smooth basswood. I don't prime the surface, it will accept colored pencil very well although layers are limited to about three or more if using a very light pressure. My designs are transferred on using the image transfer method which I outlined in this previous blog entry. I use the transfer to skip the drawing step and add colored pencil directly onto the transfer, then I play with the background design for each cup. When I am finished I spray with two good coats of Krylon UV Resistant Clear and then brush on five coats of Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish, letting each coat dry in between. I photographed them together but will display them separately.

These two photos are of an exhibit I went to called Paper-Made at the Jamestown Arts Center, Jamestown, RI. These are two photos of an overall view of the largest gallery. Eighteen regional, national and international artists were selected for this wonderful exhibit of works all made of paper. The curator states the paper art is an emerging global phenomenon and as an artist who works on paper, I am intrigued by the use of papers as a form of 2D and 3D sculpture. This exhibition has given me the inspiration to create another hand made book.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gyotaku: Fish Printing

Last week I took a class in fish printing, the Japanese term is Gyotaku. Living near the water and having a husband and friends who fish, I have wanted to learn how to do this for a long time. It's really quite simple, all you need are some smelly dead fish from the local fish or grocery store, acrylic paints and rice paper or white practice paper.

We started by rinsing and drying the fish with paper towels and then lying it on newspaper to brush on the paints. Our instructor gave us palettes and our choice of acrylic paints to mix or use pure. We used soft brushes and sponges to paint our fish from head to tail, spreading out the fins and painting them also. I found that if the fish was still wet or applying too much paint would make it run or smear  when I printed the fish onto the paper. Our instructor suggested that we use paint colors that were similar to the fish's natural colors but I chose to think out of the box and my favorite turned out to be the red fish.

After the paint is applied, the paper is put down onto the fish and gently with our hands, we pressed the paper starting at the center and pressing out to the head and tail. We also carefully pressed around all edges in order to print the fins. This has to be done carefully so the paper doesn't slide and quickly so the paint doesn't dry. If I took too long, the paint would stick and tear the paper, especially the rice paper because it is soft and fibrious.

This was just a basic fish printing class but there are other techniques and ways to prepare. Some artists will lay the fish on a soft concave surface and pin the fins open or stuff material under the gills to keep the body from caving in.

Afterwards I painted the eye on each fish with acrylic paint and where I needed more color, I touched up with watercolor paint.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Colored Pencil Cherries

Here is the 12x12" colored pencil drawing that I have been working on. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am working on 12x12" cradled Ampersand Gessobord with a coating of Colourfix liquid primer to hold the layers of pencil. I began by putting down one layer of color in the cherries and then adding solvent (odorless mineral spirits) with a small brush to the pencil to dissolve it and make it start to flow like paint. Into the wet pencil, I added more layers of pencil and then almost a dry brush to dissolve those layers and make them flow. This is how I achieve such rich colors. When the cherries were finished I worked the stems and then the shadows and patterns of the dish below in the same way but careful around the edges of the cherries. I find it's better to use less solvent so it doesn't get runny or to dab the brush on a cloth or paper towel before applying it to the drawing. For the white surface under the plate I used white Prismacolor and white #8052 Stabilo Aquarellable pencil. I like the Stabillo pencil because the lead is soft but not flaky and I can get good white coverage.

To finish this piece, I will spray with Lascaux Fixativ to preserve it. Next I will spray three coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish letting each dry in between.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Colored Pencil Student Magazine

I'm very excited to be featured in the summer edition of Colored Pencil Student magazine. In the article I write about my journey in colored pencil and share tips. To purchase an issue, follow this link to the website:

I am sharing a few pages of the artwork here but in order to read the article, you must purchase the magazine. The magazine is 51 pages and filled with lots of good information and articles such as mastering wood grain, inspirations for subject matter, layering color effectively, colorless blender, and choosing the correct camera. As well as other tips and upcoming magazine art competition.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Underpainting for Cherries

Cherry drawing with colored pencil and mineral spirits
I am working on this 12x12" commissioned drawing for a client who wanted a square format piece of artwork of cherries on a plate. I'm working on cradled Ampersand Gessobord coated with light blue Colourfix primer so the gessoed surface will hold the pencil. I started by transferring a line drawing of my own reference photo onto the surface and next put a light layer of pencil on the cherries and the darkest shadowed areas. I began working the darkest areas with Prismacolor Indanthrone Blue and Tuscan Red in a light layer. Next I added alight layer Crimson Lake, Scarlet Lake, Pale Vermillion and Blush Pink for the lighter areas of the cherries.

Now I am working one cherry at a time, adding odorless mineral spirits with a small, soft flat brush and then more colored pencil over the mineral spirits while it is still wet. When I achieve the density of colors I want, I will move onto the next cherry although when I have completed each one, I will go back and refine areas and colors.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Orchids with Gold

Here is a new colored pencil piece I have been working on between pet portraits. I took this reference photo of an orchid I purchased against a dark wall and was intrigued by the contrast of colors and the drama of the composition. My original photo seemed "top heavy" so I added a few more roots moving in different directions to the bottom of the plant.

The surface I used is Strathmore Art Again paper, Moonstone colored, and the drawing is 12x12". As an experiment, I chose a neutral gray color in which to work, leaving some of the paper showing through on the roots. The blossoms are very delicate and I always enjoy creating shadow and values in white by using various colors instead of gray. I am always fascinated by the unique shapes, lines and colors of orchids and so enjoy drawing them.

When I finished rendering the orchids in colored pencil, I mounted the paper onto a 12x12" Ampersand cradled Claybord securely with Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film so I would work on the background in watercolor pencil and the paper wouldn't buckle. I began with a layer of Derwent Inktense and Caran d'Arche watercolor pencils in various brown colors and then added water with a brush to create an even wash, working carefully around the orchids. However, if I did get some of the watercolor on the waxy pencil drawn areas, I could easily wipe it off.

 When the watercolor was dry, I added Prismacolor Black Raspberry, applied lightly but evenly all over the the background. The brown watercolor underneath and the Black Raspberry were still too warm for a background so I added layers Prismacolor Utramarine and Black Grape over the Black Raspberry but around the flower, leaving the Black Raspberry showing through in areas near the borders for change.

Above is my test sheet. I usually make a test sheet for each piece so I can test colors before I put them on my drawing. At this point, I wanted to add gold to the piece and thought about gold leaf but then thought it might be too solid and detract from the delicate orchids. As an experiment, I picked up some Rub N Buff and tried it on my test paper. I liked how I could apply it unevenly and vary the thickness or thinness of the application so I rubbed it with my fingers into the composition around the orchids, using a masking paper to cover the orchids.

If you're not familiar, Rub N Buff is made of wax and powdered pigment and is used to touch up or restore antiques and frames. I've used it to touch up dents in frames and decided to try it in my drawing. Depending on the light the piece reflects, it will be bright or subtle. I am going to varnish this piece and frame it in a floater.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bandit's Portrait

I just finally finished this little 8x8" pet portrait of my dog, Bandit's face. I had a small piece of this gray flecked paper with a pattern of small lines running vertically which I believe could be Fabriano Ingres. It is a beautifully textured paper to work on and the gray background was perfect for Bandit so I left the paper showing through around him. I then mounted the paper to an 8x8" Ampersand cradled Clayboard and sprayed it with Lascaux Fixativ to preserve it. Next I sprayed three coats of Krylon Kamar Varnish, letting each dry in between. After which, I brushed on at least six coats of Golden UVLS Polymer Varnish so the piece is quite glossy. It is finished in the same manner as the black lab in this previous post.

My dog Bandit has such a great personality, he is very quiet (except when he sees a squirrel or plays with other dogs) and follows me around everywhere. I treat him like a person and he can be very stubborn at times and also spoiled, he is the only child after all. He weighs in at only 10 pounds but thinks he is a big dog in a little dog's body. I bring him to the studio and he will lay on his bed near me while I work. Who could ask for a better best friend? I love him dearly and wanted to capture his personality forever in this drawing.