A few weeks ago I was tickled by some of the comments made about the recent nude figure drawings that I posted on Google+. They were from my weekly figure drawing session. Clearly it was the most engagement that I ever received from any post on social media and it generated the highest number of +1s.  For those who aren’t familiar with Google+, a +1 is the equivalent to the Facebook Like.

Most people were pretty complimentary but some were uncomfortable. One person commented stating that my drawings were nice but that they needed to block my post. Then another person asked, “….why do you always draw naked people?”

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Several years ago it would have never dawned on me to post nude drawings on the Internet. How things have changed! It was the year before last that marked the first time that I participated in figure drawing since college oh so many years ago. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it back then although admittedly the first time felt a little awkward. In the end, I found myself really concentrating on form and not so much on the model’s nudity.

I didn’t realize how much I still had to learn when it came to drawing the human form. I’ve kept at it and improved over time, experimenting with pencil, then pen, then pen on different color papers.

We Are “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.”

Have you ever considered the work that God created? Look at how we’re designed. Are we not a feat of engineering? Our anatomy is complicated and amazing. We are living vessels, comprised of tissue and muscle connected to bone by tendons. Every body part no matter how large or small has its own special role that contributes to the body’s overall make-up. Just as the universe is vast, so are our bodies with their moving parts.

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Now try putting all that on paper – arms, legs, hands, feet, torso, head – positioned from different angles. You could draw figures for decades and still find it engaging.

Clothing Can Take Away From The Subject Rather Than Add

With the addition of clothing it’s harder to capture the curves of the body if the model is wearing a shirt, pants, dresses or loose clothing.  I find it distracting.  With the nude form, you just see it for what it really is.

I also think that some clothing, depending on what it is and how it’s worn can actually be more provocative.

Appreciating Our Different Body Types

I love that we’re all built differently. I find it sad that we as a society are so hung up on what’s considered to be the perfect body – the washboard stomach with six-pack abs, and perfectly sculpted arms and legs. In reality, many of us have curves with visible tummies, thighs, wrinkles, and all other things that society views as imperfections.  The reality is that this more normal compared to the magazine and TV ads, where the model has been edited to death by Photoshop.

That’s why I’m thankful for the models with diverse body types who get out there and pose. They’re keeping it real.

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2014: My Year In Review

2014 was arguably my most productive year as an artist.  I spent most of it being gainfully unemployed but I used some of that free time to my advantage.   Here’s the list of things that I did this year:

It Sure As Heck Wasn’t Blogging

In spite of my extra time, I was too busy to blog even though 2014 was chock full of blog fodder.   My last post in November was probably the first blog post in months.  Much of my free time was spent looking for a job, or creating art.  In spite of that I still managed to increase my number of followers and I am grateful for that.

Photoshop

I think every artist needs to learn some type photo editing program. There’s a lot of wonderful free online tools out there such as Google-based programs Picasa and Pixlr.  I used those for a time but eventually began working with Photoshop. It’s a robust program and you do pay for that robustness in a “a second mortgage” kind of way.  Fortunately there’s a cloud based program where you can pay an affordable monthly fee.

I learned Photoshop by reading “Classroom In A Book” that also comes with exercises that you can download from the web.  I’m no expert but I am more knowledgeable about a program that intimidated me for quite some time. Also it ain’t a bad thing to have on your resume.

Discovered New Venues

So this is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.  This year I decided that every month I was going to have my work shown in some venue in Charlotte.    I came pretty close to achieving this goal.  Here are just a few of the venues. Not shown is my artwork at my eye doctor’s office or at the Paper Cut Gallery.

Charlotte Art League: Featured Artist of the Month
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Manor Theatre
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Beatties Ford Road Branch Library
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Twenty-Two
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How did I find these places?  I joined local arts organizations, attended art receptions, and networked with other artists. Social media sights such as Facebook and Twitter were great sources for finding out about local art happenings.  The more you start making connections the more opportunities make themselves available.

Created More Work Than Ever

The reason why I’m slow at making art is because I’m a procrastinator, often found surfing the net, eating, napping, watching TV programs and online shows; or God forbid, if the weather is really nice, doing some related outdoor activity. I don’t have the attention span to spend long hours in a studio.  This year my behavior was still the same but due to the additional time, I managed to create about 7 works compared to 3 to 4 pieces per year on average.

Red Hoodie (SOLD)
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Ninja

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Breakthrough

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Three French Hens
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The Perimeter
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Still
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Good and Mercy Shall Follow Me (SOLD)
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Sold More Art

Okay so I still need a day job but I did better this year than the previous two years.  While I only sold two originals, I had more success selling prints. Showing and selling at multiple venues gave me more visibility.

Drew More Consistently

The key to improvement is to draw, draw, draw.  I currently attend life drawing sessions on a weekly basis and have done so for about a year.  I began working in pencil and then after being inspired by an artist friend who worked in pen, I started working in that medium. I find that I’m actually more comfortable in pen than with pencil and I am also becoming less tentative with my strokes.

recliningnude2    reclining nude1

I also started doing “Right-Brained Sermon Notes,” that are visual notes I take on the sermon for Sunday service.  This type of thing isn’t a requirement for a ministry, I just enjoy doing it.  Once they’re finished I post them on Facebook.  A lot of people like them and it’s even caught the attention of some of the ministerial staff.

Sermon Notes 5.25.14 Sermon Notes 5.18.14a Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Found A Job (Albeit Temporary)

It’s one of those things that’s both exciting and disappointing at the same time. As I approached the last quarter of the year I became more and more frustrated about not finding any work. Severance and unemployment only last so long and then, gasp, you start tapping into that 401K. Fortunately a few months ago, I landed a long-term contract position to which I am still assigned to this day. The downside now is trying to find the time to make art.  I know of a fellow artist who lost her job this summer and I have to admit I’m a little jealous because of the extra time she now has to focusing on painting.   It almost makes me want to get laid off again – almost.

That sums up my year!  Looking forward to more adventures in 2015.

“Three French Hens”

Hard to believe it’s that time again.   Thanksgiving will be here in less than a week and then it’ll be Christmas.

I just completed “Three French Hens,” my seventh illustration for the Twelve Days of Christmas series.  My medium was watercolor pencil, and a Faber Castel fine line pen to outline all of the images.

Three French Hens

In keeping with the overall whimsical theme, I depicted three rather disturbed French hens around a dinner table at a nice restaurant. The waiter lifts the lid of the main dish only to be stunned by the sight of a roasted chicken on a platter. His reaction is mild compared to that of the three hens. The one sitting closest to him faints backwards after the reveal, while the other hen on the opposing side clucks at the waiter in outrage. The third one seated in the middle is so overcome with emotion that she leaps up in the air to physically pass her “compliments” to the chef.

The biggest struggle? Working with a lot of color. I forgot what a pain it was. It took me longer to determine the actual colors to use then it did to apply them to the work.

All in all, the struggle was well worth it and I am proud to have another completed work for my series.  Only five more days to go!

Several weeks ago I was at the art supply store trolling for canvases for  my next project, when there I discovered black canvases stocked on shelves. I don’t ever remember seeing any primed in black before and thought that if anyone wanted a black background that they would paint the standard white canvas in black.

I purchased one small 8″ x 10″ to experiment.   I figured that using the black canvas would serve as the perfect background for my next painting in the  “Black and White and Red All Over” series.

This is my dapper dude, my first study in black canvas and was the only study I completed before launching into the final piece. One thing to note about black canvas is its ability to absorb paint color. The only color that stands out on its own against black is white. The rest of  the colors need a little help, and that typically entails painting the object first with white or a light color before applying the top color.

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First, I outlined the drawing with a white charcoal pencil, then layered my dapper dude and the umbrella in white.  Once that dried, I painted over the white with red, making the top coat more visible.  Had I painted the red directly on the canvas the color would have been lost.

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The next painting was a little more ambitious. I purchased a 12″ x 16″ black canvas for my new piece “Red Hoodie.”  “Red Hoodie” was inspired by a small digital sketch that I drew on the iPhone that was actually a picture of a yellow hoodie.   I always wanted to a create larger version of that so this was my chance.

I sketched everything out in a charcoal pencil, although not before erasing it a million times until everything was laid out to my satisfaction. I was worried that the charcoal would smear and never come off of the canvas but I was able to erase a lot of the sketchy lines with my big white eraser.

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I tinted the white with a little black and painted the first layer of  the red hoodie in white, leaving the negative space of the black to define the sleeve and pocket.  To be honest, I really liked the hoodie in white because of  the contrast, and that it gave the piece a bit of comic book vibe.

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Then I tinted the red with a black because I really didn’t want the red to be so bright.  This worked out beautifully.

I drew the rain in chalk trying to create long thin lines like I see in the comic books.  Using a rubber tip blade with a long handle ( I don’t know what it’s called), I dipped the edge in paint and did a stamp effect on top of the charcoal lines.  Prior to that I did a few practice runs on a separate piece of paper but it still took me a while to get it right.  When I applied it to the canvas some were a little messy so I just used some black paint to clean up some of the lines.

Lastly, I added the splashes to the back and sides of the hoodie, signed off on it and called it a day.

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I just finished a new acrylic painting last week called “Breakthrough.”   This is another addition to my “Black and White, and Red All Over” series.  Clearly the color gray is present in this piece instead of black, however black is a key ingredient of gray.  Cheating? Probably.

Here I’ve depicted the balloons making their escape and ascending upward through the cloudy skies, far away from whatever has been holding them back.

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This is the fourth acrylic painting that I’ve completed and I’m gaining a better understanding of this medium.   Here’s some additional lessons that I’ve learned:

Layer in Neutrals

I didn’t layer in neutrals when I created my earlier paintings and because of that I had to work harder at applying color into the canvas.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to cover a white or a light color with a darker one.

There were two painters who told me that they always layered in neutrals before applying other colors.   Heeding their advice,  I layered the background in a light gray and added the white clouds. Then I layered the balloons in a slightly darker gray and then painted them over in red.

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The red in the balloons was still vibrant but deeper and richer thanks to the neutral undercoat.  Unfortunately though I made another painting mishap.

Don’t Overdo White In A Painting

I was concerned that the gray background might make the overall work look somber, and that caused me to go overboard with the clouds.  I didn’t realize this until after I painted the balloons red.  The piece looked stark, almost as if I would have been better off painting the balloons directly on the white primed canvas.

The following day I saw a post on Facebook  from Jerry’s Art-A-Rama that mentioned that painters make the common mistake of adding too much white to their pieces making the work look cold, chalky or dull.  The timing of this post couldn’t have been better. So what did I do?

Acrylics Are Forgiving

I repainted the entire background in gray and re-applied the clouds with a little less vigor.  With acrylics you can hide your mistakes and make corrections.

Hindsight, I wished that  I would have done that with “Ninja” where I botched a splatter technique more than once.  I trashed two canvases when I should have just continued to rework the same one.

At any rate, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating “Breakthrough.” I am inspired to work on another piece using the black, red, and white color palette, although this time I am going to try my hand at working on a black canvas. Pray for me.

I’m happy to announce that I’m the featured artist for the month of June at the Charlotte Art League.  The opening reception took place last Friday and included other works on display for the June show, “South End Street Culture.”   The turnout was great!  Here are some shots of the event including one with myself as the proud mama in front of my art.

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So far this year I’ve met my goal of displaying artwork in at least one venue each month.  I jokingly call this, “My Art’s On A Wall, Y’all” tour.   My list of venues have included  a local movie theater, my eye doctor’s office, a public branch library, a gallery, and the Charlotte Art League.

On another happy note, I sold my kite-flying piece, “Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me” at CAL’s May show.  What an awesome blessing that was!

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Slowly but surely I am gaining more self-confidence as I continue to seek new places to display my work.  What do I have to lose? Better to try and face rejection than to not try at all.

 

For the past couple of years I’ve been a church doodler.   It all started out with scribbling on the church programs using a black Faber-Castell brush pen. I liked the challenge of drawing within the limited white spaces of the bulletin.  When I finished, the doodles looked as if they were part of the print!

As of recent, I’ve converted to a small sketch book. What prompted the change was that the one time that I really felt like doodling during the service. I didn’t have a church program nor did I have any old ones stashed away.  I did, however, find a random piece of paper and immediately started using that.  It was fun being able to draw on a blank space without being hindered by surrounding print.

I’ve been using the same pens that I used for life drawing (see previous post), often interchanging colors as I write out the words.   The sketches are made to further drive the point of the sermon.  It’s been a lot of fun doodling notes in a sketchpad and it’s even captured the attention of some of  the ministerial staff.

So here are a few weeks’ worth of my notes!  Enjoy!

Sermon Notes 4.27.14

Sermon Notes 4.27.14a

Sermon Notes 5.4.14

Sermon Notes 5.4.14a

Sermon Notes 5.11.14

Sermon Notes 5.11.14a

Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Sermon Notes 5.18.14a

Sermon Notes 5.25.14

Sermon Notes 5.25.14a

Sermon Notes 5.25.14b

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