Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Artistry of a Gentle Soul

Myself and sister Kelly, with Mom; taken on the occasion of Kelly's birthday in March 2010

Drawing has been very difficult for me over the past several weeks, and thus, non-existent.  Actually it has been a struggle to engage in anything art-related.  So I decided earlier this evening to get back to my blog by starting at the beginning..........starting at what feels like the recalibration of my life following recent events.

As is true for any of us, I've had periods of time in my life that were tremendously difficult to navigate; times when the challenges seemed overwhelming.  But nothing could have prepared me for the loss of my Mom in early November, several days after a heart surgery that, by all accounts, was expected to be successful.  For many days afterwards I felt as if the wind had literally been knocked out of me.  

As one of my cousins so aptly put it, "Your Mom was the gentlest soul I've ever known."  She was a tremendously sweet and kind woman, and possessed an unpretentious and quiet classiness that drew others to her.  Her giggle was infectious.  My Mom loved her children and grandchildren absolutely unconditionally, and though a couple of us gave her plenty to worry about in our youth (I won't mention any, she always knew that one day we would be the fine adults that she and my Dad had spite of ourselves.

My mom was also my earliest art inspiration.  When I was a very young child she made paper dolls for me out of cardboard, and taught me how to trace around them to make their clothing.  The possibilities were endless!  I recall my preference for her paper dolls over store-bought ones, and can vaguely remember pestering her relentlessly to draw more paper dolls.  Many years later my Mom would accompany me on a road-trip to Bethesda, Maryland, to attend my first CPSA International Exhibition.  It was the first time I had shown work in a venue of that size, so I was appropriately petrified........and her presence and nature helped calm me.  We rode the subway, both for the first time in our lives -- and laughed at our own cluelessness pertaining to making our way around a big city. 

Both my sister and I were very close to our Mom; we talked to her daily, sometimes several times a day.  Occasionally when I would be very focused on a particular part of a drawing I would allow the phone to roll over to the recorder, and then I would hear from the direction of the kitchen..........."Lynda??  This is your Mother.  Are you screening your calls?????"    : ) I begin to get my land legs under me again, this felt like the best place to start -- the only place to start.  Thanks for reading.

".......all endings are also beginnings.  We just don't know it at the time."
        Mitch Albom,  The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Thursday, October 21, 2010

(Re) Learning the Basics: Effective Composition

In the fall of 1977, fresh out of high school, I entered a college commercial art curriculum.  Admittedly, my attendance at my evening Art History and Composition classes was somewhat 'spotty'.  I was ill-prepared (that sounds nicer than "too emotionally immature", don't you think?) to take college seriously at that time -- so suffice it to say that I felt I had better things to do than spend evenings in a darkened auditorium viewing and discussing slides.

Since resuming my drawing about five years ago, I have become increasingly aware that I struggle with issues around creating a successful composition.  In other words, I have gradually come to know how much I don't know.  Despite techniques using sketching, cropping, etc., I have difficulty visualizing and objectively analyzing what an image may look like when completed.  Consequently I may be well into a drawing before realizing, "Oops -- that's a problem."  Even then I may have difficulty identifying exactly what the problem is, let alone how to fix it.

My frustration over the 'holes' in my knowledge base will sometimes motivate me to embark on a hunt-and-search mission in the area's larger bookstores.  Occasionally these excursions have resulted in a disappointment; the purchase of a book that I've brought home, only to find it is not as helpful as I'd hoped.  Several weeks ago however, I happened upon the book, "Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting", written by Canadian artist Ian Roberts, and published by North Light Books.  In short, the book addresses the dynamics that make up a successful composition, and how mastering these dynamics will move a viewer's eye effectively through the structure of a painting.  Roberts discusses factors such as contrast, edge control, and color intensity, hue, value, and temperature, to name a few, and the role these play in creating a more powerful image.  The volume is comprehensive and includes numerous practical exercises, as well as an instructional DVD.  Already I have found it to be tremendously helpful, and it is the type of book I can easily return to over and over again for reference.  Though my brief description cannot do the book justice, I felt compelled to share about it for those who may struggle with some of the same issues that I do.

To learn more about Ian Roberts and his work, visit his website at .

And incidentally..........I predict that in the not-too-distant future I will be found enrolled in a couple of art history and composition classes -- continuing to fill the voids left by the skewed priorities of my youth!      : )   

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, revisited

Recently I made my second excursion to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta, Michigan.  The 180-acre sanctuary is home to several previously injured raptor species who have been rehabilitated, as well as a stopping point for numerous migratory waterfowl.  During the several hours I spent there I was one of the few visitors, making for a much-needed day of quiet.........just the birds, my camera, and myself.

This peacock was clearly part of the welcoming committee, and followed me around the parking lot for some time.  He seemed quite enamored with my camera lens, and for several minutes I thought sure he was going to start pecking at it.  Eventually though, he tired of me -- possibly realizing there was no food to be had from this particular human!

Of the waterfowl species there, my favorite to photograph are the juvenile trumpeter swans.  I find their rose-colored bills and the subtle grays of their feathers to be quite lovely, and they seem more oblivious to the presence of humans than the adults.  When I have taken the time to simply quietly observe, I have found that swans in general strike some amazing -- and sometimes tremendously twisted -- poses.          

The end.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Work-in-Progress: Galloping Horses drawing

Albiet slow -- after all, this rendering is competing with my mental and emotional navigation (smile) of my now "empty nest" -- the current work-in-progress is beginning to take shape.  This photo of it shows the placement of all the horses as well as some of the landforms.  The image still appears very flat, as this only depicts some of the base coat: soon I will begin to lay in the upper layers and building more depth and dimension into the piece.

As I have continued to work on this piece, I've begun to feel somewhat more comfortable with the lack of close detail as well as the image's ambiguity that I..........okay..........whined about during my previous post.  In retrospect, I was attempting to intellectualize the process rather than just following my gut instincts.  So I am pushing through my mental obstacles with this piece, and in so doing am learning a tremendous amount about myself.  For example, in working through this drawing I frequently find that I'm struggling to trust my ability to make the artistic decisions needed to execute it.  While I've been very aware of a periodic lack of confidence while addressing challenges during previous drawings, this nagging sensation has been nearly relentless since beginning this piece.  Seeing no other way around it except to go through it, I will, of course, press on -- realizing that I have much to learn from the struggle itself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Work-in-Progress: New Horse Drawing

Though in its very early stages and minus a few horses, the above image provides an idea of the general composition of my current drawing.  The image will be a 20" x 30" colored pencil piece, and the reference photographs I am using were taken in Wyoming a number of years ago.  The horses will be backlit by the setting sun, causing the onlooker's viewpoint to be primarily cast in shadow.

More landscape-like in nature, this drawing is a very different approach for me.  Consequently, it has already wreaked havoc with my tendency to overthink everything.  I usually tend to choose subjects which are close-up in perspective, and that provide at least a fair amount of detail and texture.  This zoomed-in view allows me to attempt to tell a story by conveying emotion through the subject.  In contrast, the current piece will contain very little detail, many soft edges, and a lot of sunlit dust and ambiguity!  In response to my bemoaning the challenge of said ambiguity, a friend aptly pointed out, "Its just shapes, Lynda: its just shapes".  True enough.  (And really........ why on earth less detail would cause a minor panic is beyond me anyway.  That just makes no logical sense!)

So as I keep drawing and keep learning, summer is starting to wind down in the rolling fields of this part of southern Michigan.  The cicadas have been buzzing in the trees, the migratory birds are gathering in larger groups, and thankfully........the nights are cooler.  Sometime soon the barn will become suddenly and eerily quiet, absent the constant chatter of barn swallows.  This time of year often brings a sense of melancholy with it for me, as the tick-tock of another summer season passes.........and as some of you know my son leaves for his first year of college in little more than a week.  We have much to accomplish prior to his leaving, so time to draw will be at a premium in the near future............but thats okay.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The CPSA 18th International Exhibition..........from the back side.

Having just returned from the annual International Exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America near San Francisco, California, I am reminded of the fact that there are those experiences in life that simply provide one with tremendous joy -- and over the few years that I have attended this event, it has become just that for me.  I am so fortunate to be able to spend time with such talented friends and colleagues, and each year that I go the experience only gets better.  Over the course of the past couple of CPSA events I have attended (and to my own amusement), it has become increasingly clear that I have developed a reputation as the woman who's laughter can be heard clearly across a crowded room -- or possibly from one end of the hotel to the other, as the case may be!  Despite some degree of good-natured 'ribbing' for this characteristic of mine, I'm okay with this -- laughter is such good medicine for the soul.  (However, I'm seriously considering fooling everybody next year by perfecting the development of a polite titter.)

As always, my heartfelt appreciation for the national CPSA board members who work tirelessly to organize wonderful events such as this.  This year's CIPPY award (Best of Show) was garnered by Shinji Harada of Japan for his lovely still life, Grapes in a Basket.  Highlights of this year's convention week included the awards banquet, artists' reception at The Art Museum of Los Gatos, workshops by artists Allan Servoss, Ester Roi, and Melissa Miller Nece, and the National Meeting / Invitational Silent Auction.  At this year's auction I was fortunate to 'snag' an Elizabeth Patterson original, something I've tried to do over the past three convention auctions.  In addition there was time for a little shopping, alot of eating, and a road trip to see the redwood trees at Muir Woods just north of San Francisco.  All-in-all for this "little girl from Michigan" (yes Jeffrey, I'm still quoting that!) who had not been to California prior to now, it was a great time.

Finally, I must express my appreciation to fellow-blogger Denny Holland, a San Francisco-area artist.  Denny, his wife, and one of his daughters attended the CPSA artists' reception, and it was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet them and spend time talking with them.  (Thanks Denny!)

Following are several photos taken during convention week.  Enjoy, and as always -- thanks for reading.

A bop-fest at the National Meeting, commemorating CPSA's 20th year

Clearly, Jeffrey Baisden is saying something absolutely hi-larious (again!)

Myself and Massachusett's artist Deborah Friedman, at the Awards Banquet

Bonnie Auten (MI), and Mari K Moehl (FL)

At Muir Woods:  Dianna Soisson (MI), Elizabeth Patterson (CA), myself, and Teresa Mallen (Canada)

Apparently I am feeling somewhat objectionable about something, but Jeffrey Baisden and Elizabeth Patterson appear quite content!

Teresa Mallen, Elizabeth A. Patterson of Maine, and Deborah Friedman

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Chasing the Rain: Drawings by Elizabeth Patterson"

Okay, enough of this blog-neglect!  Suffice it to say that the month of June was a daunting one, unlike any in recent memory what with its numerous circumstances and stressors.  Simply the passing of it into July was a relief, and with it, a return to work in my drawing room.

I can think of no better way to break this drought than to share with you about the current solo exhibition of fellow pencil artist and good friend, Elizabeth Patterson.  "Chasing the Rain: Drawings by Elizabeth Patterson" enjoyed a well-attended reception on June 19th, and will be on display through August 28, 2010, at Louis Stern Fine Arts in West Hollywood, California.
                   Elizabeth Patterson, Wilshire Boulevard, 5PM

The show features approximately twenty-five of Elizabeth's recent drawings, in both color pencil and graphite.  Each depicts a moment in time as viewed through the windshield of a car, many on the rain-drenched streets and roads of the Los Angeles area.  Her work is distinctive and tremendously original, and causes one to take pause and look at the commonplace.  Elizabeth's execution of light, reflection, and shadow are phenomenal, as is her ability to generate a sense of movement in her drawings -- not to mention all those tiny, detailed raindrops -- each with their own sense of depth and dimension.

To see more of Elizabeth's work, visit her website at .  Elizabeth is represented by Louis Stern Fine Arts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Of Bigger Fish to Fry

Usually I tend to be an upbeat, rather perky sort-of-gal: it normally takes alot to get me down, and I bounce back quickly in most cases.  But in recent weeks there seems to be an abundance of irritability, lack-of-focus, indecisiveness, and yes...........dare I say it?  Sadness.  It seems to be subtly waiting around each corner of the house, and sitting on the edge of each new activity I perform.  And as I do on rare occasions, I am once again guilty of attempting to fill my days with much more activity than one woman can possibly handle -- in an effort to not feel what it is that is happening............The fact that my son has only two days left of high school.

All of this and more struck me (again) as I worked in my drawing room this evening, lettering calligraphy on the senior band and choir plaques for our area high school -- (incidentally, the most action my drawing room has seen in the past couple of weeks!)  Don't misunderstand me.  I know I should be happy; and I am happy.   I am proud of my son, and excited and scared for him simultaneouslyBut.......and now this is all about me here, folks............I must have my moment to say that I'm not ready for this yet.  How is it possible that nearly eighteen and one half years speeds by in the blink of an eye?  UMMMM, I'd like a rewind..........please.

Regardless of whether I am ready or not however, the next couple of weeks will pass with warp speed through awards night, commencement, numerous open houses, etc.  Since my last blog post, I naively have moved on to paint the rest of the house.  The planning for my next drawing, another equine piece, is completed -- and I'm anxious to begin as soon as the events at hand allow. Dora the fish sang, "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming".  I will enjoy the next two to three weeks with a smile on my face, a lump in my throat, and extra kleenex in my bag...........because as some of you know, I am a crier.  

Thanks for stopping in.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Colored Pencil Society International Exhibition News.......and a much-needed facelift

This year the 18th Annual International Exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America will take place from July 22 to August 20, 2010, at the Art Museum of Los Gatos, in Los Gatos, California.  I'm pleased that my piece depicting a pair of wild horses, "The Hand of Man", has been juried into the exhibition.  This year's juror is Janet Bishop, the curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Further information as well as the list of accepted artists can be viewed at .  My congratulations to all the artists who's work was accepted into the exhibition.

Closer to home, I'm happy to report that after about two years of calculated procrastination I have finally painted my drawing room.  As those of you who rely on the reflection of light are aware, working in a poorly lit area, or an area with walls of a wrong or dark color, can be challenging.  After completing the swan drawing last week I decided I simply could not draw one more line in that oak-toned room!  So I moved everything out, and I painted...........and painted.............and painted..........and about eight coats into my project someone cheerfully said to me, "You should have used Kilz."  (I do not think of these kinds of things........Did I ever claim to be a house-painter?)

Finally though, the room is completed and the resident artist is happy.  I will spend some time tomorrow continuing to organize its contents, and then its............


Thanks for reading.     

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trumpeter Swan Completed

14" x 12"
Derwent Graphic pencils on Strathmore 400 Bristol

Yet untitled, this young trumpeter swan that I began at an artist's retreat a number of weeks ago is finally completed.  As I previously indicated I nearly abandoned it altogether, but decided to return to it in part at the encouragement of others -- who clearly could see more potential in it than I could.  Now in retrospect, I'm grateful for their vision and my (not always the case) willingness to listen.  This drawing as well as the graphite barn swallow, "On the Fence", will hang in a show featuring sixteen artists at the Hudson Gallery through the end of May.

The completion of this piece is a tremendous relief, as it is the last of several works that I have finished just under the wire of their perspective deadlines.  For the first time in about six months, I do not know what I will be working on tomorrow.  I like not knowing -- and relish the thought of taking the time to shuffle through hundreds of photo references and scan hastily-written ideas on dozens of bits of paper that are haphazardly stuck to one of my drawing room walls.  As with many artists (I presume), I have more ideas than time to execute them!

Also, it is likely that I will be spending less time on my art over the next few weeks.  My son is approaching the end of his senior year in high school, so graduation and its related functions and festivities are looming.  In addition he and I are knee-deep in the onslaught of tasks related to his beginning college in the fall.  Is this possible????  There are moments, and people, and experiences from his infancy that are so vivid, it seems they happened last week.  How is it possible that eighteen years has passed?

Oh, and the barn swallows have returned.  All is right with the world.  Tick-tock.   

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wild Horses: Completed Drawing

"The Hand of Man"
20" x 25"
Color Pencil on Uart 500

You may recall that the recently completed wild horses drawing has been in flat-file-exile, while my loss of objectivity adjusts itself.  Today I removed it from the "flat file drawer of shame" (to quote a very funny comment by Australian artist Peter Brown).  As I suspected, the drawing and myself simply needed some time and distance from one another.  I'm feeling much better about it than when I placed it there two weeks ago..........and alright-okay-yes-you-caught-me: I changed the title.  While talking with a good friend about the drawing several weeks ago, she used the phrase "the hand of man" when discussing the fate of many wild horses.  It stuck with me, and better captured what I wished to convey than did "Broken Spirit".

To recount some of what I shared several months ago when I laid out the initial drawing, the two wild horses portrayed here were in a holding area owned and operated by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Wyoming.  They had been captured during a wild horse round-up organized by the BLM.  Though difficult to see in this photograph, their recent struggle is evidenced by the small wounds, spots of dried blood, and grass stain on the pale horse's coat.  I was drawn to and sought to capture the emotion displayed by these two horses: the fatigued sadness of the pale horse, the rather haunting gaze of the dark horse, and the obvious bond between the two.

It bears repeating that there are an estimated 38,000 wild horses roaming free on U.S. range lands, and more than 30,000 in captivity in holding areas and corrals managed by the BLM.  Sadly, this icon of the American West is caught in a controversy involving wild horse proponents, cattle ranchers and land owners, and the U.S. government.  Round-ups are periodically orchestrated in several western states in an effort to manage wild horse numbers, and are sometimes performed in ways (including the use of helicoptors) that cause injury, death, and the separation of mothers from foals who cannot sustain themselves. 

My drawing is not intended so much as a political statement, as it is a venue through which some may be compelled to learn more.  As I indicated in a previous post, my own knowledge of the issue is too limited for me to develop strong opinions regarding how this issue should be handled.  However it is my hope that our government will implement strategies that eliminate the harm caused, and will allow as many wild horses as possible to remain on open rangelands. 

For further information on both sides of the controversy, visit the official site of the United States Bureau of Land Management and the Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Current / Upcoming Exhibitions

Close-up from
"This Above All"

Some of you are well aware that yesterday was the big deadline for the annual international juried exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America, to be held near San Francisco, California this year.  Now for the big wait, as the list of accepted entries will be released toward the end of April.  In the meantime, I am priviledged to have work in three shows.

Michigan Colored Pencil 2010 is sponsored by the CPSA Detroit District Chapter 104, and is on display at the Lotus Gallery in Plymouth, Michigan.  The show runs from April 1 - 30, 2010, and the opening reception takes place from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 10.

The Michigan Fine Arts Competition is an annual, all-media juried exhibition/competition, to be held at the Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center in Birmingham, Michigan.  This year's juror is New York state artist and teacher, Sondra Freckleton.  The exhibition takes place from April 2 - May 7, 2010, and  the artist reception is on Friday, April 2,  from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Finally, a show titled  "...Birds" will take place at the Hudson Gallery in Sylvania, Ohio, from April 24 through the end of May, 2010.  This is an all media exhibit which will focus on........well.......birds.  The artist reception is from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, 2010.

Though very different from each other, all three of these shows have some great art and alot to offer.  If you are in their neighborhoods, stop in!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Juvenile Trumpeter Swan........revisited

After my return from the artists' retreat in Florida last month, at least one reader noted that I did not post the drawing I worked on over those four days.  At the time I was somewhat discouraged with the progress I had made while there (or lack thereof) -- and so had placed it in a flat file drawer, never to see the light of day again, I supposed.

As many artists realize it is amazing what a little time, and consequently perspective, will do.  After completing the wild horse image (now the latest object of my discouragement -- all I can see is everything that is wrong with it!), I pulled the drawing of the young trumpeter swan from its drawer and gave it a good look.  Amazingly, its not nearly the failure that I recall!  So I have decided to complete it after all, in time for the exhibition "...Birds" at the Hudson Gallery in Sylvania, Ohio next month.

The photo references for this young swan were taken at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary near Battle Creek, Michigan.  The sanctuary provides the opportunity for photographers to get very close to wild waterfowl, as well as captive raptors that have been rehabilitated from injury.  As you can see, I used the grid method to lay out the initial sketch.  It is being drawn on Strathmore 400 Bristol with Derwent Graphic pencils.

And the recently completed horses image?  The final photographs have been taken, and it has been placed in a flat file drawer all its own.........while my attitude adjusts!  I will share the final image soon, as well as the story behind the two horses depicted.

Finally, I'm happy to report that I know for a fact that Spring is here.  I know this because my wonderful 86-year-old  neighbor, Wilbur, returned from Florida several days ago.........a sure sign!  Before you know it he will be toiling in his (very large) garden daily, and leaving gifts of vegetables on my patio table.  He and his lovely wife, Doris, are tremendously good neighbors.  I am always so happy to see them return, as it means that the barn swallows and warm weather are not far behind!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wild Horses work-in-progress: "Broken Spirit"

Here a tweak, there a tweak, everywhere a tweak-tweak.............The piece I have chosen to title "Broken Spirit" is finally nearing completion.

However briefly, it crossed my mind to write that I cannot believe how long, on-and-off, I have been working on this piece.  Then I realized that statement would simply be an untruth.  After all, how many of you have heard me assert that I am probably the slowest artist in Michigan?...........and maybe in the lower forty-eight?  (And I am faster than I used to be..........) 

Over the next week I will be continuing to lay in and blend the pale horse's coat, finish details on the dark horse, and complete the layering for the background -- then its off to have it photographed (by someone much better at photographing artwork than myself!)    This piece will be one of two that I will be submitting to the 2010 International Exhibition of the Colored Pencil Society of America, to be held near San Francisco this summer.

Also this week, I look forward to beginning a small graphite piece that will be a companion piece to the graphite barn swallow I completed a number of weeks ago.

As always, thanks so much for stopping in. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Southern Hospitality

Two days ago I returned from a week in Florida, during which I spent time with good friends and attended an artists' retreat hosted by the Gainesville Chapter 113 of the Colored Pencil Society of America.

I laughed -- sometimes so hard my stomach hurt.  I cried.  I danced (though not very well, despite the best efforts of those who actually know how to line dance).  I visited the Salvador Dali Museum -- fascinating, to say the least.  I learned how to make bruschetta. and ate sushi, eel, and seaweed salad for the first time.  (I will skip the seaweed salad next time.)  I even occasionally adopted a southern accent as a result of spending several days in the presence of the charming drawl of artist Jeffrey Smart Baisden -- so much so that upon my return my son asked, "Why are you talking like that???"

The retreat itself was held at Dayspring, an Episcopal camp and conference center in Ellenton, Florida.  Approximately twenty-five artists attended the four day event and though most were residents of Florida, there were several of us from Michigan, California, and Washington state as well.  Attendees literally ate, slept, and made art..............and talked, talked, talked.  The Gainesville Chapter members themselves are a wonderful group of artists who truly knew how to make this out-of-stater feel welcome.  I so appreciated the tremendous hospitality shown to me, and the Ellenton retreat is definitely something I will try to attend in the future. 


Jeffrey Smart Baisden of Florida, Elizabeth Patterson of California, and moi'

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank Jeffrey for the kindness and hospitality she showed me in her home the three days prior to the retreat.  Her amazing sense of humour and genuine way-of-being were good medicine for the soul of this "little girl from Michigan". (Thanks Jeff)

And thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kudos!, and off to warmer weather.......

While perusing the wares in an area art supply outlet last week, I was excited to find the recently released Derwent tins and packaging that feature Deborah L. Friedman's drawing, "Graphite Stones".  The Boston, Massachusetts-area artist is a good friend and fellow CPSA member, and a number of months ago she was contracted by Derwent to do the drawing for their Graphic Soft tins.  Recently Deborah has been working on an extended series of still life drawings and paintings of stones in varying compositions.  To learn more about her and her work, visit Deborah's website and blog at  .  (And of course as I paid for the Graphic Soft pencils pictured above I smugly said to the cashier while pointing at the drawing, "This artist is a very good friend of mine".  I couldn't resist.)

"Graphite Stones", by Deborah L. Friedman

Not nearly so exciting but worthy of comment none the less, is the fact that this week I will be leaving for Florida.  Though I do not find Michigan winters to be too objectionable, I must admit that I look forward to temperatures in the upper 60s.  My primary purpose for going there is to attend a four-day artists' retreat, during which myself and numerous other artists will draw, draw, draw...........and draw.  (I'm also told that this group sometimes engages in less structured types of fun also!)  The retreat will be held at Dayspring, a camp and conference center in Ellenton just south of Tampa, and is organized each year by the Gainesville Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America.   Though reluctant to take a break from the horse drawing at this time, its size makes getting it from Michigan to Florida and back again...........well...........very inconvenient.  So I will be working on another graphite bird drawing whos size is more conducive to travel.

I hope to post an entry from Florida, so watch for photos from the retreat -- hopefully not too many of us will be wearing lampshades! 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Work-in-Progress: Developing the eye area

In the most recent photos of this drawing taken yesterday, I have been working my way up the pale horse's face, as well as developing the eye and surrounding area.  Following my last post several days ago a good friend emailed me and asked, "Are you going to tone down those eyelashes?? "  (Emphasis is mine.) 

The question immediately propelled me into completing the layering in the eye area.  Upon doing this, I realized that Scottish artist Elizabeth McCrindle may have a good point.  She describes that the correct development and placement of the eye(s) is very important to her, and can effect the successful execution of the remainder of the painting.  Therefore she prefers to do this early in a painting's process.  There was something about rendering the eye area that resulted in my feeling more engaged in what I was doing: the pale horse suddenly had a soul, and it energized me.  Often my work has been somewhat methodical, beginning in one area and working my way across the surface: but I may follow Elizabeth's lead and make a point to draw in these 'windows to the soul' sooner than I may have chosen to before.

................Which causes me to consider -- how much I have learned over the past months by taking the time to read other artist's blogs!  Increasingly I find too, as I've stated before, that I learn to draw simply by drawing.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Work-in-Progress: Wild Horses Update

So okay: here is the long-overdue blog post I've been going to share for the past two weeks.   Lately it seems as if there has been alot of life-conspiring-to-keep-me-away-from-the-drawing-table going on.  Thankfully though things appear to be on the up-tick, and just in the nick of time: this piece and another I'm about to begin are both under deadlines.

Though some areas of the dark horse are not fully developed yet, I needed to move on to the pale horse and take a break from all of that indigo, black grape, and dark cool grey.  The lightest tones and details are being laid in over a yellow ochre base, and I'm finding myself struggling with a familiar nemesis..........this being my tendency to attempt to put in every single detail, rather than to suggest the details.  The suggestion of detail can be especially important as the image recedes from the eye, calling for less detail and softer edges.  I've already reworked areas of the pale horse in which I placed far too many individual hairs of the horse's coat.  This 'artistic character defect' of sorts, has proven to be a stubborn one -- and one I keep having to revisit and work on with each drawing.

What?..........CONTROL ISSUES!  Moi???  Never!            

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2010 Statewide Fine Arts Competition

My piece, "Canadian Cowgirl", in the 2010 Statewide Fine Arts Competition .

The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan, is currently exhibiting the 2010 Statewide Fine Arts Competition from January 16 to March 20, 2010.  The museum hosted a very well attended artists' reception on opening day, during which James Freeman's piece, "520 Cups: Here's Looking at You!", was awarded Best In Show.  This and some of James's other work can be seen at  or at .

The sixty pieces by Michigan artists were chosen by exhibition juror, Richard Rubenfeld.  Mr. Rubenfeld did an exceptional job developing a cohesive yet diverse exhibit, which adequately balanced subject-matter and  technique, as well as both abstract and realism.

If you happen to be in the area - or simply are experiencing a little cabin fever - the exhibit is well worth a look.

Dean Rogers of Novi, Michigan,  fellow Colored Pencil Society member, and his engaging portrait titled "Forgiven".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Work-In-Progress: Wild Horses

I've recently resumed work on my drawing depicting a pair of wild horses.  Slowly but surely the fine detail layers are coming together, and I have next to move down the remainder of the mane, and across the neck and chest.  I'm anxious to complete the dark horse and move on to the one to the left, a beige-toned grey whose head is buried into the side of the dark horse's neck.  I will be working to complete another bird image for an upcoming show at the Hudson Gallery in Sylvania, Ohio, so will be alternating between the two pieces over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Drawing Conclusions

"It is never too late to be what you might have been".  - George Eliot

I'm usually not one to make New Year's resolutions.  Regardless of the time of year, if I feel compelled to make a major change I simply do it.  When I decided I wanted to become a runner in my late thirties, I just started running.  Many years ago when I decided to quit smoking cigarettes, I quit three days later.  Just as simply however, if I don't really want to do something I seem practically incapable of doing it.  There are times in life though, and for me the arrival of the New Year this year seems to have provided one of several triggers, when factors converge and really cause one to.............take pause, so to speak.

Many years ago when fresh out of high school I attended a college commercial art program.  Though I did not realize it at the time, it was not my forte' (and those of you who knew me then would probably say that regardless of the curriculum it would with my 'social life'.)  Following that I completely diverted, and absolutely enjoyed a lengthy career in social work -- however over a twenty-five year period I may have completed only three drawings.

Okay: what is my point?  Possibly that concerning my art, I became lost -- I abandoned it, ignored it, basically did nothing with it except take the ability for granted, and hadn't the foggiest notion of what I wanted to do with it.  Over the past four years I am slowly regaining, or possibly gaining for the first time in my life, a sense of who I am as an artist as well as who I want to be.  With this comes increased knowledge of what I need to do to get there.  I have longed to have a clearer understanding of what my own 'artistic voice' is, and have felt frustrated at times that this insight seemed to elude me.  That too, seems to be getting clearer.  Others have tried at times to tell me who and what I should be as an artist -- but this never really works, does it?? -- though I have learned just as much from my poor artistic decisions as my wise ones!

I have suffered from lack of focus, and have allowed other issues in my life to impact my work and my output.  I have allowed emotional and tangible distractions to put my art somewhere wayyyy down on the list of priorities.  In striving to find my artistic voice, I have tried techniques and subject matter that were more.........convenient.  I mean lets face it: this is southern Michigan.  There isn't exactly a cowboy standing on every street corner!  Yet that is what I feel drawn to portray -- images of western people and increasingly, horses.  I think some of you will 'get it' when I say that there are ways in which I have not been courageous, thus allowing my life to become small.  From this point on, I choose to strive not to do that. 

2010 is certain to bring some major changes to my life.  For one, my son will be off to college.  For another, in all liklihood I will be returning to social work on a part-time or full-time basis -- a fact that will effect my art to some degree.  However I look forward to these and other changes, though some will be certain to bring growing pains of sorts.  I am up for them..........I just have this feeling that 2010 is going to be a good year. 

And if you have made it through this reflective dessertation, congratulations and thankyou!

(The photograph at the top of the post was taken on Brockway Mountain on the Keweenaw Peninsula, of Michigan's upper peninsula.)