Thursday, December 25, 2008

Four Owls - 2008 Holiday Card

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you're all having a good time and enjoying the season.

This was my design for my holiday card this year. The final illustration measures 10" x 14" and was painted with acrylic paint on Bristol board. The snow was added later in Photoshop, using an inverted ink splatter that I made and scanned for this purpose. So the image is still mostly traditionally done, but with some post-production stuff handled in Photoshop.

I'll be making prints of this available eventually, and I'll be sure to post a notice here when I do so.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Trees

I've been playing around with some ideas for my annual holiday card. I painted these trees the other night (watercolor paint and acrylic paint on watercolor paper, measuring 10" x 8"), after being inspired by some artwork by Mary Blair. I don't think I'm going to wind up using this for my card, but I might wind up playing around with it for a different illustration idea I have in mind.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Charley Harper-esque Lion

Part of the work for my grad school program is to design lesson plans for various grade levels. For my fifth grade lesson plan, I planned for the kids to make geometric animals paintings, inspired by the artwork of Charley Harper. The kids would get a chance to learn how to use various mathematical instruments (such as rulers, compasses, protractors, right angles, etc.) while designing their animal of choice. They would also be learning about how to incorporate things like pattern, shapes, and symmetry into their artwork.

This was my demo that I made for the lesson plan (remember, this is a project for the fifth grade skill level). I used acrylic paint on an 11"x 14" sheet of bristol board.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Watercolor Self-Portrait

The final assignment for my figure painting class was to make a self-portrait. I had really been practicing my watercolor skills this semester, so I decided to take that approach for this assignment, working from photo reference. The framed pictures on the wall in the background are actually a black and white photo of The Police, and framed vinyl albums of The Police's Synchronicity and U2's The Fly. This painting measures 16" x 20".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Conversation with Henry Moore

This painting was another assignment for my figure painting class. We had to make a bunch of sketches of people out in public and then do a painting based on our sketches. I wound up doing a painting of two students sitting in front of the Henry Moore sculpture that's on campus. This is an acrylic painting on canvas, measuring 18" x 12". For those who are curious, the Henry Moore sculpture is Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I was really happy with how this painting for my watercolor class turned out. The finished painting measures 18" x 14", and it's based on a photo I took two summers ago on Martha's Vineyard. Also, the painting really doesn't have that warping going on towards the top, I was just having some trouble scanning it on my little scanner. I'm planning on re-scanning it on one of the larger format scanners on campus. When I scan large pieces here at home I usually have to scan it in sections and then piece it back together, which can be tricky at times. Until then, this version will do for now.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Portrait on blue paper

This week in my figure painting class I decided to try something new. I had a sheet of blue paper (I think it was Strathmore), that I stretched on a sheet of masonite board. I then transferred my charcoal sketch from last week onto the paper. All this prep work was done before class. Once in class, the same model was there in the same pose, so I could use both her and my charcoal sketch for reference. I painted this with acrylics in about two hours, concentrating on trying to stay somewhat loose while getting some good, solid colors done. It was a fun thing to try, and I definitely want to try painting like this again. The final image measures approximately 13.5" x 19.5".

Thursday, November 6, 2008

London Daffodils

This painting was done as an assignment for my watercolor class. It's based on a photo I took of daffodils in London in March of 2007. The actual painting measures 14" x 10".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Watercolor Study of My Hand

As homework for my figure painting class last week, we had to do a study of our own hand. I decided to work in watercolor. The final painting measures about 12" x 16".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recent Figure Painting Stuff

We've been doing a lot of portrait work in my figure painting class lately. The only thing is, with those long poses the models tend to fall asleep, which is why their eyes are closed in just about all of these.

Charcoal on newsprint.

Charcoal on newsprint.

Ink on watercolor paper.

Acrylic on illustration board.

Watercolor on watercolor paper.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I sketched this leaf in my Moleskine notebook during my watercolor class yesterday (hence the wrinkled paper) with brown Micron pens and watercolor. I love my Moleskine sketchbooks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Watercolor Painting - Autumn Path

This painting is from my class work for the watercolor studio that I'm in this semester. I'm working hard at trying to improve my watercolor skills, and so far I feel like I've been doing pretty well with trying to apply what I'm learning in the class.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Inspirations: Vintage Books no.1

This weekend, while I was in Woodstock, Vermont, I went to a store that was selling old and used books. If you're ever in Woodstock, I definitely recommend stopping in Pleasant Street Books.

I spent a good amount of time looking through the old childrens' books, mainly because I love a lot of the old illustrations that you can find tucked away in those books. I also love vintage cover art. The owner of the bookstore gave me permission to take pictures if I wanted, so I snapped a few pictures of some things that caught my interest.

I also took some photos of decorative bindings on a few of the older books that were in the shop as reference for an upcoming art project of mine.

And this is what I wound up bringing home with me! I bought this hardcover, clothbound edition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. It's 373 pages long and has numerous full color plates inside, illustrated by A. Duncan Carse. There's no publisher's date inside, but the bookstore owner said that it's from the early 20th century. I just thought it was a really beautiful book.

I also brought this old, torn book cover home with me. The store owner had a bunch of detached covers propped up around the store as decorations. I liked this one and asked him if I could buy it, but he wound up just giving it to me. Two thumbs up for the cool bookstore owner!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More figure painting stuff

Here is some work from in class yesterday. The first is pencil on paper, about 9"x12". The second was a color study done with acrylic on an 11"x14" canvas panel. The plan is to eventually make a larger, more finished painting using these two studies as resources.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dürer Watercolor Study

For my figure painting class, we were given an assignment to do a color study painting of a photocopy of either a Michelangelo drawing or an Albrecht Dürer drawing. I decided to use the Dürer image that our teacher assigned, and I worked in watercolors to force myself to practice. My watercolor skills are kind of weak, but I want to get better, so I figured that this homework assignment would be beneficial. We were also supposed to focus on using warm and cool lighting in the color scheme. I was pretty happy with the way this came out, considering this is the first time I've attempted color portraiture with watercolors. The painting measures approximately 11" x 14".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More figure painting stuff

Here are two pictures from last week's figure painting class. The newsprint study was done first (18" x 24"), and then I painted the watercolor version (11" x 14").

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Child Story Project - New and Old Self-portraits

For my child development class we were asked to find a piece of artwork from our childhood, study it, and write a reflection on it. We were also asked to find a photo that corresponded with how old we were when we made the art. After that, we were asked to create a new piece of artwork, inspired by our older piece, that showed where we are now as an artist. The two pieces needed to be tied together somehow, whether in an obvious way or not.

I decided to use this picture that I found in a folder of old drawings of mine that my mom had saved. I was probably around three or four years old when I made this little pen doodle, which is a self-portrait. The actual drawing is really just a scrap of paper, measuring 3 1/2" x 3", and I was amazed that my mom saved this little scribble of a drawing. I've also posted the photo of my four year old self that I decided to use for this project.

Looking at this childhood self-portrait started me thinking about my current artistic tendencies. I have always loved drawing people, especially their faces. I'm guilty of investing the majority of my time on the subject’s face and often don’t spend nearly enough time on the background. That's not too far removed from this picture I drew when I was younger, which has no background whatsoever. People have always been my favorite subject to draw though, starting with cartoon inspired characters when I was younger and moving on to more realistic subjects as I've grown in age and experience. Studying this old drawing also made me realize that even now, many of my drawings start out with scribbled pencil lines, only to be refined later. But those initial sketchy lines definitely still have their roots in the same sketchy scribble lines that are in my old self-portrait.

My current artist style tends to be illustrative, leaning towards realism but inspired by fairy tales and other stories. For the past few years, my preferred method of working has been to start out on paper and to finish the picture digitally, so that was how I approached this project. The piece of artwork from my childhood that I was using was a self-portrait, so I felt it was only appropriate to do a current self-portrait. After taking some reference photos to use, I drew the initial picture on watercolor paper with brown colored pencil and then went back and painted over it with ink washes to establish a base to work from. Then I scanned everything into the computer and started the digital painting in Photoshop.

I knew that besides this image being a self-portrait, I also wanted it to reflect my current artistic interests. Art nouveau, especially the line work and compositions of that style, have been a big influence on my artwork for many years now. After studying the self-portrait I made when I was younger, I started picking out some loops and swirls that I had drawn in my hair that I felt would work perfectly for an art nouveau styled frame around my new self-portrait. So the frame is in fact directly based on the lines my younger self had scribbled for hair and eyes in my old self-portrait. The same scribbles from my old drawing were also used, repeated and rotated over and over, to create part of the texture that I used in the frame.

I also wanted this new self-portrait to be outdoors and to have trees in the background, since the photo of myself from when I was younger was also outdoors and with trees. The only difference is that now I am walking down a path instead of sitting up in a tree. I felt that picturing myself walking would be a good way to indicate that I am now on a new path in life, both with school, career possibilities, and my artwork. It's a new and exciting time in my life. Sometimes things can leave me feeling a bit nervous or stressed, but for the most part I feel like I am on a very good path right now. The decision to enter grad school was not a decision I made lightly. It's been four years since I finished my undergraduate degree, and I waited a while before applying to grad school because I wanted to make sure that I was really certain about the path I was choosing. The whole process was a cautious but confident decision.

Upon completing this project, I was quite amused to see the comparison between my two self-portraits when they are displayed side by side. A complete stranger might not be able to see any relation between the two, but the differences make me smile. I look at my old self-portrait and I can remember the countless hours I would spend as a little girl, drawing pictures over and over on whatever scraps of paper were handy. I can remember all the different stages of artistic development I went through, what my interest in subject matter was at various times, and my first experiences with new types of art and processes. I can remember all of those steps that have led me to my current artistic process. I am very much aware of where I am coming from, and where I have been, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Watercolor Sketches

Here are some small sketches from watercolor class this week. We were practicing gradated washes, hence the backgrounds.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More figure painting

Here's a painting from the figure painting class that I'm taking (acrylic on 9" x 12" canvas board). I'm really enjoying this class. I've done a decent amount of figure drawing before, but not much within the past few years, and I've never done any figure painting with a live model. This class is going to be a really good experience, and hopefully it will help my painting skills become a bit faster as well. Like the value studies in the previous post, we were supposed to stick with a limited color palette and were to try to focus on values, not details.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Value Studies

For homework for my figure painting class we were asked to pick a photo (one of our own or from a magazine or whatever) and do a simplified study of it, concentrating on value and structure. We could only use black, white, yellow ochre, and cobalt blue. I did the yellow one first, but wasn't totally happy with it so then I made the blue one, which I like much better.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Figure Drawing

Here are a few things from one of my classes earlier this week. The photos of the charcoal and newsprint drawings are a bit dim, but that's the best I could do for now.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Zoo Sketches

I went to the Seneca Park Zoo with Jeff this weekend to do some sketching. It was pretty hot, so the animals were mostly hiding or sleeping. However, since the animals weren't moving around so much, it provided some good drawing opportunities. The rhinos very conveniently laid down for a nap just as I pulled out my sketchbook, so it was fun to be able to study their faces without them moving around too much.