My Process -Eagle

I’ve decided that it might be fun to walk y’all through a process post of a few of my pieces. I enjoy reading other artists process posts, plus I’m in the need for a few good ideas myself.

This piece all starts with a story. A few months back (last year actually, if I’m remembering right) I placed an order at Jerry’s Artarama. In said order I had bought some white Crescent board, but when I got my order they had accidentally shipped all black Crescent board instead. (I contacted them, they fixed the issue, yadayadayada and said I could keep the black board for my troubles.)

So now I have FOUR packs (of three in each pack) of black Crescent board and no idea how to use it, but I’ve been diving more into the colored pencil world and wondered how it would do on the black board. If you are wondering what board I am talking about, here it is:

https://amzn.to/3isDMDD

I searched through my stash of reference photos and found this gem that I’ve been wanting to do for a while:

https://pixabay.com/photos/bald-eagles-bald-eagle-bird-of-prey-341898/

I had this reference picture for a while but I had been saving it, not wanting to draw it in black and white.

The main struggle was just getting the transparent yellows and oranges to appear opaque enough to cover the black of the board. I did blend a few of the spots out with Zest-It but overall I did not use any OMS.

I believe it was at this point that I ordered the Derwent Chinese White Drawing pencil in hopes that it would come to my rescue. I was layering SO MANY blues, browns and greys into the white that I couldn’t get my actual white to show up very well on top. Thankfully, the DCW did exactly what I was hoping it would do.

Overall I put probably around 15 hours into this piece. Ultimately the part that bothers me the most is how the texture of the board constantly shows through, regardless of how many (many, many, many) layers I put down. I switched back and forth between my Polychromos, Luminence and Derwent Drawing so I don’t think it was a pencil issue.

On the brighter side, whenever I got smudges on the part of the board that I wanted to keep black, I just ran my black polychromos over them and *Presto*, they vanished.

I am satisfied with how this piece turned out. I learned a lot through the process. I believe I could have achieved a more photorealistic look if I would have used white board and just filled the background black like I normally do. To me, the texture of the board is what throws the whole piece off.

That being said, he is now happily hanging on my wall. Now, what should I do with all of the black Crescent board I have left?! *nervous laughing*

Work in Progress

I’ve been diving a little more into the pastel world and have found them to be VERY. EXPENSIVE. Like, “woah, hang on- let me go sell my kidney first” expensive. (That might be a tad exaggerated, but the feeling behind it is the same.)

I completed a tiger a while back on Clairefontaine PastelMat and loooooooved it but the price of that paper cuts a little dear. Even though I have a whole pack of it, I also found some Canson Mi-Tientes that is a fraction of the price and thought I’d give it a go.

I’ve been working on this barn owl for a while and pretty quickly discovered that I’ve wasted my time. The Mi-Tientes just doesn’t want to accept any more layers. Which sucks, because I now have no details. I am a detail oriented artist, and to work this long and then not get to put my details into the piece that makes my work MY WORK is just heartbreaking.

On the lighter side, the Mi-Tientes blends beautifully with very little fall out. So there’s that. I will truck on and finish this owl to the very limits that this paper will allow, but after that I believe I will stick to the PastelMat. In this case, you get what you pay for.

The Next 30 Days

It has started.

Florida will officially be on lockdown starting midnight, tomorrow for 30 days. I’ve already put my family on lockdown for three weeks now, so we are practically pros.

As I write this, I’m doing my very very best not to fall into despair. Part of that is setting some goals for the upcoming weeks to keep myself focused and busy on other things.

This may seem like a no brainer to most people, because most people already live like that. I, however, am a fly by the seat of my pants type of person who, in theory, shuns all routines and schedules. So this is new to me, and will hopefully be life changing- my rebel persona has always wanted to be Type-A.

So I have a few things to work toward over the next 30 days. I thought I’d share some here, bounce them back and forth with my fellow quaranteeners. Feel free to also leave some of your own goals for the duration of this lockdown in the comments below.

1. Finish my tiger in pastels without having a mental breakdown.

2. Do “The Body Gym” that my MIL got for me a year ago that I haven’t touched except to move out of the way periodically BECAUSE ITS ALWAYS IN THE WAY. I am serious about this one though, and have actually done it every day for a week. Yay me.

3. Start and finish an acrylic painting of orchids for our new house.

4. Start two large floral abstracts paintings, also for the new house.

5. Find a new house.

Haha, the last one is actually not a joke. We are moving to a new and very exciting destination, but moving plans have been delayed because of reasons- I’ll give you three guesses but you’ll only need one. So at least this does leave us with a little extra time to find a house for the right price.

Alrighty, I’m sure my list will expand and contract depending on my moods each day, but you get the general idea .

Artist in Lockdown

Anyone there?

I’ve decided to finally jump ship and dive straight into the pastel world. I’ve been heehawing about trying pastels for about two years now. I love the results I’ve seen other artists get, but I’ve been terrified at the price – and if I end up totally sucking at it, then I’ve just wasted a buttload of cash. But since it’s the end of the world and all, I figured it’s now or never. I guess that’s what facing your own mortality will do to you.

My desk in its current state.

I bought a 24 set of Faber Castell Pitt Pastel pencils, the Wildlife set of PanPastels, and a pack of PastelMat. Also a few matchbox sets of Conte à Paris sticks.

In all their glory.

I found this picture reference of a tiger from Pixabay and started in. But I quickly realized that pastels are a completely different animal (ha) than what I am used to.

The current state of my tiger as of noon today.

It’s hard to describe working with pastels. The only word I can think of is “fluid”. What you put down on the paper constantly changes. This is both good and bad. Bad, for when you finally get something looking the way you want it- DONT TOUCH IT ANYMORE. It’s not permanent, and can easily be messed up. Good, for when it’s looking like crap, you can easily keep changing it and working on an area until it does look the way you want.

Random pile of tools.

As much as I complain, I actually really enjoy working in pastels. It’s absolutely challenging, but you get pretty fast results. In my opinion they are worth all the money I put into getting them!

Never have Art Block Again

Art Block is something I think every one of us creatives have experienced in our times, and we all know what a downer it can be. Whether it’s art block, writers block, or just plain burnout, these stealers of our joy can also take away days, months, even years out of our creative journeys. This is why putting up defensive against such blocks is truly important for every creative.

I haven’t experienced art block in a very long time, and I’d like to share my not so secret secrets with you. Obviously, what has worked for me won’t be a perfect fit for you, but the principals are the same across the board and can be tailored to fit your unique lifestyle.

As a native Californian and current resident of Florida, I love going to the beach. However, just sitting on the beach is not fun to me. Rather, I walk the coastline for miles, picking up seashells. Each seashell is unique, small or large, and in that moment, extremely special to me. I come home from the beach with pockets full of shells. I go to pay the cashier and instead of finding the correct change, I’m pulling tiny shells from my wallet.

I have shells everywhere. I decorate my home with them. I decorate my yard with them. I find them floating in the bottom of my purse and skidding across the floorboard of my car.

Trust me, there’s a point to the seashell story.

The Key to never experience art block or any other creative block again is to actively cultivate a life of inspiration. What the heck does that mean?! To put it simply, pick up seashells everywhere you go.

This might sound daunting at first, but once you start you’ll be shocked at how much inspiration is around you constantly. But, to give you a tangible feel, I’ll give you a glimpse into my normal every day life and how I’m always seeking to cultivate inspiration.

My days are not always structured the same, but usually these key points happen each day. This is not an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts. Like I said before,tailor this into your own life.

My day starts early, with coffee and devotions, prayer and reading a spiritual book. I take this time to go slowly, and try to be aware of everything around me-especially the birds waking up and getting their breakfast from the feeder outside my window. This time really gets my heart ready for the day. That first invigorating sip of coffee? A seashell in my pocket. Listening to the Cardinals singing in the dawn? A seashell in my pocket.

I take on average 3 twenty minute long walks per day, thanks to my hyperactive Australian Shepherd, so this becomes my main source of inspiration. Everything from how the wind feels on my skin to the smell of whatever is blooming (it’s Florida. Something is Always blooming.) to spotting that red tailed falcon on the line or picking a lemon off a bush are all seashells I gather every day.

I also make it a point on our many daily walks to stroll past this one house at least once. It is a treasure trove of inspiration to me. In this house lives an elderly woman, and in the front room of her house is her art studio. Whenever I go by I walk suuuuuper slow so I can soak in as much as I can without just blatantly gawking and possibly getting the cops called on my behind.

I’ve been walking past her house for over two years and have never actually seen her in her studio working, but I have watched the painting on her canvas progress. I take note of the paintings hanging on her walls and the jars of paint and brushes that line her windowsill. Just yesterday I spotted that she’s added another large easel in this room, and is working on two projects at the same time. I’ve never stopped to talk to her, and she will probably never know that her quiet dedication to her work inspires a young artist down the street to continue to create.

But I don’t just gather my shells on my serene mornings and beautiful walks. Whilst walking the isles of Walmart, I people watch. Elderly people have been such a fascination for me ever since I was little. I love peaking into an old mans cart to see what he’s buying as I pass by. I don’t know why, but just seeing the simplicity of coffee and a loaf of bread are more seashells added to my reserve.

Maybe more practically, I find time every day to look at other artists work. What’s kind of surprising is that the work that inspires me the most is usually nothing like my own style or subject matter. I can stare at one of Mark Maggiori’s incredible western oil pieces and have an insatiable thirst that I need to go draw a dog! Right now! My daily dose of instagram is always full of inspiration, if I’d take the time to look.

Books like Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist and listening to biographies on audible are also seashells I gather weekly, if not daily.

Finally, whatever the subject is that lights you on Fire, study it. In example, I love to draw dogs, Australian Shepherds in particular, so it helps that I have an Aussie in my life. I love looking closely at his face and noting his fur patterns, how the hair behind is ears is impossibly soft. This directly influences my work, while most other seashells I gather leave their impressions mainly on my heart.

Guys, this type of slow living and cultivating of inspiration doesn’t come naturally to us. You really do have to work at it. But I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Are there any other things you would add to this list? Maybe keeping an inspiration file folder you can visit in times of inspiration famine? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy arting!

Sketchbook Sunday

In my last post I shared with you one of my art goals for 2020 is to fill a sketchbook. Here are my updates for this week.

You’ll recognize this page from my last post.
I continued my theme of practicing some basic anatomy
On this page I realized how trash this sketchbook paper is. Really not worth the two bucks. Just one round of blending and the paper was pilling. 🙄

In addition to my daily sketchbook habit in the making, I’ve also been working on Rusty’s portrait. Here’s my update:

Im really struggling with letting my whites be white without going back in with all my texture and details. I need to let the fur speak for itself instead of forcing all of the tiny details. So basically this piece is taking forever because I keep having to undo a lot of mistakes I make and also, hello Christmas. So maybe I’ll get it done before we travel for the holidays but I’m not going to push myself to finish. I will, however, take my cruddy sketchbook whom I’ve named Tiny Tim with me and try to keep up the daily sketchbook habit.

Do any of y’all have a daily sketchbook habit?

Happy arting!

Art Goals for 2020

Have any of you ever kept a New Years resolution? I don’t think I have. But this year I have resolved to do a few things art wise, that I haven’t done before. One of those goals is to fill up a sketchbook.

I’ve been drawing since forever. No really. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t drawing. But I’ve always drawn on loose leaf paper. My family didn’t have much money while I was growing up, so my parents let me raid the paper bins for any scraps I could draw on. For a time, my mom found out that the local newspaper would throw away huge spools of the paper they print on when it got low, which still left around 50 yards or so of large white paper for me to go crazy on. I still remember my mom down inside the dumpster getting those spools of paper and guys, I’ve never felt more loved in my life than I did right then.

All that to say, I never really formed a sketchbook habit. I’ve always admired these amazing artists with these beautiful sketchbooks filled with their doodles and masterpiece ideas and practices, but it’s not something that I’ve ever done myself. So this next year, I want to change that!

However, I’m also doing a low buy/no buy challenge that actually started a few weeks ago and so instead of going out and purchasing the most beautiful sketchbook I can find, I dug through my art supply hoard and found this little beauty.

It’s tiny y’all. Maybe 3×5”, and less than an inch thick. I think I paid $2 for it from Jerry’s months ago.

Anyways, the plan is to fill this puppy up! And maybe if I can stick to this and form a daily sketchbook habit (which is actually the end goal I’m shooting for), THEN I will buy myself the most beautiful sketchbook I can find. Until then, I’m stuck with Tiny Tim here.

Alrighty so here’s my practice for today. I just did some hands and feet and I used my arch nemesis- charcoal. I really do hate charcoal. Charcoal seems to have a mind of its own and is like the unruly child compared to good mannered graphite which does exactly what I tell it to. As I was sketching with it today I was reminded on just why I do hate charcoal but I am determined to try to master it anyways.

Wish me luck.

I thought I’d share my sketchbook journey with you guys and also ask if you have any art themed resolutions/goals/habits you are wanting to achieve this next year?

Happy arting!

Work in Progress

As all of my commissions have been completed for the year and I’ve also miraculously finished all of my secret Christmas presents well before the 25Th, I’ve decided to work on a piece for myself. This is my baby, Rusty Roo, who will turn one year old January 18th.

This is graphite on 9×12” Crescent Marker Board.

He’s great at posing for pictures, so I’m sure that this won’t be the last portrait I do of him 😁

Yes, those are boxer shorts around his neck. No, we didn’t put them there.

Have any of you made any artwork based on your pets? What are you working on now? Or are you taking some time off for the holidays? I’d love to chat with you down below!

Happy Arting!

Five Drawing Supplies I can’t “live without”

Alright, so life will obviously still go on if I don’t have these supplies. But, I would be very grumpy about it.

That being said, as the BIG DAY approaches, most of us artists usually put a few art supply items on our Christmas lists (or in my case, that’s ALL that makes up my list). I’ve been making my “art supplies that I want” list, and checking it twice. There are supplies that I want to have just to experiment with, and then there are supplies that I consider my “staples”, which are supplies I feel that I must have in order to make the best artwork possible.

So that leads me into my bare necessities of drawing supplies I. Must. Have. Most are your typical supplies, and some are not so conventional. I thought I would share my list with you here, just in case you might be wanting to try a few out for yourself.

Before we get started, I have a few disclaimers:

1. All links I leave below are affiliate links, which mean that if you purchase through my link I will get a small (think REALLY SMALL) commission of your purchase at no extra cost to you- so I thank you greatly if you do decide to order through my links!

2. I’m not saying that you need these to make great artwork. I’m just sharing my favorites that I use on every single one of my graphite drawings.

So, lets jump right on into my list of five drawing supplies I can’t live without!

First and probably most important, is my PAPER. Except, and here’s the kicker, I don’t actually draw on paper at all. Well, not your typical paper. I draw on board, and I’ve tried many different boards- but the one I keep going back to again and again is Crescent Marker Board. This stuff is the bomb if you are looking for a smooth surface but one that can handle multiple layers as well as the occasional OMS wash. The other thing that I love about board is that it offers a durability that I love (no worries on it getting wrinkled or ripped) and since I sell most of my drawings that’s very important to me. You can get these boards on amazon in packs of 3.

Next are my pencils. I believe I’ve tried all. the. pencils. And yes, there IS a difference between brands. That being said, I really love Faber Castell’s 9000 series graphite pencil sets. They are fairly inexpensive, and the graphite is very smooth. A lot of times you’ll get a hard chunk in your pencil that feels like a small sharp rock or piece of glass. That can really ruin a piece for me if that hard chunk cuts into my board by accident. (this is why I stopped using my Prismacolor turquoise pencils) I’ve gone through a few sets of the 9000 series pencils and have never encountered a forbidden crystal hidden inside just waiting to ruin my drawing.

Now on to erasers. I do consider my erasers to be just as important of a tool as the pencil itself. So, I’ve tried tons and consider these two to be irreplaceable. First, your standard kneaded eraser. Pretty much all kneaded erasers are created equal, but I do like Faber Castell’s Kneaded erasers because they come in these nifty little boxes that I find very handy.

My other must have eraser is the Tuff Stuff eraser by Paper Mate. WORTH ALL THE MONEY. I can’t tell you how many eraser sticks I tested and they all were too flimsy. This one truly is “tuff”. I like it better than the Tombow Mono eraser. Seriously. I use an Exacto Knife to get a fine point and away I go.

Now with blending, I always have the ever versatile blending stumps-but in recent years I have discovered a new blending tool that I have found to be invaluable, which is the makeup brush. I LOVE LOVE LOVE blending with a makeup brush. I use a smudge brush for my finer details, all the way up to a face powder brush for even skin tones and smooth backgrounds. I’ve had better luck with using makeup brushes for blending rather than paint brushes, and I think it just boils down to the fact that makeup brushes were made for powdery substances, so they hold it better. I don’t know all the science behind it, I just know that they work for my techniques. Also, they are ccccchhhheeeeaaapppp! E.L.F. and Wet-n-Wild have extremely affordable makeup brushes in all sizes that I’ve used. Pictured is the one I use the most often. You can also get really cheap makeup brush sets on amazon if you’d like to try multiple brushes.

Alright so that’s the list folks! Like I said, these are the supplies that I cannot live without. Like, if I were to be stuck on a deserted island and could only bring 5 art supplies, these would be it.

What are your must have supplies? I’d love to know! Leave your comments down below.

Happy Arting!