Posted on 4 Comments

Behind The Scenes Of The Gilding Commission

The finished drawing.
The finished drawing.

 

When the Gildings came to me towards the end of September and asked if I would be interested in doing a commission for them as a Christmas gift, I was honestly a little hesitant. I’d never drawn three kids in one drawing, from three different images, with backgrounds made from purely my imagination (based on what the client told me was his vision for the piece), and in such a large scale. Needless to say, it was a challenge on many fronts!

 

The Beginning Of The Drawing Process

The first thing I did was cut a piece of cream-colored mat board to the size we’d discussed, which was 24×30 inches big. This is the biggest commission I’ve done! Then I took the small photos I was given for reference photos and photographed them, making it so I could enlarge them on my computer and print them out to size. I then used those printouts to decide if the sizing of each seemed appropriate and to decide what the layout should be (which child should go in the middle or on either side).

Then came the line drawing, which is one of the parts I dread the most.

The initial line drawings. The one on the far right is only on tracing paper because we hadn't decided fully on which reference photo to use for him, but I needed to make sure spacing was right, so it was a quick estimated sketch of his top half.
The initial line drawings. The one on the far right is only on tracing paper because we hadn’t decided fully on which reference photo to use for him, but I needed to make sure spacing was right, so it was a quick estimated sketch of his top half.

I dread the line drawings because especially when working in colored pencil, if you get the initial line drawing wrong in some aspect, there’s not much you can do about it later on! For example, if I made a line drawing of a face and didn’t realize the eye was a little off in scale or shape or location until I started adding color to it, I can’t erase it and start again. Instead I have to work around it and try to minimize how much the flaw shows up.

 

Starting With The Left Side

Beginning to add color to the far left.
Beginning to add color to the far left.

Because I knew that the reference photo for the child on the right was likely to change, I decided to work from left to right. I also had a reference photo for the child on the far left that was almost exactly what I was drawing, meaning I wasn’t adding much to it from my imagination or multiple photos, so it was likely going to be the easiest section in some ways.

I finished most of the child to the far left before moving on, but this is also when I started fighting a sinus infection that lasted a long time, so small details were hard for my eyes, so some of the details in the face I left for later.
I finished most of the child to the far left before moving on, but this is also when I started fighting a sinus infection that lasted a long time, so small details were hard for my eyes, so some of the details in the face I left for later.

I loved working on the apron, that was my favorite part of this section. I’ve never drawn an apron before and I enjoyed working on the patterns and making it look folded over in the midsection.

 

Working On The Middle

At first the client and I anticipated putting the children in chronological order by age, however, we ultimately decided to put the youngest child in the middle because her reference photo was so different and she was the only one not standing. We liked the symmetry of having the two standing children on the sides, and the crouched child in the middle.

The client wanted this child in a field of grass and daisies, so I had to start with some of the grass around her hands and knees. Then I started working on her costume.
The client wanted this child in a field of grass and daisies, so I had to start with some of the grass around her hands and knees. Then I started working on her costume.

I started with the grass around her hands and knees because in order to make her look like she was IN the grass, I knew that should overlap, and you can’t draw that in later with colored pencil because of the way it layers. Then I focused on the daisies because those would overlap with parts of her as well, giving the image a sense of 3D. After that, it was her costume that I worked on, and eventually moved on to her background which I did from my imagination.

The daisies and grass are from my imagination. In the reference photo she was on a carpet.
The daisies and grass are from my imagination. In the reference photo she was on a carpet.

Once I finished with the background and the costume, I moved on to her hands and her face. This is the first person I’ve drawn who had face paint on! The daisies and the face paint were my favorite parts to draw from this section. I like how it almost looks like it should be in a storybook.

The finished middle section.
The finished middle section of the commission.

 

Working On The Far Right

At this point the client and I had decided on which reference photo we wanted to use for the boy on the right. This photo was only from his waist up, so I had to use some imagination and photoshop skills to help myself create the bottom half of his body, and make it look accurate! His legs had to be at the right angle to fit with his torso, the right size, and the right orientation for his stance. You can see the line drawing in the previous photo, and you can see more clearly in the photos below as I started to lay down color in his clothing.

His clothing was probably my favorite part of the whole drawing process.
His clothing was probably my favorite part of the whole drawing process.

Then I began working on his face and arms, which you can see below, along with the bat he’s holding.

 

The Background

After working on the boy's face and arms, I began to add some of the background coloring, layer by layer. It was a large surface to cover!
After working on the boy’s face and arms, I began to add some of the background coloring, layer by layer. It was a large surface to cover!

The client wanted all three of the images drawn to be connected somehow by the background, and because each of the images was so different from one another, I decided a blue-sky effect would be best for the top section to bring them all together. I added a gradient to the blue so that it was brighter on top and became lighter around the children so as not to take attention away from the subjects.

Then on the bottom, I knew I was going to have the boy on a home plate of a baseball field, which is surrounded by dirt, so I decided to make the floor of the girl on the far left the same brown as the dirt and connect them as well.

Finishing up the background and the final details of the subjects.
Finishing up the background and the final details of the subjects.

I had to decide if I wanted to bring the grass from the middle child down further, or leave it the way it was, and I chose to leave it. I liked how the bottom of the grass section was rounded, even though it left that section feeling a little smaller.

 

The Finished Product/Final Thoughts

The piece was almost bigger than my drawing table.
The commission was almost bigger than my drawing table.

This drawing was a challenge, as I said in the beginning of this post. But it was also great. The Gildings were GREAT clients, which is always a huge relief when doing a commission, and it was good to do something different than what I normally do. My favorite parts were the clothing and the daisies, both things I haven’t drawn much before. The faces were nerve-wracking because I knew that was the most important part of the drawing, and I don’t have a lot of experience drawing faces in colored pencil.

Thankfully, the client loved the drawing! And that is by far the most important thing. Thank you to my wonderful clients!

 

Do you have a photo of your children, pet(s), loved one(s), or something else you’d like me to draw? I’m now officially back open to commissions, so feel free to contact me to get more information!

Posted on Leave a comment

End Of The Year Roundup – 2016

 

2016

 

What a year! 2016 may have been a struggle health-wise and emotionally as a lot changed in my life, but it was also my first full year in business and had some amazing milestones!

 

First Full Year As An Entrepreneur

I knew going into this adventure that being an entrepreneur is never easy. It’s unpredictable and frightening, like you’re jumping off a cliff and hoping there’s a soft landing or better yet, a magic carpet that’s ready to catch you and let you fly.

But it’s also incredibly rewarding and exciting. To know that people love my artwork is amazing, and to see it in publications, to be interviewed, to give speeches and be called inspiring, to see my artwork on display, all makes it worthwhile. Plus, of course, getting to know all of YOU.

As you can read about in one of my earlier posts here, I had no idea this was the path I would find in my life. Artwork came out of the blue for me. I’m so happy it did. Despite the challenges, it’s been a blessing and I can’t wait to keep sharing with all of you the next chapters of the journey.

The Highlights

Below are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of 2016!

  • I went to an art business conference in DC held by the Arts Business Institute
  • I was interviewed by the founder of the well-known blog Artsy Shark, which you can read here
  • I WAS INTERVIEWED BY WCAX NEWS FOR THEIR MADE IN VERMONT SERIES, which you can watch here!
  • I had solo exhibits of my artwork, and was part of group exhibits at places like: Gifford Hospital, Chandler Center for the Arts, Sweet Grass Gallery & Gifts, Studio Place Arts, South End Art Hop, The Maltex Building, Arts Alive at Main St. Landing, and more
Part of a solo exhibit at Gifford Hospital, February 2016
Part of a solo exhibit at Gifford Hospital, February 2016.
  • I became a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America
  • I received a small grant from the Vermont Arts Council (thank you!)
  • I COMPLETELY REDID MY WEBSITE
  • I started this blog (and did a guest blog post for the Arts Business Institute)
  • I had artwork published THREE times this year (HawkChalk Magazine, Color Magazine, & Hidden Treasures Vol.3 Book)
  • I have artwork and products available at retailers such as: Exile on Main Street, Sweet Grass Gallery & Gifts, The Art Shop by Artists’ Mediums, and Vermont’s Own Products.
  • I WAS COMMISSIONED TO CREATE THE 2017 POSTER ARTWORK FOR THE WORLD’S FAIR IN TUNBRIDGE, VT
The Tunbridge World's Fair Poster commission.
The Tunbridge World’s Fair Poster commission.
  • I accepted and completed more commissioned drawings than ever before
  • I spoke as a keynote speaker for organizations/groups
  • I created new artwork, like my Common Loon drawing, my Giraffe, the Cooper’s Hawk, the American Quarter Horse, and the ever popular African Elephant drawing
Some of my artwork from 2016.
Some of my artwork from 2016.
  • I created my first two Speed Drawing videos which you can watch here
  • I mentored other artists
  • I reached over 1000 likes on my Facebook page
  • I made some amazing connections
  • AND MUCH MORE!

 

Thank You!

With everything that’s happened this year, both good and bad, I just want to say THANK YOU. I have the BEST. FANS. EVER. I had some of the most amazing commission clients this year, some of the best feedback, and made great connections with my fans, both online and at events in person.

The fact that you all believe in me and keep spreading the word about my artwork is incredible and appreciated so much!

So thank you for being awesome and always having my back. I hope you have a great rest of your year and that 2017 is your best year yet!

untitled-design

Posted on 4 Comments

Behind The Scenes Of The Tunbridge World’s Fair Poster Design

 

As many of you know, the end of this year has been FULL of commissions for me, many of which I haven’t been able to share with you yet because they’re Christmas gifts.

However, this week the Tunbridge World’s Fair marketing committee is unveiling the poster design for next year’s fair, which means I get to show you one of the projects I’ve been working on!

Back In September…

I got an email from one of the members of the Tunbridge World’s Fair marketing committee asking if I’d have any interest in designing a poster for the 2017 fair. They heard about me from a previous artist they’d hired and friend of mine, Katie Runde.

At first I wasn’t sure. Poster design isn’t exactly something I’m used to doing, and I wasn’t sure quite what they were looking for. So I decided to go meet with them while the 2016 Fair was in progress.

Part of the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, 2016.
Part of the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, 2016.

Rare Breeds

The theme for the 2017 fair is Rare Breeds, which is to focus on their rarest breeds of livestock. After meeting with the committee I got a feel for what they wanted and decided I’d give it a go and accept the challenge of this project. With camera in hand, I wandered around the fairground with the rare breeds specialist (because I wasn’t sure what was a rare breed and what wasn’t!) and took photos of all the animals that I could. I took so many photos, in fact, that my memory card became full and I had to resort to using my phone for the last few images.

One of many cows photographed. Some were easier to photograph than others!
One of many cows photographed. Some were easier to photograph than others!

The Drawing Process

Taking photos of the animals was one thing, but then I had to lay out an image that would make sense as a poster, leave room for the writing that was necessary, be interesting to look at, and include all 9 animals!

I got the idea for having the animals all looking over a fence because that’s how a lot of my best photos came out, like the one above. The ones that I didn’t get photos of in that way, like the pig, I ended up having to use some imagination!

Usually my commissions are based on a single photo, so this was very different for me, and quite a challenge. But it was also a lot of fun to do.

Once I got the layout in my mind, and then a line drawing down on the mat board I was working on, things started to come together. It took a long time, especially drawing in and around all the spokes of the ferris wheel for all the layers in the sky, but I like how it turned out.

Tunbridge poster drawing in progress.
Tunbridge poster drawing in progress.

The Final Poster

The final poster.
The final Tunbridge World’s Fair poster for 2017.

 

The final image for the 2017 Tunbridge World’s Fair poster is above. I hope you like it! It will be the image used for the posters for the 2017 Fair, but also on T-shirts, pins, packs of playing cards, and other products at the Fair for sale in the Floral Hall.

I’ll also be at the Floral Hall a couple days during the Fair for signings! More details on that will be released closer to the date, so check out my “Events” section of the website when September 2017 gets here!

Posted on Leave a comment

What It’s Like Having Someone Buy My Artwork

 

Most artists have the goal of sharing their artwork with the world. We’re equally terrified of putting our artwork and ourselves out there for the world to see, and we crave that exposure and validation of our work.

So when someone takes the time to talk with us about our art, and then ends up spending their own hard-earned money to buy something, it’s a roller coaster of emotions. And it’s also unbelievably awesome.

Here’s 5 things that go through my head (and likely other artists too) when someone buys my work:

1.) Holy Crap!

 

young-girl-at-play-5-1540707-1280x960

 

Especially when I was first starting out, when someone wanted to buy a print, an original, or commission, the first thing to cross my mind was, “Holy crap!”

When you’re in your studio creating, you have no idea how other people are going to react to your work. And even when a lot of people say they love it, like with my artwork, only a very small fraction will actually buy something from me and keep my business going. This is true even of small items like jewelry and greeting cards.

So when someone comes up to you and says they want to BUY something, it’s a little bit of a shock. Not only do they like it, they want to spend their money on it and look at it every day. They want to hang it on display in their homes for everyone else to see.

That’s crazy. And awesome.

 

2.) Are You Sure?

There’s a lot of doubt in most artists minds. Plus, a lot of people who tell me they love my work and are going to buy something, don’t end up following through for one reason or another. So when someone says they want to buy a print or product, after the initial “holy crap!” reaction occurs, the doubtful side of me acts up and wonders, “Are you sure?”

There’s a lot of art in the world. There’s a lot of artists out there that people can choose to support. Therefore, to know that someone is choosing ME, wanting to support ME, preferring MY artwork over that of others, is amazing. But until that sale is finalized, there’s always that possibility that it will fall through.

 

3.) I’m Awesome!

When that sale does go through and is an official, finalized sale, I’m like, “Yes! I’m AWESOME.”

I and other artists put in so much effort in our work that when someone recognizes that and buys a piece, we let out a sigh of relief and then scream YES and do a happy dance! Someone likes us! Not only do they like us, they like us so much they spent money on our work!

Having someone purchase a print, a commission, an original, or any product, is a huge validation. Someone is connecting with what we do.

Shop prints here: https://corrinathurston.com/product-category/prints/
Interested in a print? Browse print options here.

4.) Whew!

Because of the roller-coaster of emotions, and then creating the product that sold, boxing it up and shipping it out to a customer, sales can be tiring! Sometimes I talk with a customer multiple times before they make a purchase, explaining everything about the product that they want to know.

When a sale is made, it’s one thing. But when it’s out the door and officially on its way to the client, I feel like a weight is off my shoulders and let out yet another sigh of relief. There it goes, off to its new home, and my job is done. Of course then I get back to the other 8 million things I need to work on.

 

5.) Thank You!

One of my overwhelming emotions when someone buys something is gratitude. I get practically knocked down by gratitude when I make a sale. Especially if that sale is because someone else recommended my artwork, or if it’s a repeat customer. I can’t help it. I’m so thankful that people are interested in my artwork and willing to spend their money to have it. Not only is it a validation and makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing, it is what my business runs on and without it I couldn’t keep doing what I love.

Thanks to my customers, I get to do what I love. Because of you, I’m able to work for myself and create my artwork. Some days it’s a frustrating job, just like any other, but some days it’s pure bliss.

I couldn’t do it without the support of my loyal fans and customers. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

thankyou

Posted on 1 Comment

Why I Choose To Draw Animals

 

 

As I sit here in my studio, writing this post on a dreary November day, I can’t help but rejoice in the fact that my kitten, Juno, is curled up beside me. No matter how depressing or frustrating a day or week or year can be, animals, especially those closest to us, call to our inner optimist and help us to smile.

How Animals Affect Me

I light up every time I see an animal. It’s as if someone injected me with positive energy, and it doesn’t matter what species. My cat walks in the room and I smile. A squirrel jumps up on our deck, I stop and talk to it through the window. Even the lady bugs that are infesting our apartment right now bring a certain amount of interest from me.

If you ask me what it is about animals that causes such a reaction, I really can’t say. I don’t know what it is about them that makes me feel better, all I know is that they definitely do, unlike anything else.

Cooper's Hawk, in colored pencil.
Cooper’s Hawk, in colored pencil.

Why I Draw Animals

I draw animals because they fascinate me. I think they’re beautiful. Most of them I have no chance at seeing every day, because they’re exotic or endangered, or both. So I draw them instead.

Drawing them helps me to see animals on a daily basis as I slowly bring them to life on my drawing board. Stroke after stroke that goes into creating their fur, their scales, their shine, their feathers, brings me that much closer to seeing the animal I’m drawing. One of the reasons I’m so detail oriented is because I want to get the essence of each animal just right. I want to make sure they have that shine in their eyes and the tufts in their fur. I want them to jump off the drawing board with realism and vibrance.

Lemurs In colored pencil 16x20 inches big
Lemurs, in colored pencil

How My Collectors Feel

I don’t just draw animals for my own benefit. I know there’s a lot of people in the world who love animals as much as I do and I want to be able to give them the same experience I get in my studio by sharing my artwork with them.

Having my drawings of animals on my walls is the next best thing to seeing them in person, and knowing my collectors feel the same way is amazing. I put in so much effort to capturing the image of each animal in a certain way and it makes it all worth it when someone else can see that effort and appreciates the drawing for what it is, and wants to take it home to look at every day.

X-Large Framed Print of my Blue-Eyed Kitten drawing.
X-Large Framed Print of my Blue-Eyed Kitten drawing.

Because that’s what drives a person to buy art. Art is something that makes you feel good, something you want to look at every day. For someone to choose my artwork out of all the rest to hang in their homes and share with their friends, is amazing.

How It Can Also Help Animals

Most of you already know that some of the proceeds from some of my artwork go to wildlife conservation efforts, and animal welfare groups. I do this in a couple ways. Sometimes I take a month and donate a percentage of proceeds to a specific organization at the end of the month. Sometimes, I designate a specific piece of artwork to give proceeds from anything sold with that drawing on it to an organization.

For example, my African Elephant drawing is a very special piece. 20% of the proceeds from prints and greeting cards and other products sold of this drawing are being donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s elephant campaign, 96 Elelphants. 96 Elephants are killed every day in Africa for their ivory, and they are trying to stop it. So I created the drawing to bring awareness to the campaign, and what’s happening in Africa. So if you, or someone you know, loves elephants and you also want to support a great cause, I hope you consider buying a print!

Metal print of my African Elephant drawing.
Metal print of my African Elephant drawing.

 

Do you feel the same way about animals? What’s your favorite?

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Behind The Scenes Of Commissions

It’s getting ever closer to holiday season, which also means it’s the time of year that clients are requesting more commissioned drawings. Since this year I’ve taken on more commissions than ever before, I thought I’d give you a backstage pass and show you the joy, and the frustrations, of commissions.

My first ever commissioned drawing.
My first ever commissioned drawing, a few years ago.

The Initial Contact

The first thing that happens for a commission is that a potential client will reach out to me via email, asking about my availability and pricing. Unfortunately, I can’t give a precise price quote without seeing the photo(s) the client wants drawn, knowing the size, and the medium. So I give them all the information I can and ask them for those three pieces of information to give them a price.

What may come as a surprise is that some people never get back to me.

I always get a little jolt of excitement when someone contacts me, because I’ve done some pretty fun commissions in the past, like the Jellyfish below, but I never hold my breath until they send the down-payment. I would say about 75% of people who initially contact me for a commission don’t end up following through.

This was a commission done for a photographer friend a couple years ago. Her mother commissioned me to draw one of her photos and gave it to her as a gift.
This was a commission done for a photographer friend a couple years ago. Her mother commissioned me to draw one of her photos and gave it to her as a gift.

Pricing

Pricing for a commission is tricky. If ten people brought me photos of their dog, let’s say, and they all wanted the same size drawing in the same medium, you’d think the pricing should be the same, correct? That’s what common sense would have us believe. The truth is, however, the prices will be similar, but not the same.

Each one of those drawings, despite being the same size and medium and even all of dogs, will take a drastically different amount of time for me to complete.

If one dog is a white pit bull, with relatively little background added, it won’t take me nearly as long to draw as one that is a doodle mix, or a long-haired dog, or one with lots of colors.

Beagle-Dachshund-Puppy-570

Whether you choose to have the drawing completed in colored pencil or graphite is a big influencer on price as well. Graphite takes a lot less materials, and less time, so it’s less expensive than colored pencil. That being said, I’ve done a similar number of commissions in both mediums, and the results look great no matter which medium you choose. A drawing isn’t ‘lesser’ in any way if it’s done in graphite instead of colored pencil. Just check out the commission I did below of a dog named Max.

"Max" in graphite. This was commissioned a couple years ago and was given as a Mother's Day gift!
“Max” in graphite. This was commissioned a couple years ago and was given as a Mother’s Day gift!

You can see why it’s difficult for me to give a price quote without more detailed information. The price of the commissions I’ve done so far in my career range from a small graphite drawing for $150, to a large colored pencil drawing for $1,500. It all depends on size, medium, and difficulty of the drawing!

 

The Most Nerve-wracking Drawings

Honestly, commissions scare the hell out of me. When I’m working on one of my own drawings, I’m not as nervous about getting it just right, because no one will know if the proportions are just a little off or if I changed the coloring. With a commission, that’s no longer true! If I’m drawing someone’s pet, or their children, or loved ones, they’re going to know immediately if I got something a little wrong. They’re going to spot any mistake in an instant.

This is why commissions have always made me nervous. But I try to show the client progress images along the way, to show them how it’s going. I also make sure my client signs a contract and agrees that the first half of the payment will be paid in advance to help cover my expenses, and that it’s non-refundable. I’ve heard horror stories from artist friends of mine where the client doesn’t like the finished product and demands their money back, despite the time and effort the artist put into the work. With the first half of payment non-refundable, at least I’m assured that I get paid something for my effort in case this scenario happens.

Thankfully, I have yet to have an unhappy client! And my nerves are becoming a little less with each commission I do.

 

The Process

I treat commissions similarly to how I treat all my other drawings. First, I print out the reference photo(s) that the client supplied. Then, I create an outline drawing in graphite to get the proportions down on the drawing board.

Above is a portrait commission I drew a couple years ago, from line drawing to finished drawing!
Above is a portrait commission I drew a couple years ago, from line drawing to finished drawing!

Line drawings never look good. In fact, they typically look pretty weird, but they do the trick!

As you can see above, with graphite drawings I typically work left to right, because I’m right-handed and likely to smudge the drawing if I don’t. In the drawing above, I started with the line drawing, then started in the upper left corner on the hair, which was tricky. Then I moved on to his face and shirt, and finished with the rest of his hair, which was the part I was dreading the most because it was difficult. The facial hair was my favorite part!

Above is my Cocker Spaniel colored pencil drawing, from line drawing to finished drawing!
Above is my Cocker Spaniel colored pencil drawing, from line drawing to finished drawing!

As you can see above, with colored pencil I start with the same line drawing. Then I typically move to the eyes of the subject and then start layering the face until there’s more depth and vibrance to the colors. The more layers I add, the more opaque the color becomes, and the more details I can obtain. I also use an x-acto knife on these drawings, to etch away some of the top layers and show minute details in the fur. That’s something I can’t do with graphite, although the layering process is similar.

 

Not Just Dogs And People

The majority of my commissioned drawings are of dogs and people. However, that’s not all that I can do! I also do a lot of cats, I’ve done a guinea pig, I’ve done a bird, a jellyfish, a truck, an ultrasound, etc!

If you have some rather unusual photo you want drawn, but it’s something I don’t typically draw, feel free to ask me anyway and I’ll let you know if it’s something I can do!

Above are a few commissions I've done in the past that aren't dogs or portraits.
Above are a few commissions I’ve done in the past that aren’t dogs or portraits.

 

Interested In A Commission? Here’s What To Do:

If you’re interested in having a photo of your own drawn by me in either graphite or colored pencil, reach out to me! Send me an email asking about my availability, and send me the photo(s) you want drawn. Then I’ll send you information about sizing and pricing and the difference between the two mediums.

Once we come to an agreement about size, price, and medium, I’ll send you the contract to sign. After you sign it and send it back to me, along with the first half of the payment, I begin to work on your drawing as soon as I can!

 

Have you bought a commission from me in the past? I’d love to see it now that it’s officially in your home!

Finn, approving of the drawing of him as a kitten.
Finn, approving of the drawing of him as a kitten.
Posted on 2 Comments

My New Studio Assistant!

Juno says hi!
Juno says hi!

 

Say Hi To My New Studio Helper!

The last few weeks have been very busy and stressful in our household. But one thing that has brought a bright light into our lives is my new studio helper, Juno!

On September 2nd, we went to a local Humane Society, an organization to which I often donate, and adopted one of the cutest, loviest kittens we’ve seen. Her name was Viola, which we soon changed to Juno.

dsc_0650
Juno helping with laptop work.

So Helpful

Juno is now right at home and oh so helpful. She routinely helps me put wire on the back of my frames, biting the wire to make sure it’s secure. She loves to jump up on my lap and attempt to grab my pencils as I’m drawing to make sure I’m doing it right. And she especially likes to curl up on me when I’m working on my laptop and attack my clicking keyboard.

I’ve never had a studio assistant who’s so helpful!

Juno inside her tunnel.
Juno inside her tunnel.

 

Cuteness Overload

Juno is a little bundle of joy that is helping keep our spirits lifted. After my cat of 13 years, Jiggs, died in January, it has left a hole in my life that Juno is helping to fill.

My cat Jiggs, who passed in January 2016.
My cat Jiggs, who passed in January 2016.

Juno is great entertainment, a huge distraction, and a wonderful little fluffball of joy. It took her all of an hour before she officially took over our apartment and became queen. I’m thankful she’s entered our life and I hope you get some enjoyment from her too!

_20160928_165811
Queen Juno.

It’s great to have a fur-friend to help out. No matter how stressful things get, she’s there to put a smile on our faces.

Who do you have helping you out? Leave a comment below to share how your fur-friends help you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Behind The Scenes Of The Giraffe Drawing

It’s been a little while since I finished my latest drawing due to illness, traveling, and just plain being busy working on other parts of my business!

Therefore, I’m happy to announce that my newest drawing is finished! Say hello to my “Giraffe” drawing, completed in colored pencil on mixed media board.

This piece is 8×10 inches big, completed with Prismacolor colored pencils. It took me approximately 20 hours to complete, so it was a relatively quick drawing for me!

Giraffe In colored pencil on mixed media board 8x10 inches big Reference photo by Crystal Stacey.
Giraffe
In colored pencil on mixed media board
8×10 inches big
Reference photo by Crystal Stacey.

 

This Drawing Is Already Famous!

Many of you have been waiting patiently for this drawing to be finished after seeing a sneak preview of it during my interview with my local news channel, WCAX.

During the interview and filming, I was currently in the process of drawing the Giraffe. To view the interview again or for the first time, feel free to check it out below!

Thanks again to Gina Bullard and Robynn Beams for coming to my studio to interview me.

“Colored-pencil artist triumphs despite health adversities”

Still shot from the video produced by WCAX. Click the title above to watch!
Still shot from the video produced by WCAX. Click the title above to watch!

 

The Drawing Process

This drawing went fairly easily at first. The giraffe herself came along quickly in the beginning and I got “in the zone” very quickly.

Then it started to waver, which is not uncommon. There’s almost always a point I reach in a drawing where I start to doubt what I’m doing and wonder how it’s going to turn out. This was about where I hit that point:

Work in progress of the Giraffe drawing.
Work in progress of the Giraffe drawing.

The background presented even more of a challenge and I admit that I’m not 100% happy with it, but I’m calling it finished for now.

Starting with a simple line drawing, this Giraffe now has a vibrant face that I hope shows off her personality.

Now it’s time to scan, sign, varnish, mat, and frame it!
Interested in buying a print of this drawing for yourself or as a gift? Check out the print options here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Behind The Scenes Of The African Elephant Drawing

As you’ve read about on my website before, wildlife conservation and animal welfare is important to me. So when I read about the Wildlife Conservation Society’s campaign for elephants called 96 Elephants, I knew I wanted to join the campaign in some way.

For those of you who don’t know, the conservation campaign is called 96 Elephants to bring attention to the fact that 96 Elephants are killed in Africa EVERY DAY.

Why are 96 elephants killed every day?

For their ivory.

That’s it, just for their ivory.

That means an elephant is killed approximately every 15 minutes. Or 35,040 every year.

At this rate, it’s estimated that African Elephants will become extinct within the next 20 years, which means your kids or your grandchildren may never see an elephant in their lifetime.

Check out the campaign to learn more about how The Wildlife Conservation Society is trying to stop this.

African Elephant In Graphite & Colored Pencil 18x24 inches big
African Elephant
In Graphite & Colored Pencil
18×24 inches big

How My Drawing Fits In The Campaign

After reading about the 96 Elephants campaign, I decided I wanted to use my artwork in order to help the cause. Not only did I want to do a drawing of an African Elephant, of which I already had some of my own photos I could us as reference, I wanted to film it and make a video (shown further below).

I knew a video would get even more interest than just a drawing, and hopefully bring more awareness, even though it would take more time and effort to do.

I am also pledging to donate 20% of the proceeds from prints sold of this drawing to the 96 Elephants campaign! So if you want a print, check out the options here.

 

My Drawing Process

This drawing is a little bigger than I usually do, which is fitting as the elephant is the biggest land animal! It’s 18×24 inches big.

I started in graphite, mapping out the proportions of the elephant with a simple line drawing. This is the hardest part for me, so it took a while!

I’m the type of artist who rests their hand on the paper, so with graphite, I smudge things easily. Therefore, I work from the top left down to the bottom right.

This meant I was starting with the left ear.

 

African Elephant work in progress. The left ear is almost finished, and the line drawing is ready for the rest of it.
African Elephant work in progress. The left ear is almost finished, and the line drawing is ready for the rest of it.

 

I used mostly graphite, but for the darkest sections and shadows I used a black colored pencil to make it really dark.

Usually I’m drawing fuzzy or scaly animals, so the texture of the elephant was different than anything I’d done before. The ear reminded me of fabric, like I was drawing a curtain, with the undulating sections toward the edge.

The next part was even more different.

African Elephant work in progress. Most of the head is finished, and about to start the trunk.
African Elephant work in progress. Most of the head is finished, and about to start the trunk.

 

Normally the eye is my favorite part of a drawing to do. With this drawing, it was my least favorite. I dreaded drawing the eyes. Part of it was because my photos didn’t show them very well, so I was drawing a little blind. The other part of it was because elephants have small eyes, so there wasn’t much shine or detail I could draw, unlike a cat’s eye.

After doing the left eye, I moved to the rest of the head.

I’ve never drawn so many wrinkles! Once I got to the head and trunk, it was a full-blown wrinkle-fest.

African Elephant work in progress. All that's left is the right side of the head and the right ear.
African Elephant work in progress. All that’s left is the right side of the head and the right ear.

 

I was dreading the right eye even more than the left, but I sat down and forced myself to do it and then moved on to finishing the head and working on the right ear, which again felt like drawing fabric.

I used white colored pencil only on the tusks of the elephant to try and make them stand out a little more. I also colored them white early on in the drawing so any smudging in that area would be less noticeable.

 

Filming The Drawing Process

This was the second drawing I have ever filmed, and it was a lot longer of a process than the first. If you missed my first one, check out the blog post that’s all about my Cooper’s Hawk drawing here.

You can view the time-lapse of this African Elephant drawing below, in a two-minute video!

The first drawing I filmed took about 8 hours to draw. This one took over 25. This one also had a few more obstacles.

For example, about a quarter of the way through the drawing, my camera stopped working. It died. This meant I had to take a different camera and try to set it up in the same way the first one had been set, to have the video look continuous. Not an easy task!

The second interruption was the fact that halfway through the drawing, I moved! This meant completely tearing down my camera setup, my drawing table, my lighting, and everything else and moving to an entirely new location and trying to set it all back up again in the same way.

My NEW studio setup, including camera, with the African Elephant not quite finished.
My NEW studio setup, including camera, with the African Elephant drawing not quite finished.

 

Even without the first camera failing and the move, drawing while being filmed is more of a challenge than a typical drawing.

I can’t move the drawing when I’m filming it. I can’t twist it around to make it easier to reach the top section, nor can I change the angle of the table, because it would show up weird in the video.

I couldn’t lean forward because my head would get in the way of the camera and block the view.

I had to have all the lighting exactly the same, or it would also look different in the video. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you have to take into account that I have a chronic headache, which can easily turn into a migraine. And during the couple months I was working on this drawing, my migraines were even worse than average. Therefore, having those lights in my eyes while drawing made me only able to work for short amounts of time (or not at all) on the days when that was bothering me.

 

Prints Available!

African Elephant in-situ table metalWEB
African Elephant 16×20-inch print on metal.

If you’re interested in buying a print, you can check out the options here.

20% of the proceeds from prints sold of this drawing will be donated to the 96 Elephants conservation campaign!

I’ve made multiple sizes and types of prints. If there’s a size you want but don’t see, just let me know!

Print options are: paper prints, matted paper prints, matted and framed paper prints, prints on canvas (my favorite for this drawing), and prints on metal.

 

Drawing this piece was a challenge in many ways, but also a lot of fun. I hope all of you enjoy it and share it with your friends. Thanks so much for checking it out and let me know what you think!

Posted on 4 Comments

Behind The Scenes Of The Cooper’s Hawk Drawing

Cooper's Hawk, in colored pencil.
Cooper’s Hawk, in colored pencil.

Every drawing I do is an experiment and opportunity to push the window of what I can accomplish with colored pencil.

My Cooper’s Hawk was an even more experimental drawing for two reasons: it was drawn just using black, white, and grey pencils, and it was the first drawing I filmed.

When you think of colored pencil, you probably don’t think of black and white, you probably think of, well, colors!

Typically when I do a drawing in black and white, I use graphite pencils, but this time I decided to do the drawing in colored pencil to experiment with the limited color palette.

 

Cooper’s Hawk As A Work In Progress:

Below is the image as I first started drawing it. I always start with just a line drawing of the image (the hardest part for me!) and then move on to other sections. In this case the next sections were the beak and the eye. I love drawing eyes and almost always work on those first in a drawing.

You can barely see also that I put a layer of white colored pencil down over the line drawing. This is so I can etch away layers later on, and have the etch marks show up white because of that layer.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.31.28 PM
Work in progress of the Cooper’s Hawk drawing. I started with a line drawing and then moved on to the eye and beak.

After working on the beak and the eye, I moved on to the top of the head and the face of the bird, mapping out the feathers and the stripes.

Cooper's Hawk colored pencil drawing, work in progress.
Cooper’s Hawk colored pencil drawing, work in progress.

As the face starts to come together, it’s all about mapping out the lines in the feathers. Some of them were lightly marked in the line drawing, but most of them I had to map out as I was drawing them.

The nice thing about a drawing like this is that if you draw the feathers a little off from how they are in real life, it’s okay. No one will know if the hawk actually has more or less stripes in the feathers than what you draw in.

The most important thing for a drawing like this to come out realistically, is to have the proportions correct for where to place the eye and beak, and then in the minute details of the feathers, and the shine of the eye.

Cooper's Hawk in colored pencil, work in progress.
Cooper’s Hawk in colored pencil, work in progress.

Once I get the piece mostly finished, I take an x-acto knife, which you can see in a couple of the images above, and etch away some of those finer details in the feathers. I can do this because of that white layer I put down in the beginning because the knife will etch away all the top layers and get down to that first layer again.

With the x-acto knife, I can etch away to get tiny lines of white in the feathers, and then color over those again, etch again, color again, until I get the feathery look I want.

Using the x-acto knife takes practice! The first time I used it was on my Ocelot drawing, and I ripped right through my paper. So if you try this, be gentle!

 

Filming The Cooper’s Hawk Drawing:

The second experimental part of this drawing was the fact that I filmed the entire process! This was the first drawing I filmed.

I filmed it so I could create a time-lapse video of the drawing, where I show the entire drawing process, which in this case was about 8 hours, in a 3-minute video!

Check out the time-lapse video here and subscribe to my YouTube channel to see more videos as I do them!

 

I found all sorts of new challenges with this drawing because I was filming myself.

For example, normally I’m hunched over my drawing, my face only a few inches away from the paper so I can closely inspect the details I’m laying down. But I couldn’t do that with this drawing because my head was get in the way of the camera. This meant I had to sit back away from the table so the camera could see over my shoulder. This was annoying at first, but it certainly helped my posture!

I also had to work in specific time chunks, instead of being able to work on it as I felt like it. If the tape in the camera was done (each hour), then I had to stop, put my pencils down, take the tape out, insert a new one, make sure nothing had changed in the camera, and start up again.

The nice thing about the tapes is that I didn’t have to log or guess how much time I put into drawing this piece. With 8 tapes full of video, I knew I had drawn for exactly 8 hours!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.33.15 PM
In my studio drawing the Cooper’s Hawk, with the video camera.

I also had to keep reminding myself not to move the drawing. Typically, I’ll twist and turn the drawing to get the best angle for whichever area I’m working on, but for this video to work, I had to leave the drawing pad in its place. This meant I had to work at my drawing table the whole time, which is rare for me as I usually switch up my work location, and I had to keep the drawing in the same spot on the table.

These were all adjustments I had to make, many of which were annoying or frustrating at first, but as I kept working, I started to realize the benefits of each one. My posture was better, I likely wasn’t working my eyes quite as hard, I was forced to keep drawing while the camera was on and not check my phone or email or consider any other distractions, which kept me more productive and focused. I challenged myself with having to keep the drawing in place and having to change the tapes in the camera made a good routine that forced me to stand up and walk around every hour, instead of sitting the whole time.

 

Prints Available!

XXL Canvas print of the Cooper's Hawk drawing.
XXL Canvas print of the Cooper’s Hawk drawing.

If you have interest in ordering a print of this drawing, like the canvas print shown above, check out the options here! And if you want a bigger print than what’s available in my shop, feel free to ask me!

 

This was a great piece to draw and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the fastest colored pencil drawing I have ever done!

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the awesome photographer, Crystal Stacey, from Feathered Edge Photography, for allowing me to use her photograph to draw from! Without it, this piece never would have come to life and I appreciate her generosity with her amazing photos. You may see more bird of prey drawings in the future from me that are based on her photos!