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Behind The Scenes of the Lion Cub Drawing

 

The Lion Cub, a new favorite for many of my fans, is the third in my Threatened & Endangered series of drawing, focusing on animals that are considered threatened, endangered, or vulnerable around the world.

The Beginning Of The Series

The first drawing in the series was the African Elephant, at 18×24 inches big. That drawing began as an experiment with a larger drawing using graphite and colored pencil together to create a black and white drawing, and it was so popular and I enjoyed making it so much, it sparked the idea for this whole series.

Each drawing in this series is larger than my typical drawings, being between 16×20 inches to 22×30 inches big. They’re all in black and white, which I think has the ability to enhance the emotion of the image, something I’m really striving to have be an important part of this series. And all of their backgrounds are being left stark white, both to bring more attention to the animal subjects, but also to represent the fact that their habitats are disappearing and soon they’ll be without a home.

Each drawing will have some of the proceeds from prints sold of it donated to a conservation organization that helps that particular species. The African Elephant has some of the proceeds going to the 96 Elephant campaign by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Black Rhino, the second drawing in the series, has some of its proceeds going to the World Wildlife Fund, which began the first rhino sanctuary and continues to help Rhinos today. And the Lion Cub will have some of the proceeds from prints donated to the African Wildlife Foundation.

The second drawing in the series was Black Rhino, at 22×30 inches big.

Each of these drawings has gained their own following and despite the lack of color, they’ve become extremely popular. I’m emotionally connected to this series even more than my typical work, and feel like I’m working toward something bigger than myself. It gives me great pleasure to continue this series!

Drawing The Lion Cub – The Beginning

 

As with all my drawings, I began with a line drawing of the piece. For this piece, that involved a line drawing of the lion cub himself and just a light line to mark where the rock he’s resting on had distinct changes. 

I wasn’t sure at this point how much of the rock I was going to draw, wanting to leave the backgrounds of these pieces in my Threatened & Endangered series mostly blank. 

I began with the upper left part of the drawing and moved down and to the right. Part of the reason for this is because I like working on the head of an animal first. The other part is because graphite smudges easily and I’m notorious for resting my arm and hand on the paper and smudging with my drawing hand, so that is less likely to happen if I move from the top left down. 

Making Progress

I continued with the drawing using a mixture of graphite and black colored pencil. I use the black colored pencil on these pieces because I love black and white images with lots of contrast, and I’m never satisfied with the levels of black I can achieve with graphite alone. So I use the black colored pencil to get that deeper, crisper black where it’s needed. 

I layer the drawing similarly to how I draw with colored pencil, with the lighter layers first, mapping out the drawing and the shapes and patterns in the fur. Then I build up with the darker layers to bring more contrast and details to create a more realistic and intense image. 

Disaster Strikes! 

Things were going well. 

Enter… my studio assistant Juno. 

 

I went to a wedding out in California in the middle of this drawing, leaving Juno in charge of my studio while I was gone. As many of you read about on my Facebook page (because you follow me on Facebook, right?) and in my past newsletter (because you’re signed up for that too, right?), there was a bit on an incident in my absence. 

Apparently Juno walked into my studio one day while I was gone and mistook the partially finished Lion Cub drawing for a real lion. 

Without fear or hesitation, Juno jumped into action and leapt up onto the lion, attacking it and defending her home and studio like the fierce guard she is. I mean, just look at that ferocious face. 

After successfully clawing the Lion Cub (mostly warning shots around the sides), she felt like he was sufficiently subdued and moved on, waiting until I got home to discover the evidence of her brave act. 

 

 

What To Do? 

So then the question was, what should I do? Should I redo the entire image, from scratch, so to speak? Or should I keep going with this one and have the original have some damage to it? 

At first my decision was I would redo it. This came right after having another drawing get damaged and having to set it aside to redo it eventually, so it was a hard hit. 

But then I thought about it more and looked more closely at the damage. I changed my mind. I was going to keep going with this piece just the way it was, scratches and all. If nothing else, it’ll have a good story! And it is now the first drawing on which Juno and I have collaborated! 

The scratches are mostly on the background and barely noticeable now unless you get close to the drawing. 

 

A Finished Piece

After plugging along with the drawing, I came to the background. The decision there was, how much of the rock detail should I add if I want to keep the backgrounds in this series of drawings mostly blank? So I compromised and added a little detail, but let it fade to the edges. 

 

Prints & Products

Don’t forget this drawing, as with others, is available in many different forms and that some of the proceeds of prints sold will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation to help lions maintain their numbers in the wild. Here’s just a few of the options! 

Photographic Prints

Photographic prints of this piece are gorgeous and they start at only $20, so they make great gifts! They come in a protective sleeve, signed, and with a backer board for support. You can buy them in my Etsy shop here.

Greeting Cards

Greeting cards of the Lion Cub are an adorable way to send a message. Blank on the inside, there’s plenty of room for your note to friends, whether it’s a congrats, and thank you, or just sending to someone to say hi. Buy them here. 

Prints On Metal

I LOVE my artwork printed on metal. They’re available in a variety of sizes and there’s no need for a frame, so the artwork is all you see! They come ready to hang, signed, and the image really pops! Purchase yours here.

 

Questions? Comments? Let me know!

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The Macaws Heart Drawing – Auction Ends Soon!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! What a perfect day to be talking about my recent drawing, the Macaws Heart! There’s only two weeks to bid for my Macaws Heart colored pencil drawing, so get your bids in soon! Click here to bid. (Deadline February 28th, 2018!)

About The Auction/Exhibit

Rustic Roots, a fantastic little restaurant in Shelburne, VT, is currently having its second annual heART Show. This exhibit is a charity event with over 80 artists (WOW!) who participated to draw, paint, or otherwise create an original piece of artwork on wooden hearts. Each piece is being auctioned off HERE, and 50%-100% of the proceeds from each one will benefit this year’s charity.

Last year you may recall the Kitten Heart drawing I created for the inaugural heART Show, and the proceeds from that auction benefited Spectrum – Youth & Family Services.

Kitten Heart
In colored pencil on wood
Sold

This year I decided to draw two Macaws on my heart, and the proceeds from all the works of this auction will be donated to the Janet S. Munt Family Room in Burlington.

All 80+ pieces of heARTwork are currently on display at Rustic Roots, so make sure to go check it out! It is a sight to behold!

But also don’t forget to MAKE YOUR BIDS NOW for the online auction, as time will run out soon!

It’s Valentine’s Day. Will you show the love for this charity (while also snagging yourself an awesome original piece of artwork)?

The Drawing Process

The Initial Idea

As always, the first task of creating this piece was to decide what I wanted to draw!

This year I really wanted to take the heart shape of my wooden canvas into consideration, so as I sifted through my piles and piles of reference photos, I kept the heart shape in mind for what would be the best composition.

When I came upon this saved image of the two Macaws, a photo by photographer Emmanuel Keller, I knew I had a winner. So I bought the right to use this image for a reference photo, with permission, and got to work.

Working On The Drawing

As with every drawing, I started out with a line drawing to map out the proportions of my animal subjects. This is slightly more difficult on wood because it’s harder to see my initial drawing, but it’s also harder to erase those marks when I want to get rid of them as I draw over those areas. So it’s a bit tricky!

Then I began to add color, working on the left parrot first, and moving to the one on the right second.

Pencil lays down differently on wood than on paper or mixed media board, it doesn’t allow for nearly as many layers, so I’ve learned to choose my colors differently than I would for a normal drawing. Instead of layering up in a number of shades of color, only a few are used to create the full color and effect.

Also, an x-acto knife is not nearly as effective on wood as on my regular drawing surfaces, so I decided not to use it at all. Both of these things means that there’s less tiny details in this drawing than there might be if I drew it on media board, but the overall image and impression is the same and still striking.

I like how it turned out and working on wood gives me the freedom to move a little more quickly, laying down color in fewer layers and not worrying quite so much about all the tiny details, while still making a vibrant, fun finished drawing that shows the animals’ character (final image below).

Finishing

Once the drawing was finished, I let it sit overnight to make sure it was done. I decided to leave the little bit of background blank and have the wood grain be the background.

Then I varnished it with an acrylic varnish to make it shinier and seal in the colors, while also protecting them from damage and sunlight.

Finally, I put two layers of polyurethane on the piece to seal the whole piece and bring out the color and grain of the wood background a little more.

The last step was to sign it and hand it back to Rustic Roots for them to put it on display.

Auction DEADLINE

Bidding on each of the 80+ heARTworks starts at only $75, for an original piece of artwork, one that may not have reproductions made because of the unique shape. 

Interested in making a bid? Check out my piece in the auction here, and the whole selection of heARTworks available here

Make your bids now, as the deadline is February 28th, 2018! And feel good that 50-100% of the proceeds from each of the pieces sold are going to such a great cause! 

Make your bid for my Macaws Heart now. 

 

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On The Drawing Board – Upcoming Series Of Drawings

 

Hey everyone! It’s finally July and a LOT is happening here! Here’s just a few examples:

  • Soon my ebook (How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy) will be published! I’ll be writing another blog post about this when it launches. Tentatively scheduled launch date is August 1st, and I’m scurrying to get things ready!
  • I’m finishing up my current commissions and then I’ll be CLOSED TO COMMISSIONS for the summer. This is so I can focus on all the other things I have going on this summer!
  • I’m still working on drawings on wood and this summer I’ll be doing my first drawing on a piece of wood furniture! I’ll keep you updated.
  • I’m getting ready for the annual Art Hop in Burlington’s south end! Always a great event, put together by SEABA.
  • Plus I’m getting everything ready for an upcoming solo exhibit of my artwork at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT for September/October! This will have artwork that’s never before been seen in public! Tentative date for the Opening Reception is September 22nd. Stay tuned for more details.
Solo exhibit at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT will take place September/October 2017! Tentative date for the Opening Reception is September 22nd.
  • I’ll also be at the Tunbridge World’s Fair in September to sign posters!
  • And finally, what this post is about… I’m currently working on a new series of drawings of endangered species! Learn more about them below.

Closed To Commissions This Summer

Unfortunately with everything going on and getting things ready for a VERY busy September, after I finish my current commissions I’ll be closed to new commissions this summer. It’s likely that I will begin accepting commissions again sometime in September or October (for the holiday season), but that’s not known yet.

As demand rises, prices are rising somewhat as well. The more commissions I’m asked to do, the less time I have to work on them and everything else, so prices will be increasing later in the year (for commissions only, everything else will stay the same price).

One of my favorite commissions of this year. Jada, 11×14 inches big, in prismacolor pencils on mixed media board.

If you know you want a commission, get your name in soon! I’m already making a list of people who want one when I open back up to them, and it’s first come first serve, so even though I’m not accepting them yet, if you think you’ll want one for later this year or next year, contact me and I can add you to the list!

New Endangered Species Series

I’m excited to say that this summer I’ll be working on a new series of drawings focused on certain well-known, and perhaps some lesser-known, endangered species. You all know my love for wildlife and that I strive to have my artwork bring awareness to animals and conservation efforts. I continually donate to organizations that work toward land and wildlife conservation.

This series is meant to differ slightly from my usual drawing style and really bring attention to certain animals and their struggles to survive in this world as they lose their habitat or are being hunted.

Each drawing will be much larger than I usually work, with the one I’m working on now being 22×30 inches big (bigger than my drawing table!).

New drawing is bigger than my drawing table!

These drawings will also be created in graphite and black colored pencil, instead of in full color. I think the black and white nature of these drawings, along with the size and detail, will make them stand out and garner more attention. Each drawing will be JUST the animal, no background, bringing stark attention to each one alone, and their disappearing habitats.

The First Of The Series

The first drawing of this series was my African Elephant drawing! This piece was 18×24 inches big and was created to help bring awareness to the plight of the African Elephants, of which 96 are being killed each day for their ivory by poachers.

Example of a metal print of my African Elephant drawing.

As you may recall, I filmed this piece as I drew it and created a speed-drawing video of it, which you can watch again below, and 20% of the proceeds from prints of this drawing are being collected and donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants conservation campaign. If you’re interested in a print, you can purchase them here.

Next In The Series

My next drawing in the series is one that I just barely started of a Black Rhinoceros! I’ll be posting the progress of this piece on my Instagram account and on Facebook, so make sure to follow me on both of those! Plus I’m filming the piece to make another speed drawing video, similar to that of the African Elephant.

Progress on the Black Rhino drawing so far.

What’s Next?

What’s after the Black Rhino? You tell me! Which one do you think I should do next out of the following? Tell me in the comments!

  • Snow Leopard
  • Western Lowland Gorilla
  • Baby Orangutan
  • Sea Turtle
  • Ringtail Lemur
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Behind The Scenes Of The Tree Swallow Drawing

 

I’m currently working on a string of commissioned drawings, which is part of why I haven’t posted about new drawings much on social media lately. However, this weekend I decided to have a little fun with a quick drawing of my own since I had a couple days before I could start my next commission.

This was the result!

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.

Planning The Piece

This drawing started because I knew I had a couple days in between commissioned drawings and I wanted to make a drawing for myself. This meant it would have to be a quick one! So when I came across a photo of this cute little Tree Swallow by Mary Villazon, I knew I had my project.

With Mary’s permission I used her photo as a reference and decided to draw this piece on one of my wood plaques, hoping the final result would look like the bird is popping out of the wood.

 

Starting The Drawing

I started the drawing by using a stencil to create a circle where I was going to draw. Then I sanded that circle because I wanted the wood there to be smooth for use as a drawing surface, where the wood on the rest of the plaque could stay rough.

You can see the difference between the sanded circle and the rest of the wood.

After the sanding, the line drawing was done to map out the basic shape of the bird. Then I finally took my colored pencils out and started with the eyes and beak of the bird. At this point, it looked pretty creepy.

This shows the line drawing and how I started with the eyes and beak in colored pencil.

 

Adding The Layers Of Colored Pencil

After working on the eyes and beak, I moved to the chest and belly of the bird with my white and yellow pencils.

Starting to add layers of colored pencil.

To add depth, I added some gray and browns to the edging of the belly and sides, creating shadows and starting the sense of 3D.

At this point I also started adding layers of color around the eyes, making sure to make my strokes short to look like the little feathers on the bird.

Then, keeping those small strokes and working them in the direction of the feathers, I added the first few layers to the head and back of the bird, working from light to dark.

Layers being added to the rest of the bird, and the black hole being started.

 

Creating The 3D Effect

The whole idea of this piece was to make it look like this bird was really sitting in a hole in this piece of wood, so the next steps were to keep adding layers to the feathers, and make that circle look like a hole.

More layers to the bird and the black of the hole blending into the feathers as a gradient, creating shadow.

I had to make sure to leave the correct areas for the wings and feet when I added the black of the hole. I also had to add the black as a gradient on top of the feathers to make it look like a realistic shadow instead of colorful feathers and then suddenly the black background.

The black background is mostly done, leaving room for the wings and legs.

 

Finishing The Drawing

Finally, it was time to draw the wings and the legs, making sure there were plenty of shadows where appropriate to make the bird look like he’s popping out. I made the top of the wings come out over the circle and made part of the feet come out over the circle and added shadows beneath each of them to give depth.

I then drew a couple circles around the black background to make it look like an actual opening in a piece of wood, like a birdhouse. With a little bit of shadow added with a light brown to the very edge of the inner circle, it looked rounded and 3D.

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.

 

Now all that’s left to do is varnish, urethane, sign it, and attach a hanger!

 

If you’re interested in purchasing this piece or a print of it, contact me! It will be available soon. OR, have suggestions for a title? Let me know in the comments! 

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My New Fascination With Drawing On Wood

January has been the month of drawing on wood! In my last blog post, I talked about my first drawing that I’ve done on wood, the Kitten Heart, which is shown below. This was an experiment for a charity event being held at Rustic Roots during the month of February.

The finished drawing, with background.
The Kitten Heart drawing on wood.

 

My New Interest In Drawing On Wood

I was shocked at how well the colored pencil laid down on the wood grain. I thought it might be dull, or not adhere well to the wood, but I was wrong. I can’t get quite as much detail as I do on paper, mat board, or illustration board, and some of my techniques, like using an x-acto knife, are somewhat useless on wood, but I can still create a vibrant drawing.

Drawing this kitten was a great experiment and it showed me what could be done. Then I wanted to know if I could draw on other wood. I was bitten by the bug to experiment some more with this whole concept.

My Second Wood Drawing

My second drawing on wood was this loon colored pencil drawing. This is on a paddle-shaped coat hanger and was a commission for a summer rental cottage up in Craftsbury, VT called Great Hosmer Rentals.

The Loon coat rack commission drawing on wood.
The Loon coat rack commission drawing on wood.

 

This wood was much softer than the wood I used for the Kitten Heart drawing, so it was slightly more challenging. The pencil tips kept jolting into the deeper grooves and it was harder to make a line go in the direction I wanted. The color wasn’t quite as bright as I was hoping, but I still liked how it turned out, and so did the client so that’s all I can hope for!

My Third Drawing On Wood

After the Loon coat rack drawing, I went out to a store and bought a whole selection of different shapes of wood to draw on. My Third drawing, the Mandarin Duck shown below, is about 9 inches by 5 inches on wood. The drawing is finished and varnished, but I still need to urethane the wood.

Mandarin Duck drawing on wood.
Mandarin Duck drawing on wood.

The wood for this piece was harder and allowed me a little more detail. Water is always a bit challenging and the different colors of the feathers was difficult on the wood, but it was a fun drawing.

My Fourth Drawing On Wood

Now that I had a little taste of this type of wood, I took another piece that had a slightly different cut to it, and drew my next piece, the Tiger Eyes.

Tiger Eyes, in colored pencil on wood.
Tiger Eyes, in colored pencil on wood.

I love drawing eyes, especially cat eyes. This drawing was a lot of fun, and working on the wood to create a fur texture, without being able to use my x-acto knife, was a challenge. Usually I draw the eyes of a subject like this first, but this time I decided to draw the eyes last. I’m glad I did, because at the end the drawing was suddenly brought to life as the eyes were added.

My Fifth Drawing On Wood

Here’s the same type of wood, except with a different edge cut. The biggest challenge with this piece was (surprisingly) the background. I thought a simple background like this one would be fairly easy, but the wood grain made it difficult to get a smooth color.

Untitled (for now), in colored pencil on wood.
Untitled (for now), in colored pencil on wood.

My favorite part of this drawing, other than still feeling experimental because I’m still not used to drawing on wood, was the red feathers. I hardly ever get to use bright red! It’s very rare that I draw an animal that has red, especially bright red, as one of its colors. And it’s always fun to use colors I don’t normally use.

Pegs Or No Pegs?

Now the question comes, pegs or no pegs?

What do I mean by this?

Well, I bought these last three pieces of wood with the intention of making them into keychain holders, with pegs along the bottom to hang your keys by. Of course now that I’ve drawn them, I like them the way they are as well.

These pieces will be about $150-$200 each. This is much less than what a typical original drawing of mine costs. So the question is, should I leave them as strictly pieces of artwork, or should I make them artwork that also has a use?

This is still to be decided. I think I’ll do a little more experimenting and choose one to add pegs to and see how I feel about it when it comes to the others and future pieces!

Do you have an opinion about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Behind The Scenes Of The Kitten Heart – My First Drawing On Wood

The finished drawing.
The finished drawing on wood.

 

The Kitten Heart is officially my first drawing completed in 2017, and the first time I’ve done a drawing on wood!

In December I was contacted by Rustic Roots in Shelburne, VT about a call to artists for their first annual Heart Show. They were looking to get a bunch of artists together to create artwork on wooden hearts to exhibit in February 2017, and were wondering if I’d be interested in participating.

 

Exhibit For A Cause

One of the special things about this exhibit is that there will be an auction for the artwork, and the proceeds will be split between the artists and Spectrum Youth & Family Services! For those of you who don’t know, Spectrum is a great organization in the Burlington, VT area helping at-risk youth in a number of ways. Through their programs Spectrum helps teenagers and young adults and their family members find housing, get meals, learn life skills, get counseling and mentorship, and much more.

Those pieces of artwork that don’t sell in the auction will be on display throughout the months of February and March at Rustic Roots and for sale for $75 a piece!

 

Experimenting With Drawing On Wood

Rustic Roots provided all the participating artists with the laser-cut wooden hearts in December, and we have January to create our piece.

At first I wasn’t sure about the wood surface because I’ve never used my preferred medium, colored pencil, on wood before. So, assuming it wouldn’t work that well, I cut used the wooden heart as a stencil and cut out a piece of illustration board to fit and was going to use spray adhesive to attach the illustration board to the wood and draw on that. However, I then decided to make a few pencil marks on the wood to test it out.

Surprisingly (to me anyway!), the pencil strokes showed up great on the wood, so I decided I’d start drawing my piece and if it turned out well, great! If it didn’t turn out well, I knew I could still adhere my illustration board to the wood and draw it on there.

 

Starting The Drawing

Initial line drawing.
Initial line drawing.

Like with any other drawing, I started with a simple line drawing to map out the subject on the drawing surface. I chose a kitten because they’re extremely popular, and I love drawing them! My reference photo is by a woman named Nadine Thome, from a free reference photo site.

Also, I knew the ears of a cat would lend themselves to the heart shape of this drawing!

 

Adding Color

Starting to map out areas with my white colored pencil, and work on the eyes.
Starting to map out areas with my white colored pencil, and work on the eyes.

I then used the line drawing as a reference so I could start adding some white with my colored pencils to areas I knew I wanted to keep white, like the whiskers. I was surprised at how well the color laid down on the wood surface, and how bright it still was. My fear was that it would either be too dull, or the sharp pencil would start digging away parts of the wood in splinters. Neither ended up being much of a problem.

Next was the eyes and nose.
Next was the eyes and nose.

The eyes are my favorite part of drawing cats, so I did that early on. I did this because I knew if the eyes didn’t turn out well on the wood, then I’d scrap it and work on illustration board instead.

Truth be told I couldn’t get quite as much detail or as many layers down as I usually do, but I still liked the result and therefore kept going!

 

Working On The Fur

Adding the white under layer of fur.
Adding the white under layer of fur.

This kitten has white and grey fur with grey striping, so my underlayer was white. My Then I went over sections of it with the various greys to add the fur details, trying not to lose my whiskers in the process.

Each stroke in this part of the drawing is like it’s own piece of fur. You have to draw the fur in the right directions, with the right length of stroke to make it look realistic, even in the first layer. Thanks to having drawn a few cats in the past, this process is becoming somewhat quicker for me than it used to be.

Adding the greys to get the depth of fur and the patterns.
Adding the greys to get the depth of fur and the patterns.

 

Finishing The Drawing

The finished kitten, with no background.
The finished kitten, with no background.

This is where I started to question myself. I kept flipping back and forth in my mind with, should I add a background or should I leave it the way it is?

I brought the dilemma to social media and received many comments about what I should do. Of course, everyone had a different opinion, some thinking I should definitely leave it the way it was, and some saying it looked unfinished and that it needed a background!

So I decided two things: 1.) I was going to add a background. 2.) When I make prints of this piece available, they will be available in BOTH ways, with the background and with the wood background.

I added a background because I wanted to make the kitten pop. I also knew that when I went to varnish it, the wood might soak up the varnish in a different way than I was used to, so I wanted the whole surface covered to make sure it would varnish evenly.

The finished drawing, with background.
The finished drawing on wood, with background.

 

Varnish & The Finished Product

Usually I use a satin finish or a matte finish for my colored pencil drawings, because they’re already shiny and I like how it evens out the wax shine. However, for this one I wanted to use a glossy varnish. So I bought some acrylic glossy varnish and sprayed the final drawing. You can see more detail of the gloss and the finished piece below, that a still photo has trouble capturing.

 

This piece will be on display in February at Rustic Roots in Shelburne, VT! Don’t forget to check it out!

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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!

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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!

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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.
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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.