Monday, May 15, 2017

50th Anniversary Commission: 10" X 8" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

50th Anniversary Commission: 10" X 8" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD,
Church of the Immaculate Conception, Jenkintown, PA
Working on a commission is always an exciting experience for an artist.  Especially when the family of an artist friend is the commissioner.  Which was the case for this commissioned painting.  The children of a dear friend asked that I create a commission painting of the church their parents were married in 50 years ago.  And they needed it F-A-S-T (4 days before varnishing!)   Current photos would not have been appropriate to use since the church had undergone renovations during those 50 years.  So the photo they provided me to use was needless to say small dpi and a bit grainy.  (I've attached it below.)  

I changed the composition a bit instead of just drawing straight from the photo.  Leveling out the camera distortion a bit for the church, and playing up the spring blooming tree to the left.  I felt by making the tree more important it would soften the hard edges of the architecture as well as help to settle the building into the scene.  Down playing the street presence.  Although the reference photo provided to me was old and a little desaturated from time I wanted to make this a bit more colorful.                             

Knowing this would eventually end up in the hands of another wonderful artist and friend, was a bit unnerving.  We all want to do our best for any commissioner.  Although I'm comfortable with perspective drawing,  and love other artists city scenes, architecture is not my favorite thing to do usually. (I enjoy more organic subjects as a rule.)   

Size suggestions were obvious, they wanted smaller but 6 X 8 would have been a little too small to develop a likeness, in my opinion.   So we settled on 8 X 10 in a vertical format (10 X 8).  

So there you go, a short show and tell about my latest commission.  Happy Golden Anniversary Suzzie and Frank!  Many many more to come! Oh and their daughter reported "Mom cried when she saw it" made me feel like I did a pretty good job for them.  Although I never strive to make someone cry as a rule. LOL

Now back to my current project which has seen way too many distractions!

Friday, March 31, 2017

CPSA Entry for 2017 Convention finally done!

"Happy Tequila" 12 X 16" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Board

Entry into the CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) International Exhibition is always a stressful choice.  I often find myself thinking of a brand new piece that is ripe for competition as an image.  WE all hope that competition pieces are also salable pieces but the true fact is that most images that are great selling subjects just don't have the "It" factor for most large shows.  One judge selecting your work out of 870-900 entries from around the world, is quite a gamble.  Some artists would think the odds out weigh the gain.  And there is the cost also, entry fees, packaging costs, shipping fees, cartage fees and return fees should it not sell at the exhibition.   But I know no other way to build your artistic portfolio without entering the gamble.

Sure there are many folks that say you why go thru this expense, nerve racking process just to have One Judge determine your fate?  I know artists who have entered their work up to three times (a piece can only be eligible for entry for 3 years from completion).  Some may have been turned down 2 of those 3 times.  But get in on the third try!  Yay!!! Hands Clapping!!!!! ;))  After all it's one person's opinion each year.

Seashell Treasures 1 - 6 X 12" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Board
The thrill of being accepted is like no other and I have had that thrill 3 times, thus getting my CPSA Signature status in 2013.  (You have to get into the International show 3 times in 10 years)  I did it in 5 years.  After that when you get in you can earn 5 year Merit status, 10 year and up.  The works have to be on a surface without preparation, 100% Colored Pencil and of the artist's own  photo reference!

The Seashell Treasure 1, above is my second entry, as you can enter up to two works.  Opinions vary but it has been said that works in similar subject matter, stye and feel help your work get noticed.  I created two Seashell Treasures for our local Bon Air Artists Assoc. fundraiser show (Artful Healing) last weekend, see 2nd one below.  "Artful Healing" sponsored by Bon Air Artists Assoc. benefits the World Pediatric Project's efforts to bring medical care to countries in Central America.  And in reality it is my second and third piece in the collection.  The first one SOLD to a collector a few years ago. 

Seashell Treasures 2, 6 X 12" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Board

Now that the my entry is complete and the show is over,  (I was treasurer for the BAAA project), I have a few days to get ready for my April classes.  But the best part is that the weather is getting to be more like Spring and I'm ready for some "Plein Air" painting!  What's on your easel?

Friday, January 27, 2017

4th Annual Colored Pencil Student Show - At Crossroads Art Center Gallery

January 2017 "4th Annual Colored Pencil Student Show"

Animals, Wildlife and Figure Portraits
 Botanicals & Landscapes

For the last 4, of my 7 years teaching I have had the great joy of showcasing my students art in an Annual Show with in my exhibit space at 
2016 Staples Mill Road

Richmond, Virginia 23230
Telephone 804.278.8950
Mon–Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sun: Noon – 4:00 p.m. 

I remove most all of my work (except a few pieces) and hang an example of the work they have done in my classes during the previous year (2016).  It's such a great pleasure to see their work hanging together opening night!  Some are artists of other media and so many of them have not had the opportunity to see their work hang in a gallery setting.  The smiles and excitement is contagious.

Some work on paper surfaces, pastel hardboard, suede mat board, Mylar and much more.  An example of one of my colored pencil pieces on travertine tile sets on a tabletop easel.  Showcasing the many surfaces colored pencil is appropriate for helps to educate the public on it's use as a fine art media.  

Helping students find skills and hopefully their voice and style within this media often brings me back to why I choose colored pencil as my favorite media.  They never cease to tickle me when the light goes off of understanding or they amaze themselves and what they have created.  

Enjoy the gallery below of a few of my students and their exhibiting work.

Some could not attend the opening but 17 student's work is  represented in my show.

The show will continue to hang thru Feb. 17th.


Some of the paintings  are in their own private collection and some is offered for sale.  

I wish you could have seen some of the Christmas presents they gave as gifts this year, most could not hang in the show.  

Let's just say there were some very lucky gifts received by new collectors of their work.

Check back here to see what's on the easel & happy creating! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 A New Year - With the last finished art of 2016 and Artist Planning

"Who?"  Colored Pencil on Suede Mat Board 8" X 10"
Available for Sale

The title if this painting has more meaning than the obvious subject of this piece.  You may have noticed I've been MIA for a few months.  And believe me if you haven't you weren't missing much.  

Has been an ongoing question in my life for the last few months.  I love owls and the obvious is the lovely sound I hear from my home in the woods of VA on warm evenings. Secure and calming my soul.  They even call back to you if you mimic them, something my oldest son does better than I.  We have many owls who call from the security of our wooded lot along the creek behind my house.  Several different types but they have evaded my attempt to photograph them.  

My reference for this piece is not my own but from a great website called Paint my Photo, the photographer James Smith at  Chasing Myths Photography 
contributes to Paint My Photo.   Visit the site above to see some wonderful sharing photographers who have provided artists reference photos for use in their paintings.  

A quote from their website: Paint My Photo (PMP) is a social networking site dedicated to sharing photos for artistic inspiration without fear of infringing copyright.

Now back to that ongoing question, "Who?" the owl is asking - it's one I have been asking myself over the last few months. The new year usually has us evaluating our lives both past and future as we make plans for the new year.  Internally the Who asks me if I'm being the artist I want to be?  Have I planned for "Who" that artist is?  


Planning for an artist involves many aspects, and if you sell and promote yourself it's a vital part of your brand and upcoming yearly tasks.  

Planning for me had me evaluating new goals (some old ones not yet accomplished) evaluating time spent on creating art and teaching as well as the new work itself.  You see most of us reflect on what we did wrong instead of what we did right over the course of the year.  To keep me from going too far down that rabbit hole, I always create a new goals list each year.  It's a great habit to get into if your an artist and can incorporate the practical along with a few lofty goals.  I personally have to watch how lofty I get, as an optimist, I can get pretty carried away! 

The Goals List enables you to look back occasionally over the year to see if your on track.  A sort of report card on how you are preforming according to your goals.  Giving you the chance to refocus your efforts if those goals are still in line with where you wan to go.  I always surprise myself how much I have accomplished when life seems to get in my way.  

While I'll not share my personal list here I will tell you that keeping up posts on my blog is very close to the top of the list.  Along with making more time for my own art creating while cutting back on my teaching schedule a little.  

What's your 2017 Goal List?  It's not too late to make one!  Make a comment and tell me what you think?  I appreciate knowing if this post resonated with you!  

Creatively Yours,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Friends - A Collaborative Exhibition" - Opening Nite and more about working a Duo Exhibition Oil Paintings and Colored Pencil Paintings

 For Arts Sake Gallery - Sept. 1 thru Oct. 3rd, 2016
Garlic - 4" X 8" WS Oils on cradled board
Scallots - 4" X 8" WS Oils on cradled board
 Opening receptions are great to walk into when you know you already have sold paintings!  Which does not normally happen!  So having sold 2 pieces within hours of delivery (One was still wet!) before they were even hung is a special treat.  The two oils on cradled board are oil paintings I created for this show.

My exhibit partner, oil painting friend Kathy Scott, also sold a painting before the show was hung, which had us both off to a great start.

I've participated in many opening nights, group shows, solo shows but it's great fun to be in a Duo Show.  As my regular readers know I am primarily a colored pencil painter who also works in water miscible Cobra oil paints. (Due to sensitivities I have to solvents and the aroma of most oil paints, even other brands of water miscible or soluble oils.)

The slow nature of 20-25 layers of colored pencil paintings makes for a less than optimum output to create in a year's time.  Galleries and shows generally need well more than 20-23 pieces to hang.  Especially if you work in sizes 18 X 24" and smaller sizes.  So working with another artist to create a show in a shared space is a great solution.  It doesn't hurt either when you have a friend who's palette compliments your own,  even in another media.  Kathy and I frequently paint plein air (in the open air) and her use of the Cobra oils enabled me to spend the day painting and traveling without the migraines I would have had if she hadn't.  Now that's a good friend!
The photo at the left is Gallery owner Diana Robinson, Kathy Scott and myself. (left to right) Thank you Dave Oxley for the great photo!

Kathy Scott's Oil Painting Don't Fly Away
Kathy's use of oils without consequence to my health gave me the hopes that I could once again pick up a paint brush!  Acrylics and watercolors had been media I used in the past which I left for my beloved colored pencils.

Her work and wonderful bird paintings can be found here at Kathy Scott Art.   Having a friend who's work compliments your own and who's working style is unique into itself makes combining efforts for a show much easier.

What we planned for in advance:
-A show title is a must, and we knew from initial talks about what we wanted to produce, that nature would play a big part.  Plein air work in both my mediums as well as hers was part of who we are, after all it's what we do together to have fun!
-Framing for our work, had to compliment the work but also be of a certain quality, check!
-Playing on both your strengths, enhances each other's work.  This is not the time to complete, support and encouragement is the power of all friendships and should be respected.
-Plan on a location that will showcase your work combined.  For Arts Sake Gallery was the perfect location for us both, convenient and appreciative of our Duo approach!
-Working in sizes similar to each other also helps for a pleasing exhibit.

Now since I teach Colored Pencil Painting Classes at For Arts Sake Gallery, so I wanted to showcase the many different surfaces colored pencil can be worked on.  Travertine Stone Tile, pastelboard, mylar, suede mat board -  I'm always trying to convert new artists to the medium!  If your curious about the gallery you can find their website here!
My model for Shauna - Mona Lisa's Smile posed for photo's at the opening.

And of course two additional sales on opening night were so appreciated.  My focal point painting: "Peaceful Skies - Poppy Collection" 18 X 24' Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD that evening to a favorite collector!  See my previous blog post to read about the "two medium series".  As well as another oil painting, Fleurs 6 X 8", below.

Working together to help each other's collector base grow and providing a cohesive exhibit presents artwork without waiting until you can fill a show.  We each had 23-24 paintings, that were able to fill the gallery's available space.  Thank you Diana Robinson, from For Arts Sake gallery for hanging and selling our work.  We both appreciate the hard work your gallery does on our behalf!

Now back to more color!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting ready for a Duo Exhibit - And starting a new series.

Peaceful Sky - Poppies
12 X 24
 WS Oil on Canvas
     Two Media - One Series                    

Peaceful Sky - Poppy Collection, 18 X 24, Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

For a while now I've been MIA from my blog and I'm sorry about that.  I really appreciate my readers and hate to have disappointed anyone with the lack of posting.  I wonder how many of you have the same issue as I do?  Finding it hard to multitask as well as I used to.  I seem to be dropping balls more so lately.  

Getting enough work accomplished for a solo or duo show can be daunting when you have had only 10 months between shows.  Especially when combining that with the slower medium of colored pencil painting and representational oils.  My solo show last November required 17 paintings, my Duo show opening September 1 required 23-24 for each artist.  My friend, oil painter Kathy Scott and I titled our duo show at For Arts Sake Gallery "Friends, A Collaborative Exhibition", by artists Gloria Callahan and Kathy Scott. Opening reception is on Friday, September 9, 2016, 5-8pm. Free and Open to the public. Exhibit runs August 29, 2016 through October 3, 2016. 

Me demoing the CP Poppies at a local art event in Richmond

Since I have been working in two media (my beloved colored pencil and water miscall oils) in the last year and a half, I wanted to combine them for this show.  And I felt they would blend well with my co-exhibitors work.  An important consideration when your doing a duo show.  I also had a specific style and series in mind for this show.  I've termed it Peaceful Sky but eventually some Stormy Skies may show up in the series.  Stay tuned.  

As you can see from the vertical piece above on the left, the poppies are in oil and on canvas.  And the Poppy Collection (on the right) are in CP and on Ampersand Pastelboard.  I do not enjoy working on canvas when oil painting, I think it's the bounce of the surface and the texture of canvas.  But I knew I needed some larger pieces and could not find board in the dimensions I wanted.  I much prefer working on board no matter the medium!
Backlit Poppy  5 X 7 Colored Pencil
 on Ampersand Pastelboard

Two of my favorite things - Skies and Flowers. I love Poppies, always have, they remind me of the ones my grandmother grew back home which originated in her hometown in Italy.  Brought to America by seed and nurtured thru the years by she and my mother.  In PA they always bloomed around Memorial Day.  Here in VA, the heat and humidity seem to challenge them to growing for more than an annual.  So planting them in my art seemed to be a splendid idea!

The Backlit Poppy was done as an study for whether the poppies would look good on a dark or light background.  As much as I do love backlighting, and I may explore this more, I wanted to combine the sky and flowers instead for my larger pieces.

Developing the Poppy Collection

If your me, somedays it's hard to pay attention when driving when the sky is so fascinating!  I wanted to capture the clouds in volume and lighting.  I wanted the lit backsides to shine and glow as well as capture the softness and sometimes crisp edges.  Placing the flowers on such a sky in a view from underneath, looking up was exactly what I had in mind.  Almost as a child looks up thru a flower field.  Innocence and bright color.  

There is one more Oil Peaceful Sky piece in the works, but alas the drying time of my Cobra Water miscible oils 
has me on a learning curve, so it did not make the show deadline for turning in.  Check back as it's a big one!

Colored Pencil classes moved in June from my home studio to For Arts Sake Gallery   804-740-1400, 9770 Gayton Road, Richmond, Va  23238  and will continue in an ongoing monthly schedule for Thursdays, in two sessions 9:30 - 12:30 & 1:00 - 4:00.  Please contact Diana at the gallery if you are interested.  

In the show are Plein Air Paintings in Colored pencil and in Oil, as well as several Studio still lives and other work, I will highlight more in my next post.  

Enjoy the last of summer and stop to look up and enjoy the summer sky!


Friday, April 1, 2016

"Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile", A Portrait Finished - And the snapshots taken along the way.

Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile, 16" X 12"
Colored Pencil on  Ampersand Pastelboard

Well she's finally done, and submitted as this years 24th Annual CPSA International  (Colored Pencil Society of America) entry.  A portrait of my youngest granddaughter Shauna Lily.  The story of this portrait is tied to my CP art classes in a way and to the portrait of Cora, her older sister.

A few years back I taught a class to my students for recreating a master in colored pencil.  You can see that image below of "My Girl With A Pearl", my personal tribute to Vermeer's "Girl With A Pearl Earring" and my post of that painting here.

And of course when you do one grandchild's portrait you know your going to want to do all of them eventually.  As young Shauna watched me do Cora's piece she asked about which Old Master her portrait would be?  And with her coloring and the influence from my own mother's favorite painting we came up with a plan.  It had to be the Mona Lisa. And she liked that Mona Lisa and Shauna Lily kind of sounded the same.  While I didn't want to do her as I did Cora in the same clothing and setting, I did want the feeling of Mona's gaze and eyes that seem to follow you.  And of course the notorious smile had to be there.  Thus the title!

Next we had to take a photo as reference for her portrait and that meant a photo shoot!  Now what little girl doesn't want to model?  So we set up on a very rainy winter's morning to snap some pictures.  Below was the one I chose to work from.

Reference Photo

I always start a portrait with completing the background first so that the fine hairs which surround a person can be brought out and over the background.
Initial layers of pale skin tones defining the features.
I first lay in the pupil and iris, as adding them first help me decide the values of the skin tones better*.  The initial layers of pale skin tone colors are added to lightly define the features.  I continue adding layers of skin tone colors, varying degrees and going darker as I am contouring the features.

*Since my reference shot did not capture the warm colors that make Shauna's eyes so lovely I could not go dark enough until I had my son send me close up photos of her eyes in better lighting.  I find the eye color to be crucial in capturing a likeness as well as expression.   So I continued with the skin  a little before finishing the pupil and iris areas.

The photos below shows how I develop the skin tones further going into more detail as I go.  The shadowy right side of her face needed soft edges and working in that area one has to be cautious to not "dirty or make mud".

Excuse the iPad shadow here, oops.

Feeling like the skin tones are working well I need to get her dark hair in so I can see how the darker values in this portrait will influence the skin tones. 


 Completing the hair takes a while and I'm working in clumps and groups of strands as I go.   I ultimately wanted to keep the light blue highlights from the window light on her hair.  They look a bit white here but in the finished piece they are a bluish.

Now I'm happy with her skin and hair at this point but small tweaks and more softening of the right side of her face are going along as I begin her clothing.

At this point "knitting" her sweater has to happen and although I knit in real life I'm not sure I really want to do it in pencil.  But at the time this was a favorite dress for her so here goes.  I started to lay out the shadows and rumples in the sweater.

Purl stitches on the shoulder cap, stockinet stitches below.Knit 1 purl 2.  etc.  on and ooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! 

I wanted to get the garment finished because I knew that the pencil crumbles that always appear as you work (and especially on sanded board) would get onto her arm colors.  And speckles of teal/turquoise do not look good in skin!

As it was a few managed to get there anyway after I finished her arm.  !!$%&!!

Well there you have it she's finished! I hope you enjoyed a small example of the over 6 weeks this piece took.  I had shared the progress photos with Shauna and she was pleased.

Finished Piece "Shauna Lily - Mona Lisa's Smile"

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