Thursday, December 17, 2009

Busy Christmas Season

I have been very busy since Thanksgiving with orders for pet portraits. They are completed now and I will be delivering the last of them soon. Most of them were done in colored pencil, however, this one is in pastel. This little guy was sitting in front of a fan and it is his "Mom's" favorite photo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Tree that Celebrates the Arts

Each year there is a Christmas Tree display in the lobby of the Barrow Theater in downtown Franklin, PA. The trees are decorated by various civic organizations, clubs, schools, and individuals in the area. I have had the privilege of setting up and decorating the tree for the Franklin Fine Arts Council. If you look carefully at the photo of the tree, you will see that it is a celebration of all of the arts. There is an old metal clarinet and sheet music to represent musical arts, a number of small paintings and paint brushes to represent visual arts, and a pair of ballet slippers to represent dance and theater arts. The tree topper is a wooden palette with a big bow. Right below the palette is a miniature painting of the Venango County Courthouse tower with fireworks in the night sky to celebrate Franklin's annual light-up night that opens the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gingerbread Man

Last week my friend and I spent a day painting wooden gingerbread man plates. These plates can be used in a variety of ways. We have included a glass dish as a liner. This way, you can use the plate as a candy dish, cookie server, candle plate. With the glass liner the plate itself is completely protected.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Christmas Make-It-Take-It

I have to teach a make-it-take-it in a couple of weeks. The requirements are that you have to provide 15 kits that include directions, the surface, a line drawing, everything you need to complete the project. I had these two different styles of laser cut snowflakes, but I only had 12 of each so I needed to come up with a design that works on both styles. I stared at these snowflakes for months waiting for them to tell me what they wanted to be. Finally, I found a piece of clip art that would work nicely. If you want to make similar ornaments, here are the steps to follow:

1. With a barely damp paper towel, wipe DecoArt Warm White across the ornament from about the center to the bottom edge. Repeat with DecoArt Winter Blue from the center to the top edge. The colors should overlap where they meet. You are essentially staining the wood.

2. Sponge the back of the ornament with Winter Blue to cover.

3. Sponge the metallic of your choice around the edge of the ornament making an uneven edge around the design area. (I used Silver on the large ornament and Champagne Gold on the small one).

4. Trace your design onto the center of the ornament using blue Chaco transfer paper.

5. Paint the design. For my design I used Lamp Black. Your design may be different and you may need to use more or different colors.

6. Varnish the piece and when it is dry, thread a piece of narrow blue ribbon through the top of the ornament to make a hanger.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On my Easel

Here is my latest piece. This is a male brown pelican during mating season. They turn a brilliant shade of blue. I worked from a photograph taken by one of my students in Florida. The piece is approximately 5x10 and is done in pastels.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Gingerfred Astaire and The Sugarplum Fairy!!!!

Town and Country Decorative Painters held their annual basket luncheon on Sunday. This year the theme was Parade of the Gingerbread Men. The centerpieces were 10-inch tall gingerbread man cutouts. I created Gingerfred and Sugarplum. I wanted to do something a little different.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chambersburg Arts Council Show

I got a letter yesterday telling me that one of the pieces I submitted was juried into the annual Miniature Show sponsored by the Arts Council in Chambersburg, PA. I have been honored to have at least one piece selected for the show every year for the last several years. I am especially pleased with this piece. "Lily" is a graphite rendering of my friends' cat. The show runs from the beginning of November through the end of the year at the Arts Council offices in downtown Chambersburg.

graphite on paper, 3.5x3.5

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Something new on my easel

I just got started on a new project. I am only as far as the rough sketch and I haven't even made any final decisions about what medium I will use. He may be colored pencil, perhaps charcoal or graphite, or maybe even pastel. This is a basket vendor from Colonial Williamsburg. Our CWF interpretor is carrying at least 30 baskets of all different sizes and shapes. While it had to be a challenge for him to walk through town, it will be a huge challenge to render him and his wares. The origianl photograph shows wonderful shadow patterns. Watch for progress. This will be a project for the long winter months ahead.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Signs of Fall

This little guy is rendered using Derwent Graphitint pencils. These are graphite pencils with a hint of color. They have a pretty smooth laydown like graphite and they are nicely blendable. The 24 colors are all earth tones and are pretty subtle. I used about 5 different pencils in this piece, all various shades of brown plus black. These pencils can be used dry like regular graphite pencils, but they are also water soluble. In this piece, the squirrel is done using traditional graphite pencil techniques. The leaves were dampened after they were colored. The water brightens the color of the pencils a bit. For the background, I made a powder of two of the pencils (in two separate containers) by grinding them in a fine mesh tea strainer. Then I applied the powder with a stiff brush.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another ribbon in my collection!

I picked up my work from the Cranberry Festival Art Show today and found a ribbon attached to my little portrait of Gus. Gus took 3rd place in the Adult Division. I am very pleased. The portrait is approximately 2.5x3.5 inches and is rendered in colored pencil on Stonhenge paper. Gus is now on his way to the Annual Miniature Show in Chambersburg, PA.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On the road, again!

After staying home for a whole three days, I headed out again on Friday to take a seminar with Sandy Scales sponsored by Town and Country Decorative Painters. Sandy teaches projects designed by Maureen McNaughton. I took two of the three days of classes and came away with two lovely projects. I will never be an enthusiastic stroke work painter, but I am certainly glad I took the classes and I did learn a thing or two. So here are my projects. The violets are painted on a wooden tray. It needs to have the handles attached to finish it off. The Autumn bouquet is painted on a metal tray/plate with a filigree edge. I painted the lacy edge with DecoArt Traditions Gold using a very light touch so that it mostly just hit the high points of the design.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More from the Liliedahl Seminar

In addition to the large piece from yesterday's post, we also did a small 8x10 feature study. This was also done in oils using the Bistre method.

Bistre underpainting

Finished study

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seminar Project

I just got back from a 3-day seminar with portrait artist Johnnie Liliedahl. Our project was a portrait based on a work by an early 20th century Russian artist and was painted in oils. The portrait was developed by first doing a value scale underpainting in Raw Umber. This is a Flemish old master technique called Bistre. Once the underpainting was completed, the dark areas were painted in layers of transparent glazes. The light areas (skin tones) were painted with opaque mixes. This piece was painted on a 16x20 canvas.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I posted my Williamsburg Street Market Vendor in progress. Well, I finally finished her. Here she is. The background was a challenge because the original photo had a lot of 20th century visitors in the background. I finally settled on grinding the point of one of my graphite pencils into powder using a fine-mesh strainer. Then I applied the powder to the background using a Q-tip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Artist of the Month

I have the honor of having been selected as the Artist of the Month by the Franklin Fine Arts Council for the month of September. I have several colored pencil and graphite pieces hanging in the coffee shop downtown for the entire month. I am doing something new this month. I have asked for permission to go to the coffee shop two Thursday mornings during the month to demonstrate my work and be available to meet and talk to people. For some reason, no one has ever done this before.

Today was the first of my Meet the Artist visits. Several people did come over to see what I was doing and to talk a bit. It was a very nice morning.

I took graphite pencils with me and worked on a pelican. I am pretty pleased with the results of my work, especially since it was done in a dimly lit space. Next time I have to take a little work lamp with me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I can do it myself!

Today I made a wastebasket. My very first basket all by myself with out the safety net of having my teacher there to bail me out if I got into trouble. It is a pretty simple basket, but it is all mine--no pattern, no instructions. It is about 11.5 inches tall and 9 inches in diameter. It is finished except for the stain and that can't be done until it is totally dry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A regal pose

Here is another pet portrait from my easel. Newton is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He is a beautiful boy and the graphite pencil makes a very formal portrait.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Off to see the Wizard!

I just got back from the annual HOOT (Heart of Ohio Tole) painting convention. This year the theme was Painting Up a Storm (the Wizard of Oz). My traveling companions and I were only there for 3 days. Two of us took a couple of classes and the other two only went so they could go to the trade show. The best class I took was a colored pencil class taught my Marian Jackson. This project was done on Mi-Tientes paper. I thought it was a lovely design.

In addition to taking a class and attending the trade show, I was also privileged to be asked to present a demonstration. My demonstration was the little raccoon done in graphite. About 30 people attended my demo. It was a good trip.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I See You!

Here is a tiny graphite drawing of a Calico cat. I chose to crop the photo very close to make it more interesting. The work is done on Bristol Plate paper using graphite pencils. The finished size is approximately 3x3. The reference photo is on the left.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's on my easel?

I have been working on a couple of graphite pieces. This one is a work in process at the moment. It is being created based on a photo we took in Colonial Williamsburg. This piece is approximately 4x6 ad is being done on Bristol Plate paper.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Gurls

There is a party happening in my living room! Four full-sized, life-sized Red Hat Gurls are sitting in my living room having a chat.
One of the Red Hat groups I belong to is decorating a car for a PT Cruiser convention at the end of the month. They asked me to design them. I found some Styrofoam wig forms to use for the heads and painted them up. Members provided wigs, hats, clothing, and accessories. This morning 5 of us got together to assemble the gurls. We stuffed thermal underwear and pantyhose to make their bodies--including bras to make sure they were curvaceous. Then we dressed them up. Three of them will sit in the car and one will be hanging on to the roof.

They will sit in my living room for the next three weeks. Their next adventure is a ride to the convention. I can't wait to be driving down the road with these three lovelies riding along--properly seatbelted, of course.

Monday, July 27, 2009


While I have been working on the drawing course, I have gotten interested in doing more work in graphite. This little guy was at my friend's backyard feeding station one night along with another young raccoon. She was able to get some wonderful pictures. She said they were afraid, but not so afraid that they ran away. They were more curious about her. She sent me a number of the pictures and gave me permission to use them. This piece is about 2.5 x 2.5 inches. It is done in graphite pencil on white Bristol Plate paper.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Baskets

I am really enjoying my basket classes. It is a different set of skills than painting and so it is just a fun relaxing activity. Here are some of my most recent baskets. These were each a single class about 3-4 hours long.

This one was an all day workshop. It was pretty difficult. The weavers were thicker than usual and the round material that runs along the handle and the top edge of the basket had a mind of its own. It is a beautiful basket, though.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Sometimes we just have to try our hand at something different. On a recent visit to Baltimore, my friend and I went to one of those paint-your-own pottery places. She needed to pick up some items her children had done and I took the opportunity to paint a teapot. When you go to these shops, you purchase the bisque ware and for an additional fee (essentially, the price of the piece again) they provide glazes, paint brushes, and other tools so that you can paint your piece. When you are finished, they apply the glaze and fire the piece. It is ready to be picked up about a week later. My friend had to pick my piece up and mail it to me. I got it a few days ago.

My teapot has a sponged basecoat and then I drew my poppies on the sides with a pencil before I painted it. When you are working with glazes, you cannot be certain what it is going to look like until after it is fired. There is a certain element of surprise in the process and you don't have as much control as you do when painting with acrylics, oils, or even watercolor. Here is my teapot. It is a respectable effort, given that I was guessing at what the result might be.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Drawing Course

I have just started working through Ann Kullberg's Draw What You See course. The first step is to do a pre-lesson drawing of a portrait from a photo that is provided in the kit. After you work through the lessons, the last lesson (number 6) is to repeat the same drawing using the tools and techniques you have learned in the course. The before drawing is to be done in under 2 hours, with little or no erasing, and using no "helpers" like rulers or grids. Here is my before. Stay tuned to see the progress.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Brag!

Last weekend I entered several works in the Festival in the Forest Art Show in Tionesta, PA. When I went back to pick up my pieces at the end of the show, I found out that my piglet had won 3rd place in the show. Piglet is done on grey suede mat board using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. He is approximately 5x7 and is actually in a black oval mat for presentation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What a little time and practice will do

A year ago shortly after I started working with colored pencils, I developed a painting from a photograph of a goldfish. I was very pleased at the time with the results of the exercise. This year, my students wanted to do that goldfish project. So, I wrote up the instructions, included a line drawing and the original reference photo and we went to work. When the project was finished, my students had done a very good job and learned a great deal about how to work with reference photos. More important for me was seeing the difference that a year of working with the medium made in my work. In the last year, I have spent a lot of time learning to manipulate the medium, but also working from photos and making a serious effort to really see what I was looking at. The difference between the original work and the new rendering of exactly the same subject is startling. Both pieces are done on the same paper, white Bristol Plate, and are rendered using the same Prismacolor Premier pencils. The moral of the story? Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!!

Here is the original goldfish rendering done in 2008:

Here is the 2009 version of the same goldfish:

Saturday, June 6, 2009


reference photo

I have been wanting to try out the Dick Blick colored pencils. They are less expensive than the Prismacolor that I normally use and could help me keep my supply costs down when I am teaching at retreats or conventions. I bought a 12 pencil set to try, so my color choices were limited. The Blick pencils seem to be highly pigmented. They perhaps have a bit more opacity than the Prismacolor. This may be more a function of the specific colors that are included in the 12 pencil set than a characteristic of the entire line. They also seem to be a tad bit harder and less creamy. While I was working today, I was sitting in the sun holding a yard sale, so being a little harder was a definite advantage. They do seem to blend well and layering colors was not a problem. I used both the colorless blender marker from the Prismacolor line and the Prismacolor colorless blender pencil and both worked equally well. Overall, I like the pencils and will continue to experiment with them. I will probably purchase a larger set so that I will have a wider range of colors to work with as well.

Her is my experimental work. It is developed from a photograph taken by my husband several years ago. Because the poppies are intensely colored, I was able to make use of the limited palette of colors I had available to me. The only addition I needed to make was a white pencil from my Prismacolor set. The work is done on gold Mi-Tientes paper and is approximately 6x8.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's on my drawing board?

I have been working on a number of new pieces recently. All of them are in colored pencil and all have been developed from photographs. Here is one based on a photo sent to me by a student. The original photo included a lot of leaves, branches and other "clutter". In order to make the apples the focal point of the painting, I eliminated most of the background from the photo. The painting is done on gold Mi-Tientes paper. Even working on the smooth side of the paper, there is still some texture to contend with. Mi-Tientes is primarily used for pastel work. I think that colored pencil done on Mi-Tientes has a bit of the soft look of pastel. I selected the color of the paper because it compliments the undertones of the apples and gives the piece a sort of glow. The piece is approximately 6x8.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Same Design, Different Medium

Sometimes you find a reference that you really like. When this happens, you may find that you want to paint it over and over again in different mediums, or different color palettes. These two paintings are both done using the same reference photo. This reference was in a Gourmet magazine several years ago. I contacted the photographer through the magazine and got his permission to use the photo as a reference. He was very gracious.

The first version of the compote is done is oils. It is painted on 8x10 gesso board, my favorite support for oils. The painting was done by first creating an underpainting in Burnt Sienna and then applying the color over it.

The second version is in colored pencil on black cardstock. This one is approximately 5x5. The result is a very different looking painting.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

JAL Studios to Host Seminar

I am pleased to announce that I am hosting a seminar with Ros Stallcup in June of 2010. Ros is a nationally known decorative painter who has a number of books published under the Gran's ---- titles. (Gran's Garden, Gran's Gifts, Gran's Welcome, Gran's Attic, and others) She specializes in flowers and fruits, but also does some more scenic designs. All of the work is done using DecoArt American acrylic paints on a variety of surfaces. Here are some photos of projects that I have painted with Ros.

The seminar is scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 11-13, 2010. If you would like more information about this seminar, you can contact me through this blog. Please provide your e-mail address so that I can send you the information. This is a hands-on seminar with one project completed each day. Seating is limited.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Here Kitty

Yesterday I had to do a demonstration to advertise my classes at Pat Catan's. I did a colored pencil demo and I may have a couple of new students as a result. The piece I chose to work on was a portrait of my friend's Siamese cat. The finished piece is about 4x4 on grey cardstock. In order to make the composition more interesting, I cropped the photo down to include just the cat and the flowers he was peeking through. Just because there is a lot of stuff in your photo, that doesn't mean you have to use it all. The cropped composition is more mysterious. You wonder what he is watching. Is he stalking something? Is he hiding from something? It gives you an opportunity to "write" your own story about what is happening.

Reference Photo

Colored Pencil Portrait

Friday, May 1, 2009

Baskets, Baskets!

I had so much fun making my basket at the Buckeye Retreat in February that I joined a basket making class here at home. I have made two baskets so far. They have both turned out very well. The weaving is very relaxing and uses different skills than painting. It is a fun way to spend a day. Here are the two baskets from my class. One is a shoulder basket that may be used as a purse (although it is a bit awkward for a purse) and the other has an insert so that you can serve food in it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Project

I finally had some time to sit down and work on a colored pencil project or two. Here is Miss Penny. She is a 12-week-old Miniature Schnauzer who lives across the street. Her portrait is done on black mat board. It is approximately 5x4.5. I selected the black background because I wanted to achieve a bit of a dramatic, contemporary look. Using the very dark background makes the lighter sections of hair stand out.