Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cat Portrait Commission - Pen and Ink I love pen and ink! It has been some time since I have done a pet portrait, but I recently had a commission for a beautiful, Siamese cat. 

I worked from photos like I normally do, but the cat itself was difficult to photograph because of the dark markings on the face and there was some glare on the photos. It was a bit challenging to render, but even so, I think it turned out very well.

The final drawing was approximately 10" wide by 8" high and was done with my Rapidograph 3x0 (.25) pen on smooth Bristol paper. 

The fine pen was terrific for the face, but I started to question my sanity when I began to fill in the fur on the back half of the cat, most of which was dark brown to black. It went faster than I anticipated, though, and I think the fine pen lines worked really well to captured the subtle fur patterns, rather than just filling it in as a solid black.

This is an early photo of the pencil work as I blocked in the fur markings, etc. I always make sure my pencil areas are marked in before beginning any ink. If it doesn't look right in pencil, it won't look right in ink.

I did NOT fill in the fur on the back entirely with pencil (except for the tail), but rather just marked where there were changes in the direction of the fur as a sort of map to doing the pen work.

The final, finished drawing.

Once I finished with the pen work, I let it dry thoroughly overnight and then took my kneaded eraser to the whole thing to remove any stray pencil marks. I think the final turned out well and hope that the owner enjoys both the cat and the drawing for many years.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trip to South Carolina!

I recently returned from a wonderful vacation to South Carolina. We spent a week in Myrtle Beach and had the opportunity to explore the area a bit.

Of course, we spent a good bit of time at the beach. I don't know who had more fun collecting seashells, my 5-year-old daughter or me! I was fascinated by the beautiful colors often found on the underside of of the big chunks of clamshells that wash up on the beach. I also found a few interesting shapes and sizes and even a bit of coral.

The whole lot.

Some coral in the center and although it isn't obvious in the photo, the shell on the left has beautiful pink and purple tones on it.

Loved the shape of this one in the center. Beautiful spiral.

Lots of interesting textures, patterns, and colors.

I didn't have much time to draw while there, but I did a few quick sketches. I can't wait to do more and in color!

In addition to the beach, we had a chance to visit the gorgeous Brookgreen Gardens. Located just south of Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens is "a National Historic Landmark with the most significant collection of figurative sculpture in an outdoor setting by American artists in the world and has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the coast of the Carolinas." 

We took a Lowcountry boat tour through historic rice fields, saw a wonderful sculpture exhibit on the American West, had a fantastic lunch there, and while my husband, sister and brother took my girls to the zoo, I did a quick walk through some of the gardens near the main visitor center. 

I really enjoyed the magnolia trees everywhere and saw many trees with the fruits developing and flowers just starting to emerge.

One of my very favorite parts of the garden was Live Oak Allee. Here, huge Southern Live Oaks, approximately 250 years old, line the walkway. Spanish moss hangs down off of them and their majestic presence is just amazing.


Of course, I took more photos than I have room for here. I can't wait to go back for another visit. One nice thing about the gardens is that if you are down for a visit, your tickets are good for 7 consecutive days, so you can return to see more without additional cost. We only had time for one day, but next time, I'll be sure to plan some return trips!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Pendants!

Gemstones - I just love 'em. The natural colors and patterns that the earth creates and that people shape and polish grab my attention every time.

What is your favorite semi-precious gemstone? Do you have a "thing" for a particular natural object that inspires your art or jewelry? Let me know!

For me, I really enjoy the small rounds that I have been using to create my bracelets. I tend to use the 4mm (which are fairly small) and the 6mm stones. Recently, however, I ordered some larger stones that caught my attention - some Mookaite jasper nuggets and some fossil coral puff squares. I ordered them thinking I might use them in my bookmarks. But when they arrived and were actually a bit larger than I thought and it started the creative juices flowing...rather than use them for bookmarks, I thought they would make fantastic pendants!

One thing I love about a chunk of gemstone is the simple beauty of the stone itself. I strive to use only natural stones that have been cut and polished, but otherwise not enhanced. I want to emphasize that naturalness and simplicity in my pendants whenever possible. Also, my personal wardrobe is pretty simple these days as I have young children, so I love a simple necklace or pendant to add some interest to a solid-color shirt or other casual outfit.

For my first pendant, I used black leather cord (1.5mm) and a beautifully patterned fossil coral square (approx. 3/4 inches square.)

Instead of metal pins and jump rings, I preferred to attach the stone using some matching S-Lon thread, looped through, knotted and carefully glued so that the pendant can still be moved on the cord. It turned out very well. 

I made the next few pendants with various Mookaite jasper nuggets, which come in a gorgeous, earthy range of deep maroon, dark red, pink, pearly white, and goldenrod yellow, some of those all on the same stone! This time, I experimented with some 1mm waxed cotton cord. Although I am sure I will make more with leather, the waxed cotton offers a nice alternative for those who do not care for leather, and I really like the lighter weight and drape of the waxed cotton. I used both dark brown and black waxed cotton cord, but also a lovely light yellow that went very nicely with the goldenrod Mookaite nugget.

Dark goldenrod stone with dark brown markings. 

Pink and goldenrod stone - already sold! :)

Toffee-colored stone with some dark gold markings on the bottom.

Another Mookaite nugget - this one with beautiful deep maroon, red, and cream colored markings.

As you can see, I paired some of these stones with some complimentary Czech glass beads, which add a little sparkle to the design without overshadowing the stone.

I purposely made the pendants longer and with an adjustable closure so that the wearer could easily slip them over the head and choose the length.

Finally, here is one that I did with a gorgeous malachite teardrop-shaped bead and a 4mm malachite round. With the silver Czech beads and black cord, it makes for a striking pendant. 

I have some great ideas from my bead stash and some new waxed cotton cord colors that should arrive this week, so definitely stay-tuned to the Etsy shop for more beautiful pendants! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Trillium Print - Combined Composition

I recently ventured into creating my first, small, print run of my artwork to be used in a gifting event. This was for the Christmas in July gift bags, an event for the indiExhibit, which were gifted to a small group of twelve celebrities.

I have participated in events before, but never gifted a print of my artwork before. I had to keep it fairly small, as there were items from other artists in the bags also.

I knew which drawings I wanted to use - two drawings of a white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), from sketches and reference photos taken at an art retreat last year (see my first post here.) I love wildflowers and really enjoyed getting to know some of the local ones, including the beautiful white trillium. The triangular, pointed leaves and petals really appealed to me. 

I had completed one drawing in color (ink and colored pencil) of the plant in bud, and had an ink drawing of the plant flowering, so I thought it would be interesting to combine the two into a simple, botanical print. I scanned both drawings into my photo editing program and played with the composition until I felt it was right.  I really wanted to showcase the full color drawing, so I wanted that in the foreground. Personally, I found it more interesting that the drawing of the plant in bud, not full flower, was emphasized.  Rearranging it several times, and printing out drafts, I settled on the vertical presentation. 

I added some italicized text at the bottom to identify the plant and printed it out on acid-free, white cardstock. The final, matted print was only 5x7 inches, and I thought of it as similar to a note card (not intended as an archival, fine art print) that showcases my work, but isn't expected to last 500 years. I am hoping that maybe the celebrity recipients find it to be a little piece of botanical interest that they can put in their home or give to another friend or relative who likes this style of art.

The final print in it's white mat.

Back of the print with a small printout with my contact information and information about the trillium plant itself. Might as well educate a bit while I am at it! :)

Of course, I finished the gift package by putting the print/mat/backing into a clear bag, including my business card and wrapped a little green, waxed linen thread around it with a gift tag on the front (that included my holly painting, since it was for Christmas, after all!) 

It's unusual to get any direct feedback from the celebrity recipients (understandably), unless they are exceedingly gracious to each artist included in the gift bags or happen to really take to a particular artist's work. However, I love that this gave me an opportunity to "expand my horizons" (thank you, Mrs. Pletcher!) and think of how I could present my work and share a little of my artistic interests with a different audience.

Have you ever ventured out of your comfort zone or usual routine to do something different like this? I would love to hear about it!
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