Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall and stuff

OK, so its finally Fall. Yay! And it actually rained today. Double Yay!!! 

I've been super busy working on this secret project that I'm tired of keeping a secret but have to for a little bit more until I'm finally really done. I thought I'd be done by Oct. 1st, but it looks like I need a couple more weeks. When I'm finally finished you'll be sick of seeing it and hearing about it. But for now, I'm still staying mum.

The drawing of autumn above was a fun little diversion. I wanted it to look like yarn, and did it all digital, start to finish. I've done these yarn drawings before with colored pencils, but what happens is they're hard to clean up after they're scanned because of all the little 'hairs'. Its too hard to try and erase out the paper texture when you have to go around all those fine little bits. So I had a go at it with my digital colored pencil. 

Then I did this one. Its a little softer, and fuzzier. 

I work in layers in Photoshop with my special colored pencil texture brush, building up the color just as I would if I were using 'real' colored pencils. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the setting just right - opacity, scale, hardness, etc., but in the end it gets there.

Here's the top layer with just the fuzzy bits. Fun, huh?

I've also been doing some knitting, taking custom orders. It feels like knitting weather finally, and I enjoy sitting with my cats and working on a piece with a cup of fresh hot coffee. 

The stores are all bursting with pumpkin flavored everything, and its a little overwhelming. I did find a nice pumpkin ginger spice cake at Trader Joe's which is lovely, but I shy away from most of the stuff like pumpkin lattes and potato chips and beer (OK, I don't know about those last two, but I'm sure someone, somewhere has done them). I'm looking forward to a really good pumpkin pie before the season is over. Then we're on to mince meat! But that's another story.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Strokes of Genius

I'm so excited that my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast drawing has been selected to be in the Strokes of Genius 8: Exploring Textures book!

You can see the list of all the winners to be included in the book, here.

The Strokes of Genius books are compilations of contemporary drawings, with a theme. They are competitions sponsored by The Artist's Network, and the books are published by North Light Books. I've always drooled over the winning pieces, and this year I decided to enter. The book comes out in 2016, and you know I will be blogging and tweeting it all over the place when it does!

So this kind of marks a 'year of entering stuff'. I decided to enter some of my colored pencil drawings in a few shows, just to see what would happen. I did a rough tally of how it worked out financially, and have to say I'm fairly pleased. I entered 3 pieces in 4 shows (some were entered in more than one). The pieces were accepted into all the shows but one (an online show). Two won $$ awards. So after tallying up all the entry fees and framing costs, I just about broke even, thanks to the awards. The only cost that put me over the top was shipping to the CPSA show in Atlanta, and the cost of the shipping box. So all in all, considering I was doing this in in a rather casual way (not entering in every single 'important' show there is, and only showing 3 pieces), I feel pretty happy with the results!

I started a 'new year' of entering by entering this year's UArt Open show with my BLT piece, but it didn't get accepted. Last year I had two pieces in their show, and won an award! So you just never know. I know people who've entered a piece in CPSA and not been accepted, then enter the same piece the next year and win an award. So this entering shows thing is not for the feint of heart. It can really bruise your ego to not 'get in', let alone not win anything. Then there's the money part. You really have to be serious about this 'fine art' thing to do it properly and be successful. You also have to be very organized about what you're entering, and keep track of which pieces will need to be shipped to where if they get accepted, and how long they'll be 'tied up' in that show, which will make them unavailable for another show, etc. 

I haven't decided yet if I will pursue this whole 'show' thing more, or not. Right now I'm super immersed (obsessed) with a project that I'm excited about, and its taking up ALL of my time. But I'm having fun, and can't wait until I can share it! Hopefully in about a month? If all goes well.

Its Labor Day here today. I will be 'laboring', although I think the point is that we take a day off. I'm happy though to be working on something I love, so it doesn't really feel like work. Maybe I'll take a day off from housework in honor of the day - guilt-free! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

More cookie drawings

Cookies are fun to draw! Especially if they're good ones, because you get to eat them afterwards.

These were all kind of experiments, or 'practice' drawings. 

This first one is a 'stamped' design with chocolate on one side, some kind of creme filling, then a vanilla version of the stamped design on the reverse. I drew this on Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, which is really textured, and sort of worked against me. But I wrangled it and got it under control and made it do what I wanted. The cookie is very dark, with the even darker impressions where its stamped. Doing a drawing where all the values are in the last 25% or so of the grey scale is rather challenging. I did resort to using some black, but mostly used dark browns, with a little greyed lavender on top to raise some highlights. This is small - about 4 inches square. But is still larger than the actual cookie!

This one is chocolate with peanut chunks. Not as dark a chocolate as the one above - more like a milk chocolate. This is drawn about actual size, and is also ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". This was done on Stonehenge paper.

This one is molasses with creme filling. Its very soft and squishy (the cookie, that is). Its the same paper size and materials as the last drawing, but the cookie is drawn much smaller than in real life. 

When I go grocery shopping I'm always on the lookout for fun little things like this to draw. I'll have a basket with organic greens, artisan bread, sushi, and then something like these cheap little trashy cookies. 

I'm working on something cool that I hope I can share soon. If you don't see me here for a while, its because I'm immersed in my secret project, drawing drawing . . .

Sunday, August 02, 2015


15" x 15" 
Prismacolor colored pencils on Stonehenge paper

BLT stands for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. I honestly don't know if that's just an American, or English-speaking thing, or if it translates to other languages or cultures. Here, you just go into a restaurant and order a "BLT" and you might be asked what kind of bread you want it on, and maybe "toasted?", but otherwise they know what you're ordering. 

Some places have fancied-up versions with avocado, which to me makes it something else altogether. A proper BLT should be on white toast, with mayo. 

I had fun putting together the reference for this! I fried up some bacon, sliced some nice 'off the vine' tomatoes, rinsed some leaves of head lettuce, toasted up some plain white bread, and cracked open a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise. (It HAS to be Best Foods. )

The other fun thing was shopping for the frilly toothpicks. I am now the proud owner of a box of 1,000 of them, since that's the only way they come, apparently. So I am well stocked for a lifetime of BLT making! 

This was the first work-in-progress scan I did. The toast was the most challenging part of the drawing. Lots of nooks and crannies.

And then the next, with the toast done, the toothpicks in, and the bacon and tomatoes partway there.

And then I didn't do any more work in progress shots. I wanted to just get it done, so I glued myself to the chair and didn't feel like getting up to scan.

I purposely did this drawing a little looser in style than my previous 'architectural food' pieces. It still has a formal layout, with the top, and section views. But I combined the "side" and "section" views by doing the individual quarters this way, and also let the sandwich itself be a little sloppy - the way they are in real life.

And then I thought it would be fun to show one of them eaten, with just the toothpick left.

So there you have it. I have prints in the shop.
Are you craving one now? :~)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


How time flies. I thought I'd be back here sooner, but I think there's some sort of time warp thing that happens when its really hot. Like, everything slows down and days go by and you don't even know what you've been doing. It all kind of melts together, and next thing you know its been weeks since you've updated your blog.

So I said I'd have the finished art of the mice reading the letter done, but I don't. Its been worked on and changed and added to - a lot - and will be done soon! No, really. I've had to switch over to other things. And one of them I can show is this cookie art.

These are actually all individual drawings, which I did a mash-up of for a group portrait. This is what they really look like ~

They're all Prismacolor colored pencils on paper, and are all ACEO size (2.5" x 3.5").

I've already made prints available of the group shot, but am thinking of putting some of these originals for sale as well. If I can get my brain out of slo-mo enough to get it together. Really, when its 100 degrees, I have to do more 'lie downs' and everything is so much more of an effort. And I have good A/C! But still. 

When I was a kid, before we got central air installed, we had a regular air conditioner in the up-high bathroom window. I so clearly remember going in there and turning it up full blast, then laying down on the floor in the dark with the door shut, just soaking in the freezing air coming out, for as long as I could get away with before I either froze, or someone knocked to see what was up. 

Anyways. Yeah. Cookies! Please let me know if you're interested in any one in particular, and I'll put a listing together for you in the shop. The background on the originals is a warm white with some paper texture. I've cleaned all that up for the prints and made it very white - just fyi.

Hope its cool where you are!!

Saturday, June 27, 2015


"Happy" comes in many flavors.

There is the "reading a letter and seeing photos of loved ones" happy. 

I'm doing a major edit on this illustration (which I showed you in the last post). I've added Mr. Mouse's wife, and embellished the 'story' quite a bit. He is still reading a letter, but now there are photos included. Mrs. Mouse is looking at one (no doubt of a Mouse grandchild or other special near-and-dear, and has her hand on her chest in that "My! how he's grown!" or "Look how beautiful she is!" or gesture.

There is also some stamp collector busy-ness going on there. You can see how I work here - layers of tissue, taped one on top of the other, with edits done, and re-done, and re-done, until its right. Lots of fiddling with the exact placement of things, overlaps, angles, etc., all to make it interesting and a good design. Its getting there, and hopefully I'll have finished art to show next time.

Then there's "YAY! Gay Marriage is finally legal all across the Land!" happy.

I did some creative editing on my striped candy colored pencil drawing to make it into a whole rainbow, in honor of the Gay Pride rainbow theme.

Below is the original drawing. I used Photoshop to duplicate a piece of it, then did a lot of flopping and reversing and erasing and fiddling to get it to look like two more candies balancing on top. Then I used the "replace color" thing in the Adjustments menu to make them blue and purple. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's still all my drawing, just with some changes made.

I've made prints available in my etsy shop, in a whole bunch of sizes. 
These are some of my print layouts, all ready to go. I do layouts of the art in different sizes, all on 8.5" x 11" paper, with trim marks. Here you see the ACEO, 5" x 7", and 4" x 6" sizes all ready to print out. 

And last but not least, there's the "My art won an award!!" happy.

An Award of Excellence!! I'm so proud of my little Berry Tart.

This drawing almost didn't get finished. I did this last Summer, and wanted to enter it in the UArt Open Exhibit. The deadline was approaching, but I came down with the weirdest mystery illness that involved a lot of vertigo (where the level in your head goes wonky and you feel like you're going to tip over). I had that on and off for weeks. I'd work on this, then have a spell and have to go lie down. I finally finished the day before the deadline to submit art to the show - but because it was so close, I couldn't mail in the entry, and instead had to drive it over to the UArt store downtown and deliver it in person. I opted to drive the slower city streets route rather than the freeway, just in case. I made it there OK, and thankfully found parking right in front. There was a bit of a queue though at the counter, and while I waited my turn I felt myself start to go . . . I had a mild panic, thinking I'd topple over, but just in time it was my turn, and I handed over my entry packet to a nice man who wished me a hearty "Good luck!". And I was out the door and into the car, where I was OK again, since I was sitting. And I made it home again, slowly.

So long story short, the art did get accepted into that show (along with my Molasses Cookie, which won an award!), then came home again, where its been sitting in a closet all nice and safe until I decided to enter it in this State Fair show. There are some other really stunning entries in the colored pencil division of the show, so I was surprised and extra happy to find out mine had won a special award.

Here is the complete list of show winners, if your'e interested. 

So that's about it for me, here. Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A mouse, cats and sushi

On the board ~

I love mice. This is how I think of them. So its really hard when my cats catch them and bring them in the house. I rescued one from under the lingerie chest the other day, which had been brought in sometime during the night (the mouse, not the lingerie chest ). I managed to corner him and get him in a box, then kept the cats in while I released him back into the shrubberies. I like to think he made it home to his little nest, where he recovered himself with some tea and snacks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Speaking of bad kitties . . .
Here are the Catley Twins, Master Edmund and Miss Edwina ~

They couldn't resist goofing it up for their pictures. And they both got in trouble for it. Sent to bed without supper, the both of them.
Both have a bad habit of dropping mice and other small creatures off the roof onto the heads of unsuspecting people down below, so be careful if you ever visit Mewton Manor, and are walking around outside - be sure to look up once in a while.
These two are available as prints in the arCATecture shop.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

I had the itch to do some dim sum and sushi drawings. These are all ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". 
(ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. Its a "thing". People collect these, as well as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). The deal is, ATCs are traded, while ACEOs are sold. They are a nice way for artists to offer original art, and prints, at a more affordable price to people who might be interested in their work.)

And so ~

First up we have a Chinese Potsticker.

Then some Salmon Sushi,

And some Tuna Sushi.

I'm working on a Shrimp one too.

I could eat this stuff every day, that's how much I love it! But I know its not for everyone. So we'll see if anyone has any interest in these. I've put the originals* in the shop, matted; and also have prints available, matted or unmatted.
*The salmon sushi original has been sold.

I'm also adding some ACEO size prints for some of the other art I already have in the shop - the herb drawings, some other food, and some kids book art. Basically, if the art lends itself to be cropped into that size well enough, I'm doing an ACEO of it. It'll take me a little time to do them all, but bit by bit I'll get there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Its been very hot here. Over 100! I managed to get my two 'show pieces' of art delivered to their respective places the other day, in the 104 heat. One went to the State Fair Fine Art Bldg, and the other went to FedEx to be shipped. Its always hard to say good bye to your art, even if its just for a show. I hope both drawings will enjoy their adventures and have a good time being ogled by the public. I will be glad to have them home again in a couple of months!

Monday, June 01, 2015

new arCATecture works in progress

I'm playing catch-up with my arCATecture kitty drawings. Still trying to finish up the first Up & Downstairs Tabbies series, which I had meant to be done with over a month ago. Oh well. Real life and other work has a way of changing the best laid plans, doesn't it?

The two who are on the board at the moment are the Catley Twins - Edmund and Edwina.
They're both kind of brats. Both decided to stick their tongues out and cross or roll their eyes just as the picture was taken. Their parents (Lord and Lady Catley) were not amused.

Here is Edmund, about half rendered with colored pencils. He is in a traditional Edwardian juvenile sailor get-up. He will get more colored pencil and fur, then I'll do a little Photoshop magic to make some whiskers and put in the banner with his name underneath, like all the other kitties have.

Here's what he looked like on tracing paper. Scary! I had the eyes looking straight out, then over-drew them crossed, and also changed the tongue - all on the same drawing. He looks like Dracula or something (OK, just decided I need to do a Dracula kitty - note to self.) I also flopped him going the other way, so the two will be facing each other in the final art.

And here's his sister Edwina. Same thing with the eyes. I decided to make them rolling up. She has one of those ridiculous over-sized hair bows that all the girls wore back then.

So that's what happening here - cats on the board, and everywhere else.

In other news, my Berry Tart drawing has been accepted into the California State Fair's Fine Art Exhibit. So that's fun! The last time I entered this was in high school, and didn't get in (which I was so steamed about after I saw what did get in that I wrote a nasty letter to the judge - heh).

So I will have two pieces of art in shows this summer (the Fried Egg piece will be in Atlanta for CPSA). Feeling a little puffed up about that, I must admit. Have some ideas for new food pieces - but first I have to finish the kitties! Its soooo easy to get behind with these things, isn't it? Maybe I should do a post about DISCIPLINE . . .

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Drawing of a cat reading

I feel like doing pen and ink again. I've been doing colored pencils for everything for so long now, its almost like I have to give myself permission to do something else. I drew this little piece while sitting on the porch with the kitties, just hanging out. It was fun. And I didn't think about it very much.

I had some printer paper and a cheap ball point pen, and had intended to make serious lists of things I need to do/draw/figure out, etc., but instead I started drawing this couch.

I added the granny square afghan, then the pillows, then the upholstery.

Next came the lamp. I had no idea where I was going with this. I drew it hanging over the couch, then decided it needed one going the other way. Next was the table, and the stuff on it.

Then the kid,

who needed something to look at, so next came the cat.
I did the chair first, and then added the cat.

Nothing profound. Just fun. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Entering Art $hows

I haven't entered very many juried art shows. I was thrilled to get my Twix Mini piece into the CPSA International Exhibition 5 years ago, then didn't enter anything again until the UArt Show here last year. Not sure why exactly, just not motivated I guess, or unwilling to get on that merry-go-round, for whatever reasons. 

OK, wait, maybe I do know. Its expensive

I know its gauche to talk about money. But if you're trying to make a living as an artist, and you want to do the 'show circuit', you need to know what you're getting into.

First, there's the entry fee. That's typically $20-$35 per piece, with sometimes a discount if you enter more than one piece.
Then you have to get the piece framed (not everything needs to be framed, but I'm talking about drawings, which definitely do).
Then you have to ship the art to wherever the show is (if you get in), and arrange to have it shipped back.
That all adds up!

I was excited to have my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast piece accepted into this year's CPSA International Exhibition. Its the only piece I entered, and the entry fee was $25. I took the art in to be framed the other day, and that will cost roughly $250 (simple but elegant natural wood frame with plexiglass, for an 11" x 17" drawing). Next I will have to ship it, and have no idea what that will cost. I will do FedEx, and will have to arrange for the return shipping as well. $100 maybe? (That might be a little high, or not. I can't remember what it cost last time.) Then there's the shipping box itself. I have a special Airfloat Systems box that I'm hoping I can use again, if its the right size. I think the one I have cost $45 or so - its probably more $ now. And in addition to all of that, there's a $40 cartage fee required for the show. So lets' add that all up, shall we? 

Entry fee: $25
Framing: $250
Box: $45
Shipping: $100 (estimated guess)
Cartage: $40
Total: $460 (or so)

Lets' just say $450 to make it easier. That's not cheap, is it?
And if you enter more than one show a year, with different pieces of art, that can really add up fast.

On a whim, and at the 11th hour of the entry deadline day, I decided to enter my Berry Tart piece in the CA State Fair this year. I have no expectations whatsoever of getting in, since this is a state-wide show, with so many different kinds of art being entered, but I decided to go for it.

Notice the Sale/Price Value I put on the art: $2,000.
This piece is already framed, since I had it in the UArt show last year. The entry fee for the State Fair is only $20. And if it gets in, I can just hand deliver it because I live right here, a few miles away. So that will cost me way less than the CPSA show.

Also, I'm thinking 'gallery', someday, maybe. You have to consider the gallery fees (usually 50%), so a $2,000 piece will automatically only net $1,000. Subtract the framing, and that leaves $750. Not bad, but not $2,000. So even though $2,000 might seem high, it really isn't.

Ideally, we'd all win the big $$ awards in these shows, and that would offset the costs of entering!! Last year I did win a nice little sum in the UArt show with my Molasses Cookie drawing, and that definitely paid for the costs associated with entering. But you can't count on winning. You have to just enter, and hope for the best.

Its serious business being a fine artist and going this route. Its easy to get discouraged if you don't get accepted, let alone win anything. But I'm giving it a bit of a go, and we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

New website

F I N A L L Y.
The new is live!

It needs 'more' (mostly, art samples), and a couple of fiddly tweaks, but over all I'm pretty happy with it. I used the godaddy website builder, mostly because I have my domain name registered there already, and also had a credit. So it made sense. I wanted something simple, and I like the scroll-down design rather than fancier bells and whistles. I went with the business site option, which lets you have a lot of pages. They have several templates you can choose from, and I chose the "Freelance Portfolio" one - and then completely changed it (of course). Its all 'drag-and-drop' and really easy to use. They give you a lot of options for little design-y things (I got so excited over the 'make rounded corners' thingy!), most of which I didn't even use. So I would recommend this. (*godaddy is not paying me to say any of this, by the way)

Besides the business option, they have a simple and inexpensive 5 page option, and also upgrades for SEO optimizing, as well as a store-builder. It can add up, but they have sales often so I plan to wait for one of those before I sign up for anything else.

There are so many options for website building software these days. Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, come to mind. They're all beautiful and modern and fancy and hip. I kind of like the idea of not being so trendy though, and sticking with something a little more classic. It fits my style. 

Another really good thing with this is that its mobile-friendly! (All those other options I listed are too, I'm sure.) I looked at my old site on my phone and it was microscopic. The godaddy website builder lets you preview how your site will look on a desktop and a phone as you go along, so you know exactly what you're doing. On a phone, it arranges all the images in a single file 'up and down' scrolling thing, which are sometimes a little out of sync with how they're arranged on the page, but its still 100% better than what I had before, so I'm fine with it.

Full disclosure: there are a couple of things I'm not 100% thrilled with, and wish I could change.

1) You're allowed 2 drop-down pages for each main page. Which is great. But. Normally, if you hover over a page title that has drop-down choices, you just pick one of those and go to that page. With this design, the main title page is also 'clickable', and is still a stand alone page by itself. So you need to have stuff on there as well as the drop down pages, which feels a little redundant, and I'm not sure how to get around that. (Like, if you hover over "Children's Books", "Color" and "Black & White" pages come up as the drop down options. I think most people would just click on one of those, and not the actual main page - does that make sense?).

2) Another thing is, the way I designed my pages, every element - image, or type - is independent, and can be dragged around to go anywhere on the page. Which I love! But, when I decide to update the site with new work, which will go on the top of the page, I'll have to rearrange the whole rest of the page downward, one piece at a time, rather than selecting the whole lot and dragging it as one thing. Pretty sure anyway. There might be some way to do it easier that I haven't figured out yet, so don't quote me on this.

Still, I'm super happy to have this done, and it will be fun to update things and fiddle around with it as I go. I know several people who are re-doing their websites right now. It must be "website re-design season"! Its soooooooooooooooooooo much easier now than it used to be - remember using (or trying to use) Dreamweaver or . . . what was the other one? Go Live, that was it. Blimey! I never did figure those out.

Please let me know if you find any links that don't work, or if anything feels clunky or 'off' or weird.
Happy Website Building!