Monday, February 28, 2011

Bow Wow and Meow

As you can see from my title, I bet you have guessed what my "Opposites" theme is for the February Challenge. I have been thinking of doing some dog and cat pieces and this was a chance to do one of my cartoonish drawings. Also, I got to play with my new set of Staedtler Ergosoft Aquarell Pencils that I won at an art auction this month. I really like these watercolor pencils because they blend so well when you add water to them. 

mad cat/happy dog

I have a stack of sketchbooks, so I am using more than one sketchbook for the challenges. The first one I used for the January Challenge is a small Moleskine that I painted the pages. For this Challenge I needed a bigger sketchbook and one with thicker paper. So, to give it a little personality, I have started collaging the front of it. I will be adding designs to it as I go along with the challenge. 

I am slowing coming out of my creative slump. I think the warmer weather here in the Southern United States is helping my mood. :) I am hoping to get outside more and do some sketching with friends. I think that will help a lot with re-energizeing my artistic juices.

Have a great March!!
susan sorrell aka creative chick

February Prize Winners!

Chosen by random draw, the winners of Februarys prizes are...
(click on the winners names to see their sketchbook page
Winners must email Sue at with their full name and mailing address by 3/14/11 in order to claim their prize.

From Joggles:
winner: MrsPivec
winner: ChrisAiton

Each of the four winners will receive one $25 gift certificate to Joggles!

From Citra Solv:
winner:  CjDevine
winner: libertyjane
winner: Poplarsphinx

Three winners will each receive a gift basket filled with goodies from Citra Solv!
Citra Solv Concentrated Natural Cleaner & Degreaser, Valencia Orange  16 oz
Citra Solv Concentrated Natural Cleaner & Degreaser,  Lavender Bergamot  16 oz
Citra Solv Natural Ready to Use, Lavender Bergamot 22oz 
Citra Spot Natural Stain and Odor Remover, Valencia Orange  22 oz
Citra Suds Natural Laundry Detergent, Lavender Bergamot, 50 oz
Citra Dish Natural Dish Soap Liquid, Mango Tangerine  25 oz
Citra Dish Natural Dish Soap Liquid, Lemon Verbena  25 oz
Air Scense Natural Air ReFresher , Vanilla  7 oz
Suggested retail $62
In decorative keepsake box

From Sakura:
Winner: debhomcb

 The winner will receive:
One set of 6 Black Micron pens in various sizes. Pens include one each of Micron sizes 005 (0.20 mm), 01 (0.25 mm), 02 (0.30 mm), 03(0.35 mm), 05 (0.45 mm), and 08 (0.50 mm).
One 3 pen drawing set.  Pens include a 1.0mm Bullet, 2.0mm Chisel and a 3.0mm Chisel.  You'll also receive a red zipper case to keep your new pens in!

Winners must email Sue at with their full name and mailing address by 3/14/11 in order to claim their prize.

Congratulations to the February winners!

Look to the Middle

Kelli here. As promised, I wanted to document and share my process as I worked through the theme of opposites. It was interesting because I began by thinking of bare trees versus trees bursting with leaves. As I sketched them at opposite ends of a page, I realized that what interested me the most was in the *middle*.  The gorgeous Spring and Fall with leaves of many colors. All things, including ourselves, are on a spectrum, with opposites on either end and a host of ranges in between. That's what makes life interesting! I learned a lot about the spectrum during therapy with a bi-polar child. Bi-polar simply means fluctuating between two poles. We are all somewhere between poles, based on genetics, life experiences and our chosen path. By celebrating opposites, we actually honor all of the beauty in the middle.


I mentioned that I tend to work a piece straight through. I believe that you should keep pushing until you're happy, so this sketch went through a number of transformations, mistakes, agonies. I wait for the next step to reveal itself to me. Trial and error, success and failure. Let's review. First I created a pencil sketch, then filled it in with pen. Second step was adding some watercolor washes. Third step was to add some book text collage and thread sketching on the sewing machine. Fourth step was to paint over the collaged background. At that point I decided that it was too busy, so I added contrast with a wash of white paint at the base of the trees and muted the background. Finally, I tried to figure out what was missing. I really needed to accentuate the MIDDLE of this sketch by bringing the colorful leaves to the forefront. Bingo! I added some larger leaves and gave them a big color impact.

Look to the CENTER of life for the juiciest parts. We are all on a journey from black to white and back again. Life is a journey, art is a journey and each sketch takes a journey as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Five Days of Frogs

by Violette

Sometimes I like giving myself a simple challenge just to stretch those creative muscles now and then. I tend to like drawing faces quite a bit so this time i gave myself the challenge to draw anything BUT a face. And to make things even more difficult i thought it would be a good thing to make a stencil of what i chose. This symbol would have to be used in some shape or form for the next five days of blogging. I chose a frog because i REALLY love frogs - in the spring, summer and fall when i go for a walk at the local park i always stop by a certain pond and call out to the frogs. I'm absolutely delighted when they call back with their familiar croak! So it was natural that i would choose a frog as my symbol.

Here are the five blogposts for the Five Days of Frogs:

Day 1 Cutting the Stencil

Why not challenge yourself to do something similar? It doesn't have to be a frog - could be a heart, tree, snowflake, shoe, wrench - you name it you can do it! Have fun with it! xo

Too Matchy-Matchy?

Hi all, Judi, here!

I love to bring opposites into play in my work when things get a little too copacetic. I'm always drawn to analogous color schemes, but by the time I get everything looking all happy and cooperative, I'm bored stiff with the composition. That's when it's time to liven things up by going off the rails and adding something totally unexpected.

A good example is the two-page spread above. Everything was getting along too well, not to mention that I really disliked the page on the left.

After puttering around with some tissue and paints, I created a highly contrasting sheet of paper, which I then adhered onto the offending page with rubber cement.

Now the spread has more character.

I extended my collaged sheet over onto the right-hand page a tad, just to marry them a little more. They are certainly opposites- a cool blue/green and a warm russet/orange- but they also relate somewhat in that they were both heavily layered with the same paint colors and using the same stamping tool. I have no doubt that later they will call for something more dramatic to bind them together, but for today, this spread is incomplete and will make a wonderful background for future imagery.

More "opposites" work in my sketchbook included both opposites in composition and in color.

Here, a heavily painted collage sheet (left) is paired with a paper towel remnant (right) that had been used to mop up green/blue paint. The piece on the left is created with unnatural colors in garish combinations (my favorite kind of mixed-media art to create, quite frankly!) while the piece on the right is almost pastoral and looks as if it could have been monoprinted directly from leaves taken from my backyard. Like the one above it, this spread is incomplete.

EDIT: I wanted to take a quick moment and talk a little bit about something Joy said in her comment. She said, "To be honest, the colors made me cringe a little..." That made me smile because sometimes they make me cringe, too, Joy, and not just a little! There are pages in my sketchbook that, when I'm looking back through them for some obscure note I've written to myself or some little sketch I want to review, I rush past them because I hate so much how they look! It makes me laugh to think about it, but it's so true... a lot of work that culminates in a beautiful object to look at starts out with vast, frightening swaths of Ugly all over it.

That's the time to get brave, and to remember a couple of things: 1) it's only paper and, 2) you have nothing to lose if you change what you see. After all, if you hate, fear and loathe it anyway, why not take the chance and alter it?

The spread above, the one with the garish left page, was one such page, for me. But I've learned to have confidence in knowing that this is where the pure, simple beauty of a sketchbook shines: you can constantly work back into the pages until you pull a diamond out of a pile of raw carbon.

To find the beauty in the colors and texture of that hideous page, I knew that obliterating most of it but isolating some of it would let the colors shine out without dominating the composition with chaos. To that end, I pushed liquid frisket through a hand-cut stencil, removed the stencil immediately (the frisket rubbed right off it without any trouble), let the page dry, and then painted over all of it with Neopaque blue, which I knew would give me almost full coverage of the areas I wanted to obliterate. When the paint dried, I gently rubbed the frisket away and was left was this love little image. 

The lesson here: never give up on a ugly page, canvas, paper, piece of fabric... everything can be saved! And Joy, thank you SO much for bringing that subject up!!)

Color opposites find harmony in my sketchbooks... here, painted paper and hand-dyed fabrics that have been doodled on with Pentel Gel Fabric Pens.

Scraps of fabric previously used for experimentation are always welcome in my sketchbooks, too. Here, purple and yellow- opposites who famously don't usually work and play well together- share space without dominating one another.

More temperature opposites, turquoise and yellow, mirror each other from one side of the sketchbook to the other, the left one done with layers of paint while the right comprises layers of stacked journaling in yellow and turquoise india ink.
Jane LaFazio here. Whew, February's theme of opposites, just under the wire!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kids and Grownups, Opposites?

Hello all, Jill Berry here. I wanted to share a story of opposites, which is this month's theme.

Our family took a trip to Mexico last year. One morning I sat on the terrace of our hotel drawing the folks walking by on the Malecon, the path that runs along the sea front through much of the city of Mazatlan. I have had life drawing classes and took a realistic approach to drawing these folks, though if you have tried this you know how challenging it can be to sketch moving things. My kids were asleep inside, and I had coffee and my journal for at least an hour on that terrace. I tried to balance the page with color, composition and contrast.

Sam (who was 10) woke up, popped out on the terrace with major bedhead, saw what I was doing and asked to do a page. In one minute he drew Fish Boy, who “was laughing so hard his head got humongous.” I am especially fond of his seaweed style glasses.

Sam experienced no planning, hesitation, self-doubt or fear, he just leaped in like kids do. Watching him work is blissful, it makes my heart sing to watch him find a boy on the beach, interpret him this way and have at it. Our approaches were almost the opposite, and surely mine had exponentially more effort. Not that I was buried in fear, but you know what I mean.

I colored the page later since he was onto something else, so that part is mine, but I am enchanted with Sam’s Fish Boy, and see a real future for him.

There are more pages of this journal on my blog, and Diana Trout has some nudges about being inspired by kids on her blog.

Happy Saturday to each and every sketcher out there!


Jamie Fingal here - and discovering how fun it is to draw with Crayola Washable Markers.  My interpretation of opposites with coffee for two - featuring a couple of my favorite subjects in my work - cups and saucers and a house.  The paper I used is two-sided - one smooth and one textured - Canson Bristol 96-lb.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Opposites (am I cheating or is it just another tool!?)

Hi! Lyric here. I'm doing it again.
I had exactly what I wanted to do in my head the first day of the month.
Waited until the last minute anyway.
Stressing out because I'm trying to make it "good."
 This is the man I love. I call him Mr. Almost Perfect.
Isn't he handsome!?
The photo is by Julia Wade (who is having a photo shoot giveaway!)
I printed out a photo (yes I'm cheating again - I think it's FINE!)
Maybe in December I'll draw a face freehand.
I scribbled with a soft lead pencil on the back of the paper.
It's just enough that when I turn it over I can trace it...
...and transfer the lines to the surface of this thick watercolor paper.
I've added various color washes to almost all the pages of this book.
Just for fun. I think this was a watered down acrylic that was then sponged off a bit.
I decided to be bold and use a super cool japanese brush pen filled with india ink.
OK.... lesson learned. Don't color in the lips on guys.
Doodled with some water soluble crayons and more ink.
Doodling even more with acrylic paint markers.
I have no idea if I'm done or not. Sometimes it's best to just move on.
What do you do when something isn't working like you envisioned?
Give up? Learn from it?
Try something else? Try to fix it?
Start over?

(By the way - if you're near Cary NC on Tuesday March 1
I'll be lecturing at the Cary public library, 10am. I'd love to see you there!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style

Jane LaFazio here. I teach kids to draw, just like I teach adults in my "Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style" classes.

I want them to draw from real life objects (not photos.) I encourage them to really look and draw what they see. First to draw in pencil, then redraw and refine again in pen, then add watercolor.

It's about the experience of being in the moment and really slowing down and focusing.

And keeping a visual record of your life.

These kids are all in the 4th & 5th grade and part of my Mundo Lindo ~ Beautiful World afterschool art program. It's free to the kids. We do all kinds of art. It's one of the things I'm most proud of.

finding inspiration

Maybe this happens to you too; you want to work in your sketchbook but you just can think of anything to sketch.  Well here's an idea for you that works for me and maybe it will work for you too.  Cut random phrases from magazines, catalogs, newspapers etc:

Toss them all into a bag and then when you're looking for inspiration reach in and pull one out.  Paste it into your sketchbook and you're off ...

Posted by Sue B        

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Metal Wall Art

Carol Sloan here.

I have been helping a friend of mine call on some of his medical clients (I worked as an RN for almost two decades).
It's been very difficult for me to make the switch from  "artist" to "business person"  without having some type of art involved in it.
Even as an artists we have some "business" involved in it. Even though most of us don't like to take care of the business side of making art, we have to if we want to sell or teach what we do.

My post today doesn't really involve the business aspect of making art.
But it does involve the business of art making.


While calling on one client, I was sitting in the waiting room...well, waiting...
Being an artist, I tend to notice every little thing around me.

In this particular room, there was a piece of metal art on the wall.
I have no idea what it was made out of, who made it (no mark indicating that) or where it came from.
It could have been a mass produced design for all I know.

It was on a curved base so it really appeared to be a 3d representation of three slim trees or twigs.
It really sparked my interest as well as inspired a couple of drawings from me.

I'll show you the original quick sketch that I made on a post card while sitting in the office.

It wasn't exactly like the metal art, just similar enough that I could see
the shape that interested I could see the potential that I saw in it the first time.

I took this card home and drew a couple of similar drawings in my sketchbook.
What I am doing is trying to play with the general shape of the arching trunks or limbs.
I am also trying out a couple of different leaf shapes.

Here are two that I have finished (while at baseball games).

I may draw a couple more to try out a spacing idea that I have.
In the mean time, I will place these in my sketchbook journal for future use.

I always carry a small sketchbook with me in my purse but this time I didn't have my purse with me.
I used the only thing that I did have, which was a post card to write my work notes on.

I would have never been able to recall the shape of the trees when I got home.

Always, always sketch something when you see it or as quickly as possible after that so you can record the very thing that caught your attention in the first place.
Or take a photo of it.

You'll regret that later if you don't.

I hope that you all are having a peek at the great work over at the flickr site!
I'm impressed and inspired every single day by the work that is posted there.
Hope that you're drawing everyday - your skills really will improve if you do this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Sketch-In!

What's a sketch-in?  It's a event where you gather with others and work in your sketchbook to the current sketchbook challenge theme!  I held one last week in my studio with my friends Kathy, Kathleen, Sue P and Sue F (no website for Sue F yet - and no that's not a typo, there's really 5 of us sharing only two names) and we had so much fun...

We spread out on my work table and got to work.  We were all supposed to bring something related to opposites to sketch and I brought Apples and Oranges which you can see in the middle of the table.

Kathleen did this sketch using water soluble crayons:

Sue F decided to do a sketch using opposite line styles - straight and curved and then added some color with colored pencils:

I used the same concept of opposing line styles on page in my sketchbook that had already had color on it:

Sue P found something in one of my sketchbooks to inspire a page in her own which I thought was pretty cool:

I didn't get a photo of Kathy's apples and oranges sketch but I did get one of her working in charcoal sketching one of the coffee mugs on the table:

Attending a sketch-in is a lot of fun and a great way to get motivated to work in your sketchbook.  I had so much fun at this one I talked to fellow sketchbook challenge artist Jane Davies about it and we decided that we should do one together and invite you all to join us, so...

Join sketchbook challenge artists Sue Bleiweiss and Jane Davies at a sketch-in!  What's a sketch-in?  It's a place you can go where everybody is sketching to the current sketchbook challenge theme.  Ink About It in Westford Ma is hosting a sketch-in on Sunday April 17, 2011 from  10:00 - 4:00.  We'll kick off the sketch-in with some fun and easy drawing exercises to get everyone loosened up and then get to sketching, drawing and collaging in our sketchbooks to the April theme.   Bring your pencils, pens, watercolors, crayons, scissors,  glue and sketchbooks and be prepared to have a lot of fun!  We’ll also be doing a simple book making exercise and introducing you to some of our favorite sketching, drawing and painting techniques.  We'll have lots of different mark making tools for you to play and experiment with so don't worry if all you have to bring with you is a pad of paper and a pencil.  No previous sketching, drawing, bookmaking or collaging experience necessary to take this workshop.  All you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to have some fun!  workshop fee is $60 and space is limited so to reserve your seat call Ink About It at 978-392-0321 to register.