Saturday, December 30, 2006


On January 2nd, it will be my weblog's anniversary. It was a tentative step into the world of commitment and a bit of an experiment. It wasn't really until late February that I came into my stride and seriously started writing and sharing information and art.

I started the blog with completely selfish purposes. I wanted it to make me accountable. I wanted to increase my output in art, to increase my visibility as an artist to the world, become more knowledgeable about art and meet others who may be on similar journeys. I achieved most of these things in the last 12 months.

I have reflected on the past year and looked at some highlights in my blog. Some are happy, some silly, some groundbreaking. I also have thought about what I have learned in the past year of being involved in a blogging community and how it has changed me.

I have learned that I can make a change in my life, even at my age. I can move into new areas, even if its outside my comfort zone and grow from the experience.

I know that people who I seek out or who seek me out are on similar searches to learn and grow artistically and that we all learn from each other and support each other in varied ways.

I know that I have the ability to produce art on a regular basis as well as function in my life and work and make them all fit. I know that I can pluck words out of the air and make them - most of the time - seem coherent.

I forged new ground, met new people and improved my skills in art and writing. I made progress without really trying to do so. And that's what amazes me most of all. With some effort, the next year can be more productive and that is my aim, both personally and professionally.

This moose is one of a series of wild animals in Newfoundland and Labrador that I'm experimenting with. The drawing isn't complete yet. Its done in coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper 9 x 12.

I have an option of providing some drawings and prints to local downtown stores for the summer tourist season. Not being a local scene person, I've opted for local animals instead and will see how they are received. Black bears, caribou, wolves, mink, squirrels and lynx are some of the animals that I will be trying to render, along with a few of the dogs commonly associated with the province.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Portraits and photos

I finished a double portrait of my niece and nephew before Christmas and sent it on to where it belongs. I combined two separate photos for this portrait and they weren't the greatest photos to start with, so I looked at other images I had of these two and 'winged it' a bit to create the parts that were still misty to me.

It seems to be that way a lot of the time with commissioned work that is done from reference photos, which is why I always offer to take photographs. That way I know I will have some good images to work from.

People often assume that artists have some sort of special vision that allows them to see what isn't there. They produce dog eared photos taken with a terrible camera in full flash of a fuzzy featured animal some 20 feet away that they say is 'the best photo of Georgie' and then go on to back it up with even worse images.

I know that often a good clear image is not possible and I do work with what I am provided. But I live in hope that one day someone will provide me with a large, clear closeup so I don't have to play detective quite so much.

For those commissioning portraits, animal or person, bear in mind the following points:

1 Photos taken using a flash tend to flatten out features and don't provide enough lighting and contrast for a good drawing to be created.
2. An image taken with the subject's back to the sun will be, more or less, a silouette and won't have much in the way of defining features.
3. I cannot make your terrier look like a poodle, nor can I make you look like you are 21 again. I can tweak a little, but you are going to look like you.
4. A photo that is taken halfway across a field will not provide enough detail to produce more than a blob of colour. You won't be happy with the result and neither will I.
5. I will provide you with sketches of a couple of different poses to choose from. Once you have made your decision and I have developed the drawing or painting, its not wise to change your mind. You will be out of pocket and I will be out of patience.

To be very honest, the majority of people who I deal with are kind, responsive and enjoy the portraits that I produce. 1 in 500 is not. For that person, I do the best that I can and work with them to ensure that their needs are met. Then I readjust the fine print on the contract...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The drawing in this post was part of a Secret Santa thread in an art forum that I participate in. The concept of dreaming big is always appealing and having a cheetah for a pet isn't that farflung - at least not for the recipient of this drawing who was pleased with his virtual gift.

I had unsubscribed to Alyson Stanfield's art marketing newsletter a few months back, being on overload with too much mail and work and reading. Then the other day I read about Alyson's latest newsletter on Celebrate in Katherine Tyrrell's blog. It made me think about the past year and what I have accomplished. I am taking some time to go down through the list of questions and examine what I have done in 2006.

Alyson is right, it is amazing just what you find that you've accomplished.

It’s the time to take a good hard look at the steps you’ve taken toward reaching your goals. And I’ll bet you’ve made more progress than you know.

That’s why it’s important to do this exercise. If you don’t write down your achievements, you’ll just keep thinking about what’s left to do.

With that in mind, what did you do this year? Take into consideration:

* How many works did you create?
too many to count in the form of sketches - 3 sketchbooks at least and at least a dozen large works
* What trips (local or far away) did you make to nourish your art?
Mary Pratt's Simple Bliss exhibition, The Rooms
* How much money did you make from your art?
under $1,000
* What classes (business or creative) did you take?
coloured pencil, realistic drawing, composition, charcoal
* What did you invest in that will help you to run a more profitable or streamlined business?
Furniture to assist with drawing classes in house, a new printer,drafting table, replaced an old easel
* Whom did you hire so that you can spend more time on your creative career? (framer, virtual assistant, housekeeper, lawn mower, bookkeeper)
* Whom did you meet that has turned out to be a mentor?
Brenda Hoddinott
* What books did you read? What magazines?
Art & Fear, The Creative License; Artist's Magazine
* What movies did you see that inspired you?
I'm not a movie watcher
* How many names did you add to your mailing list? (Note the exact number so you can evaluate your progress this time next year.)
Fifteen people
* What habits or routines did you put into place?
daily drawing for at least an hour
* What habits or routines did you eliminate?
procrastination in drawing
* Where did your name or artwork appear in print? Where did it appear online?
Online in WetCanvas, Drawspace and my blog
* How did you improve your website or Web presence?
Creation of a blog in January and nearly daily posting of drawings and works in progress, signature line on emails, forum postings including blog and contact information
* What new marketing materials did you add or improve on?
Creation of a brochure and flyer for portraiture, information sheets for drawing classes
* Where did you speak about your work?
Beagle Paws, Pooches in the Park, pet stores
* What new materials or techniques did you experiment with?
Oil pastels, oil paints, drafting film
* What organizations did you join?
Application for Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
* What projects did you initiate?
Offered drawing class for beginners, developed limited edition prints

On a more personal level:

* How did you care for your health and well-being?
Ate well, tried to get on the treadmill more regularly :o)
* How did you strengthen your personal relationships?
By concentrating on devoting time and patience to them.
* What vacations did you have?
A week with my daughters in Saskatchewan
* What parties did you attend?
Very few. None that were art-related
* What new hobby did you take up?
Jewelery making
* Where did you volunteer?
As a moderator for Drawspace

Recalling your accomplishments is a good habit to adopt. After you do, how will you celebrate?

(From "Celebrate" Alyson Stanfield's Art Marketing Action newsletter 18th December 2006)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


In addition to a number of gifts received for Christmas, this is one that should keep me going for awhile. Its a wooden box, filled with paints, graphite, coloured and watercolour pencils, soft and oil pastels, paper, canvas boards, brushes, a table easel,drawing board and a colour wheel. They are mostly student grade pigment, but are good to mix with my regular brand name mediums and give me lots to practice with.

I also received an Italian floor easel that is lovely and is in my studio now set up and ready to go. My original easel, which was around 25 years old, keep falling apart - rather frustrating when I had something on the easel! The new easel folds flat into a box shape, making it easy to transport if I want to paint plein air.

So now I have to stop touching the new things and looking at them and start using them. I have a few ideas for new pieces that I need to work with and set up some compositions. In 2007 I intend on concentrating on marketing and selling more work in addition to teaching both in reality and through the online course that I have agreed to mentor. There is a lot to do and a lot to prepare for. In a later post I will share some of the successes for 2006 and the plans for 2007.

Right now I'm off to my studio to play (and avoid eating another chocolate!)

Monday, December 25, 2006

The artist's cat

Here is why its sometimes difficult to draw when I don't confine myself to my studio. I seem to have a constant 'helper'. "Are you sure that's the right size pencil? Let me check."

Forever the critic. "My nose doesn't look that big..."

Just as well he doesn't drool on the Moleskine...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. ~Augusta E. Rundel

May your holiday, whatever it is, be peaceful and bring you joy.