Saturday, January 06, 2007

Line drawings

I discovered this line drawing, done for a class 18 months ago or more when I was searching for an example for a portrait class I'm setting up. There is something about line drawings that appeals to me. The crisp, clean lines always look good on paper. Once I have completed the line drawing, I am always loathe to start the shading. Partially because I'm afraid I'll screw it up and partially because I like the simplicity of the lines without the distraction of values or colour.

I have a collection of line drawings that I secretly hoard. They are mostly people and animals which are my favoured things to draw. I am branching out more in 2007 as I want to push myself into drawing what I am not comfortable with.

I am taking a class in landscapes, beginning with drawing skies taught by Diane Wright, starting January 11th which should be very interesting. I've had dips into landscapes and I have analysed why I don't do them. Its laziness. There is all that expanse of paper to cover, whereas with a portrait or little still life, I can concentrate on a single item or a group of smaller objects. It is true that breaking it down into smaller sections does work and makes it manageable.

Many artists are intimidated at drawing landscapes. By breaking each component of a landscape down into smaller pieces, anything is possible! We will start by exploring skies. Then we will learn techniques on how to draw rocks, water, grass and trees. We'll finish up by combining all of these components into a complete landscape.

I am looking forward to this class and the somewhat daunting task of creating a landscape. Perhaps it will break down my barriers to landscapes and allow me more freedom.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Pear drops

I am sitting here eating British pear drops sent from my daughter in Calgary. There are a few British stores in Calgary and she sends back 'supplies' now and then. This time Jaffa cakes and pear drops in the Christmas parcel.

Pear drops were my favourite and make me recall some special times when I worked in the UK. Part of my job was to create new community programs that would provide training and employment for long term unemployed people. One spring I spent weeks travelling in Somerset and Dorset visiting homes for mentally handicapped individuals talking to the management there about various project. On the way to make my rounds each week, I would stop at a little store and buy some pear drops.

In one institution, the sweets were discovered in my pocket by some of the residents who demanded that I share them round. From then on it became a tradition and I ended up buying larger quantities of pear drops each week to take with me or my life wouldn't be worth living. At least I certainly wouldn't get past the front door of these places!

You're right, this post has nothing to do with art tonight, so I'll share a little sketch with you just to prove willing. It was part of an all media event done some time back. I liked the grouping and the history of the piece. It had an nostalic feel to it and I recall the doll the girl on the left is holding. I had one very similar to it many years ago.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I have done another update to the portrait of my cat. The white fur is challenging as I don't want to overpower it, but too little shading won't be right either. I will keep working on it and it will come together eventually.

I was invited to write a tutorial for Drawspace through the wonderful Brenda Hoddinott. Brenda is from Newfoundland as well and has made her mark in the art work first as a forensic artist with the RCMP then in the world of teaching. She now devotes her time to writing tutorials and books on drawing for beginners to advanced and I stumbled across her site a few months ago and have become more involved there recently.

The drawing portion of a tutorial is the easy part. Writing curriculum that effectively describes techniques in art tends to be a bit more difficult. I realize that I assume too much and need to explain terminology, technique and rationale for learners to absorb new material and be able to reproduce the work. Brenda has been a great support in this area and her background in publishing has helped steer me in the right direction. A few more tutorials under my belt and I just may get the idea of effective curriculum writing!

I enjoy the process of putting all the elements in place and the challenge of pushing myself to do something new. There is always something new to learn in life. I never tire of it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The List

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential. ~Ellen Goodman

Like this little guy here, I am standing alone at the cusp of 2007, holding thoughts, not a tree, ready to venture forward into the year and the winter. This white ceramic snowman will be the last vestige of Christmas in my house even if it officially lasts until January 6th. I will take down the decorations and the lights and the tree and the festival of light will stop. Its always a little sad when that happens. The lights do brighten the dark winter nights. But now each day will edge out a little longer until the light returns again.

The season of Christmas is often said to be twelve days long, and ends for most people on "Old Christmas Day," January 6th. This date is liturgically the Feast of the Epiphany and signals the beginning of the third part of the church's Christmas season (Advent, Christmas proper and Epiphany). The comparatively recent name "Old Christmas" stems from the 1752 reorganization of the calendar when twelve days were dropped from the calendar; the following year, purists said that the "real" Christmas Day was not on December 25th, but January 6th, 365 days after the previous Christmas. The knowledge of the Old Style has led some Newfoundlanders to name "Old Old Christmas Day" (January 18th) as the "real" end of the season. Indeed mummering can sometimes be seen on the Southern Shore of the Avalon peninsula until the end of January.

I haven't checked, but I think I contributed in both drawing and writing most days once I got going on this rollercoaster of a blog in 2006. I consider the first year a learning experience where I found my style and created a little nest for myself in the blogosphere.

Now its time to take stock and renovate a little perhaps. There are several areas that I want to expand into for 2007. It may be brave or foolhardy of me to put them in writing at this point, however, doing so does make me accountable and pushes me to achieve at least some of them.

1. Offer more drawing classes for different levels
2. Start a art club locally
3. Complete a series of drawings or paintings
4. Enter at least 4 art competitions
5. Develop a web site
6. Market and sell my prints
7. Rediscover oil painting and do at least one small oil painting a month (I'll never make it into the Painting A Day category)
8. Go to a different art exhibition each month
9. Attend a class in a new medium
10. Develop my market for animal portraiture locally

That little list should keep me going for quite awhile I think. Now that I have written it, there is some sense of relief. Its as if what is secretly spinning around in my head has come out of the darkness. I can see it. I can achieve it. If I don't I won't beat myself up over it. I have the flexibility of adding things to my list if opportunity becomes available or reducing the load if it becomes too strenuous.

Monday, January 01, 2007


This drawing started as a sketch of an eye. It was based on the photograph taken last week of Tripod lying on my Moleskine sketchbook and like some sketches, it has evolved and continues to do so, moving into a drawing now, given time.

This cat seems to lend himself to drawings, he has that kind of appeal about him. I have a few ideas of a series of mini portraits of him to play with in the future.

In the first day of the new year, I have lots of ideas spinning around in my head about what I want to achieve in 2007. In another post I will elaborate more on those goals and how achievable they are. This is part of a marketing newsletter that arrived in my mailbox today and the quote seems rather appropriate for today.

What are your dreams? I haven’t seen the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” but I’ve seen the scene in the trailers in which Will Smith talks to his son about his dreams. He says:

"Don't ever let somebody tell you you can't do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream? You gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you you can't do it. You want something, go get it. Period."

Copyright 2007 Alyson B. Stanfield. Alyson takes the mystery out of marketing your art and making more money as an artist. Visit to get articles just like this one delivered to your inbox.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New year, new direction

I've worked for a couple of days on a tutorial in how to draw water. This is outside my comfort zone, these inanimate objects. I include them in backgrounds for people or animals but rarely make them the focus point. Til now.

Its much more difficult than originally imagined to put into words what I do without thinking. Trying to describe with precision elements of shading, what pencils I use, what the points should look like, what pressure to use, construction, etc., etc., is a task in its own right. I'm in the final tweaking stage now and will then submit the tutorial for approval and see where it goes from there.

Its an hour and change from midnight on New Year's Eve. A quiet night at home and obviously some people either can't tell the time or perhaps have children who can't wait any longer so fireworks are exploding over the treeline. The pops in the distance are what attracted my eyes to the window rather than the showers of coloured light. I could go into St. John's and watch the formal fireworks, but at this point witha couple of drinks and a fire warming me, the thought of standing in the cold with thousands of people isn't that appealing to be honest. So I'll stick with my Plan A. Another drink and bed shortly after 2007 sails into port.

Newfoundland is the first place in North America to see the New Year. So to everyone who has visited my blog and contributed to making it a positive experience for me, Happy New Year. I hope that 2007 will be your best year artistically and brings you everything that you wish for.