Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 - The Three 'Ps'

Driveway - in progress
7 x 9 oils

rom my house to yours, Happy New Year

I have made some progress in 2008 but there is always room to move further ahead. I want to set some general goals for 2009. I don't know if setting time lines makes life easier or harder for me. I know deadlines help me achieve goals but too many cause stress and I have enough of that already! I am choosing some areas that I know I can manage and that I know I need and want to gain experience with.

In my day job (I've always wanted to say that :) I work for a non profit and I have a principle at work that helps me decide the level of participation, human and financial resource input and interaction that I use for various functions, projects, meetings partnerships, etc. I participate in something if it fulfills one of the following purposes for the charity:

1. it provides the organization with recognition
2. it brings in revenue
3. it meets the mandate of the organization

This same principle is easily transferable to my art. My purpose as an artist is three-fold too and is somewhat selfish. But I am a regarding myself as a business as well as an artist.

1. I want recognition for my work
2. I want to be paid for my services
3. I want to achieve my own goals in art

With these three principles in mind, it becomes easier to make decisions about what projects to tackle, what organizations to become involved with, what business plans to make, how to market myself and my art and how to interact with the art community.

I'm calling my goals the three 'P's, If I give fairly equal billing to each P, I should have a good balance on which to move ahead.

The purpose of art is to share it with others. And to share it, I need to market it - and myself. I will do this by working on the following in the form of a loose work plan for the next 12 months which will give me a list of achievables to aim for and to measure progress.

New marketing materials
These will being the form of updated business cards and postcards as well as developing a consistent 'branding' for my blogs and marketing materials.

I want to market the sales blog more effectively and perhaps rehash what it holds and how it works. How I don't know right now. Its still in the thought formation stage.

A website
This has been on my 'to do' list for a couple of years but not happened. Looking at current trends I'm wondering if a static website is an effective use of my time and energy. Will it produce the results I want or will it just become another thing to update?

Right now I can put most of what I want on my blog(s) and can't really justify developing and maintaining a site unless I want to really push the business side of my art through tutorials and teaching.

I still need to do more research on the effectiveness of this before I make a decision. Stay tuned.

I am fairly consistent in blogging averaging 21 days out of each month. With the addition of several other blogs that I will need to participate in, I may need to look at my blogging schedule or develop some well thought out plans of how to juggle everything.

I will still continue to blog and aim for a minimum of 3 times a week on my personal blog. The other projects are more laid back with monthly or bi-monthly participation depending on how they unfold.

I want to secure more commissions for both people and animals. I know in the current economic conditions luxury items are becoming more a rarity so costs are always an issue. People are consistent in one thing: they want a high end product for a dollar store price. Finding the balance is the challenge.

I will offer some promotional pieces at no cost to individuals with a request to place them in high traffic areas or promote them to give me additional exposure.

I will offer smaller, looser pieces that provide an entry level into personal original art for the new collector or those on limited budgets. Through word of mouth and the desire for stronger, more detailed or colour work, additional commissions should arrives.

I will be contacting local newspapers to see if I can get a dedicated article on purchasing original entry level art and portraiture in the lifestyles section


To be effective at anything, practice is required and sometimes that practice comes with a price. In this case, hard work. I know that to keep my skill levels honed I need to keep drawing and painting over and over on a daily basis.

In December 2008, I became part of the Watermarks project which will allow me to explore water in many forms. This is a new undertaking and I see it helping me form a body of work as well as explore a broader range of mediums and techniques, yet still keeping my style recognizable.

Portrait Study Group
I have also joined two other groups, but both are private at the moment and designed to act as intensive workshops exploring a subject and both giving and receiving critiques that help move us ahead. The first project is a Portrait Study Group. Portraits are my first love and I look forward to this and to the interaction with the other 5 artists involved. We hope to explore a new portrait monthly and look at working with a variety of mediums I hope.

Plein and Simple
The second project is a plein air project. Now this pushes me out of my comfort zone in terms of live landscapes which I've often avoided. I know I can do it and often just need the push to move into this direction, even if winter in Newfoundland may be a challenge with this one! However, there are views from the comfort of home, as I live in the woods, quite literally.

Virtual Sketch Date
I have been involved in the Virtual Sketch Date since April 2008 when Rose Welty asked if I would like to join her in drawing from a single reference. Since then the project has grown tremendously and now has a huge following with many participants each month. With three administrators, myself, Rose and Stacy Rowan, the VSD will continue monthly and have even more success.

A body of work
I need to create a body of work that consists of 15 - 20 plus pieces before I can consider approaching a gallery for representation.

I do have a body of work in terms of pieces but they aren't cohesive enough to provide the makings of an exhibition in my eyes.

I will be concentrating, through the various projects that I am involved with to have this body of work created in 2009. It will need to have the following characteristics:

Similar sized pieces
Consistant theme
Consistant, recognizable style

Dry media are my comfort zone, but the past year I have been redeveloping my skills in oils and watercolours. I want to continue to paint as many of my new projects will demand it, but drawing will always be the backbone of what I do.

Grant funding
Production of a body of work has a lot of other peripherals associated with both production and promotion. Most of which cost money.

There are various local grants available to artists that will help with these costs - travel, framing, materials, etc. I will be applying for a grant in March that will help offset some of the costs for a project in 2009-2010. I want to base this on developing a series of pieces around water. If successful, this will give me some breathing room in terms of paying for framing, marketing materials, etc. It will also be a huge push forward in making me accountable to achieve. Its both scary and exciting at the same time.

If I don't get a grant, life doesn't stop. I will still produce and still move ahead with my plans for the year, perhaps at a less frantic pace.

These are my areas of concentration for 2009. Like everyone making plans, they are ambitious, but achievable as well. It will keep me busy but the results will be worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Drawing tutorials

Cloud tutorial (2.5 mb)

Drawing glass tutorial (6.2 mb) (file size reduced 12.31.08)

I promised awhile back to post a drawing tutorial for use by anyone interested. I had some problems linking a pdf file to blogger but now have an offsite file host that is reliable. I originally did some for another teaching site and the graphics in these weren't up to scratch. I had photographed some when I should have scanned them. As I didn't want to do the pieces all over again just for the sake of perfect graphics, I have kept these tutorials and will now make them available here for free.

They are designed for individuals learning to draw and are step by step tutorials to the finished piece. Click on the link and it will take you to an external site ( where you will be able to download the tutorial.

If you do download either of these tutorials, please let me know what you think of them and if you do use them to create the drawing, I'd love to see the finished piece on your blog.

Most of all, enjoy my New Year's gift to you!

Monday, December 29, 2008


This is a bit of a teaser, rather like one of those cropped images where you have to guess what it is. Except that I do give you a link to the answer at the end of the post.

I've been playing with watercolours lately, trying to bring myself up to speed and refresh the old brain cells as how to do this. Drying time illustrates my impatience with the medium and I sometimes rush things and end up with mud. This time I forced myself to set it aside and work on other things while it was drying as I wanted transparent colours to give the delicate appearance of the fish's skin.

I was asked how I could see the colours in the skin. To me, it was quite clear and its difficult to explain to someone who isn't seeing the same colours at all. So what makes me capture these particular colours to use and not others?

For the full image and more details on fish and watercolours, visit my post on Watermarks.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 in review

Fruit Series: Orange II
oils 4 x 6

I'm reviewing my year and seeing what new avenues opened up to me, what I accomplished and where I am going. Its not until I write them down that I realize what I've achieved or not completed in the course of a year. I've asked myself a few questions that help give an overview of my art presence in 2008 and through those I can see where I want to go in 2009.

I am not going to be too ambitious though. I will tackle a few projects and help them move along to fill gaps that I see. The old adage of 'under promise and over deliver' works well in all paths of life. I outlined a few goals in October that I am heading for and will continue to flesh those out when I outline my plans for 2009.

I've analyzed my online presence and watched it grow - double in fact - compared to the previous year.
There are a variety of reasons why an artist becomes more well known, but the main reason is communication. By visiting other artist's blogs, joining projects, both real and virtual, communicating on other blogs and forums as well as being productive all help provide a presence that allows people to know you better. I think the statistics show that I have increased my readership and become more visible in 2008.

I continue to draw or paint on nearly a daily basis. This is a combination of sketches or completion of saleable pieces. I have completed 25 - 30 saleable pieces which include commissions. The rest are practice pieces and pure pleasure for me.

I created a dedicated sales blog - The Starving Artist's Daily Sale. I admit that it hasn't done quite what I anticipated and it needs to be reviewed in terms of visibility, marketing and use. The economic crisis that continues globally makes artists look at pricing and sizes of pieces to attract buyers and I am no different. I will be inviting input to help me look objectively at the realities of selling my art online. Katherine Tyrrell's posts on art and the economy provide good reading on the realities.

I also moved into jewelry creation and sharing some small art pieces in an online Etsy store. Its slowly picking up in sales and provides more exposure and lets me alternate jewelry with art.

As in presence, interaction is a big part of others being aware of your existence. Its karma; you have to give as well as receive. This year, I've stepped into several projects online that keep my skills honed and help me move out of my comfort zone as well as give me an opportunity to meet other artists and share in their world.

Virtual Sketch Date was created by Rose Welty in April as a way to provide a reference for others to practice drawing skills. This grew into a huge success with many people participating monthly. Now Rose, Stacy Rowan and I administer VSD as a separate blog.

On December 1st, Watermarks was launched. Watermarks is a small community of artists who make art from water. They like to sketch, draw and/or paint water - the sea, the coastline, beaches, rivers, streams, waterfalls, fountains - in all contexts, styles, genres and media. The brainchild of Vivien Blackburn, Lindsay Olsen and Katherine Tyrrell, I was one of the additional six artists invited to participate in this project.

For the first year, I decided to participate in WetCanvas annual portrait swap. I got enthusiastic and did two portraits which are now in the hands of their new owners. The experience was unique and good fun. The drawback is that not all the participants move at the same speed so completion may lag in your chosen partner and I am still waiting for portraits from the individuals that I was paired with.

I completed a drawing tutorial for Drawspace, where I volunteer as a moderator and teacher. I haven't had time to do more this year as many other projects have taken my time, but I do have a couple of tutorials in the wings that I will make available once I figure out the logistical side of hosting them to make them available on my blog.

There are other projects that are in the works and will be revealed in the 2009 plans.

Tools of the Trade
I finally set up a dedicated studio that will allow me to be more productive and focused. I have room to spread out and do several projects at once as well as room to teach small groups of people.

I purchased a new 17" laptop that provided speed, clear graphics and consistency for writing my blog and viewing art well. I also get satisfaction knowing that the laptop was paid for purely out of funds received from my art.

I am rediscovering oil paints again after a very long absence. I was determined to get into painting and let it free me from the tight drawing that I had gotten into. While I still love detail and realism, there is also satisfaction from creating almost abstract pieces with paint.

I played with different supports this year, from drafting film to colourfix paper and made a big dent in my 'stash' through my stash diet.

What I didn't do
I didn't
create the website that I planned on and I wonder if it really matters. There are times when I want a dedicated site to host tutorials and other interactive information. I will have to review the benefits once more before deciding which way too go on this.

Marketing is another area that I haven't done a lot of in 2008. And it is something I need to tackle for 2009. I do have marketing pieces such as business cards and postcards available, as well as brochures. Information on these pieces changes over time and needs updating.

Aside from hard marketing pieces, I also need to contact the local public more to develop additional contacts for commission pieces. I also need to build a body of work to enable myself to approach galleries.

I will explore the plans and goals for 2009 in my final post of the year on December 31st. I'd love to hear about how your year unfolded and what you have in store for 2009 too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas sketches

Self portrait
pen & ink, watercolour

pen & ink, watercolour

I've gotten through Christmas Day with not eating too much or being too lazy. A first for me! I also managed some sketching as well - a quick self portrait and a scene of Christmas from by the Christmas tree with a Rapidograph pen and watercolour wash. These were from life. I wanted to see what I could accomplish in a quick session of about 40 minutes each.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2008

As Christmas rolls around again, I wonder where the year has gone. As I get older, time does go by so much more quickly. As I get older I appreciate the simpler things in life: a kind word, a smile, a gesture and true friendship.

To all the friends I know through this blog and email and to those who I may not know as well, but who still drop by regularly to read my meanderings - Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Winter holidays, no matter what they are called or what the traditions around them, give us time to sit back and reflect on life and love.

And now one of my favourite pieces of seasonal music sung by Aled Jones in 1985 and the theme song from The Snowman.


Oils 8 x 10

I have fulfilled my promise of a Secret Santa piece for another site and its now safe to put it here without fear of letting the cat out of the bag!

I have a half day at work tomorrow then some final preparations for Christmas. The next few days posting may be sporadic as I take some time to indulge myself in the season. I hope to be able to review some of my year and consider what I want to do in the coming year. I won't make big plans or concrete ones, as I know time is my enemy and I can't fulfill all my needs, which leads to frustration.

My mantra for 2009 will be no stress.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100 things

Fruit series - Apple I
5 x 7 oils

I loved the colour of this apple and the strong contrasts in the shadow. This was a very quick one where I just slapped on paint to see if the simplicity and colour would help me create something recognizable. There are a few other fruits waiting for similar treatments.

I found this originally on Vivien Blackburn's blog, then again on Tracy Helgeson's and Tina Mammoser's. The idea intrigued me. Its a bit like those 100 things to do before you die books, so I thought I'd reveal my own, which I've put in bold text.

1. Started your own blog (nearly 3 years 0ld now)
2. Slept under the stars (Girl Guide camp and May 24th weekends in my youth) 3. Played in a band (no musical ability!)
4. Visited Hawaii (I'd love to)
5. Watched a meteor shower (yes, the choice was a stiff neck from looking up or damp clothing from lying on the grass. The grass won)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (I work for a charity, I give everyday as a volunteer as well as paid staff)
7. Been to Disneyland (you couldn't pay me enough or drag me there)
8. Climbed a mountain (Butterpot Mountain - not fun)
9. Held a praying mantis (ewwwwwwww insects)
10. Sang a solo (does the drunken rendition at the Irish Navy Christmas party count?)
11. Bungee jumped (nooooooooooooo!)
12. Visited Paris (yes, drove in circles for 3 hours trying to get out of Paris)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (many times)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (some new techniques or new mediums)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (nothing officially diagnosed as such)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (have done so for many many years)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (the crowds were too large)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (yes and had to pick up feathers forever when the casing broke)
22. Hitch hiked (yes as a teenager)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (rarely, I prefer to call them mental health days :))
24. Built a snow fort (as a child we build igloos and forts, sprayed them with water to freeze hard overnight)
25. Held a lamb (I lived on a farm and we'd feed orphan lambs. Their coats felt like hard brillo pads, not soft and fuzzy as they looked)
26. Gone skinny dipping (at the pool at Tom Greenshields. Whether you were the life model or the artist, everyone had the same attire - none)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (its always too cloudy here usually!)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (constantly, as I'm always up early)
31. Hit a home run (I don't do sports)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (the falls are spectacular, but the town is tacky and touristy)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I've traced back to 1600s in Dorset, England,but I didn't get to the actual town, unless you count Google Earth)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I was very comfortable at one point in life. Satisfying? Not really, it just took one element of stress away)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (when I was pregnant with my first child)
47. Had your portrait painted (by many people in drawing challenges and portrait swap)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (I used to go cod jigging years ago)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (a long time ago - George....what was his last name??)
53. Played in the mud (my favourite thing to do as a child)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (they were very popular when I was a teenager and I remember them well)
55. Been in a movie (nearly. I was asked to be an extra in The French Lieutenant's Woman, set in Lyme Regis. I couldn't get a child minder and the thought of lugging a 2 year old around all day wasn't good, so I didn't get in the movie. However, I did get to go to the final set party and met Meryl Streep who was very gracious.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (I sold medicinal herbs, lotions, creams etc. and still do if people request them)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies (called Girl Guide cookies in Canada and I've sold my share when I was a child)
62. Gone whale watching (3 hours off the southern shore of Newfoundland, close enough to whales to look into their eyes or almost reach out and touch them)
63. Got flowers for no reason (we grow flowers commercially so, sad as it is to say, I almost get sick of looking at them)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (they won't accept my blood here as I was in the UK in the 1980s and they think I have Mad Cow :))
65. Gone sky diving (nooooooooooooooo)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (it would be very sad but I would like that memory to stay in my head so I could work to ensure it never happens again)
67. Bounced a check (likely so)
68. Flown in a helicopter (they scare me)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I have an old Christmas ornament from childhood, but no toys)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (tastes like salty ball bearings)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (once. personality clash)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (brought my girls to London and that was something they wanted to see)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (don't like motorcycles)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (one of the places I want to visit)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (twice)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (yes, but it always makes me uncomfortable)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (well, not personally, but we do raise poultry and pigs for food)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury! (I've avoided this so far)
91. Met someone famous (I used to work and live in a pub in Sunbury and met Eric Clapton, Denny Lane and several others there)
92. Joined a book club (they're as difficult as the Mafia to try to get away from!)
93. Lost a loved one (several)
94. Had a baby (2.5 to be precise)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit (see # 75 and I won)
98. Owned a cell phone (on my second and its a love/hate relationship)
99. Been stung by a bee (and a wasp, neither are fun)
100. Read an entire book in one day (never enough time)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Painting at -10

On the Horizon
3 x 5 oils

There was a lovely sunrise on Saturday morning and I promised myself I would try to capture it. The only problem was that the world was covered in snow and it was -10C. This is a glimpse of the sea on the horizon from far back in a field.

I have discovered several things about painting outside in subzero temperatures.

1. Fingerless gloves/mitts are a godsend. I have an ugly purple pair that I was given years ago so I grabbed those as it doesn't matter if paint adds to the current colour. The top half of the mitten unsnaps to allow me to hold brushes, etc.

2. Oils act a little like my car feels when I first start it in very cold weather. Its hard and sluggish and needs more lubrication to get going. I used more turps and medium to get the consistancy that I wanted, but even then it was still heavy and took a while to 'warm' to the idea of doing anything resembling a painting.

3. People think you are stark raving mad to stand in a field at dawn painting when its -10. Avoid eye contact and keep going.

4. Plein air painting is the art world's version of extreme sports.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Portrait update

The Pout
9 x 12 watercolour
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I'm calling this portrait complete, and as with most watercolours, its a struggle for me. I love the look of watercolours and so envy those who can carry it off seemingly with little effort.

I know the trick is practice, as with any medium. The more I use it, the easier it becomes.

And now for those men who may have had their head somewhere else when choosing a partner's gift, take heed of the following little video link - The Doghouse.

PS You still have 3 days to find something else.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Watercolour pout

The Pout WIP 9 x 12 watercolour

I have decided to face my nemesis in this portrait. Watercolour, for me is one of the most difficult mediums, likely because I don't use if frequently enough. I use it for washes in sketches but rarely to complete a piece.

This portrait is of my daughter and I did a sketch of it a couple of weeks ago. I loved the expression in it but have very poor reference photos to work from.

I'm taking my time and building it slowly. Part of my problem with watercolours is impatience waiting for layers to dry and not to keep adding, creating a muddy mess. Especially in the skin tones of children, you want it fresh and light.

So this is the first few layers. The piece has much warmer tones to it - or will - and the hair will be darker. I want it to have life and depth but always shy away from bold dark colours. And with watercolour its pretty much no going back once the brush is applied to paper. Of course, night time doesn't make it easy to capture colours with a camera. I'll try for a scan for the next update and see if I can get truer colours and values then.

Here is a link that I found on Vivien Blackburn's site. What card are you?

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seeing double

The Snowman II
coloured pencil

The Snowman I
pen & ink, coloured pencil

I was looking through some photos that I have on my hard drive looking for a specific image when I came across these two images that I drew in separate years.

It was the same photo reference, a glass snowman that I've had for years. The medium is a slight overlap but the difference that the paper and medium make to the final image creates very different pieces.

I keep thinking about printing cards for Christmas but never seem to wrap my mind around it in time. I think this year, I'll start very early and come up with a couple of designs that will work. I think the snowman will still be in the mix. Perhaps this year, he's due for another remake in a different medium. Oils? Watercolour? Pastel? A series of this little guy in say half a dozen mediums, all the same size, could be interesting once framed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


watercolour 9 x 12

At the end of summer I did this quick sketch in watercolour of an elecampane plant that is thriving at the edge of the vegetable field, mostly due to having its feet in a large mound of manure! It is from the sunflower family and produces clusters of small yellow flowers in later summer. This particular plant when in flower is about 6 feet tall and perhaps 4 feet across. Its very impressive.

I am a herbalist and rely on plants for many of my OTC substitutes. The fields hold about 50+ medicinal herbs which also are culinary in some instances too. However elecampane is one of my favourites and a standby for coughs in the winter. There are many other plants that can soothe sore throats and coughs as well and many are found in your kitchen cupboards. Some time ago I wrote an article on creating a herbal first aid kit from common plants in gardens and kitchens. I must dig it out again and share it.
In herbal medicine it is chiefly used for coughs, consumption and other pulmonary complaints, being a favourite domestic remedy for bronchitis. It has been employed for many years with good results in chest affections, for which it is a valuable medicine as it is in all chronic diseases of the lungs asthma and bronchitis. It gives relief to the respiratory difficulties and assists expectoration. Its principal employment as a separate remedy is in acute catarrhal affections, and in dyspepsia attended with relaxation and debility, given in small, warm and frequently repeated doses.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another one?

Bisque Santa
5 x 8 Moleskine

I happened to be in the same store where I bought the bisque snowman ornament and this guy was the only one left. Same self colouring of bisque and of course I had to buy him.

I honestly haven't bought these just to draw them. I take them home and sit them on the dining table and early in the morning when I have my coffee they're still there. So is my sketchbook and pencil.

The rest is history. And I see that history doesn't make a great circle at 7am....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twilight fog

Twilight Fog
5 x 7 oils

There is something fascinating about fog and how it creeps over the landscape. Its something I've enjoyed for as long as I can remember. While its not fun to drive in, especially at night, it brings a quiet peace over everything, muffling sound and sight.

Twilight has a similar effect as it mutes colour and makes edges lose their definition. here I was trying for a combination of the two with just a hint of lights on the headland through the fog as darkness falls.

The painting is still wet, so the reflection in the sky really shouldn't be there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bisque ornament

Bisque ornament
graphite 5 x 8

There isn't a single Christmas ornament up in my house. No tree, no lights, no garlands. Not yet anyway. I have boxes of them in the basement, but haven't wrapped my mind around decorating yet. But when I am out shopping, I can't resist peeking at ornaments that are for sale. Snowmen especially. Why I love snowmen, I can't tell you, but I do. Especially ones that aren't coloured like this little guy that I found the other day.

So while having coffee this morning, I propped him up in his box and sketched him. Painting is quicker and more colourful, but drawing is indeed my first love. Its that ahhhhhhhh factor when I get my pencil out that painting never has.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Do you remember those stars you made as a child around Christmas? They were cut from cardboard and carefully covered with aluminum foil then hung from the tree proudly. They were misshapen and wrinkled, but to you they were the best thing you created and you loved them as they caught the light and twinkled.

That's why I bought this pale irridescent glass star. It reminded me of those tinfoil stars made many years ago. The colours change with every movement, going from pinks and lavenders to greens, yellows and blues.

I have learned that painting irridescence isn't easy to do. T.O.O. (the other one) suggested shiny paint, as my frustration with this piece reached the main floor of the house. The suggestion resulted in more frustration.

Then I decided that I need to really understand irridescence. Can irridescence only be recreated using pearlescent paints or man made substances outside of nature? Dichroic glass is a prime example. Or is it a matter of very detailed dissection of a subject through colour and value changes, not daring to breathe or move while you do so, lest the light and colour move with you?

Wikipedia states:

Iridescence is an optical phenomenon in which hue changes with the angle from which a surface is viewed. Iridescence may be easily seen in soap bubbles and butterfly wings.

Iridescence is caused by multiple reflections from multi-layered, semi-transparent surfaces in which phase shift and interference of the reflections modulates the incident light (by amplifying or attenuating some frequencies more than others). This process is the functional analog of selective wavelength attenuation as seen with the Fabry-Pérot interferometer.

The word iridescence is derived in part from the Greek word iris (pl. irides), meaning "rainbow", which in turn derives from the goddess Iris of Greek mythology, who is the personification of the rainbow and acted as a messenger of the gods. Goniochromism is derived from the Greek words gonia, which means angle, and chroma, which means color.

Erin Parish is one artist that I've discovered whose work gives that wonderful feeling of irridescence. She does use multimedia though and I wonder if that is the trick to making irridescence more believeable than in just paint.

I did find some information on interference pigments that may unlock some secrets to painting irridescence. I know the illusion of irridescence can be achieved on some scale in water, shells, etc through paint. This glass star doesn't present the lustre that I'm looking for. External influences in terms of lighting, movement, background surface and my skill level and reproducing it all come into play. I will keep looking for that lustre.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One up, one down

On the Rocks
Oils 9 x 6

I'm calling this painting done. I've tweaked in Photoshop, but can't get it to quite resemble the original in colour. Yes, its fairly blue but not that blue in reality. Winter light is not fun and having dark morning and night even less fun.

I was looking around for something to paint tonight and found an irridescent glass star - a Christmas ornament. Bad move. I swear the colours in that piece changed each time a blinked. I'm not brave enough to show it here. Its beyond redemption. I may work on it more but somehow I think its destined for the 'paint over' pile

I need to start a new drawing. When painting frustrates, drawing soothes. And oddly enough, the more complex the drawing, the more relaxing I find it. I'll see if I have time to get a line drawing done tonight before bed calls me.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I have a number of sketchbooks that I squirrel away in a cupboard once they are filled. They range from Moleskines in all sizes to larger sketchbooks, handmade ones, different papers, watercolour, cheap, expensive - they run the full gamut.

Ultimately they all serve the same purpose. They hone my drawing skills on a daily basis and it is a very rare day that I do not put something into one of my sketchbooks. I also have sketchbooks 'in progress' scattered throughout the house along with pencils or pens so that when the mood strikes the surface is always close to hand to capture the thoughts.

I don't always share the content of my sketchbooks online likely because its not finished work or even work in progress. It can be very loose lines almost like shorthand, readable only to me, sometimes with notes, sometimes not.

What do I sketch? People mostly as they're what interest me most. I have a little contest with myself to see how quickly I can capture gestures and lines before someone moves or before they figure out what I'm doing. Sometimes sketches or thumbnails make it into larger pieces, but often I simply draw for the sake of drawing, not with intention of completing it back in the studio.

There isn't often colour in my sketches either unless I decide that a sketchbook will be completed with only one colour pen or pencil. I've gone through my 'red' phase now and am considering the next sketchbook that I may get more creative with before I actually start it by colouring pages or adding media to the pages so each sketch in the future of that book will be a surprise to me.

I do like to look back over sketchbooks and they form a visual record of what I have seen and, like photographs, the images bring back memories of events and words.

I like to think I'm also creating a little bit of 21st century history for future generations who may look through these sketchbooks. They will be their windows to the past.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Drawing and painting

charcoal and cp 9 x 12

Most of my day was taking up with driving to and from town in horrible, snowy slippery conditions to deliver paintings to an exhibition, do errands then drive back again in the evening. There were very few sales at today's exhibit, I'd say due to the weather conditions. However, there's no predicting weather in advance, so we take it as it comes.

In a mid afternoon break, I took half an hour to do this sketch of my grand daughter and her bear. I've been concentrating on regaining my oil painting skills lately and haven't been drawing as much as I like. I need to maintain that precision of drawing, as it pulls me so strongly, more than paint does. I love detail and find the transition to loose, broad strokes can be challenging. It takes a different mindset. I don't want to go into painting so deeply that I lose my drawing abilities, so I keep switching back and forth.

There is almost a right brain/left brain functional switch between drawing and painting as they're such different ways of creating art. I find I'm thinking of nothing but the moment when I draw, especially in detail. But when I paint, I'm thinking ahead to where the next stroke will be , what the value or colour will be, how much paint to apply, etc. It may be just my need to practice more in painting that makes my brain question itself where in drawing, it comes second nature to me almost without thinking.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

On the rocks - update

On the Rocks - update
oils 9 x 6
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I've had a really hectic day and it doesn't feel like Saturday at all. I had a board meeting all morning followed by a luncheon, then shopping, feeding my mother's cats as she's in hospital, more shopping then home finally at 5.

I managed a 20 minute snooze on the sofa before packing up some pieces for an exhibition tomorrow. And of course, one of the frames I intended to use was broken. Why do these things happen just before an exhibition? I rummaged around and finally found a suitable one and now have the paintings packed up in my portfolio, ready to go in the morning. Lately it seems that weekends are a thing of the past, as I'm busier than ever.

Meanwhile I'm doing a little more work on the painting I started last night. I just can't get a decent photo in artificial light and it always seems to be dark lately! The photo of the piece on the easel is taken with a flash, so the colours are a bit bright. Without the flash, they're too dull and no tweaking on Photoshop seems to make them turn out the way I want, so I'll leave it for now and take some more photos in natural light tomorrow.

I make my debut on Watermarks tomorrow (December 7th). If you haven't visited this new blog, you're missing a treat. Nine artists from around the world are making art out of water. Intrigued? Wander over and have a look. I promise you'll be impressed.

Friday, December 05, 2008

On the rocks

On the Rocks - Stage I
9 x 6 oils
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I've decided to try to break away from the tightness that I've adopted and move into something looser for painting to see if that brings back some of the freedom I once had in this medium.

So this image is the initial layers of a painting, perhaps 45 minutes into it. I don't want to work it to death so will limit myself to two hours on the piece entirely. I want to make myself capture the light and form without muddying the colours.

The coastline in Newfoundland is littered with rocks of course, some under water, some partially hidden like these. The movement of the water around the rocks , the translucency of the water showing muted colours of rock below the surface and the play of light on the water all add interest and continue to hold my attention.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

52 for 25

St. Michael's Printshop
Collector's Edition

In the current economic climate, 52 works of art for $25 is a bargain. And today that is what I got. The image above is sample of the 52 pieces. Of course they aren't full size art pieces. They are playing card size,which is very similar to ACEOs which are 3.5 x 2.5 inches.

St. Michael's Printshop in St. John's, Newfoundland has created a set of playing cards for a fundraiser that is being launched on Sunday, December 7th at Bianca's restaurant on Water Street from 2 - 5 pm.

This is the 5th set of cards that the SMP has produced and they are immensely popular, selling out very quickly. The 52 cards, including jokers, are unique in that each card is created by a different artist, making them very interesting and appealing to both card players and art collectors. All the artists live locally and their styles and techniques vary greatly.

Newfoundland has a strong history of card playing, but personally, I think these are too beautiful for the wear and tear of every day use. And not being a card player, I bought a deck and will have them framed. The printshop is located on the harbour front in St. John's and housed in former sailmaking factory overlooking the water, so I managed to get both my fixes today - art and water!

If you would like to order a deck of these artist designed cards, you can do so through St. Michael's Printshop. But be warned, they sell out fast!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I need a colour fairy

Caramel apple cheesecake
6 x 8 oils
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I played around with this slice of cheesecake tonight as I'd promised myself I would paint, no matter what. The colours, or my choice of them, are very bland. But so was the cheesecake - the whole thing was beige with no strong contrasts in either values or colour.

But I persevered and here it is.

Painting cheesecake is entirely Anita's fault. Seeing her comfort food being painted on her blog inspired me and I couldn't rest until I tackled some too. I will need to tweak it some more to get that crumbly topping to look as it should. But the overall values are just 'blah'. And it still looks like its floating a bit. And now that I look at it online, it looks like a piece of toast with peanut butter on it!

Oh I wish the colour fairy would come wave her magic wand over me and make me more adventurous with colours. What the hell, I'll just eat it and spruce up the painting later....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Reflections and lights

On the drive home tonight, it was interesting to note just how many houses had been decorated with Christmas lights not only inside, but with fully decorated lit trees inside too. Its a bit early for me to get into that yet, but I have to admit that the lights do brighten the dark winter drive and I quite miss them once Christmas is over and they're gone.

My manikin held an ornament that I found in a box in my studio and I experimented with reflections. I love the distortion that spheres provide and am toying with the idea of a pen and ink drawing around this.

I've spent two nights trying to get time to do some painting and each night something crops up that takes my time away and before I know it, its too late to contemplate getting into painting mode.

If I did start, I'd need a few hours as I get lost in the process and time disappears. So tomorrow night. Nothing will stop me. I will turn off the phone and retreat to my studio and create something.

Monday, December 01, 2008


The Edge of the World
Moleskine watercolour notebook 3.5 x 5.5
copyright Jeanette Jobson

"The Flat Earth Society says that Newfoundland is one of the four corners of the world. The very edge of the earth. Now that's just foolishness.

Isn't it??"
Today an exciting new blog floats into being. Watermarks will explore water in art through the eyes of nine artists from around the world. I am lucky enough to be one of the artists invited to participate.

Watermarks is a small community of artists who make art from water. We like to sketch, draw and/or paint water - the sea, the coastline, beaches, rivers, streams, waterfalls, fountains - in all contexts, styles, genres and media.

The concept of Watermarks was created by Vivien Blackburn and Lindsay Olsen. Katherine Tyrrell is the powerhouse behind the technology of setting it up so that we can access each other through Ning and contribute to the blog independently. the artists taking part are as follows:
I can't wait to get into this project as it will allow me to explore more of the coast and waters that surround me. Living on an island in the Atlantic, I can't avoid water if I try! The talent in this group is amazing so I am anxious to watch work from the other artists unfold.

I have so many ideas and so many concepts to explore. I will be trying new techniques and perhaps find a new style through all of this. Over the next nine days each artist will be introducing themselves and their work in a different post. After that, we will be posting regularly so you are guaranteed a changing mix of colours and styles with the underlying theme of water.

I hope you'll be able to join us on our journey.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Colour or value?

An artist is either good at color or good at value but rarely good at both. I focus on the tonal range, the dark-light effects, rather than the full color range of bright colors. I just don't know what to do with all those cadmiums. (Thomas S. Buechner)
I saw this quote and it rang true to me today as I continued to fight with the colours in my self portrait. I have successes in values, then screw up the colours. Right now the skintone isn't what I want it to be. Its overworked and somewhat chalky, making me look as if I've been ill for a long time. I am determined to conquer it and I make side trips into other little paintings that dont' require the same level of concentration or palette. My palette, above, it becoming more exciting than the portrait right now.

I think my personal battle is that I'm trying to be painterly and traditional at the same time. I need to either loosen up or go tighter, or just make up my mind which way I want to go.

I so wish I'd kept up with my oils....the transition back is harder than I anticipated.

But the ducks are happy. BD and Buddy, my favourite Muscovies, found a huge puddle after a day of torrential rain yesterday. While they don't like actually getting into water, they do like to at least pretend to bathe by dipping a beak in and preening. The geese on the other hand, just jump right in and have a party.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Looking ahead

As the year starts to wind down I look back over it and some of the successes as well as setbacks. But I also look forward and anticipate new linkages and learning in the coming months.

I will be working on several projects in 2009, one of which will be announced soon. The new header on my blog and a short video will give a little glimpse into one of the projects and will let me explore my own region in a way I haven't previously. I know that this will test my abilities and enhance my skills and I'm sure I will enjoy it thoroughly. Other projects will be announced as they are launched and I anticipate a busy and very productive year.

For those interested in knowing, the lighthouse in the video is located at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. Its isolated, windswept and fascinating. The view stretches across the Atlantic to Ireland and England, its roots. On a clear day you can watch whales breech and blow in the water a hundred or more feet below.

David Blackwood's depiction of the lighthouse is classic and popular.

Meanwhile, I've finished my portraits for the swap and shipped them to their new owners. Now an exhibition next weekend to prepare for, as well as a board meeting and Christmas party, things never come singly it seems. I'm still waiting for those extra hours to be tacked onto my day or learn the ability to do without sleep!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Midnight sketches

I have always read at night, even if only a few paragraphs, but over the last few months I have also done some sketching. I may review some art magazines or read something that sparks my imagination and then sketch what is in my mind or try to recreate a piece from memory. I find it relaxing and a way of testing my memory and/or imagination. Its not always successful but always interesting and quite relaxing.

There are far too many mice in the barn, but luckily none in the house, so this is out of my imagination - somewhere. Actually there was some train of thought attached to it about an illustration of mice for a book or card, but hasn't come to life since.

Inspired by a drawing in an art magazine. I loved the contours of the face. I think I was quite close to the original drawing when I looked back.

I love drawing eggs and am fascinated by the texture and shape and the challenge of getting the values to look believable. This sketch was done after studying the drawing 'One Basket' by JD Hillberry.

Sketching propped up in bed may not be relaxing for everyone. Some nights I find that it keeps me awake and wanting to do more, but most of the time I can shut my sketchbook with a sense of satisfaction that I've accomplished what I perhaps did not have time to do during the day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Chestnut study

I love chestnuts. Not particularly to eat, as they sort of taste like mealy potatoes, but they're amazing feats of engineering and reproduction as well as being fascinating to draw.

A bag full of chestnuts was gathered from various trees around town and will be overwintered to hopefully sprout next spring. The seed breaking out of the casing is always attractive even if the casings are vicious to pick up. Definitely a survival mechanism there!

The almost wood like grain on the chestnut and colour is beautiful and is a drawing waiting to happen. I did this study as a preparation for a more detailed piece.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Oils 4 x 6

I wanted a change from portraits, and wanted to clear my oil palette of old paints before tackling them again, so I grabbed a handful of clementines and headed to the studio. The light was too bright here - I should have set up a lamp to give more drama to the scene, so I gave myself a little artistic license to intensify the shadows.

I go through phases of needed colour and paint and then retreat to graphite or charcoal again. The frustrations of my current self portrait in oils make me kick myself for not practicing more in oils, when it used to be my medium of choice at one point.

I will try to do a couple of paintings a week if I can fit them in, just to ensure that I don't lose touch with painting.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revisiting the past

B - the pout

Quite awhile back I did a drawing of my youngest daughter, captured when she was about 3, and obviously didn't want her photo taken at the time. The only photo I have of this is a tiny wallet sized one so the detail is not good. But I wanted to try this again. Even now the drawing isn't large that I've done, around 8 x 5, but I so love that expression. I may attempt it in watercolour if I can transfer it to another sheet, as right now its in a sketchbook.

I did a quick sketch of another photo of my daughter, this time with her own daughter who is about a year or so younger at the time. Not quite the same, but an interesting contrast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Achieving a likeness

Update - portrait
coloured pencil 9 x 12

I'm still fighting with portraits and hope by the end of today I will be done with these. either that or I will take a break from them. Sometimes too much working and looking at a piece just makes it worse instead of better.

I'm not completely happy with this current portrait as I feel the face shape isn't quite right, not giving a good likeness. The colours are fine and the shading's working but there's that niggling that I could get a better likeness. I'll wait and see what my current victim says and adjust or go forward from there. Or worse comes to worse, add it to the 'never to be seen again' drawer and start over!

I rarely work with a grid, so all my drawings are freehand. I sometimes mark out features within a grid for placement then draw freehand from there if I really want a good likeness. Of course, I didn't do that with this piece and now am regretting it.

There are two schools of thought regarding portraits. Those who want an exact likeness from life or reference and those who want a broader version that captures the 'essence' of the sitter. Both should be recognizable as the individual, no matter which method is used.

In the move to my new studio, I keep 're-finding' pieces that I did. Some are pieces that I wasn't keen on so put them away to perhaps work on another time. Its time to go through these and see if I want to rework or do over. There are many projects spinning round in my head and never enough hours to work on them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo or scanner?

Portrait 2 - update
coloured pencil on Colourfix 9 x 12

This is an update of the second portrait I am drawing for the portrait swap. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment. I have a stack of art work backlogged and I take on another portrait. What can I say? I love it!

I always have a dilemma when trying to choose the best way to represent my drawings or paintings for online consumption.

Some media are better on a scanner, such as pencil or charcoal, if you're using white paper. The scanner gives a clean crisp image against a pure background. Coloured pencil I've found rarely scans well for me. The closeness gives a very grainy image that I can never tweak into perfection, so I usually use a digital camera for cp work. Colourfix paper, in particular, never seems to scan well, perhaps the texture fights with the colours too much, and the end result is never to my liking.

At this time of year when its dark as to go to work virtually and dark when I come home, I need to address my ability to take photos using artificial light. This update image was taken with a digital camera under 3 100 watt bulbs, but the colour isn't at all representative of the reality of the piece. Ok, I didn't tweak it in Photoshop which perhaps I should have to reach a closer match. But I hate adjusting photos of images. It never looks quite the same afterwards.

I wish there were a course locally on how to photograph and scan art, I would be there in a shot. Or would I? I'd like to absorb the information, but part of me shuts down when faced with technology. I swear I have no left side of my brain intact as someone only needs mention the technical aspects of how something works and I shut down.

I need an image expert to come live in my studio and create a digital portfolio of my work as I present it. The right side of my brain remains in creative mode and I become more productive! Image experts who expect no pay, but regular supplies of coffee should apply.