Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in drawing | 2 Comments

There is a colored pencil drawing I have liked well enough to put in my kitchen instead of taking to shows or making any efforts to sell.

Last week I looked at it carefully and realized it was time to fix it up a bit.

First, it wasn’t scanned well. Second, the paper on the back of the frame was torn. Third, there was a goober on the frame from an old price sticker. Fourth, it was in the kitchen, so it had some splatters on the glass.

When I took the torn paper off the back, I decided it might be smart to rescan it. Then I looked very carefully and was just thrilled to realize that I still like it; there was nothing to do over! It only needed a simple rehab of the frame.

Here is the previous scan (probably not even a scan but a photo, taken trying to hold the camera straight and still):

Here is the new scan: the actual color might be somewhere between the two versions, with the white mug brighter like the old scan but the background more accurate in the new scan.

And, now it hangs in my studio. This is how it is framed:

Perhaps I will put it back in the kitchen. Unless, of course, you want to buy it. Mug Shot It is $150, which doesn’t include tax, but the website doesn’t know how to include tax or shipping, so it will be a bargain if you order it from the website, and it will leave a gap on my studio wall but then it will make you happy.

What is she talking about??

Walnuts in My Art

Do you like walnuts? When I was a kid, I thought gleaning was punishment, in spite of being paid a king’s ransom of 25¢ a bucket. There were always stinging nettles on the ground, and it was boring. Then, I would say to my poor mama, “WHY do you have to put walnuts in EVERYTHING??”

I grew up. 

Look at the walnuts in my art. These are only the ones that I saved photos of; I did two other pencil commissions with walnuts before I had a digital camera, a computer and a blog.

This won a prize in the Madera ag art show AND, this is bigger to me, it sold. The title: “With, Please”.

A friend commissioned me to paint seven 2×2″ oils of important crops in California. Left to right, top to bottom (in case you can’t figure these out): fig, apricot, navel orange, lemon, valencia orange, walnut, almonds. (Hi, Craig!)

This pencil drawing was commissioned earlier this year as a gift for the retiring farm manager. (Hi John! Were you surprised?)

This page is inside my coloring book, “Heart of Agriculture”.

Heart of Agriculture is available here.

Oh Mom, do I HAVE to put walnuts in EVERYTHING??

Six Things I Learned in October

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in drawing, General, Personal | One Comment

And a few of these things may be hold-overs from September or perhaps even August (slow learner?)

  1. Propane: a. If a tank is full when it is hot out, the propane expands and blows off the pressure relief valve; b. Propane’s bad smell attracts flies
  2. The sharper your knife, the less you cry (when slicing onions). This is the title of a book (minus the part about onions) that I read, a memoir by Kathleen Flinn, about her time a Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. I don’t cook much, don’t like onions and don’t use them very often, but I will be sure to sharpen my knife next time.
  3. The Pencil Lady was interviewed on my favorite podcast What Should I Read Next. She runs a store in New York City that sells everything pencil related. WOW! It is called CW Pencil Enterprise.
  4. When defrosting the frig at the cabin, it goes fast if I put a warm burner plate off the woodstove inside the freezer (on a piece of foil). Amazing idea – why did it take 31 years to figure this out??
  5. VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) charges a whole mess of fees; the next time I rent a place to stay, I will skip this giant greedy conglomerate and find a local rental agency. Ha ha to VRBO.
  6. Drawing lesson for me: drawing a portrait of someone I can’t see and don’t know is just as difficult as drawing a portrait of someone I don’t know from a photo that is blurry. The difference is that when the unknown subject looks similar enough, I get to quit messing with it.

Pencil Drawing Finished?

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in commissions, drawing | No Comments

The pencil drawing commission might be finished. I often run things by my drawing students, telling them to be as “mean” to me as I am to them. It gives them an opportunity to practice the skills of looking very critically, and articulating clearly if they see any weak areas of a drawing.

Here it is the first time. It was originally drawn to be printed in The Cabins of Wilsonia.

And here it is in its second iteration:I am more confident that the roof angles are closer to reality this time, and I think it has tighter detail. I’m guessing that the shocking difference in darkness is due to the computer preparations required for printing in the book. It wasn’t that dark in person because my pencils aren’t that dark. It almost looks like ink to me! (Nope, not participating in Inktober.)

Drawing Architecture in Pencil

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Wilsonia | 2 Comments

Drawing architecture in pencil is my favorite thing. Since this drawing is gone, I get to redraw it. Second chances, opportunities to improve, do-overs–all good things.

This is how it looks after about three short sessions with my pencils. Cabin closing, oil painting, teaching drawing lessons, taking inventory and planning for shows, editing, book design, blogging, these things all cut into time to do my favorite thing. But, pencil drawings don’t take up a lot of room, there is no palette to secure or brushes to clean. (More reasons why pencil drawing is my favorite thing.)

Would you believe these roofs all belong to the same structure? This cabin in Wilsonia contains some of the most interesting architectural oddities and details of any of the cabins. I hope to see it up close and personal next summer!


Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Wilsonia | No Comments

I get another chance at a do-over!

A customer asked to buy three of the original pencil drawings from The Cabins of Wilsonia. One of them is gone, so I offered to redraw it for him. He agreed.

The one he wants redrawn isn’t one I felt very proud of. Maybe I got sloppy in the midst of 272 drawings (can’t remember the actual number). Maybe I draw better now. Maybe it didn’t reproduce as well as I had hoped. Maybe I did a poor job prepping it for printing. Maybe my standards have been raised or tastes have changed.

Maybe it is all in my head. 

Here it is:

I can’t wait to redo this! (Have I told you how much I love to draw, especially architectural scenes?)


Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

First I ate my vegetables of fuzzy faces. I saved dessert for last.

What is she talking about? I can hear you thinking.

My customer brought me three commissions to draw in pencil. The first 2 were the fuzzy photos of faces with no discernible features. The 3rd was a beautiful building, designed by Julia Morgan, the architect most known for her buildings at Asilomar and for the Hearst Castle.

Drawing architecture in pencil is my favorite part of my art business.

What is That Thing?

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 6 Comments

Remember Henry and Dora in front of their tent last week? Here, have another look:

I showed my drawing students, because it is good to learn from one another. They were kind and complimentary, but honest, as we are with one another. “What is that thing in the tent?” is something I heard a few times.

I dunno. Some of their belongings covered in a tarp, perhaps.

My curiosity got the best of me, so I returned to the photos, both the original and the photoshopped version where I removed two of the women so the customer could see a version of what he had requested–just Henry and Dora, please.

Original photo:Photoshopped version:Well, oops. That thing is the lap and legs of one of the women that I photoshopped out of the photo. The converse to “If I can’t see it, I can’t draw it” is, “If I see it, I draw it”.

That’s why we have erasers. Here is the revised Henry and Dora drawing.


Hypocritical Artist

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

I am a hypocrite. I tell my drawing students to not attempt to draw faces smaller than eggs and to never draw from photos that are too fuzzy to see, because IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT, YOU CAN’T DRAW IT! (Yes, often said in all capital letters and sometimes even with a bit of bold thrown in for extra emphasis.)

The author/customer needs drawings because his only photos are not good. A drawing is better than a poor photograph. But, if I can’t see it and the faces are smaller than an egg, what’s an artist to do? I want to help the customer – that’s my job!

The answer is I work really hard. I focus, adjust, erase, add, erase, adjust, study, think, erase, et cetera. All work is done with a giant magnifying glass with a special light bulb, and strong magnifying glasses, along with very sharp points on my pencils.

Here are Henry and Dora at their tent above Springville, living there in hopes that Dora’s tuberculosis will be cured.

For the rest of the story, you will have to buy the book. But first, it has to be written, edited, rewritten, formatted and then printed. 

It may be awhile. . .

More Can’t See ’ems

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in commissions, drawing | One Comment

If I can’t see it, I can’t draw it. But sometimes I try anyway, because I want to help the customer.

Besides, “If I can’t see it, I can’t draw it”, my other set-in-stone rule is, “No face smaller than an egg”. I learned this from a very accomplished colored pencil portrait artist, Ann Kulberg. She wasn’t speaking of a hummingbird egg, and I find that even a normal chicken egg size is a challenge.

Think about this: in the size of an egg, the width of one pencil point off in shading someone’s eye can make her look like her cousin. There is no forgiveness. None.

So, what did I do when a customer brought me this photograph and asked for a pencil drawing of it, minus 2 of the people?

Be merciful to me, a shameless hypocrite.

Stay tuned. . .