Now that Christmas is over I can safely share some of the commissions I’ve been working on the past few months! I enjoy getting to create these pieces that are often made in memory of a special pet or given as a personalized, memorable, gift!
For the most part I start any commission from a clients photo, sometimes more than one photo – especially with multiple subjects or for correct coloration. The better quality photos I have to work from, the more details I am able to add in! However, I do like the occasional challenge of working from an old photo!
While pastels are one of my favorite mediums (you can read more about what pastels I like to use here), I’m always thankful for those commissions that bring a different medium to the table and break up the pastel work!
Once I begin a piece, I send in progress photos to the client for their approval of the work at different stages – I like to work with them to make any needed adjustments so the piece represents their subject and personal taste best! When the final drawing is complete and approved it’s signed and packaged before being delivered, shipped, or picked up!
Some pieces take longer than others (depending on subject, size, medium, & adjustments needed), accumulatively, the completed pieces this season took between 80 & 120 hours to complete.
I’m grateful to receive commission requests and be able to do what I love! Thank you for all your support this season (and all year long)!
Check out some of our current projects happening in the art room and how they’re made!
Check out lasts months post for more info on some of the projects below!
Radial Mandala designs on glass! Students finished up working on their radial mandala designs – so many cool pieces! Check out last months post for more info on this project and keep an eye out for a DIY on this project to be posted soon!
What’s in your cup? Students worked on how to draw cylinders and shade them in. Next they will create a drawing of their cup, decorating it with patterns and designs, filling it with a favorite drink! This project will be created with mixed media!
Impossible Shapes! Impossible shapes are a type of optical illusion – they can be drawn, however, could never exist in 3D form. Students practiced drawing an impossible Penrose triangle, and impossible square, before choosing which one they would like to paint. They also completed a color wheel and choose a color harmony to utilize in their painting.
Acrylic Pumpkin Paintings! Students worked on drawing spheres and turning them into pumpkins. They included light and shadow, completing value scales and working on shading. They drew their pumpkins and mixed their own colors to create shades of orange for their final pumpkin paintings!
A look at some of my favorite mediums, brands, and supplies.
The surface on which you create your art is just as important as your mediums! There’s like a million papers to choose from – Also I may have realized I have a small paper collection while taking photo for this 😉 There are many different papers to use for all sorts of mediums, but these are a few of my favorite papers!
Bristol paper: Bristol paper is a thick card stock like paper, it comes in Smooth or Vellum surfaces. I use both depending on what I’m drawing! I use this paper for several mediums too, including, pen, marker, graphite & charcoal. The vellum surface has a little more tooth to it and takes more layers than the smooth. We use this paper a lot in classes!
The first two pieces were creates with mixed media (watercolor, colored pencil & pen) on bristol smooth & vellum. Then graphite and charcoal both completed on bristol smooth.
Watercolor paper: When I was first introduced to watercolors they weren’t my favorite medium….then I was introduced to Arches watercolor papers and watercolors quickly became one of more favorite mediums – all because of the surface. Arches is super expensive but totally worth it! The paper holds up to washes, layering and lifting techniques like no other. It comes in hot press or Cold Press in multiple weights. I prefer 140lb in cold press for paintings like my Westside series and hot press for any paintings where I don’t want as much surface texture. As it is rather costly, when starting out with watercolors in classes and for making simple little hand made cards or quick paintings I always use Canson XL watercolor paper – it’s a great paper that holds up well with watercolors and we also often use it for color pencils & mixed media!
Watercolors completed on Arches cold press and hot press papers.
Stonehenge: Is one of my more recent discoveries. I’ve only used it with color pencils and it’s amazing how many layers this paper can take and still have a pretty smooth surface texture!
Work in progress and completed work both on Stonehenge with colored pencil.
Pastel Paper: Pastels are one of my all time favorite mediums. I started off using Canson Mi-tenis papers and still use them on occasion (this is also the paper I use in classes), however, most of my pastel work is completed on PastelMat. It’s an amazing surface that has a velvety texture and takes layers upon layers of pastels. It also holds the pastel well and comes in various colors.
Soft pastels created on Mi-Tenis and PastelMat.
These are just a few of my favorite papers to work with my favorite mediums but there are so many to choose from – what are some of your favorite surfaces?
I received my first set of pastels when I was 10 – I don’t think I loved them quite so much at first, but now pastels are one of my absolute favorite mediums! They are what I use for most of my commission pieces and the medium I’m most likely to use for any of my own projects.
Pastels are created with pigment and a binder compressed into sticks – depending on how much binder is mixed with the pigment you get a harder or softer pastel. When I first started with pastels, and up until a few years ago, Prismacolor Nupastels were the only thing I used. These pastel sticks contain a higher amount of binder, making them a harder type of pastel – this allows me to achieve more details in my work than what I could with a softer pastel. These are also the pastels I use to teach with.
I still use Nupastels in my pastel work but I also have a few other pastel mediums I like to use now too! For smaller detailed areas and textures I love Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils . They come in a wide range of colors and are a similar hardness to the Nupastels.
In the past couple years I’ve also started using PanPastels which are extra soft pressed pastels powders in a pan/cake form and are applied to your surface with soft sponge. I love how rich and smooth these go on! For the most part I use these in my backgrounds and base layers for larger areas and then add finishing details with the pastel pencils on top.
I also have used Sennelier extra soft pastels on occasion – I do enjoy them, however, they can be quite costly!
The surface is probably the most important element though! I started to use Pastelmat a few years ago, it’s surface is velvety and does an amazing job of taking on layers upon layers of pastels. It also comes in a wide range of colors – I love using a darker surface with the PanPastels. I also find it holds the pastel so well that I don’t have to use a fixative on my finished pieces – which always seems to mess with the pastel surface anyway! There are certain times when I want a little texture to my pastel pieces though so I’ll use Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper but definitely doesn’t give you the same effect!
Pieces completed on Pastelmat with PanPastels, pastel pencils & Nupastels
These are a series of small watercolor and pen paintings inspired by the area where I live here in Maryland. It’s a place that’s a bit outta the way and many think of it as the end of the earth – but I love it here. It’s full of history, plenty of nature & wildlife, it’s quiet, and you know your neighbors. Between where the Nanticoke & Wicomico rivers meet the Chesapeake Bay, we have several little towns including; Quantico, Tyaskin, Bivalve, Nanticoke, Waterview & Whitehaven – together known as the Westside. The Westside doesn’t have much in the way of stores or shops, however, we have a few post offices, a thrift store, the Westside Fire Department, Antique shop, Churches, community center, a Bed & Breakfast, marinas & parks, Campgrounds, Wades Repair, and a couple restaurants!
A lot of the houses and buildings here date back to the 1800’s and many of them are no longer in habitable conditions, though, we do still have quite a few from that time period that have been kept up. I like to think about what it may have look liked here a hundred years ago when it was a bustling port town, filled with people and shops – all the buildings new. Then, there were oyster houses, canning factories, general stores, a saw mill, skip jacks, schools, steamboats, and later a shirt factory, town hall, hotel, & seafood packing plant. And even before that, when it was home to the Native Americans – the Nanticoke Tribe, what it must have looked like.
The Westside is also filled with nature and wildlife. During a walk in the Spring you’re guaranteed to see Ospreys that have just arrived back from winter migration. Eagles and many song birds also call the Westside home – some of my favorite sightings are Bluebirds, flocks of Cedar Waxwings, Flickers, and Buzzards gathering to sunbathe. Fox, Deer, groundhogs, hawks, muskrats, frogs, rabbits, turtles, and snakes are often seen. Of course it’s also home to much marine life! And we can not forget about the insects – yes, there are days when some of these bugs make you regret going outside, but, butterflies, bees, praying mantis, & ladybugs, fill the gardens. The summer evenings glow with lighting bugs, cicadas and peepers, clear skies filled with stars. Not to mention the best sunsets all year round!
We may not have a lot in the terms most think of – and yeah, we’re a bit outta the way, but I can say we have a certain nostalgic community feel that not a lot of places can claim. It’s a place where time slows down, people wave and stop to talk, it’s a place that causes you to take in what’s around you – something I find inspiring!
I hope you enjoy these little watercolors from the place, and surrounding area, I call home. Prints and originals are available in the shop section – I plan to keep painting more!
Recently, I shared that I had completed illustrations for a little book called “Spit Happens” – I’m excited to let you know that I now have some books in hand! This cute little children’s story is written by Annie Trice, and is about her “alpaca squad”. Working on the illustrations was a lot of fun – check out my original post for more info and copies of the book are available in the shop section!
Using kitchen foil and some glue you can create some beautiful pieces of art! This project is fun for all ages and is something everyone can do! I’ve shown step by steps for the simple process and included some ideas below for more variations to try!
What you need:
Aluminum Foil – heavy duty works best but any will do if you’re careful!
Cardboard – for this project a smooth heavy cardboard works best….like what the back of sketchbooks are made from. Or cardboard from cereal boxes, or similar, works too – I don’t suggest corrugated cardboard, sometimes the texture of the cardboard gets in the way!
Elmer’s glue & Glue sticks
Coloring pages – optional
Step one: First cut your cardboard to the size you’d like your finished piece. Draw your design or pattern directly on your cardboard with a pencil – this is going to get covered later so it doesn’t matter if you make any mistakes! Keep in mind, in the following steps, we will be tracing your lines with glue…..it may be best to keep your design simple with less details. Not into drawing? Use a coloring page instead! Cut and glue the page down to your cardboard instead of drawing a design.
Step two: Now that you have your design on your cardboard carefully trace your lines with Elmer’s glue – make sure your glue lines are not getting squashed by the glue nozzle, lift your glue bottle from the cardboard slightly as you trace your lines! These lines are going to be the “embossed” portion on your foil. If you make a mistake you can gently wipe away a misshaped glue line while it’s still wet (q-tips work well for little areas). Allow your glue to dry completely! I let mine set over night.
Step three: Once your glue is completely dry cut a piece of foil slightly larger than your cardboard – we want it large enough to fold the foil around the sides of the cardboard.
Step four: Use your glue stick and go over the entire front surface of your glue design. Gently press your foil over your dried glue design and carefully use your fingers to smooth the foil over your dried glue lines revealing your embossed design!
Step five: Once you have your foil smoothed over your glue lines, fold the edges of your foil on the back of your cardboard – you can tape or glue if needed. Now you can take your sharpies and color your design! Your Sharpies will blend on the foil surface – I used blues, yellows & greens to create the different shades on my example!
I’ve also done this project before with pressed dried leaves glued to my cardboard instead of using glue lines – make sure your leaf is dried if you want your artwork to last longer and use the leaf vein side up to get the most texture out of the leaf! Glue your leaf to your cardboard and use a glue stick to apply your foil. Instead of coloring my leaf I used black acrylic paint, painting the whole foil surface in a thin layer and wiping it away before it dried with a paper towel – you could use the paint method for the process above too. I also use corrugated cardboard for my leaf project – notice how the corrugated cardboard creates lines on your finished piece?
For younger ages you can change up the process and instead of drawing or tracing a design with glue you can dip pieces of cotton yarn, or string, in Elmer’s and create abstract string art on your cardboard, let dry, and then cover with your foil. You could also skip the glue and wrap the string around a piece of cardboard (use your glue stick over top)! Below, we’ve used the string wrapped around a heart cut out!
You can turn your finished projects into ornaments or hanging decorations like I did with the heart project by punching a hole in the cardboard and adding a ribbon. I also turned one of the embossed leaf pieces into an art journal cover! Send me pictures of your embossed foil art to add to our followers gallery!
For around the past 10 years, students have entered into an annual art contest that showcases Migratory birds living in Chincoteague VA. Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge holds this art show and contest each year, in conjunction with their celebration of World Bird Day – the second Saturday of every May! Artwork goes on display at the educational center for the day of the celebration. This is one of my favorite contests and displays for students as we are able to learn about birds in our area and the refuge does an amazing event filled with free educational activities! Sadly, we have to skip this year, but I’m looking forward to having students participate again next year! Enjoy some entries we’ve had from previous years and download the Chincoteague bird checklist (posted below) – how many can you identify?! Check out some online bird day activities you can do at home here!