Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Huntress

Hmmm... Is huntress even a word? I should Google it. Ah, yes. A huntress is a female who engages in hunting. That is precisely what my tuxedo cat, Molly, is doing in the portrait above. The reference photo was taken as Molly stalked our birdfeeder from the edge of a dining room chair.

The portrait is 11 x 14" on white, smooth vellum paper. Molly is drawn in pastel sticks. The goal was a realistic portrait with a soft, Impressionistic edge. I don't want the picture to be completely photo-realistic. Otherwise, what's the point of even creating a drawing? It needs to look somewhat like a drawing.

I'm working on adding more of a background to my pictures. I think it's important for portraits to tell a story about their subjects. To capture a moment, much like a photograph. Yet, a drawing takes the moment further, with emotion in the strokes.

I apologize if this entry is a bit bland. I am battling a stomach bug and do not have much energy to write with humor : (

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Strange Places Where My Cat Chooses To Nap

Does your cat nap on the clean laundry pile? It's as if the clothes are the equivalent of a recliner in the sun.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Photography Tips For Awesome Portraits

Whether you are taking pictures of your child's birthday party or reference for a potential portrait, there are a few tricks that will enhance your photo sessions. By making a few adjustments, you can turn general photos into frame-worthy portraits. I've listed a few tips that have helped me attain clear reference pictures for my portraits. These tricks have been priceless in achieving accurate portraits of people and animals.

1. Turn OFF the flash!

When cameras became equipped with the flash function, people began turning the flash on as a necessity. We feared that our pictures would turn out blurry, dark, or fuzzy if we didn't. I was guilty of this myself. When I started using a digital camera, I became frustrated with the quality of pictures with the flash. Then, I realized that my outdoor pictures without the flash were looking rather artistic and clear. I turned off the flash indoors and voila! My indoor pictures looked completely different.

Here is an example of the same picture subject. The first picture was taken with the flash function. The next picture was taken without the flash.

In the first picture, the eyes are washed out by the flash. If I were attempting to use this photo as a drawing reference, I would need separate reference to render the eyes. The background is also very dark and plain.

The second picture is taken without any special settings. I turned the flash function off and zoomed in on my subject. I also lowered my position so that I was taking the picture at the same height of the dog. This allows me to capture the reflection in my subject's eyes and to obtain a steady, clear shot. Notice that the background is softer, with more light. There is a gentle quality to the photo.

2. Use Natural Light As Much As Possible

The pictures above were taken next to a window. Sunlight poured onto my dog's coat. With the flash picture, the highlights from the sun are not visible. By using natural light, pools of highlights appear, creating a more interesting photograph. I highly recommend taking pictures outside or next to a window. Natural sunlight will light your subjects perfectly. I understand that this is not always possible. Position your subject as close to a light source as possible, whether it is a lit birthday cake, a lamp in your living room, or outdoors.

3. Photograph Your Subject From Interesting Angles

Every subject can be photographed from a number of angles. I find that crawling onto the floor with my dogs and shooting the photo from their height greatly increases the quality of the photo. However, you can also position yourself below your subject to create a distortion of scale. Play around with different angles to find the most flattering view of your subject.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

News Flash

It's time to put some excitement into this blog! It seems like lately, my posts have followed the same "vanilla" format.... Here is my latest artwork... Here is the story behind the artwork... Snore! Time to put some sprinkles on the vanilla.... and some hot fudge!

AKC Museum Of The Dog Registry

Did you know that there is a museum in the US, dedicated to dog art? The AKC Museum of the Dog holds juried exhibitions that showcase canine art and has an Artist Registry. Recently, I became an official member of the Museum of the Dog Artist Registry. Exhibitions are changed fairly regularly and the museum also has a permanent collection of classic canine paintings. The museum is located in St. Louis, Missouri in a historic estate. For more information, check out

Launching Into The World Of Illustration

I finally feel ready to start sending promotional packets to publishers. I've been working hard over the past year to build a strong portfolio of realistic animal drawings in color. A big part of the submission process is research. An illustrator needs to find their niche and pursue publishers that will support their subject matter and style. A big emphasis was placed on market research in my college studies. A lot of money and time can be wasted in sending samples to random publishers.

So, I began researching publishers through the Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market and through Google. The process is very complicated. I've found maybe a hand-full of publishers that are interested in realistic animal drawings. With computer technology, many illustrators are drawing on their computers in a whimsical style. Some publishers list a need for realistic animal drawings, but I am finding that the need is for colorful, digital work. Photo-realism is often substituted with photographs in books and magazines.

How do I work through this challenge? I will continue to research and discover magazines and books that feature animal subject matter and see if they buy realistic illustrations. I also am marketing my work to the poster and licensing markets. For this reason, I am trying to perfect a "style" and work on drawings in "series". My goal is to develop a soft, impressionistic style with a hint of realism (with a pinch of neurosis and attention to detail).

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Birdwatcher

I'm on a bit of a cat-drawing frenzy lately. I've been inspired by my lovely tuxedo cat, Molly. She seems to love the camera and takes on the most ridiculous poses.

The portrait above is 8x10" landscape on white, smooth vellum paper. It is drawn in soft pastels with the whiskers rendered with white pastel pencil.

The goal of the portrait was to demonstrate the intense look of a cat in hunting mode. When the reference photo was taken, Molly was hunting a bird perched on my birdfeeder, through the window. Thank goodness for glass! No carnage resulted. Just a fun, pastel study. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Artwork!

I recently ran into a friend at the grocery store, who looked at me and exclamed, "You're alive!". That statement alone was motivation to move forward and produce some more artwork. This blog has been neglected over the past few weeks. It's not that I haven't been drawing, I just have been swamped with responsibilities.

Regardless, I am returning today with new work. The piece above is my latest pastel drawing. The subject is my beautiful tuxedo cat, Miss Molly. I took the reference photo this past weekend as my cat was luxuriating on my dining room table in a pool of sunlight.

The drawing is rendered with pastels entirely, with no use of the pastel pencils. I'm trying to "paint" with pastel sticks as much as possible for a smoother look. The drawing is 11 x 14" landscape in size on smooth vellum paper.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Wow! It's been almost two weeks since I posted new artwork. I have been busy working on the piece featured above and am sending my work to various children's market publishers (I'm hoping to illustrate children's books).

Back to the topic....

The golden retriever lounging above is my own golden, Sunny. One of his favorite napping spots happens to be on a floral futon in my studio/sunroom. The reference photo was taken while the sun showered him with light through the window. The finished artwork is drawn in pastels on smooth vellum paper and is 11 x 14".

I am working on a softer look in my pastel portraits. The end result may be a bit painterly in style. My new style is a work-in-progress... Hopefully, it will continue to grow in a positive direction.