This is my second year participating in 28 February Flowers, and I just love this challenge. I’ve been wanting to dive into mixed media, so my goal with these pieces was to explore mixed media possibilities and have fun. Everyday there’s a prompt, and some people create a daily piece of art. I ended up working on these in the studio, so I was always trying to “catch up” since I’m not in the studio everyday. I learned a lot through the process and have begun to incorporate some of what I learned into my next collection of pieces.
If you haunt Instagram, you’ve probably noticed different “art challenges” that pop up from time to time. Inktober in October is a popular one, for example. Well, I ran across one started by artist Amanda Evanston called February Flowers. She even includes prompts. Since flowers are on my to-do list to get ready for Panoply this year, I decided to jump in….even though I am a bit behind. I didn’t start until Day 8. I am gonna try and go back and catch up, but we shall see!
This is the first time I’ve tried an “art challenge.” So why now? Well, as I said, flowers are on my to-do list. I used to draw and paint lots of flowers, but I’ve been really focused on animals the last couple of years. I’m ready to switch things up. But I feel like I am out of practice when it comes to the blooming beauties! An art challenge seemed like the perfect way to get back into my botanical groove. The prompts help spark creativity. And since the idea is to make this a daily practice, it helps take the anxiety out of starting on a new piece. It feels more like practice. This gives me an opportunity to experiment with ideas. If I create something I love, bonus! But if I’m not crazy about it, I’m out a piece of paper and some art supplies. Time creating is never wasted. I always learn something during the process.
There’s also a social aspect to a challenge. The hashtags for this challenge are #28februaryflowers and #28februaryflowers2021. You can search on those tags and find SO many awesome and inspiring works. Sharing my piece and declaring my participation on social media makes me feel more accountable. And that helps me stay on track and do the work.
I get a lot of questions about how I create pet portraits, especially at art festivals. Here’s a handy dandy Q&A to help you decide if I’m the right artist for your pet portrait, how my process works, and some things to keep in mind when searching for a pet portrait artist.
Do I bring my pet to your studio or do you work from photos?
I get this question ALL the time. I work primarily in colored pencils, so my process is SLOW. No pet is gonna sit still long enough for me to do what I do, so I work from your photos. Usually I have one photo I am mainly working from, but I may use additional photos to get better views of the eyes, fur, etc. The photos don’t have to be of fantastic quality. You just need to like the pose of your pet in the photo.
Other artists can and do work from live models, so if this is something that’s important to you, be sure to check with them.
My pet’s fur is black, and I can never get a good photo! Can you help?
This is a very common problem. If you have photos, I can usually get what I need to draw you pet. Between years of experience of drawing animals and the ability to adjust photos in Photoshop, I can add in all those details that you see with your eyes but never seem to capture with a photo.
What does a pet portrait cost?
It depends on what style of portrait you want. I offer mixed media portraits in several styles starting at $95 for a 5″ x 7″ portrait. I offer colored pencil portraits starting at $185 for a 5″ x 7″. You can see the different styles on my website. I do offer payment plans.
How do I protect my pet portrait?
I use artist quality materials for my portraits. If you have chosen to frame you portrait, be sure to use an acid-free mat and UV filtering glass or acrylic. This will help protect your portrait from light damage. If your portrait is mounted to a wood panel and ready-to-hang, I have coated it with several layers of a UV filtering varnish. No matter how the portrait is finished, try to keep your portrait out of direct sunlight. This is true of most artwork and art prints.
How long does it take for you to create my pet portrait?
This will vary based on the number of projects I have going at the time, but in general, expect it to take around 4 weeks. If you have a tighter timeline, let me know when you contact me, and I will try and work with you.
How do we get started?
Email is the best way to contact me. Please include your photos, and if you know what size and style you’re thinking, that helps me too.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
When choosing an artist to work with, be sure to choose someone who’s style you like.
Most artists will require a non-refundable deposit for a commissioned work. That way if at some point through the process you are not happy with the piece, the artist still gets paid for the time he/she put into the piece.
Make sure the artist plans to send you progress shots.
Colored Pencil Works
When I going to create a 100% colored pencil piece, my subject helps determine what paper I am going to use.
Strathmore Bristol Vellum
This is my go-to paper in general for colored pencil. And I am equally happy with any of the series Strathmore offers including 300, 400, and 500.
If I am working on a furry animal, I love using Canson Mi-Teintes. This paper is aimed at pastel artists and has a rough and smooth side. I use the smooth side for colored pencils.
People are not really my thing, but Stonehenge paper is fantastic for people portraits.
I have drawn directly on wood panels with colored pencils as well. My favorite panels are Blick Studio or Blick Premier wood panels.
My subject and overall plans for what I want to do with a piece again help determine what surface I am going to work on.
Working directly on wood panels is one of my favorite options. Again, my favorite panels are Blick Studio or Blick Premier wood panels.
Strathmore Mixed Media Paper Series 400
I love Strathmore’s mixed media paper if I know I want to use colored pencil and washes of watercolor or acrylics. It is a sturdy paper that takes a lot of abuse.
Strathmore Watercolor Paper Series 400
Sometimes I used watercolor paper if I know the main parts of the piece will be paint instead of colored pencil. I like the texture the watercolor paper adds to the piece.
For mixed media pieces I use a gem mediums as my glue. Liquitex and Golden both offer gel mediums that dry clear and work well. You can also use this to seal your piece.
Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film
If I’ve created a piece on paper and want to adhere it to a wood panel, I use double tack mounting film. It is a giant, acid-free, double-sided sticker. It takes practice, so don’t try this for this first time on a finished piece. When I started using this method, I would actually adhere the paper to the board before I ever drew on it. I adhere the film to the wood first. I peel back one edge a few inches, and then I use a brayer to help make sure it is flat and smooth as I slowly peel back the backing. For the art side, I peel back the backing a few inches, line up the art, press it from one corner to the other, and then follow the same process…slowly peeling the backing as I press and use the brayer to smoothly adhere the art.
I only varnish pieces that are on wooden panels or have been adhered to wooden panels. I do not varnish colored pencil pieces I am going to frame. I use the gel medium to seal mixed media pieces I plan to frame.
I start with three layers of Golden Archival Spray Gloss Varnish. If I don’t want a gloss varnish, I then do three layers of whatever finish I do want. For some pieces, especially 100% colored pencil pieces, the spray varnish is my final step to protect the piece.
For mixed media pieces, I usually do an additional varnish step with three layers of Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS. This is a paint-on product that I thin with water. It also comes in various finishes. Whatever finish I finished with for the spray is what I use for this type as well, so gloss over gloss, satin over satin, etc.
My art is always evolving. I love trying new materials and techniques, but I have some mediums and brands that usually use. I am going to start with the various mediums that are my favorites. I’ll cover surfaces and varnishes in another post.
For a time I was creating only with Colored Pencils. You can really layer them and create amazingly realistic pieces. My favorite brand is PrismaColor Premier colored pencils. They have a buttery feel that is hard to beat and the price is reasonable. Admittedly I am having more trouble with my Prismas breaking, so I am experimenting with other brands. I am slowly adding in Caran d’Ache Luminance Colored Pencils.
As I’ve started creating more mixed media pieces, I have added in Acrylic Paint. I prefer the fluid, soft body style of acrylics. My favorite brands are Golden and Liquitex. Golden Fluid acrylics seems a little more “fluid” than Liquitex Soft Body, and the two brands work together well. I love Liquitex’s paint bottles. The tapered tip makes it so much easier to control how much paint comes out of the bottle.
NeoColor II Artist's Crayons
Neocolor II is a Caran d’Ache that I often use as a base under colored pencils and mixed media pieces. They are water soluble, so you can use them like watercolor pencils. However, they don’t “set” after they dry, so you can come back in and rework them, which can be a blessing and a curse. I love the color range. You can easily cover large areas of a piece and then work on top with colored pencils. You can use them as a wax resist if working with acrylics.
POSCA Paint Pens
POSCA paint pens by Uni are some of the few paint pens I’ve found that don’t clog up after you use them one time. They come in various thicknesses and colors, even metallics. They’re a handy way to add little details to pieces. They come in various sizes too, but my two favorites are .7mm and the .9 ~ 1.3mm
Pigment ink pens
I have several different brands that I use and have yet to find a favorite. Micron and PrismaColor make lovely fine line pens with archival pigment ink. Zig Writer is nice if I need a little thicker line, and it seems to be a little more forgiving when working with colored pencils.
Contact me below!
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I have been working on a series of pet portraits for a client, and the last one was delivered last week. This has been such a fun project! Each piece is 5″ x 7″. My client wanted the pieces to coordinate, but still have their own distinct character. So each piece has different flowers, but I used the soft blue background and carefully repeated colors in the flowers to tie them all together. I’m very happy with how they turned out!
When my client got all the pieces hung up she texted me a photo and said, “You are awesome. Made me cry but happy tears. My girls look so good!”
I love my colored pencils. They’re not messy. The colors are amazing. And I love that I can be super detailed in my work. BUT – I miss the abstraction I achieved with acrylics. I feel that “photo realism”, while amazing, is just not me. I’m more emotional, silly, some might even say scatterbrained. And I like that part of my to show in my art. So I’ve been slowly working toward that in my colored pencil pieces by adding more color.
Recently I began experimenting with Gamsol, orderless mineral spirits, to blend the colored pencils. And it is SO amazing. I am finding how well it works depends on the paper. It seems you need the paper to have a little tooth. Canson Mi-Teintes works really well. One of my fellow artists on Facebook says she using this technique on canvas! I haven’t tried that yet. I do have a wood panel that I am planning on trying next, so we’ll see.
This is the first piece I tried – totally abstract and from my imagination. It is 8″ x 10″ and I love how bright the colors stay. The Gambol does not wrinkle the paper and once completely dry, there’s no residue on the back of the paper.
On the second piece, I decided to see how well the technique worked on something more realistic. My goal is to create something recognizable, but with expressive strokes and colors. Using the Gamsol to lay down colors initially really helps my creative process.
Both of these pieces were created on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. I am also working on an illustration for a book cover that’s on a smooth mixed-media paper. The Gamsol is not as effective on this surface.
My goal now is try this on different surfaces and see what works and what doesn’t. I think it is going to be a great way to spark my imagination and creativity.
People seem to be intrigued about my drawing process, so here are some photos of the clouded leopard I finished recently. I’m using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper.
On August 29th artists battled it out at Lowe Mill. I hadn’t had that much fun in a long time! Everyone had 3 mystery items that had to be included in their entirety in their artwork. All the items were the same. Each artist had a box with their name on it divided on a table by floors. Artists on the 3rd floor got a 1 minute head start and those on the 2nd floor got an extra 30 seconds. We started painting at 6:30 and had 90 minutes to be back in the 1st floor connector with our finished pieces. It was great to meet so many of the Lowe Mill artists before we got started.
Since I don’t have a studio yet, I setup camp outside Huntsville Art League’s 202 Studio in the 2nd floor connector. The 3 mystery items were 2 pieces of okra, 4 metal wire things, and a key on a key ring. Thankfully I had brought yarn and needle and thread. My idea was that a spider in the garden scared the gardener and he/she dropped their keys and the spider got them. I turned my wires into a spider by wrapping them in yarn. I attached everything to my acrylic painting on canvas with needle and thread. And made it back to the 1st floor just in time!
The pieces were purchased ahead of time by ticket holders, and they were chosen in Dirty Santa fashion. So much fun to watch!
Plus, my piece won 1st place! I received a wonderful prize pack sponsored by The Art Cart and Gamblin. Oil paint, a beautiful table easel and a linen canvas.
About the event
A fundraiser for Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
It’s an artistic ‘Iron Chef’ style face-off! During this creatively competitive event, participating Lowe Mill artists will be given a mystery basket of items to create artwork with in just 90 minutes, and the final piece must include all three items. The event pits volunteer artists in a head-to-head race against time. After time is up and the artwork is returned to the designated area, the art work will be judged by our previously determined group of judges. Votes will be tallied and the winner will be announced at the end of the evening. There will be a collector’s draw performed at the end of the evening, with a ‘dirty santa’ style twist. In order to participate in the collectors draw you must purchase an advance ticket below at $25. General admission is $10 the night of and will not include participation the collectors draw.