Still Life. Almost.

We did still life drawings of apples today in art class.

Or as still as it can be with several 5 through 8 year-olds around a table!


Still life drawings are a great idea for kids. They’re good practice in drawing from life… but the “life” stays put and doesn’t run off like your cat or your baby sister. And, still life subjects actually don’t have to be alive at all. You could just as easily draw a stack of books or a Barbie doll. As long as they’re still.

Today we worked on apples in a bowl… if you’re working with kids, get them to take a really good look at what they’re about to draw. In most of our minds, apples are round and red, and that’s exactly what you’ll get if you just set a bowlful of apples in front of kids and tell them to draw them! Ask them to look at the apple and describe its shape. One little person today thought her apple looked sort of like a heart with a flat bottom. Another thought his looked pretty round, except flattened in at the top and bottom. So we practiced drawing the shape of one apple.

And then we practiced drawing the bowl. We talked about how it would look like a circle if we looked at it from above, but if you look at it from an angle it looks more like an oval. With a little bit of the bottom showing underneath the oval. It really helps if you can talk through the shapes of things with kids every time you draw with them… they have preconceived ideas about how things look, but if they learn to notice the shapes of things their drawings will improve quickly!

Children tend to be heavy-handed with pencils, so you have to keep reinforcing the idea of sketching lightly so they won’t have dark lines to erase. You can also have them draw with either a yellow colored pencil or a pencil from the “H” side of hardness. Yellow pencils and “H” pencils (such as 2H, 3H, 4H etc.) make lighter lines, and even if they don’t erase all the way you won’t see the sketch lines in the finished drawing. On the sketch above, they’ll need to erase the line of the bowl behind the apples, as well as the “horizon line” of the table.

After sketching, we worked on coloring our apples… starting with a single apple. Again, have the kids look closely at their apple and tell you what colors they see. They’ll be surprised to see that there are several colors! We saw that yellow was underneath the red, so we did an underpainting of yellow with our colored pencils. Then we added the red striations of the Gala apple with lines of color that followed the contour of the apple. Or at least that was the general idea… contour lines are difficult for young folks. (Practice, practice, practice!) And we kept looking at our apple to see where the red was darkest and where the yellow showed through the most. Then we added green highlights around the stem area of the apple, and also shaded with green over the darker red areas. Green is the compliment of red… directly across the color wheel… which makes it a good choice for shading. Whenever possible shade with a complimentary color instead of black!¬†We added final details with brown… little flecks of brown on the apple and brown for the stem. The stem even had a hint of green in it.

So we drew the apples. And the bowl. And we looked at how other artists drew apples and bowls. “Looking” is a big part of drawing… encourage your young artists to look closely for details, shapes, colors, or anything else they notice!

And then several artists decided to eat our still life props!


Sunday…umm…Monday Sketching…

Yesterday didn’t afford me much time for sketching. I did a lot of card printing and folding before anyone woke up, and we made a command decision to stay home for the morning, and just spent some much needed family time. Then we took Kate to work and ran errands (see below!) in that area for the three hours she was at the museum. Sundays are usually very relaxed there, and she and a co-worker had actually planned to work together so they could practice irish whistle, but alas… in only three hours, they had 32 visitors! Perhaps museums are the thing to do when it’s seriously bitter outside! I know we surely didn’t want to be outside much, and instead of opting to shop the outlets for new sheets, hubby & I hibernated inside a bookstore for the last 45 minutes of our wait for Kate! We almost made it out without a purchase… I was looking seriously at a new papercutting book but it was $25, and I didn’t quite want to spend that much on a whim. Chris was checking out a $20 book about planning houses, which I told him to get but he didn’t. Then, on the way out, there were two little books by Eric Sloane… an artist and historian we both love, and we got them both for under $10. Not necessary, but “Needful,” and well within the “whim” budget.Mama moment… Kate says she wishes she’s get some comments on her new blog! Any takers? Tell her that her Mom sent you!:-PErrands included going back to Lowe’s to return some racks I bought the other day that weren’t what I was expecting them to be. And I had a whole list of goodies from the organizing area to pick up! Hubby helped, and we came home with some treasures! I had picked up a couple of things on Friday, which he installed right away, and then last night he installed the rest… more to come, too! I’ll have an entire new pantry system by the end of the week! And nothing out of pocket, as we were using gift cards from Christmas. Usually they go to tools or something like that, but this year we’re using them for some organizational and sprucing up projects. And, I’m a very happy woman.img_0505.jpgThrough the magic of flash photography, I just discovered another place that needs a little cleaning. Please ignore the flluff in the bottom lefthand corner of the cupboard, and just take in the splendor of empty racks waiting to be filled with beautiful, reachable canned goods!:-)We went to dinner at hubby’s parents, and got home after 9… and Chris commenced to installing what we had bought. So, I attempted to do some Sunday Sketching. I didn’t last long, and was snoozing on the couch pretty soon. My eyes were just plain done.Did get a little bit done last night, though, and this morning, when I sat down with my coffee, there was the picture sitting waiting for some final touches. I think I’m going to proclaim it finished.candledippingfinal_1_1.jpgNot really happy with the background. Did end up adding a bit of ink details… it didn’t seem “finished” without them. But, it is done, and now I can move on to other things!I will be adding more about art journaling soon… perhaps tonight! Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by!Oh! I just found out my bio made it onto the Farmgirl Flair site!

Joyful Tidings…

The past few days have been rather busy, rather eventful, and rather joyful! The air is full of romance and wedding bells and Christmas music and lots of laughter with old friends. Bec & Dave’s wedding was beautiful… literally standing room only… and the reception took place in a snowy winter forest. We grown-ups had so much fun at our table that the young people were pulling their chairs up to see what they were missing out on!

Today was the annual Olde Christmas Musical Celebration at historic Prince George’s Chapel. Though a broken printer threatened to throw me for a loop first thing (well, to be honest, it actually did throw me for quite a loop), a dear Saint at the Staples copier center saved the day… I think he saw the desperation in my eyes! After we overed that molehill, the program turned out to be one of the most beautiful we’ve ever attended at the chapel. The mix of musical styles was amazing, and everyone worked together so well. The chapel is so beautiful, and I’m so glad that the community is still able to gather there to worship in a place where our forefathers worshipped more than two hundred years ago.

The other day, when we took our new grocery store field trip, I picked up a copy of Victoria magazine as an after-the-holidays treat to myself. Inside I discovered an article about another papercutter, and was so intrigued by her style that I looked her up… and met a very precious person! If you love papercutting, please go check out Sharyn Sowell’s website! Her silhouettes are absolutely lovely, and I love the way she mixes different papers and printed materials into her work. And her blog is very uplifting and sweet… and brave, for she even shared pictures of her desk! (Oh dear, I’m not that brave! Mine is an absolute mess right now!) It’s always so inspiring to get to see someone else’s artwork and even better when they let you peak into their studio! And the icing on the cake is when you find out they’re a kindred spirit.


And my pencils came! Just in time for me to sharpen them and tuck them into the mini-van with us for our drive to the wedding! I got to doodle a little with the graphitint pencils. Nothing grand, but enough to begin to get a feel for how to use them. One thing I really like about watercolor pencils is their portability. Grab a jar of pencils (or a tin… the new ones are still in their original box), a paintbrush, a sketchbook, and a small bottle of water and you’re in business. Hopefully I’ll get some time to do a little more doodling in the next few days!


Hope your Sunday was restful and that you have a great week ahead!

Sunday Sketching…

I finally had a chance to get back to Sunday Sketching! Christmas happenings had me a little too busy to sit still and draw, but this evening, while we were watching a couple of old movies, I pulled out the Prismacolors and worked a little…candledippingthree.jpgThe man is starting to come to life, and the pot is about as black as I can get it. Lots of contrast there, since the man is washed in sunlight. Worked a little more on the background, which helped make the subject “pop” out to the foreground. The “outliner” in me really wants to get the Micron Pigma pens out and add edges and details, but I’m trying to use only the pencils. We’ll see if I manage to restrain myself! I also may end up cropping the background, as it is quite time-consuming and not all of it is neccessary to the compostition. Kate thinks I should go for an off-center subject, and I think she might be right. I definitely like working with the Prismacolors, but to get a rich, painterly effect really takes a lot of time!Chris gave me an Art Supply Warehouse gift certificate for Christmas, and it didn’t take long to use it. :-) I ordered two more sets of pencils by Derwent… their new Inktense watercolor pencils and their new Graphitint pencils. Cannot wait until they arrive. The Inktense are supposed to be very intense colors when wet, and the graphitint are very subtle… like graphite pencils with a hint of color. Can’t wait to play with them!Well, I guess it’s off to bed! Tomorrow’s going to be a very looooong day!