She’s Creative!

Ever since my daughter was little, my husband and I had a feeling she would choose a college major/career path leaning towards the arts or something very creative.

Now that she’s a senior in high school (who let that happen??!??!), college applications are in, the deposit was sent to her #1 school, and her double major has been chosen, our initial guesses were right: she’s creative!

Continue reading “She’s Creative!”

“Too Soft”

“Your work is too soft.”

“You need more contrast.”

“You know what would make this piece better? Differentiating between your lights and darks more.”

Those comments and so many other variations on them came from my professors and classmates in college, whether I asked for feedback or not. Critiques, working in class….I’d hear them all the time.

Continue reading ““Too Soft””

Throwback Thursday: Flowers

For this week’s Throwback, I present to you…


Title: Flowers

Size: 22″ x 30″

Medium: Graphite on paper

When: Advanced Drawing, Spring 2006

Purpose: Class assignment. This was an exercise on basically everything we’d learned in our previous drawing classes, from shading to composition.

Flower detail 3

Time to complete: I think this was a two week project, meaning it was about 12 or so hours in class, plus out of class time on top of that.

Thought process: As I mentioned in my Torso post, I don’t like drawing the entire still life/model set up. I like to zoom in on it for a more abstract composition. For this project doing that was difficult as the flowers were set up on a table in the middle of the room, and we all were sitting at tables about 10 feet away. It makes getting that close up detail almost impossible, but I think it’s okay that there isn’t that much detail in this piece.

Flower detail 2

Problems I encountered: Like I mentioned above, getting the close up detail was difficult. Also, over the weekend, someone moved the flowers so when we went into class the following week, all of the flowers were not in the same positions as we had left them. We tried to get them back as close to position as we could, but we had to make do as much as we could.

Favorite part: I feel like I did really well with getting enough variety of shades, especially in the upper left flower. I think there aren’t too many areas where it is muddy because I didn’t push my darks darker or lights lighter.

Flower detail 1

Least favorite part: The top left leaf. There’s a dark tip of a petal, and although that’s what it looked like on the flower, it just bothers me! I’m probably just being silly, but I think it sticks out like a sore thumb.


What are your favorite flowers?

Throwback Thursday: Flower Garden Mural

This week’s throwback is a piece that a lot of people loved and remember…and unfortunately my computer has eaten the finished picture! Once I find it again, I’ll post it right here. For now, here’s an almost finished picture of it:

This is the completed back row; in front went daisies, daffodils, and johnny jump ups. The hummingbird went in above the two purpley-blue irises.

Title: Mom’s Flower Garden

Medium: Acrylic paint on wall

Size: About 4 feet wide and 3 feet high, maybe a little bit bigger than that.

When: Summer 2003

Purpose and History: At that time, I was in my summer vacation between freshman and sophomore years of college. I’d only had one art class under my belt, and it was just my Intro to Art class. My boyfriend’s mom didn’t have a window over her kitchen sink, and she always wanted to look at flowers while washing her dishes. I was commissioned to do a flower garden mural on the wall above the sink that summer!

Mural in progress!
Mural in progress!

Time to complete: I stayed at their house for about a week; I think it took about 40 or so hours of painting. I think it would have gone quicker if I knew what I was doing, but I hadn’t taken any painting classes yet, so I didn’t know how to paint properly.

Problems I encountered: Not knowing some painting tips and tricks for mixing colors, painting quickly, or even shading properly was a challenge. Also, leaning over a counter was awkward at times.

Fun tidbits: The hummingbird was not part of the original design. I thought the space above the flowers was looking empty, and I knew my boyfriend’s mom loved hummingbirds, so I put that in as a surprise for her 🙂


My boyfriend’s mom is now my mother-in-law, hence the title saying Mom 😀

Looking at these pictures is like a blast from the past in many ways: the cupboards and counters are different colors now, the cups are no longer hanging from the cupboard, and the light has changed as well! The look of the mural changed with the changes of the kitchen; I’m sad I don’t have a picture of it after they redid their kitchen.

Favorite part: I loved how bright the mural made the kitchen! Just those pops of color was a big impact.

Least favorite part: How flat each flower looked. I didn’t mix the colors, with the exception of the irises. Flowers should have more colors in them, and if I were to repaint the garden, the colors would be the first thing I would change!

Here you can see how flat the gladioli looked (upper left), and the daisies and daffodils at the bottom.

Anything else?

This mural is no longer around. When the counter top was replaced, the wall was damaged. Although my father-in-law tried to fix it, the wall ended up needing to be fully repaired in such a way that the mural had to come down 😦

The awesome and amazing news about that is that this month I will be painting a brand new mural for them! It’s going to take up the entire space from before, plus go all the way to the wall (not pictured). It’s going to be over 18 square feet (much smaller than the library mural), but it’s going to be awesome. Look for those pictures and posts soon!


What would you paint over your kitchen sink?

Throwback Thursday: Torso

Oh man, I love this drawing…


Title: Torso (I’m original, what can I say?)

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 18″ x 24″

When: My Drawing 3 class in college, Fall semester 2005

Purpose: Class assignment

Torso detail2

Thought process: We had live models come in and pose for us. I liked to think a little different than everyone else and zoom in on parts of whatever our subject was, to me it seemed like less I had to draw and worry about getting to scale. I loved the way the model’s shirt wrinkled; I LOVE drawing folds in fabric (I’m weird like that). It was slightly abstract in that the whole model wasn’t included, but still enough information you could kind of see what everything was.

Torso detail1

Problems I encountered: Live models move. I like drawing things that don’t move; that way, if I get frustrated with one area of my drawing or painting, I can always come back to it later and it’s still in the same spot. With live models, it’s almost like you have to work on the whole piece at the same time as they unintentionally fidget or adjust themselves after sitting for 2-3 hours (with a break in the middle, of course!). There are parts of the drawing where you can see where I started sketching part of the shirt sleeve or a wrinkle in, but had to change it as the model adjusted. It was a new experience, and part of the learning process!

Favorite part: All of it. I love everything about this piece! I love how the hands are folded, that the knee cap turned out pretty good, the neck doesn’t look emaciated (it was hard getting it to look right!), the folds of the shirt…yeah, I like this one.

Torso detail3

Least favorite part: Okay, so the elbow is a little funny…and the position of the leg…


I had to reword this one a little bit, but the essence of the question is more along the lines of shock that an art class has clothed models. Our college asked for volunteer students to model, and although no clothing was preferred by the art department, as  skin tight as possible clothing was acceptable. Most of the models I experienced did wear tight shirts and shorts, one even wore a bathing suit. It wasn’t too often that someone volunteered to be fully nude, and I never had one model in my classes.


Do you prefer the whole picture (the entire subject), or just a glimpse of the subject, like this drawing?

Throwback Thursday: Fountain Collage

Today’s Throwback is another favorite of mine:

Fountain collage

Title: Reflections

Size: Mounted on 20″ x 30″ foam core

Medium: Photographs on foam core

When: Spring semester 2003

Purpose: Class assignment for my intro to art class

History: The assignment was to find an object we really liked, photograph various parts of the object, and once our pictures were developed, put the pictures back together to make the original object. The end result reminds me of Pablo Picasso’s Cubism pieces!

Thought Process: As soon as Tim, our professor, gave this assignment, I instantly knew what I was going to photograph: the Special Olympics fountain by the campus library where I worked. When the weather was good, I’d take the back way to my dorm and walk past it, or even go study or relax by it when I had the chance.

The Special Olympics fountain at SUNY Brockport

After getting my pictures the way I wanted them, I started putting the fountain together, just like the assignment said to. At this point, I had already switched my major to art, and Tim was aware of this. He came over to me as I was working in class, and told me that because I was now an art major, he was going to challenge me to break the assignment rules. He wanted me to reconstruct the fountain, but tweak it in a way that you still knew what it was, but it wasn’t what my pictures were of. As I had already cut some of the photos, and being a broke college student, it proved to be a difficult task to do as I couldn’t afford to redevelop my pictures. But, it did help me to learn to be okay with doing abstract thinking, something I was going to need in my future art classes.

Problems I encountered: The first set of photos I took didn’t turn out. I’m not sure what I messed up, but even though I was standing right next to the fountain, it looked like I was two miles away. The photos were completely unusable, so I had to rush to retake and redevelop them in order to have the assignment done on time.

Also trying to figure out a different way to reassemble the fountain was a bit challenging!

Fun tidbits: Three of us students in the class chose the fountain as our subject matter!

The reflection part of the piece is actually just the left hand side of the fountain; I just put it upside down to make a reflection.

Favorite part: Just looking at it, actually. Brockport was my home, it’s where my daughter was born, it’s where I met my husband. It brings back warm fuzzy feelings and makes me happy!

Least favorite part: It’s totally silly, but because the reflection is just the left hand side of the fountain just turned upside down, there’s no reflection of the building. It bugs me. A lot.


What would you have chosen as subject matter for this project?

Throwback Thursday: Turtles

Here’s another self portrait for this week’s blast from the past:

Me turtle

Title: Fighting With Myself

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 22″ x 60″

When: Drawing 2, Fall semester 2004

Purpose: Class assignment. This teacher was big on self portraits!

History/Thought process: After looking at the piece and seeing the title, you may be wondering why I’m grumpy at a turtle. One of the nicknames I got in college was Turtle. I had this huge amazing turtle neck sweater that I absolutely loved. It was warm and cozy, and perfect for cold winter days in our drafty dorms or walking all the way across campus with wind that cut through your coats. As much as I loved this sweater, I always made sure I never wore it to my public speaking class on a day that I’d have to do a speech. The one day that I did wear it to my class, my professor decided it would be a great day to do a pop quiz kind of speech day. He’d provide you with a topic, and you had two minutes to do a speech on it. The topic I got was should elderly men and women have to go through training or retake license exams to continue driving. I was so excited that this was my topic; it’s one I had been thinking about and I just knew I’d ace this speech. I got up there, I did my speech, and when I ended, everyone was looking at me with blank stares. When my professor finally came out of it, he said that he was sure I gave a great speech, but that the only thing he could think about was that it looked like my sweater was going to swallow my head! He felt bad, gave me my 100, and I got rid of my sweater. All my classmates called me Turtle from then on.

I also was in therapy during this time; I was going though a really rough time, and my counselor said that I acted like a turtle when things got hard, that I’d just retreat into my shell, avoiding everything until the bad things went away. We were trying to overcome that, and it wasn’t easy.

So when Beth (my professor) gave yet another self portrait assignment and that it had to incorporate something we were dealing with, I knew right away what I was going to draw.

I had to include a turtle neck sweater, even though it wasn’t the one from my public speaking class.

Problems I encountered: Getting the expressions down right. I wanted to be glaring at the turtle, but I wanted the turtle to be fighting me somehow as well. I picture him yelling at me when I look at this, almost like he’s my inner voice telling me I’m going to fail, that I’ll never be able to cope with things, that I’ll always retreat and hide.

Favorite part: I really like how the turtle shell turned out. It took forever to do, but I think it turned out well 🙂

Least favorite part: I have always struggled with pushing contrast between my values. I’m always afraid to make things too dark. I think I am very flat and don’t have enough range from light to dark in this portrait.


Why is the turtle floating?

Cause he’s crazy ridiculous like that. Actually, I guess it’s just I thought of him as something that’s not really there, but he is. He doesn’t make sense; although he’s very real to me, there’s something about him that I know is not right. And that’s why he’s floating. Or maybe it’s because I was too lazy to draw a table 😉


Did you ever get any random but shareable/appropriate nicknames in college?

Throwback Thursday: Collage

It’s Thursday! Here’s another piece from the past:


Title: Untitled (Alien Collage)

Medium: Collage; magazine pages on paper

Size: 10″ x 8″

When: Fall semester of my sophomore year of college; 2003

Purpose: 2D art class assignment

History: My Two Dimensional (2D) art class was my first official class as an art major. It was nerve wracking for me to be with all these other artists. I remember the first couple weeks of classes my professor completely ignored me other than taking attendance. At the end of a couple weeks I thought I was a failure; he would give feedback and help everyone in the class but me, and I was ready to quit. I stayed after class one day, and asked him why he wouldn’t help me with my projects. Do you know what he did?

He laughed at me.

I tried to not cry as I started to turn to leave. Immediately he apologized for laughing and not helping; he said that I was making such progress on my own and just so in the zone with my projects he didn’t want to interrupt me. Before you start thinking that this professor was completely awful and unprofessional, he ended up being a wonderful mentor and friend over my remaining years at school. After after our confrontation, he was much better at giving me feedback or even just stopping to say I was on the right track.

This project was just working on taking random images from magazines, cutting them down into equal sized squares, and piecing them together to make a new image.

Thought process: I remember feeling frustrated with this assignment. Every time I’d think of some sort of design to make, I’d either not be able to find the lines/colors/objects I wanted from the magazines, or the images wouldn’t flow nicely together. I ended up just ripping a large amount of image pages out of magazines, and then making a stencil with my square shape on it, putting it on my papers until I found a composition I liked, and then would cut it out.

I ended up with a ton of small squares, but still had no final design in mind. I sat for hours, either in the class or in my dorm, just putting the square pieces next to each other, trying to find ways for them to fit together and create some kind of flow.

Once I decided to just do that and forget about trying to have a final design pictured, it really took away my stress and freed me up to be creative. Putting together pieces became easy, and it ended up making some sort of a picture in the end 🙂

Problems I encountered: A whole long list of them, mostly things I already mentioned.

Fun tidbits: I always think of the aliens from the movie Independence Day when I look at this piece. To me, it looks like a red faced alien is looking towards the left side of the piece, with long dreadlocks hanging down on the right side of the piece. Totally unintentional, but cool. I used to really be big into alien themed things, so it’s kind of funny this turned out alien like 🙂

Favorite part of the piece: Having it done and seeing how the images kind of flow into each other, creating shape and lines.

Least favorite part of the piece: Even with all my measuring and using a stencil, not all the pieces line up. I had to color in some white spots between the squares where the paper was shining through. You can’t really tell in this picture, but it’s obvious to me.

Also, while photographing this piece, the sun decided to come out and there’s glare on my image. I didn’t notice until writing this blog. Apparently I’m even worse at this than I thought! 😀


Do you see the alien, or do you see something else?

Throwback Thursday: Beauty and the Beast

And this week’s featured Throwback is…

Beauty and the Beast

Title: Beauty and the Beast

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 24″ x 18″

When: I think this was in my Drawing 2 class; fall semester junior year, 2004

Purpose: Class assignment

History: The teacher we had for this class was very much into incorporating random things together and abstracting everything. Our assignment was to do a self portrait, but we had to put something into it that made the viewer think about what was really happening.

Thought process: I was going through a really difficult time when I did this drawing. I had post-traumatic stress disorder and was in therapy. A previous relationship from high school was coming back to haunt me, and I used my art as a way to work through it.

In order to get the hand in the hair to look right, I took a picture of myself with my own hand raking through my hair. I made it more muscular like a man’s hand, thinking along the lines that my personal demons are causing pain or remembering physical abuse that I had been on the receiving end of years before.

I wanted to keep the details light except for the eye; I wanted to convey my thoughts of wondering if anyone was really seeing what I was going through.

Problems I encountered: Getting the hair and hand to work together was a big struggle. I don’t think it’s quite right, but it took a long time to get it to where it is now.

Fun tidbits: I think the model I used for all the detail in the hand is actually from Michelangelo’s sculpture David!

Favorite part of the piece: I think the eye turned out really really well!

Least favorite part of the piece: My nose is too fat 🙂


What do you use as an outlet when you’re going through a difficult situation?

Throwback Thursday: Self-portrait

And today’s blast from the past is:

Self portrait

Title: Self-portrait

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 24″ x 18″

When: Sometime during my college years; I think this was spring semester of my senior year, 2006.

Purpose: Class assignment

History: Not too much history on this one; I think it was for my advanced drawing class, but I can’t remember. This is what happens when I don’t date my work…

Thought process: At this point, I do remember that I was trying to play with emotions in my work. Like, is the person in the drawing laughing or crying? Surprised or happy? I wanted my pieces to be somewhat open ended for interpretation. I don’t think this one is very strong in conveying that intention, but that’s okay 🙂

Problems I encountered: I cannot get the eyes to be the same value of darkness! It still drives me nuts today. Also, my face is  longer in the nose area than it should be…or maybe my face is too narrow. I don’t know, something is off. This is definitely NOT my best piece, but it encourages me that I’ve gotten better over the years 🙂

Favorite part of the piece: I think I did pretty good on the hair for once! Yay!

Least favorite part of the piece: The mismatched eyes. Ugh. And the fact that the drawing, even though it was in a portfolio, is damaged on the right side.


Have you ever had to do a self portrait? How did it turn out?