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1. Drawings of Knitting Coloring Book

Hello! Its been waaaaay too long, gosh. Time flies when you're slaving away on something, doesn't it?
I've been working on something I'm pretty excited about. 
I finally finished, and here it is:

My new Drawings of Knitting coloring book!

I did all the drawings, and created the book using Amazon's CreateSpace self-publishing tool.
This has been a LOT of work, but also a lot of fun. But a lot of work. 

Its a "Sampler" because the 20 drawings are of a little bit of everything: plaid, paisley, a quilt, some food, Fair Isle patterns, a sweater, and other things. (I'd like to do a series, with each book having a separate theme. Eventually.)

I've been drawing knitting in different ways for a while now, and have made cards, fabric, all kinds of buyable things on Zazzle, original drawings, etc. Some were done realistically with colored pencils, some were more stylized and digital. I had a vague idea about making a cohesive sort of collection or licensable 'program' out of "drawings of knitting", but left that simmering on a back burner while I went off to work on other things.

Then, recently, when the whole 'adult coloring book' thing became so huge and that Secret Garden lady sold millions of copies of hers, I thought well hey! As an illustrator, I should do one too, and OMG I KNOW I'LL DO ONE OF DRAWINGS OF KNITTING NO ONE'S DONE THAT! 

So long story short, I did it. My first challenge was to figure out how to interpret knitting as a drawing that could be colored. I had a plain page of knitting, but then what? Should I do it like a 'color by number'? But putting little tiny numbers in each stitch would have looked weird. Then I came up with the idea of doing a pattern with greys, which could be colored over. Like so:

So that worked OK. But then my brain took off and I started to get some ideas about drawing other things to look like they were made of knitting. My head exploded a little when I realized all the possibilities. And then I started to work on some of them.

I thought I'd share a little about how I did these drawings, in case you're interested.

It all starts with some doodles with a pencil and paper. 

These are the basic building blocks of drawing knit and purl stitches. If you knit, you'll recognize these. If not, I'll explain. The knit stitches (on the left) are what your basic knitted things look like - sweaters, socks, hats, etc. The reverse side of this stitch (or, the inside of those sweaters, socks and hats) probably looks like the drawing on the right. Those are purl stitches. Most of all knitting, even all the really fancy stuff, is done with some combination or variation of these two stitches. You can twist them and overlap them and reverse them and do all sorts of crazy things, which is why knitting is so fun. 

But I digress.

Here is one of the drawings from the book. Its called "Fancy Paisley".

Below is my rough pencil-on-paper drawing of the idea. I wanted to make a nice balance of knit and purl stitches, and have it still look like paisley. I'm not sure you could actually knit this (well, someone could - not sure I'm that good), but the fun of doing this with pencil and paper is that I can 'cheat', if you will, and add in stitches, or half stitches, where you normally wouldn't put them if you were really knitting with yarn and needles. I can also change the scale willy nilly, and have some crazy things going on.

After I get enough of the idea down on paper, I scan it into the computer. The one below is how it looks after I've redrawn it with my pen stylus and my Wacom tablet, using Photoshop. Its exactly like drawing it by hand with pen and ink on paper, only I'm using a 'computer pen' and drawing on a tablet, and the 'ink' is digital. So when I say its all hand drawn, it really is hand drawn. Its not some computer program where I push a button and "make knitting". I sit there for hours and hours and hours until my hand gets cramped and my eyes start to blur, drawing and erasing and re-drawing until I get it the way I want it.

THEN. As if that wasn't enough. I re-trace the whole thing to clean it up and make the final copy. The re-tracing goes a little faster, but its still one stitch at a time.

Here are some enlarged little bits of each one so you can get an idea of how the drawing changes from one stage to the next.

These are some other pieces from the book:

"Under the Microscope"

"Slice of Pie"
(The piece before this in the book is of the whole pie. 
I know - how weird! but kind of cool, right?)

This one is  "Tartan Plaid".

Here's a step-by-step of another one - "Autumn Leaves and Pumpkins"

Again, it starts with a sketch. I did this one on the computer, saving me a step of having to scan a pencil drawing.

I did the leaves like this, separate, so I could repeat them in the drawing. That's where the computer comes in handy. Yes, they're all hand drawn, but I was able to take each one and copy it, then flip it or turn it upside down or something to make an interesting picture.

And here is that interesting picture. It was fun putting this one together. I liked making the 'vine' on the one pumpkin look like a piece of yarn.

And re-drawn and all cleaned up, and with a border.

Each piece has a title on the facing page, like this:

I put blank pages in between the art pages to protect against 'bleed', in case markers or other wet media are used to color with. I already know the paper that CreateSpace uses for their books is not as thick as what you would ideally use for a coloring book, but its OK. What's great about doing the book this way is that its a 'print on demand' book, meaning each one gets printed every time someone orders one. If I had these done at a regular printer, I'd have an inventory of already-printed books piled up in my studio. This way is a much better way to get started!

For every drawing you see in the book, there are others that were left unfinished on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Ideas that were cool, but need a little more work to make "work" as a coloring book page. Lots of super complicated Celtic knot designs, some florals, other weird food ideas, etc. Hopefully they will see the light of day in future books!

But for now, I'm just really happy to have this first book DONE, and actually published. Of course I'm obsessing over everything I think needs improvement for the next one(s), and am worrying over what kind of reviews the book will get (assuming people will actually buy it in the first place, let alone leave a review!). I'm hoping that in the sea of adult coloring books out there now, my little effort will find an audience. It might be a very specific and narrow audience, but I think that there are people with my same love of knitted things that will find it entertaining.

Things are turning to Winter here a bit, finally, with some rain and wind and the heater going. Hope its warm and toasty wherever you are. Don't forget to bundle up when you go online to buy my book! (sorry, had to get one more plug in there). 

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2. Fall and stuff

OK, so its finally Fall. Yay! And it actually rained today. Double Yay!!! 

I've been super busy working on this secret project that I'm tired of keeping a secret but have to for a little bit more until I'm finally really done. I thought I'd be done by Oct. 1st, but it looks like I need a couple more weeks. When I'm finally finished you'll be sick of seeing it and hearing about it. But for now, I'm still staying mum.

The drawing of autumn above was a fun little diversion. I wanted it to look like yarn, and did it all digital, start to finish. I've done these yarn drawings before with colored pencils, but what happens is they're hard to clean up after they're scanned because of all the little 'hairs'. Its too hard to try and erase out the paper texture when you have to go around all those fine little bits. So I had a go at it with my digital colored pencil. 

Then I did this one. Its a little softer, and fuzzier. 

I work in layers in Photoshop with my special colored pencil texture brush, building up the color just as I would if I were using 'real' colored pencils. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the setting just right - opacity, scale, hardness, etc., but in the end it gets there.

Here's the top layer with just the fuzzy bits. Fun, huh?

I've also been doing some knitting, taking custom orders. It feels like knitting weather finally, and I enjoy sitting with my cats and working on a piece with a cup of fresh hot coffee. 

The stores are all bursting with pumpkin flavored everything, and its a little overwhelming. I did find a nice pumpkin ginger spice cake at Trader Joe's which is lovely, but I shy away from most of the stuff like pumpkin lattes and potato chips and beer (OK, I don't know about those last two, but I'm sure someone, somewhere has done them). I'm looking forward to a really good pumpkin pie before the season is over. Then we're on to mince meat! But that's another story.

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3. Strokes of Genius

I'm so excited that my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast drawing has been selected to be in the Strokes of Genius 8: Exploring Textures book!

You can see the list of all the winners to be included in the book, here.

The Strokes of Genius books are compilations of contemporary drawings, with a theme. They are competitions sponsored by The Artist's Network, and the books are published by North Light Books. I've always drooled over the winning pieces, and this year I decided to enter. The book comes out in 2016, and you know I will be blogging and tweeting it all over the place when it does!

So this kind of marks a 'year of entering stuff'. I decided to enter some of my colored pencil drawings in a few shows, just to see what would happen. I did a rough tally of how it worked out financially, and have to say I'm fairly pleased. I entered 3 pieces in 4 shows (some were entered in more than one). The pieces were accepted into all the shows but one (an online show). Two won $$ awards. So after tallying up all the entry fees and framing costs, I just about broke even, thanks to the awards. The only cost that put me over the top was shipping to the CPSA show in Atlanta, and the cost of the shipping box. So all in all, considering I was doing this in in a rather casual way (not entering in every single 'important' show there is, and only showing 3 pieces), I feel pretty happy with the results!

I started a 'new year' of entering by entering this year's UArt Open show with my BLT piece, but it didn't get accepted. Last year I had two pieces in their show, and won an award! So you just never know. I know people who've entered a piece in CPSA and not been accepted, then enter the same piece the next year and win an award. So this entering shows thing is not for the feint of heart. It can really bruise your ego to not 'get in', let alone not win anything. Then there's the money part. You really have to be serious about this 'fine art' thing to do it properly and be successful. You also have to be very organized about what you're entering, and keep track of which pieces will need to be shipped to where if they get accepted, and how long they'll be 'tied up' in that show, which will make them unavailable for another show, etc. 

I haven't decided yet if I will pursue this whole 'show' thing more, or not. Right now I'm super immersed (obsessed) with a project that I'm excited about, and its taking up ALL of my time. But I'm having fun, and can't wait until I can share it! Hopefully in about a month? If all goes well.

Its Labor Day here today. I will be 'laboring', although I think the point is that we take a day off. I'm happy though to be working on something I love, so it doesn't really feel like work. Maybe I'll take a day off from housework in honor of the day - guilt-free! 

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4. More cookie drawings

Cookies are fun to draw! Especially if they're good ones, because you get to eat them afterwards.

These were all kind of experiments, or 'practice' drawings. 

This first one is a 'stamped' design with chocolate on one side, some kind of creme filling, then a vanilla version of the stamped design on the reverse. I drew this on Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, which is really textured, and sort of worked against me. But I wrangled it and got it under control and made it do what I wanted. The cookie is very dark, with the even darker impressions where its stamped. Doing a drawing where all the values are in the last 25% or so of the grey scale is rather challenging. I did resort to using some black, but mostly used dark browns, with a little greyed lavender on top to raise some highlights. This is small - about 4 inches square. But is still larger than the actual cookie!

This one is chocolate with peanut chunks. Not as dark a chocolate as the one above - more like a milk chocolate. This is drawn about actual size, and is also ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". This was done on Stonehenge paper.

This one is molasses with creme filling. Its very soft and squishy (the cookie, that is). Its the same paper size and materials as the last drawing, but the cookie is drawn much smaller than in real life. 

When I go grocery shopping I'm always on the lookout for fun little things like this to draw. I'll have a basket with organic greens, artisan bread, sushi, and then something like these cheap little trashy cookies. 

I'm working on something cool that I hope I can share soon. If you don't see me here for a while, its because I'm immersed in my secret project, drawing drawing . . .

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5. BLT

15" x 15" 
Prismacolor colored pencils on Stonehenge paper

BLT stands for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. I honestly don't know if that's just an American, or English-speaking thing, or if it translates to other languages or cultures. Here, you just go into a restaurant and order a "BLT" and you might be asked what kind of bread you want it on, and maybe "toasted?", but otherwise they know what you're ordering. 

Some places have fancied-up versions with avocado, which to me makes it something else altogether. A proper BLT should be on white toast, with mayo. 

I had fun putting together the reference for this! I fried up some bacon, sliced some nice 'off the vine' tomatoes, rinsed some leaves of head lettuce, toasted up some plain white bread, and cracked open a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise. (It HAS to be Best Foods. )

The other fun thing was shopping for the frilly toothpicks. I am now the proud owner of a box of 1,000 of them, since that's the only way they come, apparently. So I am well stocked for a lifetime of BLT making! 

This was the first work-in-progress scan I did. The toast was the most challenging part of the drawing. Lots of nooks and crannies.

And then the next, with the toast done, the toothpicks in, and the bacon and tomatoes partway there.

And then I didn't do any more work in progress shots. I wanted to just get it done, so I glued myself to the chair and didn't feel like getting up to scan.

I purposely did this drawing a little looser in style than my previous 'architectural food' pieces. It still has a formal layout, with the top, and section views. But I combined the "side" and "section" views by doing the individual quarters this way, and also let the sandwich itself be a little sloppy - the way they are in real life.

And then I thought it would be fun to show one of them eaten, with just the toothpick left.

So there you have it. I have prints in the shop.
Are you craving one now? :~)

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6. Cookies

How time flies. I thought I'd be back here sooner, but I think there's some sort of time warp thing that happens when its really hot. Like, everything slows down and days go by and you don't even know what you've been doing. It all kind of melts together, and next thing you know its been weeks since you've updated your blog.

So I said I'd have the finished art of the mice reading the letter done, but I don't. Its been worked on and changed and added to - a lot - and will be done soon! No, really. I've had to switch over to other things. And one of them I can show is this cookie art.

These are actually all individual drawings, which I did a mash-up of for a group portrait. This is what they really look like ~

They're all Prismacolor colored pencils on paper, and are all ACEO size (2.5" x 3.5").

I've already made prints available of the group shot, but am thinking of putting some of these originals for sale as well. If I can get my brain out of slo-mo enough to get it together. Really, when its 100 degrees, I have to do more 'lie downs' and everything is so much more of an effort. And I have good A/C! But still. 

When I was a kid, before we got central air installed, we had a regular air conditioner in the up-high bathroom window. I so clearly remember going in there and turning it up full blast, then laying down on the floor in the dark with the door shut, just soaking in the freezing air coming out, for as long as I could get away with before I either froze, or someone knocked to see what was up. 

Anyways. Yeah. Cookies! Please let me know if you're interested in any one in particular, and I'll put a listing together for you in the shop. The background on the originals is a warm white with some paper texture. I've cleaned all that up for the prints and made it very white - just fyi.

Hope its cool where you are!!

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7. Happy

"Happy" comes in many flavors.

There is the "reading a letter and seeing photos of loved ones" happy. 

I'm doing a major edit on this illustration (which I showed you in the last post). I've added Mr. Mouse's wife, and embellished the 'story' quite a bit. He is still reading a letter, but now there are photos included. Mrs. Mouse is looking at one (no doubt of a Mouse grandchild or other special near-and-dear, and has her hand on her chest in that "My! how he's grown!" or "Look how beautiful she is!" or gesture.

There is also some stamp collector busy-ness going on there. You can see how I work here - layers of tissue, taped one on top of the other, with edits done, and re-done, and re-done, until its right. Lots of fiddling with the exact placement of things, overlaps, angles, etc., all to make it interesting and a good design. Its getting there, and hopefully I'll have finished art to show next time.

Then there's "YAY! Gay Marriage is finally legal all across the Land!" happy.

I did some creative editing on my striped candy colored pencil drawing to make it into a whole rainbow, in honor of the Gay Pride rainbow theme.

Below is the original drawing. I used Photoshop to duplicate a piece of it, then did a lot of flopping and reversing and erasing and fiddling to get it to look like two more candies balancing on top. Then I used the "replace color" thing in the Adjustments menu to make them blue and purple. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's still all my drawing, just with some changes made.

I've made prints available in my etsy shop, in a whole bunch of sizes. 
These are some of my print layouts, all ready to go. I do layouts of the art in different sizes, all on 8.5" x 11" paper, with trim marks. Here you see the ACEO, 5" x 7", and 4" x 6" sizes all ready to print out. 

And last but not least, there's the "My art won an award!!" happy.

An Award of Excellence!! I'm so proud of my little Berry Tart.

This drawing almost didn't get finished. I did this last Summer, and wanted to enter it in the UArt Open Exhibit. The deadline was approaching, but I came down with the weirdest mystery illness that involved a lot of vertigo (where the level in your head goes wonky and you feel like you're going to tip over). I had that on and off for weeks. I'd work on this, then have a spell and have to go lie down. I finally finished the day before the deadline to submit art to the show - but because it was so close, I couldn't mail in the entry, and instead had to drive it over to the UArt store downtown and deliver it in person. I opted to drive the slower city streets route rather than the freeway, just in case. I made it there OK, and thankfully found parking right in front. There was a bit of a queue though at the counter, and while I waited my turn I felt myself start to go . . . I had a mild panic, thinking I'd topple over, but just in time it was my turn, and I handed over my entry packet to a nice man who wished me a hearty "Good luck!". And I was out the door and into the car, where I was OK again, since I was sitting. And I made it home again, slowly.

So long story short, the art did get accepted into that show (along with my Molasses Cookie, which won an award!), then came home again, where its been sitting in a closet all nice and safe until I decided to enter it in this State Fair show. There are some other really stunning entries in the colored pencil division of the show, so I was surprised and extra happy to find out mine had won a special award.

Here is the complete list of show winners, if your'e interested. 

So that's about it for me, here. Happy Summer!

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8. A mouse, cats and sushi

On the board ~

I love mice. This is how I think of them. So its really hard when my cats catch them and bring them in the house. I rescued one from under the lingerie chest the other day, which had been brought in sometime during the night (the mouse, not the lingerie chest ). I managed to corner him and get him in a box, then kept the cats in while I released him back into the shrubberies. I like to think he made it home to his little nest, where he recovered himself with some tea and snacks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Speaking of bad kitties . . .
Here are the Catley Twins, Master Edmund and Miss Edwina ~

They couldn't resist goofing it up for their pictures. And they both got in trouble for it. Sent to bed without supper, the both of them.
Both have a bad habit of dropping mice and other small creatures off the roof onto the heads of unsuspecting people down below, so be careful if you ever visit Mewton Manor, and are walking around outside - be sure to look up once in a while.
These two are available as prints in the arCATecture shop.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

I had the itch to do some dim sum and sushi drawings. These are all ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". 
(ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. Its a "thing". People collect these, as well as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). The deal is, ATCs are traded, while ACEOs are sold. They are a nice way for artists to offer original art, and prints, at a more affordable price to people who might be interested in their work.)

And so ~

First up we have a Chinese Potsticker.

Then some Salmon Sushi,

And some Tuna Sushi.

I'm working on a Shrimp one too.

I could eat this stuff every day, that's how much I love it! But I know its not for everyone. So we'll see if anyone has any interest in these. I've put the originals in the shop, matted; and also have prints available, matted or unmatted.

I'm also adding some ACEO size prints for some of the other art I already have in the shop - the herb drawings, some other food, and some kids book art. Basically, if the art lends itself to be cropped into that size well enough, I'm doing an ACEO of it. It'll take me a little time to do them all, but bit by bit I'll get there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Its been very hot here. Over 100! I managed to get my two 'show pieces' of art delivered to their respective places the other day, in the 104 heat. One went to the State Fair Fine Art Bldg, and the other went to FedEx to be shipped. Its always hard to say good bye to your art, even if its just for a show. I hope both drawings will enjoy their adventures and have a good time being ogled by the public. I will be glad to have them home again in a couple of months!

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9. new arCATecture works in progress

I'm playing catch-up with my arCATecture kitty drawings. Still trying to finish up the first Up & Downstairs Tabbies series, which I had meant to be done with over a month ago. Oh well. Real life and other work has a way of changing the best laid plans, doesn't it?

The two who are on the board at the moment are the Catley Twins - Edmund and Edwina.
They're both kind of brats. Both decided to stick their tongues out and cross or roll their eyes just as the picture was taken. Their parents (Lord and Lady Catley) were not amused.

Here is Edmund, about half rendered with colored pencils. He is in a traditional Edwardian juvenile sailor get-up. He will get more colored pencil and fur, then I'll do a little Photoshop magic to make some whiskers and put in the banner with his name underneath, like all the other kitties have.

Here's what he looked like on tracing paper. Scary! I had the eyes looking straight out, then over-drew them crossed, and also changed the tongue - all on the same drawing. He looks like Dracula or something (OK, just decided I need to do a Dracula kitty - note to self.) I also flopped him going the other way, so the two will be facing each other in the final art.

And here's his sister Edwina. Same thing with the eyes. I decided to make them rolling up. She has one of those ridiculous over-sized hair bows that all the girls wore back then.

So that's what happening here - cats on the board, and everywhere else.

In other news, my Berry Tart drawing has been accepted into the California State Fair's Fine Art Exhibit. So that's fun! The last time I entered this was in high school, and didn't get in (which I was so steamed about after I saw what did get in that I wrote a nasty letter to the judge - heh).

So I will have two pieces of art in shows this summer (the Fried Egg piece will be in Atlanta for CPSA). Feeling a little puffed up about that, I must admit. Have some ideas for new food pieces - but first I have to finish the kitties! Its soooo easy to get behind with these things, isn't it? Maybe I should do a post about DISCIPLINE . . .

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10. Drawing of a cat reading

I feel like doing pen and ink again. I've been doing colored pencils for everything for so long now, its almost like I have to give myself permission to do something else. I drew this little piece while sitting on the porch with the kitties, just hanging out. It was fun. And I didn't think about it very much.

I had some printer paper and a cheap ball point pen, and had intended to make serious lists of things I need to do/draw/figure out, etc., but instead I started drawing this couch.

I added the granny square afghan, then the pillows, then the upholstery.

Next came the lamp. I had no idea where I was going with this. I drew it hanging over the couch, then decided it needed one going the other way. Next was the table, and the stuff on it.

Then the kid,

who needed something to look at, so next came the cat.
I did the chair first, and then added the cat.

Nothing profound. Just fun. 

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11. Entering Art $hows

I haven't entered very many juried art shows. I was thrilled to get my Twix Mini piece into the CPSA International Exhibition 5 years ago, then didn't enter anything again until the UArt Show here last year. Not sure why exactly, just not motivated I guess, or unwilling to get on that merry-go-round, for whatever reasons. 

OK, wait, maybe I do know. Its expensive

I know its gauche to talk about money. But if you're trying to make a living as an artist, and you want to do the 'show circuit', you need to know what you're getting into.

First, there's the entry fee. That's typically $20-$35 per piece, with sometimes a discount if you enter more than one piece.
Then you have to get the piece framed (not everything needs to be framed, but I'm talking about drawings, which definitely do).
Then you have to ship the art to wherever the show is (if you get in), and arrange to have it shipped back.
That all adds up!

I was excited to have my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast piece accepted into this year's CPSA International Exhibition. Its the only piece I entered, and the entry fee was $25. I took the art in to be framed the other day, and that will cost roughly $250 (simple but elegant natural wood frame with plexiglass, for an 11" x 17" drawing). Next I will have to ship it, and have no idea what that will cost. I will do FedEx, and will have to arrange for the return shipping as well. $100 maybe? (That might be a little high, or not. I can't remember what it cost last time.) Then there's the shipping box itself. I have a special Airfloat Systems box that I'm hoping I can use again, if its the right size. I think the one I have cost $45 or so - its probably more $ now. And in addition to all of that, there's a $40 cartage fee required for the show. So lets' add that all up, shall we? 

Entry fee: $25
Framing: $250
Box: $45
Shipping: $100 (estimated guess)
Cartage: $40
Total: $460 (or so)

Lets' just say $450 to make it easier. That's not cheap, is it?
And if you enter more than one show a year, with different pieces of art, that can really add up fast.

On a whim, and at the 11th hour of the entry deadline day, I decided to enter my Berry Tart piece in the CA State Fair this year. I have no expectations whatsoever of getting in, since this is a state-wide show, with so many different kinds of art being entered, but I decided to go for it.

Notice the Sale/Price Value I put on the art: $2,000.
This piece is already framed, since I had it in the UArt show last year. The entry fee for the State Fair is only $20. And if it gets in, I can just hand deliver it because I live right here, a few miles away. So that will cost me way less than the CPSA show.

Also, I'm thinking 'gallery', someday, maybe. You have to consider the gallery fees (usually 50%), so a $2,000 piece will automatically only net $1,000. Subtract the framing, and that leaves $750. Not bad, but not $2,000. So even though $2,000 might seem high, it really isn't.

Ideally, we'd all win the big $$ awards in these shows, and that would offset the costs of entering!! Last year I did win a nice little sum in the UArt show with my Molasses Cookie drawing, and that definitely paid for the costs associated with entering. But you can't count on winning. You have to just enter, and hope for the best.

Its serious business being a fine artist and going this route. Its easy to get discouraged if you don't get accepted, let alone win anything. But I'm giving it a bit of a go, and we'll see what happens!

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12. New website

F I N A L L Y.
The new paulapertile.com is live!

It needs 'more' (mostly, art samples), and a couple of fiddly tweaks, but over all I'm pretty happy with it. I used the godaddy website builder, mostly because I have my domain name registered there already, and also had a credit. So it made sense. I wanted something simple, and I like the scroll-down design rather than fancier bells and whistles. I went with the business site option, which lets you have a lot of pages. They have several templates you can choose from, and I chose the "Freelance Portfolio" one - and then completely changed it (of course). Its all 'drag-and-drop' and really easy to use. They give you a lot of options for little design-y things (I got so excited over the 'make rounded corners' thingy!), most of which I didn't even use. So I would recommend this. (*godaddy is not paying me to say any of this, by the way)

Besides the business option, they have a simple and inexpensive 5 page option, and also upgrades for SEO optimizing, as well as a store-builder. It can add up, but they have sales often so I plan to wait for one of those before I sign up for anything else.

There are so many options for website building software these days. Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, come to mind. They're all beautiful and modern and fancy and hip. I kind of like the idea of not being so trendy though, and sticking with something a little more classic. It fits my style. 

Another really good thing with this is that its mobile-friendly! (All those other options I listed are too, I'm sure.) I looked at my old site on my phone and it was microscopic. The godaddy website builder lets you preview how your site will look on a desktop and a phone as you go along, so you know exactly what you're doing. On a phone, it arranges all the images in a single file 'up and down' scrolling thing, which are sometimes a little out of sync with how they're arranged on the page, but its still 100% better than what I had before, so I'm fine with it.

Full disclosure: there are a couple of things I'm not 100% thrilled with, and wish I could change.

1) You're allowed 2 drop-down pages for each main page. Which is great. But. Normally, if you hover over a page title that has drop-down choices, you just pick one of those and go to that page. With this design, the main title page is also 'clickable', and is still a stand alone page by itself. So you need to have stuff on there as well as the drop down pages, which feels a little redundant, and I'm not sure how to get around that. (Like, if you hover over "Children's Books", "Color" and "Black & White" pages come up as the drop down options. I think most people would just click on one of those, and not the actual main page - does that make sense?).

2) Another thing is, the way I designed my pages, every element - image, or type - is independent, and can be dragged around to go anywhere on the page. Which I love! But, when I decide to update the site with new work, which will go on the top of the page, I'll have to rearrange the whole rest of the page downward, one piece at a time, rather than selecting the whole lot and dragging it as one thing. Pretty sure anyway. There might be some way to do it easier that I haven't figured out yet, so don't quote me on this.

Still, I'm super happy to have this done, and it will be fun to update things and fiddle around with it as I go. I know several people who are re-doing their websites right now. It must be "website re-design season"! Its soooooooooooooooooooo much easier now than it used to be - remember using (or trying to use) Dreamweaver or . . . what was the other one? Go Live, that was it. Blimey! I never did figure those out.

Please let me know if you find any links that don't work, or if anything feels clunky or 'off' or weird.
Happy Website Building!

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13. CPSA 23rd International + other stuff

I'm happy. Just found out my "Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast" drawing has been accepted into the Colored Pencil Society of America's 23rd International Exhibition! Here's a list of everyone who got in. I am in some esteemed company, for sure.

I also just signed up (like, minutes ago) for some new website builder thingy, so my old sad site will be down for a while until I get this one up and running. Wish me luck. I actually don't have all the art I want to use ready to go - I thought that signing up would just let me sit here until I was ready, but nooooo, (has to do with switching hosting plans and technical stuff). So I have my week cut out for me. Thankfully my email will still work though, so that's good. Also, the thing I signed up for has the new 'mobile - friendly' stuff included, so I should be all set. It will be nice to be a little more up to date with things!

Oh, and I guess I have to go get this piece framed now! Details, details . . .

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14. Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth
colored pencils on paper
© Paula Pertile

Wow,  this was really different subject matter for me! I was inspired to do this illustration by an amazing creature who's been visiting my jasmine plant by the front porch for several evenings. At first I thought it was some kind of hummingbird. It looks like one. It hovers like one. But . . . something was wrong, and I couldn't put my finger on it. So I googled. And sure enough, there is an actual "Hummingbird Moth"! But mine is actually the very similar "Sphinx Moth".

Both moths come from those awful, scary, creepy but also cool, green horned caterpillars. If you've ever grown tomatoes, you've probably seen them. One variety is in fact a tomato worm, and the other is a tobacco worm. Again, very similar, but with some fiddly differences.

For a moth, this is HUGE. I mean, if I thought it was a hummingbird, you can imagine. I've never seen one before, so I'm not sure why it showed up here all of a sudden. Of course I took science in school, and learned all about caterpillars, and cocoons, and butterflies and all that - but something about this one, and the transformation from that particularly frightening horned worm into such a spectacular flying thing has given me a newfound respect and feel of awe and wonder about Nature, and all the wonderfully amazing things that go on out there in the yard when we're not looking. I will be looking at it all with a slightly different eye now, I think.

I did this with 99.9% Prismacolors and one black Polychromo (mostly because I was running low on Black Prismacolors), on the new Strathmore colored pencil paper. I really like this new paper a lot to draw on. The texture is nice and even, and it has a crisp feel to it. Its better than regular bristol, where the texture (depending on what brand and grade you get) can sometimes be uneven. The only slightly negative thing about it is how thin it is. This wasn't a problem for me with this piece, but I also didn't do any heavy burnishing, or use solvents, or any other 'special effects'. I don't normally do any of that anyway (except for a little burnishing here and there), so I don't anticipate this ever being an issue for me.

But when I stood the piece up periodically to step back and have a look (just propped up against a lamp or something), the paper really sagged. Usually, a piece of bristol, or Stonehenge or anything else will be able to stand up straight. So, this is pretty wimpy. Again, it doesn't bother me, but I'm just sharing, in case anyone is curious. This paper is relatively inexpensive, so that may be why.
I bought mine here at Dick Blick. No one else seems to carry it yet, for some reason.

So that's about it for me, here, for now. I think the snow has finally melted just about everywhere, and everyone is having Spring now, finally. We here in drought-stricken California are already worrying about crispy lawns and thirsty trees and critters. I find myself thinking about all the birdies and crawling things, wondering how they get along when no one is watering as much. The snails all come out and frolic when I do turn on the hose or lawn sprinklers, and the birds are happy too. (Geez, I've turned a new weird corner if I'm worried about worms and bugs and stuff!) Like homeless kitties aren't enough.

To think I've probably unknowingly crushed some of these in the past makes me sad. Be careful where you step out there! 

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15. Sir Archibald Catley and Reginald Sweet

Two new Upstairs Tabbies this week! 
Sir Archibald Catley, and Reginald Sweet.

Sir Archibald Catley

"Archie" is the younger brother of Sir Cedric Catley, Earl of Mewton. He loves cricket, but mostly because of the sweaters. He has one for every day of the week. He also loves butterflies, and anchovy pudding.

Reginald Sweet

"Reg" is the brother of Lady Clara Catley (the former Miss Clara Sweet and wife of Sir Cedric Catley). He served in The Great War, and came home with a nasty scar for a souvenir. He did some paw-to-paw combat with a Russian Blue, which resulted in a bad scratch that never healed quite right. He's a little self conscious about it, and doesn't like to sit for pictures. He's not all seriousness though - he enjoys a lively game of cards with his mates, and loves to chase grouse and peafowl on the grounds of his sister's estate, where he lives.

I'm also playing with some new shapes for the Downstairs Tabbies, which, when I get the kinks worked out, I'll do for the Upstairs bunch too. I think some little cards would be fun with this round format, and some other things. 

I'm having a lot of fun creating these characters, and learning their stories. I'm also having fun doing the colored pencil + photoshop colored pencil brush technique (I do the first part of the drawing with colored pencils, then scan, and finish it up with photoshop, darkening or doing whatever was too hard or labor intensive to do with the actual pencils). I like that it this let's me keep the 'hand drawn' look and feel, but with a little help where needed.

I'll be doing the Catley children next I think. :~)

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16. Fried egg on sourdough toast

I used all Prismacolor colored pencils for this, on Fabriano Artistico paper. Its 11" x 17".

This was a fun one! When the idea came to me, I googled 'fried egg' images to make sure no one else had done a piece like this. Lots of fried egg drawings, but nothing even close to this set up, so I figured I was good to go. 

Most images were of an egg on a regular shaped piece of toast, like from a normal loaf. But I liked the idea of doing some really crusty sourdough, so went shopping and found the perfect loaf of French Sourdough. I fried a couple of eggs in butter so they'd have a bit of brown around the edges, and toasted up a couple of thick slices of the bread. One of the egg yolks broke in the pan, so there was only one 'good one' left. I plopped it on a piece of toast and dashed it to the studio to take some pics. I held my breath a bit on the 'section view' one, because once I cut that piece in half I had only a few seconds to shoot a pic before it all ran down all over the place. (I actually took the egg off the bread first, cut the bread in half, nicely, then put the egg back on top and cut it, so I didn't have a complete sloppy mess.) 

You will probably be shocked to learn that I took a grand total of I think 6 pictures all together, and 3 of them were good enough to work from. I know some people take lots and lots of pictures, but I get impatient and just want to start working, so as soon as I have something that's good enough, I'm done. In my defense I will say that I'm not trying to do any fancy lighting or anything particularly sophisticated with these food pieces, so I can usually get adequate photos pretty easily.

Of course I had a whole dozen eggs in the frig, and was prepared to have to start over and fry up more  in case something went wrong. But I got lucky. The practical side of me also likes that this made a really nice lunch, and that I have eggs and sourdough for the week! 

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17. Everything's a work in progress

That sounded kind of deep. I guess it is true though, that everything in life is a work in progress, most of the time. Things are always changing and being created anew. That's an especially appropriate thought right now, as Spring officially starts tomorrow. We've unofficially been having it here for weeks now though, with the jasmine in bloom, as well as roses, azaleas, and some other green things. The cats are out sunning themselves all day long in the balmy weather, and I'm even sleeping with the window open. 

And I've been sketching a lot. New things for new projects. Lots of children's book art, mostly, but also some kitties, and some new food. 

I also have the Spring Cleaning bug. Do you get that too? Not just my house, but life "stuff" in general. This is a great article about the recent end of the Uranus Square Pluto astrological thing that's been going on for the past 3 years. Lots of challenges and change in many people's lives thanks to this rare planetary alignment, and now, thankfully, its coming to an end. The shorthand version is kind of a "this doesn't work for me anymore" feeling, with the urge to make difficult changes, and grow. Even if you're not 'into' astrology, I'm sure you can relate to that feeling. We all go through it, and I've been feeling it a lot lately. 

So there's a lot of new work starting to 'bud', if you will, on my drawing table. Some still feels like its in 'winter mode', gathering itself up under the surface, ready to poke up and see the light. Other things are already sprouting. 

I also rearranged my studio a little bit, and it has a better 'feng shui' thing going on I think. All I really did was shift my drawing table 90 degrees, but it really changed the energy in the room, and I love it. (I know I'm sounding very 'woo woo' today, but hey, whatever works, right?)

So here's to Spring! And Spring cleaning, and new growth of all kinds!

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18. Upstairs Tabbies

Please allow me to present Sir Cedric Catley, the Earl of Mewton and his lovely wife, Lady Clara Catley.

Sir Cedric is married to the former Miss Clara Sweet, a licorice fortune heiress. He married her for her money, after his family found themselves in reduced circumstances, thanks to his father investing in a rather unsound financial scheme involving pigeons. He is quite the bug enthusiast, and has an impressive collection. He can often be found in his "bug room", pinning specimens while listening to Chopin and sipping chicken broth tea.

Lady Clara is married to Sir Cedric Catley, the Earl of Mewton. She is the heiress to a great licorice fortune, and he married her for her money. Her parents disapproved, so of course that made her keen on the idea, and also, she wanted to be a "Lady". She enjoys giving lavish dinners, and is especially fond of showing off her Cook's skills with stuffed fowl dishes. Her husband's bug collection is a course of embarrassment, but she allows it because he doesn't interfere with her catnip parties.


These two are the first in the Upstairs Tabbies series. I had fun with her hat! There will be children next, I think, and an odd relative or two. 

I'm sad that Downton Abbey is over until next January. And that will be the last season, I've heard. What will we do? There will be some serious withdrawal going on. Although I also heard that Julian Fellowes is planning a new series - The Gilded Age - about Victorians, so maybe we'll have another good period drama to dig into when DA is over. Let's hope!

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19. Brownie, Work in Progress

Last week I had to get my car worked on (new brakes!), so I put together a little tin of treats to give the guys (I know, I'm so nice). My motivation wasn't all selfless though. I kept back one of these luscious brownies for myself, to draw.

This isn't any ordinary brownie. Its a super decadent salted caramel brownie. (I overheard one of the car shop guys say he could feel his arteries clogging after he ate one.) They're big, and luscious, and heavy. And irresistible to someone who likes to draw food! 

This is how I start. Actually, this is several 'steps' into the process. I just didn't feel like getting up to scan it, but decided I'd better before I got much farther into it. I start by mapping out the nooks and crannies, then start filling in the shadows first, then the more chocolatey parts. I'm simultaneously working out the color (hue), as well as the values (light and dark). One pass of color might focus more on the value, and the next layer might just fill in some flat color.

The parts that are still white are where the caramel is. Its a completely different color, so I'm getting as much of the chocolate established as I can first, then I'll do the caramel.

I can't wait to eat this thing. The smell is driving me crazy! (in a good way)
It has quite a ways to go, but I'll get there.
Oh, its about 8" x 8", so far all Prismacolors, on Fabriano Artistico paper.

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20. Salted Caramel Brownie

This has to be one of the most decadent things I've ever eaten (or drawn). 

I used mostly Prismacolors, then a little Polychromo Caput Mortuum Violet (my favorite color!), and a Coloursoft Brown Earth. Its about 8" x 8" on 10" square-ish paper.

Not much else to say. I'll clean up the background and do prints.
Now its back to kitty drawings . . .

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21. Servant Kitties

This is a new 'thing'  I'm working on. Its been on a back burner for too long, and one of my resolutions for the new year was to move it to the front, and turn up the heat a bit. 

These first few samples were done with traditional colored pencils, then some 'digital colored pencil' to enhance them. I'm going to see if I can do the rest in the series all digitally. I really want to be able to go all digital for some stuff, and am determined to figure this out, once and for all.

These may remind you of some popular TV characters, or not. I'm not trying to copy specific people, but there may be a strong nod to someone we recognize here and there. 

Its fun to adapt human 'costumes' to cat proportions. Sometimes. I'm trying not to do 'people bodies with cat heads', although that would make things a lot easier.

The ladies are next!

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22. More Downstairs Tabbies

I have more of the below stairs cat servants to share with you. Some have debuted (wow, that spelling looks wrong - "deybyood" is what I mean, in case it is) already on the arCATecture Facebook page, and all of them are already for sale as prints on etsy

I'm still fiddling with some of the descriptions for them in different places, and so they're just slightly all out of sink with themselves, if that makes any sense. 

I've also opened a shop on Zazzle, and the same is true there. It will take me a good while to get it all stocked up. I'm making each product one.at.a.time, since I have to place the art on each phone case, pillow, mug, tile, shirt, etc. etc. individually, to insure the best size and correct placement. So its my life's work now, basically. 

In the last post I said I was determined to figure out how to do these all digitally. Well. I tried. I really did. But what I finally figured out is my 'ideal formula' for these kitties, as well as my other work, is to do 90-99 percent of it with colored pencils, then come in, if necessary, with some digital 'polish' to enhance areas that may not be quite strong enough with pencil alone.

I just can't get the same look of 'real' colored pencil by doing it all digital. The 'polishing' I do though is with a special colored pencil texture brush I made for myself, so it still looks like pencil. The combination works for me, and I'm thrilled to finally have this figured out.

I may take all these over to their own blog, and eventually their own website. (Even though I'm still lagging waaaaaay behind on the re-do of my own main website! which is half done, but not published, and yes, I was one of those kids who didn't finish one thing before starting the next, which drove my parents nuts. Some people never change.)

I think this may be all of the below stairs staff - at least for now. I supposed I could do an under butler, more footmen, housemaids, kitchen maids, scullery maids, hall boy, nanny or nurse (although she would technically be kind of in-between up and downstairs), groundskeepers, and a few other assorted folks. For now though, I need to get these ones all caught up with themselves in all the shops, then I'll move on to something else. I have lots of ideas for other characters, too! 

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23. Lemewl Cox Cat, by John Singleton Catley

This was a little experiment with first an idea, then the technique. I wanted to do some Colonial cat portraits, based on actual paintings done back in the day. I did some research, and settled on a painting of Lemuel Cox by John Singleton Copley to be my inspiration.

"Lemewl Cox Cat" 

At first I was going to be more 'illustrative', then I ended up pretty much copying the painting, substituting a cat for Lemuel Cox, and making adjustments to the coat (neck, mostly) to fit the cat proportions. 

I started out with Prismacolors on Strathmore Bristol. 

I developed the drawing, and went darker and darker with background.

I just kept going, with different colors + black, then came in with Black and Caput Mortuum Polychromos. Finally, I scanned it and had a go at it with my digital colored pencil brush and Photoshop, just to get the whole thing dark enough. I also did the whiskers digitally (much easier than doing them 'by hand' with colored pencils!)

I've made prints available in the shop.
Not sure what's going to be next!

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24. Soft Preztel Roll

Soft Pretzel Roll  8" x 10"  colored pencils on Strathmore bristol

Not a lot of art to talk about this week. I was drawn (pun intended) to this soft pretzel roll in the store for some reason. I like the pattern of the 'cuts' on top, and the rich color of the crust. I'd never eaten one of these before, or even seen them I don't think. Its nice and bready and pretzely, and I liked it.

There's something so comforting about nice bread, especially at this time of year. Although here in California we're having Spring already, with sun and lawns being mowed and yard chores in full swing. Everywhere else people are snowed in, its crazy.

One other thing I'll mention with this piece is that I've gone back to Strathmore bristol, just because I have a lot of it, in pads, laying around. One day I thought "why did I stop using this?" and so did a piece on it and was happy with the result. I don't know. Somewhere along the line, when I decided to get 'serious' about my colored pencil work, I started exploring other papers, thinking the key to doing a good piece lay in the paper choice. I'm glad I discovered Stonehenge and Fabriano Artistico, and will still use them when there's something particular I want to do that requires one of their special characteristics. But for now, I'm perfectly happy with this Strathmore bristol - 300 Series.

I put prints of this in the shop, in different sizes.

I'm also working on more cat drawings. { meow }

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25. Peppercorn Jack Cheese

I'm in a real 'bread and cheese' mood lately. To draw, and to eat. Not sure why, but I'm enjoying doing both.
I just broke off a bit of this wedge and had it with some kalamata olive ciabatta bread for an afternoon snack. So good! My fridge has a handful of other little wedges of interesting cheeses that I hope to manage to get drawn before they get eaten. We'll see.

This was done with all Prismacolor colored pencils on 8" x 10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm) Strathmore bristol.

I actually used a "Bronze" colored pencil on this. I don't know if I've ever used it before! Somewhere along the way I decided the Gold, Silver and Bronze colored pencils were for amateurs. REAL colored pencil artists make their own gold, silver or bronze colors from other color combinations. Which is true, actually.

But this bronze is a really good color, and not even metallic looking. It gave the cheese just a little yellow/gold oomph it needed.

(these are not my images - they're pulled off the web - no © infringement intended)

A good example of what I'm talking about with the metallic colors is my 3 Musketeers Mini drawing. Its Silver, right? But of course I never touched the actual "Silver" pencil. I used a lot of greys, and blues and reds to pick up the reflections in the wrapper.

Same thing here with the Twix Mini. Its all yellows and goldy-browns and whatever else was needed to render the shiny gold foil - without using the "Gold" pencil ever.

Part of the fun of doing shiny things is analyzing what the colors actually are made of (at least I think so). Well, that's true for things that aren't shiny as well. But shiny stuff is a little harder maybe.

This Witor's Noir chocolate was shiny, but a little less so than the Twix, and with a lot of brown. Again, no "Gold", but a lot of other colors.

Well, you get the idea. Its like in illustration class when they told you to never use the "Flesh" color paint! And remember the 'flesh' colored crayon? 

Wow, I really wandered off the mark here. I just wanted to share my cheese drawing. 
I will clean up the background, and put prints in the shop. I think a little grouping of bread and cheese prints would look nice on a kitchen wall. Hmmm, I'll have to work on that . . .

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