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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. Salted Caramel Brownie

Finished!
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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13. 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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14. Painting black (and green, and brown . . . )


Happy New Year!

I'm starting it off by painting a lot of dark little paintings. You may be able to tell what I'm up to here, but I won't spill all the beans yet, and instead will talk about how I'm painting them, and how they're kind of giving me fits.

My plan was to do these with watercolors on illustration board.




So I went into my supply closet, where I knew I had a whole box of boards (Strathmore 500 Series). But when I opened the box, . . . it was empty! Somewhere along the line I'd pulled out the last board; but because the box is a sturdy, very boxy box, I didn't even notice there was nothing left in it except for some liner boards (and whatever they built the box with to make it sturdy enough to ship fancy illustration board across the country without it getting damaged).

And so onto Plan B. I wanted to get these started, and didn't want to wait for new board to arrive, so I dug out some Arches watercolor paper. Which is really beautiful paper. But its very bumpy. And kind of rough. And I'm trying to get used to painting on it. 

The piece above has several layers of different blacks, but still isn't quite what I wanted the finished 'look' to be.

With this next one, I did a bit less, and somewhere along the way figured out I will still need to add some colored pencil to get the final look I want.




So then I started doing just a base layer of color, without worrying so much about modeling the form or any details, which let me relax a little and enjoy just putting some paint down. The 'splotchy' look is driving me crazy though. I wet an area, then apply the paint (see, I do know how to do this properly), but am still getting uneven-ness. It wouldn't kill me to use a larger brush, which would probably fix the problem. But like I said, I now know I'm going to go over it with pencil, so that will even it all out.




I can see I need to fix the buttons on this one, because they're not lined up right. (How did that happen?)


The paper warps, which drives me insane. I am too lazy to stretch it, and don't want to tape it down either (these are really small little pieces.) I learned all that stuff in art school, and remember running whole sheets of paper under the tap in the bathtub, then taping them down to a board to dry overnight. !!!!! I just don't have the patience for that anymore (but do have the patience to fiddle endlessly with a 00 brush or needle sharp pencil point - so go figure). 

Anyways, that's what I'm up to. And I'm not complaining, really! I'm just sharing. I'm actually having fun, and am looking forward to getting these finished. 

I hope the new year is starting off well for you. So far so good here. I confess I was happy to get back in the swing of things after the holidays. Its all fun, and emotionally uplifting, but also exhausting. There comes a point when you just can't eat one more cookie or fat-laden thing, and anything red and green and sparkly makes you twitch, and you know you're done. Amirite?

I did have one bit of drama for Christmas, involving a kitty. I'll copy it here as I recounted in on Facebook, if you're interested (and haven't already read it). It has a happy ending, and won't even make you cry or anything, so its an easy read. And with that I'll say good night, and go back to my little black paintings. Good night!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* * Christmas Miracle * *
On Christmas EveEve, Tracy kitty got himself stuck in a Barnes & Noble plastic bag, with the handle around his body. He freaked out because he couldn't get away from the crackling bag noise, and although hysterically funny to watch at first (just because it was only a stupid plastic bag), it quickly turned serious as he dashed madly around the house, knocking stuff over, then out the cat door. I heard him and the crackling bag whoosh past the front window and off down the street, poor thing, madly trying to run away from the bag.
So I put on shoes, got the flashlight, and even though I was trying to hurry, felt like the slowest moving beast on the planet - he was long gone, down the street who knows how far and to who knows where? I went to the end of the block, but how did I know which way he turned? He could be blocks away already. I trudged home, simultaneously thinking "Oh, he'll be alright", and "I'll never see that cat again".
A long evening, then sleepless night passed, with me imagining every awful thing that could happen to a cat with a plastic bag attached to himself, and listening for any sound of him coming in the cat door, and getting up more than once to check to see if he'd snuck in. All his beds were empty, and in the morning there was still dry food in the bowl, (its usually totally empty), so I knew he hadn't been back and gone out again.
A long Christmas Eve day of Christmas prep and worrying - no Tracy. Then out to dinner, trying to keep a brave face and smile, and be entertaining to my Mom who was spending the night, doing Christmassy things and just saying "Oh, he's outside somewhere" when she asked about him.
Did I mention I was praying to everyone and anything who might be able to help? Jesus, guardian angels, cats on the Other Side . . . .
Mom turned on "Its a Wonderful Life", and I sat in the kitchen, listening to George and Mary and Mr. Potter in the other room, feeling completely miserable.
And then. Twenty four hours after this story began, in the shadows near the cat door, the next room over, I see a little body. At first I thought it was one of my other cats, but then realized they were all accounted for somewhere else in the house. "Tracy?" . . . He'd popped back outside . . . "TRACY?!" again, and he popped back in, and ran right to the 'treat station' (here, next to the computer) and was perfectly fine! Not a scratch on him! Hungry, but not starving, just his regular self, pretty much. Joy! Relief! There was lots of thanking god, jesus, all the others who'd helped bring him back! In the living room, George Bailey was just starting his journey with Clarence, and so I watched and appreciated George's joy at getting his life back, and it really felt like Christmas.
Tracy slept tucked in next to me, right by the pillow, all night, which he's never done before. Santa brought him a new cat nip cigar, and he's been enjoying that and some Christmas sun all morning.
It does feel like a wonderful life today. And I will never let the cats play with plastic bags again. Especially ones from B&N.
Merry Christmas everyone!!


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15. Merry Christmas, a little early

Its still 10 days away, but the next week will go by in a whoosh! of activities, so I thought I'd post now and have that one small thing crossed off my 'to do' list. (That didn't sound very festive, did it?)

Oh, I'll get festive. Sometimes it takes me a while. Its like before you've had coffee in the morning, and are not at all awake, then all of sudden you come to life and can function. That's how I am with Christmas. I kind of start the season all draggy, then at some point it kicks in and I'm good.

I finished my Christmas art! This is "Kitty's Christmas Tree". Its my first foray back into watercolors after a pretty long hiatus, and I had a blast. Of course I had to add some colored pencil to it too, for detailing. I could have done more, but decided to leave well enough alone.

And no, I did not count how many pine needles there are. If you are some sort of savant (like Rainman) you may do it for me if you like. 


In addition to all the usual busy Christmas things to do, I'm getting a new fence put up in the back yard. They were supposed to start it today, but it was raining too much. (Wait, did I just say "raining TOO MUCH"?) Yeah. Drought for how many years, and now we've had storm after storm. Crazy. So hopefully tomorrow it won't be too bad and they can get going on it. 

Tonight I'm putting up the tree, and am anxious to see how my newest kitty, Tracy, will behave with it. He's so young, and a real climber - I have a feeling it won't last long in the vertical position! Fingers crossed. 

I hope all of you have a peaceful, healthy, joyous, warm, cozy, happy, (what have I forgotten?) Christmas or Winter Solstice or whatever else you may celebrate!


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16. Back to watercolors


Its been a while since I've done any real painting with watercolors. I've been busy being a colored pencil artist for a while now, with some detours into digital, but have been wanting to go back to watercolors, so here I am.


This piece is my Christmas card, a little behind schedule, but on its way now. I'm working on illustration board (Strathmore 500 series) which is my all time favorite surface to work on. I get cranky with watercolor paper because I can't stand when it warps when wet (even if its stretched and taped down), and illustration board doesn't do that. The only drawback is that you can't transfer art onto it with a light box (its too thick to be 'see-through'), so its back to old-school transferring methods - tracing the drawing down over a graphite transfer sheet.



Here is my glamorous set-up. That's a fancy ceramic yogurt cup for the paint water, held steady by a roll of packing tape. Hey, it works. My drawing table is at a slant, so I have to keep stuff from rolling down. The parallel ruler on the bottom keeps most things from rolling off altogether.



I use a combination of Winsor Newton, Holbein, Daniel Smith, and Turner watercolors. I'm not really a purist - whichever brand has the color I need is what I use. I tend to stay away from the really grainy ones if I can help it, unless I'm doing something with special effects. I like a more even kind of pigment. Sometimes I use gouache (opaque watercolor) too if I need to. Here I've squeezed out some Winsor Newton Hooker's Green, Permanent Sap Green, and Green Gold. So far all I've use on this piece is the Permanent Sap, in various strengths.



And here we have some Christmas tree needles. There will be a lot more of them by the time I'm finished. A LOT.



We're due for an apocalyptic storm tomorrow and the next day. 60-70 mph wind gusts, and 3-4" of rain. This, after years of drought. I think last December it rained one day for about 10 minutes, and the rest of the time we had sun sun sun. The year before, too. Now, we're getting the opposite, and its too much! They're warning the power will go out, trees will fall over and all sorts of awful things will happen, so I thought I'd better blog something in case I'm offline for a while. Let's hope its not as bad as they say!





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17. Candy, Colored Pencils, and Christmas

I've been kinda busy I guess, finishing up some projects and trying not to panic about the holidays. Let's get started with the 'catch up', shall we?

The finished SKOR bar. This is with its new owner and is being framed as we speak. (And I'm so glad I bought a few extra of these for reference, which are still in the cupboard, because I just read an article about how there's a chocolate shortage looming on the horizon - !!!!)


I did this with . . . trying to remember . . . Prismacolors and Polychromos I think, on Stonehenge paper. I know that sounds bad that I can't remember, but when you have as many brands of pencils as I do, and they get cleaned up and put away after each project, its easy to forget.) This is 5" x 10".


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Then I did this house and people portrait for a nice family who wanted to remember their vacation together in France. This one required some photoshopping to get the people from different photos all looking out the correct windows in this photo before I could start the drawing. 

On this one I used Prismacolors and Cretacolor Soho Urban Artist pencils. The Sohos are pretty hard, and had the exact right shade of blue grey I needed for those shutters. I also used a lot of their Lamp Black for shadows, which is really a grey. I don't always mix brands of pencils, but do when I need a certain color, or need something soft or harder to do a specific task. 


The original of this was 11" x 15". And it was going to Buffalo, NY, which had 5' of snow today!!! I feel like I should have wrapped it in a blanket or something. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I'm really honored to be included in Katherine Tyrrell's new book, Sketching 365 (or if you're in the US, its called Drawing 365). She has a Facebook page dedicated to it.
I can't remember now which pieces of mine she asked for, and I don't have a copy yet to check. But I'm in there, somewhere, along with a whole bunch of other super talented drawers. Thanks Katherine!!




~ ~ ~ ~ ~


And then . . . dun, dun, DUNNNNNN . . .

CHRISTMAS

(insert those Psycho screeching violin noises here)

Every year I say "I'm not making cards! I hate making cards! I'm not making them!" and then I do.

Some of these are newish, some are oldies but goodies, image-wise. I found these fun blank cards with ornamental embossed edges, which I thought were perfect for festive cards. They all have fancy deckle edged envelopes. And they're all in the shop.
















I have a couple other pieces I want to make into cards, but we'll see. One is square, so I ordered square envelopes, and when they arrived yesterday I realized I ordered the wrong size! (note to self: never order stuff before the coffee has fully kicked in) I should probably just work on my new card for this year, and some other projects that are pending. 

Its raining here, which is great for our drought. But of course the kitties are all out of whack because they can't go outside as much (translation: they're all climbing the walls in here). They have catnip and snacks and 500 places to perch and sleep, so they're OK. Which reminds me -  I need to order their new catnip cigars for Christmas (shhh, don't tell them). Seriously, if you want a really amazing cat nip toy, go here and get these - Hot Cat Treats.

Stay warm!!


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18. Bricks and chocolate

So, this is some of what I've been up to. 

This drawing was a commissioned piece for a realtor. The house is stunning (inside, too). And will you just look at all those bricks. When I started this I didn't know I was going to be so fiddly with them, and do them individually like this. Usually I develop a kind of shorthand to indicate bricks or whatever, but once I started, I knew I had to draw them all to do it justice. (Yes, I'm a little nuts.) So, long (long long long) story short, I glued myself to the drawing table and drew them all, and this is how it turned out.

This is 9" x 12", Polychromo and Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore bristol.





And now I'm doing more chocolate. Another commission piece. This is how they begin. I like to 'map it all out', then go back and do the detailing.



That's it for now. No time to chit chat. Back to the drawing board! 

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19. Jesus art (adventures in going digital)




Yes, I still love my colored pencils. But I've had the itch to work on a digital style, and have done it in fits and starts, but always seem to get sidetracked with something else. (If you are one of the three or so people who read this blog, you might remember me struggling valiantly with trying to do a 'digital colored pencil' style a while back, and how I kind of, well, let's just say, "got frustrated and put it aside".)

I thought I'd do a simpler technique, something that could work for educational and/or religious publishers, so I started sketching out a piece with Jesus and the children. (I did some first 'thinking sketches' for this idea here, which have changed completely.) 

I work in Photoshop, in layers. Here is the first rough drawing of my idea, with a darker, slightly more finished sketch on top of a really super sketchy one. I laid it out with two possible areas for type (thinking like a 'book' or published piece, which would most likely have some words on there someplace) - the sky, top right; or the grass, bottom left.




I made quite a few adjustments and changes to the figures, and ended up with this finished line drawing, which I think is pretty cute. This, all by itself, could work as a black and white piece.



And with the line work darkened up, it could be a coloring book.



So then onto color! This first sample is like other digital work I've done. Its very simple, flat color. This style is really good for high volume work that needs to be done fast. You figure out your palette, then just start painting away, keeping each element, or figure, on a separate layer, so that you can make changes easily (there are always changes!).



And then, because I can't help myself, I started working on one that has more detail. (I showed this to someone who thought it was colored pencil, so I guess maybe I'm onto something here.)


I thought you might enjoy seeing how it looks in separate layers. Those of you who work digitally will yawn at this, but for the rest of you who have no idea how this works, you will be amazed! (or at least mildly entertained).

I start with the drawing layer. (see above)
Then, imagine sheets of clear glass, laid one on top of the other, over that original drawing. That's what working in layers in Photoshop is like. I 'color' on each layer, then at the end, flatten them all down together into one picture. 

Here is the layer where I just painted in all the grass, and the trees in the background. 




Then this was the fun part. I decided to do some texture, and drew little blades of grass. The dirt was originally on its own layer, but somewhere along the way (probably when I was getting too tired) I merged these two layers together. Oh well.



Here's a close up of what the grass blades look like. There are actually two layers - the first one was too light, so I drew them all again, darker.




I love this one. Just the skin! ewwwww.



And the trees. This was done with a few layers, then I mushed them together.


And so on. I may not actually finish this piece because as much as I love Jesus, I'm getting really tired of working on this one illustration of him. I hope he understands. I think I'll change it up and do some Romans, or Lazarus, or Noah.

Meanwhile, hello all you nice publishers who need religious art! I'm all enthused to illustrate your book of Bible stories for you! All 500 illustrations, spots and vignettes and full bleeds, Moses and the Red Sea, the Burning Bush, Jonah, temples, palm trees, the 12 apostles, sandals, beards, robes, Mary, Joseph, Egyptians, . . . Call me! (well, maybe email first.) paula@paulapertile.com

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20. More herbs, good news, and some knitting

I was tempted by some more herbs - Bay Leaves and Oregano. So I did drawings of both. I am really enjoying doing these. I like the size (5" x 7"), and the soothing quality of the subject matter. And they smell nice!

Fresh Bay Leaves



Fresh Oregano


I used Polychromo colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper for the whole series. I thought it was important to have them all look and feel the same.
Prints, and some of the originals, are available in my shop.

I'll be doing notecards too, but have hit a minor snag. The nice card stock I ordered won't go through my Epson printer - boo. I can't figure out why, since I have other card stock that's, to my eye and hand, the exact same weight, which goes through fine. It must be something in the finish. Whatever it is, the printer either refuses to take the paper and flashes lights and has a fit, or just spits it through un-printed, then prints the image on the sheet of cheap bond that's queued up behind it. Baah! So I will now have to make lemonade somehow out of this batch of lemons (250 sheets of it!), which I think may end up being hand made knitted cards or something. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Meanwhile, I have to find more of the paper I already have that the printer does like, which will go with the envelopes . . . oh, the trials and tribulations of being a 'do-it-yourself' art maker and etsy shop owner!


In happier news, I just found out that two of my pieces have been accepted into the UArt Open 2014 art show! Berry Tart, and Molasses Cookie will be going in to be framed tomorrow, so I can meet the final 'deliver the art' deadline. I'm pretty happy. This is a nice regional art show sponsored by University Art. The art will all be on display in their Redwood City store. Both of these pieces were done with colored pencils on paper.


Berry Tart


Molasses Cookie



And then, you know (or do you?) that I also do a bit of knitting, and have a little shop on etsy here
I was excited to learn that someone who bought several pieces last week will be using them in a production of "Annie" in New York! (no, not on Broadway, but still)

These are some of the pieces that will be in the show:




There was a little bit of drama with the post office not getting them there when they were supposed to - I paid extra to get them there overnight, but they didn't, and whoever was in charge of the package didn't think it was important to scan in any tracking info for a whole day, so we were dying a little, wondering where everything went! But then they got there the next day, in time for the show, so phew.

I'm doing some more knitting, trying to get a few more things in the shop for the holidays. Now its actually starting to be real knitting weather (well, actually it was 103 here again this past weekend, but its September at least, and the cool crisp weather will be starting soon - I hope!) 

I also have a 'Fall' illustration piece on the board that started out being done with watercolors, which may now be started over with colored pencils. Its funny - I've been doing so much colored pencil work that going back to painting feels awkward to me. I will of course share when its finished, whatever medium it ends up being done with.



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21. Its Fall!


I've been tempted to do this a time or two; at a Wayne Thiebaud exhibit, with a Holbein at the Frick, some stuff at the Met. Didn't try it though.

Its FALL, finally. Now if it would just rain . . .


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22. Plaid, chocolate, and an award


I love plaid! It must be my Celtic roots. I don't think I've ever met a plaid I didn't like (unless it was shiny, cheap fabric). I'm a big fan of the show Outlander on Starz - men in kilts, lots of plaid and also some nice knitted things. 

This little drawing is an artistic interpretation of the Chisholm clan tartan. Doing a pattern like this is kind of like meditation. Once I get the color pattern worked out, I can kind of zone out and think about other things while I do the coloring. Its a good way to keep my mind what I call "passively active" - I think its sort of like when you're in the shower, and some idea comes to you, or when you're driving, or knitting . . . your brain is working on the task at hand, but also open to receive thoughts or creative ideas or whatever. I'm not explaining it well, but you know what I'm talking about.





I also love chocolate! This is a Milky Way Dark Mini candy. Its wee tiny - a little more than an inch square. But its packed with lots of chocolate and caramel goodness! These are pretty addictive, because they're so small.

This is 5" x 7", and a little larger than life. I used all Prismacolors, on Fabriano Artistico paper.
I have prints in the shop. I may list the original too at some point.





And then . . . drumroll . . . my little Molasses Cookie drawing has won an award! It won 3rd Place - Best of Show in the UArt Open 2014 competition! This is a regional show, sponsored by University Art. They have art stores in Sacramento, Palo Alto and Redwood City, CA. All the accepted entries will be on display in their Redwood City store - 2550 El Camino Real - from October 25th through November 8th. If you're in the area, please go have a look!

I was especially proud of this little drawing because its so small and kind of quiet. Its only 8" x 10", and not showy or colorful. My Berry Tart drawing was also accepted into the show, and to be honest, I figured if either drawing had a chance at winning something, it would be that one - its bigger, and 'prettier'. Just goes to show, you never know with these things.




It doesn't feel very much like Fall here yet, with 90 degree temperatures still keeping things too warm for my taste. But its getting dark earlier, and I love quiet evenings, working on my art or knitting, while the kitties come and go, stopping in for a snack, then going back outside to lounge on the porch or explore. Soon it will be time to buy the Halloween candy - more chocolate to draw!

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23. A bicycling cat



This is Seth. He is a cycling enthusiast. He especially loves taking long rides in the Fall, when the air is crisp, and he can wear his tweed trousers and favorite sweater. After a good ride he always stops in the pub for a pint of milk and a good chat with his mates.


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24. Bleeding for my art

This is one little humble pimento olive - the kind you put in your cocktails. I haven't eaten many of these, not being much of a martini drinker, and was surprised to find I actually like them!



But that's not the whole story here. Look closely at the bottom edge of this drawing. See all those little red marks? They're BLOOD. I had a small cut on my hand that I didn't even know about, and accidentally rubbed the edge of the drawing. Eww. And then, hours later, I did it again, with a different scrape on the other hand. I know! I couldn't believe it either. 

Luckily, they were all along the bottom edge, so I was able to just trim them off. People on Facebook seemed to think it added value to the art, but I'm not so sure. I think its just icky.

So here's how it looks all cleaned up (blood, and also the background) for prints. 



I can't seem to look at any food now without seeing it in this 'top, side, and section view' way. I find myself analyzing things in the grocery store for their drawing potential, trying to visualize them cut open, and lined up like this. I've bought a few things that didn't turn out to be very good subjects, but luckily since its all food it just gets worked into dinner or a snack.

Oh, this was done with Prismacolors on Bristol, and is 4" x 9".

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25. UArt 2014 Open winners

University Art, who sponsored the UArt Open 2014, sent me an email with the list of winners. I think they'll be putting these up on the website at some point, but for now, this is all we have to look at. The images are small, which is what they sent, so this is the best I can do, sorry. The show is up at their Redwood City store now through November 8th if you'd like to see these in person. I've put links to some websites, for the people I could find easily online.


BEST OF SHOW



1st Place: Vincent Lu, "Kung Pao Chicken" oil



2nd Place: Lynette Cook, "Connecting the Dots in My Life" acrylic



3rd Place : !!! ME ME ME ME !!! "Molasses Cookie" colored pencil


CATEGORIES

OIL & ACRYLIC


1st Place: Hallie McKnight, "Fedoras" oil



2nd Place: Laura Snable, "Dirty Dog Blues" oil & oil pastels



3rd Place: Andrew Morrison, "Timeless Tenderloin" acrylic



WATERCOLOR


1st Place: Nancy Near, "James M: Soul Man" watercolor



2nd Place: Debbie Bakker, "Lenox Lilacs" watercolor



3rd Place: Peter Carey, "Underwater" watercolor




DRAWING / PASTEL



1st Place: Arena Shaun, "Elegance-Life Drawing of Annie" charcoal



2nd Place: Samantha Holland, "Pele" drawing



3rd Place: Craig Sanborn, "Layers and Segments" graphite


MIXED MEDIA


1st Place: Jenifer T. Renzel, "Optical" mixed media



2nd Place: Davida Feder, "Woman Behind" mixed media


3rd Place: Noreen Rubay, "Trust" mixed media



EMERGING ARTIST


1st Place: Elaine Lu, "The E-generation" oil


2nd Place: Annie Zhang, "Keturah" acrylic


3rd Place: Katrina Hernes, "Paint Chip Portrait" mixed media




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