Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Great Gift for an Artist

Being the nice person that I am, I am going to help those of you out there who are flummoxed over what to buy the artist in your life. Although the artist you love would probably be perfectly happy, maybe even thrilled, to receive some more blank paper or new paints, I understand that the average person gets bored giving the same gift over and over and wants to give something unique. So here's an idea for you.

This is a picture of a gift that I recently received from my sister-in-law and her family. (Thanks Sue!) It is beautiful, shell shaped sculpture that looks lovely on my studio shelves. Even better, the sculpture is made from graphite, which means it is more than just a pretty ornament - it actually writes too! The point is nice for drawing lines, whereas the smooth flat side is good for creating broad strokes. The graphite does not rub off onto my hands or onto the shelf where it sits. Cool, huh? I'm sure most artists would think so.

Although the shell works as a pencil, I don't know how regularly I will use it. The form is so graceful I would be sad to wear it down. But I can see myself using it to do some warm up exercises or to play around with when I need to beat back one of those nasty artist slumps. And I think just having it displayed in my studio, seeing it sitting there full of possibility, will bring me inspiration when I need it.

My wonderful shell was created by sculptor Agelio Batle. You can learn more about his products here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day

colored pencil daffodil work in process
on 5" x 7" Ampersand Pastelbord
Stacy L. Rowan

Forget the groundhog's prediction about how long winter is sticking around. (Is he ever right anyway?) I have a prediction for Valentine's Day. I predict that a lot of people are eschewing material gifts for their loved ones. Instead they are opting for creating handmade items to express their feelings. What gives me this insight, you might ask? The recent increase in searches for the topic "how to draw roses". I always get a fair number of hits from this search string, but since last weekend there has been a definite jump. Love is in the air and everyone is trying to draw roses!

Speaking of searches, I recently solved a little mystery I had surrounding image searches. Many of my blog visitors find me through an image search. (Is this true for other art blogs too?) Yet whenever I tried to find my own images using Google image search, I always came up empty handed. I know I'm not the best searcher out there, but could I really be that bad?? I didn't think so. So I came up with the hypothesis that when the search originates from my ISP, Google won't show me images from my own Picasa blog albums. To test my hypothesis, I gave my husband some appropriate search terms and asked him to do an image search from his work computer. After some gentle reminders, he finally tested my theory for me. Lo and behold, my hypothesis was right! I admit that I don't know if it is exactly right in all the details... but I do know he can easily find my images. The same ones that I can't find when searching from my computer.'s good to know that my internet search skills are not as horrible as I feared. Now I can rest easy and enjoy Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day to you too. I broke with tradition and decided to share this daffodil work in process instead of a rose. Too many people were already doing the rose thing.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Early Preferences

graphite cat sketch approx. 5" x 5"
Stacy L. Rowan

I am already developing some preferences with my sketching. This sketch was done with a 4B graphite pencil. I feel it isn't as loose and expressive as my previous sketch which was done in charcoal. Since I am still trying to figure out how to achieve quick shading in graphite, I chose not to add any shading to this sketch. I am very slow with cross-hatching and not entirely comfortable with it yet. For these two reasons, I currently enjoy sketching in charcoal more than sketching in graphite. It will be interesting to see if that changes during my sketching journey.

This was another "in the car sketch" so I did it from a photo. I found sketching from a photo to be far less enjoyable than sketching from life. But it did save me from sketching sunglasses again or the side of a rather dull building.

One thing I am itching to try is sketching with pen and watercolor. I have the materials, I just haven't had the right set up yet. No way am I using watercolors in my car!! I can just imagine how that would go.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Steppin Out

Today I took a big step out of my comfort zone and did a sketch of my daughter. The closest I have come to sketching people in the past hasn't been very close. But in my quest to be comfortable creating a travel journal of our vacation this summer, I am willing to sketch subjects I have never sketched before. I have also had the desire to capture my kids' images before they are fully grown or too cool to waste time sitting with mom.

charcoal sketch approx. 5.5" x 5.5"
Stacy L. Rowan

Now, for those of you who know my daughters, I realize that this really doesn't look anything like either one. At best it is an approximation of how my subject will look in a few years. I thought by catching her watching TV she would be pretty still. Foolish me. Actually I started sketching the other daughter first and two lines in she laid down. Maybe with more practice, I will get better at sketching and they will get better at being still. (I can hear you laughing you know - at least no one fell off the couch during this sketching session!!)

This sketch was done using an HB charcoal pencil in my spiral bound sketch book.