Friday, December 25, 2009


"Christmas Bells"
7"x10" watercolor on paper
copyright 2009 Stacy L. Rowan

May your holiday season ring with peace, love and joy!

Thank you to all of my blog readers for your visits, support and comments. I greatly appreciate this community of artists and bloggers. And I hope all of your holidays are special.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter

We've already seen some of this here...

And you can find a lot of these around...

And even quite a few of these...

All images copyright Stacy L. Rowan

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Mountain of Color

 watercolor sketch approx. 1"x5"
copyright 2009 Stacy L. Rowan

Here is a quick sketch that I did a few weeks ago while sitting at soccer practice. The mountains in the distance were a beautiful mix of fall colors set against a blue sky. I was happy that I was able to capture this fleeting view in my sketchbook. And I managed to do it without getting any paint on me. Although I did spill some water on my coat when the soccer ball suddenly shot in my direction. Maybe that's one reason I've never seen anyone else sketching at soccer. It's a bit riskier than sketching in other places.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope today finds you surrounded by people who love and support you.

Pitt brush pen in Moleskine cahier pocket sketchbook
copyright 2009 Stacy L. Rowan

Among the many things I am thankful for this holiday are galleries that partner with artists to help us sell our work. In particular, the wonderful William Ris Gallery in Stone Harbor which accepted some of my work this summer. This gallery is opening a new show tomorrow (Friday, November 27th) which will run through January. The show is A Tribute to 100 Artists. Here is an excerpt from their press release...

"[This show] honors their talented and diverse stable of painters, sculptors, and craftspeople. Each artist has hanging one or more pieces of work. The juxtaposition of these varied styles makes for an exciting compilation, creating a balance and rhythm of color, palettes, pigments and perspectives. The works stretch from landscapes, still life, figurative, realism to abstract and vary in media from watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, mixed media, wood to ceramic."

They are celebrating with an open house all Thanksgiving weekend. Please stop by if you are in the South Jersey shore area.

The sketch above is of Indian corn - a staple of Thanksgiving and autumn decorations. For those of you who don't know, Indian corn is the name for cobs that have colored kernels vesus the common white or yellow kernels. I am sure other places in the world must call it something else, but I only know it as Indian corn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tap Dancer Drawing - Off the Cuff Remark

"Off the Cuff Remark"
18" x 14" graphite on paper
copyright 2009 Stacy L. Rowan
available at the William Ris Gallery

This is my fourth graphite drawing in my tap dancer series. I chose to call it "Off the Cuff Remark". When something is done "off the cuff" it means it is done without prior preparation or planning. This tap step has a nice sharp sound created by the quick snapping motion of the toe as the leg is drawn back.  It makes me think of a witty retort tossed into a rapidly paced conversation.

As I was drawing this I took some work in process photos that I thought I'd share.

work in process - image 1

I start all of my graphite and charcoal pieces with a contour drawing and then move onto the shading. For me the shading makes a drawing come alive. Here I started laying in the shadow shapes using a rough cross hatching technique. It takes quite a few layers to build up a good solid dark on this paper, so I know I have plenty of time to smooth out the hatching later.

work in process - image 2

Next I moved onto the stationary foot. Since this series of drawings is about tap dancing, it is very important to me to get the tap shoes right. I don't want to spend a lot of time on the legs until the details in the shoe are nailed down. Also, I knew I wanted my darkest darks to be in this shoe. I needed to get them in the drawing early so as to define my range of values.

work in process - image 3

If you compare this image with the one above it, you can see that I stuggled a bit to figure out what the hips were doing. I was confused because in my reference photo it looked like I could see the full width of the hips, but at the same time I was only seeing the side of the knee. My mind couldn't figure out how that could be possible. To resolve my confusion I ended up standing in front of a mirror trying to recreate the pose. Believe me this was more difficult than it sounds. The answer is that the knee swings in as the leg moves.

To reach the final image at the top of the page, I darkened a lot of my values and added in the reflection on the floor.

Now a little story about this drawing... Shortly after I completed it, I had the opportunity to take a master class taught by the tap dancer who was the reference for this drawing. It was my first time taking a class with her. (My reference photos were taken while she was teaching choreography to the Tap Ties company.)

After warm-ups, she taught us a short combination and in the combination was this exact step. As soon as she did it I recognized it as the step in my drawing. My mind excitedly yelled at me  "That's it! That's the step!" And that quickly I switched over from the dancer part of my brain to the arist part of my brain.

As a result I completely missed the next couple of steps in the combination. Apparently the artist part of my brain can't learn tap steps when it is comparing the feel of a movement to the lines in a drawing. Luckily for the dancer part of my brain she went over the steps a second time.

This series of four graphite drawings -
Off the Cuff Remark
is available in a set of 8 note cards (with envelopes). Each card measures 4.25 x 5.5 inches. Price for a pack of cards is $10 and includes shipping. Please use the Buy Now button to purchase.

You can also find other products featuring my tap dance art at my Cafe Press store. It's a great place to find gifts for your favorite tap dancer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time to Change

I have so many things that I want to share with you - a summary of my Open Studio, some tap drawings, a review of the workshop I attended last week - but most of them require that I spend some quality time with my scanner, and I'm really feeling the need to push the jack-o-lantern down the page. It's not that I don't love it, it's just that November is already one third gone. Time to change that pumpkin into pumpkin pie.

Unfortunately I don't know how to make pumpkin pie and I haven't sketched any pies either, so instead I'll share an assortment of miscellaneous sketches. First a sketch of my keys that I did while waiting for my new-to-me car to be ready to drive home. Why does that part of the car-buying process take so long?

Next a couple of sketches from a night at an Iron Pigs game. These were unsuspecting spectators who were sitting in front of us.


Last a quick sketch of a tree that I did while riding on a train. I think I drew it while waiting at a stop.


all sketches copyright 2009 Stacy L Rowan

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

"Jack is a Night Pumpkin"
©2009 Stacy L. Rowan

Here’s hoping that the ghosts, ghouls and goblins bring you the treat of creative inspiration… or at the very least a LOT of chocolate!


This jack-o-lantern was designed by my little ghouls. They used the night sky as inspiration choosing a half moon shape for the eyes, a star for the nose and vampire style teeth (from all those bats that fly at night) for the mouth. Kids having a design inspiration for a jack-o-lantern -- it’s enough to make a mom tear up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dot to Dot

I thought today I'd share an update of my pen and ink stippling project. I started this drawing last fall. I decided to start by building up my darks. This establishes both ends of my value scale (the white of the paper being the lightest value) so it easier to judge my middle values when I put them in. Also I feel that once the darks are in the drawing goes much faster. It takes a lot of little dots to achieve the darkest value which means a lot of time.

bromeliad ink drawing approx. 5" x 7"
005 Micron pen on Canson paper
Stacy L. Rowan

It may sound crazy, but to me football and stippling are a perfect combination. I really enjoy working on this drawing while watching a football game on TV. More accurately, I listen to the game, only pausing to look up when I hear something exciting happen. It is a very relaxing combination - listening to the familiar sound of the announcers voices while I make a million or two dots. Unfortunatley I haven't had a lot of time to relax in front of the game lately, so this piece is coming along slower than I envisioned.

Of course, I could always start working on this at other times, but it seems when I am in studio mode I gravitate toward watercolors or charcoals. And that's okay with me because if the drawing doesn't get done this season, there is always a new football season next year.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today was a lovely autumn day - sunny skies, temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, leaves starting to change. I decided to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk around my neighborhood. I took my camera with me with the intention of capturing images of fall in my neighborhood. I imagined pictures of colorful leaves and mums in bloom. I never imaged this...

Best I can tell, this is a turkey vulture. He was hanging out in the top of my neighbor's tree. He doesn't look like much here, but let me assure you that when he took off in flight...

he was HUGE! At first there were just two, but later there were as many as six flying around.

I found myself hoping that they weren't very hungry. I felt a little outnumbered. The other birds in the neighborhood didn't seem very happy to have the turkey vultures around and were making quite a lot of noise. The vultures didn't seem to care as they slowly glided on the air currents.

I'm not sure where the vultures came from, because I promise they are not a common sight in our suburban development. I do know that they are on the list of birds which can be seen at near-by Hawk Mountain. According to their website 40 turkey vultures were counted there today and a comment was posted that said "turkey vultures on the move today". I guess that's as good an explanation for my sighting as any.

I did manage to get images of colorful leaves and fall mums as I expected, but they seemed a little sedate compared to these.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watercolor Apples for Challenge

It is the time of year when apples are abundant, making them the perfect painting subject. With Jeanette offering some additional motivation I decided to join in the fun.

approx. 4" x 4" watercolor on paper
Stacy Rowan
I'm not sure what kind of apple I used as a model. Part of it is yellow and part of it is red. When I set it down to paint I was paying more attention to shape than color, so I ended up with the yellow side in shadow and the red side toward the light. I found this to be a very challenging orientation, because my mind kept telling me that yellow is lighter in value than red. So I really had to try and paint what my eyes were seeing and ignore what my mind was telling me. Like I said, a real challenge.

After sticking it out and seeing the first painting through to completion, I decided to reward myself by spinning the apple and painting it again. You can see the result of the second painting below.

approx. 4.5" x 3.5" watercolor on paper
Stacy Rowan

Since the paintings were of the same apple, I couldn't help but compare them and ask myself which I liked best. Once I judged them for myself, I asked my kids which painting they liked better. Interestingly, they chose the same painting, but it was not the one I chose. I'd love to continue my survey. If you want to play along, list your favorite in the comments. For the sake of this "scientific" study we will call the apple pictured at the top of the post with its red side in the sun Apple #1. The second apple in the post will be called... you guessed it... Apple #2. If you'd like extra credit you can share your reasoning, but that's not required. And don't worry, I promise to keep the results of the voting between us so neither apple gets its feeling hurt.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Still Sharing Summer Sketches


More sketches that I did over the summer. Hard to believe they are already a couple of months old. These are some of the interesting objects that populate the waiting room at the local music shop. The sketches were created while waiting for my kids to finish their instrument lessons. Sketching makes the waiting bearable.

chair back, pitcher and trumpet parts

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Summer Sketch

Micron sketch in Cahier sketchbook
Stacy L. Rowan

The last sketch I posted was from my parents' house. This one is from my husband's parents' property. It is one of my favorite sketches from the summer and shows a small landscaping bed in my in-laws front yard. I sat in the car and sketched this while my kids napped in the back seat. They had been to a sleep-over party the night before. I wonder why the parties are called that? It's such a misnomer since they don't ever actually sleep much.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sketching at the Spa

Micron pen sketch in Cahier sketchbook
Stacy L. Rowan

My husband likes to jokingly refer to my parent's house as the spa. Being away from our own house, and the typical daily responsibilities that go along with being home owners, feels like a mini vacation. This sketch is of a corner of my parents' screen porch as viewed from the small deck below.

My parents' screen porch is one of my favorite places to spend a warm, sunny day. It is better than my own screen porch because it comes with a view of a lake and dinner prepared by Mom (instead of me). Thanks Mom!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ink Starfish Sketch

sepia brush pen in Cahier sketchbook
Stacy L. Rowan

Another sketch from my weekend at the shore. This time a starfish decoration found in the condo. I did this sketch with my sepia brush pen which I am liking more with every use.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tap Dancer Drawing - Quick Turn of Phrase

A Quick Turn of Phrase
14" x 18" graphite on paper
Stacy L. Rowan
available at the William Ris Gallery

To turn a phrase means to give words new meaning by using them in a particular arrangement. Just like words in a poem or story, common tap steps can be given new life by combining them in unique ways. One way to make a combination more impressive and to increase the level of difficulty is to do the steps while turning.

I knew I wanted to create a drawing from this reference the first time I saw it. I love the motion and the twist of the legs. And it turned out to be one of those drawings that just flowed from the first pencil mark until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. For this drawing I used graphite, but don't be surprised if you see another version pop up some day in charcoal or watercolor. Some references are like that, they make you want to revisit them more than once.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Painting from Memory

My husband and I were at the shore two weekends ago. There was a storm off the coast that was producing a strong on-shore wind and a very rough sea. The waves were large and when they crashed they made sea foam the color of beer. Their power was impressive from the relative safety of the boardwalk.

watercolor sketch of ocean
approx. 5" x 8" in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
Stacy Rowan

The storm was making it too windy to paint outside. I was afraid the wind would rip my pages out of the sketchbook before I got any paint on them. But I still wanted to capture what I was seeing. So I watched the ocean trying to commit the unusual olive color, the crashing power and the foamy movement to memory. After we walked back to the condo, I pulled out my watercolor sketchbook, my compact set of half pans and two waterbrushes. Using these tools I did my best to recreate what I had seen.

This is the first time I have painted from memory and I was pleased with the result. (I know it looks like I have a curved horizon line, but I promise it is straight in the sketch.) It's definitely an exercise that I'll try again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Faber-Castell Pitt Pen

I recently purchased a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pen with a brush nib. I like sketching in pen because it forces me to try to get my marks right the first time. And it forces me to live with them when I get them wrong. When I sketch with pencil I am too tempted to erase marks that aren't correct.

sketches with new Pitt brush tip pen

On the other hand, I like how I can change the quality of a pencil line. I feel like my sketches done with a Micron pen don't have the same expressiveness as my pencil sketches. (Or at least the pencil sketches where I don't allow myself to erase and constantly correct.)

sketches with new Pitt brush tip pen

The solution -- a Pitt pen with a flexible brush tip. With the brush tip I can draw a very fine line or a broad one just by changing the angle of the tip to the paper. And it allows for looser movements originating in my wrist or arm instead of just the tighter movements originating with my fingers.

sketches with new Pitt brush tip pen

I haven't done many sketches with my brush pen yet, mostly just some preliminary play, but I'm looking forward to improving the feel of my sketches. And I hope if I improve my mark making in my sketches, it will carry over into my watercolor painting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

When It's Good to be Forgetful

WIP charcoal for tap dancing series
Stacy Rowan

Sometimes in tap class when I am learning a new combination there seems to be a roadblock between my brain and my feet. The teacher demonstrates the series of steps and I know what I am supposed to do, but somehow my feet don't get the full message and they do something different. Let's say the correct steps are shuffle hop knock heel flap ball change. Not a difficult combination, but my feet might do shuffle hop heel knock... freeze... because I realize I did something wrong. I've talked to other tap dancers and I know I'm not the only one this happens to.

I've noticed that occasionally this happens when I am drawing too. I can picture the drawing in my mind's eye, but my hands create something that doesn't seem to match the image in my head. So I check all the angles and measurements and faithfully make any changes...still not right. Most times I have to leave that area of the drawing and come back to it later to get it worked out properly. In that time the roadblock clears and the problem is normally fixed with some minute change.

I've decided that the difficulty learning the tap combination comes from muscle memory overriding the knowledge of the proper steps. If I had a previous teacher who always put a heel after a shuffle hop, my muscles hold the memory of that combination. It can be a tough memory to overcome.

I'm not sure where the drawing difficulty comes from. My guess would be that it has something to do with drawing what I think I see versus what I am actually seeing. The memory my mind has of the symbol for whatever I am drawing overrides what I am actually seeing. My new series makes me feel like my mind has a very strong memory of its shoe symbol.

Luckily the mind eventually gets the hand to draw the object correctly, just like it always brings the feet along when dancing. It just might take longer than I like.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Watercolor Rhododendron

 5" x 7"
watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord
Stacy L. Rowan

Back in the Spring, Jeanette Jobson provided a lovely reference of a rhododendron for the April VSD challenge. I didn't have time to submit a painting during the challenge dates, but I saved the reference to tackle later. I pulled this reference out over the summer along with a 5 inch by 7 inch piece of Aquabord and gave it a whirl.

The Aquabord I used was actually an older piece because it was stamped on the back "Textured Claybord" which is an older name for this product. Watercolor paint handles a little differently on this board than it does on the Arches 140lb. cold press paper that I typically use. The biggest difference I found was that I had to be careful not to pick up the dry paint as I added additional layers. But I pretty quickly got used to the different feel.

Aquabord is very forgiving. As I mentioned above, the paint is easy to lift and you can get back to the white of the board without too much work if you are using non-staining pigments. (I don't typically use staining pigments so I can't comment on the ability to lift those.) I found that this lifting ability made me more adventurous in my painting. I wasn't worried about making a mistake that I couldn't recover from. I am trying to balance my normal technical approach with some more expressive painting, so the lifting ability encouraged me to experiment.

I also felt that my colors ended up more saturated than normal. I'm not sure if that is a result of the painting surface, the change in how I had to handle the paint or something else.

One of the things I really like about the Aquabord is that after spraying the painting it can be framed without glass. Framing without glass will eliminate the glare issue from light reflecting off the glass. It will also make it easier to ship the framed painting. I already have a nice mahogany colored plein aire frame and hope to be framing it next week.

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this painting and am looking forward to starting another on Aquabord. I'd love to hear if anyone else has experience using this surface. Please feel free to leave your experiences in the comments.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Moleskine Cahier Pocket Notebook

sketch - Micron sepia pen in Moleskine Cahier pocket notebook

I was first introduced to the Moleskine Cahier notebook when Rose Welty used one to create her book of flower sketches. Shortly thereafter I bought my own pack of three. I thought I'd share with you why this is now my current favorite sketchbook. Here are the top five reasons.

1. The Moleskine Cahier pocket notebook is small, only 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. It's small enough to fit in my smallest purse, which is saying something since I carry some very small purses! Carrying a small bag is the surest way I know not to get stuck carrying stuff for my husband and kids. But now it doesn't have to also mean leaving my sketchbook at home.

2. The pocket notebook has a cardboard cover which keeps it very lightweight. I can slip it in any bag without worrying about the extra weight which makes it perfect if I am going to be carrying the bag for long distances, say if I am out hiking for the day.

3. There is nothing "precious" about this sketchbook. I mean that as a compliment. Sometimes if a sketchbook is fancy or expensive, I don't sketch in it because I am worried that a lousy sketch will ruin the whole book. This book is small enough and inexpensive enough that I could tear out lousy sketches or even throw out the whole book without guilt. And surprisingly enough, now that I'm not worried about the outcome of my sketches before I start them, I haven't had any that I feel I can't live with.

4. The Cahier notebooks are sold in sets of three which means I can spread them out and leave them in places where I am most likely to need them, for example in my purse, in the car, in a travel bag. I don't have to worry about forgetting to transfer the sketchbook and finding myself without one.

5. Like other Moleskines, these books have smooth, creamy colored pages which easily take pencil or ink.

sketch - Micron sepia pen in Moleskine Cahier pocket notebook
The only downside I have found with these books is the relatively thin pages. I work around this by only sketching on the right hand side pages (not using the backs of the pages). I also place a piece of cardstock behind the page when I am scanning it so the scanner doesn't pick up the image on the next page. I feel that these are two small concessions which I am willing to live with given all the other benefits.

So what is your current favorite sketchbook? Do you find that your favorite changes? And if so, what dictates the change? Share your answers in the comments section. You know artists can never have too many sketchbooks. Even though I have a current favorite, I am always looking for new ones to try.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Making Strides

graphite sketches of Iron Pigs first base coach

A few weeks ago I started taking an exercise class with a friend. The program we are doing is called First Strides. The program's goal is to encourage women to be physically active and prepare them to participate in a 5K race.

This is actually our second time in the class. We joined the first time because our walking program wasn't giving us the results we wanted. We decided to increase the intensity of our exercise by adding in some jogging. This round we are using the class to motivate us to continue jogging and to increase our speed and distance.

I love the method this program uses. It makes starting very easy and then builds gradually. Our first week of class last Spring required walking for 4 minutes, jogging for 1 minute then repeated the walk/jog combination three more times. Who doesn't feel like they can jog for one minute? It's only 60 little seconds. I was pretty confident that I could jog for one minute. But my thoughts about jogging two minutes were along the lines of "No Way!!"

However, at the end of the first week, which included the class and two walk/jogs as "homework", when I was still alive I figured I could give two minutes of jogging a try. After all it really only meant adding one more measly minute.
graphite sketches of lifeguard at indoor community pool

The start of every week was the same. I told myself I could "try" that week but knew that surely the following week would do me in. In the end I made it through all 12 weeks of class. My longest time jogging was 40 minutes (10 minutes jogging, 1 minute walking, 4 reps). Had you asked me before I signed up if I could jog for 40 minutes I'd have died laughing. But using this method of incremental increases I did it.

I was thinking today about how this methodology could be applied to an art career. In the beginning when I was just learning to paint I painted when the mood struck me, marketed my work never and didn't even think about business responsibilities. Had I thought then about all the things that go into a successful art career--
things like making painting a daily practice; having a marketing plan including regular upkeep of a blog, creating a presence on social networking sites, and being a member of several local art clubs; keeping track of inventory, expenses and income; and becoming proficient at matting and framing--
I'd have run away screaming and never come back.

You know what I mean right? It's like the time I decided that TODAY was the day I was going to start getting in shape. So I went out and ran two or three miles. And the next day my legs hurt so much I couldn't even walk. Which meant I had to take the next week off to recover. And after the week had passed I had forgotten all about my assertion that TODAY was the day, and I didn't run again until the next time I decided TODAY was the day. We've all been there, right?
sketch with Micron sepia pen of people relaxing at community pool

That's what would have happened if I tried to tackle everything that goes into a successful art career at once. Truthfully, some days I still feel like screaming and running away when I think about all I want or need to do to keep growing as an artist and business person. That's when it's good to remind myself that today I only need to do the equivalent of jogging one minute. If I try to do it all at once I'm likely to hurt myself or get discouraged and never try again. But if I break it into manageable increments, and I continue to build one on another, in a few months I'll have made meaningful progress. And that's what I really want.


The sketches in this post represent some "one minute of jogging" thinking. I really want to be able to sketch moving figures. I feel it will be a critical skill for growth in my series of tap dancer drawings. But currently I am not even very good at sketching still figures. My compromise...draw figures who may change their position or move away while I am sketching them. Knowing they may move encourages me to sketch quickly and to try and hold the pose in my mind so I can attempt to finish the sketch even if my model walks away.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sketching the Transition

Sketch made with Cotman pan watercolors and water brush
I did a watercolor sketch of these two leaves that the kids picked up for me on our walk home from the first day of school. They know I can't resist the beautiful autumn colors and are kind enough to feed my addicition. I did the sketch while sitting in the car waiting at our last summer activity. One thing ends as another begins.

I love the way leaves change color starting around the veins and the tips. I think the prettiest leaves are ones like this which still wear some of their summer colors with their bold autumn accents.

As for the sketches, I like the smaller leaf the best. It was the second one I did, and I felt when I was painting it I finally had the hang of working with two water brushes. During the first sketch I was much more worried about dropping a brush while switching back and forth and either getting paint on me or on the car.

I did both of the sketches pretty quickly with no preliminary drawing. In fact it took almost as long to retrieve the cap to my one water brush from under the seat as it did to complete the sketch of the small leaf. One of the hazards of painting in the car I guess!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Looking Forward

Hawk Mountain South Lookout, Kempton, PA

Summer is coming to a close here. In most of the US, Labor Day is the unofficial end to the summer, but in our area the kids go back to school this coming week. School means the end of those carefree summer days.

And what a summer it has been! My kids say best summer ever and I have to agree. There have been trips to the shore with days spent on the beach and nights on the boardwalk. Visits to water parks. Time spent with family and friends. Afternoons cooling off at the pool. Cookouts, parades, festivals and fireworks. A zoo, an aquarium and an amusement park for the kids. Hiking and a few date nights for the adults. Summer is a magical, fun-filled time and we certainly are going to miss it.

I did manage to squeeze some work in among all the fun, and I will be sharing it here over the next few weeks. Look for sketches, additions to the tap dancing series and even a new watercolor or two.

Also, all the fun in the sun has ignited my creative spark. I have a lot of ideas calling out to become new drawings or paintings. I've been rethinking my schedule and art related priorities these past several weeks and am now looking forward to a productive fall.

So yes I will miss the long summer days filled with ice cream and sunscreen, but knowing football, apple cider, cool autumn nights and colorful leaves are right around the corner makes it easy to look ahead with anticipation.

Hawk Mountain North Lookout, Kempton, PA

Friday, July 24, 2009

Exciting News

Hello friends and fans! I have some exciting news to share with you. Many bloggers might entertain you with a long, dramatic story building suspense to a moment of spectacular reveal. But I might burst if I try that, so I'm just going to throw it out there...

I got into my first gallery!!!

And the best part is that it's the fabulous William Ris Gallery in Stone Harbor, NJ. This is the same gallery that my husband and I have been visiting during our vacations for at least the past 10 years. It is the gallery where we made our first purchase of fine art. And it is a lovely, family run gallery which shows consistently beautiful work. I couldn't be happier!

I met with director Mary Cantone Thursday morning. Mary's warm, friendly personality put me right at ease. I really enjoyed showing and talking about my art. Mary agreed to take six pieces -- four drawings from my tap series and two watercolors. Hooray! (I promise to share images in a future post.)

Please stop by and take a look if you happen to be in Stone Harbor or any of the neighboring South Jersey shore towns.

And thank you to all of my online friends who encourage me and give me feedback on my work, especially Rose. I don't believe I would have been able to accomplish this goal if I was creating in a vacuum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tap Dancer Drawing – Icebreaker

WC tap drwg 2_scan 02 crop adjust

18" x 14" graphite drawing on Canson paper
Stacy L. Rowan

This is the second drawing in my tap dance series. Tap dancing, like art, can act as a means of communication. One of my goals with my tap dance series is to bring tap conversations to a wider audience and increase the appreciation for this style of dance.

I have been titling all the drawings to go along with this idea of using dance to communicate. The first drawing is named “Riff”. According to the American Heritage dictionary a riff is “a clever or inventive commentary or remark.” A riff is also a common tap step. Its two sounds are created by brushing the ball of the foot followed by a heel strike on the same foot. Looking at the drawing, you can see the blur of the foot on the left shows the motion required to create the different sounds in the riff.

The drawing shown above is titled “Icebreaker”. An icebreaker can be a comment that eases tension and acts as a conversation starter. The dance conversation has to start somewhere as well. Why not with a strong, simple sound like a thumping heel to start the beat?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art Festival in Pitman, NJ Tomorrow

WC framing for show

The last couple of days I have been busy matting and framing some of my work and packing up my show supplies. Tomorrow I will be participating in a Music & Arts Festival in Pitman, NJ. This is the first year for the festival. Artists will be displaying their work in Ballard Park at the intersection of Pitman Ave. and Broadway. The festival runs from 2pm until 8pm.

I have displayed my work before in Pitman at their annual fall craft show. They run nice shows which have good attendance. I am excited they are branching out into shows specifically for fine art.

If you are in the area tomorrow afternoon or evening, stop by and say hello.


The picture above shows some of the work I framed up this week, including drawings in my new tap dance series. I will be sharing these new drawings here soon, complete with better images. The drawings were well received at the Tap Ties National Tap Dance Day Celebration.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Chance to Win Some Art

WC VSD Mar09 bird_S_Rowan WC VSD Jan clementine_Stacy_Rowan

graphite on cream paper
Stacy L. Rowan

“Caught in a State of Undress”
watercolor on paper
Stacy L. Rowan

If you are in the Lehigh Valley or somewhere close by this Saturday and would like a chance to win one of my prints, please head on over to the Miller Heights Tricky Tray fundraiser. This event is being held at Miller Heights Elementary School in Bethlehem, PA on Saturday, April 25th from 10am until 4pm. You do not need to be present at the time of the drawing to win a prize. All winners are notified by phone. If you are not familiar with Trick Tray events, you can read more about them here.

This year I donated two matted prints. A 10” x 8” print of my graphite house finch drawing titled “Waiting” and a 14” x 11” print of my watercolor entry from the January Virtual Sketch Date “Caught in a State of Undress”. Both pieces are shown above.

In addition to my prints there are many other cool prizes – over 240 in all!  If you are in the area why not stop by and check it out?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

3 Things I’ve Learned in the School of Group Challenges

WC pencil jar

graphite sketch of my pencil jar
4” x 8” in Moleskine sketchbook

The reference for the April Virtual Sketch Date was posted yesterday. This month’s reference is a lovely rhododendron bud supplied by Jeanette Jobson. All entries are due by Saturday April 24th.

I was thinking about group challenges the other day – like the Virtual Sketch Date and Karin Jurick’s Different Strokes From Different Folks - and what a great learning experience they are for me, in particular, reviewing all the entries.

When viewing the entries, I love seeing them all together on one page. I start out by scrolling through the entries or glancing at each one quickly. I know that the entries that catch my eye during a quick sweep deserve a longer look.

When I first started viewing these group challenges, I wondered why some entries caught my eye and others didn’t, especially because they are all of the same subject. What was it about some paintings that made me want to linger? For me it comes down to three things.

  • Composition – Many times what makes a painting stand out from the crowd is composition. Cropping can make all the difference in how a painting reads. Same is true for elements that are left in versus elements that are eliminated. Recently I saw two almost identical compositions and the main difference for the one I preferred  was the addition of something that didn’t appear in the original reference. My lesson…study composition until good compositions come easy.
  • Style – I am finding the more I do this exercise the more often paintings of a certain style catch my eye. The surprising thing about this is that the paintings I like are not painted in a style similar to my own. Having learned what style appeals to me, I’ve decided to try to work toward that style in my own paintings.
  • Technical Ability – My studies have revealed that technical ability is actually less important to me than I would have guessed, but there is some base line that needs to be met for me to enjoy a painting. The lesson for me here is to not sacrifice style and feeling in my own works in an effort to prove technical ability.

I love that I can learn from group challenges even when I don’t participate in them. I’m interested in hearing what lessons you have learned from the School of Group Challenges. Feel free to share them in the comments.