Thursday, March 27, 2008


Along with spring break was Easter. The kids had a blast coloring eggs at Grandpa and Grandma's and later hunting them with my brother's daughter.

Spring Break

Last week was spring break from school. The kids and I went to visit my parents some 386 miles away. A long trip, but we always have fun. My mother is making my husband and me a quilt. This is a wedding present...just 7 years late. ha ha She has spent a LOT of time embroidering the design and is now hand quilting it. My husband suggested I go out there over spring break to help and that's what we did. We didn't get much quilting done, but at least we started.

The Embroidery done by my mother.

The hearts below the burgundy fabric that I hand stitched.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prayers Needed

I have an uncle who fell off a chair he was standing on yesterday and broke his neck. The doctors are amazed that he wasn’t instantly paralyzed. I say this is the power of God in action! They said he could still go into paralysis but we are praying for this not to happen. His surgery went well and is now in critical care. Your prayers are appreciated!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm of Hand

Some dear friends of mine moved to Canada a year and a half ago to work with the homeless. I wanted to do something for them and serving came to mind. They are reaching out to so many in need. Hands seemed appropriate. When I approached them about it, they were excited because the same thing had been on their hearts. God moves in beautiful ways. She mentioned Isaiah 49:16 - See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
This piece was done on black illustration board, 16x20. It took 60 hours to complete. It has 11 layers of colored pencil plus more in areas of shading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Drawing the Mouth

I am studying Lee Hammond's How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs . These are my notes and drawings.

- The darkest dark is in the corner (pit) of the mouth.
- Shadows below the mouth will be the halftone color.
- The highlight is on the bottom lip.
- The reflected light is on the upper lip, just above the edge where the two lips meet.
- The upper lip is always darker than the bottom lip.
- Do not draw the lip with a harsh outline.
- The upper lip angles in, while the bottom angles out.

- Draw the teeth accurately in size, shape, and placement.
- The shapes of the teeth are drawn by drawing the gumline above them and the dark, triangular shapes below them.
- The upper part of the teeth has a subtle shadow cast by the lip.
- When drawing men’s lips, rather than trying to draw the “lips,” look for the shadows above and below them. The shadows will define the lips rather than an outline.
- Highlights should not be drawn around, but lifted with a kneaded eraser.

Facial Hair

- A mustache or beard has fullness and depth. It must be built in layers to give it the fullness it needs in order to look real.
- Look to see how the color of the hair looks next to the skin. Is it light against dark, or is the mustache darker than the skin?
- The nose casts a shadow on the mustache. The mustache casts a shadow on the mouth.
- Curve the hair lines along the shape of the face, chin, etc.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Resiliency (Part 2 of 2)


We all have insecurities. We’ve all said, “I wish I was as good as that person is”. Instead, we should tell ourselves, “I wish I was better than I am.” Focus on what we need to do to get better in our artistic ability instead of what we wish we could do.

Author Julia Cameron states, “Grace is available to us always, at any stage of the creative journey. As beginners, we need the grace to begin. As apprentice artists, we need the grace to continue. As accomplished artists, we need the grace to again accomplish what it is we can.” At all levels of creative endeavor and life, God is present and partnering us with the grace we need.

“When we say that making art is an act of faith and that as we make art we pursue a spiritual path, we are not talking loosely. There is grace in our every artistic encounter. Miracles do happen. We do not plan them. We hope for them and then we are open to the creator’s mentoring hand in improving our suggestions. What looks difficult or impossible to us does not appear difficult or impossible to God. As we set our egos aside and allow that creative power to work through us, miracles are routinely accomplished.”

“We do not know how to ask ourselves for real growth. We do not know how to realistically dig in. We make our new art a mountain we cannot climb instead of trying our luck with a small incline and then a steeper one and then a slightly steeper one. Instead of being inspired by those creative climbers who hop crag to crag, we are discouraged.”

There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

“At the root of most insecurity is the conviction that we must somehow be better – or other – than what we are in order to be acceptable. We want to play better than so-and-so – or at least as well as so-and-so. Lost in all of this improvement and striving for perfection is the idea that there is a great deal to like about ourselves exactly the way we already are.”

There are many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness. ~ Charles Baudelaire

“So often we are focused on what we would like to change – and change for the better – that we fail to celebrate what is wonderfully enjoyable exactly the way it is. We are often far closer to our own ideal – and ideals – than we dare recognize. Self-esteem is an active choice, not a sudden given. We can choose to actively esteem our any positive traits. By counting our blessings we can come to see that we are blessed and that we need not compare ourselves anymore.”

Write down 50 positive things that you like and approve about yourself exactly the way you are.


“At the root, self-pity is a stalling device. It is a temper tantrum, a self-inflicted drama that has little to do, ever, with the facts. Self-pity isn’t very interested in facts. What it likes is ‘stories.’ Self-pity thrives on stories that go ‘Poor innocent me and terrible mean them…’ Self-pity likes to make us feel the world is an adversarial place and that the odds are stacked against us. Self-pity likes to point out the way we are never truly appreciated, valued, cherished. What self-pity really wants is a cheering section and a fan club. It wouldn’t hurt either. Self-pity is not interested in our getting over it. Self-pity is interested in our ‘getting over.’ Struck by a bout of self-pity, we want an appreciative audience for our suffering, not a bout of self-improvement.”

“Self-pity is not interested in our spiritual status. It turns a deaf ear to our peppy affirmations. For an artist, self-pity constitutes a chronic and formidable creative block. Self-pity has one job and one job only: It intends to stop us in our tracks. If self-pity can just keep us mired in what’s-the-use, we will not have to do anything to find out. I am pretty sure that self-pity was a party guest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the satanic little voice that whispered ‘You can wriggle out of this. They aren’t going to appreciate you anyway.’”

“’They aren’t going to appreciate you’ is often a trigger for self-pity. Please note that ‘they’ (by which we often mean critics or even that more vague creature, ‘the public’) has little or nothing to do with our own self-respect.”

“Self-pity focuses our attention on how we are perceived rather than on what we are perceiving. It takes us out of our creative power and tells us that we are powerless, we will never ‘make it.’ Even if we already have, self-pity isn’t interested in realistic self-assessment. It is interested in stalling us. For an artist, focusing on the odds ‘against making it’ is like sipping a poisonous drink. It weakens us. When we focus on the impossibility of the outer word and its megalithic proportions, how small and weak and helpless and thwarted we all are, well then, we feel ‘what’s the use,’ and the world doesn’t get much better than that, does it?”

“We get them – because if we don’t watch out, we are about to do something big. Self-pity is a scraggly red robin. It means that once we get over it, we are going to spring into action. In other words, used properly, a good dose of self-pity is a jump start for creative action. ‘What’s the use?’ converts quickly into ‘What’s next?’”

“The healthy part of us cannot stomach self-pity and so it will be goaded into action. The action may be something that starts with compassion: ‘Of course you are hurt. Your work was unfairly received. Cry a little.’”

“Although self-pity appears to be grounded in the lack of appreciation from others, it is actually grounded in our own discounting of ourself and our struggles. A little actual grief can very quickly take the claws out of self-pity’s hold on us. When we say ‘Of course you feel bad,’ then we are on the brink of something a little interesting. We begin to raise the question ‘If this makes me feel so bad, what can I change?’”

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“’I am tired of being talked down to by the academic poets,’ we wail, and then we start exploring master’s programs. Someone points out publicly that we have a tendency toward something unforgivable in our painting – romantic blue washes, for example, and we think, I’ll show them romance! I’ll show them shimmering light! and we dig in, perfect our technique, and get even ‘more so’ of the quality of question. We persist and persist and our fatal artistic ‘flaw’ is often revealed to be our own strength.”

“We cannot make others appreciate us, but we can take the time, care, and attention to appreciate ourselves. ‘That was really nice of you,’ we can say. Or ‘How thoughtful!’ One of the Toughlove spiritual laws advises, ‘Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.’ A more positive counterpart might be phrased ‘My own opinion of me is all that matters.’ Self-appreciation takes practice, and it is the only reliable antidote to self-pity.”


“Doubt is a signal of the creative process. It is a signal that you are doing something right – not that you are doing something wrong or crazy or stupid.”

Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God. ~ Jean Anouilh

“When a doubt moves at an artist, the artist must learn how to step aside and let the charge pass by. An artist cannot afford to be deeply pierced by doubt and finish the tour.”

“’Feel the feelings but don’t act on them. This, too, shall pass,’ artists need other artists to tell them.”

“As the cool light of day reveals, doubt and self-appraisal are not the same thing. It takes practice, but an artist can learn the difference. Self-appraisal has a certain steadiness of character. Self-appraisal has an opinion, a thought for your consideration. It has an idea to hand you, not an indictment. It doesn’t whisper at midnight when you are alone and exhausted. Doubt is what does that.”

Doubt strikes you when you are alone, but doubt itself travels in packs. Along with doubt come its nasty friends: despair, self-loathing, feelings of foolishness and humiliation.”

“Doubt comes to the door in darkness, pretending to be alone and in need of your compassionate ear. But if you let him in, he’ll bring his friends, and doubt can be very persuasive getting in.”

“Doubt is a great seducer. ‘I just want you to think about this,’ it whispers. Out come the artist’s ears. Out comes the dagger. ‘Maybe you didn’t and don’t have enough talent after all….’ Feel the sharp piercing? It might be your creative lung collapsing around the blade.”

“No, as artists, we need lucid self-appraisal, not shadowy and sinister doubt. Self-appraisal is best practiced in broad daylight in the comfort of your own home and among very trusted friends.”

“Art is a spiritual practice. Doubt is normal. We need faith to survive it and we also need charity. When doubt attacks, we must be vigilantly self-loving.”

“When doubt darkens the heart, it is wise to think of this gloom not as ‘reality’ but as passing weather, like a badly overcast few days. During bouts of doubt, our judgments will not be accurate and should not be acted upon.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Nose

I am taking a study of drawing lifelike portraits from photographs. I am trying to make Tuesday's my lesson planning day for teaching.

How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs
By Lee Hammond

Five Elements of Shading

Cast Shadow – darkest dark, as close to black as possible. This is the shadow the object creates from being away from the light source.

Shadow Edge – This is not the edge of the object. (The edge is the reflected light.) It is where the object is receding from the light, and is on the opposite side of the light soure.

Halftone – This is medium gray, the true color of the object. It is neither light nor dark so that is why it is called halftone.

Reflected Light – This is the edge of the object, between the cast shadow and shadow edge. Reflected light is never white. It is closer to halftone in value. The value is between white and halftone.

Full Light – This is where the light falls directly on the object. The paper will remain white.

The Nose

The nose is similar to the sphere in its roundness and how it reflects light. Blending is the key element to drawing.

First locate the light source. On every nose, the darkest area (cast shadow) is inside the nostril. Any surface that has a “lip” or rim will reflect light.

Blending – Never use hard lines to draw the shape of the nose. Anything with an outline will look flat. Blend from dark to light. Pull any highlight areas out with a kneaded eraser, rather than drawing around them.

Graph the Nose – Make a graph to place over your photo reference. Lightly make another graph onto your drawing paper. Draw a line drawing of the nose with accuracy. Place all tones to the shapes within the nose. Use the 5 elements of shading for this process. Blend the tones from dark to light, following the contour of the nose’s shapes.

Nose Measurements - The nose distance is from the bridge to underneath the nostrils. The distance is equal from the bottom of the chin up to the nostrils. The base of the nose gives a reference point as to where to place the bottom of the earlobes when measuring straight across the face. The space between the eyes is equal to one eye width. This width also gives the width of the nostril area.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Resiliency (Part 1 of 2)

Week 9 – Discovering a Sense of Resiliency


This chapter is for me. I’m a person who worries. The author of Walking in this World, Julia Cameron (website currently unavailable) helps put things into perspective. “Panic is an escalating sense of terror that can feel as if we are being flooded and immobilized by the glare of change.

Worry has an anxious and unfocused quality. It skitters subject to subject, fixating first on one thing, then on another. Like a noisy vacuum cleaner, its chief function is to distract us from what we really are afraid of. Worry is a kind of emotional anteater poking into all corners for trouble.

Fear is not obsessive like worry and not escalating like panic. Fear is more reality based. It asks us to check something out. Unpleasant as it is, fear is our ally. Ignore it and fear escalates. A sense of loneliness joins its clamor. At its root, fear is based in a sense of isolation.

The more active – and even more negative – your imagination is, the more it is a sign of creative energy.” Use this creative energy in the right way.

“Worry is the imagination’s negative stepsister. Instead of making things, we make trouble. Culturally, we are trained to worry.

We are trained to prepare for any negative possibility. On the brink of opening a play, we therefore expect critical snipers, not raves. One reason Morning Pages work so well for artists is that they give a way to siphon off worry at the very beginning of our creative day. Similarly, the spot-check inventory of blasting through our blocks by the naming, claiming, and dumping of any worries, angers, and fears related to a project can also get an artist out of the starting gate effectively.” For those of you who don’t know what the Morning Pages are, let me inform you.

The Morning Pages are done upon waking each day. Write three pages in long-hand. This helps to rid the mind of all the “junk” that is in there, stopping your creativity. Let me tell you first-hand…writing these pages really help! Some days you might not want to write, write anyway. When you don’t know what to write about, write “I don’t know what to write” until something comes to mind.

“When worry strikes, remind yourself your gift for worry and negativity is merely a sure sign of your considerable creative powers. It is the proof of the creative potential you have for making your life better, not worse.”

In Julia Cameron’s experience, “Artist’s never completely outgrow worry. We simply become more adroit at recognizing it as misplaced creative energy.”

“We need not disqualify ourselves from trying to make art by saying, ‘Since it’s so terrifying for me, I must not be supposed to do it.’” Instead of running from your fears, walk through them.

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love. ~ Sophocles

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that’s your own self. ~ Aldous Huxley


We are afraid of fear. We don’t want to be afraid. Sometimes fear is a good thing. Julia Cameron states, “Fear requires action, not assurance.”

“Sometimes we feel something large and good is about to happen. We wake up with a sense of anticipation and openness – spiritual attitudes we cultivate through Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates. At other times, that very openness brings to us a sense of foreboding. If we have bought into the currently popular spiritual position that fear is somehow ‘bad’ or even ‘unspiritual,’ we will try to dismiss our fear without exploring its message.

‘Don’t feel that way,’ we will tell our fearful selves. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ By focusing on ourselves as the probable source of anything ‘wrong,’ we blind ourselves to the possibility that there might, in fact, be someone or something wrong in our environment.”

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone. ~ Coco Chanel

“When you feel afraid, tell yourself, ‘This is good, not bad. This is heightened energy available for productive use. This is not something to medicate – or meditate – away. This is something to accept and explore.’ Ask yourself:

What signal is my fear sending me?
What affectionate name can I give to this messenger part of myself?
What grounded action can I take to respond to this fear?

“When we listen to our fears with tenderness and care, when we accept them as messengers rather that as terrorists, we can begin to understand and respond to the unmet need that sends them forward. When we employ humor and tenderness to our fearful selves, they will often stop shaking long enough to deliver a needed message.”

Lord I disbelieve – help thou my unbelief. ~ E.M. Forster

When you are dealing with fear, try affirmative prayer. “It works by singling out each negative situation and ‘claiming’ divine attention and intervention upon our behalf. Let us say the problem is fear-born procrastination on entering a creative project. The prayer might go something like this: ‘I am guided carefully and expertly exactly on how to begin work on my new project. I am shown carefully and clearly each step to take. I am supported fully and happily in taking each step into fruitful work on this new project. I intuitively and accurately know exactly how to begin and what to do to begin correctly.’


“Irritability is the flag waved by restlessness. Restlessness means you are on the march creatively. The problem is, you may not know where.

It is as though our restlessness calls to the very heavens for ‘something’ to happen. And something – or many somethings – does. This is why, as uncomfortable as it is, as unpleasant, even unbearable – restlessness is a good omen.

When we are restless and our lives feel colorless, it is a clue and a cue that they are about to become colorful – if we cooperate. Prayers, and especially creative prayers, are unanswered, but answered in ways we may not anticipate or appreciate. Again, this is why artists speak that spiritual-sounding word – inspiration. That is not some gauzy bromide, it is our actual experience. As artists, we are irrationally, intuitively, and insistently inspired.

When we insist on routine, when we insist on linearity, destiny will still knock, but it may have to work harder to get our attention.

Follow your strange creative cravings and you will be led into change a step at a time.”
We are never so ridiculous through what we are as through what we pretend to be. ~ Francois, Duc De La Rochefoucauld

“Sometimes, and particularly when we are restless, it is a good idea to take a rest and allow our inner leadings to bubble up to the surface unimpeded.”