Featuring colorist Ronda Francis

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Congratulations to Our Brush Pen Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to our Jetpens Brush Pen Giveaway! 

I would like to thank all of you that entered the contest, tweeted, and signed up for my blog.

I hope you will all enter February's contest, the Faber-Castell Six Shades of Grey Artist Pen Giveaway.

Again, congrats Barrie!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Creepy Honeymoon Drive and How to Draw a Big-Eyed Frog

My parents celebrated their 55th anniversary this week. When asked about their most fond memories, the first thing they talked about was their drive from New Jersey to Florida. 

They were going to stay at a friend's hotel for their honeymoon, and they decided to drive the whole way. 

First of all, the bridge going through Savannah was covered in ice, and they were one of the last vehicles allowed through. The policeman directing traffic saw their Jersey plates and assumed they could handle it. 

As it got darker, they entered the Okefenokee swamp. They told me they were surrounded by moss covered trees, swamp grass, and the roads were covered with over a foot of water in some places. By the time it was completely dark they were so into the swamp that there were no street lights. 

They kept going anyway. 

After driving for what seemed to be forever, and listening to unusual night noises including what sounded like a very large frog, they saw a light in the distance. 

When they got close enough they could see it was one light bulb hanging from a wire, illuminating a toll booth.

They paid their dime, found out they were indeed going in the right direction, and found the next creepy little roadside inn. They spend the night, woke to see a giant swamp behind the motel, and continued on their journey.

Happily, when they finally got to their honeymoon destination the lodging was lovely and they had a wonderful time.

So in honor of their great adventure I decided this week to draw the Okefenokee frog.

Hope you have fun drawing him.

Don't forget to enter the JETPENS brush pen giveaway! It ends this Sunday. You can sign up HERE to win. Frogs were drawn with the TOMBOW brush pen from the set.


This week learn to draw a Big Eyed Frog. Have fun!

Here is another image from The Open Pillow.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day! (With a Visit from Willow)

I was excited to find out that today is Squirrel Appreciation Day because I love the zesty little guys. 

I have been feeding a squirrel I named Sandy (after the squirrel on Spongebob Squarepants) every day on my back deck for years. She comes to visit several times a week, and if I leave my screen opened long enough she comes right in. I started giving her food down by the trees now because I don't want her to go into someone's house who is not as happy to see her as I am.

Another reason I like today is because I am godmother to a very wonderful squirrel named Willow.

Willow happy at home munching a branch.
Willow fell from a tree when he was only a few weeks old and was lucky enough to be brought to a licensed animal rehabber named Brooklyn. 

Almost four years later he is an adult fox squirrel who weighs almost four pounds, and lives cage free in Brooklyn's home. He is completely potty trained and eats everything from tree branches from the yard to sweet potatoes, and the occasional Oreo. He is an unbelievable handful and also almost unbelievably smart. Willow has his own Facebook group--you can visit HERE.

This drawing of Willow was featured at Galleria West in New Jersey. He's quite a beautiful creature--very symmetrical and lovely to behold--kind of the Brad Pitt of squirrels according to his mama.

There is never a dull moment with Willow, and I am happy there is a special day to celebrate squirrels. 

Although I think Brooklyn would say every day is Squirrel Appreciation Day at her house.


I hope you share today's video, How to Draw Willow the Squirrel with a young person who is interested in art--and maybe squirrels.

Don't forget to enter to win the JETPENS brush sampler HERE!!

Win all five! Contest ends January 31.

Music by Harrison.
Happy Boy - Harrison

Drawn with Pentel pocket brush pen.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Be Yourself ~ Not As Easy As It Sounds in the ART World (And How to Draw a Grumpy Bunny)

The internet has made what Disney called a small world even smaller. We get information in the blink of an eye, and we are exposed to far more than any other time in history.

We can get news from the other side of the globe faster than if your neighbor ran over from next door. What was once underground and very hard to see can now be considered mainstream. 

The web has leveled the art playing field somewhat--what was once relegated to a very select group can now be viewed by millions with the right amount of retweets or shares.

We see hundreds if not thousands of images a day as visual artists. We are lucky enough to look at the work of our peers, and in a matter of seconds we can find millions of images to help as reference points for our work.

Looking at other beautiful artwork can certainly elevate our practice, but I feel it can't help but influence our style, too. When we see a color combination we love we get excited and want to try and incorporate it into our work too. A new medium can have us running to the store so we can try it at home.

It is hard enough to develop a style that is recognizable yet unique, and now we have to contend with the daily hyper-viewing of images.

I am not complaining! I love the web and I love that I can see all the lovely art I could I ever dream of. But I am just a tad more aware of the fact that I need to stay true to me and my style, and not get seduced by something bright and shiny.

Every Friday I will be sharing a video that is geared towards helping kids learn to draw. I will be demonstrating in a way I liked to learn as a child--with fun and fancy images that are easily repeated and not too complicated. This week it is the grumpy bunny from the image above.

Please feel free to share this post or video with any artistic little ones you may know.

This is an image from a book I illustrated a few years ago for author David Rowinski called The Open Pillow. Another style for PPF.

So get going! Draw draw draw with abandon--and help your kids do the same. Before you know it you will have your own amazing style.


Drawn with the Kuretake brush pen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Yes! You CAN Make Money as an ARTIST and Be Happy

We all want our children to be happy and successful. We want to give them every opportunity and help them find the "thing" that they were made to do.

Many are especially happy if their children decide to become something professional, like a doctor or a lawyer. Getting into finances is smiled upon by many because it is assumed a good living will be made. 

Then there are the careers that parents are not thrilled about. There are plenty I do not have to mention, but sadly some of them are in the field of the arts. 

The term starving artist certainly came from somewhere, but happily a passion for the arts does not mean your child will be destitute and destined to live in your house until they get a real job.

Here are some jobs in the art field that make a very good living:

Graphic Artist - The average yearly income for a graphic artist is over $46,000. 

Fine Artist - All told, illustrators, sculptors, photographers, and painters made an average of $53,200 per year. (According to Google, if you live in Delaware you will hit the jackpot in this field, earning over $133,000.) Not bad.

Video Game Designer - Many hate that their kids are fascinated by video games. They should not feel too bad if their child decides they want to design these games for a living because the average salary for someone designing these attention-grabbers is almost $87,000 a year. 

Book Illustrators - Do your kids doodle all over everything? GOOD. If they decide they want to illustrate books for a living they can earn $53,000 a year or more. Medical illustrators make even more, starting at $61,000, and some making upwards of $250,000. 

Courtroom Illustrator - For those interesting in law AND art, earning $42,000 to be a courtroom illustrator is the perfect answer.

Storyboarding - Almost all films are made using a storyboard artist to plan the shots before filming. Film storyboarders can expect to earn over $84,000 a year, those in advertising around $64,000.

And there are more. Fashion illustrators, comic book artists, forensic artists, architect, tech designer, car designer, special effects expert, potter, jeweler, playground or golf course designer, landscape architect, art directors, and clothing designers can all make wonderful livings, and the list goes on.

So have no fear if your son or daughter decides on the arts, have no fear. Help them out by showing them websites dedicated to the arts, taking them to museums, or local shows. Even if you are not an artist yourself you can ask about their interests and find out about what they love.

Following a dream to a career is one of the most fulfilling things that can happen to a person. According to Maslow it is a peak experience. The ones that support and assist and help these dreams come true are real life angels.

So let them be artists--in fact help them become artists. Because we all know the EARTH without ART is just...eh.


Friday, January 8, 2016

How To Draw a Fat Budgie

On January fifth we celebrated National Bird Day.

I think it is wonderful to celebrate birds because they have always had a special place in my heart.

When I was a young girl I watched a practically featherless young mockingbird running in the street on a hot summer's day. I heard a crow in the distance and then saw his intentions were not good. After a few failed swoops at the little chicklet I could not take it any more and decided I either needed to find his nest or take him home.

Much to the chagrin of my mother, we ended up taking the little guy home, naming him Peanuts, and caring for the little featherhead for the rest of the summer until he flew away.

Since then I have had many birds: Algebra the budgie, Buddy the conure, Sky, Tweety, Nibble, Speck, Bubble, and Winter. I loved them all.

That being said I thought it would be a good week to learn to draw a fat budgie. The one I drew is much chubbier and more cartoon like than realistic, but I think you will find it fun to draw. Plus chubby budgies are just too cute.

Below is a video to follow--they are pretty simple but their shape takes a few practice runs to get. Don't give up!

Have fun!


Music by loveyoujapan.

I LOVE comments and will visit you right back! Thanks followers!

Drawn with the Zebra fine point brush pen from Jet Pens.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Brush Pens--Comparing Zebra, Pentel, Kuretake, Pilot, and Tombow

As an I artist I love trying new pens and markers. 

I was looking for some brush pens because I was starting to practice script writing. I also read that many were using these brush pens to outline art or create beautiful pictures.

I Googled around and found that Jet Pens had a sample set of five brush pens, one each from Kuretake, Pilot, Pentel, Zebra, and Tombow. I've used the Pentel brush pen and have a colored marker set from Tombow, both of which I am very happy with. The other three will be new to me. (Love JetPens.com BTW. Easy ordering and super fast delivery--and no, they do not pay me.)

I was looking forward to trying the Kuretake pen because I heard it had a very springy tip and lasted a very long time. I was also excited to try a brush pen with a super fine  and hard tip like the Zebra because I'd had no experience with them at that point. 

Getting the delivery was exciting. All of the pens are made in Japan, and the packaging is different from what we are used to in the USA, and it made it very interesting to open and begin.

A big PLUS for me--all of the brush tips are made from felt or synthetic hair so NO animals are hurt in the process.

Below are writing samples from each pen.

Below is a video describing from Jet Pens describing each pen and showing it in action. 

The Kuretake pen had a nice solid tip. The ink flowed well but not too fast. It allowed for nice control. I like the feel of this pen.

The Pentel pocket pen is the most popular brush pen on the market. It is a refillable pen with a springy tip and a heavy flow. Although I loved writing with it, being a beginner it allowed for the least control of all the pens. That being said, I loved it and feel it will be worth it to continue using it and improving.

The Pilot soft brush pen is very interesting. The ink flowed very dark and nicely, but if too much pressure was applied on the down stroke the entire tip lifted, and the point of the tip would pop off the paper. BUT--that makes for very interesting lettering and the ability to stylize. It was the only pen that squeaked as I wrote.

The Tombow pen was an all-around nice pen. Good control and good ink flow. 

My favorite of the pens was the Zebra fine. To me it was the closest to a Crow Quill or calligraphy pen with a nib. It offers great control and the ink is very dense and black. It also makes a slight scratchy noise as you write. I like that.

Here's a short video of me using each pen. I've just started with script writing with a brush pen so my samples are not beautiful like some other videos out there.

I have a feeling that as I improve and get used to using these pens that I may change which is my favorite.

This drawing was done with the Pentel brush pen. 

If you would like to enter a giveaway to win the all the pens in a JETPENS sampler set, click HERE. All entries will be entered into Random.com on February 1st and the winner will receive the Brush Pen Sampler that I reviewed above! Winner will be notified by email and announced in a post on this blog. If there is no response from winner within one week, a new winner will be chosen. Brush pens will be sent to winner within thirty days.

So please follow my blog and enter the contest for more art, kid lit, pen addiction posts, and a chance to win!

Good luck! xo