Saturday, December 29, 2007

Catching Up

Although I have been drawing a little bit lately, I haven't taken the time to post until now. These are the next three Everyday Matters challenges, plus Challenge #1, Draw a Shoe. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to work through all the Everyday Matters drawing challenges as a method for practicing drawing from life. A practice I desperately need. All of these drawings are in my little '' journal and drawn with an inexpensive mechanical pencil except the first, #149, where I also used a Sketch and Wash pencil. I would like to become comfortable with the most basic of drawing mediums, graphite, before moving on. This is my goal, with drawing from life, anyway. Besides, I like seeing what can be done with just a pencil.
This challenge, #149, was to draw a broom. This is a drawing of my drafting brush which I use like a broom. It sweeps away all the eraser crumbs from my drawing board. All the mistakes and false starts. Gone. I bought this drafting brush as a part of the required supplies for some early college art course. That's how long I've had it, sweeping away all of my errors over the years.

For EDM challenge #150, Draw a Candle, I drew a couple of beeswax candles made by kiddo.

EDM challenge #1, Draw a Shoe. I've had these shoes forever. Probably since 1991. Hubby got them for me one Christmas. I've worn them gardening, around town, and walking on the beach. They were the only shoes I could wear when I was pregnant with kiddo, my feet were so swollen. They saw me through though. I still wear them around the house and yard in the summer. And to the beach.

EDM #151, Pick any previous challenge and give it a holiday twist. I went with challenge #147, Something Made of Wood, and drew this little Nutcracker. This is one of kiddo's Nutcrackers from her collection. She collects Nutcrackers because she has danced in the Nutcracker Ballet every year since she was three. That's six years now. Wow. Where does the time go?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

Holiday GreetingsHere is the view from our deck this morning. A bit of snow on branches and rhododendron leaves, fog swallowing the surrounding hillsides. As I look out my window now, the fog has moved in even thicker and everything has turned shades of gray. A perfect landscape for a Winter's Solstice eve. That last drawing inward before the earth marks it's turn again toward the sun, bringing back the light, a turning of the wheel of the year.

I've been thinking about that, the winter solstice and the sun making it's return, and the whole idea of expansion, a moving outward after a time of drawing in. (Just so you can follow along with the weird way my mind works, click on the links for your homework reading.) I remember a song we sang in elementary school choir for Christmas concerts, Do You Hear What I Hear?. You know the one, a sappy holiday tune but the concept fascinated me as a kid.
It starts small and moves outward. The wind tells the lamb, the lamb tells the shepherd boy, the shepherd boy tells the king, and the king tells the people everywhere, 'pray for peace'. If only it were so simple. What if everyone, everywhere did stop what they were doing, for just one moment, and said a prayer for peace, perhaps all at the same moment? What might happen?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

6 Days and Counting

I know it's been some time since I last posted here so I will explain. You see, by now I had hoped to be entrenched in cookie baking, gift wrapping, and general holiday cheer along with beginning a new drawing or two and making art goals for the coming year, (more on that later). Instead I have been swamped with graphic design work of late. Well, 'swamped' is probably overstating it a bit, but busy non-the-less. Busy enough anyway. Which is a good thing for my pocketbook but not so good for art or cookie making time.

So, not to neglect this blog for too long I figured I'd give you an update on our Christmas tree's survival in the home of "He Who Cannot Be Trusted", also known as Sam, the springer spaniel.
Amazingly, the tree has fared very well. A couple of accidental mishaps with broken ornaments but when you have a 9 year old kiddo cooped up in a small house on frigid cold days with a 60 pound dog that's to be expected. And it is a pretty tree. Probably the prettiest tree we've had ever. The canister vacuum cleaner spread around the tree when ever we leave the house has done the trick keeping Sammie away from the tree. Besides, look how sweet and innocent he looks.

But don't for one minute let that sweet face fool you. He has still been full of mischief. See that pillow he's cuddling? Last week we came home to a living room full of pillow stuffing like snow everywhere and one soggy pillow cover with a hole neatly chewed from its corner. Sigh.

And here's our other dog, Sara the Welsh Corgi, also known as 'The Princess", sharing a secret with Sammie. Sara never misbehaves. And she is sure to remind us of that fact, especially when she is scolding Sammie for some misdeed. Actually, she's quite the tattle-tale. What do you think she's telling Sammie here? Maybe,"You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, you'd better not shout, I'm telling you why. . . . "

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On The Forest Floor

On The Forest Floor
6 x 6 inches
colored pencil and Neocolor on pastel board
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I've had this on my drawing table for quite some time now. I finally managed to finish it the other evening, before this cold really hit me. It was done as a sort of companion piece, or part of a series I don't know which, to my previous piece, At The Water's Edge.

I did enjoy working on this, even though it is much more detailed and tightly rendered than what I am used to doing with images. The process of using the Neocolors as underpainting before coming back with colored pencils feels more like a painting process to me, so perhaps that's it. I am eager to do a few more "macro-landscapes" this way.

But mostly for right now I'd like to get over this monster cold and hopefully not pass it on to the rest of the household. Keep your fingers crossed on that one for me. And your hands washed. This weekend is my daughter's big dance performance and I so don't want her to get sick and miss it. She would be devastated.

Something Soothing

This is this week's challenge from EDM, #148, to draw something soothing. There's not much soothing to me this week, and even this little drawing looks a bit stressed to me right now. But there it is. While I was fine on Monday, Tuesday hit me with a whopper of a sore throat and it's been all downhill since. Yesterday I sat propped on the sofa with my tissue box nearby and thought, well at least these are the tissues with lotion added - that's soothing. I'm sorry to say that by this evening, even the tissues are no longer soothing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Toys!

I got two new art toys this past week! It is so exciting having new art materials and these new additions to my 'studio' are no exception. The first is a small sketchbook that I picked up from the sale table at a local art supplier. I have to admit that I really wanted it because of its' nice blue cover. This is a small, 5.5 inch square sketchbook put out by Global Art. It is hardbound with a cloth cover and opens flat. The cream colored paper is acid free with pretty good tooth. Called "Travel•e•logue journals" I liked the size, easy to drop into my bag and take along.

Which is what I did today. I tried it out with this week's EDM challenge #147, to draw something made of wood. I packed this sketchbook along with a wooden spoon from my kitchen and did this quick drawing while waiting for kiddo during one of her classes. I chose the wooden spoon because I enjoy cooking, especially this time of year. Soups and stews bubbling in a big pot on the stove, made from scratch and stirred by this wooden spoon. Keeps our family warm
on a chilly winter's day.

My other new toy is a Tool Turn-About that is sold by Pampered Chef. I had heard that these were nice for storing colored pencils, so when I came across a Pampered Chef catalog one day in the lobby of kiddo's dance school, well, you can imagine my excitement. I felt ready for a step up from my plastic plant 6-pack that I had been using to organize my colored pencil collection. And now that I have my pencils all organized in the Turn-About I am glad I made this particular studio upgrade. It has room for all my colored pencils and then some yet takes up much less space than my petunia 6-pack did on my small supply shelf. And it spins!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pumpkin Pie Memories

The EDM challenge this week was very appropriately to draw a favorite food. So here is my EDM challenge #146, Ken's Pumpkin Pie, done in graphite in my sketch book.
The challenge for me with this was was more about choosing what to draw and then finding the time in between preparing for the holiday and enjoying the holiday to make a sketch. But I did manage to get in this sketch before the pie was completely gone. I chose the pumpkin pie not only because our friend, Ken, makes delicious pies, but also because of the associations I have with pie and our friendship with Ken. We have been celebrating Thanksgiving with him for many years now. Making a pie has become a ritual as one of his contributions to the feast. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving at our house without Ken and one of his wonderful pies!

Another ritual we have is to go out the day after Thanksgiving and select our Christmas/Yule tree from a local Christmas tree farm. No matter what the weather, this must be done. We trudge around in the cold among hundreds of fraser firs looking for the perfect tree to take home. Every year we are fooled by the size. The trees always look much smaller growing in the field than in the corner of our living room. This year was no exception. It was bitter cold. And the tree we picked is huge. Huge. And then there is the issue of our springer spaniel, Sammie. Also known as He Who Cannot Be Trusted. Last year as a puppy he spent his time in a crate when we were away from the house. Then this past summer he let us know in no uncertain terms, that he really didn't want to be in a crate when we were away. Now we have a ten foot tree in the living room where He Who Cannot Be Trusted has easy access any time he wants. Our plan, and it's the best we have come up with so far, is to place the very dreaded canister vacuum as a barrier around the tree when we go out. Sammie is very afraid of the vacuum cleaner. It just might work. I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Leaves in the autumn came tumbling down,
Scarlet and yellow, russet and brown,
Leaves in the garden were swept in a heap,
Trees were undressing ready for sleep.
-Author Unknown

Here's my EDM challenge #145, "A Tree in Autumn". It's with watercolor and colored pencil in my Aquabee sketchbook done from memory of a view I see almost daily when driving back home from town. Unfortunately my paper became a little too wet and of course my 9 x 12 inch sketchbook barely fits on my scanner, so I apologize for the poor quality scan.

"A Tree in Autumn" was not an easy task for me here this week. At the start of the week Autumn packed its bags and left our part of the mountains and Winter wasted no time moving right in. After a few days of cold drizzle we had snow flurries on Thursday and into Friday, temps in the 20s and winds gusting over 50 miles an hour. Ah, November. But on Wednesday all was calm in the late afternoon while driving home. With heavy blue-gray clouds overhead
the sun was low and casting a warm light on the surrounding hillsides and all the remaining russet leaves were glowing in the November light. That is what I tried to capture here from memory.

I love the colors of November probably more than any other month. You can see at the bottom of my sketch my color swatches in watercolor. Gray-blue skies, sap green hills waving ochre grasses, bare purple branches dancing beside fully clothed pines and russet leaves shining like a new penny in the low November light. As I was driving home on Wednesday with kiddo in the backseat, I was reminded of a poem we had read for her school work that described "russet" colored leaves. At the time I had given her an explanation of what "russet" was, but now we could experience the russet leaves in a marvelous glowing light.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I believe I've got it this time. Went back to "Nemcosky Art" for the header and added the more personal. "Ann's Notes from the Studio". Not that I didn't like "Ann's Art Journal", but after looking it over and realizing that lots of artists use 'Art Journal' in their blog title I wasn't entirely comfortable with that. Although 'Art Journal' is a great title as it states exactly what this blog is about, journaling the creative process, I did feel I should be a little more unique. Where as there are many Ann's, you have to admit that 'Nemcosky' is unique as far as names go.

Now I did wonder about the 'Studio' part though. In my dreams I imagine a large, well lit room with big windows and minimal furnishings, maybe even a nice fireplace and a cozy chair, and lots of storage space for all my art supplies to be ever so neatly organized. Hmmmm. . . My worn Webster's defines 'studio' as 1. An artist's place of work. 2. A place where an art is studied or taught.

Well. As you can see in the photo my little corner in our 3rd bedroom does qualify as this artist's place of work. Clutter and all. Living in a small house we have learned to adapt what space we do have for many uses. This small room is not only my 'studio' but also home to our computers and my daughter's art supplies and shelves of toys. With an air mattress on the floor it functions as a guest bedroom too. A closet holds all my sewing and needlework stuff, except for my current crochet project which you can see in the basket on the floor in the foreground right under my daughter's pants that need a button sewn on. Our kitchen and dining area is also a school room complete with a blackboard, a wall of bookshelves that serves as a library, science and craft center, oh, and we cook and eat there too. Somehow it all works.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's In A Name?

Doughton Trail II
watercolor pencil wash and colored pencil on paper
3.5 x 2.5 inches

copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky
click here to buy

Welcome to my ongoing identity crisis. You may have noticed that I changed the banner above from "Nemcosky Art" to read "Ann's Art Journal". Yep, that was me. You see, when I began this blog back in August it was intended for both me and dear hubby as a place to document our art. This was the reasoning behind choosing a name that would work for us both. But this has really been my blog from the start, so I decided to change the banner title to reflect that. I am encouraging dear hubby to set up his own blog for the sake of his wonderful art. Which goes back to the name thing. I'm terrible at picking titles, choosing names, and basically just making any kind of decision. Because of that it is not unlikely that I will change the name yet again when I'm feeling insecure about just what the heck it is I'm doing anyway. I still don't even know what I want to be when I grow up. Now how bad is that?

Friday, November 9, 2007

EDM Challenge #144 - draw something square

Here is my post for this week's Everyday Matters drawing challenge #144 - "draw something square". I really struggled over this challenge as anything "square" I came up with simply did not inspire me to sketch. I did find a little drawing time while waiting in the car for kiddo while she was attending one of her classes this week. Since I had these caramel candies left over from Halloween and making caramel dip for apples, I placed them on the dash and squinted into the low light of the late afternoon. I used graphite and colored pencil for this sketch. It did not turn out as I had hoped, but as it's already Friday evening and I haven't done another, there it is. What I am pleased with is that I am managing to put something in my sketchbook on a regular basis due to inspiration from the Everyday Matters group.

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." - Sir Ken Robinson

Saturday, November 3, 2007

At The Water's Edge - Finished!

At The Water's Edge
colored pencil and Neocolors on pastel board
6 x 6 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I believe this one is now finished. Although I reserve the right to make some minor adjustments, I'm going to let this rest a while. I think this is the most complex image I have yet attempted and I did enjoy working on this one. Now to get started on something else!

I have been fiddling around with the look of this blog. Like I don't have a million other things I could be doing! And no, I am not trying to confuse anyone, I just have trouble making up my mind when it comes to choosing a template and colors. Plus I thought I'd try adding an image to the header. I'm not sure how well it works this way, but I'm leaving it as is for now. What do you all think?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Take Thyme

I joined the discussion group, Everyday Matters, as I thought it would be the inspiration I need to start drawing with more frequency in my sketchbook. They have these weekly challenges, and this week's was to draw an herb or spice. So here is my entry for challenge # 143. This is a sprig of thyme, one of the last surviving herbs, from my woefully neglected herb garden. My plan was to begin with a graphite pencil sketch and then add color with my colored pencils. As I was drawing I became so involved with pencil shading and finding all those tiny little leaves that the colored pencils never appeared. It was fun to draw with just graphite again - haven't done that in a while.

And running through my head while drawing this sprig of thyme were all the associations I could think of for the word 'time'. Weird, I know. There's summertime, wintertime, nighttime, breakfast time, dinner time, time of day, all the time, overtime, out of time, time's up, end of time, noontime,playtime, nap time, standard time, time line, springtime, bedtime, lunchtime, last time, one time,
once upon a time, time out, time to go.

Back to the subject of sketchbooks, I wanted to share this book again, Art Escapes , by Dory Kanter. I just love the way she takes you through the creative process of keeping an art journal. Her book is full of ideas, methods, and helpful tips and her examples of art work I found very inspiring without leaving me overwhelmed. And she has great ideas for making kits for keeping all your art supplies organized and ready to go. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether new to the artistic process or more experienced and needing a jump start of inspiration.

And one final note for today, kiddo collected $50. last evening on her Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy campaign! You know we are proud parents!

Monday, October 29, 2007


It's Halloween time again and I have decided to include here some educational information about food allergies. As the parent of a child with a truly life threatening food allergy this topic is of the utmost importance to me, and a part of our lives here every single day.

Kiddo will be trick-or-treating for Halloween just like many other kids in our area. However she will not be out to collect candy but rather to raise funds for food allergy education and research. When she received her collection box from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network she made the decision, all on her own, that her goal again this year for Halloween was to only collect money for this organization. Actually this will be her third year doing this. We are members of FAAN because my daughter has a life-threatening food allergy to peanut. As stated in a recent FAAN press release, for many kids, ghosts and goblins are the spooky stuff of Halloween, but for the 1 in 25 or 3.1 million American children with food allergies, the “treat” can be the scariest part of all.
“Many of the most common food allergens are found in candy,” says Anne Muñoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). “For some children, just one bite of the wrong food can bring on anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that can cause death.”

Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Of these, only the last two are not likely to be found in candy.

The incidence of food allergy has doubled in the last 10 years, and scientists aren’t sure why. More
than 12 million Americans – one in 25 – are caught up in this life-altering epidemic, which results in
150-200 deaths and more than 30,000 emergency room visits each year. There is no known cure;
strict avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction.

The majority of Halloween treats do not have ingredient labels, and for kids like my daughter who have food allergies, reading ingredient labels is essential to avoiding a deadly allergic reaction. Just one bite of the harmful candy can be life-threatening.

Many of our friends, neighbors and my daughter's teachers have generously contributed to
my daughter’s collection box for FAAN. I know for many this is an unfamiliar organization and perhaps some folks had never heard of food allergies. For more information about food allergies and The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) you can visit The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), at Proceeds from their Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy Coin Collection Campaign will go toward food allergy education and research.

If you would like to help support food allergy awareness through education and research towards a cure you can make a donation to FAAN at their website, or click here to go directly to their donation page.

Founded in 1991, The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world leader in food allergy information. FAAN, a nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, VA, is dedicated to increasing public awareness about food allergy and anaphylaxis, to providing education, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by food allergies. The organization has just under 30,000 members in the United States, Canada, and 62 other countries.
FAAN provides information about food allergy and educational resources to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials. Educational materials published by FAAN are reviewed for medical accuracy by the FAAN Medical Advisory Board, which is comprised of 11 of the country’s leaders in food allergy science and medicine. In addition to printed materials, FAAN also sponsors awareness programs such as Food Allergy Awareness Week, Food Allergy Conferences, and the Mariel C. Furlong Awards for Making a Difference as well as fundraising walks across the country. Educational materials and information about special programs are also available online at,, and

Saturday, October 27, 2007

At The Water's Edge, a Work In Progress

I know, I know, I have been slack about posting here lately. But not without good reason. After our little beach break we were with house guests for a few days.

Just to show that I have been working, however slowly, I thought I'd post what I am working on now, as is, in progress. This drawing is 6 x 6 inches on pastel board. I began with an underpainting using Neocolor II watersoluble crayons and have now begun working my way from the top left corner outward using colored pencils. I am finding that I really like the strong intensity of color the Neocolors provide for an underpainting. And that when coming back over with the colored pencils, which are somewhat translucent, the colors seem to sing. I am having fun with this little piece. I intend to do a small series of these, what I am calling 'macro-landscapes'.

At The Water's Edge, WIP copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nothing Could Be Finer

No, I haven't disappeared entirely. We just took a quick trip to the beautiful South Carolina coast for a few days. The weather was gloriously stunning, the water was warm and we all had such a wonderful time even though our time there was much too short.

We stayed at the enchanted Edisto Beach, on Edisto Island, South Carolina. This is a charming little beach community that has not given way to the commercialism that seem to plague so many other east coast beaches. As much as I wanted to, I didn't take time for sketches (a little hard to do with a kiddo and two dogs running around). I did, however, take tons of photos and spent some time thinking about future projects. The break from my usual routine was very welcome and good for recharging my energy for art. And of course we all, dogs included, greatly enjoyed ourselves.

And although I came home wishing we could still be at Edisto, I am trying to remember what was important to me during our short stay at the beach and carry those things with me through my routines here at home. Here is my list of what really matters when on vacation and otherwise:

~Always eat a big breakfast
~Take lots of walks
~Set aside a little time each day to sit and do nothing
~Pay attention to the details and little moments that make up your day
~Take plenty of photos to help with those memories

*All photographs copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky and may not be reproduced without permission

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Autumn Begins

Autumn Begins
original photograph
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I love this time of year. In fact, autumn is my favorite season. The turning of the seasons inspires me toward starting something new, refreshing my routines. Where spring expands, autumn brings things inward for reflection.

I had intended to post earlier this week, really, but general life busy-ness plus a little graphic design work has completely consumed me this week. We did enjoy a lovely hike last Sunday, where glimpses of autumn were found at every turn. I am missing making art this week and hoping things settle down soon so I can get back to drawing!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Looking Up

Looking Up
colored pencil and Neocolors on pastel board
6 x 12 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It's the end of my month for studying the art of John Constable. So, what have I come away with? I learned that place mattered very much to Constable. The subjects that he chose to paint were landscapes familiar and full of meaning to him. Weather was also important in his landscapes, the feel of the sunlight, the stiffness of the breeze, the foreboding clouds, were all a part of his work's content as much as the fields, farms and trees. This is where I find an affinity to the landscapes of John Constable. Place has always factored largely in my work with the associations I have for a particular location. From reading The Power of Place by Winifred Gallagher I discovered my sensitivity to certain places is more real than imagined. Where we are, and everything about that environment including color, light, and temperature, matters a great deal to who we are inside.

The image above is one such place, looking up Thunder Hill, which is along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of my favorite spots along the Parkway, and one of the few where you can view the mountains falling away on either side. Hiking to the top of Thunder Hill gives you this view, almost like being in an airplane or perched on top of the world and everything else, as far as you can see, is below.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Autumn Equinox

Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox, a turning point in the year. Can you feel it? Although our days here are still warm the nights are now crisp, the geese fly noisily overhead and touches of red and yellow brush the trees. A time of turning inward.

No picture of mine to share, but these two sites are very cool,
Earth As Art
Earth Calendar

Happy Autumn!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Where Am I Now?

Evening Clouds
5 x 7 inches
colored pencil on pastel board
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I just spent a few moments going through all the colored pencil pieces I have done since I began seriously working on my art again, sometime around last March. This is one of the earlier pieces I completed and fits in nicely with my current cloud studies. I have also been thinking about where I want to take this renewed interest in creating art and formulating some more concrete plans for this journey.

There are times, well, most of the time actually, when the demands of each day are more than enough to keep my attention focused on anything but making art. There's homeschooling, a full time job in itself, and the house to keep up with, meal planning and cooking, driving kiddo to various classes, and all the other stuff that fills up time. And I think who am I kidding thinking I can actually get somewhere with this art? And at this point in my life?
It has been quite a long time since making art was a fundamental part of my life and it isn't easy trying to start over this late in the game.

But then again, where will I be in a year, five years, if I don't? Probably much the same as now but without knowing what might have happened if I had given this art business a go. Please don't misunderstand. I love spending time with kiddo and teaching her at home, wouldn't miss it for the world. And I actually do enjoy domestic life. I only weigh the possibilities concerning living as an artist, making creativity part of what I do, versus leaving art out because it only adds more work to an already busy and full life. But, because for now I feel a need to continue working on my art you will be seeing me here for a while. I may not be posting as often as I like but rest assured that something is probably cooking (either on the stove or on the drawing board) and I will update as often as possible. Whew!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Small Towns

Cloud Study II
3.5 x 5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

What I don't like about living in a small town:
~ limited arts opportunities such as galleries, museums,
concerts, - unless you love bluegrass music and nothing but bluegrass music
~ limited educational opportunities such as no science or natural history museums, zoo, and arts mentioned above
~ our small town is quite far from any metropolitan area offering these experiences and when they are brought here they are very expensive to attend
~ limited shopping, not that I like to shop but a Target store would be nice
~ no public transportation in or out of this small town

What I like about living in a small town:
~ easy to get around, not too many places to go and if you can't find it here you probably don't really need it anyway
~ everywhere you go there is probably at least one person who knows you
~ gardening is a competitive sport
~ people will stop and help when you need assistance

This past Monday I was in such a predicament. As we were leaving one of kiddos dance classes I soon discovered I had a flat tire. I had no sooner pulled into a parking lot when a couple of guys from a business next to the dance studio pulled in behind me. They had seen me leaving with the flat tire and when they couldn't get my attention to stop they followed figuring I might need help. Before I knew what was happening they were already at work changing my tire. Which was a really good thing because changing flat tires has never been on my list of things to know how to do. As I thanked them one said that if it was his wife he'd like to think someone would stop to help her. How nice. So what's you're favorite blue grass music?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Do Bears Eat?

Is it Wednesday already!! I am really off schedule this week. Hopefully things will settle down into a regular routine soon. In the meantime, I have a yummy muffin recipe to share. My daughter made these muffins this past weekend and I quickly got a photograph before they disappeared. This was her first attempt at solo baking. Well, I did coach her a little, she is only 8, and she used a recipe I made up several years ago and always turns out well. And there is an "art" to cooking!

Kiddo was inspired to do some cooking because nutrition is part of her studies in science at the moment. She got the idea to relate her culinary experiments to the theme of her movie of choice for our movie night. When she finishes a row on her reading log she gets rewarded by choosing a movie to rent. Last weekend it was Brother Bear 2. So what do bears eat? Blueberries, of course.

Blueberry Citrus Muffins - makes 12

With whisk mix:
1 egg
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter (cooled)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

With spoon stir in:
2 cups flour
1 cup blueberries
*do not over mix*

Bake in greased or paper lined muffin pan at 400F for 25 minutes

I was really proud of her not only for coming up with a great idea but also for her enthusiasm for baking. Because of her food allergy, learning to cook and bake for herself will go a long way to empower her all her life, more than just being self sufficient. She already knows more about nutrition and reading food labels than most kids her age should know. She knows that the complete information isn't always on the label and that sometimes you have to call the company to find out exactly what is or isn't in a product. She knows that peanut is overly prevalent in the food industry - even to the point of being in some kinds of orange juice - so that you can't take anything for granted. And she is very aware of issues with cross-contamination in manufacturing processes.

The hardest part for her is when she is singled out because of her food allergy. Everyone gets the same treat at the party except her, she gets the special "safe" treat. If you know of a child with a food allergy please keep this in mind. The parents are not exaggerating and they are always correct in their requests and should be respected. Class or party treats should be the same and safe for everyone. These kids with food allergies know what they face in the world of processed food, restaurants and baked goods and really don't need any more "this is real life" lessons. How would you want your child treated? Okay. Done with my rant now. Please enjoy the muffins while I get back to making art now.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cloud Study

Cloud Study
3.5 x 5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It wouldn't be a review of the art of John Constable without doing a few studies of clouds. So often I see just beautiful skies, usually when I am without my camera! On a few occasions, however, I have managed to capture some lovely cloud formations.

Because I started this post earlier this afternoon and it took me an insane amount of time to figure out just how to post items for sale on Ebay, and it is now after my bedtime, I will wait for another day to discuss more about my artist study of John Constable and my progress with colored pencil drawing. (Yes, we covered conjunctions last week in our homeschool!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pear Study

Pear Study
colored pencil over watercolor pencil wash
7 x 5 inches on Arches HP
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

So, what does a drawing of a pear have to do with the landscape paintings of John Constable? Well, not much and a whole lot. This drawing of a pear (from a photo called "Yellow Pear" by naamer, courtesy of the reference library), was an experiment with a technique I had not previously attempted. In this drawing I first used an underpainting of watercolor pencils washed with water, then drew on top with dry colored pencils. My aim was to find out if when a watercolor wash is applied first would that enhance the sense of light and shadow in a colored pencil drawing. It was an interesting experiment and I do think this process could lend a richness to the quality of light in a landscape drawing.

". . .the more a society lives at odds with what is happening in nature, the more cases of SAD it will have." - Winifred Gallagher, The Power of Place

Something to think about. Do you follow your own time schedule or the rhythms of nature's cycles of light and dark?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Common Nature

View from Moses Cone Manor Looking East

colored pencil on Stonehenge
9 x 7 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This is the first of my landscapes for the month of September worked with the art of John Constable in mind. In 18th century academic circles it was believed that landscape paintings should be idealized depictions of nature, perhaps including classical or Biblical figures. "Common" nature did not form the subject of great art. But John Constable wanted to paint "common" nature as he thought it had higher elements in faithful representation. He had a real love for the landscape, it's weather, and the associations he had for certain places. I was attracted to this view because of the sweeping curve of the lane and also because of the quality of light on the hillside. It was one of those days when the clouds were casting shadows on the mountains and the sunlight moved in and out as the clouds passed by overhead. I was hoping to capture that movement of light in this drawing.

As much as I would love to include an image or two of Constable's work in this post, I haven't yet figured out a way to do that here legally. So for now, I will direct you to the CGFA Artists Indexes where you can browse
many images of paintings by John Constable.

Are there places that hold meaning to you? Does the quality of the landscape play a part in it's significance? Or even the light of certain times of day, during a particular kind of weather? I'd love to hear your thoughts on landscape and the importance of place. Anyone care to join me in studying the art of John Constable this month?

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Variably Cloudy
acrylic and oil on canvas
36 x 24 inches

copyright 1996 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I was still in college when I first discovered the art of John Constable. Seeing a small exhibition of his sky studies at a local museum, I was fascinated by this concept of focusing solely on sky as a subject matter and filed it away. Later, after having earned my degree, I returned to landscape as a subject and spent some time developing images of skies. The painting above is one example. (I do apologize for the poor photo though, the fish-eye effect is distracting, it's not that way in real life!) Somewhere along the way I also acquired a book of Constable's paintings, Constable by John Sunderland. Published in 1972 by Phaidon Press Limited I see from my Amazon search that this book I picked up used many years ago in a used bookstore is no longer in print. Anyway, it seemed fitting to begin my exploration of John Constable's work with the subject of sky.

John Constable, 1776-1837, was a landscape painter who held an interest in painting the truth in nature, even the precise weather of a particular time and day. In doing so he rejected those of his contemporaries in 18th century landscape painting who made generalized and idealized depictions of nature.

American Artist Drawing Magazine Summer 2007 issue features an interesting article about John Constable's Sketchbooks. The article discusses how he carried with him pocket-sized sketchbooks in which he did graphite studies for large oil paintings. For Constable, sketchbook drawing advanced his skills as he refined his method of showing the effect of light and shadow. Yet even these small drawings show his attention to the sky as he managed to capture the quality of light at a particular time of day.

There is more concerning his interest in the quality of light that I will share later as I work on my own Constable inspired landscape drawings. But for now, I have come across an interesting correlation in the writing of Winnifred Gallagher's The Power of Place, where she states,

"Like other living things, however, our species has evolved over the millions
of years to respond to the cycles of the earth and sun with predictable
biochemical and behavioral changes. Environmentally minded scientists have
begun to question the trade-offs we unwittingly make in order to live sealed
up inside an artificially heated, cooled, and lighted world that is structured
around economic rather than biologic concerns."

And finally, I can't leave out the John Constable art project I did with my daughter a couple of years ago. We spent a year going through
Discovering Great Artists by Mary Ann Kohl, by choosing an artist to study each month and ending the month with a project in the style of that artist's work. This book is a terrific introduction into art appreciation for kids ages 4-12. We certainly had a lot of fun learning about different artists and working on the projects together!

Watercolor After John Constable
approx. 12 x 9 inches

copyright 2005 by HRN
Private Collection

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

For the time being. . .

Avon Dunes II
colored pencil on pastel board
12 x 6 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

No, I didn't forget about posting yesterday. In fact I spent a little while organizing my thoughts and plans for future posts with an eye toward the upcoming month of September. It was while working on this latest piece, Avon Dunes II, and looking back over my previous posts that I decided to take this blog into a more specific direction, for the time being anyway. Of course I will still include all the before mentioned topics, but organized around the theme of a "sense of place". This stems from my interest in landscape and the power that particular places can have in our memories and imaginations. The images I choose to draw are not selected randomly, but chosen for their relevance of location to my senses, my personal connection to the place. So, I dusted off my old copy of The Power of Place, by Winifred Gallagher and went looking for information on one of my favorite landscape painters, John Constable. As I read and begin my next drawing with these influences in mind I will share my findings here. Please feel free to join in and comment here and/or email me. I'd love to hear others thoughts on this topic too!

edited to add: if the book link to Amazon does not work, you can find The Power of Place in my aStore by clicking on the link under Ann's Bookshelf.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Best Intentions

Avon Dunes I
graphite on paper
12 x 12 inches

copyright 2006 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Yes, I had such good plans for today, for this whole week really, but somehow most of the time life got in the way. It wasn't such a great homeschool week. It happens. We acknowledge it and move on with a goal to make next week better. And my car's battery died. It was only nine years old! And the weather was hot. Well, for here anyway. Up here in the mountains we are wimps about the heat, but we're also unprepared for it. No air conditioning at our house, so I had a perfectly good excuse for not sitting at my drawing table, it was just too darn hot! But this is artwork day and I fully intended to have a new work to show, complete with references to artistic influences. Instead I'm posting this drawing that I did a little over a year ago, Avon Dunes I. I'm working on the same scene now but with a slightly different composition and in colored pencil this time, sort of as a companion piece to Avon Boat. You will just have to be patient with me.

One thing I did manage to get accomplished was to figure out a way to have links for the books I mention here and recommend. I spent the better part of this evening putting together an Amazon aStore, where I can keep all my book recommendations neatly in one place. It was kinda fun, searching for the titles that are on my bookshelves and that I can confidently recommend. I know I will be adding more there and I will occasionally feature a title or two here in blog posts with more details. Check it out by clicking on the link under "Ann's Bookshelf" on the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


"It takes a long time to learn that nothing is wasted."
- M. C. Richards

Manteo Tree
colored pencil on pastel board
5 x 7 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky $40

As promised, here is my weekly review of a book that has been influential in my development as an artist. This time I am digging up an old copy of Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person by M. C. Richards. Yes, it is a book about pottery and poetry but it is also about waking up to living a creative life. I first read this book when I was a college student and it had a huge impact on my attitude towards studying art and learning in general. Part Zen philosophy, part the author's own experience and much more, Richards expresses the concept that education, learning that is, is a process of awakening and continues on throughout our lives. An idea that I have revisited many times since my college days and now as I homeschool my daughter this concept of life-long learning carries even more weight with me. And I can see it revealed now as I rediscover my art through new and varied media. It is all a part of the process and we use it all to get there. Nothing really is ever wasted.

As a side note, I am struggling with getting these book links to work. You may have noticed (or not) that the book text link in my last post did nothing. Even though I followed the same procedure I had done previously to link to books, which of course worked just fine. It seems the text link I tried including above also does not work. Soooo, at least for the time being, to alleviate this aggravation I have added a section on the side bar for a Weekly Book List. For now, anyway, it appears those links will function properly. And in the meantime, if anyone has any tips for getting the text links to work, please let me know!

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Sing a Song of Seasons!"

Color Study #10
watercolor on paper
approx. 6 x 6 inches
copyright 2007 HRN
Private Collection

In the other gardens

And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

from Autumn Fires by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been spending the evening searching for poetry to use in our homeschool. So good for speech and memory practice, we try to study poetry often. There are many children's poetry books available, some I find at our local library, but I have also discovered some great sites online where you can browse poems by subject if you are searching for something specific. Like autumn themed poetry, for example. One such site that I often visit for poems to add to our collection is Can Teach: Songs & Poems, They have many poems appropriate for children conveniently listed under subject headings.

And speaking of things appropriate for children, this comes under the heading of what I wish I had known when my daughter was still a baby. Earlier this year I read Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce. It this 1977 classic he discusses the stages of child development and how they relate to growth and learning. With, "The child's need is to be a child," Pearce challenges the then and still popular educational model of forcing children into learning situations before they are developmentally ready and the damage that can be done as a result. Yet his message is positive in that by examining our ideas of parenting we can see where we are and only come away better.

The image I included with this post is part of a series of color studies my daughter has been working on lately. They are all wonderfully lively and unique expressions of her response to color and form. She says that she is not trying to paint anything specific, she is just working with color in her paintings. And she has done a lot of these lately!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Plan

Morning In The Neighborhood
colored pencil on pastel paper
8 1/2 x 4 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Well, I've got a plan. For the time being anyway. Thinking realistically about managing my time and keeping up with everything I want to do forced me to actually devise a schedule. Really, I create schedules all the time so this is not something unfamiliar to me. Our method of homeschooling requires a schedule to help keep us on track. Plus there's all the extra activities my daughter participates in that must be taken into account. Then there's the day-to-day stuff like housework, errands, cooking and meal times. Add in time for making art, reading, and plain old relaxing and well, you can see that the days around here are pretty full.

Yet I do strive to maintain a balance, especially where my daughter is concerned. I firmly believe that kids need time for doing nothing.
For that matter we grown-ups need the same thing, a bit of unscheduled time for quiet contemplation now and then. It's fine to have plenty of activities but I feel kids also need unstructured time to just be. That's where a real sense of self comes from. And where creativity gets a chance to grow. The pay off is that I have a child who has always been very self-directed. That's a good thing.

But back to my plan and how it relates to this blog. I have decided to plan for three posts per week, probably on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

~Mondays will be "Home" day. This is where I will share information and resources about anything having to do with home and homeschool. There is an art to both of these endeavors and it's a continual learning process.

~Wednesdays will be "Books". Here is where I will share all those books that have been and continue to be influential for my ongoing development as an artist.

~Fridays will be "Art Work" days where I will focus on the process, intent and artists of influence concerning my re-entry into the world of actively making art.

Of course I am hoping that you will share in the discussion on any or all of these topics. I will be posting artwork as often as possible, not just on Fridays, so please stay tuned...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Avon Boat, a work in progress

Here is the piece I was working on when I took a break yesterday to play with pastels. It is Neocolor and colored pencil on a 12 x 6 inch pastel board.

This is the first stage, where I colored the board with Neocolor crayons,

paying attention to value contrasts.

Here is the second step, where I washed the Neocolor with water, blending and covering the grey board.

Avon Boat
12 x 6 inches
colored pencil on pastel board

copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

And here is the final drawing, after having worked the entire surface with colored pencil. What I like about this working this way is that not only does it speed up the drawing process but also the Neocolors have more color intensity and are more opaque than colored pencil alone, so it seems to add a depth to the piece.

All of these landscape images relate to the idea of souvenirs, saving the memory of a special place in time. A mountain hike or a quiet moment by the water somewhere, it's the feeling of that place that I am drawn to capture in images. This particular boat interested me because of the color and strong contrast present in the bright sunlight. It's from a little place on Hatteras Island, a place I love for it's sense of tranquility. Hatteras Island has managed to escape most of the development that plagues many beach communities. Even a little further on up the coast, in Nags Head, there is a different energy, a nervous kind of feeling from the endless array of strip malls, discount stores and putt-putt golf places all lined up beside the zooming four lane highway. I prefer the tranquility of Avon on Hatteras and I hope this drawing expresses that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In the Meantime. . .

Summer Field
8 x 5 inches
pastel on sanded pastel paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Just got the urge to get out the pastels today. It has been quite some time since I have worked in pastel and it was fun doing an image more quickly than what colored pencil will allow. I am actually working on a new colored pencil piece but just felt I needed a break from it for a little bit. This was a nice diversion on a sunny afternoon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunny Day

Yes, it was a gloriously sunny, summer day today. This is a view from a nearby park looking out to the surrounding hills. Despite our recent warm weather small signs of the turning of the seasons are beginning to emerge. A red and a yellow leaf here and there. It won't be long before these warm, sunny days are put away until next year.


10 x 8 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky


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