Wednesday, December 31, 2008


11 x 14 inches
colored pencil on pastel board
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

While last year was about experimentation with my art, this year I want to focus. Focus on simplicity. It's something I would like to do in all the parts of my life, from decluttering our home to decluttering my daily routine. I have been into so many things at once that I now feel the need for more concentrated focus as some things are just beginning to feel like distractions getting in my way. So my art goals for 2009 are are really quite straightforward. Most are some type of continuation of my goals from this past year, only distilled down to much more simple terms. Some I can implement right away, while others will require a longer process to get there. However, keeping focused should be a part of that process.

So here is what I have planned for 2009 -

~Continue with drawing practice and keeping a sketchbook including doing Everyday Matters drawing challenges.

~Study artists from history and contemporary artists that I respond to in relation to what I am trying to do with my own work. I have been working on a list of artists to pull from for this study.

~Develop works in a series. This past year I have been all over the place with subject, sizes, and process, (part of my experimentation). I would like to focus on working in a series this year.

~Continue with this blog, of course, but evaluate the various venues I have explored for sales, perhaps streamlining my efforts over time.

~Put together a gallery submission package. This has been on my to-do list for a while. Now with the economy the way it is I don't know just how practical it will actually be to submit work to retail galleries, so I am giving myself a little more time to work on this one.

~Enter 3 exhibits. Notice I lowered my expectations from last year? There were a couple of shows last year that I considered but couldn't talk myself into entering what with paying an entry fee, then the possible cost of shipping and framing, it can really add up. Entry fees alone can really eat up a budget. So three is the goal for this year.

The piece above is drawn from a photo I took while we were at Edisto Island last fall. There were some amazing clouds creating a lot of drama over the ocean. Sorry the image of my finished work isn't better but we have had some dramatic weather here the past couple of days, making photographing art a challenge, to say the least!

Monday, December 29, 2008

145 Days

That's how many days I worked on art this past year. I saw this idea last December on someone's blog, I'm sorry I don't remember where now, but thought it would be a fun way to track my time spent making art this year. So each day's square that is colored in is a day that I did something, worked on a drawing or even just scribbled a sketch in my journal. Of course there are a couple of days left yet this year, so I may color in another square or two before 2009 begins.

So here is my art year in review. Below are the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

1. Complete one finished colored pencil piece per month. I actually completed 17 colored pencil pieces, not counting ACEOs. Probably a few more than that but not all made it into my inventory system.

2. Complete one sketchbook piece per month experimenting with various media. Move out of my comfort zone here and play. I did fill one sketchbook and began three more. I did several works in pastel. I also started practicing with watercolor and did try experimenting with drawing in ink, oil pastels, and painting in acrylic with marginal success. No, you didn't see the results of much of this experimentation because that's what they were - experiments. And that was the point- to play. Besides, I don't know how long ago it was that I actually filled a sketchbook, so that was a personal accomplishment for me.

3. Work through the Everyday Matters drawing challenges working in graphite in my small
sketchbook. The purpose here to work on my drawing from life skills, gaining confidence. Did that. And that makes two sketchbooks I finished. Okay, I didn't do every drawing challenge and some that I did do I will never post. Although there were a couple that I completed from photographs most were drawn from life. I can't emphasize enough the importance of drawing from life and how that regular practice has helped me with my confidence with drawing.

4. Develop ACEOs for sales. Did that, too. I made 21 ACEOs for sales, many of these were drawn from life as well.

5. Enter six shows with colored pencil works. Here I didn't meet my goal. I entered only two exhibits, was accepted to one, and that piece did sell at the show.

6. Re-design and update my art website. I got this accomplished right away at the beginning of 2008. I also set up an inventory system for tracking my art work that has been working smoothly for me and has been very helpful this past year.

7.And of course, continue with this blog and posting as regularly as possible. Yep, I did that. Sometimes it seems I could make better use of my time than sitting here at the computer. But the rewards of keeping a blog have thus far exceeded the investment of my time. I find it motivating in that it helps me stay focused on working on my art and the support, along with sharing of ideas with artist friends, is so very valuable.

So how did I do? I am now working on a new set of goals for the new year that I will post soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

ACEO Winter Solstice
2.5 x 3.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
©2008 Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Click here to buy

Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. I always feel a sense of gathering in during the days leading up to the Winter Solstice. A need to prepare for long, dark, and cold nights and time for reflection on the year that is now nearly past. But the Winter Solstice is also a turning point, and so it is also a time for looking toward the year to come, to plan for the future.

I find it fascinating the many ways cultures all over the world have responded to this particular turning point in the wheel of the year. We have prehistoric sites with stone circles to mark alignment with the path of the sun. Many religions consider this to be a deeply spiritual time of the year, often incorporating light and the return of the sun, from the Chinese festival of Dōngzhì to the Native American Soyalangwul ceremony. Hannukah features a lighted Menorah. And the star on top of the Christmas tree recalls that bright Nativity Star over Bethlehem.

Coming home the other evening a drive through our neighborhood was a brilliant festival of light with all the houses lit up for the season. We chase away the darkness of these longest nights with lighted decorations, just like the bonfires of our ancient ancestors, calling for the return of the sun. So whatever your tradition, I hope this year's winter festivities bring you happiness and peace.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


There it is. I am now caught up with the Everyday Matters drawing challenges. This is for challenge #202, draw a cookie. These are some of the Christmas cookies kiddo and I made the other day, drawn with graphite and watercolor pencils in my journal. We made these using a basic cookie dough recipe I found in a magazine years ago and decorated them with sugar sprinkles. When you are 10, baking cookies is at the top of the list for holiday preparations.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping it all together

Everyday Matters drawing challenge #201, draw a stapler. This was done with graphite and colored pencil in my 5.5 x 8.5 inch landscape format journal. I was using a small 5.5 inch square journal for all of my Everyday Matters drawing challenges. I filled that journal when I completed challenge #199. Now I am undecided just how I want to proceed, which sketchbook to use? As you can see, I did #200 in my Moleskine sketchbook. Now this is in my new, larger journal. What I do know is that doing these drawing challenges has been good for developing my confidence with drawing, especially drawing objects from life. Before starting on the Everyday Matters drawing challenges I would have been intimidated by drawing a stapler, or a figurine. Not so now. Oh, I'll figure out my sketchbook dilemma eventually.Marva, over at Pencil-Paper-Paint surprised me the other day with this lovely award. I have 'met' so many wonderful artists through the Everyday Matters group and Marva is very sweet to pass this award along to me.

Peggy Stermer-Cox, another fantastic artist, tagged me earlier this week. One of the rules is that I must list seven unusual things about myself. So my seven unusual things are:

1. I have a lot of gray hair. A lot. After coloring it myself for years I am now trying growing it out. It's a little scary. I might not be able to stand it. But it's kind of fun too, seeing this transformation. What do you all think - color or no color?

2. In between undergraduate studies and grad school I attended classes at the Art Student's League in New York City. Lived at the West Side Y for that summer. Going to the Art Student's League was one of the best things I ever did. Ever.

3. When I tell a new acquaintance that I homeschool my daughter they seem to usually assume one of two things about me. Well, I am neither.

4. My first paid job was at a plant nursery.

5. I really don't like lima beans.

6. Since my daughter out grew them I rarely get to nap anymore, but I still love taking naps when I can.

7. Background music in stores only makes me crazy and I can't wait to get whatever I am looking for and get out of there.

I don't really have people to tag or to pass the award along to (that I haven't previously awarded or tagged) but I will suggest that you visit the sites of these two terrific artists. It will brighten your day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This is my drawing for Everyday Matters drawing challenge #200, draw something lucky. I'm a little behind with these but do plan on catching up to the current challenge, #202, very soon, I promise! This is a sketch of my little Laughing Buddha figurine that sits here smiling up at me from right beside my computer. He was a gift a from my daughter. Right behind him I have a card that reads, "everything is already ok". My Laughing Buddha was drawn with graphite and colored pencil in my moleskine sketchbook.

The Laughing Buddha is a representation of contentment and abundance. He is almost always seen carrying a cloth sack, which never empties. The sack is filled with precious items including rice plants symbolizing wealth, candy for children, food, or the woes of the world. He is also usually seen with a begging bowl to represent his Buddhist nature. According to legend, if one rubs the Laughing Buddha's great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck and prosperity.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Merry

Our holiday cards are finished and will be on their way in a day or two. This year all three of us took part in creating our cards. It was a fun family project. So here is the whole step-by-step process we did to make our works of holiday mail art.

First kiddo applied watercolor to paper in random color washes. You can see she enjoyed this part, paint splatters everywhere! You also get a peek of our kitchen/dining/project/school table with the world map and clear plastic cover.
Next we sprinkled salt onto the wet watercolor washes and watched the magic happen.
Then hubby carved potatoes to make stamps. After brushing the salt off the dried watercolors we cut them into the sizes we needed for our cards.
They were then stamped with hubby's holiday potato stamp designs.
Embellishments were added, letter stamps, silver and gold markers were used, buttons and bows. Each piece was then adhered to the front of a blank greeting card.
And it's a holly jolly season. Merry Merry to you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Kisses

2.5 x 3.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Click here to buy

These holiday treats are a tradition at our house. There are few candies that are safe for kiddo because of her peanut allergy, but thankfully these are one kind we trust. Actually Hershey's has pretty good labeling practices. But as with any product it is necessary to read the ingredient label every time before we purchase it, even if we have bought that product 10,027 times already.

This drawing, like the ornament below, is done with Faber-Castell Polychromos on Strathmore 500 Bristol paper. These are fun to do. I have a few more holiday items on my list to draw. Hopefully I will get around to them before the holiday season has passed us by!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's the holiday season

ACEO Ornament
2.5 x 3.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Click here to buy

The tree is up and fully decorated. The stockings are hung and presents are piling up waiting to be wrapped and shipped off. Everyone is on their best behavior just to be extra sure to stay off the naughty list. And we have been busy making cards to mail. When I get all the photos uploaded I'll share our card production here with you. Next up is baking holiday treats. Yum! My favorite part of the season!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Everyday Matters drawing challenge #199, draw a toe, with graphite in my small journal. Well, you can't really draw just one toe can you? Plus my toes plan on staying warm in my slippers. So, no, I didn't actually follow the directions of the assignment. You can deduct points for that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've been playing around

Old Carriage Trail
4.5 x 6.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
©2008 Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Click here to buy

Not like that, silly. I have tried a new paper, (well new for me) and I really like how it accepts colored pencil. It's Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper. For the piece above I used Faber Castell Polychromos, my preferred colored pencil to draw with on paper supports. This paper is very sturdy and took many layers without the little annoying spots catching pigment that I have run into with another hot press watercolor paper. So now I am eager to see how it does with my method of underpainting washes before applying dry colored pencil. Lots of ideas cooking here. Stay tuned.


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