Tuesday, December 29, 2009

100 Paintings

A brief departure from my usual Tuesday sketchbook posts to announce my goal for 2010.

100 paintings.

I know this a bold move, over ambitious perhaps, but this is my new project and starting point for the year.

It all started in October when I bought myself a set of water mixable oils. Now, you know that I am no stranger to painting in oil, even though it has been quite a long time since I put a brush to canvas. Over the past several years I have made a few attempts to paint with acrylic but just couldn't get the results I was after with that media. And not wanting the fumes and mess of oil paint I let the idea of painting go. But when I began reading about water mixable oils I was intrigued and wanted to give them a try.

I have been playing with these oil paints for a couple of months now and the process feels very comfortable and familiar. I wondered what would happen if I made 100 paintings. Where will this take me? I want to find out. I can't say whether I will actually complete 100 paintings in a year's time, but that is my goal. I will consider the goal achieved when I reach 100 paintings, even if it takes more than a year.

This past year I have been swimming in ideas, images that I wanted to explore but the drawing process slowed me down so I was becoming frustrated. But with paint the ideas flow much more quickly. I plan to keep these paintings fairly small, in a size that can be completed in one or maybe two sittings. From this body of work I hope to find inspiration for larger paintings later on.

In addition to making paintings I intend to continue with sketching and drawing. I am not placing any expectations on these activities however. I see drawing and sketching as a counterbalance to painting. For me, painting is active while drawing is meditative. Expand and contract. Like breathing in and out.

So watch this space! I will return to a Sketchbook Tuesday post next week as well as begin to post my paintings in the new year. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

We did get an awful lot of snow on Friday. We woke up Saturday morning to 17 inches of snow. Our local weather expert said we haven't had this much snow in one event since 1997. It's the most snow Kiddo has ever seen. She's had a blast sledding down our driveway while we fretted over how we were ever going to dig out. Luckily a neighbor showed up with a tractor. But being stuck at home has allowed plenty of time to make holiday goodies. And this elf still has gifts to wrap before the big guy shows up. So here's wishing all of you a Merry Merry!

Peace to you this holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.

~Minna Thomas Antrim~

Friday, December 18, 2009

207 Days

While I am sitting here waiting for snow, as we are predicted to get 2 feet or more, yes FEET, I thought I'd take this time to do a review of my year in art. Above is my calendar that I keep taped to my drawing board which shows I worked on art 207 days in 2009. And there are a few days left where I may be filling in more squares before the year is out. Especially since it looks like I'll be stuck at home for a while.

So here is my art year in review.

I had wanted to try working in a series. After much experimentation I settled on Rising Museum Board for a support. And even though I did over 27 drawings this past year (not counting sketchbook work) I never did manage to stick with any sort of a theme for a series. Just too many ideas zipping around in my head to stay with just one for any length of time.

However, I did try moving beyond landscape imagery with a few still life pieces, which I enjoyed doing.

I also worked in graphite in addition to colored pencil.

And I tried a couple of pet portraits in graphite, just to see if I could. And I have a couple to do still, some folks are still waiting.

I had wanted to put together a gallery submission pack, which I didn't do. With the economy and my lack of a body of work with any continuity, the timing just didn't seem right. Although I did enter two shows, got work accepted into one and both of those works sold.

It was also important to me that I continue with Everyday Matters challenges and working in a sketchbook. I let the Everyday Matters drawing challenges slide after a few months into the year but I did do much sketchbook work. I participated in the Every Day in May challenge. I also took two online classes offered by Cathy Johnson, Watercolor Pencil Workshop and Keeping an Artist's Journal. Even though the intensity of participating in a class took me away from my non-sketchbook art works, I found it was time very well spent. These classes also helped me focus on my goals for my art and how it can all integrate, art and life.

And finally, even though I wanted 2009 to be a year of "focus" it actually became a year of discovery. I did quite a bit of experimentation with process. In addition to the pieces above and discovering how lovely Rising Museum Board is for drawing with colored pencil, I also played with color and a process of using Neocolor II watercolor crayons to develop a loose underpainting before layering dry colored pencil on top. This proved to be much more expressive with the media than the highly representational method that colored pencil so easily lends itself to. One thing led to another. And now I have a very clear objective for 2010. Which I will share with you soon.

Since I started this post it has been snowing steadily. It won't take long to get those FEET of snow. Feet. Good grief.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Thank you to those who responded to my previous post about your favorite sketching tools. I find it fascinating just learning even a little about how other artists like to work.

Cathy Johnson's Artist's Journal class finishes this week. It has been an interesting journey and I am glad I decided to take part. Spending a dedicated amount of time focusing on one topic in a class setting is a marvelous way to accelerate your skills and creativity. The topic of this class, Keeping An Artist's Journal, also helped me define my goals for my art work. At just the right time too.

So here it is another Tuesday, another gouache landscape study. These are a fun and challenging way to plan a composition, looking at the placement of values and contrast. And they are a clue to what my new project is for the coming year. But you're going to have to wait a little while longer to find out exactly what that is all about. To help you wait here is a little sketch of Sammie. He's a very patient dog. Most of the time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

I decided to do a little media exploration to see how well I might get along with various media for working in my sketchbook. You would think I already had some idea but by doing this exercise I did learn a thing or two. I chose one of my reference photos and repeated it in all sorts of different media. The images here are just a sampling.

I learned that I do like watercolor for its immediacy in journaling and that a black grape Prismacolor pencil works wonderfully as complement to landscape colors when I want to scribble in a bit of structure with line.
I also learned that a good old pencil is still a favorite of mine for sketching. It works just as well as a brief statement, like the one above, as it does for more finished drawings.
And as much as I enjoy colored pencil and watercolor pencils I do tend to spend much more time when working with these media. Sometimes that is exactly what I want, to spend some time, but if I am looking for a way to quickly get down an idea this would probably only frustrate me and not be a good choice for sketching. This is all good stuff to be aware of if I am to make a habit of keeping an artist's journal. So what are your favorite sketching tools? When working in your sketchbook, what floats your boat?

Friday, December 4, 2009

More journaling

Lately I have been mostly working on sketches for Kate's Artist's Journal class, plus my other project that I am not ready to share just yet. So I thought I would share a couple of my journaling exercises. Both of these are done in my hand made sketchbook. The top is another view from the Christmas tree farm where we did find the 'perfect' tree.
And here is a little rant to go with a yummy brownie. Writing out my complaint helped me feel better. Making safe brownies for Kiddo made us all feel better. Now that I have that out of my system I can get back to my new works in progress.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Here are a couple of watercolor sketches from my moleskine watercolor journal done over the holiday. We had a wonderful, relaxing visit with a very good friend, cooked and ate a lot and went out the day after Thanksgiving to get our Christmas tree. That's our tradition.
Christmas trees are the main agricultural product in our area, and there is a beautiful tree farm just up the road from us. At this time of year it is a common site to see truckloads of trees leaving town for sales all over the country. A sign of the season.

And yes, it is now December already. Time to think about those yearly goals and planning for the new year. I already have a plan in place. I have been working on something new and exciting, a bold project for the coming year. But I'm not going to tell you yet. That would spoil the surprise.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Here we are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday already. I have been thinking about just how much I have to be thankful for this year. Family, friends, pets, a home to enjoy, the list goes on. But what I want to mention here is that I am thankful for you. It is because of your visits to my little blog, over here in my corner of cyberspace, that I am encouraged to keep creating. Your comments bolster me and keep me going. So in this time of year with its celebrations of the harvest, I am thankful to have found all of you. May you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
These are two more gouache studies in my hand.book journal. They are fun yet challenging to do, quick and spontaneous reactions to shape and value, without the aid of color for defining form. The second image is inspired by a photo taken by my friend Beth. Thanks Beth for the lovely image!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You went on ahead

This is another one of my Neocolor II and colored pencil pieces on hot press paper, about 5 x 8 inches. A trail that we have hiked many times now since we moved to these mountains. Years ago, we would take our dog, Henry, hiking with us. He loved to run ahead but would always stop and wait for us to catch up. He was a dog that needed to go first. Always.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Some time ago I purchased a couple of tubes of gouache, white and burnt umber, to experiment with and do value studies. Here is my first attempt at that in my hand.book journal. I enjoyed playing with the gouache, which unlike watercolor, I can put light values on top of the darks, allowing for more push and pull of those values.

The Artist's Journal class has begun this week with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm from all the participants. Inspired by others in the class, I decided to try making my own handmade sketchbook.
Here is my paper cut to size and the covers that I made. The paper is 140 lb. Fabriano hp. The covers are made from the back of an old sketchbook, covered with fabric on the outside and marbled paper on the interior side. Also shown is my hole punching guide. The marbled paper is some that I had left over from a craft project that Kiddo and I did a couple of years ago. The fabric is what remains from some very old curtains I had made for a long ago apartment. This part of the process was really pretty easy to do, especially with the help of class mates!
Here is the book stitched together. I followed this online tutorial in order to figure out how to do the stitching. Again, this was much easier than I anticipated. Although I did end up taking it apart and re-stitching it with different thread that I waxed first, which made the book feel more sturdy, but it looks the same as the picture here. I just may start making all of my own sketchbooks from here on out! Of course, I do have a few store bought sketchbooks laying around that I should finish working in first.

Over the top

I have been given this fun award by Alex. He is an amazing artist with a blog worth visiting. Plus I don't know anyone more insightful and generous!

The rules are:
I need to pass this award on to five people, post on their blog to let them know I left this award, and then I need to answer a list of questions in ONE word.
So here we go:

1. Where is your cell phone?…Purse
2. Your hair?… Unruly
3. Your mother?… Unhappy
4. Your father?… Angry
5. Your favorite food?… Cheese Fondue
6. Your dream last night?… Turtles
7. Your favorite drink?…Vernor's Ginger Ale
8. Your dream/goal?… Live by the sea
9. What room are you in?… Spare bedroom
10. Your hobby?… Reading
11. Your fear?… Peanuts
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?…A real studio
13. Where were you last night?… Home
14. Something that you aren’t?… Performer
15. Muffins?… Blueberry
16. Wish list item?… A real studio
17. Where did you grow up?… Cincinnati
18. Last thing you did?… laundry
19. What are you wearing?… jeans
20. Your TV?… MSNBC
21. Your Pets?… Dogs
22. Friends?… Special
23. Your life?… Good
24. Your mood?… Positive
25. Missing Someone?… Indeed
26. Vehicle?… Garage
27. Something you're not wearing?… Shoes
28. Your favorite store?… Mast Store
29. Your favorite colour?… Blue
30. When was the last time you laughed?… 3:22pm
31. Last time you cried?… Nov.2
32. Your best friend?… Hubby
33. One place that I go to over and over?… Town
34. Facebook?… Yes
35. Favorite place to eat?… Home

Now I need to pass this on to five bloggers. Here is my list, in no particular order.

1. Krista 2. Sandy 3. Teresa 4. Diahn 5. Deborah

Friday, November 13, 2009

Once upon an autumn

5.5 x 7.5 inches
Neocolor II and colored pencil on hp paper
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Just about one month ago it looked like this around here. Now the leaves are gone and the colors are softer. This is another of my Neocolor II studies, washed with water, then covered with dry colored pencil. And it's been sitting around for about a month waiting to be finished, so today I did. Just clearing the decks before the Keeping an Artist's Journal class begins next week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Thought I forgot, didn't you. Here it is Tuesday again and I do have another page from my sketchbook to share. We picked up these lovely acorn squash from the grocery last weekend. I wonder what people at the store must think as I examine produce looking for interesting shapes and color. I chose three squash, cooked two and painted the one remaining. This one was painted in my watercolor Moleskine. It was the first time I had tried cooking acorn squash and found it surprisingly easy to prepare and very tasty.

Today I spent some time looking online at various sketchbooks, sketching kits and portable organizers for art supplies. I have collected a few different sketchbooks and have so many sketching supplies that I can get overwhelmed just trying to decide what media to use and in which sketchbook to work. I would like to be more minimal with all of this. Then there is the dilemma of what to put in my sketchbook(s). Should there be a theme? Different books for different themes and media, or everything in one sketchbook? Critical decisions to consider. I love looking through my copy of Danny Gregory's An Illustrated Life for inspiration. Also, I have signed up for Cathy Johnson's upcoming class Keeping An Artist's Journal. So I am getting myself ready. It will be lots of fun to explore this topic with a group of artists and Kate is such a great teacher. And no doubt there will be many more sketch book pages to post on Tuesdays around here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


More Apples
colored pencil on Rising Museum Board
5.5 x 7.5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Remember the work in progress I showed here a while back? Well, I finally had some time to finish it. I was pleased with how this worked out, despite the fact that it sat for such a long time while I was doing other things. That kind of interruption can disturb the flow, but thankfully
I was able to get right back into this drawing without skipping a beat.

While I was finishing this up today I was thinking about Captain Wendy. Captain Wendy was a character on the Uncle Al show, a tv show that I watched when I was a little kid growing up in Cincinnati. I really didn't care for Uncle Al much. He played the accordion and sang "Zippity-Do-Da" while the children that were guests on his show danced around him in a circle. But Captain Wendy was amazing. She would "fly" in, wearing her super hero costume complete with a cape and she would give a drawing lesson on a magic drawing board. I'll never forget, that whatever she was drawing, she would always end the lesson with, "don't forget the shadow!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Looks like posting works from my sketchbook is turning into a regular Tuesday thing. And that's okay. Maybe it will inspire me to work in my sketchbooks more regularly, knowing that there is always another Tuesday right around the corner. Pears are becoming a regular subject for me too. I just love their shapes and the subtle gradations of color. I did this page spread while the Professor and Kiddo were out Trick-or-Treating last Saturday evening. It's all done with watercolor pencils in my hand.book journal.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A little quiet time

Autumn Woods
5.5 x 7.5 inches
Neocolor II and colored pencil on hp
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

The little ghosts and goblins have all settled and we are now preparing for our winter with warming soups, fresh baked bread, pulling the sweaters out of their storage boxes and planning creative time spent indoors. I am looking at all the projects started on my drawing table and really hoping to be able to spend more time with them this month, as all the festivities and work of the last couple of months is now mostly behind me. November is a quiet month and I am ready for it now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sketchbook Tuesday

Lately, it seems like Tuesdays have been my day to post sketchbook drawings. I didn't mean for an entire week to pass since my last post, but here we are at Tuesday again. So here are more sketchbook pages from my watercolor Moleskine that I did while we were at the beach a couple of weeks ago now.
With traveling, visitors, birthdays and parties, and a little design work keeping me very busy, October has just flown by. I am now actually looking forward to November and the peaceful return of a routine to my days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

While I was away

I filled one spread in my watercolor Moleskine by recording a little slice of the ocean and sky colors for each day we were at Edisto Beach. I had such a great view from my spot at the dining table in our rental cottage that I couldn't let it go to waste.

I also couldn't help thinking of this song, especially on our rainy Wednesday, when the fishing boats disappeared on the horizon.

And when we returned from our trip I was greeted by Abner! I had the good fortune of winning Abner in a drawing over on Diahn's blog, and he's gorgeous! I really couldn't believe this was a print, it is so beautifully done on such quality paper. A wonderful surprise to come home to after our stay at the beach. Now that we are back in our mountains life is crazy busy around here. I have a design project that needs finishing and we have guests coming for the weekend. If you could see the state of my house right now you would wonder why I am even sitting here typing this with so much that needs doing. At least I have Abner to keep me smiling! Thanks Diahn!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I was away from the computer last week. But I kept myself busy here.
Of course, I had this view for inspiration.
And plenty of reasons to play.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keep trying

For further proof that I need way more practice with watercolor, this is my contribution for October's Monthly Sketch Project. But what better way to practice than with these online challenges. Makes it more fun and gives me that extra bit of motivation to keep trying. This was done in my watercolor Moleskine. The photo reference was mine, a view of Grandfather Mountain from Price Lake.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Red leaves and more apples

Yesterday was such a brilliant autumn day that after Kiddo's PE class we took off on a photo safari. The foliage in our mountains has suddenly turned into a kaleidoscope of hues and we didn't want to let it go unnoticed.
I don't often post a work-in-progress but just to prove I have something in the works here is another apple drawing in progress, inspired by Jeanette Jobson's apple challenge. It is unlikely that I will finish it by the deadline so I thought I'd post it as a work-in-progress. This way you can see how my scribbles will eventually become the finished drawing. I hope to work on it some more over the next few days, if I'm not out soaking in these beautiful autumn days.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Since it's Tuesday

it's as good a day as any to post a couple of recent works from my sketchbooks. I couldn't resist picking up a few pears from the grocery, they always remind me of fall. Because it takes me so long to finish my drawings in colored pencil I took lots of photos of pear groupings to possibly use later for still life compositions. But I also couldn't resist doing a quick watercolor sketch of pears while I was at it.

We spent Sunday afternoon in the park at Valle Crucis and I tried doing some quick watercolors while there too. These I sketched in brown colored pencil first and then used watercolor over top. The pears were painted directly without any drawing first. Both were done in my watercolor Moleskine journal.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Looking ahead

neocolor II and colored pencil on hp
5.5 x 7.5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here it is October already. Turn around once and it will be the winter holidays and then the new year before we know it. This is a view from the most southern tip of Hatteras Island, near where the ferry takes you to Ocracoke. I worked on this from an old photo of mine. This area is probably filled up with over sized beach houses and souvenir shops by now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thinking about it

Sims Pond
Neocolor II and colored pencil on Arches HP
5.5 x 7.5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I didn't mean to take so long before posting again. Time flies by so fast these days. Thank you to all who commented on my last post. I really appreciate all of your supportive comments!

This is another of my mixed media studies using washed Neocolor II crayons and then dry colored pencil on top. The view is of Sims Pond, from one of our Parkway excursions last month. Doing these studies makes me want to paint. Just paint. And draw. I have lots of ideas lately, lots of works in my head that I wish didn't take so long to actually do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apple Time

colored pencil on Rising Museum Board
5.5 x 6.5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Click here to buy

This is my drawing in response to Jeanette Jobson's apple challenge. I really enjoyed doing this still life and may try doing more sometime soon. I worked a little differently in terms of how I used color to show the form of the apples and was pleased with the result.

With my background in painting I was taught to create neutrals with complements to get the color to recede. And with my colored pencil landscape drawings I will typically use complementary colors to create depth and liven shadows. I recently read in the July/August issue of Artist's Magazine an article about the artist Colin Berry and his technique for creating his luminous still life paintings. In the article he explained why he doesn't follow that rule and instead uses neutrals directly. I was intrigued by his explanation and gave it a try here with my apples. It's a way of working with color, particularly when doing a still life, that I definitely want to explore further.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn Equinox

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

As we step into Autumn I try to hold on to the summer sun just a little longer. This art card is from an image of the sunrise through the sea oats on the South Carolina coast of Edisto Island, my favorite place to catch the sun.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost


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