A Journey Into Abstraction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 25, 2021 by Lisa Mills

I just finished three courses through Stanford University’s Continuing Education Program to further develop my art skills. I truly believe in the value of continuing education – one should never settle for “good enough” – there’s always room for improvement.

These works are a culmination of the three courses: Developing a Creative Practice; Abstract Drawing; and Layers, all taught by the wonderful Trevor Tubelle (Instagram – @trevortubelle). These all started with watercolor, then multiple layers of wet and dry media piled on – colored pencil, oil pastel, Pan Pastel, wax pastel, acrylic paint, mica and metallic leaf. They are beyond fun to create and the end result is extremely satisfying for me – and hopefully, you too. These are available on my website: lisamillsfineart.com

Beyond Our Stars – 19.5″ x 19.5″ Mixed Media
Carolina Sunrise – 10″ x 10″ Mixed Media
Salt, Sea and Air – 17″ x 17″ Mixed Meda

Something Positive in 2020

Posted in art therapy, Artist, Colored Pencil, dogs with tags on December 4, 2020 by Lisa Mills

This is a portrait of my sister’s pup, Radio. She wanted me to do a portrait of him and my reference photos were taken all the way back in 2018. This one was a long time coming! Finishing the painting this year provided some much needed art therapy in an extremely stressful time. But now, between projects, I’m wringing my hands to launch into something new. My next work will likely include watercolor with colored pencil – a combination I haven’t used since my interior illustration days back at TCU years ago.

Radio – 12″ X 16″ Colored Pencil on Art Spectrum Colorfix Suede Paper Copyright Lisa M. Mills Fine Art

It’s Been a Long Time!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2018 by Lisa Mills

Fifty Shades of Grey Copyright 2018

Fifty Shades of Grey – Copyright Lisa M. Mills 2018

It’s been about four years since I’ve published, although I have had a few projects along the way. This work started out as a value study, as I tend to push values too light and wanted a way to force myself to get the values correct across the value scale. I also wanted to do something that covered the entire value spectrum – very light to very dark and this seemed like the perfect piece to do so. It is currently entered in the CPSA Explore This! Competition – entries close on November 15th, so we’ll see how this one fares with the judge. It’s a combination of colored pencil, graphite, water-soluble graphite and gouache on Arches hot press watercolor paper. The subjects (Biggie, the German Shepherd and Bailey, the Golden Retriever) are never far away while I’m in studio, usually sleeping peacefully on the floor by my side. I am going to be working on two pieces next: one for my sister – of her dog, Radio and the other, a challenging cityscape, full of reflections and nuances. If I am happy with that piece, I will enter it in the CPSA International competition, however, I am skeptical I’ll be done by the spring deadline. I will keep you posted with progress as I go!

A New Bird for the Nest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by Lisa Mills

I just finished a small piece, Wren in Rome…It is on my favorite paper – Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede paper and I used the entire line of Caran d’Ache pencils: Luminance, Pablo, Supracolor II and Museum Aquarelle. I absolutely love their pencils and have confidence in their quality and lightfastness for fine art works.  I took the reference photo of this little wren early in the morning. The effect of the light on the shrubs in the background was stunning and provided a dramatic backdrop to the little bird. I also loved how the warm light washed over the bird from the back and provided a contrast against the cool hues of the chair he was perched on. The chairs are actually a faded black metal, that when washed with light, appeared blue grey.  This is my first piece as a Signature Member of CPSA, however I didn’t sign the piece as such.

We just returned from San Francisco, where we enjoyed seeing a great deal of art. That is always so energizing to me, but it also makes me realize just how much I need to grow as an artist. I don’t consider myself a truly creative person. I’m able to create art on the page, but I don’t think creatively enough and that is always a struggle for me. So that is my next challenge…to try to connect more with my creative side so that I can produce art that is dynamic and captivating. So in the mean time, here’s the little wren…

Carolina Wren in Texas

Wren in Rome…

Three in a Row…

Posted in Artist with tags , , , , , , on May 2, 2014 by Lisa Mills

I was excited last week to find out that Reflections on Cool Jazz was accepted into CPSA’s 22nd Annual International Exhibition in Florida this year. This acceptance was my third in a row and it also earned me “signature status” in CPSA. Signature status is earned when one’s work is juried into the exhibition three times in a ten year span.  This is the fourth time I’ve entered. Year one ended in rejection and was really tough on me as an emerging artist. I had to reach deep to regain inspiration. I also made a conscious effort to try and create art that is different, inspiring and challenging. Reflections on Cool Jazz  was the most difficult piece I’ve created to date. There are close to 150 hours of work put into it and I was definitely challenged. The thing I like about both my Reflections pieces is that they depict the subject matter in a realistic way, yet due to the close-up nature of the view in my reference photos and the bright light, there are great abstract forms within the realism.


Reflections Sax Original Copyright



I’m in the process now of trying to determine my next step in the creative process, which is usually difficult for me as well as time consuming. In the mean time, I’m experimenting with new papers and pencils and creating as I can. I’ll ship this artwork to Florida this month, where it will hang in the exhibition from June 13 through August 25 at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens. It will go through the second round of judging – this time for awards – at the end of May. Frankly, I am just thrilled to have met my goal to gain signature status, but I’m not gonna lie – an award would really be nice! I’ll keep you posted…


A Busy Spring

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by Lisa Mills

Happy Belated National Pencil Day! It was yesterday, March 30th and a fitting tribute to a lot of pencils I’ve sharpened over the last three months.Whew! It’s really been a busy spring here at the studio and at my house. As you may recall, last November, we lost our beloved Golden Retriever, Lucy. We still had our other Golden, Gracie, who took the loss hard herself. In January, we welcomed 8-week old Bailey to our family. Also a Golden Retriever, she’s been a sweet addition and is a really good dog – especially for a puppy. She’s about 4-1/2 months old now and growing fast. As you can imagine, puppies do take a bunch of your time and this one is no exception, but she’s been a delight. Right after Lucy died, I set about trying to create an appropriate tribute to her. I found a photo of her from a snowy day a couple of years back. She had such a captive expression on her face that I decided to use the photo to create a memorial portrait of her. This is A Requiem for Lucy.

A Requiem for Lucy Copyright

It’s done in 100% colored pencil on my favorite Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede paper. I’ve entered it and Reflections on Cool Jazz in the 22nd CPSA International Exhibition. The first round of judging is in a couple of weeks – we’ll see if either of these pieces are worthy of acceptance into this show. If one of them is accepted, I will receive CPSA signature status this year, so I’ve really got my fingers crossed.

The other thing that has kept me busy is that I have authored and illustrated a detailed step-by-step tutorial available to purchase on my website. You can see it in my previous post. It was also the subject of a workshop I conducted for my local CPSA chapter here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area earlier this month. It was my first workshop and I think it went pretty well. I had lots of positive feedback and a great group of students. It’s a little intimidating teaching award-winning artists in a workshop!

I’ve got a work in progress that I’m about to resume and then after that, I’ll have to wait and see what inspires me! Stay tuned…

Colored Pencil Tutorial Now Available

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 31, 2014 by Lisa Mills

Nut Bowl Reference Photo Copyright 72dpi


The Silver Nut Bowl Step-by-Step is now available on my website for purchase. It is a detailed step-by-step with photos for each step to help you along. A complete supply list is available in the tutorial. Click HERE to redirect to my website and purchase the tutorial.

Coming Soon! Downloadable Tutorial

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 25, 2014 by Lisa Mills

Nut Bowl Reference Photo Copyright 72dpi


I’ve had lots of requests for tutorials, so I’m incorporating a tutorial on my website of a workshop I’ll be conducting in Plano, Texas on March 22nd. This tutorial is available free to the workshop participants, but you can purchase it for only $15.95 after March 31, 2014 on my website, http://www.lisamillsfineart.com.  This is a step-by-step approach similar to what I authored for Ann Kullberg, but the project is more simple and involves less steps. You will be using colored pencil on Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede paper to learn to illustrate this little silver nut bowl. The photo above is the reference photo you’ll be using in the tutorial. There is a photo and detailed instruction for each step of the project. A supply list will also be provided. All supplies are readily available at major online art supply retailers in the United States. My favorite retailer is DickBlick.com.  Once the tutorial is live and available, I’ll update you here…so stay tuned!

For the Love of a Dog

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2013 by Lisa Mills


Last Friday, November 8th, we lost our Golden Retriever, Lucy. She collapsed in our yard while running and playing and died instantly. She was a mere eight years old and was full of life until that last second. The vet speculated that the cause was cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle. The photo you see here is of a colored pencil piece I did of her last year, her muzzle full of snow. It’s titled, Snowdog. She truly was the best dog we’ve ever known in my family and even though it’s been a week, the grief I’m suffering has not abated. Not one bit. I’ve never known a dog with more spirit and character and the house feels empty without her in it. Our poor other golden, Gracie is grieving right along with the rest of us, her leader and playmate nowhere to be found.

Lucy loved her people. She liked to be nearby…I mean really nearby. She’d often times lean on me, or plop her head in my lap in order to get an ear scratched. If that didn’t do it, I was likely to get the paw slapped upon my knee until I paid attention. She knew how to get your attention. She had a little trick she’d do if you weren’t paying attention. We called it “the head toss.” If she wanted to go out, or wanted a bite of what we were eating, or simply needed you to pay attention to her, she would flip her head in the air – often twice in a row. Then she’d stare at you and command the stage. You became her audience and she was on the stage. She didn’t like loud noises and she hated it if I swore at the television when my favorite football team was playing poorly. If you called her over, most times she would go find a ball or another toy to bring to you – an offering. She knew how to make you smile and she loved to please her people.

My artwork centers mainly around two things – the very realistic still life (such as my guitar and saxophone triptychs) and animal art. Many people shun animal art in favor of more trendy or contemporary art. I’ve met plenty of people like that and I don’t understand that mentality. They really criticize works that depict horses, dogs, or even the family cat. If that inspires the artist, then why not a painting of your favorite pet? I think animal art has just as much significance in the art world as a still life of two apples on a table – maybe more. For some reason, animal art is much more challenging to me to portray the animal realistically enough. Often, fur comes out somewhat stylistic, which is not my intent. My therapy in this time of grief is to do a portrait of Lucy. My photo reference is a favorite of mine, her playing in the snow again. I don’t love the lighting in it because it was taken on a cloudy day, but I love the expression on her face. I just hope I can do her justice and capture that expression. My favorite part of illustrating animals is working on the eyes. They really do capture the soul and if I can depict the expression properly, I can capture the animal’s personality.

Hopefully, I can post some works in progress of her portrait. I’ll have to put the work aside for a bit to prepare for the upcoming holidays and get ready for a workshop I’m having in February, but I will endure and see this portrait through. I read something written by Peter King, the Sports Illustrated “Monday Morning Quarterback” writer who lost his Golden Retriever the day before we lost Lucy. He said, “The easiest way not to feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.” Rest in peace, Lucy. I hope you have finally caught that squirrel you so desperately tried to catch while you were with us for those brief eight years.

Invitation to Gallery Exhibition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 29, 2013 by Lisa Mills

If you are living in or visiting the Dallas, Texas area, I invite you to come see two pieces I have on exhibit as part of the annual CPSA Chapter 215 (DFW) Exhibition. The show starts tomorrow, October 30th and runs through December 7th. It is held again this year at the Eisemann Center for the Arts in Richardson. The two pieces I have on display are Reflections on Cool Jazz and Morning Preyer, which won an Award for Excellence at the CPSA 21st Annual International Exhibition this past summer in Brea, CA. I am honored to have my work displayed amongst the talented artists in our Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter.

Reflections on Cool Jazz

Reflections on Cool Jazz


Morning Preyer

Morning Preyer