Archive for animal artists

Morning Preyer Accepted at CPSA International

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by Lisa Mills

I’m so pleased to announce that Morning Preyer has been accepted into the CPSA 21st International Exhibition this summer in Brea.  It was one of 127 entries accepted of over 600 entered.  While I’m excited for this piece to be accepted, I’m disappointed that Reflections on Cool Jazz was not.  I can still enter it again next year, and plan to do so.  This is the second time my work has been accepted in the international show and if I’m accepted a third time, I will receive signature status in CPSA.  The show this year is in Brea California the last week of July.  I’ll be attending the show and look forward to seeing the exhibition in person.

Morning Preyer Copyright


Commission Accomplished…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2011 by Lisa Mills

I delivered my first commission piece this morning!  My client was a sweet friend from college whose family had lost their beloved Golden Retriever last year.  The artwork will be a gift for her husband for Christmas.

I wasn’t prepared for how nervous I’d be creating this piece for a client.  My biggest goal in illustrating animals (and people, for that matter) is to capture their personality in their facial expressions.  If I can’t recreate the expression, I have not succeeded…and that is just for my artwork, in general.  Add in a paying client and I want to create the character in the animal and satisfy the client.  It was a bit intimidating, to say the least.

This piece took me about 3 – 4 weeks to complete.  I was working from a photograph and the final piece was about 8 times larger than the photo.  It is in colored pencil and oil and wax pastel on Stonehenge 300 gsm. paper.  I met with my friend once before I got started to see exactly what she envisioned.  I met with her again when the piece was mostly complete to “tweak” parts of the illustration that were not quite right.  I texted several iPhone photos of the drawing while it was in progress.

Here is a photo of the final work:

She was a beautiful dog and all of her photos showed what a great personality she had.  I love the grin on her face!  My friend was happy with the final product and for that I am grateful.  As an artist however, I’m never 100% satisfied with anything I create.  There is always room for improvement.  I also feel like if I ever become completely happy with a piece, then I probably have become complacent.  I look at each piece I do as a learning experience and I always hope to grow with each step.  Thank you, my friend for trusting me with this beautiful girl! I can’t wait to see what your husband thinks on Christmas morning.

Ducks and More Ducks…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2011 by Lisa Mills

The U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service has posted all the entries to the Federal Duck Stamp Competition.  They haven’t yet revealed the entries that were narrowed down for further judging.  I was impressed with the 191 entries and surprised that there were not more.  I felt that mine stood well with the competition, however I have room for improvement in this realm.  Depending on the species, I will consider entering again next year.  Check out all this year’s entries HERE.

Of the entries at the above link, I loved these: # 60; #101; #103; #117; #126; #149 and #183.  Of those, I think #117 is phenomenal.  It looks like it could be one of the Hautman brothers’ works (click HERE for their website if you love wildlife art), but the artists haven’t been revealed as yet. There was one abstract art entry which surprised me.  The rules clearly state that entries must be realistic art.   Mine is #33.  Take a look and see what you think!

Just Ducky…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 2, 2011 by Lisa Mills

There was something that I wanted to do for a long time, but never did it.  Now I can say I did.  I finally entered the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, an annual competition for artists (mainly wildlife artists participate) through the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The competition supports waterfowl and wetlands conservation and has been held since 1934.  Though I don’t focus all of my artwork on waterfowl, I do like to illustrate birds along with wild and domestic animals.

I was convinced more than ever that I needed to enter this contest when a pair of Mallards landed in my pool in February, 2010 and proceeded to take up residence for the following few months.  What resulted was a clutch of 11 eggs, 7 of which hatched and we were all proud parents of 7 baby Mallards.  After the young birds were about 6 or 7 weeks old, we had us an old-fashioned duck roundup and gathered the babies and took them to the park, about a quarter of a mile away.  There are turtles in the park, who are predators to the very young ducklings, and we wanted to make sure they had a fighting chance before releasing them to the pond.  The hen followed us all the way to the park as we walked along carrying the babies in our recycle bin, covered with a screen since they could hop out.  Picture the Aflac duck squawking all the way behind us, and this is what Mama sounded like, frantic over where we were taking her kids! I’m sure we looked crazy.

I don’t believe all seven survived, as I went back for the next week to check on them and at last visit only saw four.  I couldn’t stand it after that, and quit going.  I was amazed at how emotionally invested I became in this family of birds.

While that isn’t exactly what wildlife conservation is all about, in our suburban circumstance, it became a mission to help those ducklings along.  The Mallard is a migratory species and really shouldn’t remain here through the summers.  They’ve become almost domesticated as they live in parks and are subject to stay since humans feed them.  The same story goes for some Canada Geese that remain in this god-awful Texas heat instead of traveling north to endure a more comfortable summer.  You can read more about conservation at the Fish & Wildlife Service website and at the Ducks Unlimited website as well.

So I had all the inspiration and hundreds of photos to launch into the duck stamp artwork.  Artists are limited to simple compositions that allow printing along two edges for the actual stamp. Their selected species must be anatomically accurate and accurate to the time of year depicted in the drawing.  (Ducks coloring changes due to seasonal differences – such as mating plumage and eclipse plumage.)  For example, you cannot illustrate a Mallard in breeding plumage and depict a fall setting – they breed in the spring.  The species artists can choose are limited to 5 species of ducks and some geese.  The selection changes each year.

My habitat photos were limited to a chlorinated pool – not exactly what I remember when I used to hunt the birds with my dad when I was young.  So, I had to ad-lib a bit on the water, to make it appear to reflect a grey, late winter sky.  I chose to leave vegetation out of the composition and focus on the birds.  This is done in colored pencil and wax pastel on Stonehenge paper, mounted on museum board.  Here is the result:

The piece is off to the USFWS tomorrow…we’ll see what the judges think.  I’m way inexperienced compared with the other artists that win this annually, but I’m glad I’ve at least finished the project and can say I’ve done it!  Quack, quack.

Color Me Here…

Posted in Artist with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2010 by Lisa Mills

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to venture back into art, mainly just as a hobby or a way to create art for my house.  I started with my graphite pencils and illustrated a drawing of Lucy, my Golden Retriever.

(Artwork Copyright 2010 Lisa M. Mills – All Rights Reserved)

This rendering of Lucy depicts her on her favorite perch – the stairs.  She was unmoved that I was photographing her and moved even less that I illustrated her.  She’s a lazy girl.

That one drawing got me hooked all over again on art (you can see my story on the “About the Artist” page).  I then began to photograph my dogs, birds, critters in the yard – virtually anything I could draw.  I’m slow at my craft, but steady as I rebuild a portfolio.

Last spring, I discovered another artist named Alyona Nickelsen who has a book called “The Colored Pencil Painting Bible.”  Wow.  She is amazing.  I found out she offers an online school and I thought this would be a great way to hone my skills as an artist.  I took Part 1 in September and will be starting Part 2 in November.

Here’s a sample of my accomplishments in Part 1:

My husband suggested I was going “out of my gourd” while I was working on it as it was so intricate.  But I persevered and won the Class Challenge Project (this gourd) for Part 1 of the class. (Each class has a challenge project at the completion of the class, where students are encouraged to submit their work to compete against one another.)  This was rendered in sepia, plus black colored pencil and a colorless blender.

So, thanks for stopping by Color Me Here…I’m looking forward to the journey.