Archive for art

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by Lisa Mills

I am so thankful for teachers.  I’m thankful for teachers that teach my son on a daily basis. I’m thankful for artists who are willing to share their art and techniques with others.  Teaching is something that I seriously doubt that I could do and do well.

As an artist who left her drawing tools on the back burner for a few years, I had to reacquaint myself to my craft and the tools that go with it.  I first found a colored pencil artist by the name of Alyona Nickelsen.  She is an accomplished still life artist and fortunately for me and others, is willing to share her techniques with those willing to learn.  She has a book called The Colored Pencil Painting Bible and she offers an online colored pencil painting school.  Last year I began her three courses, finishing the last one in February of this year.  Her instruction and insight helped me infinitely!  Check out Alyona’s work at Many of my “instructional” pieces in my gallery were done under Alyona’s tutelage.

I recently discovered another colored pencil artist who specializes in wildlife art.  Beautiful wildlife art.  Her technique amazed me and upon further investigation, I discovered that she also offers a tutorial on her technique.  Her name is Christina Langman and you can find her artwork on her website at I purchased her tutorial and am now doing a small experimental piece using the new technique in a drawing of a horse.  I’ll post pictures of the process in a forthcoming blog post.

I am grateful for both of these artists and their willingness to share their techniques with others.  Some artists are very tight-lipped about their work and their processes and I respect that. But I view my work as a process and I try to learn every time I sit down at my drafting table.  I learn from the process and I learn from others.  Thank you, Alyona and Christina for your willingness to share!


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!

Not Accepted…But Still Acceptable?

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

After nearly 7 days of delays, the Colored Pencil Society of America today posted its list of “Accepted Artists” for the 19th Annual International Show, being held this year in Dallas.  My name was not on that list.  I really thought I was prepared for the kind of emotions I would have if I didn’t see my name on my list…but not so much.  The emotions are much more raw.  I don’t like rejection.  Excuse me…I don’t like to not be on the accepted list.  But because my works were not accepted, does that make them unacceptable to others besides that ONE judge?

None of us like to be told “no” and nobody likes rejection, but unfortunately, rejection is supposed to serve as the impetus to propel us forward.  To make us want to succeed even more.  I’m still in the process of trying to “find myself” as an artist.  I’m trying to discover my niche.  This blog would not be honest if I sat here and wrote that I’m just gonna dust myself off and jump up and be fine.  Yes, eventually I will – but right now, this stings.  Frankly, it sucks.  But this one judge is not going to stop me from doing what I absolutely love and that is creating art. I’ve just got to learn to connect with the viewers.  I’m anxious to see the actual works of the “accepted” artists (only names were revealed at this point).  I can learn from them – from their technique and their ability to make a work of art reach out and grab the viewer.

I met an artist last year at Fort Worth’s (Texas) Main Street Art Festival.  Artists for that show are chosen by a panel of jurors which changes annually.  He was a pen and ink artist and had applied to that show every year for fifteen years! He finally was an accepted artist on the fifteenth try.  I don’t know if I could have done that over and over that many times, but it shows me something: that level of rejection never got him down…he kept trying and trying again. That’s just what I intend to do…just after a glass of wine and a good cry.

This Crazy Time of Year…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 27, 2010 by Lisa Mills

Without fail, November and December end up being the craziest time of year in my family and in many other families as well.  The holidays are suddenly approaching, school schedules get crammed with a flurry of activities and I sit and try to figure out how to fit it all in and keep my sanity.  This year, I guess sanity wasn’t a huge priority because on top of the annual stressors that come with the holidays, I added another art class to my list of “to do’s.”  The irony here is that even though I’m busier than ever, when I am working on a project for this course, all the things I need to do to get through the holidays seem to become the least of my worries.  Some people consider art as therapy and I guess I’d have to count myself as one of those people.  It’s not only something I like to do, I believe it is something that I must do.  Here’s a couple of this month’s projects from Alyona Nickelsen’s colored pencil painting school:

These projects, while they may seem fairly easy, come with the challenge that we can only use 12 colors to create them.  All are Prismacolor Colored Pencils: white, black, canary yellow, poppy red, magenta, Tuscan red, dark green, true green, true blue, indigo blue, orange and violet.  The real challenge was to illustrate “white” eggs with all those colors. My skills continue to improve and I am about to start the challenge project.  I won the Challenge Project in the last class.  I’ve got some stiff competition from students in this class, but I hope I can pull it off. The project is a white rose against a black background, again using the 12 colors listed above.  I’ll get back to you on that.  Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and stay sane during this crazy time of year.