Archive for colored pencil artist

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…


What is Your Color IQ?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2013 by Lisa Mills

I’ve had many people ask me about my artwork, “How did you know to put that color there? I can’t even see that color in the reference photo?”

I’ve always had a knack with color. It’s one of the few things I truly feel I do well. I can look at a color and be able to match it without holding the two colors next to each other. Color has also always been one of those things that fascinates me: the psychology of color, color trends, color mixing, etc. I should have gone to work for Pantone and never looked back.  Many men, but not many women have various forms of color blindness, while others have very strong color vision and color acuity. Check out this test I found that you can do to determine your level of color IQ:

I find this so interesting and I hope you will too. I scored a zero – which indicates I have perfect color vision (at least until cataracts set in at some point). What’s your color score?

Did You Ever Wonder?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2013 by Lisa Mills

Did you ever wonder how colored pencils are made? I was fortunate enough to tour Faber-Castell’s manufacturing facility last summer in Stein, Germany; however, we weren’t allowed to take pictures for the obvious reasons of giving away trade secrets. I also wanted to tour Caran d’Ache’s facility in Switzerland, but they do not give tours. But you’re in luck, because they have a video of the production process! I know I’m a colored pencil nerd – but this stuff fascinates me. Take a look for yourself…

Colored Pencil Tutorial Now Available

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

I’m excited to share that I have collaborated with Ann Kullberg to author a tutorial that is now available, starting today. You will be able to experiment with my favorite, Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede paper using colored pencil. To learn more about how to order this kit, please visit:

Fans of Ann’s Facebook page can receive a 15% discount on the kit.

Silver Pitcher Photo Reference

Silver Pitcher Photo Reference

Final Colored Pencil Artwork

Final Colored Pencil Artwork

This is a very detailed, step-by-step approach to learn this technique. I hope you’ll check it out!

The judge has reached his verdict and…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Lisa Mills

Woo hoo!  “Reflections on Heavy Metal” was juried in to the CPSA 20th Annual International Competition to be held in Covington, Kentucky this summer.

I stumbled on this bit of news in an unexpected way.  I was perusing through my Facebook newsfeed last weekend and stumbled upon a status update for another CPSA artist.  She said in her update that a work she submitted was juried in to the CPSA show.  While I was excited for her, my heart absolutely sank.  I had received no communiqués from CPSA about the list of accepted entries.  In fact, the list wasn’t due to be posted for another few days.

With my heart racing, I immediately went to the CPSA website.  I clicked on their “news” link and saw that the list of accepted entries was, in fact posted.  One more click took me to the list.  I thought about it for a moment, then begin to slowly scroll down the page.  Since the list is in alphabetical order, it didn’t take too long to arrive at the “M’s.”  Ma…Me…Mi…then I saw it! Mills, Lisa!!!  Something resembling a squeak came out of my mouth.  I couldn’t believe it.  This is a huge honor for my name to appear amongst some really accomplished artists.

So now, my framed work will travel to Covington, Kentucky this summer to appear in the exhibition at the Carnegie Center for about six weeks.  Each accepted entry will be reviewed by the judge and from those, awards will be given to those who he deems has merit.  Last year there were over 700 entries, with approximately 120 or so being juried in.  From that, just over 10% will win an award.  I don’t know where the judge thinks my work fits in this whole puzzle, but I am thrilled to have been selected to appear in the exhibition.

On other notes of exciting news, I have teamed up with fellow artist and my former teacher, Alyona Nickelson in creating online tutorials as a part of her website.  She offers subscribed members access to various tutorials and my first one has been published to the site!  Also, this blog that you’re reading now is the Featured Artist Blog in Colored Pencil Magazine (both online and in print) for the month of May.  Many thanks go out to Sally Ford, editor/publisher of Colored Pencil Magazine for deeming my work worthy of print!  All that said, I must get back to work.  Among the items I’m working on now is a larger piece of my two dogs playing in the snow and I have taken all the photos I need for an upcoming piece that will continue in my “Reflections” series.  Not a guitar this time…but I’ll keep you guessing!

Until then, here’s a picture of a work that I did of Lucy in the snow after I finished “Reflections on Heavy Metal.”  It’s called Snowdog.  Lucy, after her playtime in the snow came up for air with a “beard” of snow.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 3, 2012 by Lisa Mills

Happy New Year everyone!  I’ve been too busy to blog lately, so I thought I’d bring everyone up to date with what’s been happening at the drawing board.

Thanks to two great friends who had a lot of confidence in me, I complete my first two commission pieces in 2011.  The first, Lola (see Blog Post titled “Commission Accomplished”) was done as a Christmas gift from a dear friend of mine for her hubby.  This posthumous portrait was of a beautiful and spirited Golden Retriever.  The second piece was titled “Annie” (see below).  Annie is an adorable West Highland Terrier who is the pet of another dear friend’s mom.  This too was a Christmas gift and boy, was I sweating it out Christmas Day knowing that the two gifts were being unveiled to their recipients that day!

Copyright 2012, Lisa M. Mills

In addition to Lola and Annie, I recently finished a picture of a horse while experimenting with a new technique.  Here’s his photo:

“Gentle Glance”
Copyright 2012 – Lisa M. Mills

I love the new technique.  It’s a lot more fun to execute and it has a real painterly feel to it, but with the media control of pencil.  That’s all the time I’ve got for now…I will share with you soon the newest portrait of my dog Lucy playing in the snow.

The Jury’s Still Out…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 27, 2011 by Lisa Mills

Tom Petty definitely had it right when he sang, “the waiting is the hardest part.”  I entered the  Colored Pencil Society of America’s 19th Annual International competition a few weeks ago.  I entered these two pieces:

The first one is Lucy, my Golden Retriever and is titled “I’m Not Too Proud to Beg” (Copyright 2011, Lisa M. Mills).  She’s doing what she does best…looking for a handout.  The second is called “Double Helix” (Copyright 2011, Lisa M. Mills).  It’s titled such because of the strange reflections in the crystal that resemble a double helix formation.  I was actually going to enter only Lucy, but decided at the last minute to enter  the other work which started out as an instructional piece.  It was  in progress when I learned about the CPSA show, so I put the piece on hold to work on Lucy.  I was able to enter Double Helix because my photo reference was my original photo and I had not received any feedback from my instructor on the piece (you cannot collaborate on works entered in this show).  Both are entirely colored pencil and are done on Stonehenge paper.

The jury was supposed to be finished making their selections on Tuesday, April 26th, but for some unexpected reason, the selection process was extended to Saturday, April 30th – a long four days.  This is the first major competition I’ve entered, so I’m really nervous.  I’m also prepared for many “no’s” before I finally get a “yes.”  I guess I’m not too worried about major competition, as the piece I’m working on now is going to be entered in the Federal Duck Stamp Art Competition this summer.  That competition has been going on for nearly 100 years and the winner’s artwork is reproduced on every Federal Duck Stamp purchased by hunters nationwide.  The fee for entering the show goes to help wildlife conservation – a good cause in my book.  I’ll keep you all posted on that as it goes forward.

So, while I wait, I have updated the blog here and added some additional pieces to my gallery.  I won all three Challenge Competitions for my colored pencil classes and those pieces are on the gallery page as well.  I learned a great deal while taking those classes and am very grateful to my instructor, Alyona Nickelsen who is an amazing teacher!  Take a look at the Gallery (click on the link on the top right).  Going forward, my artwork will focus on animals and other elements in nature.  I might throw in the occasional still life since that was the focus of the colored pencil classes.

So, until Saturday – results good or bad – I shall wait…