Archive for colored pencil artists

Comrades True…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 26, 2012 by Lisa Mills

My alma mater, Texas Christian University featured me and my artwork in their blog, “Comrades True.”  The blog does features and stories about TCU alumnae.  It’s quite an honor to be recognized by my school.  Go Frogs!


Reflecting on “Reflections”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 14, 2012 by Lisa Mills

“Reflections on Heavy Metal” received the Best in Category (Professional Artist Category) award at CPSA District Chapter 215 Exhibition in Richardson, Texas yesterday.  I can honestly say that I didn’t see that coming.  Our local chapter has many talented artists, both professional and non-professional and my artwork was obviously facing tough competition.  I’m thrilled to have this honor.  I’m even more thrilled for my artwork to be hanging in a gallery with so many artists that I admire greatly.  If you live in the area, take time to go see the exhibit at the Eisemann Center.  The pieces are beautiful, diverse and unbelievably all colored pencil.

For my Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Followers…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 10, 2012 by Lisa Mills

The Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society has a members exhibit currently showing at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas.  We have a wonderful group of artists, many of whom have had national and international recognition.  The show continues Monday through Saturday each week until November 4th from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.  There is no charge for admission.  The Forrest and Virginia Green Mezzanine Gallery is upstairs at the center.  It’s located at 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson, Texas 75082.

I have two pieces on exhibit:  “Snow Dog” and “Reflections on Heavy Metal.”

I hope to see you there!

Work in Progress…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2012 by Lisa Mills

The piece I’m currently working on will be a companion piece to “Reflections on Heavy Metal,” a winner in the CPSA International Exhibition last summer.  I haven’t titled it yet, but it will be a triptych like the Fender guitar piece.  Here’s a glimpse at one of the panels in the triptych.  (This, like all my work, is Copyright protected.)

This piece is 100% colored pencil on Art Spectrum Colorfix Suede paper.  I wanted to challenge myself and so far, so good!  I’m working on the third panel of the piece now and it is proving to be the most difficult.  I hope to have it completed within the month and be able to move on to something else.

Inspiration is…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2012 by Lisa Mills

I find it interesting to talk to other artists and find out what inspires them.  For me, it’s pretty simple.  My artwork is inspired by color, nature and how light reacts to the surfaces of objects.  As far as artists go, the Impressionists have always been my inspiration.  Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pissaro all bring a fascinating interpretation of how they see the world and subsequently put it on a canvas.  I love how they are able to look at something and see colors that most of us cannot fathom are there.

Claude Monet
Water-Lily Pond

Looking at the above painting by Monet at his beloved Giverny, I am amazed at the diverse range of color in what our eye interprets as a mostly green field.  Now, look at the following photo that I took this summer at Giverny of the actual pond he used as reference:

Giverny – France, 2012

Monet’s dynamic use of color bring the lily pond to life.  The yellows bring light to the canvas.  The blues depict cool shadows.  Texture allows the viewer to feel the leaves.  Reflection shows the stillness of the water.

The Impressionists were not well thought of when they came on the scene in the mid to late 1800’s.  Their style and bold use of color was a drastic departure from the dark, dramatic and realistic styles of their predecessors.  I’m thankful that they forged that path for artists who came after them.  Anytime I get an opportunity to see an Impressionist exhibit, I take advantage of it. I always learn something about how to use color and texture in my artwork.  Who inspires you?

Holy cow! It’s a winner!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by Lisa Mills


I am beyond words as I start this blog entry.  My artwork “Reflections on Heavy Metal” was juried into the International CPSA Exhibition which is displayed at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in Covington, Kentucky through the end of August. If that wasn’t enough, my artwork was one of 19 entries selected as a winner Friday evening at the CPSA Convention in Covington.  I received an Award for Excellence. I was beyond words then too.

“Reflections on Heavy Metal” on display at the Carnegie

There were 537 artworks entered into this year’s juried show.  121 were selected to be on exhibit for about six weeks at the Carnegie.  19 were winners.  As they said in The Hunger Games, somehow the odds were ever in my favor!  I stood among artists that I have admired for quite some time.  I had the privilege of sitting next to decorated and talented artist, Jeff George of California at our CPSA awards banquet Friday night.  It was his 9th straight year to have a piece selected for show. He’s also a past CIPPY Award winner (that’s Colored Pencil speak for Best in Show).  That’s staggering when you think of the fickle finger of fate that judges use to select artwork for these shows.

I got to Covington on Thursday afternoon and allowed myself plenty of time to see the exhibit.  The Carnegie is a beautiful, historic building that provides a perfect venue for the display of artwork.  I was really astonished at the quality of each of the 121 pieces that were selected this year.  Colored pencil artists are somewhat of the Rodney Dangerfields of the art world: we “don’t get no respect.”  I would challenge anyone with a thought of looking at colored pencil artwork with contempt to go see this exhibit.  To me, colored pencil has more potential for diversity in style that any other single medium in art and that diversity shines in this exhibit.  (Please note, that I say more than any other single medium, as mixed media artwork has a great deal of potential for diverse styles and applications.)  Colored Pencil art can look like pencil, colored pencil, pastel, oil, acrylic, watercolor and collage, among others.  It takes a great deal of patience and time to master the medium and execute the artwork.  There are so many possibilities that a colored pencil artist has at his or her disposal involving paper, boards and other surfaces, as well as any number of types of pencils and techniques one can use to carry out one’s vision.

The artists that won this year were both seasoned artists and new to CPSA.  Our CIPPY award winner was a new member and was entering for the first time.  Not only did she get juried in, but she also won best in show!  Quite an achievement.  Here’s a link to the CPSA website with photos of all the winning entries:

This was CPSA’s 20th annual exhibition and each year, many donors step up and give thousands of dollars to make the awards possible for the artists.  This year over $18,000 was donated for the prize money which comes from art product companies, district CPSA chapters and individuals.  My particular award was an Award for Excellence and it was made possible by the generous donations from CPSA District Chapter 215 (Dallas/Fort Worth – my home chapter) and DC 115 (Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania).  Thank you to both of those District Chapters who contributed funds – I am truly grateful for your generosity!

I’d be remiss not to also thank our wonderful judge, Jamie Markle, Publisher and Editorial Director of F+W Fine Art in Cincinnati.  Mr. Markle was very thoughtful in his process and very accessible to CPSA throughout our event.  He even took the time to speak to our group on Saturday morning with words of wisdom on getting published.  I know our CPSA board was thrilled to have worked with him this year.

I am still trying to grasp the reality of this achievement, which for me has been about three years in the making.  I picked up a colored pencil three years ago…my first time since I was in college.  I didn’t know where I would be headed with that pencil, but I knew I was hooked and a passion was re-born.  One of my goals is to get Signature Status with CPSA, which means that I have to have two more pieces juried in to the International Show within the next 9 years – this year’s entry provided step one.  There is also the CPSA Explore This! show that is featured online in the spring.  It is a mixed media show, and I would like to enter it as well to expand my repertoire.

For those of you that keep up with this blog, I appreciate your interest and support!  I hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as I am.



Work in Progress…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 22, 2012 by Lisa Mills

Even though it’s summer and things should have slowed down, my time in studio has been reduced.  I find myself spending much of my time in the car chauffeuring one certain teenager around to various activities.  This piece I’m posting here is one in progress.  It’s another three-panel (tryptich) study of an instrument and again, I’m taking advantage of bright sunlight and captivating reflections.  The background isn’t filled in yet as I will decide once the whole piece is complete what color the background shall be.  Can you guess the instrument?

A Departure From My Norm…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by Lisa Mills

I just finished this piece that I have entered in the CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) International Competition.  Works entered are evaluated by a judge and then, if selected (juried in) are shown at the international show and evaluated further for awards.  Just being juried into the show would be a HUGE deal for me, as I failed to make the cut last year.  I decided to depart from my animal art for this piece and do something completely different. This is my son’s Fender Stratocaster.  It’s all in colored pencil and done on Art Spectrum Colorfix Suede paper.  I loved how the paper, which has a velvety surface, combined with the wax and clay in the pencils creating a very painterly effect.  Here’s the piece entitled, “Reflections on Heavy Metal.”  Wish me luck in this year’s competition!  The results are not out until late April.

“Reflections on Heavy Metal” 15.5″x8″
Colored Pencil on Colorfix Suede Paper
Copyright 2012, Lisa M. Mills

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!

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.