Archive for colored pencil artists

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.

Back in the Saddle Again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 11, 2011 by Lisa Mills

I’ve spent the past week coming to grips with the fact that my artwork was not accepted for entry to the CPSA show slated for Dallas in July. I was really down for a while – since it was the first big thing I’d entered.  But I also used this time as an opportunity to better myself as an artist.  I’ve been evaluating my subject matter, my technique and my reference photos. There’s two main areas of weakness that jump out at me: my lack of experience as a photographer and my lack of ability to mentally compose a subject.

Photographs are the starting point to all my work since I am a realistic artist and a slow one at that.  My medium takes pain-staking hours to create and because of that I use photos (taken by me) as references for my subject.  Since I like animals, I have to capture shots very quickly so I’m not afforded the luxury of time to set up a shot.  There’s no time to think about aperture and shutter settings, and the “automatic” setting is rarely the perfect setting.  I’ve bought a great set of photography books by Scott Kelby who fortunately doesn’t dwell on techno-speak while explaining how to get the great shot.  Hopefully with some practice, I’ll get it down sooner than later.  Thank goodness for digital photos – I would’ve spent a fortune in film by now!

As for composition…this is the tough part.  People always tell me how “creative” I am.  Actually, for an artist I am not that creative.  I don’t visualize the shot or the final product easily at all. I can execute almost anything on paper with pencils – but coming up with that perfect idea eludes me.  It’s really frustrating.  I’m now trying to educate myself on composition and choosing the subject that “tells the story” and appeals to the viewer.  I want my viewer to feel something when they look at my work.  And that all comes back to the original reference photo – getting that great first shot.

I’m plodding on with the Duck Stamp entry – although I’m coming along slowly.  In the spare time, I’m educating myself on photography and composition.  Back in the saddle and back to the drawing board – right after I calm down two Golden Retrievers during a thunderstorm.

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.