Archive for wildlife 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


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!

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.