Sunday, April 28, 2013


I was in the middle of drawing the art nouveau women of color, when I was inspired to do this particular piece. I was using tonal paper on a small sketch book. Though the pictures make this image look bigger then it is, it is only 5x7.

For some reason, I started coloring the image before inking - again. I think I was just too excited to see if I could complete a full image of color. I hadn't done so in a little while. I also started the foundation of the skin in gold. All while I was putting in the color, I was second guessing myself if the finished product was going to look like a reject from the Simpsons. It was about then when I was doing the eyes, did I realize to establish where the light was coming from for the shadow to be placed around the strands of hair. It started to get tricky around the eyelids and I was about to start all over again if I hadn't stopped and stepped back to see what I had done thus far.

I think I used about 7 different colors to get the skin right. I never thought I would ever have to use olive to tone the skin down from being too gold or too orange. It was good to know. I had made a mistake thinking I could use gray or lavender as I would for Caucasian skin. For black tones it came out ashen.

Thinking I had finished the piece, again I stepped back only to see that the fingers as well as the strap of her garment needed some shading. I also saw where the whites of her eyes are too white. I saw an artist on you-tube practically colored the whites of her subject's eyes all a light gray and then came back to put "China White" only where the light was hitting. They looked very realistic. I'll have to do some more practicing.

  I will link the finished piece here when I figure how to shade the arm without it looking strange. I tried once already and looked like another strap. The sides of her fingers need more detail as well as the sides of her face and more shading in the eyes.  I might be over thinking it. I am already looking forward in doing the next one.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


This is another at my attempt to not only trying to establish my niche but to also incorporate my favorite style (art nouveau) with women of color. I tried doing this some years ago and failed miserably. I will post one or two of those images later and link it here. These are rough sketches of the three women of color I plan to do in an art nouveau style. For this one, it is the middle image.

With this, like Poppy, I used tonal paper. It is easier to establish skin tone. Pastel paper is good for this as well. For some reason I thought I could get a better tone without looking ashy or muddy if I did my sketch in white color pencil and then fill in with marker rather then lining it with ink. I won't do that again.

I had already knew I was going to use the daffodil flower before I knew what Daphne was going to look like. It was the leaves that proved to be the challenge knowing that not only did it have to fill the page but look ornate as well.

When I scanned the finished piece, I noticed how the white shown through. I went over the line digitally just to cover the white and hoping not to have messed up with the integrity of the work.

Still working on the style, as you can see. I am also doing much research to stay inspired to finish the series. Thank you for all of the views. I would appreciate comments and critiques if you have any better ideas then what I am doing. Thank you again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I had this idea to do a series of women in a precarious position that most of us would not find ourselves. Initially, it was supposed to be a face and some flowers - practicing my version of art nouveau. As I progressed, the piece developed a message. Continue reading, you'll see what I mean.

I did this one over a few times.

I sketched it on white drawing paper and then tried to make a decent likeness on tonal paper. I liked the shape but when using colored pencil and trying to get where I thought it should look like....ugh! It wasn't working. She was looking really I ditched it and started all over again.

As I continued drawing, it reminded me of a woman I spoke to for a little while. This relatively attractive professional woman had this relationship with a man and had him move in to her home with her children. He had shown signs of being a violent person but instead of telling him to get out, she decided to work with what she had. She never married this man but still decided to remain with him. She left her home when he broke her arm. The violence never really registered with her. Even when she saw the look on her children's face, it wasn't really and truly violent in her mind. When she found herself in a shelter to be protected from him, it wasn't quite what caused her to see what she had done. It took a few days later when she was nursing her arm and someone noticed how it flopped (her arm). She went to the hospital and had an x-ray done. She looked at the light box of her arm (in the x-ray film) and saw the clean break of the bone. She started to freak out. Reality finally set in.

After I drew this image, I saw how I posed the arms and tried to do the same pose myself. It wasn't comfortable and the curve of my arm couldn't lie flat as I drew this one here. I didn't change it because of what she reminded me of. Even the expression of having gone through so much and still deciding to go through it again. No matter what I said, the director of the shelter, other residents in the shelter, it was her decision. She had to desire to be safe, if not for her, then her children. She had to request getting the PPO, the safe plan, change the locks, and call the police if he ever returns. She had to learn to love herself and know that she was worthy of being loved not abused.

Yeah, I saw her later...about 2-3 months. She was sitting in a popular hamburger restaurant. When she saw me. I think I stopped a few feet from the door and stood still in shock. She left the man at the table to talk to me. She didn't think I recognized him. She tried to convince me that they were only talking, but I knew better. She still had the cast on her arm. He never raised his head to see where she was going and who she was talking to...he was concentrating on the most perfect words to feed her. We paused for a moment....I didn't have anything left to say and she had to get back to her....meal.

The whole image reminded me of her even down to the twist of her body. She knew what was right but she had to keep going back to him for whatever the reason. Holding her arm, it just wasn't real...for her yet. I added flowers for the background because the red seemed so prominent against her skin. Evident to everyone, still she looks at the viewer hearing the words but not listening.

Black women aren't depicted too often in the style of art nouveau. I found this out about 5 years ago and was sadden by the discovery. Whether the original artists thought that black women weren't commercial enough to use or attractive enough - it was their loss. Long flowing hair is indicative of the style. I choose to shave the head of this work and have a small blonde fro. I thought about the recent medical survey showing that African American women are more prone to heart disease and have the highest rate of being susceptible to HIV. If that study is true, I wondered if it has anything to do with so many single black women raising their children without the fathers. I wondered about how women give themselves so casually because they are starved for affection and the men know it. I wondered if a father was around to tell his daughters how beautiful they are would that woman, mentioned earlier, have such a difficult time in making a decision that would seem so obvious to everyone else.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I wasn't intentionally trying to draw a series with this but it was fun to do and when I finished one, I really wished to have had a small collection of them. Only, this one that I did seemed to have taken forever. Eaxch leaf had its own set of veins and then I added birds, and butterflies for interest. when I was finished with them, I barely could tell where each one was until I focused intently - hence the title of this post. This particular one is called, In the Thicket.

As you can see, the others will take some time. The hours for this one.... I have no idea. Once I got into it, time didn't matter.

A Niche Is Hard To Find

I returned back to drawing about 5 years ago after finishing college, raising a family and building on a human professional career for the last 17 plus years. I found there were techniques that I forgot about and some styles I never really studied before. When I happened upon Alphonse Mucha, I knew that was the style for me. The problem was art nouveau is so distinctive, it was going to be difficult to try to make it my own.
I did so much research online and in the library. What I found was that current artists, got what I was trying to do - develop my own style. How does one do that? I watched other artists for hours marveling at their techniques and picking up unforgiving mediums to use with such ease. I hated to admit how I envied them. Anyone that watched them long enough could tell their style from anyone else's.

For instance, Audrey Kawasaki, Bec Winnel, Moon Spiral, and Michael Shapcott are well known artists for their distinctive styles. If they never signed their work, it wouldn't matter - we would all know who the artist is. They found their niche. Their style is all their own. It is a feat that can come with practice and knowing who you are as an artist.

I have been trying to follow the trend in the page views of my work...however, people are fickle in what they like today as opposed to yesterday. Alice and Wonderland illustrations has had wide appeal for the last 4 years. I received many page views and features for my illustrations under that category:

As much as I liked drawing these pieces, I couldn't get the distinct style that I wished for... but it didn't keep me from still searching. These drawings do well being appealing. I like the details and the use of black ink on white paper. I also liked having just a bit of the image coming out of the box. It was my unspoken message of not conforming to someone else's rules all of the time. I like it, and it has become a part of my signature. So I found a little of my niche. Now, what else?