Lullaby of Singing Wind Woman

My two older children are Sioux Native American. I think I mentioned that in the blog post about Half-Blood Whole-Heart which used my son as a model. This time I used a photo of my daughter and grandson as the models for LULLABY OF SINGING WIND WOMAN.

Sharayah Burrell Sharayah Cornwell

This drawing was not an attempt at a portrait, I was using the photo as a reference only. After playing with the sketch and changing her hair to a braid, I used tracing paper and a white charcoal pencil to transfer the sketch to my final drawing paper, Canson Mi Tientes Touch black paper.

Lullaby of Singing Wind Woman

I first trace the drawing with a graphite pencil on tracing paper. Then I turn the paper over and, on the back side, trace the graphite drawing with a white charcoal pencil. Sometimes I use a pastel pencil. I can then position the sketch, with the white side down, on my final drawing paper and trace over the line again to transfer the white sketch to the black paper.

Lullabye of Singing Wind Woman

I decided to start with the background first. I was trying an experimental idea and if it didn’t workout I wanted to be free to chuck the whole thing in the bin without losing the time invested in the main composition. I chose turquoise, orange and yellow as the main colors for the background and used Prismacolor Art Stix to lay down most of the color.

Prismacolor Premier Art Stix
Woodless colored pencils

These are fabulous for covering large areas in a short amount of time. They are the same waxed based pigment found in the regular pencils, just without the wood casing and in a different shape.

Unfortunately most of my work-in-progress photos were lost to cyber oblivion, so I only have what was already posted on my Facebook page. I have no clue what happened to all the other photos. No doubt they will turn up after I no longer need them.  Here are the photos I do have.

As I stated earlier, my daughter is Sioux Native American and her native name is Singing Wind Woman. She was not actually singing a lullaby at the time the original photo was taken. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, she had just changed a very nasty diaper. I changed quite a few things about the piece. Her hair was changed from a messy bun to a braid, I added an earring, and changed the t-shirt to a leather fringed tunic. I also changed the baby sleeper to just a blanket. To make these changes I researched pictures online to get a better understanding of braided hair and dreamcatchers. I also looked at numerous photos of leather fringed jackets to be able to better visualize what fringe should look like. I had to imagine the beading on the fringe and just wing it.  For the baby blanket, I used a saddle blanket that we have here at home and wrapped it around a baby doll from the grandkids toy box. I was very pleased with how the blanket turned out.

I couldn’t decide if I should try adding a dreamcatcher to the background when my older son suggested that I make a color copy and pencil it in on the copy to try it out first. Brilliant idea. I did just that and after conferring back with him, my husband and my daughter, we decided the dreamcatcher needed to be there. I couldn’t find a detailed photo that I liked of a dreamcatcher to use as a reference. Then I remembered that I have a dreamcatcher necklace buried in a box. Perfect! I knew I wanted it to be simple and the necklace I have worked great as a reference.

Small color copy with penciled in dreamcatcher background.

Here is the finished work. LULLABY OF SINGING WIND WOMAN, Prismacolor colored pencil on Canson Mi Tientes Touch black paper, 12 x 16, matted and framed to 16 x 20. Photo reference, my own.

Lullaby of Singing Wind Woman
Lullaby of Singing Wind Woman

This piece is on display at the Logansport Art Association 108th Annual Spring Art Show in Logansport, Indiana through the month of June 2019.



Half-Blood Whole-Heart

This is my most recent colored pencil drawing. I estimated that it took me 50+ hours of actual drawing time and countless more hours of thinking and planning.

This drawing has been rolling around in my imagination for about a year. I had my son pose for some reference photos when he was home for the holidays last winter, but I didn’t actually start on the drawing until about May. Honestly, most of the time I was working on it, I wasn’t sure if I would ever finish it. Many times I considered ripping it off of the easel and throwing it away. Half-Blood Whole-Heart is a conglomeration of many different reference photos as well as sheer imagination when I couldn’t find the references I wanted. Continue reading Half-Blood Whole-Heart

Free Spirit

I finally have another drawing to share with you! I am very pleased with how this one turned out. It was a very challenging piece for me as I really didn’t know for sure what the end product was going to be when I started drawing. I usually have a very definite plan, including detailed reference photos, before I start a drawing. This time I was “winging” it, so I spent a good deal of time just staring at it and planning what I wanted it to look like and how to achieve what I was imagining. Continue reading Free Spirit

The Highlander

I finished it! Just in time. I wanted to finish this piece to be exhibited in a local weekend art show and just barely made the deadline. Work was to be delivered on Monday October 30th. I finished the artwork in the morning on Sunday the 29th and spent the afternoon framing it. Nothing quite like a deadline.

I’ve assembled quite a few work-in-progress photos to show the steps along the way.



I was very pleased with the clasp on the headband in the above photo.

The very last thing I drew on this piece was the beard. I was so anxious to get to the beard. I knew it would really “make” the piece. I used seven different colors of pencil for the beard. They included: Black, Polychromos Dark Sepia, Polychromos Warm Grey II, Prismacolor 90% Cool Grey, Prismacolor 90% French Grey, Prismacolor 70% French Grey, and Prismacolor White. I don’t remember which brand of Black I used. I just know I didn’t us much of it.


colored pencil, drawing, art,
Image Size: 17.5 x 22 inches Medium: Colored Pencil – Prismacolor Premier, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Walnut Hollow, Caran d’ Ache Pablos Paper: Canson Mi-Tientes Touch Photo Ref: My own, Shawn Parker

Wax On Wax Off

using a kneaded eraser to remove layers of colored pencil

Wax on wax off. The title might seem unusual, but it truly applies to this post. I use mostly Prismacolor colored pencils in my drawings and they are a wax based pencil. Sometimes I add pencil layers, sometimes I take them off.

In this post I want to explain in step-by-step detail how I approached the plaid fabric in The Highlander. Continue reading Wax On Wax Off

Tentatively Titled “The Highlander” WIP

Finally a new work-in-progress. Albeit, very slow progress. It’s so hard to get any artwork done during the summer. So in between freezing corn, canning tomatoes and digging potatoes, I started a new colored pencil work.

I’ve drawn everyone in the family except my husband, so he is the star of this work. It isn’t really a portrait, I’m just using him as my model. I am working with a variety of reference photos to put together the final piece that I “see” in my mind. Continue reading Tentatively Titled “The Highlander” WIP

A Summer Day

A Facebook friend of mine posted a photo she had taken of her sons at the lake. I loved the photo so much that I asked her for permission to use it as a reference for a painting.

I’ve held on to the reference photo for a couple of years or so and finally got around to using it.

I started the piece by sketching the boys on tracing paper, then transferring the sketch to a sheet of Oil Pastel Card by Sennelier.

sketch tracing paper
First sketch of the boys on tracing paper

They look kind of creepy with no legs or faces.

Once I sketched in some basic outlines, I began with an underpainting of complimentary colors. I chose to create this piece in oil pastel and used oil pastels for the underpainting as well. I had considered using a thin wash of oil paints, but chose to do the entire piece in the pastels.

oil pastels, painting, underpainting
Underpainting in complimentary colors

Next I used a brush and odorless mineral spirits to blend the pastel colors around and cover more of the paper. The pastel didn’t move as much on the paper as I had hoped. I was rethinking my decision to use only pastels and not oil paints.

Oil pastels with a wash of mineral spirits

I began layering colors much like I do with colored pencil, carefully working around the areas of the boys.



And…the finished product.

Photo of final work on display.

I’m still considering the oil pastels an experiment. I have fun working with them, but I’m not always sure how much I like the final results. I’ll just have to keep playing with them.

Photography Backdrop

My daughter is a photographer. No, she is an amazing photographer! You can view some of her work here.  She’s asked me to paint backdrops for her a few times and I just never got around to doing anything because most of my work was in colored pencil and very detailed. I didn’t think I could create something that would lend itself well to being reproduced in such a huge format…until now.  Continue reading Photography Backdrop

Woodland Nymph – Finally Finished!

colored pencil, fairy, flowers

It took a long time, but I finally finished the “Woodland Nymph.” This drawing started out last October as part of the Colored Pencil Magazine’s monthly challenge. I had not entered the challenge contest before primarily because I didn’t think I’d be able to finish a drawing inside of a month. While I don’t have an outside job, I still don’t spend my entire day just drawing. (Although sometimes I’d like to!) Colored pencil drawings are very time consuming and it’s really hard to squeeze in enough time to get anything finished very quickly.

I chose to jump in on the monthly challenge last October because I just loved the photo reference provided for the challenge. The subject matter, the colors, all of it was just so inspiring. I really thought I could get it finished within the deadline. Obviously that didn’t happen. Life happened instead.  However, I am very pleased to announce that after 7 months of drawing, planning, waiting, and drawing some more, it is finally finished.

Here are a few work-in-progress (WIP) photos. You will find more WIP photos is earlier blog posts from last fall.

Woodland Nymph is drawn on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper using 100% colored pencils. I used Prismacolor Premier, Faber-Castell Polychromos, and a couple of Caran d’ache Luminance pencils. The background was largely done with Prismacolor Art Stix and a few pencils. When using pencils on the background, I sharpened them to a very fine point and then used the pencils on their side to take advantage of the pencil lead making as much contact with the surface as possible. Overall I am quite pleased with the outcome of the background. I wanted a background that was interesting, yet didn’t distract from the nymph.


Laying down a highlight layer of cream on what will become a leaf.
Laying down a highlight layer of cream on what will become a leaf.
After adding some greens and yellows. I use a clear sheet of acetate under my hand to protect the  drawing that is already completed.
After adding some greens and yellows. I use a clear sheet of acetate under my hand to protect the drawing that is already completed.

The following are some of my favorite details of the piece.20160513_102355



All matted and framed and ready for a new home!
All matted and framed and ready for a new home!

Woodland Nymph is currently on display at the Logansport Art Association Annual Fine Arts Show in Logansport, Indiana. Contact me if you are interested in purchasing the original artwork. Prints of “Woodland Nymph” are available on my website at .


The Story of Six

An old friend of mine contacted me about drawing a portrait of her cat.

First let me clarify. My friend is not old. By saying, “old friend” I simply mean a friend for many years. (If she is old, that would mean that I am old. I am not old.)  I think we first became friends in Mrs. Talbot’s second grade classroom. Karol was the best thing about second grade. We didn’t have to get very far into the school year before it became clear to this 7 year old that Mrs. Talbot didn’t like children. Or at least she didn’t seem to like most of the ones in our classroom. Karol was the bright spot in that school year. Although over the years, okay, many years, we may have formed other friendships, and even though we may hold varying views on many issues (I am quite conservative, her…not so much), I feel confident in saying that we have been able to maintain a friendship across the years and across the miles. So when Karol asked about a portrait of her cat, Six, who had recently passed away, I was happy to give it a try. Since Karol is a knitter, and I am not, we agreed to trade a drawing for knitting. She’s going to knit socks, or a scarf, or something. As long as it keeps me warm and cozy next winter I’ll be happy.

Rather than my standard work-in-progress photos and narrative, I asked Karol to write the story of Six. I have interspersed work-in-progress photos with that story.

The Story of Six by Karol Hovis

I never planned to become a crazy cat lady. Well, maybe I did. Maybe my fantasy involved a lot of kids, dogs, cats, chickens, and a few goats. I don’t have the chickens and goats (yet!) but I’ve made good on the rest of my goals, I think.
After I bought my house and settled in with my kids, I realized that I had a small, cat-shaped hole in my heart. This happens occasionally, and when it does, I take it as a given that pretty soon a cat will be along to fill it. Sure enough, a friend of mine called. She had a cat that she described as “formerly feral” and wondered if I might know someone who wanted her. I explained the hole in my heart (she understood perfectly, as any cat lady would), and soon I was opening the door to our new family member.
Enter Six. We considered many names, but finally decided sequential numbering made sense. If ever a cat was NOT “formerly feral”, that would be Six. She had a luxurious calico coat, delicate white paws, and a cry that was mostly silent except for the final plaintive “…ow” part of meow. Six settled right in with our dogs, other cats, and kids, and quickly became Tanner’s favorite. He loved to cradle her in his arms, her fuzzy feet sticking straight up, and carry her around while she rubbed her head against his arm and purred.
Six 1
I had heard of “ragdoll” cats, but didn’t completely understand the term until I met Six. No matter how someone picked her up, she collapsed into a limp pile of purr and happiness. A visiting toddler could wobble around holding her upside down, and still she would be nothing but a cuddly colorful ragdoll of appreciation. Not much phased our girl.


In keeping with her loving nature, she became best friends with Hot Rod, our boxer. During the day, he was required by peer pressure from the other dogs to pretend he didn’t like her, but in the evening, when he curled up on the couch, everything changed. Six would slip up on him, and before he knew it, she’d be settled in beside him for a friendly sleep. She loved all the dogs, but Hot Rod was her favorite.
After 7 years–much too short a time–we lost our beloved girl. Hot Rod misses her. The kids and I are heartbroken. I once again have a cat-shaped hole in my heart, but this time I don’t think it will be filled as perfectly as before. I’ve had many cats, but I do believe that this cat was a special gift to us. I can only hope that we were just as special to her.
cat portrait, cat, drawing, calico, feline art
I like the lighting of the previous photo better. I think it is a little more accurate to life. This photo was scanned instead of photographed.