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

Artworks Gallery

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, my artwork will be on display at Artworks Gallery in Kokomo, IN through the month of July. Here is the link to the newspaper interview I also promised in that post:  Kokomo Herald/Perspective article.

I recently spent the evening at the gallery for a meet and greet event with the public. This event was for all of the downtown businesses, not just the gallery. Artworks Gallery is a very nice space. They have two levels and some small classroom space. They featured work by quite a few talented artists. The monthly featured artist works hang on the “gray wall” on the lower level. I took this photo from the landing area upstairs during a slow moment in the evening.

Artworks Gallery

My work featured on the gray wall.

The gallery staff provided guests with tea and lemon water, cookies and pastries. It was a lovely evening with the doors left open and the sound of music from down the street. Even though I am very uncomfortable meeting people at events like this, it really was a very nice event and I appreciate the effort the staff put into the evening.

I am really anxious to get started on another drawing. I’ve drawn everyone in my immediate family except my husband. He’s up next. Now if I can just get the 4H projects, the weeds in the garden and landscaping under control, I’ll be able to get started on his drawing. I am hoping to have more artwork on display for the month of August. I’ll let you know if this works out as soon as I can.

Have a great day.


Feed Your Creative Soul

I stumbled across this meme on Facebook a few days ago. Aside from the grammatical error of using “everybody” instead of “not everyone,” I like the thought provoking message.

Not everyone is a doctor or lawyer

This morning I visited the original post and scrolled through the comments people have been leaving. (This was not on my own Facebook page, but rather the page from which the post originated.) The comments were all over the map. Some commenters expressed appreciation for the artistry depicted in the photo, others took the opportunity to blast our education system, others called for fairer wages for traditionally low paying jobs, while some expressed a concern for the lack of respect given to skilled trades jobs.  And of course, there were a few success-hating-victims-of-the-system, trippin’ on an angry pill, foul-mouthed idiots who were only raging on about nothing in particular and calling everyone elitist Marxist (fill in the nasty word of your choice). I suppose there has to be at least one in every crowd.

Here are some of the comments that were attached to the post. (I’m not going to share the nasty, angry ones.)

AMEN , we need to pass on the value of craftsmanship and cherish those who practice it .I earn my paycheck as an engineer, but building instruments is my passion .  

Saying that someone should ‘do what he loves’ for a living is fundamentally backwards and selfish. Focus on making money for your family first. We should be taking care of our kids and parents before we take care of ourselves. Doing what I love is nothing compared to being able to provide and take care of the people who love me.  

Yes, and also teach them to still get involved in higher education. Take a few classes even if not getting a degree. Take pride in the brain that helps you get places with your hands.

 Nor does everyone want to be a Dr or Lawyer…I definitely think there is a lot of talented people out there in the world, they just don’t realize how talented they really are…I see it all the time…

In my opinion there is a much bigger problem that goes across every profession and that is that we’re teaching kids to be “the best they can be”, where we should be teaching that kids should always BE the best at what they’re doing, and challenge them to be better than they would ever dare dream of being on their own.

Part of the problem is that schools are evaluated on how many graduates go to college. There should be consideration for grads going to trade schools. Parents should be proud when kids want to be mechanics, electricians, carpenters, HVAC, MASONS, plumbers, chefs. These are great professions for great people. Not everyone wants to be bored behind a desk all day. And, these trade schools/professions are not for slouches. It’s time for high schools to let these kids receive the recognition for achieving these skills.

 Yeah, we sure went off base telling our kids they MUST HAVE COLLEGE DEGREES and be white collar workers or be looked down on for being blue collar workers. Europe admires anyone who has a job!

There were many, many more comments about this meme, this is just a small sampling. Most of the commenters referred to skilled trades rather than artistic skills when referring to working with their hands. In general, the comments left me with one question. Is it possible for the average person to make a living wage following their talent and doing what they love to do? Sadly, when it comes to artistic passions, the answer is probably no. (Myself included.)

Whether your passion is visual arts, music, writing, theater, etc. you probably will not make a livable wage just following your talent and passion. Sad, but true. Obviously there are some exceptions, but I believe there are millions of secretly talented people out there working “9 to 5” just to pay the bills.  To those people, I want to encourage you to be intentional about finding ways to use your talents and follow your passions even if it’s just in small ways. Sign up for that weekend workshop at the community center, turn off the TV and spend some time sketching, go to the local civic theater, teach your talent to someone else – do something to feed the creative soul within you. Keep the fire burning. I think you’ll find more satisfaction in life.

Best of Show

I am very pleased to announce that “Woodland Nymph” was awarded Best of Show at the 105th Annual Logansport Art Association Fine Art Show. The same piece was also awarded First Place in the Professional Division.

"Woodland Nymph"
“Woodland Nymph”

“Woodland Nymph” is approximately 22″ x 28″, Prismacolor and Faber Castell Polychromos pencil on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper. The reference photo is courtesy of Colored Pencil Magazine Monthly Challenge.

“Child’s Play” was awarded the Virginia Murdock Award which was sponsored by the Alpha Mu Chapter of Tri Kappa.

"Child's Play"
“Child’s Play”

“Child’s Play” is 9.5″ x 12.5″, Prismacolor and Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencil, and Pan Pastel on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper. The reference photos are courtesy of June Artz Photography, used by permission.

The original artworks are for sale. Prints of each are also available on my website at


Tulips of Fire

Finally. I finished it. There are quite a few photos in this post so, just bear with me. We left off last time with me just starting to block in the highlight areas for the large open tulip. Here, I’ve begun to add layers of color.


As usual, I always start with the brightest highlights and work from light to dark. There are many, many layers of colored pencil involved in getting just the right color blend. I also may repeat layers. I start with White and proceed with Lemon Yellow, Canary Yellow, Sunburst, Orange and then maybe go back to White and Lemon Yellow, etc.  The outside of the tulip petals fade from red/orange to purple to white/cream. I may use 18 to 20 different colors of pencil in multiple layers to achieve the colors I am looking for.  People often ask me how long it takes me to do a painting. I am not good at trying to track hours, but with this painting I averaged about one completed flower petal every hour. So, it takes a long time.


20160328_102723 (1)

I have to admit that in the above photo, I started a flower petal that I was never completely pleased with. For whatever reason, I just had a difficult time making it look like a flower petal and not a feather. I did quite a bit of re-working on it, but in the end it still bothered me somewhat.

I used my Prismacolor Art Stix to speed up the process just a bit.
I used my Prismacolor Art Stix to speed up the process just a bit.

Sometimes you get to a point where you decide you need to remove a few layers of pencil to be able to add more. My preferred method of removing layers of colored pencil is to use a kneaded eraser. The eraser can be shaped to fit the area where the color needs to be removed. I don’t rub the eraser, just touch it to the paper. That’s really all that is needed.  It’s nearly impossible to remove all of the color, but the kneaded eraser does a very good job of removing the top layers and allowing the color of the paper to show through.


Random picture of my work area. I tend to keep laying all of the pencils I use on the table instead of putting them away as I use them.
Random picture of my work area. I tend to keep laying all of the pencils I use on the table instead of putting them away as I use them.
Pencils, mostly Prismacolor and Polychromos in my pencil caddy on a turntable.
Pencils, mostly Prismacolor and Polychromos in my pencil caddy on a turntable.
My luscious Art Stix. Aren't those colors just beautiful?
My luscious Art Stix. Aren’t those colors just beautiful?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am using Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper. This paper has a very sanded, rough texture and really eats up the pencils, but I love it. You can see that I use a lot of cream and white pencils. This particular cream pencil was about 7 inches long when I started the painting. Now there’s hardly enough to hang on to!


In fact, quite a few of the pencils were getting really short. I’ll be placing an order with Dick Blick Art Supplies as soon as I’m done with this to order a new supply of pencils.


It’s coming along nicely, but still has quite a way to go. I am toying with the idea of putting in a background. Personally I like just the black paper, but other’s often tell me that I should give my paintings some type of background. I like the contrast of color on the black and I think that might be lost if I were to paint in a background. Ultimately the decision will come down to time and deadlines. I am trying to finish this in time to submit it to the Colored Pencil Society of America’s upcoming show/competition. At the time this photo was taken, I had about 8 hours left to finish the painting, take photographs, complete the application and submit the photo online. This a juried competition and quite frankly, I do not usually fair well with juries. Therefore I am keeping my expectations real. That is to say, that I will be pretty darned surprised if I get accepted, but heh, you never know til you try. Just wish it didn’t cost me money every time I try.


Here are some detailed pictures of lifting, or removing, color with a kneaded eraser.

I knead the eraser and shape it into a wedge point.
I knead the eraser and shape it into a wedge point.
I press the point along the area where I want to remove color to deepen the shadow.
I press the point along the area where I want to remove color to deepen the shadow.
Here I've shaped the eraser into a cone point to be able to remove small spots of color.
Here I’ve shaped the eraser into a cone point to be able to remove small spots of color.


So, here it is. The finished product. I did not add in a background, partly because I was running low on time, and I just wasn’t convinced that a background would add to the composition.  I was able to get the painting submitted on time, so I will not be making any changes to it until I hear back from the juror. I may add more to it later, but for now, it is what it is. I have other projects planned out through the end of summer, so I will not have time to get to it before then anyway.

"Tulips of Fire" Prismacolor and Polychromos colored pencil on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper; 10" x 20" photo reference my own.
“Tulips of Fire”
Prismacolor and Polychromos colored pencils on Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper; 10″ x 20″ photo reference my own.

Order your own print of “Tulips of Fire” on my website, .

Upcoming projects include finishing a pet portrait for a friend, finishing a pen & ink portrait of my granddaughter, lesson planning for a colored pencil class I will be teaching in a few weeks, finishing a colored pencil painting for a show in June, and starting an entirely new project that I have been mulling over in my head for a couple of months. And, oh yeah, I need to keep writing blog posts to let you know what I’m doing! I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.



More WIP Photos

I’m still working on the drawing of the tulips for a juried show at the end of the month. Juries don’t usually like my work so my expectations are low, but I’ll give it a go anyway.  Following are my latest WIP photos of the tulip drawing. I don’t have a lot to explain about them, but I thought you might like to see the progress.


The underside (back) of these tulips has a lot more variation of colors.
The underside (back) of these tulips has a lot more variation of colors.
Here are some of the pencils I used for the colorful underside of the flower petal in the above photo.
Here are some of the pencils I used for the colorful underside of the flower petal in the above photo.
colored pencil tulips
Blocking in the highlights is the first step in drawing the next flower petal

You can barely see the clear acetate sheet that I use to protect the work under my hand as I draw. You can also clearly see in the photos, tiny flecks of pencil dust that fall all over the paper. This paper has a heavily sanded texture and creates a LOT of pencil dust. I really like it, though. I use a drafting brush to brush away the pencil dust, but quite a bit of it still catches in the texture.

Before I start a new section, I use a kneaded eraser to “clean up” the pencil dust that gets stuck in the paper texture. You can see in the picture above that some spots appear darker, or blacker, than others. That is because I have dabbed the kneaded eraser on those areas to pick up as much pencil dust as possible. If I don’t remove the excess pencil dust, those colors will blend with the new color that I am applying and create a muddy color that could ruin the drawing. I can also go back over some of the more “shadowy” areas with the kneaded eraser to remove color that I’ve applied and allow more of the black of the paper to show through. Although, I’ll wait until I’m pretty much done with the piece before I do that.

I’ll post more soon!

New W.I.P. (Work In Progress)

I set my drawing of the girl aside for a bit to work on a pet portrait commission and a competition piece. Stay tuned for a post about the pet portrait. Meanwhile, I began work on a drawing of tulips that will be used as an entry in a competition at the end of March.

The tulips I am using are ones I grew in my own flower bed. The label on the package called them Parrot Tulips. A couple of years ago I picked three tulips and set them up in a vase and took a series of photos from many angles. I did a small drawing of the tulips and the vase about a year ago, but this time I wanted to do a drawing of tulips that were close up and filled the page. I haven’t decided yet if I will use a background or not. I took some photos of navy blue fabric draped over a chair that I might plug in as a background later.

Have you ever used Microsoft Publisher? I LOVE that program. I can do just about whatever I want with it. I imported the photos of the tulips and eliminated the background to make it transparent. I then started overlaying the pictures on top of each other to arrange the composition and make sure the proportion was just right.

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done.
It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done.

As you can see above, my work in Publisher didn’t remove all of the background, but gets close enough to arrange a composition. I chose to use only the right two-thirds of the photo for my artwork. The piece I am working on measures approximately 10″ x 20″.  In case you’re wondering about the odd size…that’s the size of the frame I have available. Hey, sometimes you just gotta use what you have on hand at the time. The paper that I will do the final drawing on is very textured and does not erase well, so my next step was to draw a basic outline of the composition on layout paper. This rough sketch is the size of the final drawing. I did the sketch in blue pencil. Once I was sure I was pleased with the composition and proportions, I then turned the layout paper over and copied over the blue lines with a white charcoal pencil. Then I taped the layout paper, with the charcoal side down, on top of the final drawing paper.  I was then able to rub over the design and transfer the white charcoal sketch outline to the final paper. I only transfer a rough, basic outline and with freehand the rest of the details later with the colored pencils.

Layout paper with basic outline of drawing.
Layout paper with basic outline of drawing.

For this piece I am using Canson Mi-Tientes Touch black paper. This is a piece I cut off a larger one. Finally it was time to start drawing! I followed the same steps as I usually do. First is a reverse grisaille or underpainting of the highlight colors of cream and white. Then I began layering the others colors. I will be using Prismacolors, Faber Castell Polychromos, Rembrandt Lyra, Caran d’Ache Pablos and Luminance pencils. My only blending technique will be layering, layering, and more layering.

I usually use my table for photo references.
I usually use my tablet for photo references.
Detail of color layers
Detail of color layers

So, there you have an example of what goes into a drawing before the drawing begins. I estimate about 3-4 hours of prep time starting with setting up the initial photo session with the tulips until the line drawing was transferred to the black paper. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.


I Blame Star Wars

I hope everyone is having a pleasant winter. It’s cold here today. 12 degrees. As I sit here on my couch, with my feet up, a blanket across my lap and a warm kitty napping on my legs, I wish I was sitting at my drawing table. I assumed after the holidays I’d be spending a lot more time there, but that’s not the case. You see, I’m also sitting here with a heating pad on my back, and it’s not just because I’m cold.

I blame Star Wars.

Continue reading I Blame Star Wars

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I’ve been on a sort of artwork hiatus during the holiday season. For me, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with decorating the house, shopping, wrapping (I LOVE to wrap presents) and baking cookies and making candies, so there isn’t much time left to spend in the studio.
This week I am nursing a very sore back (not sure what that’s about) but am slowly getting the Christmas decorations put away. We’ll babysit the grandkids this weekend and then everything goes back to routine. I’ll be back in the studio playing with some of my new “toys” my darling husband got me for Christmas. I have a drawing that I started back in October that I would like to finish soon, as well as a pet portrait to work on. Plus, last summer I created the background for a pen and ink portrait of my granddaughter and then never got back to actually doing the portrait. So I’ve got plans and projects that need to be worked on.
Also, I want to work on putting together plans for another Drawing with Colored Pencil class, Part #2. I would like to explore teaching more classes or workshops. I am new to this, so I’ve still got some things to figure out, but I think the first class went fairly well.
Hope you all have a wonderful, productive and creative 2016.
Numbers 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV) 24 “The Lord bless you     and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you     and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you     and give you peace.”
Background is “Pink Floral” an oil pastel drawing available on my website.
Happy New Year!!