Trekell’s Artist of the Month

I am incredibly honored to be featured on Trekell and Company’s website as their February Artist of the Month. Not only does the Trekell team make extraordinary tools, they are also very supportive of their artists.

When it comes to paint brushes Trekell is one of the best in the business (rivaling Rosemary & Co but recently I’ve been preferring Trekell).

Here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Hog Bristle Long Filberts – I begin every painting with one of these bad boys. I don’t know why but it seems most artists tend to reach for the smallest brush in their conglomeration of tools. I start with a size 6 and try to hold onto it for as long as I can before relinquishing it to a smaller brush for detail work. The longer handle makes it more comfortable to step back and block in the overall shapes and check for proportional issues.

Legion Long Flats – I’ve almost exclusively used *filberts and only started using these *flats in the last couple of months. These brushes are so pretty. And even though Trekell claims they’re synthetic I truly believe they are made from unicorn hair. These brushes are so versatile I’ve completed full paintings with just one or two sizes. They are ideal for covering large areas.

William Whitaker Signature Series – Designed by the master himself. The long handles are slightly contoured for a comfortable fit and perfect for detail work and blending.

Kolinsky Rounds – Like the signature series I also use these for detail work and blending. The handle is short so it issues a lot more control. Be sure to use a mahl stick though or your arm and wrist will hate you later. These are also perfect for signing your signature.

Trekell also announced they will be selling Bill’s own palette designs which you can find here and here. I’ve used both and they are extremely comfortable and lightweight. I use Style 1 more frequently but if you have a lot of colors and do lots of mixing I’d go with Style 2. Trekell shows you how to hold them properly and I appreciate that they have kept the lefties in mind during the design phase (It’s not as easy as just flipping the palette over to fit your right hand if you paint with your left…all of the edges are beveled for a smooth contoured fit so the edges would be backwards and poke and cut in all the wrong places, like wearing a left shoe on your right foot). The palettes come unprimed so they can be stained or painted to suit your individual style.

Now, for those followers who nodded off during the boring painting and tools and stuff speech, here’s a work in progress of a good looking guy.

*Each of the different shapes of paint brush bristles (say that three times really fast) have a name:

  • Flat – square end, medium to long bristles
  • Filbert – similar to the flat but with soft rounded bristles
  • Round – rounded or pointed tip
  • Fan – I’ll leave this one to your imagination

Pinteresty DIY Mug (without the fail)

I’m a Pinterest stalker. I don’t really post any of my own stuff but I love to scour this crafty little site for new ideas. By the glow of my phone, just before I fall asleep at night, I search for tasty recipes, beauty secrets, cute outfits, easy yet elegant hairstyles, encouraging quotes, and inspiring works of art.

And then never use any of them.

My dark love however is searching for Pinterest fails. And before you get too judgey on me for laughing gleefully at the failures of others, please remember that these, erm–crafty little people, bless their hearts, willingly chose to put their meager efforts on the world wide interwebs.

Here are a few of my favorite epic fails. The first image in each set is how the outcome was supposed to look…

There’s even an entire website dedicated to Pinterest fails!

But enough about failure. If you’ve ever wanted to try a Pinterest worthy project of your own here’s an easy one to start with: decorate your own mug! And don’t worry, I worked out all of the kinks so you won’t fail (and if you do I promise not to laugh. A smirk perhaps).

Over the holidays I drew cute little designs and creatures on mugs to give as gifts to friends and family. Spending money on gifts is great I suppose, but I’ve always appreciated the thoughtfulness and time spent on handmade gifts.

As I was doodling away on each mug I thought about the person I was making it for and why I appreciated them. I’d like to think that love went into each design.

It’s best to use cheap mugs (from the Dollar Store, for example) as they are made from cheaper materials which help for a longer lasting design. Be sure to clean your mugs after purchase and try not to touch the surface as your oily fingerprints can cause the paint to chip later. Wear latex gloves or insert a fist (with your non-writing hand) to hold the mug in place.

Regular Sharpies will also chip over time. You need to use oil-based Sharpies which can be found here. Be sure to read the package instructions. I also kept a piece of card stock on hand to test the colors and fluidity before committing to the permanence of the mug.

Once your design is finished, let your mug dry overnight. To set the design in, place the mug in a cool oven and turn to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven but leave the mugs inside until they are completely cooled. If you really want to set the design in, you can repeat the baking step.

To complete the presentation, I filled each mug with candy and wrapped them in clear bags with sparkly tulle bows.

And voila! The mugs are dishwasher safe, but washing by hand will increase the longevity of your Pinteresty fail-proof design.

AmBank Invitational

I will be exhibiting a few of my charcoal drawings at the AmBank Invitational Art Show and Sale in Provo, Utah. The show runs from November 14th, 2014 to January 9th, 2015.

For any followers who would like to come who do not reside in Utah an easy breezy $500 flight will get you here in time for the opening reception this evening.

When I was invited to participate in the show around the end of October, I was polishing up these two pieces. However, I thought it would just look so much more balanced and unified and awesome if I could get a third drawing done to bring them all together.

So, with ten days until I needed to deliver my work, that’s what I decided to do. Here are some progress shots of the third portrait. To preface, all art goes through some serious ugly phases so don’t be surprised if you unwittingly make this face:

It’s quite alright if you do, you won’t hurt my feelings. Unless of course you continue to make this face when you see the end result. Then I will have to crawl into bed and curl up in the fetal position to waste away, using said drawing as a giant tissue to catch my blubbering crocodile tears.

I work on toned paper, preferably Canson’s Mi-Teintes Pastel paper. There are two sides to this paper, more textured and smooth. I work on the smooth side. Even though the paper is toned, I still add a layer of powdered charcoal and smooth it with a brush, tissue, or charcoal sock.

I lay in the block-in using vine charcoal as it wipes away easily when I make mistakes. Vine charcoal also has a lovely muted effect when blended.

When it’s time to lay in values I start with a 2B and work my way up to a 6B for the richest, darkest blacks. I also use white chalk to heighten the drawing. White chalk really encourages the illusion of dimension and creates an illuminated effect which is what I strive for in my portraits, almost as if the light is stirring from within the sitter.

Here’s a closeup of my initial mark making:

So. I was supposed to drop off my work on a Monday before 5 PM. On the Friday prior, Bryan and I were taking our church teens to a youth rally in Logan, about two hours away. I was nowhere near finished, so my drawing supplies came with me and I spent the majority of the weekend holed up in a tiny, dimly lit hotel room scribbling away and imagining errors that were not there and of course wasting lots of time trying to fix said imaginary errors. I wondered if this was what it felt like working in a dark and dismal French atelier in the 19th century drawing by candelabra.

I didn’t get the drawing quite to the polished effect that I like, but by 4:20 PM on Monday this is where I decided to pause:

 That left only 40 minutes to speed (abiding by city limits, of course) to pick up Bryan from work (I may or may not have gotten slightly surly by the surprising number of elderly drivers on the roads at 4:30 in the afternoon) to book it to the studio to frame my portrait (it would’ve gone so much faster if it wasn’t for the blizzard of dust sticking to the glass in the frame, ugh!) and to jump back in the car with all of the framed drawings while Bryan finished framing the third (even though he dropped all of his tools in the grass on the way to the car and got the frame stuck in the car door. Miraculously it did not scratch or crack). We inevitably got there late, but make it we did. I was still shaking from the trauma of the experience the following morning.

Back in art school our instructors advised it’s always a good idea to have a story behind each piece for prospective buyers. I would probably proceed to describe the outer and inward beauty of my sitter (who truly is a remarkable young woman), but secretly I would be thinking of this story. But frankly, as absurd as it all sounds, this stuff, to an artist, is a perfectly normal and expected part of her day.