Welcome to my blog! This blog is dedicated to blogging about my art, my struggles as I try to become a regularly working artist, and useful information and tips that I learn along the way. My hope is that this blog can become a resource for other emerging artists; a combination of empathy and useful resources to help them through the beginning of their career.


Click on this image to see more of my artwork!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Patterns repeat, patterns repeat, patterns repeat...

I realized when I was working on my last piece (see above) that I'm a big cheat when it comes to doing my artwork. Because my art is generally unbalanced by color, as the setting is black and white and the figure is in color, I have to find a way to throw some balance into the piece. The easiest way for me to do this is by throwing in patterns that repeat throughout the piece.

It's so easy. Obviously, millions of artists do this same thing and have been since the beginning of drawing (that's another blog). But it's so very easy that it makes me feel like I'm somehow cheating. I wonder if any other artists feel this way about a device they employ in their art. Any artists out there that may be reading this please comment. I'd love to know!

However, I can (and do) often turn my cheat into a challenge. What new pattern can I add to the next piece? What old pattern can I add in to link my new piece to a past piece?  In the piece above I used the old line pattern and the old small circle pattern but I used the swirl for the first time.

The swirl is fun. Don't believe me? Try drawing some swirls. I'll wait.

Although it is an easy way to balance a piece and link a body of work those are not the only reasons that I use patterns. I also use them because I like them. They are ancient. They add another language to the piece; they add another way to read the work. A person might first look at the piece and notice the color, the contrast, and the story, but did they notice the patterns? Did they read the piece in that way? Did they ignore all of the easy ways to read the piece and look for the harder parts?

Here are a few of my pieces that might be fun to look at while just thinking about pattern:

I'm not sure how many people actually will read this blog but this has helped me tremendously. I can't wait to thumb through some art history books and reexamine my work with nothing but pattern in mind!

I love art!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Process Post (The First)

"Living Gourd" 11 1/4" x 6" Pen

I am one of those artists that is guilty of being unable to describe to people why I do what I do in my art. Often people will ask what inspires me and I'll say, ever so eloquently, "Ummmm.... everything?". This never sounds professional and just confuses people, even if it is the truth. I was thinking about my process a lot as I was working on the above piece and am going to make an attempt at describing some of the process of how the above creature came to be. Don't worry, I'll use visuals.

This particular piece has a form that I love. The gourd. I picked one up off of the ground at a family reunion, over 10 years ago, because I had never seen one before and I was immediately fascinated. I have carted that particular gourd about with me through many moves and it always sits in my studio space as a source of inspiration. The gourd was the subject of a painting in college, a material for sculptures of gourd people, and it inspired some of my wood burned paintings which were the beginning of my drawing strange creatures. I can't explain my love of the gourd. It just is.

I apologize for the horrible gourd photo... you get the idea.

Generally my drawings will begin with a quick sketch and, lately, there seems to be a project that will cause me to start that particular sketch. This drawing started with a project idea I had for a local bar. I plan on doing a few fun drawings of creatures hanging around beer to show in this establishment. Here is the quick sketch and the more detailed sketch where these particular creatures first appeared. 

After I sketched my new gourd creatures I fell in love with them. When this happens then they are guaranteed to show up in more than one finished drawing (note: creature life). Once I start to be able to see my creatures as having a life and personalities then I can't help but give them life in a drawing. It would be cruel not to!

I have been recently looking at some other artists' beautiful sketches online which helped me to remember my love of sketches. I've always loved drawings and paintings with loose free lines; something one would never guess by looking at my current body of work. Before I began this drawing I started to feel like I wanted to revisit some of my more painterly roots and experiment with my pens in a new way. That experiment resulted in the below color sketch (this scanned image cuts off part of the composition).

I took what I had learned about coloring from my experiment and decided to apply it to my final drawing in a more precise way. The result was a bit of a style departure in my coloring. I will be continuing to experiment with coloring with my Prisma Color pens. It is a relatively new media for me and experimenting will be what will help me master it.  Also, while I didn't choose to use the above sketch's composition, a similar composition will probably show up in a future drawing. I love the idea of these guys as ant like creatures skittering about in a line in the desert.

If I were to describe the rest of my process and the ideas that I sifted through when working on "Living Gourds" then this would be the worlds longest blog post. So instead of continuing to write I've posted a few of my finished drawings that I looked at when working on this drawing. Each drawing is a learning experience and I always pull from the successes from previous pieces to help my current work. I'll leave it to you to make the comparisons and notice what I pulled from each work.

I'll write more about my process and ideas another day. For now, this is enough. I hope it was of some interest!

Friday, February 11, 2011


The other day I sold my first piece off of a gallery wall! I’ve sold my work  before but this is the first original drawing that I’ve sold since I’ve come into my own style, and it is also the first piece that I’ve sold from a gallery. When I found out about the sale I ran about the house grinning like a crazy person and, because I was alone at the moment, I shared the news with my dogs. Their reaction of refusing to get up from their nap was very anti-climactic. See if I share exciting news with them again.  

Rude dogs aside, what had me the most excited was the validation. Somebody, that I don’t know, likes my work for my work. They liked that particular piece enough to spend their hard earned money on it. It gave me that little bit of encouragement that was needed to keep working at selling my art; if one person likes my work enough to purchase it from a gallery, then surely someone else will too!

Most artists probably don’t shout it from the rooftops when they hit this milestone; they sit back and pretend that it happens to them all the time. I however, am not one of those artists. I’m proud of my little accomplishment. I think part of the problem in the art world is that not enough people hear about the process that artists go through as they work on their career. Being an artist isn’t all about starving, suffering, and moping about with a closet full of berets. Being an artist takes a lot of hard work, and I intend to celebrate any time I have a success. I’ll leave the beret wearing and moping to someone else.

P.S. Thanks to everybody who supports an unknown artist by buying some of their work. You are probably, unknowingly, giving that artist just the boost they need to keep plugging along.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why I Am Yet Another Blogger

Why am I blogging? 

I don't really feel like I have a lot to say. I've always thought that what I do have to say is really expressed best in my drawings. There is a reason I'm a visual artist and not a writer. I hate to write about my art; it is always a struggle. Why would I write about something that I can only express visually? When I do bother to write my grammar and punctuation is awful, and I often find myself having anxiety attacks over the proper use of a comma. 

This sounds miserable. Why I am I doing this to myself?

Oh yes. I'm writing because all of the women artists I admire have written in some way. They've written in journals, letters, or have even published their writings. They've written in a way that was acceptable for their day.  What they've written not only helps people to understand their artwork, but just as importantly, it helps encourage other artists. Their writings tied them to a community of artists.

So, I will write in a form that is acceptable for my day. I will write to help myself better understand my art, to explain why I do what I do, and to maybe encourage other emerging artists by helping them to see that they are not alone in their struggles. Who knows, maybe  my little blog will help tie me to a community of artists. 

 At the very least, this blog will amuse me, and maybe you. Just don't tell me about my comma problems. It wouldn't be polite.

 Curious about what my art looks like? www.elisabethmitchell.com