Welcome to Wild Hawk Studio

Come share my views on art and art-related topics and see my works in progress…

Please note all images are copyright ©Barbara A. Lewis and cannot be used without written permission.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tiny Treasures…ATCs!

Recently I was introduced to ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) at Pinellas Park Art Society - two of our very talented artists presented a demo and provided samples of these tiny treasures - each one an original work in various media. The only requirement for producing one of these little gems is the size - it has to be 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches and they should fit in standard baseball card sleeves.

The ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement and has its origins in Switzerland. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc). The cards are usually traded or exchanged rather than sold.

At the end of the demo we were given a couple of blank cards for our own creations with a promise to have a swap meet at our next meeting. I thoroughly enjoyed doing these little sketches - mostly using Prismacolor on Mi Tientes pastel paper, but numerous media were represented by our group’s talented artists. We had a lively trading session and promised to do more. I have posted my first eight cards here on the blog. They are a great way to use up the left bits of paper that I have lying around the studio after projects since most of my papers are as thick as cardstock. And a wonderful way to meet new artists and share your work!

The major art suppliers have pre-cut packs in various stocks: watercolor, bristol, canvas sheet, etc. There are even mini-mats available to frame them with! Clear, protective sleeves and sheets can be purchased at Walmart or any place that sells baseball card sleeves. Try creating a few - they are fun to do and a bit of a challenge too!

ON THE EASEL (STILL!) My little mallard duck has been put on hold so that I can get a few pieces ready for some upcoming shows - will post up more pics soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What A Bargain!

We are all in tough economic times, and as an artist, I am always looking for bargains on supplies and materials for my studio. I have “re-purposed” numerous items for my studio - among them, cast-off rolling file bins from work (these came without lids, but have a shelf underneath and they hold my various sketchbooks, paper pads and photo mats!). The nice thing is that they have wheels and can be rolled around the studio wherever I need them. They are metal so I can use magnets on them as well.

Whenever my company (I work full time as a print production artist, and work evenings in my home studio as a fine artist) has a free to employees supply day, I look around and scrounge through the cast-off former office supplies, and over the years I have been rewarded with everything from staplers to metal file cabinets, adjustable office chairs to undershelf lamps. I don’t mind the “scratch and dent” condition and with a little black paint can make them look just like new! And my studio is an eclectic mix, so things don’t have to match to suit me. My main goal in my studio equipment and storage is functionality since my studio room is so small.

My company recently purchased brand new, state-of-the-art computers for us and decided to generously sell us the older computers. I could not afford a brand new computer, but submitted my name for one of the used computers which is still a powerhouse compared to my old tired Mac. The company had a drawing and I was one of the lucky ones to have my name drawn. So my “new” computer which I proudly dubbed “Mackenstein” has become my newest acquisition for my studio and quite a bargain at that!

My husband and I are avid yard-salers and I have found numerous bargains on art supplies, frames, and reference books for little or no cost. I once picked up a brand new set of Rembrandt pastels for $1.00, a metal studio easel for $5.00 and just yesterday found an estate sale where one of the owners was a draftsman and artist. I got a HUGE pad of watercolor paper for $1.00, an antique oval mahogany frame for $1.00, and a custom framed print for $2.00, and several art reference books!

Since I have a shoestring budget, I cannot afford to have my art custom framed, but I can find custom framed prints at yard sales for next to nothing and re-use the frames for my art. Plus it is always fun looking and on several occasions I have met other artists and have enjoyed talking about our work!

Someday I hope to have a bigger, more organized studio. But for now I am happy to just simply have a place to create my art!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Organizing My Studio

It all started with helping a friend get ready to move and ended up with a total reorganization of my little studio. My already bulging at the seams house was not ready for any more furniture, but my friend had a gorgeous little oak triple shelf that looked just big enough to hold my nature reference books, Audubon guides, and my Foxfire series, etc. These rather small books had taken up residence on the top shelf of the converted closet space and to reach them I had to use a small step stool which of course meant that I seldom bothered. They were too high up and I would have to move my easels aside every time. So I measured and yes, the shelf would fit, although snugly, in the closet.

So I moved two of my recycled rolling bins into the hall closet outside the studio and placed the shelf in the closet - voila! But I had moved a bunch of stuff off of the existing shelf and now had to figure out where to put those items, so for the past couple of weeks I have been slowly rearranging my workspace and my poor drawing table has had to act as support for piles of art-related “stuff” which left me no room to draw!

The best I could do was a few sketches, but at least my small studio is starting to make sense and become more functional. And now I am hoping to have a new computer in a couple of weeks which will entail moving the old computer out and putting the new one in, so my space will be disorganized again!

I attended the monthly meeting of PPAS (Pinellas Park Art Society) tonight and was very excited to receive a third place for my drawing of Penny entitled “Loyalty”. My niece will be thrilled that her dog’s portrait won an award! Penny will probably just want a dog biscuit for posing for me!

While there, some members of our group gave a very nice discussion concerning artist trading cards. These are little 2.5 x 3 inch cards that artists draw or paint on and then they trade them with other artists at shows and meets - similar to baseball trading cards. They are both very accomplished artists and had some beautiful examples of their little artistic gems to show us. In addition, they gave us a couple of cards of our own to do and bring back to our Sept. meeting where we can trade them - clever idea and wonderful way to not only share our talents, but a great way to spread joy in these tough economic times.

I will be getting back to my paintings this week and hope to have my mallard painting posted up here soon. Be sure to check back!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In The Company Of Artists…

I am finally taking my art talent seriously!

In the past I would occasionally do a painting or drawing, a few commissioned dog or horse portraits, but I always thought that “someday” or when I retired, I would devote myself entirely to my art. I have been a commercial artist/graphic designer for 33 years and always thought of my fine art as a hobby and something to do when I reached retirement. But with the uncertainty of the economy and the years growing shorter, I decided that it was a good time to finally get serious with it. And with the encouragement and support of my husband, friends and family I am now working very hard in my “spare time” to develop my techniques and get my name out there among other artists.

I think as an artist, we all want to be able to devote ourselves full time to creating art, but we also have to be practical and many of us work full time jobs doing something art related, or not, and have to find time for our art outside of a busy schedule. I know that is the case with me. My full time job involves graphic design and working on a computer all day with the latest art programs, but I am happiest when I can devote time in my tiny home studio with my paints, brushes and pencils and drawing the things I love and have a passion for!

I have recently joined the website sponsored by American Artist Magazine: www.myamericanartist.com - (see listing under my favorite links above). This website is dedicated to helping artists of all skill levels and contains excellent articles, blogs, and interactive forums where you can ask for critiques, discuss and present your art in various media and acquaint yourself with some of the finest artists in the world. I have made numerous friends on that site and have learned a great deal from them! I also subscribe to several of their magazines which have also been very beneficial to me.

In addition, I joined one of our local, well-established art societies - Pinellas Park Art Society - and have come into great company with some of the finest artists in our area! This dedicated group of artists include artists of all skill levels and expertise who are very open to sharing techniques and ideas and they keep me motivated! I was particularly encouraged when I realized that several of the artists there have commercial art backgrounds like me! The Society hosts monthly shows, some themed, which I began entering in March. We meet in a beautiful new facility and at each meeting someone gives a demo such as an art technique or how to present or enter our art in shows, etc. Several workshops/classes are taught there as well, and once a week one of our members has an informal class where we can all work on our current projects together and discuss ideas.

I have only begun recently to show work again - the first time since college - so becoming involved with other artists has been very motivating and encouraging to me. And with all the tools and connections on the internet, it has become much easier to get your name out there as an artist, and not being limited by distance or lack of funding. My only regret is that I did not do this sooner! I hope that my blog and experiences will motivate other “late blooming” artists and give them the encouragement they need to “get out there and do it!”

ON THE EASEL: I am still working on my acrylic painting of a mallard preening, and have several pet portraits to do. I entered a small colored pencil drawing of a sleeping gorilla and a charcoal portrait of my niece’s dog Penny in the July/August show at the PPAS.
UPDATE: “Penny” won third place at the show!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

“Isis” - my avatar

I wanted to tell you a bit about my avatar image and recently completed acrylic painting of “Isis”.

She is an injured redtail hawk that is a permanent resident at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, located in Indian Shores on the gulf coast of Florida. She came to the sanctuary in 1990 - the same year I moved from Virginia to Florida. The sanctuary is one of the largest avian hospitals o
n the east coast and they treat and release thousands of birds each year. They have been instrumental in educating the public about how to treat injured birds and the hospital treats injured birds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The volunteers there work very hard to save as many birds as possible and the ones that are unable to be released become permanent residents at the sanctuary and are lovingly cared for.

Isis came to the sanctuary suffering from malnutrition and permanent blindness in one eye, thereby rendering her unreleasable. I have always had an enormous love and respect for all birds, particularly birds of prey, and especially redtail hawks. So naturally when I visited the sanctuary in 1990 I fell in love with this beautiful resident.

The volunteers take Isis for walks along the beach directly behind the center, and during one of these walks I was able to take some beautiful images of her as a basis for an acrylic portrait. I named my studio “Wildhawk” after her because eventhough she is in captivity, when she is on the beach she stretches out her wings and feels the air once more beneath them and I am sure she is remembering her life as a free wild hawk.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Drawing Day!

Drawing Day

June 06, 2009

drop everything and draw

Drawing Day is a worldwide drawing event encouraging everyone to drop everything and draw for the sake of art. Help us create 1 million drawings online this day.

The above message is from the Drawing Day website, and American Artist has a blog and thread started where drawings can be posted. So I decided to participate this year by waking up in the wee hours (2:15 EST) and began drawing. I recently purchased a new set of Derwent tinted charcoal pencils and was anxious to try them. Since I have not worked in charcoal since college, I felt it would be a nice challenge for Drawing Day.

For my subject I chose to draw “Penny” - my niece Angie’s black labrador retriever. Penny is a very beautiful and sweet dog and loves to “sing” along with blues harmonica. She is quite a character and when she was younger she loved to tote a brick around in her mouth and bury her brick in the back yard. No dog toys for her! I enjoyed doing a portrait of such a sweet dog and will present it to my niece when I get it framed.

One of my favorite places to visit and photograph birds is a small community park in Gulfport, FL called Wood Ibis Lake Park. It has a nice walking trail around the lake with benches and two covered picnic areas, a nice decorative fountain in the center and a small butterfly garden. There are numerous resident ducks and is visited frequently by shore birds including great blue herons, white egrets, moorhens and the occasional coopers hawk. The ducks are very used to the local residents feeding them so they are not camera shy. I took a lovely photo of a mallard preening after her bath and decided to do a small acrylic painting of her. I will post a pic when it is done, so check back to see my progress.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Interesting Challenge!

The local art society that I am a member of hosts monthly themed shows. This month the theme is black and white and one other color. I enjoy working with a limited palette, but usually I have a minimum of 6-8 colors. For this project I chose to work in acrylics using Mars black, titanium white and ultramarine blue.

For my subject I decided to do a native American war pony at night. I have loved and drawn horses since I was age three. They say most little girls outgrow their love of horses, but I never did, and I still think they are one of the most majestic and fascinating of God’s creatures.

I started the painting yesterday, and I am hoping to spend most of my day in the studio completing it today. I will post up a pic soon. Time to get my coffee and get back to painting…

UPDATE 5/29/09: I am just about finished with the painting. It HAS been a challenge!! Between working overtime on my full time job and squeezing in an hour here and there, I have managed to get it done. The three colors I chose were difficult to work with in that everything looked monochromatic without enough contrast. I kept lightening up and toning down areas until it looked acceptable. My painting looks like a moonlight night pic! I will post up a pic of the finished piece tonight and as always, please feel free to offer comments, critiques, etc. I am always learning and appreciate the feedback!

UPDATE 5/30/09: Finally finished “Two Feathers” this morning and entered him in the June 2009 at Pinellas Park Art Society. I also entered a scratchboard “Watcher” that was black and white with yellow. Both pieces were interesting to do and I enjoyed the challenge of working with a very limited palette!

UPDATE 6/8: My scratchboard of “Watcher” the owl won first place at the Pinellas Park Art Society June Show! I am hoping to teach a scratchboard class soon at the society and share the fun of this interesting medium!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hello from my studio!

I was so impressed by one of my friend’s blogs that I thought it was time to start my own, so here goes! I am looking forward to writing an online journal and sharing my thoughts and art and other areas of interest with my friends and colleagues. The name of my studio is Wildhawk Studio. My favorite subjects to study and draw are birds of prey, horses, wildlife, and domestic animals.

I have posted a photo of my most recently completed work - a 16 x 20 pastel portrait of my husband. He has been after me for years to do his portrait and was very pleased with the results. Apparently my local art group was too as the portrait won first place at their May show! I had a lot of fun doing it - pastels is one of my favorites to do - and I was very happy with the results since I have not drawn “people” since college.

I mostly work with animals and nature subjects, but after doing his portrait I will probably do more human subjects. My favorite media includes: pastels, graphite, oils, acrylics, scratchboard, and colored pencil. I enjoy nature photography and work primarily from my own photographs.

My husband is also a nature photographer, and we enjoy exploring the natural areas of our state - some areas of Florida are still wide open, but development is fast approaching. I have a genuine fear that Florida - particularly the Everglades - will suffer as results of too many people, not enough resources. My goal with my art is to portray animals in their native habitat before it is too late and hopefully encourage people to protect our natural resources.

I will be posting works in progress and finished pieces on this blog, so please check back often.

UPDATE: My pastel portrait won first place at the Pinellas Park Art Society May show! My husband was so excited to see a blue ribbon hanging on his portrait!