29 Faces Challenge Highlights: Days 20 – 28 + bonus

I’ve finished the challenge! I’m so proud of myself. I’ve never completed an art challenge before. I usual drop it by day 10 or so, but this time I did all 29 faces. One for each day of the month and one extra. Here are what I think are the best of the drawings I did for days 20 – 29. The last image is a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe I made for an ATC trade.

Day 20  2.5″ x 3.5″ ink on bristol
Day 20
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol
Day 21 - Joy 2.5″ x 3.5″ ink on bristol
Day 21 – Joy
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol
Audrey Portrait - cross-hatching portrait
Day 26 – Audrey
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol
Edgar Allan Poe ink portrait
Day 29 – Poe
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol

Thanks to all the challenge participants who came by to check out my work. And thanks to all of you new followers out there. It’s so cool to know that people are actually seeing my work! Soon I’ll post a collage of all the faces I made for the challenge: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Until then, happy drawing!

29 Faces Challenge: Highlights of Days 13-19

Cowboy for my art pal Joan
Day 16 – Cowboy for Joan
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol

I’ve manage to stay more or less on track with the 29 Faces Art Challenge. It’s the 21st and I’ve done 19 faces so far.  Here are my favorites from Days 13-19.

Day 18 – Introspective
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol

I pretty excited! I think I’ll manage to complete the challenge. A definite sea change. What if I can commit to working on something everyday for the rest of the year? Whoa, I better not get ahead of myself.

Day 19 – John Cusak for my art pal Amy
2.5″ x 3.5″
ink on bristol

I’m very pleased with this John Cusak sketch. It’s for my dear friend Amy who encouraged me to take this challenge. It took a long time to get the likeness. At first he kept coming out looking like Kevin Spacey. Oh well, I’m pleased and Amy is pleased and another ATC goes out in the mail. It’s so lovely to share art with friends.

Check out other artist taking the challenge:


January: On my way to Artzona

So glad to have a nice trip to Arizona to look forward to. This year I’m attending Artzona, a weekend gathering of artists from my mail art trading sites, ATCs for All and Illustrated ATCs. We’ll hang out, make and trade art, and make a lot of racket. A great way to escape the winter doldrums.

I’ve been making ATCs to trade over weekend. Here’s one I made last night.

drawing of a young Buster Keaton.   2.5" X 3.5" ink
drawing of a young Buster Keaton.
2.5″ X 3.5″ ink

I have friend who likes Buster Keaton, so I’m sure this card will have a great new home.

Goodbye 2009! Happy New Year Everyone!

Ian 5x7_web
5"x7" walnut ink and colored pencil

This year has really flown by for me.  I’ve been busy drawing and painting artist trading cards and I haven’t come up for air very often.  I counted up my scans for the year and found that I had made 204 ATCs  for swaps and personal trades–and that doesn’t include a few 5×7  and 4×6 pieces that I had done on request.  All finished art, not sketches.   I’ve never made so much art in my life.   I’m pretty pleased about that.

So what about 2010?  What goal do I have?   I want to relax and enjoy myself.   Instead of working on a list of things to improve, I’m going to work on a list of things it would be fun to explore.   I’ve learned that when  I’m having fun and getting enthused my work tends to improve on it’s own.  When I struggle and strive,  my work gets tight and strained.  I may learn some new techniques but the drawing seems flat and lacking.

Well, that’s my theory.

Thanks everyone for visiting during the year and leaving me such wonderful comments.   I love sharing my work with you.  I wish you all the best for 2010 and hope you have a safe and Happy New Year!

Ink and Watercolor Wash: Western Tanager

Western Tanager
Western Tanager

My ink and watercolor exercises continue.  I made this artist trading card for a partner who liked birds.  I’ve not drawn very many birds, but I’m starting to really enjoy it.

Portrait Swap with Cindy Gray

7x10  ink and markers
portrait of artist Cindy Gray

I completed another portrait swap.  This time with artist Cindy Gray.  I met Cindy through Blog Catalog and she suggested that we do a swap.  I was thrilled!  I had a lot of fun doing a swap with Ujwala so I jumped at the chance to do another swap.  You can read about our swap on her blog Draw the Line.  That swap was an artist trading card exchange.  Swapping with Cindy gave me a chance to work larger. 

Here is Cindy’s portrait of me.  Wow!

A portrait of Mellanie Collins by artist Cindy Gray
A portrait of Mellanie Collins by artist Cindy Gray

Cindy does lovely work.  Do click on the image to see it in more detail.  She works digitally, then prints it on canvas.  After the canvas is stretched and breathes a bit, she applies acrylic paint to build up texture.  You can read about her process here.  Check out her portfolio as well.

Thanks Cindy for a great experience.  Your portrait is in the mail.

Don’t Know What You’re Doing? Do It Anyway!


graphite and drawing inks

Yesterday I sat down to draw and I got out these bottles of ink I had been ignoring ever since I had brought them home. I have been using Copic brush markers for months doing simulated washes on my art cards and drawings. I liked using these markers because I felt a sense of control. The markers were clean and sharp. I knew exactly how the color would lay down. I didn’t have to worry about drips or spatters. I could get the look of washes without having to deal with random effects. It felt comfortable. But it was too comfortable.

So I found some brushes, probably the wrong ones, put some inks on a palette, and then stared at the blank page of my sketchbook. Where to start? I didn’t know what I was doing. So I just decided to not worry about it. I gave myself the permission to create the biggest mess I wanted to. I laid down a bunch of blue ink, primarily because I found it a soothing color. I liked the way it looked on the page. Hmmm. What next.

I grabbed a pencil and did some sketching. That soothed me a bit more, so I just grabbed the brushes and went at it. I mentally shrieked a few times when I splattered ink here and there. But I just pushed on until I realized that I didn’t have to push anymore. I was just I was having fun. Some of the washes I did were so thin that they barely registered on the page, but that was fine because each stroke of the brush freed me a little more. I used Windsor & Newton India Black India ink and Nut Brown ink, occasionally mixing them.

So you see the result. Not a masterpiece, but I like looking at it. When I look through my sketchbook I’ll see the date written on the picture and say to myself, “That was the day I got over myself about that!” I have lots of page like that.

So when you want to try something, just go for it. Give yourself the space to just have fun on the page. Get the feeling of the brush, stick, pencil, or pen in your hand. Feel how it moves across the page. You don’t have to know what you are doing. You can always find a class or a book to help you refine your technique later. But always allow yourself the freedom to shake things up, try something new and get a little messy. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.