Tag Archives: family

Weekly Art Challenge: DETERMINATION

Hey Folks!!

This week’s theme is DETERMINATION and it appears that we all were feeling determined to complete something of importance.

RJ – CowAcrylic on Canvas

RJ is determined to create a large-scale acrylic painting of this sweet jovial cow! He is in the beginning stages and doesn’t want to rush the process – slow painting is part of the goal – but will keep us informed as he goes! and THAT FACE! Who doesn’t want to be nuzzled by such a face? The bold choice of colors compliment the cheerful persona of this cow and the perspective creates an intimate connection between the viewer and subject. Can’t wait to see it finished!



Karri – Prayer

“I posted this sculpture in a previous post when it was in its beginning stages. It has taken months to get to this point and is still not complete. There have been days when I look at it and think, “it’s made of paper, and I could just set it on fire!” Lol. Having said that I am determined to make it work.”

Wow, this piece has come along since the first time we saw it! She still so intense and focused internally, that I almost want to tip toe around her so as not to disturb her. I imagine that the intensity and focus felt by myself and other viewers is a reflection of the determination Karri is feeling while creating her. Don’t burn her, Karri! She is just as determined as you! Another piece that I can’t wait to see finished! 🙂

karri determined


Bethany – Determination – Pencil on Paper

“There are many things I’m determined to have, to complete or keep up in my life. Things like getting the dishes done, keeping the toilets clean, homeschooling my son and being a wife. But there is one thing WE have been determined to have….another baby. So this is my baby in the womb, holding my heart cause it’s my greatest determination.” 
There is a lot of love and longing in Bethany’s piece and statement. I like how her determination for her family to grow is expressed with a clear drawing of the child holding a meticulously shaded whole heart and surrounded by undetermined scribbled lines. The scribbled lines representing in once sense the womb and internal spark of her desire and determination, but in another sense the scribbled lines also express that little else is as important to her than both present and future members of her family. Lots of luck with your determination! Any child born into a creative loving family is a lucky soul! 🙂



EmilyMan, Acrylic on Canvas Board

“A while back I started a painting to practice painting skin because I was awful at it, today and thanks to this challenge, I FINALLY finished it like I had wanted to. This challenge was me being determined, and thank you whoever chose this theme because I really don’t think I wouldn’t have finished it without feeling determined to do so for this challenge! aha”

Painting skin can be one of the most stressful accomplishments for an artist! Emily’s work since joining our group has continually and happily surprised me.  Just when I think I have a grasp on her evolving style she presents us with a piece that exhibits her growing talent in a different direction. I love the man’s facial expression. You see an elderly man with wrinkles, thinned hair and aging spots; but his eyes and countenance express an observant and youthful mind. Great Job!

Emily determined


Amber –  Nadia (Mix media on paper) and National Parks (Photographs)

This week was particularly hectic for me. I was making my final work-trip to Southern Utah and I was working nonstop on the final piece (Nadia) for a portfolio I needed for a residency application. My determination to complete the piece in time for the deadline was a success by three days! Yay me!!

Nearby our job-site are a few national parks and I was determined to see as much as I could before work took me away from this magnificent landscape – its not often that I am in this area of the country. I didn’t get to go on the long day hikes as I hoped, but I did succeed in seeing a clear view of the La Sal Mountains from where I stood at Balancing Rock – the first time I was there the mountains were hidden by clouds. I also drove through the CanyonLands and got a small taste of the adventures that I could have, since I am determined to visit again. AND I finally saw Newspaper Rock. I have seen photos of it for years, and saw the sign every time I passed the entrance to Canyonlands. I am fascinated by petroglyphs and the nameless artists who created them thousands of years ago.






La Sal Mountains from Balancing Rock in Arches.



Driving into Canyonlands



Newspaper Rock


Next theme: VAN GOGH!!


Weekly Art Challenge: OCEAN

Hey Folks!!

This (two) week’s challenge was to create works of art inspired by the theme: OCEAN.

Tony Ocean Bubbles, color pencil on paper.

“I got the idea of a floating ocean when RJ and I went to see Pan at the cinema. In the movie, Neverland is surrounded by a floating ocean with marine animals in the bubbles. And I loved the idea, so here’s my Ocean!”

I love the concept of an entire ecosystem floating inside a bubble! It reminds me of those beautiful and artsy glass marbles with swirls of chaotic colors contained within. My favorite detail of Tony’s piece is the whale’s fin skimming the edge of his eco-bubble. For me it signifies that the marine animals might be contained to their individual bubbles, but they are still free and wild creatures.

 tony ocean


Emily – Untitled – Mix Media (Markers, pencil and Lace) on paper

 “I was feeling a bit halloween-y so I did a Siren character that has ditched her wings and gone mermaid, holding a skull?” 

I love the bits of lace, they are a nice subtle texture to the image and references the the wings the siren ditched, beautifully! Looking at the piece, I am reminded of a few literary images. The Sirens reference Greek mythology. Her stitched transformation into a mermaid brings to mind Frankenstein melding with The Little Mermaid. AND, the skull in the hand is a perfect scene to break out some Shakespeare!




Bethany – Love Story, mix media on paper

“The titled of this piece is “Love story” because my seven year old wrote love above her head and story upside down on her chest. He is very helpful. Most bodies of water freak me out, the unknown lurking underneath, but I enjoy them from the beach and I love to watch sail boats. This summer, my little family and I got to spend a week down in Florida. We long to return, and from the amount of sand still in the carpet of my Nissan, it seems as though we brought it back with us.” 

Bethany’s piece has this strong meditative daydreaming vibe that I can’t get enough of! I want to be this woman with the sea foam green hair and serene expression as she mentally and emotionally returns to a recent happy and peaceful moment. The soft colors only enhance the peaceful calmness of the figure!

Great job on your first Art Challenge piece, Bethany!





AmberThe Voyage, mix media (tea, acrylic, watercolor, graphite and color pencil) on paper

This week, I chose to remake a piece that I had made a few weeks ago for a different challenge (Unconventional) in a medium that is more natural for me. I enjoy experimenting with new material, such as duct tape; but it is mixing drawing materials on paper that I swoon for.

The ocean is mysterious and vast. Its serene movements and calming blues beckon to our adventurous side and we can’t help but eagerly answer the call. The Voyage is about setting off for the unknown, taking chances and seeing where the tide takes you.




Next week’s theme: DETERMINED

WeeklyArt Challenge: PRETENDERS

Hey folks!

This week our theme is: Pretenders


RJ: I’m a Fish, graphite on paper.

RJ’s piece cracks me up! I love the sly stubborn expression of the monkey as he determined to convince you, the viewer, that he is something other than a monkey. It leaves one to wonder, Why does he want to be a fish?


rj pretender

Karri: Daniel, the great pretender – photograph

“This week I spent a lot of time with my 7 year old nephew, Daniel. He has such a huge imagination. Playtime consists of sitting at his Lego table. There are much more than just Legos there. He can sit for hours and play with the dinosaurs and the Lego men and the army men pretending that they are real. Just one Lego piece can be a person. He is the ultimate Pretender.”


Karri’s piece reminds me of a well known Picasso quote:

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”.

Children have the most vivid imaginations. They see worlds within worlds and artists have spent centuries repeatedly trying to capture that innocence and spark that so rarely exists in adulthood. Looking at the photo, I am curious to know the story that young Daniel drew from collection of toys.


karri pretender



Amber: Untitled (for now), pen, ink and graphite on paper.

I struggled with the challenge this week. At first I was stuck on an idea that was good in theory and in my head it looked great, but the image would not manifest itself on paper. I was beyond frustrated!

After some complaining to RJ and several wasted art days, I started fresh with a new inspiration. The inspiration for this week’s piece came from a favorite and influential childhood book, The Velveteen Rabbit. As a highly imaginative child, I had come to believe that my stuff animals were in fact actually alive. In my mind they would have thoughts, dreams and individual personalities. I believed they loved me as much as I loved them. The Velveteen Rabbit, only confirmed the accuracy of the beliefs of my seven year old self.

This incomplete piece expresses that wish and belief that the games are not only pretend, that the toy is in fact as real as the child (or perhaps the toy itself) wants to believe. I mixed toy rabbits with the real to blur the line of reality and pretend. I also added the dandelions to emphasize the power of a wish.








Next Week’s theme: DEGAS

Weekly Art Challenge: REFLECTION

Hey Folks,

This week the challenge theme is Reflection and everyone took this theme into different directions!


RJ:  Statue, photoI asked RJ about why he was drawn to photographing this particular statue in London – located in front of Buckingham Palace – and he replied “It was shiny”. HAHAHA yes it is! Its a lovely statue and from my memory of visiting London ten years ago, the city is filled with lovely shiny statues. Good find! 🙂

 rj reflection


Tony – Reflection, pencil on paper Tony’s piece is a young fashionable young woman checking out her reflection. I imagine that she is off to some romantic date or maybe she is a performer about to hit the stage. She reminds me a bit of my teenage nieces. I have caught them a few times admiring their reflection, especially when they are trying out a new hairstyle or outfit. I think they would be envious of this young woman’s style!

tony reflection


Dylan: Wolf, Charcoal on paper – Dylan’s piece was more of a self reflection through exploring an early dream memory and how it relates to who she is today. Its an interesting concept to think about. Do our dreams have an impact on our identities or do the reflect what is already there, but has not yet surfaced?

“Often I wonder what has shaped my identity most. Some things are obvious while others are more subtle. This incident is just strange and I can not stop thinking about it. The parallels with this reoccurring, stable world and my ever changing real world are eerie.

Before I even started kindergarten, I had my earliest memorable dream. Growing up on an old tobacco farm in Kentucky with no neighbors, no car, no phone, and no distractions, I would dream of this yellow and pink roller coaster stopping only at my front porch in the moonlight. Inside the first cart would be a friendly werewolf, allowing me to crawl in. We would ride through the tobacco and lightning bug landscape marveling at all the wonders of the country life’s nocturnal world. The wolf would silently let me off at my door. This dream only lasted for a few years.

I wonder if was a latent social warning, (that I could only have fun when no one was around), a sexual hint, (I am attracted to hairy and aggressive people) or even an environmental admiration. It still reflect on how it fascinates and haunts me whatever it meant.”

 dylan reflection


Karri: Pow Wow Reflections and Portrait, Watercolor on sketchbook — Karri reflected on family and heritage for her pieces. I love the soft colors and marks in her pieces, they suggest a distant memory that gently tugs at the present.

When we talk about reflections, are we talking about the casting back of light? The reflections of an image in a mirror or glass? Or reflections of our mind. In this case I am forced to consider the reflections of my past. This week my family has been researching our family history. Going through the genealogy trying to find proof that we are indeed Native American. the search has more than paid off. My sister found proof that we are 14 generations removed from Pocahontas’ sister, Princess Cleopatra Sent Flower Powhatan. When I showed my mother her picture she nearly fell on the floor. She resembles my grandmother’s features so closely its scary! So my painting this week is a reflection of the pow wows my mother would take us to as children to make sure we understand our heritage.”


karri reflection 1


karri refelction 2


Emily Cactus Friends, watercolor on paper – Emily’s piece has a lovely calming simplicity about it and I love the reflection of the two cacti in the water. Its like they are looking at how adorable they are together! Great job, Emily! Keep experimenting with those watercolors. 🙂

“I don’t use watercolors much, so I thought I’d experiment with them. I thought loads about what to do for reflection; however, I was sitting in my conservatory full of cacti and decided to just do a little fun piece this week of some cactus friends.”

Emily refelction



AmberThe setting sun, Instagram photo – The day I took this photo was a stressful day filled with angry and frustrating emotions. Nothing I had planned for the day was going to happen. I was trying to mellow out; but, each minute of the day that tick by was a minute taken away from my creative time. When my unproductive workday was finally over. I started to drive east toward the main road, That was when I checked my side mirror and saw this, the reflection of the setting sun.

I suddenly had a moment of clarity about letting emotions go once they served their purpose instead of holding onto them. The sun setting signifies the end of a day and with all endings, new beginnings emerge. Letting go of my annoyance and anger during the day, will in theory make room for something new and hopefully better in its place.






Mother and Child








A couple weeks ago for The Weekly Art Challenge, I posted an unfinished drawing of a mother and child. A portrait of a very close friend’s sister-in-law and young nephew. It was far from completion and something I worked very hard on for about three weeks. Finally I completed it and thought I should share the outcome.

When I started the piece I had all sorts of whimsical ideas from floral backgrounds to, what would be for me, a challenging style and painting application; but in the end I choose a more classic style to capture the motherly tenderness I saw in my friend’s photograph. The color in the background is a reference to her auburn hair and fondness of Japanese Maples. I mixed several warm earthy reddish tones together and applied the wash in multiple layers, often using tissues to gently remove color and create a dreamy intimate space for the figures.

The mother in the image will not receive her portrait until the holiday, and I am eager to know if she likes the piece. I sincerely hope she does, at the moment this is my favorite piece in my portfolio.

You can visit my Etsy site if you are interested in commissioning a similar portrait for your loved ones.





Weekly Art Challenge: Artist Choice

Hey Folks!!

This week’s challenge was a two week challenge and the theme was ARTIST’S CHOICE.


Amber: Mother and Child, graphite on paper – This is not complete. I had to start over when I realize that my original composition was all wrong and not nearly as intimate as I wanted the piece to be. I am making this for a very dear friend of mine to give as a holiday gift to her younger brother and his wife. There is still a lot of work to be done. Her face is still a bit weird and I need to fix the problem areas, but so far I am happy with it. Color will be added and I am playing with some ideas on how I want to apply the color. I am leaning towards shades of cool charcoal and Japanese Maple for the background and subtle color added to the figures.

mother and child

Tater the Tot gets his first portrait!

Months ago my folks had to say a painful goodbye to our beloved pitbull, Simon. We had Simon for 15 wonderful years, getting another dog was the last thing on anyone’s mind, except for my mother who was home alone for months with her grief while my father and I worked.  She ventured into Manhattan on three separate occasions to look at dogs and settled on this sweet lil pup!

Tater hours away from euthanasia when my mother found him and she believes that simon led her to him. I can see it, Simon would not want just ANY dog to take his place on the couch. 🙂

tater cuteness


Tater has been a joy since joining our family.  He is lively, playful, social and funny. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to open my heart to another pet when my mother brought him home, but I am so happy that I did. I can’t imagine home without him.

Naturally, I have to draw his portrait and this pencil drawing is only the first of many to come. I chose one of the many photos I had of him sleeping. I wanted to depict his epic style of comfort.


Initially I was going to draw Tater in a more illustrative pen and ink style – hence the border and composition of the image – but got carried away with using my graphite pencils. It took me about two evenings to complete. Mom was happy and dad said that I made him look “too lazy!” hahaha.

Tater sleeping


Face Detail



Hope you enjoyed!

If you are interested in commissioning a pencil or painted portrait of your awesome pet then please visit my Etsy shop.




Weekly Art Challenge: HEARTS

Hello Folks!!

The theme for this weeks friendly art challenge is: Hearts!


RJ’s: Love, Digital drawing- RJ wanted to create a piece that signified the surge of love bursting within a heart. I think he succeeded! When I first saw RJ’s piece I instantly thought of a germinating seed, like love sprouting in wild, it was drawn very organically. I like how the colors of the heart are dull and mature in comparison to the youthful colorful ribbons representing love. It reminds a viewer that no matter the appearance of someone, there is a complexity of emotion and feelings surging beneath the surface looking for an escape – we all have ability to love and we all need love.  Great Job RJ!!


Mikyla’s: My Family,  Crayon – A portrait of her family. How very sweet and a perfect interpretation of this week’s theme! You can tell how much she loves her family by how she centered them perfectly in the composition and giving them a bright sun to shine over them. I love the border around the image, its adds an extra bit of summer fun to her drawing. Her second drawing – the one with two smiling hearts – is also a nice and smart piece. For me it looks like love is healing a broken heart and also strengthens the importance of family in the first drawing! Great Job Mikyla!! Can’t wait to see what you make next!

My Family




Mine: There Is A Bluebird In My Heart, And It Wants To Be Free, pen, ink and acrylic on paper – I was originally going to create a piece that had a more morbid gothic perspective on love, that was until I was driving through the Adirondacks and listening to a Vermont public radio station. A local singer, Anders Parker, was promoting his new album and the title – There is a bluebird in my heart – was in reference to a poem by Charles Bukowski. I instantly fell in-love with the title. Out the window went my original idea and the moment I was home I threw myself into my art supplies and began sketching ideas.

I kept the heart in black and white to signified the cold imprisonment of the Bluebird. The branches growing from the arteries signify the Bluebird’s desire for freedom and the hope that the heart will soon release its grip.

Blue Bird in my Heart


Blue Bird (detail)


For the next challenge we are allowing ourselves TWO weeks to complete. We want to make something really special for the next theme: Artist Choice!


Weekly Art Challenge: KLIMT

Hello Folks!!

The theme for this week’s friendly art challenge is Klimt! One of the world’s greatest artists!


RJ’sFireflies in Forest,  Digital –  RJ’s artwork was inspired by Klimt’s use of patterns and how he would engulf his subjects with interesting fabrics or nature. He started with a previous sketch he created of a young girl, added some color and envelope her within a firefly pattern. I love how the pattern of fireflies echo drawings of star constellations along the pensive expression of the young girl lost in her thoughts. The longer I view this piece the more I find myself questioning if she is actually in the forrest or is imagining a forrest filled with fireflies around her. The hazy glow of RJ’s color palette emits a dreamy vibe and only connects further with Klimt’s symbolist perspective.



Fireflies in the forest



Mine: The Innocent Kiss, reused materials, graphite, ink, acrylic – I love Klimt! His compositions, use of pattern and texture have always been an influence for my own personal work and I was very excited to take on this challenge. For my piece I wanted to play with the various characteristics that are attributed to Klimt, but still maintain my own voice and style. I began by white washing one of the abstract mandalas pieces from the previous challenge, knowing that the patterns would seep through the gesso, and referencing a photo of my cousin for the image of the young girl blowing a kiss. I used various materials to enhance the muted mandala pattern and added additional Klimt inspired patterns. Klimt is well known for his use of gold leaf and warm tones – I prefer silver and cooler tones, it works better with my mark-making.

I’m looking at this piece as being a pre-sketch for a possible larger piece. working on it allowed me a chance to experiment with some material and ideas that I was mentally toying with for awhile. The young girl will need some additional work to look more like my young cousin. Her mouth and hand is a bit awkward. I wish I had placed her a little closer to the center, but I wanted to use the patterns from the mandala and had to work around them. Over all, I am happy. It was a good challenge and gave me some ideas for the future 🙂


The innocent kiss


And for comparison, the blue Mandala piece from last week that was reused for this challenge. 🙂

Blue Mandala I


Next week’s Challenge: Hearts

Belated Family Holidays and Island Dreams!

Island Dreams - Acrylic 2014

Island Dreams – Acrylic 2014

Hope everyone has recovered from the festive season! For me its been a busy month or so. I have been working a lot in the central states – which is good for future travel plans later in the year – but sadly I am missing some great family moments back home, like the Palecek Family After Holiday Holiday Party.  This year, because my family is large and growing, we decided to do a secret santa. I loved it! The holidays are expensive, I hate giving bad gifts and having to thoughtfully think about what to get twenty plus people will no doubt result in a bad gift.  This way I can focus my energy on the one person and make something wonderful for them.

ISland Dreams - detail - 2014

ISland Dreams – detail – 2014

I pulled my cousin Traci’s name from the drawing and my mind went completely blank, at first. What the heck am I gonna get for her?!? I love love love my cousin, but we have completely different taste on almost everything and she has all sorts of allergies and sensitivities to variety of materials that most people would not think about. Finally I decided that I would paint something for her. She bought her first house last year and the walls are still barren. I know she loves Hawaii, she visited years ago and dreams of returning someday soon. I didn’t paint her an actual landscape that could be found in Hawaii, but I created a simple island composition inspired by the millions of hawaiian beach landscapes photos I found on the internet.

ISland Dreams - detail - 2014

ISland Dreams – detail – 2014

I finished the painting in about 10 days. I would have liked to have spent more time working on the details but I needed to get the painting completed in time to ship back to New Jersey for the family party today!  Work has been busy and thus making it difficult to paint as much as I would like to, I was actually one of the few people thankful for the arctic freeze this week because it allowed me the time off from work to sit in my hotel room and paint.

Painting process

Painting process

Shipping the piece was an even bigger adventure! First I tried the post office, but the canvas was an odd oversize item that would not fit any of the packages they had available. I thought I would be allowed to create a box from materials, but learned that everything that I would need to do to ship this painting was considered a felony by the USPS. I couldn’t even use liquor boxes to make a box!! Next was Fed Ex in the local office max. They too did not have the box size I needed, but they at least had materials for me to create a very ugly burrito style box loaded with packing tape on either end. People shopping for office supplies would walk by and LAUGH at me. To be honest  I was laughing with them too! It was a pathetic looking box. I am sure I would have done better if I was allowed to use box cutters, but that was against store rules. I left actually worried that the package would not pass some kind of shipping code and get lost in the labyrinth of fed ex shipping trails.

Ugly box!

Ugly box!

Traci got the painting today – Thank you Fed Ex for not being suspicious of the ugly box and delivering it – and she loved it! Relief! But lets be honest, is anyone really ever going to tell their cousin that a painting they worked on just for them and their personal taste  that the painting sucks? 🙂


If you like what you see please visit my Etsy Shop PaleChick Studios!

Painting Process

Painting Process

Painting Process

Painting Process

Initial sketch

Initial sketch