Tag Archives: Nature

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


Weekly Art Challenge: DEGAS

Hey folks!!

Welcome Back! This week’s theme is Degas.


RJ – Digital Painting.

“I just wanted it to feel light”

I love the light and airy feeling of RJ’s piece. His colors palette reminds me of the blush tones the skin achieves when the body is active and further suggests movement and athletic nature behind a form of art that most – those with little idea of how much work and effort is applied by the artist – view as delicate.


RJ degas


Karri – Pastel on paper.

“Degas was born in Paris. He spent a lot of his time studying and copying paintings in the Louvre. So it is fitting to depict a copy of one of his drawings. He likes to focus his work on real life instead of mythology or history that’s why he became known for his paintings of ballet dancers in their studios practicing. When I studied painting in Memphis there was a Degas in the permanent collection at the Dixon gallery. It was amazing to witness the delicate lines and the soft pastels.”

As always, Karri’s use of color is rich and dreamy. I feel like I am in a darken theatre looking at a stage and watching a blur of movement, color and light. She definitely channeled her inner Degas through pastels and keen observation skills!



Emily – Pencil on Paper

“I’m currently keeping a little journal of observational drawings to try and improve my skills. This was an Edgar Degas Ballerina painting, Dancer Tilting, that I tried to draw from for about 5-10 minutes. A lot of things are off with it, but i’m kinda proud, any tips would be appreciated!”

From a short observational sketch, I can feel the dancer’s body stretch and see from the dancer’s expression that she is fully in the moment. Degas would applaud Emily’s journal of observational drawings. He believed strongly that observational skills were what separate great artists from lesser artists. His “tip” to you would be what his idol/mentor, Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, told him once “Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist.”. Keep drawing those lines, Emily!! 🙂




Amber – Pencil on Paper

I did some research on Degas for this week’s challenge and the details that stood out the most were his distaste for the En Plein Air methods of his contemporaries and his insistence that great art is the result of keen observation.

For this week’s pieces I decided to create two sketches ( plus one sketchbook doodle). The first is of my niece, who’s natural stance has always been similar to a dancer, was drawn from a photograph. Many of Degas’s paintings had the feeling of a being a “snapshot”, presenting his subjects in their natural state instead of being posed and allegorical.  The second and third pieces are landscape sketches created onsite in Southern Utah and drawn in 20 minutes (the sketchbook image was in less than 5).

I find it a bit ironic that Degas would mock En Plein Air since it requires the observation skills that he so greatly admired in the classical artists before him. I can’t help but wonder about his relationship to nature and how it affected his distaste for painting outdoors.








Thanks for checking out our artwork!

Next week’s theme: DISTANCE

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.






Weekly Art Challenge: PIE

Hello Folks!

This week’s art theme is: PIE.

RJ: Chicken Pot Pie, Graphite and pen on paper – Someone has a sense of humor! As always I love the textures and mark making that RJ naturally creates. He has a great eye for detail and his work always look so effortless.


chicken pot pie


Amber: Slice of Earth Pie, pen and ink – At first I had no idea what I was going to make for the theme. Personally, I hate pies! I never order one and I can count the number of pies I have eaten in my life on one hand. I was struggling for a few days until I remembered one kind of pie that I did love making as a child. Mud Pies!! I was a mud loving kid, always digging holes, playing with worms and making mile high mum pies. This piece is an homage to my childhood games and love for earthly creatures.

Its incomplete at the moment. Some watercolor and more pen work will be added along with additional ants and possibly another ladybug.


Slice of Earth Pie



Next theme: Flight!

Weekly Art Challenge: HEALING

Hey Folks!

Last week’s challenge theme is Healing! Sorry for the delay in this post, folks. I have been working on the road and my hours are limited! In fact it was a busy week for many of us so it will be only me posting work. 🙂


AmberMy Thoughts Were Too Loud, I Couldn’t Hear My Heart Beat, Acrylic on paper – The inspiration for the theme came from my niece, she wanted to give me a theme that she thought would be too hard! lol, she was shocked when I told her it was the perfect theme and it really was!

The idea behind my image is that there are moments when we are in such emotional pain and turmoil that we fail to notice what is happening around us. We become lost inside our murky thoughts and sometimes become dangerously isolated; but, if we can find the will-power to pull ourselves from our thoughts we will see that healing is possible, that life continues and we can continue with it.

I wanted my piece to represent the struggle and hope that comes with healing. The uncertainty to trust that there is hope, and the struggle to not loose yourself to negative hopeless thinking/feelings. Hope and the process of healing is represented organically via the tall grass, the ever resilient dandelions (notice the the cup and the one puffless aged dandelion?) and the wind turbines are busy bringing in a renewable future.

It was a therapeutic piece for me to create and I hope others are inspired by it to breathe and take care of themselves. 🙂


Next week’s theme: Heavy!

Weekly Art Challenge: NATURE

Hello Folks!

‘Nature’ was the theme for our friendly art challenge this week.


RJ’s: Nature Bulb, pencil and digital paint – RJ wanted to make an image that combined nature and technology. Its a great piece of work! the detail of the beetle in the lightbulb is fantastic, I absolutely love it! The image reminds me that as we push for the advancement of technologies we often find ourselves pulled further away from the purity of nature. Ironically, nature was the inspiration for so many in the pursuits of improving our world; but she has also fall victim to our tech experiments – from the pollution, loss of habitat and from unpopular genetic modifications. The question becomes, is it possible to find a harmonic balance between nature and technology? For one to prosper does the other have to falter?  Great Job, RJ!


nature bulb


Mikyla: View from the Window. crayon and pencil – Mikyla did a wonderful job illustrating the sunny view outside her window. There is a lot of movement with her crayon strokes, perhaps there was a warm gentle breeze blowing through the garden. I like that she filled up the entire piece of paper, it reminds me that nature is everywhere, no space can go long without mother nature returning. Great job Mikyla!


Amber’s: Busy Bees, Graphite, acrylic and paper – Still painting my lovely dandelions. For this week’s theme I wanted to exhibit the role of the dandelion within nature’s realm by showing the busy bees working hard collecting its pollen. What impresses me the most about nature is that every piece of it has an important role in keeping the whole thing working. When one part goes missing, or extinct, then the rest of the system has to readjust and is never quite the same. The dandelion, though given the horrid status as “weed”, is one of the most useful plants a gardener could have. they are edible, their taproot helps break up compact dirt which will help other plants grow better and they are just plain pretty!


busy bees

Thanks for visiting!

Next theme: HIDDEN 🙂

Weekly Art Challenge: Artist’s Choice!

Hello folks!

We decided to give ourselves a two week challenge so that we could come up with something great.. lol but two of us, the epic procrastinators that we are, didn’t quite finish our work. We are still posting them, but please don’t judge the adults! Mikyla, however, did complete her challenge and therefore deserves to pick this week’s theme: Nature. Great theme choice!


Rj – Chameleon, paint – I know this is a 2D painting, but the colors and texture really look as though he created the lizard from this foam sculpting material I have seen in craft stores instead of acrylic. Which of course makes me want to reach in to play with it! The detail of the thousands of colorful scales is great and I love the intense eyeball! I can’t decide if the chameleon has seen dinner or if he just realized he is dinner. 🙂



Mikyla – Disney Castle, pen and crayon – Again, Mikyla has an eye for mature artistic detail! Setting her disney castle at night under twinkling stars and a crater marked moon was smart and creative.  I love that she used a pretty violet for the night sky and drew in a few bricks instead of filling the castle with tiny squares, it echoes the scattering of tiny stars and creates a balanced patterning. Beautiful!

Disney Castle

Amber – Dandelion Patch, acrylic, pen and graphite – Still drawing dandelions. What can I say, I love them! I still have a lot of work to add to this piece and I hope to finish it this week, if there is time. I want to glaze over the thick black border with a golden shimmer and add more pen and ink details to the leaves and flower buds. There are a few things I wish I did differently, mainly taken more time to paint the image in a better lit room, but I still think I can make it work 🙂


dandelion patch



Next theme: Nature!

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!