Cardinal colored pencil drawing: in progress

Cardinal colored pencil drawing - progress 1

The bird drawing continues!  I started this colored pencil drawing of a Northern Cardinal yesterday using this photograph on Instagram as the source image.  I was really drawn to this photo because the cardinal is looking straight at the camera – what an amazing shot!  When I showed the drawing to my partner yesterday, he said, “This bird is staring straight into my soul.”  Haha!

Cardinal colored pencil drawing - initial sketch

I am happy to report that, unlike last time, I didn’t trace the outline of the bird beforehand.  It is all free-handed.  It’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad either!

More progress to come next weekend, hopefully!

Cedar waxwing colored pencil drawing

Cedar waxwing colored pencil drawing by Allspice Abounds

Cedar waxwings are such striking birds!  Last spring I started to get interested in bird watching (you know, yet another old lady hobby to add to my list).  🙂  It was my first spring in Minnesota, and I learned that we are located right along the Mississippi Flyway, which means many opportunities to see a diverse array of beautiful birds during their seasonal migration.  Plus, my new neighborhood has a lot more trees and other vegetation than my old neighborhood in Massachusetts (which was much more urban), so I have seeing birds left and right.  It has been awesome!  I am definitely still a bird-watching novice, but I’ve been enjoying the learning process. Continue reading

Random sketch from an Instagram photo

Random Instagram sketch 2

This evening I found myself all wound up after a stressful day (and week) at work and an eerie walk around my deserted neighborhood.  I think being cooped up in the house is finally starting to get to me.  In search of something, anything, to get my mind off of everything that is going on, I dug out my sketchbook and decided to distract myself with a little drawing.  I scrolled through Instagram for inspiration (as one does), and found this photo by @orchidsheart, which I saw shared by @helens__closet.  About an hour later, I came up with this little sketch.  I almost never attempt to sketch people, so this was a bit of a challenge for me.  Although I am tempted to spend many more hours on it to “perfect” the shading (as if I am capable of such perfection, ha!), I’m calling it done and going to bed.

Many thanks to Ophelia for the inspiration and a welcome distraction on this unsettling night.

Colored pencil technique 101: more leaf sketches

Colored pencil amateur hour continues here at Allspice Abounds.  I think the key to learning something new is to not take yourself too seriously.  I’m trying to give myself the freedom to just try things and not worry about perfection (which is really hard for a perfectionist).  🙂  Below are my latest sketches, and what I learned from them.

Blue and orange leaves with shadows

Colored pencil sketches - blue and orange leaf cluster

My objective here was to experiment more with using complimentary colors to create rich shadows.  Last time I used green and red, and here I tried orange and blue.

What I learned: (1) It works, but you have to be really restrained when using blue over orange.  I think I pressed too hard with the blue.  (2) I have to pay attention to which direction the shadows are supposed go.  Art 101, right?  Here I added a shadow every time the leaves overlapped, but I don’t think I did it right.

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Colored pencil technique 101: leaves with shadows

Cluster of leaves with shadows

Brace yourselves: I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of YouTube colored pencil tutorials.  Whoa, there is SO much awesome stuff to learn about drawing and coloring with colored pencils!  My innocent adult coloring book obsession has turned in a full-blown fascination with the big, bad world of art technique.  Who knew there was so much to learn??

I made the sketch above using my Prismacolor pencils after watching this delightful video from expert colorist Peta Hewitt (warning: it’s 43 minutes long).  The sketch took me about 2 hours (!!) to complete.

Two mind-blowing things that I learned in the making of this sketch:

  1. You can blend colored pencils on paper just like you would with paints.  The key is using a white pencil or a colorless blender pencil.  The effect is pretty startling.  The colors blend together pretty fluidly, and the colorless blender brightens the color significantly.
  2. To create a rich shadow, use a color complimentary to the original color.  For the green leaves above, I created the shadows using bright red.  Cover up the red with more green, blend, and enjoy your beautiful shadows.

Did you ever stumble upon an entire world that you never knew existed, and then voraciously learn everything you can like a rabid beast?  That pretty much describes my week.  I may have visited my local art supply store three times this week.

If you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be glued to more YouTube videos with my pencils and new sketchbook in hand.  So much to learn!  🙂

Coloring: Beemused

Johanna Basford Secret Garden - Beemused

“Beemused” – Ink design by Johanna Basford in Secret Garden, coloring and addition of various critters by me.

This page took quite a bit longer than I had expected, but hopefully it was worth it in the end.  I have to admit, I’m not 100% convinced about my choice of yellow for the background, but it’s too late to change it now.  Onward!

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Coloring: Fantastical Fern

Johanna Basford Secret Garden - Fantastical Fern full

“Fantastical Fern” – Ink design by Johanna Basford in Secret Garden, colored by me and John.

That’s right folks, my obsession with adult coloring continues.  Truth be told, I’m a little afraid of starting to sew again after hurting my back a few weeks ago, so I’ve decided to just take it easy for the time being.  I can still feel twinges of pain when I move in certain ways, so apparently the back is a fickle and slow-healing beast.  Ok back, you win, coloring it is for now.

Back issues aside though, I’m really into this coloring thing.  🙂

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Coloring: Garden of Fire

Secret Garden Johanna Basford - Garden of Fire by Allspice Abounds

“Garden of Fire” — Ink design by Johanna Basford in Secret Garden, colored by me and John (my partner).

This project took up my entire weekend, but I love the end result!  I have to give credit where credit’s due: John chose this page and came up with the idea of using reds and oranges.  I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but the color palette grew on me with each new flower that we colored.  In the end, I think it was quite a brilliant idea.  🙂

This page was colored with Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, a recent purchase from my local art supply store.  These pencils produce such rich, beautiful color.  They’re not cheap, but the quality is wonderful.

Secret Garden Johanna Basford - Garden of Fire by Allspice Abounds - partialHere you can get an idea of what the page looked like originally.  If you Google images for Secret Garden, you’ll find that this circular floral design is one of the more popular pages, and I can see why!  The densely packed flowers are a great landscape for playing with color.

I left these images larger than usual so you can zoom in if you’d like.  My coloring looks better from far away than close up, so don’t expect perfection.  🙂

Oh, and how do you like the name “Garden of Fire?”  (Yes, I’m naming my coloring pages now.  Yes, I’m obsessed.)

Hope you all had a good weekend!  My hand needs a rest after all this coloring.  🙂

Crack for when your back is whack

Secret Garden Johanna Basford - cover

Remember my sewcation from a weeks ago?  Yeah, I wound up hurting my back big time.  All that leaning over my cutting table while making alterations and assembling (and disassembling) the trench coat muslin was too much in too short a period of time.  Alas, I’m not the sweet young thing I used to be.  I haven’t touched that muslin or my sewing machine in over 2 weeks while my lower back made its way back to (almost) normal.  I’m happy to report that I can now sit down, stand up, and put my shoes on without assistance.

Anyway, while I was nursing my sewing-related injury, I received one of these new-fangled adult coloring books as a gift from a friend, along with a set of colored pencils.  The book is Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, and there are about a million others flooding your local bookstore at this very moment, I assure you.  Since I could carry out this new activity while sitting relatively still in a chair, it was perfect timing.  And you know what?  This stuff is like CRACK.  Crack, I tell you!!  It’s totally addicting.

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“Quilts and Color” at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Quilts and Color at the Boston MFAImage from the MFA Boston

I had the pleasure of visiting the new “Quilts and Color” exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday, and WOW was it amazing.  If you find yourself in the Boston area or within a reasonable driving distance, I would very highly recommend stopping by the museum to feast your eyes on this absolutely gorgeous, bold, and inspiring collection.  To say that I was blown away is an understatement.

I didn’t take any photos because they wouldn’t have done the quilts any justice whatsoever, and I didn’t want to spoil the exhibit for any of you who plan to visit.  However, I was so overwhelmed by the collection that I felt compelled to write a letter to the museum.  I think this accurately sums up my feelings about it:

To the Curator, collectors, and all those who contributed to the “Quilts and Color” exhibition:

I have visited the MFA many times since moving to Boston, but this is the first time I have felt compelled to write.

The new “Quilts and Color” exhibition was an absolute joy to experience. What a beautiful and unique collection! The quilts are truly masterpieces of hand stitching and color composition, and I spent a full two hours admiring the craftsmanship with my jaw hanging open in awe. It was a delight to stick my nose into every single quilt in the exhibit (as far as the guards would let me!) to inspect the stitching, and also to stand back and take in the entire piece as a whole. I left feeling exuberant and inspired.

My heartfelt thanks go to all those involved for a bold, unapologetic, and thoughtfully curated exhibit, and also for recognizing the work of these women as worthy of hanging on the MFA walls. You have brought so much joy to your visitors, as evidenced by the constant stream of “Wow!”, “Unbelievable!”, and “Breathtaking!” that I heard (and uttered!) during my visit.

With respect and gratitude,

Cambridge, MA

Trust me, this exhibit is a must-see.  : )

In other news, I am way behind on blogging but have been enjoying taking a little break from it.  I think I wore myself out with all those muslins!  Hopefully I’ll be back soon with updates on what I’ve been working on.  Hope you’re all doing well.  : )