100 Portraits In 100 Days | Complete At Last!

On July 5th I sat down to draw the last portrait in my 100 portraits in 100 days project.

I thought about this day many times throughout the project. I could see the drawing clearly in my mind. At last, a portrait so beautiful that all my artistic insecurities would finally evaporate from my being. Then, I would celebrate in style! Maybe I would hang a disco ball from the ceiling, throw confetti into the air and pop the cork off a bottle of champagne. In my mind, it was going to be amazing!! 

However, when day 100 finally arrived, it wasn't like that at all. I selected a beautiful sheet of paper for the occasion and almost immediately decided against it. Instead, I drew a small portrait in my sketchbook. No fanfare, no disco ball, no big announcement on social media, just me, some charcoal and my favorite sketchbook. It really was the perfect way to end this all-consuming creative project.

I decided to embark on this self-imposed journey to find something new in my art and develop my creative process.  I wanted to improve my drawing skills, expose my art a bit more, and gain momentum in my work. I wanted to push myself in a way that I hadn't done before. So, in the end, was I able to accomplish what I set out to do? I believe I did, to a certain extent. However, I now understand that I have just barely skimmed the surface. I need to use this momentum to continue to develop my art and tell my story.

The portrait below embodies everything I have learned and experienced over the last one hundred days. As I worked, I reflected back over the project. There were the feelings of frustration, impatience, disappointment, and insecurity that were ever-present.  And, of course, there was the, "wanting to quit every day" thing to contend with too  But, on the flip side, there were amazing moments when I would feel overwhelmed by the sheer joy of drawing something good!  Beautiful moments when something would shift and time would just fall away. A moment when I would finally create from a place that was real and true.

All of these thoughts and emotions spilled into drawing one hundred.

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I  really wanted to find something original in my work. I wanted to find marks that would reflect what I see, think, and feel. So, did I accomplish this? Maybe.  But, one thing I do know, without a doubt, is that I must stay committed to the work, I have to practice, I have to keep pushing and experimenting. And, my biggest revelation of all was that my insecurities are not going to evaporate from my being - they are a part me and they are a part of the art I make. And, I'm finally okay with that!

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While I may be vulnerable and a bit insecure when I create, I truly believe these feelings are the soul of my art. I will now honor and celebrate them as I continue to work and strive to create art that is true to me. 

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I have received so much support during this project and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your emails, kind comments on Instagram and Facebook have meant so much to me. Thank you, thank you.

At some point, I will compile all of the portraits and share them with everyone. Now, the big question...

Will I ever do a 100-day project again - absolutely not!

xo

Renee

100 Portraits | Halfway Through | Part 4

Hi Everyone, 

I'm still quite amazed that I made it to day 50 of my crazy challenge! Today is officially day 53 and I have a couple of drawings still to post, but I feel pretty optimistic that I will make it to Day 100.

During this time I have drawn portraits that I love and frankly, ones that I don't love - at all!  I want to be honest with you, I had a very difficult time sharing these, but felt it was such an important part of this process. 

The four portraits below are a few that I don't "love".  But, I would like to think that each one has a lesson for me and they are leading me to more successful drawings.

I'm learning to embrace these drawings, because I feel they are an integral part of who I am and as an artist.. They are equally as important as the ones I find successful. Both should be celebrated as they are the guides in this journey (does that sound corny?) 

Below is the drawing I did on Day 50, black and white charcoal with a touch of white pastel on toned paper. I love the direction this drawing took along with the ones that follow.

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Not everything we create is going to work and I'm now a bit more comfortable with this fact, and  I know it is a part of my growth as an artist.  I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I struggle drawing most of the time.  However,  I feel that my voice as an artist is becoming more clear to me now.

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I now believe that focusing on a subject, drawing it over and over helps to move you towards creating from a place of authenticity. If you're like me and searching to find your voice, your style, and to feel inspired, then draw! Drawing will lead you to color and painting and maybe more. Your voice as an artist will be revealed with daily practice.

I'm not where I want to be yet and I don't know if I ever will be. But, I do feel that half-way through this project, I'm moving into a new place of creativity and confidence.  At this moment I know what I want to create and to me just knowing is a big deal. 

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Keeping to simple materials, like charcoal, has freed me as well. While a few of my portraits have included color, I keep going back to the simplicity and beauty of charcoal. I love how it moves across the paper and when I'm really lucky, a beautiful face will emerge. 

The simple act of drawing holds so much promise!

In celebration of completing 50 portraits, and to thank all of you who have been cheering me on, I want to give away a Limited Edition print of one of my portraits.

Leave a comment below about what works for you in your creative process and your name will go into the drawing. Share this and your name goes in twice. 

Enjoy your week!

Renee

100 Portraits | Who Are These Women? Part 3

One of my dear friends stopped by my house last week to pick up a couple of art prints for the Habitat for Humanity Silent Auction. She is very supportive of my art and has been championing me on during my 100 Portraits Project.  We were in my studio and she was looking at the portraits and asked me Who are these women?  What is their story? To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how to answer these questions.

 For the rest of the day I thought about these women who were taking over my art studio, waiting patiently for the next one to join them, asking myself these very same questions.

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Now, before I answer, I must mention that I started this project because I have been all over the place creatively. I decided to focus on the portrait because they are incredibly challenging, and I want to improve technically. Also, I want to feel inspired and maybe find more direction in my art.

As you know from my last post, I have developed a schedule which is working for me. I'm no longer "afraid" to begin and most of the time I feel inspired to draw.  However, with the passing of each day (today is day 39) it is becoming so much more to me. They have become so much more to me.

The reference photos I use are all beautiful women, which could come across as very superficial, but, there is always something more to what I see than their outward beauty. What I see are women who are many things; women who are strong, intelligent, independent,  fragile, sensual and imperfect. Most importantly, I see fragments of women I know;  my mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends, and I'm sure their are bits of me in the mix.

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The photo or photos are just a jumping off point for the initial structure of the portrait. It will eventually be cast aside, features will change and the final woman will emerge.

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When I look at them all together, they are very similar in style, which could be viewed as either a good thing or not so good depending on the point of view. But, at the moment, I don't really mind, because I know they're evolving into who they are meant to be.

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I'm now at the point where I'm craving color, I tried quite hard to remain true to the charcoal, but, I am feeling inspired, so I'm leaning into it.  I  love and respect this beautiful process - it is the reason I'm doing this. 

The process is everything! It really is!

 

 

Drawing Everyday Is Keeping Me Honest

I have been drawing everyday for more years than I can count. I have sketchbooks in my purse, by the couch, on my night table, and in my studio. When I travel I take my sketchbooks and art supplies, so I don't miss a day of creating. However, upon embarking on the "100 Portraits !00 Days" project, I came to the realization that I was not really drawing everyday.

I wasn't committed to my practice, I wasn't really seeing my art. I realized that i've been jumping around from project to project and not really knowing if I was on the right creative path.  But, for the moment I know what to do, when to show up and what I want to create. For me this is everything . It is keeping me honest with myself and my creative practice.

I now block off the same time everyday to draw, and what I'm discovering is that with each passing day, I sit down with less and less resistance. I just begin. And I love that this is happening. 

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I am now almost one quarter of the way through my 100 days, and I'm beginning to sense a shift in my drawing, something that I can't quite describe. If it ever does become clear I will let you know.

Out of the twenty-two portraits that I have completed so far, there are eight that stand out to me. I really love them. While the others are nice, there is something about the eight that have really captured my attention. I found myself lingering over them a bit longer than the others, not wanting to finish. Maybe these eight are the clue to where this project is going. Then again, maybe I'm just getting a little too "woo woo" about this whole thing. But, I kinda like "woo woo" so I'm going with it.

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I can't begin to tell you how important this project has become to me. I think about it constantly, I can't wait to begin my next drawing. Maybe it will be the one that I linger over a bit longer than the others. Maybe, it will join the ranks of my favorite eight. We shall see.

I read somewhere that when an artist draws a portrait from a live model, they are capturing the essence, or soul of the model. But, when an artist draws from a reference photo, the drawing becomes a reflection of the soul of the artist.  I would like to think this may be true.

I'm sharing my drawings everyday on Instagram @reneedesigns. If you're not on Instagram, I have created a page on my website in the Gallery - 100 Portraits 100 Days.

Thank you for stopping by and I wish you a beautiful and creative day.

xo

Renee

100 Portraits 100 Days And My Reasons Why

At first it seemed like a good idea, fun as a matter of fact. I can do this, no problem. I draw almost everyday - easy! Until yesterday. It turned into a complete struggle to complete a portrait. I began to wonder why on earth was I doing this?  Am I crazy?  Probably! Then, there was my inner dialogue chiming in....

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Day 1

Who will care if you skip one day? Don't you know there are bigger issues in the world then your little charcoal drawing?  It's only one day!  You don't have time. Your daughter's epic 8th grade project is due tomorrow.  The house is a disaster! You need to call your mom. You haven't checked your email since Saturday, Why don't you just have another chocolate Easter egg and think about it - it's okay, really. 

But, then, I became much more clear about the reasons why I wanted to do this project.  And I became determined not to skip one day, because if I skip one, then I will more than likely skip more again in the future.

I did create a quick little sketch on Day 7 and posted it. (you can see it here, on my Instagram) While it's not great, it was  okay with me because it was not the point to create a good drawing. For me, it was that I didn't give in and skip the day (or eat the chocolate eggs) I overcame my resistance and moved forward with a clearer point of view on this project.

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So, now, here is day 8 and I'm about to go into my studio to begin today's portrait. I do believe  I have a better understanding of my reasons why. I know that I want to clear my head, I want to focus only on one thing and use a minimal of art supplies. I want to use charcoal.  I love how it moves across the paper, how I can create like and dark, mood and emotion and I don't have to think about color. It is just me, the charcoal, the paper and the portrait. It is a very intimate experience and one that I am compelled to complete. 

I have never taken on anything like this before and I'm very interested in where this journey will take me and take my art. I'm sure I will have many more days like yesterday - I would be very surprised if I didn't. But, even if I have to create a sketch on my grocery receipt, I will do it.

I will be posting my drawings everyday on Instagram @reneedesigns. I would love it if you would take a look, it will help me to know that you are checking in on me.

Enjoy your day

Renee

Between The Pages Of My Sketchbook

The Good, The Bad, The Overworked, And A Bit Of Promise.

Hello Everyone,

I decide that it would be fun (and real) to give you a look at the pages in my sketchbook. The good, the bad, the really bad and what came of it all.

On Monday morning, after Olivia went to school and Marc was off to work, I sat down on the floor of my studio with a cup of coffee pondering on where to start. Should I draw? Should I paint? Should I work on the commission piece that has been staring at me for weeks? Hmm...

Well, to get the ball rolling, I pulled out my favorite little green sketchbook and started sketching. This led to another cup of coffee, and of course I had to check in on Instagram - don't want to miss anything.  And then back to sketching, listening to music, checking to see if there was anything good in the fridge (no), more sketching, and a lot of charcoal flinging for most of the day. That night, I found myself back on the floor (extremely messy by now) my coffee was replaced with a lovely glass of wine, and I studied everything that I had created. Then thought - what's next? 

So, while I continue to ponder this question - here are, the pages that I worked on over the past three days. Very raw drawings, overworked drawing, bad drawing,  and some that held promise. Along with a random photo of my grandmother standing in front of palm trees -I have no explanation for this, but I just like it. 

Below the sketchbooks are a few additional drawings. I decided work for a while using my non-dominant hand (a challenge on IG from Ivy Newport) which seemed to propel me into creating something real. The last one began with my left hand and I finished it up with my right.



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While I love to spend weeks on a drawing like this one, I'm loving this process as well. I believe it is all about embracing imperfections.  They are real and they are beautiful.

Have a beautifully, imperfect week.

xo

Renee

Techniques I Use To Stay Inspired.

“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides–valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” ~David Bayles

 

Just wondering....

Have you ever been at a creative standstill?  Wanting to create, but just not feeling it. Wandering in and out of your creative space with the hopes that inspiration will whisper in your ear and tell you what to create?  Then, only to find yourself on the couch watching Outlander Season 1 - again!  

Now, I LOVE making art, I love creating and I love hanging out in my little studio. But, every so often I feel resistance and it is usually accompanied by its sidekick, my inner critic. They make quite the duet! Singing and dancing away in my brain - at times, there is even a full blown musical going on inside my head.  In order to get this very distracting duet to exit stage left I have come up with a few little techniques that seem to work for me. Techniques and practices that I would like to share with you.

 

1. Practice drawing your subject over and over. I have found that when i focus on one subject and draw it over and over on cheap paper, I begin to feel a shift emotionally.  I find that I can keep going and begin experimenting and push myself . I become clear and I get more ideas! I feel inspired! 

(Don't approach this technique with the notion you are going to create art or a finished piece - just practice and allow the shift to take place. It always does.)

2. Pull out your old sketchbooks or art journals and open them to a random page. Lay them all out on the floor. Then just look at them. Look for a common thread in your work - you may be very surprised by how much inspiration you can glean from your past journals.

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We are always evolving as artists and our past work is part of the puzzle. This work is our guide, and it has brought us to where we now stand as artists. I believe it will take us to where we need to go as well. I find this exercise very powerful and some of my best ideas have come from looking at my old sketchbooks and art journals. There is no better creative guide than what lies between the pages of your journals.

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3. Get out of your house/studio. Take one art journal and one pencil and go for a walk. I know this sounds so simple, but walking down the streets of your neighborhood will free your mind. Make quick sketches of what ever catches your eye. Oh, and leave your phone at home - I promise you will see more. What a welcome relief to leave it behind.

4. Go to the library and check out books on artist you know and artist you don't know. Then, light a candle, put on relaxing music, pour your self a cup of tea (or glass of wine:) and immerse yourself in the richness of what lies between the pages of those beautiful books. There is always so much to learn from other artists, and it is so good for the soul.

5. If you have children, visit their bookshelves. Or, visit the children's section in your local bookstore or library. I love pouring over the illustrations in children's books - they are beautiful, magical, emotional and quite often nostalgic.

6. Take an art class. It is a great way to try out new techniques, connect with other creative people and hold yourself accountable. There are so many beautiful online class available now, and you can do them anytime of day or night. Below are a few of my favorites:

Ivy Newport

Jeanne Oliver

Kara Bullock

So, should you be faced with  the cast and crew of Les Miserables performing in you head, then give some of these little tips a try. And, just in case you were wondering, I love Les Miserables and I have the soundtrack playing as I write this post. 

I would love to know what you do to push past your moments of feeling uninspired, feel free to share it in the comments below.

xo

Renee

Finding The Right Colors For Your Art.

Color is such a personal thing.

Some of us are drawn to the bold contrast of black and white. Others to pale and faded pastels, or vibrant primary colors or maybe moody tones.  There is no right or wrong in your color choices. You love what you love!

If you look at my artwork, it is more than obvious that I love pink!  I can't hide it, nor do I apologize. It is a glorious color -  I never met a pink that I didn't fall head over heels madly in love with.

However, I'll let you in on a little secret, there is a color that I love more than pink. I know, shocking!  It is a deep dark charcoal gray. I love how everything paired with it looks! Green golds, Yellow Ocher, Bright Pink, Vintage Pink, Vibrant Reds, Pale Blues and a shimmering gold. 

These particular colors make my heart beat faster, ideas begin to flow and art happens. So I am going with it. 

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Because I'm very committed to my color palette, it makes purchasing art supplies so much easier. I don't spend a lot of money on colors that I won't use and I rarely buy a set of any supply.  Don't get me wrong, I do experiment with new colors, I think it is important to the development of my art. And, I want to see if I have the same reaction and if I do, then I will add it to the mix. 

As a tool on keeping my colors organized, I made  a color deck to catalogue my favorite colors and brands.  It is also a great way to play with the value range of a color, and to experiment mixing colors. 

To create your own color deck, tear a sheet of mixed media paper into pieces - mine are 4 x 6. Then add color in the medium of your choice. Make sure you record the name of the brand and color on the back. If I'm mixing colors, I write down the formula as well.

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In addition to creating my color deck, I have a few great books that I refer to over and over to get a better understanding of this big topic.

My few favorite books on color. 

1. Color Mixing Bible by Ian Sidaway - a must for every artist! 

2. Color Lab by Deborah Forman - great projects, especially for Mixed Media artists.

3. Making Colors Sing by Jeanne Doble - main focus is on watercolors

4. Interaction of Color by Joseph Albers - A masterwork and must have for all artists. 

5. The Magic Palette  - color mixing deck - I love this.

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I believe it all comes down to how color makes you feel and then you will create what you feel in your art.  So, look around your house, your wardrobe, your garden. What colors do you really love?

What colors make your heart beat faster? 

Have a beautiful and creative day!

Create Textured Pastel Flowers

Hello Everyone,

I love practicing and working out my ideas on a piece of kraft paper - I have a big roll in my studio and I probably use it everyday.  I also like to repurpose my grocery bags as well -  yes, I am completely  guilty of forgetting my shopping bags when I go to the grocery store.

I thought it would be fun to share a step by step of one way that I like to use a  brown paper bag as an alternative substrate for creating. This is a great way to practice sketching, composition, color and mixing up art supplies on free paper! If you have kids, have them be your "gesso assistant" my daughter loves this job and often ends up sitting with me and creating - which is a beautiful thing!

Supply List:

Brown Paper Bag or a roll kraft paper, white or black gesso, pastels in the color palette of your choice (I combine Sennelier soft pastels and Sennelier oil pastels to create a chunky texture) charcoal pencil and a palette knife. If you  don't use pastels you can substitute with acrylic paints, watercolor or inks.

 

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I cut a 9 x 12 rectangle out of the bag and then taped it down to my work table. Next, I added an even coat of white gesso.

 

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Grab a couple of your favorite charcoal pencils and loosely sketch out your flowers.

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This is such a good exercise to loosen up your hand. Try standing up and hold the pencil at the top while you draw. 

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Select your favorite colors! I usually select three or four in a color family - dark to light. I begin with the darkest and then add in the medium color and finish up with the lightest color. I usually blend the colors with the pastels and sometimes my finger.

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Begin laying down your color, work in tandem with your value range of dark to light. Create a loose charcoal outline to your petals.

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Work back and forth layering your color. I  "lightly" push and pull the pastels through the colors to add more texture. Next, I added oil pastels over the soft pastels in a few areas like the center of the flowers, the leaves and a touch on the background. The chunky texture created by this technique is wonderful!  But note, it doesn't work to add soft pastels over the oils.

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Adding marks in your art work will add interest and reflect your personal style. I made small tick marks and dots in charcoal and pastel to add interest. Next, I used a palette knife next to create the veins of the leaves - I particularly like the effect of scraping the palette knife through the gray oil pastel mark created a "grass like" effect in the above right image.

In addition to the little marks, I always add a large, illegible script to most of  my artwork. I set an intention, or write a quote or maybe a random thought about the process. 

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The final step is to spray with a fixative.

I hope you enjoyed this little demo and I hope to have more in the future.

Enjoy 

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Art Journaling And How It Will Inspire Your Art

For many years I kept a sketchbook and would practice drawing and  jotting down my  ideas. However, it wasn't until I began diving into the creative practice of art journaling that I saw a significant shift in my artwork. It was a place to explore color, lines, mark making, and build up layers of beautiful materials - all without fear.

 art journal inspiration   

art journal inspiration

 

Your art journal will become a sacred place where you can pour your ideas out onto the page. Ideas that are uncensored and pure. It allows you think, and then you will create. You will feel and create what you feel. By gathering ideas, your emotional connection to your work becomes richer, more intuitive and a more fulfilling creative experience. 
 

 gather what inspires you and keep it in your art journal

gather what inspires you and keep it in your art journal

If you are new to art journaling here are a few tips and techniques to get you started.

1. Decide on what time of book you would like to create in: Strathmore Mixed Media Art Journal is one of my favorites or breath new life into a vintage book that you pick up at the local thrift shop. 

2. Prepare your pages (especially in a vintage book) with gesso. I like to use Liquitex Clear Gesso, - or you can choose from white or black as well.

3. Begin to gather things that inspire you - words cut from a magazine, colors and images you love, vintage papers, theater tickets - anything and everything. 

4. Pull out your art supplies and begin.

 gather your art supplies and practice in your art journal everyday

gather your art supplies and practice in your art journal everyday

If you are interested in learning more about art journaling I have a few online classes that will guide you through the process. 

 art journaling tips and techniques in my new online class

art journaling tips and techniques in my new online class

My newest class, The Painted Camellia, can be found on Ivy Newport's creative network. We will dive headfirst into three inspiring art journal projects.  The class begins March 8th and there is currently Early Bird registration available. So, take a moment and visit Ivy's site.

In addition, there are two more classes that begin with art journaling projects, Full Bloom and Beautiful Pages. 

 your art journal is a sacred place to keep your creative ideas

your art journal is a sacred place to keep your creative ideas

Make sure you visit my instagram, @reneedesigns for daily art and inspiration., or feel free to  visit my Facebook page.

Have a beautiful and creative week

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A Space to Create.

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This piece is called Crepe Myrtle and hangs in our kitchen where I can see it everyday. It is inspired by beautiful memories of my grandparent's home in Metairie, Louisiana. It represents love, joy, creativity, summer, freedom, fun, a lot of food and most importantly, my family. It is the perfect piece to welcome you to my creative home.


I have been thinking about starting a blog for sometime now, however, much like opening a brand new sketchbook and making that first mark upon a stark white page, starting a blog is a bit daunting. With so many beautiful blogs floating around in "beautiful blog world" I decided that the only thing I can do is to be me. Really me!  Real art is made from a place of honesty and it is my pledge to share it all with you.

I'm a mom, wife, artist, dance teacher, car pool driver, snack maker, library volunteer, book lover and all round romantic - I probably left a few things out, but I'm sure they will emerge as time goes on.  I would like this to be a place where I share what works, what doesn't work and what inspire me to create art. I will share my techniques, my creative practices and my process with you.

Soooooo, what's next?

I have some fun plans in the works. Very soon I will be launching a beautiful (FREE) art journaling class that will give you suggestions for gathering ideas, creating beautiful journal pages and suggestions on how to create a meaningful art practice. I will share many of my tips and techniques along with how I generate ideas for larger works through art journaling. And, in January 2018, I will release my first online art class, Full Bloom, this course will dive deeper into creative practices so you can make art that is truly unique to you. 

I welcome you to join me as I practice, share ideas and follow inspiration down the rabbit hole. Whether you are just beginning or just need a new perspective this will be a very nurturing place for all creative souls.

 Above are the supplies that I used in making of the mix media piece, Crepe Mrytle:  Ink, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, pastels and  white gesso. I can't live without gesso!

Above are the supplies that I used in making of the mix media piece, Crepe Mrytle:  Ink, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, pastels and  white gesso. I can't live without gesso!

 

Thank you for stopping by,

Renee

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