Friday, November 14, 2014

Strokes Of Genius Vol. 6 : Value / Lights & Darks by North Light Books

I am so very honored and proud to have had one of my images placed in this book of wonderful drawings.  Colored Pencil, Pen & Ink, Pastel, Graphite and much more.  My work "Harley's Davidson"  Colored Pencil can be found on page 51, as seen below.

A link to the North Light Book is HERE.

Of the 1500 entries submitted there are 140 great images.  If you are into drawing this is a must see book.  I received my copy on Monday and now that classes are finished for the week I can't wait to drink in each and every drawing, along with a hot cup of coffee that is!

Happy scribbling everyone. 

Gloria Callahan

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More 2014 Plein Air Colored Pencil Works

I promised you more Plein Air pieces and here they are:

"Pier 22 Annapolis Docks" a 8 X 6" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard completed during a weekend workshop on location at the docks.  My BFF and fellow plein air junkie, Kathy Scott also worked at this view in her native oil paints.

In Sept. we attended a plein air workshop from Oil Painter - Barbara Nuss who's book on Composition we both own and hold in high regard.  Which can be purchased from her at her website HERE or at a Barnes and Nobles.

Now again most workshops I attend in plein air are for other media, not colored pencil.  But I always feel you can learn from other artists in their approach and palette.   I just translate in my head the colors they mix or demonstrate into my well known Prismacolor shades.  Black Grape, Moss green etc.

To the right is Kathy's 10 X 8" piece done in Oil "Dockside Bar"  Her piece was also finished in the studio afterwards.  To view more of Kathy's work her website can be viewed HERE You can see the differences two artists observe in the same view.  It is the artist's prerogative to add or remove elements they find distracting to their subject.

The view across from the main dock area was in constant motion.  The large sail boat Woodwind II from my piece, came and went in the 4 hours we painted in the sun.  A large bay charter boat came and went from slip 22 every hour and a half.  Blocking our view and making us move our set up spot initially.  But such are the perils of working in the fresh air!  

The above shown pieces were from our second day of the workshop, Sunday.   On the prior day, Saturday we watched a demo Barbara completed from the window of the Quiet Waters State Park in Annapolis, MD, while we waited for the rain to clear.  Then it was out to the South River view to take it on for ourselves.

So my "South River View" an 8 X 8" Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard came to be.  Now again, my colored pencil works are usually near 75% complete on location, with the build up of layers and saturation of color added afterward.

We concluded our trip to Maryland with a detour thru Chads Ford, PA to see the homes and studios of N. C. Wyeth and his son Andrew.  What a treat!

I do have a few more works yet to see the finishing touches from other 2014 plein air adventures in CP.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Back To The Blog - Summer and Fall Plein Air Colored Pencil Works

Finally after a very busy Fall I am getting back to blogging.  My apologies for letting things slide here on the blog.  But on the positive note I have been creating out in the Open (Plein) Air.     Which was one of my goals for 2014.  The piece to the left is one started on site in June at a location in the Bellevue area of Richmond, as part of the VA Plein Air Painters group of which I am a member.  It is currently on exhibit at "Stir Crazy" the local Bellevue area coffee shop, as part of our group exhibit.  The lovely home at 1622 Pope St.  is featured only in part here because this was not intended to be a home portrait.  But it was to be a study in the dappled light falling on the lawn and seen thru the trees between the lots.  
Thus the title: Dappled Light - 1622 Bellevue SOLD

The scan of this piece is reading a little red and with a slight cast of acid yellow which does not appear on the original piece.  But I gave up trying to tweak it in Photoshop.  If it does not sell at the show I will photograph the piece again to get a better image truer to the original's color. 

10 X 8 Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard.  I would say 70 percent of the image was done on site with the final saturation of color completed in the studio.  We worked about 4 and 1/2 hours on site that day.  

Prior to putting the finishing touches on this work I had started several pieces in plein air this season and am in the process of putting finishing touches on the rest.  Our Plein Air group considers works done en Plein Air, works that where 85% of the image is finished on site. (No matter the media)  So this one is noted as Plein Air and Studio for that reason in the show.   Accomplishing 85% in one working period out of doors is a feat I have only accomplished a few times in CP and the results are smaller works generally.  Unless I can use a toned board, but that effects the overall colors in the works due to the translucent nature of CP.

Look forward to the next installment on my 2014 Plein Air Season and my new addition!

Gloria Callahan


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Red Shoe Evening - 11" X 14" Colored Pencil On Ampersand Pastelboard

                                                      A Red Shoe Evening 11" X 14"

With all the Plein Air painting I've been doing this summer and teaching it took a little while to finish this Still Life.  It will be making it's debut at Crossroads Art Center and Gallery at this weeks opening reception, Sept. 19th, 2014 6-9 PM.  But since I have been doing several landscapes I kind of see the landscape of this work too.  I may have to get this photographed again as it looks a little more bright than the original piece.   But at least you get to see it.

The story behind this reference starts with my daughter in law and her new red shoes.  You see the kids came home for a costume party a year or so ago, one that fit the TV show Mad Men's theme.  Her new red shoes looked killer on her with a strand of pearls at her neck, red cardigan, white blouse, and dark skirt.  A true 1960 look for her and my son in his skinny tie and suit.   Off they went to have fun, however the next morning I saw those pretty red shoes kicked off on the floor of my kitchen with their reflection in the floor.

Well by now if you have been reading my blog you know this gal cannot pass up a good reflection to save her life.  Ideas were "a poppin" in my head.  When my daughter in law came downstairs I asked if I could borrow her shoes for a photo shoot.  Her comment tickled me,  "Those shoes killed my feet all night, I won't be wearing those anytime soon.  Of course you can have them."  I was so pleased since that meant I needn't hurry to photograph them before they left.

A week later I set up the still life with my old pearls and a few perfume bottles on a shinier surface and snapped away.  This would be so cute in a woman's bedroom or dressing area!  A reminder that we ladies will do anything for fashion at least once, and a killer pair of shoes has a double meaning!

Does it make you remember such an evening?  I think maybe several in my case since as a young girl I had a hard time resisting a "cute" pair of shoes or how they can make an outfit!

Gloria Callahan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Colored Pencil - Plein Air Summer

                                                     Sunday Park Plein Air  6" X 12"
                                           Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

Summer 2014 started with working "En Plein Air" (in the open air) with colored pencil and it's still going strong.  So while my posts have been a little farther apart I have been working on getting my speed up and working in new and various sizes.  2013 and prior I mostly worked in 5 X 7 sized pieces and one 8 X 10 but I had vowed to work a little bigger in plein air this year.  Many other media painters work their plein air just as small but they may get 2 pieces done in the time I work on one.  No matter, it's all in the doing as far as I'm concerned.  The above piece was at a local park here in July  at Brandermill's Sunday Park.  A small park in Chesterfield County, VA.  Quiet during the week and just a perfect spot for working on my speed.  I liked the long format of this board and had previously only worked on my backlit fruit series on it.  See here or here for a sampling of that series.  One of which I don't think I ever placed on the blog is:

                  Backlit Citrus 2  6" X 12"  Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard  SOLD

While I liked the long format for the still lives mentioned, I'm finding I also really like this long format for a larger vista.  So I will be sure to do more plein air pieces on these boards.

The largest piece plein air I have tried was 9" X 12" on a 5 hour session plein air and a few hours at home.  Virginia is blessed with at least one lavender farm in the Blue ridge mountains east of Harrisonburg.  My favorite plein air pal and side kick, Kathy and I ventured out for an overnight in the area on the hunt for plein air sites.  White Oak Lavender Farm was our first stop, day one of the trip.  As a gardener, woman and foodie it's a little distracting at a place like this because you just want to buy up their plants, scented lotions, lavender balsamic vinegar and lavender blueberry jam.  Yes, you heard right lavender balsamic vinegar!  But I digress.....

Although it's a great place in a quaint Shenandoah setting, it's not the quantity of lavender you see in Provence.  But since I was bummed my friends were in France and I was not this would do nicely.  Our hard winter was hard on the lavender and so a little imaginary enhancements were added in the following piece to even out the farm's replacement plantings in some areas.

                                                          Lavender Fields 9" X 12"
                                           Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

While I think capturing the distant Blue Ridge mountains and more distant rolling fields of the farm went well, most of the work on the foreground field of lavender was completed at home.  Lavender is very hard to capture well, but I did my best.

Did I tell you that working outdoors in a field of lavender is dreamy!  No other word for it d-r-e-a-m-y!   As the breeze on this overcast day blew by, the scent was ethereal, not over powering just light on the wind.  Kind of like the approaching rain heading our way.  It held off until just the end of our session when we could not wait any longer to make our purchases in the farm's gift shop.

I'll add some more plein air work in another post but for now you can see some of what I've been up to.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Powhatan's James River Plein Air - Sticking it out in the Rain!

                                           Powhatan's James River Plein Air Study 8 X 10

Now that summer is half over I thought I had better catch you up on what I have been up to recently besides teaching summer open studio class in my home studio.   The above plein air study was CP painted on Ampersand pastelboard last Wednesday.  My cohort in Plein Air travels, Kathy Scott and I painted at the new Powhatan James River State Park.  She in oil and as usual I worked in CP.  We had planned to get an early start before the impending rain or heat and humidity of the Mid Atlantic set in.  But after a brief walk around we were forced to work under the pavilion on our morning's pieces.  The view was at more of a distance from what I had originally decided to paint so I worked from memory of the view I liked the best, supplemented with short jogs out into the rain to re-familiarize myself with the original view.

The rain of course was not my only challenge today.  You see I had a board from a failed attempt to plein air in my bag which had a slightly rendered image on it already, a statue in a garden surrounded by rocks.  Although it appears in the photo below like a landscape sketch it was really in a vertical format 10"h X 8"w.  After erasing the board as best I could, then turning it into a horizontal, you can see what I was left with in the image below:

Not the best when using a translucent media like colored pencil, but I actually had little hopes for this new piece given the rainy day we were working in and the distant view of my desired composition.  As you can see in the reference photo taken below,  my view from under the pavilion showed little of my original vision.    

But 3 hours later when the rain had stopped and a few faint sun rays came out, we were invaded by a YMCA camp bus of little people ready for a "Nature Talk" by the park rangers.  So we packed up and vowed to return on a sunny day.  I worked for a short while when I arrived home the next day tweaking the far bank and foreground areas.  You can see my statue underpainting is hidden (actually she is under the tree bases and along the front bank of the river).  

Lessons learned:  #1Yes, you can salvage a failed start and cover it in CP just like in other media, on Ampersand that is.  #2 I was proud of Kathy and myself having stayed the course in the rain.  We found a scene stuck with it and worked thru the conditions. #3 I think I captured the atmospheric moisture in the distant shore as still kept  the lighting and shadows of my initial view before rain set in.

Besides being a great friend and CP artist herself Kathy is always ready for an adventure!  Here is Kathy Scott's plein air from our trip: A 10" X 8" oil painting titled: The James River In Powhatan.   More of her work can be seen at her website:  As you can see Kathy chose to keep the rainy feel of the day with her piece.  Her view was certainly different than my own, but I'm sure you will agree, a lovely calming view of the James.


Our trip was the second in a series for me of James River views from the central VA area in which I live.  More to come for this series.  Next blog post will continue my plein air travels with CP from this weeks trip to a the Harrisonburg area of VA and more!  

Have a colorful week!  


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finally I have my latest piece finished, photographed and up for all to see: Life's Bowl 18 X 18, Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard

Life's Bowl
Colored Pencil on Ampersand Pastelboard
18 x 18

The Rainer Cherries in, and reflected on a this silver cup and the antique silver spoon near it, are kind of a metaphor for the how life is supposed to go.  We all know the phases, "Born with a silver spoon in your mouth" or "Life is a bowl of cherries"  As you all know I love my shiny objects and reflections.  And the pieces I put them into usually go quickly and with a lot of joy.  Don't get me wrong I loved the reference for this piece and the composition but I just became bogged down with life in it's process.  Kind of like life was trying to prove the above noted phrases wrong.  

After the successful art fundraiser which took 15 months to plan in March (I wrote a blog entry about it Last month) and my classes gearing up in early April, I just plain ran out of gas.  And then the dreaded 
.........Cue Ominous Music Here......... "Artist Block"....... hit me!  Smack in the face!  I didn't have time for it.  I hadn't thought it would hit of all people me!  The girl who loves to get out my colorful pencils and play with color.  But it did, it hit hard and as hard as I tried I just couldn't get myself back in line.  Has that ever happened to you?

I tried meditating, relaxing, fiddling with another media (Acrylics).  I tried a short vacation, garden work, you name it and I just couldn't recover.  So what do you do?   You GOOGLE Artist's Block!  Yes, you heard me right, when all else fails in this day and age you google it!  And after reading articles other creative types had written, you tube videos, and the like, I stumbled on an article that said "Artists block is just procrastination,  get over yourself and get going, the only way out is to get to work!"  Well now I'm paraphrasing the article but that was it in a nutshell.  If I thought that bit of information would have gone to my core as it did over the next couple days I would have remembered which article I found it in, so I could give the author credit here.   

So if you google it you too may find that article or my blog entry, and I hope either one helps get you back on track.  

Oh, and since I'm back on track, I'll let you know about my current show where I am one of the four featured colored pencil artists mentioned below.  And if your in the Annapolis area before July 6th stop by and see a great show put on by the CPSA Chapter in Washington DC in the Willow Gallery at Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD May 21st - July 6th.  Reception is June 1st from 2-4 PM.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Colored Pencil Painting "En Plein Air" Article

I am very pleased to announce the above image is the issue my article (Plein Air This Year) for Colored Pencil Magazine - May 2014 edition has been published.  And may be accessed by subscribing to either the Print version or the Ezine version by the following link.

You know working in plein air (painting in the open air) has been documented here in my blog since it's beginning and while I use the skills learned and honed for normal CP work, a few changes have been adapted to what can work en plein air.  I have traveled to Europe, Bermuda, and around the US either on special art trips where the focus has been to work plein air and on family vacations, business trips with my hubby and with other artists working in various media.  As normally the only CP artist I have had to adapt.  And whether you are just travel journaling for vacation or doing a sketch crawl, CP is a great clean media to work in.  I hope you enjoy the article and the magazine as it has many other great CP artists included.

I have ventured out plein air-ing this spring but due to some tough weather outings, getting a finished piece done in the field has not happened.  Many starts and beginnings which you will see in a future post, have happened.  I hope to complete a few when my teaching schedule lightens up.  So stay tuned!

The main reason I have been slightly absent here on the blog is my local art association (Bon Air Artists Assoc.), of which I am president and a co-chair on our fundraising committee, produced our first inaugural exhibit "Artful Healing", a fundraiser to benefit World Pediatric Project (WPP) here at the Jepson Alumni Center at the U of R.  We showcased 63 local Richmond artists exhibiting and selling wonderful artwork of which a portion of sales went to WPP.  Over $42,000 of art was sold during the 1 and a half day event in late March, with the help of Crossroads Art Center.  The artists were thrilled and from the donated portion of sales we raised enough funds to send a travel medical team to one of the South American locations WPP goes, to help heal children.  30-40 medical procedures can be facilitated during one of these trips.  Bon Air Artists Assoc. worked tirelessly on the project for over 15 months and with the first year under our belt, we are looking to 2015 for a second "Artful Healing" to continue our efforts to support this great cause.

As we push thru the April Showers this week I hope all of you will get out there and make some CP art happen, even if it's just a sketch of a future painting idea or a flower from your garden.  

Gloria Callahan


Sunday, March 9, 2014

At The Root Series

 At The Root - Orange Beets  9 X 12 Colored Pencil On Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD

My "At The Root Series" is officially that with the addition of the second piece, see my blog entry from my last piece created in 2013. (At The Root - Radishes) here  The background colors of this new addition are more true in this image than in the radish piece photo in the above noted link/blog entry.  So imagine the radish piece with more yellow in the background.  I must get the radishes rephotographed so they represent the series as more cohesive in color, which of course they are.

Which brings me to sharing my thoughts on a series.  I find it difficult to work on more than 2 in a series without interjecting a new subject matter (or non series painting).  Why you ask???? My old job was as a production painter for a local Richmond print company that sells hand colored - watercolor prints.  I did this for 8 years.  And is the reason why I do not paint for myself in watercolor any longer, or for that matter work in large series.  Burn out yes, but also working in a series stifles me a little.  So I need to take breaks and do another subjects in between.      

I like to think about how a series might hang when I work on them.  This piece faces to the left and the radish one faces to the right.  Keeping the direction you want the viewers eye to go in makes both pieces hang well together.  Of course they also should hang well when hung separately too, which I believe these do.  Color integration and cohesiveness is also something to keep in mind so they play well with their series siblings.  Even though they are of different colored veggies they have the same greens in common, the same background and surfaces are similar.  All things to keep in mind when working in series besides the obvious subject matter.  Framing in like frames also is a must, I believe. 

Timing for blog entries has been very short lately, due to the rather large Art Exhibit/Fundraiser for World Pediatrics Project I am helping to co-host.  Getting much else done by the way of art completion has taken a back burner these last few months.  But rest assured we are in the 2 week stretch before the event so the end is in sight, and before you know it I'll be back to the blog with more entries.  I thank all of my readers for your patience and returning to my blog to check in.  

Oh, and yes there will be more At The Root paintings, imagination has me thinking of all sorts of new subject, so stay tuned.

Waiting on a colorful spring to arrive and roots to grow flowers,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Student Show

From January to February I had my first Students Show at my Crossroads Art Center Exhibit space.  A

There can't be a colored pencil teacher who is any more proud of the work they have accomplished than I.  Some are artists in other mediums, several have played with CP and all are fast becoming wonderful friends and lead heads.                                                                 

Class and Me

Kathy Scott produced her tribute to Modigliani's "Woman with a Black Tie" for our Recreate A Master Class on Ampersand pastelboard.   


Pauline Clay did a sunset scene in our  landscape class on Uart paper as well as this lovely rose on Stonehenge paper.

 Rebecca Spangler's "7 Mile Road" a 
landscape oceanfront scene on Uart paper                 
A couple could not attend the reception and were sorely missed.  And I thank all of you who participated in the show.  I'm already thinking up plans for next year's show.  So if you have been putting off taking classes, let me know and we will try to get you into the Spring session which is registering now or for Fall later in the year.

It took me a while to get these photos up and posted due to the charity event we at the Bon Air Artists Assoc. are producing in March.  A Fine Art exhibit with local Richmond area artists raising funds for the World Pediatric Project - March 22 & 23rd.  A 15 month project in which we hope to sell some great art and raise lots of money for WPP.    

Here's to thinking a colorful spring gets here soon,
Gloria Callahan, CPSA                      

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Last CP Painting for 2013 - At The Root - Radishes

                      At The Root - Radishes  9 X 12" Colored Pencil On Ampersand Pastelboard SOLD

This was my last piece finished in 2013, actually on the 30th at midnight, one day to spare.  I couldn't get to photographing it until today with all the craziness that is my life.   This will be a new series "At The Root"  with my next one's reference shot set up and ready to go.  The photo here is typical of many photo's of art where red is in play.  Reds are notorious for not photographing true to the actual piece.   They seem to photograph brighter/not the deep shade it is, even with Photoshop touch ups.  Either the greens are off, or the background is off, when trying for a match of the reds.  Sense some frustration here............ Well just trust that as usual the in real life piece is richer in all ways.

Anyway, since my last post on making a goal list, my own has grown by leaps and bounds, which is usually the case.  I've been trying to juggle a fundraising event that my local artist association (Bon Air Artists) is putting on to benefit the World Pediatric Project.  As president of the association and one of the chairs of the event, I am neglecting my art creation.  (And have been for some time.)  My total count of CP pieces (we all know it's a slow medium) for 2013 was only 12 finished, with a small 13th  workshop piece almost done.  I hate to have unfinished works lying around even if they are workshop pieces.  But it's small and I should be able to finish it while on the road.

We won't talk about how you learn to say no to volunteering too much, since I clearly haven't learned that lesson yet!  But one of my goals every year is to complete a set number of paintings no matter the size.  This year I missed my mark by 3.5 pieces.  I'm progressing to my 100'th worthy of posting on my website pieces, and should hit that mark this year in 2014, sooner rather than later.  We all know that every piece is not worthy of posting on websites or Facebook for that matter.  Discretion is learned.

Hoping your January is warming up at least in a colorful way is not in temperatures...... On to the next one in the series.

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