One of the ways I’ve been tolerating the COVID quarantine is by hanging out in my garden. I love all the colorful flowers that pop up in the spring and summer. I thought I’d try my hand at painting them in watercolor but with a twist. Instead, I grabbed my iPad Pro and Apple pencil and taught myself to sketch and paint them using the app Procreate.
Digital Watercolor Flower Paintings
I started with some California poppies. I grew up in California, and they have always been a favorite of mine. Their happy orange faces make me smile. I was disappointed that the digital watercolor brushes that came with Procreate didn’t give me very realistic watercolor edges and blending.
So I did some research and found a fantastic set of digital brushes, The Watercolor MaxPack (for Procreate) by Max Ulichney. He’s a genius. I’ve posted a sample of a few of the marks I can make with this set ($25 at GumRoad.com). I’m especially impressed with the watercolor bloom and the waxy colored pencil.
The iris watercolor painting was next. This painting was better but still didn’t look like an actual watercolor. My final picture was the leaves, and I can see even more progress.
I look forward to painting some more botanical ink & watercolor sketches with Procreate. If you have an iPad, you should give it a try. Procreate is only $9.99 for a one time purchase. They even have a Procreate Pocket version for your iPhone for $4.99.
To hear more about how I’m being creative during COVID, get on my email list. Click to Join!
It’s weird how some paintings come into being. The artwork below is one such painting. It came about through three unrelated experiments into a single, colorful work of art.
One: I offload my leftover paints onto sheets of paper instead of throwing them out. Sometimes, I can use these paints in my collage work. This particular paper was a total mess, and I couldn’t think of any way to use it.
Two: I needed to do a transfer test to judge paper translucency. I used this messy paper for the background paper. Now it was doubly a mess.
Three: I’ve wanted to experiment with cold-wax medium. It’s different from encaustic wax, which must be used in a melted form, as it stays usable at room temperature. I needed an acrylic background to experiment on, so I grabbed this paper again.
After using masking tape to create a grid pattern, I filled in every other square with white tinted CWM. Next, I practiced removing and drawing into it. Suddenly, from all the chaos I saw order and interest. I’m as surprised as you are!
Moral of the story: Don’t throw away your failed paintings and experiments. You might find the perfect use for them one day!
I am writing to check-in and see how everyone is faring in their remote corners of the globe, and hoping that you are safe and well.
I’m currently sheltering in Florida with my hubby, where I’m fortunate to be able to walk and bike outside. I fill my days with art-making, cooking, reading, and enjoying game nights with friends and family (via Zoom).
As the situation has me unable to truly focus, I’m making a little bit of everything. In my studio, I have half-finished oil paintings, acrylic doodles, watercolor sketches, and cold-wax experiments. While they patiently wait for me to get back to them, I am happy to share at least one completed effort here.
There is a lot of disparity of quarantine experiences across the world, and I am genuinely grateful that we are one of the lucky families in these uncertain times. Those of you are doing essential services, you are the true heroes. You have not gone unnoticed, and we cannot thank you enough for your courage and commitment to others. Thank you.
This spring, I used my iPad, and the app Procreate to develop some painting ideas for a commissioned beach-themed artwork. Painting digitally is helpful because you can work with the client to try out different ideas without actually applying paint to canvas. You can easily go back and remove the changes with just a click of a button. In this sketch, using the client’s comments, I lightened and softened the large areas on the right. Then I add more tan and reduced the darker areas. I thought you might like to see how the final painting turned out. To the left is the revised digital sketch.
The final painting “Nantucket Summer” is now happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.
Summer is here, and I’ve relocated to Colorado for the season. The mountains with their wildflowers and quaking aspens have a charm that fills my soul and calls to my heart. Do you have a special summer place you get to visit to recharge your spirit? The beach, a lake, or even a favorite shady bench in a neighborhood park?
My goals for this summer are to:
Start a new cold wax artwork series
Straighten out my golf drive
Sit on my deck and enjoy the beauty around me
What are your plans for the summer? I hope they involve some time out in nature too. Sending you my warmest wishes for a magical summer season.
P.S. Want a little Colorado landscape magic in your home? The painting Colorado Splendor captures a perfect September moment when the aspens are at their peak and the first snows have covered the distance mountains. Email me (email@example.com) if interested.
While walking through Chelsea on an art tour, I got to meet one of Englands’ leading portrait painters, Nick Bashall. This meeting led to the exciting opportunity to watch this London portrait painter do a live demo.
Chelsea was renowned as the epicenter of Swinging London in the 1960-70s and was home to artists, musicians, and models. Though today it’s a more sedate upscale neighborhood, we were lucky enough to find one artist that still calls Chelsea home. Nick Bashall, a talented portrait painter who has painted British royalty graciously offered to do a head-sketch of my husband during our visit.
It was magical how he transformed paint into living flesh right before our eyes (my hubby also got to watch through a well-positioned mirror.) Nick talked about how important it was to paint from life instead of photographs to capture the essence of a subject truly. The shiny areas in the photo are because the oil paint was still very wet. Nicky’s finished sketch on the left.
Portrait Painted by Colorado artist, Kathy Ferguson
While getting my MFA, I took several figurative and portrait drawing classes. I always worked from photographs as I couldn’t coerce others to sit for me for hours at a time. Watching him work while we watched makes me even more impressed with his talent. If you ever get the chance, I’d highly recommend getting a portrait painted by Nick Bashall.
I created this earlier portrait painting of my husband around 2009. He still doesn’t think he ever looked like this, which is one reason I stopped doing portraits. The model always thinks they look younger, thinner, or less wrinkled. I couldn’t take the pressure to create the likeness they saw in their heads.
How does my student work compare to a famous London portrait painter? My husband is still a handsome devil ten years later, isn’t he? Or should we call him a silver fox now?
Interested in seeing more of my artwork and learn about my life as a professional artist? Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter.
Of course! I dreamed of getting my artwork published in a magazine but always thought of it as a long shot. And making the cover? Impossible.
So, I was surprised and thrilled to have my artworks, Jeweled Forest One and Two, featured on the cover of Wild Apple‘s Art Decor February 2019 Issue. Wild Apple Graphics is my B2B art publisher and licensor. These two original paintings are still available if you’re interested. See them in detail on my website.
How to get your work published in magazines
“Congratulations,” you say. “But how can I make this dream happen for me?” There are lots of ways to get your artwork published, both online and print magazines. The key is to start with a MEDIA KIT.
The first step to getting your artwork published in magazines is to assemble a compelling media kit. This kit is a digital portfolio that will allow magazines to take a quick look at your artwork and profile. It’s a glance at your best and most relevant pieces. The media kit should contain two things, artwork images and a text introduction.
Collect your Artwork Images for magazine publication
10-15 images of your work. Make sure the pictures are high-quality, with no background or frames—just images of the artwork themselves. Lighting must be professional and uniform, so there is no skewing of the colors. It’s a bonus to include photos of artworks hanging in-situ, in beautifully decorated rooms to help show the size and proportions of your work.
Ideal file dimensions for web viewing (and quick load time) are JPEGs at 72 dpi – 2000px max – less than 1.5MB.
write a Text Introduction to that will interest writers
Though you are a visual artist, images are not enough. Magazines and bloggers want to know more about your background and the inspiration behind your artwork.
A simple, compelling story is what you should be providing. Don’t use art-talk or excessive detail. The language should be approachable and straightforward. Include information about previous, current, and future work, as well as your important achievements and exhibitions. Avoid long lists; this is not your resume. Keep the text short and captivating (300-500 words), covering the key aspects of your artist persona: Who, what, why, when, how.
Submit your text in an unformatted, editable form like plain text (not a pdf or standard word document), and include your contact information and social media links.
Correctly format your Magazine Submission documents
Magazines and bloggers have a tremendous need for quality content but don’t have the time to write it all. If you can provide writers with quality content, you have a good chance of getting published. However, even quality content isn’t enough to get you published if not delivered in the correct format. If they have to contact you to get a photo file or editable text document, they will likely discard your work in favor of someone else. Time is money, and editors have none to spare.
The simpler your work is to publish, the more likely you’ll see it in print. Send your images as individual JPG’s and your text in an editable document without formatting (like plain text).
Once you have the artwork images and artist press text:
Place these files into an online folder on GOOGLE DRIVE or DROPBOX.
Set the privacy setting of your media kit folder to PUBLIC.
Copy the share link for this folder. That is the link that you will send to the magazines/bloggers. It allows them to browse the images and text without needing to download anything.
With your materials prepared, it’s time to analyze the right magazines for your work and how to approach them. Don’t have a list, check out this list of art magazines to get you started.
Step 1: Research Art Magazines and Writers who will be interested in publishing your artwork
Doing research will help target your efforts towards magazines/blogs where you are a good fit and could be published.
Narrow down those magazines where you can see a good fit with your style of artwork.
Make a list of the writers that are actively publishing content. Magazines can have a large team of contributors, and it’s useful if you contact one of them personally rather than going through the magazine’s direct contact email.
Search these writers’ latest articles and evaluate which one would be the best fit to contact about your work.
Look for their email or social media link and start a conversation. Comment on a recent article that they shared. (Generally, only personal contact with writers will get you published. Bulk emails rarely gain results.)
Step 2: Delivery your Media Kit to the Magazine Writer for Publication
Now it’s time to send your material for publication. Write a short and direct email telling a little bit about the project that you want to get published and why you think it’s a good fit for the publication. Don’t forget to include the link to the download folder with the images and text.
Once published, be sure to share on your newsletter, social media sites, and blog. I like to personally mail copies of any articles with a note to my VIP collectors.
Magazines and blogs can be powerful channels to gain new followers and get valuable visibility. Just remember the formula: Quality content delivered correctly to the right magazine, equals new followers.
Are you interested in learning more about my work and my life as a professional artist? Sign up to receive my Studio Insider newsletter in your email box which features lots of great art, fun stories, and creativity tips to enjoy.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about putting together a travel sketching kit. Here, you can see me putting my travel kit into action. So as not to make the video too long, I sketched the twig before the video started and compressed it into a hyper-lapse format. Watch me use colored pencils as paint with the use of a water brush. Click on photo to start the video.
I was thrilled to be selected for a 22-page article in the international contemporary art review magazine Art Habens. Picked to be featured in their Biennial Anniversary edition (10 years and going strong), I was given one of their longest spreads ever!
In the magazine interview, we touch on the way my artistic inquiry explores the elusive connection between reality and the dream-like. We touch how I became an artist and the people who influenced me. And finally, we discuss whether it’s important for the viewer to understand my artwork’s meaning when viewing it or if they should determine the meaning for themselves.
Click here to read the full article and see all seventeen full-color reproductions of my artwork.
If you follow the lunar New Year, you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) is hosting a really fun exhibition, the Red Envelope Show, that opened last night. This exhibition is an homage to the red celebration envelopes the Chinese community distributes during the Lunar New Year. As this is the Year of the Pig, I painted some cute portraits of pigs just peeking up from the bottom of six envelopes. There are almost 1,000 envelopes on display (and for sale) illustrated by myself, other professional artists, and local school children. Many envelopes (including mine) include a special gift inside the envelope for only the buyer to see. Don’t wait to see the show as it closes on Jan. 27. A special thank you to Bert Chau of @grumpybert who curated the exhibition. ⠀#redenvelopeshow
Opening Reception: SAT, JAN 5, 5-7 PM⠀
Gallery Dates: SAT, JAN 5 – SUN, JAN 27⠀
Gallery Hours: SAT & SUN 12-5 PM; weekdays.