CONGRATULATIONS TO JANET R. OF GREAT BRITAIN, APRIL’S WINNER OF OUR MONTHLY DRAWING FOR A FREE PORTRAIT!

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PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

A friend of mine is finishing up his freshman year in college as an art major. His professor’s advice to him – practice, practice, practice! As you practice drawing and painting, you’ll probably make a lot mistakes; but then, you’ll also probably surprise yourself with the beautiful work you produce. It’s an exciting feeling to finish a piece of artwork, step back, and then wonder how you ever created it.

Sometimes when a child draws or paints, and he is unhappy with the results, he will crumple up his paper into a ball and throw it to the floor. This action has always bothered me; even if the work isn’t pleasing, it was a good try and good practice. To crumple it signifies that it has no worth and that it was a waste of time, but every picture you try to draw brings you a step or two closer to creating what you have in mind to create.

I recently painted a picture for a friend who is in a nursing home. She loves being outdoors, but because of her health she rarely goes out anymore. The picture I planned to paint was of a swallowtail butterfly on some bright flowers. I decided to paint it on stretched canvas so it wouldn’t need a frame and she could just hang it on the wall. I painted it in acrylics, which dry quickly and can be painted on top of each other. I wanted it to have the impasto (built-up) look of oils, so I painted the flowers first, applying thick amounts of paint. I reasoned I could paint the butterfly anywhere I wanted to on top of the flowers; I didn’t take into consideration the ridges I had just made in the flowers. Because my butterfly went on top of them, it had ridges too! From a distance, it still looked nice, but I learned how to do it better next time. Next time I would plan ahead where to put the butterfly, then leave that space smooth.

We know that to be good at anything, we need to practice – and if we enjoy drawing, practicing can be a lot of fun.

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BOOK REVIEW: SKETCHING AND DRAWING - AN EASY GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS

I love to learn new techniques, and I think it would be so much fun to sign up for an art class at a local college. Because that’s not feasible for me at this time, I enjoy looking through art books. I have learned so much by reading through the books and trying the techniques suggested. The library is a good place to start; when I find ones I really like, I know which ones I should purchase.

A great book I’ve come across this month is entitled Sketching and Drawing – an Easy Guide to Drawing for Beginners by Larry Blovits. On the cover it states “NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED!”, and I have to agree. The instructions are clear and easy to understand, and the book contains explanations of all supplies needed for each type of media discussed (pencil, charcoal, conte crayon, and pastel). The book also contains a number of “Skill-Building Exercises”, short lessons you can sit down and follow step by step. A parent could even guide a child through these exercises, a fun activity to do together.

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FOR THE KIDS: SPRINGTIME FLOWER POTS

Looking for an easy and fun springtime craft for the children? Have them decorate flower pots! You can purchase a terracotta ceramic pot from your local hardware or home improvement store. Use craft acrylic paints to paint them; They come in small bottles and can be purchased at an art supply store or even at Wal Mart for less than $1.00 per color.

What should they paint on the pots? Some ideas include:

• Flowers such as sunflowers, daisies, or violets • Birds such as hummingbirds, robins, or bluebirds • Ivy • Paw prints • Polka dots • Plaid designs • Stars • Insects such as bees, ladybugs, or dragonflies • Checkerboard designs • Fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries • Names • Anything else they can think of!

To finish the project, fill the pot with potting soil and plant some seeds. Show the children how to take care of the seeds, and they’ll have a project they can enjoy all summer!

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