Friday, October 17, 2014

Productive like Picasso?

October 17th, TMS Newsletter excerpt:
This week I have a free ebook to tell you about. If you are interested in cp techniques or doing portraits, stay tuned. I also have a complimentary kick in the pants for you. J If you have been reading my newsletter these past months you will have noticed that I am rather fond of offering taps to your rear – done with love and good intentions of course.
Rather than a kick, let’s think of it as a gentle nudge – a gentle nudge to not get complacent.

We all do.

Let’s assume you have been carving out time for art this fall. Perhaps you have been making progress but art making has still been a bit more hit and miss than you would like.
Just how much art could you churn out anyway? Ever thought about it?

Sometimes it crosses my mind when I see someone I consider super prolific.
I think the following numbers put Pablo Picasso in the super prolific category.

Consider this:
It is estimated that Pablo Picasso made over 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, 18,095 engravings, 6,112 lithographs, 3,181 linocuts, 7,089 drawings plus 4,669 drawings and sketches in 149 notebooks, 11 tapestries and 8 rugs.

Does this seem humanly impossible to you?
Heck, I would be stunned to churn out a couple hundred sculptures, one or two rugs, just 1000 lithographs, and a few hundred ceramics.

Picasso said "What one does is what counts, not what one had the intention of doing." Ouch.
Having all of the best intentions in the world doesn’t yield art, not if we don’t act on those intentions.

I do not have goals to master carving or to create sculptures. Nor do I wish to invest the time required to become an accomplished potter or rug maker. I am content to stick to my fine art. But what about filling 149 notebooks like Picasso did, with well over 4000 drawings and sketches?
Obviously it isn’t about the exact numbers. What speaks to me here is that incredible productivity is possible – at least more output than I am currently producing.

This week I have looked back over the past twelve months and I have examined what art I have produced. I looked at the number of pieces, the style, the size and the complexity of the work. Following this assessment, I set new goals for the upcoming year. I set a number that stretches me, especially when I take into consideration the hours that I invest in the business side of things. I won’t be in Picasso’s league but I really like how having this new number feels.
I invite you to do the same.

Have a look at your sketchbooks, your stack of canvases or other finished pieces. Are you amazed at how much you have accomplished or are you perhaps a bit disappointed? Don’t despair. The gift of the next twelve months can bring many new accomplishments.

Set some goals and post them (so you don’t forget).

May Picasso inspire us all...

 "A jug fills drop by drop." (Gautama Buddha)

Now for the ebook I mentioned. The author of the ebook is coloured pencil artist Nicole Caulfield and here is the link:
At this stage of her career, Nicole is choosing other subject matter for her art and as a result she didn’t finish her portrait book (see her comment regarding it not being edited etc.). Still, I share the link here as there is a lot of great content in the ebook and if you are interested in doing portraits, this is worth checking out. Nicole’s section on creating the right lighting for a person’s pose is very helpful.

Even if you are not keen to do portraits, I think you will find her personal coloured pencil technique interesting to learn about. You can also have a look around her website and visit her facebook page for her latest kitsch work.
our meadow at sunset

Friday, October 10, 2014

happy Thanksgiving and your weekend plans

October 10th, 2014 Newsletter excerpt...

First up, I want to wish all of my fellow Canadians a very happy Thanksgiving. (It is our Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in Canada if you didn’t know.) And as my American readers are celebrating Columbus Day, I think many of us are planning busy long weekends!

A very small, quick study of the Carp Ridge in autumn, coloured pencil on Colourfix paper, copyright Teresa Mallen

Because many of you are planning family get togethers (or making pumpkin pies and stuffing a turkey) I shall keep this newsletter rather short.


 As this is an important holiday weekend in both Canada and the U.S.A. I have an invitation to extend to you –
I invite you to spend some time this weekend visiting artists! I know you are busy but seriously this would be a huge amount of fun so keep reading...

Here is how: look around for a local studio tour or for open studio events. If you don’t know of one, see what you can find on Google.
This holiday weekend is seen by many artists (in both Canada and the U.S.) as the perfect time to invite the public into their homes and studios. For those of us who live in areas where the foliage is changing colour, taking advantage of the leaf peepers driving around makes perfect sense.

What’s in it for you? Well, visiting artists gives you inspiration, fuels your creative ideas and many artists will share their know-how by offering demonstrations. How cool is that? They are also happy to answer questions. You might even decide to sign up for some classes!
You might find a gorgeous hand painted silk scarf, some ear rings made by a local metal smith, a new coffee mug from a fabulous potter or perhaps a must-have painting. And it is never too early to find something to tuck into a stocking – cause yes that season is coming.

Artists would really appreciate your support even if you don’t buy. Please remember that working tucked away in a studio can be a rather isolating experience. Offer feedback, tell them how great their work is, let them know what you like and why. Artists have done all of the prepping, now they are just waiting to meet you. J
As someone who has done her share of studio tours, I am very familiar with the work involved. Please keep in mind that these people advertise, turn their homes or studios into galleries, they arrange for parking, they set up merchant accounts so they can accept credit cards, they find someone to take care of their cats, dogs and children for days, they invest in display racks, they price and tag everything, they often buy apple cider and food goodies to offer guests, they buy additional insurance so they are covered to host the buying public at their home and they paint, frame, throw pots, etc. like mad in order for you to have something to see.

 So this weekend, give yourself the gift of a road trip. Look for a studio tour or for some open studios within driving distance of your home. Take a friend or plan a family event. Make a day of it. Do some sightseeing along the way. I promise you won’t regret it!

 For those of you in the Ottawa area, here are three studio tours for you to check out this weekend:

Crown and Pumpkin Studio Tour – Mississippi Mills (Almonte, Clayton)

Perth Autumn Studio Tour

Fall Colours Studio Tour – Westport area,

 See you on the gorgeous tree lined back roads! J
some of our autumn coloured hennies (we also have white ones, barred ones and black ones)

Friday, October 3, 2014

essential creativity practices

Newsletter excerpt for October 3rd:

This week’s newsletter is about a two step practice that is foundational to the success of a lot of creative people - from authors, to film makers to song writers to painters.

 If you are not doing this, then implementing these two steps will be huge for you.

Step One: Determine how and when you get your best ideas.

Step Two: Find a way to keep track of your creative ideas.

The second step is the easy part. You don’t need fancy software or special apps. A simple small notebook and a pencil will do.

The tricky part is fostering the right environment for you to receive these great ideas. This environment or situation varies from person to person and your job is to determine which one works for you.
Some of us get our best ideas from visiting art galleries, special exhibitions or brainstorming with artsy friends.

Other people find that ideas flow when they are cycling or jogging or when they are scrubbing up in the shower. Some folks get their best ideas when walking in nature, napping on a dock or sitting in silence with the lights low.
Maybe your idea ‘fairy’ shows up quite regularly, like first thing in the morning or just as you are drifting off to sleep.

If you can determine when your inspiring thoughts are most likely to flow, you can intentionally set the stage for their appearance.
Make a regular practice of doing those activities that foster inspiration. 

Once you find the way to prime your idea pump, keep pumping! Don’t let your idea well get stagnant or dry. For example If you are feeling dry and uninspired and you know that time in nature usually gets your creative juices ramped up, then book some quality time in nature into your schedule.

AND for art’s sake, don’t forget step two - keep track of those ideas!!!! This is often the part that people do not do. Seriously, ignoring your inspiring ideas is a creativity killer.
Grab your phone and leave yourself a voice message if you don’t have pen and paper handy. Thoughts float in and float out so quickly that you need to have a way to capture them.

Don’t assume your best ideas will come back to you. Usually they don’t.
I keep idea files. These are simple file folders in which I tuck inspiring images, photos, colour combination ideas, and biz ideas. I have several full folders and every time I look through them I am reminded of how much I would have forgotten if I hadn’t made the effort to store up my ideas. Perhaps a special binder or a creativity journal would work for you.

Do give this some thought. Ask yourself when it is that you get your best ideas. Ask yourself what you are doing. Make these activities part of your regular routine – lucky you if you get great ideas in the shower, cause hey, you are doing that anyway.
And then keep bits of paper and a pen handy. Stash some in your purse, your car, by your favourite armchair, and in your jogging suit pocket (they make mini-pens and mini pads of paper J). I have even heard of waterproof writing boards with special markers that you can use in the shower!

We have all heard of song writers getting the all important riff or chorus tune seemingly out of nowhere. Or the author that gets an idea for a twist in their story line that is just the thing that the novel was missing. This applies to painters as well. That perfect vista with the sun positioned just right, the eggplant with the quirky stem at the farmer’s market – make note of the idea, sketch it out, take a snapshot. Trust me, you are busy, your life is full of things and you won’t remember.

Next time you see your artsy friends, ask them how and where they get their great ideas. When does inspiration strike them? I am sure you will be fascinated by the stories you share.
I had a nudge of inspiration this past week and you can bet I made myself a note. But I almost missed it...I was visiting a craft gallery and I saw some delightful, very well done, small ink and watercolour pieces tucked away in a corner. As I looked at them, I felt a longing to get my own ink pens out. It has been a long time since I have done an ink and cp drawing and yet I love the pen and ink medium.

I continued to browse around some shops and walking back to our car I stopped. I knew I had wanted to remember something. Fortunately, I recalled the artwork I had seen. Obviously I should have written a note while still in the shop. I quickly wrote this moment of inspiration down. If I hadn’t, I would have made the trip home, got caught up in the stuff of life and this whisper of a calling to ‘do this, you love this, remember?’ would have been lost.

So go forth this week expecting to be visited by your muse of inspiration and be ready with pencil and paper. And watch the visitations increase in frequency!  No guff - studies show that the more we pay attention to these sorts of nudges of inspiration, the more often we seem to receive them. Perhaps we are just training ourselves to notice them. Doesn’t matter, bottom line, this stuff works.


 I am so proud of my latest Coloured Pencil Basics graduates. They all did such an amazing job. I knew they could do it! J

They went from total coloured pencil newbies (most didn’t even own pencils before this course started) to women that were confidently wielding pencils like pros.

 Here are some pics of these talented ladies hard at work...


We sure packed a lot into our time together. We started with basic info such as how to properly sharpen pencils, how to transfer drawings as well as the importance of good paper.

Here Cheryl is working her brush, keeping her paper nice and clean.

By our last afternoon together these gals were working some serious magic with their Prismacolor wands.
These former newbies had mastered burnishing techniques and had tried working with solvent. They had learned different stroke techniques and were doing some incredible backgrounds on their projects. They were confidently working with the impressed line technique to create leaf veins, and speckles in a plum. On the last day, they worked on projects – everything from a tulip, to a still life of pears to a red pepper that started off green - using a coloured pencil underpainting in a grisaille method.

Did I mention that they were charming, very friendly and enthusiastic? J

And this is me, the unhappy instructor, not having a bit of fun...LOL

Cheers ladies!!!  I enjoyed every minute and congratulations on all of your beautiful art!

Until next Friday, happy colouring everyone.

P.S. If you would like to receive the entire newsletter in your email inbox every Friday it's super easy. Just join the TMS Newsletter Group - click here for how. I can't wait to welcome you aboard! (no spam, I promise)

Friday, September 26, 2014

wip update, yay for scribbling and boo to Prismacolor

Newsletter day for my TMS Newsletter is my usual Friday post offering up an excerpt:

I can’t believe it is Friday already! Tomorrow my CP Basics students return for another day of working their pencils. We had so much fun last Saturday that I can’t wait to have them here again.

This week I am sharing an update on my work in progress and I am sharing some of my dissatisfaction with Prismacolor. (Don’t you hate it when companies change things and not for the better?) I also have a great link to some awesome and very different coloured pencil art. You are going to want to check this out.

First up, I am going to show you how my mixed media piece turned out. In case you missed last week’s newsletter, here is how it looked in the beginning:

I worked on a sanded, coloured paper and along with my coloured pencils I also used Caran d’Ache’s Neocolors II, which are water soluble wax pastels (I used them dry and don’t be confused by the word pastel, they behave like oil pastels, not like chalky pastels - not trying to offend pastel users, I know they aren’t ‘chalk’ LOL and if you haven’t tried oil pastels, think of the crayons you used as a kid – that will give you the idea.)
Here is how it looks now.

Coloured Pencil and Neocolors II, 6 ¾ inches x 7 ¼ inches, on Mi-Teintes Touch paper, copyright Teresa Mallen


As I mentioned last week, this sort of piece is just out and out fun. I play with simple shapes and lines, I use my favourite colours and I get to work quickly.

And now I am bored and I am craving a drawing challenge!

I know coloured pencil artists can get a tad militant about their favourite brand of pencil yet I like all sorts of brands. For working on sanded papers, I really like
Derwent Colorsoft pencils.Their leads are a bit thicker which works well for the sort of art that I tend to do on sanded paper, i.e. there is usually less depiction of detail. They are a ‘soft’ pencil yet they stand up well to a sanded surface (the pigment doesn’t flake off) and the colours look absolutely yummy, very rich. I used Derwent Colorsofts in this piece, along with the Neocolor II pastels.


Boo to Prismacolor:When teaching, I ask my students to bring Prismacolor pencils. They are readily available in North America which makes them easier for beginners to purchase. Ottawa doesn’t have a lot of selection when it comes to art supply stores so for other pencil brands such as Caran d’Ache’s Luminance, we have shop on-line.

Anyway, after last Saturday’s class, I have discovered a couple of unpleasant things about Prismacolor. First up, they are now selling their sets with already sharpened pencils. And yuck, they are doing a horrible job of sharpening. If you work in cps, you know how important the right pencil point is to achieving the best effects possible.

Prior to our first class, I sent my students an article I had written about how to care for their new pencils. I talked quite a bit about how important sharpeners were, what blades to look for etc. After all of that prep, these folks got saddled with badly sharpened pencils in their new pencil sets.

Prismacolor took off the cedar casing but they left a fat stub of a tip, pretty much a dull pencil. Very weird looking.
What if you didn’t have someone to tell you that such a stub is just not the way to work? Sheesh...

I thought it was bad back when Prismacolor included a pathetic little hand sharpener – which my students would unwittingly use, thinking that if the manufacturer included it, it must be the best sharpener for their new pencils. The right sharpener is soooo important! I could seriously start to rant here...

Second problem with Prismacolor, their 60 pencil set no longer contains the 48!
What???!!! How silly is this? To keep things as economical as possible, I only require the 48 pencil set for my CP Basics course. One student bought a larger set only to find that she was missing some of the 48 set pencils. Since when did Prismacolor decide that the larger sets should no longer build on the smaller sets? The 24 used to have the 12 set of pencils plus 12 more. The 48 used to contain the 24 set and then even more pencils and so on.

As we worked on our exercises, this student found that she didn’t have all of the pencils that were required yet she had a set that included 12 more pencils than the other students who had the 48 set. Grrrrr...

I shall be writing Prismacolor a letter of complaint.

Perhaps I should mention their ‘improved’ website. It is harder to navigate and you can no longer print off a simple colour chart of your pencil set which was handy for when you wanted to buy more pencils from open stock. You could see which pencils you already owned and then buy colours you didn’t have.
I noticed Derwent provides a downloadable PDF colour chart!

Seriously folks, how hard can it be for corporations to actually think of their customer’s needs? As a small biz owner, it is a major focus of my time and attention!

It can be so frustrating when changes like the ones mentioned above occur. I am still disappointed that my local art supply store decided to no longer carry Art Spectrum’s Colourfix paper – which is my favourite brand of sanded pastel paper.

So what do you do when your favourite art materials get changed on you and not for the better? FYI, stomping around the studio and muttering curse words under your breath doesn’t accomplish much. :-)


On a more cheery note, here is some art that will inspire you...

It is fresh and bright and how could anyone resist squiggly lines and oodles of scribbling?

In last week’s newsletter, I encouraged you to push the boundaries of what you comfortably do in your medium. This chap definitely works on the edge of what most people would be comfortable attempting with cps.

Here is a link to some seriously unique scribbling done in cps, by artist John Smolko: Do have a look around his gallery page. I think you will be impressed.

I was delighted to see an article John wrote about his process published in the October 2014 issue of ‘the Artist’s Magazine’. You can find it on newsstands now.

Here is a photo I took of art done by John Smolko at the
Colored Pencil Society of America’s International Exhibition, held in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2009.

This grainy pic gives you a sense of scale, of just how big John works. And (insert squeal) the picture on the top right is my Swiss Chard Mosaic. Yup, somebody pinch me.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." Thomas Merton

Until next Friday, I hope you are super busy making some fun art – why not try scribbling?!

Friday, September 19, 2014

pushing past your boundaries

It's time for another newsletter! Woo-hoo :-) If you would like to join my newsletter group, just click here for a free subscription, no spam, I promise!
It has been a full week here in the studio. I have been cleaning and sorting the place, rearranging furniture and doing what is required to turn this awesome ‘room of my own’ into a teaching space.  My jungle of plants had to temporarily go, as well as my funky hanging basket chair.
I have wonderful cp enthusiasts arriving tomorrow morning to start my sweat shop/boot camp - Coloured Pencil Basics. (just a test to see if they are actually reading my newsletter, ha ha)

All I know is that when I am done this season of teaching, I am going to be wandering around wondering where I stored everything!

In the midst of all this, as I was procrastinating, I started a small mixed media piece. As I worked, I was thinking about how surprised people are when they see what can be done with coloured pencils.

That is the topic of this week’s newsletter, this notion of our mediums having limits and boundaries.
Have you pushed the limits and boundaries of your favourite medium? If you haven’t, maybe this should become a part of your regular art making time!

If you work in acrylic you know that it can be used in ways such that the results resemble oil paintings or watercolours. But did you know that there are all sorts of various media – from gels, pastes to crushed stone etc. that can be added into your art? Just check out Golden’s website to have a look at the goodies they offer,

If you love watercolour paint, have you tried working with YUPO (a very unique, synthetic, waterproof, artist grade paper)? Google YUPO and be wowed by the fabulous images that come up. You can also use gouache and inks on it.

I am not suggesting that traditional ways of working have to get chucked. I would never advocate that. In fact I love the simplicity of working pure (just pencil and paper). So, of course you don’t have to work all of the time with gels and YUPO paper or move into adding markers, or work in collage.
BUT, what I am saying is that stretching past the boundaries you have with your medium will give you some fun thrills, seriously. Besides, exploration is a vital part of making sure our creative waters don’t become stagnant.
As for coloured pencils, well they can do an awful lot that most people don’t expect. You can dissolve or melt the wax binders (wax based pencils vs. oil) with solvents or heat to create art that looks it was done with oil paint. You can work on coloured sanded pastel paper to create art that resembles pastel. You can work over watercolour, on canvas, on wood, even gourds.

Down below is a sneak peek at my current work in progress. The colours are a bit off due to the lighting. It was raining outside so I made due with snapping a pic in the studio. The colours are brighter and more intense in real life. 

This is a departure for me in that I almost always (like 99% of the time) choose to work exclusively in cps. This time I am also using Caran D’Ache’s Neocolors II. Woo-hoo!

You can see them on the right hand side of the photo. These are water soluble wax pastels if you aren’t familiar with them. I am using them dry.

As you can also see, I am working on a coloured piece of paper, a sanded pastel paper.

I am using the pencils and the wax pastels interchangeably, as I build up my colours. They work very well together, one on top of the other. The image is about 7 inches by 8 inches.

You might be asking what the heck is this?

It is an abstract exploration of line, colour and pattern inspired in some way by the juncture of flower petals (hydrangea leaves). Also, as I work, I am ‘seeing’ something that makes me think of butter fly wings. In the end it isn’t meant to represent either petals or wings but this is my mental hook up at the moment.

For those of you who are familiar with my realistic botanicals, this is what I do in between those works. These sorts of pieces can get finished faster, are very creative for me and are a bit of a palate cleanse. I don’t have the time right now to dedicate myself to a large, detailed drawing and something like this is just out and out fun.

At this point I already know that some of this isn’t working well and a section was later erased and some lines changed direction. When I reached this stage, I hit the pause button. I was working very quickly and I needed to step back and actually look at the work critically. It was time to assess the composition and my intent for the patterns and colours.

I love this stage. I will post a work in my studio, somewhere where I can see it easily. I look at it, study it, analyze it, and I also set it free in my subconscious for my brain to keep on musing upon it even while I do other things.

I have worked on it a bit more and I shall continue to keep you posted on what becomes of this mixed media piece.

If you would like to view coloured pencil art in which other media is used, check out this link:

The Coloured Pencil Society of America (a fabulous organization by the way, and did you know I earned signature status with the CPSA some years ago? Toot, toot! – that’s me tooting my own horn J) holds an annual on-line exhibition in which artists can submit mixed media work. (I haven’t entered this one yet, I have only entered their exclusively cp exhibitions.)

The works juried into the mixed media exhibition are posted in an on-line gallery – which is what the link I gave you above shows. (The cp only exhibition is hosted in a physical gallery and is not posted on-line, so you won’t find it on the website).

If you need to bust some of your assumptions about the limits of your medium, look around to see what others are doing. Look on-line, in art magazines and in galleries. Stretch yourself. Dare to try something you haven’t done before. You can always go back to your regular way of working later. This isn’t about forcing you to give up what you love. In fact, whenever I wander off to play in any other medium besides cps, I get fed up quite quickly and I go running back to my cps. That is why my adventures usually include cps! J

This exploration would make a fun artist’s date. Nudge, nudge...Are you ready to step outside your comfort zone and your limitations? Let loose a bit, play. If your new work looks goofy, no one has to see it. The point is to push those boundaries out, even just a bit. Come can do it...

signs of autumn in the forest

Friday, September 12, 2014

simple, easy, DIY light box substitute

Excerpt from my September 13, 2014 Friday Newsletter, sent out to my Newsletter Group peeps :-)

It has been a week of highlights and being high, high on inspiration that is! My husband and I were in our usual seats on Monday night, front row, center, for Opera Lyra’s production of Puccini’s Tosca. It was spectacular and then some. I could go on and on about how amazing this particular tenor was ( but in case you aren’t a fan of live opera, I will go back to the inspiration bit – excellence of any kind gives me chills.

When I am confronted with what a human can do it fires me up like not much else. These highly trained singers and the members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra have spent years practicing, studying and honing their skills.

We are capable of so much when we dedicate ourselves to something.

I so look forward to events like this as I always come home energized and more motivated to become the best artist I can be. Woo-hoo!

Another highlight of my week (and there have been several unexpected blessings in recent days) is that my tomato plants are ripening! J I declared it quitting time yesterday at 4:00. I couldn’t stay indoors any longer. We had a strong, cool breeze which meant no bugs. I poured a large glass of red wine and headed for the garden.

The abundance of the harvest is enough to make me swoon this time of year. (Could also be all of that wine my husband makes LOL, he has an Autumn ritual of crushing and pressing ripe grapes shipped from California to Ottawa’s “Little Italy” and eventually our root cellar becomes a wine cellar, I rush to add I am drinking last year’s aged wine. J)

In about 10 minutes I had my first large basket picked. All of my plants were started from seed and put under grow lights last February, deep in the midst of winter. Patience is eventually rewarded!
I hope you all have had an incredible week – wasn’t the moonlight a few days ago incredible?! Wow.

Well I could go on but I had better get down to business here and make good on my promise. Last week I shared that this issue would give you instructions on how to make a simple DIY light box – no nails, screws, carpenter’s glue and no power tools.

Backing up a bit, you might remember that a couple of weeks ago I described the various methods used to transfer a drawing to ‘good’ paper. One of the methods, the illumination method, involves using a window or a light box. This is my preferred transfer method.
A window works very well, but tracing a detailed drawing standing up, working completely vertical on your paper, can be tiring for your hands, arms and legs.

Yet a decent sized light box can be difficult to find and they cost quite a bit.
So here is something that is not really a light box, but works very well.

My Light Box Substitute:

You need just two items!

My ‘light box’ (which doesn’t actually have a box) consists of a length of fluorescent tubing and a large sheet of acrylic ‘glass’ (perhaps you are familiar with the brand name Plexiglas, that is the sort of thing I mean).

You can put this together for as little as $25.00 or $30.00, depending on the size of the acrylic you buy. I bought my acrylic sheeting at Home Depot. They have a variety of sizes and I understand they will even cut a size for you. Ask a salesperson at your local hardware store for help.

Please note that some acrylic ‘glass’ is sturdier that others and will cost a bit more. For example I saw some very stiff stuff labeled high impact glass.

I recommend paying a bit more. You don’t want a sheet that is too flexible. Buy one that is stiff enough to take the pressure of you transferring the drawing. Remember that you might be leaning your arms on it while you work. You don’t want it so flexible that it moves up and down easily.

Even though the product is referred to as glass, please note that this is a plastic product. The edges are not sharp like glass, it isn't heavy like glass and it isn't fragile like glass either. Just be mindful that it does scratch pretty easily.
Here is a picture of my set up:

When I want to use the ‘light box’, I place the fluorescent tubing on a table and then I place the sheet of thick acrylic over top of it. I rest the acrylic sheet right on top of the tubing.

My drawing is positioned over the light. I tape my sketch onto the acrylic glass, I cover it with my paper, turn on my light and I am good to go.

Advantages of this light box:
  • This 'light box' is custom made to suit your needs - you choose the length of light tubing and acrylic that works best for you.
  • It is super easy to store as it consists of just two parts and each can be stored upright in a closet.
  • It is much, much cheaper than buying a regular light box.
  • You can use the acrylic glass for other purposes. I use mine as a work surface when I am on the road with my art and also as a lap table for when I leave my studio and choose to work in a chair in the living room...sometimes it is nice to sit by the fire on a cold winter's night. J

Of course if you would like a woodworking project, you could create a frame, i.e. an actual box.

You could also buy another light tube to add further light which would be helpful if your drawings are large. Simply place the acrylic overtop of both tubes. When I worked on large drawing, I simply moved my drawing around.

TIP: Do you know any health care workers, lab technicians or hospital custodians?
It wouldn’t have occurred to me that this might be a source for getting a free light box but here is my story. Last year I was given a proper light box! (Actually I was given two but one has a cord that needs rewiring so it doesn’t work at the moment.)

They were destined for land fill. My sister in law’s husband is a medical photographer and works in a hospital. These old light boxes were used by doctors to view x rays. Photographers also used them to view slides and negatives. Of course technology has changed a lot and these light boxes were no longer being used. They were getting disposed of. Why not get the word out to someone working in a hospital or clinic to see if they have some unwanted light boxes gathering dust in a storage room? You might get very lucky!


The Coloured Pencil Basics course that starts on the 20th is full. In fact registration is now closed on all of my fall courses/workshops. A huge thank you goes out to all of you that signed up!

If you would like to be put on a waiting list, should a cancellation occur, simply email me. Thank you for your interest!


 Go soak up some inspiration of your own this coming week and perhaps pause to enjoy a glass of wine. Ponder growing some tomatoes next summer (they can grow in containers on a patio or balcony). Nothing tastes like ‘em!

But most importantly, make some art, go on an artist’s date, visit an exhibit...