My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Conferences and Contests and Books, Oh My!

It pays to surf the blogs, let me tell you! Since you're still here, I will.

1) Conference
Last year, I attended the Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers Conference and thought I had hit writer's and artist's heaven! If you have any desire whatsoever to write the great American novel, or illustrate a book, start pooling your pennies and check this conference out. 
or watch their clip here:
I guarantee you won't regret it. They have a fantastic list of classes:

Beginning Class– Sharlee Glenn

Picture Book Class– Trudy Harris
Picture Book Class– Kristyn Crow
Illustrator Class– Kevin Hawkes
Chapter Book Class– Mike Knudson
Middle Grade Novel– Claudia Mills
Beginning YA Novel Class– Emily Wing Smith
Novel Class — Louise Plummer
Fantasy Class– Holly Black
Advanced Novelist Class– Martine Leavitt
Advanced Novelist Class– Kathleen Duey
Writer’s Boot Camp– A.E. Cannon
Keynote Speaker– Ally Condie

And if you want to meet an awesome agent and editors, take a look:

Agent– Mary Kole, Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Editor– Alyson Heller, Aladdin Books
Editor– Lisa Yoskowitz, Disney

I'm already signed up for Martine Leavitt's class and can't wait!!!! (I'd put a lot more exclamations points here, but I'll spare you. This time.)

2) Contest and Books
Now, let's move onto the contest and books. Cherylynne is giving away 50 books! Check out how to enter here:, but you need to hurry. The contest ends on February 26th.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lesson 20 Tahitian Girl - Lei Headdress

This week, we'll draw the lei headdress before we draw the skin (since it covers part of the skin and we need to know where that is). Now I'll be throwing out the colors I used today, but the pattern in any picture is much the same. With few exceptions, you draw highlights, then shadows, then variations of color, then the main color. To finish, you burnish and touch up colors, shadows, and hightlights. Ready? Here we go.

Step 1. With a White pencil, go in and make the rough shape of each leaf, accenting the highlighted areas on the left side of the lei.

Step 2: With Dark Umber #947, rough in your shaded areas. Now you can see the leaves better.

Step 3: Since Polynesians use a variety of leaves for their leis, I had a choice to make. I could use the fringed-edge leaves or the smooth ones. Because the rest of my picture would be mostly smooth flowing areas, I opted for fringed edges to add some texture and interest. Here, still using Dark Umber, I broke up the edges of the leaves.

Step 4: We're ready for our variations of colors. First we'll do the light tones. This is shaded in with Vert Lime #1005.

Step 5: Since most of the lei will be in shadow, I don't want bright colors. Green Ochre #1091 is a very earthy color. Lay in your midtones, avoiding the highlighted edges of the leaves on the left.

Step 6: We want the shadows on the right need to be toned down, but the highlighted leaves on the left can be sparked up. Chartreuse #989 is a "wow" pencil. Hit the highlights on the left. It will look scary.

Step 7: Okay, with an earthy base on the right, we can add a little more color. (When you burnish at the end of the drawing, the brighter colors on the upper layers and the earthy colors on the lower layers will mix, toning down whatever you have on top.) Going into the middle and base of each leaf (except for the highlighted leaf edges on the far left) and add a little color with Dark Green #908. You can use a little Vert Lime to spark up the edges of the leaves, as needed. The leaves begin to look a lot better. Now we're ready for texture and detail.

Step 8: Going back with White, I'm scrubbing (literally - you have to push fairly hard) in individual sections into the leaves. While I'm doing a lot of leaves, I'm leaving a few out. Some areas are going to remain in shadow and you won't see details. Fun, huh? But this drawing still doesn't have deep shadows.

Step 9: Using Sepia #948, go back in and push some deep shadows between the leaves, shading up into the leaves a bit. Take Celadon Green #1020 to add a little light where the shadow needs to be toned down. Celadon is just earthy enough, but still light enough to work great in the greens.

Step 10: Okay, now we're ready to burnish. Using a Colorless Blender #1077 (it's just plain wax in a pencil form), go over every area using small circling motions. The colorless blender will push the colors around and can fill in all the little spots left uncolored on the paper. It can also soften the edges, so you get a more relaxed look.

Warning: be careful about pushing too hard with the colorless blender, because it can actually dig out the previous layers, leaving a scar the color of your paper. Start easy, then gradually push harder until it does what you want.

So here we are, lei and all. Check back next week for the next step.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter's Wicked Cackle

(Just a plug, but don't forget to enter my contest to win the first art print of the Tahitian Girl drawing when it's finished. All you need to do is comment, or pass the word along-please comment and let me know, or become a follower. Now, back to the post . . . )

You gotta love February. It started out fuh-reeeeezing! Then we got a rare heat wave and temperatures rose to nearly 60 degrees fahrenheit. It's like spring! I got a killer case of spring fever. All the world became this rosy place as the snow melted. Yup, every bit, and I wasn't crying. Not at all.


Then I woke up Sunday morning. My blinds were closed. I stepped out on the front porch and this is what I saw - my poor, sad bushes.

When I finished my double take, I realized that it sure looked like a lot of snow. Eight inches worth. Overnight! Yeah.

Made me worried that the weight might break limbs on the trees in back. So I dejectedly slogged through the house and peeked.

Yeah, again.

Winter just kindly asserted that this is still his domain. When I got through being depressed, I had to admit it was kinda pretty. Just kinda. Well, sorta.

So I did the only rational thing a person should do and pulled on my boots. And pulled on my coat. And pulled on my gloves. And jogged in place until my blood passed the consistency of boiled-down molasses. Then I grabbed my camera and headed up the street.

I remember mentioning something about pathways before. They draw me in - this magnetic, spastic pull.

I made it two houses down before my senses kicked in and told me to go home, make a cup of hot cocoa, and find a good book. But then I saw their pine trees. Wow.

And then I heard a neighbor hooting. He'd built a snow ramp from his front porch to the street, and in short sleeves (silly boy), was having the time of his life. All right. All right. I admit it looks fun.

Some time later (at home again), my son came bouncing in the room, begging me to see what he'd done.

 Yup, an igloo built for one . . . almost.

His ears and nose would have made Rudolph jealous, but he didn't care. Said he didn't feel a thing. The mom in me insisted that he come inside until he turned a more natural color.

I think kids have all the fun because they have no nerves in their body.

So my son huddled on the heater with a blissful smile on his face, staring out at his masterpiece. His skin returned to a normal hue, thank heavens, but I wasn't sure if it was the heat or accomplishment that was making him happy.

Yup, it's pretty good to be a kid. He couldn't hear Winter laughing. But I could.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lesson 19 - Prismacolor Tahitian Girl - Lips

Okay, we're ready to draw the lips. First, accent the highlight along the left edge with White.

We're ready to focus on shadows now. Using Dark Umber #947, shade in the corners of the mouth on the right.

Lay in the warm color. Using Mahogany Red #1029, add a light layer. Notice how the color changes as it goes over your pre-drawn shadow and highlight. Isn't that fun?

Now, just between the highlight and Mahogany Red, add a thin edge of Peach #939, to create variation to the highlight and shadow.

Henna #1031 is a beautiful color. Use it to go over all of the lips except the very edge of the white highlights on the edge. You're using some pressure now, mixing it into the shades beneath.

Using Beige #997, go back and push in some more highlights as they ride over the natural folds in the lips. Keep them fuzzy for now. You can sharpen them if you want to by going around them with either the shadows or main tones.

Taking White, put in a really strong layer over the highlights on the left side. This makes the dark look much darker.

Now you're ready to burnish it. Using Henna (for the all areas except the highlights, and White in the highlighted areas, go back over all the previous colors, filling in all the the spotty holes, and smoothing over any lines you don't like. You can really push the colors around, but you have to be careful not to take it too far. The balance only comes by playing with it.

Okay. That works. Here's a bigger view.

Come back next week for the next piece!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Missing Assassins

It's late at night and I'm doing the usual mom stuff: tucking kids in bed, making sure the doors are locked, turning down the thermastat, flipping off lights, and putting a few things away. I've already turned off the light in the office when I go in to turn the computer off.

Sitting next to it is my daughter's school book. It's tilted to the side, and as I reach for the mouse, my eyes skim over the second word in the title. It reads 'Assassins'. I'm tired, so it takes my mind a moment to register.

Assassins? What's my daughter doing with a book about assassins? I glance at the first word. It reads 'Missing'.


My daughter has a book about missing assassins? What are they teaching in school?

By now, my tired brain is so mixed up, I have to flip the light on and look at the book properly.

That makes a difference. It really reads 'Nursing Assistants'.

I started laughing. Sometimes a mind is a scary place. It's funny what it will do with a few letters read quickly in semi-darkness by an exhausted brain.

But you know what? The next few minutes were fun. What-if's began and I got to go to bed chuckling.

Ideas are a blast, even if they come from a messed-up mind.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Contest - Win the first Tahitian Girl print off the press!

All right, I'm ready to do a contest on The Wonderful Obsessions. The prize is the very first print of the Tahitian Girl as soon as I finish it, which should be in the next four to six weeks. It will be an 8x10 top-quality giclee print.
Here's how it goes:

All my followers already get a point. (Thank you for following!)

Become a follower and get a point.

If you blog, twitter, or facebook about my blog, you get a point each time - but you need to comment and let me know . . . and please do the math and let me know how many points you've earned. (I'd rather spend my time drawing and writing.)

If you put a link to your blog/twitter/facebook promotion of my site, you get another point.

Last, each time you comment, you get a point.

So, best of luck! I'm off to draw some more.

Lesson 18 - Prismacolor drawing of a Tahitian Girl

Are you ready for a full-blown art project, drawn with Prismacolor pencils? Well, if you're patient, week by week, we'll work our way through the portrait of a Tahitian girl.  This is my rough sketch. I used light umber (#941) to sketch in the basic drawing. The girl will wear a leaf lei on her head and be looking back over her shoulder toward the sunset and ocean, with a bit of island behind. I used white (#938) to rough in my highlights.

Today, we'll focus on the eye. First, fill it in lightly with white.

Second, use slate grey (#936) to draw a soft shadow on the upper part and right corner of the eye.

Third, use 10% cool grey to soften and lighten the slate grey.

Fourth, using black (#935), draw along the far left side of the eye coming down from the top and up from the bottom to start the iris and pupil area. Notice I left the left center untouched on purpose.

Also, I am not putting any other color over the white sitting just inside the iris on the right. That will stay pure so that we have a clear hightlight.

Fifth, use sienna brown (#945) to go over the whole left side of the eye, forming a varied iris.

Sixth, go back with slate grey and darken the shadows along the top, the right corner, and bottom of the eye. Soften the tone by covering it with 10% cool grey.

Seventh, along the far right side of the eye, curving from top to bottom, add a tone of clay rose (#1017) to warm up the very corner of the slate grey area. Now go over those tones again with 10% cool grey to soften and round it out.

I'm really tempted to put my eyelashes in, but I need to wait until I have all the skin on the face done. Eyelashes will be one of the final touches on the face. If you draw them too early, you'll have a fight drawing the skin around them. It's better to draw the skin first, then put the eyelashes over it.

Next week: We draw the lips.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Sneak Peek at Brazil

Want to visit an exotic country for a minute or two? Okay, here you go.

Last week, my grown-up son returned from Brazil. He's been living there for several years. Boy, did we miss him! He's the fun, adventurous type, and so Brazil was the perfect place to go.

Yup, he ate blood sausage. (Luckily he didn't know until he was done, but believe it or not, he liked it.)

He learned to clap instead of knock when he went to visit anyone. He learned to speak Portuguese, and to shake everyone's hand every time he went anywhere.

And, yup, he took a million pictures, (well, actually only several thousand) so you get to share a few of his adventures today. Ready?

Picture one. All right, obviously he didn't take it. His brother did. This is my newly returning Brazilian son when we picked him up at 1:30 a.m. at the airport. (Just a side note, but when he was a toddler he got in more trouble than a barrel of Dennis-the-menaces, and the only things that kept him alive were those awesome dimples.)

He sure chose a heck of a time to come back. He left Sao Paulo's peak summer temperatures just in time to meet the rocky mountain's most frigid gusts.

And he kept smiling. (He said it was a nice change from all that sweating.)

Okay, okay, onto the cool stuff. Here's one of his pictures. I had no idea snails came this big. Did you?

Yes, he was there when all the flooding and landslides hit. Luckily, his area escaped with minor trauma, but the skies were definitely scary. I merged two pictures he took so you can see what I mean. Ay-yi-yi . . . yi yi!

Storms aside, I think Brazilians might be onto something. They've trained their ants to be garbage men. Really.

It's a good thing they have lots of ants, because this is what happened at election time. Wow.

Yeah. But it gets better.

                       Mm-hm. There will be no bored ants for a very long time.

Now back to my son. And food. He ate lots of rice and beans. He tried new fruit, some of which I've never seen or heard of before. This is the jaca. He said it had a limp noodle texture, and tasted sort of like a mix between a banana and a graviola (I have no idea what that is), and that it tasted good.

And yup, *shudder*, he saw some crazy spiders.

That'd be enough to make my tan (if I had one) leave permanently. Luckily, he's made of hardier stuff. His tan is still very much intact.

So if you're from Brazil, I'm jealous. Enjoy your warmth and fresh fruit, but I won't mind a bit if you keep your spiders.

And if you're not from Brazil, I hope you enjoyed this little trip. I know I did.

But you'll have to excuse me, because his next batch of pictures has parrots and I can't wait to see them. Tchau!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Designing Your Drawing - Mood

Good artwork happens all the time. Great art takes thought. Make your next drawing happen on purpose.

Now we've talked about a few things, such as centering, leading the eye, balance, and flow. It's time to think about a message.

Your art should say something, even if no one else knows the true message but you. Great art speaks to people. That's why we love the Mona Lisa. Everyone has their own interpretation of her mysterious smile.

I love looking at a piece of artwork that makes me think. I'm delighted by artwork that makes me look twice.

So, today, my challenge is for you to choose a mood: Happy. Peaceful. Sad. Hopeful. Regretful. Redemption. Rage. Love. The list goes on for miles.

Once you've picked one, think about the colors that will best reflect it.

What would you pick for sad? Grays, browns, blues?

Which work best for happy? Warm colors like yellow, orange, pink, maybe even red?

What about hope? Maybe sunny yellow?

It doesn't mean that the whole picture is done in these tones, but that they flavor your artwork. They can surround and enhance your point of interest.

Take a few minutes and look at some well known masterpieces. Can you pick a mood? What colors did they use? Do you think they did it on purpose?

Well, now it's your turn. Give it a try!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's in Your Bag?

While I fixed dinner, I heard my daughter laughing in our front room, and then she called, "Mom, come here."

I walked in to find her sitting by her empty purse, surrounded by a boatload of girl treasures.

She said, "Can you believe all the stuff I had in there?"

(Well, yeah, I could, because I'm a purse-stuffing junkie, too. You learn to be prepared when you're a mom of multiple children.) Instead, I said, "Holy cow!"

Then she took me on a tour. "Look, I've got nine lipglosses."

"And I've got eight things to write with." (Aha! Now I know where all the pens and pencils went.)

"Look at all this change." (That's how I know she's home. She jingles when she comes in the door.)

I saw three packs of gum and three packs of mints,
Bangles and baubles, a wallet of zebra prints,
Makeup, and taffy enough for a team,
Sanitizer, keys, cell phone and cream.

All right, there's more, and I'll quit rhyming now. But did you notice the full-size, hard-bound book??? Now we're talking. That's a killer clutch. Actually my hubby calls it a granny purse. (He had a good laugh when she came home with it for the first time. It was big enough to hide a smart car in.)

And other than having to spend the rest of her life with one shoulder lower than the other, she could take on any boy scout. You know . . . Be Prepared.

I think I'll go see what's in my purse.
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