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, April 28, 2011

Lesson 29 - Tahitian Girl - Finished!

Contest Ends April 30th at midnight!

The Tahitian Girl drawing is finally finished! (I’ve already turned it in to have prints made, but you can see the final steps and the finished drawing below.)

If you haven’t yet entered the contest to win the first 8x10 giclĂ©e fine print, it’s not too late. All you have to do is any (or all) of the following:

1 point: become a follower

1 point: for each comment on my blog

1 point: blog about my blog, (but let me know)

1 point: facebook about my blog and include a link (let me know)

1 point: twitter about my blog and include a link (and you guessed it, let me know)

PLEASE count your points and keep me posted. It’s a great help.

I'll draw the winning name and announce it on Tuesday, May 3rd. Best of luck!

Now, onto the finishing touches and the finished drawing . . .

I'm on cloud nine! (Or nineteen is more like it.) I finished last night. I worked through the skin using Prismacolor pencils in the same steps as Lesson 28, only now we're finishing off and refining our tones, smoothness, and intensity of colors. Here are the steps I went through.

I finished the ear. Now ears tend to have a lot of shine, but I usually tone it down, so it won't steal attention from the face. And don't worry, the pearl earring is coming.

After having the base tones on the neck, I added a layer of Peach #939 over them, watching to see how it affects them. It makes it quite a bit lighter. (I'll need to add more intensity and tan soon, which I'll do with Sienna Brown #945 and Terra Cotta #944.)

Now we'll go back into the face and the next three pictures show how, using Peach and the Colorless Blender, (and I'm really pushing fairly hard with VERY sharp pencils), I'm smoothing it out. I'm starting on the far left and working right. You can see the difference in the texture as it goes.

Okay, now that we have the basic skin tone and it's fairly smooth, we'll go back with Terra Cotta, into the shadows mid-cheek and make them stronger.

This is one of my favorite parts. Eyelashes!!! It finishes off the eye. I've gone and added a little more detail to the eyebrow, too.

Here comes the earring. I used Cream (main tone and highlight), Slate Grey (midtone) and Cool Grey 90% for dark shadows, both on and around the base.

Now that I can see everything together, I think I want to darken the hair just a bit. Guess what? Pigs can fly. We're done!!!

If you remember, we started on February 10th.
 If you'd like to review, I also have the steps to this drawing under the Art Lessons button on the top bar.

I wish I'd kept track of the hours, but I'm guessing it took around 50, give or take. I could have done it in a week and a half, but there are other things I also love, that I was fitting it around: my family, my commissioned artwork, and writing. But it was so much fun doing it this way. It was my weekly reward after ejoying the best of the other things. Ah, these wonderful obsessions . . .

Anyway, thanks for sharing this Prismacolor drawing project with me! I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Bud Booger

Children are charming. Need I say more? Yes, by golly, I shall.

How charming? Well, even when things go awry in very, let us say, less-than-tasteful circumstances, they retain their cuteness.

Take Friday for example. We had a writer's group meeting in the home of a good friend. To protect her innocence (and she truly was innocent here), I shall call her Sally.

Well, Sally has an unbelievably cute son who is almost two. He’s beautiful and round and has these huge eyes. He also has enough energy to power the city of Los Angeles for the next century. Let’s call him Adam, shall we?

As we critiqued our writing, Adam toddled from one person to the next, leaning on our knees and jabbering in a language only his mother could understand. For the most part, he was entirely happy making the rounds as we boring adults talked about such things as pace, flow, and characterization.

What we didn’t realize was we had the perfect story unfolding right in front of us. We'd all enjoyed Adam’s brief attentions to us, and we’d all stroked his unbelievably soft hair . . . and we’d all hid our pens from his too-quick hands.

We were vested.

When Adam crossed the floor holding a tiny flower bud from his mom’s beautiful arrangement, we didn’t think anything of it.

Until he stuck it up his nose.

Then we noticed. In slow motion we saw it hit his right nostril opening, then get shoved up by a very chubby index finger.

I think a few of us hollered – you know that motherly instinct that has you reaching out a second too late, with guttural grunts of “No!” and “Stop!” and “Oh my –.” I don’t remember the particulars, only Adam’s proud grin as he came sauntering up, giving the bud an extra shove for good measure.

It was gone. As in gone gone. Not even a trace of it – at all.

His good mother went into action, grabbing her son and a tissue, saying, “Blow for Mommy.”

He snuffed up hard instead, and our guttural grunts began again – this time with a few giggles. (Sorry, Sally, we really couldn’t help it - because Adam was grinning again - and he's just so cute!)

Not bothered at all by everyone’s concern (in fact, he really seemed to be enjoying it), he pointed to his nose, saying something. My best guess is: “Note to self: this is how to bring the house down. Must do this again.”

Sally tried several times to get him to blow, with no success.

So, since the object in queston was organic in nature and tiny in size, his poor mother had to give up – for the moment – and let her wiggling son down.

The critiques continued. Adam toddled around some more, with everyone poised should he sneeze.

Which he did.

The bud appeared for just a second. While his mother madly scrambled to grab him, he deftly snuffed in up and ran the other way.

We all groaned. And giggled. There might have been a gag in there, but no one’s admitting it.

The critiquing carried on. Adam’s circles grew slower. He started yawning and rubbing his eyes. Soon, he gravitated to his mother’s lap. After sitting there a minute, he sneezed.

Some rather interesting things appeared, including the bud. (Since I doubt you want details, I won’t add any.)

We all shouted. Adam’s eyes flew wide. You could tell he was gathering breath for a really good snuff.

But his mom’s lightning-quick reflexes soon had the offending item on a tissue, which she proudly held up.

And we cheered. And Adam grinned.

Funny thing, that. If anyone told me this morning that I’d be cheering after looking at a boogery tissue, I’d have said they were crazy.

But that’s the beauty of a great story . . .

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lesson 28 - Tahitian Girl - Skin

Finally!!! We get to do skin. This is not a quick and easy task with colored pencil. It is very fine, very delicate, and very, very time-consuming.

I'll put a disclaimer right here. I didn't finish. I tried - I really did. But you don't rush it or you'll have a boatload of regret.

Thankfully, we won't. Let's get started.

1. My Tahitian girl has wonderfully tan skin. So we need some true darks in the underlayer. We don't want any grey, though, or the skin will look dead. Use dark browns for this. We'll do that with Dark Umber #947.

Now be sure and take your time. You need to put in all the form, the curves, the intensity and the delicate edges. Just this layer alone took me about six hours.

Be prepared to go through 'ugly' phases and don't give up.

2. Next, let's bring in a true Polynesian color, Sienna Brown #945. It's rich and warm and screams "I've been raised in the sun." However, we're starting light. We're going over almost all areas except for the strong highlights along the left side of the face and body.

Don't push it, though. We'll bring it on strong later, when we have a few more important layers added.

3. Now we're ready to bring on some soft and wonderful warmth with Henna #1031. This really makes it feminine. We're hitting most of the shaded areas, but crossing over into the half-lighted areas on the cheek and chest. Don't be afraid to thicken your strokes where the shadow is just changing into half-light or highlight.

4. Now we need yellow. Never use a strong yellow on skin, unless you have a crazy highlight or want to draw attention. It's hard to do it right unless you're subtle. So we'll use some very subtle yellows: Cream #914 and Yellow Ochre #942. We're mostly hitting the areas where half-light and highlight are. On the strong highlights on the far left, I'm only adding yellow in where it changes into the shadow. Don't go all the way left. You need some strong white there. I did a mix of the two, using Cream where it needed to be ultra subtle, and Yellow Ochre when it needs to be stronger.

You do want to be careful to not overdo it, though. I keep saying be subtle, but I really mean it. BE SUBTLE.

5. Okay, here comes scary. Our previous layers have been light. We can see a lot of the grain of the board showing through. But to really get soft, smooth skin, we need to push the saturation capacity of the board.

Be warned, the skin will go too light here, but we'll darken it again. Ready? Take Peach #939, and using about sixty percent pressure, go over all of the skin except for the strong left side highlights. I'm using a very sharp pencil, sharpening it every few minutes (it's not unusual to go through a whole pencil here), and filling in all the holes, and grinding it into the colors below. They will be muted, but don't worry, we'll accent them again.

I tried adding a little Sienna Brown along the upper right side of the face to see how my layers are coming up. It's looking good.

8. Okay, we're ready to get serious. I'm going to go down to the arm. I'm waiting on the face, because I want to experiment, find what works best on the board, and figure it out before I get to the face, which we'll need to get as perfect as possible.

Using a mix of Sienna Brown, Dark Umber, Yellow Ochre, and the Blending Stick, I'm going back and forth on the arm until I get the right, rich-tan tone, as well as the stronger shadows and highlights. Good, it's working. Now I'll move to the shadow on the left side of the neckline.

9. All right, using the same colors, I'm ready to tackle the chest area. There's more fluctuation in the tones here, and sometimes there are blotches. It can't be avoided.

But when you get a blotch, it can be toned down by first going over the blotch only with a soft layer of white. Don't go outside it. Keep adding layers of white until it tones down to match the surrounding area. Then, add a light layer of the main tone you used on this area. In this case, it is Sienna Brown.

Okay, sorry to leave you hanging. I'm really not trying to draw this out (no pun intended). It just takes time. Come back and see how it goes next week. I'm really hoping to have it done by then. Cross your fingers for me!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Draw

There’s something surreal about taking an image and making it reappear from the end of a pencil.

One tiny scratch, then another, and another. Line after line makes a face appear, a mountain rise off the paper, a bird come to life.

The soothing pencil sounds, and the images taking shape are terribly addictive. For a while, the world disappears. My mind is perfectly clear and open, available to think about everything – or nothing at all.

Time slows down. I feel my breath going in and out, my pulse slowing as I find my rhythm. (If you don’t like yoga – give this a try.)

Then again, I’ve experienced ‘artist’s high’, the mad excitement as I near the end of a drawing, the absolute delight when I place the final stroke and step away to see.

That’s why I draw. Art is many things – soothing, exciting, scintillating, otherworldly. You can escape. Or not. Many times, I’ve had the most wonderful conversations with my family or friends as I sat at the table drawing.

Often, when my children were young, they’d wander around chattering at me as I worked (work is the wrong word. Actually it's the best way to play). I chose drawing over painting then, because it was easy to lay it aside and take care of my children when they needed me. And then, just as easily, I could go right back to it.

But many times, they’d sit down beside me and draw, too.

Now that’s every artist’s dream! As I’ve mentioned before, my father is a professional artist. I spent many hours drawing in tandem with him as he painted - and chewing his ear off with hours of conversation. I felt very close to him, even through my teenage years.

Even now, every once in a while, I get to experience the same with my teenagers and I love it!

Is there something you did with your father or mother that you now enjoy doing with your children? (It’s the best, isn’t it?)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lesson 27 - Tahitian Girl - Sea

The sea is a little complicated to draw. First, you need to get the shape of the waves. Then you have three-sided reflections. The top reflects the sky. Each side of the wave reflects what it faces, so it's always exciting. Are you ready? Here we go.

1. Take White # 938 and lay in your sun reflection and the white tops of the waves.

2. Now take Warm Grey 90% and put your shadows in. I'm focusing on the darkness as the waves get further away, and the dark backside of the close waves.

3. Slate Grey # 936 is one of my favorite colors. It is a blue-grey and works great for water. I put it right over the top of the warm grey 90%, and fill in the area between waves, all except for highlighted areas. It's fun watching the waves begin to take shape here.

4. Ready for some warmth? We'll put in the sun reflection on the backsides of the waves, and around the sun reflection with Canary Yellow # 916. Make sure you leave some pure white in the center of the sun reflection so it sparkles.

5. Now we'll put the reflection from the sky around the sun. Take Peach # 939 and gently lay it in. Be careful, because it's easy to overkill. Your strokes should be very light and very even.

6. I'm liking the feel of the waves, but it's still too light. It's better to start light, because you can always go darker, which we will. Take Indigo Blue # 911, which is a very dark blue. Go into the back waves and lay it on thick. Taper the intensity as you bring it forward, still keeping your strokes smooth and even. At this point, it's important to keep your pencil very sharp, so you fill in any texture on your board or paper with the tip, not by pressing hard.

7. All right, I'm happy with the intensity now. The darkness in the back gives the illusion of distance. Now we're ready to do some refining. Using Deco Blue #1015, smooth over the top of the front three quarters of the sea, going over everything except the sun reflection. This is a medium-light blue. As you go over the previous colors, it will mix with them, tainting the sea, but also giving unity. Taper your strokes into the deep indigo blue in the back, but don't go all the way. We still want the dark intensity at its best back there.

8. Now we're ready to polish it off. Using White, Cream, and Peach, go back and emphasize the highlights on the waves.  Then take your Colorless Blender and smooth any areas of the sea that are grainy. Voila, your sea becomes liquid.

Next week: We begin the skin! Hooray!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Soul Surfer

We took the kids to see the movie, Soul Surfer over the weekend. It’s the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a girl surfer who suffered a shark attack.

I read her book when it first came out and was very impressed. How can a girl lose an arm, but find herself?

Here is a short version of her story, in her own words:

She really found herself. The book was inspiring, and the movie was just plain wonderful. My eleven year old son said, “I think that’s the best movie I’ve seen in a long time!” And it was.

They also have an amazing cast:

AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany (she starred in Bridge to Terabithia)

Dennis Quaid as her father

Helen Hunt as her mother


Carrie Underwood as a church counselor and friend

among others.

The best part is, it’s real. Bethany Hamilton is real and a true role model.

Enjoy this movie trailer and then go see the show – and take a few tissues – and prepare to be impressed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lesson 26 - Tahitian Girl - Island

Since I'm on a roll with islands, let's draw one.
1. Using Cream, lightly encircle the area immediately below the sun, and the area where the beach touches the sea. Now, take Warm Grey 90 % #1058, and lay in your darkest shadow, which is most of the island. Where the sun shines across, make that layer very light and thin.

2. Go over the dark grey with Dark Brown # 946. Again, make your strokes very thin and light just beneath the sun. This island will be very dramatic.

3. Now we'll soften our dark tones by going over it again with Light Umber #941. Touch on the beach area, too. We don't want that too light.

4. Here's where we really add the drama. Taking Cream #914, hit the area right below the sun again, and softly add in some sun rays playing over the island's curves.

5. We'll add some real warmth to the lower sun area with Canary Yellow #916.

6. For the finishing touch, take White #938 and really whiten the area below the sun, blending into the yellows and browns, so it's a very soft transition - making it glow. Fun, huh?

Next week: the sea!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cocos Island

All right. I’m writing a pirate book. And I’m doing lots of research and learning all kinds of random facts about people, places, and oh, yes, islands.

Have you ever heard of Cocos Island? It’s a tiny island west of Costa Rica. Rumor has it that on three separate occasions, pirates hid their booty there.

It shouldn’t be hard to find it then, right?


A man named August Gissler moved there with a shovel, two maps, and a big dream. Have you read the book or seen the movie “Holes?” Well, that’s exactly what happened here. He dug and dug and dug. The island was pocked with holes. His beard grew down to his knees. And all he ever found were thirty gold pieces and one golden glove.

I know, just enough to keep him digging, and not enough to keep his wife from going insane. The woman was a saint!

Anyway, what about the whole “I’m living on an island” thing? Well, that must have been nice . . . other than the millions of holes.

But, if you look at what is in the water surrounding it, that’s where you’ll find the true treasure. An Imax film called “Island of the Sharks” was made there, and if you have a chance to watch it, you won’t be sorry. Here’s a link to the trailer:

There are schools of hammerhead sharks, a feeding frenzy on a huge bait ball of fish, a leisurely scene with a hungry (and very patient) sea turtle -- one of my favorite creatures, and much more.

So, if you inherit any pirate maps, take it easy. If you live on an island, I'm seriously jealous. If you find out any cool pirate facts, let me know!

Well, I’m off to write and do more research. See you soon, mateys!

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