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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jonene Ficklin Art Website Live! And a new Contest!

There are some serious perks to having brilliant children. My oldest son, Zarin, just announced that my art website, which he has been designing, is now up and running. Feel free to hop on over and check it out:

Although there are a few things left to tweak, (and I still have to do the dreaded bio) it's time to celebrate. I will be giving away an 8x10 Giclee print of your choice to the winner.

To enter the contest, please pass the word on:

Blog: 1 point

Facebook: 1 point

Twitter: 1 point

Like (on the webite): 1 point

and of course, should you become a follower, give yourself another point. (If you are already a follower, give yourself a point, too!)

Please add up your points and comment on my blog, so I know.

The winner will be announced in fifteen days on June 14th. Best of luck! (Shipping to the winner is free inside the Continental United States.)

I also want to shamelessly promote my son, who designs websites, among his many other talents. Here is his website:

(Zarin, thank you so much! You're awesome!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lesson 32 - Watercolor - Frisket

One of the hardest parts of doing a watercolor painting is avoiding the places you want left white. Luckily, there's an easy solution.

It is a product called liquid frisket or drawing gum. Basically, it's just like rubber cement, but it's made for watercolors. You paint it on the areas you don't want to accidentally paint over, like a highlight, clouds in a blue sky, or water splashes, etc.

Once the frisket is on and dry (it dries quickly), you can paint right over the top of it, for instance a sky. After you frisket the clouds off, you can paint the entire sky, going over the frisketed area (if you want to), without anything getting on the clouds.

Once the sky area that you've painted has dried, too, you can rub or erase the frisket off.

Here's what you'll need:

Liquid frisket (there are many brands and several sizes. I went for super large, but you can find nice small bottles at an art supply store)

This is called "The Incredible Nib." You use it to paint the frisket on. I highly recommend avoiding using a paintbrush because it will ruin it - but if you must, first dip the paintbrush in liquid soap and let it dry, then use to paint with the frisket. Or - use a very cheap brush that you don't mind throwing away.

But take my word for it, investing in a nib is worth it. The ends are simply shaped wood and you can use and re-use it over and over. It's easy to peel the frisket off when you're done.

To erase the frisket, I've used my finger (it gets sore after a while), and a regular eraser (which works), but this is an eraser made just for frisket removal. It's not a mandatory buy, but it's very nice. It works perfectly. You'll usually find it at your art store with the frisket and nib at the watercolor painting section.

Okay, now you're ready to use it. Dip your nib into the frisket bottle (not too deep) and spread on your paper. It will take a little practice not to end up with it getting gummy as you paint, but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. Paint an area, and don't worry about putting on a thick coat. You just need a thin layer, but fill in all the holes or the paint will seep through in those spots.

And don't get aggrivated if you start to paint over a half-dried area and your nib grabs a strand and it pulls up. Just tear the strand off, and wait for that area to dry, then go back and fill it in again.

Like I said, you'll soon get the hang of it, and then it's no problem.

Have fun frisketing! The magic happens when you pull it off and have an awesome sparkle or cloud. I'll show you how I do it next week as I work the sky area.

--Comments--I apologize in advance. I've been trying for three days to reply to your comments and comment on your blogs, but blogger is having a problem, (something to do with internet explorer) and keeps kicking me off. I'll keep trying, though!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Family Blocks

It's been an interesting two weeks since Mother's Day. Yup, I was so very spoiled. My family made me breakfast, took away all my responsibilities, and showered me with awesome gifts.

My daughter gave me decorative blocks that spell Family. I love them! I put them on the entertainment center in our family room. But I wasn't prepared for what happened then.

Monday, I heard the kids snickering in the family room. So, I went to investigate. They grew very quiet when I came in, other than a few badly stifled giggles.

And then I looked at the entertainment center. My Family had turned into something else. Now we all like scrabble. Suddenly, my decorations had become a challenging game and the whole family was on board. So what can you spell with "F" "a" "m" "i" "l" and "y"?

How about this?

What else? I found out when I came in on Tuesday. This was done by my son who loves to laugh. When he was a child and had just drawn another masterpiece on my walls with permanent marker AGAIN, he would laugh - until he caught sight of my face. Then he'd get the best puppy dog eyes ever and beg forgiveness. Ah, memories. My walls have been clean for many years now. But he's still laughing.

Wednesday, I found this. My young son came to stand behind me with a wide grin. "You did this?" I asked.

"How'd you guess?" he asked with his cute way of hunching his shoulders up to his ears. "It's like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals."

Thursday, the letters changed again. I have another son who loves to make short films. This one wasn't hard to guess who the author was.

Friday's I thought was clever. Ah, bring on the mayflies and junebugs. I'm ready for summer!

But Saturday's had me stumped. I kept walking by it, thinking there had to be a secret message in there somewhere. At last, my youngest son came up and said, "Do you get it, Mom?"

I grimaced and tried again. "Um . . . "

"The 'F' stands for family," he hinted.

"My eel family?" I guessed.

"No, no, no," he said. "Look at the middle blocks again."

I did. Unfortunately, nothing brilliant came. Finally, he pointed to the 'i' and 'a'. "Those are eyes." He pointed to the sideways 'l'. "And that's a mouth."

I laughed. It's a huge relief when you've just come out of the dark. I'd only seen letters.

He saw this:

By Sunday, everyone was getting creative. It's good they're all for life.

But on Monday, who was bemoaning being a wife? I'm the only wife in our family, and although I have my moments, I'm very happy being so.

Mid-week, my husband called me in and, with a flourish, pointed out his masterpiece.

"Flim," I said, pasting a grin on my face. "Wow."

"Wait," he said, shuffling the blocks. "Now look."

I was glad my grin could be genuine. "Ah, flim-flam. Not bad."

But the next few days brought a lot of far reaches. The 'm' got flipped and became a 'w'. The 'y' became an 'h'. There were a lot of crazy words and, 'Ah, come on!'s. I won't torture you with them all.

By last weekend, I think we'd conceded defeat:

On Sunday, my daughter decided to be rebellious and I came out to find this:

And that says it all. Family. My funny, crazy, creative family! I wouldn't trade them for all the blocks in the world!

5/25/11 - I apologize, but blogger isn't letting me comment or make comments on other's blogs. I'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lesson 31 Watercolor Painting - Getting Started

Are you ready to do a watercolor painting?  The basic supplies we'll be using today (just to get us started) are:

Watercolor paper. (I'm using 18x24, but there are many sizes to choose from.)

A board large enough to hold your paper.

(Even good quality papers buckle a bit when they are wet. If they are taped down on a board, they will flatten as they dry.)

You can use any kind of board. I found this at a Michael's Art and Craft Store.

A medium or light grey watercolor pencil.

(You can use a regular pencil, but those marks sometimes show where you don't want them to. A watercolor pencil line will fade when you get it wet, or disappear if you run a wet brush repeatedly over the marks.) I like grey because it is an earthy color and blends into just about any color you lay over the top of it.

Masking tape. I like the wide kind.
So let's get started
First, lightly draw your basic picture on the watercolor paper, using the watercolor pencil. It is important that you stay light and don't push hard, or you'll indent the paper. (Sorry, my drawing was so light, I had to tweak the settings to have it show up. It's a baby turtle making a run for the water on a tropical beach.)
Then place your watercolor drawing onto your board. (If you buy one with clips like I did, make sure the clips are on the left side if you're right handed, and vice-versa if you're left handed. That way you won't be fighting them the whole time.)
Begin taping the edges. My paper is so big, I can only tape three edges, but the clips will hold the fourth edge. You don't need it to overlap more than a half inch over your paper's edge, but it won't hurt it if you do.) I lay my tape down over the paper, then fold it over the board.

Okay, now we're ready to really get going.  More to come next week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Spider Man Mystery

"Mom, why do you want Spider Man's number?" my son asked me.

Glib as I am, I said, "What???"

He tipped his head and pointed in the general direction of my room and said, "You wanted Spider Man's phone number."

I said, "Huh?"

It was getting late, and this wasn't ringing any bells. Why would I want Spider Man's number? I mean the movies were okay, but really . . .

So my son marched me to my bathroom where, on my mirror, this note was taped.

"Oh," I said. "Yeah. I did write that." Just then I noticed the alteration. Funny. (Actually it was, but since I'd just shown about as much intelligence as a rock on the road, I decided to turn detective.)

"All right. Did you do that?" I pointed to the new word.

He raised his eyebrows. There was no mischievous glint. He was serious.

Now after a few years and a few kids, every mom depends on the inborn lie-detector gift that works approximately 69% of the time. The other 31% we flounder, and try to bluff our way into convincing our children that we have eyes in the back of our head. Under our hair. Really.

It's imperative that they believe.

But this was obvious. He was innocent. He threw his hands up in the air and said, "I just want to know why you want his number?"

I pointed to the crossed out word. "Spider Guy. The guy who sprays for spiders - like the one who sprayed at Grandma's. I want his number so he can get rid of every last creepy-crawly in a hundred-mile radius." (I'd seen one too many lately. And take my word for it. One is too many.)

"Oh," my son said. Then he turned and left.

So I spent the next few days asking each member of my family if they did it.

Surprise, surprise. No one did. There were several glints, but taking their ages and dispositions into account, it could have been pure delight in someone else's good joke - and the fact that I couldn't figure it out.

It was driving me a little crazy. Every child knows that moms DON'T like mysteries.

Still they happen all the time. Like those forever missing right shoes - where do they go? Or the main bathroom light left on and the faucet left dripping at three in the morning, which no one did. We call that perpetrator Casper the Ghost, probably like many of you.

So, this is getting way too long. I'll cut to the chase. I still don't know. The note's still up - because, hey, it's funny.

And if you happen to know Spider Man's number, by all means, pass it on. I'd love to have the last laugh.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lesson 30 Light Source

Sorry, since Blogger went down (and this post went with it) it's taken a while to bring this post back, but here it is:

I love the way a dramatic light source looks. There are many amazing works of art out there, but my favorites use the light in interesting ways.

Here is some art I absolutely love. Note which direction the light is coming from:

This is by Da Vinci and is called "The Adoration of the Magi." It is a simple sepia-tone, but very dramatic and very lovely. The light is coming from the left and slightly above. Note how it hits the top of the eyelids, the upper cheeks, the bridge of the nose, the bottom lip, and chin.

This is "Water Lily Pond" by Claude Monet. Light is coming from the right and above. Note how the left side of the weeping willow in the background is dark, setting off the highlighted leaves on the right. Also the upper part of the railing on the bridge is highlighted. Both Monet and Da Vinci made sure that their light source was constant throughout their pictures.

You don't want to highlight a part that light should be in shadow.

Of course, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Vermeer has a strong and dramatic light source coming from the upper left. Note how deep the shadows are on the right.

Now, here is one of my all time favorite paintings. It was done by my father, Sheryl Bodily, and has an unusual light source.

The sun is setting behind the viewer, so no direct light is hitting the man or horse. However, it's hitting the cloud high in the sky, reflecting on the water, which reflects on the horse's shins and nose, as well as his back end.

Fun, huh? So the next time you look at a piece of art you admire, check which direction the light is coming from and see how the artist used it to draw attention or add drama. And the next time you plan your own artwork, think about what kind of light you want to use, which direction it will come from, and what it will hit within the picture. Your final effect will blow your viewers away!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oy! Will the Weather Please Make Up Its Mind?

It's a good thing I like clouds, 'cause this year there have been a whole lot of them. Accompanied by rain. Lots and lots of rain. And occasionally snow. But just so we don't get depressed, we'll focus on the clouds.

Each morning when I wake up, I'm hoping to see this.

Or this.

Most mornings, it's been this. Yeah. That's the sun. Blink and it's gone again.

And this happens. So what's a sun-starved gal to do? You guessed it. Grab her camera. And make her kids moan. Like it or not, there are clouds everywhere. At least they're interesting.

My favorite stormy clouds are usually in front of thin, high-level clouds that allow the sun to glow through like this. It's a haunting look.

I also like clouds that lead your eye across the sky.

And every once in the while, the clouds thin and nearly disappear. I cross my fingers, hoping it will last a little longer.

And then, boom. In come the clouds again. So I sigh and take a picture of some cool trees silhouetted by sun and rain and the ever-present, ever-constant clouds.

A few days ago, we could see another storm rolling in. There was this huge fuzzy cloud with crazy wisps going straight up. Cool. But how about some sun and color?

And then we got it! Blue sky again. Sun again. Just when we thought we'd die of greyness. It was like water in the desert for a dying woman, and I didn't think we could beat this sunset.

But then a day later, I looked out the window to see the whole sky alight. My kids and I ran out.

I ran back in. You guessed it. I got my camera and snapped away. The kids rolled their eyes, but then  laughed. Even if the weather isn't predictable, at least I am.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Promoting Young Artists

Have you ever paid attention to the artwork that sometimes shows up on the Google search bar?

Guess what? Someone did it. And sometimes that someone is small.

This year my son entered the Doodle For Google art contest. Sadly, he didn't make it to the finals, but many wonderful young artists did.

If you want to see what these kids did, prepare to be blown away. By the way, they are between ages 5 to 18. Check it out:

And if you vote, they will be eternally grateful. I have already picked my favorites. Now just to narrow it down to only one. (Sigh) This might take a while.

In the K-3 section, it's a toss-up between Region 8's "Jungle Art" and Region 10's "Space Life." Remember, these are very, very tiny kids!

In the Grades 4-6, I'm warring between Region 4's "My Galaxy," and Region 6's "Find Beauty in Everything." Holy smokes, these kids are amazing.

In the grade 7-9 bracket, I absolutely love Region 5's "The Magestic Sea." It is so eye-catching and the creatures are perfect!

And last, in the grade 10-12 bracket, region 7, you have to see the one titled "Illustration."

Can you believe kids did all these? Wow! Our future is in good hands. I feel sorry for the judges.

So . . . which one is your favorite????

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Winner of the first Tahitian Girl print!!!

It's finally here. I could torture you and draw this out, but I'll be kind. The winner of the first giclee print of the Tahitian Girl is . . . (drum roll, please) . . .

Lydia K!!! Congratulations!

This was fun! Thanks for participating and sharing the process with me.

Several people have now e-mailed to ask how to buy prints of my artwork and if the ones here on my art tabs above are available for sale. Most of them are, and I have a website under construction right now. If you are interested in buying a print, just contact me by e-mail at: In celebration for finishing the Tahitian Girl drawing, all prints will be on sale for the month of May.

Have a great week!

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