After much thought, soul-searching, and input from loyal readers, I’ve decided it’s time to do more than just think about leaving social media.
It’s time to act.
Before I do that, though, I want to answer the questions most likely to arise at this news.
Why are you leaving social media?
From my first Twitter account years ago, my primary goal has been promoting this blog. I followed the advice of bloggers and marketers who said I must be active on social media in order to direct traffic to this blog.
That goal has motivated every subsequent decision about the venues I’ve chosen, the ways I’ve used those media outlets, and how I’ve interacted with followers through social media, this blog, and my weekly newsletter.
And the response has been good in some ways.
The problem is that although a lot of people follow me or like me, very few actually make the leap to the blog. That means that the return on investment of time, creativity, and persistence has been very small.
Almost nothing, in fact.
Putting that time into blog posts or the weekly newsletter would provide more and better content to you as a reader for a couple of important reasons.
Content on the blog is easier for you to find, and much easier for me to update than content on social media.
You can read articles and posts here without worrying about disagreeable ads popping up or being told what you’re interested in.
I also have control over what I publish and how long it stays published. No banned posts. Nothing marked as spam by an unseen authority.
Besides, as a writer as well as an artist, I’ve just always been more comfortable blogging than trying work around the limitations of social media.
So it makes sense to stop doing what isn’t working so I can put more time and energy into what is working.
Which social media accounts are you closing?
I closed my Twitter account in August 2020.
My Pinterest account was also deactivated in 2020.
In early 2021, I closed my YouTube account, and on April 18, 2021, I deleted my Facebook account.
But I follow you on social media? What do I do now?
First of all, thank you if you’ve been following me anywhere. I do appreciate you!
The best option is to sign up for my free weekly newsletter. That way, you’ll get news about the latest posts, new products, and tips and tools to help you make the kind of colored pencil art you want to make.
How can I connect with you?
The best way to connect with me has always been by email through the contact page on this blog. I answer every email as quickly as possible and email correspondence comes directly to your inbox.
If you have questions or comments about specific posts, I encourage you to share them in the comment section for that post. I get notifications about new comments and respond to those too, usually within 24 hours or less.
My leaving social media doesn’t mean I’m no longer interested in connecting with you. There are alternatives to social media. At present, the most intriguing from my point of view is a member forum. There are ways to host a forum on this blog and for many of us, that may be the best current option.
But there is much to consider and investigate before any such decision is made.
I am currently active on a membership forum for colored pencil artists, Monthly Sharpener. Monthly Sharpener was founded by portrait artist, John Middick. It’s a two-tier platform with a free tier and a subscriber platform called the Member Circle with exclusive content.
Thank you again for your participation on social media if you have followed me on any of the venues mentioned above. I do appreciate you and your very kind support.
Each piece of art is accompanied with comment from the artist. If you’ve ever wondered what inspires artists to make the art they make, this is a great source for answers.
What About All Those Other Entries?
That’s where CP Hidden Treasures comes in.
Selected works from the remaining entries are featured in a second collection of work called CP Hidden Treasures. This year’s edition of CP Hidden Treasures contains 208 pieces of artwork of all subjects and styles and by artists from around the world.
And that’s where my piece, Spring Storm, enters the picture.
Spring Storm is my first piece on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, was the featured tutorial in the March 2020 issue of CP Magic, and is also the subject for an expanded, standalone tutorial.
Not bad for a “practice” piece!
Both books are now available in either digital or print versions. I love print books, so that’s what I ordered. They’re beautiful!
If you want to see cutting edge colored pencil work, these two art books are for you.
All of the original five cats still live with us. Basil, Bing, Bob, Bud and Lou have grown into fine, handsome cats. They are all healthy and happy, staying indoors at night, but getting outside as they wish during the day.
It’s been so hot the last few weeks that they’ve spent most of their days sleeping in cool, shady spots, but I have seen some chasing flying insects and hunting grasshoppers.
In other words, being cats.
We rescued poor Basil with bad infections in both eyes. His mother hid her kittens in a hollow of a tree, and dirt and debris was stuck to Basil’s left eye. When we cleaned the eye, the third eyelid appeared permanently closed. The eye eventually healed, but sealed itself, and we were never able to determine whether not there was actually an eye in that socket.
Basil still has a unique “air” due to the lack of a left eye, but that hasn’t hampered him. Much. He did have difficulty learning to climb and jump, requiring us to rescue him from high places a couple of times. But once he learned how to judge distance, he was fine. He now makes routine visits to the second story windows that overlook a low roof.
He’s grown into a lean muscled, long legged fellow, that doesn’t back down from opponents (even big dogs,) but is affectionate toward us.
One thing he hasn’t done is grow into his ears. They still seem too large for him!
Bing is a small dog in a cat’s body.
And a chatterer. He often greets us as the back gate when we’ve been away and escorts us to the house, talking all the way.
Pick him up and he automatically rolls over to have his ears rubbed. Sit down without him already on your lap, and he cannonballs into your lap. He is definitely not an old lady cat!
Bing went missing for two weeks in September 2019. We have no idea where he went or what he did, but he was in good shape when he returned. Maybe just a little lighter.
He now weighs in at around eleven pounds, which makes his floor-to-lap cannonball routine all the more startling for the unwary!
Bob, the first member of the Kitten Posse, looks a lot like his littermate Bing, but is much more reserved. He still has the dreamy-eyed expression that made him the subject of an old email drawing class.
He spent about a week as the only orphan. When the next two came into the house, he looked a little dismayed at having them in his overnight bed. Sometimes, he still looks that way!
Reserved or not, he’s still friendly and often comes inside to help me clean litter boxes even on nice days. Quiet he may be, but he likes being outside and is quite often the last one to come in. Most of the time, I have to go and get him.
Once or twice, he spent the night outside after mysteriously disappearing at evening.
Bud was the smallest of the original five and had persistent respiratory problems. Despite that, he was playful. I have photos of him tussling with the others, playing around the keyboard while I worked, and napping with the younger kittens.
He was “best bud” to Ember, a young adult female about two years older than he. She was never well, and usually ate best when Bud ate with her. When she died early this summer, Bud seemed a little lost.
He continues to have respiratory problems, though they seem to have settled in his sinuses now. It amazes me that he remains so friendly after all the treatments he’s put up with it. He’s like a bucking bronco to medicate, and hides if he sees us with a pill popper or syringe (even if they’re not meant for him.) But through it all, he remains affectionate.
Lou is still the biggest of the five and tops out at twelve to thirteen pounds in the winter. During the hot summer months, he slims all the way down to about eleven pounds.
Despite his size, he’s pretty mellow with us. Definitely an armful when carried.
He behaves toward the non-posse-members as though he’s boss (or wants to be,) so he sometimes spends afternoons inside to prevent his running the older cats off.
Like Bud, Bing, and Bob, Lou suffers lingering respiratory problems, though nothing as severe or persistent as Bud. A little face cleaning now and again is all he requires.
As of the date of this writing, I’ve been unable to get a good photo of Lou as an adult, but will add one when able. Just imagine Bing mostly white, and you have the idea. They are built a lot alike and no wonder. They are litter mates.
Later Posse Members: Pee Wee and Her Siblings
After the original Kitten Posse was settled, we took in four other kittens. Pee Wee and her three siblings; cousins to the original five.
One of them, Brummel, is no longer with us, but the others are doing well.
Pee Wee is the smallest member of the Kitten Posse, though she’s grown more than I expected, given her poor health as a kitten. If there’s a “teacher’s pet” among them all, she’s it. At least in her own mind. If I happen to lean against the kitchen counter while talking to the chef (Neal,) it isn’t long before Pee Wee is as at my feet, gazing lovingly upward. If I pay no attention, it isn’t long before she takes matters into her own paws!
She also loves jigsaw puzzles, especially rolling around on partially assembled puzzles (while I’m working on them,) and loose pieces. She’s a good companion, but not much help.
Rebel has grown up to be as big as Lou, which is a surprise since he wasn’t remarkable for size as a kitten. He’s not the bravest cat in the pride, preferring to be safe rather than sorry. He gives the older neighborhood toms wide berth and sometimes also retreats from the three older females. He’s also cautious around strangers, though he’s friendly with us.
Make friends with him, though, and he’s all kinds of affectionate.
I’ve tried on several occasions to photograph Rebel as an adult, but he’s shy by nature and photographing a black cat in the shadows is challenging, to say the least!
Sorrowful is next in size to Rebel. She would like to be an outdoor cat, but is confined to the inside, because the outdoor cats simply don’t like her.
She also had one scare with a car (which I saw.) When she manages to sneak outside, she stays away from the street, but we keep her inside for her own safety.
Maybe, once the other Posse Members accept her, she can spend time outside. Until then, she gets time in her own upstairs room with an open window. Complete with all the amenities.
So That’s the Kitten Posse Update
Those orphaned kittens not only survived my mothering, but have grown into big, mostly healthy cats. For the most part, they grew up better than I could have hoped, given the rough starts a lot of them had.
Colored Pencil Tutorials is now the official source for CP Magic, all my tutorial downloads, Peggy Osborne’s tutorials, and all new future tutorials.
One-to-one distance learning classes are also now available through the new store.
The grand opening includes a new issue of CP Magic and two new tutorials, open from me and one from Peggy.
Just the Beginning
I’m hoping this is just the beginning. Plans are already in the works for annual subscriptions to the magazine, and I’m currently exploring the possibility of memberships through the store.
And of course new issues of CP Magic will be published each month and brand new tutorials.
Does this Seem like a Huge Ad?
In a way, I suppose it is a huge ad.
But I’m excited. I’ve wanted to open a standalone online store for a couple of years now. That was my original plan back when I started offering tutorials from the blog. Somehow, it took launching the magazine to get me off dead center.
Now it’s a reality!
The Fine Print
I’ll be taking down the tutorials and magazines from this website over the course of the next few days, so I encourage you to visit ColoredPencilTutorials.com and bookmark it. You can also sign up for the store newsletter for free to make sure you don’t miss new releases or store news.
Anyway, ’nuff said. This is your personal invitation to take a look around the store, and see what you think.
To celebrate, I’m giving you 20% off all purchases made between now and August 15. To get the discount, type the word opening in the coupon box when you check out.
Have you ever experienced something I call the end of project blues?
That happens when you’ve worked on a piece for a long time, and put a lot of effort into it? Sweated over it to make sure everything’s just right.
It feels great to finish it, doesn’t it? Time to celebrate.
But then what?
A lot of big projects come with a hidden problem. Something that doesn’t show up until the project is finished.
What is it?
Apathy about starting the next project.
How to Handle End of Project Blues
End of project blues takes many forms. Maybe no new subject really inspires you, so nothing looks appealing. You feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled by the masterpiece you just finished.
Or maybe you just need a break.
I’ve been in each place many times. Some of my “breaks” have lasted months, rather than days. One time, I walked away from the easel for two years!
We all need a break now and again, but not for weeks, months, or years (most of the time.)
So how do you keep moving forward after finishing a big project (or any project)?
Following are three things I’ve done in the past that keep me creating. Not all of them will work for everyone, but I hope they at least get you thinking about ways you can curb the end of project blues!
Always Have Something New in the Works
It’s a lot easier for me to go from one project to the next if I already have something in progress. Sometimes it’s just a collection of photos in a folder. Sometimes I’ve cropped some of those photos, and sometimes I’ve already started the line drawing.
It doesn’t matter how far along the piece is as long as I have something already started when I sign the current piece.
You might also try working on two things at once. That way, you already have something else well started when you finish the current piece. That’s also a great way to combat boredom with a project. Just work on the backup piece!
Batch Work Basic Things
Batch work is what happens when you do a batch of similar tasks at the same time.
With art, that might be sorting and preparing reference photos. What I sometimes do after finishing a project is go through all the photos in my Potential Projects folder and sort out half a dozen or more that look promising.
Then I spend an afternoon cropping them in various ways to find the best compositions. Sometimes I combine photos.
Technically, I’m not drawing, but I am preparing to draw, and that’s the first step in the process.
Try Something New
Perhaps the best suggestion for overcoming end-of-project blues is doing something completely outside your usual work.
For example, if you do human portraits, try a landscape.
If you work in a realistic style, give surrealism a try. Or maybe an abstract.
Getting outside and drawing is also a good way to cure the end of project blues.
You might also try something that’s just, plain fun. I like to play around with watercolors and watercolor pencils. They’re more spontaneous, and even if I don’t get a masterpiece out of it, I’m almost always motivated to get back to the serious work.
Beating the End of Project Blues
These are just a few ideas to get you started. As I mentioned earlier, not all of them will work for everyone.
But if they get you started on the right path to what works for you, then they’ve done their job!
Colored pencils have come a long way since I started using them in the mid 1990s. New brands have entered the market. When I started there was only Prismacolor (so far as I knew.) Now beginners can chose from dozens of brands.
And yes, most of them work well with all the others.
New Drawing Surfaces
Pencils aren’t the only things being updated and improved. Drawing surfaces continue to develop too.
As of the writing of this post, Brush & Pencil has launched a brand new, fully archival sanded art paper that takes sanded art paper to a new level. Lux Archival is the latest product from this artist-run company and it’s getting rave reviews.
New Accessory Products
New products are now available that make painting with colors pencils more like painting with colored pencils. I refer, of course, to Brush & Pencil’s texture fixative, which is sprayed over a work in progress to restore tooth. Back in the day, there was only workable fixative and it was usually unsatisfactory.
Actually, Brush & Pencil has become one more reason to love colored pencils for a lot of artists. Their fully archival line of products transformed colored pencils in a big way.
(No, this isn’t a sponsored post. It’s just Brush & Pencil has developed so many great new products in the last few years that it’s impossible not to find one that excites you!)
Exploration is Easier
And usually more fun, too.
I’m not sure why that is. All those years (over 40) that I created horse portraits in oils, portrait work is about all I did. I had no interest in landscapes, still life paintings, or just playing with the paint. About the only time I did anything different was when I got so disgusted with a piece that I slapped paint all over it and made an abstract out of it.
But put a colored pencil in my hand, and all that changes!
In the last few years, I’ve drawn a still life or two, food, and fabric. I’ve drawn from life (something else I never felt the need to do with oils.)
I’ve even dabbled with mixed media by doing watercolor under paintings!
It’s Easier to Have Fun
It’s also easier to just have fun with colored pencils. I do understand that. It was next to impossible to carry oil paints, brushes, and cleaner with me all the time. Painting was always in the studio, so it was always work.
But I keep a few pencil stubs in my purse all the time and also have a field kit that’s more completely stocked. That means I can draw wherever I happen to be, and that makes it fun!
There’s So Much Great Colored Pencil Art Out There
Finally (for today,) there are so many wonderful artists creating great colored pencil art that it’s easy to be motivated to create my own. Subjects are as varied as the artists and so are their drawing methods. There’s always something to learn from each one, and that’s the most exciting reason of all to love colored pencils.
So there are a few more reasons to love colored pencils.
What are some of your reasons for loving colored pencils?
Introducing the latest from Peggy Osborne: a long haired cat tutorial.
Beautiful, full-color illustrations provide step-by-step progress images of the portrait. Easy-to-read and follow descriptions tell you what Peggy did at each step.
But there’s more.
What I like best about this tutorial isn’t Peggy’s conversational style of teaching. Yes, she makes you feel like she’s sitting beside you while you work, and that’s great. What I like best about this tutorial is the personality and character of her subject.
As she says in her introduction, cats are natural subjects because they’re so unique and individual. No two are alike.
Maine Coon cat lovers already know that these cats are even more unique. From their tufted ears and luxurious manes to their attitude. They’re perfect portrait subjects!
That’s why I think this is Peggy’s best tutorial yet.
Long Haired Cat Tutorial from Peggy Osborne
This a must-have tutorial if you’re at all interested in drawing pets. Or animals of any type, for that matter.
With the Ginger Cat tutorial, you’ll learn how to draw fur of different lengths and color transitions. Peggy demonstrates how to lay down base colors, then add details layer-by-layer to draw thick, long fur. Create color, value, depth and realism!
See how Peggy mixes and uses Brush & Pencil’s Titanium White mixture to add detail. She includes tips for easy mixing and easier clean up.
She uses Strathmore toned grey mixed media paper and Prismacolor pencils, but you can successfully complete the portrait with supplies you have.
Intermediate and higher.
But don’t let the skill level sway you. This tutorial contains information for students at any level. If you’ve found Peggy’s tutorial posts helpful, then you can successfully complete this tutorial.
The tutorial is designed for students who have a basic understanding of colored pencil methods, but it’s also ideal for artists who want to stretch their skills.
Today, I want to take a little time to share a message of encouragement with my readers; with you.
I don’t usually talk about current events here, because that’s not what this space is for.
I didn’t intend to talk about the present situation either. There’s already more than enough talk, and much if it is not helpful. I didn’t want to add to the hype, and I still don’t.
But I’ve been reading your emails and comments, and have decided it’s time to at least let you know I’m getting your messages and well wishes.
Thank you to everyone who has asked about our well being over the last few weeks and who continue to do so.
We’re doing fine and have actually seen very little change to our daily routine (other than shopping, of course.) I’ve been working at home for ten years, after all.
As a matter of fact, Neal and I have been busier than ever despite what’s happening around us and around the world. We’re both old enough to understand that nothing lasts forever, good or bad. The only thing to do is keep moving forward.
That may seem difficult these days, but it’s worth however much effort it takes.
My Message of Encouragement to You
I don’t know how bad this situation really is. I believe very few people truly know that. It’s next to impossible to accurately evaluate any situation when you’re in the middle of it. I know that from personal experience—recent and past.
It’s also difficult to maintain any sense of equilibrium during any kind of crisis. It seems like the situation will never end, and that life will never be the same afterward.
But nothing lasts forever. Not good times, not bad times.
And, all media hype aside, there have definitely been much darker days in this country (I’m writing from the United States,) and around the world. The fact of the matter is that for many people, the Coronavirus has taken a backseat to more personal life events.
There have been challenges for many of us in the last few weeks. Yes, some of us have lost loved ones or have loved ones who test positive. I have a niece, nephew, and sister working in healthcare, two of them in retirement facilities. My niece has been exposed, so I know how that feels.
But unreasonable fear does no one any good, least of all the one enslaved by it.
It’s in response to that overwhelming sense that the world is about to end that I am writing.
Things have been bad before.
You don’t have to go back very far to remember the Swine Flu, the Bird Flu, and any number of other seasonal flu events. It seems like there’s a new one every year.
Go back a little further and you find the Irish Flu and Spanish Flu, both of which were much worse than what we presently face.
Things looked bad then, but they passed and life resumed.
Things look bad now, but this too will pass and life will pick up pretty much where it left off.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
What I hope you realize is that this post isn’t about the Coronavirus. It’s about staying on an even keel and holding course no matter what happens.
Yes. Take reasonable precautions.
No, don’t let panic drag you under.
What I Plan to Do
Take Reasonable Precautions
That includes staying home, but also getting outside to walk and get some sun, washing my hands regularly, and guarding personal space for myself and the people around me.
Listen to Local Authorities
When I want or need information, I go to the local authorities. City and county first, then the state if necessary. If you need or want more information than that, skip the mainstream media and check out the Center for Disease Control for the latest updates in the United States.
Maintain the Regular Routine
I’m carrying on here in southwest Kansas just like I did before.
CP Magic will continue to publish each month.
I’ll publish new downloadable classes and tutorials to help you improve your skills and maybe learn new ones.
I’ll draw as often as I can, and I’ll take care of the family, the cats, take walks, and putter around the yard. I’m even considering some kind of sketching challenge to keep my pencils moving across the paper.
The most important message of encouragement I can offer is to have (or come to) faith.
The most important part of my daily routine is faith-based. On trying or frightening days, I spend more time in prayer, thanksgiving, and the Scriptures. My trust that God was not surprised by this situation (or any other,) that there is a reason for it (even though I don’t know what it is,) and that He has already ordained the restoration of life afterward is all that stands between me and total paralysis.
It’s all that keeps me putting one foot ahead of the other.
It can do the same for you, too.
That’s my Message of Encouragement for You, Dear Reader
What I’m encouraging you to do is be aware of the circumstances, but don’t let them paralyze you. Take reasonable precautions. Behave sensibility. Keep your head.
Peggy has been providing guest posts each month for several months. If you’ve enjoyed those monthly features, you’ll love this new tutorial.
Regal Rottweiler Tutorial from Peggy Osborne
The tutorial includes all the great information you’ve grown familiar with through her monthly posts, and more. Beautiful, full-color illustrations, a full-size line drawing you can print for a fast start, and a complete supply list with color swatches for color matching.
Rottweilers are primarily black, but different colors appear in that black depending on lighting, surroundings and many other things. Peggy shows you how to infuse black fur with those colors to create vibrant black fur.
She uses Strathmore toned grey mixed media paper and Prismacolor pencils, but you can successfully complete the portrait with supplies you have. No need to buy more (unless you want to!)
You’ll learn how to layer and blend color without using solvents to draw saturated color and beautiful values.
Preserve and add highlights, as well as draw whiskers, eyes, and a chain.
In addition to detailed descriptions and illustrations, Peggy shares basic tips for choosing colors, matching pencil strokes to different types of fur, and adding details.
Intermediate and higher.
But don’t let the skill level sway you. This tutorial contains information for students at any level. If you’ve found Peggy’s tutorial posts helpful, then you can successfully complete this tutorial.
The tutorial is designed for students who have a basic understanding of colored pencil methods, but is also ideal for anyone who enjoys stretching their skills.
It’s also suitable for ages 12 and up.
This tutorial is a great start for any artist who wants to become a pet portrait artist, or who enjoys drawing dogs.
Guess what? I’m appearing on John Middick’s popular Sharpened Artist podcast today! How exciting is that?
Cincinnati, Ohio artist, John Middick created the Sharpened Artist Podcast in the summer of 2015. A weekly audio show dedicated to colored pencil, the podcast reaches artists of all skill levels across the country and around the world.
“The biggest reason I started the podcast is to help encourage new colored pencil artists, and provide tips and techniques to learn this new medium,” Middick says. “I was also able to give a voice to many colored pencil artists through artist interviews.”
Middick interviews colored pencil artists who are working on their art in isolation. The public sees their work and knows them by name, but rarely gets to meet them. And they don’t often get to meet each other.
“Hearing their voice created an intimate experience for the listener,” Middick goes on to say. “I quickly started getting listeners emailing me talking about how they felt like they were getting to know the artist’s behind the artwork.”
I’ve listened to the podcast for a long time, and have been encouraged and instructed by many episodes. So it’s a special treat to be able to give back to the podcast and its listeners.
John and I talked about my artistic journey, colored pencils in general, and the artist’s life. I hope you’ll join us. I’ve designed a very special and hopefully helpful giveaway to accompany the podcast.