Why I’m Leaving Social Media

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.

Why I'm Leaving Social Media

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.

So that’s what I did.

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.

Putting that time into blog posts or the weekly newsletter would provide more and better content to you as a reader.

Content on the blog is easier for you to find, and much easier to update than content on social media.

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 has also been deactivated.

As of this post, I’ll no longer be using actively marketing on Facebook. I will maintain my art page for the foreseeable future and blog posts will continue to publish automatically to Facebook.

But further participation will be limited to when I have time or something of interest to followers and readers.

leaving social media

I have yet to make a decision about YouTube. I’ve never posted a video on YouTube, though I hoped to do so at one time.

I’m also undecided about MeWe. My gut instinct is to quit everything cold turkey, but there is the colored pencil group at MeWe and I have been trying to generate followers on MeWe. It’s a relatively new platform, however, and developing traction there has been a time-consuming effort.

How much better would the blog be if those daily posts were written for all readers and posted here?

Or published in the weekly newsletter?

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.

If you’re a follower on any of the outlets I’m about to close and you want to continue to hear from me, sign up for the free newsletter and you won’t miss a thing.

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 I get 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.

And of course there’s the newsletter.

On the Search for Alternatives

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.

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.

Please share your thoughts and comments below or contact me by email.

Have an idea for an alternative way we can connect and chat? I’d be happy to hear about that, too!

In the meantime, thank you for your very kind support and loyal readership.

Best wishes,

Carrie

My Art is in CP Hidden Treasures!

I have a colored pencil landscape in CP Hidden Treasures Volume 6!

My Art is in CP Hidden Treasures, Volume 6

CP Treasures

Ann Kullberg publishes an art book called CP Treasures every eighteen months or so. The purpose of CP Treasures is to provide a snapshot of the world of colored pencil art.

Artists from around the world submit their best work for each issue. CP Treasures is a collection of the best of those entries.

This year’s edition, CP Treasures Volume 7, features 112 pieces selected from over 900 entries!

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

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!

Now Available!

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.

This post contains affiliate links.

Kitten Posse Update: Two Years and Counting

Way back in May 2018 (seems like another lifetime, doesn’t it?) I first mentioned taking in a couple of orphaned kittens. Later, I posted a couple of updates on their condition. Now it’s been over two years since then, and I thought I’d give you a Kitten Posse update.

Or at least those that are still with us.

Kitten Posse Update after Two Years

Kitten Posse Update: The Original Posse Members

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.

Basil

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!

Basil as a kitten.
Basil as a kitten. His condition in this photo is much improved from what it was when he first came into the house. His good eye has cleared up nicely.
Once he became accustomed to the out-of-doors, and especially climbing and jumping down again, he became a frequent visitor to the second-floor windows overlooking a lower roof.

Bing

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!

Bing as a kitten.
Bing in the early days. Two infected eyes and a touch of respiratory infection.
Kitten Posse Bing Now
Bing now, in one of his more dignified moments. He more often can be seen hunting grasshoppers, galloping around the yard, or lying upside down in Neal’s arms, getting his ears rubbed.

Bob

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.

Bob as a kitten.
Bob was the first and, for a few days, the only kitten. He started out a little rough around the edges, as you see in this photo. But he responded well to treatment and looked much better a week later.
Bob now
Bob is still a bit aloof as an adult. Friendly, but dignified. No displays of adoring affection; he likes attention, but on his terms.

Bud

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.

Bud as a kitten.
Bud as a kitten. Despite his apparent health when this photo was taken, Bud grew up with the most persistent health problems.
Bud as an adult. He looks pretty good in this photo, though his face is a little dirty and his coat a little rough. When he has trouble breathing, he doesn’t groom much and it’s up to me to comb him and clean his face. He doesn’t mind the combing. He thinks he could live without the face cleaning, even if I follow it up with some chin chucking. Poor fellow. I feel sorry for him.

Lou

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.

Lou as a kitten.
Lou as a kitten. The biggest then, though not the toughest.

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

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.

Kitten Posse Pee Wee Then
The vet gave Pee Wee a 50/50 chance of survival when she joined the Kitten Posse. Bad infections in both eyes and a respiratory infection had her sitting around outside with her face toward the ground. Not a well kitten.
Pee Wee is now a healthy cat between six and seven pounds. Once the kittenhood infections cleared up, they did not return. Here she is on the computer chair, no doubt waiting for me to get back to work so she can “help.”

Rebel

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!

Kitten Posse Rebel Then
Rebel came into the house pretty healthy. As I recall, the only reason he came inside was because his three litter mates came inside and their mother had disappeared.
This is the best photo of Rebel as an adult, doing what cats do. Looking for something to catch.

Sorrowful

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.

Kitten Posse Sorrowful Then
Sorrowful and her siblings (Brummel, Pee Wee, and Rebel) were like the younger children in a family. They didn’t get their pictures taken quite as often. Part of the reason for that is that they were over four weeks old when they joined the Posse. Another reason is that I was often too busy to take photos!

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.

It’s difficult to imagine life without them.

Or the experience of tending them as kittens.

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More Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

Some time ago, I wrote a fun post called 12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils. Today, I thought I’d list a few more reasons to love colored pencils.

More Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

More Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

All Those New Pencils

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.

And you simply can’t beat Titanium white mixture for adding bright white highlights to colored pencil.

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?

A Message of Encouragement to My Readers

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.

A Message of Encouragement to My Readers 2

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.

My message to my readers is that few things are ever as bad as they seem at the time, and that there is hope.

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.

Trust God

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.

And keep creating.

I recently wrote a more in-depth article on this subject for EmptyEasel. If you want more specific tips, read 3 Tips for Artists on How to Survive this Crisis and prepare for the end of it.

Because there is an end and I believe it is in sight.

Colored Pencil Art Galleries at CarrieLewis.com

I’ve doing a lot of updates and behind-the-scenes administrative work this year. You know about some of them already. CP Magic, for instance. Among the many things you haven’t heard about is creating new colored pencil art galleries on my art website.

New Colored Pencil Art Galleries

New Colored Pencil Art Galleries

It’s been a busy time the last few months, both on this blog and in other ways. In the last few weeks, I’ve launched a new monthly magazine, a new series of colored pencil class downloads, and started plans for new tutorials.

But I’ve also re-organized existing galleries and added three new galleries on my art website, where I share my best colored pencil work.

The reorganized website now includes galleries for Kansas, Michigan, the Flint Hills, and Horses. No surprise there.

But I’ve also added a gallery for Miniature Art and ACEOs, for Sketches in Colored Pencil, and for Experimental Art.

Miniature Art/ACEO Gallery

Miniature art, and in particular ACEOs, have intrigued me since I first learned about them over ten years ago. In 2007, I challenged myself to paint one ACEO every day for a year. Some of those pieces will someday appear in this gallery.

But the pieces you’re more likely to find there are more than quick studies. They may be experiments, but they’re also complete pieces in their own right. Small studies of larger landscapes or other subjects, perhaps.

Or a means of using small pieces of expensive drawing paper.

New Art Galleries - The Miniature Art/ACEO gallery.
Flint Hills Study, 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches. One of the new works in the Miniature Art/ACEO Gallery.

Sketches in Colored Pencil Gallery

These works are either life drawings or sketches from a photograph. Sometimes, they even arise from my imagination or memory. They’re meant to be completed in one sitting, so are small, and often use only one or two colors.

They also aren’t usually highly detailed, but are still nice pieces deserving of a place in a public gallery.

So I made a gallery just for them!

Tree Study 2019 4, 5 inches by 4 inches. A sample of the images you’ll find in the Sketches in Colored Pencil Gallery.

Experimental Art Gallery

Sometimes, I want to try a new method, technique or tool, but don’t want to try it on a “serious” piece.

Sometimes, I just want to have fun.

In both cases, I use small pieces of paper to conduct my experiments. This gallery is still small, but you may be surprised by what you find there. Even though this gallery features the best of those pieces, they’re not easily recognizable as my work.

At least I don’t think so. You may think differently.

Purple and Blue Landscape 2019 1, 5 inches by 4 inches. One of a series of pieces created while experimenting with watercolor pencils and night-time compositions.

As with all of art, my art galleries are always changing. I’ll be uploading new work and the best of my old work over the course of the year, so I hope you’ll visit www.CarrieLewis.com often.

The Challenges of Being an Artist

Time for another artist interview. This month, CP Magic is talking art with Carrie Lewis, discussing some of the challenges of being an artist.

The Challenges of Being an Artist: Talking Art with Carrie Lewis

Carrie has been painting and drawing since she was old enough to hold a crayon. In the late 1990s, she began doing more colored pencil work, which is now her primary medium.

She blogs regularly about all things colored pencil, and publishes the monthly e-zine for colored pencil artists, CP Magic.

She’s currently in the process of designing a new course.

Carrie is the featured artist for the March 2020 issue of CP Magic, where she talked at length about her art story, as well as presenting a landscape tutorial on Pastelmat.

For this post, Carrie talks about the things that have given her the most challenges as a full-time artist.

The Challenges of Being an Artist

CPM: Thank you for agreeing to share a little bit about what it’s like to be an artist. How long have you been an artist?

Carrie: I don’t remember ever not being an artist. I have a photo of a drawing I did in crayon on the bottom of a dresser drawer, but I don’t know how old I was at the time. The earliest drawing I have was drawn when I was 7-1/2 years old.

CPM: And you’ve been doing art ever since?

Carrie: Pretty much, other than two periods when I stopped. I’d say I’ve spent fifty years (more or less) making art. Mostly horse portraits, but some for myself, too.

CPM: And are you full-time now?

Carrie: As full-time as possible with so many other things also going on. To be more specific, I’ve not had an outside job since August 2009.

CPM: So you’ve been making art more than enough time to encounter some of the challenges of being an artist.

Carrie: Oh, yes! Even before I went full-time, I encountered challenges. Some types of difficulties were the same in both parts of my art life, but some where unique to each part of the journey.

Chestnut Morgan Mixed Media

The Biggest Challenge of Being an Artist

CPM: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when it comes to art.

Carrie: That’s easy! Making time for creating.

I used to say “finding” time to make art, but then I realized that I had the same amount of time every day. Twenty-four hours. The trick was making the time for art by letting something else go.

CPM: Does that really work?

Carrie: Absolutely. When my husband and I decided by mutual agreement to unplug the television set many, many years ago, productive time suddenly seemed to expand. It may not seem like much, but an hour a night spent drawing instead of watching TV speeds up the drawing process significantly.

Even if someone gave up just one night of television, that’s an extra one to three hours of art time a week.

If they stopped TV altogether, like we did, that’s a week full of evenings to draw. Imagine what you could do with five to fifteen extra hours a week, not counting weekends.

Rainy Day on Mustang Ridge

The trick to making the time for art is letting something else go.

The Most Surprising Challenge of Being an Artist

CPM: What was the most surprising difficulty about becoming a full-time artist?

Carrie: It was quite a shock to discover that I couldn’t paint or draw eight hours a day!

You see, I’d always had to work around a full-time job. The job was necessary to pay the bills and support the art habit. I’d been successful painting portraits most of that time, and was able to do one a month around my work and family schedule.

But when I became a full-time artist, I really expected to double or triple production. It would be easy! I’d just have several pieces in progress at the same time. I was doing oils then, and would move from one painting to the next while the others dried.

So it was something of a stunner to discover I had, at best, five hours of productive creative time in me. After that, the battery ran dry. Most days, I could work four hours before running out of energy, no matter how many paintings were in progress.

Creating is a very mental exercise and if you work standing as I did and often still do, it’s also physically taxing.

Christmas Tree-O

The Most Persistent Challenge for the Artist

CPM: What challenge has been the most difficult to overcome?

Carrie: As a one-artist-show, there are also other things to do. Blogging. Bookkeeping. Inventory control. Customer fulfillment. Marketing. It’s all my responsibility. Until I’m making enough to hire someone to do some of those things, I have to do them.

In one way, I haven’t really given up the “outside job,” because I consider all of those things to be my day job. I just don’t have to leave home to do it.

The real difficulty is not that they have to be done. That’s just a fact of life if I want to earn a living with my work (which I do.) The real difficulty is that I so often find myself back in the position of having so little time for creating art.

And I can’t give up TV, because we’ve already done that!

Siesta Time

CPM: LOL, I hear you on that.

Thank you to Carrie for being so open about the challenges of being an artist.

Thank you, Reader, as well. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. You can read more about Carrie and her life as an artist in the March 2020 issue of CP Magic. She’s also provided a stunning and dramatic landscape drawn on dark Pastelmat.

I'm on the Sharpened Artist Podcast!

Guess what? I’m appearing on John Middick’s popular Sharpened Artist podcast today! How exciting is that?

Colore Pencil Podcast

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 am the guest artist for the February 3, 2020 edition of the Sharpened Artist Podcast.

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.

Prismacolor Colors I Use Most Often

There’s been a lot of discussion on this blog about the best pencils to use and the best colors to use. Most of the discussion has been about issues with fading. So I thought I’d start 2020 by sharing with you the Prismacolor colors I use and why I use them.

I’m very particular about the colors I use. As a portrait artist and an artist interested in selling my work, I want buyers to get the most for their money. The idea of selling a piece at any price and having it fade away in any length of time is not a pleasant idea.

The Prismacolor Colors I Use (and When I Use Them)

Yes. I know there’s no way to make most things 100% permanent. Even granite wears away.

But I can select supplies to help my work last as long as possible. Consequently, I’m careful about the colors I choose. They must fit my subjects (landscapes and animals,) AND be as lightfast is humanly possible. It doesn’t matter what brand I use, every color must meet these two qualifications.

That usually means I work with a limited palette. That’s definitely the case with Prismacolor pencils.

The Prismacolor Colors I Use (and When I Use Them)

Prismacolor rates their pencils on a scale of 1 to 5 based on American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) D6901 standards. Each pencil is labeled with a Roman numeral to indicate its lightfast rating. Roman Numeral I equals 1, Roman Numeral II equals 2, Roman Numeral III equals 3, Roman Numeral IV equals 4, and Roman Numeral V equals 5.

I (1) is the highest rating. V (5) is the lowest.

I do not use Category III (3), IV (4) or V (5) colors for anything but fun stuff, sketching, blog illustrations, or anything else for which the drawing does not need to be archival.

But this is an entirely personal choice on my part. A lot of artists whose work I respect use every color available to them, so the final choice is yours.

Prismacolor Soft Core Colors Rated I (57 colors)

These are the most lightfast colors Prismacolor produces. They are rated as Excellent and “exhibit no appreciable color change after being exposed to the appropriate equivalence of 100 years of indoor museum lighting.” American Society of Testing and Materials., D6901 Standard

The important phrase is “indoor museum lighting.” It not only includes the type of lighting artwork is exposed to, but the framing materials used. Proper framing, including UV resistant glazing, helps preserve artwork.

It’s also important to let clients and buyers know they should not display artwork in direct sunlight for any length of time.

ASTM D6901 indicates that these colors can be used on artwork meant to be displayed outdoors, but I’m not sure I’d go that far. Any artwork displayed outdoors is more likely to fade more quickly than artwork in museum conditions.

Fifty-seven colors are Category I colors, but I don’t use all of them. My go-to colors are:

Browns

Artichoke, Beige, Bronze, Burnt Ochre, Chocolate, Dark Brown, Dark Umber, Goldenrod, Light Umber, Mineral Orange, Sandbar Brown, Sepia, Sienna Brown, Terra Cotta, and Yellow Ochre.

Greens & Blues

Dark Green, Green Ochre, Jade Green, Kelly Green, Parrot Green, Peacock Green, and Yellow Chartreuse. Powder Blue.

Reds

Black Cherry, Black Raspberry, and Crimson Lake.

Yellows

Lemon Yellow, Nectar, and Spanish Orange.

Pinks

Light Peach.

I also have a full complement of cool greys, warm greys, and French Greys but don’t use them very much.

These colors are used with almost everything I draw. They produce natural looking landscapes and are perfect for drawing realistic scenes and animals.

Category I Prismacolor Colors I Use

I don’t use all of the Category I colors because they don’t fit my palette, but there are several new colors I hope to try this year. Some of the new earth tones are especially tantalizing.

Prismacolor Soft Core Colors Rated II (26 colors)

ASTM D6901 standards categorize these colors as Very Good, and suitable for fine art uses where the artwork will be displayed indoors. They are not suitable for any work displayed outdoors, or anywhere in which exposure to high levels of UV light is possible.

No direct sunlight, in other words.

There are 26 Category II colors, but my palette is currently limited to about half that number, as follows:

Browns

Beige Sienna, Chestnut, Cream, Ginger Root, Pumpkin Orange, and Sand.

Greens & Blues

Chartreuse, Grass Green, Kelp Green, Olive Green, and True Green. Indigo Blue, Mediterranean Blue, and Slate Grey.

Reds

Black Grape, Crimson Red, and Scarlet Lake.

Yellows

Jasmine

Pinks

Peach.

Category II Prismacolor Colors I Use

As with Category I colors, there are some Category II colors I don’t use.

And as I add other brands of pencils to my stash, Category II colors will become fewer and fewer. Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils include several good matches for Prismacolor Category II pencils, so I now use those before reaching for any Category II Prismacolor. I can see the day coming when I no longer need Category II colors.

The yellows, greens, and blues are used as needed on landscapes and, less frequently, animal portraits.

The Bottom Line

I’ve discovered over the years that I can do almost everything I want to do with Prismacolor Category I colors. Those generally more muted colors are enough to draw most animals and landscapes.

The Category II colors are a nice supplement, but unless I’m drawing a still life (which doesn’t happen often,) or adding bright accents to a landscape or portrait, I don’t need them. Since most of my subjects don’t require bright colors, there’s simply no need for a lot of bright colors in my pencil box.

When combined with other brands such as Polychromos, Derwent and others, the Prismacolor Category I colors provide an excellent color base.

Does this mean you can’t use all of Prismacolor’s colors? No. Deciding which colors to use and which to avoid is as personal a choice as deciding which brands of pencils to use.

A complete list of Prismacolor Category I and II colors is available as a free, PDF download, so you can print it and take it with you on your next in-store shopping list. The list downloads automatically, so check your download file if it doesn’t open for you when you click on the link.

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

Jana wants to know why I switched from oils to colored pencils, and if I’ve noticed one sells better than the other? Here are Jana’s questions.

Hi Carrie, 

These are business related questions instead of technical ones, so if you choose not to use them on your December questions posts, I will understand. 

1. Why did you switch to colored pencil from oils? I ask this because I went the opposite direction.

2. Do your colored pencil pieces sell as well as your oils did? 

Your blog with all its tips and helps is so interesting to me because you reinforce much of what I tell my drawing students. Since I teach primarily how to draw with pencil, it is only my more advanced students who go to colored pencil, so I read your blog to be sure I am not leading anyone astray. (It has been about 15 years since I was active in the CPSA or used colored pencils other than as accents to my graphite.)

Thank you for your thoroughness and clarity. 

Blessings, Jana

Thank you for your question, Jana. I don’t mind answering business questions at all.

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

Why I Switched from Oils to Colored Pencils

I’ve addressed this subject more than once in the past, including a similar question earlier this month. But I wanted to answer this question because it also includes a question about sales.

And every artist trying to turn their artwork into money wants to know about sales!

I switched from oil painting to colored pencils for two main reasons, with about twenty years between the the first reason and the second.

Chapter 1: Convenience

For over forty years, I painted portraits of horses. I was an oil painter because that’s the medium I learned as a preteen and teen. By the time I sold my first portrait at 17-years-old, I’d already been painting for several years. Continuing to oil paint was never a question. I often told people I’d retire when I fell face down in my palette!

Image by Katya36 from Pixabay

Part of my marketing strategy (if you care to use such lofty terms) was attending horse shows and trade shows. Michigan hosted two big shows every year. The Lansing Stallion Expo in March and the North American Horse Spectacular in Novi every November. For many years, I attended both with a collection of paintings and drawings, but my primary goal was lining up portrait work.

I saw artists working at those shows and thought it would be cool, but oil paints are such a nuisance to travel with. They pack all right if you don’t take everything in the studio, but working on a painting in public is risky, and getting wet paintings home safely is no picnic either.

So in the 1990s I started looking for another medium that traveled better. I wanted something that could produce oil painting-like results, high levels of detail, gorgeous color, AND was easy to transport and use on location. Pastels were out because I’d already tried those and disliked them, so colored pencils were the only choice.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I intended to continue oil painting. Colored pencils gave me a second medium to offer clients, but I really preferred to work in oils.

Most clients chose oils, but some preferred colored pencils. One couple even opted for watercolor colored pencils. Talk about a step outside my comfort zone!

Chapter 2: Changing Focus

Eventually, portrait work tailed off. I think the move to Kansas had a lot to do with that. Most of my clients were from Michigan and I had been active with the Michigan Harness Horseman’s Association since the second year it hosted a benefit art auction. Many clients purchased their first portraits there and some of them became repeat customers.

Kansas isn’t that far away from Michigan, but it was too far to make the trip to the MHHA auction every January. I continued participating, but by long distance. Then they canceled the auction.

After that, it didn’t seem to matter what I did, I couldn’t sell a portrait to save my life. The last portrait was completed in 2016. An oil portrait for which there’s a moving story. But still the last portrait.

Back then, colored pencils were just starting to catch on, thanks to adult coloring books. I enjoyed them. They were a lot easier to manage in my studio (which is one corner of what should be the dining room,) and they were still portable. My husband played in the Wichita Community Band and I could take pieces to work on during weekly practices.

So colored pencils became my primary medium.

Long Story Short

(I know. Too late for that, isn’t it?)

A decision that began as a matter of convenience became a matter of finding a marketing niche twenty years later. Simple as that.

I haven’t completely given up on oil painting. I still love the process, the colors, the results, and even the smells. But let’s be honest. With cats and kittens in the house, it just doesn’t make sense to try oil painting!

Maybe some day I’ll get back to it.

That’s why I switched from oils to colored pencils. Now about selling original art….

Oil Painting Versus Colored Pencils in Art Sales

The other part of Jana’s question is about sales. Have I noticed one medium outselling the other?

The cold hard truth is that my originals aren’t selling. At all. Any of them.

It’s been a couple of years since I sold original work and those were mostly ACEOs through eBay. Most of those were oil paintings, but mostly because that’s what most of my ACEOs were.

Why I switched from oils to colored pencils.
Even though my primary focus is now teaching colored pencils, I do have a website dedicated to marketing original artwork and promoting portrait work. In both oils and colored pencils.

Now, before you begin feeling sad for me, let me add that my work doesn’t sell because, quite frankly, I don’t market it!

Yes, I have a website dedicated to my original art, but the main focus of my studio business is teaching and that’s the bulk of marketing energies go.

If I spent just half the time marketing original art that I do marketing this blog, I’d probably have sales.

And then I could answer your question more positively!