Drawn To JLC



January 2018



That Post Where I Show You How I Made This Autumn Illustration

Written by , Posted in Artist Notes, Artwork

I don’t know about you, but I love to look at the sketchbooks of other artists. It is where I can see the thinking behind their final pieces. There is something so inviting about pencil sketches on paper that draws me in to their creative process. So, I thought it would be fun to let you into my own artsy noggin and take a tour of the steps needed to come up with this piece here:

First stepGetting inspired! Some people might think that creative folks can magically sprinkle ideas onto their canvas and a masterpiece is born. Wouldn’t that be nice? However, it just isn’t true. Creativity requires a workout, a sweaty workout with plenty of grunts and cuss words. (Ok, maybe not that sweaty) Just like exercising our muscles, creativity needs to be pushed and fed and coaxed. Depending on the person, inspiration can come from a variety of areas. The following is a list of areas where I can find inspiration –

Illustrated books
Fiction Books and book covers
Favorite Artists
Music lyrics
Nicnacs found around your desk

Of all the stages in developing art, this one is probably the stage most guilty of creating that dreaded BLOCK. Artists (And writers) have been known to say something like “I have writer’s block” or “I have art block” but the real issue is found in not feeling inspired. So, to me, it is important to take a little time on curating my environment to nurture creative thinking. I follow artists who inspire me on social media, I surround myself with inspirational movies and books, I keep my old work available on a shelf so I can thumb through it and surprise myself with some of the things I created in the “long long ago.” And I spend time (Usually in the afternoon during my mental pudding time) pouring over images, videos and getting ideas. Another tactic I use is to listen to inspiring podcasts and YouTube videos while doing my artwork in the morning. I also like to go out on walks in nature and take photographs to be used for future references. The point of this VERY LONG first step is to nurture your creative juices so inspiration strikes more easily.

Second StepSketch, sketch, sketch… A sketchbook is the place where I warm up and sketch out all sorts of objects, figures, and body parts like hands, feet, and elbows, I sketch out animals, plants, aliens, and fantasy creatures. I do studies in my sketchbook so I can learn the details and the ins and outs of a particular subject, like flowers or aardvarks. I think about the elements that I want in a final piece and practice drawing them. I do this by searching Pinterest (Or doing a Google Image Search) and sketching, or painting what I see. I want to know the ins and outs of the subject, what it looks like at different angles, and how it would look in different lighting. I’ve been thinking about actually creating Marquettes so I could have a 3D model available to use for lighting purposes, which would be very helpful! Next, I use a sketchbook to create thumbnails to determine the composition of a final piece. and finally I draw my primary pencil sketch (or blueprint) for the finished piece.

Third StepTracing When I have completed the primary sketch, I like to draw the outlines in a thicker and darker pencil, then I use a light box to trace the basic shapes down on archival, high quality, hot press, watercolor paper. I don’t trace a lot of details because I don’t want the final image to look traced. (If you’ve ever traced over a photo or image, you’ll know what I mean. It just looks wrong!)

Fourth StepThe Graphite Drawing This is no longer in a ‘sketch’ phase. This is the real stuff! So I draw the illustration in as much detail as possible, shading in the darker values, and leaving the lighter values. This stage, on its own, should look like a finished graphite piece.

Fifth StepInk This is my scariest step. After putting in several hours on my graphite layer, I actually take a brush dipped in diluted ink and start painting ink glazes over it. One mistake and all that work is ruined! But no pressure, right? I like the final result of this step. It adheres the graphite while still letting it show through a bit, and gives the darker values more depth, and allows the lighter values to really pop.

Sixth Step – (Yes, there are a lot of steps! I could walk to Starbucks with all these steps… just saying…) Watercolor!! Folks, I LOVE watercolor. Love love love it! So I look forward to adding the colorful touches in this final layer. I use a glazing technique and gradually add extra layers in the deeper areas. During this process, I might even grab a white charcoal pencil to add extra highlights over little areas here and there. Eventually the final product emerges. (Up top)

Final Touches – This is a minor step, but it makes the piece look more polished. At the end, I look around for areas that might need some finishing touches and I go over them with either color pencil or watercolor pencil and finally, I sign the piece.

I know this seems like a lot of steps and a lot of work, but thats the point. All creatives work hard on his or her craft. It just isn’t something that magically appears from thin air. Writers can spend many months or even years working on a book, artists can put in several hours and even days and months in a single piece. The same can be said for musicians, poets, designers, chefs, and any other creative field that requires something to be made from nothing. And I haven’t even touched on the amount of years it takes to be proficient at a craft. I’ll save that for another post!

Enjoy Creating!

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January 2018



That Post Where I Introduce Myself and the Purpose of this Blog

Written by , Posted in About This Blog

Happy New Year, and welcome to my blog!

WHO AM I? My name is Jennifer Caddell, a 40 something stay-at-home mom with one teen, one tween, a hunky husband, and a sassy schnauzer. I have several years of experience working in an educational environment and have a teaching license in both California and Oregon. I’m also highly creative. By that I mean, I have a very vivid and wild imagination that causes me to want to create stuff. I can’t stop my brain from oozing creative goo! Besides drawing and writing for most of my life, I also have a BA in English and put that to good use by publishing two fiction short stories in two different anthologies, I even had a poem read on NPR.

WHY AM I STARTING THIS BLOG? First, I would like to share with you the purpose of this blog. I am currently on a creative journey while I rediscover my inner artist and develop my artistic skills that could lead to the ability to share and sell my artwork to the public. Although I am not currently enrolled in a college program for the arts, I am studying and learning through a myriad of resources and I thought it would be good to reflect on what I have learned during the week in a blog format. That way, if anyone else out there is interested in tapping into his or her creative skills, my own experiences are here for you to read. Basically, I am taking you with me on my journey through my experiences.

WHAT IS MY BACKSTORY?… My artistic journey started during the long long ago, when I was a young girl waiting in her father’s classroom while he was busy grading papers and creating lesson plans. Inside the classroom was this giant, empty surface for me to spill all my creative juices on. (Back then, it was called a chalkboard.) No matter what it was called, it was a perfect instrument for artistic expression and I used it nearly every weekday. Dad would be lost in his work while I chatted to myself about the story that was unfolding before me under a chalky cloud. I would erase and redraw characters as they moved about the board, mostly they were horses, but sometimes I made elf-like aliens, or elf-like aliens with wings, or elf-like aliens with wings who rode horses.

Eventually the chalkboard gave way to pencil and paper, making the whole artistic experience much more portable. With a few copy papers in hand, along with a trusty Ticonderoga #2 pencil, I could continue to create those fantasy worlds when I wasn’t stuck in a classroom after school.

My parents weren’t exactly supportive of my artistic interests, but they didn’t deter me from doing something that kept me out of the way and occupied. I think many of us who grew up in the 80s found ourselves having to navigate the complexities of life without parents always there to give support or gold stars. Any artistic or creative achievement I made was met with an obligatory response or sometimes even criticism, they just weren’t creatively minded. Consequently, I never saw all those hours spent drawing and creating stories as anything more than a diversion. It was a way for me to escape reality and become engrossed in a world filled with adventure. Fast forward to my senior year in high school, I took an aptitude test that clearly stated all of my skills were predominantly in the visual arts. When I showed the results to my parents, the response was less than enthusiastic, I was informed that the arts were highly competitive, very few people could be successful artists, and I should figure out a different path to take if I ever wanted an actual income. So I let go of art as a possible career and didn’t look back for twenty years.

If only I had a crystal ball and could’ve seen how much the visual arts would change with the addition of home computers, Photoshop, gaming, and digital animation!

After college, my soon-to-be husband and I were living month to month in various apartments and even renting rooms from family members. We didn’t have the money to buy art for our walls, so I would pick up a canvas using one of those 50% off coupons at Michael’s and painted my own decorative art, and for twenty years that was pretty much the extent of any artwork I did, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was a JACK of many trades, but an ACE at nothing. However the creative arts always tugged at me through photography, writing fiction and poetry, and other side “hobbies”.. until I turned 40.

That was when my husband encouraged me to create art, not as a hobby or a cheap way to decorate a wall, but to become an honest-to-god artist. It took him nearly two years to convince me that it was worth pursuing. (I’ve never had that kind of encouragement before, so I didn’t think I could take him seriously.) I looked into it and realized how amazing Instagram was for exploring art and art styles. Seeing the works of others and the support they were getting from followers made me realize that art was actually appreciated in many mediums and styles. I started drawing and at times had tears in my eyes because I finally found my ace. Letting art back into my life, I mean seriously embracing it as a real thing that has importance, was incredible. Suddenly all the broken puzzle pieces came back together within me, and I knew this was who I am.

So here is the first post of what I hope will be many. As stated before, my goal for this site is to help encourage creativity, to share my experiences growing and developing artistic skills, to review and take notes of art supplies and books, and to make connections with those of you who enjoy the art I make, along with those of you who are artists on a similar journey.

Welcome and thanks for being here,

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