Friday, March 20, 2015

A Review: Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces


The following is my review of Pam Carriker's latest book, supported by photos from my own sketchbook and art journal as I begin my portraiture journey.

"Creating portraits can often be a daunting proposition, even to the seasoned artist. Folks who can draw a still life or paint a landscape can find the human face much more challenging. But artists are drawn to the human face as a subject to draw and paint, so they seek guidance along their journey. Pam Carriker's book offers that guidance in a thorough and unique manner. Pam covers the essentials with her face mapping technique that breaks the face into regions and makes feature placement so much more manageable. She addresses multiple angles of the face, including side view and three-quarter view, and also focuses on each facial feature in depth.


Pam also guides the reader through lessons in color theory in a very practical and purposeful manner as it relates to the study of portraits; additionally, this information will also be helpful in a variety of creative exercises. The fifteen mixed media projects included in this book cover a wide range of techniques and materials; something to satisfy every learner, no matter what their skill level. It is very clear that Pam has an impressive working knowledge of a multitude of techniques and materials. She exposes the reader to new materials, but at the same time offers alternative, more common materials which can be substituted in the same project; thereby you can venture into the world of new materials or use those that you already have on hand. The techniques you’ll learn will be applicable in a variety of mixed media projects, so although taught in regard to portraits, there will be carry-over to any number of projects.


Throughout this book, the text is conversational and easy to follow, as if a friend were sitting by your side guiding you through lessons and projects. Helpful step-by-step color photos fully support each project. A sampling of pages are devoted to portraits and insights from a variety of artists. These segments add to, but in no way overtake the book; it is 99% Pam Carriker, which is what the reader wants. Pam’s book goes far beyond the basics of learning to draw a face. So if you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, there is much to gain from this excellent book; it has something for everyone...and then some!"

© Nancy Lefko

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Documented Life Project-The Journal-Week 11

March's theme for The Documented Life Project - The Journal is ""Making Your Mark: Doodles & Mark-Making" with this week's art challenge, "Borders" and the journal prompt, "Borderline, Feels Like I'm Going to Lose My Mind."

Did you ever have one of those journal spreads that was just so much fun to create? Well, this was one of those. It started out, unremarkably, with an acrylic wash over various pages of text.


With the addition of aqua and some burnt sienna around the edges it turned into what's one of my favorite color combinations.


When the mark-making and doodling began, this page took off as one of the more enjoyable to create. I love symmetry. I love patterns. I love the Pam Carriker sheer acrylics which make great dots and lines via a bingo dauber bottle. I love my new Signo Uniball white gel pen. All in all, lots to love about the making of this spread!


Although the journal prompt was a line from a Madonna song, I preferred to reference a line from a band more to my liking. I have very fond memories of The Eagles album, "On the Border" and many a junior high day spent listening to its great songs, the title track included.


My, that was a fun afternoon of art journaling!

© Nancy Lefko

Monday, March 9, 2015

Winter Art Journal From Start to Finish


Creating an art journal following Pam Carriker's journal-making directions from "Art at the Speed of Life," has proven to be quite the enjoyable undertaking.

Before the autumn gave way to winter, I headed outside with my gathered supplies and added color and design elements to sheets of 90 lb. watercolor paper, then turned those sheets of paper into a journal with a simple pamphlet stitch.


As I worked in my 6 x 6 journal at my art desk, I need only look out the window to feel inspired by the winter scene developing daily.


Some days there was quite a snowstorm swirling just outside the glass and it only made the mood inside that much cozier.


This winter, more harsh than usual, called for many a school closing. I took advantage of those 'snow days' to play in my journal; after all, snow days are meant for fun.


Long about the end of February, my patience with the bitter cold and snowstorm after snowstorm began to wear thin. My pages took on a decidedly different feel at that point, as I was anxiously awaiting the END of winter rather than reveling in its beauty.


A lovely gift from a dear friend included some wonderful wrapping paper and tissue and both found their way into my journal.


Carving a snowflake stamp had been my plan since starting the journal, but it took almost until the end before I actually got it done. I'm happy that I took the time to carve the stamp; what would a winter art journal be without a snowflake stamp?


As I finished up the last few pages of my winter journal, I must confess, I was really thinking more about the coming spring. I did, however, enjoy looking back over all the winter-themed pages and reflecting on the past few months.


© Nancy Lefko

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Documented Life Project-The Journal-Week 9

February's theme for The Documented Life Project - The Journal is "Layers You Will Love!" with this week's art challenge, "Using at Least Five Layers" and the journal prompt, "Give Me a High Five."

The past two weeks my journal pages have been a little too busy for my taste, so this week I made a conscious effort to create a simpler spread.

Layer one was created with various papers, torn and adhered to the journal. Layer two was a wash of acrylic paint; ivory, aqua and burnt sienna...a favorite combination, and one I find rather calming.


Layer three consisted of mark-making with ink through punchinella and bottle-cap printing with acrylic paint.


With layers four and five I added pieces of vintage dictionary pages and printed on top with star shaped punchinella.


The final layers include FIVE collaged and outlined birds on a HIGH wire; numbered of course, and some rubber stamping of the word and numeral five.


I'm happy with the end result. Not too busy; feels calm; more my style. Thanks for visiting.

© Nancy Lefko

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Documented Life Project-The Journal-Week 7

February's theme for The Documented Life Project - The Journal is "Layers You Will Love!" with this week's challenge, "Cover Up Good Stuff" and the prompt, "Going Undercover."

My initial layer was coated with red and pink from Inktense blocks, then bubble wrap and heart-shaped punchinella designs were added. Already this page was not typical for me...I RARELY use red & pink as a color scheme for a journal spread; but it IS St. Valentine's Day, so "when in Rome..."


Stamping fleur-de-lis with a foam stamp was the next layer.


Next up, tissue and a little bit of doodling around the fleur-de-lis.


Now comes the part where I'm covering up much of the artful goodness I created so far. I used tissue from a special Valentine's Day gift. (Thank you, Miss E.)


A little collage work further covers what lies beneath.


The finished page is really a departure for me. Not only a very different palette, but far busier than my usual spread. But, hey, I was up for the challenge. How did I do?


© Nancy Lefko

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Documented Life Project-The Journal-Week 6

February's theme for The Documented Life Project - The Journal is "Layers You Will Love!" with this week's challenge, "When Not to Stop" and prompt, "Don't Stop til You Get Enough!"

No one has to tell me twice to use layers...the more, the better. Layers are what my journal pages are all about. In fact, one of my articles for Art Journaling Magazine was entitled, "Seamless Layers." I like to create layers that work so well together that you cannot discern where one layer stops and another begins.

I began this week's spread with a variety of papers


followed by an application of Pam Carriker's sheer acrylics.


Design elements were added with floral decorative napkins


and rubber stamped images. I always enjoy that serendipitous moment when something from the background can work as a focal element in the completed journal page. Such was the case with a couple of the words from my initial layer of papers.


A dry brush application of cream colored paint brought a subtle quality to the page and again, as a pleasant surprise, worked well with my theme of layers of snow.


The page was finished off with a layer of text, mark-making with paint & markers, and lastly ink around the edges.


As you pass your time through the remaining weeks of winter, and its accompanying snowstorms, grab your art journal and brighten up your day!

Thanks for visiting.

© Nancy Lefko