Create 6eauty by searching for art you can strive to emulate.

Painterly apple that I did in pastel while watching a video tutorial.

In the summer I usually give at least one music lesson a week to someone who wants to get better at her instrument. I always recommend that she listen to a professional musician on that instrument to know what the goal sound should be.

This summer, I was thinking about that in regards to pastels. I have seen pastel paintings, but did not know any particular style or pastel artist that I knew or liked. So, I decided to search for one until I found what I liked.

Then I found Alain Picard’s work. I originally looked at his portraits, which are gorgeous and very realistic. https://www.portraitsbypicard.com/links# I would love to be able to do that in pastel one day. Then I saw his impressionistic style. https://www.picardstudio.com/landscape I love his work in this style, as well. It’s so happy and interesting to look at. I knew I had found the style I wanted to emulate.

In this video tutorial https://youtu.be/HBSA7d8oRBQ, he creates a loose, painterly style painting of a photo he took of an apple. I had my pastels and sanded paper ready and, as I watched the video, I followed what he did (not exactly every stroke of course), tried to use similar colors, and listened to what he suggested while drawing on my own.

It made such a difference to have a guide. I saw his method, the steps he took, his setup, and which colors he used for different values. It really helped me to grasp this style a little more. After following his video with the apple, I tried to do it on my own with a photo of a pear. It wasn’t quite as good because I struggle with knowing which colors to use, since I am used to drawing in pencil. But I definitely had a better understanding of the style that I want to be able to create. I am happy with how it turned out.

Painterly pear that I did on my own.

So, create 6eauty by searching for art you can strive to emulate.

Create 6eauty by doing some prep work. Part 2.

In my last post, Create 6eauty by doing some prep work Part 1, I wrote about how the pastelist, Alain Picard, recommends to draw a thumbnail sketch to create the composition you are looking for and to understand the values of the reference photo. I decided to draw a thumbnail sketch of my son’s stuffed animal so I can eventually draw a pastel portrait. The sketch turned out really well, and I definitely understood the values better by completing that step.

Today, I finished the next step which is to do a small color study with pastels using the thumbnail sketch as a reference to play around with color. Alain says by using a small piece of paper, you can experiment with bolder colors and can have a better idea of what you want the final work to look like. Alain talks about this starting at 1:10 in this video-https://youtu.be/-xGF0bvI3Ik

Since he recommends playing with color, I tried one with a blue background and one with a blue-green background, instead of the white background in the reference picture. Alain was right! I found that I referred to the thumbnail much more than the reference photo and it made so much more sense to me because I had done the prep work. Here are the small color studies…

Mini (3 1/2” x 2 1/2”) color studies

Create 6eauty by doing some prep work!

I may complete a few more of these color studies before moving to the next step to help me decide on the background color. Look out for my next post which will be the final portrait!

Which color do you like the best for the background? Blue or blue-green?

Create 6eauty by doing some prep work. Part 1.

Something I want to do this year is to draw portraits of my sons’ stuffed animals.

Lately, I have been watching some YouTube videos to learn how to use pastels. My favorite pastelist to watch, so far, is Alain Picard https://youtu.be/Oppww0GLmSo. His work is amazing! I really like his impressionist style, but I also like his more detailed portraits. I would love to be able to do pastel portraits like Alain. That would be so awesome!

One of the things that Alain recommends doing before beginning your work, is to make a thumbnail sketch from the reference picture. He says in the link above (around minute 2:15) that many artists tend to skip this step, but he expresses the importance of creating the thumbnail sketch. It helps to grasp the simple value shapes of the composition and makes your final work so much better.

Yesterday, I thought, why not try to do some prep work with the stuffed animal portrait I want to do. If Alain suggests doing it, then there must be something to it. So, I did. First, I got my sketch book out and drew a small rectangle at a 5×7 ratio. I already had the reference picture I wanted. It was of Peanut Butter, my 3rd son’s favorite lovee. It had pretty simple lines and good contrast of light and dark. So, I drew a sketch, really trying to show the light and dark areas in the sketch. I am happy with how it turned out.

Thumbnail sketch of “Peanut Butter”

Create 6eauty by doing some prep work!

In my next post, I will show you step two of my prep work.

Create 6eauty by learning something new…

Arkansas Black Apple Tree in soft pastel

I absolutely love to create things. Sometimes I feel like I am good at it and sometimes I don’t. But I really like to create either way. I am happiest when I am making something. I get lost in the doing and the next thing I know 3 hours have passed. It is so much fun and so therapeutic.

I am not sure what made me get out some pastels I had lying around. It may have been just because I started this blog this year. But around February or March, I started experimenting with some pastels that I had. I found a few pastelists to follow on social media and some tutorials on YouTube as well. I have come to just love pastels. I have always been a little hesitant with using color. I have stuck with doing pencil portraits for at least 10 years. But after seeing what some people can do with pastels, I just can’t stop thinking about the next piece of art I am going to create.

There are two things that have really made the difference in drawing with pastels.

Paper and the color wheel.

I had been using pastel paper, which is fine, but it will only take so much pigment before you just cannot add anymore color to it. Sanded paper is so much nicer to use. It can really grab the pigment and hold onto it, making a much brighter and less muddy piece. I plan to try watercolor paper next!

The color wheel is magical for me. On a Color wheel that I purchased, there is a grid showing the relationships between colors. In the photo above I used colors in a tetrad relationship, which are four colors that are two sets of compliments. In this example, I used blue-violet, red, green, and yellow-orange. The color wheel really helped me to understand which colors look good when used together.

So the next time you want to create some 6eauty in your life, pick up something that you may have tried before or something completely new. And just go for it. We have so much information right at our fingertips. You can pretty much learn to do anything you want to do if you just put in some time, a little money, and lots of practice!

Go and create some 6eauty in your life by learning something new!

Tell me in the comments what new thing you are learning!

Create 6eauty by showing gratitude!

Donut the Great Dane

When we first moved back “home” to my husband’s hometown after his pharmacy schooling was complete, I did not take a job as a band director, because I knew we wanted to have a child within the year. And we did. After a few years, I began teaching children’s choir at church. The year was somewhere around 2007, 2008 maybe. I had a sweet group of kiddos. One stood out to me as such a great musician, who was only in elementary school. He went on to sing in a boy choir, played in the school band, sang in the school chorus, and became valedictorian of his class. After high school, he graduated from Julliard with a music degree.

My third son started taking piano lessons from him a year and a half ago. After this summer he will go back to New York for graduate school. He wants to compose music for movies. And I am sure he will. My son is having his one and only recital this weekend before my former student/his piano teacher leaves for New York. As an expression of gratitude I drew a portrait of his Great Dane, Donut. I hope he likes the portrait, and I hope he realizes how much I appreciate all he has done for my son!

Create 6eauty by showing gratitude!

Create 6eauty by taking the time to fix things

Valves on a French Horn

I have been a substitute band teacher for the last week and half.

I actually have a degree in music education, but after 4 1/2 years of teaching band, God gave me four boys to raise. Fast forward 11 years–my youngest went to pre-k, and I began helping out with the middle school band where we live.

My youngest is now in 2nd grade, which means I have been helping for five years, so I know a lot of the band kids. Covid prevented me from helping out this school year. But the last school year, the band director had to be out of work for the 1st 2 weeks of the year, so I got to start those 6th-graders on their instruments. It was lots of fun, especially because my son was in that class, along with several of his friends that I already knew.

This month the band director had to be out for 8 consecutive days, which ended today. Those same 6th-graders I started last school year are now 7th-graders and most have grown a foot taller. It was great to see them and hear how much they have progressed.

I have also really enjoyed learning the names and getting to know the current 6th-graders. Oh to be in beginning band again. It is such an exciting time to begin learning something completely new. With excitement also comes some frustration, though. Am I playing the correct note? Am I at the right place in the music? Does this sound like it is supposed to sound? Why will my instrument not play?

There is nothing like being excited about playing in band, or playing a new piece, or playing your favorite piece and then realizing there is something wrong with your instrument. If the instrument is not in working order, you are basically stuck just sitting there the entire class period, not able to participate at all.

As a teacher, it is also one of the most frustrating things to try to teach a student how to play when the instrument is not in working order. Do I stop teaching a class of 30 or more children to take 5-10 minutes to work on fixing the instrument so the rest of the class period is more productive for that one child while the rest talk and sometimes get rowdy or do I just have him/her put his/her instrument up until I get a chance to look at it and go back to teaching the rest of the class?

I have chosen both scenarios on numerous occasions. Neither is good. In both cases, I was neglecting someone. So sometimes fixing an instrument gets put off until the next time when one of the above scenarios takes place again and it is put off yet another time.

Today, however, I made sure to look at a student’s instrument during my planning period. Yesterday, he sat in the class and could not participate because I chose the “help the rest of the class” scenario. Today, though, I sat alone in the band room during planning, listening to and singing my favorite Ben Rector song, Note to Self

(listen to it here–> https://youtu.be/Ymt_kD9xbb8)

while I diligently re-strung the strings on the horn in the above picture. It took at least half of my planning period. I have re-strung horn valves before, but it had been a while. I would string it and then have to redo it, time after time.

But then………….

It was fixed.

The horn that would not work yesterday was now a playable instrument that would allow a child to participate for the whole period. He could now play the theme to Star Wars with the entire class; make music with others; be a part of a group; play one note in a chord made up of many notes–playing inside the sound surrounding him.

There is nothing else like playing an instrument in a group. And all it took was to take a few minutes out of my day to do something about it.

Create 6eauty by taking the time to fix something!

Create 6eauty by being vulnerable

With the encouragement of my husband, I went out and got some new pastels yesterday. The pastels I had were nice, but I had very limited colors. I had no red and only very light greens. So, I went to our local craft store and purchased several sets of pastels, a large clipboard, paper, and some blenders. Today, I practiced a lot! I drew a picture of a tulip, now that I had bright red. I am happy with the result….

Red tulip

After completing the tulip drawing, I wanted to attempt some skin tones. I have watched an artist use pastels for portraits before, and since I am pretty comfortable with pencil portraits, I thought, why not. I looked through some photos of family members, but all seemed just too difficult for me to try. So, I looked at photos I had taken of myself. I found one. I decided to draw a self portrait. I have not done a self portrait in pencil yet. And with realist pencil portraits I use a photo with a graph and also a graph on my drawing paper to make sure everything lines up correctly. Today, I got out of my comfort zone and not only drew a portrait in color with pastels, but also without using graphs. It doesn’t look exactly like me, but it is pretty close. I am very proud of how it turned out.

Self Portrait

Sometimes to create 6eauty you just have to step out of your comfort zone and just go all in. Take the risk to try something new.

Create 6eauty to document places that are uniquely special to you.

Practicing with pastels

Hello! It has been a while since my last post because I hurt my back. It is so difficult to create 6eauty in your home when it hurts to move. Thankfully, I am on the mend. It just took a little time.

We are on spring break this week so I have more time to do things that I like to do. So, today, I did a little pastel drawing en plein air! Pencil drawing from a photo is my most comfortable medium, so today I wanted to challenge myself and get a little more comfortable with using color and my eyes alone. I still have a lot to learn about pastels, but I am pleased with how this turned out.

I have been listening to a podcast called Art Curious . It, along with some other things I have looked up lately, have inspired me to create art to document my life. So many times we take pictures of special events, but not of the normal everyday things. So, I have begun a pencil drawing series, which I will be sure to post about once I have the next work ready. I also have decided to draw things that I see on a regular basis. Take for instance, the picture above. This is of my front yard. During the time when we were at home last year and could not really go anywhere because of covid, my oldest son made a swing for me and hung it on a tree next to our driveway. I have taken so many sunset pictures from that swing. Beautiful, colorful, amazing pictures like this one…

Sunset view from my swing.

Today I thought I would create a pastel drawing of the area around and including that special swing. It was such a thoughtful thing for my son to do for me, I want to remember what it looks like in the early spring when the trees have their new growth and the grass is coming out of dormancy.

So, make sure to create 6eauty to document things you encounter and experience every day! No one else can do that! Only you!

Creating 6eauty with the bread of life

Homemade Minecraft Bread

Today was a rainy day, therefore, my boys’ sports practices were cancelled, which always makes for a nice surprise and a free evening. I had already planned on having spaghetti, which is my go-to dinner if I don’t feel like cooking anything fancy. Most of the boys like it and it is very easy to make. But since I had extra time this evening, I made some homemade French bread that my boys call “Minecraft” bread, because it looks just like the bread that Steve eats in the video game, Minecraft. It really is so simple to make, as long as I have the few ingredients needed and a good chunk of time. The boys, and especially my husband, loved this bread. I did too. I could literally eat an entire loaf straight out of the oven. So, so good! It made our plain spaghetti dinner into a feast. At least it felt that way. Our family of 6 ate almost an entire loaf. AND we have another loaf to make toast or heat up with a slice of butter for a snack! Yum! I know that 6eauty in a house full of boys really does look like good food most of the time.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I got to thinking about how each stage of creating this bread can be compared to things we go through in life. Here is my recipe for the bread of life….

Assemble the Ingredients

Before I can make this yummy bread, I need to have the ingredients available and a good recipe to follow. The ingredients are pretty basic, so as long as I evaluate what I have in my pantry ahead of time and make sure I go to the grocery store regularly, it is easy to have these items on hand. I don’t just wing it when making bread. The recipe is very important. With life, if we take inventory of what we need, make good decisions, plan for the future, follow God, and have a good attitude, we set ourselves up for success. But that is only the beginning.

Combine the Ingredients

Once we have assembled all the ingredients, we prepare the yeast with some sugar and warm water and let it bubble and get a little frothy. When we mix just the right ingredients, something magical happens. It helps to form that yummy goodness inside the loaf of bread—the perfect texture when you bite into it. When we surround ourselves with godly people who support us and we have the right mix of mentors, friends, family, teachers, church leaders, significant others, the real magic happens and it is extraordinary. I recently found a song called Extraordinary Magic. Listen here: https://youtu.be/YEjvMOWxQg8

Mix it up and add some flour

After all the ingredients, besides half of the flour, are added to the mixer, we mix it using a dough hook. Now, this can get pretty messy. The dough hook pushes and pulls the dough until the ingredients all form a ball. With only half of the flour, though, the dough is so sticky that it sticks to everything it touches: the bowl, the hook, the spoon, our hands/fingers, everything! As we go through life, we have to figure out how things work. We get pushed and pulled in so many directions, and it can get messy at times and get us into some sticky situations. But we still have some learning to do, some flour to add. And little by little, a half a cup at a time, we add the remaining flour to the dough. And when we add a little bit at a time, we find we have just the right texture of dough when all the flour has been added. When we go through life (our experiences, advice we get from others, decisions we have made, places God has led us to) each of these mold us into who we are, and give us the wisdom to carry us through to the next stage of life.

Mix some and wait some

Once all the flour is added, we mix it until it is smooth and not sticky to the touch. Then…. we let it rest for 10 minutes. We wait. Mix it a bit more, and wait… mix it again…. wait, until we have mixed it 4 times with resting in between. This allows the dough to rise and grow a bit between mixing times. We can all think of those periods of our lives when we were pushed and pulled in many directions and, after looking back on them, found we had grown in some way. After challenging moments in our lives, we need to rest and reflect on how God has brought us through them, wait for His timing with what He has planned next for us, and learn to rely more on Him in the future. When we do that, we are better prepared for the next tough time that comes around when we feel we are grabbed by the hook of circumstances and pounded against the side of life, feeling bruised and defeated. Maybe we have lost a loved one or we have to make difficult choices with what seems like only horrible outcomes. When we reflect and wait and realize we have come out on the other side of other difficulties in life, we can benefit from the time between trials so much more. Each of these struggles prepares us for what happens next….

Cut the dough in two.

The dough now can be cut into two halves. We don’t have just one dough ball anymore. There are two. It has multiplied. We have children and all the experiences we have had and all the decisions we have made, affect our children in one way or another. They will either benefit from them or be harmed by them. It depends on how well we stick to the recipe or if we use the best ingredients or not. Raise up a child in the way he should go and he will not turn from it.

Roll out the dough

We take each ball and roll it out into a rectangle and then take the long side and roll it into a cylinder. Place the rolled dough, seam side down onto a baking sheet topped with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes. Our lives start out as a well formed ball and over time can be flattened out into a completely different shape than we could ever imagine. When we have followed the recipe, the rolling out is a more pleasant experience than the dough worked by the hook. We have become flexible, moldable, teachable, and can be shaped by our Father to be what shape He wants us to be. We are taken into His hands and he molds us with purpose and the knowledge of what we will become. We don’t fight it as much as we did when we were in the mixer of life, before He brought us through those difficult times. And He places us on the pan with our ugliness tucked in and unseen. We have gone from pieces to a whole. Sticky to soft.

Cut slits in the top

We cut two slits at the top of each loaf and let it rest for 30 minutes. We make ourselves vulnerable by showing others what’s inside-what we are made of. We do this by being still. Listening. Waiting. Being there for the people we love and for the people who just need someone to lean on.

Brush with egg wash

Brush the tops of the loaves with an egg and a splash of water. This helps form a nice crusty outer layer to the bread. When we are slathered in God’s love, we are able to stand firm for all we have learned, stand up for the things we believe and not be conformed to the patterns of this world. This outer layer of protection, love, allows us to combat the insults, criticism, and the harshness of the world we live in.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes

Lastly, we place the loaves in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. We love to turn the oven light on and watch as the lumps of dough turn into glorious loaves of bread. The oven is where God places us in circumstances to show his mightiness and to show how he can transform us from just a few raw ingredients into the 6eauty that we become. He forms us into who He wants us to be, because He is the bread of life.

Eat it!

When we take the bread out of the oven, it can be enjoyed by all those who are present and even packed up and shared with those who aren’t. That warm goodness topped with a slice of butter. Mmmmm. Life is good. Enjoy it. Savor it. Share it. And most certainly, don’t waste it!

Hibernating 6eauty

Tulip emerging from the ground.

Some time last fall, my husband and I went and got a pickup truck load of dirt and unloaded it on the edge of our yard outside our bedroom window. Since we moved here 11 years ago, I have wanted to put tons of flowers on that side of the house, so when we look out our windows we would see beautiful, colorful flowers in the spring. Well, last year, with having so much time because of covid, I finally put some bulbs out . We unloaded the dirt, each of us with a shovel, one shovel full at a time. When we finished, I got the box of tulip bulbs I bought at Lowe’s, and planted the entire box. We then covered the bulbs. It basically looked exactly the same as before. Just maybe less grass/weeds on top. It looked like fresh dirt.

Fast forward to several months and a whole season from then and we see that the days are getting longer and we are having warm days more often. Spring is just around the corner and has kissed this hibernating 6eauty. The tulips are awakened and stretch for the sun. In a few weeks, these flowers will be a brilliant red and I will finally see flowers out of my bedroom window.

Sometimes, we must create 6eauty that will not be seen for a while. Such 6eautiful things like planning a vacation or saving for college, making grocery lists for yummy meals, teaching manners, and so many more things. Sometimes all our effort is at the beginning of something and others may not get the enjoyment of it until much later. It does not mean that it is not 6eautiful, it just means we have to wait. And waiting can be difficult. But waiting is very necessary to obtain those things that are hibernating. It makes for such a special time when the 6eauty finally arrives.

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