New Colored Pencil Drawing–Pet Portrait

New Colored Pencil Drawing–Pet Portrait

Several weeks ago, I drove to Boyd, WI to drop off a colored pencil portrait of a black lab for a client. When I went to knock on the door, I was surprised to see a complete stranger standing in front of me. For a second, I thought I had the wrong house! It turned out, the lady standing in front of me was to be my next client. She was a friend of the lady whose black lab (and blue merle) I had drawn. After we were introduced and having seen that drawing, she wanted one done of her dog, too. So here it is: This is “Sydney,” her golden retriever, a drawing in memory of her. 16 x 20, colored pencil on paper. I also included a couple in progress shots as well. I used to do colored pencil drawings all the time back in high school–it’s nice going back to my roots! I start off with a regular No.2 graphite pencil, and then fill in key areas of contrast with a sepia tone colored pencil. The key is to keep the tip very sharp! Then I work my way left to right, starting with cooler, darker tones, and finishing with warmer, lighter tones. Working from left to right keeps what I’ve already drawn from smudging. And here is the final portrait. I dropped it off right before Christmas–my client was happy and told me it looked just like her. Let me know if you’d like a pet portrait done too, or know someone who does! Share Your Thoughts! If you have any comments or questions about this post, please...
New Old Portrait Drawing

New Old Portrait Drawing

I was doing a little cleaning when I discovered a CD that had a file saved on it I thought was lost. It was the image of this drawing here, a commission I did back in 2010. If I remember correctly, this was the drawing I did for a gentleman at my church–the commission that helped bring in the rent money when I was a month behind. I’m glad I found this portrait again–it’s one of my favorites! He wanted to commemorate his parents wedding anniversary–I think it was their 70th, but again, this was 5 years ago, so I’m not sure. This is an 11 x 14 pencil on paper drawing, and it took over 20 hours to complete. I got a really great scan of this drawing that captured the detail and texture of the graphite in the paper. First is the entire drawing and then below that are some close-ups…thanks for looking! In the detail below, we see them at the time of their wedding, along with an image of their church. Below, of course, is the picture of this couple when they are well advanced in years. In the lower right is an image of the family farm. And here’s the detail of that. I love doing custom commissioned portraits like this, where I can incorporate elements that are near and dear to the people being portrayed. When they receive this as a gift, it is extra special to them, to not only have a portrait of the two of them, but to proudly display the longevity of their marriage and interweave them into the...
When I Couldn’t Make Rent

When I Couldn’t Make Rent

Last week, I shared part of my story on how I became a professional artist. Here is “the rest of the story.” Instead of just calling it, “Part 2,” I want to title this post according to the main problem I faced, which at the time was not having enough money for rent. I hope that my experience can encourage you, too, if you are going through a rough time right now. The sketch shown above is a quick drawing I did that reminds me of Job–that man in the Bible who suffered probably like no one else on this earth ever did, except maybe Jesus and the apostle Paul. Great story of going through a trial and coming out on top! I encourage you to read it sometime. My story was nothing like that, but I sure felt like Job when I was going through it. Maybe you have, too. After my sales/service job was downsized during the great recession of 2008, I had made the choice to go into doing artwork full time. At first things were great. Several people in my church asked me to do portraits for them and business was rolling along. And then… My commissions ran out around September of 2009. It didn’t take long to fall behind on bills. We were almost two months behind on rent. Things were not looking good. I thought, “maybe I need to scrap this whole artist thing and get a real job.” However, my wife advised: “You need to do what God has called you to do. We need to fast and pray.” “How long?” I...
How I Became a Professional Artist Part 1

How I Became a Professional Artist Part 1

When I was 14, I had my first art commission, back in 1991.  My mom’s friend asked me to draw a pencil portrait montage of one of her close friends. That started the ball rolling, and I did a few commissioned portraits while yet in high school. During high school, my art teachers encouraged me to pursue a career  in the arts. I took that advice to heart and  attended Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 1996. I did well, averaging a 3.8 GPA, but with the extremely high tuition cost I left after a year. Since that time, I worked in several jobs over the years–dishwashing, ad designing, retail sales, vacuum repair, recycling–but I was always hesitant to do art full time. It was just something that I thought would “happen” down the road when things lined up perfectly, or I got that  mysterious “breakthrough.” Then, in 2008, I was 31 years old, traveling on the road away from home, days on end, working at a fairly high-paying but stressful training/manager job. I was gone so much that my baby son didn’t know even who I was when I returned. On a Sunday afternoon, my mother in law asked me this question: “Matt, why are you continuing in this dead-end job? What is it do you think you’re meant to do?” I said, “I think I’m supposed to be doing art full time.” She replied pointedly, “Well, why aren’t you doing it then?” “Because I don’t know if my bills will get paid.” “What?! And God can’t meet your needs? He can’t take care of you?” That was...
New Painting: Enjoying the Light of the World

New Painting: Enjoying the Light of the World

It’s amazing how fast the year went by. The dusting of snow on the ground, the crisp weather, the lights on the trees, the hustle and bustle in the shopping areas all indicate the Christmas season is here! I love Christmas, but it’s always a bittersweet season for me. Having grown up in a legalistic church/ cult, my family and I didn’t celebrate Christmas until I was 12 years old, after we left that place. We were taught from the time we were little kids that Christmas was pagan and evil. For that reason, Christmas doesn’t quite have the “magic” for me–you, know, that nostalgic feeling that finds it root in childhood–since I missed those special moments: the awe and wonder of the decorations, the preparation, the suspense, and of course, the gifts. Christmas also signals to me the the year is almost over. It makes me think of how quickly the time went by, and some things that I wanted to accomplish, but wasn’t able to get done. And I’m not a fan of winter! But I definitely don’t want to be a Grinch. So, now I’m going to look at the positive side… For Jesus, Christmas is a time of birth. For us, it’s a time of rebirth. The year is winding down, and a fresh new year is ahead, with new opportunities arising: opportunities for business, and opportunities for relationships too. I’m glad my children can celebrate Christmas and enjoy the true meaning of the season. As they are getting old enough to appreciate it, my wife and I are doing special advent devotions with them....
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