Friday, December 11, 2020

Holiday Art Ideas

Happy Holidays

Pen & Watercolor
©Jill Jeffers Goodell
This is probably the weirdest Christmas holiday I've ever encountered. Instead of going out to shop for presents, visit our favorite holiday haunts or see family and friends, we're hunkered down. Traditionally, the holiday season is one of my favorite because of the activities--church choirs, cookie exchanges, dinner plans, decorations and simply the hustle and bustle  of the time. It's always been magical for me.

I've never experienced a dichotomy such as this. On one hand, we're trying to celebrate and on the other, we find ourselves mourning. As I write this newsletter thousands of souls are losing their lives and others are battling this unholy medical war. 

While praying for peace on earth and goodwill toward men, we are now including prayers for all the medical front-liners, the people who have lost their jobs and those who are facing unimaginable financial crises in the coming months. This is the year to be most grateful for what we have, although frankly I can't wait to see it go.

Whenever I face anxious circumstances from cancer to political uncertainty, I head for my studio. It's a time to be creative. It doesn't matter what subject or medium I use. I just need to pour my heart and soul into creating something that wasn't there before. 

Soft pastel ©Jill Jeffers Goodell

I seem to enter a zone where my troubles seem to vanish. Also, I try to keep the critic at bay. I just let loose and do it. Surprisingly, it works.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Pen & Watercolor
©Jill Jeffers Goodell

With that in mind, I'd like to suggest spending some time on art this season. Below you will find a list of ideas, along with some websites that may help along the way. Not only is this good for you, but through Zoom, you can share the experience with other artists, friends, nieces, nephews, grandchildren or even the kid across the street. Think of it as your way to spread the holiday cheer.

Sixteen holiday subjects

An angel
Santa Clause
Ornaments and lights
Gingerbread men/house
Candy Cane
Fir/Pine Cone

Soft Pastel ©Jill Jeffers Goodell

Some sites for ideas

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Daily Draw

Years ago, I read the book, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. He talked about the 10,000 Hour Rule, which means to become an expert in your field, you must put in at least 10,000 hours of “deliberate practicing.” I’ve also read that 10 years of experience is the golden marker. That’s interesting because most of the Renaissance greats (Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael), all studied under a master for that length of time before setting out on their own.

10,000 hours is a long time!
Does this mean you have to put in 10,000 hours or 400 days (working round the clock) to get better at drawing? My first inclination is to say no, of course not. But I can tell you from my own experience, the more practice you put into drawing, the better you will get. For example, I’ve been drawing daily since the year 2000. While I was trained on the commercial side, my fine art skills sucked. Thus, I had to go back to the basics 20 years ago.

My work was pitiful. I was lucky to be in England that summer and I picked up the book, The Right Way to Draw by Mark Linley. He subsequently went on to write several books on drawing, and they now appear in a compilation, entitled How to Draw Anything. The book is sort of old-fashioned. The paper is like old pulp fiction books and illustrations are nothing like the glossy stuff you’ll find on the shelves today. But contrary to a lot of publications, Linley offers a narrative; he tells a story about drawing. In the end, it got me started. And that’s the point. Today, I have loads of books on drawing and every one of them has taught me a new technique. As a matter of fact, when I returned from England, I took out as many library books on drawing as I could, just to learn more.

Practice makes perfect (?)
There’s an old joke that describes a man asking another for directions, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The other man said, “ Practice, practice and practice.”  Am I getting repetitive here? There’s a reason for that. You just can’t get better at anything unless you get experience. A person usually can’t just pop on the tennis court and win a tournament.  We all need lessons (tutoring) and practice, even the greatest can attest to that.

And the best way to get practice is to draw daily. But you say you don’t have the time. Yes, you do! You must have 15 to 30 minutes a day you can carve out of your busy schedule to put pencil to paper. In the beginning you don’t have to be elaborate. Just look for shapes and build on that. I’ve shown you how in my classes and workshops.

But let’s review. Always look for the shape(s) in an object. Is there a square, a circle, triangle or combination of all three? As I’ve said repeatedly, you only need to concentrate on three lines (straight, curved and angles) and three shapes (rectangle, circle and triangle)

For instance let’s take the simple pear. It’s really only two circles and a curved line. Don’t believe me? Then, let’s try:

See, it’s that simple.  Let’s try another.

The above construction is based on a triangle and a circle with angled and curved lines.  My intention here is to show you that when drawing, you have three concepts: line, shape and form (consisting of light and shadow). Of course both drawings need further development to be complete, but I hope you get the idea. On my YouTube channel, you can find a detailed example of how to make a circle into a sphere (including  the supplies to use).

(BTW, as for perfection, I like what Michael J Fox says, "That's God's job." Trying to be perfect has usually been a stumbling block for me--more stress, less creativity.)

Cartooning gave me a start
Back when I was about nine years old, my aunt, who was a hat designer, gave me a great book on cartooning. I loved that book and to this day, I still have the drawings. It’s a great book called, Animation by Preston Blair.  Inside are pages upon pages of how to draw animated characters. Blair worked for Disney and MGM. Below is the cover and one of the pages in the book. You can also find a digital copy online at this link.


My only regret is that I didn’t pursue cartooning. I thoroughly enjoy it but life got in the way (school, soft ball, swimming, glee club, family obligations, etc.). I didn’t have me, the adult, to push me further. I’ve learned my lesson. Not only does drawing give me a sanctuary from all the news and upheaval we are experiencing, it also gives me a sense of pride and purpose. Now I do the Daily Draw!

So of course, as I have finished most posts during our era of COVID, here is another list of what you can draw every day for the next month: 

Fruits, vegetables, nuts

You can find all these subjects on Pixabay (wonderful free photos site). Try drawing every day with just pencil and paper. You don’t need anything fancy.

    1. Apple
    2. Banana
    3. Pears
    4. Lemons
    5. Persimmons
    6. Cherries
    7. Blackberries
    8. Blueberries
    9. Pumpkin
    10. Buttercup squash
    11. Green acorn squash
    12. Orange (cut in half; cut in quarters or peeled)
    13. Tangerine (ditto)
    14. Bunch of grapes
    15. Carrots with leaves attached
    16. Pomegranate
    17. Mushrooms
    18. Peppers (small and large)
    19. Green beans
    20. Turnip
    21. Beets with leaves
    22. Corn on the cob
    23. Broccoli
    24. Cauliflower
    25. Onions with roots (maybe)
    26. Garlic
    27. Walnuts
    28. Hazel nuts
    29. Chestnuts
    30. Acorn 

What’s coming up later this Fall?


Tuesday mornings: November 3 to December 1
Wednesday mornings: November 4 to December 2
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$90 per five-week session

Subject: Fall Fun
•Leaves • Autumn fruit • Spiders • Cornucopia • Winter Holiday

Pencil, pen, colored pencils, 
watercolor (paint/pencil) and gouache
Supply list provided upon registration

To register, email: