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:

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

 Sketching Fall from your Window

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Nature Journaling & New online classes in July/August 2020

We should not expect to 
make perfect art in our journals, instead
we should expect some
great journeys. (me)

Nature Journaling: Drawing from you window

Since March, I've been teaching Zoom classes on sketching and drawing. In particular,we've been exploring the nature journal. Up to a few weeks ago, we were under orders to be inside, so we did a lot of work from our windows--both in the house and the car. While things have loosened up a bit, we're still continuing the same journey. Fortunately, we can get out more and take pictures or spend some time observing the real, natural beauty around us.

This type of journaling seems endless with possibilities. Nature itself is filled with a plethora of subjects: flowers, birds, squirrels, fruits, vegetables, trees, herbs, grasses, weeds, rocks, butterflies, bees and so on. In fact, what I've learned so far, is that nature is usually all around us in one way or the other. Even living in a high rise, you'll see insects, plants on your deck (or someone else's) and birds.

Why from the window? Well, during these times when we're supposed to keep our distance and wear masks, it seems prudent to begin from your window. I began this journey back in 2011. It was a dreary winter. Gray, gray skies, seemingly blue mood. I picked up my journal and began drawing what I saw outside my studio window--dating it, commenting on the weather, even going to the Internet to learn more about what I was seeing.

Look above,that's my first journal page back in February of 2011. (You should be able to enlarge the drawing by clicking on it.) You'll notice it's not fancy, just some simple drawings and comments. Although it may not seem like much, when you are stuck inside on a cold winter's day, the journal fills you with a connection otherwise lost.

The next day, I went to my window again and created another page. This one talked about all the birds in the yard and also how much I was wishing for spring.

Then, my curiosity was nudged, well, more like pushed. I wanted to learn more about the birds I was seeing that day. So I went online and found four of them: scrub jay, dark-eyed junco, nut hatch and house sparrow. Except for my art journaling where I use collage, painting and words, I seldom used pictures in my other journals. I was so excited about what I learned. I printed out the photos of each bird from Wikipedia (for personal use only), pasted them inside my journal and then wrote what I learned about each bird. 

This may seem silly, but suddenly my journal was more than sketches, thoughts, paint, words. It became a study for me. I went from subject to subject learning more about what I was observing as well as what I was translating in my journal through art and words.

What's more, I didn't care what my artwork looked like. This was MINE. I wasn't going to exhibit it, try to sell it or even submit it in a contest. This was my journey with my journal. It changed over the years. Depending on my mood, I would go real tight with the illustrations or go simply wild. It just doesn't matter. 

That first year, in April the sun finally came out. It was so gloomy. But to be honest nine years later, I really don't remember the gloom. That's another reason this type of journaling is great because you have a record of what was happening outside your window.
Going through my journals to prepare for this article was fun. I'm amazed how much I experimented and tried different techniques. In a way, my nature journals seem to have been my laboratory. A place to learn, to grow and to relax. 

A few years later around the same time, I wrote about daffodils and how I painted the flower in the journal.

That same year I started to do more detailed studies.

So what is a nature journal? It's really what you make it. You write, paint, draw, cut and paste and just be you.

From start in March, we have studied all sorts of subjects online from amphibians to vegetables. Since my classes are in the middle of the week and during the day, it's hard for folks to take them. So I'm going to give you a list again the may help you get through the next 30 days. Even though we are able to get out and about more, most of us are still being careful by staying inside, so maybe this nature journal challenge will help.

  1. Tomatoes on the vine
  2. Corn stalks, corn on the cob
  3. Watermelon, inside and out
  4. Cherries
  5. Pears
  6. Calla lilies
  7. Tiger lilies
  8. Rose
  9. Backyard tree (or in front)
  10. Tree bark
  11. Leaves
  12. Twig
  13. Fern
  14. Lavender bush
  15. Beans
  16. Peas
  17. Rocks
  18. Pebbles
  19. Water in a glass
  20. Tea
  21. Sandwich
  22. BBQ
  23. Lawn chair
  24. Lounge chair
  25. Ivy
  26. Melon cut open
  27. Bird Bath
  28. Robin
  29. Scrub jay
  30. Bird feeder
Some photo resources
Don't have some of the stuff on this list in your front or back yards, then go up to the following places to get free photos to use:

These are the sites I use to capture the subjects I want to work on. In fact, even if I have the object on hand, I'll go up and find a photo just for details.

Coming Soon!
Want to learn more about nature journaling? Join us on Zoom. It really is easier than we all thought, and you get to see all my demonstrations up close and personal!

Tuesdays and Wednesdays
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$90 per class, per five-week session

Creating a Nature Journal from Your Window
Subject: Flowers

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

Tuesday mornings: July 28--August 25
Wednesday mornings: July 29--August 26 (full)
To register, email:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Choosing the right papers/Openings in online drawing classes

Drawing and Painting Papers
There is a lot of confusion regarding what papers are good for drawing and what are good for painting. Plus, it doesn’t help when you go to the art store or look online and see so many choices. When preparing for this article, I went up to Dick Blick and found 97 different papers. Geez. That’s a lot of paper. Hopefully, this article will give you the basic generalities that may help you make some informed choices.

Paper has several different surfaces that accommodate several different media and tools. To choose wisely, you first have to consider the medium you are using and then match it to the appropriate paper.
If you are drawing with a #2 pencil and taking illustrative notes for later, you can use simple bond paper. Most of today’s copy paper is good enough to withstand pencil, several types of pens, light coloring with crayons and  colored pencil and ball point pens. But by no means do you add water to these pages because they will buckle.

Why? It’s all about weight and texture. While this is probably not the best place to write a treatise on this subject, it’s enough to say that not all papers are the same. Some papers are super thin, like vellum and tracing paper. Then there are drawing papers that can be textured, smooth and weigh anything from 20# (usually bond paper) to 300# (watercolor). There are newsprint papers that are rough, absorbent and fade in time (don’t use if you want to keep the drawings) and even sanded papers (good for pastels).

Weight lb vs gsm
Let us cover weight of the paper, as this causes the most confusion. Paper is classified by its weight, thickness based on a ream of paper (500 sheets). So if you were going to be buying the standard 140# watercolor paper, that is telling you that it’s heavier than 20# bond paper,

Now to really add more to the mix:  have you noticed papers are listed in lbs, gsm or both? What’s that?  In the United States, we use pounds to weigh paper, while the rest of the world using grams per square meters (GSM).

Knowing the difference is really important, especially when you want to use wet materials on paper. If it’s not heavy enough, the paper will buckle. Below you will find a list of papers at watercolor weights.
  • 90 lb (190 gsm),
  • 140 lb (300 gsm),
  • 260 lb (356 gsm),
  • 300 lb (638 gsm)

The general rule is:  paper that weighs less than 90# (190 gsm) shouldn’t be used with a wet medium. Having said that though, you should still tack down your 90# and 140# because the paper will most likely buckle without securing the edges. Three hundred pound paper is sturdy enough to withstand everything.
Below you will find a chart I found on the inside of the Canson XL recycled papers. It’s very informative and something you can use. Click on it to make it larger.

Cotton vs. wood pulp
As we know, especially if you live in Oregon, most papers are made out of wood pulp. That’s fine for copiers, office printers, books, stationary, and such. But when it comes to art, the distinction is big.  Although I do a lot of my sketching and quick-draw art on wood pulp paper, I set aside my important work for 100% cotton (or what’s called rag).

I recommend using 100% cotton (with a few exceptions) for both drawing and painting. Back in the early 2000s, I took a watercolor painting class. I was a novice so I bought all my supplies straight from the instructor’s material list, which included Strathmore watercolor paper. I really struggled in the class because I never was able to achieve that soft, blended watercolor look. It always seemed to come out splotchy.
Then I took a workshop at PCC, and the instructor introduced me to cotton paper. What a difference, the paint just flowed lovely over the paper. The reason the other paper didn’t work was that the paint was sitting on the paper instead of soaking into the fibers.

In time, I learned that I got better results when working on cotton paper even when drawing (pencil, pen, pastels, colored pencil, etc.). I usually use Stonehenge, Canson Edition, and Pentalic Nature Sketch. As for watercolor paper, I use 100% cotton hot press for drawing and cold press for painting, manufactured by Arches, Fabriano and Saunders-Waterford. Of course there are other brands that I can use, but the most important thing to look for is paper weight and what type of paper you are using.

Next month
I’ll cover types of art paper, smooth and textured, including some manufacturers and why I like them.

What coming up?

All classes are now online via Zoom
Tuesdays and Wednesdays
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$90 per five-week session

Creating a Nature Journal from Your Window
Trees from crown to roots

Media: Pencil, pen, watercolor and gouache
Supply list provided upon registration

Tuesday mornings: June 16--July 14
Wednesday mornings: June 17-July 15 Full

To register, email:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Creativity While at Home--Online Classes: Nature Journaling from Your Window

Well, we're in the midst of "stay-at-home" orders. For those of us who don't have an essential job or who can work from home, we've been patiently following orders. That's good; it does save lives. As time goes by however, you may wonder how much longer can you manage to get through another day. I've read depression creeps in because we're stressed, grieving or just bored. Our American work ethic tells us to be productive, and if we can't, we're sort of at a loss.

This isn't new. There have been many plagues and quarantines before. In fact, my mother’s family was quarantined for a month because of scarlet fever in 1930s.  We have a history of people surviving quarantines and have had to face the same we are facing today (or even worse). With that in mind, some of us have even accomplished some rather powerful masterpieces because of it.

Take Shakespeare, it's claimed he wrote King Lear during isolation as well as Isaac Newton, who developed the laws of gravity and invented calculus all because of the plague. During the 1918 Flu, Edvard Munch painted Self Portrait with the Spanish Flu. He contracted the disease, but survived for another 25 years.

Isolation happens in life. Most of us have been rather lucky not to have done it often.  Mary Shelley, the author of the first science fiction work, Frankenstein, lived during “The Year without a Summer “ (also known as  "Poverty Year” and ”Eighteen Hundred & Frozen to Death”). While being confined in Switzerland with others, she wrote her masterpiece. By the way, if you want to take a few moments to learn how bad things were for everyone back  in 1815-16, go to this link. It makes me realize how awful life could get.

While in exile on Guernsey island, Victor Hugo completed his Les Miserables and Freda Kahlo did her first portrait while lying in bed recuperating from an accident. My point is when we are isolated, either through quarantine, exile or sickness, good things can happen.

So of course, as a drawing and painting teacher, I thought I could help with 30 days’ worth of projects. Let's draw or paint:
  1. An orange, apple, lemon
  2. A coffee cup
  3. A toaster
  4. A chair
  5. Your bedroom
  6. Your hand
  7. Your foot
  8. Jewelry
  9. Lamps
  10. Paint brushes, pencils in a cup holder
  11. Windows
  12. Stairs
  13. Pillows on a sofa
  14. A fried egg—sunny side-up or poached
  15. Comb (s)
  16. Stacks of books, using perspective technique
  17. Still life set-up created by you
  18. A hair brush/hair dryer
  19. Your pet (s)
  20. A kitchen mixer
  21. Lots of different breads
  22. A garden flower
  23. Bars of soap
  24. Landscape (cityscape) from  your window
  25. Your food pantry
  26. A bookcase
  27. Draped cloth over a stool or chair
  28. Water running from faucet (hint: take a photo)
  29. A finger nail
  30. A hat
Share with me your pieces if you like. Have a great month of May. Hang in there; we WILL get through this!

What coming up?

All classes are now online via Zoom
Tuesdays and Wednesdays
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
$90 per five-week session

Creating a Nature Journal from Your Window

Media: Pencil, pen, watercolor and gouache
Supply list provided upon registration

Tuesday mornings: May 5-June 2
Wednesday mornings: May 6-June 3 Full

To register, email:

One more thought...
Interesting article from Reader’s  Digest:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Online classes begin in May

Classes to migrate to online in May

Hope all of you are feeling okay and taking every precaution to stay well. I even made my own face mask (with felt liner) when they flew off the shelves.

Since we had our house up for sale (not anymore though) with plans to move out of the area, I was going to go online to teach my classes and workshops.  During the past month, I’ve been working with a core group of students who volunteered to help me toward this effort. Because of the virus, we decided to stop meeting in person and use Zoom to hold our classes. We had our first this Wednesday and it worked seamlessly. In fact, there seemed to be no difference in our social interaction and it became a nice break for everyone.

The plan
Right now we are up and running in the Wednesday class. I will be re-opening the Tuesday class in May. We will meet (via Zoom)  from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., study all forms of drawing (except charcoal) for $90 per five-week session or $18 a class. There is a minimum of four students and a max of 10, a limit to the US (International can come later) and eventually an offer for more drawing and painting classes on different days of the week. Workshops will follow.I want the classes to be smaller at first and then increase in size later.

·        The classes
All the classes and workshops will be taught in real time, totally live, no recordings. Here is my tentative format:
  •  Everyone joins the meeting via Zoom (it doesn’t cost you to use Zoom)
  • Meeting and  greeting--waiting for the whole group 
  • Class is called to order
  • Review of last week’s assignment
  • Introduction of the drawing technique and subject
  • Demonstration of both if necessary
  • About two hours of drawing with my help. Questions and advice can be asked here.
  • Show your work  with possible critique (if you want).
  • Next week’s subject will be discussed 
  • Photos are uploaded on my cloud for you to download—but you are encouraged to do the project in class. Most people don’t finish all their work in class anyway, so that’s usually the homework.
Why not start the online classes immediately? Maybe?
I still have some things to accomplish and don’t want to offer something to my students that hasn’t been totally thought out. However, if I have enough people interested, I can always be persuaded to try it earlier than May. Let me know:

Here’s a sample.Along with me seeing you and you seeing me, I am able to give you a very good demonstration(s) in class. Here’s one I have recorded.

Want to learn more? 
Contact me through email: