Friday, February 17, 2017

They're Still The Best

It's been a couple of years now, and I'm still using Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks.  Not for any other reason than they are still the best books you can get.

In the chaos of my busy life, I still paint, sketch, and play in a sketchbook at least once, usually two or three times a day.  At every tiny opportunity I take the time to explore and refine my skills.  And trust me, there are many pages I want to rip out, but I just turn the page instead.

I keep a stock standard of four S&B sketchbooks on hand at any time. The Epsilon (pictured above) is my go to on a daily basis.  The Zeta is my preferred book for watercolor illustration and botanical exploration. The Alpha is my daily journal and the place I capture those moments in life, and the Beta is my preparation sketchbook.  It's the Beta I keep color notes and swatches, test pages for larger paintings, and sample or trial pages for botanical works.

And the best thing...the prices are comparable, if not better than anything else around.  It's pure value for money.

Anyway, there's no compensation, not product in kinds, in fact S&B don't even know I'm posting about their book.  It's just in the spirit of great quality art supplies that are true value for money.  And I think we all need a little more of that these days.

Everything you see here was done in a Stillman & Birn Sketchbook.

Have a beautiful week and thanks for checking in.

 Hugs xx

Monday, November 7, 2016

Continuing On

Yes indeed, it's been many many months since I've posted, and for that I make no apology.  It simply means that I have been consumed not only with my work, my family, and life in general, but also with my art.

Taking time out to create for myself means nurturing my own learning and challenging my skills in deeply private ways.  Put simply, there is so much for me to learn as an artist, and much of this must take place in the safety of solitude.

Nonetheless, I do want to continue to share my journey, and I have been posting a lot more on Instagram, and plan to continue now to update this blog.

For the most part, I have been busy with a professional focus on commercial illustration and much of it is not for me to share.  But occasionally I find I can show some things.

Hellman & Associates is a full service advertising agency whose roots are firmly planted in 50 years of world class commerical illustration.  The "full service" agency capabilities evolved as traditional illustration diminished along with the advent of the computer.

Hellman & Associates has probably the richest and most elite roll-call of American illustrators who have ever picked up a brush. Many of which are some of today's most well known artists including the very Gary Kelly.

You can imagine my humility and fear when they invited me to illustrate their 50th Anniversary comemmorative image. It was a deeply honoring commission from an extraordinary organization. To say I was teetering on the shoulders of giants was an understatement. Still, I accepted it, and I presented the finished painting, and I was profoundly grateful for the opportunity.

The image is being used by Hellman for a number of their corporate and promotional collateral and the original of this painting now hangs proudly outside the Chairman's office. And yes, I have permission to share it.

Thank you for stopping by after all this time.  I hope to stay active as I continue to focus on refining my skills and exploring my passion.

Hugs, Dion xx

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Last of Autumn

This past year has been a year of transition.
Many changes have taken place, and I have felt like I have shed many layers.  

I watched a beautiful autumn come and go in the mid-west in a state of quiet transition.
Much like other elements of my life, my art has transitioned as well

I find myself wanting to shut down my own expectations and focus in on the creative elements of flow and joy.  By doing this, I have found my desire to learn, to be the student, has grown.

The colder months keep me inside more, so I spend less time scribbling in my sketchbook and more time using it as a tool of exploration and study.

I continue to love my unique combination of watercolor and watercolor pencils, and I shed the need for excessive pen and ink.

And as always, nature is my muse.

I captured a picture of the last autumn leaves from a tree that sits outside my kitchen window recently.  I spent many gentle hours immersed in the nuance of its color.  

They're all gone now, and the tree is asleep for the winter.

This is watercolor and watercolor pencil in a Stillman & Birn "Zeta" series sketchbook.

Wishing you is for a peaceful week. Thanks for stopping by. xx

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Announcement About My Online Classes

With the coming of a new year comes profound change all around.  This change has descended upon my life in ways that have been unexpected to me.  Everyone goes through periods of deep transition, and although challenging, these experiences are necessary to help us grow into the next phase of our lives.

Some changes in my life have necessitated me taking a break from online teaching. In addition to this subscription fees to some of the platforms I use to deliver my class have increased significantly over the past couple of years.  This has forced me to take stock of my priorities and as a result I have made the unthinkable decision to close down my online classes next year.

I have always taken great pride in my online classes and the fact that they are offered with indefinite access, I know that has been a benefit to all of you and I know that many of you who are enrolled will be deeply disappointed, frustrated or even angry. But I implore you to understand my position and give me your compassion--not your wrath.  

This is not a decision I have taken lightly; in fact, I have been agonizing over this for several weeks and have considered many scenarios in the hope that I can find another solution.

For those of you already enrolled in any of my classes--I have paid my various subscriptions through to mid-2016. This means that my classrooms will remain open until June 30, 2016.  

This gives you a little over six months in which to revisit or complete your class before it is shut down. I sent a note to all enrolled participants several weeks ago to notify them directly and to let you know that  you have full and unimpeded access to the classroom and all the materials until this time.  

If you would like to join any of my current online classes, you can still register. But note, you will have access to them until June 30, 2016, regardless of when you join.

Check out available classes here

I am profoundly grateful for your ongoing support, understanding, and creativity. I have been touched by the many hundreds of people who have passed through my artistic life, especially by those of you who have shared so much of your heart and soul in my online classes.

I plan to continue blogging and participating in various online art forums in the new year, plus I will continue teaching live classes at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, in Iowa.

It has been my utter pleasure and privilege to have been a part of your art journey through my online classes and I will be taking many beautiful memories with me as I move onto the next phase of my life.

With my deepest love and gratitude for your understanding.

Dion. xx

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking a Break

I will be taking a short break from blogging while I focus on my family.

Please keep in touch with me via my Facebook and Twitter pages and I will be back blogging soon.

Hugs xx Dion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Sketching: Quality Time in a Cafe

My summer sketching challenge is done for this year.  A few months ago I set myself a task to sketch everyday and capture the nuances of the Iowa summer.  What a joyful experience it's been for me. The highlight was definitely the time I got to spend with my beautiful daughter Megan.  Every morning for three hours my son Thomas went off to Summer School, so Megan and I would venture out on our bicycles with our sketchbooks and watercolors and capture our gorgeous city in summer.

To finish it off, we sat in our favorite cafe called "Cup of Joe's" in downtown Cedar Falls.  What a joy it's been, and thank you to all of you who have followed me through this beautiful summer journey.

Enjoy your day. xx

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Sketching: Summer Park Studies

Today I'm sharing another page from my Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.  This is a study I did over summer during my "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook" class.  The Cedar River runs right through where I live in Iowa and with it brings a host of natural inspiration.  This week we were sketching trees and I had to add a few geese for fun.

I'm almost done with this sketchbook and I'll be sad to fill the last page.  It's a landscape format and although I've never really worked in that format much, I've loved it so much that I will definitely be getting another one.

My summer sketching challenge is now done, but oh what a joy it's been.  Maybe I'll do a Fall challenge for myself? Thank you to everyone who has sharing this beautiful summer sketchbook challenge with me.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Sketching: Summer Feast

Nothing says summer like a summer BBQ.  We didn't have too many this year, time seemed to get away from us, but of those we did, it was worth it.  This is just a quick scribble in my "Alpha" sketchbook.  Watercolor and Watercolor Pencils.  Sometimes it's the little things!

Enjoy your day. xx

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Sketching: Gentle Pond

This sketch was done over summer during my "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook" class that I taught at the beautiful "Waterloo Center for the Arts".  I remember this evening, a beautiful summer night, lots of Canada Geese around, families enjoying their twilight picnics. We were working on rocks and water and I worked quickly to capture the moment before I lost the light.

Have a great day. xx

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Sketching: Vibrant Lilies

My children go back to school today!  My 9yo daughter is heading into 5th Grade and my little 6yo autistic son finally heads off to Kindergarten..  He'll have a lot of help with a full-time aide and his sister close by, but it's still one of the most emotional experiences for me. Letting this little bloke loose on the world, this precious child who has been through so much is not easy for me, but it has to happen...he's ready.  I'll probably spend most of the day crying, but that's ok, I've earned those tears and I plan to shed them.

This summer sketchbook page was done in watercolor and watercolor pencil in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.  These lilies sat on the east side of my house and put on the show of shows this year.

Today is also my 50th birthday...are you kidding me?? So, in celebration, today is the last day you can sign up for the special price for Mastering Twinks Online Classes (Part 1 & Part 2). 

These two classes are on sale for a very special combined price for today only!

Have a great day, I know I will! xx