Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2015

Embracing failure, starting again

For Christmas, my husband gave me the set of Andrew Davies' film adaptation of  Little Dorrit .  I have never read the lengthy book by Charles Dickens. But I love the BBC version, starring Claire Foy, Matthew McFayden, Andy Serkis, and a large and excellent supporting cast. In this work, Charles Dickens spun a complex tale of interwoven lives affected by the rise and fall of their financial situations.  Dickens indicted such contemporary subjects as English bankruptcy law and debtors prisons as well as ancient themes like greed , waste, and contempt for the plight of the helpless.  The author's own father spent a brief time in the Marshalsea debtors prison described so aptly in the book.  The experience haunted him for the rest of his life. Toward the end of the story, a protagonist, Arthur Clennam, finds himself in the Marshalsea .  As the chief financial officer of a partnership, he has invested everything in a Ponzi scheme that collapses.  Clennam hates himself

Latest sketches + art books

Just a few sketches from the last week or so.  I created these while listening to two art books on Audible. The first book I've been listening to is The Art Thief  by Noah Charney . Each chapter seems to introduce a ceaseless new series of characters.  At first, I found the book rather entertaining.  However, I had to give up this novel after a couple of train wrecks in descriptive word choice. Next, I chose Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi.  This story is true, and Ken Perenyi still paints and sells exquisite (and genuine) works in Florida.   This book is an interesting study in getting to know people who can have a major influence over your life and your career.  I would love to visit Perenyi's gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida.  To find out more about his work, check out the book or read this article from The New York Times . Merry Christmas!

Kandinsky-inspired student project on Skillshare

I am one proud teacher today because one of my students has completed her first-ever Kandinsky-inspired painting in my Skillshare class .  Here is Aura's painting: She came up with her own ideas about pairing colors and shapes.  My favorite part of her painting is the left side, in the middle of the paper.  It looks like there is an abstract girl with glasses and pigtails peeking out from behind the shapes. I am encouraging my students to put their personal touch on the paintings.  Kandinsky had very precise ideas about color and shape theory.  He called circles "dull," and said they should be blue .  He thought more "dynamic" shapes like triangles needed brighter colors like yellow .  This came from his book called Concerning the Spiritual in Art . He also gave his students at the Bauhaus School a test that asked what colors they associated with certain shapes. To learn more about Kandinsky and other artists who taught at the Bauhaus school, check ou

Support Artists in your Holiday Gift-Giving

Every year during the holidays, I purposefully purchase gifts that benefit artists , and I encourage you to do this, too.  My gift recipients appreciate the time and care I took to find something that fits their style, talent or interests.  And I feel good knowing that in a small way, my purchase supported a master artist who brought something beautiful into the world. Let me share my holiday list  of jewelry , children's books , sweets , and cookbooks with you this year. Jewelry I find myself clicking the "heart" button on so many of Silvana Sagan 's gorgeous jewelry creations.  If you have a someone on your list who loves Bohemian or mixed metal looks, then you need to check out her Etsy shop . Children's Picture Books Who doesn't want to sit by the fireplace, curled up with a good book this winter?  My children, who are now 12 and 4, still love to read these richly illustrated books by Laurel Long .  Check out her online portfolio

Letter from Greg the Virtuous

This is possibly the best art collector/artist correspondence ever. As y'all know, I produce a series for Artomat called Little Inspirations . A keen art collector, Greg from Vancouver, happened to purchase one of these little gems in Hawaii. After Thanksgiving, he was kind enough to send me a note. (You can enlarge the emails below by clicking on them.) Greg also sent pictures of the particular Little Inspiration that he purchased: Here it is, prominently displayed in his home. And here, it is displayed alongside his bed, possibly to bring him the joy of reclaimed virtue, fresh each morning. This letter was amazing, and I really appreciated the fact that Greg was connecting with the art on a deeper level. Here is my response to Greg below. It is entirely possible that next, Greg the Virtuous responded to me with details of how he originally lost his virtue, but I must defer to the Ann Landers in all of us and draw the curtain at this

DIY Handbag Design: Wings

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had some quality art + design time.   You know what that means: (*wink, wink*) I painted something. I wanted to use my wings sketch on a handbag. So I broke out one of my Thirty-One purse skirts, and promptly began altering it. Because of its length, this grey purse skirt was perfect for the job. First, I sketched my design on the bag in pencil. Then I used a black Pentel gel roller for fabric to trace my design. The fabric has less cotton content than that of a canvas bag.   That just meant that I occasionally had to clean little fuzz bits   off the point of my pens.  I love my Posca fabric pens .   Originally, I was not planning to use the white marker,  but my daughter talked me into it. Time to put the skirt back on the purse! I enjoyed this project.  One challenge was finding wings that were appropriate for the size requirements.  Through my sketching, I learned that it's

Simple Pleasures of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but its universal themes of family love and togetherness resonate across cultures.  I hope that this weekend, you can take a break from the fast pace of life, and, in the quiet moments , enjoy life's simple pleasures . Much love, Nicole

Inspiring Artists: Focus on Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Crunchy leaves underfoot, tiny acorns hitting the ground, showstopping color displays in fiery hues.  It's nature's last "hoorah" before settling down for a long winter's rest. Here's just a sample of Fall 's beauty from the North Carolina mountains.  My college minister, Cherrie, spread these gorgeous, enormous leaves on her windshield after a recent hike.  (Thanks for letting me borrow the photo, Cherrie!) Another simple pleasure that I enjoy especially at this time of year is the work of artists who use Fall as their muse. It's not easy for an artist to capture the explosive color displays and ephemeral beauty of Autumn.  I gathered a small sampling of the work of these creative people here for you to enjoy, too.  So, grab a cup of hot cocoa and take a moment for yourself to enjoy the essence of Fall before the cold winter winds drive it away. Here is a quick sampling of artists who find their muse in Fal

Inspiring Artists: 3 artists "discovered"

When I come across artwork that makes my heart sing, I want to share with all of you. Instagram Discovery:  Erik Davis In the last few weeks, I have fallen in love with the work of three artists.  Two of them I have recently "met" over social media and (that wondrous creation) the internet.  One of them is an old friend who has teamed up with me to sketch at least monthly at our local Barnes & Nobles Cafe.  (Do you love Starbucks as much as I do?  I think our friends and families are starting to wonder if it was really necessary that we meet at the Cafe to sketch. *wink wink*)  I follow a LOT of talented artists on Instagram, and one of those is Erik Davis .  You can follow his insta account also at  @sketchererik .  Recently, I bought (for a great price) his new holiday cards. If this poignant watercolor painting doesn't get you in the mood for the holidays, then I don't know what will!  Contact Erik through his website to order your cards , too. (

Spooky fonts, y'all!

Last night after Trick or Treating, our family watched The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells' film from 1933.  I often sketch while we watch movies, and this one got me in the mood for spooky typography . Along the way, I noticed that Alex had found my sketchbook again, and added his own scary ghost (below).   Alex's ghost has black gloves. Even Clarice has decided to hijack my sketchbook by surreptitiously adding her own message.  "Yasssss, Work it! Sassy YOLO," all comes from her. (*sigh*) I hope your Halloween was spookalicious, entertaining, and full of artsy inspiration.

My Skillshare class is live!

If you have been thinking of a way to push your imagination and creativity to new boundaries, then why not enroll in my online abstract art class?  You can enroll for free with this link: I’m excited to announce that I’ve just released my first class on Skillshare,  Abstract Art with a Twist:  Personalize a Modern Masterpiece . I want to invite you, my art enthusiast friends, to enroll for free with by   clicking here .  If you have wanted to push your imagination and creativity to new boundaries, then why not enroll in this online abstract art class?   Your enrollment will take one minute, is totally free, and will help my class gain some traction. My goal is to reach 25 students and 5 reviews by next Saturday.  The total video time is less than 30 minutes.  If you don’t have time to watch all the videos right away, I totally understand, but I hope you’ll be take a quick moment to enroll and leave your feedback as soon as you get the chance. Yo

Skillshare class launch in 2 days

We're almost there!  My Skillshare class called "Abstract Art with a Twist:  Personalize a Modern Masterpiece" will launch on Saturday, October 31.  ( Happy Halloween! ) Watch the intro video , and take a look at the class supply and resource list . If you are interested in learning more about the beautiful work of Kandinsky, or if you have an interest in trying your hand at abstract art, then watch this space.  I'll post links to enroll for the class as soon as we launch.  (Just a couple more days to go!) Skillshare has an excellent platform for sharing projects and communicating with your fellow students (and with the teacher).  For just $10 per month, you can take any number of classes on subjects ranging from how to launch a business to graphic design.  I will even be able to share some links with you so you can try out Skillshare free for a limited time. I can't wait to see my new students' projects!

Current art obsessions

Artists need other artists to help them stay inspired to create. I've rounded up some spooktacular Halloween-themed projects in addition some gorgeous handmade art for your inspiration.  I hope that reading about these artists helps you get your own creative juices flowing. Fellow Artomat artist Rachel O now sells her "Fabulously Whimsical" jewelry on Amazon Handmade , which just launched.  (Check it out if you missed it.)  You can also buy her beautiful fabric-covered earrings on her Etsy store . photo: Rachel O's Fabulous Whimsy -------------------------------------- Alfred Hitchcock gave us "The Birds," so we'll never look at another blackbird in quite the same way.  If you throwing a Halloween party this month, then you'll need these cookies.  Your guests won't know whether to be creeped out or to give in to deliciousness.  Read the step-by-step instructions at photo:  Camille Styles --------------------------------------

How to choose your personal stamp for your abstract art painting

If you are enrolled in my Skillshare class on Kandinsky, then toward the end of the project, you will contemplate what to add as your personal stamp. This is not a difficult task!  It all comes down to "knowing thyself." (My apologies to Mr. Socrates for paraphrasing his quote.) There is a sure-fire method to figuring out what you are passionate about at this moment.  Take a walk through your sketchbook and you'll see. Let's take a gander at my sketchbook as an example. Some stylized floral designs... with some paisley designs coming from Eastern influences... a little bit of William Morris textiles, with a floral motif... random geometric and Celtic designs... I'm sensing a floral theme... hmmm... geometrically-drawn floral themes... Incan designs that contain both organic (curvy) and straight (geometric) lines... East Indian designs with (shocker) florals... Goodness gracious. OK, I get it. Do you see wh