About Keri Doolittle

Keri Doolittle is an art student at Audrey Bottrell Fine Art & Instruction. She is a regular guest contributor to this site and also blogs at IvyClad.com.

Student’s Perspective: On Inspiration

As an art student, sometimes my greatest impediment to starting a drawing is waiting for some “magical” inspiration to strike– a brilliant idea or just-right, in-the-zone feeling. A few weeks ago in art class we discussed this hesitation to launch into a new piece or finish one in progress. Audrey related her observation that her most successful art students have been those who were not afraid to just jump in– seemingly unafraid of failure– simply willing to give it a try.

Student Susan Loop’s painting of an iris bloom on display in the gallery at B2 Cafe in Springfield.

With that in mind I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that, in regard to finding inspiration, there’s no need to wait for it; it’s literally everywhere one looks. In nature, everything from spring blooms to bits of dandelion seeds floating through the air spawn beautiful ideas. In studying people’s faces and hands I found inspiration too. I noticed while drawing a young child’s arm how uniquely the skin folds near the wrist, and the way the lines at the corners of an adult’s happy set of eyes were similar to the line of the lips upturned in a smile. And while on Pinterest I stumbled across this inspirational tidbit:

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. -unknown

I’m loving the results of not waiting for the perfect moment, circumstance, or inspiration. It is transforming both my creations and my outlook.

Student Spotlight

Thirteen-year-old Abigail, known to her friends as Abby, is a student with an obvious enthusiasm for art. When she is drawing in class, it’s often with a huge smile on her face.
Abby wanted to draw her baby cousin as a gift for her aunt and uncle and decided that last Christmas would be the perfect time. The reference photo that she chose did not include the necklace that is seen in the drawing. Abby found the little girl’s open, upturned hands to be the perfect opportunity for an imaginative addition of her choosing.
   Abby’s graphite drawing of her baby cousin.
Here is what Abby has to say about learning to draw:
Since I was young I have enjoyed art. But as I grew older I became frustrated with myself because I could not draw perfectly. For a while, I stopped and just did no art. My Grandma loved to see my drawings and knew that I wanted to do better. So she began to look for art teachers. One day I was at my Grandma’s house when she told me about Miss Audrey’s art class at Hobby Lobby. 
The great thing was that I didn’t have to sign on for a certain amount of time and I could come when I wanted. Also, it was an affordable price. I am now a better artist because of it. Miss Audrey starts every new student off the same. But after a portrait or two each pupil can venture off in there own direction. 
Lately I have started on watercolor and am very excited to begin another picture. The portrait I did of the little girl was my first since starting lessons. To anyone who is interested, I highly recommend Miss Audrey’s art classes.
Abby’s long term goals are to become a private art teacher and to explore many types of art, but to specialize in sketching, acrylic, and watercolor. And not surprisingly, she says her favorite part of art is drawing portraits.

Student’s Perspective: Color Theory I

patty rios hay bales

Pastel by student, Patty Rios after taking Color Theory I. Patty says, “My first pastel work after taking the CT workshop. I went for a tetrad. I did my value study first then decided on the color scheme of blue violet + yellow orange and red violet + yellow green. I really felt like I learned something! “


Like watching television in black and white and then suddenly being able to see a favorite program in color, the workshop, Color Theory I, seemed to open up new worlds in art from the first day.

I had learned how challenging mediums in color could be, simply by trial and error. While these attempts produced a few happy accidents, there were also many unhappy ones. The color theory workshop ended the guesswork with a logical explanation of the “how and why” of color.
FullSizeRender (3)
Beginning with primary colors, we learned how color temperature affects our perception of an image, and how to create various tints, shades and hues.

I’ve read plenty of material on color matching and making, but it certainly couldn’t go the distance that the hands-on workshop approach gave. Rather than stabbing in the dark to make and use the desired color, mixing and applying paint to make color wheels and color value charts allowed us to experience the performance of the paints and colors first-hand, and the charts are a wonderful tool for future reference.
Painting may be an art, but color theory is a science, and I found the hands-on, technical instruction to be invaluable.

Student’s Perspective: Making Time for Art

photo art courtesy Anna Laero, Flickr

As an adult student, one of the greatest difficulties to developing my art is making time. For that matter, making time seems to be the difficulty with most things– finding that precious and elusive balance between work and recreation, obligations and creativity.

When Audrey announced the three-day Color Theory Workshop, my immediate excitement was dimmed by my next thought, Where will I find the time? Playing back and forth in my mind were thoughts of my mounting to-do list versus the thrill of progressing my art skill. I noticed that with my contrasting thoughts came a swing of emotion as well. While I thought about art, my face and posture lifted, my mind saw endless possibility, and my energy level soared.

photo courtesy healthyplace.com

What if, I thought, following this hobby that I love so much, this pursuit of art, could be the ticket to achieving balance? What if the energy I gain from my artistic progress would propel me through life’s more mundane tasks?

With the reward of the workshop before me like a carrot on a stick, I felt myself breeze through my work, as if the thrill of art was pulling me through to the other end, as my new thought became, How do I not have the time?

Color Theory I will be February 9th – 11th, 9:00 – 4:00 at 324 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO. See you there??


Drawing an Emotional Portrait

I am experiencing the difficulty of drawing a portrait from a reference photograph that speaks emotional volumes to me. All the things that Audrey has warned about drawing people we know– the personal references that distract from objectively viewing the subject– are ringing true as my current work-in-progress creeps along at a snail-pace.

Reference photo for my drawing.

I’m drawing a triple portrait of my two daughters and me from this photo taken by my husband when our second daughter was a few days old and our oldest was six. While I should be judging shape and value, I am drifting away instead with the memory of the feedings that began at 12 a.m. and continued through the night every hour and a half, of hours walking the hall, and the state of dazed consciousness that I occupied for months. As I try to capture the expression on my oldest daughter’s face, my thoughts turn humorously to how her unbridled excitement over a new sister quickly turned to the declaration, “We should send her back.”
FullSizeRender (1)

Work in progress

 Drawing this portrait is a lesson in silencing distraction. And how exactly am I to do that? I’m returning to the basics, to what I was taught on day one of class: focus on seeing lines, shapes, values, and color. This is a difficult project, but I hope, one that will be worth the extra effort.
Student, Audrey Bottrell Fine Art & Instruction
Guest Blogger