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: 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

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.”
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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

Student Art Exhibit and Reception


Art students view the gallery with friends.


Art is a personal expression, and sharing something personal can be scary.  Sometimes in art class I feel hesitation to show others what I’m working on, and I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed the same trepidation in my peers. From somewhere inside, a voice says, “It’s not perfect yet!”


Jenna Beaver with her charcoal on gray paper portrait which won First Place in the 16 and under category.

However, to me one of the primary functions of creating art is to give joy and add beauty to the world, so clearly, artists sharing what they’ve created is crucial to that end.


Elaine Van Noy with her drawing of Johnny Cash which won Best in Show.

I remember being coached in public speaking in school. “Start with people you know”, I was always told. For art students, what could be a friendlier environment to share creations than an art reception with friends and family?


Susan Loop won Honorable Mention for her portrait of an infant.

At our art reception at The Library Station, a chance for students to share artwork and to express the joy of learning to draw was rewarding. It was easy to see the pride and enjoyment on the faces of friends and family as they toured the exhibit. Once again, it was an experience that stretches us past comfort zones and prods us on to greater accomplishment.


Students with their art.

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The exhibit will be on display at until the end of November. Be sure to stop by The Library Station to take a look!

Signature Style is a Journey



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I suppose I held at least a flickering fancy that at the end of six weeks’ time in the Signature Style Workshop, my very unique style would have emerged garnering approval from even my harshest critic– me.

The first hour of the workshop gave my naïveté a reality check. Georgia O’Keeffe, Audrey explained, gave up painting entirely for five years after winning an award for an exquisite, albeit not entirely unique, painting until she was able to emerge with a style now easily recognized as hers alone.
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A few hours more and I accepted the fact that finding my signature style was going to be, at this point, a matter of exploration.
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That’s when the fun began! Looking through the large assortment of mediums Audrey had provided was like browsing a candy store. I felt the joy of nursery school again– wielding a fat brush filled with paint and simply seeing what would happen.

Enthusiasm slightly dampened by the juvenile results, the next hurdle was to once again reign in left-brain symbolism while maintaining a loose creativity. Meanwhile, learning the advantages and limitations of the various mediums was challenging.

It’s easy to get discouraged trying something new without immediately having positive results, but the opportunity to play and experiment with so much new material was incredibly beneficial.
I’m entirely sure the experience forged new paths leaving us with greater awareness, heightened curiosity and a sense for the direction of our personal styles. An opportunity to be guided in dismissing fear of failure and be encouraged to explore new channels is not to be missed! That is success.


Gallery of Talent

This week I viewed the gallery of students’ artworks on display at the Library Station in Springfield. The drawings and paintings are all beautiful and impressive. There are a wide variety of subjects– from still life paintings and drawings to portraits– in many different mediums and styles ranging from classic to contemporary, some with an element of surprise.

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Once I had admired the art for a while, it struck me that I was not just viewing a gallery of pretty pictures. This gallery is a culmination of hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of learning and instruction, and of the hard work of forging new paths in the brains of students who were determined to learn something new. Behind these works are varied moments of frustration and ease, applying and erasing, trying again, sticking with it, having fun, and finally– success!

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Lastly, this gallery is proof that anyone can learn to draw. I was present when some of the students whose artwork is displayed first came to class with empty notebooks and a new set of pencils. Their progress is incredibly inspiring!

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Don’t miss a chance to visit with the student artists and our instructor at a reception held at The Library Station, 2535 N. Kansas Expressway in Springfield on Thursday, October 2 at 7:00 pm. The exhibit will be up until the end of November.



Signature Style Workshop!

An outstanding colored pencil drawing of Miley Cyrus by student Jenna Beaver, age 14
What aspiring artist doesn’t dream of recognition? It has certainly been at least a flickering thought for those who intend to fine-tune their craft. With the knowledge that anyone can learn to draw comes the realization that the art marketplace can be crowded with talent. For an artist’s work to stand out, it needs to be as individual and recognizable as a person’s unique signature. 

Just as a person’s autograph is so individual that it is legally attributed to only that person, an artist’s style can be developed into something entirely recognizable as his or her own. Helping students express that individuality in their work is the driving force behind Audrey’s special series of classes called “Developing Your Signature Style”. 

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Jan O'Neill art giraffe
Inspired by the last “Signature Style” workshop held last spring, student Jan O’Neill painted a whimsical series of animals in which she employed a variety of mediums & techniques to get the color and texture she wanted.
While discussing this subject in last week’s art class, Audrey explained how the blurred lines caused by Monet’s poor vision influenced his highly recognizable, impressionist work. So I have left off wondering whether a Renoir or a Matisse lies within, and have turned my attention instead to finding the voice that my own set of ticks might inspire.
No matter your level of skill, now is a great time to take advantage of this specialty workshop that can help you shape the direction and future of your art work. Developing Your Signature Style workshop will be held Thursdays, August 14 – September 25, 2-4 p.m. at the Springfield Hobby Lobby on E. Battlefield. To register for the class, click here.
I hope to see you there!



Art Class is a Community

Hello, I’m Keri Doolittle, an art student in Audrey’s weekly drawing classes. I’m so happy to have been invited to share with you my experiences and thoughts about learning to draw. I first took drawing classes from Audrey over 7 years ago. That very first class forever changed the way I see faces, and it opened up an entirely new set of experiences that I had only dreamed were possible.

Every week we students gather in art class to learn to draw realistically, but once you’ve spent a few weeks in class, you may notice that while art is the primary reason for being there, there are secondary benefits as well. We are trained individually to see and think as artists at our own paces and are encouraged to develop our own highly individual signature styles, but we also form a sort of community.

Janice works on a drawing of a fox in watercolor pencil.

For some, art class is stress relief– a respite from obligations and technical, “left-brain” pursuits. Completely engrossed in our “work”, we lose track for a few hours of the happenings in our worlds outside of class. For others, drawing class is a challenge– proof to oneself that there is potential within for excellent artistic expression. Some students have a story, memory or event that inspires a drawing or painting. And while there’s plenty of quiet time to be completely lost in one’s own work, it’s during the occasional sharing of those thoughts and stories when we realize that although we range widely in age, and our levels of skill and challenges are different, a common thread runs between us.

Connie with her finished drawing of Courteney Cox.

Anne with her finished drawing of Courteney Cox.

For all of us, there’s a palpable feeling of triumph when we’ve successfully brought an image to life from the blank page. Understanding first-hand the difficulty of overcoming the left-brain dominance in order to draw realistically, fellow students give each other genuine and appreciated feedback on projects. We understand too that each person is most critical of his or her own work, and with encouragement from each other and our instructor, we learn to give our own work proper respect. We also regularly share a few laughs, because after all, we’re simply having a great time!

Learning and laughing. We’re always having a great time!

Elaine works on a drawing inspired by a photo of her father’s hard-working hands.

In last week’s class, student Elaine showed us a graphite drawing-in-progress of her father’s hands, and we listened to her tell the story that inspired it. Elaine’s dad was a lineman. When severe storms brought area power outages, his job restoring power would call him away from home for days. She told about how much he loved his work and how her dad is sure to love this drawing. She already has a touching and apt name for it, “He Brought Light in the Storm”.

Whatever my original reasons were for wanting to learn to draw, I have become addicted to drawing and attending art class for one simple reason: It’s my happy place.