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.

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

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.



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.

Portrait Process for Watersoluble Graphite



I have recently begun to explore with watersoluble graphite and I like what it can do! There are both watersoluble graphite pencils and graphite sticks.  If you are accustomed to lots of little detail, you may be put off with the graphite sticks that look like a really large crayon.  You can sharpen them to a point, but I didn’t want to take the time and I didn’t want to waste an ounce of the graphite which I could save and use as a powder.

Using an illustration board, I began to draw out the basics and started shading rather loosely with cross hatching.  It is important to establish your values early and I like to start with the darkest ones first.  After some of the graphite had been applied, I took a 4 inch brush, dipped in water and swiped across the portrait.  The goal was to establish a wash, but if you over work it, the graphite will disappear.

The process continues as I add more values and apply some water or not until I come to the finished portrait.  I like that I can get detailed where I want detail and leave other areas loose and free.  I also enjoyed applying the graphite quickly and loosely because the water blended it.  The beauty of this product is that it is graphite and when it dries, you can still erase it!!!


New Paintings and New Exhibits!

Reflections in Living Color

Exhibit at the Library Station 2535 N. Kansas Expressway, Springfield, MO

September – November 30th

It’s been a long time coming!  For years I have wanted to venture into another realm of art, just for my own pleasure.  Over this last year I have been working on a new series of paintings I’ve titled “Reflections”.  I am moved by the energy of the colors and the reflections created.  This series is still a work in progress as I continue to go deeper into this subject and be engulfed by the colors as they play off one another and study how the texture changes from the surface of the objects to the reflected surfaces.

You can view my Reflections Series and other paintings at the Library Station now through the end of November.  All paintings exhibited are for sale!  Start your Christmas shopping early!!




Exhibit at Maschino’s 1715 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO
Monday, September 9th – October 30th.

Artist’s Reception, Monday September 9th 5:00 – 6:00 pm

Come out and meet the artists!  I will be one of several artists in this exhibit.  Here you can see some newer portraits done in Graphite, White and Black Charcoal on gray paper.  I am available to do commissioned portraits and I will even take the reference photos for you!

I hope you will make it a point to view these exhibits and be inspired!  Art is therapy and good for the soul!  Come experience it for yourself.