Saturday, December 31, 2011

Janice Skivington Paints Flowers

News for the new year! I am launching another website for the purpose of marketing and showcasing my flower paintings. My primary website has illustration and my flower fine art and I think it will be less confusing to certain buyers if they can be directed to just the one subject. I thought about many titles and finally for the sake of web searches but not brevity, I decided to say it like it is.  Janice Skivington Paints Flowers. Here is your link ,come visit!
 I have used Blogger to make up this site, after months of messing about with Wordpress. I  could not get Wordpress to do what I wanted and look the way I wanted and I am used to the easy way with Blogger. Maybe I'll still change it in the future, when I get smarter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us." - Saint Therese of Lisieux

This variety is called a "Silver" rose. I found a bargain on a bunch of these very pale purple/lavender roses with the little color variations in the petals and the shadows they cast. 
I took the moment to study this one even though I am supposed to be getting the house ready and baking apple pies for tomorrow. I wish I could paint one of these sketches every day. Maybe this could be a future goal.

Monday, October 31, 2011

season of gold

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

J.R.R.Tolkien       The Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
(A quote from the label on my Good Earth tea bag, one of my favorite reading venues.)

I have had the time to attend several sessions lately where I can draw or paint from the live model. Instead of falling back on pencil drawing which is easier for me, I have been bringing canvas and Golden Open Acrylic (supposedly slower drying and better blending) with me to class. And I have been setting up and painting during the long poses. This is new for me and very challenging.

It seems that the harder I work at painting in my Life drawing class, the less I am happy with the result. So I am waiting for all the "experience" to kick in. I am sure it is not a waste of time, but a valuable learning opportunity.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

last night

I met a fellow artist and long-time Daily Painter and fellow blogger last night! I was interested to meet him and had heard that he frequented the same live model head painting group/class that I have been working with.  Here is his blog;
I have great respect for Michael and his painting skill, and so it was a pleasure to be able to work in the same room and from the same model as he did.
And the really amusing part of the whole evening?  My own son, Samuel agreed to be the model for the session last night. I do think he is quite a handsome young man if a mother can say so herself. He did a very good job of sitting for us.
 If you go to the link for Michael Naples' blog today you can see his version of Sam. I was greatly impressed with the likeness and feeling of the work.
I was not able to finish my portrait, but Sam is posing again so I hope to get a good one for myself. Here is the unfinished part to show this week.
I am learning so much personally as I have been going to two sessions of Life painting a week lately. Painting in a class from the live model is HARD work. I make so many mistakes but I do learn from them so there is progress. Michael Naples portrait  was more successful last night for a few reasons; he worked in oils and I have been using acrylics, he worked smaller, half the size of my canvas, his color scheme was more organized than mine, and finally he had a better grasp of light and shadow than I did. I am learning, always learning.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

if I lived in Hawaii

...or San Diego, Florida, or Santa Fe; I wouldn't be in such a hurry to draw these hibiscus from life in my own garden. But I must hurry, October has its own deadline here in the Chicago area.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hibiscus twins

Off to a great start today. I had two lovely blossoms remaining on my summer plant. Around here these are just annual flowers and since we are rapidly moving through October, these will only be around for another day or so.
I drew these from life this morning, just my favorite way to work. Celebrating the line, the lovely line.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

try again

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts."
Winston Churchill

I have to remember that not everything turns out as I envisioned. I threw away two paintings this week when techniques I tried failed. This flower which I drew from life, was one of them. I thought it would be interesting to draw with brush and ink but then I was disappointed  when I applied the washes of color. I rescued it from the trash a day later and did some experimenting and playing with textures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

life from the back

Sometimes the back side of my subject is as fascinating to me as the other views. Here, a life drawing posed from the back.

And another of one of my favorite subjects showing all the intricacy of the back view.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


After the modeling session ended, this gentleman revealed to me that he is 85 years old. I would have thought he was younger, maybe at the end of his 70s. Shows how incredibly different the aging process is for each individual. As it is with the endlessly different life stories written on each face.

Monday, September 19, 2011

old life

(edited life drawing from one of my class sessions)
A thought I have been mulling over is about my attraction to the withered and old in my art. I like to draw a flower that has been around for days or even weeks in my studio. Every day that passes gives me a changing subject to look at, consider from different angles. I sometimes wait until a petal is drooping way over and the edges are curled up before it becomes so interesting that I just have to stop everything and draw it from life.
And the same thing is with people, as I visit the nursing home several times a week, I see people who have, with the passing of time, become so visually interesting. I am constantly looking and thinking, how would I portray that? How do I paint or draw that fascinating withering and drooping to show what I really see and feel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

under the weight of the September sky

That bright and intensely deep blue September sky, so ominous, so heavy with promise.
The brisk tingle of cold weather to come bends the heads of the flowers.

I bought some tiny plants at the hardware store last May. They only had a leaf or two each, but they were labeled "Moulin Rouge Sunflower". That was enough promise for me, I could hardly wait to see what they would look like.

The first blooms took me aback. They were black sunflowers, black center and black petals with just a hint of dark red. Now, at the end of summer, I am finding some blooms with a lot more of the dark red and a tiny gasp of gold.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The writer should never be afraid of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. 
Flannery O'Connor

My encounter with this old man would have fit right into a Flannery O'Connor story. (well, maybe not the gruesome parts)
I was visiting a friend on a hot August day. We passed the time together with me following her on her various rounds of the day. After we drove to a spot where she had tomatoes and squashes growing, inspected the weeds and picked a few vegetables, and as the day became ever warmer and stickier, we had to visit her old friend. I do not know how she had his acquaintance, but she introduced me as "the artist who is going to draw your portrait. "
He immediately found his antique hat to strike a pose. This hat was really old, like a beaver pelt hat from Abraham Lincoln days. I was more worried about how hot it was on his head as we were all dripping and sweating and he had his long sleeved shirt buttoned up. He sang old songs to me, and generally acted like a charming gentleman with lady visitors to entertain.
I think about the truth of what I see and I stare and I try to convey that moment in my work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a man

"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do." Bob Dylan

I can't agree with this clever quote. And if a man can get away with doing just that, he would have to be very clever.
I met this man while visiting France. I sketched his interesting face while we were eating a dinner that lasted until late on a moonlit night with lots of long conversations. Every drawing has a history, and can be looked at with the smells, sounds and flavors of that moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

psychological studies and sketches

I am interested in working toward the goal of making these sketches more than an attempt at a likeness. I want to look at this person and try to show what is really there.
An experience that I am thinking of here is one that has happened more than once while visiting at the nursing home. I have found myself in conversation with someone who now looks quite differently from the person that they actually are or have been. Once I am engaged in the conversation, of course, I "see" the older person before me in a completely different light. The wheelchair and the oxygen tubes disappear and I only see the gallant war hero, a perky volunteer, or ultra-competent office manager who now sits in that spot.

I am not satisfied with my approach here, the drawing is not alive. My dear patient subject who sat for me was wearing her "Sunday best", her hair was just "done", and she gave me her nicest face. I did not feel like I got to the"truth" of her yet. There are many layers of faces that everyone wears, (oh, I feel a T.S.Eliot quote coming on.)
"There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;"
T.S.Eliot: The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

Monday, September 12, 2011

new series of sketches

I I am thinking about a new series, a new subject to explore. Portraits of people. People that are older, maybe, considered elderly and or infirm. I spend a fair bit of time visiting at a nursing "home" for elderly people. Most of the people I see there are not ever going to leave, this is the place where they will spend their last days. Some are worse by the day, some seem to stay about in the same position all the time. The staff at this facility are wonderful, I am so impressed by the love and care they give the patients.

I want to make my artwork about showing the inner person, the original, maybe younger self behind the wrinkles and aged appearance.
I did these drawings this past weekend, starting with a woman that I know very well, my mother-in-law. She has been my greatest, most loyal and supportive fan. I am grateful for her patience in allowing me to begin this drawing series with her.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

sometimes the subject chooses you

When I wander about the world inspecting the visual stimulus surrounding all of us I might find one subject more interesting than another. 
I find myself fascinated with the possibilities,colors, line quality, forms, and pure physical beauty of flower forms. I am not painting them to be "happy". I am painting them to satisfy the desire to record what I am seeing. Sometimes, I am seeing beauty, sometimes it is just a weird strangeness in the angles, the curves, the shapes that say line and paint to me.

Details shown here, "Dead sunflowers". Line art in ink and acrylic washes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My mother doesn't like these flowers

I have placed myself in a position somewhere in-between so that I don't have any appreciators. My mother thinks my flower paintings are too big and not pretty enough. My graduate class thinks they are too small and too pretty. I don't have an audience either way I turn.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

life drawing session on a rainy saturday

I worked so very hard for the first couple of hours getting warmed up. The model had a very jumpy soundtrack playing on a boombox, making me nervous, some rap, some hiphop, and I was sure I wasn't going to turn out any sort of a drawing  that day.

I spent the first two hours yelling inside my head (encouraging instructive stuff at myself), and then it all happened in the last hour, just as some mellow music came on the studio soundtrack. Maybe it was the folk rock, but it all came together. Drawing is hard, you must keep working at it steadily from the ugly uncertain bits on to the finish.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a summer rose

Another watercolor pencil sketch from my traveling notebook. I picked this rose from the garden of our friends and drew while they were preparing us a lovely dinner. I was so incredibly blessed (and really a bit spoiled). Good friends, good food, interesting conversation in two languages, some nice wine, and ...roses.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

summer in the southwest corner of France

We had the great pleasure of a visit to the home of some French family friends. I will post more about our adventures and discoveries in the next days.
I would have sketched more, except that, (oh excuses, excuses) I had a new camera and just absolutely had to snap some 1,000 or more photos. Also, I would have sketched more if we were not moving so fast all day visiting so many exciting places. My camera had to end up being my "sketchbook".
One of my moments to sit and draw came on this day while in the garden of our friends. My husband was helpfully mowing their lawn, but I sat under the willow tree on a little bench and drew the bridge and lily pond.
I had  brought just a few watercolor pencils along in my bag, limited colors and only a q-tip and paper towel to "paint".
And here, out of my thousand of travel photos is the actual garden at the home of our good friends. This photo is taken from the other side of the little pond, the bench that I sat on is tucked away under the willow tree.

Friday, August 19, 2011

summer is almost over

Sad, but yes, true. I have enjoyed this summer perhaps more than any in my life so far. And that is a good thing to reflect about. This painting, 30'by40' acrylic on canvas, framed is for sale.

new personal photo

Yep, that's me, from two weeks ago. No explanation necessary for the location or identity of the lady in the painting behind the glass in the museum.
How did I get to be alone in a photo without the usual crowd at the most popular spot in the Louvre?
That is the really interesting question, involving purchasing tickets a day ahead and getting up early enough to take a carefully planned metro route in order to be first in line when the place opened and then walking really, really fast trying not to be distracted by a Botticelli here and Raphael there just be alone in the room with the Mona Lisa. And the Real thing, by Leonardo himself, is actually very small. And there are many amazing other works in the same room that most tourists aren't paying attention to.
My husband who is quite usefully tall took the photo over the heads of a big group of tourists who got there just as we did.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

head drawing class again

I went to another session this week. It is hard to get back into the discipline if you have been out of it. It is like my exercise routine of running 3 or 4 miles, I never want to stop because I don't want to have to start up again-it is just too hard. These drawing sessions are hard, intense, and exhausting. And I love it.
Here, I used watercolor pencils for a 20 minute pose.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An interesting drawing quote

"Any object can be drawn, although those which have been formed by nature or affected by long use will offer the greatest amount of variation, as a flower, a stone, a piece of fruit, or an old shoe."

My closest, most frequently used model, my own hand, drawn in my sketchbook.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

drawing class

I haven't posted in a month. Yikes.
And I haven't been drawing a lot, not as much as I should.
Excuses like the wedding and re-arranging my studio don't hold up to my insistence that any drawing student must practice constantly.

I went to an open drawing session with a head model this  week. Just to get in some practice. Actually, I drew her entire figure, but here is my result from the head pose.

And here is the warm-up sketch that I did first. I was also using the session to teach a young art student how to begin a pose, with axis lines, relative measurements and blocking in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

describe the art of drawing

Alternative title to this post, describe the Act of drawing.
Teaching drawing is frustrating unless your students are willing to work outside of class in a sketchbook every day. If that sketchbook is not filled to the brim, with pages and pages of drawings, your classroom efforts are wasted. One simply cannot understand the concepts until the hours of effort have been put in to the equation.
I just read the most interesting essay by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker magazine, "Life Studies or What I learned when I learned to draw". (The article is not posted online yet, the link only takes you to a brief description, in the issue dated June 27, 2011.)  I would love to quote directly from the essay but I think that would be violating copyright issues. I can only paraphrase about some of the most interesting passages.

Adam Gopnik talks about the internal struggle between what he actually sees and the pre-conceived mental images in his brain. He discovered that drawing is pretty much like everything else you learn to do, discouraging at first, laborious, slowly building up by small sometimes ugly bits. After studying drawing from a live model in the studio of a very serious realist, he began to comprehend the struggle and satisfaction of the vision put on paper.

 I enjoyed reading an account of art written by a journalist who is able to put into descriptive words what is going on in my head when I do what I love most to do. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

away and busy

I have been away on a couple of trips, and terribly busy since I returned. And I really do have a lot of sketches to post, but will have to wait until The Wedding is over. My daughter is getting married this week. This is a do-it-yourself wedding with much help and love from friends and family.
I have planted lots of flowers in my garden, hoping for some color when our guests arrive to stay at our house. I am not a very good gardener, the plants tend to die from neglect or our harsh midwestern climate. But I try, because I really want to have fresh live flowers to paint!

 I am arranging lots and lots of flowers for the wedding party and reception. Buying some in bulk and including some from my own yard.

And my other daughter and friends will be baking about 400 cupcakes. As I said, many homemade gifts of  effort and love are being given. Priceless gifts.

Let us toast the Bride and Groom with all the Blessings of Future Happiness and Contentment.

And here's to a happily-ever-after and a lovely honeymoon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Now the green blade riseth

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom hate had slain,
Thinking that never would he wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain,
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

  Medieval French Carol