Monday, March 31, 2014


Pencil life drawing, 5 minute pose, Janice Skivington 2014. "Thoughtful about life."

Where would any of us be without the ordinary pencil? Artists, carpenters, philosophers, drywall installers, plumbers, first-graders, dressmakers, librarians, writers of all sorts, all need a pencil at some point (pun intended). In spite of our digital age, there are many steps in most jobs where a pencil is what works first.
Yesterday, March 30 was National Pencil Day. I learned this from reading the excellent blog . If you haven't discovered this leading art blog, then head over there with a cup of hot tea, and prepare to be engrossed for hours. The author of this wonderful daily blog gives tons of information on pencils with this post, examples from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many links.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

sketching apps

I am addicted to my smart phone. And I see all around me that many others are similarly afflicted. What is it about that little gadget that holds one's attention so strongly? For me, I like reading my daily quotes from famous authors in a magazine format. I also get a daily fix of poetry selected by Garrison Keillor. And all of that is always there for me on facebook which I "like" and loath at the same time. My new favorite toys are my sketching apps. Whenever I am stuck waiting in the doctor's office, the lengthy meeting, or waiting on hold, I can scribble or doodle and save it. These were created with Sketchbook for Galaxy. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

a lovely fall day

Ah, the long winter has made me confused, you might say. A bright brisk day and some sunshine is welcome right now, but this is a large-ish sketch from last October when winter was only a distant threat.

I teach at a Classical school part-time, and this painting was made on a day when I took my 4th and 5th grade class outdoors to paint. We had studied tree anatomy and ways to observe and draw from nature. I had also spent some classes on color theory, how to mix colors and use secondary and complimentary combinations. I would not allow them to have gray, black or brown on their pallets. They were also admonished that I did not want to see trees that looked like lollipops, marshmallow clouds, and a fake sun in the sky with lines for rays. (I am such a harsh teacher!) I told them I wanted to see a drawing of a particular tree on this exact day with the sunlight and colors just as close as they appear at the moment. Observation skills were emphasized.

This is the demo painting I did for them as we found our spots outside in the school playground area. I was showing them how I would observe a tree and paint using their paper and tools. We actually had three class days that we were able to get outdoors. They loved it. One day it began to rain and they begged to stay out, another day we were interrupted by a fire drill. But we persevered with lots of excited work time.
As they were all working, I began to draw them into my picture which thrilled them, everyone started calling out "me! draw me". Next week our school is having a fundraiser auction and I am framing this piece to contribute to the event. Should be fun to hear from the kids.

I would like to say that I made this painting using the same tools that I provide for my students. 140 lb student watercolor paper from Dick Blicks, Extra fine point Sharpies, and Crayola watercolor pans with Prang brushes. I also demonstrated drawing an immediate contour line on the paper with the fine point Sharpie, no pencils and no endless erasing allowed.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

On my smartphone

A pretty good likeness for a 2 minute gaze using the SketchBook for Galaxy app.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

living in an endless winter

Even the most hardy of Chicago-land dwellers is complaining now. Enough snow, enough ice, enough below zero!
(from a series of  illustration spots I created for a textbook company) ( it was for a story about living in Northern Alaska!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bare branches

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Shakespeare Sonnet 73

Friday, March 7, 2014


Challenge: sketching live while babysitting. And this is not just any baby but my very own 7-month old granddaughter. Challenge: how to draw her so as to catch a likeness, not just a generic cute baby face but this particular cutest baby ever born. In My Humble Opinion.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

to dust thou shalt return

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. Genesis 3:19
From an illustration that I did for Encyclopedia Brittanica (kids version). Today it looks like a weird combination of Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Psalm 99

Outside the tall church windows it was snowing and the bare branches were carrying the weight of winter while proclaiming the greatness of the Lord our God.

Monday, March 3, 2014


I don't know when I drew this.  I can't remember the occasion.  It must not have been too long ago. I found this in a recent moleskin just today and am trying to recall when I sat in a live performance and watched a young man playing a keyboard and singing. I am sure that I drew this live, but when? I do like the drawing.
Usually when I flip through my moleskins I can almost smell the occasion because looking at my own art brings back such sharp memories of the time of day, the mood, music if any, distractions and lovely moments. I am sure it will come back to me.