Monday, November 5, 2018

Burnish, baby burnish.

There are lots of different types of burnishing when it comes to colored pencils, my favorite with this piece has been tonal burnishing. I will do this several times in a section. I start by layering my colors on top of each other with a very light hand (this is achieved by holding the pencil further back), going in opposite directions with very consistent tiny circular strokes, and keeping my pencil point razor sharp while building up layers of color. I'm not heavy handed but I do apply more pressure with a Caran d'Ache Pablo white or light grey pencil towards the end, when I have my colors down. I will go back then and add a bit more color and burnish again with the white or light grey pencil...doing this several times until I have a beautiful rich glazed look. What happens with burnishing, is that it causes the color to fill up the entire tooth of the paper...making it very smooth looking. 

In the darker areas of this piece I will burnish with a dark blue and reddish Pablo. Just remember to gradually build up your dark colors as once they are down they are hard to erase.

Burnishing is one of the last steps in this whole process, which can be quite tedious at times, but the results create a sleek and fantastic finish!

Materials used: 
Stonehenge white paper (sheet)
Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils
Caran d'Ache Pablo pencils

To see more of my process and short videos check out my Instagram (kathrynhansendrawings) page here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stepping stones

I love hiking...I do it every weekend unless something prevents me from going. My dog Josie and I would leave early and be gone most of the morning, hiking high up in the mountains behind our home. She and I were soo connected and happy to be out there enjoying nature. But my sweet, beloved hiking buddy passed away over 3 years ago leaving me devastated. 

These days I hike with my new pup Indie, who to my disappointment is not a hiker...or even a walker...he's more of a sniffer. And when he gets onto a tasty smell there is no moving him...he is stubborn with a mind of his own. I use to get very impatient with him until I started going with his slow flow of things. So, hiking these days is not quite the same but neither am I, I guess. We don't conquer mountains in the wee hours of the morning like Josie and I did, now my hikes are laid back, relatively short, no more than 2-2.5 hours and fairly easy...but...incredibly beautiful just the same!! 

In the beginning I was hampered SO many times from actually hiking that while waiting for Indie to get in his sniffing, I just started looking down and observing the lovely stream we were trekking through, which lead me to taking a slew of photos with my phone and posting them to Instagram. One day my friend Lissa said I should draw those tiny snippets of nature...I said I was seriously thinking about it. Well, here I am over 2 years later finally doing just that!! I  don't know why it took me soo long, I guess I wasn't quite done drawing animals yet. 

It's been wondrous starting this new series of intimate portraits of nature taken from my exquisite town nestled in the mountains, just north of LA. I am enjoying the detailed layering of multiple colors in one piece...something I don't typically do, to this extent anyway with my animal portraits. It feels right and unique and fascinating to me. And I have SO many photographic reference images line up for this series that I hope to be creating these nature portraits for many years to come. This is all due to a crazy bull terror named Indie, who caused me to stop and pay attention to rocks, leaves and swirly abstract patterns in a sweet little stream along a beautiful hiking path!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Birds in Art 2018

The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum that houses the Birds in Art Exhibition is even more beautiful from the last time I saw it, before I moved to California in 1998. I snapped this photo on Sunday morning when it was so peaceful after all the hub bub from the activities of the past 3 days. They have an amazing sculpture garden surrounding the museum.

I don't think I'll ever be able to express just how thrilling it was to walk into the museum on Friday afternoon and see my drawing there!! This song kept going through my brain. I was feelng a bit overwhelmed until I spotted my art/drawing hero all by himself in another room looking at a I immediately went over to him like a donkey to a waffle!! Nope, I was not going to miss this opportunity of a lifetime to meet Terry Miller in the flesh!! I have been stalking following him and his work for more years then I can remember...I am one of his biggest fans. But he caught me off guard when he knew my!!! We then walked over to my artwork and we talked...well, I listened and hung onto every word he said!! Some of those things have resonated in my head since...I will never forget them. That was truly one of the best moments of my life!!! Can you tell how much of an art nerd I am yet?

Another thing that touched my heart deeply was that SOO many of my family and friends were there, from all over...CO, IL, MN and every corner of WI to see me and share in one of the biggest experiences of my life!! I am truly and amazingly blessed!! I didn't get pics of everyone but my heart grew 3 sizes that weekend from seeing everyone!!!♥ 

The 4 day event was FULL of after another so it totally zoomed by. At the luncheon I felt like I was at the Oscars for artists!! Each meal was delicious, each reception was SO fun, the staff and volunteers were above and beyond wonderful...especially Allison Slavick, who I ended up being with a lot at meal time...we had some very wonderful chats!

Check out the Master Artist of 2018, Cindy House's work, it's simply stunning...I've never seen pastel work like hers!! And she is very funny...gotta love that!

Part of the Sunday morning activity for the artists was joining Jane Weinke, the curator of the museum, in listening about and checking out the permanent art collection in the basement storage rooms...which I have to say was pretty darn awesome!! When do you ever get a sneak peek like that in a museum?!!!

For 2 1/2 solid days after I got home from my trip, I was SO inspired that I went through tons of reference photos for next years entry! It was such an amazing experience that I want to repeat it as many times as I possibly can...feeling more determined then ever to keep growing as an artist so I can do it all over again...for many, many years...if possible!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Home tweet home

Rocky shoreline, dramatic scenery, salty breezes, cool temps. A breathtaking home for a clever brown pelican like Nigel Pellie, who lives unconstrained with dozens and dozens of other seabirds on a private beach in Palos Verdes. Nigel is one of the most recognized birds with his long neck and iconic throat pouch. He is sleek and well ace diver...those fish never see him coming. He spends most of his carefree days fishing and preening and is known as being very social in the flock he travels with. But there is more to Nigel then just that. Nigel is a collector. Seashells, feathers, colorful pebbles and small trinkets left behind by local beachcombers. He stashes his treasures undetected beneath a large misshaped sepia colored rock close to the shoreline. No one the wiser. Yes, his days are full and quite satisfying, a life he feels is well lived indeed.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Looks hoo's talking

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhoot (c) Kathryn Hansen 10.25x14

Roosting quietly in an ancient forest tree, Whoolio Talon is completely camouflaged by his brown and white stripidy plumage. Even his large soulful brown eyes and yellow bill seem completely unnoticed in the dense foliage. He and his friends are deeply absorbed in a game of Marco Polo...their own modified version of blind mans buff in the woods. Swiveling his head, he listens to the rich baritone of his friend who is "it" hoot out..."who cooks for you...who cooks for you." Whoolio was born to play this game as he is rarely "tagged"...his feathered friends highly regard and respect him for it. He is in a class owl by himself.

Despacio Owlington, Whoolio's BFF owlways seems to be "it"!!

Friday, April 20, 2018

A duck to water

Months after I was back home after my merry trip to WI, looking over a 100 plus photos of purely Myrtle, I thought she just might be the right one to draw to enter in the Birds in Art Exhibition down the road. 

After all I had soo many interesting poses of her as she was very animated that morning on the dock. But eventually after working out the cropping and composition I decided to have her in just a simple pose looking out over the lake. 

The inital design I worked out felt very pleasing to me. Well balanced, where the viewers eye could travel around and through the drawing but was never thrown out of it. 

I made the center of interest the water below the dock. That is where the viewers eye enters, with all the dark tonal variations and large abstract shapes that lead the viewers eye right up the pole of the dock to the merganser.

The rest of the drawing I feel supports this center of interest with sharp and soft edges and value contrasts. With the absence of color I wanted to make sure that these other supports held up just as well. 

Sittin' in the Mornin' Sun  (c) 11.5x10.25

I truly enjoyed composing and drawing this piece and feel it's one of my stronger pieces in my portfolio of work. I hope to do more ducks down the road using the same design principles as Sittin' in the Mornin' Sun.

A sitting duck

Sittin' in the Mornin' Sun (c)2018 11.5x10.25 graphite pencil

A few years ago my sister and one of my best friends flew to WI to attend Barbara Jaenicke's pastel workshop at the beautiful Dillman's Bay Resort in Northern WI!

While slowly making my way to class one morning from our cute little log cabin I spotted a funny looking duck out on the pier in front of the classrooms. I had never seen a duck like this before, so my attention quickly diverted over towards her and with camera in hand I sat with her for quite awhile, missing out on part of the morning session...leaving my friend and sister wondering what had happened to me in such a short distance!

At the very end of December 2017 I started to draw Myrtle the female Merganser from WI, trying to get her complete in between commissions with a deadline in my head of April 15th. Not for tax day of course...but to enter her in the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's Birds in Art Exhibition

You see, I use to live about half an hour away in Plover WI so this was a pretty big deal even then. In 1994 I was even invited by a friend who's air brush painting juried into the show, to the closed artist reception, meeting in person Robert Bateman, Carl Brenders, Richard Sloan, just to name a few of the master artists there! Ever since that exhibition, I had always wanted to enter a piece of art in it but was too intimidated to even try. That is until now!!

Now I feel I am skilled enough, experienced enough, and feel worthy enough to be in the same exhibition as the great wildlife masters I have admired and been SO inspired by through the years. So I tried, and if I don't get in I am ok with that as at least I finally mustered up the courage to go for it this year. Next year I will be even more confident and ready to enter again!!

**stay tuned for my next post about how I designed and composed my drawing of Myrtle**

Monday, January 15, 2018

Chubby unicorns

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Because humans want to save things that they love.” 

It's hard to believe over 7 years have gone by since I was in Africa and yet I have never drawn one of the rhinos I saw there! I guess the elephant (I've drawn far) was the animal I deeply connected with while on safari...and then the lions (drew 5 of them)!

It wasn't until my friend Shaney told me how much she loved them that I took a closer look. So I began following a few Rhino Conservation pages on Instagram: Rhinos in Africa Foundation, Rhino Man the Movie, Save the Rhinos and Rhino Republic, and I fell in love with them too, just as my friend had. 

So, of course I now have about 3 I want to draw!!

I started these white rhinos for a demo I gave last weekend at Blicks Art Store in Pasadena, CA. It's not the typical way I start a drawing, but since it was for a demo I wanted to have various parts started so I could talk about my technique. But now that has come and gone and I can really get between my commission work that is...and get them done for a few upcoming exhibitions. And if it sells, as always, a portion will go to one of the groups below to help in their fearless efforts to save the rhino.

And here is the educational portion of this post!!!

The white rhino is the largest of 5 different types of rhinos. It's mouth is wide for grazing and is the friendliest of all of them. Once thought to be extinct, they now thrive in protected sanctuaries (we saw them at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy) but still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century are now gone due to loss of habitat and poaching.

Several conservation tactics have been taken to prevent the rhinos disappearing from the earth. The northern white rhino have guards 24 hours a day watching over them at Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Image from:

If you feel moved to help, you can give to Lewa Wildlife Consevancy or Ol Pejeta Conservancy. And if you give $50 or more I will send you a matted print of my rhino drawing...just send me the proof and I will put you on a list when it's done. Thanks!


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