For Cat Eyes Only


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This post is adapted from For Your Eyes Only (Lesson 12 in Drawing Lab)


Even though I love drawing stylized animals the most, I believe drawing from life as much as possible makes my stylized work more “authentic.”

If you want to practice drawing realistically, eyes are a fantastic place to start.

What are some of the most fascinating eyes out there? Cat eyes! Almond-shaped, other-worldly and appearing to gaze beyond mere human experience.

Assignment: Draw 4 Variations of a Cat Eye

We are going to draw four different cat-eyes, the first one using only pencil, the second with pen and ink, the third with vine charcoal, and the fourth in color, using colored pencil.

Your sketchbook
Kneaded rubber eraser
Felt tip pen
Vine charcoal
Small set of colored pencils


1. With your pencil, draw a grid with four rectangles and lightly sketch the basic shape of the cat-eye in each box. Try to make them all the same size, and as accurate as you can (though you can adjust as you go, so there is no need to spend too much time erasing at this point)! I’ve worked small; the outer edge of the frame is about 5.5 inches.


2. In the first box, use your pencil for shading and cross-hatching and building up value (lights and darks). Keep your eraser handy and use it to pull out highlights. Reference your photo often!

3. Repeat the above step for the three other eyes, now using pen, vine charcoal, and colored pencils. Look at the all subtle variations in the iris. Be as detailed as you like.


4. This is a chance to play around with different media and let your intuition guide you. The assignment should take no more than a half hour total; try to let go of perfection and just do your best!

Taking it Further:
Once you practice drawing realistic eyes, drawing stylized ones will become even more fun:


Have a wonderful day!

Registration Open for “Elements” – A New Class by Karine Swenson


5-Week Painting Class; 10 Lessons Total
Class Dates: May 12 – June 14, 2015

Click HERE for more info!


Registration is now open for Karine Swenson’s new online class, “Elements,” a 5-week workshop designed to help you strengthen your understanding of some of the formal elements of painting, including


and . . .

We will PAINT . . . a lot!


Lessons will be geared towards abstract painting; however, the topics will be beneficial to any artist – even those pursuing more representational subject matter. (This class is meant to be a continuation of my first abstract painting class, although you do not need to have taken Intro to Abstract Painting to benefit from this class.)


Have you ever wondered how to look at abstract art with better understanding? Maybe you felt like there was something that made some paintings more appealing than others, but you couldn’t really identify what it was. This class is designed to show you some of the basic elements that come together to make a painting that really “works.”

Elements: An Online Class with Karine Swenson from Silly U on Vimeo.

Join us today!!

In Search of a “Perfect” Drawing

aBlog 3.28.15 from Silly U on Vimeo.

The past few nights I’ve been in search of the perfect* drawing.

(But first, I need to say that when I say “perfect,” I mean imperfectly perfect to ME… just a drawing that I love.)

I’ve drawn a lot of girls and horses, and a few cats, dogs, bunnies, and houses. (Steve made a slideshow, above.)

I’m using a combination of Tombow markers, ballpoint pens, pencils, and any other markers I have lying around. (And the looser style is heavily influenced by watching the wonderful Lynn Whipple draw recently… thanks Lynn!).

None of them are “perfect.”

But I do LIKE a lot of them!

Sometimes I think my art-making journey is as much a competitiveness with myself as anything else! When drawing, I can feel anxious to turn the page and begin the new drawing, because perhaps this time it will be “the one.” I’m almost tense the whole time….

But it feels good afterwords… always!

The drawings are not perfect but that’s okay, because a set of imperfect drawings is, in itself, a perfect reflection of life. Don’t you think?

Registration Open for Diane Culhane’s New Online Class, “Doings of a Doodle”


Doings of a Doodle
with Diane Culhane
2-Week Class; 6 Lessons

Class Dates: April 21 – May 2, 2015

“Doings of a Doodle” with Diane Culhane! from Silly U on Vimeo.

* * *

Doodle your way into a big painting!

Doodling is really just mark making… marks that happen when you are otherwise occupied.

These marks that flow from you naturally while you are doodling can be an expression of your style, like your handwriting. In this class we will look at our doodles as resources; treasures from which we can create full-sized paintings.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a doodler, the exercises and techniques in this class will give you a fun way to tap into your personal style.

We will:

– Dig for treasure/doodle
– Observe & Arrange & Study
– Make folded books for doodle-ready surfaces
– Copy your images with hand/eye coordination
– Scan & enlarge your doodles
– Add color combinations with colored pencil & acrylic paint
– Create compositional grid paintings, and
– Create a Large Do-o-dle Painting!!

I hope you will join me!

Buckets of Joy,

Diane Culhane




Click HERE for more details. Thank you!

“Flower Crazy Mini” – Online Class

Flower Crazy Mini – Online Class from Silly U on Vimeo.

Three-Lesson Class with Carla Sonheim
Drawing, Watercolor, Mixed Media • $25

Class Dates: April 7-10, 2015



I’ve had many requests to offer a shortened version of the original 5-week class, “Flower Crazy.” Well here we are! “Flower Crazy Mini” is three-lesson class (we will layer with watercolor, markers and other media to create four imaginary flower paintings). Class runs April 7-10, 2015, with commenting through the following weekend.

Cost: $25

Click HERE for more information!

* * * 

Your itinerary:

Lesson 1: Flower Blast
flower vocabulary with markers, colored pencils, transparent watercolor layers


Lesson 2: Imaginary Flowers
mark-making with watercolors, white ink, pencil

Lesson 3: Flower Bursts
Fast and loose with watercolors, gesso, pencil


Praise for the original “Flower Crazy“:

I have been somewhat of an online class junkie in the past year and must say [Flower Crazy] is the best one I’ve ever done!” — Anne

* * *


Make “Imaginary Creatures” With Me!



I wanted to remind you that “Imaginary Creatures,” a mixed-media online class, begins tomorrow. It is one week long, and is packed full of watercolor and mixed media techniques. Just $35!

icbirddeerfish iccatdog

ICelephant icrabbit

All of these images were made using techniques from this class. Join me! Details HERE.

* * *

This is a repeat session of the original class. If you have previously taken Imaginary Creatures and would like to join the fun again at no additional cost, please email me. Thank you!

What the Bearmouse Said


Recently for my Spark! class I gave the assignment of “Chasing Rabbits.” By this I meant they were to give themselves permission to spend time in life and in the studio just “messing around.” (Which, I truly believe and know to be true, is an essential part of the creative life!)

In my preparations for the class I did what all of us do, I “Googled” the words “chasing rabbits.”

Second on the list was a youtube video of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” ( One click and I remembered the song.

(But, unlike Steve from the other room who was singing along, l didn’t know the lyrics.)

So I googled those, too!

* * * * * * * * * * * 

White Rabbit
Song by Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

* * * * * * * * * * * 


But… here’s to “feeding” our heads!

Seattle Artist Amy Hevron’s Kickstarter Project

Charley_Kick_ProjectImage 2

Hi everyone!

I wanted to tell you about a Kickstarter project I just supported by Seattle artist Amy Hevron.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 11.47.05 AM

I met Amy several weeks ago at the SCBWI conference in NY and her beautiful work really stood out during the Portfolio Showing evening… Since she lives in Seattle, we had coffee last week. She’s wonderful, of course, and is holding a Kickstarter Campaign to self-publish her first children’s book, “Charley and the Yellowstone Sprites.”

I just wanted to pass along the info in case you are in need of a cute children’s book about bison, Yellowstone and sprites (and want to help a truly talented person get her first book published)! CLICK HERE for more.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!


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