Friday, December 28, 2012


Smethwick, colored pencil
Smethwick, 2012
Colored pencil on paper
14 x 7 inches
Private collection

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

Is it a drawing or a painting?

Colored pencil artists sometimes refer to their work as paintings.  Works in pastel are often called pastel paintings.  Jo Wood, a bead embroidery artist, describes her work as painting with beads.

Regardless of where the line is drawn, so to speak, I feel as if I’m painting when I use oil-based colored pencils, which were used for Smethwick and Between the Drive and the Boulevard.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Abby, 4 Years Old

Abby, 4 Years
Abby, 4 Years Old, 2012

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

Abby the Tabby turned four this month, and this is her birthday portrait to mark the occasion.

She’s giving me the stink eye because I lured her into position by running the faucet, but didn’t run it at the trickle she prefers for playing and drinking so I could maintain her attention long enough for the shot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Contrail Sunset

Contrail Sunset
Contrail Sunset, 2010

© 2011 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

This was another instance of being in the right place at the right time with my trusty camera.  All the elements were in place for a spectacular sunset on this early November evening, and I almost couldn’t have taken a bad shot if I had tried.

I thought this picture was a good example of the photos I took at the time, as I caught a representative aircraft in the shot, the cause of all the contrails in the sky.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Alien Fruit

Alien Fruit
Alien Fruit, 2010

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

On a glorious late-October day, I was walking the neighborhood, testing my new polarizing filter.  These perfect, bright red tree berries against the deep blue sky, the colors made more vivid by the filter, called to me.  The combination of intense color, unusual angle, shallow depth of field and isolated subject matter made the image look otherworldly to me, hence the title of this photograph.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

North of the Boulevard

North of the Boulevard, graphite
North of the Boulevard, 2012
Graphite on paper
6 5/8 x 5 1/2 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

This drawing represents a step in the direction I’d like to take my graphite work.  I took a lighter hand with the graphite, and left white space to allow context, rather than rendered detail, to tell the story.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Entrance I

Entrance I, ink and watercolor
Entrance I, 2012
Ink and watercolor on paper
6 x 4 1/2 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

Recently, I’ve been researching pen and ink artists and their techniques more intently.  As part of my studies, I re-read a free e-book from Artist Daily:  Pen and Ink Drawing Techniques:  Drawing with Ink to Create Art with Strong Contrast and Surprising Subtlety.

The e-book offers a great deal of insight into how different techniques render different results.  Especially helpful is the explanation about the difference between the European and American pen and ink traditions. 

Pen and Ink Drawing Techniques gives examples of each of these styles, but there are two contemporary artists I study that illustrate the difference, as well:  Nicole Wong usually follows the American tradition, where her hatch marks run along the form to suggest volume.  Tommy Kane follows the European tradition, where he uses hatching and crosshatching around the form to model his images.

While I’m an admirer of the European tradition, I’m drawn to the light, fresh and (deceptively) simple look of the American tradition.  Neither style is better than the other, of course.  Whichever one an artist chooses to use depends on personal preference and the results he or she wants to achieve. 

I highly recommend the Pen and Ink e-book.  To download a copy for yourself, you’ll need to register at Artist Daily, but it’s free, painless, and you’ll have additional access to information that will enhance your practice and knowledge of art.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Patio Garden

Patio Garden, ink and watercolor
Patio Garden, 2012
Ink and watercolor on paper
6 x 4.5 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

I’ve been working on an intensive colored pencil project, so it was nice to take a break by doing something quick and loose.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Fuchsia, 2010

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

I couldn’t resist photographing this fuchsia, with its vivid colors and elaborate folds.  These exquisite flowers remind me of Georgian ball gowns, complete with panniers and furbelows.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Between the Drive and the Boulevard

Between the Drive and the Boulevard, colored pencil
Between the Drive and the Boulevard, 2012
Colored pencil on paper
6 x 4 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

After trying several papers over the years, I think I’ve finally found my preferred support for colored pencil:  bristol board with a vellum finish.

Bristol vellum has just enough tooth for adequate layering, but not so much that the tones look overly grainy without burnishing.  (Depending on the subject matter, I often prefer a little graininess when working with pencils.)  I’m also able to achieve what I want to with more defined pencil strokes.

Light graphite erases from bristol vellum relatively easily, and I’m able to adequately lift color with a kneaded eraser.  My kneaded eraser is as important a drawing tool as any pencil, so the latter benefit is important.

The other side of the bristol vellum I’ve used has a smooth finish, although I found that it’s too smooth for adequate colored pencil layering.  However, I understand that a smooth surface like this works well for photorealistic graphite drawing, which I have yet to test for myself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Abby's World

It's Abby's World
It’s Abby’s World, 2012

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing the studio mates of my fellow art bloggers (see herehere, here, here and here).  I hadn’t intended to share photos of my studio mate, but I couldn’t resist taking and posting this picture of Abby the Tabby today.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

End of Day

End of Day, graphite
End of Day, 2012
Graphite on paper
4.75 x 6 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

For several reasons, I haven’t been satisfied with what I’ve been producing lately.  To shake things loose creatively, I decided that I needed to relax, get back to basics with pencil and paper, and see where it took me.

If you’re an artist, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Monday, April 30, 2012


Viola, 2010

© 2010 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

A couple of years ago, I finally remembered to photograph an out-of-the-way patch of violas while they were in bloom.  The viola is a humble plant, and some might consider it a weed because it’s so aggressive, but I always enjoy seeing these pretty little flowers in the spring.

I like how this photo showcases how elegant this modest plant can be.  I also like how the violets and blues of the single viola bloom pop against the rich green of its leaves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Harbingers of Spring

Harbingers of Spring, daffodils and grape hyacinths
Harbingers of Spring, 2012

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

The complements yellow and purple comprise one of my favorite color combinations.  The colors are so intense here because I was experimenting with the saturation setting on my camera.

In most of the photos I took with a high saturation setting, particularly those taken in strong sunlight, contrast was lost as analogous colors blended together.  Shot in the shade, this photo was one of the few I thought was a keeper.  Now I know just how far I can go with the saturation setting on my camera.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pink Geraniums

Pink Geraniums, ink and watercolor
Pink Geraniums, 2012
Ink and watercolor on paper
6 x 5 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

While running errands recently, the weather was so nice, I decided to take a look at the garden department to see what was available.  They had some very tempting geraniums for sale, but I restrained myself from buying any.  As eager as I am to start on this year’s annual garden because of the unusually warm weather we’re having, I’m better off waiting until the danger of frost has passed and the garden centers have a wider variety of annuals for sale.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daffodil Challenge

Daffodil Challenge
Daffodil Challenge, 2012
Graphite on paper
8 x 5 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

In honor of the early-blooming daffodils in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ann Thompson Nemcosky issued a daffodil challenge this month.  This is the first time I’ve seen a challenge issued by an artist whose blog I follow, so I decided to participate.

The online art community is so supportive and inspirational.  I can’t wait to see the daffodil interpretations of the other artists who participate in Ann’s challenge.

UPDATE:  Ann has posted all of the daffodil artwork submitted for the challenge.  It’s interesting to see the different media used and each of the interpretations.  Congratulations and well done to everyone who participated.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley

Clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley
Clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley, 2010

© 2010 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

I’m fascinated by stamens.  They come in an endless variety of sizes, shapes and colors, and are beautiful in their own right.

The clematis showcased in this photo is from my parents’ garden.  The plant shows itself to best effect in the spring, when it exhibits an incredible profusion of flowers, each the size of my hand.  Just gorgeous.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Paniculata, 2010

© 2010 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

On a day that I was bustling around the house doing chores, I walked out to my patio and saw this absolutely perfect panicle, made lovely by a solitary blossom.  It stopped me in tracks, and I thought, “Well, I need to get a shot of this right now, because it won’t look like this tomorrow.”

Capturing transitory moments like this reminds me how rewarding it can be to just stop and really see the world around me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dame's Rocket

Dame's Rocket
Dame’s Rocket, 2010

© 2010 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

Sadly, the patch of dame’s rocket I photographed a couple of years ago was destroyed last year to make way for an apartment complex.  On the other side of the street, where more dame’s rocket was growing, the land was plowed under for a pumpkin crop.

The patch on the side of the street with the apartments looks to be gone forever.  I’ll have to wait until this coming spring to see if any of the dame’s rocket survived on the pumpkin side.

UPDATE:  It’s May 2012, and the fate of the dame’s rocket is much better than I’d feared.  Some of the flowers were destroyed on the side of the street where pumpkins were planted, but many of them remain.  On the other side of the street, construction of a new access road revealed an abundance of dame’s rocket still thriving in the thickly wooded area behind the apartment complex.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Fuchsia, ink and watercolor
Fuchsia, 2012
Ink and watercolor on paper
4 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches

© 2012 Susan M. Lohse.  All rights reserved.

I’m a big fan of art made with watercolor and ink:  It’s light, bright, contemporary (yet steeped in tradition), and frequently whimsical.  Some of my favorite artists who work with these media are Nicole Wong, Tommy Kane and Geninne Zlatkis, who more often uses white ink, rather than the customary black, for a completely different look.

Another individual who works in watercolor and ink is Jane LaFazio, a mixed-media artist.  I discovered Jane when she was a guest on Quilting Arts on my local PBS station.  I was immediately drawn to her “don’t sweat it” attitude toward making art.  Jane credits Danny Gregory with starting her on the path of art journaling with watercolor and ink, in what she calls “journal style.”  Working in journal style is a good way to practice contour drawing and a means to train oneself to minimize detail in favor of capturing the essence of a subject.

Because I wanted to explore watercolor and ink further, I was thrilled when Jane released From Art Journaling to Art: Drawing, Watercolor, and More Techniques for the Mixed-Media Artist, an instructional video, particularly since she and I are attracted to similar subject matter.  In the video, she presents the tools and materials she uses, her process, and ways to leverage journal art.  Jane is a terrific teacher:  She keeps it simple and educates the viewer about the refinements that turn a journal page into a complete work of art.
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