Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last School Project

For my last project this semester, I did a portrait of my grandson. I chose it because of the warm fuzzy feelings that I get as I draw him, I can remember the way he giggles and the twinkles in his eyes as he thinks he's pulling a good joke on you. I miss him so much sometimes that it hurts. My teacher didn't much care for the portrait but I did it for me.  It's in Conte crayon on Canson Mi Tientes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Final Version

Thanks for everyone's help.  This is the final version of my class assignment.

Another Watercolor - This time it's a wash

This was done in class.  It was a great exercise in learning to control where the wash goes.  When I brought it home, I wet the entire thing and put in the background.  I loved the freedom of not controlling where the wash goes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I need your help

I'm getting this one ready for drawing class.  It is near completion but I need your critique.  Please help!  I'm looking for technical corrections.  Thanks in advance!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Love Fall and Something Orange

 I was sitting in the campus library yesterday and it felt like I was watching the leaves turn right before my eyes.  So I had to draw it with my new watercolors.  Watercolor sketching is a new concept for me and I think this can be addicting. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

first watercolor sketch

I've done a few watercolors before, more as an exercise.  This is my first actual sketch and the longer I look at it, the happier I am.  I think I need to give him a happy name.  Any suggestions?

Monday, October 18, 2010

I find rocks to be really hard to draw.  I'm never quite satisfied with the texture or tone.  I drew these rock (boulders really) from our visit to Cannon Beach in Oregon.  These are not actually new.  I drew these before I decided to go back to college to get an art degree.  I'm sure you can see why I needed more instruction.  But before you think I'm being self-deprecating, I always think I need more instruction.  There's very little in this world that I'm not interested in and want to learn about.  I hope that I won't ever stop wanting to know more.  I think that is one of my better assets.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Something that makes me smile

Something that makes me smile is remembering this first time that Papa got to take a nap with our first and only grandson.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Have a Praise!

Recently I convinced the homeschool group where I teach art to submit projects to the art contest at the state fair.  I am pleased and more than just a little proud that every one of my students (4 students) won ribbons.  Out of the 10 student projects submitted, they got 8 ribbons, 4 blue, 3 red and 1 white.  I have no new drawings to post today.  Today is dedicated to my students who have worked hard and reaped those rewards!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Here is a recent sketch I did with Fall symbolism.  I'm afraid the scan is pretty bad.  This is a preparatory sketch for another large art project at school.  Critique and comments are welcome.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall is coming!

We are having our first Fall weather day today.  So I thought I would post this Sycamore tree leaf that I found floating in a stream.  I just love Sycamore trees.  They are so beautiful year round.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A New Week

Last week ended on a disappointing note for me but I've had a really wonderful weekend and I'm ready to start anew.  I took two paintings in to the State Fair competition.  I know there isn't a lot of payoff in that but I really need to get more comfortable with competing.  My husband purchased a daily sketchbook for me at the art museum.  I'm already enjoying it.  I had forgotten the pure pleasure in the quick imperfect sketch.  Not that perfection is ever something I have to worry about, it is definitely freeing to not worry about what someone else is going to think of it.

Today I'm pulling out one of the older drawings.  I look back at some of them and wonder how I had the nerve to keep going.  But then I look at others and say, yeah, that's why I kept going.

I tried and tried to get this lion to wake up so I could get an upright photo of him.  He insisted on his cat nap and so that's how I painted him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A little Whine with that Cheese?

Now I'm going to whine about what I'm cheesed off about.  It's hard sometimes to take critique, especially when you've worked so hard on something.  It's easier to take it when you feel that there is no malice and that it is well intended.  Like the critique I got here on the worker piece.  I got good advice and I took it.  Then I took the piece to class for critique and grade.

Everyone of my classmates made really good comments about it and then the teacher asked... Does anyone see anything wrong with it?  Fair question, right?  Long silence, no one wanted to say anything.  Again fair enough, be kind.  When the silence continued, the teacher said, "Come on, out with it, Kate really wants to hear what else you have to say."  Now I'm starting to think that's not so nice.  But still no one said anything.  Finally, she turned to me and said, "I know I told you not to do too much detail in the face but you really should have taken some close up shots and done more detail in the face."

Am I wrong in feeling a little sting with that?  Anyway, that's my cheese and my whine.  Again, thank you to everyone who critiqued on here and gave me really wonderful advice that helped me produce a piece that wow'd everyone except my teacher.  I have no intention of letting a little snarkiness get in the way of my goals.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Art Project revised

So here he is again, I didn't make his head actually bigger.  I made his chin a little bigger and made his collar and shoulder bump smaller.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Major Art Project of this Semester

I haven't posted in about a week but I finally got this project near finished.  It's a good thing too since it is due on Thursday.  Now I can sit back and look at it for a little while and think about what needs to be tweaked.

Critiques and comments are welcome but be fast about it so I can fix it before I turn it in! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Prayers are answered!

I was whining last time about missing color and wouldn't you know it?  From my lips to God's ears!  Yesterday the art teacher said we could bring a dry color medium and good paper to class and do something new!  My pastel box is going to get to travel.  Yay me!

I love drawing children on the beach.  I call this one Isaac because it reminds me of a quote by Isaac Newton.  I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Miss Color

In my drawing classes, so far we are using colored Canson Mi Tientes and charcoal and white.  I sure miss color.  It's easy to say, well just do color at home but my lame excuse is, by the time I do my school work and housework, I don't have time to do color. 

So today I'm posting a past experiment with oil pastels.  This is on standard Strathmore Pastel paper.  I love the rich colors and the ease it went onto the paper.  The blending was so easy and it was still easy to come back and put unblended highlights on top.  I'll be doing more with it when I have more time, when I can prioritize it and make more time.  I love experimenting with new mediums and papers.  I want to try it all!

I need to say a word about photo resources.  The photo resource for this painting came from  If you don't know about them, they are a great resource for peer input, lessons, advice and critique, not to mention photos submitted by other artists for your free use.  Of course, some are free-r than others in that they won't mind if you sell the work and others just want you to use their photos for practice.  It's always good practice to respect someone else's copyright and give credit where it's due.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I’m Not Who I Used to Be

I’m Not Who I Used to Be
By Kate McCullough

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a cute blonde
But then I grew up.

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a daughter,
But my parents have passed on.

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a mother to 2 small children
But then they grew up.

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a nurse,
But death trampled my heart.

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a farmer,
But death again closed the farm gate.

I’m not who I used to be,
I used to be a real estate agent,
But travel took its place.

I am a wife to Rick,
Mother to Missy and Danny,
Stepmother to Erin,
Grandmother to Devan,
A sister,
A friend,
A dog lover,
A Christian,
A Republican,
An artist,
A student at NSU.

I’m not who I used to be
And yet
Who I used to be is who I am.

I won’t always be who I am now
But I have been here
And someone will remember me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


For the past year, I've been trying to slog through my own murkiness and find a clear path to further my artistic ability. I had touched on the topic of going to school as a way to progress. I had also touched on the very romantic idea of taking "Art Holidays" where I would go spend a week studying with an artist and learn what could be learned in a week from them. That really sounds like a lot of fun to me but, it's very costly and I don't want to take a vacation where I'm going to be away from Rick all day, every day of it. So I reverted back to the school idea.

To mention, I've already gotten an "Art Diploma" from Penn Foster which is great as a basic course but doesn't really get you anywhere. I started looking around to see who offered a Bachelor's in Fine Arts and found 2 universities near me that did. The deciding factor? The one closest to me has a demand of ownership of two of your art pieces (their choice)as part of your graduation requirements. Give my art away? Not to anyone I don't love. So I drive a little bit farther and go to Northeastern State University where I am studying Fine Arts.

I tried it out over the summer to make sure I could handle school. Can you believe that after 35 years out of high school, I had to take remedial math? I sure did. I'm just glad I only had to take intermediate algebra and not elementary algebra as well. After making sure I could hack school, I quit my part time job and enrolled in school full time.

I just completed the first week. It's kicking my tail. The work is not too hard, it's the walking. The school is in Tahlequah but it feels like I'm having to park in Fayetteville to get the nearest parking spot. We are still in the throes of a very hot and dry August and shady parking spots come at a premium. No one makes it to class without breaking out in a sweat and the classrooms are starting to store the aroma. With luck the heat wave will break soon and I will become accustomed to the extra walking.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


One of the first female artists I learned about as a kid was Georgia O'Keefe. The huge closeups she did of flowers was awe-inspiring. I'm not a big fan of her more abstract or skull art but I do love her flowers. So, of course, I always wanted to do one but lacked the skill and the ability to overcome the fear of failing at it.

Recently one of my art students was talking to me about a project she had in mind with a friend of hers to do a close up of a magnolia, so that set me to dreaming again. Then the yahoo group posted this sweet hibiscus as the August challenge.

My camera went nuts on all those reds and blues and purples in it. So the photo is not as good as I wanted and the scanner was even crazier. But I've finally achieved half of my Georgia O'Keefe goal. I painted the close up, now I need to paint a really big close up.

But now on to styles of painting. Sometimes I copy a "master" because I've loved something they've done. It's an excellent method of learning. But I want to caution any artist reading this, learn the lesson and move on to discovering and developing your own style. It's better to let Richard McKinley paint Richard McKinley paintings and better to let Thomas Kinkaid paint Thomas Kinkaid paintings. Why? Because you probably don't want someone to look at your painting and say, "that looks just like a Thomas Kinkaid painting." Personally, I want someone to look at my paintings and say, "That looks just like a Kate McCullough painting."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sometimes we learn by copying the masters. This originally was done by Mary Cassatt in pastel. This is my version which is as close to hers as I could get it.

I think this is a pretty good rendering but I find myself wishing I had owned a better set of pastels when I did this one.

When we first start learning something, we hesitate to buy the better tools, simply because we don't want to invest a lot of money into something that may or may not work out. I have a lot of cheap pastels now that I loan out to my students when they can't afford to buy some or just need to expand their selection.

When I purchased my Senneliers, the first thing I noticed was better coverage on the paper. It didn't take as many layers to fill those holes. I see a lot of those holes in this one.

You can see in this painting the difference between the cheap pastels and the Senneliers. Not only does it give better coverage on the paper but the colors are richer and more vibrant. I did this painting with far fewer layers and I'm much happier with the results.

By the way, both paintings hang in my daughter's home. She has also been a source of continuous support for my art. Every artist needs their patrons.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This is my grandson playing in Ft. Gibson lake. He loves the water.

I drew the picture of my husband in Drawing I class at NSU. After the class, I wanted to see if I could do this without instruction. Again it's charcoal on Canson Mi Tientes. I'm very pleased with it.

I found the eyes to be the most difficult. They weren't closed but aimed downward at his hand and the photo was taken from above him. It took a while to get the angle just right and I had to erase them more than once.
The hand and the water wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. It took a lot of layers and I ended up wetting the tip of a white charcoal (what is white charcoal made of anyway?) to get the whitest whites.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This is my other half, Rick. He's my biggest fan, best supporter and when it comes to my art, my most often model. I've done so many bad portraits of him, its ridiculous. So it's nice to show off a good portrait of him.

This one is charcoal on Canson Mi Tientes. It was done in class. It is my second time for using Canson Mi Tientes... does anyone ever use the rough side?

Monday, July 5, 2010

White Azalea - pastel on velour paper

White Azalea - pastel on velour paper

This was my first pastel painting and still one of my favorites. I can see the errors in it and things I wish I had done differently. But isn't that how life is? We have the shouldas and couldas haunting our every day. Some things you can go back and correct... I could correct this painting. And some things you have to live with, nothing will undo them. As my pastor says, "You can't unscramble an egg." And some things, we just move on. This is what I've chosen to do with this painting. I could correct it but I've moved on. I've learned from the errors I made (hopefully) and I'll keep going.

I have several azaleas bushes in front of my home. Each one blooms profusely every April.
Each one is a different color. One even has two types of blooms on it.
I don't know how that happened but it is what it is.

The white azalea came from the funeral of a previous owner's mother.
I'm thankful that she shared her story with me and I know that every time she sees this magnificent bush flower, she thinks of her mother.

This is my first post on this blog. As I post more, I'll share some of what brought me here as I begin sharing where I'm going.