Thursday, December 31, 2009


Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year. It also marks the start of my January challenge to draw. Tonight I will be at a friend's house to celebrate New Year's. In preparation for the first week of the challenge, which will be the study of hands, I am bringing my camera to the festivities, in hopes of getting reference.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Desktop Image

Adam had me make his bird into a background image for his desktop. What a supportive husband! He even picked out what color he wanted behind the bird.

Angry Bird?

The other day when Adam came home from work, I showed him the birds I was working on. He got kind of excited and started searching for more bird pictures online. Then he said that if I was going to have bird paintings taped all over our wall, he got to pick the next one I did. So this is the one he "commissioned" me to do. He was pretty thrilled today when he came home and saw that I had done it after all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Reshot these in the morning. Much better I think.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Two Cardinals Today

I got a little more particular today. And I've realized that I need to take pictures in the morning when the natural light is coming in. The pictures don't come out quite so yellow that way, like they do when I'm using lamps at night. I will probably reshoot the second cardinal, the "Merry Christmas..." one, tomorrow. I really want a nice scanner someday, though, so I don't have to keep taking photos. Color is so much harder to adjust than black & white. I did manage to update the last bluejay picture. The color is a little better now.

Also, the for the second cardinal I began with a yellow wash for a base. The first one, I noticed, wasn't popping as much as I wanted it to be, so for the second one I thought the yellow would help.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Day With Jay

I am definitely having an off day today. I hope it's only a day anyway. Not terribly trilled with this one, but I am posting it nonetheless, as a record of progress.

I hate working when I'm cold!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Line & Color in December

I've been trying to keep busy this month. With my commission finally finished and handed in, and the Night of Joy concert over, it's time to give myself some sort of goals for the rest of December. I know I'll be having monthly challenges lined up for every month of the new year, but I can't just sit around doodling until it comes. So, since I've been doing birds the last few days, I've decided to make a little project out of them.

I found my bristol board tonight and set out on the first stage of my little idea. I cut one big sheet into four smaller ones, which I will be working on for now. If all goes well with the first one, I'll stick with bristol. I want to stick to some kind of consistency, like surface and size, so that I can keep them all together in a series. The way I've been working is mostly experimental. Less about subject and more about line and color.

As far as line goes, I've been enjoying the results of using a brush. The thick and thin is more obvious, I think. As for color, I have been exploring the way I put it down. Loose, yet deliberate. And I am still trying to be aware of the colors within a single color, like the reds in the blue of a bluejay. For this aspect of my studies, I may have to revert back to watercolor. I do enjoy acrylics, but I could not get the warm blue I wanted for the bluejay today. Of course, I was working on a very absorbent piece of mat board. Not a good idea. Anyway, I like watercolor and acrylic about equally. I just use acrylic more. Wouldn't mind getting back to my other favorite though. I'll see how it goes.

Bluejay Sketch

I'm sensing a theme here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Cardinal Sketches

Experimenting a bit with line and color. The second sketch got really muddy when I tried to paint over an ink pen. I went over it with white to try and fix it. Now I know not to use the pen like that. And really I should be doing this stuff on bristol board or something. Anyway, I'm having fun with the birds. I'll probably do more. Oh, and I need to invest in a white light of some kind so I stop getting the yellowed pictures. Alas! The woes of the artist.

Poor Kitty

This was totally random. It started out as a little doodle of birds and ended up like this. It's from the other day but I forgot about it. I know. The trunk is way too big for that tree.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Month of...

I came up with a set of goals last night, after all my doodling. It's something I've thought of before, but I'd never really fleshed it out until last night. This is what it looks like:

A Month of Studies
1. A Week of Hands
2. A Week of Ears
3. A Week of Faces
4. A Week of Feet

I came up with topics for another 3 months, but I will wait to reveal those until their assigned months draw closer. I am hoping that this weekly list of goals will not only get me to draw everyday, but also challenge me artistically. I plan to start this challenge in January, as sort of a New Year's goal. It will start at the first full week of every month.

Art Show and Night Doodles

I decided to sketch in bed last night. I hadn't had time to draw all day, because I was helping set up the art show for the Christmas concert at my church. There was a lot more artwork entered than I had expected, so I ended up staying late to help finish hang everything.

There are some very nice pieces in the show. Even the kids have their own little corner of artwork. There's one chalk drawing of a Dalmatian that looks like a photograph from far away. It was done by a 10 year old girl. And there's one woman who does beautiful pastel work. I think it'll be a good show. There are paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media... all kinds of stuff.

While hanging the show, I met a man from the church who is a professional illustrator. He was very knowledgeable when he spoke, yet quite humble about the way he talked about his own work. I'm looking forward to meeting more artists at the church. After seeing all the artwork entered for the concert, I feel like there is a whole community of artists that no one really knows about, except on the occasions there is a special event at which artwork is displayed. That is one of the reasons I want to start an art ministry.

What the heck...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tree Abstracts

Photos I took with a telephoto lens and put into photoshop. The first two I thought had their own abstract quality. I simply adjusted the levels. The last one is obviously more manipulated. I'm thinking one of these would be a fun painting.

Cardinal Sketch

I felt like painting with the left over red on my palette. So I looked up a photo of a cardinal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Elvis Commission Finished

Reference and sketches...

I really never imagined I'd be commissioned to do a portrait of Elvis Presley. Or any celebrity for that matter. It's not typically my thing. The only time I did a celebrity portrait was for a class assignment in college. Elvis proved to be a challenge. I looked at a lot of pictures, trying to figure out what made Elvis... Elvis. The most challenging thing about this was trying to get the look the client wanted. In this case, Elvis in his jumpsuit, standing next to the client's boyfriend. It was the face that was most difficult though. I had to reference multiple images and sketches to try to get the right look. I'm not sure how I feel about the final outcome, but this was definitely a learning experience. I wouldn't be surprised if this project subconsciously inspired me to practice more famous faces.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


My current commission. Still have a ways to go. This is a picture of my work space, taken yesterday. Gonna try to finish tonight and tomorrow. Adam's bringing home a coffee coolatta for me. Mmmm... What a guy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I found the camera!

The other day I was frantically searching the apartment for my ruler, or some other such nonsense. It seemed pretty hopeless since all I had to go on was the fact that it was SOMEWHERE in the giant pile in the room. While I didn't find what I was looking for, I DID find what I wasn't looking for. Our camera! I can't get quite the same quality with some things as I can with a scanner, but it's better than nothing. Of course, I can't take pictures of the stuff that is also lost in the pile. But I did scrounge up a couple little things.

Car ride doodles and ears.

Brought my little sketch book in with me when I went to go see Where the Wild Things Are. These are my doodles before the movie started.

A silverpoint portrait I'm working on in my spare time. I'm using a little bit of graphite for this one, just to see what kind of results I can get.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going On's

Life as a Lewis...

So Adam and I have been married a month now. Married life is great. We're living in an apartment in Wethersfield, CT. Right now things are kind of frustrating for the both of us, though. All our stuff is piled into the middle of the living room at the moment, and must remain there until November 11th. I won't get into the details, but basically everyone in the building has to do this. And so here we are.

We've been trying to stay optimistic about the situation, but there comes a point where you just want to be able to find what you're looking for and have room to breathe. We had just moved in and begun to unpack when we were all told we'd have to be packing it up again.

The biggest issue for me is that I have a commission I need to work on. I don't have access to any of my books, I don't have much room to work, and I have no way of scanning or printing anything. I do have some reference material to work with, which is a good start though. I'm just hoping I can make the best of this situation, and get my work done despite the inconvenience. I have to get back into the habit of making a schedule, too, so that I can make deadlines for myself. My goal is to have the piece done by the end of November, or early December at the very latest.

I also want to start drawing everyday. I've had periods of time when I am successful at this, but as of late, I haven't had much time and/or motivation to do so. With possible commissions in sight, it is especially important that I do this. Today, I started working on a little silverpoint piece to start my day. Unfortunately, I've been sick so I didn't get far before a had to crash. But it did feel good to switch out that graphite for a piece of silver wire.

Can't wait until home and health are back to normal. I want to start posting sketches and the like again, too.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I am very excited to have a Mac now. The main reason for having one is so that I can use Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. But right now I'm trying to figure out how to do everything else that would normally be easy for me to do, were I working on a Windows machine. I'm so used to Windows! Just a moment ago I tried scanning something so I could post it here, but the computer won't recognize my printer/scanner. I could take a picture, but without my card reader -which I expect is back in Wolcott at my dad's house- I can't even put pictures onto the computer.

Given, Mac does make some things a lot easier, and it is a very "quick thinking" machine, I just can't help but miss the simple pleasures of having Windows. Like being able to use the right click on the mouse, or just being able to print a selected text instead of the whole page. And I really miss the delete key that let's you erase letters in front of the cursor.

Anyways... I'm just frustrated because I can't do things as easily as I could before. I know I'll figure it out eventually. I just want to figure it out soon...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Thank you to everyone who voted. The winning title was The Colors of Joy. And because it was tied for so long with Alyssa Joy's Art Blog, I am still including something similar in the description. I think that's a good compromise.

Next on the agenda for this blog, as you may have noticed, is changing the look of the blog. I won't have you guys vote this time, but I will be experimenting, a little here and there.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'd been wanting to work with charcoal again. It's a messy medium, though, and it was hard to make time. Today, however, was one of those really annoying days. Not the day itself, rather the things going on within its time frame. One thing after another it seemed, from that person honking their horn at me for not turning left into oncoming traffic, to miscommunication with our bank being the reason I still haven't gotten a new debit card.

I had pulled my big sketch pad out days ago, and even went so far as to tone the paper for my next anticipated drawing. It sat on the craft table downstairs after that. Until today. After finding out about the bank stuff, I grabbed that same sketch pad, my box of charcoals, and headed outside to the backyard.

We have this big flower pot that looks like something from antiquity. That's what I wanted to draw. And so I did. It felt good to work in charcoal again, and to draw from life. When I go for long periods of time without drawing or creating something, I feel like I'm losing touch with a very important part of myself. It's been fun planning my wedding, but in all honesty, I can't wait until it's over so I can just go back to doing art.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's in a name?

The moment you've all been waiting for (maybe)... a new blog name! I really had a hard time coming up with names I thought suitable, and ones that I could possibly find myself liking for a long time. And so, a vote is in order. I will go over all the choices here, then find a way to add a poll. I think blogger has that option around here somewhere. Here we go...

Alyssa Joy's Art Blog - This is pretty straight forward, to the point, and includes everything you need to know about this blog in that professional sense. It also follows close to the url address, Not that that's completely necessary, but it's there.

The Colors of Joy - This is more on the clever side of telling you what this blog is. A bit of play on words. "Colors" referring to something visual and/or aesthetic, while "Joy" can refer either to the emotion or to my name, Alyssa Joy. So this title also includes a what and who, in a sense.

Creative Joy - Like the previous one, a unique play on words. "Creative" suggesting originality of thought or expression, and "Joy" being the emotion of great delight. Together these words can mean different things: the delightful satisfaction ones finds when taking part in the creative process; or again, that play on words referring to the creator of this blog. I think both interpretations are appropriate, as with the previous title.

What do you all think? If you have other suggestions I'll take them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Starting from scratch... Again!

I know. I'm so fickle. I am very particular when it comes to naming things, which is why I don't usually title my pieces. I feel a title can either add or take away from a piece. Any title given to my artwork is most often a title descriptive of that piece so that I can identify it myself. Simple, to the point, and not leaving everything untitled, which also drives me crazy. For example, this piece is call "The Way" for obvious reasons.

Anyways... When it comes to something as involved and longterm as a blog, I like having a title that not only means something to me, but is something that sits right with me everytime I see. The title for my personal blog, Better Is One Day, has stuck with me since freshmen year of college. And I am still fond of the title today. That is how I want to establish my professional blog as well. It's something people are going to be familiar with when they visit my blog, and something I'll have to see every time I update.

As much as I enjoyed the meaning behind the previous title of this blog, I just haven't been crazy about it. And so, onward to discovering a new name. A name that is both professional and meaningful.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Portraits and Sketches

Graphite drawing of my sister's friend. This took me forever to work on. It became the little thing I'd work on in my spare time. It doesn't really feel quite done to me, but the paper has lost a lot of its tooth for some reason, so I can't get the darks I wanted. Either way I'm ready to move on to something else. Gonna try to do some little portraits of family members when I can.

I used to not be that interested in doing portraits, but I'm actually quite fond of them these days. It's like I get to show a piece of myself in someone else, to take special care of ever single feature of their face as if it were the most important thing I could possibly do in a single moment. There's also something fantastically gratifying about doing a portrait of someone without them knowing about it. When they see that you chose to draw them, of all people, there is a humble, yet flattered and excited, vibe they give off. It's so rewarding.

These two I did last night. Sketches from pictures I took in Vermont.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Pile of Pictures!

I have been working on a few things here and there. I just haven't been taking the time to post here lately. These are the things I've had scanned and saved to the computer for a while now, so I'm posting them all together from most recent to oldest. I'll explain each a little bit.

This is a sketch for a commission from my little sister. Her band has this thing with buffalos -which I won't go into- and she wanted to be the first with a tatoo of one. This is before I did the final alterations, like outlining and fixing the feet.

These two were just the result of me being in the mood to draw. I don't always know what to draw, so I'll just put my pencil to the paper and draw anyways. I really miss drawing the figure, hence the one with the figure and bird. The one with "frames" started out as those little swirlies, and because I like drawing rectangles, that's the directing it took.

This one was part of a collaborative project my friend has been doing this summer. It was in response to a piece of writing someone sent me. Once I finished my drawing, I sent it to someone else, who then responed with some kind of musical influence. It was pretty cool. I've only been able to stay minimally involved so I'm not really sure what happened after that.

This was more of an experiment than anything else. I don't usually do stuff with type. I've been thinking about starting an art misistry someday so I was playing around with the idea and seeing what I could come up with for a poster design. I must admit I had fun. And I've been having fun designing all the wedding stuff, too. Maybe when it's all over I'll post all those things as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Car Ride Doodles

Worked on this in Mom's van on the way to and from Subway. Em and Mar came, too. Oh, and our dog, Ruby. It was a fun little time. Mom said she likes watching me doodle like this. Another way to experiment, another way to release some creative energy. I love doodling.

More Experimenting

It's these kinds of little projects that make two things happen. One, it makes me miss using Photoshop. Everything about Paint Shop Pro is so limited compared to the superior program that Photoshop is. And two, it reminds me why I'd much rather be painting in real life than trying to do it digitally. I'm just so slow at it. Although it does have the benefits of no clean up, and you can change the color of something without much hassle, I still prefer traditional media.

Don't get me wrong. I did have fun with this, despite the frustrations. It started as an ink doodle, which I scanned and colored in Paint Shop Pro 7. I was doing something similar to this a little while ago, only now I'm filling in a lot more with color. This time, I was actually inspired by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. This, of course, is my own version and it looks nothing like his work, but I had been looking at his work online before I started this doodle. I liked the look of collaged shapes and the depth in his work. Mine is a very flat, digital doodle, but I think it could be the spark for future experiments.

Quick Portrait: Mar

My sister's friend from out of state has been visiting for a couple weeks. I was in the mood to take some portrait photos last week so I took advantage of having company over. I shot pictures of my sister Emily, her out-of-state friend Mar, and her other friend whose name I do not recall at the moment.

Ever since I finished the silverpoint series of my other sister, Kaylee, I've missed doing portraits. This drawing was a nice break from the experimental stuff I've been doing. I did it in a couple hours. That's why I call it a quick portrait. Not as much time put into it as my more detailed renderings, so I suppose you could call it more of a sketch. Well, whatever you call it, I got my temporary portrait fix. I also printed her out a copy as a little gift from Connecticut. She was quite surprised and delighted.

Society Catch Up

In a previous entry, I mentioned that I joined a blog with several of my classmates from art school, called the Open Sketch Book Society. It has definitely kept me motivated to keep drawing and making work. However, as my previous entry explains, I have not been able to keep up on the artistic area of my life every single day. So yesterday was a "catch-up" day for me. I got about four make-ups done and have three to go, the third being today's due entry. And today really is the only time for more making up because the rest of the week is wedding dress shopping, Six Flags with my sisters, babysitting, and possibly jury duty. Anyways, I'll post my make-up stuff one thing at a time, going in order of creation.

This one is a quick sketch of my cat, Rogue (yes, after the X-men character). I started it as a pencil drawing last week, and then finished it in yesterday morning in ink. "Scumble" refers to the line style, that scribble look.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lagging Last Week

As expected, I hit a pretty big wall this past week as far as sketching is concerned. I was job searching, hanging out with family, and taking care of my sick fiance at his house while trying to get through the registry stuff together. So I haven't quite had much room for the creative stuff.

I've also been slowly making my way through the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. The title sounds a lot more daunting than it is. It is very well organized, informative, and a great resource if you are an illustrator or designer. Actually, I think just about anyone could benefit from reading it, even non-artists. Why? Because it helps put into fair perspective the roles of artists and art buyers/clients. It helps set up guidelines for which art can be conducted as a business. It also establishes that artists provide a respectable service just as any other occupation, like plumbers or mechanics. We seek to meet the visual, artistic needs of others, yet artists, too, must make a living in this world. So again, this book establishes fair guidelines to pricing and business for both artist and client. Get it!

I got this book after it was strongly recommended to us by our illustration professors. I didn't have a lot of time to read during school, so it got added to the pile of books I want to read. Since being out of school, I've already gotten a few requests for possible commissions. So I made sure to pull out the Handbook and start reading. I want to make sure I do it right and not screw anyone over, including myself.

I hope to have more art up soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rainy Day Doodles

As much as I wanted to go outside and draw flowers again today, I couldn't control the yucky weather. So I made a doodle day out of it. When I doodle, I come up with the most random and strange things sometimes. It's sort of a game for me when I get focused like I did here. I start with one thing and branch off to transition into another thing, and so on and so forth. It's a different kind of doodling from the ones in earlier entries. It's kind of hard to explain...

Moving on. I was getting sick of my drawings being so light on the scanner, so I went back with india ink after penciling everything out. After outlining and scanning, I experimented with adding color digitally. Here are the before and after images. Not sure how I feel about the colored one, but it was fun to do.

Another Flower

I've been enjoying drawing outside. These flower studies are very light, I know. It's just my lack of a good scanner that's the problem. I'll try to make them darker next time, or at least take a photo to see if that works better.

Anyways, I'm still doing studies before I do the actual watercolor piece. I think I'll make that a rule for myself. These are both from yesterday. Sketches (from life) in the afternoon, and the painting (from a picture I took) in the early evening. The butterfly was actually sitting there on the flower when I took the picture. There was a bug on the Columbine flower, too, but I left it out because it wasn't "cute" like the butterfly. I don't know the name of this flower. If I find out, I'll post it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Favorite Flower: Columbine

I found this strange flower in my front yard last week. It's quite amazing, really. It's called a Columbine. Not sure where it got that name. It reminds me more of a dragon actually, the way the top pedals shoot back those long pieces like horns and the under pedals burst out underneath the top pedals. If I could name it, I'd call it something like "Dancing Dragon."

Anyway, today I set out to draw it. It was a beautiful day so I had no excuse not to. Lately I've been so busy with cleaning, job searching, and wedding planning that I just haven't had time to draw. But today was a rest day. I felt inspired to do studies of the flower first, like Leonardo Da Vinci. I also remembered doing tulip studies for Jeremiah Patterson my freshmen year at college, before starting our final drawings. I thought maybe he'd be proud if he saw me doing it on my own now, especially since I had hated drawing tulips over and over in his class. I suppose the repetition of subjects over the last few years has helped me build patience.

I eventually took pictures of flowers around my yard, including the Columbine, and did a watercolor this evening. This rendition does not do justice to the real flower. Its colors are much more brilliant and beautiful. This is officially one of my favorite flowers now.

You can also see these images on The Open Sketch Book Society.