Posts Tagged ‘drawing’

Today’s Affirmation:

“Life is sweet at its core.”

Maple tree symbolism: Balance, practicality, abundance, sweetness in life

May each breath you take today be infused with the sweetness of life. ūüôā

Maple meditation 12-18-15

Trees are such spiritually sophisticated beings. I’m really grooving on them lately!

This piece started as a doodle. I had done some prayer work involving tree imagery for my friend Tanya English (a gifted healer, by the way, who does remote as well as in-person healings) a while back and she had an amazing connection with a golden Maple tree. She had asked me to do a piece of Maple art for her, but it didn’t come right away.

Then a short while back I started doodling on a long phone call, and this emerged. I hope to have time some day to use it as the basis for a watercolor. Tanya couldn’t wait, though, and printed it out as a coloring sheet!

Tanyas tree coloring


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I’m delighted to have recently taken on a wonderful new student. My 14 year old niece, Jenna, is a lovely girl and an amazing little artist. She came to me with a basic background in drawing, and about 2 (maybe more) years of oil painting lessons under her belt.

Jenna does wonderful abstract pieces, but I am a firm believer that developing a solid grasp of drawing fundamentals is an essential element in any artist’s education. Being able to draw really well from life means you can realize virtually any vision you can imagine. So, we’re gearing up for a lot of still life work this semester!

still life with plate and bottleI set up the above still life about 10 feet from where Jenna was working. The goal for this session was to pay close attention to proportions. I taught her how to measure the length or width of one object using a thumb or pencil held at arm’s length, and how to use that as a unit of measure to figure out the size of a neighboring object.

1 hour still life by Jenna Martin

1 hour still life drawing by Jenna Martin

Here is Jenna’s first attempt. It took her about an hour. She did a very good job and displayed a lot of patience on several occasions when she realized that some of her proportions were off, and she had to erase and re-draw.

I have to mention that the tilted plate was wicked on my part. Jenna did an excellent job with it given her level of experience.

Next, I asked Jenna to take out a new sheet of paper, and set the timer. She had five minutes to re-draw the still life from scratch. Here is what she did:

Student still life drawing 2

5 minute still life drawing by Jenna Martin

AWESOME! Her proportions on the 5 minute drawing were actually more accurate than the one she’s labored over for an hour, with very little erasing and re-working. The difference? A huge amount of observation. Plus, the time limit forced her to work more decisively and intuitively – which she could do successfully because she’d spent so much time looking at it and analyzing it in advance.

Most beginning artists don’t spend nearly enough time observing their subjects. Once you take the time to really get to know a subject, the actual process of drawing becomes much easier, as Jenna discovered today.

I think you could extrapolate this lesson to many areas of life, don’t you?

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Animal totem art reading: Bear goddessSo I have been doing these drawings lately. I hold a person in my mind, and close my eyes, and before long images will appear to me, and I get them down on paper.

I think I’ve been doing this kind of thing for most of my life. It’s called art. ūüôā

Seriously, though, after several many years of painting and drawing things out of my head it dawned on me that hey, I think these images have meaning. About two years or so after doing a painting I’d look back and realize what it signified.

After even more years it started getting easier to interpret the symbols and images that appeared to me. It’s a lot like dreaming on paper. After a while you learn to interpret your ‘dreams’, and if you pay attention, you will find that your dreams (or in my case, my drawings) become a series of guideposts to help¬†in navigating through life.

Anyway, as I mentioned, lately I’ve started doing these for people I know.¬†One day I just sat down and held my dad in my thoughts, and this is what came out.

I won’t go into what it might mean for him, because that is his business, but I can tell a bit about the general symbols involved, in case they resonate with anyone else out there.

Bear Animal Totem

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. Bears¬†have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

Another important lesson we can learn from Bear is to respect one’s¬†natural cycles of rest and activity. Bears don’t experience true hibernation¬†in the winter¬†(their body temperatures don’t go low enough and they can be awakened),¬†but they do hole up in their dens and experience a sort of “hibernation light.” Incredibly, they can go more than 3 months without food, water, or bathroom breaks. People with a Bear totem may experience cycles of ups and downs, or periods of intense creativity or activity interspersed with unproductive periods. This is normal for them, and being aware of their natural creative cycles and learning to honor and respect them can help Bear people overcome the pressure society sometimes puts on people to go, go, go. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes a deep rest is needed in order to prepare oneself for high accomplishments.

Bears are excellent mothers and bears are often associated with protective nurturing. Another interesting quality of bears that relates to creativity is delayed implantation. Bears mate in summer, but the embryos don’t implant in the female’s womb until late fall before she dens. If she hasn’t gained enough fat over the summer, they won’t implant and she won’t have cubs that year. Bear people may experience delays between initial inspiration and actually taking creative action. They may also need to pay special attention to¬†“putting their own oxygen mask on first.”¬†Taking care of oneself first ensures that you will have enough energy to meet everyone’s needs.

Bears aren’t pack animals¬†like wolves, but they do interact with each other, and they do develop social hierarchies. Attitude seems to be the determining factor when it comes to bear dominance. They prefer to use posturing and intimidation to make their point rather than resorting to a fight. However, if a bear does get pushed to its limit, watch out!

Bear Goddess

The Bear has had special spiritual significance since Neolithic times. It is the sacred animal of Artio, the Celtic goddess of wildlife, who is thought to be the precursor to the Greek goddess Artemis (or Diana in the Roman tradition), also associated with the Bear. Artemis is best known as the goddess of the hunt, but was also goddess of wild things and protector of young women. She was supposed to have asked her father, Zeus, to allow her to remain always a maiden, a request which he granted.

A Bear person may not find it easy to stay in a conventional relationship. However, Bear energy is wonderful for connecting with one’s true (wild) nature, or nurturing one’s inner child.

Moon Symbolism

When I first drew this image, I saw the orb in the figure’s hand as glowing with light. It struck me as being connected with the light of knowledge. I think it may be a moon image as well. The moon is another symbol of the goddess Diana. Like the bear, the moon goes through cycles, waxing and waning in power and influence. It is also closely connected with feminine power. I think in this image the moon serves to amplify the energies of the bear and the goddess. In general, the moon is associated with emotions and intuition. The message I got for this particular one, however, is one of a strong intellect – perhaps giving power and focus to intuition. (An example of how an individual’s symbols can sometimes over-ride, underscore or vary from¬†universal symbolism.)


I hope you have enjoyed this interpretation, and if you are working with any of these symbols in your own life, I hope it was helpful! Keep in mind that any particular symbol can have multiple meanings, so if my interpretation doesn’t quite resonate with you, it doesn’t mean the symbol isn’t relevant to you. Keep searching! Some sources that may be helpful include:

  • Avia’s What’s Your Sign website – one of my favorite resources for looking up the meanings of all kinds of animal totems and other symbols
  • Ted’s Andrews’ excellent book Animal Speak

Or, you might want to study up on bears and their behavior and come to your own conclusions. Here are some good links to start with:

Thanks also to¬†Granny Moon’s Goddess School¬†for information on the Bear Goddess Artio!


Have you worked with bear energy? Please feel free to share your insights!


(P.S. I have a bunch more of these I’ve done for various people, and will post them as I find the time. I’m also planning to do a painting based on this particular drawing, so stay tuned!)


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wolf digital image painting

Learning to manipulate the digital pen and work in layers in Photoshop...

I’ve painted this wolf in watercolor (based on a pencil sketch from a couple of years ago), so thought I’d give it a try in Photoshop.

It came out kind of looking like a piece done in oil pastels.¬† I do really enjoy the fact that overworking an area doesn’t mean I’m stuck with it! In this piece I learned how to use layers to build up an image…¬† very different than layering with physical paint because here one has the luxury of adding to or removing any layer at any time!¬† And of course adding another layer won’t muss up the ones beneath it.

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Graphite drawing - male hand

Male hand drawing #1

More hand studies from the animation illustration project. The male hand is supposed to appear more forceful.¬† I drew these pencil studies from reference photos I took of my son Isaac’s hand.

However his hands are fairly small and delicate for a guy.¬† I think a more robust model would be more appropriate for this particular project so I will be redoing these studies very soon.¬† (I tease him that he’d make a good large animal vet, remembering James Herriot’s comments about small hands being an asset for delivering calves.¬† Isaac has an aversion to slime so he’s not amused.¬† But he does have beautiful hands and they were fun to draw.¬† Isaac – if you ever read this, thank you! )

Hands are always a challenge and a pleasure to draw and I certainly don’t consider it a waste of time to have done these.¬† Who knows – they may find their way into a painting some day…

Pencil drawing - male hand

Male hand drawing #2

Male hand drawing #3

Male hand study #3

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Drawing of a female hand pointing up

Female hand sketch #1 - my left hand (from life)

Ask, and you shall receive!

I recently started asking the Universe to help me find a way to use my creative talents to support me financially. Not long after, Lance, a client for whose non-profit I had done a fair amount of editing in the past, asked me if I’d be interested in doing some illustration.

But of course! ūüôā

These are some preliminary sketches for one component of an animated video.¬† It’s a pretty cool project – I can’t tell you much about it yet but I’ll reveal more as it reaches completion.

I did the drawings in graphite pencil on some old looseleaf stationary that we found in a building we own.¬† It is from the 50’s or 60’s and has this wonderful tooth and is a real pleasure to draw on.


Drawing of a woman's right hand

Drawing of my daughter's hand from a photo

Female hand drawing

This one was done from a photo of my daughter's right hand

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4 Horsemen with cleaning tools illustration

Apocalypse Cleanup Crew

It’s been busy around here.¬† My freelance writing is starting to take off so I haven’t been spending much time in the studio.¬† However, I finally got the illustration done last week!

Feels good.¬† Now on to something else.¬† I was in Chicago last month for a conference and picked up a watercolor board at the Utrecht store downtown.¬† I’ve never tried those things before.¬† Looking forward to it!

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