Portraits and stories from the nursing home

My grandmother spent her last few years in a nursing home, and after my visits with her, I would always wish I'd listened more (wisdom! stories! life lessons! history!). Even though I cared immensely and wanted to make fulfilling conversation with her and her friends, I felt nervous about what to say and unsure how to interact. This really bothered me, and I've been ruminating since on how to be more present and at ease in similar situations.

Recently, it occurred to me that art might be my gateway.

After contacting the nearby nursing home, I arranged to go in for an hour every couple of weeks to draw quick portraits of any residents that would like to sit for me. For now, I'm choosing the all-one-line technique (drawing without lifting my pen), as it is not only fast (5–10 minutes per portrait), it does not allow for fussing over mistakes. The process forces me to stay present and allow for whatever happens to happen. It also gives me a chance to look — truly look — at the face of each person, and listen as she or he tells me stories of falling in love, past careers, and children raised.

Here are some of the people I've had the chance to work with...

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I won an Illustration Friday challenge! #stoked

I love Illustration Friday, and I've been using their prompts to create new work since 2015.

A couple weeks ago, amidst a dearth of gray days and a cloudy head, I found out that I won a challenge! It was exactly what I needed to kick start a better frame of mind. Thank you once again, Illustration Friday!

Here is my collage for the "Twins" prompt (as promoted on Instagram):

Kendra Shedenhelm_TWINS_Illustration Friday_Collage

What is an #alloneline drawing?

I took an excellent online course with Von Glitschka awhile back, called the 21 Day Drawing Challenge. One of the prompts is to draw an image without lifting the pen. Just one intuitive, free-flowing line. It has been such a fun activity for me, and it really captures the something-from-nothing feeling that I can get when I create. If you ever feel stuck or concerned about perfection, I encourage you to try it.

Some of my recent all-one-line drawings are below. To see posts of other artist's #alloneline drawings, search the hashtag on Instagram. Cool stuff.

 All-one-line drawing of a girl saying grace (image referenced from the Internet Archives), ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

All-one-line drawing of a girl saying grace (image referenced from the Internet Archives), ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

 All-one-line drawing of a woman with headpiece, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

All-one-line drawing of a woman with headpiece, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

 All-one-line drawing of ladies having coffee, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

All-one-line drawing of ladies having coffee, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Illustration Friday, "Nose"

For this week's Illustration Friday's challenge, "Nose," I used my watercolor paintings as my collage material. It was my first time doing so, and I really liked incorporating both of my techniques into one. I definitely plan to explore this further.

I call this piece Portrait of a Woman with Flowers.

Illustration Friday, "Hat"

This week's Illustration Friday topic was "Hat."

I first sketched a bird with an actual hat. Then I thought of the Eurasian hoopoe that I recently drew for a client, and the cool crown/hat that it already has. 

Using the scans of vintage drawings, I assembled this black and white bird with a hoopoe-style headdress. I also added a vignette effect to give it a slightly creepy, noir-esque tone.

Illustration Friday: "Orbit"

This week's Illustration Friday challenge topic was "Orbit."

Similar to the "Moon" collage from a couple weeks ago, I used photos of grungy and decaying textures to create a scene that was recognizable, but almost accidentally so. 

After showing my 7 year old my initial abstract layout, he emphatically felt I needed to showcase the word "orbit" more, so I added more planets and some moons. This is what my son finally approved....

Illustration Friday again!

I really enjoyed creating this piece for last week's Illustration Friday's challenge, and I was stoked that I was able to submit again this week. This week's theme: "Tropical." 

I haven't worked with birds lately (possibly my favorite subject ever), so I decided to focus on tropical birds. I looked through various images, and considered a flamingo collage, but then I found a beautiful shot of a toucan. Below is my collage inspired by that photo...

Another submission for the Tomie dePaola Award

Yesterday, I submitted another illustration for the Tomie dePaola Award. This is my third year participating — I blogged about the 2013 contest here, and I was a semi-finalist for my 2014 submission, which you can see here.

The assignment was to "illustrate a moment from the following passage from Philip Pullman’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” from FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Viking, 2012)." (You can read the full prompt at SCBWI.org)

I chose this passage:
"When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him."

Below is my digital collage...

Birds, doodles, shoes and FREE coloring pages!

For a recent assignment, I drew my own shoe template. Now I can't stop drawing on it with my Artwin marker...

Here are a couple of my doodles. Feel free to download these images here, print them out and color them for yourself. I'd love to see what you come up with, so please find me on Instagram and post for me to see!