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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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

What's been happening this year: Update 4 of 6

Update #4: The Historical Heroines coloring book!

This was hands down one of the coolest projects I've ever been a part of. I couldn't be more grateful to have been chosen as the illustrator.

Crowd-funded and quickly labeled as a "Project We Love" on Kickstarter, this coloring book was conceived by the brilliant, eco-conscious and science-minded author Elizabeth Lorayne.

As explained from her site, "The Historical Heroines Coloring Book: Pioneering Women in Science from the 18th and 19th Centuries was born out of a desire to inspire and empower children, teens, and adults with coloring pages celebrating 31 women in science who followed their passions and let their brilliance and hard work speak for themselves — making significant impacts in our world."

For several months, I was fortunate to spend my days researching, drawing and painting these various STEM heroines. I read their histories, their personal letters, their eulogies. Because of this project, I now study bugs as they crawl by, I pay attention to the leaves and their growth patterns on my walks, and I look at the sky with much more curiosity. Elizabeth's desire to inspire worked!

I'll update my blog soon with some excerpts of the completed book, but here are a few of the sketches I made along the way...

 

 Portrait of Mary Somerville, pencil, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Portrait of Mary Somerville, pencil, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

 Portrait of Alice Ball, pencil, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Portrait of Alice Ball, pencil, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

 Portrait study of a young Beatrix Potter, watercolor, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Portrait study of a young Beatrix Potter, watercolor, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Back to "When in doubt..."

In 2013, when I first started illustrating, I wrote a post titled, "When in doubt, cut it out," which emphasized how helpful cutting paper can be for shaping my characters. Since cleaning up my studio space a couple weeks ago, another perk for paper scraps would be free, no-pressure experimenting.

Although the difficult-to-cut corners, accidentally-torn details, and bends and warps of the paper can frustrate the heck out of me, these same problems liberate me. I've been treating it as a big Who Cares exercise. And, as the composition is whisked away by my cat jumping on my desk, I feel unattached and able to try something else.

Kendra Shedenhelm_Bird_Paper Cutout_Sketch
Kendra Shedenhelm_Horse_Paper Cutout_Sketch
Kendra Shedenhelm_Bird on a Branch_Paper Cutout_Sketch

Another submission to Mark Mitchell's Guest Group Critiques

If you're an illustrator (working or aspiring) and you haven't heard about Mark Mitchell's Guest Group Critiques, I highly recommend checking it out: http://guestgroupcritiques.com/


This month's assignment/critique is with children's literary agent and artist's rep Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau2 Illustration. You can check out her assignment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QILCl_CU6Ow.

Nicole chose 15 of the approximately 50 submissions to critique on May 24th, and I'm very grateful that mine was one of them! Here's my submitted sketch below. Off to work on the final!

More bird collaging

I'm currently sketching ideas for an assignment with Mark Mitchell's critique group, and I've been researching the nightingale. In doing so, I ran across this beautiful bird, often called the Pekin Robin or Pekin Nightingale. So for yesterday's #artaday challenge, I created a collage of this wonderful little animal...

Hot Cocoa Sketch + Free Coloring Page

I sketched a collage of hot chocolates last night, and I'd love to see what people can do with it. Add a zentangle? Draw logos or pictures on the mugs? Color with 3 colors, or color with 10? 

Below is a preview of my sketch. If you'd like to download and print a hi-res version, you can find it here (available as a JPG and a PDF). Please find me on Instagram and post your final Hot Cocoa art for me to see!

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Busy October, gallery shows and more to come!

It has been a very long time since I've updated my blog, and I hope you're still catching my posts on Facebook and Instagram!

The month of October was a very busy and exciting time for me. I had a good deal of illustration work come in, AND I had my first group gallery show since college. In fact, I had TWO gallery shows in October — one opened in Iowa on the 16th and the other opened in NYC on the 24th. 

I'll update more about the illustration jobs soon, as well as details on an upcoming solo show, but here is a shot of the watercolor and collage work that was at the show in Cedar Rapids ("Rabbit," "Meeting the Wolf" and "Crow"). 

As always, your questions and comments are most welcome!

Kendra Shedenhelm_COE_College_Art_Gallery_Show_Watercolor

Another year of the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search

On Friday, I submitted my entry for the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. This was my third year of creating work for this competition, and it proved to be as challenging and rewarding as ever.

This year, we were given a story about a fictitious young woman who lived in Brooklyn. The brief showed us a picture of her (and her clothing style), where she shopped, where she worked, products she'd buy, products she sold in her shop, the food truck she stopped at, and so on. With this type of person in mind, the assignment was to create a patterned sneaker that she could wear when she bicycled to work. The patterned shoe also needed to incorporate at least one word, hand-written or an actual font.

Although I really liked this approach of getting a visual story about the client, I did find it tricky to create something for a person I couldn't really relate to, while still keeping myself in the art. So I focused on whatever images I was drawn to in the brief.

In her shop, she sold some darker, occult-type of items, so I decided to go with a crow theme. They are one of my favorite birds – strong, smart and ominous, and I knew I would enjoy drawing them.

She also sold some pretty, Parisian-style gifts, which made me envision using a loose, dreamy watercolor style for my pattern.

I drew my shoe template with a sharpie, painted several crows (you can see one of them here), and this is the mockup I submitted, followed by the actual pattern...


You can see my 2014 and 2013 submissions here and here.

Your comments are always welcome!

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!

More sketching for MATS Bootcamp

On Monday, we began our second assignment for Lilla Rogers online class, MATS Bootcamp. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Lilla always starts with a "mini." The minis help us warm up, draw, paint and enjoy ourselves before we're given our actual assignment.

This month's mini is the scenic plate. She showed us several cool plates from her own collection, all with different kinds of scenes painted on them. Yesterday, I chose a plate with a pastoral landscape to sketch from, as well as one with a charming lord and lady courtship setting.

(I had some difficulty keeping my paper and pencil away from my new, extremely-playful-and-cuddly kitty, as you can see in the picture below.)