Focusing on women and the body

It’s been a very long time since I’ve studied the human body in its nakedness or almost nakedness. I find myself embarrassed in front of a not fully-clothed model, and I shirk away from live sketch nights because of it.

For a recent pitch, however, I was prompted to look more at the female form, looking at her — staring! — and drawing her in all of her shapes and personality. I found it to be so much fun. Not embarrassing at all. Who knew?

Below are some of my recent line drawings…

Kendra_Shedenhelm_ContinuousLineDrawing_Woman_Sitting and Thinking.jpg

What's been happening this year: Update 2 of 6

I started licensing my work! So stoked!

Last fall, after an extremely helpful call with Giuseppe Castellano of The Illustration Department, I decided to revisit the resources in SCBWI's "The Book." I focused on a small group of art directors and agents that I'd like to work with, and I sent out emails to all of them. I am now fortunate to be represented by Lori Nowicki and Liz Wain of Painted Words licensing, and I couldn't be more grateful.

Watercolor of a scarlet ibis. One of the images picked up by  GreenBox Art + Culture  for 2018, watercolor and pencils, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Watercolor of a scarlet ibis. One of the images picked up by GreenBox Art + Culture for 2018, watercolor and pencils, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Debut of my licensed watercolors with  GreenBox Art + Culture  for 2017 (image posted on Instagram by my agent, Liz Wain of  Wain's World  and  Painted Words Licensing

Debut of my licensed watercolors with GreenBox Art + Culture for 2017 (image posted on Instagram by my agent, Liz Wain of Wain's World and Painted Words Licensing

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

Missing Milla

Last night, I had a dream that I found my beloved cat, Milla, at my friend Jenny's apartment. I was totally confused as to why she was there, but so thrilled to see her. I told her all about our new cat, Leo, and how much her buddy Tyco was going to freak out with glee when he saw her. All the while, I could not figure out why in the heck I'd left her at Jenny's in the first place.

As I was packing her up to leave, however, I realized I was dreaming. My dream self told me that Milla was not at Jenny's and would not be coming home. That she'd passed away two years ago.

When I woke up, I wanted to feel grateful that I was able to hold and pet her all night (even if it wasn't real), but it's not enough. Man, I miss her.

The A. Eric Arctander Grant

This weekend, I accepted a grant from the Putnam Arts Council, in the name of the late artist A. Eric Arctander. Aside from his beautiful "About" story that you can read here, I knew very little about him when I walked in to the event on Saturday. As I walked around the room, shaking hands and asking questions, I heard various stories about him from people with shining eyes. He was clearly highly revered. It was wonderful. And a tremendous honor.

Eric, I've since read more about you (like this... love!), and I'm sorry that I didn't know you before. Thank you for providing me with this scholarship, and I hope to be as inspiring and encouraging of an artist — and person — that you have obviously been to so many others.

Accepting the A. Eric Arctander Grant. Presented by his beautiful wife, Dell Jones, and the Putnam Arts Council

Accepting the A. Eric Arctander Grant.
Presented by his beautiful wife, Dell Jones, and the Putnam Arts Council

Back to Illustration Friday & drawing with one long line

A few weeks ago, my 8 year old son asked why I only submit collaged work to Illustration Friday — why don't I submit drawings? I'm not 100% sure of my answer for this yet, but I did decide to draw for that week's challenge, which was "Nest."

I went with one of my favorite styles to work in right now, an all-one-line/not-lifting-my-pen drawing. I then cleaned it up a bit in Photoshop and added a subtle blue tone in Illustrator...

Kendra Shedenhelm's "Nest" for

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...

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...

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!


The cookbook I illustrated now in print

The cookbook I illustrated (written by the magnificent Melissa Machowski of M Delish Boutique) is now in the printing process! Melissa and I had a fantastic time working together, and I'm thrilled about this whole project.

It's our first run of 50, so there could be some hiccups, but we'll be signing all of them, and I'll consider these 50 the "collector's edition." (: 

To order yours, you can visit Melissa's Etsy shop here.

Here's a little preview.... 

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!