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

Thanksgiving, family and a free coloring page

My parents drove in from Illinois this Thanksgiving holiday, and we spent an unusual amount of time drawing and coloring. My son has gotten really into what he calls "flare cards" — kind of like monster cards with different strength qualities — and we all pitched in to make about 50 or 60 over their visit. I also made copies of some of my line drawings, like the cups below, and we added color, designs, and my dad even made his into a family tree.

If you'd like to have a copy of my cups drawing for your own family activities, you can find a free, hi-res version here. I'd love to see what you create, so please don't hesitate to email me at kendra.shedenhelm (at) gmail.com or tag me on Instagram. I hope you enjoy it!

Cups drawing, free download available  here

Cups drawing, free download available here

My son added various designs, while my dad made them into a family tree (pets included!)

My son added various designs, while my dad made them into a family tree (pets included!)

An example of Flare Cards. Just need blank index cards and an imagination for monster-creating.

An example of Flare Cards. Just need blank index cards and an imagination for monster-creating.

What's been happening this year: Update 3 of 6

Coloring pages!

Although I'd drawn a few free coloring pages here and there (and here!), it wasn't until last fall that I was hired to create them.

This first job was for friend and colleague Elizabeth Lorayne, author of the Piratess Tilly series, who asked for colorable elements for a local kids' event (it turned out to be a warm up for a later project).

A couple of previews below...

Drawing of a chimney swift, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Drawing of a chimney swift, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Drawing of a bird's wing, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

Drawing of a bird's wing, ink pen, Copyright 2017 Kendra Shedenhelm

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 IllustrationFriday.com

First assignment with MATS Bootcamp 2016

I enrolled in another year of Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells Bootcamp. Previous years' assignments have included creating art for a phone cover, illustrating an online editorial, and making a holiday plate/paper collection. I find that MATS Bootcamp is an exceptional way to try new materials and markets, and the class has really helped to develop my portfolio. 

Lilla starts all of her course assignments with a "Mini." This is a just-for-fun exercise, which includes a little research of a given topic and a whole lot of no-pressure creating and experimenting. For this first month's assignment, our Mini was 1920s hairstyles. I found a ton of cool photos online, and I drew and drew. It was a surprisingly inspiring subject for me, and I found myself drawing more portraits in general that week.  

After one week with the Mini, we received our full assignment, which was to assemble our drawings and ideas into a faux cover for an adult coloring book. After drawing several faces, hairstyles and patterns, I went with this as my final submission....

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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Shoe design accepted by bucketfeet! (And another coloring page!)

I submitted my hi-top coloring page to bucketfeet.com, and it was accepted to go to the next round for product testing!

Because I'd actually drawn the art onto my shoe outline, I needed to re-create the design into 4:5 print-ready vector art. Below is my final reinterpretation, and I've also uploaded it here as a free, downloadable coloring page (PDF and JPG).

Enjoy, and don't forget to tag me on your colored piece on Instagram!

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!

Loving my new Copic marker

I thought I'd forever be a Pigma Micron and Sharpie marker person, but I've found a new love: the Copic sketch marker. The brush side moves so smoothly on the paper that it feels like it's leading my sketches, and I've found myself drawing a lot more the past few days...

Sketching in the car, while waiting to pick up the kid at camp

Bird sketch, merely because I saw the Copic marker and I couldn't not pick it up

Floral sketch to warm up for summer school class

New floral sketches and drawings

I've been wanting more practice with textile designs lately, so I spent a chunk of time this week turning my recent floral sketches into patterns.

After scanning my ink drawings, I opened them in Illustrator and used the Live Trace function to turn them into vector art. I then brought all the vector elements into InDesign, mixing and matching one drawing with another, to assemble the designs. 

I scanned in pages from West Elm and Crate and Barrel, and I used InDesign's eyedropper tool to create swatches of colors from the images. Then I tested out various background colors for my patterns using these color combos.

Here are some of the final patterns, as mocked up in my Society6 shop:

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.)

Sketching today

Yesterday, I went to the Met to see the Madame Cézanne exhibit. While I'd gone to view the paintings, it was Cézanne's sketches that I was most drawn to. I was once again reminded of how much I love swift and unfinished work. How a quick graphite sketch can capture more for me than a detailed portrait. I just love them.

This morning, I set out to sketch a bit myself. Here's one of today's drawings of my husband.