Samantha Whitten is one of the artists of the newly released How to Draw Manga Chibis & Cute Critters
, and we are honored that she agreed to appear in our first September Artist Spotlight! Read along for her advice on never giving up, drawing every day, and playing video games along the way. Walter Foster:
What are your earliest memories of creating art?Samantha Whitten:
My earliest memories are drawing on a giant (or what seemed giant at the time) drawing pad on the floor, surrounded by pencils and crayons. I also vividly remember doodling in all of my children's books, adding in characters or other items to the existing pictures. I actually still have my favorite book that I filled with drawings until I couldn't fit any more in.WF:
What is your favorite medium to work with? Has this changed over the years?SW:
My favorite medium used to be colored pencils, but ever since I acquired a computer and a tablet, digital art has been my medium of choice. It's easier and faster to work in than traditional methods, and much more forgiving of mistakes or changes.WF:
Where do you find inspiration?SW:
Inspiration comes in many forms for me, but my two main sources are other artists that I like and real-life situations. When I see art that I like, it makes me want to create similar things, and sometimes when I'm going about my daily life I'll see a situation or environment that I feel like rendering in my next piece.WF:
Where do you typically work? Do you follow any sort of ritual to prep for a project?SW:
I have a sort of office set-up in the corner of my bedroom since I work from home. It consists of a very large desk, two computer monitors, my tablet, and any other items I need to keep the workflow going. The only ritual I can say I have is that I usually spend about 30 minutes or more doing warm-up sketches at the start of the day to make sure I'm in the art groove before I start work on a serious project.WF:
When you're facing the dreaded "artist's block," what do you do to recharge?SW:
I don't really believe in artist's block! But I do hit points where I am so unmotivated that I have a hard time working productively. The best solution is usually to take a break from art if the deadline allows it. Go for a walk, read a book, play a video game. Just take time to unwind and recharge. If that isn't possible or doesn't work, I try looking at other artists' work. Sometimes seeing a really great piece is just the kick in the pants you need to get your creative juices flowing again. WF:
What are your favorite subjects to create?SW:
My favorite subjects are cute things! Animals, people, critters out of my imagination—if it's cute then I enjoy making it.WF:
What do you do in your free time when you're not working or creating art?SW:
one of my favorite things to do is play video games. They can be a lot of fun and can also inspire me in other ways. I also really enjoy reading books or going to the movies.WF:
If you were to give advice to a beginning artist, what would it be?SW:
Never give up! It can be really easy to just throw in the towel and walk away when you're first starting out, especially when you see a bunch of really great artists that are so much better than you. But you have to remember that we all started somewhere, and if you don't keep going you will never get better. Believe in yourself and you'll go far!To learn more about Samantha Whitten and to see more of her work, visit littlecelesse.com and sugarbunnyshop.com
Still Life with Blueberry Muffin
37" x 26-1/2"
Gouache on museum board
Painted by Daniel K. Tennant
In more than four decades of making artwork, I have noticed that there are two types of artistic people. There are those who love all kinds of media—each time I meet them I notice they are using a different medium—and there are those artists who stick to one medium. What should it be? For people like Pablo Picasso—who was recognized as a prodigy when he was a teen—branching off into many different venues of expression was natural for him. He had so much energy and so many ideas that he could work in oils, engraving, sculpture, drawing and lithography—just to name a few.
For those of us who are not as gifted naturally as he was, finding the right medium has been a slow progression. We took art classes in high school and by doing many different projects we narrowed down our interest to perhaps two or three mediums and as we matured eventually discovered that we had a real affinity for water media or oils or 3-D work.
When one uses a particular medium with authority it makes artistic expression become more second nature. There is not as much technical struggling and the act of creating becomes more natural and easier. Personally, I've used opaque watercolors (gouache) almost solely for 33 years and although they are my favorite medium they can still at times give me struggles. One can always improve no matter how many years one has used a particular medium. The medium should also be an extension of the way the artist thinks. I happen to paint quickly and like to finish areas in one sitting. I don't like to wait for things to dry so gouache is a wonderful medium for that reason alone.
There are no rules set in stone but my observations about success is that most really successful artists have found their own medium and stayed with it. Some have mastered two mediums, but it takes a lifetime for most of us to master even one. The old saying, "A jack of all trades and a master of none," has some relevance here. Trying to master too many media can actually be detrimental. Try finding your medium and stay with it and become a true master of it. To learn more about Daniel K. Tennant, visit
Cynthia Knox has been drawing with graphite pencils since she was teenager and learned to draw from pencil drawing books by fellow Walter Foster artist, Gene Franks. “My favorite projects were the kitten and the foal—both of those pieces, I still have,” says Cynthia. This early drawing experience led Cynthia initially to portrait commissions of people and animals, which she found very rewarding.
“It was less than 10 years ago that I began experimenting with colored pencils. I found them to be an easy, affordable medium that could yield extraordinary color and detail,” says Cynthia. Though colored pencils may be her passion now, she still likes to return to her simple 2B pencils every now and then.
With early instruction in drawing—and later, in colored pencil—from Walter Foster publications, it was a natural progression for Cynthia to want to become a Walter Foster artist. She published Flowers in Colored Pencil in 2011 and Colored Pencil Basics, newly released this summer.
While Cynthia’s florals succeed in juried competitions, currently she is most passionate about drawing and painting horses. “I live in Saratoga, New York, and when the summer track season heats up, there is a great deal of interest in all things horses,” says Cynthia.
Like most artists, Cynthia finds inspiration and encouragement from fellow artists. “Lee Hammond taught me excellent techniques for both graphite and colored pencils. She led two workshops in my town and gave me the courage to move into colored pencils.” Other artists who have influenced Cynthia in her art journey are Barbara Edidin and Ann Kullberg.
In addition to such wonderful friends and peers, Cynthia’s support system is grounded in her husband, Jeff, their two daughters, and her parents. “They would always applaud everything I did, no matter how amateur it was,” Cynthia says. Cynthia has worked with a life coach for several years, who has spurred her to higher levels in her career. With her encouragement and critique, Cynthia has had a website designed, won awards, taught art classes, judged art shows for a school and an artists’ society, been featured in monthly and hardcover publications, and completed two books with Walter Foster Publishing. "I am truly grateful for the people in my life,” says Cynthia.
Working with such a vibrant medium, it is no wonder that color inspires Cynthia. “Nothing creates a mood like color and light in a painting,” says Cynthia. She points out that colored pencil artists call their works “paintings” because they apply layers upon layers. “The saturation of color, the blending, and the burnishing effects achieved with intense pressure often lead to a painterly look similar to that of oils,” says Cynthia.
Colored pencil can be an intimidating medium for beginning artists, and Cynthia shares that lots of practice has led her to confidence. “When I began using colored pencils, I was nervous because they are not easy to erase. In fact, they really don’t erase well at all. How would I correct my mistakes?” For Cynthia, this was a major obstacle in continuing to explore the medium. However, she learned that there are plenty of ways to work with mistakes. You can learn some of her tips in both of her books with Walter Foster.
To stay motivated and inspired, Cynthia finds joy increating new compositions with her camera, as well as in the affirmation of family and friends when she completes a new piece. When she’s not creating, Cynthia attends a small church with her family, where they have been involved in Bible studies, church events, leadership issues, and a new building on a beautiful piece of land. “Relationships with these friends, a committed marriage of 25 years to my husband Jeff, and the joy and pride we take in our two daughters all inspire and motivate me to live each day to its fullest. Did I mention that we have four great dogs as well?”
For those artists just starting out, Cynthia encourages practice and drawing, drawing, and more drawing. “It’s important to nail down those drawing skills before engaging in any other medium,” says Cynthia, pointing out that composition, perspective, and general layout must make sense to someone viewing your art. “Once those drawing skills are in place, bring in some color, and just keep making art as often and consistently as possible. Most importantly, don’t give up when you’re discouraged. Push through that, and persevere. You will be pleased with the journey and delighted with the rewards at the end of it.”
To learn more about Cynthia and view more of her beautifulart, please visit www.cynthiaknox.com.
Artwork and author photo Copyright © Cynthia Knox.
Last month, members of the editorial team at Walter Foster attended the Licensing Expo 2012 in Las Vegas. We had the chance to meet with some of our long-time licensing partners as well as make new acquaintances in the licensing world.
Our first stop was Disney, whose both is always out of this world!
Our next stop was Nickelodeon. Their booth didn't disappoint in all its bright orange glory!
We also paid a visit to Monster Jam, where we were greeted by Maximum Destruction.
We were so excited to see that they had our Monster Jam Activity Book on display.
A visit to the Licensing Expo wouldn't be complete without a visit to the friendly Jim Henson booth.
And last, but certainly not least, we visited our furry friend Garfield.
It was a great show, and we look forward to attending next year!
Walter Foster artist William Powell has been drawing and painting for what seems like forever. “I was a sign painter in New York in 1948, painting on the sides of buildings,” Bill says of his start as a professional artist.
Bill’s artistic career took an exciting turn in the 60s when he started working with The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development organization (FFRDC) originally established by Congress. The Aerospace Corporation conducts research and development for organizations such as the U.S Air Force, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Both my wife (Bev) and I were proud to be a part of this fine organization. We loved our work and mission. We both worked on many programs including man in space; space vehicle programs such as Atlas, Nike, Titan, Athena, Sidewinder, Minuteman; national security; and much more. It was exciting work.”
Bill joined the art department in the San Bernardino Division in 1961 and eventually became the lead graphic artist, working directly with engineers, scientists, doctors and civilian professionals to create visual concepts of theoretical projects. Bill’s team created artists' concepts in the form of visual graphic illustrations of everything from space vehicles to three-dimensional models, many of which were presented to Congress for additional funding and program approval. His illustrations won several awards from TIMA (Technical Illustrators and Management Association).
When The Aerospace Corporation moved its facilities in 1971, Bill and his wife chose not to move with the company. Bill took the plunge to become a full-time freelance artist and illustrator, a move fully supported by his wife. “I have the dearest wife,” Bill says. “She has always supported me and believed in me.”
Bill didn’t always plan to teach art. But one day a teacher friend asked him to substitute teach his art class while he was in the hospital. “I told him, ‘I can’t teach.’ But I did it anyway,” says Bill. When Bill’s friend ended up not coming back to teach, Bill decided to stay. He had 300 students and a waiting list of 400.
“In one of my classes, a student had a Walter Foster book, and I noticed that the section on color was wrong,” Bill recalls. He wrote to Walter Foster himself, just to let him know. “He asked me what I would do differently, and after I told him he invited me to come down and talk about it more.” Bill published Understanding Color with Walter Foster in 1976 and has authored or contributed to more than 32 publications since, including his newest release 1500 Color Mixing Recipes for Oil, Acrylic & Watercolor.
Recognized as one of America’s foremost colorists, Bill says that color is a personal experience.
“I’ve always told students to think of color as visual flavor. A cook can stand in the kitchen and recognize the different flavors and spices and know how they work together and go together. A painter can do the same thing with tubes of paints.”
Though an accomplished artist, Bill never even took a formal painting lesson. When he went to New York to become a cartoonist, he took page layout classes and an anatomy course. “I figured if I could draw the body I could draw anything,” says Bill, who later went to Europe to study the masters at the Louvre. “Studying the work of the masters was so inspiring,” Bill says.“I started my first painting when I was in England. I learned to paint all the mediums on my own.”
Bill’s experience as an artist and instructor includes oil, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, colored pencil, and pastel, with subjects ranging from landscapes and seascapes to still life, portraiture, and wildlife. “I love all the mediums,” says Bill, “but I’ve always leaned towards oil. I don’t think any other medium has the depth of color that oil has.”
Art, while a hobby for some, is Bill’s profession. So what does this artist do in his free time? “My hobby is geology. I have several thousand crystal collections. In the 1950s I used to go out to the desert and wander.” He even discovered an amethyst deposit once.
With years of experience, practice, and technique under his belt, Bill has some helpful advice for new artists:
“Don’t try and make it perfect from the beginning. Practice, practice, practice. It gets easier as you practice. It’s a step-by-step process. Don’t rush and try to create a Rembrandt on your first painting. Learn your colors. Learn what they do when you mix them together. Above all, learn to draw. Be very patient with yourself.”
You can learn more about Bill or see his work at http://www.williampowell-artist.com. Clickhere to see all of Bill’s current publications with Walter Foster.
When Marilyn Sotto was just a little girl, her father brought her something to keep her occupied while she was sick at home with the measles — a small book, with a pale blue soft cover. “On the cover was a horse, hand-drawn, and the title read How to Draw Horses, by Walter Foster,” shares Marilyn. “I was enchanted with that book, and loved looking at how the hooves worked and at all the little details on the face. Since that day, I’ve had a connection with Walter Foster and the beautiful books that have been produced by him and his company.”
Not only did Marilyn’s father introduce Marilyn to her very first Walter Foster drawing book, but he also always encouraged her to follow her artistic passion. He could see that from a young age, Marilyn had a gift of sketching, drawing, and painting, and he knew her talent would take her places. Marilyn’s father was an artist himself and was constantly looking for ways to bring more art into the world — whether that was painting murals in restaurants with his daughter because he thought the restaurant needed an extra little “something”(you can still see one of their murals at Sonny’s Pizza & Pasta in San Clemente, California) or walking into MGM to become a scenic artist. He didn’t have any experience with movie scenery before his time at MGM, but his talent, hard work, and perseverant nature opened the door for him there, and his career in the movie business was born.
It was precisely her father’s career in the movie business that prompted Marilyn to look into the business herself. A graduate of Venice High School in Los Angeles, California, Marilyn began applying at jobs at movie studios soon after graduation. A few years later, she finally got a job as a messenger girl at MGM. After proving herself a hard worker, Marilyn eventually got in the studio sketching with designers, and she worked her way up to gain a spot working on Julius Caesar, starring Marlon Brando with Herschel McCoy as the costume designer. “Designing costumes for this movie was a real challenge,” explains Marilyn, “because it was going to be shot in black and white, but we were to sketch in color. We had to imagine the black-and-white values of our colored sketches.”
Marilyn continued on to work at Western Costume, as well as on the set of several other movies, working with Edith Head and other top costume designers. She also spent several years working with Disney, designing costumes and sets for their Florida and Paris parks. One day, her father noticed the thousands of sketches she had around her home and decided they needed to take the sketches to Walter Foster and see what he thought. A meeting with Walter Foster, and The Art of Costume Design was born! In our newly released How to Draw & Paint Fashion & Costume Design , you can see several sketches from Marilyn’s first book. Be sure not to miss this chance to see her beautiful art!
This is the first post in our newest blog feature, Artist's Spotlight! Be sure to check back often to learn more about the fabulous artists we are honored to work with.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our 90th Anniversary Contest! We were thrilled with the number of entries received. Now, without further ado, here are the five winners of our 90th Anniversary Contest:
Winners, you will receive an email today with details about claiming your prize, but feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Visit www.walterfoster.com to learn more about our 90 years of publishing art instruction books, and be sure not to miss our newest releases!
The Artist's Magazine Annual Art Competition is now open for entries. Artists have five categories available in which to enter original artwork in hopes of snagging one of several prizes.
Want a chance to see your work in The Artist's Magazine? Now is your chance! The deadline for submissions is April 2, 2012. Click here for more details.
Looking for something fun to do with your Thursday night? Head to Laguna Beach for First Thursdays Art Walk, 6-9 PM!
Enjoy artist demonstrations, exhibition openings, music, and more.
Learn to master a unique array of handwritten alphabets in a variety of styles, from classic, to sophisticated, to quirky!
Lettering & Word Design
is the perfect resource for anyone who wants to learn calligraphy, card making, or professional lettering. Following an introduction to writing instruments, inks, and papers, as well as basic techniques and lessons on the fundamentals, internationally acclaimed calligrapher John Stevens introduces 20 original alphabets. Also included is advice on how readers can personalize with their own unique touches to create original alphabets.