Tag Archives: Painting


One Big Show

One Big Show The end-of-year art extravaganza is upon us! So proud of our students and ready (almost) to hang the show. The drawing and painting students exhibit over 200 works of art! That’s not including the photography or sculpture!

A Walk in the Park

Ink and watercolor on Fabriano HP 140.

Ink and watercolor on Arches HP 140

Here’s a mind map I created based on a walk I took in a local park. It was the second assignment for the online Creativity Crash Course through Stanford. The idea was to go for a walk and observe the location as though you were on high alert, or in elevated participation in one’s walking experience. I’m the one in the middle.

Make Art Like You’re Working

Carol Parker Mittal

A page from my work notebook.
Carol Parker Mittal

Here are some pages from my work notebook. It’s part sketchbook, part scrapbook, part notepad. Here’s where I make to-do lists, record ideas for lessons, and keep track of anything else I need to remember. I also paste in images I find interesting, notes from students, comics, scraps of decorated paper. I use colored pens, watercolor, and pencils. I doodle, make sketches, turn my book sideways, and otherwise manipulate the page in and around the notes. The extra arty part doesn’t take much time. In long meetings, I make patterns and drawings around the to-do lists. (Believe it or not, I focus better when I’m doodling.) Other times I take my book home and paint some of the pages with watercolor prior to using the pages for work. This activity makes some of the necessary organizational elements to my work a lot more fun. Plus, because it’s visually organized, I’m more likely to remember all the things I’m supposed to remember. For more ideas about how to make work more fun, you should check out The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre.

Carol Parker Mittal

Hand made paper attached to my work notebook. Carol Parker Mittal

Cats for a Friend

Watercolor Painting

Blitzen and Hemingway

A friend asked me to create a portrait as a gift for his sister-in-law of her cats who had passed away. So, here are Hemingway and Blitzen as I interpreted them. I worked from multiple photos of the two cats and asked questions about their interactions and personality traits.  For me, this is important work because to memorialize someone’s beloved pets is a dubious responsibility. As the artist, I wanted to capture the essence and relationship of the cats, as well as create a mood that was respectful. I had fun making the painting because I like the challenge of combining the idea, intention, technique, and composition into a unified piece.

Kind of Like the Path of an Electron–Only Art

My obsession with circles continues. I like the circle. It’s clean. There is no beginning and no ending. When a circle is drawn geometrically, it exudes order. When a circle is depicted in a more free-form way it has movement, a kind of zooming feel like a race car on a track, or a careening electron around an atom. In this series of sketches I am exploring these ideas not only with line quality, but also with shape, color, transparency and layering. I envision them as studies for more complete works. I am interested in how you as a viewer “read” the individual images. What mood or feeling do you get? Do you prefer order over chaos? You can click on any image above to launch a slideshow. Let me know what you think!


22″ x 30″

For years I’ve been receiving notifications and following the website Illustration Friday. It’s a community site run by Penelope Dullaghan, where once a week, a topic is announced and artists submit their interpretation of that theme. The themes are loose, like “bounce,” or “freeze,” so there’s always a lot of creative freedom reflected the submissions. The skill level of the artists varies from beginner to professional and there’s always an amazing array of styles and interpretations. In addition to the weekly gallery, there are useful links to illustration websites, randomly featured artists, and a way to sign up to get the topic delivered directly to your inbox. You can even selectively browse the site by topic, medium, or style. If you submit your art, you get a name credit and a link to your online site.

As I mentioned, I’ve been receiving the notifications from Illustration Friday for awhile now and I finally posted my own entry for the first time this week. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long– I’ve just been stalking all of the brilliant artists that submit, I guess! This week’s topic is “teacher,” so I uploaded one of my watercolors inspired by my love of being in school.

Check out Illustration Friday. It’s fun to browse if you love art, thought-provoking if you need inspiration, and a great opportunity to participate in a well-run online gallery for artists.

Cats in Art

Egyptian Cartonage Fragment

Cats enjoy a special place in visual representation in many cultures as companions, subjects, and symbols. Cats appear in the ancient art of Egypt where cats were revered as gods. In this depiction, a cat has just killed a snake and is being appreciated for it’s predatory skills.

In some works of art they are featured as the main subject as in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner‘s Gray Cat on Cushion, or Chu Ling’s Seated Cat.

Gray Cat on a Cushion
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Seated Cat
Chu Ling

Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga
Francisco Goya

Often cats are included as a symbolic element as part of a composition. In Francisco Goya‘s Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, the cats lurk in the corner of the painting, threatening the bird while the child is unaware of the danger. Look carefully–how many cats do you see?

Sita and Sarita
Cecilia Beaux

Cats are depicted in relation to their humans as in Ceclia Beaux‘s Sita and Sarita, a portrait of both human and feline–who is Sarita and who is Sita is not clear as the companions are represented equally.

This post was inspired not only by my love of cats and art, but also by two excellent resources, Hooray for Cats by Welleran Poltarnees, and Metropolitan Cats by John P. O’Neill and Alvin Grossman.

Children’s Book Illustration: Golden Book Artists

I love children’s books. The best of them are clever and funny, potentially didactic, and often profound or moving. But it isn’t just the story that makes a children’s book compelling, it is the art contained within the pages.

The cover of “The Poky Little Puppy”
Illustrated by Gustav Tenggren
Written by Janette Sebring Lowrey

Recently I saw some of the original illustrations created for the Little Golden Books, that iconic publisher of children’s literature. The exhibit, Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books, is currently showing at a small local library (Boerne Public Library for those of you nearby.) This exhibit is touring the U.S. through 2013. Here is a link to the touring schedule from The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.

There are truly some superstar pieces represented in this show. On exhibit is the cover art for The Poky Little Puppy, illustrated by Gustav Tenggren. Also appearing is Cat in Snow from Green Eyes, illustrated by Abe Birnbaum.  Additional works by Richard Scarry, Jan Pfloog, Gertrude Elliott, and almost 20 others, are among the 60 nostalgic and lovely masterpieces. Some of the illustrations include the original paste-up of the text block glued on by hand. (Nobody used a computer to do layout when these books were written.) The same is true for the cover art. The title lettering is drawn or painted as interpreted by the artist to suit the style of the book and story.

From “Green Eyes” by A. Birnbaum
This illustration is reportedly the most expensive work of art in the Golden collection.

Experiencing the original work reveals the excellent craftsmanship, full concept, and impeccable design that  appeals to children and the grown-ups who read to them. All of the subtleties of the hand and medium are visible in a way not always reproduced in the printing process.

“We Like Kindergarten”
Illustrations by Eloise Wilkin
Written by Clara Cassidy

My favorite Golden book is We Like Kindergarten illustrated by Eloise Wilkin and written by Clara Cassidy. The cover features a little girl holding a painting that is signed “Carol.” That’s me! Inside the front cover there is a girl painting at an easel. That’s me, too! One of my earliest memories is of standing in a busy classroom, intently painting at an easel while surrounded by the chaos of the other children playing around me. I have always loved school and art, so I really felt that book was written for me!

I think that once people learn to read they stop really noticing illustrations. The pictures are given a cursory glance as we stop decoding the images and start relying on the written word. The language of the visual is equally rich and communicative when done well. Good illustration is not just decoration that goes with a story, it enriches our interaction with it and understanding of it. The next time you encounter a children’s book, try looking at the illustrations first to see how it affects your interpretation of the story, and to appreciate the amazing skills of the artist who created it.

Sketchbook Drawings

5″ x 8″
Watercolor, collage, Micron pen

I love to keep a sketchbook. It allows me to experiment with ideas and plan for more finished pieces. Here are some recent drawings where I am playing with images. For the Cat with Frog drawing, I cut out an image of a dress and used watercolor and Micron pen. The duck is drawn in pencil and enhanced with Staedler 0.3 mm Triplus Fineliner pens. The circle drawing is done using all Staedler pens. If you’d like to see more of my work, check out my Flickr pageby clicking this link, or find me using “parkeca,” my username. The site features a sampling of my work from the last 5 years or so. Thanks for checking out my post!

5″ x 7″
Pencil and Staedler 0.3 mm Triplus Fineliner Pens

5″ x 8″ Sketchbook Drawing
Staedler 0.3 mm Triplus Fineliner Pens

Paintings of Snow

Since I encountered Randy Kennedy’s article Name the Art that Calls Your Name, I have been thinking about other works of art that draw me to them in an inexplicable way. This time it isn’t one singular work, but rather a theme that I have discovered in my own taste over time.

Art that features snow is something I must inspect. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia for the winters of my childhood, or just the idea that “white” in any work of art is not depicted as white but a reflection of the colors of its own universe.

I grew up in Michigan but don’t particularly like living with winter– shoveling out your car, dealing with endless gray days, getting up in the dark, coming home from work in the dark–I live in the sunny south now for a reason. But there is a quiet, gentle beauty in freshly fallen snow that speaks to my heart.