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Something for Mothers

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I’ve decided to offer something special for mothers. For several reasons. One , being a mother of three, motherhood is something very dear to my heart.
It’s a continuing complex role. You create this life inside of you, feel them grow and kick, and watch your own body change as theirs develops. It can be painful, it’s definitely beautiful, always a turning point, incredibly magical, and uniquely wonderful beyond words.
Then they come out, and you have to share them with the rest of the world. But they are still very much a part of you. Nursing every 2-3 hours, sometimes only one. Still completely dependent in every way. They watch you, and feel you, listen to your voice, and your heartbeat, and then slowly they start to imitate you.
As they physically grow they separate more and more, they become you in a new way. And your role, my role, the mother’s role changes.
Eventually they stop nursing and their physical boundaries are more clear, they stop defining themselves as part of you, and you as theirs, and they start to recognize their individuality.
My youngest daughter is turning two next month. And she is reaching this milestone. It’s so bitter sweet because this time period is so special and so fleeting. I look at my two older and I know they don’t remember when they were part of me and as I watch them grow my memories become fuzzy as well.
Motherhood doesn’t end, it changes.
This time period where you share your person to make their person isn’t easy, it’s incredibly taxing, but it is the gift of life, one of the most beautiful parts of humanity, certainly rewarding, and something to cherish.

So there’s one reason I’m making this offer.
Secondly, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of people openly bashing nursing mothers. Maybe it’s me or this is just the most disgraceful trend of all time. Mainly because of the above mentioned role of mothers, it seems like they deserve a little respect, doesn’t it? So I’m also doing this because I believe in the cause to normalize breast feeding. Because as it stands, there are way too many people that just can’t stand the sight of it and think it’s ok to point, laugh, and shame. Which, ironically, is very shameful itself, in my opinion.

So here’s the offer. Any mother that would like an original watercolor of a close physical moment between themselves and their baby/babies, I’m offering to paint that moment for you from any picture you have the rights to. (Meaning you or your husband or family member took the picture, not a professional photographer.) I want to represent the window in time where a baby still recognizes it’s mother as part of them. If that’s a pregnancy picture, or a nursing picture, or just a baby lying on a mothers chest. I think this phenomenon is undervalued in art, and in our own collection of images we treasure, even though we recognize it as a miracle at the time and in our memories. I want to celebrate it through art. I may crop or correct your photo for aesthetics before painting, but consult with you first.

I’m offering watercolor on watercolor paper to keep it affordable for everyone. (Email me or message my Facebook page for pricing and size preference). Because it’s personal I am not offering prints, your painting will be unique and yours. You can decide if you’d like a digital copy to be a part of an online gallery on my portfolio website and Facebook Artist page.

Cancer, Fear, and Strength

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This is a picture of my daughter. Two days after she was born. The morning after the day we left the hospital. A couple hours before I got the call. The one where the doctor had to tell me I had cancer.
I had Melanoma. Not a lot of people know that about me. I didn’t tell a lot of people. I was mad. Mad that it tried to crowd out the joy and magic of a new baby, with fear.
So I said there was nothing to worry about. That’s what the doctor had said, more or less, and everyone knew I’d be fine. Everyone but me. I was terrified. Terrified, because I’m everything everyplace says you shouldn’t be when facing melanoma.
I’m fair skinned. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and lots of moles. I tanned every day in college. I burned all the time when I was a kid. I never had a skin check, heck, I’d never heard of a skin check.
I had the realization that I was neglectful and because of it, I was going to die.
If you don’t know a lot about Melanoma, like I didn’t, and you google it, you’ll find everyplace says basically this-

Melanoma is very serious and one of the most deadly cancers. It is difficult to treat. If it spreads at all the chance of survival is very small.

You won’t find anything nice, or hopeful. Like I kept hoping I would. (You should though, this is the mirage of the internet, not the truth. The hope is in early detection, so get your skin checks!)
Mostly you find horror stories. Especially if you are a doctor phobe like I am. Especially if you’ve never had a skin check in your life and didn’t know the importance of one.
Now that I knew what the internet had to say, and what I had done, and that melanoma was real and inside me. I knew I was going to die.

And this is where I saw something I’d overlooked until that moment.
First I saw what the fear of death really looked like. It looked like three small children growing up without a mother. Never knowing how much I really loved them, what I would do for them, how far I’d go, just to see them smile. Or to keep them safe. It looked like my husband having no one to lean on when he needed to lean. No one to meet him half way or understand his pain when one of the kid’s heart inevitably broke. Him having to be strong for three of them when they lost their mom, that they needed, while trying to survive himself.

The fear of death doesn’t look like me, it looks like them.

And so I found the strength. The strength society views as just going on because you have to, until you don’t.

Do you know the idea that it takes darkness to recognize light? If you stood outside in the light of day for your entire life and there was never darkness, no night or shadows, you would see the trees, and the grass, and the flowers… But you would never see the true glory of light. And then one day, night fell. Imagine that first sunrise, the following day. I imagine you’d see the light then.

Strength is the light cancer lets you see. You never know the strength of humanity until you face the true fear of death. The dragged out, prolonged fear that’s there when you fall asleep, and back when you wake up, and you absolutely can’t shake it, because you’ve been handed the C word.
Because let’s be honest, it would be easy to run away and cry in a dark closet until you die. But how would your friends, family, and children feel?
This is why the strength is beautiful and something to admire in humanity.

We don’t live for ourselves, we aren’t strong for ourselves, we do it for the people around us. We do it for the people we love.

This strength is so very much like light, it is woven into the very fabric that holds humanity together. It has to be, because without it, death would break us, the fear of death would destroy us, the diagnosis of the carrier of death would cripple existence.
The strength can be found in hope, and in the fight, but it is present in every moment where we continue on. It is so beautiful, and admirable, and so easy to overlook.
I’ve lost some of my closest relatives to cancer. And I didn’t notice it then, but now I remember it so clearly. It is like a lovely silver lining to the tragedy of the end. It is their love for those that go on, shining in their efforts to carry on, until they don’t. The way they try and hold the fabric of normalcy together. I see it in the survivors of loved ones that have lost their dearest too.

I went to all my doctor visits, got checks and more tests. I had my surgery. Earned the scar. And came out on the other side cancer free. The doctor said something like, “We don’t like to say 100% with any cancer, but if we could…” So, whatever that means. But I take it daily as, “I’m fine,” and actually believe it.

However, I will never forget the strength it took when I didn’t believe it. The strength it took to read my children their bedtime stories peacefully.
To go to a party, holding the baby I thought may never remember my face, and let someone else hold her.
To smile at my husband across the dinner table and assure him I was fine.
The strength that is so easily overlooked.
And this is why I need to do my next series. If weΒ can paint light, I can paint this strength.
This is my mission for my next series.
The strength that hides in the day to day, of everyone touched by the pain and fear of cancer, because we live and die the way we do, so often, for each other.
I want these paintings to be there for the fighters, to let them know their strength is seen. To remind everyone of the bittersweet beauty. This quiet, and sometimes last, stand for love. And to capture the silver lining, so survivors may remember, it’s not all darkness.
I will be painting the strong and their strength.
If you know someone, or are someone who would like to take part in this series, as a model, you can email me.
Nicole_Dieckman@yahoo.com
I also intend to donate a portion of proceeds to appropriate cancer charities.

So there it is! My next big thing! Follow the blog to keep up on the details. You can also like me on Facebook

Tips for how to draw a nose

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I was sketching a nose today. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I know not to copy an image I didn’t take and try to sell it, unless I’m looking for a lawsuit, so I don’t do that. πŸ™‚ But what artist can help the sketch?!
You know the scenario, you are flipping through a magazine, minding your own business… And bam! Someone’s nose screams out at you from the page. You try to ignore it and just browse the article or advertisement, but all you hear is “draw me!!” You can’t take it, you rip out the page and plop open your sketch book.
But now what? Where do you start? Let me give you some of my tips.

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So, why is it so hard to draw noses anyways? Realist style noses I mean. The answer is simple, and if you remember this, you will master a good nose in no time.
Don’t look for lines, look for shadows.
Most people, when drawing faces are attracted to the eyes. The eyes are dominated by lines that define their shape and separations and value changes, then they draw lines to block out eyebrows, and lips and jawbones, so it only seems natural to do the same for the nose. Right? That’s what your brain is telling you. It’s what you’ve been doing for the rest of the face, it’s working, keep going.
But the nose is different. It’s a bump on your face the same color as the rest of your face with two dark holes. It’s special little characteristics, are defined by the shadows it makes.
So after all of that, what I’m saying is this: change the way you are looking at it, from lines, to shadows. Draw a nose from layering up shadows.
So rip out your picture and let’s get started:

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(I’m using only one HB pencil, since that’s what most people have on hand, if you have a pencil set, go for it! In general build up to dark. You do need an eraser.)
Step 1: place your nostrils. Remember Look at the shadows! Don’t just draw a shape, start shading now, shade in the darkest area of the nostrils and blend it out.
TIP: “Learn the rules so you know how to break them” When we first learn faces we learn symmetry in placement which is good for basics but perfect symmetry is not usually realistic. If you try to make your nostrils look exactly the same it won’t look as real. Study the nostrils on your model photo. Which one is bigger? How are they different?

Step 2: blending out light lines to start your first layer of shadows will help you keep your shading light. I use my finger. You can also use a blending tool. So start laying down your shadows lightly and blend them out to shape.

Step 3: layering your shadows is the key!! Once you have shadows, you’ll notice where your shadows should be darker. Darken them up in those places. Look at you picture and do it again and again until you’ve got many values across the nose area.

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Step 4: Erase. Erase where you’ve gotten carried away with blending. Erase where you need highlights. Look at your photo. Where is the value changing. Where is it lighter? Where is it white?
Tip: Make an erase mark and do not blend to make a strong sharp highlight. Erase and then blend lightly and repeat to lighten the value.

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Step 5: Imperfections. Imperfections are going to add to your realism quality. Freckles and age marks. Some of us have tons, some of us only have a few… But most of us have something going on that isn’t perfectly gradient flawless skin. Getting the value of these imperfections isn’t super easy, so start light, blend it in a tiny bit, not too much because you don’t want a smudge. Maybe erase a tiny bit and blend again. Add and subtract value until you match the look you are going for.

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Final step!: Look at your sketch next to your study. Are your darks dark enough? If they are, great! You’re done. But most people’s won’t be. This is so important. Make sure you go in for that final round of darkening up your darks. Strong contrast makes all the difference. And make sure you have a white area somewhere as well. πŸ™‚

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The End!

Disclaimer and tid bits: like I said, don’t try and sell your version of someone else’s photograph. A study like this is for practice. All photographs are copyrighted. I do paint from photographs, but they are photographs I personally take (you might not know: my emphasis in school was photography!) So if you are drawing or painting or sculpting from a photograph, something you intend to sell, make sure you have the rights!

Happy Sketching!
Nicole

Sick day is Sketch day!

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Me and my one year old weren’t at peak health today, so we did a cuddle sketch. You can see her work there in green. πŸ™‚
I’m a firm believer in the idea that an artist should NEVER stop sketching. Even if you are creating a body of work that is nothing like your sketches at all. Your sketch book is where you get to be free from organization and a cohesive body of work. Sketches serve a whole different purpose.
You sketch, and you keep that child like spark of creativity, while discovering and improving skills.
Depending on how you are sketching determines the skills you are working on. If you are sketching purely from imagination you are working on creativity. If you are sketching from a still life or model you are working on observation, and probably banking some things you notice in your memory.
If I were ever to mentor another artist, my first piece of advice would be to sketch, sketch often, and never stop.
It’s like lifting weights in a gym for a baseball player. If you never lift weights you aren’t as likely to hit a home run. If you just paint, in your style, and never sketch, you aren’t working out.
If that makes sense at all. πŸ™‚

What’s in an Art Museum?

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It occurred to me today, after reading a blog on art museums ( found here- http://humoringthegoddess.com/2014/04/23/art-thou-curious/ ) there is a certain stigma art museums have a hard time breaking.
Lucky for me, being an artist AND living in Seattle, I know this is totally false. I have to compliment the Seattle Art Museum and Bellevue Arts Museum because they make it so clearly obvious that they aren’t filled with just stuffy artifacts that I had nearly forgotten the stigma exists! Notice the photo above, date night at SAM, they had a live band behind us and they use the permanent exhibit above as a chandelier type effect. Screams contemporary! πŸ™‚
Anyways, I wanted to make this post to kind of give you the run down of what you are missing if you don’t frequent Art Museums.
First, the difference between a gallery and a museum. A gallery represents specific artists and types of artwork generally showcasing their work. They work with the artist to sell and show the artists work. One of the things many galleries do is help to get their artists shown in museums. So people can view the artwork and artists in places where their gallery is not. Artists traditionally work with one gallery. You don’t buy artwork at museums, you buy artwork from galleries. (Or directly from artists if they don’t work with a gallery)
This brings me to the most exciting thing in your local art museum, in my opinion. πŸ™‚ The changing contemporary exhibitions.
Generally if you hear the word contemporary we are talking about an artist that is living and still producing art. Yes, there are going to be some fads you might not like and you might not get, but there is A LoT of really good art still being produced and traveling around to Art Museums today. And a museum exhibit is a chance for you to experience that in person! Even if you don’t live in a place where the local galleries are super exciting. Although of course I’d encourage frequenting all local art venues. πŸ™‚
Here’s an example at BAM — Kathy Venter: Life
http://www.bellevuearts.org/exhibitions/current/kathy_venter/index.html
She’s a Canadian contemporary artist. Pretty incredible ceramicist, she uses traditional methods of pinching and coiling, no molds… Wow! I would have never heard of her or seen this incredible work, except that it traveled to my local museum. Now I can research her, follow her, maybe find out about the gallery that represents her, find pieces that I can collect by her. Where else can I see her!! She’s contemporary and fascinating! Thank you Bellevue Arts Museum!
So the point is, your museum is getting a lot of stuff “traveling through.” It’s a place for you to get culture from all over the world! Even if you don’t get to ever buy or collect great art, here you can see it, from everywhere. Not only does it get the contemporary stuff it will also get exhibitions composed of Masters. For example, the Miro exhibit we visited at SAM that night (above) isn’t owned by the museum, it was traveling through. If Seattleites want to get a peek at the master’s work in person, the museum doesn’t have it in their permanent collection, the Seattleite visits during the time of that exhibition.
It’s exciting for a museum to get a show like this! All the information and all the pieces. The pieces in a show like this come together to travel for a certain period of time, on loan, from many places like private collector’s collections and other museums collections.
And this is the other thing your museum has. Its permanent collection that it has acquired. Which is generally awesome in its own right. There are very few private collections that can compare to a museums collection, right? And no other museum has the same collection yours does, because art is unique. So keep that in mind when you visit and support your museum. Their permanent collection, is like you and your cities collection, nobody else gets to go view that original work anywhere else in the world.
So take it in! It’s unique and your moment in front of it is too! πŸ™‚ Soak it up.

Art Walk

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Thank you to everyone who came out to the Blitz Capitol Hill Arts Walk on Thursday!! We had a great time! πŸ™‚

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“Sketching”

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Here’s my inspiration today.
I think it’s fair to call this sketching, since pictures like these are what lead to my paintings. I see a moment and I have to take it. I can’t leave it there, because I know it speaks every language and says a million words.

And then I paint. Painting is usually for the artist isn’t it? I’m no different. It’s mostly for me, but I do intend that a painting will share what I’ve learned while painting it.

When you, or I, paint a moment like this, what happens to you can’t be described. It’s a study. If that makes sense, I spend 30-40 hours (or however long depending on size) studying one moment. Listening to what it had to say. Letting it reach the part of me that knows how to listen.
And hoping I’m interpreting and passing along in a good enough way that people can hear that moment for generations to come.
I guess, as an artist, I just can’t let some moments pass. I feel a need to take, study, preserve, and share.

Certificate of Authenticity for Artwork/Prints

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Did you know there are strict laws in the state of California and New York (to name 2 of 14 states) about providing COA’s with Reproductions of artwork, such as a limited edition print?

Yep. If you are an artist, you might be feeling annoyed or just wondering what does that mean? You might be thinking, who cares, that doesn’t apply to my art prints, I’m the artist, I sign them. I wish that were true. However, even a signature on a print isn’t enough if you’d ever like your print to be sold to someone in the state of California, and the law in New York specifically states the artist is held responsible if they sell the print.

So, to protect yourself, and especially your collectors, or if you ever anticipate having a dealer, it is a good idea to provide a Certificate of Authenticity.

I personally, completely see the irony here of saying a piece of paper with a signature makes something more authentic than a piece of artwork with the same signature, but if it makes my collectors feel more secure in their purchase I’m happy to provide. And with New York and California being the biggest art markets in the US I’d like to give my collectors security in those states as well as the other 12 states with laws about it.

So, yes, I provide a COA with every print purchase. At this point in time I only sell limited edition collectable giclees as reproductions, I don’t sell cheap reproductions with open editions, I’m not sure that a COA matters in that context since those are not really collectable.

What’s in my COA?
You can see my sample above, it has all the details on the print. I follow the strictest laws, which are in California and New York to the best of my ability, I am not a lawyer. πŸ™‚
I found the best information on the laws here-
http://www.masterworksfineart.com/art/certificates-of-authenticity.php

And as a bonus! I draw a mandala on all my COA’s just for you. πŸ™‚ because rubber stamps and stickers are way less authentic. AND you get my signature again. Lol.

Seriously though, I aim to please my collectors because making art is great, but I appreciate the people who value it just as much, they are like the caretakers of my babies. So I will always provide everything at the highest quality I’m aware of. πŸ™‚

First batch of prints; new painting

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I’ve got my first batch of giclee’s in from the printers, and they look so gorgeous!! I’m shipping these bad boys out and taking a couple to the show tomorrow! I can’t wait to see everyone at the art walk.

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Meanwhile, in the studio, I have something beautifully new to paint. My latest shot, is a keeper, I’d say. πŸ™‚

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Mandala in the classroom

So a little break from talking about the show, so I can talk about what we’ve been working on at the school! If you saw the earlier post, you saw the awesome practice mandala’s the first grader’s made. Yesterday, we made the big one, and it looks so gorgeous!

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It’s so cool right?! These little artists making their own little mandalas and then all working together to piece together one big mandala. Inspired by the theme, art in nature and nature in art. I think you’d have to be completely art impaired not to love this.

So here’s the steps if you are looking for lesson plans–

Step one- materials- I bought a 50lb bag of river rock from Home Depot, these super cool metallic markers from Ben Franklin’s, little scrap booking rhinestones and some modge podge. The red paper used as backing is supplied by the school, but we talked about displaying it outside, and in that case I’m going to get waterproof tablecloths from the party store. Hopefully in the same color.

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Step 2- I washed 50lbs of river rock… I would suggest you not do this in your kitchen sink like I did. Maybe pick a warm sunny day, take the dish soap outside, and use a hose. I plugged my sink, added soap and water and washed. Which may sound super dumb to you. But it sounded like a good idea at the time.. To be fair, I was getting sick and also working on preparing for my show at the time. So my head wasn’t all there. Maybe you haven’t figured out why this was super dumb. In that case, let me spell it out… I ended up with a sink full of soapy water, dirt, and rock slivers… Which I DO NOT want in my drain. So I had to drain the water by scooping it out a cup at a time and then sifting it to keep any rock out of my drain. Then I had to wash my sink really well with a sponge and paper towels and I got totally obsessive, but I can guarantee my sink was in perfect condition before I ever even unplugged it. And next time, I’ll wash rocks outside. πŸ™‚

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After that I picked out 22 of the flattest, largest, nicest looking rocks there were, and 44 nice, flat oval small ones. So each student had one large one and two small ones to decorate. I also made an example rock.

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That was it for prep work.
In the class I had each student draw their main mandala on their big rock. I reminded them that the key to creating a mandala was symmetry and keeping it round. The best way I found for the kids to understand this was by breaking their “pie” into four slices. They measured by dots.
So for example. They would put a dot in the center. Four dots up, four dots down, four dots left, and four dots right. Then draw the outside circle. And anything that went inside one slice had to go in all four slices.
We mirrored this process in the big one as well.

After they decorated, the students lined up and I gave their large stone a gem in the center and modge podged them. While that dried, the kids lined up and one at a time used their small stones (which they had also decorated) to create the basic structure for the big mandala. I was really impressed by their ability to remember symmetry but use creativity. A couple students added in pine cones and used problem solving to figure out what to do with some of the last few rocks that didn’t have an obvious spot.
After that, the modge podge had dried and the students placed their special rocks, stood back, and admired their beautiful work. They were impressed, and so was I! πŸ™‚

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