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An Art Manikin Review

Here’s a fun thing to do: an Art Manikin Review!

What is an Art Manikin? Well it is a tool meant to help one learn to draw the human figure. An Art Manikin with respect to the spelling is different than a regular mannequin. An Art Manikin is a small human figure originally made of wood; whereas a mannequin is a full sized figure meant to display clothing in a store. Now that we have the correct terminology, let’s have an art manikin review!

I have several art manikins but I’ve never used them to help me learn to draw the human figure. I am of the opinion that one should learn from life, so that is what I did. I took life drawing classes with models that would pose in the nude. It was great! At first it was a little intimidating, but once I got over the initial shock and looked upon the models as an art form, all was good.

So why do I have this collection of art manikins when they just sit on my shelf collecting dust?

studio shelf
Art Manikins

I don’t know why I purchased these art manikins! The first one I acquired was the tall wooden one on the left. I bought it from Blick.com many years ago. The small wooden art manikin, I have no idea where it came from. Maybe I bought it because I thought it was cute.

Wooden art manikin

These wooden manikins are totally worthless in my opinion. The face jumps out at me as the first thing wrong since no human head is that elongated. Secondly is the pelvis area, why is that indented? And lastly the feet are too big. Also the hands are useless for learning to draw a hand. They don’t make a pose very easily and tend to fall over a lot, which is very annoying!

Art Manikins Alistair and Cordelia

This is Alistair and Cordelia, the Art Manikins you’ve seen in my previous posts, as the snobby art critics who like to critique my work. Instead of sitting on the shelf collecting dust, I thought I’d put them to use as the studio mascots.

I bought these art manikins at Blick.com a long time ago, because I thought they were very cool. I never used them to draw with but they’ve been a part of my studio ever since. Sadly, Blick doesn’t sell them anymore and I was quite upset to find this out when Cordelia’s arm broke last week! I was posing her for a picture and her arm just fell apart at the elbow. Luckily I had already taken the photo. My husband was able to glue her back together and now she’s good as new!

I think these are the best art manikins I’ve ever seen. Their proportions are correct and they pose quite easily. I put them on doll stands because their main draw back is they don’t stand up on their own. Cordelia arrived with no hair, so I gave her a full mane of red curly hair. I think I’m going to paint in their eyes, because they have no eyes just a blank stare, with no pupils, hence the sunglasses. It’s kind of creepy.

One day I got the idea to see if Barbie and Ken clothes would fit them and they do! It’s just too much fun. So now they are dressed to the nines and I find myself perusing the kids toy aisle for more clothes.

Alistair and Cordelia look at a new art work

These art manikins are called BYIA Body Kun Dolls and are TOTALLY worthless! I bought them when it looked like Cordelia was going to be armless last week. I thought they were as large as Alistair and Cordelia, but they are tiny, only 6″ tall. One needs glasses to see them for drawing with! I guess I didn’t read the description well enough before ordering. Oh well.

They are no bigger than my small wood manikin and are so ugly! They feel awful to the touch and their heads are too small for their bodies. The plastic stands they came with are a joke as they are hard to maneuver. It’s difficult to get the plastic tube into the hole in the back of the manikins. Their joints don’t move easily and the expression on the male’s face is one of anger. Kind of weird.

I was so disappointed upon opening the package. I would not recommend buying these manikins unless you want to waste your money. I didn’t save the packaging or I would have retuned them. So now I’m just going to give them to my grandson. He will have more fun playing with them than I will ever have any use for them. I don’t even want them on my studio shelf!

So thats my Art Manikin review. I hope this helps a bit if you are looking to purchase an art manikin. But truly, you’d be better off drawing from life. You don’t have to draw someone in the nude to get practice. Ask a friend or family member to pose for you and have the model change the pose every 15 minutes. Learn to draw the gesture of the person then later you can add details. Use a large newsprint pad and some vine charcoal so you can easily add shading.

Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be posting my latest pastel landscape in a few days. Until then, Much love! ~Rhonda

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“Summertime” pastel painting

It’s been a busy week, but I was finally able to get a photo uploaded of my latest work. “Summertime” pastel painting is the next piece in the “Beauty of Idaho” series. This painting is my favorite so far and I will be entering it in the Dakota Art Pastels 2nd Quarter Pastel Competition. I’ve been entering the juried competitions on a regular basis and always have been accepted but have never placed. Maybe with this one I’ll get lucky?

The juror of the pastel competition is Marla Bagetta, who paints in a very loose and impressionistic style. So I’ve always been curious to know if a judge who is an artist, paints in certain manner, does that mean they will be only drawn to those paintings that are similar to their style? If that’s the case, then I have no prayers chance in hell of placing, because I paint in a photo realistic style. I’ve often thought that artists shouldn’t judge art contests because it’s like the fox guarding the hen house. Similarly, photographers shouldn’t judge photos.

I used to belong to a professional photography association and the monthly photography contests were judged by other photographers in the association. The same photographer always seemed to win because he had a unique style that everyone knew whose photo it was. Everyone knew it was the association president’s photo so how could he not win? I thought his stuff was bad, because it was underexposed and grainy. As if he invented grainy photos. I think someone from the public should judge artistic competitions because after all, it’s the public that buys the art and they know what they like. What do you think? Anyways, I digress. Here’s my piece:

"Summertime" Pastel Painting

“Summertime” pastel painting was created from a reference photo I took at the waters edge on Lake Pend Orielle, in northern Idaho. This beautiful blue canoe was tied up next to a floating restaurant and the lime green color of the water with the green umbrella on the patio was gorgeous! Plus the blue railings around the restaurant matched the canoe color perfectly. All those luscious colors were reflected in the still water. (The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original).

I have an affinity for canoes because of their unique shape. There’s just something about the design of a canoe, kind of like tug boats, that I find appealing. I would love to have a canoe but my husband doesn’t want one. He says they’re tippy, so we have kayaks instead. Maybe some day I’ll take a ride in one and see if that’s true.

“Summertime” pastel painting was painted on light green PastelMat paper with hard and soft pastels. I used a cool palette with complimentary warm tones to offset all the cool hues. The pastels used were from Terry Ludwig, Unison, Sennlier and Nupastel. No underpainting was done on this piece. I did a thumbnail sketch to map out the values and picked out a palette before beginning.

Thumbnail sketch of "Summertime"

As usual the studio mascot art critics, Alistair and Cordelia chimed in. They both gave “Summertime” a thumbs up! (Well as good as their mannequin hands would allow). A thumbs up with no snarky comments? I’m shocked! Thanks guys!

Alistair and Cordelia Give "Summertime" a thumbs up

Cornelia has a broken arm! While adjusting her hand her arm came apart at the elbow! I’m so bummed. She’s in the hospital having surgery now. If the doctors can’t fix her arm she’ll have to be “put down” and a replacement will be made. Stay tuned to see what happens!

That’s all I have for now. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, much Love! ~ Rhonda

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A critique of “Miss Chicken”

A critique of “Miss Chicken” provided by Alistair and Cordelia, the studio mascots:

Alistair and Cordelia provide a critique of "Miss Chicken".
Alistair and Cornelia critique “Miss Chicken”

“Alistair, look at that pastel titled “Miss Chicken!”. Blue tail feathers?” “Really?” critiques the lovely Cordelia.

“Well Cordelia, you see this is art not a photograph. Of course chickens don’t have blue tail feathers in REAL life!” replies the ever knowledgeable Alistair.

“The title of the piece is “Miss Chicken” so maybe she thinks she’s hot.” surmises Cordelia.

“Perhaps, but then again, maybe the artist used her artistic license to create a colorful passage that we as the audience would enjoy. What do you think?” asks Alistair.

Alistair and Cordelia critique the "Miss Chicken "pastel

Alistair points out the the red wattle and comb and explains to Cordelia how the red and blue colors make the painting pop.

“You see Cordelia, the saturated colors of the comb and tail feathers balance out the more neutral colors of the main body feathers. It’s brilliant.” explains Alistair.

“Well maybe, but I’m not a fan of chicken paintings, Al. I’m a city girl, you know.”

“I mean the last painting we saw was of a Red Barn, which I’m not used to seeing because I live in the city. When will we see something different?” whines Cordelia.

“Oh Cordelia you jest!” amuses Alistair.

Let’s ignore the studio mascots, shall we?

As you see, my latest pastel is of a chicken. I just had to paint this chicken after being inspired by a video from Marla Bagetta. I love chickens and when I saw her paint this one I had to have one of my own. Of course our styles are very different and I really love how hers came out, but I’m pleased with mine. I took a little break from painting landscapes to do this chicken, which was really fun.

"Miss Chicken"

“Miss Chicken” was painted on Buttercup PastelMat paper and is approximately 9.5″ x 8.5″. I used a variety of hard and soft pastels from Terry Ludwig, Unison and Girault as well as Nupastel. My painting is more linear and controlled whereas Marlas painting is loose and freeform.

I have tried to paint the way she paints and I just can’t figure out how to do it. I thought if I used pastels it would help me to loosen up but this must just be the way I paint. Painting is like one’s signature, and reflects our nature. I’m somewhat of an introvert and a neat nut.

I have been paying attention to this phenomenon for awhile now and have discovered that an artist’s essence and personality comes through in their work. It’s really quite amazing. Just because I’m introverted and neat doesn’t mean anything bad, it’s just me. Some folks don’t like that but it’s okay. We can’t please everyone, right? I think this stems from my upbringing whereby my parents believed children should be seen and not heard. My mother despised dirt and would make my sisters and I pick up lint from the carpet after she had just vacuumed. I know! But whatever, I’m not able to change even though I’ve tried, and at my age its not worth it. But I will pursue a more loose style of painting and believe it or not the pastels are helping in my quest. Mainly, I’m having fun and that’s the whole point!

Currently on my easel is a pastel of a sunset and that’s really fun! In between getting the veggie gardens ready for the upcoming season, and planting my seeds to start indoors, painting has taken a bit of a back burner, but I’ll share as soon as it’s finished.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed “Miss Chicken” as much as I did painting her!

Until next time, much love! ~ Rhonda

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“The Red Barn” Pastel

Alistair and Cordelia critique the barn pastel

“Cordelia, what are your thoughts about this “Red Barn” pastel?” asks Alistair of the lovely Cordelia.

“Well, Alistair, can I call you Al?”

“Why of course, all my friends call me Al!”

“Ok, Al. My thoughts on the “Red Barn” pastel are mixed. I do like the juxtaposition of the complimentary color palette, although I’m not a fan of overly green paintings. I don’t care for humdrum barn paintings as it were. I’m a city girl you know. But I must say there is something about this barn pastel that I like and can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“Cordelia, my sweet, you amaze me every day with your intellect!” “I like the daisies in the foreground. You didn’t see them? Look! I thought you liked daisies!”

“Why Al, you remembered that I like daisies! Yes I like those and the tall brown flower things on the left, whatever those are.”

“Me too! Well I’ve seen enough. Let’s do lunch. I’m starving!”

“I’m for that Al. Let’s get out of here!” amuses Cordelia.

I never listen to them. By the way, those tall plants on the left are dried up Mullens. Mullens grow like crazy here and are a beneficial plant. Mullen is used to help with respiratory issues and coughs.

Here’s my latest addition to the Beauty of Idaho series, called “The Red Barn” Pastel:

The Red Barn pastel

“The Red Barn” pastel was painted with hard and soft pastels on tan PastelMat paper. I used an alcohol wash underpainting to set the mood for the painting. I wanted to depict an old time look to the piece and feel I achieved that using mostly pink undertones.

This is one of my favorite barns in our area and sits in the middle of a large field next to the woods. I’ve always been drawn to barns and old wood, especially old buildings that are in disarray . Idaho is mostly a rural state and there are many farms with interesting barns dotting the landscape. This particular barn is nicely maintained and every spring lots of daisies grow in the pastures. The scene is so picturesque that driving by one day I had to stop and take a photo, knowing I would have to paint it.

{The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original painting.}

I hope you enjoyed this pastel and the musings of the studio mascots, Alistair and Cordelia. Until next time, much love! ~Rhonda

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Poinsettia in Pastel

Merry Christmas!

Recently, I purchased a few poinsettia plants to decorate for the holidays. They are displayed in the living room and look so festive! I just love Poinsettias.

I also treated myself to a large order of new pastels! I finally got some rich reds that my palette was lacking. This haul of pastels is my Christmas gift to me.

Pastels and supplies

See the lower center small box of pastels with all the tones of red? That box inspired me to paint one of the Poinsettia plants and I had a great time doing so! Here’s the finished piece, “Poinsettia in Pastel”, which will be framed as a 5”x7” and used in the future as part of my Christmas decor…

Poinsettia  Pastel
Poinsettia in Pastel

Here’s a photo of the studio still life setup:

Studio  still life setup

My poinsettia plant is a bit thin in the leaves department because I almost killed both of them! The poinsettias are on the fireplace hearth where they don’t get my constant attention and I forget to check them daily for water. One day, I happened to look at the fireplace and both Poinsettias were wilted! “That’s just great”, I thought!

I rushed the plants into the kitchen and gave them long drinks. One perked up right away, the other was too far gone and lost most of its leaves. The one in the studio is the Poinsettia that survived the best, so I thought I’d better paint it before it’s gone, cause I just might forget to water them again.

All my shopping is done, and gifts have been shipped. I baked some Christmas sugar cookies using a new recipe off the back of the flour bag. Let’s just say that it was a wasted day, sadly. The recipe was awful and the cookies reflected that! We stomached a handful of them and threw the rest in the trash. Even icing didn’t help. The recipe called for sour cream and it just didn’t work. Yuck!

Well, that’s my excitement for the week! After the holidays I’ll be sharing the bird series in pastel that I’ve been working on. Here’s a sneak peak:

Red Cardinal Pastel
“Red Cardinal in the Snow”

(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original paintings.)

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll see you next year! Much Love ~Rhonda

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