Wednesday, June 13, 2007

everybody . . . dies famous . . . in a small town

i'm not dead yet -- but this might be my 15 seconds of fame!

thought you guys might like to know that i made the front page of the local paper (and no, it wasn't in the "arrests" section!). the picture of "jerry's bins at sunrise" was pictured on the front page with the article and a link to the hydrangea picture titled "a moment of rest" was given. i've included both of those pictures so you could see them if you want.

you can find the article
here --

in case you can't follow the link -- here's the article copied and pasted --

Box of Colored Pencils Changed Nature Lover's Life
By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
THE MORNING SUN - June 13, 2007

A garden's blooms and birds may be fleeting, but Jill Campbell, Asbury, has turned a way of preserving what nature puts forth into a passion.

It all began with a box of colored pencils.

"I am an English teacher at Pitt State, and one day a few years ago I found a box of colored pencils, evidently abandoned by the teacher or students who used the classroom before me," she said. "I began experimenting with them to see what I could do, and in no time found myself really drawn to it."

No pun intended.

As an English teacher, for many years she has focused on the arrangement of words. Now she has added to her creative repertoire things like shadows, color, textures, and light.

"I didn't have art in high school, but I have always been a fancy letterer or doodler. I came across an online group called Illustration Friday in which they send you a one-word prompt and if you illustrate it you can post your link to their page," she said. "I thought, surely I can do that."

Her first one-word prompt was "strength."

"I had a picture of my husband's new grandson, only a few minutes old, and I thought, 'What more strength is there than that?' and I drew him and posted it to my blog. I posted it to my other groups, asking them to be gentle on their critiques, but got good feedback."

She is particularly drawn to the natural world, capturing flowers and natural scenes. One of her works, "Hydrangea," [should be "A Moment of Rest"] was chosen to be part of an exhibit at Powell Gardens in northwest Missouri under the direction of Cynthia Padilla, the owner of the online Botanical Art Group of which Campbell is a member. Her work also is featured in the online version of the exhibit, which can be seen at

In fact, Campbell was instrumental in getting Padilla, a well-known botanical illustrator, to Powell Gardens this spring for a workshop. There she learned techniques like flower petals, stems, rubbings, and tracings.

"Once you start drawing things in nature, you start taking notice of things more than before," she said.

Campbell always draws from photographs, because it makes the drawing process portable and not hurried. "If I'm working from a picture, it's no hurry to get it done. The flower won't wilt, the moment is captured. If you're drawing a strawberry and using an actual strawberry, after a while it starts to change color and not look quite so pretty," she said.

A Sony Cybershot, 10.1 megapixel, is her camera of choice, which means she doesn't have to be right on top of subject - she can be 100 feet away - to get what she want. Her photography skills are equally good, and earned her a third place finish in the Crowder College Quill contest for her entry, "Jerry's Bins at Sunrise."

Campbell finds plenty of natural subjects in her garden, where last year she canned 70 quarts of tomatoes and 60 quarts of green beans, and where she planted sunflowers for a granddaughter.

"One that reached 11 feet was our biggest one; we took lots of photos and that provided inspiration for my drawings," she said.

She offers these tips to beginners or those striving to improve nature-related illustrations:

o Turn the piece you're working on upside down so you are just looking at shadows and light, instead of the subject matter.

o Do your original sketch on tracing paper, then once you've got it, darken your lines. Keep this as an original, and transfer the image to good paper lightly, where you can then complete the shading, color, etc. This saves time and effort if you make a mistake, because you still have the original on the tracing paper and can reproduce it again easily.

o Use paper designated specifically for the art medium you are using, such as watercolor paper or color pencil paper.

o Invest in a good set of colored pencils for home - Prisma Colors are great and include 120 pencils on four trays - as well as a simple student set of 24 (such as Prang) to throw in a backpack for portability while traveling or outdoors.

Andra Bryan Stefanoni can be reached at

the hydrangea picture wasn't shown in the newspaper article, but the online link was given to the orchids and hydragneas show blog. here is the picture that was displayed at powell gardens --

you can see the full-blown version of it at flickr