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Just attended an Oil Painting Art Workshop


Waiting for the model to return from break.            Beginning part of one of my still life paintings.


  "Talent is long patience" By Gustave Flaubert


I just finished taking my second,  four day still life and figure oil painting workshop, from the artist Robert Johnson in Fredericksburg Texas.


Met a lot of wonderful people, learned a lot, and had a wonderful time. It's about a ten hour drive for me in each direction (that part is not so good).


I also learned a lot about myself in the artistic sense.


-Which direction I want to go in my paintings.

- What I have to do to get better.

- Understood more about my oil painting art supplies.

- Getting out of my comfort zone is good.


I take notes when I go to art workshops. When I get home, I retype them and keep them in a folder with the workshop artist’s name. Having notes organized in folders helps me to find information fast later when I am painting.


I’m ready to get back to painting in my studio!


Thank you for reading my blog,

Debra Snyder Heard



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Waiting For Romance


"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."  By Henri Matisse 1869-1954


A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man can not live without love.
- Max Muller


 Composition - The act of organizing the elements of an artwork into a harmoniously unified whole.


"Waiting for Romance" is a beautiful reminder that everyone wants true love and romance.


Art jobs in my younger years included being a display manager for high quality retail stores. My work was to arranged merchandise in a way to attract customers to want to buy and be excited by what they see. I also worked with retail market buyers drawing their layout ads to show/instruct their company photographers how the merchandise was to be displayed for newspaper ads.  


Now when I arrange still life for my paintings I see how my past experiences has benefited me.


Planning my painting composition takes one or two days to arrange, and to decide how I want everything to look. Color, lighting, theme, unity, harmony,  variety, dominance, balance (asymmmetical or symetrical), and sizes of everything are taken into consideration. I also have to really like it!


Next I take pictures of my still life many times at different angles. I upload the photos on my computer to see if I like the way everything looks. Using the computer and camera gives me a different viewpoint angle of looking at everything. If I don’t like the way things look, I go back and change things up in my still life arrangement. Then I take lots photos again ( I do this many times). If I have to go to photoshop to crop or enlarge I do.  Finally I print out my selected photo just for reference. I get everything exactly the way I want so I won’t run into problems later. After I do the under painting, I put the photo away and work from the still life only.


I see a lot of beautifully still life paintings from artists that show wonderful skills, but the composition is weak. It destroys the power of the painting.



Life has a really neat way of connecting everything from the past to the present. 


Thank you for reading my blog,


Debra Snyder Heard


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Working With Charcoal

Natchez Angel by Debra Snyder Heard

"If i could have had my own way, I would have confined myself to black and white."  By Edgar Degas 1834-1917


I have resisted working in charcoal for a long time because I felt it was too messy and hard to control.


I’m in the process of taking an Anatomy Drawing Class at a close by university. We work mostly in charcoal. My pencil drawings tend to be light handed, and charcoal helps me to get a darker contrasts/values.

Pencil also takes longer to build up dark contrasts/values. We usually finish three large figure drawings within a 3 ½ hour period (I always feel rushed).


I have enjoyed reading a beautiful book called “Lessons in Classical Drawing” by Juliette Aristides. This book includes a disk that demonstrates Juliette drawing in charcoal, which is really helpful.

I have also attended two of J.D. Hillberry’s drawing workshops. His book “Textures in Pencil” is a wonderful book to read. In his workshops he demonstrates his methods of charcoal drawing, and he is a wonderful teacher.


A lot of Old Masters and new ones use colored papers to draw on which I find makes the drawings interesting.


Our homework assignments each week for class is to copy a master drawing. I have been working on charcoal drawings with colored paper to enhance my skills.

Here is my latest homework project.

 "Female Nude" by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre 1740-1760

Copy by Debra Snyder Heard


Thank you for reading my blog,

Debra Snyder Heard



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Learning to Let Go

      "The vulgar wil see nothing but chaos, disorder , and incorrectness."   By James Ensor


My painting has been put aside for a short time, while I’m taking an advance college anatomy drawing class. I have about five weeks left (Thank you Jesus). The homework keeps me very busy.


My style of drawing and painting is very tight and detailed (I want to say Classical) rendering which turns out to be beautiful work.


I forgotten how a lot of art college professors love ABSTRACT works.


I’m very much out of my comfort zone, which can be good (or bad). While my art professor is making other students work smaller, tighter, more detailed, she is having me work LARGER, LOOSER, GEOMETRIC and less detailed.  I really have to control myself from running out of the room.


There are good days and bad days for me in this class. I’m open to learning new things, but being older and doing things a certain way for a long time makes it hard to make changes. It takes practice and I’m doing the work. I'm learning a lot and really like the teacher and students in the class.


I wonder how this class is going affect my future drawings and paintings.  I have gotten some new ideas of how I want to render some of my future art works, so it going to be a good thing.


    "Lacy" by Debra Snyder Heard

      A quick 40 minute pose drawing


The model for Thursday night open studio sessions (not part of my college class) did not show up this past week, so another artist posed  for us.  It's a 3 hour session and local artists meet every week meet at this studio to draw/paint models. It gives me a chance to practice what I have learned in class and combine drawing the way I like. I'm also meeting new artists and it is fun looking at each others artistic style of the same model when we finish.



Thank you for reading my blog,

Debra Snyder Heard


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Copying A Master Drawing to Improve Drawing Skills


" I looked at the drawing of the Old Masters from the point if view of learning what drawing was."- By Henry Moore


Copying a Master Drawing to Improve Drawing Skills


 Two days a week, I travel to Tech University to a anatomy advanced drawing class that I am taking, and work among student half my age (the teacher is my age, and I like her).  


The classes are 3 1/2 hours long each session, and we mostly stand on concrete floors next to our easels working the whole time. Towards the end of the third hour my feet feel like a couple of match sticks on fire, and I keep sipping on soda hoping to keep my energy up. I’m having a wonderful time!


One of our weekly homework assignments besides drawing anatomy parts and other work, is to copying a master drawing.


To find material to work from, I went to the university library and found a whole row of book shelves of master drawings. It was better than the Wal-Mart  Halloween candy isle.


The idea of copying a master drawing is to learn about other artist’s style and drawing methods. Also improves one’s drawing skills.

The artist I chose for this week was Harry I. Stickroth.


A portrait painter and muralist, Harry Stickroth did mural decorations for the Cunard Building in New York City and at the time of his death from strep throat was a teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied at the American Academy in Rome where he won the Prix de Rome, and at the Lazurus School for mural painting.


When I copied this master’s drawing I wondered about the artist, but mostly about the person in his drawing. 


-         Why did the artist choose this person to draw?

-         What kind of person was he?

-         What was his life like?


Harry Stickroth’s artwork is absolutely  beautiful.


This is my copy/drawing from Stickroth’s work.


Thank you for reading my blog. Feel free to ask me questions or to make commits.


Thank you,

Debra Snyder Heard




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"Resting in the Park" by Debra Snyder Heard



Taking ART229: FIGURE DRAWING class at Tech. University


“I think it’s the most important study there is and the most challenging and the most difficult.” By Wayne Thiebaud on drawing the nude.



I signed up for this class for several reasons:

-         Keep up my drawing skills. Since I started back to oil painting I miss the drawing.

-         Most mistakes made in painting are because the painter has not developed good drawing skills. One mistake in a painting ruins the whole painting.

-         Be around other artists.

-         Getting out of my comfort zone.


Drawing is not like riding a bike. You lose it if you don’t keep it up.


Bad things to look forward to:

-         Being around students that still say the work “Like” five times in each sentence they use, and they usually never stop talking (I have already experience this while standing in a long line to buy a car parking tag).

-         Homework and deadlines.


Good things to look forward to:

-         Develop better drawing skills.

-         Meeting new people and being around other artists.

-         Getting out of cooking supper two nights a week.


Being over 55 has its advantages. Most universities have a 55+ programs, where there is a huge tuition waver fee .


Thank you for reading my blog.


Debra Snyder Heard


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"Green Jar" Part of My Flower Oil Painting Series

       "Green Jar" by Debra Snyder Heard



"Painting must do for the eyes what poetry does for the ears."- By Antonie Cozpel   


 This is a painting of Pink Rock Roses that grows in my yard. The birds (especially humming birds) and butterflies love these perennials flowers. This flower is simmering pink in color, and sparkles when the sun shines on it.                                                                   


When I first started back into oil painting, I was trying to decide what to paint.  I have worked for many years in pencil and my favorite subjects to draw are people. In oils, my first choice was to do a flower series, because I had a good supply of them in my yard. Also, I wanted to learn how to use color.


 I was not too keen on painting still life. Painting objects to look like objects? I might as well take a picture with the camera and be done with it.

In the beginning stages of my flower paintings, I was setting up the still life, and taking pictures to work from. At first I found myself using the photographs more than the still life, because I was so darn slow, and the flower wilts and changes every hour.  The lighting changed too.


I found the camera is not accurate enough. The colors are not right. Even the size and dimensions were off. Now I rely more on the still life, painting what my eyes see, and using my paintbrush to measure with.


Many days I feel like building a huge fire to throw my paintings into. Other days, are more rewarding.


The more I paint still life, the better I like it. It really makes me look and see what is in front of me. The values, colors, light,... 

The whole painting process takes total concentration. It is very much living in the present.


Every morning when I wake up in the morning I have a painting challenge waiting for me to accomplish. 

Life is wonderful!


Thank you for reading my blog,


Debra Snyder Heard



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Attended A Oil Painting Workshop



I just finished a 4 day Still Life/Figure Oil Painting Workshop from the artist Robert Johnson, in Fredericksburg Texas.

I feel like I learned a lot, and also learned I have a lot of work to do.

Even though I just started back into painting, my drawing skills really helped me tremendously. 

  Meeting other artists that have a lot of the same goals is a wonderful way to keep motivated. Learning from a more experienced artist is even better!


 The timing was perfect because Friday night was the monthly art crawl to visit the open art galleries.


It was a long drive to and back, about 12 hours each way. Driving in heavy rains, having a flat tire, being strung out on coffee, was part of my travel experience.

My husband asked me if I would do it again and did I think it was worth it?

I told him yes, because it takes a lot to be committed to improve. Other people in the workshop drove for 2 days to get there, and lived farther than I did.


Thank you for reading my blog,

Debra Snyder Heard

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Pencil Drawing Completed of Two Labrador Retrivers

Two Labrador Retrivers by Debra Snyder Heard

"We learn by  doing it. There is no other way." -By John Holt



I just finished a commission pencil drawing of two old golden retrievers.  It was a pleasure seeing the difference in each dog, both in personality and in structural features.

Drawing and painting  helps me understand and connect to my environment. I enjoy seeing the progress in my artwork, to be able to look back and to have something to show.

 If you wish to commission a drawing, please contact me through "Contact the Artist page on my website".

 Thank you for reading my blog,

 Debra Snyder Heard

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Eyes Are The Window Into The Soul!

      Two Labs by Debra Snyder Heard

My starting point in a painting or drawing of a person or animal is their eyes.

The eyes tell a lot about that person or animal. They are the window into the soul! They tell you a lot about everything, even things you don’t want to know.

I was in the veterinary clinic the other day, buying my Boston terrier dog food. While I was in there standing in line, a man rushed in carrying his big dog (it looked like a Shepherd). The atmosphere changed quickly, because it was bad. The doctors’ doors opened quickly to let them in.  The dog was breathing hard and looked hurt bad. I made the mistake of looking into the dog’s eyes as they passed me. They were cloudy, with the glazed look of dying.

When I look at paintings and drawings that are done of the figure of women done in the nude, I notice that the male artist spends a lot of time painting and drawing the private parts. The faces of the women are hardly done, or not done at all. Where are the eyes? Why is the face distorted when everything else is done with detail?  

My drawing of “Two Labs” is still coming along nicely! Still have a lot of work to do. Hope you enjoy watching the progress of this drawing!


Thank you for reading my blog!

Debra Snyder Heard


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Pencil Drawing of Two Labrador Retrievers / Beginning Stage


"Without good drawing, the foundation of a painting will collapse". By Ken Danby


I have started on a commission pencil drawings of two labradors.  They are two, sweet old dogs, with a lot of blond and gray hair.

I will post the final drawing when it's finish. This picture is the beginning stage of the first lab.


My goal is to have a painting and pencil project going at the same time. I want to keep up my drawing skills.



 Two Labs by Debra Snyder Heard



Thank you for reading my blog!


Debra Snyder Heard




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Gypsy Belly Dancer

Gypsy Belly Dancer By Debra Snyder Heard




I took a picture of this dancer at a recent Texas Renaissance Festival. She was a little older than the other dancers. Her costume was more complicated, more layered, down to earth and a little worn, and not as flashy as the younger dancers. Her dancing style was graceful and lovely to watch. The same way mature women are in real life!


Thank you for reading my blog!

 Debra Snyder Heard


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Take Tons of Photos to Work From



Renaissance Woman by Debra Snyder Heard 



This is a drawing that I did from an earlier Renaissance Festival. This woman’s smile and sweet music was a pleasure to experience.


 After extensive cleaning, cooking, and visiting with family that came to my house for Thanksgiving, I’m ready to get back to the drawing board.

I have started a new drawing from a photo that I took at a recent Renaissance Festival ( will post a photo of the drawing in a later blog).

I take lots (300 to 500) of photos at events, and hope to have 2 or 3 shots that I can use.  I do work from still life, but sometimes I don’t have that choice.


Things that help get good pictures:

1.              Morning or evening light.

2.              Good camera (consider it an investment).

3.              Planned theme or know ahead exactly what in your photos. Examples: dogs, old ladies, trees.

4.              Take lots of pictures of the same subject at different angles.

5.              Don’t forget to take up close pictures too.


Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

Debra Snyder Heard



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Why I Do Art

Marlena by Debra Snyder Heard


                          Turning Angel By Debra Snyder Heard


                        "Talent is long patience" By Gustave Flaubert




I think of art as a challenge to be accomplished. Same entity as a mountain climber looking at a huge mountain, for example Mt. Everest, and feel the need to see if he/she can make it to the top. It will take a lot of preparation and skill. Creating art is the same way!

 While I work, I concentrate on what is the best way  to achieve my goal. The creative process makes time and everything around me cease to exists. It is living in the moment!


More Reasons:

-       Without it I would be miserable. To me it is a method of survival .

-       Look back and see progress.

-       Is a talent and skill that I have worked for, and no one can take away!

-       Feeling of success and achievement when I get through.

-       Helps me look at things closer and connect.

-       It is a way for me put my thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings into a visual medium.

-       It is my idea of fun!

-       Because I can!


Thank you for taking time to read my post! Share your ideas with me if you like!

Debra Snyder Heard


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Keeping A Sketchbook Journal

Marlena by Debra Snyder Heard




  "Drawing is touching at a distance."-Sigmund Abeles



I use my Mondays for working in my sketchbook journal. I’m not at home so it comes with me. I like using a 5 inch x 8 inch “Moleskine” sketchbook. It’s a neat, hard back book that is easy to carry around.


Leonardo da Vinci was very famous for his sketchbooks.


Reasons for using a sketchbook:

-         Improve drawing skills

-         Another creative process

-         Learn to see more and better

-         Great joy of looking back and remembering

-         Just need a few things (pencils, sketchbook, and erasers)

-         Connects you with your environment

-         Good for writing and recording ideas


Theme ideas:

-         Christmas (little red book)

-         Gardening/ botany

-         Vacations

-         People

-         Landscapes

-         Quotes/ notes



          - Date each page

          - Spray page with workable fixative when finished

         - Add positive quotes and statements                                            


I hope to give my sketchbooks to my children and grandchildren one day. Maybe they will look through the pages and find inspiration and feel a family connection.


Thank you,

Debra Snyder Heard





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