“A Little Help from Friends”

I’m sending my holiday wishes into cyberspace now that life’s calm and routine have resumed. Resolutions have been made and I’ve made a commitment to blog more this year, so watch out!

To kick off the year, I thought I’d dissect my holiday card design entitled “A Little Help from Friends” and share the progress and thought process. People receive mobs of cards and letters, and you look at it and say, “oh, how pretty” but you never know what is in the artist’s head during its creation. So, here is my attempt to show the inside of mine…


Sketch with value study

The initial sketch with value study…  It started with this character in different positions, like balancing on one foot, holding a single candle, but it didn’t feel right, nor make sense, so decided she needed to be supported by frozen friends. (Isn’t that what we all dream about?) I thought it would be magical to have the entire night sky lit by single candles, representative of one’s spirit and truth. (Do you notice the other mountain tops have single glowing candles also? Other individuals are shining their lights too!)


Color Study 1

Next the color study: I add stars and the glow. I’m thinking something is “missing” or it feels “too big and unfocused”. The backpack and spiky climber’s hook feel out of place and harsh. I ask myself “why?” There needs to be a change.


Changed composition

So I play around in Photoshop and change the composition. I add trees to frame the main idea. The mountains no longer make sense, but I want to keep the single candle glow idea, so they become indistinguishable village building rooftops or mountain forms. I cover up the backpack/rope. My eye now focuses on the important part of the picture.


Acrylic painting begins

The first and second layers of paint are laid.


Adding details & highlights

Now I assess and the hat is too busy and is competing for attention, so I make it a solid. I also change the mouth. I no longer want it to be “o-shaped”. It looked like she was blowing out her light rather enjoying it’s magnificent glow. I add more highlights and shadows – this is the fun part. I let this stage simmer until the next day.


Final painting for my card

With my eyes rested, I approach it with final details in mind. I still need to add the “magic” and “winter”,  so this is what I do to create mood: I add the trickle of snow falling, add stars, but don’t make them obvious like they were in my color study, lighten the background subtly around the figure, add the lightest highlights to create the glow hitting the trees, figure, penguins, etc. so that she “pops” and there is no question where the focus lies.

Viola! I call it “done.”

The interior of the card reads, “Shine your light for the world to see.” It is my personal message to everyone to love being yourself, not be afraid to show and shine who you are, and to be a gift to others by being you.

The title of the art, “A Little Help from Friends”, comes from my reflection of the year, feeling the importance of relationships, the need to be supported and accept support in order to truly be my authentic self.

So now you know all of my insides and outs. 🙂

I hope 2013 brings you a new excitement, a new energy in your work, in your every day, in your being…in your spirit.

Happy New Year!


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3 responses to ““A Little Help from Friends”

  1. Sara: Well done and how true it is how important friends and relationships can be. I Goggled “Lend a Helping Hand” and found lots of images on http://search.aol.com/aol/image?q=lend+a+helping+hand&v_t=comsearch50ct13

    I just got a cute email with lots of fun pictures of animals. One of them is entitled.

    “And may your friends always bring you joy!”

    It shows one chipmunk holding onto a branch with one arm, holding another chipmunk by his foot who in turn is offering a beautiful flower to a third. You should see it.

    Keep up the good work.


    Keep up the good work.


  2. Jill

    Delightful!! You keep finding new magic every year!

  3. How wonderful! I love the composition! Thanks so much for your kind comment at the CBIG blog recently. : )

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