Category Archives: Blog

Artist Comparison: Lois van Baarle

I have been a HUGE fan of Lois van Baarle since I was a young teen. I first discovered her work in 2006 before the huge change-over at DeviantArt and have been following her ever since. I love her bold use of color, the anatomical correctness of her pieces, and I just generally love the way that the women she draws and paints look. I definitely recommend taking a look at her work on her portfolio site,

In most of my work, you can see the influence that Lois has on it.


My style of digital painting is more realistic than hers, and in my piece titled Clarity, you can see that I finally got the hang of values and tonal qualities in my grayscale work. I haven’t yet dabbled in color, but I am getting the hang of my style and my limitations with the human form. Lois’ piece on the right is a study that she had posted on her blog from stock photos on and shows her mastery of the human form in her own style; most of her pieces are very stylized but they’re always recognizable. I eventually want my work to do the same – I want my work to be recognizable eventually.

I absolutely love her work, and I eventually want to buy a print or two one day so that I can hang it up in my little art corner. :)

If you have any artists who are your inspirations, please feel free to leave the names (and websites!) in the comments below! I would love to check them out. Cheers!

Modern Calligraphy: Beginner’s Guide

Calligraphy is easy to learn once you get the hang of how to hold your pen, knowing how much pressure is needed to transfer the ink from the pen to the paper, and figuring out how to move from one letter to the next in a fluid manner.

Modern calligraphy is becoming an increasingly popular subject to learn, and in all honesty, I can see why! My recent obsession was spurred from a few posts on Instagram and sparked a need to learn a new skill; my handwriting, especially cursive, is horrible and I figured that I would begin working on my penmanship with a crow quill dip pen and Speedball acrylic ink that I bought from Michael’s Arts and Crafts. I found a few resources from other calligraphers online (my favorite resource is here from The Postman’s Knock!), printed the worksheets out, bought a pad of tracing paper, and got to work!


Example sketch of a current project!


I would recommend buying a few things to make your first step into calligraphy a smooth one (excuse the pun, haha!). You will need a crow quill fine line pen that is excellent for drawing, sketching and writing, highly pigmented ink (I use Speedball acrylic ink because it’s archival, non-toxic, and waterproof), low-absorbency paper (such as 100lb cardstock), and water. Once you have items that are similar to that, you can finally begin creating beautiful calligraphy!


To create modern calligraphy, you can hold your dip pen like you would normally hold a pen or pencil. I found that it’s easier to use your wrist to control the flow of your pen, and holding it like you naturally do helps.


In order to write, dip your pen past the well (the circular hole in the middle of the pen) to fill the reservoir with ink.


One thing to note with calligraphy pens is that when you are writing, be sure to move the holder rather than the nib. You should also keep the nib at a 45 degree angle in comparison the paper, and the nib’s direction should be consistent so that you don’t bend the twines on the tip of the nib. When writing with a calligraphy pen, make sure not to allow the nib to drag across the paper – it should glide without catching on the paper, meaning that you don’t push it like a regular pen.


Calligraphy is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do when I’m not designing or working on class work. I hope to incorporate calligraphy into my work once I improve at it, and I might even move into stationary work! Keep a look out for a new shop link once I can incorporate a shop into my site. Cheers! ♥



How to Edit Photos for Your Blog

I believe that every blogger should know how to edit photos for their blog – the magic happens post-production! Unfortunately I’m not good enough at photography to create photos without editing, but I will eventually get there. Mostly every photo that I take for my blog is edited until I can get the right equipment.

I found out quickly this past week that the sun will not wait for you to take your pictures, and unfortunately  was unable to get the type of pictures that I wanted. So, I opted to take dingy and muted photos, throw them into Photoshop CS5, and edit them to my heart’s content.

Here’s an example:



My Software

The software that I use for my photo-editing and digital art is the Adobe CS5 Creative Suite. More specifically, I use Adobe Photoshop CS5 which is what I will be using during this how-to. Of course this how-to will work best if you have the Adobe CS5 Creative Suite, but this should translate well into other programs.

Step One: Auto Color, Contrast, & Tone


Initially, I start off my photo editing by messing with the Auto Level, Auto Contrast, and Auto Tone controls, to see what exactly needs adjusting. Normally when I am trying to get a white background for my photos, I use those Auto controls to take care of the majority of the editing, and then go in to edit them the rest of the way. In Adobe Photoshop CS5, go to Image>Auto Tone/Auto Contrast/Auto Color. This will automatically adjust your image according to how Photoshop thinks it should be edited.

Step Two: Levels

levelsLevels are incredibly important when editing a photo. When editing photos for, I tend to go on the bright side with moderate saturation. I feel that I am more visually consistent in terms of the look on my blog by using bright white and vivid colors.

After manipulating the image initially with the Auto controls, I then move into Levels via Image>Adjustments>Levels. Levels refer to the white, black, and midtone of an image based upon what is display in the image. Generally, the histogram in the Levels window will span from the black slider to the white slider, meaning that you can move both inward to begin editing the levels of the image. In Adobe Photoshop CS5, you can preview your changes if you tick the preview option.

Step Three: Contrast

brightness_contrastAfter adjusting the levels, I then move into adjusting contrast to bring out the vivid and bold colors, and to make the black and white values bold. To access the contrast function, go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. A small screen will pop up, allowing you to edit the brightness and contrast of the photo your are editing. If the image seems dingy or muddy, brightness and contrast can eliminate that.

Step Four: Saving for the Web

So, now that you are finished editing your photo, you’re ready to save it for the web! Even though in this day and age the internet is faster and easier to use, you still don’t want your readers to wait forever for the images to load.

You’ll want to save the photos for web and devices via File>Save for Web and Devices…


Once you start up the dialog box for Save for Web & Devices, select the 4-up tab. This essentially brings up four boxes that contain different qualities of your photo, allowing you to see the visual differences in the quality ratings.

For your site, you’ll want to select JPEG/JPG as your image type and adjust the quality. A few years ago, I thought that 100% quality was the best thing to go for, but in all actuality, 80% looks exactly the same and has a lower file size, so it’s a win-win situation!

One thing to note is that as you adjust the image quality, the specifications of your photo will change. Essentially the goal is to find the perfect balance between load time, the quality of the image, and the size of the image.

WHEW! That was a mouth-full! I hope that this small how-to/tutorial was helpful in terms of editing and saving your photos for your blog! This same information can also help with your portfolio images if you have to make small edits; one thing that I learned in my Professional Practices course is that when you are taking photos of your artwork, you do not want to edit them in Photoshop. Sometimes it is inevitable, but try to not to rely on photo-editing, otherwise the image is no longer a photograph of your work because it had been digitally edited.

So, would there be anything else that you would like me to touch base on? Feel free to comment below!


Artist Comparison: Rebecca Latham

I love wildlife art, I always have. When I was researching how to paint wildlife in a more mature way, I came across the artwork of Rebecca Latham, a miniature artist from Minnesota who creates work from the wildlife that inspires her. She pays particular attention to detail in portraying the personality of the animal she has on her canvas while packing as much detail as possible.

View Rebecca Latham’s art blog here!

I first discovered her work while I was in my junior year of high school (difficult to believe that was 6 years ago!) and was instantly hooked! Now I have subscribed to her blog and watch my email for any updates on her work.

I recently began thinking about how my work compares to other artists. It’s clear to see who my main influences are, but it becomes a little daunting when an artist compares their work to that of another artist simply because the artist could have more experience and more often than not, the inspirational artist might have better work. Obviously Rebecca has had a lot of time to develop her skills, and she had amazing teachers who helped her develop her skills. Since I began college in 2011, I’ve rarely had time to devote everything to art-making, therefore making it difficult to develop my skills further.


Artist Comparison: Rebecca Latham – Comparison of my work and wildlife miniature artist Rebecca Latham’s work. Left: Bound by Melinda Isaacs, Digital Painting in Adobe Photoshop CS5,10inx8in, 2010. Right: Grey Wolf Study by Rebecca Latham, Watercolor on Board, 11 x 14, N.D.


At any rate, you can see the influence of Rebecca’s work in mine, more specifically in my piece BoundBound was created in 2010 as an anniversary present for my fiancé, representing who we are as animals. I really pushed myself with this piece and tapped into hyper-realism, putting as much detail as possible.

Compared to Rebecca’s work, the grayscale aspect of Bound is not nearly as mature; while I have great value and tone, the darks are a little too dark and the lighter values are a little too light – there really isn’t much of a middle ground. The fur should also be depicted with a certain softness as if you can really feel it; Rebecca certainly has that down in her piece. There is also a sense of environment in her work, creating a certain aesthetic of placement as if she painted the wolf in its natural environment. Unfortunately for my piece, all you really know is that there is a light source coming from the top-left corner of the canvas, but in all honesty, you’re not sure where either the tiger or wolf are located. They could be in a forest, a tundra, under a bridge; there’s just a lack of environment.

I also feel that my work, while it is detailed, seems a little too detailed at times, and there is a lack of white space to allow viewer’s eyes to rest. From what I noticed in Rebecca’s work, she surrounds the figure with enough white space to allow the viewer to rest their eyes – she also has a way with creating the illusion of detail in something so tiny. This is one of the main reasons why she inspires me so much!

Overall, I think I can consider myself somewhat on par with Rebecca, however, I am not there yet. With a few more years of practice and once I find the right medium that I am comfortable with, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to produce beautiful work of art reminiscent of Rebecca’s work – giving me a way to pay homage to one of my biggest inspirational artists. ♥

Artist Interview: Katherine Thomas

I had the pleasure of viewing a local exhibition at Miami University for the Arts Council of West Chester and Liberty members exhibition on February 11th, the last day of this exhibition. I was able to see the works of artists such as Sue Abe, Donna Gingrich, Diane Haber, Katherine Thomas, Sandra Reff, and Karen Briggs Ng.

I recently interviewed Katherine Thomas, a fine artist from Liberty Township in Ohio who utilizes graphite, colored pencil, and pen in her work. Her work has been seen in local, national, and international juried exhibitions and her work is also in private collections across the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. She earned her BA at Bowling Green State University and her Master’s degree from Wright State University (referenced from


  1. What is the location of your studio?

I created a studio in two rooms of my own home. I can get more work done right there, than if I had to drive to a studio elsewhere. I sometimes work late into the night, or get up early and start working right away.

  1. Why did you get a studio?

It’s important to have a special place where you can keep your projects out, and not worry about packing things up every time you come and go.

  1. How long have you had a studio?

Five years.

  1. How do you financially support your artwork? (Through sales,  salary, grants,  etc. )

Most of my income from my art is through commissions for house portraits. I keep a Paypal account with my earnings, and try to use that to pay for art supplies, framing, and entrance fees for exhibitions. But I probably spend more than I make.

  1. What are the problems you face in getting your artwork done?

I usually budget my time pretty well, but it takes careful planning. I always quote clients more time than I think I’ll need. I’d rather finish the piece more quickly than they expected, instead of later than I promised. Sometimes I get delayed when I have to wait for the client to respond to questions that I have about the subject in the portrait.

When I’m working on a piece of my own, I sometimes get frustrated if I have to put it aside to take on a commission piece for a couple weeks. I sometimes tell clients that I can’t start their project until a given date, because I’m in the middle of a different project.


  1. What do you do to market yourself as an artist?

I have a strong web presence, and get most of my business there. I also rent a gallery space, with other artists, at the Pendleton Art Center.  I enter my work into exhibitions, also. I’m very careful to enter only current artwork when I do that, so people will know that I am continually producing new things for them to come back again and again to see.

  1. What type of person buys your art?

That’s a funny thing. There are certain ages and genders that like certain pieces. The house portraits are usually gifts for family members. With the imaginative colored pencil pieces, I think it’s mostly women, of all ages, who buy them.  But with the very precise architectural pieces, it’s mostly men who stand there with their noses against the glass, examining every detail.

  1. What are your greatest challenges as an artist?

The biggest challenge is to not let myself become influenced by what others are doing. To think for myself, and create art that reflects ME. Not for the purpose of winning awards, or impressing others. It’s important to spend time with only your own thoughts, tuning out all other distractions.

  1. What are your greatest awards as an artist?

When somebody is pleased with my work, and wants to hang it in their home. I did nine house portraits this past Christmas, for clients all over the country. It was so incredibly rewarding to think that those people, whom I don’t even know, would be opening their present on Christmas morning, and see my artwork.  It’s also rewarding when somebody makes a special effort to talk to me, and tell me how much they love a particular piece and why it moves them.

  1. What recommendations would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

Be patient. It takes time to develop your own style. It takes time to become known as an artist. Listen and learn as much as you can, and do at least one thing every day to advance yourself toward your goals.

Interested in seeing Katherine Thomas’ work? Head over to her portfolio website at and view her blog here!