First Friday Open House

Join us on First Friday for Helikon Gallery and Studio’s open house. The artist studios will be open to the public, so you can see where the magic happens.

Here’s a sampling of what you will find.

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Teaching at Girls Inc.

New Year

Happy new year everybody! I know, it’s already been a month since the year started. I just been so busy working on projects, I’m only now finding time to gather my thoughts. I would love to show you what I’ve been working on but I want to make sure I respect the privacy of my clients.

Teaching at Girls Inc.

What I can share with you is something I’ve been waiting months to do. I have moved my Women Behaving Badly paintings to Girls Inc. of Denver, where they will hang until March 3rd. When I started this series I wanted to inspire young girls with the deeds of the women who have helped to shape our society. I wish I’d had these women as role models when I was young. Now the students of Girls Inc. can see these paintings every day and read about the lives of these amazing women.


In addition to showing my work in their halls, I’m also teaching three classes a week at Girls Inc. These classes are combination of history lesson and art lesson. I begin by walking through the halls with the girls, looking at the paintings and telling each woman story as I know it. Then we had back to the classroom to review and I find out which woman inspires each girl and why. I ask if there’s anyone else they find inspirational and take note of their responses.

The younger girls are given handouts of women they can research for their own paintings. The older girls get to do independent study of woman of their choosing . I asked him to tell me a story. By day 3, we take a break from academics to do art class. The first day is all about collage where I teach about technique as well as ways to think about color, shape and subject matter. The next day we do some acrylic painting with the same ideas in mind. These will be the key elements of their final project.

The last two classes are where we put it all together. Each girl is given an 18″ x 24″ wooden board to work on and is given the task of telling the story of the woman she is selected through image, word and color. I want them to work on wood so that they see it as a final piece, not just another throwaway school project. I wanted to feel special.

The Final Product

Over the course of eight weeks, I will have worked with second grade through fifth grade. The third-grade class is already finished and the fifth-graders are halfway through. At the end, we will hold an exhibition showing off the girls work to family and friends.

I am loving this opportunity to work with young girls and to hear from them what traits they admire most in the women they’re learning about. I love their openness, their enthusiasm and their spirit of exploration. I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks will bring.

Third grade collages
Third grade collages

Boulder Creative Collective’s Holiday Jubilee

If you live in the Boulder area and you are looking for some unique gifts for your loved ones:

Come check out the BOULDER CREATIVE COLLECTIVE‘s Holiday Jubilee!  Experience some freakin’ rad local artists, apparel brands + more in their awesome warehouse space in East Boulder!  Coffee + cocktails will be available for purchase.


Afro Triangle will be selling original drawings and paintings, fine art prints, portrait commissions and more. I’ll see you on Saturday!

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Good morning all! I thought I’d share with you some pieces I no longer have because I sold them last night. If your favorite is not on this list, come see me at Mini Comic Con at the Sam Gary Branch Library. I will be there today from 10am to 4pm.

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Life Drawing – Practice, Practice Practice

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my friend Mike Rosenbaum, a caricature artist here in Denver. He and I had gone to school together, but haven’t hung out in a long time. We immediately made plans to catch up. He told me about this life drawing session at the Lakewood Cultural Arts Center, so we headed over there on Thursday.

Life Drawing in a Nutshell

If are an artist and you have never been to a life drawing session, I highly recommend that you go regularly. I hadn’t gone in over a year, but it came back pretty quickly. Different sessions have different formats, but the basics are:

  1. Short gesture drawings, usually 1-five minutes per pose
  2. Longer poses, about 10 minutes or so
  3. Slightly longer poses 20-30 minutes each. Here the model is usually seated or reclined, though some will stand.
  4. Long poses of 40 minutes to 2 hours. For the longest of these, the model will take a break at the halfway point to rest, then resume the pose to the best of his/her ability.

The session I went to last week had about five 1-minute poses, five 5-minute poses, one 10-minute poses and four poses that were between 20 and 30 minutes long. One minute per pose is a harrowing pace if you’re not used to it. It is, however, essential. If you can figure out the pose at one minute, with 20 or 30, you will have so much more time to work in the details. This makes it all worthwhile, to me.

The Results

Below are the drawings I did last week. One is missing because I gave it to the model. Sometimes they will take art in lieu of tips, though tips are encouraged as well.

Thanks for stopping in! Don’t forget that this Saturday is the Meet The Artist reception for Women Behaving Badly at the Blair Caldwell Library. I will be there from 2:30 -4:30 pm to answer any questions you have about the art and the series.

Upcoming Events

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A Custom Portrait for Someone You Love

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Postcard Prints. Decisions, Decisions…

Good afternoon everyone! I’m planning on getting some postcards printed out to sell in the Helikon shop and I’m not sure which designs to choose. Since it’s still Inktober, I’m going to bring back some of my older ink pieces. The next few blog posts will be a choice between two pieces at a time. Whichever images get the most votes are the ones I’ll print out on the first run. These cards will also be available here on the website for $5 each.

If one of these images doesn’t make the cut, but you really, really want one, please let me know and I’ll do a special order just for you.

This first one goes out to you Supernatural Fans. Which Castiel should I print?

Upcoming Events

  1. Women Behaving Badly at the Blair Caldwell Library

    October 26 @ 8:00 am5:00 pm

Buy an Original Painting

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Inktober – Let’s give this a shot

Good afternoon everyone. My apologies for not writing yesterday. I had to run a BUNCH of errands which kept me out of the studio for half the day. I want to talk to you a little about Inktober.

This is actually the first time I’m participating and I’m kind of excited about it. Inktober is basically a challenge for the month of October in which participants have to do one drawing, in ink, a day for 31 days. Since starting to paint more seriously a few years back, I had stopped using my pens. I miss them, though. SO, I’m taking this challenge as an opportunity to hone those skills again.

I had already started doing small ink drawings as this month began, so this is perfect timing.

And as a reminder, I’m hosting the final panel discussion at Coffee at The Point, featuring Women in the Arts. It starts tonight at 6. I’ll see you there!

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Tiny Drawings

Hi Guys. I was at a bit of a loss for what to talk to you guys about, so I just started sketching. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Whenever I’m stuck, I just pull out these small 2.5×3.5 in. pieces of scrap paper and start drawing. I have this mirror above my drafting table which I have been using to practice drawing my own facial expressions. This is a new thing for me, so there aren’t many just yet.

As many paintings as I have done over the years, I have actually fallen out of the practice of drawing with structure in mind. When creating a portrait, you can either focus on the light and shade to create the illusion of three dimensionality, or you can focus on the structure. Obviously, you need both to create a realistic rendering, but what I’m saying here has to do with the way the mind sees form while drawing.

I have been focusing on the light, color and shade. That means that I’m good at recreating a specific image. What I am starting to practice again is focusing on the structure. I break each shape down to its basic components so that I understand the underlying structures. This will allow me to draw any face from any angle without needing a specific reference. I have only practiced this off and on since graduating from art school. Consider me in the on again phase now.

I want to take my work from copy to invention. With my Women Behaving Badly series, I have been great about inventing the board shapes as well as the backgrounds, but I could push the envelope much further on the portraits themselves. I’m always working to improve. How are you improving yourselves? I’d love to hear from you.

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Portrait Sketches on the Block

Good morning Afro Triangle Friends. I hope you have been having a good weekend. Yesterday, I got to do some live portrait drawing at a block party in my neighborhood. It was over at the Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-being. It had a great turnout and there were fun activities for adults and kids alike. I didn’t get to partake though, because I was drawing people almost nonstop for about four and a half hours.

I had not realized how exhausting that could be until I hit about hour two. My shoulders were starting to cramp and I had to stop after each portrait to stretch. It was worth it, though. I had a lot of happy customers. I noticed that I only had female customers. Women and girls of all ages came up to have their portraits drawn. No men, no boys. My fellow portrait artists and caricaturists, have you noticed this phenomenon?

The drawings went over so well, a number of people asked if I could do their private parties. Looks like this will be a new addition to my business model. Next time though, I’m bringing a cushion!


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Travel Journal – Sketch Entries

Hey guys! Well, my journey is finally at its end. I am currently at my parents’ house in Albuquerque after having been redirected here due to severe snowstorms in Denver. We are going to road trip it up there today with a borrowed car and will be home by nightfall. I can hear the cries of despair now…” oh no! Where have you been? What did we miss?” I know there have been a few gaps in my posts, but never fear! I will be filling those gaps in the coming weeks. I’m going to take a little artistic license and pick up near the end for now. I hope you don’t mind.
Marin and I spent the last month on a lemon farm just outside Santiago, Chile. We found out about it on this website, which offers exchanges of work for meals and board. All you have to do is sign up (for a fee), search for a business in the area you want to stay in, send them a message and wait for their response. If you are accepted, it is a super cheap way to spend time in a different country and get to know folks from different cultures. This particular farm was full of Europeans and Americans, with a few Kiwis and Canadians thrown into the mix. For some, this configuration would seem a little disappointing. I mean, why go all the way to Chile, only to speak English the whole time? We were not bothered. In fact, our brains welcomed the break from Spanish, especially the Chileno dialect, which is pretty rough. (They don’t finish their words! Sometimes they don’t bother enunciating!) And it reminded me of my international boarding school days (UWC crew, you know what I’m talking about).
We got settled into our room, made our skills known to the head volunteers (painting for me, gardening for Marin) and got started on our new schedule. We would work for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, with 2 days and many hours free to do whatever we wanted. There were a number of jobs to choose from, including carpentry, gardening, irrigation and more. I started on carpentry, then moved to irrigation, lemon picking, clearing a field, and a little bathroom tiling, before settling into painting signs. Everyone took turns cooking lunch and dinner and the meals were consistently delicious, even if they were mostly vegetarian. We got meat about once a week, so I wasn’t in total withdrawal. The owner of the farm also had a tendency to rescue dogs, so there were about 10 on the property including a very pregnant female named Paloma. We were still there when the puppies were born. They were so cute!
 It was almost a challenge figuring at what to do with our down time. By day 3, the internet was terrible, so I stopped writing blog posts. I got some drawings and paintings in, sometimes sketching what was around me, sometimes going through photos from the trip so that I could do more detailed drawings and paintings. I wasn’t always up for this level of productivity, though. There were so many interesting conversations going on around me, I couldn’t help but take part. I learned so much about politics, education, language, and many other topics from my fellow work awayers. They provided me with perspectives from their own countries and their own experiences, many of which I hadn’t even considered, many of which I found truly enlightening. I felt so much closer to these people than any one else on this whole trip because of all of the quality time we spent together. It was a priceless experience.
Check out the drawings from those 3 amazing weeks. I will be telling more specific stories in future posts.
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Puppies! It’s really hard to live sketch puppies.
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There were owls on the farm. How cool is that?
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I will never understand why people shave their dogs like this.
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Fifteen minute portrait. I’m going for speed.
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Chicken sketches. I sat by the coop for and hour watching them.
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Fifteen minute portraits.
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Fifteen minute portrait sketch.
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I wasn’t sure what this lady had going on, so I drew her to find out.
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I went through my photos of cats to come up with this composition. I think there should be a kitty receiving the mouse offering, but I haven’t decided yet.
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People drawing in the park. This was our last day in Santiago.
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Our couch surfing host in Valparaiso. Next time I’ll draw the dog.
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People watching in Santiago.
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Thumbnails of a sign I painted on the farm. Now I know how to pick basil correctly.
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What I Need In Life -Part 1

As I have made my way on this journey, I have started to take note of the things I truly need in life. This has changed since leaving because I literally can’t carry with me all of the comforts of home and have stripped my life down to the bare essentials. Here of some of the things I’ve written down.
1. A comfortable bed
A Comfortable BedIMG_0039
There is nothing like sleeping in a different place every night to make you appreciate a comfortable bed, not simply in how soft or firm it is, but also its proximity to, say, a bar on karaoke night or the ocean breeze. When moving around, you begin to cherish a good night’s sleep, especially after the overnight busses which seem to have looked at La-Z-Boy technology and said “nah, I’ve got a better idea. Instead of tipping the whole seat back and raising the feet so that your weight is evenly distributed while you recline, let’s only tip the seat back 160° so that you spend the night sliding slowly downward and your weight finally settles in the delicate tail bone, right where you want it.” I have never appreciated my bed so much.
2. Good, healthy food
We have discovered that Peru is the land of meat and potatoes and Chile is the land of bread and cheese, at least as for as the restaurants are concerned. Ok, this is not entirely true, but it mostly is. When eating out, vegetables have been hard to come by, to the point that even my carnivorous nature is being put to the test. I have found that I am a bit less energetic than usual, something I attribute to my lack of green leafies in my diet. Now, we are taking the time to cook for ourselves and it has been glorious. I can’t wait to get back to our garden.
3. Snacks
I am giving this its own category because until I was on a bus for 22 hours in a row, I never before appreciated the importance of having my own food to sustain me. This has something to do with not knowing when the next meal will be, what the next meal will be, and whether it will have the correct nutritional values. Bananas, nuts and raisins will trump cookies, bad tea and soda every time.
Thanks for reading. I have more thoughts to share, so check back in. And if you have any questions or suggestions for me, please feel free to contact me either in the comments below or shoot mean email.

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Sketchbooks are for Sketching

Sometimes I start a piece and get a bit overzealous with details. I hit a point with this drawing where I had to remind myself that it’s only a sketch and I don’t have to “finish” it. It helps that the paper is so absorbent, it is difficult to get really small details.

The beauty of the sketchbook is that you can safely experiment with different styles, techniques, and subject matter in a way that is far less daunting than if you are working toward a finished piece every time. This is where practice and exploration happen and is an integral part of every artist’s arsenal.

I had been in “finished piece” mode for quite some time now, leading me to neglect my sketchbooks. Out here, it is both refreshing and frustrating that I am only allowed to sketch. Refreshing because I feel freer than ever to play. Frustrating because when you get into the finished piece cycle, you begin to see unfinished pieces as time wasted. I can’t sell the contents of my sketchbook, the quality isn’t good enough. I have to remind my self that l can draw it bigger and better later, on the good paper.

I also remind myself that I now have more compositions than I had before and that is exciting enough to keep me from picking up a ream of paper in a local art shop.

Surveying her territory. This llama owns it all and isn't afraid to show it.
Surveying her territory. This llama owns it all and isn’t afraid to show it.