Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Portrait Drawing | Fair Trade Jewelry | Seal's Facebook | Family & Friends

I've been drawing. And sometimes my portraits include pieces of Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry. Other times they don't. Each subject has taken on a special meaning for me. The time spent with all of the pastel pencils I've amassed, feeds my soul. It took Covid-19 isolation to prompt me to embrace this new activity. The joy it has given me is immeasurable.

I wanted to share my recent drawing accomplishments. For this blog post, I'll start with my most recent, and work my way backwards. The stories behind some of the photos are extraordinary. If you want to see more details of any of my work, I suggest you follow my personal Instagram account. There I proudly share my artwork.

South African Mother

Serendipity. I tend to blare my music when I draw. Most recently I blast Seal's music. I adore his voice and sound. I actually follow him on Facebook. It is so random that I actually responded to a photo he posted recently. I definitely do not typically comment on celebrity profiles. In this case he mentioned 'music is the medicine of the soul.' I agreed and posted my recent drawing of a Guatemalan artisan. What I received was a handful of likes from Seal's followers and an message from a young woman in South Africa. She asked if  I could draw her mom and what would it cost? I learned that she and her extended family only had one blurry photo of her mom. Seriously. There was no question I wanted take a stab at drawing her mom who had passed away several years ago. I also knew that I'd be mailing this to her, a gift.


Young Girl

 I have friends and family that are very private and don't interact with social media. This always surprises me because it seems everyone is over-connected and over-sharing on social media. (Guilty!) These people don't want pics of their babies or children seen anywhere. Their view, and I get it, is those children when they are 18, they can decide what should be seen.  This drawing is my first portrait of a child. She will remain nameless until she decides you should know who I attempted to draw.

Basket Weaving Artist

If you are reading this, it means you might also read some of my other blog posts. One of my recent posts interviewed Fair Trade Federation designers who work in Guatemala. If you didn't read it, you can here. One of the designers, Anne Kelly works with Mayan Hands. She provided me a wonderful photograph of, Cecilia, a woman who creates woven baskets. This is the portrait I drew from that photo. This is the image I shared on Seal's Facebook feed...the one I commented about above.





Family is so important. And during Covid-19 isolation, I've been missing mine.  I'm sure you have been missing yours too, yes? I asked my sister-in-law to snap a pic of my brother and email it to me. And then I grabbed my pastel pencils and got to work. It actually looks a lot like him :)! Do you think he'll have it framed when I actually see him and give him this gift?


Self Portrait

I stood in the bathroom and snapped my photo in the mirror. There were so many shadows. And I thought, "Oh that will be a fun thing to attempt." I think it looks a lot like me. My hair which was quite short over a year ago is now very very long. My friends don't find this portrait an attractive rendition of me. This portrait wasn't about beauty. It was about drawing what I saw. 

I've known Ana since 1986. She cleans at my house. She cooks and plants chili in my garden. When she is at my home it's one of those 'my house is your house' kind of things. Her sons used to go on hikes with me when they were young. Now, they're grown men. Sometimes Ana comes to my office. And Ana organizes and cleans like I will never do for myself. She is family. With her permission recently, I snapped her photo and drew her. I gave her this drawing after I completed it. I know she was flattered I took time to create it.


My eldest niece Helen and I have the best time together. We can chat endlessly on the phone. She's a fine artist and loves to travel. In fact, the photo I used for inspiration was one I snapped when we were traveling in Laos together. She's a bit of an earth girl like her Auntie Nancy. Neither of us have pierced ears. (Don't ask.)  But for the purpose of this drawing, I decided she should be wearing a pair of Dunitz & Company fair trade glass stud earrings.

Alicia and her son

Alicia's son is now 15. My drawing was modeled after a photo I took in Guatemala many years ago. Alicia is the lead artist in our bead workshop. She manages the women who bead and teaches them new techniques and shows them how to create our designs. Every drawing presents new challenges. And this one certainly did.  A baby. A traditional blouse. I'm thrilled with each new challenge I take on.

Alexx models Dunitz jewelry

Pre-Covid I would meet up with lovely women and snap photos of them wearing Dunitz fair trade jewelry. The Hollywood Bowl is one of our favorite locations to do this.  It's amazing how I've learned to recycle model photographs from the last several years during these looooong coronavirus months and months.  Alexx Calise, a professional musician has modeled for me several times. Recently I took a stab at drawing a model photo I previously snapped. I think it resembles her. And she agreed. She's wearing one of our fused glass bib necklaces.

Surunda and I met back in the very early 1990's. She is one of two women who first taught Mayan women how to bead. We collaborated together soon after we met and created a collection of beaded jewelry for me to exhibit and wholesale to stores in the US. You can only imagine what a huge impact she's had on my life. And me hers. We've designed and orchestrated unique collections twice a year ever since. Can you imagine? 

Yes. That Joe.

I just had to see if I could do a quickie sketch from a magazine pic I discovered. I didn't spend much time with this one. I was relieved when just about everyone who saw it...knew who it was. Nuff said.

Laughing Jocelyn

While on Covid lock down, I asked my niece Jocelyn, who lives in Michigan, if she might take some pics wearing Dunitz & Company jewelry. She graciously agreed and recruited one of her sisters to join in on the fun. The pics they provided me proved they had some fun. My challenge here was to draw my niece laughing. I'd never drawn a toothy smile. BTW, she is wearing Dunitz & Company embroidered earrings.


This is from that same Michigan fashion shoot. Risa was wearing a pair of our eco-friendly Van Gogh Sunflower earrings. Out came the colored pencils, pastel pencils and charcoal. I rather love this drawing. When you don't have model shots, draw portraits. And then use them on social media feeds. And blog about it!

First Portrait, Early February

Early February 2021, I decided to draw. I'd been thinking about drawing for a really long time. In early 2020, I purchased a lot of pencils and various paper. An art easel that was purchased for me by my parents when I was young and was largely unused came out of storage. And then all of that sat in my guest bedroom until early February 2021. I took one of those fashion shoot photos my nieces snapped in Michigan and started to sketch. If you read this blog backwards, you'll see just how far my drawing has come. I think I've improved quite a bit for this first drawing of Jocelyn. If you really want to see what the earrings she is wearing look like, click here.

Day of the Dead Self Portrait

How it really started? In October 2019 I signed up for an intensive 5 day drawing class with artist, Isis Rodriguez in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Maestro Isis used to teach at the University of Kansas. And now, Mexico is her home. She teaches both drawing and painting. The session I signed up for was taught during Day of the Dead week. You can only imagine how fun that was in San Miguel. Decorations. Colors. Parades. In this case we watched a makeup demonstration and then painted ourselves. What do you think of my self portrait?

My very 1st Portrait

And this is where it all began. Prior to my workshop with Maestro Isis, I hadn't had any formal drawing instruction. During the first day of class in Isis Rodriguez's studio, we drew from this model. She was a beautiful indigenous woman wearing a Guatemalan huipil and a family heirloom headdress. The feedback was to keep going. Keep going. Isis helped with the skull on the headdress. That definitely wasn't perfected by me. The rest was drawn by me over most of two days. Seriously. Considering this is my very first portrait, I'm rather proud of it.

As I type this, it's May 12, 2021. I've experienced so much joy drawing these last few months, I wanted to share with the world that joy. I've enjoyed drawing people I know, and some I don't. When I can add a touch of Dunitz & Company, that makes me happy too. Making serendipitous connections through Facebook celebrity pages, that's a hoot. What's next? Maybe you. -ND