Tag: Art

Get Ready for August 2016
The Lifestyle

Get Ready for August 2016

Get Ready for August 2016Even when the afternoons are too hot for outdoor work, you can still make the most of the time with research and planning. Spend some time studying business, marketing, nutrition, animal health, and more.

  1. Consider new ways to direct market your beef.
  2. Find out how reproduction and animal health are related.
  3. Discover 96 horse breeds of North America.
  4. Build a sustainable business.
  5. Learn what kobe beef is.
  6. Ponder the relationship between the railroads and the homesteaders.
  7. Enjoy the wonderful art of drawing horses.
  8. Practice body condition scoring.
  9. Read about the Kansas climate.
  10. Study the roles and natural sources of vitamins.
Get Ready for June 2016
The Lifestyle

Get Ready for June 2016

Get Ready for June 2016June is just around the corner. Take some time to sharpen your knowledge of farming, music, crafts, and history.

  1. Find out how glyphosate-resistant crops work.
  2. Brush up on your mandolin technique.
  3. Teach your kids how to knit on those rainy days.
  4. Discover the story of the Stetson hat.
  5. Make a strawberry shortcake.
  6. Collect five things every beginning charcoal artist needs.
  7. Consider what caused the Dust Bowl.
  8. Learn to play 10 essential bluegrass songs.
  9. Start working on your life list.
  10. Add some recommended remedies to your farm first aid kit.
5 Homemade Gifts from the Farm
The Skills

5 Homemade Gifts From the Farm

5 Homemade Gifts from the FarmThere’s nothing like a homemade gift to warm someone’s heart at Christmas.  The time and love put into a handcrafted present make it special.

If you enjoy country living, you have an excellent opportunity to make and grow gifts that will touch others.  Need some inspiration?  Consider these ideas:

  1. Heirloom seeds.  If you raise and save seeds from heirloom plants, why not share that favorite variety with a gardening relative?
  2. Live plants.  Some of your family members might enjoy a sample of a perennial plant to grow.  Perhaps you can share a productive and hardy variety of berry, or maybe an herb in a pot.
  3. Herbal concoctions.  Many people have an interest in herbs, even if they don’t necessarily grow them.  Delight someone this Christmas with dried herbs for cooking or making tea.
  4. Kitchen treats.  Are you good at baking homemade bread?  Is your jelly a favorite?  Share some of that down-home goodness with friends and family this year.
  5. Country crafts.  Put your skills to work creating something for that special someone.  Build a birdhouse; knit a scarf; paint a rural scene.  The sky is the limit!


Helpful Resources

Stocking Up
Consider some of these ways to share your produce this Christmas.  Read our full review.

Kids Knitting
Children will enjoy making these projects as much as friends and family will enjoy receiving them!  Read our full review.

Looking for something useful to build?  This book might provide some inspiration.  Read our full review.

Homemade Cards
Don’t buy a card this Christmas—make one!  Read our full review.

General's Pastel Chalk Pencils
The Skills

General’s Pastel Chalk Pencils

General's Pastel Chalk PencilsWhen working with pastels, precision can be difficult to achieve.  Fortunately, pastel pencils make it easier.

Pastel pencils have several applications, but there are two situations in which they particularly come in handy:

  • Laying out an initial sketch to fill in with soft pastels.
  • Bringing out details to finish a piece of artwork.

The advantage of using a pastel pencil versus a corner or edge of a hard pastel is that the artist has more control.  The point can be sharpened just like any other pencil to create fine lines and tiny dots.

While there are many excellent pastel pencils on the market, the amateur artist will probably appreciate the balance between quality and economy that General’s pencils offer.  We have used many types of General’s pencils over the years and have always been satisfied—they don’t seem to break readily and they consistently produce good results.

This set comes with 12 colors of pencils, making it a useful and affordable introduction to pastel pencils.  A sharpener is included.  Use it exclusively on your pastel pencils to avoid smudging their tips with charcoal dust or smearing pastel colors on your graphite pencils.

Great choice for aspiring pastel artists!

Homemade Cards
The Skills

Homemade Cards

Homemade CardsLooking for a way to say it just right to that special friend or loved one?  Don’t buy a card—make one!

Both adults and young people can enjoy making their own greeting cards, and Homemade Cards by Charlene Kennell offers great tips and inspirations:

  • How to find useful but inexpensive supplies.
  • How to use the elements of card design to advantage.
  • How to add special embellishments that will make each card unique.
  • How to choose a message that will touch someone’s heart.
  • How to make envelopes that will fit unconventional cards.

Along the way you will find examples, illustrations, and patterns galore to get you thinking out of the box.

Great for those who love homemade crafts, and also an excellent choice for creative children.  A little booklet, but a good one!

The Skills


ErasersWe love erasers.

Perhaps it’s because we have discovered that erasers are for more than just erasing.  They are also great for bringing out highlights and toning down excessively dark areas in drawings.

Different erasers are good for different jobs.  Over time, we have come to the conclusion that, well, you just can’t have too many erasers.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Pink Pearl: Yes, erasers are versatile, but for basic erasing, you can’t go wrong with the Pink Pearl.  Works best with regular graphite pencils.
  • Black Magic: For erasing charcoal pencil, this one seems to work well.
  • Art Gum: Stubborn marks?  Large areas?  Dark tones that need to be lightened?  This chunky eraser can cover a lot of ground in a short time.
  • Kneaded rubber eraser: Every pencil and charcoal artist needs one of these.  Kneaded rubber erasers are not the best when it comes to erasing, but they are unbeatable for picking out highlights in your work.  Plus, you can pinch it into exactly the shape you happen to need at the moment!
5 Things Every Beginning Charcoal Artist Needs
The Skills

5 Things Every Beginning Charcoal Artist Needs

5 Things Every Beginning Charcoal Artist NeedsCharcoal is a wonderful way to make lifelike sketches of the world around you. Particularly if you enjoy drawing animals, this medium can deliver a boldness and realism like no other.

If you are new to charcoal drawing, there are a few supplies that you will need. Fortunately, they do not have to be elaborate.

Here is a basic shopping list to get you off to an enjoyable start:


  1. General’s Charcoal Kit
    We have always been satisfied with the quality of General’s pencils. This kit (pictured above) combines an assortment of charcoal pencils and sticks in all the standard degrees of hardness that you will need to get started. Also included are a pencil sharpener, a kneaded eraser, and a “Carbon Sketch” pencil, perfect for lightly sketching initial outlines because it does not shine through the finished drawing like graphite does.
  2. Magic Black Eraser
    The kneaded eraser in the kit above is great for blending and pulling out highlights in a drawing. For actual erasing, this eraser lifts out charcoal more effectively.
  3. Blending Stumps and Tortillons
    You can use your fingers to blend charcoal, but specially made blending stumps are much tidier. Assorted sizes are handy for getting the exact precision and detail that you need.
  4. Charcoal Paper
    While you can make a charcoal drawing on just about any kind of paper, real charcoal paper is ideal because of its rough texture. This “tooth” holds particles of charcoal well and also adds an interesting feel to the finished picture. The paper that we have linked to is nothing fancy, but it will get you off to a good start.
  5. Workable Fixative
    To keep your work from smudging, you will need to use a fixative. For practice sketches, a coating of hairspray is usually sufficient. However, hairspray can yellow paper and is not as effective as a regular fixative. Therefore, for works that you want to display and hang on to, use a purchased fixative.


As you progress with charcoal drawing, you will want to experiment with other supplies. You will probably settle on a mix of pencils or sticks that work well for you, and you may decide to upgrade your paper. But give these basics a try if you are just beginning in charcoal drawing. They will get you off to a solid start.

The Seal of Kansas
The Sunflower State

The Seal of Kansas

The Seal of KansasWhen Kansas was accepted into the Union, the state constitution declared that a seal would be necessary. Governor Charles Robinson brought this requirement to public attention on March 30, 1861. Committees in both the State House and the State Senate were appointed to draw up a design.

But for several months, nothing could be decided. What would the seal look like?

Different designs were proposed, but the state seal as we know it was probably an imaginative combination of two ideas.

The first idea was that of John H. McDowell, and it was fairly simple. McDowell proposed just a fitting landscape scene and a motto, which he suggested should be We will.

The second idea was proposed by John J. Ingalls, one of the most famous state senators in Kansas history. He envisioned something a little more elaborate:

…A blue shield at the base of a cloud, out of which was emerging one silver star to join the constellation in the firmament, comprising the thirty-four then in the Union, with the motto: “Ad Astra per Aspera.”

This idea was officially adopted in committee, but somehow the final design looked nothing quite like what Ingalls originally proposed. Still, some of the basic elements were there, set off by McDowell’s landscape and embellished with the visionary symbolism of the state’s earliest enthusiasts. The state seal in its present form was finally adopted on May 25, 1861.


The Symbols

The Seal of Kansas

An artistic version of the seal that once appeared on some bank notes

  • The East: In the words of the joint resolution which established the seal, “The east is represented by a rising sun.” It was to the East that Kansas owed its settlement.
  • The West: “Beyond this is a train of ox-wagons, going west.” It was Westward Expansion which brought the Easterners to Kansas in the first place.
  • The Indians: “In the background is seen a herd of buffalo, retreating, pursued by two Indians, on horseback.” Even in that early day, the Indians and the bison were recognized as part of the heritage of the state.
  • Commerce: “Commerce is represented by a river and a steamboat.” Trade along the Missouri and Kansas rivers was an important part of the state economy in those days.
  • Agriculture: “Agriculture is represented as the basis of the future prosperity of the state, by a settler’s cabin and a man plowing with a pair of horses.” Agriculture always has been important to Kansas, and still is today.
  • The Landscape: McDowell’s landscape did make it onto the seal. No one is entirely sure what hills are portrayed in the background, but some think that they represent the rolling landscape around present-day Fort Riley.
  • The Motto: Ingalls’s motto was included, too. Ad astra per aspera means, “To the stars through difficulties,” reflective of the hardships the people faced prior to statehood.
  • The Stars: Just as on the American flag, the 34 stars on the seal represent states, Kansas being the 34th state.


Uses of the Seal

The state constitution explained the purpose of the seal:

All commissions shall be issued in the name of the state of Kansas; and shall be signed by the governor, countersigned by the Secretary of State, and sealed with the great seal.

In 1879, the state legislature added further directions:

[The seal] shall be used only in attestation of the proclamations, commissions and executive warrants issued by the governor.

When the state flag was adopted in 1927, the seal appeared as the centerpiece of the design.

The Art of Drawing & Painting Horses
The Skills

The Art of Drawing and Painting Horses

The Art of Drawing & Painting HorsesHorses are a favorite subject when it comes to art.  Both amateurs and professionals love to capture the graceful motions and varying personalities of these beautiful animals.

If you want to take your drawing and painting skills to the next level, you may find The Art of Drawing & Painting Horses from Walter Foster useful.  This book explores a variety of media:

  • Pencil.
  • Watercolor.
  • Oil.
  • Acrylic.
  • Pastel.

The Art of Drawing & Painting HorsesSeveral artists share their secrets and provide step-by-step lessons, each culminating in a beautiful work of art.  Techniques include:

  • Building up form.
  • Anatomy and proportion.
  • Making drawings lifelike.
  • Working from a photo.
  • Expressing mood.
  • Depicting depth.
  • Adding texture.
  • Conveying motion.

The tools you need to draw or paint with each medium are explained, as well.

If you need help transferring what you see to paper or canvas, The Art of Drawing & Painting Horses can sharpen your skills and bring your artwork closer to your ideals.  Highly recommended!

The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses
The Skills

The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses

The Wonderful Art of Drawing HorsesChildren love drawing horses! Here’s a book that can guide them through the process in a fun way.

The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses by Barry Stebbing starts with the basics:

  • Shading.
  • Mixing colors.
  • Using shapes to make drawing easier.

Then on to a number of discussions on drawing different breeds, markings, gaits, and poses. Interesting activities liven up the lessons.

The intermediate section of the book helps artists to develop their skills in a number of ways:

  • Understanding horse anatomy.
  • Copying from pictures.
  • Drawing from life.
  • Exploring more advanced shading techniques.
  • Keeping an art journal.

Then follows an excellent exploration of a number of master artists who drew horses:

  • Eugene Delacroix.
  • George Stubbs.
  • Charles Russell.
  • Frederick Remington.
  • Leonardo da Vinci.

Stebbing wraps up with a few fun activities.

This book provides young artists with an excellent way to practice basic art techniques on a favorite subject, but it also presents more advanced skills in a friendly manner. Furthermore, The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses goes beyond art and provides information on horse breeds, care, and anatomy.

So if you need a book for a young horse enthusiast who also happens to be a fledgling artist…this is the one!