Art Academy Artists Talk: Christine Mitzuk on the Creative Process

digital painting of the morrigu as she realizes her potential as a goddess by Christine Mitzuk
The Morrigu

On Friday March 24 I'll be giving a free artist talk at Wet Paint over in St. Paul. I'll be speaking the creative process as it pertains to image making and show the various steps I took to create some of my pictures. These same steps are what I coach people through in our Wednesday evening class at The Art Academy.

Free Event!
March 24, 2017 @ 6:00 - 7:30 pm
Wet Paint Artists' Materials & Framing
1684 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105

Event Description:

Creative play time included!

Learn about Christine’s upcoming class at The Art Academy  “Imaginative Art Inspiration Space” Christine will talk about the class, present some of her work, and the creative process she uses which she also teaches in her class. We’ll also spend some time playing in the creative sandbox.

The Art Academy class description:

Wednesdays 8-9:30pm
“Explore your creativity by developing an imaginative picture based upon an existing story that you select, or an idea that you originate. Work at your own pace to learn the time-honored steps of the creative, visual process – from idea generation, through preparatory work, to completed project. Emphasis will be placed on storytelling through composition and character development, as well as how color theory enhances visual communication. Students choose to work in the medium with which they are comfortable. Christine has experience to support watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, or oils.”

2016 Women's Art FestivalThis is the second year I'll be participating in the Women's Art Festival in Minneapolis. It's going to be another jam packed day of art and music!

This year I'm excited to be sharing a space with Villa Villa Vintage Bag Co. Joanna creates very fashionable bags and purses from old materials. Read more about the bags here:
Check out current available bags here:

Women's Art Festival
Saturday, December 10th, 2016
9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Colin Powell Center, 2924 4th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
FREE Parking in the Wells Fargo ramp. Get directions here.
A word of caution, do not park on the street. Even though there might appear to be parking, there is not. The No Parking sign is enforced for a very long stretch of the street.

papers-lunch-and-learnLunch and Learn: Papers

Overwhelmed by the many available paper options? Uncertain about pH Neutral, acid free, buffered, and "archival"? During this Lunch and Learn you'll learn about some of the different papers we use in creating our art and the many choices we have. You'll get some answers about what papers to use for what media. Plus you'll learn some useful terms and the different properties to consider when buying paper to use for your own projects.

Please arrive a few minutes early and bring your own lunch.

When: THURSDAY, September 29, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Cost: $10
Where: The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art
1681 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Another fabulous afternoon at Paws on Grand! Thanks to Virginia at Wet Paint for inviting me to participate again. I had a lot of fun and I hope to do it again next year.

To get through the line of pets and owners we had to keep our sketch time with each sitter to 8-10 minutes max. Some dogs were okay with a stranger looking at them so I was able to sketch them from life, but many were not or were too excited/stressed or way more interested in the other dogs than in sitting still (totally understandable). For those dog sketches I used my phone's camera to capture a pose and then drew from that while checking for color and uniqueness when I could entice the actual dog to look my way. Yay for technology! I must say there were so many very well behaved pets.

Here are a few of my favorites (I used a combination of the Conté white pencil, with Derwent Drawing Pencils, and sometimes played with my Koh-I-Noor Woodless Colour Pencils). Wet Paint supplied some lovely 8"x10" sheets of Strathmore paper in various colors. With the triple dog sketch I used a little extra time and they were at the end of the day. Man I had fun!

Paws on Grand 2016

Paws on Grand 2016 Basset

I think I fell in love with the little gray Chihuahua. She had the most beautiful soft gray fur, with a little bit of rusty color in her ears and eyebrows. Her eyes were the color of a rainy spring sky.
I think I fell in love with the little gray Chihuahua. She had the most beautiful soft gray fur, with a little bit of rusty color in her ears and eyebrows. Her eyes were the color of a rainy spring sky.




Saturday August 6, NOON - 3pm, some artists (myself included) will be donating their time to create quick pet portrait sketches in front of Wet Paint Artist's Materials and Framing. With a donation to the store's chosen group, People & Pets Together, you can receive a free pet portrait. There are no reservations and the portrait is done on the spot so it's first come, first served.

Mostly people bring dogs, but Roz Stendahl drew a sun conure one year. Check out her blog here

It looks like Wet Paint will also have pet themed Origami classes, and other fun stuff. Read more here. The listing is alphabetical so Wet Paint is near the bottom of the page.

dog portrait sketches in colored pencil and brown ink by christine mitzuk
The 2 at the top are colored pencil and pigment-based brown ink on hot press watercolor paper. The one at the bottom is just colored pencil. The pen on the right is my ink filled Niji Waterbrush.

I participated a few years back and it went pretty well. This time I'm practicing with some of the neighborhood pets beforehand instead of just my critters, as well as with some photos I took of rabbits at the State Fair. I'm experimenting with ways to get an impression, the big look, a striking characteristic, and something that looks purposefully styled. So far I've played with spotting the large value shapes or color shapes, a metallic "archival" marker, and some woodless colored pencils. I also filled my Niji Waterbrush with pigment-based brown ink. It's supposed to be more lightfast than the dye-based version. I'm hoping that if I keep ink in it so the chamber and bristles stay moist that it won't get clogged. Only time will tell.

rabbit sketches on brown toned paper with colored pencil and metallic gold marker by christine mitzuk
Colored pencil on toned paper with a little "archival" metallic marker.

I've learned I like the spotting method, and that I need to simplify (go for the essentials and the "big look" instead of getting caught up in making it look "right"). One neighbor also gave me some great advice, to go with my first reaction of what I like about the critter. Plus she gave me some tips on how to either engage a dog or distract it to get either a front or side view. I think these things will really help since I'll only have 5-8 minutes per portrait.

It was FUN and intense the last time I participated so I'm looking forward to it.

3 framed ink drawings by christine mitzuk
Ink drawings created especially for MarsCon 2016 in Minnesota.

There's less than a week away to MarsCon in Minnesota! I'm very excited to be one of the creative guests of honor and am looking forward to participating in the events.

I created three original pen and ink drawings for the convention's program book. The original art will be on display and for sale in the Art Show (matted, framed, and ready to hang).

I'll also be doing an oil painting demo (solvent free!) on Friday and Saturday in the Art Show.

3 ink drawings by christine mitzuk

My Rough Schedule

Note: you do need to register for a badge for the convention to participate in any of these events.

Oil Painting Demo in the Art Show, 3 - 4:30 pm
Opening Ceremonies, 7 pm
Artist Reception, 9 - 10:30 pm

Artistic Process, presentation of my process for picture making for both traditional and digital, including the maquette from Bear Falls. A brief digital painting demo to follow. 10 am
Oil Painting Demo in the Art Show, 1:30 - 4:30 pm
Art Auction, 7 pm
Figure Drawing with a fabulous costumed volunteer, It will be a mini workshop where I'll share some of what I teach in my figure drawing classes. 10:30 pm

Artistic Inspiration, panel discussion with a collection of creatives from different fields, 3 pm
Closing Ceremonies, 4 pm

three sketchbooks with sketches from a cemetery, a raptor foot, and flowersIt's winter in Minnesota and a lot of us are holed up in our homes and don't get to see much of other humans. Maybe you're like me and around February you start to get a little cabin fever. If you're looking for something art-y to do here are a few things I've found.


An urban sketch group organized by local artists Tim Jennen and Liz Carlson. They meet once a month at different locations. Sometimes it's a location with a minimal entry fee, sometimes it's a free public place. It's a great group of people who enjoy sketching and geeking out on art materials or sketch tools. My experience with them has always been positive because I've found there to be a real vibe of inclusion, encouragement, and excitement to draw. The meetups usually take place on a weekend.

Check them out on their Facebook page

Here's a link to their January event

MCBA Visual Journal Collective

A sketch group that is held at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). I made it to a few of these meetups last year. Each time there was a theme or a special guest speaker. Some past topics included social media for artists, sketching "out" when you can't leave your home, and Spring flowers.  Suzanne Hughes does a great job of organizing this group. It's a very welcoming environment. Also, if you like geeking out on paper or sketchbooks you likely will enjoy this group. There is a parking lot but it was often full (and I think I remember there were some spots that you can't park in) so I usually parked on the street at a metered spot.

Meetings are once a month. Check them out on the Facebook page

Here's a link to a page about the group on Suzanne's blog (please note the schedule is only for 2013 so you probably want to check out the Facebook group page for more recent information.

Sketch Night at the Bell Museum

This sketch night is also once a month. There is an admission fee to get into the museum and if you drive your best bet for parking is in one of the nearby ramps. Or you can try your luck in finding a spot to park in Dinky Town and walk several blocks. It's 6:30 - 8:30 PM and each night has a different theme. There's usually a guest artist/presenter and the coordinator pulls a variety of themed specimens that are often not on view for the general public.

You can check the dates on this page of the Bell Museum's website

If you can't make a sketch night the Bell is open other days and is a great place to sketch animal specimens


Coffee Hour, Artist Meet and Greet

pastel drawing of a pomegranate, dried calla lilies, and wheat by christine mitzuk
Persephone and Demeter

This Friday, November 6, 2015
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Cheryl Hawkins Tax and Accounting will be hosting a Coffee Hour and Artist Reception.
700 Seville Dr. #204 Jordan, MN 55352
(952) 222-8272

Several of my paintings, including the rare pastel "Persephone and Demeter", are on display and available for purchase. The show will be up till the end of November. Stop by for a visit, it's a lovely drive. If you have time you might also like to stop at the local apple orchard.

If you would like to view the art at another time, please contact Cheryl for viewing hours.

This is the year! Every other year The Atelier puts on a show of work by students who have attended classes part time. Come celebrate the work and if you're unfamiliar with The Atelier, it's a great time to visit the school.

Save the dates:
Friday, December 5, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
Saturday, December 6, 12:00 - 6:00 PM

If you are a former or current part time Atelier student, you are welcome to submit artwork. The Atelier requires that the artwork be framed and ready to hang with eye hooks or D-rings in back. You must also label the work on back with name, address, phone number and instructor's name. Artwork must be delivered to The Atelier no later than 10:00 PM Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

Artwork must have been produced in class with an Atelier instructor. No late entries. We will attempt to hang all artwork, but if there are too many entries for our walls, the teachers reserve the right to choose which artwork is shown. Work should be picked up immediately following the show.

Assistance setting up, tearing down, and treats for the show are always appreciated. If you have questions, feel free to contact your instructor or The Atelier. Or email me (cmitzuk (at) and I will try to point you in the right direction.


I only actually attend a few shows, the rest I just mail art in. For the past 2 years Gen Con has been one of those shows I do in person. What follows is my experience with it. Perhaps it will be helpful to some folks,

Getting there: I drive. Last year I picked a buddy up from Chicago and she helped load and unload. This year I pack everything I need and took it there myself. It's manageable.

What to pack and how move it: I have a check list of things to bring. Having a checklist helps me stay organized. I have a handcart that folds down so I can wheel my stuff in and out of the show and store it under my table when not in use. Last year my booth buddy and I carried everything from the car. Ugh. Using the cart this year was a HUGE help. This handcart, actually. Don't rely solely on bungee cords. More on that later.

I packed several arty things to do while I was there. Next time I'm just going to bring my sketchbook and my pencil box.

Staying there: shop around for cheap rooms, they do exist. There are more options for staying if you have a vehicle to drive in every morning. There's also relatively inexpensive parking if you're willing to walk some blocks. There are also many hotels available downtown and Gen Con has some special rates through their housing department. Though in my experience it has been cheaper to find a hotel in the burbs and drive in.

Art: I have some canvas prints, originals, and matted prints that I hang on the display panels. These are mainly for getting people's attention. Next to the display art I made little title cards with prices. I printed out little Avery labels and stuck them on black foam core which I bevel cut so the foam edge wasn't visible. I attached them to the panels with Velcro.

Hanging with binder clips. Just clip one to the top of the print mat and place the loop over the drapery hook. It does make a little indent on the mat though.
Hanging with binder clips. Just clip one to the top of the print mat and place the loop over the drapery hook. It does make a little indent on the mat though.

On the table I displayed 2 portfolios with available prints. One has labels on the sleeves with piece name and price of print. The other is my actual portfolio that I show clients. I'll be replacing that one with a cheaper version so I can put labels on the sleeves. Plus then if I leave the table to walk my work around to companies, there will still be art samples for shoppers to peruse. I don't sell the prints that are in the portfolios. I have a Rubbermaid bin with copies of the prints in sleeves with backing board. Each section of prints is defined by a sticky note tab so I can easily flip to what I need. The prints are not matted.

Print bin for inventory with my sticky note labels for sections of prints.
Print bin for inventory with my sticky note labels for sections of prints.

I also have a sheet that lists inventory for the show and prices of pieces. Then when something sells I keep a tally on the same sheet.

To sell art at Gen Con you have to fill out a carbon copy slip (supplied by them). The customer brings the slip to the Art Show pay area. The Art Show staff handles the sale and sales tax. Then the customer brings the slip back with a paid stamp on it to exchange for the art. It works pretty well. I think only 2 people changed their minds about buying something after they found out they had to go wait in line instead of just pay me and walk.

Having a range of prices helps too. I have items ranging from $2 up to about $2000. Of course the $2000 one didn't sell, I use it mainly for display. A $175 original did sell (a pleasant surprise).

I don't do at-Con commissions (maybe someday). I did see other artists doing it. One artist said she would take the orders during the show and draw them at night. Then she would have people pay and pick up during the next day. Having to ship things to people afterward would take more of her time. As we know, time is precious.

Observations: There was a variety of work again this year. Lots of great art to appeal to lots of different people. People visit the Art Show for many reasons it seems: to shop; to kill time between events; just to look at cool stuff; to get game cards signed; to buy from a specific artist who will be there.

The setup:  I opted for the 2-panel, one table setup again. That seemed to work well with the amount of work I had to display. Gen Con Art Show supplies the panels, table, 2 chairs, garbage bucket. The 2-panel table setup is $327. Th 4-panel table setup is $419. Electrical is extra. To hang art they recommend drapery hooks. That's if you're hanging framed art with wire. Or you can use binder clips to attach to matted prints and then hang the clip off the drapery hook. Velcro works for some things. More on that later.

Me at my 2-panel table setup.
Me at my 2-panel table setup.

Next year: the Gen Con Art Show will be doing things differently. Getting space will no longer be on a first come first serve basis. There will be a jury process that will start in January/February. There will be a $25 non-refundable application fee. They had a memo in our packet about it this year. So if you want more information, watch the Gen Con Website, the Art Show Facebook page, and try to get on their mailing list.

If I end up doing Gen Con again, I'd like to make some changes to my setup.

  • Design and print a price list that's legible from 3-5 feet away. Along with that I'm going to streamline the note cards I sell – make them all the same size and price.
  • Design a sign with my name that reflects my artist brand.
  • Display more art on the panels. Practically fill the space. Instead of the framed originals and canvas prints, I'm considering doing what I saw other folks do. They displayed prints. I especially liked the ones that were matted all the same. Charles Urbach has a nice display. He printed his pictures with faux mats so it's all one image/one piece of paper. He mounted these prints on foam core. Then used Velcro to attach the display pieces to the panels. It looked quite nice. Plus it acted as an immediate portfolio for those wandering around looking for artists. I might have a few originals but at the $175 or lower range.
  • Have everything displayed as a designed whole. I thought I did. I even layed everything out on my living room floor. Not so. I had one piece that had a light mat while everything else had a middle value mat or darker frame. That one piece looked fine at the last convention I was at. There it was hung among other matted pieces of similar value on metal grid walls. At Gen Con on the dark panels it stuck out too much and distracted from the pictures.
  • Lights...maybe. A few people brought lights to shine down on their panel displays. I think this helped counteract the strong convention center lights and gave a professional looking presence.
  • This year I held a drawing for chance to win a print or 20% off a purchase. It got people a little excited but not many. I think if I had a larger following it would have created more of a buzz. If anything, it got people into my art if they didn't have money enough to buy a print. Or, maybe next time I'll do some other kind of small, very limited number giveaway.
  • I need to practice getting people's information. This year I had a sign-up sheet to collect email addresses for future mailings. The drawing also allowed me to collect email addresses. I made sure to get cards from art directors that stopped by who were interested in my work. But when it comes to individuals asking about personal commissions, I need practice. I made sure they took cards but I didn't get their information so I could follow up with them after the show.
  • Not having a booth buddy this year wasn't too bad. My neighbors watched my stuff and handled a sale or two while I was away. However, being gone for long-ish periods of time (showing the portfolio around) was kind of tricky because that was one less display book of prints to buy at my booth. Also, I wasn't at the table to talk to folks. So next year I think I'll find someone to help.
  • Show the portfolio around Thursday - Friday and maybe Saturday. Save Sunday as the day to be at the table. That's when most of the sales seem to happen. People are watching their wallets and deciding which of the many cool things they found during the con they can't live without.
  • I need to get packing straps. Bungee cords worked well when wheeling the cart to the convention center. On the way back they gave way when I didn't clear the lip to the parking lot. I thought I'd make it. Major fail there. Ouch.

All in all year 2 in the Gen Con Art Show was better than the first. I was more social this year. I went out to dinner with many folks. I had enjoyed talking to my Art Show neighbors. Plus I went to the Artist Reception and had good conversations. I was a bit more comfortable with the drive to and from Minnesota and the process of setup and tear down. More people bought prints and one original sold. However, financially speaking, the investment (so far) has been more than the sales.

Right now I look at the whole experience as part of a long term game plan. I'm getting my art and myself out in front of many eyeballs. I'm meeting people and making some new friends. I'm hoping it's a cumulative effect. I'm not going to judge right now whether this will be a good idea next year or not. I'm going to wait till at least December to see what happens.