April Artist of the Month: N.C. Wyeth

Boys King Arthur - N. C. Wyeth - p306 It’s not always easy to get boys interested in art. If you’re facing that situation, you might want to consider studying our April artist of the month, N. C. Wyeth.

N. C. Wyeth illustrated classic books such as Treasure Island, The Boys’ King Arthur, Last of the Mohicans, and many more. Wyeth’s illustrations are full of excitement and adventure. They’re also a great way to introduce a boy to the world of art.

With that in mind, read on for some resources related to this great American artist and illustrator.


N.C. Wyeth Biography:

Here’s a link to a brief bio –


The following biographical sketch is more detailed –



N. C. Wyeth Teaching Resources:

The following link features some of Wyeth’s illustrations, along with free printables, games, and other teaching resources related to the artist.



Online Galleries Featuring Wyeth’s Work:

Here is a selection of websites that feature some great samples of Wyeth’s illustrations –






YouTube Video About N. C. Wyeth:

In this video, N. C. Wyeth’s grandson, Jamie (also an artist) takes you on a brief tour of an exhibit of his grandfather’s illustrations.


If you enjoyed looking at N. C. Wyeth’s illustrations, maybe you’d like to try illustrating a story yourself. If so, try our Art Projects DVD, Dreams of Joseph. It is done in the style of Marc Chagall rather than N. C. Wyeth, but you’ll still have the fun of illustrating a biblical story. Here’s a link to the Dreams of Joseph Page.

What Kind of Paper Do I Need?

Pastel crayons © Vesna Cvorovic - FotoliaIf you’ve ever tried to buy paper for art projects, you may have walked away scratching your head. There are so many different varieties of paper for pencils, pastels, and chalks, it’s hard to know what to buy. And, because many of these art papers can be quite expensive, it’s important to know what you need so that you don’t buy the wrong paper.
Believe it or not, entire books have been written about art paper, comparing and contrasting the different kinds, so this post won’t be anywhere near exhaustive. The following are just some simple guidelines for choosing paper for your homeschool art class.


Paper for pencil sketching:

If you’re just practicing pencil sketching and drawing and you don’t really care about long-term preservation, the least expensive paper is simple copy paper. You can buy it by the ream or the case, and it doesn’t cost very much. However, I generally suggest to my students that they buy an inexpensive ring-bound sketch book. The paper is a little heavier, and less likely to crumple or crease if you have erase something. Also, a ring-bound sketch book enables you to keep all your sketches and drawings together.


Paper for pastel drawings:

If you want to work with pastels, regular drawing paper is too smooth. Pastels won’t adhere to the paper; most of it will end up on the floor as very colorful dust. For pastels, you need a paper with “tooth”. In other words, the paper needs to be a little rough, and it also helps if it’s a bit heavier than plain sketching paper.

If you’re watching your pennies, construction paper will work, but for my tastes, it’s still a little too smooth. I suggest taping it onto a drawing board and using a sanding block (with very fine sandpaper) to scuff the paper and give it a little rougher texture. Construction paper can also be brittle, which is another reason I recommend taping it down.

If you’re serious about doing pastels, I suggest that you buy pastel paper. It is heavier and has a better tooth. Also, most pastel paper comes “toned”. In other words it isn’t pure white, but comes in a variety of tints and colors. (I’ll post in a future blog why it’s good to have “toned” paper when working with pastels.) The downside of pastel paper is that it can be expensive.

A cheaper alternative is something called bogus paper. Bogus paper is recycled newsprint. It is the kind of paper that chalk artists use. It is normally toned gray (sometimes it’s called “gray bogus paper”) and has a very nice tooth. The paper that chalk artists use is 40”x54” inches, which might be a bit large. However, you can buy bogus paper in smaller sheets through art supply stores.


Paper for Watercolors:

If you’re planning on doing watercolors, this is one place where I say it’s better to take the more expensive option. With watercolors, the quality of your finished product directly depends on the quality of the materials you use.While this is true to some extent with any media, it is especially true with watercolors.

Why is this important?

Watercolors can be difficult to work with under the best of conditions. If you opt for cheap paper, you probably won’t be happy with your results.

Buy the best paper you can afford. There are many varieties, but I recommend buying watercolor paper by the sheet. I use 140 lb. cold press paper. The number describes the thickness of the paper. Watercolor paper usually comes in 90, 140, and 300 lb thickness. Cold press means that the surface has some tooth. Hot press paper has a smooth surface. There is also a variety called (appropriately), Rough. As you might have guessed, rough paper has even more tooth than cold press.

Although we’ve barely scratched the surface of different types of paper to use for art projects, here’s a quick summary, along with some links for places to buy the supplies. (The names of the various papers are links that will take you to a place where you can purchase them online.)

For pencil and charcoal sketching: Ring bound sketch book

For pastel drawing:

a) Construction paper (least expensive)

b) Pastel paper (most expensive)

c) Gray bogus paper (inexpensive alternative)

For watercolor:

a) Buy paper by the sheet (rather than in tablets)

b) 140 or 300 lb watercolor paper is a good weight

c) Cold press (for a toothed surface), Hot press (for a smooth surface), and Rough (for a very-toothed surface).

If you’re looking for a fun pastel project to work on, check out our Art Projects DVD, “Horsing Around.” 


The See the Light Team

It’s a rare event when the entire See the Light team is able to be together at the same time. However, this past weekend, that’s exactly what happened. Laurel and I are sort of the odd ones out. We live in Texas while the rest of the STL team resides in southern California. Last Thursday, Laurel and I flew out to LA to visit Pat and Dave Holt (the founders of STL) for a few days.

In between a lot of good discussions about See the Light, where we want to take the blog, Pat Knepley’s new unit studies, this year’s conference schedule, and new exciting e-books and tutorials to come, we managed to get the whole team together for a nice dinner at the Holts’ home. Following are some photos that Laurel took of our time together.

Master artist Pat Knepley and Kip Perry, owner of Parking Lot Productions

Master artist Pat Knepley and Kip Perry, owner of Parking Lot Productions


Where would we be without our spouses?  Here are Pat Knepley's husband Carl and Kip's wife Laura.

Where would we be without our spouses? Here are Pat Knepley’s husband Carl and Kip’s wife Laura.


STL Founder, Pat Holt, was a wonderful, gracious hostess.

STL Founder, Pat Holt, was a wonderful, gracious hostess.


STL founder, Dave Holt passing the dessert tray.

STL founder, Dave Holt passing the dessert tray.


Joy of Art artist and Chalk Artist Jim Pence has his eye on the dessert tray.

Joy of Art artist and Chalk Artist Jim Pence has his eye on the dessert tray.


The See the Light Team, from left: Pat Holt, Jim Pence, Laurel Pence, Pat Knepley, Kip Perry, and Dave Holt

The See the Light Team, from left: Pat Holt, Jim Pence, Laurel Pence, Pat Knepley, Kip Perry, and Dave Holt

Thursday Resource: Pen and Ink


©ankdesign-Fotolia.comPen and ink is a great way to sketch, and (as you can see in the picture on the right) it’s possible to do beautiful and complex drawings with it. Add a touch of watercolor, and you can make the drawing even more interesting. Read on for several websites that will point you in the right way if you want to explore pen and ink in your home school art class.

As always, a special thanks goes to Laurel Pence, my wife and research assistant extraordinaire, for finding these sites. She makes my job a lot easier. I hope you’ll find these sites helpful. Check them out and, remember, have fun!


The following site gives a very simple introduction to pen and ink. This is a good site for beginners and elementary grade children.


This next site is targeted toward older children, but it’s still fairly basic. It also has some very helpful illustrations.


The following page is a complete lesson plan for teaching pen and ink in your homeschool art class.




The following site shows various shading techniques for pen and ink.

The next site is my favorite. It’s actually got some step-by-step lessons for two really awesome pen-and-ink drawings. Definitely one worth visiting and working through.



Finally here’s a video challenge from YouTube artist Alphonso Dunn. One of the biggest challenges to working with pen and ink is learning how to shade. In this video, Alphonso demonstrates 9 ways to shade an egg.