Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Month: June 2017

Understanding Gesture for Art, Figure Drawing & Fashion Illustration

I am fortunate that when I studied art in college, my figure drawing instructor relied heavily on gesture and contour drawing. My text for that class was The Natural Way to Draw. Gesture drawing is a way to feel or empathize with the subject’s attitude and movement and to subsequently capture it with quick lines.

Everything has gesture:

In gesture drawing, you are not capturing the outside of an object. You are capturing the movement, the energy, and the attitude of the object.

Provo has created some good Youtube videos that explain gesture drawing.



Provo says that exaggeration helps increase the drama.

Most fashion illustrations are highly exaggerated:

 Illustration from Pantone

Although gestures are often comprised of a few simple lines, they are not stick figures. Stick figures are stiff. They do not capture movement or attitude.

Draw the Spine First and Add Mass and Details Later


Provo begins by drawing the head first. I suggest that you begin a gesture drawing by drawing the spine first. The spine is where the movement is usually expressed. I draw the head after I draw the spine. If you place the head too soon, it will restrict the movement of the figure.


How to Draw Quick Sketch Gestures for Figure Fashion Illustration – Tutorial by Yelen Ayé

The spinal column is important in capturing the gesture of a figure’s movement and attitude. Draw the spinal cord first and build the figure around that,

Add detail in the neck area and add the suggestion of facial features. Some of Yelen’s drawings have more finished faces, but this face is very simple–just a few shapes.

Here are some of his other face drawings:


Image Credit Yelen Ayé

  Image Credit Yelen Ayé


Image Credit Yelen Ayé

Image Credit Yelen Ayé

Add a mid tone color to all of the flesh areas.


Quick Fashion Illustration Figure Sketch – Yelen Ayé

For this three quarter view fashion sketch, Yelen Ayé used the following  Copics:

copic E13 (skin tone)
copic E74 (brown)
copic E49 (dark brown)
copic YG91 (pale green)

He drew the image with an ultra fine point Sharpie pen (brown)

I own none of the rights to the images or to the video. All of these are from Youtube and the rights belong to  Yelen Ayé.

How to Draw Fashion Heads – Yelen Ayé Fashion Illustration Tutorial

This tutorial begins at Minute 7:57

Yelen Ayé is an inspired fashion illustrator, and a couple of his teaching videos are on Youtube. I have copied the steps from his video, and I have placed them on the paper so that they are easier to understand. I own none of the rights to the images or to the video. All of these are from Youtube and the rights belong to  Yelen Ayé.

Yelen draws the face with brown Sharpie Ultra Fine. The eyes are on a line that is in the middle of the head.

Beneath the hairline, the face can be divided into thirds. The Brow Line is at the bottom of the top third. The nose line is at the bottom of the second third.

The eyes are the shape of a low, flat and rounded triangle that rests on the eye ine. There is one eye’s width between the two eyes

The bottom of the lower lip is halfway between the nose line and the bottom or chin line. Draw a flattened circle for the middle of the mouth.

Draw the cheek bones. Place lines to show where the brow ridge begins to recede on the top of the brows, This is where the area will begin to fall into shade.

Make slight indentations at the temple areas.


Draw both ear tops. Then add both ear bottoms.

Draw the upper eyelid and indicate one eyelash. Draw the iris of the eye. It disappears beneath both eyelids and appears to be a circle that is flat on both the top and the bottom.


Faintly draw a line from the outer corner of both eyes This will be about where the neck falls beneath the jaw. Notice that the neck is only slightly inside where the line meets the jaw You will erase this line. Be sure that it is very light.

Add the hair

Shade with medium gray,

Add darker gray tones.




Pulling Back the Veil on Illusions, Denial, & Narcissism

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

I am 67-years-old now, and as I look back through the string of events that have been woven together to create my life, I can see that much of my past behavior was  based on partial or cloudy bits of information–the illusions that I allowed to pose as truths to myself and that have often blinded me.

My problem with illusions or delusions does not lie in my lack of thinking, however. I think constantly, and I strive to piece things together in a way that makes sense to me at the time. But in retrospect, I now realize that some of the things that I had long reasoned to be true were not actually true at all. In some cases, I have swallowed half-truths and have jumped into pits of denial and have floated there for a long while, only to figure things out later. What alarms me is that on some issues, I am probably still in denial. That is the nature of denial. When we are in denial, we do not realize that what we are thinking and believing is merely self-deception.
In 1968, I graduated from high school. In the above photo, I am the second from the top left. I have long, blond hair. A young Joni Mitchell released the song Both Sides Now in October of 1968, and the young Jacki Kellum thought, “Yes. Joni Mitchell is brilliant. She has looked at life from every side imaginable. Her lyrics are inspired.”
Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way

In the year 2000, I watched a fabulous All-Star Tribute to Joni Mithcell. Joni sang Both Sides Now again, and I was struck by the difference in the two recordings. I may have been reading too much into her latter performance, but to me, it seemed as though the much older Joni Mitchell was admitting that in 1968, she truly had not seen life from all sides and that it was only in the living of life that greater truth was revealed. In the latter performance, Mitchell had been sobered. It was obvious in Mitchell’s demeanor and in her voice, that thirty years after Joni Mitchell had seemed to see life from all sides, she had finally begun to truly see.

Once more, the contrast between what we think we know when we are young and what we actually do know is cliché. Unfortunately, there is no way to become older and wiser without becoming older and wiser.

If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain – Author Unknown

When we are living within cloud’s illusions, we do not know it. We have fooled ourselves and we often fool everyone around us, too. Ultimately, however, our denials become the masks that we wear–the false personas that we adopt, and at the very least, our masks blind us and force us to miss opportunities.

The Mask

“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.” – Shel Silverstein

At times, denial is a type of defense mechanism that prevents us from realizing things that we cannot fully fathom–things that would cause us so very much emotional pain that we could not bear it. Yet, sometimes our denials are ways that we allow ourselves to misbehave–to allow ourselves to do things that we should not be doing.
“She did not know yet how sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness. And all of those brave and wild and cunning and marvelous and beautiful parts they hid away and left in the dark to grow strange mushrooms—and yes, sometimes those wicked and unkind parts, too—end up in their shadow.”
― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Perhaps we want to elevate ourselves in our businesses, but we perceive that the others ahead of us are preventing our ascensions. We might do things to discredit those other people with the administration or with other clients. If we do that and KNOW that we are doing it, we are not in denial–we are merely mean. This type of mean manipulator has probably devised an invisibility cloak that allows him to slip in and out of people’s views. Thus, the very skillful manipulator can be greedy without appearing to others to be so. The most deceitful people are masters of disguise.

Great politicians often fall into this group of people. Salespersons also often fall into this group of people. When people can behave selfishly without being detected by others, they are excellent schemers. That type of person is probably not in denial at all. That type of person may have compartmentalized himself away from having to deal with anything that he does not want to acknowledge, but this is less a case of denial than it is a case of narcissism. Narcissists simply do not care about the people that they hurt or about how many people that they have forced off the road, to jockey themselves to the fronts of the lines. Narcissists may also be in denial, but a narcissist’s denial has evolved into a state of evil treachery. People can be in denial without being narcissists.

Image result for jacki kellum queen of denial

In 1968, I was valedictorian of my high school graduating class, and by most standards, I was quite bright. At the time, I believed that my valedictory address was inspired but fifty years later, I now realize that in 1968, “It’s cloud’s illusions I recall. I really did not know life–at all.”


In the above photo, Jacki Kellum is on the far right playing the guitar in 1970

Some people seem to skip through life. They seem to scurry about, dodging all the bullets. As though living were an enormous belt line, some people seem to reach the end, without being scathed at all. Those people would not understand how and why Joni Mitchell had literally changed her tune over time. But I do. I have also begun to push back the veil on some of my own delusions, and in doing so, my voice has also changed.

Fifty years after I delivered my valedictory address, this Jacki Kellum would also sing a different song than she sang in 1968. If I knew then what life has taught me since 1968, I would merely stand before the crowd almost speechless. Breathless, bruised, scarred, hoarse, and with a cracking and trembling voice, I would simply bow my head and whisper, “I surrender.”

“Let’s burn our masks at midnight
and as flickering flames ascend,
under the witness of star-clouds,
let us vow to reclaim our true selves.
Done with hiding and weary of lying,
we’ll reconcile without and within.
Then, like naked squint-eyed newborns,
we’ll greet the glorious birth of dawn;
blinking at the blazing, wondrous colors
we somehow failed to notice before.”
― John Mark Green

©Jacki Kellum June 24, 2017



Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour – Thoughts on Letting Our Childen Go

Yesterday, I re-watched Steel Magnolias. Before the movie began, I knew that re-watching this film would make me cry, and I almost opted out of racking myself with that painful experience again. But I took the plunge, and I began to think about my own life. Julia  Roberts died in Steel Magnolias, and as a mother, I was tormented by the mother’s grief of losing her child to death. But I also began to consider that many parents lose their children in ways that do not involve dying. Children simply move on. They leave to marry and to begin their own homes or they leave to begin their own careers somewhere else. The bottom line is that our children leave. and as parents, we are left gripping the reality that we had simply been loaned a set of children–for just a short period of time–and that eventually, we were forced to let our children go.

“You can never go home again.” – Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe is correct in saying that once a child leaves, he can never really return to his childhood home again. Although most children keep in touch with their parents after they move away, they can never really return, and a decent mother doesn’t want her child to do so. But in some nagging, longing way, mothers remember and we ache for the days that we wrapped our children in soft, cotton blankets and brought them home from the hospitals. We remember their first steps. We remember baby food dripping from their chins, their highchairs, and from their hands and hair. We remember bathing our babies’ silky bodies and drying them and then laying them on top of our hearts–where we could feel them as they breathed. As mothers, we also remember slipping into our child’s room at night and at marveling at the sweetness of our sleeping child. We recall our children’s innocent but profound comments–the ones that allowed us to recall viewing life as only a child can view it. We remember the drawings and the paintings that they made as children, and we remember their going to school.

When my oldest child went to school, I grieved. Somehow I knew that both of our worlds had permanently shifted. For the first time, I realized that my child was not a doll. She was not mine, to keep. From that moment on, my child began slipping away from me and into herself. The transition has not been easy. I have discovered that it is often necessary for people to get mad before they can completely sever themselves, and that has happened in my family. I long for the day that my family can close its angry chapter and go to the next. That is the way that it is supposed to be: Our children are supposed to have their lives, and we are forced to have another. We know that, but still, we remember the fleeting moments that God loaned us our children, and we long.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind…
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet….
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears….William Wordsworth

Jacki Kellum Garden May 2017

Although many mothers always long for the hours when their children were living in their homes, a wise mother will transition, too, and they will find another home where they will live into old age alone. I am thankful for the years that I was a parent, but I am also thankful for the ever-renewing well of life and for my ability to continually find a new life without my children nested around me. My garden has become my solace.

Jacki Kellum Garden Gate in 2015

“When the hornet hangs in the hollyhock, And the brown bee drones i’ the rose, And the west is a red-streaked four-o’clock, And summer is near its close It’s Oh, for the gate, and the locust lane; And dusk, and dew, and home again!” – Madison Cawein


Jacki Kellum Garden

“I divined and chose a distant place to dwell …
I pick leaves to thatch a hut among the pines
Scoop out a pond and lead a runnel from the spring
By now I am used to doing without the world
Picking ferns I pass the years that are left.” Han Shan

Jacki Kellum Garden

Yesterday, my friend shared a slightly bent version of an old Chinese proverb:

If you want to be happy for a night, get drunk.
If you want to be happy for a year, get married.
If you want to be happy for life, plant a garden.

10568906_10204503980742621_1513890752537767546_n (1)

Relatively speaking, our years on earth are few, and hours that we spend agonizing because we do not feel accepted or appreciated or loved are simply hours lost. Because living can become painful and toxic, we need an antidote and a place to heal. My garden is where I go to be restored, and even during the winter, nature is my solace. My sunroom overlooks my side courtyard, and my greatest winter joy is to sit by my fireplace, watching the birds dipping into my oasis for food and water. Anytime that I can sit alone in nature, I am truly home–the home that will carry me through life.

“I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.” – Thomas Hardy

©Jacki Kellum June 9, 2017


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