Revisiting Your Art

Back in October of this year (2020), I came across my childhood colored pencils. If you grew up in Canada before 2012, chances are you are familiar with the brand Laurentien pencil crayons owned by the company Sanford. Yes, that’s right, we call them pencil crayons here in Canada. It took me a while to break the habit of calling them that, but I eventually opted for the more American terminology because in all fairness, “colored pencil” does seem to elevate the sound of the medium a bit more.

The discovery of this now discontinued cherished childhood brand of mine prompted me to pull out an old drawing I did from when I was a child. Of course, at this point, I thought to myself that this would make a fun post to share with my Instagram followers. To my delight, a somewhat off-handed comment about recreating the artwork today sparked some interest.

My childhood drawing “Untitled” 11″x8.5″ c. 1992.

Originally I had thought of just doing the project as a blog post but I contacted Sally Robertson, the Editor of COLORED PENCIL Magazine to see if she would be interested in sharing my experience with her readers as well. Our conversation resulted in the inclusion of a competition element where readers and my followers as well could enter their own Past & Present drawings to the challenge for a chance to be featured in the January 2021 issue of the magazine. Thanks to competition sponsor STAEDTLER, two randomly selected participants also had the chance to win one of two 17 piece black and white art sets from the company.
I want to take this moment to say an extra big THANK YOU to Sally at COLORED PENCIL Magazine as well as STAEDTLER for their partnership in this project, as well as all of the participants who entered.

Here is a look at my recreated drawing in 2020! Nothing like an almost 30 year age gap to hopefully show some improvement right? I actually really enjoyed the challenge and honestly learned a lot about how my process has changed and how far I’ve come as an artist. Sure that might be a given for the amount of time in between the two drawings but it was an important experience for me nonetheless.

My recreation – “Elk Calf in a Clearing” 11″x8.5″ 2020.

To read about my experience recreating my childhood drawing, you can buy a print or digital copy of the January 2021 Issue of COLORED PENCIL Magazine HERE(Releases December 31st 2020): 

The magazine article, not only details my experience recreating my childhood drawings but also a selection of the entries to the competition. Since not all of them could be published in the magazine, I wanted to give some of the people who entered a chance to share their own experience with the Past & Present Challenge, along with the art they submitted here on my blog!

Check them out below and stay tuned for an upcoming episode of the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast where I talk a little bit more in-depth with host John Middick about the advantages of revisiting your old artwork and how it can help you improve as an artist!



Marie McCurry – Left (before) “Cat”, 3″x5″ February 2020, Right (After) “Rolex”, 8″x10″ June 2020.

“I just started to use color pencils for the first of this year. My husband gave me a set of Arteza professional for Christmas and my mom bought me a set of Prismacolor Premier soon after.  I just fell in love with them! These two brands worked perfectly together. It’s the perfect medium for traveling…no smell or dry time (unlike my oil paints). Learning to draw with them is a challenge, especially trying to get the whites and the fur lines. I had watched a few YouTube videos to give me the “gist” of layering the pencils. “Scruffy,” was one of my first attempts at drawing cats. In February I started to tackle “Rolex,” my niece’s cat. My niece is getting this picture for Christmas (she had lost her cat, last year).”

Visit Marie’s blog:


Martine Venis-Heethaar – Left (before) “Tiger”, A3 2015, Right (After) “Stripe”, A4 2018.

“Sometimes it’s really fun to look back in time, over your shoulder, and study your progress!

A few years back, I think it was 2013 or 2014, I started with my art journey, acrylics soon followed by colored pencils and oils. I totally fell in love with ‘creating’. All those lovely materials, those colors… the possibilities are endless. I was an art addict at once! First, I had to discover all kinds of techniques, because every medium has some specific ones, of course. I had to discover myself, what do I like and dislike? And I had to learn to deal with comments and critiques in the right way. I tried to learn from the right ones and ignore the bad ones…

I always see the art journey as steps on the stairs. Sometimes you take a few steps at once, sometimes one step will take a little longer. But with every piece of art you will improve a little, a tiny step up the stairs. So try to look at your art journey, in the same way, try to enjoy that road. It’s not always about the result but about the fun along the way. Frustration and sometimes perfectionism can have an inhibitory effect. So my advice: search for the fun and the rest will come! No one can achieve the highest level at the beginning. Everyone knows this when they start playing tennis or the piano, no-one can play Chopin at once and no-one will be in the highest tennis competition immediately. You will have to study first, train yourself! For creating art it’s just the same, I’ve seen talented students who couldn’t accept this and they stopped after a few months because this frustrated them and I’ve seen ‘less talented’ people who persevered and improved a bunch.

When I look at both drawings, those tigers, I definitely can see improvement. Value is the main key! But I still love both, and I’m still proud of both steps. I had to take the first step to discover the next one! I hope to teach this to my students too, to have fun, to discover not only techniques but also themselves. To enjoy the art journey at their own pace. In that way, we’re having fun together! And I hope you’ll enjoy your road too!

Let’s color the world!”

Visit Martine’s Patreon:


Roksana Wojtasik – Left (before) “Macaw”, 8″ x 11″ 2015, Right (After) “Three Macaws”, 19″ x 27″ 2020.

“Recreating my artwork from a few years ago was a great way to see how my drawing skills have developed over time. Looking back at my macaw drawing from 2015, I can point out various mistakes I wasn’t aware of at the time. I couldn’t get the proportions right and the shading doesn’t feel right. Everything is very flat because of the lack of details, there’s a harsh line between two colors instead of smooth transitions and I used cheap copy paper which couldn’t handle a lot of layers. I’ve been drawing almost every day for the past few years and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve noticed the more complex the subject is, the easier it is to draw it on the bigger size.  Also paying very close attention to your reference photo is the key to achieving realism if that’s what you’re going for. I discovered that working on one area until it’s finished and then going to another one instead of working on the whole drawing at the same time is much more effective. It took a lot of hard work and patience to get my drawing skills to the point where I’m proud of my art and now I’m thinking about becoming a full-time artist.”

Visit Roksana’s website:
or find her on Instagram:


Jamila Eidt- Left (before) “Millie the Cat” 8″ x 10″ 2016, Right (After) “Tabby Cat Kendy” 9″ x 12″ 2020.

“Through this Past & Present artwork experience, I was able to appreciate the new techniques I have developed in combining a range of mediums such as soft pastels and colored pencils to enhance my drawing skills. This has helped me to create pet portraits that come to life and provide everlasting memories.”

Find Jamila on Instagram:


Ashley King- Left (before) “Chocolate” 8″x10″ 2016, Right (After) “New Horse” 4″x6″ 2020.

“I enjoyed the past and present challenge. In the years between these drawings, I’ve upgraded pencils, paper, and skills. I don’t generally enjoy doing the subject twice, but in this case, it really showed me how I’ve improved. I could see where I’d learned better anatomy for horses, as well as how I see the colors and shapes that put together a great piece. I’m really happy with my progress and look forward to trying it again in a few years.”

Visit Ashley’s website:


Sarah Williams- Left (before) “Beau” 8″x10″ 2008, Right (After) “Beau” 18″x24″ 2017.

“I think the biggest revelation I had when looking back at my past work, was how much I’ve learned to pay attention to detail since then.  I’m constantly striving to be a better artist by pushing my limits and testing new waters.  There’s no going backward, only forward, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”

Visit Sarah’s website:
or find her on Facebook at:


Cassandra Hanley- Left (before) “Derpy Tiger”. A3 2014, Right (After) “Tiger in the Grass” A3 2020.

“Working on a piece like this was something I was planning on doing, but never really got around to it. The challenge helped push me to finally put pencil to paper. Sometimes it can feel like I am making little to no progress. When I have my attention focused solely on the work in front of me I find it easy to see only my mistakes and I feel like I am struggling with the gaps in my knowledge. However, by recreating a piece like this I have been able to step back a little and appreciate just how much progress I have made. The best part about art for me is that I know I will never stop learning and seeing myself progress like this gives me high hopes for what I will be able to create in the future.”

Visit Cassandra’s YouTube:
or find her on Facebook at:
or Instagram:


“The main thing I found really helpful is to have a really good accurate and detailed drawing to start with. I used to try and wing it and that did not work for me.  I now plan my colors before I start and do swatches as to which colors go first, second, third, etc. Another thing I noticed is to have a full range of values in order to have the drawing pop and I am beginning to pay attention to the light source. I am enjoying drawing on a cradled wood panel as it doesn’t need to be framed and you can just prop it up on a desk.”


Barbara Tracy – Left (before) “Apple” 2016, Right (After) “Once Upon a Time” 2020.

In 2016, I took a colored pencil class and drew this first apple. I continue to work with colored pencils since then. When Barb proposed that we submit a past and present drawing, I had just finished “Once Upon a Time.” Looking at that first apple from 2016, I was happy to see the differences and the improvement. I see the second apple as telling a story, and that’s what I hope to incorporate into my art.”

Visit Barbara’s Instagram:


Kristin Thackeray- Left (before) “Horse” 12″x12″ 2004, Right (After) “Horse” 9″x12″ 2020.

Thank you again to everyone who participated! It was awesome seeing your progress!

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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