This month captures that glorious feeling of spring in the air! As flowers sprout and days grow long, our attention turns to nature. You are sure to be inspired by Valerie Baines’ beautiful botanicals. Not only is there a four page excerpt included from Valerie’s new book Botanicals: Secrets Of Observational Drawing, but our print subscribers also receive a sample line art practice sheet. Plus, because we know you will want to have this book, we are giving away five copies to our subscribers (including print and digital). The random drawing will be held on 4/30, so be sure to subscribe before then at

Also in this issue, Barb Sotiropoulos helps you learn how to turn negative criticism into positive growth, especially in a classroom setting. Then Will Stoller walks us through the sponsorship site that’s enabled thousands of artists to pursue their dreams. Discover what Art Gear Guide Ivor Harrison has to say in his review of Derwent Pastel Pencils. You will also love the incredible step-by-step

Artist Karen Thomas wrote me recently to share about a website that she started called Conscious Crafties, a place for “talented people who happen to have disabilities.” Find out more about this intentional art community inside. Lastly, we are so happy to have featured artist Raffaella Picotti share her story, inspiration, and art. You’ll want to set aside some time to savor her lovely gallery.

We know many of our readers relish making beautiful creations out of line art. Learn how to improve your blending and shading with amazing author, artist, and former COLORED PENCIL Student contributor Veronica Winters in her new book How to Color Like an Artist. Get 25% off by using code WCAL (look for more details on page 34).

We hope you find inspiration in nature while drawing the stunning pink roses for the April Art Challenge (see page 35). We are thrilled to see each and every entry come in month after month, especially from those participating for the first time. Remember, not only is there an advanced and beginner prize to be won, but also one random prize that you’re eligible for just by submitting your art. So give it a try, have fun, and join the awesome colored pencil art community on Flickr!

Sally Robertson