Monday, September 16, 2013

Border Collie

My latest pet portrait, a sweet little border collie. The medium was colored pencil on pastel paper, the image fits in an 8 x 10. This pic was from before I put the white mat around it.

It was my first black haired dog using colored pencil. Paint is so much more forgiving than colored pencil, with pencil you really have to think about what is going to show through from the lower layers, including the paper, as well as the base pencil marks. The gray background color helped establish the highlights in the dark areas and let itself be used as the shadowy parts of the white legs and neck, a great multi-purposed method. Next time I'll try using Bristol to see the difference of smooth paper vs textured. The camera shot makes this look much more grainier than it is to your eye when you see it in person, the textured dots help the light move towards your eye, giving the image a moving quality.

I'm back with more time for creativity. The last 8 months have been spent working long hours at my full time job and taking some classes for educational enrichment. I have some sketches of koi fish that are heading this way, stay tuned!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cardinal Pair

A pair of cardinals has been visiting my backyard lately. It's obvious that they've heard that there's copious amounts of black sunflower seeds available, they've been coming each morning and evening. They're very quick and wary, always looking around and it's hard to catch them close together for a photo op. The female usually is on the ground where the seeds are while the male stays up in the ornamental cherry tree branches above or on the fence just below that. The female's colors are very good at blending in with the ground and dried leaves, mostly buff colored with just a hint of red on her head crest, a little on her wings, and a dull red on her tail. The male of course is brilliantly colored with the red hood and pinky, gray edged wings. I love to see him swoop from tree to tree zeroing in on the sunflower seeds.

I sketched this with pencil and pen, then lots of watercolor washes and layers. I gave it more of a summery feel than what is  in season now, I wanted a lush green background to amplify the brilliant red of their plumage.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Where did she go?

Where did I go for a year?  I wish I could say that it was to this idyllic place above, to hear the wind rustling through the leaves, to see ducks, geese, and swans glide gracefully by while I sat on the banks of Crystal Lake, and to have creativity flow out of my soul and onto pages of my sketchbook through my pencil. Alas, nothing so inspiring. Truth is I worked 65 hours a week while my day job was getting ready for a major software change, and while prospectively searching for, finding, then buying a house, then moving and settling in.  I was a little tired. I also moved out of the shared studio space (I'm surprised I remembered where it was) and now have my own space in the house.

So I've been regaining my hand-eye coordination and have been puttering around the new studio.
Here's one of the new ones I worked on when I first got settled.  I'm thinking of calling it "The Wary Hare" just because it sounds funny. But he's not a hare, he's a bunny rabbit. I found some old pictures that I took at the Topsfield Fair one year. My friend and fellow artist Claudia Marchand turned me on to the wonderful illustrator Wendell Minor and I was inspired to do a small animal illustration. There's a soft wash of watercolor in the background and in the log, and mostly colored pencil in the rabbit's fur. I need to arrange some better lighting to take the pictures with, though. The colors are more vibrant than they look.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sketch Time

Sketching is a habit I've had since I was little. Whenever I had nothing to do, I'd try to draw something from nature, just to see if I could do it, but more importantly, to learn more about whatever object I was drawing. We know what a maple helicopter seed (Samara) looks like, although vaguely, when it's still green and hanging from the tree limbs, and we know the flurry of motion it moves in as it falls to the ground, spinning and whirling like a helicopter. But we don't know what it really looks like until we give it our full attention, look at it for a long time, and SEE it. See all of it's little veins, how thin the blade wings are, see where the little fruit/seed is hidden in the thicker side of it.
I've been doing little sketches of the maple seeds and the squirrels that are fattening up for Winter by eating them. These couple of sketches I did on a beautiful autumn afternoon in my backyard. The squirrels would walk a few steps, pick up some seeds, sit back on their haunches for a nibble, followed by a big couple of hops to the next choice looking pile. I used a moleskine watercolor pad and an ink pen, then went back inside the house when the sun went down (so early now!), and followed up with a couple of quick splashes of diluted watercolor from the Koi pocket field sketch box that I bought this year. I do have a waterpen that came with it, but I haven't learned quite how to control the amount of water that can come out of it, so I tend to add the color wash with a regular brush. It was quite a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've been working on this one for a while. Yes, I'm a slow painter. A very slow painter, which is why I retired the notion of being a mural painter. I painted a few murals in people's homes, with my busy full time job schedule, it had to be after work and on weekends, and I would try to push myself to move faster, cover more area, get the idea out with broad strokes like most murals are made up of, but I would just have to go back over what I did before because it never looked good enough. So I've accepted that I'm a slow painter and that's that. I do sketch and work with colored pencils at a much quicker pace, so I try to move back and forth between the two, to get a better sense of accomplishment. So guess what's next? A few sketches and colored pencil drawings will be coming soon. So this painting is also a much larger size, "18 x 24", than I have been working in, which has usually been 8" x 10". So double the size and change to acrylics means the seasons will change before I finish. I was able to snap some photos of seagulls wading through the incoming surf at a nearby beach. There was no wind, so the water was slowly rippling, with long flat, mirror like panels. It was also at sunset, so the water was full of colors that you don't usually associate with the cold Atlantic, purples and greens, rosy reds. I think this painting is a perfect goodbye to the summer season.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Hi there! Hope everyone is doing well. Busy little chipmunk that I am, it's taken me quite a while to finish this drawing. I saw some gulls exibiting this behavior one day, one was young, the other mature. I'm not sure if it was imitation on the young gulls side or not, I read that spreading wings might be a way to cool off as well, but I thought it would make an interesting composition. I have a big tin of Derwent Graphic pencils and I like to see if I can use as many different degrees of lightness and darkness.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome Spring!

Spring is here, just in time for a potential April Fools Day blizzard here in the New England. Hopefully not. Everyone has a big case of spring fever, and a last snowstorm is not what we need.

Well, a lot of time has passed since I last posted. January and February were stellar snow shoveling months, and I spent them tending to my aching wrists from marathon snow shoveling during our weekly blizzards, and so didn't have much to show. During March, I have been working in the studio, but it has been on a couple of paintings for private collection only, so were not to be shown. Now that there's longer light during the day, Spring Fever has hit and I've spent some time organizing and cleaning, and finishing up some projects. So here's the Canadian Goose that I started working on in December, background finished finally. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do to finish something. You know when it's unfinished, but not quite sure what it takes to bring it to completion without overworking it. The grass part was challenging for me. The drawing has so much detail in the feathers, and so little in the water, that I had to find a middle ground with the grass. I think I found a good balance. Let me know what you think- does it need more work?