A nice Saturday’s work

This afternoon I got the chance to work on the piece I wrote about earlier this week.

I started out referring to the photo and thumbnail and doing a sketch my Canson mix media 7×10 sketchbook (I’ve almost finished filling it! This is a rare thing for me) in Dr Ph Martin Bombay ink doing washes and figuring out what I did and didn’t want to include.

Ink sketch: washes, rigger brush and fan brush

After it was completed I moved on to working on the painting. I used mutt last sheet of Legion Stonehenge 10×14″ in hot press. I’ll have to buy another block because it’s so nice to work with.

The washes went down well. The paper didn’t warp. Everything worked out nicely.

While things were drying I started on some bookmarks but those will be another post.

Until next time. Do art.


A walk on a trail and inspiration

Last week I decided to take a walk on one of the local trails over lunch. I needed some inspiration as I haven’t had much time to do art or when I had time it felt blocked.

Since it is winter and all the trees are bare it’s a good time to look at the structure of the trees. Similar to how you should know how the skeleton and muscles under the skin to draw realistic people it’s good to know what’s going on under all that foliage.

Naked trees!!!

I like to take photos on my phone for landscape ideas when I’m wandering about. Some of them could work well or at least give me ideas on how things should look. Perspective examples so to speak. Others are just for my imagination.

Do you see the lion or is it a baboon?

I took many that help with perspective, like when a path dips down to go under a bridge, or up and around a curve.

Down and around or up and around?

It was a good walk and perusing the photos afterwards leads to inspiration.   I tend to draw out the ideas on post-its so that I can rearrange them. Occasionally I’ll do them in my sketchbook but the bad ones put me off from these creative process, with Post-its I can just crumple them up and toss them into the circular file cabinet. Only one sparks my interest currently.

Photo and basic structure thumbnail

I suspect this weekend I’ll create a ink wash test piece in my sketchbook to get my values and focal points worked out and then create a watercolor out of it.

Until next time, do art.


What do you see?

Yesterday was a fun and successful day. On my way home from work I knew I wanted to work in ink, that it would be a night scene, and had to be loose. No other preconceived ideas, just have fun.

After dinner, working out, and some chores I settled into the studio with my sketchbook and inks.

Dr Ph Martin Bombay inks are really wonderful and versatile. I use them for nib work and as a acrylic paint. I spray them with water for effects, I thin them for light washes, mix them, just amazingly useful.

For this piece I used the dropper on the bottle to transfer the ink to the paper, sprayed it with water to spread and thin it and then brushed it to cover the whole page. After that the fun began. I used paper towel to lift the still wet ink to make clouds, fog, and the circle for the moon. The moon seemed to dim so I added some white paint to it.

Next came the trees. Both rigger brush and nib were used. As I worked I decided that I wanted a couple birds in the branches so these trees had to have branches by the moon and then some in front of it to push it back.

At this point I thought since I had some birds, maybe I should add some bats flitting about. Then the animals and people worked their way in. At this point I wet a wadded up paper towel and added yellow and red hues to it to make it glow. I thought about splattering some titanium white and creating halos around them on it to add fireflies but thought it might make it too busy.

What do you think?

So after finishing it I showed it to my daughter and she asked if there was a creepy thin man hiding behind the tree. Then after posting it a friend asked if there was a little lost boy there. Each person that views our art brings their life experience to it and creates their own story in it if we let them. A painting is a open door into the worlds we create. A snapshot in time and they bring themselves to it. I really prefer to let the viewers write their own story in my art. I think it reaches more people that way.

What do you think?


First painting of the year

Well…some of the end of the years work as well.

The end of the year was busy and I’d as usual hit a block in my creativity. I guess it isn’t so much a block as a fear of messing up the piece, making ugly art.

A friend posts photos from her morning walks and one of them struck me as beautiful and a good choice for a exercise so I decided to use it as a basis for a painting. I put down the washes, the paper, though taped down, buckled horribly throwing my paint where I didn’t want it. Why oh, why don’t I ever stretch the paper before hand? In frustration I added some salt to it where I thought I wanted it and walked away.

Fast forward a couple weeks I decided to look at it. Ugh, that area’s awful, that shows promise but I felt too tentative to put paint to paper. So I did what I tend to do when this happens. Out comes the sketchbook, pour a liberal amount of ink in these middle and start scrapping and scratching with the nib until it looks like something.

My that looks angry doesn’t it?

Ah, that’s better. So on I moved to finish this painting (finish him! Hehehe, Mortal Combat… sorry, lost focus).

Some rewetting of the background, some fiddling with the background trees, and out comes the rigger brush for stems and it’s done. Finally some completion. As an exercise goes I’m happy with it. I suppose I could crop it down…

Salt flowers on the shore

So on to yesterday’s painting. After taking care of the weekend chores I settled in to paint.

Side note: I sat down to paint with a Beulah Red GF ale from Holidaily Brewing in Golden, CO. If you have gluten issues and love beer see if you can get their beers because they are the most amazing GF beers I’ve ever tried.

Where was I? Oh yes, painting… This time I stretched my paper properly. I put down my washes and discovered that there were scratches on the paper Oh the humanity!

Grrr… well let’s see if we can work around them. Honestly I’ve never experienced scratches from an Arches watercolor pad before. Maybe someone’s kid picked it up, scratched it up and put it back on the shelf. Who knows.

Time to see how I can save the sheet. Preliminary sketching done with watercolor pencil. Just to figure our what can go where. I like to have the initial washes in place first in case they don’t match what I have planned.

Initial sketch

Next I focused on the background between where the trees would be, making sure to lay in the reflections on the water. I have a tendency to forget any form of reflection because it’s water right? It just lays there being blue’ish.

So far so good.

The trees were next. Just base layers and using a rigger to fill in the branches but not too many since there will be foliage.

Trees, water, and sky. What more is there?

Next came some basic foliage. I like to pick 4-6 appropriate colors put them on the palette and get them really wet. Then I work from light to dark using a rigger because for me it adds just the right amount of looseness. I tend not cleaning it between colors as it adds some additional tones and shadows. More glazes on the trunks and branches. I also hit the paper with a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Since the majority of the work is done it was on to the rocks, foliage, additional details for the roots. Back to the trunks and branches.

Majority done…Haha! Does anyone else feel like most of their time is spent adding tiny details that make the painting comes to life? I can get everything almost just right and then sit there fiddling with it for hours.

I had really wanted to add some deer drinking at the water’s edge but the layout of the water didn’t support that. Maybe next time.

Finished painting

The piece is 11×14″ Arches hot press watercolor paper. The paints were a mix of Daniel Smith and Windsor &Newton Artist watercolors. I was sorely tempted to use gouache on it but in the end decided to keep it strictly transparent.

Keep on painting,


Ink landscape and musings about the creative process

So life is busy as usual. Is it busy work to distract myself or am I genuinely busy? I don’t know. Social media can be a huge time sink if I let it. I finished this piece in my Canson 7×10″ multimedia sketchbook this week. It’s finally done and I thought I’d share it.

I had found a photograph on the web that inspired me. What inspired me about it? I liked the framing of it. The way the rocks seemed to cascade down the slope, the trees formed a path. I started out thinking I would combine using my Copic Multiliners with my Tombow dual tip markers. I did my initial under drawing and then used the tombows for the background trees and sky and I think it works well.

Excuse the photo, it was late and the lighting in my dining room isn’t the best

But as I tried to bring it forward the effect wasn’t as pleasant to my eyes. It felt like it conflicted with the sharpness of the line work when I used it for shadowing under the distant trees.

How many times do we as artists draw,  paint,  write ourselves into a corner?  At that moment in time I was looking at it going “Oh God, this is awful! What was I thinking?  It’s ruined.   Into the bin with it! Start over!” but as I’ve written before there’s always a ugly stage in all art and we need to work past it.

Off on a tangent, sorry…

I don’t know how many times I’ve been reading a scifi or fantasy series and thought “Ohhh…I wonder how the author is going to write the protagonist out of this one?”. I remember one series that I really enjoyed. J. V. Jones’ Cavern of Black Ice. The author’s style and descriptive writing really drew me in and to be honest was the only reason I picked up a book to read that wasn’t a technical manual in years. After the first book I really looked forward to the second book. When the second book came out I enjoyed it but by the end all I could think was that I didn’t know how she could write the heroes out of their situations without using a deus ex machina. The next book was supposed to come out soon so I waited, and waited, and waited. The book was delayed a very long time it felt like and when it came out I felt disappointed in the resolutions. This is not to say I regret reading her books. They are really wonderful and I still recommend them to anyone interested in fantasy works but it felt like she, like many of us, had painted herself into a corner.

We now return you to our regularly schedule program

The middle ground was killing me… how much detail?!?

In the end I continued on with my multiliners and have a nice piece but I wonder… should I have finished the piece with Dr. Ph Martin Bombay inks to colorize it? Do some watercolor washes? I really don’t know. I kept fiddling with it. Adding more details until I wasn’t.


Any suggestions?


Back to it

With Inktober over and work and life being full I’ve only managed to do one piece. I grabbed a scrap piece of Arches 300# watercolor paper it’s 7.5×11″. It’s a river bank scene.

It felt good to work on it. I think I’m subconsciously working on a plan fir a series because I seem to be adding similar elements to different pieces. I’ll have to wait and see where it will go.

Until next time.


The end of this year’s Inktober

I would be lying if I says I finished the challenge this year. As you can see from my previous posts I only made it through day 14.

Am I disappointed? Yes. I really wanted to complete it this year. However, life got busy as always so I will look at the positives of it instead of feeling dejected and beat myself up.

Things that went right

My hatching improved immensely. I’m more consistent with the line thickness, spacing, and direction. They aren’t all random. I’ve even done more curved hatching.

My composition is better. Everything wasn’t just thrown on the paper to get it done because it was late, and I was tired and I don’t wanna do that prompt Waaa!

Things that went wrong

Because I was more focused things took longer and I think I burned out. I did better, I think I did two more days than last year, but I burned out none the less.

Because I was focused on using hatching I didn’t use brush pens or do shading with washes. Actually, this was because the sketchbook I was using wasn’t a good choice for washes. I adapted but I wasn’t happy about it.

Lessons learned and take aways

My theme fell to the wayside pretty much before I started. I wanted to add animals and people to each piece. Next year I will not use the official prompt list. I’ll create something that aligns with my art goals. to avoid burn out or incorporate the prompts into one large piece.

I’ll ensure that I pick the correct paper for my style and if it isn’t working I won’t dig in and be stubborn “I paid good money for this durn it! I’ll make it work!”. I’ll set it aside until I find something to use it for.

So here is the piece I did on the 30th. My scanner doesn’t like picking out the details for some reason so I appologize for the phone camera image.

Forest Spirit

As you can see I’ve used hatching, stippling and brushwork and there are little background characters. I’m happy with it.

See you in the next post and enjoy your art, whatever it may be.


A break from Inktober

So I was getting burned out on trying to catch up on Inktober and was missing my watercolors (I could hear them calling to me) so yesterday I took a break and started working on a painting and finished it today. It’s something from my imagination or a combination of things I’ve seen hiking in the past.

Yesterday I got a good start on it but I got stuck. The sky wasn’t as rich and textured as I had hoped and I reached the ugly painting stage. When ever I hit this point and I’m not sure what to do I’ve learned to just walk away.

Isn’t that ugly? Or maybe it’s just me.

So this evening after dinner I decided to finish it instead of having Another half dinner thing lying around the studio. Anyone else have a stack of unfinished work? Any who, here is the finished piece. I hope you like it.


Inktober 9-13

It has been a busy week or two. I was off in the mountains for five days and only penciled my Inktober pieces and that whole life/ work being busy has kept me on my toes.

I shall persevere! Here are the drawings for days nine through 13 and a bit of commentary for each one.

Day 9 – Swing

I really wanted to go detailed and bury myself in this one but I didn’t have time so I held off. I’m beginning to think I’ll be redoing some of these prompts in greater detail. Things I liked about this one: I feel like I have the wind blowing left to right consistently, the tree is fairly good. Things I don’t like: I didn’t realize until now just how barren that middle ground looks.

Day 9-Swing

Day 10 – Pattern

After a few days walking through the Rockies it’s hard not to see patterns in the trees and that’s what day 10 was about for me. Seeing the different clusters of aspens and pines.

Day 10 – Patterns

Day 11 – Snow

My first thoughts on this was snowflakes but it’s October and even though we’ve already had our first snow I wanted to keep it Octobery and so they became cobweb snowflakes.

Day 11 – Snow

Day 12 – Dragon

Dragons, oh dragons, how I love them. However I’m horrible at drawing them with all the time in the world so I decided to do a dragon in the style of the coats of arms. Did I hit it?

Day 12 – Dragon

Day 13 – Ash

I had no idea where to go with this prompt. Honestly I found myself scraping through it. Spilled ash from the wood stove? The spade falling in midair and scattering ash everywhere? This one was a struggle. I’m happy with the stove pipe and the spade. Everything else… room for improvement there is and that’s what the challenge is about. Improvement.

Day 13 – Ash

I hope if you stuck with me this far you’ve enjoyed my commentary.

Who else is struggling? Any victories in your art?