Monday, December 30, 2013

Size: 15x19 inches
Medium: Watercolor, ink, metallics, leafing
Detail closeups, and prints ($16.95 & $26.75) available here

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The original painting will be on exhibit and for sale at Krab Jab Studio during the month of February for the Faery themed group show.

 I feel like I've been wandering through this forest in various paintings in the past few months. I've skirted the borders of these woods, catching glimpses in one painting or another of the golden core tucked in the boles of the trees. So it was time to explore further under those tangled dark branches.

One of the inspirations for this piece was a photo I took of a sycamore at Gilroy Gardens earlier this year. It's actually made of 12 (I think?) grafted trees.

Some initial brainstorming sketches I did while away from my desk over Christmas. At first I was planning to have other nymphs bathing in the pools as well.

The finalized sketch prepared for painting.

And then the tortuous early stages. It's terrifying to meticulously sketch out a piece filled with fine details, and then to pour paint and ink all over it in a big ugly mess. The pencil lines are still there, very faint, buried under the ink. When I do this technique, I have to spray fix the pencil ahead of time or else I run the risk of completely obliterating all that work and ending up with no guidelines.

After letting the large splashes of ink and watercolor dry as a base coat for an hour at least, I can go back and work in details, pulling shapes and forms out of the mess of texture. I use a variety of mediums at this point.

Doing this stuff is my favorite part. I love finding the textures and pulling out form from the random chaos of separating pigments.

I use gel pens to do some finer white highlights and details.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hrafnagud: Raven-God
Size: 11x7.5 inches
Medium: Mixed
For detail closeup pictures, and prints ($16.95), -click here-

One of Norse god Odin's many names: Hrafnagud, Raven God. For his companions Huginn and Muninn. They fly out across the world at dawn and return to him in the evening with information of what they have seen.  

This original will be on exhibit at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle, WA in the "Quoth the Raven" group show taking place from January 11 - January 30.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Magpies: Six & Seven

So, I've arrived at the end of my seven magpies. But I'm having so much fun and loving this series, that I want to do more! Extended versions of the rhyme are more rare, and you don't usually hear past 7. So now I'm trying to decide which of these to go with:

Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own sel'.


eight for a wish,
nine for a kiss,
ten for a time

of joyous bliss.

Very different imagery to go with one or the other.

The entire series can be found here:

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Magpies: Five for Silver
Size: 6.5x6.5
Medium: Mixed - Watercolors, India ink, ballpoint, watercolor ground, metallic powder, silver leaf
For prints ($16.95), and more detailed closeup views, -click here-

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Magpies: Four for a Boy
Size: 6.5x6.5
Medium: Mixed - Watercolors, India ink, ballpoint, watercolor ground, metallic powder
For prints ($16.95), and more detailed closeup views, -click here-

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.

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I tried to take more in-progress scans this time around because people keep asking about these recent paintings and how I do the textures. 

This was the initial thumbnail sketch idea.

Again, as with the others in this series, I've done very little initial sketching on the drawing board before diving into the painting. This is all I sketched:
These are my main materials for the painting:
Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground - It's an opaque white that you can paint watercolors on top of. Suggested uses are so that you can prepare non-porous surfaces for watercolors as I did with miniature pendants earlier this year (-here-), but I have also been using it in my regular paintings for "resetting" areas of the painting and turning it back to white, if that makes any sense. It differs from just using masking fluid or avoiding painting an area because I can gradate the opacity. So it creates a water-proof scumble effect. 

Daniel Smith Metallic Watercolors - This is made from metal powder mixed with binder. You can mix it with watercolor. My friend gave me a box of these that he had sitting around for a long time. And for a long time I then had it sitting around for many years. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them after initial experiments because it's kind of strange stuff. It doesn't apply in a smooth metallic surface. But it's not just fancy glitter-powder either. It's kind of something in-between. I don't know what initially prompted it, but for some reason I mixed it with some Winsor & Newton India Ink last year.

Winsor & Newton India Ink - So...I haven't tried this with other types of ink. I'm not quite sure if it's the binder in the india ink, or the pigment particles themselves. But for some reason when I've mixed it with the metallic watercolors, I start to get strange clumping textures. as the binder and pigment and particles separate.

And of course, my watercolor paints.

 Throw it all together. Let it all drip. See what happens. This is the "messy and I-hate-this-painting" stage. Working past it is the hardest part.

Started layering some bits of watercolor ground back in for lightened areas.

Oh yeah, and I forgot about ballpoint pen too. That's the other new item that I've been adding to the mix.  Specifically SKB ballpoint pens that Allen Williams introduced me to.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Magpies: Three for a Girl 
Size: 6.5x6.5
Medium: Mixed - Watercolors, India ink, ballpoint, watercolor ground, metallic powder
For prints ($16.95), and more detailed closeup views, -click here-

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.

* * *
 Some in progress shots:

Initial scribbled idea, a few weeks ago for the continuation of my magpie series.

This was a scan pretty far along actually. Forgot to do any earlier ones. 

I barely did any sketching before launching into the paint for this piece. I had the initial thumbnail sketch as reference. I sketched the woman, and the rest of it was just done on the fly.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Gathering
Medium: Mixed - Watercolors, India ink, ballpoint, watercolor ground, metallic powder, sterling silver beads
Size: 9x9 inches
For prints ($16.95), and more detailed closeup views, -click here-

This is a closeup view of a magpie in a 1.3 inch square area of the painting. You can get a close look at the textures of the ink/watercolor/metallic medium.

Silver beads embedded into the board. The board I use is very thick, so I was able to dig out small pockets to insert the beads.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Green Flash
Size: 9x12 inches
Medium: Watercolor, ballpoint pen, india ink, metallic watercolors, gel pens
Detail closeup and prints ($15.00) available -here-

It happened in the green flash as the disk of the sun slipped beneath the horizon. The stars began to gleam like inverse shadows in the far corners of the sky, and the moon’s pale presence shone. The veil between the worlds rippled, and then as if that fabric could no longer contain the fullness of the Otherworld, it tore.

Not quite a gateway, nothing so substantial. The tear rippled down the path that the setting sun had blazed across the waters of the lake, and the arc of the Milky Way reflected in a corridor of stars.

A flock of swans spread their wings and flew above that path to the far shore, and the beating of their wings was a horrible and beautiful summons. The rhythm vibrated through my fingertips and made the soles of my feet itch. I wanted to follow them. I wanted it more than anything I have ever desired.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Veil of Night
Size: 15.5x16.7 inches
Medium: Watercolors & ink
For detail closeups, -click here-

Nyx drawing her veil across the world.

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Some of the in-progress scans and photos:

 Initial scribbles in my sketchbook from a while back.
 Started with a base layer of texture. Only some of the birds were sketched out. The rest of them I just tried to pull out from the ink/watercolor splatter texture of the background so that they evolved more organically out of the painting.
 More birds.
 And more birds.
 Started onto Nyx. Bright blue for a little contrast, but still blending her vels and skirts out into the surrounding darkness.
 And finally the sleeping town below. Started with a base wash with wet-in-wet dotting of some purple tones into the gold.
 Refined the details.
Added more birds in the upper parts and finished up.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Size: 8x9 inches
Medium: Watercolors, inks, white ground, metallic mediums
Detail closeups, Original ($399.00) and Prints ($16.95) -available here-

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Some of the in-progress images:

Started off with a random wash of ink, metallic mediums, and a tint of color with watercolors. Turned the board all directions and let the wash drip and flow down the page. After that dried, used a wide flat brush with white watercolor ground and smoothed in some bright spaces.

Then I shoved it in the back of my drawer and ignored it for about 5 months. I have about a half dozen scraps of board like this sitting in my drawer at any given time these days. I just splatter them with paint and texture, and every once in a while pull a few of them out and see what shapes and images I can make out in the chaos. 

Sometimes one of them moves me to try and pull that image out. Some days none of them do anything for me and I shove them back into the drawer. Or  sometimes I decide there's nothing in that chaos at all and splatter another random layer of ink/mediums/watercolor across the page and let it dry to see what that will do to it.

On this particular day this piece started to speak to me. So I pulled it out and started trying to bring the hazy shadow of an image into realization. 

The white streaks reminded me of the delicate rivulets of distant waterfalls. Shadowy trees started carving out the space of the cliffs. And then a golden tree twisting around a spire-like overlook emerged in the foreground.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Botanical Illustrations

Some recent botanical illustrations I did while traveling.
Let me know by email or comments if you are interested in seeing these as postcards or greeting cards!