Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Below the Surface

10x17 inches
Medium: Mixed
Prints ($16.95 and $26.50), Original Painting ($1500.00), and closeup detail shots -available here-

In the depths of a wishing well.

Some in progress shots:

 Initial brainstorm sketches and thumbnail. Originally the pair at the top were children.
 Somehow that got changed once I got to the final sketch.
 Color rough, mockup in photoshop. I've found that with the techniques I'm using these days with the texture of the ink and medium, because it's so random, I really need to plan out the colors and values beforehand a lot more than I used to. In order to optimal make use of the randomness, I have to have much more intent on where to focus it. The texture only happens if I do it in one go, and don't touch the areas (unless I've sprayed with fixative) afterwards, because further messing around and brushing layers over those areas only blurs and obliterates those textures I love.
 Getting started with initial base layers of colors.
 And more.
 Trilobytes, bones, and tea!!!!
 Almost done. Thought I was done. But when I scanned this and then flipped it horizontally in photoshop I didn't like how the upper area was balanced. The skyline/trees/ground felt off. 
 So I went back and worked some more on the upper portions. After scanning and flipping it once more (to get a fresh perspective), I was much more satisfied this time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Western Redbud

Had a lot of fun with the nasturtiums a few days ago, so here's more in a botanical illustration vein.

Western Redbud. Native plant here. There's a small bush planted just across the street from me by our local watershed group. A few years ago a large live oak tree fell over into the ravine due to weakening of the roots in the hillside after a long spell of rain. I was sad to see it gone, but a host of other native plants were quickly planted in the following months. 

Watercolor pencils & watercolors.

In the springtime it has the most brilliant purple-pink flowers dripping off the branches, and I really want to draw that next year. But for now it's got bean pods, which bear a trace of that magenta color, which also shows quite strikingly. Next year I'll have to try and catch it at this stage:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another batch of matted pieces

Another batch of matted pieces that will be available at Dragoncon art auction. Having fun with these.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Experimenting with watercolor pencils, and an attempted foray into botanical illustration. I've always loved botanical illustrations, and I have this lovely set of watercolor pencils that need more playing with, and an even lovelier pot full of nasturtiums outside my front door. Last year, my friend gave me the pencil set, as well as a large watercolor moleskin, and it was really too nice to just use for scribbles and sketches. So, a year later I have finally found a use for it. I'll be doing more of these hopefully. After all, I have a whole book to fill up now.

A quicker sketch I did earlier that day, which was what prompted the more finished drawing above. I couldn't resist revisiting those bright golds and oranges and the patterns. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Labyrinthine - full series

Labyrinthine series. Four seasons.
Prints ($10.00) and closeup detail views can be found for each by clicking on the links above.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Tomatoes in the garden are finally ripening.  It's SUMMER! Couldn't resist drawing those lovely plump curves. Took it as an opportunity to play around with some watercolor pencils I have too. I've had them for a really long time and just never really gotten the hang of using them. I think I might try messing with them some more. 

Done with watercolor, ink brush pen, watercolor pencils, and salivation (that basil smells YUMMY!)

More matted pieces for Dragoncon

More matting and drawing today. Got a few more of them done. Here's a peek at some more of what will be on offer in the art show auction at dragoncon. These are prints with hand drawn ink on the boarders of the mats.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Urban Sketch Crawl - San Francisco

Finally made it to an urban sketch crawl event. I've been meaning to do this for years. Lots of fun. Spent all day in San Francisco sketching and painting!

Started off meeting at the traffic island just off the ferry building in the morning. I've never been to one of these events, but as soon as I got past the crowds in the Embarcadero plaza, it was pretty easy to spot where the group was gathering. Just look for the backpacks stuffed with art supplies, sketchbooks in hand, and ducked heads as those waiting wasted no time.

I've been doing these sketches for over a decade, but I've always only used ink. I really want to try and work color in as well, and I've had a travel-watercolor set for years, completely unused. So I decided this would be a day for firsts. You'd think that since I paint with watercolors every day at my desk for years it wouldn't be intimidating. But something about just doing it on site, without any advanced sketches or preparations is daunting!
Didn't stray very far from the group initially. Across the street from the island, the Saturday farmers market was in full swing. Found a shady perch and did this one, gazing out down Market St.

After the lunch meet up, set off again.
 I was looking for a good vantage spot for the bay bridge, but instead I came across this red brick arcade, with a quiet courtyard apart from the traffic of the Embarcadero. There was a fountain, and a decent view of the bridge through the arches. But instead, the quiet of that little space caught my interest instead. In one corner, the arches opened up on a secret green heart on the other side of the courtyard. There was something eerie about the two gray windows high above, looking down like a pair of eyes.

Outside the arcade. And then later, back towards the Ferry Building. There was a man sitting with a little parrot perched on his knee. Taking part of the conversation I suppose.

 The sculpture/fountain in the plaza.

Nearing the 4:30pm final meeting time. Had half an hour to do one final quick color piece, looking out across the park towards Pier 1.

Some photos:

Noontime gathering.Was really neat to see what everyone else had been doing in the morning.


I -wanted- to draw this, but got kicked out just as I started touching pen to paper. Security guard said that it was 3pm and time to close the upstairs area.

End of the day gathering again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chasing a Dream

Size: 20x12 inches
Medium: Mixed
 Prints ($16.95 for 8.5x11 and $26.50 for 11x17), original painting ($1500.00), and detail closeups available -here-
Some of the sketches and photos of the process:
Starting off as scribbles in the sketchbook. I considered several different compositions initially as thumbnails.

Settled on this composition, although you can see this was not what the final piece ended up with. This was just the initial starting point, but after considering it for a while, it felt far too static, because the fish was on a horizontal plane above the ground, and it was all viewed from a very stable and flat perspective.
 So I decided to add a little more excitement to it. Tilted the ground to make it into a steep hillside that the children are tumbling down. It gives them more of a sense of movement and speed. (Both of these composite sketches were done by scanning all the initial sketches first and then taking the thumbnails and pasting the sketches of the children throughout, fiddling with size and angles and placement).
 I liked the second composition better, so I went forward with it, finalizing the sketch onto the illustration board for painting.
 Then the color rough to make a mockup of the final painting. I scanned the finalized sketch, then put it onto a separate layer in photoshop, set to multiply. Under that layer, I cut and paste some texture segments from other paintings and fiddle with the color settings on select areas to give myself an approximate simulation of what a final piece might look like. I really don't like doing color roughs, but I've found lately that they are immensely helpful in forcing me out of my "color comfort zones". I have certain color combinations that I use frequently, and that are easy to fall back on because I know that they work. Doing a color rough lets me try out combinations that I might not otherwise have thought to do.

 One of my favorite little parts is this little corner, where I was able to retain the india ink texture in the initial wash. If you've been following my blog, you'll know that lately I've been experimenting a lot with mixed media. Primarily utilizing india ink to create darker pieces, and textures. In most of those pieces I've been throwing the ink and paint onto pieces of illustration board, letting it dry, and only then trying to "see" the image inside the splatters (like seeing pictures in the clouds). It's a very freeing and fun exercise, and I've been enjoying both the process, and the results. Now I'm really wanting to try harness those techniques into more deliberate pieces, where I dictate the subject and composition, rather than pure randomness.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Madly Matting

Matting furiously to get ready for Dragoncon (Labor day weekend in Atlanta, GA). Here are a few of the prints with hand-inked mats that I'll be having for sale in the art show auction.  I'll scan and post more in the next week as I do the rest of them!

Inner Workings


White Flame