Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Medium: Watercolors, India Ink
Size: 16x22

The Isle of Apples. Mythical island in the mists. The final resting place of King Arthur.
The name of Avalon invokes magic and mystery. 

* * *

I began with some scribbled thumbnails. The structures of the buildings, I wanted to be reminiscent of the ruins that can be found today in Glastonbury. 

 The final shape of the composition at first was a very centered piece.
 But I found that to be a bit dull, and on a whim, pushed things over to one side (in photoshop) a few inches, and shifting the boat a little bit to fit that new alignment. That turned out to be just what was needed.
 The final pencil sketch that was ready for painting:
  The initial colors I had in mind were for a ghostly night scene, with the tree glowing in the darkness. I tried to be lazy and just use photoshop brushes to sketch in the colors. But it really looks nothing like actual watercolors, and so it's hard to get a good feel for how the colors will actually work out when using the paint.
So, reluctantly I went through my much lengthier color roughing process, that involves cutting and pasting large areas of color and texture from my collection of other scanned paintings, and then tweaking color balance and contrasts in photoshop. This gives a MUCH better approximation of what a finished piece could look like, and gives me a basis to decide colors and values. 
Using that above color rough as a guide, I  started painting.

The final results:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple
A sampling of some of the trees in the neighborhood. I loved the bright coral red of the seed pods from  the one tree, and was really happy to be able to match the color with my pencils.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Final batch of matted pieces

Final batch of these for Dragoncon's art show in less than a month!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Coast Live Oak

Coast Live Oak

Jewel green acorns, (very similar in fact to the acorn on my favorite necklace!), and slick, dark leaves. Watercolor pencils, watercolors, and gel pen. I've started to collect these botanical drawings on a pinterest board (for now), though I might find a home for them on my site eventually.

More mats

Almost done with the mats. Just a few more to go. These will be for sale at the Dragoncon art auction over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, GA.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


  Blackberry brambles everywhere. Constantly have to knock down the shoots that pop up all over the yard, and that's a prickly and tricky task. Even handling the sample for this drawing was difficult to manage without stabbing myself. Even the leaves have a wicked, spiny ridge of hooked thorns along the undersides.

Most of the flowers are long gone and well on their way to becoming very tart, lip-puckering blackberries (yummy in baked goods or jams though!), but I managed to scour the 6-foot tall hedges and find a lone holdout of fragile pink blossoms.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

California Aster

Claire and I have been finding these down the path to the ravine across from our house. She likes to clip the sprays and take them home to put in water. I finally figured out the name of this little wildflower. It's an aster, from ancient Greek meaning "star". The butterflies love these, and I have to admit I'm rather partial to the periwinkle blue/purple color too!

Done with watercolor pencil. I'm enjoying doing these botanical illustrations, and having an actual specimen in front of me is so different from drawing and painting from photo references, which is what I do most of the time for paintings (if I need a reference). It's an exercise to my brain to match not just what colors will work for a composition, but what I see in front of me.