Thursday, February 25, 2016



16x20 Oil on Canvas

This is my first painting after years of pause.  There is a little bit of a story behind this one if you are interested.

The Story

I recently found my biological family using DNA and a popular genealogy website.  At Christmas I received the most beautiful flower arrangement I have ever seen. It was full of evergreen branches and red roses. I saved two of them and let them dry. I have been keeping them on the window sill to remind me how awesome it was. 

This painting has a lot of personal symbolism in it. The spools of thread double as both the way our DNA wraps around and it represents the seamstress gene I got from my paternal Grandmother. The roses are two of a kind, from the same bush, but living on different levels of existence. The spool without a rose is just getting started, much like our relationship. The white chord is the instinctual pull my father and I had to find each other

This painting is going to be a favorite of mine for a while. It has emotional value. Not only did I find a family that is better than I could hope for, I found myself, my bush, my thread, my art.   

The future is hopeful and full of excitement. This is what every adoptee hopes to find when they search out their roots. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On my Easel

On the Easels
16x20 Oil on Canvas
24x36 Oil on Canvas

I wanted to put a glaze on my still life, but the paint has not dried yet.  So I opened up a new canvas and set it up near the mirror.  I am very rusty after not having spent any time doing art in the last year and a half.  These are not nearly as bad as I expected them to be.  I have done much worse when I was doing art every day.  Maybe maturity has made me slow down and really look at what I am doing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Visual storytelling

I have a fascination with illuminated manuscripts. One could argue that all artists are visual storytellers , but the illuminators where the masters of this craft. Their work was done at a time when people could not read words. They had to be able to read the pictures to understand the stories and meaning behind them.

The illuminators had a distinct disadvantage over those that were doing fresco's and large painted works. Where most of the artists had an entire wall or an entire ceiling to describe the biblical text, the illuminators were forced to work with the single page. In some cases they didn't even have an entire page to work with. Many times they met this challenge by presenting an entire story in one Illustration. I have quite a collection of illuminated pages on my Pinterest board if you are interested in seeing them. 

Over the last month I have grown to appreciate the problem-solving that these illuminators must have done. What do you leave out? What do you illustrate? When presented with an entire book out of the Bible these questions can be very difficult. In my case the book is Revelations. I am limited to three images. If you've ever read the book of revelations then you know it is full of imagery. The entire book is metaphor and simile.

With that in mind I have finished my second line drawing of the book of revelations. I decided to go with The woman in the Dragon. Since my first piece deals with how the writing began, iI decided my second piece needed to describe with how the war began.

Thumbnail sketches for Woman and the Dragon
Thumbnail sketches of Woman and the Dragon

My processes been fairly simple starting with a lot of sketches. I did thumbnail sketches because I wanted to figure out what my page layout was going to look like. I went with the second thumbnail sketch because it complemented the first piece I did. When everything is put together these will act as bookends to my story. My design is very circular in nature. That not only works well as a composition but it describes a circular nature of the book of Revelation. 

Michael S. Vieira has some very quick an informative video's concerning composition.  You can catch his channel HERE.  As I pull this all together, his advice and the advice given to me by my instructor James Werner about putting together a composition is sitting in the back of my mind.  Line, rhythm, unity.. all the words I learned are taking form.

Rough Sketch for Woman and the Dragon
Using Pink Breeze 8, I did a rough sketch of my main idea
My next photo is it sketch that I did to get the overall feel of what it is going to look like with some values. I used a photo reference from Deviant Art called Pink Breeze 8, by Auroradreams.  As you can see the Seven Headed Dragon is surrounding this woman. I did that because I wanted to present the urgency of the Dragon waiting to eat her child. In the final work I change the direction of his tail  because I wanted to show that his tail was knocking out one third of the stars.

I used the glass top of my desk as a lightbox
I slid the glass top of my desk out so I could use it as a lightbox to trace my sketch on to my paper.
I did most of this using the glass top of my desk as a lightbox. I traced what I wanted to keep. Then I turned the paper upside down to make sure was reading well in reverse.  It is a trick I learned from watching the methods and techniques of Michael Parkes.

In the next photo you can see my line drawing. I've added the angel, Michael, at the very top left, and I have added some angels going down the side to show that they drove the Dragon down to the earth. At the very bottom there is a woman looking at the wings of an eagle.

I placed the drawings side by side to see if they work together visually
I placed the drawings side by side to see how they would read visually.
Once my line drawing was done I put them side-by-side to see what they would look like together. I want to make sure that when they are displayed together that they show it congruency in design.

I have one more line drawing that needs to be done and then I'm ready to start painting.  I fully intend on using watercolor/gouache for this project, simply because I want to learn to use it effectively.  I love the glow watercolor gives.  If I do not get the results I am looking for, the line drawing can easily be put on canvas or panel and painted in oil.  That is the glory of having a line drawing done like this.  I can use it over and over until I get the look I am going for.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back in the saddle

After many tries at many different social outlets, I find myself back here at blogger.

Without much ado, let me share what I am working on, currently. As you can see my first try with watercolor was a failure. That's nothing new for me. The advantage to failure is that I get to see where the problems are.

I started with a basic sketch in my sketchbook. From there took it to paper I could add watercolor to. Things were looking pretty good at the underpainting. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.

I decided to go for redraw. There is a distinct advantage to working on paper that is semi transparent. By looking at the image in reverse I can tell where the mistakes are. This is just a basic white sulfite paper from Dick Blick. The advantage to using this paper is that I can draw on both sides. Once my drawing is complete I can transfer the final copy onto a clean sheet of paper.

I plan on giving this another try with a better drawing, and most importantly, a much better idea of what I want this illustration to look like.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Angel Eyes and Some Studio Notes

Angel Eyes - Graphite on 11x17 Bristol
This is a drawing from a photo.  The baby I have drawn has all of the classic cherub qualities.  She is beautiful.  She has the most amazing little lips.  She has the perfect baby nose.  The most important thing that makes me want to draw her is that her little eyes look as though she knows something the rest of the world does not.

I am pretty close to the finish line on this, but this is where I had to stop so I could go to the studio for class.  I will most likely finish her today and start working on a few others I have on my list.

The studio time was great.  I am setting up to do a cast drawing.  I am using the site size method on this and it is going slow and methodical -just as it should.  A game I play when doing these are to make a small mark where I guess it should be using pure observation and then measuring to correct my guess.  It isn't the fastest way to complete the cast drawing, but it makes me really tackle those observation mishaps. 

I was pretty surprised how very off I was on a few marks but absolutely delighted with my visual accuracy on a few.  I don't keep track of how many times I am on or off.  Instead I let each mark be it's own action and celebration.  Right or wrong, I win every time because I am learning to see.  There is an immense amount of being in the moment in doing it this way.  It is like artistic meditation.

Beside me is another student Tanya that is working on a still life.  I am learning by listening to her struggles and watching her progress through struggle.  This is the biggest advantage to working in a studio with other students.  It is awesome to have an instructor guide you through your own problem areas.  It is even more awesome to have a fellow student ask a question you had not thought of yet.  This is why learning on your own is so very slow, tedious and somewhat ineffective.  The questions you never ask are the missing pieces.

I showed my drawing to James and he told me that I need to be careful about my edges.  Babies are soft and fatty and there are no true hard edges on them.  Keeping that in mind I will continue to finish this piece and prepare it for possible entry into the art show in a couple weeks.