Monday, March 31, 2014

The Rocky Mountains

This is a large pen sketch of the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park Colorado.  This was a bit of an experiment to try and capture the different foliage, trees, rocks and mountain slopes with just pen.  I enjoyed this one but it eats a lot of time.  It was easy to get lost in this one, just like the scenery.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Even the Quick Sketch is more important than you know

The quick sketch can capture things of importance you don't even realize at the time.  This is a quick sketch I did back in May of 2000.  It is of my son James at age 14.  We went fishing at Deer Creek Reservoir in Utah.  We went with a co-worker, Larry and his son.  Larry brought a syringe for filling the worms with air to make them more appealing for the Yellow Perch we were fishing for.  James and Larry's son (about 8 years old) ran around flipping rocks over and killing bugs with the syringe by injecting air in them.  So the boys had fun, and James caught 8 perch to my one.  I teased him that he kept catching the same one as we were releasing them back into the reservoir.  We also saw Western Grebes on the water and I sketched our Perches.

Sketches developed

 So continuing with yesterday's theme, these are to quick sketches or even doodles of old steam narrow gauge engines in Colorado.  You can see the use of what ever paper or notebook is available.  They are part of the planning process.  The next step for these more detailed pieces is to complete a more detailed sketch.  Like the one below.  Both sketches are waiting to be converted into oil paintings, though the above one needs more work to flesh out the concept.  Above is the Georgetown loop, below is on the Durango and Silverton.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Idea Factory

Ideas and inspiration are funny things.  You never quite know when the thought or idea for some artwork comes to mind.  I always try to have a notebook or sketchbook close at hand at hand.  Some times the ideas are not too sticky in the brain and need to be captured quickly.  Some times they are burned in, sometimes they are fleeting.  Not all get sketched.  I have run across written notes and not remembered the original thought so they have been lost.  I found this bear in an old office notebook, mixed in to meeting notes.  I don't remember the source or the thought behind it.  I had a little bit of a bear stage a few years back and this was one of the small sketches.  This is ball point pen on ruled notebook paper.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Affair - Part 3

So its been a long week, so I return to the family affair pieces.  My Dad did this western themed pen and ink back in the early 1960.  It's an old school look at a Ruger revolver which will be powerful enough to stop or at least scary that bear in the background.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


More Western theme art.  I did this quick watercolor sketch of Buffalo or American Bison a few years back.  It was more of an experiment.  If you get the chance, check these American Icons out.  There are herds all over the western US.  I have seen them in Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, and Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park.  Just be careful them will gore you if you violate their space and they can stomp you, so respect the beast, its there field or stream too.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Trout Flies

One of my childhood memories was of trout fishing in Colorado.  My parents owned a cabin in northern Colorado and we would spend time there and fished.  Occasionally, I sketch trout flies like these above.  I don't remember these flies's names but I know the bottom two are a Salmon egg fly and a midge fly.  I actually sketched these from memory while waiting in the theater to see the movie, Avatar.  I liked the sketches better than the movie.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


This is a Birthday card for the son-in-law, who is an avid duck hunter.   Today is his birthday and actor William Shatner's birthday, too.  Which in my mind makes for interesting comparisons.  These are two pintail ducks done in the style of artist Thomas Quinn.  I used watercolor pencils, which go on dry, but then can be wetted with a brush and the color acts like a watercolor.  So Happy Birthday, Spencer.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Happy Friday, have a simple pen and ink wash sketch of a SeaGull hovering for the catch of the day.  This seems like how I spend the work week as a wage slave.  Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tribute to Hopper - from way back, like 23 years ago.

I did this Acrylic painting when I was 15 years old in my first year High School art class.  This painting was originally done by the artist, Edward Hopper. I wanted to be Edward Hopper, he is most well known for his painting called NightHawks.  I liked the colors and the steam engine.  Hopper's painting is far superior to this but Hopper taught me about composition and color from his painting.  I gave this to my Grandfather as a present since he loves trains.   Copying from other artists is only ok to learn techniques from them.  This one will stay in the family since it is not an original.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

White Throated Sparrow

More Bird Sketches, this is a colored pencil sketch of a White Throated Sparrow.  They are a common visitor to our yard in Maryland.  So next time you see the small gray bird, pay attention because there are little colorful varieties flitting about the countryside.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cat Skull

Part of the drawing skill is to learn the anatomy of your subjects.  It is a life long pursuit, mastery of the skeleton, muscles and movements are the building blocks of art, much like cords on a guitar or the scales on a piano.  Daily practice is a must.  I strive for a daily dose of something even if I don't feel like it.  Much like this blog, daily discipline is needed to do it as much as possible and to show progress in the journey.  Oh yeah, above is a cat skull sketched with blue pencil.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Time Dreaming

So what do you do on a snow day after a long, snowy winter? Paint a small oil of Spring Time and what you hope to see.  I sketched this scene from along the Interstate in Pennsylvania on a road trip to Indiana.  The pencil sketch and a white chalk and charcoal sketch.

So you can see the editing process, The two sketches are closer to what I saw and remembered.  The sketches are based on a very rough quick sketch done while the wife drove down the Interstate.  The scene passed too fast to capture with a photograph, but I captured the image in my head and transferred it to the sketchbook.  After digressing the image for awhile the flower pattern did not work and it bothered me.  So I edited the flowers into a more interesting pattern and composition.  This is the beauty of painting vs. photography.  I can use the basics from nature but I can edit to make better art.  Now I will wait and see if I like the painting enough to make a larger version.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

African Lions

Happy Sunday, these are sketches with sepia, umber, white chalk, blue/red/yellow colored pencils on tan toned paper.  I felt like doing something easy and relaxing to finish up this weekend.  These remind me of summer trips to the zoo and my time in Kenya.  So I have seen these magnificant cats in captivity and the wild.  The wild does add a little adrenaline to the experience.

Friday, March 14, 2014


TGIF, Friday night's post is a sailboat sketch from a magazine on a Trans-Atlantic flight in 2008.  Sketching makes the time go by and calms me down.  Which is perfect for the captive time in an airplane.  The nice thing is I can see the improvement over time, the hard part about art is being willing to critique yourself and then make the improvements.  I look at this and basically am satisfied but I can see my mistakes or areas needing improvement, but that is why like a musician an artist should practice everyday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Orchids in the Hotel room, bored and waiting for a flight home, a simple color experiment and contour sketch of the Orchids.  These sort of remind me of the Cherry Blossoms, which are an annual Springtime celebration in DC and in Japan.  The Japanese gifted the first Cherry trees to DC about 100 years ago.  The Cherry Blossom represent the beauty and fragility of life.  Beauty and sadness, to be notice and enjoyed before it fades away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grizzly Bear - Scratchboard

This is a scratchboard of a Grizzly Bear from a few years ago.  I have seen bears in the wild four times now.  Grizzlies - twice in Yellowstone NP, Alaska; and Black Bears - twice in Upstate New York, and near a dumpster in a campground in Colorado.  I have more Bear art I would like to do.  Some will be seen here on the Blog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Farewells - Delicate Arch

I have a co-worker who is heading home to Utah to take a new job.  He likes to sketch some too, so his coworkers are sending him off with a new sketchbook and journal.  We were suppose to add a little sketch of our own as opposed to the good bye card.  I did a quick sketch with watercolor pencils of Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Africa - Masai Mara, kenya

This is a quick silhouette of an Acacia tree and Impala.  The sun is a little distorted but I really was concentrating on the tree and the different branch shapes.  I went to Kenya a few years ago and I can highly recommend it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Horse Sketch

This is a quick sketch of a horse.  What I really liked was the bridle and the reins.  I love the detail and how they crossed over the horse's face and the variety of the shapes they make.  Hopefully, I got it right.  I am sure the Horse people will let me know where I erred. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Travel Art - Heading Home

Last day of Travel Art - I flew Lufthansa last year, so I captured the front of my Airbus before getting on to fly home to the DC area.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Travel Art - Old Sign

I little more travel art.  This is an old travel sign from a fishing resort near the Cache La Poudre Canyon in Colorado.  This was a quick watercolor and pen sketch.  I look forward to do more of this in the future. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Travel Art - The Brother-in-Law

This is a travel art sketch of my brother-in-law Kelly.  He was nice enough to stay still with his scotch for me to do a quick sketch.  I really should do more people sketches, it is the only way to get better.  This was from a fishing trip up in the Colorado Mountains.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travel Art - New Orleans Airport

More Travel Art - I was sitting waiting for my departure flight at the Louis B. Armstrong Airport in New Orleans.  The airport has a great sign on the main building.  I did not finish the building but it was not the interesting part.  If you fly into New Orleans the landing route over Lake Pontchartrain has a great view of the causeway leading towards downtown New Orleans.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Travel Art - JFK

The Boeing 737 waiting at the JFK airport gate.  I like sketching the planes, they move less than the people waiting.  I think this was a Jet Blue plane for a quick trip to NYC a few years back.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Travel Art - LaGuardia Tower

So more Travel Art - especially interesting since the big ice storm and snow storm is coming tonight.  So people are going to be stuck in the airports of the country.  This is the Tower at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.  She definitely qualifies for one of the most interesting towers I have seen.  SO next time you are in the airport look for the different styles and search for the old hidden parts of the place.  This is a mixed media of ink and colored pencils.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Travel Art - the airport

Travel Art is always a bonus, I don't usually get to do as much as I would like because most of the travel is wage slave travel, but the airport provides a special place to do art.  The wait for the plane is usually a good one.  No wage slave work can be done, but art can be.  So I will show over the next couple of days my airport travel art. This is a sketch of a dual truck at Dulles prepping my plane.