Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quick Sketch - Tiffany

More of the quick sketches from my small sketchbook.  This is my daughter Tiffany at the Greenbrier in West Virginia.   We were waiting to get into one of their restaurants and I spent about 10 minutes on this one.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chesapeake Dead Rise fishing boat

This is a small oil painting of a Chesapeake Dead Rise fishing boat from a picture I found.  So I can't claim the image but, I really wanted to see if I could capture the sunset and the reflection on the water of the Chesapeake Bay.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Take your sketchbook everywhere

I try to take my sketchbook everywhere.  I do quick sketches of people and family members when I can.  This is a pen sketch of my niece, Alyssa waiting in the movie theater for Despicable 2 to start last summer.  I think I will do a series of posts this week of these sketches..

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Alaska Shoreline

This is another Alaska Shoreline sketch.  Its a little more finished than my previous sketches.  I definitely recommend any travel to Alaska.   I would like to go back and go at a slower pace and doing more art, than trying to pack everything into a week long trip.  Maybe we drive the Al-Can highway, it would be a good way to travel though incredible country at your own pace.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Puget Sound - Sun setting

We went on a cruise up to Alaska last September.  This is a quick sketch as the ship was traveling in the early evening out of the Puget Sound.  It is hard to capture the millions of diamond-sparkling reflections off the water, but it is fun to try and it transports me back to the passage of time on the sound.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Figure Study

This is Friday Night entertainment.  I found an old photo of an artist model and decided to sketch it in charcoal and white chalk on grey toned paper.  Art work and an adult beverage is the perfect way to finish off a work week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brown Pelican

Enjoy this Brown Pelican sketch in colored pencil.  We have seen these in California, Washington State, Canada, and Alaska.  While slightly odd looking, they are graceful flyers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Himalayan Bulbul

Today's bird is a Himalayan Bulbul, they are birds of the Indian sub-continenent.  They are part of the morning greeting committee.  They remind me of the Blue Jays here in the US.  I did this in colored pencil.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Long day at work, so I will fall back on a bird sketch.  This colored pencil sketch is of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.  We saw this in Oklahoma a few years back.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Polar Bears

I did some Polar Bear sketches on tan colored paper with pencil, white chalk, and colored pencils.  These are some experiments for a project I had in mind, hopefully I can post it in a few days as I finish it up.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Ketch - Sailing Boat

I few years back, I got interested in reading the Patrick O'Brian Master and Commander series, its about 20+ books.  This led to some drawings and this painting.  I did this from a picture I found in a magazine.  It was for more of my own enjoyment and to experiment with atmospheric perspective.  That is the term to describe the greying out of colors into the distance.  This is why a have deep blues and greens in the foreground water and it transitions to the lighter and grayer tones of the horizon line.  I really liked the sail colors, the hull color, and the sails on the mizzen being taut against the lines from the wind change on this Ketch sailboat.  This was a painting in oil.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Scarlet Tanager

I hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday Saturday.  Start looking in your backyard for the return of the song birds.  This is one of the pretty and brilliantly colored ones you might see especially on the east coast of the U.S.  It is the male Scarlet Tanager.  I captured this one in colored pencil.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ancient Goat Stone work

Another week of meeting fun, I had 2 1/2 hours of meetings on Wednesday.  The first hour was good, but after the break and five minutes of the second I sketched this out and finished the shading later.  I used a mechanical pencil and a small pocket notebook.  The goat was from a picture on a daily desk calendar.  The daily photo was of a Pharaoh era marble stone carving of a goat.

This is my current little notebook.  I got this second hand, it was made for Turkish Airlines, I thought it was pretty cool.  I have about 23 notebooks which are filled up with ideas, sketches, experiments, and notes.  So I just counted all my notebooks and I might have a problem because I stopped a 80, half of which are a third to half full.  So just a little obsessive.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

May Fly

So I am not a great fisherman or an obsessive one, but it is an activity I have enjoyed with my Dad, my son, my father-in-law, my wife, my daughters, my nieces, and my brother-in-law.  Usually we fish for trout, occasionally Bass and Catfish.  I like the places fishing takes me and I enjoy the people I go with to where the fish live.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Short-Tailed Weasel

This is a Short Tailed Weasel in the winter phase so he is white.  I did this with colored markers and is based on the weasels I have seen in my years of hiking and rock climbing.  I have only seen one in white in Colorado.  I have seen these in Utah, Colorado and near the Shawangunks of New York while rock climbing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mute Swan

This is a Mute Swan.  They are a introduced bred from Europe.   They are more common here in US park ponds.  I have seen Trumpeter Swans one time in Yellowstone National Park, they are endangered  but are becoming more common now.  This was done with colored pencils.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Durango and Silverton Railroad

Happy Sunday!  Just a quick post today.  This is an Oil Painting of the narrow gauge Train in Durango Colorado above the Las Animas River.  The train is well worth the trip to Durango and is part of the history of the country and its mining days.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Giraffes - three color exercise

To follow the thread of ways to improve your painting capabilities which I have been blogging on for the past couple of days, this painting is an example of using three colors or a restricted palate to paint.  This oil painting was done with Titanium White, Raw Umber, and Cobalt Blue.  The use of just three colors allows you to focus on the values, i.e. the dark, medium, and light.  Too many colors can be confusing and can distract you from what you want to paint.  Not getting the values right can cause your painting to lose it's ability to represent three dimensions while painting in two.  This is part of the many problems and struggles in the life long pursuit of learning to paint.  This exercise to improve is similar to  the toned paper drawings a wrote about in the post from yesterday.

Friday, April 11, 2014

More techniques to improve

Another technique to improve your abilities in painting and art is to use toned paper, white chalk, and a colored pencil.  In this case I used a sepia pencil for the color.  The toned paper gives you a mid-range and you get to work to get the darker tones and you can use the white to represent your highlights.  To the right I have drawn a practice exercise of a human skull and an eyeball situated in the eye socket.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sepia House Plants

I have been drawing and painting for my entire life.  Mostly not real seriously but at times of stress I pick it back up again.  I did this back in 1990, after returning from the Mideast.  I had previously tried to jump back into painting after a six year gap.  I naively assumed I could start back at the level I had stopped at previously.  Well the painting was a failure.  In frustration I realized I needed to return to the fundamentals, i.e. drawing.  So I started to work through a series of practice drawing exercises.  One was to use the Sepia pencil and I drew the house plant.  I liked the shapes and spaces between the leaves.  Part of the learning to see is to observe the shapes but also to observe the negative spaces i.e. the spaces between the leaves.  You can compare this to some of the more recent drawings I have posted and you can see the benefit of practice and hard work as I can see the improvements. It is like music, to maintain you have do practice a lot just to maintain your skill level.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Colored Pencil - Landscape

This is a colored pencil landscape I did a few years back.   This is a western Virginia scene.  If you get to visit the Shenandoah Valley, do it.  It's a great long picturesque valley.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Experiments

This is a simple two color oil sketch of Aspen trees.  It is small 6 x 8 inch sketch and was quickly done to capture the essence of the trees.  I try to do a couple of these a week to improve and practice.  Most are disposable but the improve meant comes with time and repetition.

Monday, April 7, 2014


To track on yesterday's post, another way to improve is to experiment with techniques, brushes, a limited palette of say two colors.  Get art books and read the authors theories and try his or her techniques.  Most are fairly similar and consistent with a high recommendation for repeated practice.  Above is a two color, white and burnt umber oil on canvas paper.  Not all of these work but I liked this one and I stopped before I screwed it up by over working it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Practice, Practice, Practice

I have spoken before about the 10,000 hour guideline, i.e. the need to do a minimum of 10,000 hours to  master a skill.  I hit various levels of frustration with my paintings.  I have many started and half finished paintings.  Some will be re-addressed and finished, some will be destroyed, and some will be utilized to start a new version of a painting.  I have heard of another artist referring to these paintings as little evil ones, which torment your creative side.  James Gurney has a semi-annual burning for failed paintings.  The 10K hours may be arbitrary but it is a good goal and above are coming of the paint mixing exercises I have done in oil paint.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Scissor - Tailed Flycatcher

This is a colored pencil sketch of a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher.  We saw this is Oklahoma and I think it is the state's bird.  It definitely is a unique and special bird, not one of the run of the mill see in the yard types.  It will catch your eye on the fence or on the wire.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

ProngHorn Antelope

SO if you are driving the long stretches of the American Outback i.e. any of the high plains areas of the mid-west to the inter Mountain areas of the Rockies, always be on the look out for the fastest animal in North America, the Pronghorn.  We have seen them in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, but they are everywhere.   They like it in the wide open so they can see they're enemies and out run them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tampa Tower

Waiting for my flight back to DC, I had 15 minutes and captured the tower at Tampa's airport.  I liked the clouds and the different odd lines.  I unfortunately caught the clouds too much like they were with the odd size similarity.  I should have edited this more to create some different sizes and thus more interest for a better composition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Travel Sketches - not well planned

I do not always plan the art work out as well as I should.  I got to spend two hours at the beach in near Doha, Qatar.  Qatar near were I was looked all like a beach, the difference being the proximity to the water.  I had very little time and only had a ballpoint pen and the hotel notepad so I made the best of the time and sketched the crab carcass.  Desperate times, Desperate measures.