2nd Draft of Sketches

Today I submit my second draft of sketches for my Secret Garden Series.  I love working large, which is quite an investment of time and resources, so with this project, I have slowed down to take the time to really have a strong idea of a layout before I go big.  Below is a comparison.  The painted images were my first attempt and their size is 8″ x 10″.  My second attempts are the sketches to the left.  Here I have begun to make changes to the initial ideas.  The ones to the left are slightly smaller.  They are 5″x7″ inches.

As you can see, I only kept two images rather the same.  That means I am happy with most of these images.  The other 6 sketches not so much.  They now have different backgrounds and animals switched from one sketch to the next.  I am currently painting these 5×7 sketches and as I do, I am synthesizing and already coming up with changes to the next concepts.  I shall finish them up and then share my findings.


Holiday Herring Gulls – RI Christmas Card Series

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This might sound weird, but I am pretty sure I could devote the rest of my life to painting seagulls and never tire.  For one thing, they are fascinating and for another, they are hilarious.  I think of them as the con-artists of the bird world.



Funny thing.  My whole life I thought the male seagulls were white and the female seagulls were brownish-gray.  Guess what? I was wrong!  Brownish-gray seagulls are juveniles. They grow into their white feathers when they reach adulthood. Good thing I figured this out before I began illustrating ;)

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There’s nothing like a good peck under the mistle toe ;)

Out of Time

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Out of time I am.

I’ve been working on this watercolor this week and now the week is over.  Headed out on a much anticipated vacation next week, so I thought I’d check in before I disappear for a while.

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This watercolor is 22 x 30.  I love giant sheets of watercolor paper. I feel like painting everyday objects larger than real life opens them up to a bit of abstraction.  objects become color blocks.

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I’m wondering what you guys think of the drawing.  I went REALLY loose.  Dare I say to the point of considering it a contour drawing.  Objects wind up looking a little less realistic.  They tend to wiggle and move giving everything a little more personality.  I  think I like it.  The last painting I did was a little more calculated and measured.

Being alone all day painting, I wind up looking at things way too closely and for way too long.  Because of this I can’t be very objective.  So help me out, what do you think.  Drawings:  Go tight or keep it loose?

I’m looking forward to seeing this one done. Oh well, guess it’s going to have to wait :)


Loosening Up

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I am beginning to work on a group of art prints to sell at Narragansett Beach this summer.  I usually start by loosening up.  I doodle and look for inspiration all over. I also pull up lots of photos of animals and buildings to make sure I am familiar with how many segments are in a lobster body or how many windows are actually on that historic building.

From there I begin sketching lay-outs and illustrations on tracing paper.  I create the image I am happy with on the tracing paper, then I scribble an entire piece of paper with graphite pencil.  The graphite-filled paper will then allow me to engrave and transfer my image to a high-quality piece of paper.  I do this because I can then start painting with a really clean image with no erase marks or damage to the paper.  The other bonus, is if I don’t like the painting, I can re-transfer my initial drawing. I also use them as reference. As the layers of paint get applied, your initial drawing is no longer there to work from. I have a copy of my original ideas.

I am close to finishing the sketching process.  From there I will start painting… I’ll post the progression.

Now to get my cat off all my papers….


#292-finding shapes in the clouds (1)

I’d like to share with you a fun little tradition my daughter has started in our household.

My daughter had asked if I’d create zen-tangles with her at bedtime in lieu of bedtime stories.  She’s a super reader, so if she wanted to switch it up a little, I was game.  Very quickly, I realized these drawings were not zen-tangles.  They were something else.

My daughter and I take turns each night.   One person draws a strange shape on a piece of paper, the other person gets to decide what they think that shape should turn into.  We then take our collection of Sharpies and doodle together to create that character.

I’ve decided to call the game “Finding Shapes in the Clouds”.

OK.  So now that you understand the premise, you can play along!

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What do you see in this shape?  Me, I see a bunny rabbit…

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but my daughter saw a duck in a beret!

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How about this one? One of the United States?  Maybe a ski boot?

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I saw a Dorito-eating monster washing them down with Coca-Cola. Notice the yellow teeth?  It’s a naughty monster.  A naughty monster wearing nine Converse sneakers!

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Hmm…what do you see?  A deformed ear?

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How about a dog with a goatee named Calliope!

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My daughter instantly saw a Toucan bird filled with exotic plumage…that’s what you were seeing too right?

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These are two more we did, but I don’t have the blank shape for them.


My daughter can be quite stubborn.  I am not allowed to teach her anything.  She just says “I know Mom…I know….”

She doesn’t know everything!  That is what is making this project great.  She gets to call the shots part of the time and the other part of the time she is under the illusion that we are simply simultaneously doodling.

Not true!  There’s way more to it.

On the turtle, she mimicked three different patterns I was working on; a checker-board, brocade and line motif.   I don’t even know if she realized where I left off and she began…(shh! I got to teach her a little bit about pattern!)

On the fish I taught her how to draw a scale or petal pattern.  On the Toucan bird I taught her the Herringbone pattern. All together, I’m teaching her to use her imagination and look for things that the average eye may not see.

It’s brilliant!

My daughter just thinks we’re doodling but secretly she’s learning.

Best of all, I win because I have found a small little moment of the day, where I can bond with my daughter.

Shh, don’t tell her!


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#140- Gaining Perspective (2)

Ahh, perspective drawing.  Is there anything in this world I find more frustrating?

Without a proper foundation all else is lost.   Meaning: It doesn’t matter how great a painter you are if your ellipses are off!

Most people can’t put their finger on it, but they know something about a painting is just sorta well -OFF!

It’s usually the perspective.

The question is are you viewing something from above, below or directly in front of you?  With most paintings, it’s all three and if any are off, it will be the first thing people notice.

A really good rendering takes me hours.  I find it so difficult.  Ya know it’s probably like starting a new exercise routine.  You simply can’t do it at first because your muscles aren’t strong enough.  Well pretty much the same thing with drawing.  Your muscles are week and the more you practice the better you get. I think I sprained my muscles today!  I had to take out my vacuum because I had so many eraser shreds!  Some days I’d like to just cheat.  There are many ways to get around drawing, but I know the only person I’d be cheating is myself, so, I suffered through it today and I am sure I am now a little bit better than I was 4 hours ago!  I once read a book on Van Gogh that said he would sometimes do 20-50 sketches a day….over and over and over again…strengthening those muscles. Of course he was also most likely suffering from a bi-polar disorder and obsessive compulsiveness….there is always that  :)

So I did my perspective drawing and then I added the necessary details:

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I had about 30 minutes left from that point, so I decided to try something different:

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I usually create one shadow at a time.  For instance, I would only do the lemon.  I would start with a medium tone yellow and water it down for the light areas and add a dark purple for the shaded areas. Then I would start and finish the lime, then maybe move to the pitcher and work on it start to finish…one area at a time until I completed the painting..

So applying shadows to the entire painting is a different approach for me.  I think in one way it helps to establish lights and darks throughout the whole painting, but I usually use different colors for every single shadow in a painting.  I’m not sure if uniformity (meaning all blue in this case) is good or bad…I will soon learn tomorrow.

The rest of the painting should move fairly quickly from here, it’s  just the foundation drawing which sucks up a lot of my time.  When I was doing a painting a day, I wasn’t spending enough time on composition.  We shall see by the finished product if one can tell a difference in my work.

Wish me luck! I hope this experiment of technique works!


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