Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sunset in San Diego

A quick and rough watercolor of my hotel room view in Mission Bay, San Diego.  The location was not as convenient as being in the Gas Lamp, it certainly offered more picturesque vistas than my stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (see below). The clouds over the Pacific Ocean were quite spectacular.

                                        Watercolor 5.5x8.5 on paper

                              View from Manchester Grand Hyatt (circa May 2015)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

San Diego Zoo

Both San Diego and DC are my favorite zoos.   I love the opportunity to sketch the animals.  Having been in San Diego for work, I took some vacation days to go to the zoo.

This gorilla was so majestic and so. . .sad.   I was unable to sketch him live, but kept thinking about the photos of him that I took on my iPhone and envisioning this sketch.   Once, back at the hotel, I just had to get it out of my head and on to paper.

I had wished to put a little more detail in this sleeping Rhino, but his buddy had other ideas and rousted him in the butt.  Sometimes, it is the quick, gestural drawings that have the most character.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bee Kind

A bit more abstract than usual, still trying to loosen up my style.  

This little guy was chilling on my butterfly bush and I took a picture on my iPhone.  It is one of those crazy wasp moths (Melittia sp.), so yes, the title is a misnomer.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Serious Cat

Brian K Vaughn may have the awesome Lying Cat, but this is Serious Cat.  Why so serious?  I have no idea.

                                  Watercolor on 6.9 x 9.8 on 110 lbs paper (PS)

Sunday, November 06, 2016

A walk in the woods

Been trying to get out more on the weekends to go hiking to see the resplendent Fall foliage in NJ.  Took some photos to use as reference pictures.  This was as very loose painting.  You can see how the paper buckled (the shadows at the bottom of the image) under they heavy washes.

                                           Watercolor on paper

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


I am really proud of this one.  It may well be the best watercolor painting that I have ever done.  But that is just my opinion.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

                                  Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9 x 12

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Smoosh Faced Tiger

This tiger is cute in his own, odd way.  His face got a little smooshed and he is a bit cross-eyed but he has oodles of character.  

I knew the proportions of his face were off when I first sketched it.  Instead of redrawing, the plan was to correct it during the painting process.  Obviously, that did not happen.  That said, there are many technical aspects of this painting that I am really pleased about (mixing colors on the paper in the background, the use of negative space, dry and detailed brush strokes).  So show this smooshed face guy some love!

                                       Watercolors 6.9 x 9.8 on 110 lbs paper (PS)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cloudy Bay

During our vacation in Seattle, T and I took lots of pictures.  Some were happy vacation pics and some were photo references.  Below is quick painting based on one of those photos from Whidbey Island in northern Washington.

                                                    Watercolor on paper

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Folded NIb Pen -- Tree

I have been wanted to try out a folded nib pen for a long time.  Many artists use them for calligraphy (the letters produced with this nib are kinda insane) but it can also be used for drawing.  The nib can lay down lots and lots of ink, or very fine hairlines, producing pleasing line variation.  I used Daniel Smith walnut ink, which is lighter than my favorite Winsor and Newton peat brown ink.  However, it is capable of nice darks when layered.

                                walnut ink 10x7 on 140lbs paper

This is a custom, hand crafted folded nib pen created by Tim Leigh.  They are works of art in and of themselves.  I have pages and pages of practice lettering with my pen.  It has been a joy learning and practicing with this pen.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Running without Scissors

No, I have not run away, just been a little busy.  And productive (with painting, calligraphy, and letter writing).  I have lots of paintings to post and hope to get to them very soon.  

Below is one from my Stillman & Birn sketchbook that I have been working in quite a bit lately (I actually hope to fill up this year!!). 

                                       Watercolor, pen & ink

And here is the photo reference,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spruce-Wood Warbler

I saw the photo reference for this Magnolia Warbler on the cover of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Quarterly when it came in the mail and knew I had to paint it.  Done in the perfect sketch bookWhat a joy it was to use, it stood up to the loose and juicy background washes.  And best of all, I painted this without any pen and ink to help with adding details or to hid deficiencies in my watercolor skill.  I love the contrast of the dark green background with the yellowish-orange of its feathers.

                               Watercolors 6.9 x 9.8 on 110 lbs paper (PS)

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Vacation in 2 Parts - Deception Pass Bridge

From Seattle we drove north so we could go hiking and whale watching (for Orcas!!!).  On the drive up, we called an audible and took the car ferry at Mukilteo to Whidbey Island (billed as the "shortest distance to far away"). We drove north on the Cascade Loop Rt 20.  This is how we found Deception Pass Park and its famous namesake bridge that spans the Puget Sound (180 feet above the water).   We hiked down to the north beach in the park with this incredible view of the bridge.  I think the painting of the bridge is the best (and my most favorite) thing I have done in many, many years.

                         watercolor pen & ink on 110 lbs paper (PS)

We came back the next day to hike the trails in the park and came back to the north beach.  This is a view to the left of the bridge.  You can see Fildalgo island on the right that connects to Whidbey via the Deception Pass Bridge.

                                watercolor pen & ink on 5.5X17 paper

And for those of you scoring at home, this is my 350th post of this blog!!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Vacation in 2 Parts - The Seattle Area

Greensboro, NC had Biscuitville but Seattle had the Biscuit Bitch!!  And anyone who knows me, knows I love me some biscuits (even as much as I love Triple D).  So when T over heard some of her fellow conference goers singing its praises (and they were down home southern to boot), well you know I had to go.  We get there at 10:30 am on a Friday and there is a 45 min wait for the food (but we had already ordered), so we waited.  Below is a quick sketch of the scene outside of the crowd.  It actually only took 30 minutes but man oh man was it worth it.  The biscuits were large and fluffy and delicious and smothered in country gravy and eggs.  Check out their Instagram to see pictures of the food.  If you are in Seattle and have an hour for breakfast. . .go there.

                             watercolor pen & ink 5.5x8.5 on paper

On Father's Day we took the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island looking for some adventure, shopping and a nature walk.  Well, the "nature" walk was not much to blog about, although it did end with the view below, but the rest of the day walking around was very cool.  There was a festival going on, and lots of local restaurants and shops had little tents selling wares and food.  It ended up being a really cool day.

                          watercolor pen & ink 5.5x17 on paper

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fires Above

Something a little different, at least color wise.  I love how painting on top of the elegant writer gives the paintings a surreal feeling.  I knew I wanted to do mountains with a blazing sky, but beyond that it was all kind of improvised. It was more about the feeling than the composition (but that turned out good too). 

The sky is a mixture of quin rose, pyrrol red and hansa yellow medium.  I mixed the yellow and red on the paper to produce the fiery orange. 

                       Watercolor, Elegant writer 6.9x9.8 on 110 lbs paper (PS)

And here is the picture before I painted it, with the activated elegant writer ink.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Recurring Trees

It is 5:40 in the morning and I should be sleeping.  But I cannot.  So I might as well be productive.  I love the way the early morning sun lights up my favorite tree (you know the one) and have often contemplated drawing it with charcoal in the early morning hours.  Since I could not find my charcoal sticks, I did the next best thing and grabbed the elegant writer.  The bluish-pink washes captures the essence of the early morning light, giving the tree an ethereal, and almost haunting glow.

                             Elegant writer on 6.9 X 9.8 on 110 lbs paper (PS)

                                              (click to em biggen')

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's all happening at the Zool

T and I spent a full day at the National Zoo.  And aside from watching young Bao Bao eat honey off of a milk crate (see below), I did manage to complete a quick sketch or three.  Most of the animals moved around too much for me, but a few allowed for sketching.  Again, the elegant writer calligraphy pen is such a simple and versatile tool for drawing and making dynamic washes.

                               pen & ink (elegant writer) and water brush

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Perfect Sketch Book

I was so happy to come back from Vancouver to see that my Perfect Sketchbook (PS) had arrived!!  T supported the Indiegogo for me as a Christmas gift (so Christmas in April, Huzzah!!!) and the books are just gorgeous.  They are made with cold-pressed, 200 GSM Fabriano Artistico® watercolor paper, so the book is made for heavy washes.

                       Watercolor, pen & ink  6.9 x 9.8 inches on110 lbs paper

I did not know what to draw/paint/sketch as the first picture in my PS, so I fell back to an old favorite. . .my neighbor's tree.  This must be the 8th or 9th drawing of this tree I have done in the past few years.

The book handles the multiple washes well and allowed me to layer colors.  I started the ink drawing with a dip nib (Nikko G) and after the ink dried laid down the colors.  The paper was robust enough to go over the dried paints with another pen to enhance the line work.  All in all, my first experience was very pleasant and I cannot wait until I get some time to really play with the PS.  

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Vancouver truly is a beautiful city.  Next time, I need to see more of it, like the Capilano Suspension Tree Park or spend more time in Stanley Park. But even walking down town by the convention center offers breath taking views of snow capped mountains.  I wish I had included the waters of the Vancouver Harbor in this picture of North Vancouver. Ah well. . .

                        Watercolor, pen & ink on paper 5.5 x 17 inches

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Stuck at Newark Airport. . .Eat at Nonna's

I was delayed at Newark Airport (I know, that almost always never happens).  So I decided to sit at the bar and have lunch at Nonna's Italian restaurant. The meatball parm is pretty good.  Having finished my sandwich, and still having nearly 2 hours to go, I decided to paint the most interesting thing I saw. . .a bar full of booze.  

The bartender kept stopping by to watch my progress.  As I was finishing, he asked me for the original, so I gave it to him.  He hung it up over the bar.  So if you are ever stuck at Newark Airport, try Nonna's.

                              Watercolor on paper 5.5x8.5


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Old Man

Worn, weathered faces are so interesting to draw. Each line, tells a unique story.

"I have been bent and broken, but - I hope -
into a better shape."
   Great Expectations
Charles Dickens

                                     Watercolor, pen & ink on paper

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

This is the day. . .

I have had the The The (an underrated 80's synth-pop group) song, "This is the Day", running through my head like an earworm.  For some reason, it made me think of little Eeyore.  Does he ever think, this is the day his life will surely change? And then his inside voice goes, "I dunno Pooh, I suppose. . ."  These are the questions that keep me up at night.

This picture started out with me doodling some calligraphy, using Diamine Ancient Copper ink (I just love, looooove this ink).  Even though I got the lyrics (and anyone who knows me, knows I have a propensity to butcher song lyrics), it still works.

                           Pen & Ink on Rhodia dot 21.2 lbs paper 8.25x12.5 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

InCoWriMo #2 -- Dragons, Knights and the Heavens' Cloth

This one is for T's (and my niece).  I wanted to let her know she can be whatever she wants to be. . .the hero (knight), the princess, or both. . .all at the same time.

One of my favorite poems.  You have to love the Irish and the infinite capacity to be sullen and sad.

(I wish I had started it a bit higher on the page.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Back in ancient times when I was in college, I used to write letters quite frequently. Especially during the summer months when most of my friends had scattered to the four winds. I did not have fancy fountain pens or even a calligraphy set, but I did have my cartooning.  I would add little drawings through out the letter, making each letter something unique.  My roommate Cone and I would send letters back and forth, each trying to one up each other with our drawings of Calvin & Hobbes, Pooh Bear, Disney characters or our own creations.  My favorite was when he put Stupendous Man on the envelope and commanded the postman to do his "nefarious bidding" (yeah, I have stolen that).  Then, with the advent of email, cell phones, text messages and other social media, I just. . .stopped.  Which is sad, because, who does not like getting a hand written letter?  In early January I learned about something called InCoWriMo (pronounced: ink-o -rye-mo; International Correspondance Writing Month) which urges people to handwrite one letter per day in the month of February.  And it made me remember how much I enjoyed writing and getting letters, so I decided to give it a go.  I do not know if I can do 29 letters done this month, but am going to try.  Below is the letter I sent to T for Valentine's Day (there was also a handwritten note, but I am not posting that ;-).

                          Pilot Custom 912, watercolor on Bristol paper 9x12

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Bear of Very Little Brain

I am calling this a stick drawing.  Why a stick drawing?  Well, this is the first painting I have done using my new Daniel Smith watercolor sticks and pastels (which are, well, sticks).  The watercolor sticks are, essentially, watercolor rolled into a stick. . .how cool is that?  It allows you to draw with watercolor.  I did the under painting with the sticks and then went it dried, I added more details with Sennelier pastels. . .and wa-lah. . . A Bear of Very Little Brain appears.

              Daniel Smith watercolor sticks and Sennelier pastels on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year from the Windward Pointe

Greetings and Happy New Year!!!

Did more reading and sitting by the pool than anything else this year (and that is a good thing) but did manage to do two little sketches.  

The first is a simple pen and ink with watercolor.  In my mind, the calligraphy (Pilot parallel pen and an inexpensive flex pen) really makes the picture stand out.

Below is a small watercolor of the Atlantic Ocean, which was a gorgeous clear green that contrasted against the cerulean sky, done with using only a 1 inch flat brush.