Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Inkmas Part I

While I have not been posting a whole lot, I have been very active painting, but also drawing (I will post them in the new year).  Actually, I have be drawing and cartooning a lot. Below is a series of drawings using various colored fountain pen inks.  These are the first four, the next four (superheroes!!) will be posted after Christmas.

All of drawings were done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta series (270 gsm wt paper) 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch hardcover.  Ink and pen combo written below each image.

           Robert Oster African Gold ink; Monte Verde Intima (Goulet broad nib)

        Robert Oster Black Violet ink; Edison Nouveau Purple Reign (Spring 2018 fine nib)

      Birmingham David O Selznick Lilac Wind ink; Lamy Al Star Purple (fine nib) and a little bit of Daniel Smith rose of ultramarine watercolor for the background

Robert Oster Australian Brown and Orange Rumble inks; Edison Nouveau Premiere Galaxia (Fall 2018 extra fine nib) and Lamy Al Star Copper Orange (fine nib) 

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


I think I got the right mix of mysterious shadow and anatomical detail on this bison grazing in the snow.

                             Watercolor on 200 GSM cotton paper 7.09 x 10.24

Btw, the Perfect Sketchbook is just that, perfect.  Absolutely love this paper.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Puppy Brother

As many of you know, I like to send hand-written letters in a faux-calligraphy style with a flex nib.  Many of the the letters  will include little drawings to highlight something in the letter or to illustrate an inside joke.  When my sister first started having serious heart issues, I would send her letters to encourage her or just to let her know I loved  her.  At first, I would sign my name but eventually, I started signing them as her Puppy Brother.  Why?  Well that was her nickname for me.  She had taken to calling me it again in the recent years, especially when introducing me to the cardiologists and nurses during her doctor visits.  Since I was working in and around the cardiology field, I would take her to her appointments and ask questions.  In retrospect, it was an incredible bonding experience, usually shared over a taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich afterward.

So why Puppy Brother?  As family legend has it, one day my parents spoke to my older brother and sister to ask them whether they would like a new baby brother or a puppy.  Of course they said puppy!!  Well, they got me instead, the Puppy Brother. 😋

My sister passed away very early on Tuesday morning of a cardiac arrest.  And because I could not sleep that night, I went and reread the scans of the letters that I wrote her.  They are my remembrance of her.  Below are some scans of the signature line of two of those letters.  

I miss you and I love you Mary.  Say hello to Mom and Dad for us and try not to cause too big a ruckus in Heaven.


Your Puppy Brother

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Cold Mountains

Here is a series of mountains, both with cold wintry palettes.  Below was done with Daniel Smith Shadow Violet and Rose of Ultramarine.  

                                 Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Below is a picture in process.  I was experimenting with "blooms" by splashing water droplets on the wet paint.  The unpainted mountains have a distinctly ghost-like feel to them.

I had some extra granulating paint on a my palette and was just messing around and this happened (see below).  It is mix of Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise and Mayan Dark Blue.

                                Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 4x6

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Light the Night

Tonight is the Light the Night walk.  Even though I cannot be there, I wanted to send my support.  I painted this piece to accompany our charity basket that raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

                                          Watercolor 6x8 on 140 lbs paper

And here it is without the lantern.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Creeping Tiger

Creeping tiger, hidden leg.  Just a simple painting of a tiger creeping. . .ready to pounce. This is the first painting using my new set of M Graham watercolors.

                                           Watercolor on 98 lbs paper 7x10

Black & White Warbler and M Graham Watercolors

Well, you win some and you learn some. I had a paint accident with an M Graham watercolor tube (the honey and pigment separated in the highland green).  I was able to mix it (mostly) but globs of it got everywhere.  You can still see wads of honey in the background.  Not one of my favorite pictures (it scans nicer than it looks in real life).

                                  M Graham Watercolor 14x10 on 200 lbs paper

                         Watercolor under painting with the elusive Ghost Warbler

M Graham Watercolor

Below is my new M Graham only travel box.  I have found that the Northwest blackberry honey that they use as a vehicle is not good to take to the Caribbean.  The honey-based paint liquifies and goes everywhere in your travel box.  Some colors never really dry but remain liquid (some colors below take up the entire bin while others have a sort of rough shape to them).  I will be using this in studio and will try them on a cold day outside.

  • Row 1
    • Bismuth Yellow
    • Quinacridone Rose
    • Scarlet Pyrrol
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Nickel Quinacridone Gold (large Pan)
    • Burnt Sienna
  • Row 2
    • Cobalt Violet
    • Dioxazine Purple
    • Cobalt Teal
    • Cobalt Blue
    • Tartan Blue (limited edition
    • Anthraquinone Blue
  • Row 3
    • Permanent Green Pale (large pan)
    • Cobalt Green
    • Sap Green (large pan)
    • Highland Green (limited edition)
    • Neutral Tint

Photo reference: Black and White Warbler; Living Bird (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) Autumn 2016; vol: 35, issue 4 cover (photo by Guillerno Santos)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

St Martin 2018

We returned to St Martin once again for a September vacation on the Dutch side, which is still recovering from Hurricane Irma (much better than the French side).  This time we stayed at a resort on the Little Bay instead of Simpson Bay.  Little Bay is closer to Philipsburg but farther from restaurants.  

For this trip, I brought several turquoise and teal and blue paints so I could capture the amazing Caribbean waters.  Below is the view I had every morning (le sigh).  The small brown building on the top of the hill is the remnants of Fort Amsterdam.  The resort was almost finished up with its repairs and the orange-yellow buildings to the left had yet to open.

                              Watercolor on 270 gsm paper 11x8.5

This was a little rock alcove that separated our small bay within a bay from the main area.  It was very peaceful.  It was off season, so on more than one occasion I felt like we had the bay all to ourselves.
                               Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x4

The sea turtle of Tintamarre Island are just starting to come back and we did not see any on our trip.  So instead of snorkeling again, I stayed on the boat and did a painting.  I wanted it to be loose and airy to remind me of a truly wonderful day.
                             Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x8

Here is the view from the Fort Amsterdam overlooking Great Bay and Philipsburg.   Not my favorite in this series.
                     Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x8

Sunday, September 09, 2018

More sad flowers - a rose and a. . .

More sad flowers, this time a single rose.  To give it more pizzazz, I added some lines with a white gel pen.  It is still a sad rose, but now it has some pluckiness!

                                       Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x8

And this one (a anemone?) is an exercise from Jean Haines' Atmospheric Watercolors. . .sort of. . .It does not resemble her example in any way, except that it was really fun to try.

                                   Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x8

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Abe Sapien portrait

Keeping with the Hellboy theme as I work through the BPRD back catalogue.  Abe Sapien, who appeared in both Hellboy movies (but does not look like he is in the reboot) is one of Big Red's best buds. Abe is a very complex character with a complicated history/origin story.  I am looking forward to catching up on it.

                                       Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 4x6

And once again without the background. The Kirby-esque background gives him a cool psychedelic vibe that fits the BPRD universe.  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sun on the Hills, Clouds on the Mountains

Both paintings are from photos I took when we were in Colorado this past May-June for a HS graduation (but done back at home).  For these two, I tried a wet-in-wet technique and mixed the watercolor paint on the wet paper, hoping to get more interesting color gradients.  For the most part, I am pleased with the results.

                                    Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Another smaller painting from the same hike.  I like the clouds and the foreground but the center piece rock out cropping did not turn out as I hoped.

                                    Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 6x8

When we are visiting Colorado, we always try to do something active in nature.  While there, we did a short hike in the foothills of the Rockies (Red Rock Canyon Open Space) as we did not have time to do some of the longer, higher trails.  Even still, the views were spectacular, especially the skies.   During the hike, the skies we clear blue with puffy clouds, however, as we heading back, the skies started to get ominous.  By the time we were back at our hotel (~15 min later), the skies were black and it was a full on hail storm!  Just another typical day I hear.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sad Flowers

I do not know what I was thinking or, quite frankly, what I was doing other than experimenting (continuing to try to create several layers of color wash).  Somethings I learned: phthalo turquoise probably too intense a pigment to use on its own but makes lovely greens, I draw sad sunflower-esque flowers, this was ultimately a very fun exercise, and for all its sadness, I kinda like these sad, little flowers.

                                       Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hellboy Portrait

Still trying to work out Taro's "wet into dry" technique, so far so fun.  Long way to go, but I am enjoying the results of the layered colors, especially on Hellboy's cheeks and nose.  Also, trying out some more new Daniel Smith colors.  This time trying the dark, rich Phthalo Blue and the lighter Cobalt Teal Blue, both used in the background (which I almost did not do; see below for comparison).

Made it thru the first two Hellboy Omnibuses and the Short Stories Omnibus (just bought vol 3).  As I wait for the final two omnibuses, I am reading the BPRD's complete War on Frogs.  What an awesome world Mignolo, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and the rest of the crew have created.  I think I am going to watercolor portraits of the main cast, starting with Abe Sapien.

                                      Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 4x6

And here it is before painting a background.  I definitely like it with the background better.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Watercolor or Bust

Been trying some new techniques lately.  Marco "Taro" Holmes, who is an amazingly talented watercolor artist has this "wet in dry" technique (wet brush on dry paper, as opposed to wet in wet, where you wet the paper first).  I am constantly in awe of his work.  The technique allows for strong lines, but also beautiful washes that can be built upon each other, taking advantage of the transparent nature of watercolors.

I have tried and failed at it several times.  But with this effort, I think I am beginning to understand what he is teaching.  Below is probably the most watercolor-y painting that I have ever done (based on a google image of a greek statue bust).

                                          Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12

Only used three colors for this, some the newly acquired Daniel Smith watercolor paints: Mayan Dark Blue, Shadow Violet, and Venetian Red.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


Been rereading all the Hellboy books. . .Mike Mignola is a genius.  He is such a masterful storyteller.  I love his use of darks, combined with Dave Stewart's (not that Dave Stewart, the other one) moody and muted colors to create the horror noir that is Hellboy.

So inspired by Mignola, I decided to try my hand at a Hellboy illustration (the tentacled horror is a bit of a swipe. . .).  And I have been wanting/trying to do a comic book style page using watercolors like this one.  Every time I start one, I decide to leave it as ink alone.  This time, however, with the aforementioned inspiration, I was able to make the leap.  

                                  Watercolor and ink 14x10 on 200 lbs paper

And here is the pen and ink drawing before I applied the watercolor over it.  

The inking was done use a folded pen (see below) from Toronto Pen Company.  By varying the angle (and pressure), the nib allows for thin and very thick lines.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Lion about

Another drawing based on a photo my friends photo safari in Africa.  I was debating whether to sketch it with a folding pen or paint it in watercolors or both (like the Wild African Dog).  I still might paint it, but not for a while.

I really do love Robert Oster Melon Tea. It is a warm sepia with some greenish tints.  Just perfect for loose sketches like this one.

                    Folded Pen and Robert Oster Melon Tea ink 5X7 on 98 lbs paper

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Purple Finch

Initially, I was not happy with this but became quite fond of it after it dried.  The breast of the finch in the reference photo* was much lighter and mostly white.  And while the bird was still wet, it really looked just too dark.  I thought I messed it up.

When it dried, however, the colors lightened up (as watercolor does).  The addition of few strokes of a white gel pen (plus some splashes of blue paint for good measure) helped the contrast and made for quite a striking composition.  I think I like it.

                         Watercolor over pen & ink 7x10 on 140 lbs paper

Same picture in pen and ink before the watercolors were applied.

*Photo reference: Birds & Blooms March 2018 (pg 28; Joe Stambaugh)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Blue-winged Warbler

Did you know that the Golden-wing Warbler and the Blue-winged Warbler show very little genetic difference?  Of course you did!  That said, I think the reference photo is a Blue-winged Warbler, of course it could be of the hybrid Lawrence's Warber. . .

Not sure when I started painting birds so often, but this one came out quite nicely (the contrast in the colors is not so good in this scan compared to the actual painting).  I really wanted to make the background in this soft and etherial.  So I used masking fluid (see below for what not to do) to protect the bird and the branches.

                                        Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12*

This painting is an example of if at first you do not succeed. . .I originally wanted to do this in my perfect sketch book.  The masking fluid that I used was old and gushed out of the applicator.  The liquid seeped into the fibers of the paper and that temporary masking fluid became permanent.  That green goop is bonded to the paper.  I had to cut that page out of the book because the stuff was still tacky to the touch 5 hours later.

*photo reference: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2017 Calendar (July; BN Singh)

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Wild African Dog -- Two Ways

Dingo ate my. . .  ::ahem:: Not a dingo but a wild African dog in Botswana (photo reference below).  I think I captured the dog's pensive, sentinel stare.

                                           Watercolor 7x10 on 90 lbs paper

Below is the same dog done with a folded nib (bought these really cool folded nibs that fit on a standard nib holder; from The Toronto Pen Company) as loose gestural warm up.  If I was smart, I could have done it as a value study, but I am not.  The eyes on this one are more cartoony and I did not quite get the shape of the muzzle and jaw.  However, it was very fun to do and this sketch definitely helped me get things right in the painting. 

                    Pen & Ink (Robert Oster Melon Tea)  7x10 on 90 lbs paper

Couple of doodles using the melon tea ink and light wash as I prepared to do the watercolor.  Not sure where the bird came from.

And here is the photo reference taken by a friend of mine whilst they were in Botswana.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Joker in Dark Lilac

After posting Batman, it was suggested I try my hand at a Joker illustration.  Based on a panel from Dark Knights: Metals #6 (Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion killed it) in simple pen and ink.  It has probably been 20 years since I drew the Joker.

Drawn with an Edison Nouveau fountain pen and Lamy Dark Lilac ink (with a touch of green for his hair).  The ink goes from a light lavender to a, well, dark lilac when layered.   And it has a really, really neat green sheen that you can see in the jacket (click on the figure to embiggen', it is difficult to see on the scan).

                                        Pen & Ink on 98 lbs paper 7x10

Here is the very quick gesture drawing in purple pencil (sensing a theme). 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Bad Anatomy Batman

It started as an exercise to see how much ink my new notebook could handle (a decent amount as it turns out).  However, it did not turn out well for the Dark Knight's anatomy.  Oooph. . I do like the chiaroscuro black and white contrast.

                                    Pen & ink on 98 lbs paper 7x10

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Pure Pure American Look -- Brush Work

Back in the day (see below), I used to draw using a brush.  Finding the old comic book pages has inspired me to start using a dip brush again.  Comparing today's work vs the work I did as a 17, well, I have a long way to go to get back to that level of skill and ease. 

Below is a HS project done in my junior year for Commercial Art class.  We had to draw a fashion figure (hence the elongated proportions of the model; for fashion figures you use 10 head heights vs 7-8 head heights for normal figures) and create a newspaper add to go with it.  This was before computer layout programs, so the lettering was hand drawn using a ruling pen.  All individual images were captured via camera and pasted on card stock where I drew the border (also with ruling pen).  The class was stressful, but I remember how much fun we all had.  The class was 3 hours per day, and aside from all the projects that we worked on, we all created art to impress each other or make each other laugh (like MacGyvering a light box to create a Bat signal to shine into the classrooms across the quad). 

The original figure and advertisement were too big to fit even on my 11x14 sized scanner! 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Congratulations Dr. S!!

This weekend it was my honor to attend my good friend's veterinary school graduation and hooding ceremony.  How else to to congratulate a newly minted veterinarian but with Snoopy and School House Rock (the four-legged zoo of course).  Congratulations Dr. S, you earned it!!   

                  Tombow Dual Brush markers on 140 lbs watercolor paper 6x8

Black and white version

                                                        Test Snoopy

I was not sure how the Tombow brush pens would react to the watercolor paper, so I needed to do a crash test Snoopy.  The "tie-dye" effect was kinda cool.