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.