Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with a picture of our tree.  

                                                    Merry Christmas!!!!

                                             Watercolor in Etchr Sketchbook

Saturday, December 14, 2019

I'm Back

After a productive Inktober, I took a bit of time off, but now I am back (with a pun no less).  I found a bunch of my old Muscle & Fitness / Muscular Development books that I used for anatomy references but also for ideas to torture my lifting partners and myself.  

This is from a photo of Charles Durr, who competed in IFBB in the 90's, who was doing front pulls (bar not included).

                                       Ink and watercolor in Etchr Sketchbook

                                               Just the ink version

Friday, November 15, 2019

Flowers - Nasurtium

According to Birds & Bloom, humans aren't the only ones who enjoy nasturtiums (I had never heard of them before seeing the picture in magazine).  Moths and butterfly caterpillars enjoy theirs leaves. . .song birds too.

This one took a while to complete.  I layered the paint and employed negative space painting to call out the surrounding leaves (see below).  The veins of the leaves were drawn with an opaque white paint (Dr. Martin's Bleedproof white).  The stamens are a bit muddy/muddled, but beyond that, I like the final results.

                                  watercolor in Etchr sketchbook

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Fall Trees

Tis the season of spectacular foliage.  The trees in the parking lot at work all turned yellow and red and orange from the top down, not sure I have witnessed such a thing.  They all looked as if their tops were dipped in color and let to set.  Pretty cool.  I snapped a few photos for reference and decided to do something simple in their honor.  

                                      Watercolor in etchr sketchbook

Friday, November 01, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Oh what a feeling

A day late but not a dollar short. . .So this was my most successful Inktober with the most posts and most views.  Yay!!

Below is based on the cover of a VHS cassette tape (yes, you read that correctly) for an aerobics workout.   You cannot see it from the scan, but this ink has a pretty cool red sheen.  It looks better "live".

                                      Robert Oster Aqua ink in Stillman & Birn

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Hellboy

I love brown/sepia inks and I love Hellboy comics.  Turns out that they go great together. 

This is based on a panel by Duncan Fegrado from Hellboy: The Wild Hunt comic series.  The most recent Hellboy moveie was loosely* based upon.

                                Birmingham Ink Jonas Salk Serum Umber

*And I do mean loosely based upon.  I mean, it would be like doing all three Lord of the Rings books into a single, one hour and 45 min movie.  The collected graphic novel is over 500 pages long and culminates Mike Mignolo's nearly three decades of Hellboy stories that started with the first Hellboy comics from the early 90's.  Sheesh!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Crocodile

I am often asked, what is the difference between a crocodile and a gator.*  Below is a crocodile with its tell tale V-shaped snout.  If it had been a gator, it would have a U-shaped snout and wearing several national title rings, duh.

          Pen & (Robert Oster Crocodile Green) ink etchr sketchbook

*only kidding, this never happens.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Greg's Bear

This painting of Greg's bear (not to confused with Greg Bear, author of Dinosaur Summer) was based on a photo from his front yard's animal cam.  His. Front. Yard. Animal. Cam!!!  Time to move, I say.  :-P

                            Watercolor in etchr sketchbook

I was going to give the bear crazy, glowing white (or yellow) eyes to demonstrate the tapetum lucidum, but decided not to do so.  He can be crazy all on his own.

Again, I love all the lovely effects of the granulating Lunar Black watercolor paint (Daniel Smith).

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Inktober 2019 - That darn camel

That darn camel stood perfectly still every time that I walked past him (three times at least). . that is until I decided to try and draw him.  And then that darn camel decided that he could not stand still. . .

                   Sacura Pigma Micron pen plus Stabilo Fineliner pen in an Etchr sketchbook

I tried twice to draw him when he appeared to be standing still. . .only to have that darn camel move once again.  Now it looks like his head is literally coming out of his @$$!  You cannot unsee it now, can you?

Le Sigh.

Rectumus Camelus in watercolor

The initial ink sketch using a Sakura Pigma Micron sepia waterproof marker

Hatch lines and shading using a Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner marker that produced the wonderful washes when exposed to a water brush.  I do kinda like the effect of the hatch work and almost stopped there.  Glad that I did not.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Neighbor's Tree

Okay, so the final picture might be more watercolor than ink drawing, but it still counts (see below).  

I return once again to my favorite subject and tree ('my neighbor's tree").  This time of year, the early morning light hitting the tree is just magnificent.  Unfortunately, I did not capture its ethereal contrast between light and darkness.  Oh well, I am sure I will paint/draw this again (it is the view I see from my easel). Drawn with the Stabilo Point 88 markers (#45 Brown).

Final mixed media: watercolor and ink

Initial ink sketch

Ink washes

And some watercolor washes

Friday, October 04, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Rumble

Another quick sketch based on a comic book cover.  This time it is the Image comic, Rumble by John Arcardi that tells the story of Rathraq. . Warrior. . .God. . .Scarecrow (really, it is wild ride of a book).  

The ink is Birmingham Ink's Jonas Salk Serum Umber drawn in the a Stillman & Birn hardcover.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Wolverine

Going to try and post everyday in celebration of Inktober.  

Below is a quick drawing based on a cover by Steve McNiven.  I just love GC Murphy Tarnished Nickel ink (Birmingham Pen Co) for drawing.  It is so much more than a simple grey, with undertones of pink and purple.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Inktober 2019 - Mountains

The first of hopefully many Inktober post.

The far mountains were drawn with Robert Oster Sidney Lavender and the close up mountains were drawn in Robert Oster Purple Rock (I have a lot of purple inks).

                       Pen & Ink on 230 gsm 5.5x8.5 etchr sketchbook

I may repost this again after I paint the sky and add some trees in watercolor. . .maybe.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Um. . .Cherry Blossoms

This started out as one thing (cherry blossoms for sure) and then morphed into something else entirely.  Not sure if these qualify as sad flowers.

Robert Oster Cherry Blossom ink in a Lamy Al star vibrant-pink fountain pen with help from Stabilo point 88 no.44.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Serious Panda

I don't know why this red panda is so serious* but apparently he is.

Drawn with Robert Oster Melon Tea (Visconti Dark Ages) and Burned Orange (Lamy Studio Terracotta) inks. 

                       Pen & Ink on 230 gsm 5.5x8.5 etchr sketchbook

*serious panda, sad flowers, and smiling bears. . .oh my!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Miscellaneous Trees and other things

Trying to play around and do more things without a reference photo or looking at something.  Below are a few creative exercises.

                                                       5.5x8.5 in

                                                             4x6 in

                                                         4x6 in

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Laurel and Hardy

As a kid growing up, I loved watching the old Laurel and Hardy movies.  On one of my flights this summer, I caught the Stan and Ollie movie, a bitter sweet portrayal of the comedy duo later in life.  Steve Coogan and John C Reilly do an amazing job with several laugh out loud skits.  

One thing that I learned because of this movie is that their famous line is actually, "Well, here is another nice mess you've gotten me into".  It is "nice" and not "fine".  The miss-quote is probably due to newspapers often using the caption with nice.  And they did do a 1930 movie called Another Fine Mess.  So there is that too.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Smiling Bear

This blog is now all about Sad Flowers and Smiling Bears (and unfinished penguins).  Oh bother.

             Watercolor on 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cotton paper, 5.5x8.5"

Aside from being about bears, both of these paintings take advantage of Daniel Smith's granulating paints. The texture and depths of these paints provide are quite amazing.

                                 Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 9x12"

Friday, August 16, 2019

Rose of Sharon

Watercolors can be frustrating and unpredictable.  It is its unpredictability, however, that makes it so much fun and rewarding when it works.  Below are two paintings of my Rose of Sharon flowers done with in a week of each other.  One is good.  One. . .not so much.

             Watercolor on 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cotton paper, 5.5x8.5"

And this was the first attempt at painting the flowers.  I was impatient and did not allow the paint to dry fully, leading to the muddy colors.

             Watercolor on 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cotton paper, 5.5x8.5"

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Cosmic Polar Bear

These two are kind of groovy.

The color separation using Rose of Ultramarine and Moonglow is quite amazing and produce such interesting effects.  So much fun!

                                   Watercolor on 6.9 x 9.8 200 GSM Perfect Sketchbook

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Vancouver and Whistler

Hiking in and around Whistler was amazing.  Around every corner was another, incredible vista.  This is the view of Black Tusk from atop of Whistler mountain.

             Watercolor on 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cotton paper, 16.4 x 5.9"
                                              (click to enlarge)

On drive to Whistler (along the scenic and beautiful Sea to Sky Highway) we stopped at Shannon Falls Park.  It is just a short hike from the parking lot to the falls themselves.  Despite the clouds threatening to unleash their rain, I painted this onsite. 

                                    Watercolor on 270 gsm paper 11 x 8.5

Friday, July 12, 2019

New Etchr Sketchbook

Returning from vacation I was delighted to see that my new etchr sketchbooks had arrived.  They are made by the same people who created the Perfect Sketchbook (PS).  These sketchbooks are meant to be a more affordable yet still incredibly high quality everyday answer to the PS.

Thus far, I have only did the one painting below (are my flowers becoming less sad?  Hope so) but the experience was excellent.  They handled multiple washes without an issue.  I will be taking these on my various travels and using them at home.

                Watercolor on 230g acid-free, artist grade 100% cotton paper, 5.5x8.5"

Saturday, June 22, 2019

On the Amstel

The first time I was in Amsterdam I was unable to sight see, so this time I made the effort go beyond the convention center.  Between the canal boat ride, the bike tour, and walking (~8k m on the last day), I really got to see this wonderful city.  However, only had one opportunity to do one painting (and the rain prevented me from finishing onsite).  Finished this at home and tried to be more playful with the colors (visited the Van Gogh museum between starting and finishing this for inspiration).

                                       Watercolor on 270 gsm paper 11x8.5

Monday, June 10, 2019

Back to the Rockies and Pikes Peak

"The mountains are calling & I must go
& I will work on while I can,
studying incessantly."
John Muir

                                   Watercolor on 270 gsm paper 11x8.5

The view from our friends back deck in Colorado Springs.  You can see Pikes Peak. . .peaking over the Rockies, cast in the late day shadows, a stark counterpoint to the snowy brilliance of the distant giant.  There is just something inexplicable about mountains, always calling.  To spend time even a brief moment in their presence is to be invigorated.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Tyrion Lannister

He drinks and he knows things.

                        Watercolor on extra weight 270 gsm mixed media paper

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Happy Sunflower

I admit that I do not really know what I am doing in regards to using the techniques described by Jean Haines in her wonderful books.  Why sometimes things seem to work well and sometimes. . .not so much.  Such is watercolors.  However, I do know that it is fun to simply try.  

I have posted lots of sad flowers, including a very sad sunflower before. This, this is a happy sunflower!!

                                             Watercolor on 140 lbs block 9x12

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hyacinths. . .really

These are hyacinths. . .really.  More flowers (trying) to use the Jean Haines philosophy.  Kinda a one step forward, two steps back.  Not quite abstract enough and yet not quite true to life. I like it, not sure I "like, like it".  But I don't hate it.  So there is that.  

                               Watercolor on 140 lbs paper 12x16

This is a Big painting (at least for me) at 12 x 16 inches.  Have not done anything this large in a long while.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Jon Snow

Whatcha gonna do Jon Snow?

               Pen & ink and watercolor on extra weight 270 gsm mixed media paper

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Captain America

Avengers Endgame has come and gone, with the final fate of Captain America in Marvel Universe now known.  No spoilers here.  Was thinking about doing something related after seeing the movie.  And was asked to do a Cap picture.  So, decided to try something in watercolor and ink.  This is based on a Jack Kirby panel.  The results. . .not bad. 

                                          Watercolor & ink 9x12 on 140 lbs block

Saturday, May 04, 2019


April showers bring May flowers indeed.  As a result of all that rain, our daffodils were looking particularly beautiful and inspiring this year.  With this inspiration in mind, I took a bunch of reference photos to paint later.  Below is my first effort.

Starting to feel more comfortable (and loose) with the lessons from Jean Haines' books.  Not there yet, but definitely more better. :)

                                  watercolor on 140 lbs block 9x12

Saturday, April 27, 2019


Anyone who knows me, knows that I love biscuits (buttermilk biscuits, cheddar biscuits, jalapeƱo cheddar biscuits!).  When I travel, I will search out the best breakfast places based on their biscuits.  At fast food restaurants I tend to make little sandwiches out of biscuits and chicken fingers or simply slather them in butter and honey.  Yum!!

                         Watercolor on 6.9 x 9.8 200 GSM Perfect Sketchbook

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Practicing Flowers

Sometimes things do not work out the way you want them to do.  Or you feel like you have limited control over your situation.  The uncertainty of Life can be frustrating.  Watercolors are like that too.  And by going with the flow, accepting the things you cannot control, you can achieve a modicum of peace.  Just let the water flow where it will.  

Lately, I have been practicing flowers using two of Jean Haines amazing books: Painting Yourself Calm and Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolor: Painting with Energy and Life.  The results have not always been. . .good.  The experience, however, has been satisfying. 

Below is a card I made.  Getting there took a lot of work. 

"We shall not cease from exploration.  
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Four Quartets
T.S. Eliot