Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Time!

Time for carving fun! I tried a new technique with my pumpkin this year that allowed me to use essentially three values. The mid-tone is achieved by carving away only the top layer of the rind. This allows some light to pass through the flesh of the pumpkin. It is a bit like working on scratchboard, in that you start with the dark background and carve away to get lighter areas. I found I couldn't use just any kitchen knife for this, so I actually got out my miniature wood carving gouges! They were just the right size and worked perfectly.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WIP - Polar Bears

If there's one thing I've learned about drawing white fur, it's that it is much easier to draw the background first, then erase where the fur goes (especially in the sky). This is how I am approaching this drawing. There is a second reason, and that is I like to do the part of the drawing I'm the least confident in first. I know I can draw the bears. I've never drawn snow-capped mountains or ice floes before. So if I do them first, and something goes wrong, there's less time wasted in starting over (and there's nothing wrong with starting over, because that means you've learned something).

So here she stands, nothing more than a nose and eye in a silhouette in front of blocked-in mountains and icy water. Her baby will be in the foreground, not visible at this time. I am excited about this one!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Polar Bears: Setting Up a Composition

I took about a week off to visit my family, but now I'm back and ready to start drawing. I don't have much to show yet, but I want to share a little about how I put together a composition. In this case, my idea came from this photo I took at the zoo recently. The polar bears were out waiting for breakfast and I got several good shots of them pacing, but I chose this one (it has been cropped and converted to grayscale).

To make it more interesting, I decided to put a cub at her feet and I will change the background to a more natural arctic landscape with ice and mountains. I initially wanted to put the bears to the right side, hoping to balance their weight with the distant mountains. But the more I looked at my sketch, the more it didn't look right. So I will put the bears to the left side, because their weight will be balanced by the mountains and the fact that they are facing to the right. (Thanks so much to the book Design and Composition for explaining how to identify this.)

This drawing will be 17"x14" on Strathmore smooth bristol 2-ply paper (as usual!). In the next few weeks, I'll post my progress.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


geese charcoal painting
Okay, here is my first drawing using wet charcoal as described in a previous post. I don't know anything about watercolor, so I asked around. Watermedia do best on rough-textured cold-press paper. But I just can't give up my hot-press smooth bristol. I taped the paper to my easel all the way around to keep it from warping. I drew the geese with my usual pencils, blending stump, and paintbrush (for the very light shadows), then went in with a small round-tip paintbrush with charcoal-water mixture. Not knowing what proportions to mix, I started too light and ended up doing a few layers to make the pond darker.

By contrast, below is the drawing using only dry charcoal. I layered, erased highlights (with both a kneaded eraser and a cordless electric eraser), added lowlights, layered some more. I still didn't get the look I was after.
geese charcoal drawing

I am quite happy with this first "charcoal painting," and plan on exploring this technique more. I have the original and prints available.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Wildlife Art You May Enjoy

elkI recently received an email from the folks at Horse and Wildlife Gifts complimenting me on this blog. They invited me to check out their website, and I love the selection of unique high-quality items. Honestly, I could browse their sculptures and home accents for hours. Here are just a few of the things that caught my eye. Be sure to visit their store website (you never know what you'll find!) and their new blog.

deer and mountainshorses