Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIP - Giraffe Pyrography

I have done quite a bit more work on the giraffe so far this week. It is really starting to take shape. For most of the short hair, I am using the ball nib, and for the longer hair I'm using my go-to, the extra small round skew. For shading, I have used the spoon shader, though I think the flat shader will make an appearance soon, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

WIP - Back to Burning

This time of year is so crazy! I have been busy with a lot of personal tasks and am finally finding some time for drawing again. This is the start of the giraffe pyrography I have been planning for several months now. The size is 11"x14", and this photo is only the small part of it that I have been working on. More to follow soon, I promise!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Introducing Art Cards

I now have two miniatures for sale, the silverback (charcoal) to the left and the merlin (graphite) below. Both are standard ACEO size, 2.5"x3.5", and come in a protective plastic sleeve. I will have them both available as cards soon, too. Please email me (link on the right sidebar) if you are interested. Cards are $5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Now you can have several of my drawings in less traditional form. I have just opened up a Zazzle shop with phone covers, mousepads, greeting cards, and more. Surf on over to my store under the name WildlifeDrawings. They make great gifts!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Lower Prices!

In time for the approaching holiday season, I have lowered my prices for open edition prints and calendars. Giclee prints can be purchased directly from Fine Art America on your choice of paper, canvas or acrylic. Several are also available there as greeting cards. Calendars can be purchased through RedBubble.


I just finished this commission of a little chihuahua. It is 8"x10" and done in charcoal.

I have space available for one or two more commissions before Christmas. If you are interested, please email me at wildlifedrawings (at) or visit my website commission info page.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

WIP - Art Book

I am currently working on a small, but also large, project. The Ciao Gallery in Wyoming will be hosting an exhibit of art books, in which I am participating. The books themselves are small, about 8.5"x5.5". There are 20 pages to fill, and each artist chooses a theme from which to work. I chose "The Cycle of Life." These are the first three sketches I have done. I started with a pregnant gorilla, followed by two baby animals, giraffe and snow leopard. Over the next 17 pages, I'll add animals growing up, hunting, mating, and doing other activities, and will probably end with a birth. I will post more as I go along. I am using charcoal and spraying the heck out of it with fixative so it doesn't smudge. The books must be finished by January. I am also contemplating making some of them into greeting cards after I get better photos.

Pumpkin Season

Admittedly this is a couple days late, but I wanted to show off this year's Halloween pumpkin carving. Instead of the usual flying creature, the bat, I went with something that would take advantage of the orange glow: the monarch butterfly. When carving a pumpkin, it is important to cut out pieces in the right order. Start with the smallest first. In this case, I had a ton of tiny dots. Those were actually the easiest to put in - I just used a drill bit to poke holes in. Then I worked on the smaller patches on the wings, then the larger ones. I still broke a few lines, but it held together. Last, I carved the antennae and upper part of the background circle, then the lower part of the circle. Fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Works in Progress

I don't have a lot to show right now, but I am working on two new projects. The first is a pyrography of a giraffe (got a great photo at the zoo a couple weeks ago). I have the layout sketched on the wood, but I have a bad cold right now and can't work on it - burning fumes plus runny nose is not a good combination. The other project I recently started is a sketchbook. The CIAO Gallery in Wyoming is putting together their "Rocky Mountain Art Book Collection." Entrants get a small, 20-page book to do whatever they want in over about three months. They had several themes to choose from, and I chose "The Cycle of Life." On page one I drew a pregnant gorilla. The next few pages will feature some baby animals. I haven't fully thought it out, but I'm sure I'll end up with some predator/prey drawings, some dead animals, and ending with another pregnant or baby animal. I have until the beginning of January to finish it, and I'll post a few of the completed sketches as I go.

Now to get rid of this cold.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Siberian Huskies

This is a recent commission of two Siberian huskies. The one on the left is a red and white with light blue eyes, about two years old. The one on the right is a black and white with one blue eye and one brown eye. He is a few years older. This drawing is 8"x10."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Battle Wounds

The old lion is finished. That mane sure took a while! I do like pyrography but it is hard to do with the weather getting colder (meaning: closed-up house, less ventilation). I hope to get at least one more done while the weather is good. But first, I have another dog portrait commission!

Prints are available.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

WIP - Lion Mane Progress

I have started working on the mane. I'm using primarily the flat shader for this step. The right side still needs to be darkened.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WIP - Lion Face Almost Done

I will be the first to admit I don't like this picture. I think it looks crooked, that the mouth is too big, and a host of other problems. However, this is still in-progress. Now that the face is blocked in, I'm going to go over it and increase the shadows to give it more dimension. Pyrography is fun, but un-erasable. You can make things darker but not lighter, so it's best to err on the light side at first.

I started using the spoon shader to add shadow, but that quickly started looking blotchy. Even though I was using small, circular motions to keep it moving, I still ended up with dark spots. So I switched to the flat shader, which I never really liked, because instead of dark spots I usually get dark lines. But, I'm taking it slowly, trying not to go too dark at once, and building up with layers. And I think it's working.

Monday, September 12, 2011

WIP - Lion Pyrography

I made a bit of progress on the lion. At this point it is pretty much obvious that the scars play a dominant role. So far I have used the spoon shader for the eyes and nose, the extra small round skew for most of the fur, and the writer for the short muzzle fur. To see what these nibs look like, please see my earlier post on pyrography tools.

Friday, September 09, 2011


This pyrographic piece has been sitting in the back of my mind for ages now. I haven't done pyrography in so long I figured it was time! This will be a male lion.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


This is a drawing of a friend's beautiful Alaskan Malamute. He is about nine years old (the dog, not the friend). This is not a commission, I just wanted to have a dog drawing on hand.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Featured on Scientific American

I am quite honored to be able to announce that my recent drawing Evicted has been featured on the Scientific American blog Symbiartic, a collection of science-related or -inspired art.

Friday, August 26, 2011


This drawing is based on my recent experience with a wildfire. The background is based on reference photographs I took of the fire the day it started and the day we were allowed back into town. While my town was spared, many houses in neighboring areas were destroyed. Wildlife were also hard-hit by this, the largest wildfire in state history. Animals are coming into town looking for food. There was a black bear on my street recently, going through garbage cans. The wildlife hospital has taken in a record number of undernourished bears, including one with burned paws. I find it very hard to live through such an ordeal and not want to capture it on paper, so here is my depiction. A mother bear and her two young cubs leaving their mountain home in search of a new forest to live in. Around here, forests are few and far between. The mother trudges on, because she must, while her cubs are scared and confused.

I will donate 25% of my sales of this drawing and prints to The Wildlife Center to help feed and rehabilitate the bears.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WIP - Black Bears

The bears are in place but still need work. I'm also adding a little to the background here and there to give it more depth, and I ended up putting the grass in with a brush instead of a pencil. My next post will be the completed drawing!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WIP - Wildfire

Here is my progress on the wildfire drawing. With the exception of the four large trees, the entire thing so far has been using paintbrushes or the chamois to apply charcoal powder. I used the chamois for the sky and smoke, the round-tip brush for the foreground trees, and the angled brush for the tree trunks and burned mountain trees. The foreground will be grassy, which I will probably do with a pencil. That round empty part near the center will be the animal, which will also be done with pencil.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Art Imitates Life

I know the saying is usually the other way around, but in this case it is true. I often get ideas, or inspiration, from things I see. And what could be more inspiring than witnessing Mother Nature in one of her more violent forms? I was recently evacuated from my home due to a wildfire. Even after they let us back, the fire raged for weeks. It is entirely contained now, but I doubt it is extinguished. Anyway, I was able to get a ton of great photos of the smoke, fire, and aftermath, and wanted to capture the experience in a drawing. So here is the beginning. There will, of course, be an animal, but I'm working mostly top-to-bottom on this one. This is probably the first drawing I've done where I have reference photos of the background but not of the animal. Stay posted for more!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Chocolate Lab Portrait

The client who commissioned this drawing gave me permission to post the final lab portrait, so here she is! If you are interested in a commission, please shoot me an email or check out my commission info page.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Chocolate Lab Portrait Finished

Oh, how I wish I could show the finished lab portrait! But it is going to be somebody's birthday present so I'm going to wait until the end of August to show it here. Tomorrow it is being shipped to Florida.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WIP - Lab Portrait

Here is the chocolate lab portrait I'm working on. I had to make a few changes from the reference photo (namely moving the right ear into place), but it's coming along nicely.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Morning Call

Here are the siamangs all finished. I have an idea for a bear scene I'm tossing about in my head, but first I have a commission to do of a beautiful chocolate lab.

Siamang prints are available.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WIP - Siamangs Part II

After some more work on the siamang gibbons the past few days, this is what I have so far. The second one is nearly finished. I want to add a few more foreground leaves, then finish off the gibbon's hands, then I will add in some background. I'm working on editing a new video of me drawing the second siamang, taken over my left shoulder this time. If I can figure out how to condense it, I'll get that up soon.

I'm going to make an effort to finish this drawing as soon as possible (without rushing, of course), as I have a new commission to work on. Because of my small work area, it is hard to work on two projects simultaneously. But I may have to put it away for a week or two because the commission is more important.

Monday, July 11, 2011

WIP - Siamangs

I finally started a new drawing this past weekend after returning home from my evacuation. This will be a pair of siamangs in a tree. Siamangs are a type of gibbon, the largest gibbon in fact, and live in pairs mainly in the rainforests of Sumatra and Malaysia. Every mid-morning, they do a series of calls from the treetops to see (or, rather, hear) where other siamangs are and to announce their territory.

In response to many inquiries, I decided to try to make a video of myself drawing. After making this, I know I will make some changes to future videos, namely to add more light and to shoot from the opposite side so my hand doesn't get in the way. I am still trying to figure out how to do a time-lapse video on Linux, so this is just a few minutes of me scribbling away in real-time.

The tools I used in this video are: stick charcoal, 6B charcoal pencil (yes, it squeaks sometimes), blending stump, and an empty mechanical pencil for indentations.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Heading Home

After being evacuated for seven days, I'll be heading home tomorrow. The fire is only 19% contained at this point, but it has moved far enough from the town that there is very little chance of it coming back. The light rain we have have had the last two days has certainly helped the 2000+ people working on putting out the fire. However, because the fire is still burning actively, the air is still thick with smoke. Many people have reported it unbearable. We'll be heading back tomorrow to see how it is, but there is a chance we'll have to stay out of town for one more night.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Involuntary Time Off

There is a rapid-spreading wildfire threatening my town. It started yesterday and already has grown to 50,000 acres, forcing evacuation. I am staying about 2 hours away, but I will not have access to any of my work for an undetermined amount of time. Here's hoping my originals and the rest of my house will still be there when I get back.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


So here she is! I can't believe that the year is almost half over and this is my first charcoal drawing of 2011. I will be offering limited edition prints of this one.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I've sold two pieces in the last two months. The first was the Bobcat drawing from a couple years ago, who found a home in New Jersey. The second was the recently-finished Maroon Lightning Clownfish, which will soon be on its way to Florida after the exhibit is over.

WIP - Elephant Almost Done

I did a bit of work today on that leg. It was a slow process of building up the background value, then adding the dark wrinkles, then taking out highlights with the kneaded eraser. It has a little more work to be done, then I can move on to the shoulder area and finally the ear. I don't know why I saved the ear for last, I was planning on doing the bottom right corner last. Not everything happens as it is planned, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Once I finish the elephant, I think I'll take another pass at the background.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WIP - Elephant Calf Progress

I've made a bit of progress on the elephant. My reference photo doesn't include the trunk, so I think I have a bit more work to do on that, but I think it is going pretty well so far.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

WIP - Baby Elephant

This is the start of the elephant calf drawing. In the previous post I showed how I did the daisy with a frisket. I'm using charcoal powder on a chamois to apply the background and the base coat of the elephant. I started in with the eye with the 6B charcoal pencil, a very small blending stump, and the kneaded eraser. I am also using the indent technique to get the eyelashes and hairs visible. From here, I think I'll work down the trunk to get the left side mostly done before I work on the right side.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Drawing Tip #24 - Using Frisket

It has been a long time since I posted a drawing tip, but I want to share with you the benefits of using frisket. I first heard about it in the book Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil by JD Hillberry. At the time I thought it was an interesting technique, but never thought I'd use it.
Frisket is a clear, sticky paper that you cut into the shape you want and put on your drawing. Once there, you can draw over it as much as you want, pull it off, and you are left with a nice white space in the shape of whatever you cut it into.
The benefit of this is you can draw in your background without having to worry about keeping the edge of your object clean. I never thought I'd need this technique because I mostly deal with fur, which does not have a crisp, clean edge.
However, for the drawing I am working on now, I wanted to include a white daisy with a dark background. The steps I used with the frisket are shown to the right.
It worked wonderfully. The only downside was that it was a little difficult to peel off the paper. I had to use my nails and it kept tearing. But on the whole, I am very happy with the result.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WIP - Elephant Calf

I've started a new drawing, though it is still in layout phase so I don't have a photo yet. There is a baby Asian elephant at my local zoo, and when she was about one year old I finally got to see her and take several photos. I'll be using one or two of those photos (not the one you see here) as references for this drawing, which will be in charcoal.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Maroon Lightning Clownfish

Last time I wrote about the Fill-A-Frame event hosted by my local frame shop. I picked out a frame and had to make a drawing to fit it. Choosing a subject for this maroon and black frame was hard, but I came upon the maroon lightning clownfish. I figured the fish was appropriate not only for its color, but also for its size - the drawing is 5.8" x 5" (colored pencil). They will have an exhibit of all the Fill-A-Frame artwork starting around the end of this month (slight date change from what I was expecting).

Edit (06/01/11): I should have shared the source of the inspiration for this painting in this post. The Lightning Project is a breeding program for the lightning maroon clownfish. The blog has some beautiful photos as well as a ton of information about raising these unique fish. Many thanks to Matt Pedersen for posting my drawing on the blog!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Sometimes life seems to get in the way. My kids have been sick off and on for the past few months, and we decided to start a mega-spring cleaning of our house (about a month into it, we are only half-way done). I still try to get some drawing in when I can. The commission is temporarily on hold per request of the client, but I do have another project I'm working on until I can resume that one.

The local frame store, where I get all my framing done, is hosting a special event where artists can choose a pre-assembled frame (mostly odd sizes) to fill with whatever they want. All the completed artwork will be combined into an exhibit at the store later this month.

The frame I chose was a small one in a maroon color. I thought I could use one of several animals for it, like the red panda, kangaroo, or red fox. But it turns out these "red" animals are really more orange. So I found a maroon species of fish that I'm going to do instead. I only have a week to finish it so stay posted for the final drawing!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Commission in the Works

I've been a little absent from the computer lately, but the reason is I've been working on a new commission! This one will be considerably different from most of my work, but I am excited about the challenge. The client is looking for a collage of sorts of different Australian animals and trees in black and white. I'm almost done with the layout, but I won't be posting any in-progress photos.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Greeting the Sun

I recently purchased a pad of Hahnemuhle velour paper to continue to experiment with it. The pad is 9.4" x 12.6" and comes with one sheet of each of ten colors. There are mostly earth tones, which is great for animal drawings. I pulled out this black and thought the white rooster (from a local farm) would contrast well, looking like he's stepping out of the coop in the early morning. It was pretty hard getting the bright white such as on his chest, needing several layers.

I have used different kinds of black paper with my white charcoal, such as Strathmore's charcoal paper and Artagain paper, but they never seemed as black as they could be. This paper, by contrast, was black. I don't know if it's the texture of the surface, with the tiny fibers scattering light, but this is definitely the blackest black paper I have used.

I'm not convinced this is the best photograph I can get of the rooster. It is hard photographing black and keeping it black while retaining the vibrancy of the rest of the work. If I can get a better photo I will offer prints.


It's hard to believe it has been a month since my last post. I've been sick and had two sick kids, then my computer's video card fried and I had no access to the computer for nearly a week until I got a new one. But in the meantime, I did finish the Highland bull as well as another, smaller pastel painting of a rooster. This painting is the same size as the jaguar, roughly 25"x19". I do love those horns.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney

If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I have no art background. I am nearly entirely self-taught; I learn by experimen-tation and by reading books. I like to share the books I have and find helpful with the hope of helping other artists.

James Gurney is the creator of Dinotopia and author of the blog Gurney Journey. I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the incredible reviews it has gotten on Well, guess what? There's a reason it has nothing but perfect five-star reviews. This book is incredible. It really has all the information on color and light that you ever really need. Let me give a quick run-down of the contents: sources of light (8 subsections, 2 pages each); light direction and shadows (13); elements of color (7); paint (9); color relationships (5); more about paint, including color schemes (6); visual perception (7); surfaces (10); atmospheric effects (17); changing light (2); resources (5).

The chapters that I found most useful were, frankly, all of them except the ones on paint (since I don't use paint). The atmospheric effects section was particularly insightful, including such topics as sunbeams, cloud shadows, fog, sky color, water transparency, and atmospheric perspective. The subsections on gamut mapping were also quite practicable. Not only does Gurney describe the different effects (in all chapters), but he demonstrates with his own paintings, many plein air, and he also explains in what circumstances you might use a particular sort of lighting (e.g. what kind of mood you want to convey).

All in all, if I could only keep one art book from my collection, it would have to be this one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WIP - Bull

The Highland bull is nearing completion. I've mostly finished the bull itself, but I need to work on the grass and sky.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Going Domestic

On the drawing board: a highland bull, my first farm animal. I'm back to the Mi-Teintes paper for this one (the color is that orange spot on the right). I wanted to get to that coat so much I started it before the background. I'm going to finish the trees and grass before I complete the bull.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pastel Papers

I'm still testing out the water when it comes to pastels, but I want to share what I've learned about the three types of paper that I have used: Wallis sanded paper, Canson Mi-Teintes, and velour.

Wallis: I took a class on pastels several years ago, before I really got into drawing. The instructor said that a rough surface is best for pastels because the tooth really holds the pigment. Wallis is a great sanded paper, which means it feels like sandpaper. I would go so far to say it eats the pastel. I still had a few sheets left last year when I was deciding whether or not to buy a nice set of pastels, so I did a practice painting. What I discovered was this - the paper really does hold the pastel nicely, but you can't blend it with anything but your fingers (and that hurts after a while) and it's very hard to get a nice, crisp line if you need it.

Canson Mi-Teintes: Since my favorite paper for charcoal is smooth bristol, I wanted to try a paper with relatively little tooth. Mi-Teintes was recommended in several sources, so I got a pack of assorted colors. My first (and so far only) experience with it has been the jaguar painting. Mi-Teintes has a different texture on either side, so I went with the smoother side. Being a pastel paper, the smooth side is still toothy, so when you rub the side of a stick over it you still get patches that don't get filled in. What is really nice about this paper is how you can blend with anything - finger, stump, tissue. I found that laying down a layer of color and blending with a tissue is a great way to get good coverage. And the tooth also lets you put down several layers of pigment before it fills up. My only problem with it is it's sometimes hard to get complete coverage of an area without a lot of blending work.

Velour: I bought a sheet of velour paper on the recommendation of a book I read (and reviewed). My first experience with it was my wolf. At about $6 for a single 19.5" x 27.5" sheet, it's not cheap. It feels like peach fuzz but thicker. It's not very forgiving in that you can't erase. You can't really blend, either, but then you don't need to - the paper does it for you. It's a real joy to work on, and I think the extra cost is worth it.

I know there are more pastel papers out there, but these are the only ones I've tried. If I get around to more, I'll post a review.

Preparing for Sleep

This pastel painting was intended for me to practice drawing fur and also to try out velour paper. I'd like to say that I believe both were a success. The velour paper was perfectly suited to painting the soft fur of the wolf. In fact, I just started laying out another painting on "regular" paper and I don't like it nearly as much. Velour is much more expensive (about $6 for this one 19.5" x 27.5" sheet), but I'm thinking it's worth it!


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

WIP - Wolf - Moving Fast

I'm quickly getting the hang of the process involved in painting. This is going remarkably fast considering how big it is. I might even finish it by tomorrow! I'm sure that the velour paper is mostly the reason for this. It is so soft and takes the pastel so well.

Monday, February 07, 2011

WIP - Wolf

I recently started this wolf pastel painting, based on a photograph from Jason Morgan (used with permission). By the recommendation in a book a have by Lesley Harrison, I am trying out velour paper. This one is light gray and approximately 21"x27". I was unsure of the paper at first. I used up nearly half of a half-stick of pastel just filling in the dark area at the top. However, when I started the fur, I was pleasantly surprised. The softness of the paper lends itself very well to soft fur. I'm also using Lesley's descriptions on how to do underpainting, which I have little experience with. It is odd seeing a blue and purple wolf turn out to have nice browns and blacks. Also, the pastel covers the soft paper quickly, so even though this is a large paper, I don't think it will take very long to finish.

Friday, January 21, 2011


At last, I can call this, my first pastel painting, complete! The official dimensions are 25.25" x 19.375" and I've been working on it since late October, about three months. I guess I like to dive right in when learning a new medium. I never did spray the bottom layer as I was planning, but it didn't seem to need it. I used Rembrandt soft pastels for, well, almost everything except the fur and details for which I used Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils. I also used Sennelier sticks for the whiskers and some of the black background. Sennelier are extremely soft, but also pricey, so I only have black and white for now.

This jaguar I met at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque. They have two, actually, one male (this one) and one female (a black, or melanistic, jaguar). The zookeeper once said that while most big cats kill through biting the jugular, the jaguar's neck and jaw muscles are so strong it can crush a human skull. It may not be the largest of the big cats, but it is probably the most powerful. The photos I got of him were of him gnawing and licking a large bone, but I wanted to show him a bit gentler than that. I titled this piece Pristine because of him keeping himself clean as well as for the impeccable natural rainforest landscape behind him.

While it took a lot longer than I thought, I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and look forward to doing more pastel work.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Animal Art Online Exhibit

I almost forgot to post this, but my penguin drawing was accepted to Infinity Art's Animal Art Exhibit, which runs now through (I believe) Feb 15th, online only. Do check it out, there are many great pieces.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WIP - Jaguar - Making Progress

In the past couple weeks I have been much better at managing my time, so that I now have about an hour every evening to draw. I've been working mostly on the background of this piece, and I only have the upper right corner to finish. Then I'll finish the back end of the cat, then the log he is sitting on, then the foreground leaves. Then it'll just be touch-ups here and there. I hope to have this done in a week. My next post should be the finished project!

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I'm not usually one for making a list of resolutions, but I guess it's only natural that I find myself looking forward to the coming year. What have I done this past year, and what can I do next year? 2010 was pretty busy for me. I had two solo exhibits plus the birth of my son (now five months old already!). In the early part of the year, I worked on expanding my charcoal drawings to be more complex. I added two drawings to the mother/baby series and one to the large African mammal series, plus several others. Since my boy was born I have been slowly working on my first pastel painting, which I hope to complete within a month.

So where do I see myself next year at this time? I want to have several pastel paintings done as well as a few more charcoal drawings. I want to budget my time better so I can get more artwork done while the baby naps. I also want to get back to posting here more often and to enter more national exhibits. And, of course, I want to push myself to get better. This should be a good year.