Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Andean Sunrise

I didn't change much since the last update. Things have been very crazy at home with sick kids, so I have not spent much time drawing lately. However, this drawing is finished and I will get started on a new one soon.

Prints and cards are available.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WIP - Condor

Here is the Andean condor mostly finished. I have not been working on it much lately, because my son has been very ill the last few weeks. (They finally determined it was a food allergy; he is getting better now.) Anyway, I think this bird still needs some work. I want it to look like sunrise, so I need more contrast.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WIP - Andean Condor

I have had the reference photo for this drawing for several years now, and I am finally getting around to drawing it. This is the Andean condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world (I think the albatross has a longer wingspan, but the condor is bigger overall). My reference photo was, of course, taken at the zoo, but the sun was fairly high in the sky. For this drawing, I am trying to move the sun to a lower angle to mimic early morning. This is proving challenging as I have to invent new shadows and highlights.
While the bird is mostly in place, I still need to work on building up the shadows in the body - especially lower body - and the right wing. The bird is mostly black but the strong morning sun should produce some bright highlights. Overall it is too light as it is now.

From there, I still need to work on the clouds a bit and finish the foreground.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Work In Progress" - A Self-Portrait

I was able to finish this self-portrait in only a couple days. It is small, and skin is fairly quick to draw because I use the chamois and a paintbrush to cover large areas. I am calling it "Work in Progress" because I do feel that I am a work in progress. I am constantly changing, and I will not be the same person years down the road.

Monday, October 29, 2012

WIP - Self-Portrait

I have wanted to try a self-portrait for a while. It has been a long time since I have done a person, and I wonder if my drawing skills have improved since then. But I have to say it's a bit creepy drawing myself.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Water Cat

This drawing, though not very big (9"x12"), took a long time. Not as much in actual drawing time as in planning time. Figuring out where those branches were coming from and where their reflections would be, figuring out how to draw the rocks beneath the water in the foreground, figuring out how the waterfall will flow and how to draw it, were all challenges I faced in this piece. In all, I am happy that I was able to accomplish everything I set out to do in this drawing, despite my initial fear of drawing water and the fact that the only real reference I had was for the tiger.

Most of this drawing was done in charcoal, but I used graphite for the rocks and the water in the waterfall. Because graphite is shiney, it does a good job of portraying the wetness of the rocks. I used very hard graphite for the waterfall water and the bubbles at the bottom of the falls because they are so delicate. I did have an issue with the leaves of the tree. At first, it didn't look right because I was trying to draw the background around the leaves, unintentionally leaving a white space around them. To fix the situation, I filled in the background first, then used my electric eraser to remove the spaces for the leaves, then drew in those spaces with my pencils to get the right values.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eye Tutorial Video

I hate hearing myself talk, but I wanted to make a video tutorial anyway. Here, I drew a cougar eye with the surrounding fur. It came out to 11 minutes, but there is quite a bit of explanation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

WIP - Tiger part II

I have made some progress on the tiger. The rocks were done with graphite, the rest, so far, is charcoal. I'm still not quite sure how I will do the water. I guess I better figure it out soon, because I'm running out of other areas to work on.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

WIP - Tiger

Here is the start of my next drawing, a bengal tiger. I'm still deciding whether to put leaves on that hanging branch or leave it bare.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

First Buds of Spring

The buck stops here... I'm not sure if that phrase really works, but I'm calling this drawing done. Mule deer start to lose their antlers early in spring (how early depends on their geographical location), so to make the situation believable, I wanted to have a blanket of snow with very early leaf buds on the tree.

Prints are available.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WIP - mule deer buck

I made some progress on the mule deer I started at the fair. I'll admit I didn't think it through before I started; I just wanted something to work on while at my tent and didn't have anything already started. Usually I do the background first, especially when I have sky like in this one. It was hard getting it around the antlers, and I need to even it out a bit more.

I have started adding the shadows of the trees, and I will be adding the trees themselves next.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Tent

Here it is! My first tent at a fair. This turned out to be a great introduction to the outdoor art fair. First of all, it wasn't an art fair... it was a science fair. There were several artists there, mostly in my row. Given that it was a science fair aimed at kids, I made sure to have a kids' activity at my booth. I drew up six line drawings of local wildlife and put out several copies of each at a little table with crayons. It was a huge hit.

Second, the booth fee was completely reasonable and included the tent. Two of the main reasons I have never entered an art fair are the high entry fees and needing to have my own tent. They even had tables to use for a modest extra fee, which I took advantage of because I don't have a folding table.

The fair was only four hours long, instead of a full day. I wasn't expecting to sell much, but I did make back the booth and table fees and then some, and also gave out many business cards and commissions fliers, so overall it was a success. I set up my tabletop easel and started a new drawing while I was there (shown below, in-progress). Lots of people liked watching me work for a bit, so that was also a nice thing to have.

So now for the big question: will I ever do it again? I don't know. I don't think I could do more than one per year, so I would need to rent a tent. I think I would also need more of the lower-priced items. (I am so glad I only brought three originals - people looked but didn't seem interested at all.) It was good exposure and a great experience, but it will be a while before I do it again.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

My First Booth at a Fair

I have been reluctant to join an art fair because of the expense involved. The space itself usually tops $200, plus I would need a tent and tables, not to mention inventory. However, there is a science fair coming up in 11 days, and I was asked to have a booth for a reasonable price with a free tent. I couldn't pass it up! So here's my plug:

Come by my tent at the Next Big Idea festival (Los Alamos, New Mexico), Saturday, September 15th from 11-3! I will have original drawings, framed and unframed, prints, greeting cards, and all-new art cards. If space allows I will also bring an in-progress drawing so you can watch me work, as well as animal coloring pages for the kids. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Wildcat Art Cards

Several people have expressed interest in my doing art cards. I tried a couple several months ago, but now I'm starting to get into them again. Here are the four I did yesterday. They will be going for $5 each, including a protective sleeve.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Mother-Daughter Time

Here they are, two hippos in graphite. I nearly left the background white, but that triangle in the upper left really bugged me. I am so glad I added a background.

This is a small drawing, only 10.5"x6.25". Prints are available.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WIP - Hippos 2

I am making steady progress with the hippos. Given the detail of their skin and the sharp contrast in small spaces, I am glad I chose graphite for this drawing. Graphite is also shiny on paper which helps promote the idea that these hippos have moist skin, although that is more easily seen in person than in a photograph.

Hopefully I will have some time this weekend to work, so look out for the finished piece early next week!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bald Eagle

I completely forgot to publish this one earlier. I finished it a week ago or so, a design for my sister's new business (a CrossFit box). Since I live so far away, another artist painted this design on their wall.

I started with a charcoal drawing, then added pastel on top. It didn't look quite right so I edited it in GIMP (like Photoshop), and added the logo digitally as well.

Monday, August 20, 2012

WIP - Hippos

I have been eyeing one particular photo I took of hippos for several months now, and decided it was finally time to draw it. These are two of the three hippos at my zoo, the mother and child (who has to be at least a year old at the time I took the photo).

I typically work in just charcoal, but I am using graphite for this drawing. I haven't used just graphite in a while and thought that the texture of the skin would work well.

In this photo, the hippo is not quite finished. A little more work and I will start on the second one.

Friday, August 03, 2012


It is amazing what you can do when you have a little extra time! The serval is already finished. This drawing is based on a couple photos I took of the serval at my zoo. These cats are so long and graceful.

This drawing is 9"x12" unframed and is eligible for the 20% off sale now through Labor Day.

Prints are also available.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Serval WIP

The big cats get all the spotlight, it seems, but the smaller wildcats are just as impressive. The serval lives in Africa and pounces on small prey by jumping high in the air. They have very long legs and large ears to aid their hunting.

Screaming Eagle

Here is part of a commission I am working on. This bald eagle has its wings outstretched and is holding something with its feet. I drew it in charcoal and graphite and am coloring it digitally, although I might try adding pastels on top instead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Here is a quick portrait I did of my cousin's dog, Drake.  I'm not sure what breed he is, but he's a real cutie. I love how he cocks his head to the side.

Monday, July 02, 2012

New Website and Discount on Original Drawings

I have spent some time lately updating the look of my website. Take a look!

I am offering my first-ever discount: 20% off all original drawings now through Labor Day. Peruse the originals available and email me if you are interested.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mountain Lion Project

Last post I wrote about a big project I was selected for and posted the sample drawing I did for the application. Here are the other two. I drew two copies of each design, matted and framed, to be given as first-place awards for the races this coming weekend. I am pleased to say that the event coordinator who chose me to do the work was very pleased. Good luck to all the runners!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Selected for a Big Project

I am so excited! Last week while I was on vacation, I found out that I was selected for a big project. The Valles Caldera hosts a race every year, and this year I will be providing the first place awards for the marathon, half marathon and 10k races, both male and female. The theme is mountain lions. The image here is the one I drew for the application. So far I have four of the six done. The two remaining are the largest of the set and I have less than two weeks to finish. So back to the drawing board for me. I probably won't post again until they are all done. Busy busy busy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Here she is! My first still life is finished. It was quite an adventure and I did learn some things about combining charcoal and graphite. If I had to do it over again, there are some techniques I would have changed, but overall I am happy with how it came out.

I used graphite for the lamp, glasses and open book pages. Since I did make the graphite quite heavy in the shadow areas, it made it hard to photograph because of the reflective nature of the material. But with some angled lighting I think the photo accurately represents the real-life drawing.

Prints are available.

Now, back to some animals!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WIP - Still Life II

I have to admit that drawing books is kind of fun. It is actually pretty easy to use the indent method to get white words on a dark background. The two groups of books are done in this photo, and I started on the open book. My next step will be the lamp, however. At least the lampshade.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

WIP - Still Life

I have made some progress on the still life. I am quite happy with the books, but the globe still needs some work (and I need to finish that before I move on to the next part). My problem now is the graphite tabletop. I cannot get the shadow from the books dark enough with graphite, and I cannot put charcoal on top of existing graphite. All things to figure out. This is why I started this project.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Still Life WIP

Here is the start of my first still life drawing. No bowls of fruit here, no sir. These are all objects I have in my home (I actually bought the globe at a thrift store just for this purpose). Way back several years ago when I set this up, I actually had a vision pop into my head of what I wanted it to look like. I think this setup is pretty close to that. I set everything up and photographed it, which was good because it has been taken down and everything put away since then. I wanted the only light source to be the lamp in the drawing, which made it hard to photograph well.

To begin the drawing, I first had to cut out frisket film for all the items on the table. This is really the only way to get the background done right, without getting smudges into the white parts. This is especially true for the lampshade, which will remain mostly paper-white. I used a 6B charcoal compressed stick to layer the wall, smudging with a tissue in between layers. I used a chamois cloth to get the light parts light and smooth. However, this is where the choice of paper had its drawback - I chose a smooth bristol to get the level of detail I want, but the smoothness does not hold layers well. This made it very hard to get a smooth, dark wall. The actual wall is textured, and I am debating on whether to include that in the drawing.

Finally, the table was done using 8B graphite. I used horizontal strokes to effect a woodlike texture, then blended with a torillon in the same diraction. Then I sprayed the whole thing with workable fixative. I removed one frisket - the circle for the globe - for this photo. The rest remain in place and you can see the overlap of Since I am right-handed, I will be working left-to-right on this drawing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to Charcoal

I am about to start a project that is very unique to me. If you have read any of my blog (or even just looked at the title), you know that I draw animals almost exclusively. There comes a time, however, when an artist must step outside the comfort zone in order to grow and improve. I believe that time has come. Several years ago, I had an idea for a drawing - a still life. I set it up and photographed it, and stored those photos on my computer. I decided at the time I didn't want to do it after all. The other day, I came across them. The time has come. I have not done a charcoal drawing in several months, and I have decided this still life will be my next. So hopefully, in the next few days, I will have a layout sketch and enough progress done to post a work-in-progress photo. This should be interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Minding the Den

Here is the completed gray fox pastel drawing. I used exclusively pastel pencils on smooth black Strathmore Artagain paper. I like how the pastels worked on the smooth paper, but I think the outcome is too dark.

This drawing is based on a photo I took at The Wildlife Center. This is one of their two female fox foster mothers.

The original and prints are available.

Friday, March 02, 2012

WIP - Gray Fox

I have been wondering about using pastels on different textured paper, so I decided to try this one on smooth black Strathmore Artagain paper. I really like smooth paper with charcoal, so why not pastels? So far, they are layering just fine. We'll see when I'm finished with this gray fox how it turns out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peacock Pastel

This was another quick pastel. The small size (12"x9") coupled with pastels' ability to be layered makes it much faster than charcoal. I used a medium green colored velour paper to make the background easier. Currently untitled.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pastel Cat Portraits II

And here are my other two cats, 10-year-old littermates we named Lepton (left) and Quark. (Yes, my husband and I have science degrees.) Lepton is a very handsome tuxedo cat with an off-center "Hitler mustache," and Quark is a soft calico with a tuft of fur on her nose.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pastel Cat Portraits I

I have come to the realization (with much prodding from my husband) that woodburning in winter with the house closed up is not the healthiest thing. I knew that, of course, but when I get into something it's sometimes hard to break it. So the deer and the burl will be put on the backburner (no pun intended) until I can open the windows without freezing. In the meantime, I wanted to do something I haven't touched in a while - pastels.

I came up with this wonderful idea for a cheetah pastel painting, and even started it, but soon realized that I'm a little out of practice with the pastels. So I am currently working on a four-part series of small portraits of my cats. Here are the first two, completed. The cat on the left is Dawn. She is a shy, quiet one who acts very submissive to the others. She has a wonderful coat of white, tan and gray. After consulting a cat book, we determined she is a classic silver torbie, based on her markings. She is a tabby with the M on the forehead (hard to see in this pose, though).

We got Dawn and her sister, Dusk (right), at the shelter. Part of the shelter adoption agreement was they must wear collars at all times, but they are strictly indoor cats. They will be three years old this summer. Dusk is a mediumhair tortoiseshell. It is hard to tell in all but the best light, but she also has some faint tabby markings on her face. She loves being held and petted, she will play with water, and has occasionally played fetch. We think she thinks she's a dog sometimes.

So these are my two littlest ones. Over the next few days, I'll work on my older two cats and post them here.

Friday, February 03, 2012

WIP - Mule Deer Buck

This is the start of the new mule deer woodburning. It is a small 8"x10", because I didn't think it would look right on the larger 11"x14". In fact, I have decided to save the remaining three of those I have for large animals, a tiger, a grizzly, and one other to be determined. I have nine 8"x10"s, so I'll be doing a lot more with those.

Anyway, I decided (since I still can't find a drill press) to do a study on one of these small plywood sheets. The study will be a complete pyrography in itself, but also a sort of practice for the burl slab (did I mention those slabs are not cheap?). So far, the fur has been pretty easy. I have that texture down pat, I would say. What is new for me is the antlers. That bumpy, bony texture is new to me with this medium. I'm starting by laying down a base value with the flat shader, then adding detail with the spoon shader and the writer. And I'm kind of wishing I had a very small flat shader for the smaller areas.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Work in Progress, Not Abandoning the Old

Last post I showed the two new wonderful slabs of wood I am going to be using on my next project. I have almost finished the sanding process (much longer than I thought, but a vital step), and have accumulated all the hardware I need for that "surprise part" I was talking about. The problem is, I need a drill press to finish the job, and was really hoping someone nearby would let me borrow one before I invest a couple hundred for one of my own. And, unfortunately, I need to drill the hole before I can do any burning at all.

While I have been waiting, I have been working on detailed layouts of the two woodburnings. The first one is done, the second nearly so. But even if I do purchase a drill press it will be several days before it arrives, at best. I'm itching to get some work done. What can I do? Both pieces will feature deer, one with white-tail deer and the other with mule deer. I've been sketching and studying their anatomy and everything I can do.

So I have decided that, in the meantime, I will work on another woodburning on the Italian poplar plywood that I used for the giraffe and lion. This time, I will do an 8"x10" of one of the mule deer bucks that routinely pass through my yard (I have hundreds of photos of them), as a formal work but also as a practice for the burl slab.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Maple Burl

These are two of my three new pieces of wood. The third is similar but much smaller and with a cut edge on one side (that will probably be my practice piece). These two are both 19"x24.5"x1.75" and pretty heavy. The wood is maple, which usually has a nice, light color well suited to pyrography.
Where these cuts are unusual is that they are burl. Burl has no grain. It is kind of like a tumor on the side of a tree, usually at the base of the trunk, where the wood grows erratically in a large lump. It may sound odd, but the pattern is beautiful. Coupled with the complete natural edge, these specimens are unique and rare. They both still need some prep work to make them suitable for my plans, particularly sanding to make the pyrography easier. I got these pieces rough-cut from Oregon. Once the slabs are sanded, I will start the layouts for the drawing. I have a plan for the top piece, but am still working on ideas for the other. One at a time, right? Once I have the layouts, I will do a complete pencil drawing on paper. With pyrography, there are no do-overs. It has to be right the first time. I am very excited about this project, and if it works out there will be plenty more to follow. (And yes, I am keeping some of the details a secret for now!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Giraffe Finished

Yahoo! Finished. I am very happy with how this woodburning turned out. I currently do not have a title for this work, but the original and prints are available.

My next project will be another pyrography on a much different type of wood. Once I finish getting the wood prepared, I will post a photo and write a bit about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WIP - Giraffe

Progress on the giraffe. The leaves are actually pretty easy, as my bent spear shader is leaf-shaped. I have actually made a bit more progress than this, and the next post will be the finished piece!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Art Book

I just finished the art book I started a couple months ago. The book was 20 pages long, and since I didn't have time to do the full-detail drawings I usually do, I worked on my sketching. Below are a few more of the sketches from my "cycle-of-life"-themed book. Now I will ship the book to the CIAO Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming for an exhibit.