Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Snow King

Ok, I know I haven't updated my blog in a while, but I can't believe I forgot this guy! This is Azeo, the male snow leopard from Albuquerque's Rio Grande Zoo. This scratchboard measures 11"x14" and I finished it earlier this month.

Doe, A Deer

This mule deer doe is my final drawing of 2013, just finished today. There are several of these gals who frequent the canyon behind my house, and one day I noticed them and a young buck in the yard. I grabbed my new camera and started taking pictures - this 8"x10" scratchboard is based on one of the best ones.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rhinos on Clayboard

This is a piece of the first Claybord ink painting I have tried. I hope to give you an idea of the process I used. The photos vary somewhat in the color and amount of light. I tried to correct what I could, but there is still some variation and for that I apologize.

Here is a rhino calf. I used sepia ink and painted blocks of light and shadow areas.
Next I used a sandpaper sponge (purchased at the hardware store) to smooth out the ink.
Next, I added some detail with more sepia ink. I used the sandpaper sponge to keep things smooth and not too dark.
Here, I used a black pen to darken the eye and inside the nostril and ear. I used a small fiberglass brush to add detail highlights, such as around the eye, nose, ear, horn, and wrinkles.
More painting and sanding. I decided I didn't like the ear twisted back like in my photo, so I repainted it.
I used a diluted black ink wash to enhance some of the shadows. Here is the finished rhino.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Black Cows

Moo! I was driving through the Valles Caldera (NM) trying to find some elk, but only found deer and cows. These black cows were right up next to the fence that late evening. The light was just right.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tree Hugger

Here is the finished koala piece. I used a variety of different tools for this one, including fiberglass brush, round tattoo needle, and straight and curved knife blades.

Prints are available.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WIP - Koala

I have started a koala scratchboard by request. This one is 8"x10". I have been using the fiberglass brush for most of the fur so far, with a round tattoo needle for the eyes and nose.


I have missed posting a bit recently on account of having a cold and a few other personal issues. I finished this male Bornean orangutan (9"x12") a week or so ago. Since it is too big to fit into my scanner, I had to photograph it, and the bottom looks a little funny in the photo. I'll be working on a better photo so I can set up prints.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Playing With Food

This was a really quick 8"x10" scratchboard, inspired by my aunt who loves pandas. The reference photo came from WetCanvas user dunlapbl.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Silver Belle

This horse drawing marks a few firsts for me. First, this is the first horse I have drawn since becoming a professional artist several years ago. And second, this is the first scratchboard I have used metal powder on. The bridle and chest strap appeared to be leather in the reference photo, but the pattern was so intricate I wanted to make it look silver. I scratched it down to white, then added the metal powder with water or diluted ink. In the detail photo, you can see it shine a bit on the left side (it's hard to photograph, but it looks great in person).

This scratchboard is 8"x10" and the reference photo was from user elephantear at WetCanvas. The horse is a dapple grey Andalusian, or Spanish horse.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Horse WIP

I have not drawn a horse in several years, but I found the reference photo for this drawing on WetCanvas and I couldn't resist. Normally, I draw the face first, but the mane and bridle were just so beautiful I had to do them first. This one is 8"x10".

Monday, July 01, 2013

Western Tiger Swallowtail

It's hard to believe this is the first insect I have drawn. I think the only class of vertebrates I have left is amphibians. A couple weeks ago I was near the Colorado border when I saw this beautiful butterfly fluttering around. Despite the wind, I was able to take a few good photos. These butterflies live where I live, too, but I never seem to have my camera when I see them.

This is a 5"x7" scratchboard and ink drawing. I used tattoo needles for the butterfly's wings and the fiberglass brush for the plants.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mexican Spotted Owl

Here is the completed Mexican spotted owl. This was such a magnificent bird to see in person. He (she?) is an educational bird at The Wildlife Center. I got some great photos of several owls at their open house this year, but this was my favorite.

This scratchboard drawing is 8"x10" and is currently untitled.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

WIP - Spotted Owl

Here is the start of a new scratchboard. This is a Mexican Spotted Owl. I had the chance to see one in person and take photos of him (or her). I have to admit, spotted feathers are quite a challenge, but it is going well so far.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Diamonds in the Rough

Here is the finished version of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. This is a 9"x12" scratchboard. I think, after doing all those scales, I may not complain about bird feathers too much.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

WIP - Rattlesnake

base layer
In the few weeks since my last post, I had the opportunity to visit the local wildlife hospital and rehabilitation facility, called The Wildlife Center for their annual open house. They had many of their educational animals (the ones that cannot be released back to the wild) out, and I got many great photos of several owls, an osprey and a peregrine falcon. But my favorite photo of the day came from the snake demonstration. We got to see several types of snakes, like corn snakes, bull snakes, and, of course, the diamondback and prairie rattlesnakes.

detail added to the head
The rattlers were kept in boxes with clear fronts so we could see them. This one I am drawing would get very upset any time someone walked near him, apparently because snakes' eyesight is based on movement, and spent most of the demonstration in this pose.

I find I can get a bit impatient when I have to draw large areas of the same thing. This goes for fur to some extent but I knew these scales would drive me crazy. So I took the fiberglass brush and marked in where all the scales will go. Since taking the first photo, I blacked in most of the left side and re-did it (this was the last part I worked on, so I was rushing too much instead of paying attention to where the scales should really be). Next, I took my new really sharp knife - I'm going to do a post soon on all my new tools - and started detailing the scales on the head. I'm using a diluted ink wash on each scale followed by additional scratching of highlights on top. In the second photo, the head is nearly finished.

I know this drawing will take a long time given its tedious nature and large size (9"x12"), but I am enjoying working on it and I know it will be worth it in the end.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Upcoming Exhibits

I am happy to announce that my work will be part of two exhibits this spring.

Two of my recent scratchboards, Vantage Point and Spotted, will be in the International Society of Scratchboard Artists' annual exhibit, to be held this year in Vancouver from June 7 through 23. This will be my first international exhibit.

A little closer to home, I have several pieces including both scratchboard and charcoal drawings at the Karen Wray Fine Art Gallery in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The exhibit is titled "Living Things" and will run from April 19 through June 1. View the article in the Los Alamos Daily Post.


The chimpanzees at my zoo are behind plexiglass, which makes them very difficult to photograph. Last week I surprised myself by getting the reference for this drawing, in focus with no glare or fingerprints to ruin it. And so I had to draw it. This is an 8"x10" scratchboard and is still untitled.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vantage Point

Wow, I just realized I never posted a work-in-progress for this one. This scratchboard is 8"x10" and went pretty quickly.

This is an Asian leopard cat, one of the smaller wildcats. I hope to be able to see one someday. The reference photo for this drawing came from WetCanvas user Skappy.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Stop and Smell the Wildflowers

This moose scratchboard is 8"x10". I used colored inks with this one. Reference photo courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, since I don't get these guys where I live!

Friday, February 22, 2013

American Eagle

This is my reconstruction of the coat of arms of the United States, one half of the Great Seal of the USA. The bald eagle stands with wings outstretched, holding a ribbon (traditionally a scroll) with "e pluribus unum" in its mouth. In front is the shield with 13 stripes, here engraved on a breastplate. In one foot are arrows, depicting readiness to fight if needed, while in the other foot are olive branches, depicting peace. That the eagle faces the olive branches denotes a preference for peace. Usually, there is one branch and 13 arrows, but I expanded it to make a nest of these materials (though I imagine half would not be pleasant to sit on). Finally, there are 13 stars above the head, showing through the clouds.

This piece has been sold, but prints are available.


This is a quick 5"x7" scratchboard I did in just a couple days. I have always loved red pandas - they look so cuddly (though I'm sure those claws would say otherwise). The goal of this one was to practice getting the color right, which took several layers.

WIP - Eagle

Here is the start of a bald eagle scratchboard. Even if you can't read the ribbon, you can probably guess where this one is headed. This is a drawing I have been planning for years, but never thought I could pull it off. Here's hoping it works in scratchboard.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scratchboard Tools

I think it is time to introduce the tools I have been using for my scratchboard drawings.

Fiberglass brush
Originally I was apprehensive to use the fiberglass brush, but it is an amazing tool. It is wonderful to create the look of soft fur.

Wire brush
The wire brush is supposedly good for fur, but I find it is too coarse for the small size boards I am using. I have used it for grass.

Round blade
This blade is good for scraping wide lines and arcs, and for clearing large areas quickly. It fits in the red holder pictured below it.

Pointed blade
It took me a while to figure out how to hold this blade, believe it or not. I found holding it upside down works best for me. It makes fine lines and stipples. I use it for fur. Plus, used with a light touch, it leaves more of a gray line than a white one. I also use this one to lay out the initial sketch on the board.

The cross-hatch tool has five pin-like points of equal length in a line, making it easy to make five parallel lines. Hatching and cross-hatching goes much faster with a tool like this. I have not used hatching in my work, but I like this tool for fur and grass.

This is the paintbrush I chose to ink my colored works. It was inexpensive, but most importantly the bristles are soft and form a nice point. Good for details as well as larger areas.

Other tools (not pictured)
Oil-free steel wool is a tool I have (it came as part of a set), but I have used it only once. It was great for the fuzzy lemur fur, but I have not come across other uses yet.

Sandpaper is another tool I have tried. It hasn't worked so far in my small drawings, but may prove more useful in larger ones. The sandpaper leaves a series of lines in whatever motion you make, but they are not soft (even with super fine grit).

Electric erasers are also good for clearing large areas of white while leaving soft edges. I use one with an ink eraser.

A refillable ink pen can be useful to make black lines on a scratched-out area (like black whiskers, or adding some depth to grass blades covering a light-colored foot, for example). I didn't want to spend the money on something like a Rapidograph pen, but my father-in-law had something I could use instead: a ruling pen. There is no fillable cartridge; rather, it uses capillary action to draw the ink in between two pointed plates. The plates are adjustable so lines of different widths can be made. It is a pretty cool instrument. I will add a photo of it here soon.

These are the tools I use so far. I am still learning, and there are many things I would like to do but don't know how yet (like mist, sky, clouds). Given the cost of the boards, I will not be doing too much experimenting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Guarding the Future

cheetah scratchboard drawing
I had started this scratchboard a few weeks ago, but once I had the mother cheetah in place I didn't have a plan to move forward (I tend to jump right in sometimes). It sat on my drawing table until recently, when I figured out what I wanted to do.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you'll know that I love wildcats. But to me, the most adorable thing is a baby cheetah. So I had to put a few in this drawing.

The original is 8"x10", and prints are available.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Forest Majesty

There are elk in mountains around where I live. Herds of them, apparently. I say apparently, because in the ten years that I have lived here, I have never seen a single one. (This year, that's gonna change). The reference photo for this scratchboard drawing was provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This piece has already been sold, but prints are available.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I'm the first to admit that "Spotted" is a cliche title for a drawing of a spotted cat; however, I thought the gaze of this leopard justified the title. This is the third big cat scratchboard I have done, there is one left (then on to the other wildcats).

Prints are available.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

WIP - Leopard

Here is a new scratchboard I am working on. This is a little bit of a closeup of the 8x10 drawing. There are no leopards at my zoo so I got the reference image from WetCanvas (user vmrs). I will be adding my own background/foreground to this soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Peacock Scratchboard

Here I have finished the peacock. I have to say I like painting, even if it is with ink, and will probably be doing more of this in the future. In the meantime, I want to finish the big cat series I started.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Peacock WIP

When I bought Ampersand's black ink that goes with the scratchboards, it came with a set of other colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and sepia. I figure I paid for them I may as well try them out, right? So here is the start of a peacock. I thought the colors would be relatively easy to mix, but the feathers are taking a long time to scratch in. Below is the start of the tail, and that is going to take forever.... but hopefully worth it!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Old King

Here is my new scratchboard drawing. This is Cosmo, an old male lion at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque, NM. His former mate was one of the oldest lions in the country until she died of cancer last year.

This scratchboard is 8"x10", and I plan to continue the big cats with the next one.

Prints are available.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Out of the Jungle

Sometimes I get so into a drawing I lose track of time. That happened with this one.  "Out of the Jungle," a 5"x7" scratchboard, is finished. I used a reference photo provided by Jason Morgan, and added my own background. Soon I will write a post on the tools and techniques I am using.

Still More Scratchboard

Ringtail Lemurs - finished
I love scratchboard. I feel in some respects that the last six years I have spent drawing in pencil were only preparation for this. The boards I am using are not cheap, but I have not wasted a single one so far. I truly believe they have all come out very well.
Zebra Foal II

tiger in progress (close-up)

cheetah in progress (close-up)
The bottom picture shows my progress on the cheetah. She is pretty much done, now I am trying to find reference photos for the cubs since I don't have any of my own. So in the meantime, I started the tiger.

Prints are available for all my finished pieces at Fine Art America.
Looking Up - one of my own cats

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

More Scratchboard

ringtail lemurs - almost finished

cheetah in-progress
I am having so much fun with this scratchboard. I have now done four 5x7s and sold one of them (the zebra foal). The ringtail lemurs above are nearly finished, I am just waiting to get some ink so I can add the black whiskers. For a limited time, I am selling the 5x7s unframed for only $60.

The cheetah to the left is a closeup of my first 8x10 scratchboard. The spots are driving me crazy, but I am happy with how it is coming along.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year, New Medium

Contrary to the title of this post, I do not pick up a new medium every year. However, I do find it fitting to have tried something new at the beginning of the year. I received a scratchboard set for Christmas, and didn't waste any time trying it out. These two images are my first two scratchboard drawings (I'm having a hard time photographing the gorilla, so it's a little washed out).
I have to say, so far I love it! Of course, I'm not giving up my charcoal, by any means, but I like to expand my horizons, too. I look forward to doing more of this.