After last year’s lackluster effort, I decided to take another shot at completing Inktober. For those who don’t know, Inktober is a month-long artist challenge in which you try and create a different drawing each day of October using ink as your medium. I’m proud to say that this year I made it without missing a day (okay, so I did get a bit of head start – I started stockpiling drawings in September…still counts!). Honestly until this challenge I didn’t realize how little I actually let myself just doodle and play nowadays. I spend most of my allotted art-time working on planned out pieces or studies, there’s no room for the kind of drawing I used to do as a kid. I haven’t scribbled so many dragons and unicorns since 8th grade – I need more of those in my diet! So I think I’ll try and keep some of the doodling up, even now that October’s gone. I’ve compiled some of my favorites from the month here, but you can see the rest on my Instagram account:



I finally found a model who’s a heavy enough sleeper not to get up and run away halfway through his portrait – plus he’s got nice hair.



Painting Gear

Trying out a new watercolor set up. I found an old storage clipboard and attached some magnets to the inside – they hold my watercolor tin in place while the clip keeps my sketchbook open. I’m using water pens so that I don’t need to bother about having a cup of water handy – and those can also clip to the board if I’m painting while standing. Then when I’m done, everything fits inside the clipboard. The only problem is that the clipboard only fits in my art bag when there’s nothing else inside. Alas…there had to be a catch somewhere.

Watercolor on Gessoed Ground

First blush: tree bark was easier, foliage was harder. It was a little awkward to work with at first, but I think given some time to get the hang of it, it could be very useful for certain subjects. It is hard to get really dark darks, which might be a deal breaker for me. I don’t know! It’s hard to tell at this stage. I also feel like most of the effects I really like in these particular two tries were accidental. Not that I’m opposed to taking credit for accidental greatness, but a little more control would be nice.

Anyway, a little more experimentation is in order.

I might have to go back and try a painting of these particular subjects with un-gessoed paper to see if it’s easier or harder to get the effects I want. Right now, everything seems inordinately difficult, because I’m having to do it with multiple nettle burns, ant bites and mosquitoes buzzing in my ears. Also, sweltering heat. Ah, summer!

Watercolor Revival

Planning another trip this summer and since it’s going to involve airports and security scanners, I’m taking up my watercolors again. They’ve never been my favorite medium, but they sure are the most portable – and some people manage to make them so pretty. I’m determined to learn their secrets. I’ve heard tell of watercolorists scrubbing and lifting paint to get better effects – so I’ve been trying that, with mixed results. I like the flexibility it gives – it works better with my style of observational work (which is: paint first, regret not having put more thought into the composition later) – but its a little hard to control.

Now I’m considering trying some watercolor on a gessoed surface, next, to see if it helps with the lifting technique. Fingers crossed!

Tiger, tiger

I’ve been working on a dummy book involving tigers, lately and it’s been hard to arrive at a style of illustration for this on that I’m happy with. It’s a story with a slightly more dramatic turn and so my usual stylized look didn’t quite fit the bill. Still, I didn’t want to lean fully realistic, so I’ve been doing a little experimenting.

Zoo sketches, lots of reference studies, lots of false starts. This has led me to the conclusion: tigers are very complicated.

On the one hand they’re lean and mean predators, but on the other they’ve all got that baggy tummy pooch, and those fuzzy wuzzy mutton chops. It’s a subtle balance of rough and fluff.

I also gave a lot more thought to color in this one than I usually do – I wanted the changes in color to match the changes in tone and mood. I may have overdone it in the orange department, but hey, a tiger’s gotta tiger.



The problem with eeny weeny sketchbooks is that I don’t like scanning all those tiny pages.

But the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, I suppose (it’s just for want of scanning that most of my drawings don’t make it to the outside world these days :p)

I’ve been sketching with a felt tip pen lately – for these little incidental sketches it’s a good fit for me. I get too involved in shading if I use a pencil – the black line forces me to catch the essential details quickly and carefully. Quickly and carefully being somewhat in opposition to each other, at least in my sketching style. But bold, purposeful lines is what I’m hoping to develop – and the black pen helps with that. It think my quick sketches have improved.

The birds were sketched from life at a little raptor talk at my local nature center, the dog is one of my pet sitting charges.

Yellowstone Plein Air: Elk Refuge

ys_heron_uploadThis painting commemorates the only time an animal has sat for an entire painting. I didn’t even paint him in at first. I thought, no way, this guy’s going to be gone in five mintutes. You just wait. But nope! I was painting for nearly an hour and he never moved, never shifted, didn’t so much as ruffle his feathers (okay, maybe he did do that a few times).

Even the Norwegian tourists that spilled out onto the deck with their long range lenses (the elk refuge draws a lot of bird watchers in summer) didn’t phase him.

The sun wasn’t so accommodating. It banked behind the mountain early and left my whole scene in shadow (and me rather chilly). So, both me and the bird packed up and went home after that.

Duck Chronicles


jayceeparkducks_sketchesI happened upon a nice little park recently that had all the qualifications of what I like to refer to as the ~triple threat~ of sketching locations: shady benches, friendly waterfowl, nearby bathrooms.

I’d come by the park for other reasons, but once I saw that there were Canadian geese in residence, I had to pull out my sketchbook: best to enjoy the foreigners while they’re in town. These particular birds were a pleasure to sketch – they didn’t go scooting away when I walked up, like our local ducks, but sort of stood around eyeing me, then went about their business. A few, I could tell, were offended that I didn’t bring any bread for them. I wasn’t aware this was the customary modelling fee – I’ll remember that for next time.

I also saw a pair of geese that had apparently adopted a duck into their family – he followed in line with the other little grey goslings just like he was one of the bunch. Ah, the heartwarming dramas of the duck pond.