Carved Dragon

Photoshop, Soft block print | January 30, 2006 | By

Today’s piece of artwork is a soft block carving which has been printed then scanned into Photoshop and colorized using a variety of layers, brushes and enhancement tools including such different channel modes as Color, Darken, Lighten, Multiply.
It’s a different version of the same dragon (scroll down) which I painted in my Moleskine last Friday for the first day of Chinese New Year.
I think it might make a cool T-shirt, too!

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Ripley wishes you a Happy (Chinese lunar) New Year, it’s the year of the dog.
Which is pretty much every year, around here.
My friend Armand Frasco asked me if I might be doing a drawing in my Moleskine for the annual event and I told him that I most likely would. So if you haven’t been over to Moleskinerie today, you should take a look at his China links.

Drawing details:
This was drawn and painted in my Cahier-sized Moleskine, which I mentioned a few days ago. So this drawing is actually 15″ x 10″. I used watercolor Tombow markers for the details on the dragon to save the time of using a small brush. Ripley was painted using my regular tube paints, plus some colored pencils. I added the banners after the dragons using my brush pen, but then looked at it and realized that white banners looked rather bland. At that point there was no choice but to add the color in Photoshop after scanning, or I would have smeared the ink.

Ripley in my new cahier Moleskine

This afternoon Ripley was sleeping so soundly on the floor of my office that I thought I could probably get a quick drawing of her done before she stirred. She did move her paws around but thankfully kept her head steady most of the time.
This was drawn with the water soluble Kuretake brush pen, which is a most unforgiving and hair-pulling instrument. Still, I like the way I can go from a thick to a thin line without changing pens and breaking the mood.
This was drawn in my new Cahier model Moleskine, which my husband gave me for Christmas. The paper is thin like the basic Moleskine journal, but it is much larger, which allows freer expression. I was hesitant to use juicy watercolor on the paper so I added the background with some Tombow pens, and swished a little water over the top. There’s something about a cream colored dog on a cream colored background that just looks a little vanilla, you know? If I had been thinking I could have painted the background with an acrylic, which would have been less splotchy. Ah well.
The shadows are created by gently softening the black ink line with a Niji waterbrush filled with clear water.


I know, I said I was going to do something botanical. And then I went and painted something dogical.
Just don’t tell Ripley that I drew someone else. She will be so jealous.
If I go to a friend’s house and play with their dog she is ALL OVER me with questions when I come home.
Who were you with? What did he look like (yes, dogs know if it was a he or a she)
Did you give him a treat? Did you bring one for me?

Tech stuff:
Watercolor and colored pencil (both watersoluble kind and waxy kind) on Stonehenge paper. The underlying watercolor was painted with a squirrel mop. Some Photoshopping to clean up ragged edges and correct color and values.

I guess I better not leave that squirrel mop within reach of you-know-who or I’ll have to go looking for it in the doghouse.

Botanical Guild Meeting

Journal Pages, Nature, Watercolor | January 21, 2006 | By

I just got back from a meeting of the So. Calif. Guild of Botanical Artists, which is held every three months in and around the southland area. What an incredibly nice (and talented) group of people! I am still evaluating whether or not I have room in my life for another membership or commitment, but if I do this would be high on my list. During this period of exploring and experimenting as I return to art after my long hiatus, I am looking at many different forms and expressions. Botanical illustration is among the most rigorous as every detail must be technically accurate as well as beautiful. Some artists draw their subjects many times, defining and refining it on tracing paper until they get the details perfect. At that point, they will transfer it to paper (watercolor paper or bristol board or another type, depending upon the medium used.) Then begins the detailed application of paint or pencil. I’m not sure that I will have the patience for that kind of exacting work, but as some of the members mentioned, some people do accurate paintings in a much looser style. On the other hand, I love flowers and gardening so much … AND … I love watercolor and other media so it makes a lot of sense that I’d be attracted to botanicals – it would unite two of my passions. So, we shall see. I don’t have any tightly rendered botanicals to share today, although I think I may try to render something small in the next few days, just to see what it “feels” like. In the meantime, here’s a field study of some tree roots, painted last year in the Angeles Forest.

Fast sketching pays off

Editorial/opinion | January 20, 2006 | By

And they say that being a sketcher has no practical application …
Caricaturist draws picture of the man who mugged him

Photo Friday – Pink

floral, Nature, Photo Friday | January 20, 2006 | By

Click to enlarge
I don’t usually participate in Photo Friday, but this week’s theme of “pink” fit with a picture I already had on hand, taken in 2004. I can hardly wait until these lovelies bloom again this year. It is a tulip magnolia and I found this one growing at a house in Pasadena. I stood on the sidewalk and just shot like mad, hoping that the homeowner wouldn’t mind. I was intending them as reference photos to paint from, which I’m still going to do – and maybe quite soon.

Tracy Sugarman, WW2 veteran artist

Book Review, Editorial/opinion | January 18, 2006 | By

World War II artist: Tracy Sugarman

If you’re like me, there’s nothing more interesting than peeking inside someone else’s journal or travel diary to see life through their eyes at a particular time and place. That’s why I’ve been getting so much enjoyment from Tracy Sugarman’s drawings and watercolors from the Library of Congress “Experiencing War” Veteran’s History Project, documented by the US Library of Congress.

You’ll find 85 drawings and paintings at that address which portray life in the Navy before, during and after D-Day. You’re going to want to spend some time there, and the pictures can be enlarged quite a bit to see detail. Sugarman served for three years and I believe he is still living as the website shows no date of death.

This one is particularly interesting because you can see how he did his underdrawing before applying paint.

Who’s Your Daddy? – Moleskine

First you saw her, earlier this week, drawn with the Derwent drawing pencils …. (scroll down)
Then you saw him, painted on watercolor paper ….
Now we’ve got them, in my Moleskine, using a more subdued palette of watercolors and a different, looser approach to the brushwork, given the slick nature of the Moleskine sketchbook paper. Are these details boring? I don’t know. I’ll mention it anyway because it’s part of what I’m discovering …
I started this sketch by squinting my eyes and looking for the darkest darks, which I indicated in the rough pencil drawing underneath. I painted the darkest areas first so that I could judge the other values accordingly. Usually I paint from light to dark, so this was a difference for me. Only after the hen and rooster were both finished did I decide about the color of the background (top) and the shadow below. I kept reminding myself to “think shapes” rather than to literally try to make it look like a shadow. I can honestly say that this is the first time that the “beading up” nature of the Moleskine paper worked to my advantage in creating that pebbly ground texture in the shade. Gotta remember that.

From this angle you can see his feathery legs, completely obscuring his feet. He’s not a Leghorn, what is he? It also occurs to me that I didn’t see anyone trying to pick up or pet the hens in the petting zoo. I’ll bet he would have pecked them if anyone had tried. The guy’s just doing his job.

The spread is 10″ x 8″ and so far I am keeping my resolution to paint every day.

Little Kids

Another watercolor exploration painted from two different source pictures, which I shot. Although the little girl was very lively, she was quite careful with the small animals. The scene reminded me of the gentleness we are all born with, and which always lies within us, no matter how old we may be.

The actual size of this is 8″ x 8″