Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grove ~ alcohol ink on Yupo


This may be my last ink painting for awhile. I have some wonderful references I'd like to paint in watercolor next. I'm fairly happy with this one although it could use a few tweaks. I also still have plans to make that video demonstration of alcohol ink painting but that will have to wait until the holidays have passed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Complicated Landscape~ alcohol ink on Yupo


I spent a lot of time on this landscape because I had an image in mind when I began which isn't necessarily a good thing when working with these inks. They definitely have a mind of their own. You can build up fairly thick layers on the Yupo that can be manipulated with a bamboo skewer or brush, keeping in mind the less manipulation, the better the outcome. I finally received my 18 gauge oiler boiler which I filled with 70% alcohol and reworked the lake area in the foreground more than once to get the effect I was after.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Simple Landscape ~ alcohol ink on Yupo

No ideas for a good title yet but I liked the movement in the sky. No need for a sun or moon this time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fantasy Forest ~ alcohol ink on Yupo

My latest ink painting. This time I went with a forest scene in vibrant colors to bring the fantasy. Creating the leaves and undergrowth is so easy with my trusty felt stamper.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Xmas Card ~ wax paper & alcohol ink

I've been laying down a few sheets of wax paper to protect my work surface when painting with the inks. Today was cleaning day which included replacing the wax paper which had become wrinkled and covered in dried ink. When I removed the tape that held it in place I realized the patterns that had formed from all the excess ink runoff were beautiful and shouldn't be wasted. I belong to a group of alcohol ink artists on Facebook and many of them have posted images of glass ornaments they have transformed with alcohol ink. Idea! The colors were not only just as vibrant on the wax paper but the crinkled texture was very intriguing as well. I cut out an ornament shape and glued it onto hotpress w/c paper with Mod Podge. I dipped a small sponge in a little of the gold mixative and stippled that around the ornament to create a subtle background. Ta Da! A Xmas card!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Where Sky Meets Sea


I finished this one up today. I haven't had success since but not for want of trying. I created a beautiful background but ruined the foreground of another. And so it goes....

Monday, December 03, 2012

Fire Line

This is my latest ink painting. I just finished it and was reminded of a fire line aka firebreak. I see creeping rivers of fire held back by an open space, devoid of vegetation, while trees still stand in the background untouched.

I created this with various blue inks along with Sunset Orange, gold mixative and plenty of blending solution on Yupo. It never fails to fascinate me watching the inks move, expand and often produce amazing textures with little or no help from me. In fact, the less I 'help', the better the result.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Back to the Inks

I'm back to my alcohol inks and trying a few new techniques. I met June Rollins on Facebook through Wendy Videlock and joined June's AI group on the site. When I saw June's blog (link) I realized that I had seen her work before. She creates the most amazing land and seascapes with alcohol ink on Yupo. June calls them her 'Dreamscapes'. I ordered her DVD and was inspired to start working with more of the Ranger metallic mixatives along with a few new ink colors such as Terra Cotta and Denim.

This particular painting was done with Twilight Purple, Eggplant, Terra Cotta and Ranger's gold mixative. I created the crescent moon with the help of a plumbing and house planning template (link) and a little 70% alcohol on a Q-tip.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ complete

I can't call this truly complete until my client gives it the "ok" but I've got all the elements painted at last. I felt a little pressured because this painting has lived on my kitchen table for the past month or more and Thanksgiving is coming fast. Just about every little detail has some meaning and importance so nothing could be omitted. Also, for some reason, I felt compelled to see this through to the end before starting another project. Sorry if I haven't posted many updates in the past few months but now you know why. It's also time to get this into a sleeve and put it away somewhere I can't see it for awhile so I can view it with fresh eyes. This is the first painting I ever dreamt about. I think it's because every single thing about this painting has taken me out of my comfort zone and much of it has relied on my imagination combined with my client's verbal descriptions. I don't paint children, I don't paint landscapes, I don't paint little 3" long cats or people's faces no more than an 1 1/4" in size.  I guess I can't say any of that anymore.

Note: My client is happy with the portrait, I'm equally happy to report.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ WIP 5

Another update. I finally completed the background. I did wind up requesting feedback on a critique forum but didn't get much help. I decided I was wasting time and probably overthinking things so one sunny afternoon I sat down and just banged it out. I've since added a pale blue wash to the sky and will probably add another before completing the leaves on the trees. Whenever I sit down to paint I'm always tweaking one or more of the girls. I can't help myself. If I'm not painting on this portrait I'm staring at it, continually seeing things I've missed or need improving. I'm guessing the biggest problem I'm going to face with this undertaking is deciding when it's done.

Note: the shawl tablecloth isn't bright yellow. It's yellow ochre.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mr Doob Cat

I took a break from the portrait today to play with Mr Doob:  It's an online digital sketching/graphic art program that allows you to let your creative kid come out and have fun. Of course, I had to do a cat. Google 'Mr Doob' sometime and give it a try. I couldn't seem to post a hot link on Blogger today and one word of caution. It doesn't work well with IE7 so if you run Firefox or Chrome you shouldn't have a problem. Btw, this took all of 2-3 minutes to complete. Easy peasy.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ WIP 4

Progress has been slow but steady. It's all those teeny, tiny little details like the grapes in the pedestel bowl that I can not sit and focus on but for a few minutes at a time. Gradually it's coming together, though. I'm still undecided how to resolve that background so I may seek opinions from other artists on that matter. One thing I do know. Once the little details are completed that background should go much more quickly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I dug this one out of the archives. It's an old pastel I did (from my warped imagination) for a Halloween contest. I still think he's pretty scary.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ WIP 3

Here is the latest update. I've made some progress but had hoped to be further along by now. The girls are finally starting to get their hair and I need to work on the grass as well. Ah, the grass. There will be lots of it as this is a full sheet of 300# Arches CP w/c paper. It's been a long time since I've worked on this weight of paper and forgot how it loves to gobble up pigment. I'm also used to working on bright white paper (and this isn't) but my reasoning is twofold. My client requested that the palette for this portrait go with her wallpaper. It doesn't have to match but can not clash. She sent me a sample so I have a reference to work by and the colors are low chroma for the most part so bright white paper wasn't necessary. Also this portrait will hang in an area that may expose it to some humidity and the 300# is less likely to buckle.

Working out the background has been challenging. I have only a very basic knowledge of landscape painting and how to create depth of field so I'm learning more as I go. My client suggested the tea party be flanked by trees and trees I do know how to paint. I decided a lavendar hedge would be lovely on the right but I'm not sure what's going on the left yet.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ WIP (better photo?)

A slightly better image. It's been cloudy all day and for some reason I could not get a sharp image but here it is as promised, warts and all. At least the distortion is gone. I've since begun working on the tree on the left side and added a lot more masking for the flowers and grass but the light is just too dreary to try another photo today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sweet Tea ~ WIP 3

First, I want to apologize for the lousy photo I've posted. I'll take a better one tomorrow using the tripod. It's also distorted because I was shooting at an odd angle. I was losing the natural light so I rushed.

I took a break after completing the final sketch(last update). Truth be told, I was simply burned out and didn't want to hurry into painting and ruin this portrait. Instead I threw myself into some Spring cleaning. Yes, I know it's Fall but better late than never...huh? I started painting yesterday and by today managed to get the girls mostly completed. The skin tones were my biggest concern and because I have no real references I've been flying by the seat of my pants here. They still need hair and clothes but I think I'm going to start on the background next and let it tell me what reflected colors, shadows, etc. I should add. And I promise to post a better image tomorrow.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fall Header

The photo for my new blog header is courtesy of Julie Christiansen of Charlevoix. She's an amazing photographer. Thank you, Julie!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sweet Tea (formerly 'Precious') ~ WIP 2

 Notice the title change? All the sisters have been discussing the final title for this family portrait and Holly won with 'Sweet Tea'. Congratulations, Holly!

This is also the final sketch (hopefully). I'm pleased with it but I will probably get some feedback as most of the women represented in this portrait are watching my progress via this blog.

Each little girl is represented by something she is either associated with now (as an adult) or as a child.
  • Angie - the oldest at 12. She was the 'little mother' so she sits at the head of the table and pours the tea. She also loves grapes hence the bowl of grapes in front of her.
  • Marie - 11 years old. One of the family artists so she wields the paint brush.
  • Rita - 10 years of age. She loves bangles and necklaces and as a child, was the one that brought smiles and laughter to the others.
  • Louise - age 9. She is represented as smiling and happy with bouquets of flowers.
  • Holly - age 8. She was very close to Louise as a young child so she sits, picking flowers for her. There's a funny story behind the dragonfly on her hat but that will be left as a private joke.
  • Katherine - age 6. She was the littlest because of health issues so she gets the most cookies.
  • Eva - age 5. Poor little thing is trying to say grace at a tea party!
  • Melinda, the baby -  Hand on the cat. What baby doesn't like the feel of cat 'purr'?
  • The Cat - This kitty will eventually become a tuxedo cat. Black with a white 'bib'.
P.S. I've added the closeups to better show detail.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Precious ~ WIP 1 (commission)

I know I've been absent for awhile now. No new posts in quite some time but I have been busy. I recently received an unusual request for a family portrait. My client wished to have a painting done of 8 women in her family as little girls, partaking in an outdoor tea party. She had no reference photos of sufficient quality to use so I would have to find my own, guided by her descriptions only. Sound like a fool's undertaking? Not really. I was so touched by the story she shared with me regarding her family that I saw this as a worthwhile challenge.

At first I didn't really know where to begin. After going back and forth with her via email an image started forming in my head and I did a very rough sketch on notepad paper with ballpoint pen and sent it to her. She loved it! Now to find my images. This has been the true challenge. I'm looking primarily for children in the correct poses. Many I found with the perfect pose but wrong age or wrong sex, wrong hair style, etc. Surprisingly it hasn't been too hard to turn a 3 year old into a 6-7 year old with very little adjustment and without losing the original pose. Turning a little boy into a little girl hasn't proved that hard either and the hair style changes are easy. Not all poses are exactly as the original sketch but I think things will work out alright. I'm doing this storyboard style, pinning up each child separately on a board in the proper position as I go along.  This will allow me to move, rearrange and enlarge or reduce the size of each little girl as I put this composition together.

There's a lot of work left to do but I wanted to post an update. I'm posting the original sketch and the storyboard as it looks at present.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ completed

I made my tweaks and added a pale yellow wash to the background as planned. The wash doesn't show up as much on the right side of the painting but trust's there. I graduated the wash, heavier on the left and lightening up as it moves toward the right. I also added some pale yellow reflections to the ladies's skin and it gave the painting a glow it was otherwise lacking. I hope the image I post is close to accurate colorwise. I received three Windows updates that threw my monitor for a loop. Now everything has taken on a greenish cast I can't seem to fully correct. Because of this, the image has only been resized and sharpened in my photo editor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 4

Okay, this is where I'm at right now. The beads weren't as tedious to paint as I feared and I hope the feather boa reads as feathers and not fur. I can already see a few things that need tweaking and I want to give the background a loose wash of golden yellow to break up all the reds and purples. I used the method I devised in my last post to create the feathers and it seemed to work pretty well. The red of the boa had to be broken up a little so I added some Perlyene Violet and Quin. violet for color variation and depth. I also used a damp brush to lift out and highlight some of the feathers.  

Friday, September 07, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 3


I've finished the third lady's face and am now on to her hat. The ribbons will be easy, the feathers maybe not so much. I did some experimenting on scrap paper and I think I may have a solution. All her feathers are of the downy variety. Achieving that light, fuzzy effect could still be problematic but I may come close by dropping clear water onto the paper, then taking the handle end of a small brush and 'feathering' the water outward. Before the water can dry I plan to drop in my watercolor, thick paint (straight from the tube), and just let it follow the water as watercolor paint tends to do. I can help it along with the brush handle if need be. While the paper is still damp I can scratch in the quill part of the feathers with the same brush handle.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP update

I thought it might be nice to show how I'm going about creating the facial contours and skin tones. Keeping to a limited palette of FUB and Carbazole violet, I painted the shadows and some of the facial lines and wrinkles with very light washes, building up the value strength as I went along. After that was dry, I used a combo of Quin. red, Quin gold and warm sepia to create my skin tones. I did use a little Carbazole violet mixed with the sepia to warm up some of the shadows. Warm sepia and Carbazole make a nice neutral purple-y grey that works pretty well around her mouth and nose. It's now in the ugly stage but I'm not worried yet. I've seen enough WIP's by portrait artists to know this is going to be alright...eventually. I just have to keep going and not panic.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 2

I made some progress with my second lady today. Sorting out the top of her hat was a little daunting but I'm happy with it for now. Next is the third and final lady and I can't wait to start painting her. She's covered in feathers. Feather boas, feathers in her hat...I have no idea how well I'll do creating feathers with watercolor on this surface but I should have fun trying. I'm saving all the beaded necklaces until last. The thought of painting each one of those shiny little beads makes me cringe but I'll probably develop a system as I go along. I hope I'll develop a system!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 1

It seems like it's been a long time since I posted an update but I have been working at this, albeit slowly, almost everyday. Yesterday was migraine day (bad headache) so I watched the Housewives of NYC marathon instead. Wow, those ladies can get crazy, crazy. Talk about drama around every corner but I digress...

I wound up transferring my drawing twice before beginning the painting. Thank heaven I did those color studies and discovered that mixed in with my Arches hotpress paper was a sheet of Strathmore Bristol Series 500 illustration board. I didn't order it but somehow it came with the Arches watercolor paper by mistake. I remember thinking that the paper felt heavier or more stiff when I pulled it out but continued on, clueless. It wasn't until I laid down a very wet wash that I realized something was wrong. The paper 'pilled' up like an old sweater. I tried the other side of the paper and found that almost as smooth as Yupo. The paint even beaded up on it. That's when I noticed an embossed stamp in one corner stating that it was Bristol board and the really good stuff, too!

I do love a challenge now and then so I decided to continue with the smooth side of the paper and paint my red hat ladies. We'll see how successful I am when it's done.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Red Hat Lady ~ color studies

So far I've done two trial runs on Arches #140 hotpress w/c paper. Wow, it's difficult to retain facial expressions and features while trying to duplicate skin tones, place shadows, etc. I also tried two different palettes and two separate styles. I'm now on to #90 coldpress to see what results I get on that substrate. I'm getting plenty of practice painting faces if nothing else. I'm going to feel like I know this woman personally by the time I'm done.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ sketch

I found these lovely ladies on Paint My Photo. The individual photos were posted by photographer Judy Wright and they looked like they belonged together in a single painting. Aren't they adorable? They are obviously members of the Red Hat Society , an organization started in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper for women over the age of 50 years. The attire of the group is based on a quote from a poem:

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me."

I probably should have started this post by mentioning I am not a people portrait painter. With my sketch complete, I'm scratching my head as to how I plan to attack this project. There are so many styles that would lend themselves well to these subjects. Stay tuned for further developments....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



As often happens with me, I've lost momentum again. Today I took out an old drawing pad and decided to try sketching another composition for my Wreck of the Rhino. Nothing came to me and my mind wandered to other things going on in my life. Ideas will come eventually. In the meantime I found a couple of silly little sketches I did a few years ago of a cat having a good stretch and thought I'd share.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good Ship Rhino ~ color study

After looking at my composition for two days straight, I've decided I'm not happy with it. The left side looks like I simply ran out of paper and I may have to change the entire format. In the meantime I thought it wise to do a color study of my main subject, especially because I'm merging an animal with a manmade object. Will it 'read right' when contour and color are added? I've decided to submit this to a critique forum and get some feed back. I'll see what others have to say(if anything) and post any comments and suggestions on my blog. It should prove interesting and hopefully enlightening.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Ship Rhino ~ final sketch

After countless tweaks I believe I'm finally satisfied with this sketch but don't ask me tomorrow. I may change my mind again. The most difficult thing was to keep the focus on the main subject, the shipwreck. It was becoming more about those octopus tentacles. I hope by using those same tentacles to frame the shipwreck plus narrowing the format and bringing everything closer together I've solved that issue. I may run into trouble again when I add color so I will have to be mindful of that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Good Ship Rhino ~ WIP 3

This looks a little rough because in some areas there are 2-3 layers of tracing paper overlapping.The vertical cut on the right was made to tighten the width of the format. I simply sliced the chosen area and slid it over to the left.

This will be the last update of my sketch before the final. There are still a few things I plan to adjust but I'm close to completion. Once I'm completely satisfied I will do a final tracing and post that before tranferring the drawing onto my working paper. As weird as this may look it is surrealism. I plan to post my thought process while working on this. I must say, it's a great deal of fun to let my imagination run wild and free. I love fantasy, cats, critters and who knows...before this is done there may be a few flowers that show up. Flowers are another love of mine. So fun to include it all in one painting.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Good Ship Rhino ~ WIP 2

This project has begun to turn into a monster, literally and figuratively. As the ideas increase, so has the size of the sketch and my teacup has sprouted tentacles. I now have this taped to my biggest mounting board on my tabletop easel on the kitchen table. I snapped these photos just now so I could post a quick update. I've made some changes to the original sketch and added an overlay of tracing paper showing some possible additions.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wreck of the Good Ship Rhino & a Shag ~ WIP

Inspired by the work of Yuri Laptev, I recently visited Paint My Photo (link) to gather some ideas. I haven't been on this site for ages and was amazed at the quantity and quality of photographs in their gallery. Over 1600 images, all copyright free. I found a wonderful image of a rhino, resting in a zoo enclosure, and saved it to my on-site 'favorites'. Later I stumbled onto another image of a beached fishing boat, falling into decay. The overall shape and angle of incline reminded me of the rhino. I did a tracing of the boat, then overlaid that onto the rhino image and they meshed perfectly. An idea was beginning to form. I added the cormorant later. Whenever I include a new 'critter' in my artwork I like to learn a little bit about it first. Googling revealed that the slang term for a cormorant is a shag. Cool!

I'm now in the process of creating what I like to call a storyboard. Whenever I create a piece from multiple images I like to work on tracing paper. Each element is drawn or traced onto separate scraps of paper so they can be moved/removed and adjusted into various compositions on a board. Because the tracing paper is transluscent every layer is always visible. An example of this process can be seen in the WIP Cawcus (link) , a painting I completed last year. I'm currently jotting down more ideas for this project in a small notebook as they come to me. It should be fun to see this evolve and what comes of it.

Monday, August 06, 2012

What's that sound?!

Another pair of alcohol ink cats on Yupo. I added some metallic copper this time. The metallic additives don't move and flow like the regular inks but can create some nice effects.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Yuri Laptev ~ artist

I recently discovered Yuri Laptev's work on Facebook and immediately fell in love with it. It's full of fantasy and surrealism which I truly enjoy, especially when it's done well. After much Googling, finding many sites that featured bits and pieces of his body of work, I finally located his website. Here is a brief bio (in my words):

Yuri Laptev was born in Petropavlosk (North Kazachstan). He moved to Crimea and studied at Simferopol Design School. After completing his studies, Yuri began working for the Artistic Foundation of Ukrainian Soviet Republic with the specialization in Interior and Application Design and found success and distinction as an artist/designer. He also developed an interest in self expression and worked in several mediums including mosaic and sculpture before finding he preferred working at the easel. In 1998 he discovered he enjoyed digital art as well. 

A more complete bio is available on this website:

Yuri Laptev