Seasons Change

A few months ago, this hill was screaming neon green thanks to the record rains we got in the first part of the year. Today? Everything’s changed! The lush, rich grass is now cured in place and the only green is provided by leafy summer trees and bulrushes. We’re back to normal, really. Wet winters are an exception around here. Semi-arid climate is the rule!

After the clouds broke, I spotted a lizard sunning on a curb. He was still, but for his head swiveling around, for plenty long enough to sketch him. Of course a car parked and scared him off before I was quite done. The sketch was far enough along at that point to finish from memory. Cute little guy, I enjoyed studying him from a little distance.

My Platinum EF pen was at home on my desk, so both of these are drawn with the Kuretake #40 brush pen.

A Special Treat: Ladybug En Plein Aire

Today I found not one, but two, different ladybugs walking on my truck. One looked like the seven-spot ladybug I drew from a photo during Inktober. My lunch break was almost over, so I decided to concentrate on the spotless wonderbug that was toiling up the window frame.

This took maybe 10 minutes, much of which time was spent staring at the bug. I didn’t have a magnifying glass to see it any better. Fortunately for me, the face makes it easy to identify both the bug and its gender: it is a male Cycloneda sanguinea.  He stood still, cleaning his face for quite a while, and of course began walking away before I was quite done painting him. I watched him to the end of the door frame, where he spread wings and departed. A wonderful way to get back into plein aire sketching after spending time on some other projects!

Another Carousel Horse

This horse occupies the same page as the previous jewelry sketch. It came about for a very different reason than the first one. I received some paper samples to test, and decided to paint a full body carousel horse on it. Well, that paper and I are not a good fit! The entire experience was a disaster, drawing, inking, and painting. It felt and looked terrible. I’d taken a couple weeks off of painting to work on some other projects, surely I could not have lost my touch in so short a time… how to find out?

A spontaneous sketch, that’s how! This was done with a few swoops of the brush pen, and a splash or two of paint. So much better! The Garza Papel CP in my sketchbook works like a dream in comparison to the other paper. Not naming names until I’m ready to write a proper review; suffice to say that I won’t be buying that stuff anytime soon.

In the meantime, enjoy some fast, loose fantasy horses done on a joyful whim.

Boehlkea fredcochui

121516-blue-tetra-finish112116-blue-tetra-5-IPOK, it’s a little late for Morevember, but it’s in the same style. Another aquarium fish, this time the less-well-known Blue Tetra. They are easy to find in fish stores but nowhere nearly as well known as their more colorful cousins. The subtle play of color was a fun challenge. The fish look silver at a glance, and show their brilliant flashing blue when the light hits them just right. Reflecting and pearlescent color has always fascinated me, so these fish are a natural favorite. A little white gouache over the dorsal area gave it the exact hint of translucency I was looking for. Like the Cardinal Tetra, this one has a careful pencil sketch below the ink and paint.

Putting all the values in with stippling was a tour de force, but an enjoyable one. I love watching a form emerge from thousands of tiny little dots. It’s amazing what we can do with ones and zeros.

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I’m looking forward to more of these fish!

A Thanksgiving treat: Praying Mantis

This was a very happy surprise while visiting family for the holidays: a Praying Mantis on my mom’s garage! The first I’ve seen in all the years she’s lived there, and the only one I have ever observed live and up close. Such incredibly interesting creatures. She was very visibly turning her head to keep an eye on me as I checked her out.

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It’s Morevember! Starting with a Cardinal Tetra

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You might recognize this if you ever had a fish tank – well, almost. It’s a Cardinal Tetra, close relative of the Neon Tetra, which is one of the most popular aquarium fish in the world. I’ve always been a little obsessed with Cardinals and have kept plenty of them over the years. They’re hardy with a bit of care, and so incredibly beautiful. Saw a massive school of them at a public aquarium – in aggregate, they’re just breathtaking.     Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 31 – Candy Corn

103116-inktober-candy-cornAnd now, the last and final drawing of Inktober 2016. Some allergy has gotten the better of me lately, and if there hadn’t been a challenge on, I would probably have blown it off and gone to bed early. It’s been such a great month though! I couldn’t possibly let the last day go by without a sketch to commemorate the end.

So here it is, simple and seasonal and fun. This is my new best friend the Kuretake #40 Ink Brush and a few paints you’ve seen before: the orange team PO73/PO62, PY154 yellow, PV23 and burnt umber. Thanks to everyone who favorited and retweeted these, and especially @slczouk and @TheresaHaworth on Twitter for drawing through it with me. I would have probably fizzled out half way through except for you!

Now, at the suggestion of @GMTminus7, next month is going to be Morevember. I’m glad she said it, because I can’t stop anyway. Ink and wash is far too much fun to quit!

Inktober 2016: Oct 30 – The Monument

103016-inktober-slczouk-statueThis is painted with permission, and an invitation, from @slczouk  – link goes to the lovely photo she posted on Twitter. (Thanks, Sara!) All those swirls in the angel’s dress were irresistible! Like all the Inktober pieces, I went in cold with the ink, no preliminary pencil lines. There have been a few mishaps regarding proportion this month, so I watched carefully to make sure everything fit together, and that the whole statue fit on the page. The dress swirls are reasonably true to the ref – I went a little more freestyle in the wings, just to get it done in one evening.

Ink courtesy of the Kuretake #40 ink brush. (The cartridge ran out part way through, which was a very happy accident. The bristles were sufficiently ink-less for some nice drybrush texture on the monument base.) The statue is toned with Daniel Smith’s Bloodstone paint. I usually don’t like it, but here it offered just the right tint of color to give the statue a little character. The base is a combo of Bloodstone and Sodalite; trees are Green Apatite with touches of PO73, PO62, and PY154 for the fall leaves. Sodalite again in the sky. About 8.5″ x 4.5″ on Strathmore Windpower 140lb CP.

Inktober 2016: Oct 26-29 – Raccoon

102916-inktober-raccoon-finalLook at this cutie! Drawn especially for someone who loves raccoons. Hard to believe I spent four days on this, but that’s what it took. I have spent so MANY years trying to get paint and water to save me drawing every little hair of fur-bearing critters. It’s been an enjoyable pursuit!

This time, I drew every little hair. And, I enjoyed every moment of it! Well, except for one horrifying hour.

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Inktober 2016 – Oct 24: The Finished Bat

102416-inktober-fruit-bat-completeThis may be my favorite artwork of Inktober so far, if not the entire year! Now I understand why Flying Foxes are so called – fruit bats all seem to have very canine faces. Some do indeed look very fox-like; this one slightly less so. They are complex and interesting creatures I’d like to know a lot more about.      Read more