High Summer Light

Admittedly it is not yet summer, per the Sun, but it’s getting an early start with the amazing blue light that makes me giddy for a few weeks around the solstice every year. The sun is nearly at the zenith at noon, the air is boasting a cool fresh ocean breeze scented with magnolia blossoms, and as I sat drinking all this in, the most colorful thing to be found in corporate landscaping was sitting there right in front of me.

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Late Season Weather

Spent a fabulous (and chilly!) morning at the beach this weekend, with a very late storm moving in. The storm only bothered dropping a smidgen of rain, but more than made up for it with dramatic skies. There was a tanker at anchor looking close enough to touch, container ships waiting for POLA/POLB, and… something between the drilling platforms. What is that? Read more

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!

Coastal Fog

Just a moody morning on the coast. I love the beach at dawn: it’s quiet and uncrowded, and the weather and waves have a subdued and beautiful vibe that can’t be found at any other time. Today, a fog bank held sway over the outer waters, providing a dramatic backdrop to the drilling platforms.

Bonus sketch: a random gull. This is tiny, a quarter would cover up most of the bird’s body.

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.