A Study in Shadows

The sun found an old pallet this morning, and so did I. Fortunately it was just the right time for an irresistible display of shadows and lines!

The wood is rendered entirely in Raw Umber and Cobalt Blue mixed on the paper. Placing washes of pure color and letting them flow together naturally allows for soft grays to form, with a few saturated areas to keep it lively. The sawhorse leg behind is Daniel Smith’s Graphite, and a touch of Green Apatite forms the grass.

If you’re curious, here’s the rest of the pallet in context. Wish I’d had time to paint the entire scene!

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.



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


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!