Friday, December 11, 2009

IF: Hatch

Hello, all.

I wasn't going to post for this topic, but I couldn't resist...

The title of this one is "Chicks Dig Me". It was an example of a drawing I made for my Advanced High School Art students. It's not the best drawing of a chick in the world, but I like my little guy.

This may be a reach for the topic, but when I saw 'hatch', I kept thinking of chicks.

My original plan was to design a whole series of images based on pimped out farm animals and call it the "Livestock Playas" series. That has gone on the back burner, but I do plan to come back to it.
The drawing is in graphite over a gessoed surface.
In the meantime, making up the animals and pimping them out is a lot of fun.
Have a great week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ilustration Friday: Music

Hello, all.

I have several images dealing with music. I have an ongoing series of pieces related to Coffehouse Jazz, as it is very popular here in Greensboro. Between N.C. A&T State University, UNCG, and Greensboro College, there are several places that allow for practicing musicians to sit in for a set or two. The bulk of my observational drawings are made up from sitting in on these sessions and either sketching the musicians or the audience.

I was lucky enough to meet Paul Goodnight a few years back. He told me that artists and Jazz mucians have a lot in common, that while there is a steady rhythm to an image, an artist should look for ways to be improvisatoinal in the creation of his composition. Every since then, I have looked to Jazz as an inspiration to work from.

More to come.

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Final Process

Hello, all.

Well, this is the part that usually goes pretty quick, although I have not had a lot of time to focus on the piece in the last few days.

What you see are layers of colored pencil. I try to limit my palette as much as possible, sticking with white, several cool grays, a few blues, flesh tones, sienna, and umber. I use these to build forms and value transitions, along with local colors when necessary.

I feel a need to also point out some product choices here. To the left, you see Rustoleum Clear Finish Spray Paint (matte), Liquitex Basics Gesso, and Koh-I Noor Woodless Color Pencils.

All of these 'discoveries' came from the necessity of being cheap. When I learned the original technique from Alex Bostic (an instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University), I went with the cheapest stuff I could find. I found that when I used the Rustoleum, it had a very grainy finish. A bit aggressive, but it can be lightly sanded back. As for the Basics Gesso, it is student grade (not as high quality as the artist's grade), but I like the tooth of it much better for graphite drawing.

Last but not least, I tried the Koh-I-Noor colored pencils because a set of 24 was only 13 bucks (and with my 40% off!!). I find that they are much richer than the industry standard, Prismacolor. There are only two drawbacks. First, the palette of the woodless pencils is only 24 colors. Prismacolor has them beat on that front, hands down. Second, because they are woodless (basically a big chunk of pencil coated with lacquer), they are fragile. I can't tell you how many I've ruined by being clumsy.

So, there you have it. Next, the final finished image.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Step 3: The Underpainting

Hello, all.

So far, we have our drawing, in graphite, on gessoed board. We then sealed the drawing with clear matte spray paint (6 coats), and use a wash of Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, and a touch of Aliziran Crimson over the drawing, thinned with Turpenoid.

The drawing has now dried for about an hour, and I have sped up the drying process by using a hairdryer.

I am treating this as an underpainting. The oil wash is not completely dry yet. I then use several things to wipe away the paint, including bristle brushes, paper towels, cotton swabs, and kneadable erasers. Any and all of these tools work. Personally, I prefer using the kneadable erasers, dabbing at the paint, then a small bristle brush to make a smooth transition. Occasionally, I will use the paper towel.

You have about 24 hours or so before the paint becomes permanent. The longer the paint stays on, the harder it is to remove from the image. I will sometimes wait for several hours before beginning to model the image. The window of opportunity to do this does close, however, so be aware.

This monochromatic painting will provide unity for colors that will be applied on top, but that is to be discussed in the next step.

Have a great week!

Finally, The Next Step...

Hello, all.

I am finally getting around to showing you the next step in my technique. I started an image here, and wanted to show my next step. I have sprayed my image down with clear matte finish spray paint (a minimum of 6 light coats) so that the graphite is sealed. ****THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!*** Without it, your drawing will dissolve before your eyes.

Once sealed, I use Burnt Sienna oil paint, with touches of Ultramarine Blue and Aliziran Crimson, thinned with Turpenoid, and brushed on. You can brush it on evenly or be random and let the paint run, depending on what you like. I put the thinner in the bottom of a metal bowl, then blobs of paint along the rim. I then run the brush along the paint, then lightly dip into the thinner, then brush onto my image.
The great thing is, if you don't like the color, you can still wipe it off at this stage... no harm, no foul.

Once on, you have to let the Turpenoid evaporate some, until the sheen disappears. I sometimes use a hair dryer to speed the process along, which usually only takes an hour or so anyway. Be careful with the dryer, though... you definitely want to dry it just enough so that the sheen disappears, but not much more than that.
Next step soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inspire Me Thursday: In Good Company

Hello, all.

I have had an eye on the Inspire Me Thursday website for some time, but I have never submitted anything until now.

This is a commissioned portrait for the Christopher Family, done in graphite, about 20"x30". I enjoyed drawing this very much, as Mr. Christopher is a good friend.

I thought that this would fit the theme well, as I feel most at ease when surrounded by my family.

Have a great week.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illustration Friday : "Strong"

Hello, all.

I didn't finish this one, but I thought it would be appropriate for this week's subject. A few months back, I posted a different John Henry pic for the word "Legendary". This time, I thought that this embodied Strong.

This is the first stage of my technique. I will add an oil wash next, then a layer of colored pencil last. I still have some adjustments to make to the image itself (adding more rock fragments and other details), but I am pretty much done with this stage.

Have a great week.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Process

Hello, all.
I have had several people ask about my process, and how, if I am color-blind, do I make color images. I thought it would be interesting to post that.

So, here is the first step. Keep in mind, that this starts with thumbnail sketches, (1"x2", as many as 10, sometimes more), then larger sketches (3"x5" or larger, 3 to 5). This one contains a study of the expression for John Henry.

After that, I take reference photos of friends or students and, in this case, myself.

Next, I use tracing paper to work out issues with each part of the image, the figures and the background (learned that from James Ransome and David Gaadt). I then make a composite sketch, full size.
Then, the final image is transferred to a gessoed illustration board that has been sanded w/220 grit sandpaper. I draw it in with a 2H pencil , then switch to a 2B graphite stick or woodless pencil to shade.
I realize that this all sounds complicated, but its not. This is the hardest part. Once this is finished, the easy part comes next.
Stay tuned, sports fans.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quick Portrait Practice

Hello, all.

I decided to post this as I am finding my way into a new medium: conte'. I have enjoyed using it and it has become my first choice for drawing the figure. Right now, sanguine seems to work best for me.

This was a portrait study of my niece, Jazelle, who has been modeling recently for several local groups. We were at the studio of Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon, some of the nicest and most talented artists I have ever met. In fact, I was surprised to receive my latest issue of Drawing Magazine to find that Susan's image was prominently displayed on the cover, and a full length article about her work was inside. She is truly amazing, and so is Scott.

I don't think that I did my niece justice, though... I was rushing through it because I had to leave the session early, but I did like what I got.

Next, I will be giving a demonstration of how I use color to create an illustration.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another Impossibility

Hello, all.

I decided to add another entry. I felt like the boxing piece was a bit depressing, and I wanted to do something more colorful and whimsical.

This was an image that I created as a demonstration of techniques for my students. I was randomly putting unlikely things together and wound up with a pimped-out ram.

I had so much fun with this, that I wanted to start a series of farm animals dressed out in 'bling' (do the kids still say that???) and call it "The Livestock Playas" series.

I'll get to it, one day....

Have a great week!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Hello, all.

Once again, I revert back to my love of boxing. When I read the topic, I was hesitant to post this, because I felt that it was a pessimistic interpretation. However, at this point, it appears that getting up is an impossibility for the fallen fighter.

I was working on a piece that dealt with defeat. It was part of a series. Eventually, I would like to do a piece with the fighter in the corner, with his trainer urging him on.

I had hopes that this would be an image in color, but I never quite worked all of that out, so I have this drawing. I still may add some oil paint and colored pencil, though.

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I.F./Fleeting Moments in the Sketchbook

Hello, all.

For this topic, I decided to include a couple of my sketchbook pages. I love to sit at the Tate St. Coffee Shop and the Greenbean Coffee Shop here in Greensboro and sketch people as they come in and out.

Sketching can be difficult when your subject is constantly moving and could get up and leave at any time, so the fleeting moments that you catch disappear right before your eyes.
I have taken a liking to sketching with a .005 Micron pen. I'm no James Jean (his sketchbooks are amazing!), but I have to admit that I enjoy drawing with a pen. It forces you to be sure about what you lay down on the paper.

My buddy, Tom Reis, is the one that inspired me to begin using a pen, although I did sketch a lot with ballpoint before. His ability to capture scenes and details are amazing.

I hope that everyone has a happy holiday.

Have a great week!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Illustration Friday/Poised

Hello, all.

I felt that this piece fit the topic of poise, in particular being poised and ready for action. This is a drawing of Lefty Gomez. From what I remember, he used to play with Babe Ruth. I'm sorry I don't know more, but I am not a big baseball fan.

This was another piece created for a baseball show here in Greensboro. Before I came up with a system to work with color, I used to stain my paper with either coffee or tea, then draw on top of it and add highlights with white pastel. This one was done in colored pencils.

I hope that I'm not forcing the topic here... the connection may seem like a stretch.
Have a great week, everybody!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Royal Brush Company Drawing Sets

Hello, all.

I am excited to announce that the Royal Brush Company has recently released several drawing sets, two of which feature images that I created. : )

A special thanks goes to the guys @ Royal Brush Co., (the makers of Royal & Langnickel brushes) and Gus Dovellos, the V.P. of Sales and Marketing. They found my website and asked for the rights to use a couple of my images on their products.

That was a year ago, and now, they are finally here @ Hobby Lobby in Greensboro. I was running errands for my wife when I walked by a set and did a double-take. I yelled out loud and everyone around me thought I was nuts, but I didn't care, it was great!!!!

The image is one that I submitted for the IF topic "Strings". There is at least one more set with one of my figure drawings on it, but I didn't have enough money to get it. I hope they still have it when I go back (there was only one).

I'm not sure where or in which parts of the country the sets would be. They include a set of woodless graphite pencils, drawing pencils, charcoals, and pastels (black, white, sanguine, and gray, I think), along with erasers and a sharpener.

I just had to share... I am sooo excited about this!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I.F./The Legendary John Henry

Hello, all.
They say timing is everything. It just so happens that I finished this piece a couple of days ago... who knew that it would fit perfectly with the Illustration Friday topic? :)

I have been working on this idea for over a year now, with lots of frustrations. There is something about working on an idea on your own that feels a lot like learning to ride a bike. You spend so much time trying things that don't work. It can be daunting, to say the least.

All that being said, I have the first of what is to hopefully be several images of the legendary John Henry. This is the eighth version of this image. I have learned lots about taking reference pics, sketches, using tracing paper to plan space, research, and my ongoing developments dealing with my oil/colored pencil technique.

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Illustration Friday/ Mother's Instinct

Hello, all.

This was an image I created for my portfolio for a story about getting ready for church on Sunday. It has some proportional issues, but I (and my wife and daughter) still like it a lot. It even won Third Place in an exhibition at the Center for Visual Artists here in Greensboro.

When my daughter was born, my wife was concerned about doing her hair and doing it well. It seemed like an overwhelming task, but of course, Mother's Instinct took over, and she's been doing it every week now for nine years.

Thanks to my wife and daughter for putting up with me and posing for countless images.

Have a great week.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Illustration Friday/ Hang Time

Hello, all.

This week's topic made me think of sports, which is odd for me, because I only follow boxing as a sport. I just couldn't get the image of "hang time" out of my head.

Ozzie Smith earned the nickname 'The Wizard' for some of the extraordinary athleticism he would display on the field. This was part of a baseball show that was done a while back here in Greensboro to correlate with our new stadium and local minor league team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Several of my buddies did great work for the show, including Dave Stanley, Tom Reis, and Marshall Lakes

This image came early on in my endeavors to be an illustrator. It was an okay image, but I have learned a lot since then. The extended arm, for example, should be bigger to heighten the sense of space.

This was my first piece in colored pencil. As I have mentioned earlier, I am color-blind. I remember working on this piece and bringing it in for a critique. One of my buddies noticed that I used green instead of black (or is it black instead of green... ???) on his uniform. I did feel comfortable doing this, though, because I could read the writing on the pencils and organize them in terms of value.
The background is actually an old piece of mat board sprayed with bleach. I had it spinning on a potter's wheel to get the effect. I had the board for almost eight years before I came up with the idea of using it for a background. I was pleased.
Well, I'm off to work on some more art. I will be posting an image of John Henry soon, along with some more figurative studies and a few sketchbook pages.
Have a great week!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Illusrtation Friday/Resolve II

Hello, all.

I just couldn't resist posting this image. I am a HUGE boxing fan, and this image keeps popping up in my head when I think of the word "resolve". Boxers train really hard for weeks, sometimes months. The best ones are highly disciplined, focusing on their training and nothing else before a big fight.

I don't know if I will EVER be able to post two images for one word, so I figured that this would be my chance.

Have a great week!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Illustration Friday/Resolve

Hello, all.

For Illustration Friday, I thought that this would fit well. This is a sketch I did in a doctor's waiting room from an article during the election. Either Democrat or Republican, no one can deny the historical event that, admittedly, I thought I would either see as an old man, or not at all.
My sketch makes him look a bit old. Not the best in the world, but I do like it.
I hope that everyone has a great year.