It’s the Friday of a Long Week

The last couple of days have not been too productive as far as getting a good start on my next project. Thursday was happily given over to opening day of baseball and all that entails.  It was fun and we got to catch up with folks we only see during the season.  The up side was, with time to kill, I had a chance to go through my reference photo catalogue and pick some subjects to work on between commissions.  This is one of my favorites.  I saw this during a morning walk in the neighborhood.  It is some variety of a Chinese lantern flower.  I’ll have to do a little more research to find out specifically which variety.

lantern flower

Today was spent with the graphic designer at the printer finalizing final proofs for the wedding invitation. Had some glitches with the scans of the artwork that had to be worked out.  Thankfully the designer is a dream to work with.  We both are detail oriented and a little obsessive, so when I pick things out, or ask for certain details that a lot of her clients don’t (see or ask for), she doesn’t get ticked off.

Hopefully Monday I will be able to start Tahoe’s and Cowboy’s portrait so I’ll have a draft to share in my next update.


WIP on Maurice

Maurice’s portrait is done! Work progressed quickly without many distractions the last couple of days.  I’m happy with the final result and hope his human companion will be as well.  I will be interested in knowing if they share it with Maurice’s therapy clients and hearing if they enjoy it.  I know he is a great addition to my portfolio.

He is a furry little guy with a combination of short and longer fur. It made for some fine detailing work especially because of the numerous colors in his coat.  It was a good exercise of using a light hand and blending with pencil strokes.  I also used wax paper and sometimes an eraser, to remove some color for highlights and to get more depth in some areas.   Love the wax paper but it is not great if the pencil is more than a couple of layers.


Next up are a Tahoe and Cowboy, a friend’s two cats as a birthday gift for his girlfriend. It’s a nice change as I seem to mostly get commissions for dog portraits, and even though I love dogs, I have always had cats.  I get my dog fixes working with my clients and going to dog oriented events.  Speaking of that, I will have a booth at an upcoming event sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundation.  The event is a walk to raise funds for cancer research for dogs.  It’s a good cause and you might want to look for one of their events near you.

WIP on Maurice

Maurice’s portrait is coming along nicely. His coat is surprisingly varied in color, but the differences are subtle.  I’m glad I have a couple dozen reference photos of him so I can separate shadows from coat color, especially around his muzzle.  I am always drawn to light colored fur because of the blues, yellows and soft pinks that come into play. In this case, not only does his coat have very light coloring, it also has golds and a rich spectrum of browns.


I really enjoy working with a subject that has so much personality without having to be told too much about him by his owner. While every animal has their own personality traits, many are way more obvious to their human companion that to those of us who do not know them well.   In Maurice’s case, he just oozes character, making my job easier and way more fun.

I have spent a fair amount of time on his ears today. The coloring is very soft and the changes subtle, calling for a very delicate touch with the pencils.  Blending is working well, but I have found that certain colors can leave pills of residue.  Cleaning them up is tedious, but I have not found a way to avoid this happening.  A photo of the progress as of today included.

Next Project in the Queue

I have just completed artwork for a custom wedding invitation, but won’t be sharing it until the invitations have gone out. I stopped working on my blog, bad me, but am back to it again as I start the new project.  I have started on the next project in my queue, but it has been hard to make progress due to a number of distractions, mostly out of my control.  Had plans to spend most of today on it, but again, circumstances have interfered. 

Ever had one of those days where stuff just comes up or takes a lot longer than planned? I have had that week.  All the while the charming little character who is the subject of the new project seems to be jumping off the paper saying “Draw me!  Draw me!”  Hopefully I will get more extended periods of work time going forward.


Now, a little about this project. Meet Maurice.  Maurice is a friendly, energetic and sweet Chihuahua.  He is a great friend to his human, and is also a therapy dog.  For any of you who have known any Chihuahuas, they seem unlikely candidates as therapy dogs.  Maurice is definitely an exception.  While he absolutely has a ton of energy, he is actually pretty calm and focused.  I met him at a dog park, and he was ready to socialize and play with his toys.  It was pretty easy to attract and keep his attention while taking photos.  But when all the big dogs started showing up, the poor guy could hardly stand it.  As a reward for begin such a cooperative subject, he got to go and play with his buddies on the large dog side of the park.  It was so funny to watch him…a real Mutt and Jeff show.  Maurice is a great subject and I am already enjoying working on his portrait.  He makes me smile because he is such a happy guy.

WIP – It’s Done!

I’m done with the artwork for the banner but need to let it sit and look at it for a couple of days just in case I decide any tweaking is needed. Or, if I notice anything else that needs to be cleaned up.  First thing next week, it goes out for digital capture.  Once that is done, the digital file will go to the printer to add the text and print the banner.  And the really fun part of the project?  Delivering the banner to the school’s gardening club.

I am very pleased with the results. I have not used both Prismacolor and polychromos in a single work before.  As I have noted in earlier postings, they each have their attributes and challenges.  I won’t say weaknesses; it’s just knowing when the best time is to use each one.  I will say that I am anxious to create a piece with an animal as the subject, using only polychromos.  I’m curious how they handle for detail like fur on the Dura-Lar film.done1

I feel the use of a number of different colors and making sure they were balanced and complimentary works well. I thought about that quite a bit while I was working on the layout and choosing the subjects.  I was definitely willing, and prepared, to make changes at any point if it started to fall apart or not work.  Happily that was not necessary and only a few minor changes were needed as I was working.

This was absolutely one of the more enjoyable projects for me since a lot of the works I take on are portraits, and that does get repetitive. Getting to pull a composition together from just ideas is fun and rewarding.  It was a real treat to be able to work on so many botanical subjects, especially fruit and vegetables and the insects.

WIP – Grapes and Butterfly

The banner project is moving along pretty well.   It’s nearly done and I’m really looking forward to getting it scanned so the text can be added to the digital file.  I’m debating on the background color.  I’m thinking it could be sky blue or white.  The beauty of working on the Dura-Lar is its transparency.  The finished work can be placed on background colors to get a pretty good idea of how it will look when printed.

As with the honey bee, the monarch butterfly required fine detail so the polychromos pencils were perfect. I prefer them for this type of work.  No breaking of points hence no swearing and massive frustration.  I also think the color saturation is more delicate and I able to get a different effect than I do with the Prismacolor pencils.  A more pastel palette if you would.  Not the look I want for everything, but it’s nice to have the choice.grape leaves2

The grape leaves were fun, especially since I decided on fall leaves. I think a little less green is not a bad thing for the composition.  Shadows and color variations on the yellow leaf took a while and some testing on scrap to make sure the results were what I wanted.  Picture included and I hope you enjoy.

WIP – Urban Garden Banner

It was nice long holiday weekend used to catch up on errands and visit with family in from out of town. In spite of all the activities there was still time to work a little on the banner.  I think I’m done with the sunflower, or at least the center.  Tiny, tiny little seed pods.  I think I’ll need to get stronger reading magnifiers after that.  I’m really appreciating the polychromos pencils for the fine detail, but still like the Prismacolor for color choice and for their layering ability.  The effect is wonderful.  You can see the individual colors but still get a richness and depth as the final result.

I’m pretty pleased with the tomato plant. I think the choice to include fruit in various stages of ripening worked out well.  It was an interesting problem to capture the variety of greens and delicate reflections of red and yellow.  I don’t know how well that comes out using my phone for photos so sorry if that doesn’t read.grape2

I’m holding off on the monarch butterfly and purple cabbage leaves until I finish the grapes. I want to spend as little time as possible exposing the tomato fruit to heat from my arm since that causes some very light smearing and takes a lot of time cleaning up.

I’m working on the grapes now and will use fall colors for the leaves, red, yellow and green, for balance. I also think they will read well from a distance.  Makes me want to do a little wine tasting.