I was lucky enough to be able to go to Portland, OR last month and visit a conservation and restoration studio (MPF Conservation) where some historic carousel horses from the Jantzen Beach Carousel were in-house being evaluated for restoration. There were about 15 of them there. So interesting! Here are a couple of my takes of two of the horses. I penciled them there and inked them at home.
I had an opportunity to lead a 3-hour workshop, “Keep a Daily Sketch Journal,” at the Redmond Library yesterday. I had 15 students and there were 18 people on the waitlist! It’s nice to know that there are lots of people in the community who are interesting in sketching more or at least learning about it. I had a great time and it was very satisfying because the students all seemed to get something out of it. I loved seeing the variety of things people chose to draw from their day. I will do another sketching workshop there in the fall on nature journaling. The date’s not been set yet but the library did promote through Nextdoor.
Are you interested in what’s been happening in my studio over the past three months? You’re in luck. My June newsletter is available full of photos of students’ work, carousel horses, class projects and a gallery show, as well as a very adorable dog and person pair from a recent pet portrait.
The June Newsletter is now available!
Click here to download the PDF.
I have been taking a visual storytelling and illustration class with Tara Larsen Chang at Cloud 9 Art School for the past few months. We are going to have a pop-up show with the students’ final work at Tsuga Fine Art in Bothell, WA. Meet and greet the artists on Saturday, June 29th, 4pm - 7pm. It’s been a fascinating process and everyone’s pieces are so different. There should be many examples of each student’s process and journey from beginning idea to the completed artwork. Come and enjoy!
The images above show some of the design process for me. I decided I wanted an illustration of a cat relaxing in the sun in a pot. Cats in pots are called nekonabe in Japanese. I lived in Japan for three years and I wanted to include various Japanese themes in my illustration. My cat will be in the sunlight between the shadows of a window frame. I auditioned a variety of shadows on my piece. I decided there would be tatami for the floor and that meant researching it, testing out how to draw that texture and also finding a tatami mat ribbon trim. I wanted some cat toys in the picture for my indolent cat and thought of a large kicker fish toy. Since I lived in Japan, I know they have lots of fish on flags for Boy’s Day, so I came up with a pattern for a fish toy. Then where should the toys go? I cut out some paper shapes and played with their positioning until I found a placement I liked. I made a sample fish toy so I could get the right shadow shape. The final picture is starting the painting process.
Recently I started adding color to my drawing of a Portuguese tile pattern that I saw at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal last summer (although I wrote Porto in my sketchbook). I love the way one block pattern can be complicated enough that it takes 16 tiles to show it!
These are some pictures taken during its progress to being currently somewhat painted. I typically work on my projects about 30 minutes at a time. For these tiles, I start with a pencil and ruler and mark out on my sketchbook page where I’m going to place them. I like to draw a solo tile, then in a group of four, and then, here, in a group of sixteen to show the additional pattern that is made. I find the center lines and diagonals in each square and then start sketching out the pattern. Sometimes I will draw the whole pattern first then ink it, but here the design was complicated enough and my hand would rub off the graphite, I inked some parts before I did more pencil. Once the whole page was inked, I scanned it so I have it available for the future - I was thinking of a coloring book of Portuguese tiles. Then, I added color to match the tiles I had photographed.
It’s a time consuming but very satisfying process. I will continue to add blue watercolor to the rest of the drawing but I rather like partially complete painting too. I will scan that before I continue. Which do you like better - partially painted or fully painted?
Here is my latest pet portrait. This is of Finn and Nancy, his person. I love drawing different breeds of dogs because they are so unique. I really enjoyed this picture of Finn and Nancy because having them together really showed off just how large Irish Wolfhounds can get. Also, the two of them were clearly happy and content together.
Please contact me if you’re interested in me doing an ink and watercolor pet portrait commission for you. I work from your photos. Check the link for more information or email me at email@example.com.
One of the recent exercises was to make a color wheel with primaries (Red, Yellow, and Blue), Secondaries (Orange, Green, and Purple) and Tertiaries (the colors between the Primaries and Secondaries). But part of making a strong picture is choosing the right values. As long as the values work, it doesn’t matter what the colors are.
Above, the right picture is just making a black and white version of my color chart on the left. What’s fascinating is seeing how similar in value some colors are (the yellow green and the yellow-orange as well as the blue, red (rose), and red purple). It is very hard to look at colored things and assess their comparative value. With enough practice it can be learned though and getting a start on that is part of my next six-month plan!
Here is a drawing I recently finished up of some artichokes I took a picture of at Russo’s, wonderful market in Watertown, MA. I do a lot of my drawings using reference pictures, and after I started sketching, I take my photographs differently so that I can sketch from them later. I love going to markets and seeing all the displays of produce piled up. I often go to a local Indian and Asian markets just to admire their fruit and vegetable displays. I sometimes will also come home with unusual things, for me, both to draw and to try to eat or cook - dragon fruit, bitter melon and drumstick beans have been some of my experiments.