Monday, January 15, 2018

A Saint Michael Wood Cut-out
Saint Michael the Archangel (detail).

Been working on ideas and sketches for a series of works to be shown at a spiritual gallery here in Colorado. I'l be posting more about that soon!
Detail of the early stages
Working on top of ochre-orange primed wood, I drew the angel with a brush and black paint, then began adding the tones using blue grey in four values. I like the rough look of the brush-and-paint, which I always hope will somewhat remain in the finished art.
Once it was cut out (using a scroll saw), colored glazes were applied in many varying layers. All that's left now is to build the shadow-box frame in which he'll be displayed. Then on to the next saint--probably Saint Francis of Assisi.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 5, 2018

The (Magical) Hermit: A Painting Sequence

I start with sketches--in this case I just wanted to figure out the character of the tarot Hermit, so didn't worry about a composition rough. At this point I don't want to draw a perfect rendering because I want to keep my options for the painting open and flexible.

Often I use a terra cotta gesso as primer--a wood panel from the craft store is the surface here. I freehand the initial drawing using a brush and black acrylic, fixing and altering stuff with the gesso when necessary (it's very opaque). The benefits to not tracing or projecting my sketch: I don't get bored with re-drawing; good surprises happen at this stage; and the final drawing is looser--resulting in a more lively finished painting.

For this work, the next step was to put in the cool colors and establish rough shadows. Putting in the brightest light helped me gauge the other values as well.
Adding lighter values and more color comes next. I pre-mixed a limited palette of colors, greyed them down, then created value strings for each color. It makes the painting process go quickly as there's no guesswork or wasted paint. For this work: Greyed down orange, blue, green, and yellow.

There you have it--an oval (for no real reason), one-of-a-kind, tarot card on thick birchwood.
And you can own it! Here's the link:

Thanks for checking it out, and for your support of the arts!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Little Guys on Cardboard
Been experimenting--trying out some glazing techniques I want to use on a project this coming spring. These two fellows are painted on some cardboard rolls I'd stashed under the table in my studio.
Painted the cylinders with a mixture of ochre and sienna, drew the guys with a brush and black acrylic, then painted them in grey monochrome.
Followed that up by using tinted glazes to add subtle color variations. 
I have a few more I want to work on--good thing because it's pretty fun.

Thanks for checking it out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Some Plein Air, and an Experiment, cont'd

Been working on many projects in the studio, but also taking some time to do a bit of on-location drawing and painting with some fellow DIS members. This study is of a garden off an alley in my neighborhood. The place has always fascinated me. I finished this at around 12:30 pm. It is 5" x 7".

Yeah it's November in Denver and there's still green grass and living plants. That's creepy. 
I took this photo around 10:00 am, before I began the pen drawing which I then filled in with watercolor. Then we got hungry and left for lunch.

Here are a couple more, done a few weeks earlier. Both studies are approx. 3" x 4".

An update from the last two posts: I'm still completely off of Facebook (outside of checking on events) and
 only occasionally looking at Instagram.
What I've noticed in 20 days since the beginning of An Experiment :
1. Still feeling better mentally; much lighter and more content.
2. I'm now sleeping through the night, every night. 
(Prior to bailing on social media I'd gotten used to waking around two or three am and not being able to fall back asleep for an hour or so. Previously, I seldom looked at screens late in the evening and never checked my phone during the night, so the new sleep habits have nothing to do with that. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I don't think so.)
3. I'm reading a ton, compared to the last 6 months. That's no coincidence.
4. Still really don't want to jump back onto social media--it sounds less and less inviting.

I must be incredibly sensitive to Facebook. Oh well.
And that's about it--thanks for the visit!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Angry Goblin Process

A bit of a sequence to this artwork with some less-than-steller iPhone photos.

The drawing began with red colored pencil--Verithin Poppy in this case. White highlights added with a Signo white gel pen. Crosshatching was next.

The finished ink drawing is lightly sprayed with acrylic gloss coating, then color added with transparent acrylic inks.

I like the way the red pencil shows in the final work, and also how the acrylic washes 
soften the india ink lines.

(A follow-up to last week's post: Still experimenting with zero Facebook (outside of keeping up with local events). Continue to feel much lighter and have slept incredibly well this past week. That may be a coincidence, but nonetheless I have no desire to go back to Fb. Not posting on Instagram, but am keeping up with those I follow. IG doesn't seem to bug me as much as other social media, maybe because it's mostly photos of art.)

Thanks for the visit!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Pear Trees at 7:30 am

Have pretty much bailed on social media, outside of keeping up with events and such. I like the way it feels. I don't know if it's a permanent thing.  

Not being judgemental about it or self-satisfied with the decision--just feel happier and more free than I've felt in a long while.

I dunno if a blog is considered a "social media". This auto-posts to my Fb business page tho. Oh well :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Art Book (and a Sticker Pack)!

My artwork from the past three years, compiled in a really nice, 96 page volume!

This past year brought a solo exhibition for me at Helikon Gallery. Along with the show, the gallery director and illustrator, Cayce Goldberg, designed this 96 page book.

I got to watch--and add my thoughts--as he worked on laying out the covers and pages. It was a fascinating process, and I've nothing but admiration for Cayce's skills as a writer and designer.

 Many of the page layouts feature the finished work along with the initial sketch and process photos...
...along with pages that show close-up details of my drawings and paintings (with my short commentaries about technique, or process, or thoughts about influences).
There are even great layouts of my sketches (and a few "portraits" of my friends) designed consistently by theme...

...including pages that deal with my fascination with Alice's Adventures.

It's a volume that pretty much covers my work and process, and I'm very proud of it.
The gallery even created a companion sticker pack to go along with the book and exhibition!

If what I create happens to resonate for you, both book and sticker pack are available here:
Your purchase helps me continue to make art, 
and I very much appreciate your interest and support--thank you!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Afterword at Helikon Gallery--Opening this Week!

Above is one of the posters for Afterword. A Tribute to Literature.
It's the completed piece from my previous post,

Here's the line-up of all invited artists for an easier read :)

Many of my friends are showing works in this show. If they have a website, it's listed below. Click on their names for more of their works--you'll be amazed!

Here's the direct link to the show:

In addition to Afterword, Helikon Gallery is presenting
Goodnight Sweet Prince--The Artwork of John Van Horn

So much stunning artwork to enjoy--so please come out this Wednesday or First Friday and support the arts, working Denver artists, and a great gallery!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Macbeth and a Ghost: Afterword at Helikon Gallery
Macbeth and Macduff (preliminary sketch). Ink with watercolor, approx. 3" x 5"

Over and over again, Helikon Gallery presents unique and amazing shows. This November I'm pleased to be part of Afterword: A Tribute to Literature 

Shakespeare's Macbeth is a favorite. The sketch above was a preliminary for the piece I was planning on submitting.
Macbeth Sees Banquo's Ghost (preliminary sketch) Red pencil and ink, approx. 4" x 5"
I was fascinated by the witches in Macbeth, but terrified by the ghost of Banquo, so instead of my initial idea of Macbeth and Macduff's final battle or a painting with the witches, I ended up thinking about a composition that included Banquo's ghost. I did three or four different thumbnail compositions for the piece, but liked this one best.
This is the initial pencil drawing on brown paper, enhanced so you can see the lines, which were actually drawn pretty lightly. The finished piece is 8" x 10".
The crosshatching followed the establishment of the first white highlights and a good tweaking of the figures. The biggest challenge was making Banquo's Ghost transparent, but with the good suggestions of some fellow illustrators, I did it!

You can see the finished, full-color piece by clicking on the link to the show and scrolling down:
I'm excited to be exhibiting my work alongside some gloriously amazing works by other artists and illustrators--please check out all their pieces on Helikon's site!
Hope you can come to the show either for the Opening Reception on November 1, 2017, or on First Friday the following Friday, November 3rd.
Thanks for checking this out, and for your support of the arts!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DIY Artwork Bags

Recently read about a company that made carrying bags for artwork, and they sounded great.

Especially because this photo illustrates my usual method for carting artwork to galleries and conventions.
I struggle philosophically with using petroleum-based plastics, and bubble-wrap and foam cost a lot too. After one or two wraps, it's torn and fit only for the trash. And that's a tough one for me to justify. Plus it takes copious amounts of time to wrap, unwrap, and re-wrap artworks.
Unfortunately, when I checked out the pre-made art-bags, I found them very expensive--upwards from $20 per bag. I figured making them myself would be easy and cheaper. And it was both.
Luckily, awhile back I took a sewing-machine class in order to make cloth goblins.

So I bought $30 worth of thick felt (made from recycled plastic bottles) and made 30 carry bags of different sizes. It took 6 yards of fabric.

I'm not fast at sewing, and it still only took me 5 hours to make all the bags. They work great! I'm sure a crafty-er person could add string-ties or other fasteners and make these even better. But for now, all I have to do is slip the artworks in, fold the top, put them in boxes, and take them away.

Still have to depend on bubble wrap and foam for shipping artworks, but these bags are great for a more ecological, quick, and safe way to deliver paintings to their destinations.

Thanks for reading!


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