mouseover any illustration tagged "sketches" to see the original drawing


Abby Tabby Cat

Graphite pencil drawing of my abbysinian/tabby cat, when she was quite young.


Mother Nature 3

Well I think it is almost finished now!


Metal and Blue Sketches

Two pen and ink sketches of the Metal and Blue Pitcher still life painting I did.


Birdman Cell Sketches

More sketches of Birdman Cell that I drew right after I had the dream.

This one is actually my favorite now.

Here's the one that resulted in the painting.

I still wonder if I ought to repaint it more faithful to this sketch, since the low wall and floating window communicate something very different from the cell he is in now.


Little Metal Horse

Here are some sketches of the small metal horse in the still life painting I featured yesterday. The first one on the left is most accurate to his form.

An earlier idea of the still life, with my spider plant.

Another version with a small linseed oil bottle.


Still Life with Books

My current oil painting is going very slow. Mother Nature gets only a few details added a day, since I am busy facing an impending move, figuring out what to do for the holidays, and of course living life with a two-year-old. Her big thing right now is puzzles, so I spend a lot of time on the floor putting pieces in for her!

Well, until M. Nature looks different enough to show her face to the world again, here's something else! This oil painting of heavy books was the last piece I did for a school class. It features my desk lamp, an old mug I bought from a thrift store and kept pencils in, my unabridged dictionary (pale cream) and the largest textbook I ever had to buy for school: History of Art. In the spotlight is a small horse figurine that I picked up in an antique shop one time. I was really taken by his character.

I am really sad that I can't find him since our last move. I am pretty sure I packed him away somewhere carefully, but he's not to be found now. I really hope I didn't loose him. I don't know what kind of metal he's made of, but it's quite soft. Originally he was standing on a thick rectangular base, but I felt I had to free him of that and whittled it off with a pocketknife while I was visiting my best friend Rachel. I remember her making a comment about how that was a gesture of the artist in me: if something wasn't quite right aesthetically, I had to change it! Well, I did feel much better to see him free-standing.

I'm going to look for the sketches I did of him, since the details here are a bit blurry. I'm not quite sure which sketchbook they're in though, so it may take me a little while.

Here's a detail shot of the pattern on the mug.


Golden Gate Bridge

So far this is the only painting I have ever done on site, plein aire.

I had a friend who was in no way an artist, but one day he said "let's go paint the bridge, I've never done that before!" He bought himself a canvas, borrowed an easel from somebody and a few brushes and paint from me, and we set up on the sand on Baker Beach at about six in the morning. We stayed way too long, the light was already shifting shadows far beyond where they had started. It was a lot of fun, though.

Near the end when I was stepping back to evaluate my painting, a sudden gust of wind blew it off my easel face down in the sand. I brushed most of it off, but a lot of sand grains remained, giving a lot of texture to the surface that I hadn't exactly planned on!

It is oil on canvas, 12 x 16"

Here we are on the beach painting.


Mother Nature 2

More painting work.
All the colors blocked in now except
somebody's foot near her shoulder.
It's about halfway there now.


Mother Nature 1

The first hour of work. With a two year old in attendance, mind! That means for every five minutes of painting I put the brushes down and spent four to twelve minutes helping her, answering a question, etc. That's what I get for being too eager to try out this new stuff, and not wait until nine pm when she's sleeping.

Another hour or two, later in the evening. It's quiet, the child is dreaming, and I am painting. Time forgets about me...

I'm using Artisan water mixable oil colours. It is quite a shift going from months and months of pastel painting back to oils. Felt a bit unfamiliar at first, but now that I've got the colors going on smooth and creamy, I feel like singing! I don't want to touch the leaves much again here, they feel just about perfect.


Chicken Lady Scribble

The original scribble of my daughter's that I drew the Chicken Lady from. I had thought it lost but found it.

Just so you can see again, here's the sketch I made out of this drawing. The original post about the Chicken Lady is here.


Mother Nature Sketches

The beginnings of my next painting, Mother Nature. This sketch came from images I saw in another scrawl done by my daughter.

After doing the value study I realized her toes were backwards and I wanted to make her foot on the left side larger.

Here is a quick idea of the colors that I hashed out with my two-year-old's colored pencils. They're not good quality, and I don't think I'll use them again for this purpose. But it gives me some idea of what colors I want where, and I did fix the foot-size and am now considering making her dress white.


Fierce Little Tiger

Small drawing of a tiger (about 3 by 4 inches) done with colored pencils on black paper.


Bell Jar Lizard 5


Here's the head so you can see all his nice little nasty teeth.


Two Boots

Sketch I did today of my two-year-old, in graphite pencil. I think this is the closest likeness to her that I've achieved so far. See previous sketches of her here and here.

It was really difficult because she kept climbing on me to see what I was doing: "is that my eye? there you draw my nose! there my hand!" and so on. Then she wanted me to draw her boots into the picture. All day long she has been wearing one of each pair of boots: green frog-eyed rain boots my mother gave her, and tan fake-leather fur-lined snow boots my mother-in-law gave her (and a long-sleeved shirt, striped leg warmers and her favorite flower underwear). The line of the shirt hem goes through her left knee because I added the legs after the rest of her was sketched out. Her right hand was in an odd, empty gesture, since the first lines I put down were when she was standing on the sofa leaning on the arm of my chair, but now the gesture was changed. So I drew under her hand a small stuffed dog.

When she saw me drawing the dog she ran and got her own drawing materials, "I draw with mommy! We draw together!" and we did. I think she understood the idea of drawing what you observe because when I adjusted the position of the stuffed dog on the table, she protested, picked it up and moved it closer to herself: "No, put over here, I draw doggie! Need to see him!"

Never mind the fact that her drawing looks more like a potato growing eyes than a dog. Her basic shapes are becoming recognizable at least, and she differentiates between making circles for head, eyes and nose, and straight lines for ears and tail. (Announcing each part as she draws it).

Here are my daughter's drawings:


Bell Jar Lizard 4

The mountains were inspired by photos I took of the Badlands in North Dakota.


The Little Prince

One of my favorite stories is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exuprey. This is a watercolor painting I did to illustrate the cover of the book.


Bell Jar Lizard 3

More work on the Bell Jar Lizard.


Bell Jar Lizard 2

Last night after everyone was asleep, I pulled out my easel again, cracked open boxes of new art supplies, and got silly giddy happy over painting once more. I didn't even linger over the new materials, but just dived right in. Trying out new papers, this first one a Fabriano Ingres, Italian made. Also a packet of finger cots, rubber-glove tiny pieces that just cover your fingertips. Only I found I'd ordered a size too small, so they were cutting off my circulation. Not good. I snipped the rolled edges off with scissors and just stuck the remaining short film over the three fingers I use the most. It got soiled fast, but kept my fingers cleaner than usual. I just can't keep them out of my work! I've bought chamois, stumps and tortillons before, but they end up sitting forgotten while my fingers do all the rubbing, smudging and blending. I did pick up a new pastel brush, but all it did was remove pigment from the paper, not blend it. Maybe it will be better for later layers. I set it aside again.

I'm probably going to get ill someday from being so literally hands-on in my painting process. There was a story passed around in art school that an instructor of mine had a small wound on his thumb that never healed for seven years, because he always got oil paint on it. I was horrified by the idea! Hopefully these finger cots will postpone some of the possibility of contamination for me. They certainly let me work the whole hour at a strech without running to the sink every ten minutes to wash the dust off my hands.

I remembered this time to pad underneath my paper, so that the pastel strokes would go on smooth and soft. It's fortunate that I had ordered some interleaving paper too. I replaced all the tracing paper sheets that were separating my paintings in flat storage with interleaving, then put all the dirty tracing sheets under my new paper for padding. It worked great, and I got one more use out of those old tracing sheets. I never liked using clean papers meant for new drawings or paintings for padding, even if they're not going to get smudged. I'd rather use something I know I don't care much about, so this was perfect.

So here's a few hours' work into the Bell Jar Lizard, starting again. I tried to be more true to the sketch this time, but already see some things that need adjusting. The bell jar flares too much at the bottom, has too much of an hourglass shape. In the oil study it was too straight, but now it's too curved. I'll correct that next session.

To see the sketches and previous work on the Bell Jar Lizard, go here.