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


White Pitcher

Even though this still life is fairly simple, it has always been one of my favorites. It used to hang in a light wooden frame (that matched the bowl here) in my kitchen, and I couldn't keep from pausing to look at it. Oil on canvas board, 11 x 14".


Three Eggs

Oil on canvasboard, 12 x 16".



various birds, coutour line in ink from reference in a book on sketching

Little Doggies


Bull Terrier


Boston Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

Six stylized illustrations of small dog breeds. Initially sketched on paper, then scanned in and drawn in Adobe Illustrator with the pen tool, using vectors. It may look simple, but actually took many many hours to get the shapes of the lines just right.



 Have you ever watched a cat trying to catch a red laser light? It is absolutely hilarious. Our Asher was highly disturbed when we first introduced it- because he couldn't hear it or feel it under his paws. He would run away from it abruptly or hiss. Now he realizes it's a game and goes just wild. He spins in circles after it like a dog chasing its tail, or leaps high up the wall. Sometimes he lets out a short sharp meow. When he's had enough he lies down panting and looks away, or hisses at the light.
This sketch caught him crouched in stalk mode. He had just started to wiggle his hindquarters in preparation to pounce. Graphite pencil.


Shaft of Light

Shaft of Light Triangle Bombing in the City.
Gouache on illustration board, 10 x 10".

I am feeling the urge to get back in to pastel painting once again, dive into the subconscious images and wonders that unravel themselves slowly from my head into my hands. Strokes of color across textured rippled undulating paper weave, smudges and sneezes included. It should be easier here at my new apartment in spite of the small space because of the wood flooring. I can just sweep or mop afterwards. The small grains of colors won't work their way into the carpet, but slip and slide across the varnished floor, climbing up onto the currents of air to drift in blind circles, settling on whatever they can...


Staffordshire Bull Terriers

A portrait of three staffordshire bull terriers I did for a woman who babysits my mother's dog. Graphite pencil on bristol.



At some point early in the learning process, an art student must learn to depict form, the illusion of shape on a two-dimensional surface. That means drawing many boxes, spheres, cylinders and other basic shapes under a bright light, sitting in the half gloom bent over your paper. After getting a general grasp on contour, edges, reflected light, core shadows, reflected cast shadows, highlights, etc. more complex forms are introduced. Like folds. For some reason I always worked away at my folds until they were larger than life, with more volume and presence than the meek drapery sitting in front of us. I don't know why. Maybe I was trying to so hard to get the illusion of real dimensions on my paper that I over exaggerated every turn of the form.

Charcoal pencil on paper.


Syrup Bottle Bird

There is something very engaging and fun about doing this found-object assembly sculpture. Even though I have a nasty headcold, as soon as my daughter was asleep I pulled out the junk box again and stayed up four hours later making this bird. It's quite a bit of work, too. I need better tools; making holes in tin with a steak knife isn't the easiest.

I was thinking of a peacock when I put this bird together, but something about him suggests a secreatry bird as well to me. He is made out of a plastic syrup bottle, plastic milk jug handle, computer parts from inside an electronic alphabet desk toy, a coat hanger, various wires and elastic, plastic rings that held juice jugs together, a plastic pudding cup, a tuna can, four wooden pencils, thumbtacks, tape and a broken pair of safety scissors. Oh, and some elmer's glue and tiny screws in his gullet to balance the weight of that tail.

Still in progress; which is why I show most of these shots in black and white. As soon as I can purchase some spraypaint I'm going to make him all black except for the tail, then put a layer of irridescent blue and green cellophane over the tail and parts of the neck.

He stands about 12" tall at the crest of his head, and 13 or 14" at the tail (I can't find my ruler).

Check back here later to see the finished look!


Something New

I haven't done any painting in a few months, all you've been seeing here are old pieces. With a recent move and visit across the country to relatives for the holidays two weeks time, I simply haven't found time to arrange a corner to work in, pull out and prepare my materials. But after a visit to the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, I felt inspired... to do sculpture. Usually I'm poring over the paintings but it's been a long time since I visited a museum and this time what really grabbed my attention and thrilled me was looking at the sculpture, especially tribal works of African and Early American peoples. There is something about three-dimensional work that I find fascinating. The objects are not an illusion, they are a real presence. They take up space, they demand to be noticed, they watch you with their eyes. The cast shadows and reflect color and shift their contours with the movement of sun and shadow over them.

Creating the illusion of three dimensions in drawing and painting is a challenge and skill. In three-dimensional media it is another thing altogether. You are not creating the appearance, you are making the thing itself. The greatest demand in sculpture is that the object must be pleasingly aesthetic from all sides and angles of view.

And yet it is something that came easily to me in art school. I only took a few sculpture classes, one in junior college and two at the university, but they were so much fun for me. It was a delight, not a drudgery. Textures and contours and angles and planes and materials molded under my hands... I didn't get very far in any one material, just dabbled a bit in everything: mold making, plaster carving, found object assembly, clay modeling, paper folding. If I can find photos of some of those works, I will post them up here.

I still had my sights set on children's illustration at the time, and thought it improbable to find studio space large enough for so physically demanding a work as sculpture. But all through college whenever I got bored or frustrated with my painting, I fell back on sculpture. It was usually bent wire at the time, in mind of Alexander Calder. One of my instructors commented on it, how I always ran away from my assignments to make these twisted wire animals. He said if that was in my heart so much, it was what I really ought to do. But I only half-believed him, and doggedly plugged on with my painting.

Until this week. I felt so inspired by the museum's sculpture collection that I couldn't stop thinking about it, and talked about it over and over with my husband until he said "if you want to do sculpture you should just do it. Start now."

Well, I don't have studio space, or a garage I can mess up with stone, wood or clay. I don't have a kiln to fire in, I don't have a yard to work in. I don't even have a spare bedroom I could cover the floor and convert into workspace. Nor do I have a lot of resources right now to buy expensive materials; even a student-grade clay is several dollars a pound!

But I have junk. Everyone has junk. So I set a box aside for my junk and started collecting everything in the house that didn't have a proscribed use or owner, and wasn't perishable or too fragile. Broken toys, plastic containers and bottles, a coil of wire, ends of string, a cloth strap to who-knows-what. Glue, needle-nose pliers, scissors and that's it. At the end of the week my box was full (my toddler keeps asking to play with "the stuff in mommy's box" but I won't let her!) and my kid went to bed early.

So I cleared off the table, dumped out all the stuff and made something. It took about two hours of rummaging, twisting, cutting, pinching, snipping. At first I thought to make a turtle out of the domed back of the pink barbie car, but a yellow plastic lemon-juice bottle became a dog's head so that's what it turned into. He's not quite finished yet. I photographed it black-and-white because the bright colors are distracting to me. I'm planning on painting it all one color (black, probably) and adding a studded collar. And he still needs a round tummy.

My daughter saw it up on the shelf this morning and didn't recognize that it was her car turned into a dog, but that the bright colors meant toy: "what is that thing up there for me?" she said. I wouldn't let her play with it but took it down so she could see up close. What is it? I asked her. She couldn't say, but pointed: he has feet, and he has windows. I asked her about all the other parts: does he have a nose? eyes? ears? tail? back? When she had pointed out all the body parts I asked her again what is it?

"A doggie!"

Although I still dream of doing large-scale sculptures with smooth, flowing lines and abstract planes, right now I have to work small. Until I can buy some clay and find a means to fire it, I have my mind set to do more found-object sculpture. With the pleasant thought that perhaps I am also helping the environment a bit: every piece of junk that goes into my art is one less thing in a landfill.


Mug and Apples

This is the second oil painting I did, a week following it. With the exact same objects. I used a small brush and more medium, with quite different results. There is a slight glare on the right edge from photographing. The painting is 16 x 20".


Rough Mug

Just for interest, this is the first oil painting I ever did. On a canvas panel, 12 16". It has a sketchy, textured quality I never quite achieved again.



This is the same model from yesterday's post, The Jacket. She was seated in the chair with the props on the table. The wall decorations, floor pattern and tablecloth design were all invented into this painting. Oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20".


The Jacket

White and black charcoal on toned canson paper, 18 x 24". Drawn from a model. I always liked the slight exaggeration of her features resulting in this drawing.