Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pepper Clock

Peppers, watercolor on illustration board, December 18, 2011
This is going to be my new kitchen clock after I attach the motor and install the hands and put it in a square, black frame. No one else in the world will have a clock like it. I like unique things. I'm not sure what possessed me to use illustration board with watercolor. The paint dried almost on contact with the board. It ended up looking more like acrylics than watercolor, but at least the surface is super flat, which is what I wanted.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lake Erie Captain

Lake Erie Captain, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1992
This was another gift for my dad. I drew it from a National Geographic picture of a boat captain whose port was Put-In-Bay, located on the north side of South Bass Island in Lake Erie. I grew up in northwestern Ohio, and we frequently went on day trips in our small power boat. Put-In-Bay was about the farthest we ever ventured across the always-choppy waters of Lake Erie. I think all artists must have a favorite piece or two from their body of work, and this is definitely one of mine. It's been almost 20 years since I drew this, and I'm still pretty pleased with how it turned out. I was always very comfortable with this technique. It was strangely relaxing to lay down all those short, little lines. After an hour or two, the image just begins to appear, almost magically.

Dad's Lighthouse

Dad's Lighthouse, ink wash on illustration board, 1984
My dad didn't actually have a lighthouse, but if he could own one, this is the one he'd want. I was home for Christmas break during my year at art school when I made this for Dad. It hangs in his home office. So much of the artwork I produced during this period of time was black and white. Art supplies were expensive, and I was convinced I would ruin the picture if I tried to use color. I chose to go with what seemed safe. I learned about the thousands of shades of gray.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Katie, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1988
Here's another "blast from the past." I presented this drawing of my niece to her mom, my sister, as a Christmas present in 1988. I drew it from a photograph. I knew I wanted to draw the simple, ruffled dress and the adorable bonnet, sitting off-kilter on her head. The adorable face was also a huge attraction! She was a wonderfully pleasant baby. As I recall, the picture was taken in bright sunlight, which is why Katie is squinting slightly. This sweet, baby girl is all grown up now and beginning her career as a financial analyst near Washington, D.C. How time flies!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quiet and Carefree

Quiet, watercolor and pen on 140lb. paper, 2011
There is a long story behind why I chose to paint this scene, but the story is too personal to post publicly. Maybe someday.... Short version: I love window seats, yellow and blue is a favorite color combination, and hydrangea is a favorite flower. But, more than all these things, I love quiet. I want everything in this picture...except the sloping floor. I'm an artist, not a builder. As is often the case with watercolor, the most interesting things happen by accident. The flower vase on the right is a good example of this. Having the green flower color bleed into the vase was unintentional. It's my favorite part of the picture. Ah! Blessed quiet serendipity!

Only Today

We Have Only Today, watercolor and pen on 140lb. paper, 2011
This was a study to refresh my color mixing ability and get comfortable holding a brush again. It's been years since I last worked with watercolor. Too long. But, as the saying implies, it's never too late to begin. My signature is reduced to initials, which I prefer.

Intro to Watercolor

Sit a Horse, watercolor on illustration board, 1996
This is my first attempt at watercolor, and I really had no idea what I was doing. I was learning every time I put the brush to the paper. I learned all the tricks for "picking up" paint that didn't go down the way I wanted it to. The colors are rather uninspiring, but I was especially pleased with how the hair turned out. I like the simplicity of it that takes full advantage of the paper color. Her hair really was that color--like spun gold. In this picture, my daughter is four and is learning to sit on a horse. She was immediately hooked, just like I was with watercolor.

The Necklace

Girl with Necklace, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1987
I did this shortly after we moved to New Mexico. I thought the necklace would be difficult to get right, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. It's the focus of the picture, which is unfortunate. The focus should be on the girl's face.

Wrinkles and Folds

Guillermo, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1989
Fast-forward to 1989. We're in New Mexico now, so I needed to draw a rancher. I drew him from a picture in National Geographic. It's weird that I still remember his name. The fascination with folds in fabric continues...and folds in skin, too, apparently. I was always on the hunt for good, wrinkly subject matter. Notice, I'm still afraid of color. I obviously thought it was important to have an artsy signature by this time.

From Art School Days

Girl in Scarf, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1985
Another art-school-era piece, hastily done for a grade. I had an early fascination with the folds in fabric. They practically drew themselves, which was good, because it was likely 2:00 in the morning when I did this. I was enrolled in four art classes at a time and was completing two to three projects a day. It was creativity overload.

Lots of Lines

Ozark Farmer, mechanical pen on illustration board, 1985
This is a very early piece, done while I was in art school. In fact, it was a project for my Life Drawing class. I was experimenting with mechanical pens and working almost entirely in black and white, convinced that I could never master color. I was offered a job because of this piece. It's a long story.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Already an Artist

Moleskine watercolor sketchbook number 1, page 1, November 21, 2011
As a child, I always wanted to be an artist someday. I had no clear idea of what that meant and no one nearby who understood it enough to guide me toward my goal. Did it mean making a living as an artist someday? Did it mean I would create a lot of artwork when I grew up? Did it mean that some day in the future others would call me an artist? The whole idea was a good, defining dream inspite of its vagueness. I've struggled with the questions my whole life. I assumed I couldn't make a decent living as an artist until I was better at it and had a good portfolio and that I would never have time or reason to produce a body of artwork until I experienced more of life. I've questioned whether I had a life worth drawing. I was caught in a vicious cycle that kept me from being what I always dreamed of being. Now I realize I should just draw my life, past and present, even if it doesn't always seem worth it. I have been an artist all these years, even though I've produced very little artwork. I see the world as an artist. I have to work hard to see it any other way. I wish it had not taken me so long to realize that back when I wanted to be an artist someday, I was one already. I'm starting an art journal--something I wish I had been doing my whole life. Above is the image on the first page of what I hope will be many pages and books to come.