New Drawing Completed: Raven Study

Just in time for Halloween, here is a link to my web page with a recently completed drawing of a Raven. I tried to play around with the graphical elements of the raven to produce a dynamic pose even though he’s perched on a static limb. By spreading the feet, lowering the center of gravity and stretching the neck out just a bit, I hope it imparts a feeling of potential action that I was going for.

The print is available in both 11×14 and 16×20 frame sizes and printed on 100% cotton rag fine art paper with pigment-based archival inks.


Plans for our basement renovation

I’ve been working on the plans for our basement remodel for the last couple of weeks. I ran across a great application by Google called SketchUp. It’s a great application to create 3-dimensional models and it’s FREE! It took a bit to learn the application and I would highly recommend anyone interested to view all of the online tutorials before diving in.

Our basement is partially finished and we’ve been making due with cold concrete  and really inadequate lighting for quite a while. Our new plans will involve the finishing of two separate rooms, one a smaller bedroom that we’ll use for framing and matting and a large common room (shown below) that we’ll divide into an area as an indulgent reading room along with a separate office / studio space for myself. I’ve included some images from the SketchUp program showing our current plans.

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Raven Study study

I hope you’ll excuse the quirky title for this smaller sketch. I am nearly finished with a raven drawing that I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks. It’s taking me so long because we are beginning the process of remodeling our basement and I’ve been developing the architectural drawings for the contractor. I’ll try to post a separate post to talk more about this process.

Turning to the sketch, the first thing I’ll comment on is the paper selection. I am a paper nut and have a large 14″x17″ portfolio packed with numerous different papers (I believe there are 12 or more in this single portfolio. I use different papers depending on the subject, the size of the piece, or simply my mood for that day. This is one of those times when I went back to a paper that I seem to be drawn to whenever I really just want to have fun drawing a piece — Arches Hot Press watercolor paper. I use the back side of the paper which lacks the laid pattern of the front side. It’s a wonderful paper for pencil drawing because it’s quite robust, allowing the artist to erase lines, lighten previously drawn areas, or simply scrub in some really beautiful darks.

The reason I selected this paper for the raven was that it allows an extremely wide contrast range and also allows me to create some intricate details at a fairly small scale. It seemed to work pretty well for this piece.

I am going to really try to use Arches more often as I really like the results I can obtain with it and it feels a lot more like sketchbook or drawing paper than bristol board. It’s a little finicky with hard grades (2H or harder) but if you use a dab of blending with a tortillion occasionally, you can avoid having to use extremely hard pencils.

How To: Dog’s eye tutorial

Eye ~200% enlargementOne of the most common questions I receive at shows is “How do you draw an eye?” usually followed by “…and make it look real?”

Well, there’s a long answer which would involve talking about reflectivity versus absorption, varying textures, pencil grades, layers, etc., and then there’s simply showing what I mean step-by-step. This post will attempt to explain the process by walking you through a 15-minute drawing and how I go about drawing eyes.

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Portrait of “Scout”



Portrait of Scout


A recently completed commission of Scout. I had the opportunity to work with the owners to create this portrait of Scout and include her favorite collar.

The owners seemed to be pleased with the results and responded,

I haven’t drawn a Yellow Lab in quite a while and it was a nice break from the black lab I draw so often. I love black labs, don’t get me wrong, it’s more to do with the amount of graphite required. My next commission will actually be both a yellow and black lab on the same page, so I guess I get the best of both worlds.

The drawing was done on Canson’s Bristol art board which worked well for the most part. I am used to a bristol board that is virtually indestructible, but alas, this paper eventually threw in the towel while working on Scout’s left eye (screen right). I would caution other firm-handed artists from relying on this board if you are likely to rework an area multiple times.

Most of the drawing was completed with Staedtler 2mm clutch pencils ranging in grade from 2H to 2B with a little 6B wood-cased pencil thown in for the darkest parts. The drawing took right around a week to complete with lots of tweaks and changes to the drawing done along the way.