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    Welcome to the home of my online portfolio and gallery! Please have a look around and leave a comment if you feel so moved. Thanks for stopping by!


    Watercolor Study

    Sometimes I like to explore a particular feature in a painting-- in this one, it was the hairstyle that attracted me, but it was the model's bone structure that really made it work for me. At this angle and with this lighting, the planes of her face were very visible and interestingly patterned with the red and green reflections, with unexpected (by me) patches of light in parts.I call her "The Woman With the Gold Earring," with due apologies to Vermeer. 


    IlluXCon 5!

    IlluXCon was magnificent! That's the only word for it.


    I have resisted posting about conventions I attend, for fear I'll leave one out and offend the world, but I cannot resist this one. I learned so much, and it was utterly amazing to be in such a creative atmosphere with the top professionals in Imaginative Realism! There are so many people who helped me-- Bob Eggleton, Marianne Plumridge, Todd Lockwood, Jeremy Caniglia, Mark Nelson, Jane Frank, Kristin Kest, Julie Bell, Michael Whelan, Rowena Morrill's SISTER!... I am leaving out so many, I know!!! Please leave me a comment if I left you out! I HUG YOU ALL!!!! :)


    Here are a few works I did as painting-a-day daubs:This is a watercolor over a sketch I did in the car on the way back from the convention. In the UK I found that on the train, I could sketch nature with very little looking down at the paper (and hence little to no motion sickness!) because the motion of the vehicle as it micro-jostles your arm produces natural-looking stippling for trees and such! I did this sketch as a composite of many of the views we saw-- that striking willow on the side of the road looking ghostly next to the dark undergrowth with the blaze of fall colors coming over the top, the RED red barn across the road, and of course the beautiful rolling hills and farmland of West Virginia. I call this one "Ghost Willow, Red Barn."

    Here's a color sketch in watercolor over pencil of a painting idea I've had ever since seeing a photo of a monastery in Bhutan called "Tiger's Nest." I immediately thought of it as a perfect dragon habitat, and people living and working alongside them, and OF COURSE as a nod to the place of inspiration, I've made the dragons tiger-striped. Now that I've done this one and mulled it over, I think I'm going to try composing it in Landscape orientation and tweaking the placement and sizes of the different elements in the picture. This will one day soon become an oil painting.

     Speaking of oils, Marianne Plumridge, one of my artist friends at the convention, inspired me to start getting more comfortable with the paints by doing a painting-a-day exercise with oils. This is the first one I did of these-- photo snapped with the iPad after dark, so the colors and blurriness is a bit wonky. Once it's dry I'll have a proper scan made. I call it "Apparition." 


    What I learned this weekend...

    ... and many, many previous weekends, and I'm sure future weekends as well...

    It's ok to be afraid of new stuff, as long as you do it anyway. :)

    BIG HUGS and a shout-out to the organizers of CSIcon for a wonderful time, and to all the SCIENTISTS and SCIENCE BLOGGERS and PODCASTERS I met and managed to overcome my fear of being a dork enough to talk to-- you are all such a WONDERFUL inspiration!!! 

    (Yes, that's right, I'm afraid of being a dork around scientists, bloggers and podcasters rather than movie stars and rock stars. What's your point? ;D)

    I did a lot of ink-sketching at CSIcon, some recognizable and some not so much-- the point when sketching is less to do GOOD sketches than to simply DO, because skill always follows practice. My sketches from late in the conference are far better than the ones early in, as if to exemplify this principle. :)


    Watercolor madness!

    Every now and then, in a fit of madness, I decide to be a plein-air painter and I pick up a box of watercolors and a bottle of water and zoom off to expand my skill set. What I like to do is render the same subject many different ways, to experiment and to see how the feel of the subject changes with medium and with each rendering. Most recently I was in Stone Mountain, Georgia (USA), for the annual Scottish Highland Games, and there is a GORGEOUS lake in the park that I just cannot help but want to paint every time I am near it. 


    This weekend was perfect for weather, and the fall colors were beginning to show. The lake is over granitic sandy soil, and as such is an amazingly reflective body of water. Here are my efforts in both ink and watercolor.

    I like to do an ink sketch with the brush to loosen myself up. Using a Number 5 ink brush here, I like to use the largest one I can in order to be expressive while still laying down a bit of fine detail.


    Here's the first watercolor. First I dabbed in the upper leaves of the treeline, then the water line. Then after drying, I laid in the base colors with lots of water. After drying (mostly) I dropped in the more vivid colors of the fall trees, then laid in that foreground tree and vegetation, because I like that tree. Canoe Guy was last in.


    On the second watercolor of the lake, I wanted to try to get more brightness, as well as get in some of the starkly light tree trunks on the opposite bank. I managed one and a half here, I think. :) I realized then that the sense of scale and depth of field was lost without some foreground elements, so I just touched in a few.


    For the third effort, I really wanted the colors to pop without quite as much white space as in the second painting, so I mixed them quite concentratedly, adding bold blues and purples as well as those fiery reds. Instead of putting in dark foreground elements to indicate depth of field, I used a fine-bristled brush on the middle trees to make them recede, while the trees at the edges are done with a fat brush to bring them forward, that curve toward the viewer emphasized on the closest side by the deepened reflection.


    Now, when I got back to the hotel, I didn't feel quite *done,* so I attempted to put all the details of the scene together from memory. It really amazed me how much a scene sticks in your head after spending a lot of time with it. I was able to incorporate many details that never made it into the on-site paintings. I used the number 5 brush again, which comes to a lovely fine point for line work, or you can scrunch it out for a feathery look, and of course the line work almost automatically becomes more expressive compared to using a pen.


    For example, here's a speed-sketching exercise I did using a Micron .005 ink pen, where you can see the expressiveness comes from the speed causing that differential pressure of pen to paper. This is from a photo of Durham Cathedral, and I put a time limit on myself so as to make it gestural rather than purely descriptive. It's a great way to come to grips with architecture, getting the feel of it rather than the precision of it. That can come later. 


    I used to be terrified of re-drawing and re-painting. But in recent years, I find that freeing myself to draw and paint the same thing many times has been essential to my growth as an artist, both technically and expressively.


    Cambridge update!

    Here I am in Cambridge, UK, on a proper painting holiday!!! I have walked, snapped photos, sketched, biked, snapped photos, sketched, walked, drawn, inked, oil painted, and biked and walked some more!!!

    There is a lot of food for inspiration here-- architecture from the 1040s through the modern era! In between talks about ladybug stress, fairy sex, and how to navigate the local area when drunk, I've been practicing my ink technique on both architectural and organic forms. I like to use fine point Micron archival pens, one with a .05 mm nib, one .005 mm nib, and a .01 mm nib for supplement. I've tried to be loose and free form, even with fine ink work, so I don't sketch with pencil beforehand, but just try to let the shapes flow together comprehensively. This has led me to some compositional nightmares that have been fun to fix, and the whole process has become really enjoyable!


    Additionally, Cambridge artist Diana Probst invited me to visit her studio and shared some of her oil painting techniques. She taught me many valuable lessons about oil painting that have been really difficult for me, as a longtime acrylic painter, to process. We started with a simple still life, a bell pepper turning from green to yellow, and in the afternoon allotted, I was able to do two renditions (one of the 'front' and one of the 'back). I could tell I was absorbing the technique because the second painting was a definite improvement over the first.


    There was a lovely life drawing session that we attended at King's College-- the model was terrific at being still and yet not stiff! I did some ink and brush to warm up, followed by a 45 minute pencil drawing. Coming soon  are some photos of my various sketches of Cambridge people, places, and things. I helpfully neglected to photograph the paintings, but hopefully Diana can send me some later.