Simple lushness

simple can be hard too

Simple lushness

The inking took a while, but it is finished now.  What I thought to be separate houses above and to the left, turned out to be part of this front.  There must have been some massive sprawling additions going on with this ranch style home.  Plus the other part was roofed in metal, so I am glad I asked before I deleted. I would never have thought the asphalt roof was connected to the metal roof.

It sure was nice to have such lush landscaping to work with. It certainly softened the board siding and the brick fireplace.  All in all, it was fun to do.

Day 3

Day three

Day three

Day 3 of the inking and it’s going well.  This project is probably the most fun I’ve had with a drawing in a long time. Lovely landscaping and interesting stone work.  What more could I ask for in a drawing.

The landscaping is pretty well done and the doors and windows are in.  Next session will concentrate on finishing the stone facade.  It has been a while since I have done stonework and I am looking forward to it.

Inking started on the Colorado cabin

Starting to ink all of those pine trees

Starting to ink all of those pine trees

At the end of last week, I started to ink my latest commission.  With a small weekend break to visit my new grandson, progress is a little slow, but I’m getting back to work today.

I started the way I normally do on a home commission – with the foliage.  For whatever reason, I like to begin with the landscaping and gradually move inward.  This is fairly complex as there is not really any “front” landscaping, but a massive amount of trees all around.  I have to be very careful with the positive/negative space so that the house doesn’t get lost.  The linearity of the house will help contrast with the softer trees.  Even though they are spiky pines, their irregular shapes are more fluid.  Another balance I have to find.

I actually stopped here deliberately because I started to lose my judgement and needed fresh eyes.  I need to rebalance the two pine trees on the right so they don’t look quite so lined up and will reshape them to move them slightly apart.  I was starting to lose sight of the whole at this point and decided it was time to stop.  Ink is so unforgiving that way.

Windows and the railings will be up next, after all of those trees are mostly done.

Chinese dragon linocut

Well, first a blizzard and now flooding rains. The pond rose 2-3 feet overnight and the road briefly flooded over.  We can get out now, but it is sometimes chancy when we get several inches in a short period of time.  Fortunately, the creek goes down as fast as it goes up so it doesn’t last long.  I am so grateful it was not snow again, considering that we just got rid of the last of it on Friday.

Chinese dragon

Chinese dragon

I have been tweaking the latest entryway the past few days and didn’t want to start another one at the same time.  I’ve thinking about trying a Chinese dragon linocut.  A few months ago I bought a clip art book of Asian art.  I thought I could adapt some of the illustrations into simpler linocuts.  There were some nice floral ones but I especially liked the dragons. This one is a variation of one of them.  I made the basic cuts fairly quickly, but then was stumped on how to add the body scales.  I let it sit overnight to ponder the question.  When I looked at it the next day, I knew that I couldn’t try to make individual cuts with a straight edge to delineate them.  I haven’t quite figured out the inking process yet and I knew that all I would accomplish would be to over fill them with the brayer.  I finally decided to use the scalloped blade and just scoop out a patchwork of scales.  I think it turned out well.

With the red

With the red

I thought a partial red background would accent him nicely, so I pulled a print on the heavier paper and this morning, after letting it dry overnight, I used the watercolors to put some on.  I didn’t want to color the whole background, so I spent half an hour doing the lower portion.  I think it looks like the right amount of color, but what do you think.  Should I have colored it all red?

Polly parrot


I’ve had it in mind lately to paint a brightly colored bird and I thought I remembered a photo of one amongst the other things when I last was looking through the old box file.  Sure enough I found an old picture of a parrot nestled under B for birds.  I liked the scarlet reds and the vivid blues of this parrot.  It hardly seemed like a possible combination for a real bird, but there it is.

I went the route of the frisket/spritzed ink, but this time I held a little back on the water in order not to muddy the overlayed colors too much.  I played with the watercolor over two days and am fairly satisfied with it.  I am less satisfied with the inking.  There seems to be a very fine line between too much spritzing and a muddy, gray result and too little spritzing and too sharp of lines.

In this case, I think I erred in the direction of too little spritzing.  The feather lines seem to be too delineated.  I wanted to show more the suggestion of feathers rather than the actual feathers themselves, but that is not quite what has happened.  I am not totally dissatisfied with the outcome, because I do like the colors but, like the blue abstract floral, it’s not quite what I wanted.

Abstract building 2

I worked on another abstract building this week, once again mixing and matching a bit from my streetscape reference photos.  This particular small town Main Street has been quite a source of inspiration to me.  I am rather enjoying not having to be quite so exact in the layout, suggesting some of the detail rather than trying to get it all in.  I would like to take a road trip or two this summer to some small southern Indiana towns and take some more reference photos if I can.  Any suggestions of colorful main streets would be appreciated.

Abstract building 2 pen and ink

I will use the same color palette as in the previous painting although I think I will tone down the yellow a bit as it is quite lemony.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but the photos of the previous drawing came out a little warmer that the real thing and I like it slightly better.  And I think that the building on the left needs a little something.  It seems too plain next to the others.  Not necessarily much though.  I have to balance the positive and negative space you know.

Learning to work with a hand and a half

This week my time in the studio was not quite what I expected it to be.  I’m fortunate that the thumb and first two fingers of my hurt hand are free and I can use them.  With a little experimentation, I’m figuring out how to use my left hand without putting weight onto it – not as easy as it sounds because if you are able grab something with those fingers, the tendency is to use the hand too much.  I can feel it if I grab and pull or try to carry something too heavy.  Right now I try to use my forearm if I need to balance a weight.

The little country house

I didn’t end up finishing the latest entryway because I got a frantic e-mail Friday from a person who needed a home portrait in time for Christmas.  We quickly exchanged info and pictures and I put up a listing on Etsy for her so I was able to start the pencil drawing on Saturday.  I spent today inking it in.  It is only a 6″x8″ size so it did go pretty quickly.  As you can see, it is a cute little house located in WV and occupied by the client’s mother 20 years ago.  She only had two pictures to use but we managed to work out the details.  It is a little flat without any shadowing but I will touch up the inking tomorrow with fresh eyes and then start coloring with the pastels.  I am pleased with it so far and happy I could work with my hand.

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