Old and new – animal portraits I have done

The general consensus seems to be that many of you to enjoy the series of small pen and ink/ watercolor animals I have been doing lately. I want to say thank you for all of the encouraging words but it has gotten me to thinking about how my artwork has been changed by time and experience.  I got out of graduate school in 1977, but hadn’t created much artwork in the several years following my disastrous art experiences in college.  With a degree in ethology, it was quite natural for me to go back to animal art when I finally had the inspiration and time to do it.  I did a lot of ink drawings with a nib pen back then.

Another giraffe

A couple of ago years, when I set up my permanent studio and picture wall, I looked over the animal art I had done in the late 70’s and early 80’s and I was surprised at the life and flow in them.  I had moved off of the nib pen when I started doing architectural work because it was a lot easier to use the technical pen for the more elaborate drawings.  No constant need to refill the nib and a much more even flow for the multitude of straight lines.  Periodically, I would do an animal portrait but not very often as I concentrated on the architecturals.  Over time, I think I lost the feel for  the animals that I had had and was generally disappointed with my efforts.  It was distressing if I thought about it so I generally didn’t.  I think this new (to me) technique has allowed me to recapture some of the old feel and I am enjoying the sojourn back with the nib pen and the animals.

Pastel and pen tiger

I accepted a house commission last week so I am off of the animals for a while.  With nothing new to show because of the architectural, I’ve picked a few of my long ago animals to post.  Feel free to compare them with the new ones.  I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Mr. raccoon


It’s snowing AGAIN, so I’m finishing up my drawing in the studio

Another snowy day here. It is only mid December and I am already tired of cold and snow. They are forecasting another big snow storm for Indiana today, but hopefully the worst will be far north of us.  The old Farmer’s Almanac said a warmer than normal winter for us – I’m still waiting.

I’m almost finished with my latest piece. It is a pen and ink with mostly watercolor overlay and a little touch of colored pencil. It is in the let and sit phase now. I have found, over the years, that I need to take breaks during the creative process to let the art side of my brain clear.  After I draw something out I need to let it sit for a day and then go back to it for inking. What looked fine the day before will often look distorted the next day. If I am working on drawing out something very complicated I get so bound up in it that I can’t really “see” it any more. After a few hours of drawing in the basic sketch, I get attached to the way it looks and can no longer judge it. I really need to clear out the image from my mind. Often it means just minor adjustments, but sometimes something is glaringly wrong and I get the chance to fix it before I ink. Ink is VERY unforgiving.  I usually take a day or two for the inking on a small picture and maybe several more on something larger. I want to get into a flow, but not overdo it because once again I can get too attached to how it is proceeding. The same goes for the color overlay, whether I am using pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, or a combination of the above.

It can take 3-7 days for a project to be completed. Not as long as it seems for the actual work , but because I need to have time to evaluate each stage as I go along. It is hard for me to be a stream of consciousness artist. The work flows when my brain is in gear, but I tend to get too attached to it without the breaks. Finally, when I think the color is done, I again let it sit for a day or two to see if it needs adjustment. The real difficulty is deciding that enough is enough and not to overwork it.

I’ll post the work this week when I finish my last looks.  I hope to have it up in my shop on Etsy by the end of the week.  Today I’ll put up some of my animal art. I find alternating between the animal art and the architectural art is refreshing for me.

Florida Pelican

Lazy Tiger

After Thanksgiving, back to work

California store front

Well, the holiday season has begun.  It is a busy time when everything else competes with studio time.  I have started my next drawing but it is slow going with a lot of distractions.  It is another stone building but of a house this time from the Napa valley.  I have already drawn in with ink and am coloring now.  It will be a mixture of watercolor and pastels and so far seems to be going well.  I want to finish it this week, but who knows.

Because the house is not ready yet, I thought I’d put up some previous work.  The storefront is also from a California trip for a family wedding.  I was listening to my favorite musician, Dan Fogelberg, when I did it and it always makes me think of his music when I look at it.

The tiger drawing came from a visit to the zoo.  He was rather magnificent looking and I was able to take several good pictures as he moved across his enclosure.

Tiger in color