All but the Beekeeper (and some finishing details)

This painting is coming together now. Last night I scumbled the ground and built out a lot of the rest, giving it more life. I’ve enjoyed using Prussian blue a lot in this one–something I didn’t feature in the last few, but a pigment I love for its hue and versatility. The trailer is mostly diluted Prussian blue with some lights cobalt for texture, and the barrel is also Prussian and cobalt. I have also gotten to use my new Sennelier Yellow Lake and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. It’s been nice getting to know these pigments, and I am looking forward to using them a lot more.

Last up is my uncle the beekeeper. I am a little nervous about painting the bee suit. Not yet sure how to handle all the wrinkles. I will probably mask the highlights and have a few saturated swipes of color to add life to the shadows. This on has been fun so far. Don’t want to ruin it.


Some depth in the beekeeper’s woods


In preparation for further work on the trees I took a look again at some of John Singer Sargent’s paintings. It was encouraging to see how he used the trees well as background material. He wasn’t about about definition, just about framing and conveying enough depth without distracting from the subject, which was the light on the statues in the Boboli Gardens paintings. I tried to take that approach here, roughing in some branches and leaves and shades of light on the leaves. I am going to leave it alone for now and see if more needs to be done later, remembering that my focal point will be the light on the beekeeping suit.

Thanks for reading.

First session of my uncle tending to the hive

This afternoon I started painting the scene of my uncle opening up the bee hive. I want to work faster and looser with this one, and so far I am happy with how things are coming along. Before getting on with the rest I want to study a few John Singer Sargent works. Not sure how to handle the ground and finish off the trees. It’s been nice getting into this after a couple weeks of too much going on.


The beginning of a new painting

Some busy weeks recently–too many hobbies and some interesting stuff at work that has kept my mind occupied–have split my focus, so I am scaling back. I am dropping the story pursuit in favor of painting again. I framed this new work of my uncle at the bee hive the other night and am just getting around to putting it up. Hopefully I will get to painting it soon. Beekeeping is such a fascinating, mystique-filled pursuit that is nicely offset by the arrangement here of the hive in the woods by an old trailer. Rather than demystifying it, though, the trailer adds to the story. I am excited about this one also in part because there’s a human focus here that I will be able to build on for future works. Thanks for reading. More soon.


Morning Sketch

I got in a quick sketch on my bike ride this morning in Vienna, VA. It was a beautiful day with an incredible sky–almost artificially blue and luminescent. I wish I had done some sketches that included the sky. Instead I keyed in on this public building in the park. It was hard to judge the colors sitting in the shade, and I felt a but rushed. It was a little weird stopping to paint in my cycling attire. I’m sure I’ll get over that by next time.

This was an especially welcome break today, as I have been trying to get into the story I posted about last time, and it isn’t quite working. I think I made a little headway this morning before my ride, but I am not to the point where it’s fun yet. Maybe this week.

Thanks for reading.

Today’s sketch with my small sketching kit.

Some progress on a new short story

I haven’t had much opportunity to sketch or paint this week, but I fit in some time framing the short story I plan to write this month. I am trying a new approach to writing after years off. I used to get hooked on an image, and just started writing from there. I wouldn’t plot. I’d just let things materialize. Being a little rusty, I wanted to try treating this story as more of a design problem. I wanted to write an end of summer story with atmospheric elements and some sort of human dilemma. I am not motivated by a subject I am driven to write about now, nothing I want to work out through writing. Instead, I just want to tell an interesting, subtle story that allows me to take advantage of my writing style, which tends to be atmospheric–I am interested in the way the environment intrudes on the personal lives of the characters. I tended to showcase this by having sounds from locale involved in the conversation/interaction. Here’s a silly example (not from my new story):

“Good morning,” he said to the barista. Her name was Genevieve.
The door opened. A spoon fell on the floor.
She smiled. “What will it be today?”

If this continued, sounds and other things would intrude, prevent him from asking what he wanted to ask, etc.

We’ll see how this approach develops in my new story, but I think I have it pretty well framed now. Here’s a picture of my notes to frame things. Thanks for reading. More painting soon.


Collaborating with my kids on some pen and wash work

This morning the kids wanted to paint a swan and a froggy. We found some reference photos, and I drew these two pictures for them with a Chinese bent nib fountain pen.


I had wanted one of these ever since reading “The Tao of Sketching” by Qu Lei Lei, who uses them extensively to great effect. It was this book that really made me want to sketch.

My older daughter did some nice work with the swans, noticing the different colors. My younger daughter really wanted a blue frog. Below are their paintings. I think this will be a regular weekend thing for us. My older daughter just requested I draw Voltron for her. That will take some work. Thanks for reading.



Struggling with a Bic pen and thinking about short stories

Some people are masters or the Bic pen, and seem to have a natural connection to it. I do not, so I generally skip it in favor of my fountain pen. I tried again for a bit today at lunch, but I just couldn’t draw straight lines, and couldn’t get things to line up. Who knew such a simple tool could feel so awkward. It should be great because it can do lights and darks like a pencil, but with those nice light swooping strokes that don’t smudge. I’ll have to work with it some more. Here’s what I came up with today:

That little sketch was my warm up while thinking about writing some fiction again. I haven’t really written much in almost five years, so getting back into it has been a little rough. Glimmer Train has a contest this month, so I thought I’d make that a motivator. I just can’t get hooked on a plot idea yet. I was thinking about cicadas again today, and how they didn’t really emerge as expected this year. That’s starting to seem like a nice backdrop to something, but what? Then again, I have already written one story and one novel that feature cicadas heavily, so I am wary of retreading the same ground. More to come on this. I will try to post my progress over the course of the month.

Thanks for reading.