Winter pine tree

Blackwing 602 and white colored pencil on Canson Mi Teintes.

The Blackwing 602 is really great on toned paper. I started this with a generic HB, but it just didn’t feel as good, so switched over to the stub of a Blackwing I have with me. The appeal of this was the white sap on this pine tree. I tried to convey it with the white colored pencil.


Historic Church on Blue Paper

I saw this church a few weeks ago in Harper’s Ferry and was struck by how bright the white was in the afternoon light. I took some inspiration from Turner and his contemporaries for subject and method and set this small study on blue paper to keep the rest of the image muted and mid-toned and draw all the focus to the accents. There’s something very satisfying about using titanium white on toned paper.

Thanks for reading.

toad in gloomy weather

It’s been a week of gloomy rainy weather, perfect for painting a toad. I found this proud one up in Lakeville.  have been meaning to paint it on pink Canson Mi-Teintes paper for a while. It seems to go well, conveying a late evening hop-about. Having studied this toad for this small sketch, I understand the proud, stubborn, silliness of Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows.


Natural poetry in apparently simple images

I’ve been feeling the need recently to be more deliberate about my painting, more contemplative, maybe, and develop some themes regarding people’s relationships to their places, but I have been so active mentally on other things, that I haven’t really been able to or wanted to focus on close painting studies on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps that will come soon.

In the meantime I am just trying to stay active and try things out. Here’s my Aunt’s dog hearing something disturbing and rising from a nap. I love the effort and contortion he’s going through, just to tell off some small chirping thing. Sometimes there’s natural poetry in apparently simple images, and I don’t need to underlay theory.

I have posted in reverse order from completion back to pencil drawing.





I May, I Might, I Must


I May, I Might, I Must

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

-Marianne Moore

I was up too early today with the dog, so I took the chance to read a little again. I haven’t read much literature recently–instead it’s mostly been research for work–so it was nice to focus on something short. Apart from the short poem above–which is a great motto for any designer–Marianne Moore was not relaxing reading, though, and I was distracted by a small sketch opportunity out the window. I thought the purple flowers hanging from my neighbors porch would look good on cream colored paper, and the shadows were interesting (though I didn’t do them justice). Still, it was nice to work with some structure again.

Thanks for reading.

Regular evening clouds

On my way home from work the past couple weeks the sky has gotten stormy around 6 pm. I’ve been looking at this view every night as I turn off the main road to get back to my neighborhood. There seems to be some expanse between the parkway and the river that used to be the residence of someone important (or at least landed) a couple hundred years ago. You can just see the chimney of one of the houses.

I did this rough sketch on toned paper from memory. I used some white prismacolor pencil for some highlights and tree branches. I think I will try some colored pencil more with watercolor for these studies. It seems to have worked out well here. This scene is appealing for some reason. I may be able to work out a better variation with a little more care.

Thanks for reading.

Sunset on Blue Paper

I’ve been looking again at Turner and at Hercules Brabazon Brabazon. I like their work on toned paper. I’ve also been looking back at pastel artist Loriann Signori’s blog. She does a lot of 6×6 studies of light and skies. I really like the way she works with all the colors and values, so I wanted to see what I could with watercolor on toned paper. I cut a sheet of Canson Mi-Teintes light blue paper and drew out this composition. I liked the depth established by the crossing power lines and the brilliance of the sun on the horizon.

Working on pastel paper is tough because it stays wet for longer than I am used to and buckles. I thought toned paper would lead to more efficient sketching–and perhaps it does when used for more suitable paintings where much of the paper is left untouched or touched less. The other key is to not work with very wet brushes. Washes on this are not the same as on watercolor paper. All in all a fun challenge with good results.

I started by painting the light with titanium white gouache. While that was drying I started putting in the magenta clouds at the top. Then I laid in the bottom ground. I worked in the yellow light next, leaving space for more white gouache for the brightest sun. I worked in more clouds throughout. Finically I painted the utility poles and wires.

I think I will do this more, especially on location once the weather gets better. I toned a 12×16 sheet of 300lb arches paper a grey blue. When that dries I will cut if down to four 6×8 sheets for sketching. That surface will be more familiar to work on, though there is something pleasant about the pastel paper.

Thanks for reading.