Animals with Attitude ” G Man”


I worked on the background and it looks a little better, I still think he could use a little bit more greying down, I think I’ll let this oil paint dry down and decide later. 18 by 24 oil on canvas


Work in progress 22 by 30 inches Watercolor on paper

I’m painting this butterfly for a customer. It will have a halo ( currently masked out) and I may paint the background, I’m not sure yet if I ‘ll leave it plain white paper or paint it. The customer wanted it just white paper… I think it may need a background, we’ll see… stay tuned for updates. I will finish it by Sunday March 29TH 2009

day 3 tighten up the drawing

Now … here we are, after you have spent some time away from the painting look at the piece and everything that is inaccurate should be obvious, write notes to yourself, you’ll forget to change something that you’ve spotted if you rush in.  If your having problem seeing the  drawing ( a line drawing is very difficult for anyone to decipher) turn the drawing upside down and some things will become more obvious.  Remember the line drawing is just a basic start, now you will bring the drawing together with tone or what artists call “value”

  The first thing to change will be the doted lines once you decide if the shadows are correct you will put them in…  There will be value that will be difficult to see, this is usually a mid value.   If your unsure what the term “mid value” means…  its simple, If the binoculars are the darkest item in the photo it would represent a 10 on the value scale, the face will never be more than a five on any child’s face,  ( black skin is the only exception and you’ll have to keep checking back with me to see how to paint people of color) and a mid value will be about a 2.5 to 3…so when deciding your values keep this in mind.   Everyone sees white and black its the values in the middle that will confuse you.  As an artist, you’ll have to translate these to color and I’ll explain that when we get there.    To check your values you can use cross hatching or even just smudges to place the shadows,  Do not rub in the graphite as it will embed itself in the paper and give a dirty appearance to the finished product.    I draw right on the paper I paint on but you may wish to draw on a translucent piece of vellum or even plain Bristol and transfer the image.  This is especially good if you erase a lot.  Also this image can be used again if needed as you will always have this drawing. The one on the painted surface is covered up.

If you are going to transfer the image to your board, canvas or paper use Seral transfer paper, its the best.  It comes in all types of colors ( even white)  but I buy gray.  Its expensive but lasts forever because its reusable and if you belong to an art club you can split the expense with another artist. 

Also you may wish to buy some pencils with very thin lead.  ( drafting pencils are good or just a pencil with a hard lead) I’ve noticed many artists don’t realize the line of their lead is thick and this minute amount of space  between  the inside of the line and the outside of the line is all that may be needed to adjust an eye that is too far apart or a nostril that looks too wide.   If your drawing with a hard pencil, be aware not to press into the paper too much… in fact, hold you pencil very lightly.  Do not hold the pencil as you would for writing but more in a sketching manner.  You will be able to give the line more character and not press so hard.   For this demonstration, I have adjusted the drawing so it will show on the screen but it is actually much lighter than this on the paper.  I put this drawing in a photo software program, darken it and also changed it to black and white .  Graphite is more gray than black so the camera doesn’t pick it up well.  Do this for most drawings you wish to put on line.

Ok lets talk about photographs 

Photographs are not accurate…  they are flattened so the foreshortening will be off and the values are made in bigger jumps than our eye will actually see……… 

1.  You should  meet the child/dog,  or in my case Koi and(when possible )take the photo yourself.  A lot of what we know about a person isn’t visual, so there is more information you can distill if you have a chance to see the child. The personailty  and mannerism are missing from a photo but if you see the child you will have an emotional three dimensional aspect that you  can’t substitute.   Also sometimes a child will smile crooked but this isn’t their “look”  you won’t know this if you only have one pphoto.  If you are working from multiple photos make sure they are photos of the child at the same age and preferable all out doors and in the same season.  Light is different in summer than winter and this may throw you off also if its over cast in one picture and bright sun in another you will see things differently.

 2. use outdoor light

3. take color photos but change them over to black and white in a photo software program so you will have accurate values and if you want you can grid the drawing for accuracy.

Also measuring is a good way to check the distance between things,,, like the ears and the brow or the tip of the nose to the bottom of the chin.  Remember when drawing, you will be drawing the outer most line then back filling with value to create the turn …so something may look too long or too wide before you put in the value.  Do not change anything until your values are in place.   Also in a photo  the actual placement of say the hairs of the eyebrow will be difficult to see, in this case  use standardized art measurements.  If you don’t know what these are, write me I’ll give them to you.

new work in progress

a work inprogress koi

22 by 30 full sheet of cold press watercolor paper. I started this as a demo of this wet into wet technique and while I was looking thru my flat files I re discovered it. I think now is the time to start the next stage. At this stage this painting can be a vertical or horizontal format. Most folks like the horizontal format and I find that most of my paintings are horizontal.

A little bit bigger


I’ve put the first day’s work (painting) up again because I didn’t realize I had put up a thumbnail. this should be easier to see.

This piece is on stretched ( WN) canvas. The canvas was coated with several goats of Acrylic gesso and allowed to dry. I actually painted the gesso on leaving it with a rough texture that is more or less going across the canvas as the water is. I think if you click on the picture it will enlarge. Perhaps you can see some of the texture. If you have never done this, it can be fun. You can use just about anything from a spatula, sponge, fingers, bristle brushes and drag these things thru the moist gesso to leave marks. Then allow it to dry.

work in progress


I have finished one section of my work in progress and decided to post it here. I plan to finish it later this week.

I love this piece, the fish are really intertwined and this is frequently how you will see koi, they tend to swim in groups.   I’m glazing now, painting the piece in an upright position.      

The painting is  dry and I paint layer over layer to create a sense of depth and  multiple color layers changing the color and sometimes strengthen it.

This is about 18 by 33, watercolor on paper.