Sunday, November 19, 2017

New cartoon pet portraits

I painted this cartoon of my Boston Terrier, Sissy, as an example of the cartoon portraits I will be offering. Anyone who wants a cartoon painting done of their pet will be able to choose from a selection of cartoon styles, poses, backgrounds, and accessories. For Sissy I included a bone, which was her favorite toy, and a butterfly as she enjoyed chasing the flying insects around the backyard.

This cartoon portrait is painted on a thin but rigid archival canvas board, my standard canvas for commissioned pieces. High-quality reference photographs of the pet are not needed for cartoon portraits. More than one pet can fit on an 11" X 14" canvas. For current prices and other information, head over to my Order Info page.

Here is Sissy's cartoon portrait beside a painterly portrait I painted of her in 2014. I used the old portrait to get the colors and markings right on the cartoon.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Random Project of the Week - Maximilian sunflower

I got the idea for this Escheresque drawing a couple weeks ago and I finally put it on paper last week. The drawing goes from an outline on the left to a shaded graphite drawing in the middle to a full-color marker drawing with shadows on the right. It was fun experimenting with transitions between mediums, color, and detail.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Random Project of the Week - Pink Floydian painting

Here's the long story behind this Project of the Week: I invited my brother to paint with me on one of my cheap, warped canvases one day, and we decided to paint a raven with the moon in the background in a loose style. After maybe a couple of hours and making a rather large mess our finished product was... not what I had envisioned. In fact, the painting was plain awful. It wasn't my brother's fault; he did what I told him to do. My color choices and design, the craft paint, everything was just bad. I decided to cover the whole canvas in black paint so we would never see that terrifying painting again (that was very satisfying!), but then I had to figure out what to do with a large black canvas. A few weeks later (Or months? I don't remember - time flies!) I thought of something with a black background that would be fun to paint - The Dark Side of the Moon album art. And this is what I came up with!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Random Project of the Week - Artwork with lettering

Last week's random project was a painting/collage with lettering. I actually didn't create this piece last week, but I did apply the varnish to it a few days ago. I used the definition of the word "hobby" to remind myself that my hobbies are supposed to be fun and make me happy instead of being frustrating because I can't do them perfectly or because they become competitive.

For the sheet music I copied a page out of a book using the copy machine then aged the normally bright white copy paper using paint and water and by tearing one edge. Gluing it to the canvas didn't go quite as planned, though; I couldn't seem to flatten out all the wrinkles. It...was my first time...

This was my second painting with lettering and I would like to do more in the future. Below is my first painting with lettering I made a few months ago.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

From the Sketchbook - Fun with toned paper

I recently bought this pad of brown sketch paper and a white pen and I had a lot of fun using them to draw these dog cartoons...except when I was trying to get that terrible white pen to work. 👎 I used the white pen and a white pencil for the highlights, a couple shades of gray from my Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen set for the shading, and my good ol' Zebra Sarasa gel pen for the outlines.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New set of markers! (or pens...or markers...or...?)

Updated on 9/15/21

I like to play with markers occasionally, but I only ever used the cheap kinds like Sharpies and Bic Mark-its... Until now! I finally decided to buy some artist grade markers. I went with Faber-Castell's PITT Artist Pens after reading about their excellent lightfastness ratings.

I've been playing with my new set of PITT Artist Pens for a little while now and I am liking them so far. Most of the pens I bought have brush nibs and they are more like markers (well, they are markers... right?). The brush nibs are somewhat flexible and they feel nice and smooth on paper. They can produce thick and thin lines, but I also bought some pens with the 0.7 mm and 0.3 mm nibs for even thinner lines.
My first test with these pens was to see how they blended (I really wanted markers that blend!). I first tried blending using a waterbrush. The India ink in these pens is water-based, so I was able to wet it and use it like watercolors, but the ink dried a little too quickly around the edges and didn't blend cleanly. I then tried layering and using different shades of color in between like I usually do with my Bic markers. That's when I discovered that if another pen is rubbed into ink that has already been applied to the paper it will eventually moisten the ink enough that the two colors will blend nicely.

It will take some experimentation to find the right paper. I found that the ink is super moist and can ruin the surface of some papers when blending and layering (I initially used 18 lb. marker paper). I had to use a heavier paper, but even on 140 lb. mixed media paper, the ink can get a little too moist if the pens are layered too many times. Also, the ink can be "reactivated" on certain papers more easily than others. When using these pens with watercolors, I found that 100% cotton watercolor paper by Bee Paper works well, but I must be patient and wait for the ink to dry completely to avoid smudging.

Here are the pros and cons for me:

  • Ink flow is consistent and drawing is smooth
  • Colors can be mixed and blended to some degree
  • Recently dried ink can be remoistened for blending
  • Waterproof when allowed to dry thoroughly on certain papers
  • Mistakes can be partially erased using water if the ink is not allowed to dry thoroughly
  • Ink does not bleed through paper (unless too much ink is applied on thin paper)
  • Ink is "pH-neutral" and "extremely lightfast" (they say - I haven't tested this myself)

    • Ink is too moist to allow for much blending and layering on thinner paper
    • Recently dried ink can be smudged with another pen or sweat from your hand
    • Brush nibs can fray with only moderate use
    • For some of the pens, the color on the barrel does not match the color of the ink

      Bic Mark-it markers vs. Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens
       I am able to mix my own colors using the PITT Artist Pens
      while the Bic markers can only be layered.

      Overall I'm happy with my new pens (markers?) and I look forward to playing with them some more. I even made a video of the creation of my first larger pieces using them.

      Monday, July 24, 2017

      Pair of parrots in progress

      Here is a set of two macaw paintings I have been working on at the same time. There is not much left to do on them now.

      I also have a painting of a crow in progress that I intended to show at an art show, but I didn't finish it in time, so once again I have three paintings going at once... Big no-no!

      Monday, June 26, 2017

      Chipmunk painting

      Here is my latest painting to be finished. "Mini Vista" is painted in acrylics on a
      20" X 16" stretched canvas. It got blown over in the wind and damaged at a recent outdoor festival, so I guess it stays on my wall for good... 😐

       If you are interested in knowing my painting techniques and materials, I should have a write-up on how I paint up on my blog soon. This painting will be featured in that post.

      Saturday, May 27, 2017

      Tips for creating awesome drawings in pen and ink


      My favorite pen (at the moment) is the Zebra Sarasa 0.7 gel pen. I use it for almost everything I need a pen for, from writing down my shopping list to doodling...on my shopping list. I also use this pen to draw my Nozzles cartoons. I have never drawn a serious piece of artwork with pen and ink, so I can't recommend a type of paper or even the pen I use to someone who plans on selling pen and ink art, but I thought I'd share my method for producing cleaner lines and reducing permanent mistakes. As you can see from the samples in this post, I'm not talking about sketches here - I'm talking about the style you might find in a coloring book (and it is fun to color in your own perfect pen drawings!).

      Draw in pencil first. Now this isn't necessary (no pencil was used in the drawing above), but if I want my drawing to be as clean as I can get it, I draw everything in pencil first. That way I can correct all my mistakes before I draw everything with the permanent pen, either directly over the pencil lines or traced onto another piece of paper using a light box or something similar. Keep in mind that pencil will show through some kinds of ink, and once the ink is on top of the graphite there is no way to erase least I don't know of a way.

      Use a smooth-flowing pen. This is very important. The gel pens I use not only produce smooth, consistent lines, they also produce dark lines with a matte finish which, to me, makes them look more like they were drawn digitally and printed out. Regular ball-point pens often produce inconsistent (the ink tends to skip spots), thin, and shiny lines with, in my opinion, an ugly colorful sheen.

      Double, triple, or even quadruple your lines.
      This may take some practice, but once you've mastered it, people will start to wonder how you never make mistakes (when, in fact, you made a lot). Minor mistakes and imperfections caused by the pen are easily covered up when you double the thickness of your lines. If you make a mistake on your second time over, you can make your outline thicker until you have covered up the mistakes. Make every line the same thickness and no one will ever know. Also, it probably helps to be using a pen that produces a fairly thick line when using this method.

      Thickening the lines helps to cover up imperfections.

      Don't smear your lines. Avoid smearing your lines by waiting for the ink to dry before placing your hand on top of your drawing (and erasing pencil lines). You may also want to work from left to right if you're right-handed or right to left if you're left-handed. It helps to use pens with quick-drying ink as well.

      Practice and work slowly. Pen and ink is not a very forgiving medium!

      Wednesday, March 1, 2017

      Daily Art Challenge - February: Chickadees!

      Yep, I was still creating art (almost) daily during the whole month of February, but I'm afraid that's it for now. Although this challenge made me create more, the quality of my art is reduced when I am pressured to finish a piece by the end of the day. At first I had a lot of fun painting in a looser style and taking very little time to finish a piece, but I started to lose interest after a while. I now feel like I should go back to working on more detailed pieces that I can show and sell. They take a lot more time and patience to create, but the end result gives me a lot more satisfaction than a painterly portrait on a cheap canvas does. I always need to change things up to keep myself interested. It's just the way I am...

      Anyway, as you might have noticed, chickadees were on my mind last month; they are the main birds that are coming to my feeders nowadays. First I painted a chickadee in a painterly style, then I painted a silly cartoon of a chickadee wearing pink glasses and sneakers (Why? Just because!), then I hand-sewed a plush chickadee.

      Other random artwork I created include a craft foam mosaic, some abstract marker art, a clay ladybug, and a tribute to some band you may know. ;)


      Tuesday, January 31, 2017

      Daily Art Challenge - January: Watercolor painting spree

       So ends one whole month of painting or drawing every day (except for one day, but I made up for it by making two pieces the next day)! Now over thirty new pieces of art are taking up more space in my room. :P None are exceptional pieces (I need more time for those!), but I had fun exploring different styles and mediums. Will I keep going? I'll have to think about that. I only have one day to decide, though!
       I began my Daily Art Challenge with a medium I hadn't used since I was a small child - watercolors. As you can probably tell from the photo below, I had so much fun with them I kept taking my ancient set of pan watercolors back out to paint some more. I really enjoyed learning how watercolors behave and figuring out the best ways to use them. I also liked that I could paint these small studies fairly quickly and with very few supplies so I could even paint while I was at the computer. 👍
      I now have a new appreciation for watercolor artists and their art. I definitely would like to play with this medium some more.


      When I felt like I should change mediums, I hid my watercolors from myself and usually went back to pencil, pen and ink, or acrylics. The time limit gave me an excuse to practice working in a looser style, which is usually a lot more fun, especially when using acrylics.
      Below are the acrylic paintings and a pencil drawing I created during this challenge. Not shown here are my embarrassing sketches, other not-so-embarrassing sketches, and a couple digital art projects (I like the Microsoft brand of Paint too!).

      Saturday, January 21, 2017

      Daily Art Challenge - Day 20: Mini painting of Blue Jay

      This is the smallest painting on canvas I've ever done! The canvas measures almost 3" X 3". Sorry about the recent terribly dark photos. The sun needs to come out! Or maybe I just need better lamps...

      A.J. here is trying to look like he painted it... The brush I used was even thinner than the one he's holding.

      Thursday, January 19, 2017

      Daily Art Challenge - Day 18: Painterly portrait of Baxter

      I've done very few paintings of my Boxer, Baxter, so I thought I'd paint a black and white portrait of this old guy for my Daily Art Challenge.

      Baxter is 13 1/2 years old now. He has outlived two of my goats, one of my other dogs, and many of my smaller pets.

      baxter boxer elderly dog canine animal pet mammal monochome black and white acrylic painting art painterly

      Sunday, January 8, 2017

      Daily Art Challenge - Day 5: Painterly Monarch

      At the very beginning of this year I decided to challenge myself to create one piece of art a day. I did not specify how long I was supposed to keep creating, though, so I guess it's not much of a challenge...
      Anyway, I have created seven pieces so far, mostly terrible sketches, but a few pieces I put more effort into turned out okay.

      Here is the piece (for Day 5) I put the most effort into. It's a 12" X 12" acrylic painting of a Monarch butterfly on Joe-Pye weed. I had a lot of fun painting in this loose style.

      monarch butterfly insect bug animal wildlife nature joe pye weed flower acrylic painting art

        Look for a video of me painting this piece in the coming days!