Thursday, April 02, 2009

Shell complete

I spent some time early this morning finishing the shell and am calling it complete now. The image above is scanned but the colour still looks off, making it look candy pink which it isn't in reality. The second image is a photo that shows the truer colours of the piece, even if the background then greys out. I'll have to find a happy medium between the two to get a final image worthy of printing.

I've been using the range of watercolour papers that were in the sample box I bought from Legion Paper awhile ago. This one is Lanaquarelle 140lb and is lovely and smooth. With the addition of pen to the piece, a rougher paper would risk having fibres clog the nib or not enable the pointillism technique to be used to its best.

I have to head to Toronto tomorrow on business for the weekend. Weekend meetings are the scourge of non profit business, but have to be done. So I'll likely be absent for a few days but back in business on Monday. I hope I'll be able to find some time for sketching people, even if the scenery may not be too inspiring where I'll be.

Forever the technofiend, I've invested in a little mini netbook that will make travel with technology easier and a lot lighter. Unfortunately, it hasn't been delivered in time for this trip. Travelling with laptops is a pain with the level of security in airports. I seem to be forever hauling one out of the case, having it scanned, stuffing it back in, only to have to haul it out a little later to use it in the airport. The mini netbook fits easily in my handbag and will make basic work, checking emails, etc. so much easier than lugging a large one around. I have an older smaller laptop that I may take with me, or I may simply rely on good old pen and paper to take notes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sea shells

I’ve always had a fascination for objects on the beach and my house has boxes and bowls overflowing with some of my finds. Beach rocks, abandoned shells, bits of seaweed, coral and driftwood all find their way home.

This shell, however, isn’t a beach find but from an image by Lisilk who takes some beautiful photos from her life in Bermuda and generously shares them in the reference library of WetCanvas.

I had recently finished a watercolour/ink piece of a speckled trout and wanted another piece to accompany it. A shrimp was suggested, but as I have an allergy to shellfish, shrimp aren’t something I usually buy. I hunted around for an alternative and came up with a beautiful image of a shrimp shell. I’m not sure what kind of shrimp this is/was, but I’ve not seen one quite like it before.

So here is my version of the shrimp in its current form. I’ve put down loose watercolour washes and am now adding detail in ink with a .25 tip Rapidograph pen. I’ll continue to build detail and add layers of colour where needed to bring realism to the piece.

There is something satisfying about the slow build of a drawing or painting that so appeals to me. I love the stages it goes through and the anticipation of seeing it develop from a blank page to a piece that can almost be lifted off the page.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Creative Commons - Attribution license
Click the image to see full size

I have cds and an external hard drive with lots and lots of photos, some of which are catalogued, some not. I browse through them, sometimes looking for inspiration, sometimes looking for a specific photo and often going down many side roads in the process.

I thought it may be useful to offer a few of these images under Creative Commons for others to use as they wish. I am a firm believer in sharing and giving back to others who give in many other ways.

Beginning today I will provide an image on Tuesdays which will fall under the Creative Commons Attribution license. Under Attribution you may copy, distribute, display and perform the image - and dirivative works based on it - but only if you give me credit for the original work, linking back to this blog. This license link and reminder will be posted along with the image that may be shared. All other images which do not have this link should be presumed to be copyrighted.

You may or may not like the images that I choose to share and that's fine. This is not a challenge for drawing or painting, you don't have to do anything. They are simply here to help provide inspiration on those days when you need it. If you do use them, I would love to see what you do with them.

The image will be uploaded at full resolution. Just click on it to see the full size.

The first image is Tripod, my cat. Well I say mine loosely, as he shows me disdain mostly as I have the audacity to leave him while I go to work each day. Little does he understand that someone has to earn money for cat food!

So tonight as I did my paparazzi moves on him, he grudgingly posed, while glaring at me sideways. He is obsessed with paper, among other things and flops onto any paper on the table the moment he is picked up as if there's a cat magnet in it.

The second image shows how he decided he'd had enough photos and took out his frustrations on a pen on the table.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The newsletter dating game

While on the beach at the weekend I found a clump of fresh seaweed, still green for the most part. I love these little plump buds of bladderwrack that are so green and fresh before the sun and air turns them to burnt umber. I managed to get this one home and take some photos before its transformation into a brittle mass that will go into the compost.

The photos will be cropped and arranged until I find a composition that appeals to me and will try a drawing of it, likely coloured pencil. I can't resist trying to capture that fresh green of the fronds.

I'm overwhelmed with email. Its become the scourge of my existence at times, especially today. I think its slowly crept up on me, insidiously creeping into the inbox, through filters, to clog my life with drivel.

Now I don't mean the mail from friends and family who I always enjoy receiving mail from, but I find that more and more documents are send via email, from newspapers to local supermarket flyers to newsletters. Which brings me on to my next topic.

I have been asked if I will produce a newsletter from this blog. At this moment, I have to say no. There are a lot of newsletters out there and it seems few are long lived or, to be honest, worthwhile reading. When I consider what would make me stick with a newsletter it would have to provide the following, which almost sounds like the dating game. Aren't these the qualities you look for in a partner?

Consistent. I want a newsletter that will arrive on time, when I expect it, not at the whim of the producer. I want to know what to expect in terms of content and writing. If you let your 4 year old write a column, you'll just confuse me.

Content. This is vital. Content must give me something that I cannot find elsewhere. It can be about you and your art, how you produce it, where you get your inspiration etc. Inspire and entertain me. After a long day, I want that. Don't tell me about your social life, your food, your pets or your children unless they are in your art.

Visual Appeal. You are an artist, so make your newsletter live up to your reputation or the reputation you want to create. No blocks of newspaper text with poor quality images. Make me want to see more through high resolution images and imaginative layout and design.

Make Me Feel Special. I have entrusted you with my personal information - a direct line to me. How are you going to treat me? Are you going to give me special tidbits of information and perhaps a little tutorial tip. Or maybe a discount on the purchase of your art each month?

Don't Dump Me. I have stuck with you, so don't suddenly disappear without warning. I deserve more than that. Provide me with a warning that you won't be producing your newsletter anymore, don't just walk away and leave me hanging, wondering what I did wrong or that you're lying dead in a ditch somewhere.

I won't produce a newsletter just for the sake of doing so. I have seen them come and go, often with good intentions, but often as not simply because its the current trend to do so. I can't produce a newsletter that will please readers on a consistent basis for the long term at this point in my life. In the future, if I have something I need to say on a regular basis, I may consider it, but not now. I'd break every rule in the dating game!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I found an old photo of my daughter taken when she was about 7 or 8 I guess. I thought it may make an interesting portrait in oils so have made a start. There will be some tweaking as I go to get the likeness correct as my line drawing wasn't perfect. I have the first layers down roughly and will continue to add to it. I've already scrubbed it once and redrew it with a brush which seems to have done the trick.

Getting the skin tones right for portraits can be a challenge. I've been watching Dave Darrow's portraits on Ustream TV and enjoy seeing the palettes he uses and his techniques. He always inspires me to paint and always makes it seem so simple.

It was a bright day here but a cold wind off the water. Ice is on the horizon and slob ice has nestled into the bays depending on wind direction. I took some photos today to show you the view out over the ocean that I saw this morning. If you could enlarge the image a lot you would see a tiny dot waaaaaaaaaayyyyy out on the horizon of a large iceberg. It is as variable as the slob ice that is in and dependent on the wind and currents for movement.

Ice in Newfoundland is a sure sign that spring is here.