Pet portraits

Art, Pencil

My son’s preschool puts on an auction each year. Families are asked to contribute a useful service or something handmade. This year, I’m donating a custom pet portrait. I decided to go for small pencil drawings. These two are samples I’ll have on display so folks can get a good idea of what they’re bidding for.

I haven’t had anything up in my Etsy shop for a few months, but I’ll add this custom pet portrait to it. People sure do love their pets. And who doesn’t love a dog in glasses?



French Cottage

Art, Pencil, Watercolor

French Cottage, 14×11, graphite and watercolor

I walk by this house frequently as it is one of the first houses on the street leading into the fancy neighborhood. The roof is aluminum and the shutters and windows are blue. It stands out on a street of extravagant craftsmans and tudors.


Art, Pencil


You know what takes longer than a half dozen detailed graphite leaves? Hundreds of roof tiles. Maybe by next Friday I’ll have this completed.

This is a house in the Eastmoreland neighborhood of Portland. Eastmoreland is fancy and close by so I often walk my dog around it. Something about this particular house always grabs my attention. It’s a different style than most in the neighborhood and the blue shutters and red door always stand out against the white stucco and silver roof, even on the grayest days. I initially planned to color just the shutters, but I’m leaning towards coloring just the front door now.

I love the look of graphite, but you can’t erase your guidelines when your final lines are also in pencil. I’m learning this is problematic for geometric/architectural subjects as opposed to organic subjects which can be believably drawn inaccurately. I’m not yet convinced that this is a good medium for buildings, but I think it’ll look killer… if I don’t totally wreck it.

Lemon Branch

Art, Pencil, Watercolor

Lemon Branch, watercolor, graphite & colored pencil on bristol, 14 in. x 11 in. 

Here it is, the last citrus branch in the series. This took probably about 12 hours or more- worked sporadically over a week and a half. I prefer to create projects for myself that can be completed in a day or two. Much longer than that and drawings start to become “that thing I need to finish.” And that’s usually a recipe for procrastination. But last night I hunkered down with new episodes of House of Cards and finished up the final leaves.  I’ve got all three in my Etsy shop and here’s how they look next to each other:


Limes on a branch

Art, Pencil, Watercolor

Lime Branch, watercolor, graphite and colored pencil on bristol, 14 in. x 11 in. 

There was no Watercolor Wednesday this week because of [excuses]. I did, however, finish the second of three citrus branch paintings. I’ve been making these while watching episodes of Justified, so looking at them makes me talk in a Kentucky accent.



Friday Wrap Up

Advice Requested, Art, Pencil, Watercolor

Orange Branch, pencil and watercolor on bristol, 11 in x 14 in

I finished this painting! It may not look like it, but this took many hours. I think 3 or four nights of 2-3 hours each. I always mean to- but never ever remember to- keep track of how many actual hours it takes to make anything. But I’m guessing 10ish hours here? That seems ridiculously high. On the plus side, shading is somewhat mindless/meditative. And I like how it turned out. That’s always a nice after spending a boatload of time on something!

I’m planning to continue with this theme. Pencil drawing with a watercolor element. I can imagine many different subjects for which this this could work well. Including my favorite subject, architecture. And portraits, too. But my productivity is sure to go down the toilette with this method. I’ll have to do unrelated 10-minute mini drawings every morning just to keep my Instagram feed fed.


Good things that happened this week:

I dragged myself out of the house last night and went to Craft Night. I had a real hankering for putting on my couch pants and watching Murder She Wrote all night but I decided to ignore myself and risk uncomfortable conversation for the possible benefit of normal social interaction. I’m glad I did, because it was fun and I left one of my paintings to be hung at Craft Night’s current show at Bar Carlo. I’ve never had anything in a show before. No big deal, but fun. I put up my Royal Typewriter from a couple weeks back. It’s in there with a whole bunch of terrific stuff from the others.


+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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Mixed Media: Pencil and Watercolor

Art, Pencil, Today's Focus, Watercolor


This Week’s Focus: Continue making new art.


  1. Finish Orange Branch painting
  2. Start second watercolor/pencil painting
  3. Write three blog posts
  4. Upload at least 4 new images to Instagram and Facebook


In my attempt to become more lucrative with my art I’ve been thinking about what qualities of my art I consider to be successful versus the qualities that other people seem to “like”. There is a disconnect but I’ve noticed a pattern. My research is based solely on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy popularity of my own stuff, which is surely problematic for a number of reasons. But I’ve found that most things people like are bold and colorful. I feel weakest with watercolor so naturally, I hate most of my watercolors. I tend to like my pencil and ink drawings best, because I think I do a better job at realism in those media- and realism, in my mind, equates to good art. Boldly colored graphic art is much more popular these days- and I love other people’s graphic art too, but maybe there is a combination of the two that would be fun and successful. I’m on the lookout for what that might be.

The painting up top is my first attempt. Graphite and watercolor on Arches cold pressed paper. Next up is another similar go with an orange branch on bristol. The trick may be finding a paper suitable for both pencil and watercolor. And how to go about the color.

+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

If you’d like to follow this blog, see the Connect page.

Drawing with Sktchy

Accountability Review, Art, Pencil


My art time happens once the kids are in bed. Sometimes I don’t have a particular project in mind or I’m beat from 100 15-minute arguments about, for example, why a white spoon is an unacceptable alternative to an orange spoon. When all I want is to clear my mind and make my pen or brush move around, it’s nice to have something to draw that doesn’t require a lot of thinking.

For this, Sktchy is perfect. People sure do love posting photos of themselves on the internet and they put an astounding amount of effort into making themselves look good. Most aren’t professional photos, but the composition and lighting can be remarkably interesting and the images are almost always high enough quality for detailed drawings.

Not that you can’t put a lot of thought into art made from these photos. Many artists using Sktchy are making some really creative and unique work. I just seem to lean on it for my lazier days and let the photographer make the tough decisions for me. And I appreciate it.


P.S. Did I get anywhere with my goals this week? No. The worst. Mid-funk. And shrug.


+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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Sketchbook Skool #4.1

Pencil, Sketches, Watercolor

This week’s lesson was taught by Cathy Johnson, a naturalist and artist who has written a boat load of books and has a whole heap of experience in capturing nature. She is a sweet lady and I really enjoyed watching her videos because she’s positive and lovely and you can just tell that she is a very nice person. I love drawing animals, but I usually (ok, always) draw them from photos, because, well, you know, they move. I did my best to draw a bird from nature, but it was pretty pathetic. As Cathy suggested, if you can’t get a reasonable likeness from a moving object, just use a picture. But better to use a picture you took yourself to maintain a real life connection.

Image (58)  Image (A58)
These first two seagulls were drawn from photos I took. I like bird butts. 🙂 Image (B58) Image (56A)
This third seagull was from a googled photo. And this 4th page was done in real life as I walked around the embarcadero in Morro Bay. That thing in the middle? It’s a squirrel. I thought I could draw a squirrel from memory (which is basically what this is) since I’ve drawn them before, but alas. No.

Image (57A)
This last one is also from a googled image. I liked this lesson, but it was hard. I learned that I do like working in pencil for birds and other animals. H and 3B work out nicely.