Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pen and Ink Portrait Sketches

A few pen and ink portraits I've done using an old fashion dip pen and either Copic multiliner or Micron pens. I also use an Molotow acrylic based white marker to make corrections.

I like doing these because they don't take long. I can do these as warm ups before I do other work.

While I make these drawings the challenge is to strive for more accuracy and to work toward a loser drawing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Afternoon Gouache Sketches

I work a regular 9 to 5 job. Although I occasionally get illustration assignments I don't make enough to live off them. My lunch hours at work are a sacred time for me. A time I devote to sketching. I'm lucky enough to work in a large print room by myself so I am able to close the door for that hour and keep the rest of the world outside while I sketch away.

I keep a set of gouache paints as well as travel with brushes, pens, pencils, a small water color set and a couple of art pads. Armed also with reference material I begin to work from 1 P.M. till 2.

These two gouache sketches were made on my lunch hours this week. The top is done from a photo I took of my son after he had his hair dyed green ( I don't know, that's what the kid wanted and we obliged him). The other is from a reference photo I got from a site called Draw-This which is an resource of art reference material.

Draw-This website -

Friday, June 16, 2017

Portraits Done for a School Raffle

I attend an bi-annual Drawathon at the High School of Art and Design. I graduated from Art and Design  in 1983. I really look forward to the time of drawing and meeting up with old school friends.

A number of times a few of us were asked to contribute to the school raffle by painting a portrait of whoever won the drawing for that particular prize.

These are two of the three I've done. The top one is a watercolor of my friend Paul David Elisen. A terrific artist and art instructor.

The other is a gouache painting of Mr Marciano who teaches science at the High School.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Couple Of Quick Pencil Sketches

Couple of pencil sketches of my wife. The top one was done while she was watching Meet the Press and the bottom one was done while she slept. The bottom one was a little difficult because she moved several times. I tried to integrate what I was seeing with the memory of what the pose looked like moments ago before she moved.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Self Portraits

I've done many self portraits over the years. Sometimes I would sit in front of a mirror, sometimes I would use a photo, Sometimes I would paint a straight forward self portrait and other times I would use a bit of imagination- like portraying a pirate. Sometimes I would try and generalize more and other times I would try and put as much detail as I can.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pen and Ink Composition Process

Poe stories are a source I return to every now and then for ideas. One of the things I always wanted to do was to illustrate a collection of my favorite short stories by him. The Masque of the Red Death would be number one on my list.

I've loved the comics adoptions of Poe stories, especially the ones done in the Warren black and white magazines. I wanted to also try my hand at illustrating these stories.

As it goes I had some free time to work on this. I really agonized over the first page in the first story I choose to adapt'

I decided to work on an overall composition then I would draw the individual characters in my sketchbook and cut and paste the figures in Photoshop. I would print out the file and touch it up with brush, pen and ink and a bit of whiteout.

When I finally arrived at something I liked I would draw out the final image on bristol board and ink it. The lettering was done in Photoshop after I scanned the final image.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sketching On The Train

Simple little sketch was so much fun to do. Sitting in the train on my way back from work I saw this man dozing off and he looked like an interesting subject to draw. 

I don't know how good this sketch would seem to someone else but it was a lot of fun to do.

I like using just the ball point pen because I had to really focus on what I'm doing. Only a little room to improvise on small errors.

I used to do this kind of sketching more often.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Sketches And Doodles

Sketches and doodles. I think they're the same thing. Its that thing I do at work when no one's looking or I'm on my break and it doesn't matter who's looking. I always keep pencil or pen and paper by me  I also have become accustomed to sketching before I go to bed at night and also when I wake up in the morning. I may use photo reference or I may just sketch from imagination.

The images on this post are some of those sketches (or doodles) I did this week.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Over Fifty Consecutive Days of Pen and Ink Drawing

“From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.”
― Hokusai Katsushika

I put up the quote by Hokusai as a reminder, if I appear self critical it's not at all because I am unhappy with drawing or painting but because I am trying to get better at it. I want to adopt Hokusai's attitude when it comes to drawing.

I have had over fifty consecutive days of drawing in my pen and ink sketchbook. While I enjoyed working in the sketchbook everyday it's only the past few days that I see any real progress. By progress I mean that I've gotten better at starting the drawing and at using the tools better and coming up with different ways of arriving at a finished drawing. I've used different pens and learned to make different marks with them. I am more comfortable at varying the weight of the line. There are things that I am learning to do better through constant practice.

 The consistency is more satisfying than any one drawing because I look forward to applying what I've learned to do better in my next drawing.

Friday, March 17, 2017

When You Feel Like Throwing In The Towel

Its  been a little while since I last posted on this blog. In that short time I started and left unfinished a number of paintings, continued to sketch in my pen and ink sketchbook and finished two illustrations, but it seems I'm not happy with most of what I've done.

There are times where it is hard to do any work because I am so disgusted with where I am at. I tell myself, " jeez, you really haven't improved much at all and at 53 why don't you just hang it up?"

Then I know I really can't, I like it to much to quit, but it is easy to get distracted when I feel this way. It is hard to be inspired to do work when you feel like you suck at it. The only thing that I can do is rely on discipline and work my way out of this rut.

So I continued to draw, even halfheartedly relying on the fact that after some time I will feel better about what I'm doing and try to do better work.

The drawings that I post here I felt were bright spots in my sketchbook.  The sketch of the older man in the cap was just a little sketch in my book on a page that had two other sketches but it was the thing that got me started. I approached it a little differently and I said to myself let me try doing it that way again and all of a sudden the act of doing it became more interesting. More fun.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pen and Ink Sketchbook

It's been a very busy month, hence the lack of post's. Still I've managed a bit of painting this month, one illustration assignment and I continued with my pen and ink lunch time sketchbook.

Here I post some of the drawings done this month (some of them took more than one lunch hour).

Friday, February 10, 2017

Combining Gouache And Casein Paint

A long time ago (when I was a teenager), I purchased a book called Studio. In it were the works of four comic book artist who decided to put aside comics and create work to sell as prints and posters. Jeff Jones, Barry Windsor Smith, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson. Loved the book and still have my well loved and worn copy Somewhere in my closet). It was in those pages that I heard of the medium gouache for the first time. I purchased some tubes of the paint and began to use them on and off.

A short time after, while I was attending the High School of Art and Design in New York City I saw a teacher, Mr Doktor use the medium in an early morning paint group I used to attend. It was the first time I saw someone actually painting with gouache.

Although I worked more often with transparent watercolor and also oils, I would paint in gouache every now and then. I used it more often when my children were born because I was concerned about them, gouache was easier to put away and there were no solvents used. For many years I continued to use both gouache and transparent watercolor. Although I wanted to return to oils ( and I did every now and then) It was always easier to use the gouache.

Brief history of what I learned about using the medium
There were not many instructional booklets written about gouache at the time so I had to learn about the medium where I can. I learned how a lot of illustrators used gouache and one of the tricks they employed was to use it in combination with casein white. I think I read that about the illustrator Harry Anderson but it was something that was done by a lot of the old illustrators. I tried different papers and currently enjoy using Arches watercolor cold pressed art board (which is a sheet of arches watercolor paper mounted on an archival illustration board). After using Windsor and Newton Designer colors for years I switched to Turner gouache because that brand of paint covers better. I have also began using casein with gouache. I start out a painting in casein and finish it in gouache. This seems to help with some of the gouache colors looking too high key making the values jump. The casein under painting seems to mute the colors making the values easier to control. This was a recent change so I'm not entirely sure if this is what the casein is doing, but it looks promising.

Pretty recently the artist James Gurney started making instructional videos on watercolor, gouache and casein. These videos are very good as well as inexpensive. He also has a YouTube channel with some short segments from his videos. Artist Jeff Watts has online classes on painting in gouache at Watts Atelier as well as some excellent tutorials on his YouTube channel.

James Gurney videos here
Watts Atelier here

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Pen And Ink Sketchbook

Currently I am dedicating a sketchbook to just pen and ink sketches. The goal of this book is to 1) fill at least one page a day of random drawings, and  2) to feel free to try as many different styles as I want.

I make these sketches from imagination or I use reference photos. So far I am enjoying working in this sketchbook to the point where I can not go to sleep till I fill out a page. The only draw back is that I didn't pick out a a sketchbook with heavier weight paper that would allow for wash drawings but the paper is decent for straight pen and ink drawings. Next pen and ink sketchbook will be a heavier weight paper.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Making Better Drawings

So far in this new year I have made a commitment to do at least one ink drawing a day in a sketchbook set aside specifically for pen and ink work. I enter drawings in this sketchbook in addition to whatever else I may be working on.

What I've given myself the liberty to do is to try as many styles as I want to try. Usually there is a combination of influences or things that I've seen that I want to try. As a result the drawings may not seem like they are all done by the same artist (me of course). But this is my sketchbook, its not about doing something finished and polished (although that doesn't mean I let myself do a bad drawing) it's about practice or trying new things and just having fun.

We've always been told that drawing daily is a way of improving ones drawing skills. Part of that is being able to look at the drawings and realize ones weakness. For me I see that I need to focus more on correcting the drawing and less about the rendering.  I see mistakes like the incorrect placement of the features. One eye maybe slightly lower than the other or the nose or mouth may be a bit off the axis of the head. Repeatedly noticing these things helps me to be more conscious of it as I draw. In your sketchbook you're allowed to make a bad drawing but the next one has to be better.