Morning Sketches

We, as artists, all know that good drawing skills are essential to good painting. So, as I find myself struggling to paint, or when I don’t have the time to get the paints out, I always come back to sketching. It helps me focus, and teaches me where I may be tailing off in the wrong direction when approaching the canvas.


These are all done with a 9B pencil, my favorite, on heavyweight 20 x 26 drawing paper. I have sketchbooks, but prefer the larger format. I can get up to three good sized portrait sketches on each sheet.


They are short in time to completion, not perfect, and generally running 25 to 45 minutes before having to stop. I do many of these first thing in the morning. It’s a time of day when I can focus entirely on my drawing, before the business of the day gets too complex.


I have many, but will only post a few for now, and new stuff as I can.


They are done from photos found on, where most of my sketching subjects come from. They are not a completed piece of work, rather a work to keep me understanding the fundamentals.


As I Lay Awake

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As I lay awake at night, I remember.

I remember, lying in bed as a child some 50 years ago, listening to the sounds of the robin’s last calls of the day at times mixed with the sounds of a distant train horn making its way towards town. The light of the day reaching that beautiful blue hue that appears when the sun is beyond the horizon, and the shadows blend with the landscape, creating a wonderful early evening glow. With a deep breath, fresh cut grass fills the senses reminding me of the day’s busy activities, which have all been completed now, calling for time of rest.

As I lay awake at night, I remember.

Windows open, The fresh rain permeating the air. Cool breezes wisping through the screen wedged into the window opening, keeping the bedroom sweet and comfortable. Home.

As I lay awake at night, I remember.

I remember life on that street, located midway between the river and the train rails just beyond the backyard. Seemed miles long then, and walks to friends house down that street not only required permission, but took on a sense of independence as you walked that block or two alone. As the sun set there was always my home, and returning there, even at times to the call of my mother screaming my name, was always comforting. As I’d near the house, I remember the other side of the river, a busy hub of activity nearly every night, with rivet guns occasionally echoing and piercing the air even into the wee hours. Seemed to last all night, but never really bothersome. In fact, quite comforting as I look back now.

I remember the river, while not the most beautiful, drew me there like a magnet. Most of the time, without permission. Friends fishing together, excited no matter the catch. At times even today, the occasional fresh water smells of a river take me back to some of the favorite fishing holes there.

As I lay awake at night, I remember these things. The fabric of my youth… thoughts and feelings that will never fade. They drive me to be who I am.

Family. We are a family. As I lay awake at night, I remember.

On the Easel 4/4

Started these two this morning. Have to stop here. Too much to do today.

Broke out the oil primed linen. Soooo much difference over acrylic primed. Using a limited palette of Transparent Oxide Red, Cad Red deep, Cad Yellow light, Ultramarine Blue, and Flake White. Will post updates.


Approx 16 x 9 oil on oil primed linen board


Approx 16 x 20 oil on oil primed linen



Opinion: Water Mixable Oils

In my humble opinion, it is true, water and oil do not mix. I tried this morning. Maybe there is a different approach to the use of them. But, when I attempted to use my sample set of water mixable oils as I would my normal oil paints, absolutely did not like the feel. To me, I could almost tell that there was water in my oil, as obvious as that may sound. The spread wasn’t the same, they appeared to dry much quicker (even though my use of water was almost null after my initial wash), and blending on the canvas became difficult. Again, first experience, and my initial opinion . I suppose it could have been the substrate (first time with this Ampersand textured panel also) but these may go into a drawer somewhere. I guess there’s a good reason they call it “oil painting”. I’ve done it for so long that these were a disappointment to me almost immediately.

Anyone else try this new media? Have any thoughts?

A small sample detail of my brushwork this morning. I couldn’t bring myself to finish this because I felt it was getting more and more difficult to work back into the paint. It wasn’t really meant to be a finished piece, but experimental. I’ll try again in my regular oil painting technique and post the results.

Update: while cleaning the palette with a palette knife, I thought, why not play a little? So, I took what paint mixes I had already mixed on the glass, and spread some using the knife over the canvas on top of my “mess”. It really turned out kind of neat! Might have to use a bit of knife in future projects. Haven’t done that for years.


Latest Commission

Just delivered this. It’s a surprise gift that a friend of mine requested of a family pet that passed away a year or so ago. I had several photos to work from, but this pose was the supposed favorite. Unfortunately it was a rather poor reference photo. But, I think with a bit of artistic license, I made it work.


20×16 oil on canvas.