Sketching for a better self.

Constantly sketching is crucial to any artist’s painting skills. It strengthens painting abilities, experiences, and ultimately the final creation. Without accurate drawing skills, we spend more time correcting and possibly disposing of many creations because they “just don’t work”. Believe me, and I know many of you who love to create will understand, not every approach to the easel or drawing board has a happy ending. But more good comes from the preparedness than not.

So, I continue to sketch in the mornings, when I can, to keep the skill-set up to my expectations, and to take some time to indulge in my creative side. Each session, regardless of its success, is a learning experience. It truly is. My studio is littered with my “failures”. Some in piles of stretched canvas and some hanging on my studio walls. All of them I consider studies. I hate them in some respect, but they really do serve as a reminder of what not to do, and sometimes how I may have actually succeeded with my personal lesson.

The following are a few more recent morning sketches done before heading off to work. They do have points that I would change or rework, but for a half hour worth of pencil in my hand, they serve their purpose. The more I do of these, the more confident I am at the easel with a brush in my hand.

Experimenting with media, morning sketching.
Experimenting with media, morning sketch.

This one, while it doesn’t look anything like the subject photo that I used for reference, was an experiment with some media and tools I had lying around. Years ago I had some classes with a local artist in a local art league, where we learned how to use media differently from a traditional elementary taught art class. It was quite the experience and taught me to see values as I had never seen them before. One of these days I’ll post a process that I learned from those early days. “Experimenting with media” was more for discovery and fun than anything. Creating for creating sake. Doesn’t have to amount to much, just create!

25 min morning sketch
25 min morning sketch

I enjoy sketching the portrait in different viewing angles. To me, that expresses the most emotion. Maybe that’s why I watch people so much. I am constantly looking for that new portrait concept, or emotion to convey.

30 min morning sketch
30 min morning sketch

At times, even the simplest looking sketch can take me longer than others. Getting the feel for the drawing just doesn’t come quickly at 4:00 am. Of course, there is the possibility that the amount of coffee I’ve consumed by then could be the difference.

Thanks for your continued interest and support!

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.

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.



It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Not because I haven’t been in the studio. Quite the contrary. I continue to study and learn each time I enter the studio. These experimental sessions are not meant to be published artworks. Rather they are learning tools that I hang on my studio walls for my own critical review. I continue to play with color, values, and edges, just to understand their roles in each brush stroke.

Many times I walk out of the studio feeling good about a days work, only to be a bit humbled upon return. But, that’s okay! It’s good to see my mistakes, or misjudgments. How best to learn? I have some really horrid stuff hanging in my studio. I hate to look at them at times, because I can’t believe that I actually thought they were complete. It helps me to realize where I’ve been, in order to get where I want to be.

This painting, “Golden”, was a four hour painting session, done for our annual “guys fishing trip” coming in May. Many years ago, I was asked to create a chart for the trip. The chart has been used to track our daily catches, weather, and many fantastic fun moments. Over the years, the chart has developed into an artistic challenge for me. I really have taken this chart thing too seriously, but, why not? I love to paint! Sure a far cry better than some of the earlier charts done in marker.

This one is done like the others, oil on poster board. Yup, poster board. Toned acrylic gesso plastered on the board first, then oil over. Again, not intended to be a finished “work of art”. Simply, more experimentation with a purpose.

So, it’s back to the studio for more fun. I have a few concepts I want to pursue. Looking forward to the trip!