Thursday, September 14, 2017

Wings for a Grandmother

The paternal grandmother of my wife is a sweet, gentle and caring individual.  Over the past few years her health has declined, and a mind that was once sharp and buoyant has grown dimmer as she has ailed.  At this point someone always has to be with her to keep her safe from the affects of dementia and a weakening body.  However, she still loves to sit down and look at pictures and to sing whatever words are in front of her.
After her first husband passed away, whenever she saw a butterfly, she felt it was a sign that he was near and watching over her.  
Today's envelope and letter (to words I hope she will sing) is going out to her.

This one was done with gouache, with an acrylic background.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Complimentary Colors

My son just recently began to find a deeper interest in color, the color wheel, color theory, etc. due to an art class that he is taking in junior high.  This week we spoke about complimentary colors, how they look when they are put together in a composition, how to correctly shade by mixing the complimentary color, etc..  Because of the lesson, I chose this week to play around with blues and oranges.  Thankfully, with a little more weekend time than normal, due to the Labor Day holiday, I was able to spend a little more focus on detail.  This is the result....another envelope to be sent to an unsuspecting recipient.

I've mentioned before that I love fish.  We have a tank in the house and I find that when things are crazy, it is very therapeutic for me to just sit in front of the tank and watch the little guys float here and there.  There is so much in nature that could be enjoyed, so many indications that there is a benevolent creator who has specifically made beautiful things for us to see, touch, and be intrigued with.

This was done almost entirely in gouache, and the background is done in acrylic.

Trees, Trees and More Trees.....

Last week, a very kind couple in our neighborhood faced some challenges as the wife found that she had a blood clot in her head, rendering them both very preoccupied with health, life, etc.  This week's envelope and encouraging note went out to them.  I've been enjoying doodling trees, and playing with greens, so this was a refreshing project.  I particularly enjoyed playing with the trees in the background, and the suggestion of shape by introducing different tones and colors.

When I was a young man, and now on into my "golden years," I have learned that being in the deep of nature, especially in the heavily wooded shadows of nature brings a deep, peaceful, opportunity to reflect on life, the meaning behind it, my place in it, and just to appreciate the good things in the world....unless there are a lot of mosquitoes, and then the situation turns to other feelings of the "not so peaceful" sort.

Nonetheless, I hope you get out and enjoy nature this holiday weekend...and be sure to take your pen and pad to sketch up.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Continuing with my desire to send out an envelope to the folks that I mentioned in a previous post, this week I decided to play around with a highly "Seuss-esque" background and a big dog for my friends Boyd and Michelle.  They are, very much, animal people, and I figured they would enjoy a little fun spin on a greyhound.  While I haven't known them for as long as the other's that I have mentioned, they have certainly become part of our family and have been kind, inviting and considerate of my family over the years.  This one went out to them.

This was done in gouache, pen and ink, with an acrylic background.

The entire time I painted the background, I couldn't stop thinking of Seuss....

"You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest."
--Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the Places You'll go"

Saturday, August 19, 2017

L Train

Recently, a gentleman I know from work, was browsing through some of my doodles and asked if I would do something for him.  Apparently, his brother is getting married this week, and has an infatuation with the mass transit system in Chicago, particularly, the L Train.  He asked if I would do something on an envelope so that he can put his gift inside of it for his brother.  I don't normally get many requests, and frankly, shy away from them somewhat.  However, I was intrigued with the chance to do something a little more industrial, a little more linear, than what I normally play with.  Here is how it came out.  I put in some foliage to try to balance the mechanized with nature.  This is done in pen and ink, watercolor and some prismacolor to accentuate some of the colors.

I hope he likes it....

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Something Peaceful

Normally, I shy away from landscapes, especially when painting.  I seem to struggle with the temptation to hit every detail, capture every bit of information, which tends to make the painting labored and cumbersome.  On this week's envelope, I decided to just play with color and contrast while painting a countryside.  Instead of the normal gouache, I used acrylic because I wanted something a little more opaque and full, but the scan captures the shininess of the acrylic and left little white dots on the darker colors that really aren't there...but nonetheless, I was happy with the way it came out.
There is a fellow in my neighborhood that I sit next to, at times, in church.  He is older, and uses hearing aids to better hear what is being taught.
I notice during Sunday school, when he has his hearing aids dialed in just right to capture the volume of the instructor, he jumps and is in a startling pain whenever a baby cries or shrieks inside of the room.  This is likely due to the noise being amplified greater, giving this man a shock to the eardrum.
It happens every week, without fail, and yet, despite being frustrated, he is still kind and continues to come each week to hear what is being taught. It clearly would be easier to sit at home, be angry with his circumstances and curse the little one's that unknowingly cause him the startle. Yet, he's there every week.
It may seem like a small thing, but I'm grateful for his example of steadfastness.  When I am his age, and struggling with similar circumstances, I hope that I am as kind, as persistent, and able to "endure to the end" as gracefully.
This envelope, with a letter of thanks for his example will go out to him tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Old Black Tree

Recently, I was up at my father-in-law's house.  His backyard is full of of trees and bushes that surround his pool, but there is a wonderfully twisted, old, black-barked, tree that rises behind the pool and captures my attention every time I am there.  I drew it a couple of years ago during a previous visit, as can be seen here.
While relaxing in the backyard during this trip, I had to pull out the sketchbook, once again, and scratch out what I could.  It started to get dark, so I wasn't able to capture much, just the bark on the tree and a few limbs.

Once I got home, I wanted to continue to play with it, and embellish it a bit I continued to add the fence, a neighboring pine and a couple other embellishments...

All in pen and ink.