Thursday, June 29, 2017

Olive Tree

After the time devouring map that I recently finished, I have decided to go back to the more familiar territory of doodled envelopes for people that might need a little "pick-me-up."  Recently I discovered that a friend had been diagnosed with cancer, and I decided to spend a few hours designing something for her.
There is something intriguing to me about the beauty of trees, and the unique character that each of them have.  I've doodled a few others over the years, as can be seen here, here, here and here.  But I've never done an olive tree.  Olive trees are unique in that they can grow in the roughest terrain and undergo severe pruning, dunging, forming and cutting and yet still thrive.  In fact, it is the constant and watchful eye of the Master of the Vineyard, and his ever present arboreal husbandry that continues to push the tree to yield a desirable crop.  I think there is meaning and significant symbolism in that.  Sometimes the very pruning that we undergo in this life that come in the form of disappointment, challenges, adversity, are the very things that push us to produce our best selves, letting the unimportant stuff slough off, leaving what matters most.
Here is the envelope that I sent off today:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Insect Map, Finally Complete!

Wow!  Undertaking the map project was enlightening in a lot of different ways.  First, I didn't realize how much time it would take to produce something that large, with that much detail, especially when trying to capture something from my youth.  I'm happy to have done it, but happy that I can move back to something a little smaller and more manageable through a couple of hours.
I also learned that drawing a map of a place you once knew brought back a lot of memories, transported me back in time to almost reliving some of the things that occurred there.

When painting this map, I remembered being chastened once for not watering Dad's garden the way that he showed me, but also how he rushed to me in the garden after that reprimand when he noticed that I was tearful at the rebuke.  I remember him kneeling in the soft, dark soil and asking him to forgive me for hurting my feelings.

I remembered laying under the massive cherry trees we had in the yard and playing with my dog, "Pepper" and watching the birds come and eat the cherries that were in abundance.

I also remember tying strings in a 45 degree angle to the side of my house, staking it to the ground, and then finding tomato worms in the garden and having races up those strings as the worms slowly crawled from the bottom of the string to the top.  GOOD TIMES!

Anyway, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of the finished product as I have had making it.  It's clear that I love painting insects, studying them and finding out what makes them tick...but I think I'm going to take a pass for a while on the little critters.  I also learned that when you do big projects, its harder to document.....I couldn't really scan anything, so I just had to take pictures of various details.  Sorry about the poorer quality on the photos.

Here's a few close-ups of some of the insects:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Insect Map, Day 2

Today I continued to hammer away at the map project that I addressed in my last post.  Maybe because it is Father's Day tomorrow or maybe because I am feeling nostalgic, I decided to do a map of the place where I first remember becoming fascinated with insects; my childhood yard.  This challenge has proven more time consuming than I expected and I haven't even started in the insects or labels yet on the map, nor have I made it to the front yard.  Hopefully o can find some time in the next couple of days to keep plugging away at it.  There's lots more I want to add!
So far, this has been done largely with gouache.  I added just a hint of ink to pop some colors off of the darker paper that I'm using.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Compass Rose

This week I was challenged to make a map, something I have never done before...aside from the treasure maps I would make as a kid, trying to mimic the ones in the movies with stale paper, burnt edges, and that always lead to a buried treasure with "X" marking the spot.
But as an adult, I've never really looked at making a map as a creative project to undertake.  So, tonight I dove in and started with the compass rose.  Not sure yet what the rest of the map will look like, but it was a little intimidating to start.  I pulled out the cheapest piece of paper I could find, an old newspaper sheet, and started doodling on it.  I find that when I have "intimidation block" that it is cured quickly by working on something that doesn't hurt to throw away, hence the cheap paper. I actually liked the toned paper look, even though the scan was a little wrinkled because of the way the water from the gouache wrinkled the paper.
Anyway, here's the start to some type of map dealing with,..YEP, INSECTS!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Moth for a Friend

Yet another great young man that I know is about to head out to serve a mission wherein he will dedicate two entire years, all day long, looking for people that need help, and doing his best to be of service.  So, this week's envelope and letter goes out to him and hopefully it will get to him as he arrives in South America just as he is starting this new endeavor.  I chose a moth, since in South America I know he will experience his share of many colorful insects. (And, if honesty prevails...I just really like to paint insects.)
Also, as noted in other posts, I'm fascinated in the metamorphosis that certain insects make in their life span, starting first as something formless, ugly and undesirable, yet, with the potential and inborn capacity to turn into something breathtaking and amazing.
Isn't this true with all of us, to some extent or another?  We grow, we change, maybe we don't like what we see in the mirror at times, or what we see in other people....but if we could just see their full potential, catch a small glimpse of what they can become, wouldn't we be so much more accepting, kind and patient with ourselves and others?
This young man is one of those amazing moths, who has grown and continues to grow, and I have no doubt he will look for others, see their potential, and help them along the path of metamorphosis.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


This week's doodle envelope and letter goes out to someone who has been faced with recent challenges that would cause any normal person to pause and ponder just how to move forward, how to cope with the changes, and to be able to keep their head above water.  I like the image of a turtle coming up for air while swimming.  To the casual observer, it might appear that it is struggling to survive, barely able to keep the nose up where the needed air is available.  Yet, built inside of the sea turtles is capacity.  They have ability to swim, to maneuver in water that would pose as a threat to other animals, and the ability to stay under those currents for a very long time.  Even though they need air to live, to survive, they can handle being away from it for 4 to 7 hours if needed.
I did this letter to remind the individual that although it may seem like they may drown, that they have the ability to draw upon other strengths, other built in abilities, to handle something that may appear, on the surface, to be something that would harm.

Years ago I did another little turtle sketch, also exploring the same ideas as expressed above.