Waltzing penguins

dancing penguins fb
I was watching Planet Earth 2 around the beginning of the year, and was struck a segment involving a huge colony of penguins living on a big frozen lake. For some reason, later that evening the image of a penguin couple waltzing around on that frozen lake popped into my head and I thought it would be fun to paint. Here is my page of sketches:
I liked the lake that I drew, but wasn’t satisfied with the initial sketch because instead of looking like the male was dipping the female, it looked like he was keeping her from falling down. I decided to rework the pose so that it looked more like dancing. Here is my refined sketch, combining the best parts of my initial sketches:
You can see that I refined the shapes of arms and legs, and clarified their expressions. I am really pleased with how this image turned out; this penguin couple looks like they are having a lot of fun. Thanks for stopping by!

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New website (sort of)

I have my rebuilt website up and running. A few months ago I lost access to the server my site was on, and no longer had access to my database of articles and everything, but as it turns out, thanks to the Wayback Machine internet archive, I’ve been able to access my blog posts and have started working on recreating them. Many of the posts were written over 5 years ago, but they are a record of artistic growth, and I think they’re valuable to recreate. Here’s to remembering the past while looking towards the future!

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Cow wearing sunhat

cow hat fb
It can be difficult to answer questions like, “How did you come up with the idea for a cow wearing a sun hat?” The truth is that I was in the shower and the image popped into my head: a cow, standing in some water, eating a water plant, wearing a sun hat. Why? I have no idea. I had to sketch it out though, before I forgot about it, so this is my attempt to get the idea on paper:

In the process of sketching, I decided to add a bird to the cow’s back, because it seemed right. Possibly I was influenced by seeing birds sitting on the backs of hippopotamuses in Africa. The bird needed something to do though, so then I drew a frog which the bird was watching. Here is my cleaned up sketch:

Here is my color comp. I decided to try and keep the colors very naturalistic so that the garish color of the hat would really stand out. Fuchsia seemed like a good color at the time:

When I was finished with the paints, I added some white highlights on the water with a white paint pen. This was fun to draw and paint, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. 

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Hedgehog

hedgehog fb
I was riding in the car with my wife one evening after work, discussing ideas for watercolor images, when she suggested a hedgehog playing in the sand. I decided right there to paint that image for her as a gift. My first sketch was not that great:
I felt this hedgehog looked a bit too much like Sonic the Hedgehog, and he looked sort of unhappy, so I started over and came up this sketch:
Here’s my revised sketch, where I decided to clarify what this hedgehog has been building:
I then did a color comp in Photoshop to figure out how to do the colors. Here’s what I settled on:
You’ll notice that in my final I added some ocean to the background, because I got done replicating my comp with watercolors, and I felt like something was missing. The addition of the water seemed to tie everything together. I had a lot of fun painting this hedgehog and my wife loved it!

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First bike ride

first bike ride
This painting was commissioned by a friend of mine as a Father’s Day gift. She wanted something that would show how encouraging and devoted her husband is to their daughters, and decided to focus on when her oldest daughter first rode her bike without the training wheels. I thought this was a great idea, and did this initial sketch:

As you can see, the father is focusing on his bike riding daughter, but is still aware of, and protecting, his younger daughter, who is very interested in a butterfly. I did a revised sketch which basically followed the shapes in the rough sketch, but I updated and clarified the expressions and clothing. I also tried to make the faces look more like the real people I was trying to depict:

The next step was to try and figure out what how to color the image. Here is my color comp, done in Photoshop. I had access to a video of the event I was depicting, so I was able to be very specific about the colors of the bike, the helmet, clothing, etc., which was very helpful:

When it came to the final painting, you’ll notice that I decided to add some more trees to fill in the background, and I changed the colors of the young daughter’s clothing to reflect the colors of the father’s favorite sports team. This was one of the most detailed paintings I’ve done to date, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Thanks for reading!

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Christmas fish

christmas fish fb
This is the image for my 2015 Christmas card. I was in a staff meeting at work, and was thinking about undersea creatures (because so far my Christmas cards have featured underwater animals), when this idea of a normally predatory angler fish setting aside his violent tendencies to use his luminescent lure as a “Christmas tree” light popped into my head. Here is my initial sketch:
I figured that I would have a coral shaped like a tree, with some starfish to look like decorations. I eventually got rid of the various other fish though, because I really liked the look of the little dumbo octopus (a real deep-ocean octopus) I’d drawn, and decided to just have more of them. I also added an eel to look a little like a streamer wrapping around the tree. Here is my cleaned-up sketch:
I think those octopuses look really cute, and I am particularly proud of the gentle and satisfied expression on the face of the angler fish. The finished image is pen and ink with watercolor (and a little help from Photoshop). I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

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Hugging owls

hugging owls fb
This painting started out as a Valentine’s Day present for my wife, who loves owls. It took a while to work out how to draw owls who look distinctly male and female, but I worked it out eventually through size and the the indication of eyelashes of the female. Here is my pencil sketch, tinted a bit sepia with Photoshop:

I added little patterns in their chest feathers as a reference to things we each like. I put the triforce symbol from Legend of Zelda on the female because my wife loves those games and I added the Star Trek: The Next Generation symbol to the male because I love that show. They still exist in the original painting, but I digitally edited them out for this portfolio example. I inked the image in brown ink because I thought it would look good with the colors I would use. I painted the male brown because I have brown hair, and the female yellow because my wife is blond. I think it turned out well and my wife really loved it.

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Suave koala

suave koala
I’ve been wanting to do a watercolor image of a koala bear for a while now, but it took me a while to come up with an image I liked. My first ideas were two koalas, presumably a couple, sipping champagne while enjoying the sunset, or a koala in a hammock with his leg drooping over the side while he munched on a eucalyptus branch, but I couldn’t really get those images to work visually. Finally, I drew a koala dressed up in a suit, looking like a super spy (at least that’s what he was in my mind):

I inked the image on cold press paper, and then he sat around on my art table for 2 months or more while I did other stuff. When I finally got back around to coloring this image, I forgot that in my sketch, his glasses were supposed to be sun glasses, so now he looks more like an aristocrat than a spy, but I still like how he turned out. I used gray with varying amounts of water added to it for most of this image and I’m still really enjoying working on the cold press paper compared to the hot press I used when I first started. Thanks for reading!

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Panda mother and cub

panda fb
I was thinking about painting an animal mother and child, and having recently seen the pandas at the Atlanta Zoo I decided to give them a try. Pandas are adorable, but it took a while to pose these two so that the dark areas wouldn’t just blend into each other. Here’s my pencil sketch:

Up to this point, I’ve been using hot press watercolor paper for my paintings because I wanted to have a smooth surface for inking. I don’t really like how the paints act on the hot press paper though, whereas the rougher cold press paper spreads and holds the paints much better, so with this painting I tried cold press. I wasn’t sure how the inking would be, but it turned out to not be a problem. I decided to build up to a dark brown rather than straight black for the dark areas of the fur, which would allow me to add some volume to the figures. I think I’m going to be using cold press from now on.

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Happy skier

happy skier 4
This excited young skier came from my desire to draw a child who is delirious with joy. I settled on a girl who has just made it to the bottom of a ski slope for the first time. Here’s my initial sketch, loosely inked up so that I can easily see the lines on my light table:
My mental image for this image became my sister-in-law when she was skiing as a child. With that in mind, I chose brown hair and dressed her in orange and blue because she’s a Florida Gators fan. I imagined that her cheeks and nose would be fairly rosy from the cold wind, and that also helped me add some dimension to her face. My wife and I bought our first house last fall and this is the first painting that I did in my new studio, so it holds a special place in my heart.

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