Hockey Bear

My wife suggested at one point that I paint a polar bear playing ice hockey. It took me a while to get a pose and concept I liked, but eventually I decided to have the bear practicing shooting. I decided I wanted some other animals standing around watching, and some pudgy birds fit the bill. Penguins wouldn’t work due to geography, but a search of Arctic birds revealed that puffins live in the Northern Hemisphere, so they were chosen. Here is my final pencil sketch:

I inked the image using a brush pen directly onto the watercolor paper with the help of my light table:

I decided to set the scene at sunrise to contrast the purple and blue tones I wanted to use for the snow and ice. I live in Nashville so I costumed the bear in colors that are reminiscent of the Predators’ colors, without being specific about it. I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and am delighted with the color blending effects I’m learning to add to my work. Thanks for reading!

Roller skating elephant

rollerskating elephant fb

I was recording a podcast for a friend of mine (the audio was messed up, so don’t go looking for the interview) and we were discussing how I can pretty much draw any idea I can see in my head.

He said, “So, if I gave you an idea, like, an elephant rollerskating through the park, you could draw it.”

“Yes,” I replied, “In fact, that’s a great idea, let me right that down!” That was the beginning of this image. Here is my first sketched out idea:

This drawing was ok, it is definitely an elephant on roller skates, but it had no energy. I wanted to capture how easy and light on his feet this elephant would be on roller skates, and it just wasn’t happening. I spent a lot of time redrawing things in this image, trying to make it better, more right, but eventually I gave up and decided to start again with a simpler sketch to try and better capture the energy of a roller skater:

This loose prelim sketch perfectly captured the feeling I wanted. The pose is more open and natural feeling for rollerskating, the action feels forward moving, and the closed eyes bring a feeling of comfort and ease. Here is my cleaned up pencil drawing:

I stripped some things out of my original sketch, like the ipod and the earphones, as well as the wrinkles on the skin. They seemed unnecessary, and I didn’t miss them. I eventually added a second tree to make the setting seem more park like. I painted this elephant with red shorts, and then began to second guess my choice. Through the incredible technology of Photoshop, I was able to shift the color of the shorts through the whole color spectrum, and I opened up this image for comments from my friends on Facebook:

I tallied up the votes, and red slightly edged out blue (people didn’t really seem to care for green), however, the reasons people gave for choosing blue were more convincing to me than the red, so I went with blue. Blue made the image feel more peaceful, and was a lower visual anchor to the blue sky. As you can see in the final image at the top, I changed the color of blue slightly from what you see in this comparison image, making it a little lighter and shifting the color slightly toward green-blue. I really like this painting, I feel like it succeeds at everything I was trying to capture, and it makes me smile when I see it. Thanks for reading!