Sunday, December 5, 2010

Otis Technology®

I'm very pleased to be able to finally post this commission drawing which was unveiled last evening. Otis Technology manufactures the most advanced gun cleaning system in the world. The company celebrates it's 25th year and I was very honored to recreate their iconic logo by bringing it into 3 dimensional life. The companies support of our military armed forces is exemplary and it seemed very fitting that our Soldiers be featured in the drawing.

Five weeks of graphite work led up to this posting and I am very happy with the results. All my best to Otis Technology, may you all enjoy many successes in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Arrangements

I have posted this part of the aborted attempt to illustrate a point about how many artists work. If an artist has integrity and honesty about what they create then the thought of ending a work before it's completion makes perfect sense. There is absolutely no reason to continue one moment further if the artwork in question is not meeting expectations. Sure I had many hours invested but if the finished work doesn't fully engage my imagination then the only time wasted would have been the few hours left to complete it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Drawing Plans

Many years ago I photographed a pair of osprey during mating season. I was in my kayak trying to hand hold a 600mm lens so the shots were crap. Enough to get the overall shape of the birds but little else. The male osprey continually brought items to the female to impress her I guess. Sticks and finally a nice trout. He would call, she would call and flap her wings each time he came close.

Over a number of years I've filled in details and worked out several compositions like the one at the right. I've never been too happy with this design even though I came about 75% complete on a very large charcoal based on it. I turned the board over on the table and forgot about it for quite a long time. Not wanting to give up I've worked out something different that I'm much more excited about.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Mountain Sentinels"

Dedicated to our 10th Mountain Division Soldiers and their Families for all they do to ensure our freedom. Finished drawing measures 24" x 16".

Saturday, May 29, 2010

An hour left.

Ran out of clock today with about one hour left before I can call this finished. Tomorrow I'll wrap this up for scanning on Tuesday. Prints, then framing for pending special events.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another few hours progress

What difference a few hours makes at this stage of the drawing. I have most all areas roughed in and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully I can get this completed by the end of the week as planned. Saving the weapons for last since I am intimidated and challenged by them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Just a subtle start on introducing the background mountains and landscape. Helps to start to pull the whole thing together. Keeping it all balanced properly will be the focus of the next few days work.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Filling in some blanks

Here is the before and after of a few hours work. Pushing the contrast to suggest strong sunlight. Adding the landscape next before finalizing each Soldier in order to see how they relate to each other and the background then on the weapons and that will do it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Technical Drawing

Moving along quite rapidly on this drawing as a deadline looms. Nearly finished with the first Soldier and now detailing his weapon.

Precision is the name of the game with this type of work and I've relied upon my technical illustration skills for accuracy. This gun is a bit different than the 410 shotgun I bird hunted with years ago. I have it roughed in and have started to bring up the volume gradually. You may notice that I've added protective eye wear on our young hero. The circumstances surrounding the creation of this new work are interesting and I'll be telling more about that in the next few postings.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Second Sentinel

This addition reveals more of the overall composition. A good friend of mine, Command Sergeant Major Hibbs explained that the top Soldier should have his glasses and gloves on. Ooops, I'm considering adding clear ones later. I'll think it over. It's important to be accurate with this subject matter because Soldiers are some of the finest professionals I've ever met and they really know their business. CSM Hibbs is a very talented photographer and has advised me on work in the past. So glasses and gloves on this 2nd Soldier for sure!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who is this Soldier?

As I work on this drawing I'm wondering just who this Soldier actually is. This part of the composition is based on an image from the US Army website. I'm pretty sure he's a Specialist and definitely a Division Soldier. I don't have the details of exact location aside from Afghanistan, or a name. Anyone who might know this young warrior and can inform me of his identity would be entitled to a free print from the limited edition as well as a print for this young hero. I can be contacted via my website.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New project

For those that are familiar with my work will have seen these patches before. Bravely worn by our devoted Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. Once again I'm proud to create a drawing to honor the sacrifice made by them and their loved ones back home. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Trespasser in the Dominion of the Tyrant King"

It's been a long haul but I signed this drawing today. The title is unusually long since I normally use only one word to name most pieces. All the work on the bison only to prepare for the addition of the main subjects, being two Eastern Kingbirds. When I was in Yellowstone National Park excitedly photographing these fantastic animals I was only peripherally aware of these highly agitated birds flying about.
As I later realized, one bird was hitchhiking through an others territory on the back of one of these lumbering beasts. The territory holder was repeatedly swooping and calling at the other. Of course the bison were totally unaware of this drama unfolding around them.

As for the title... I reference the scientific name of this fascinating bird. I love the fact that it's thought that birds are descendants of dinosaurs and that this bird in particular is named Tyrannous tyrannous. The 'lizard king' as it's referred to seemed an appropriate choice to name this aggressive and territorial little flycatcher. I simply could not resist the grand title to honor this wonderful bird. The bison are just there as supporting actors.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Art of the Animal Kingdom XV

As I put the final touches on the bison drawing I've received word that "Sovereignty" has been accepted into one of the country's most prestigious animal art exhibits in beautiful Bennington, Vermont. Dates are June 12th through August 8th. Shay and I always enjoy a spring visit to Bennington.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Take Me to the River

I have not worked this drawing for awhile as I was on holiday with my family. Out of the groove of it I was nervous about getting back into it. I dove right in today and started the reflection on the river. Very rough to begin with which had me nervous for awhile because it looks so sloppy.
Then after several hours of drawing this is currently where things are. I still have a great deal of refinement to go but I think I'm past the critical point of wondering if it will all work out or not. So far so good.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just enough

A while back I posted about learning restraint in the drawing. I practiced on this animal and so far I'm pleased. I'll avoid touching this any further (hopefully) until all the others reach this stage of completion. Then I'll decide if any more detail will be required.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coming together bit by bit

Now that all of the animals are drawn in things are beginning to be more cohesive. I'm better able to see relationships between the separate elements and now I'm moving equally among each one touching here and there. Soon I'll start on the water and reflections and that will pull it all together.

This is the point where I really start getting into the flow of the work. I easily lose track of time and am in a state of 'no mind', no thoughts occur what-so-ever, just pure consciousness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Smoothing out the rough

The texture of the drawing board is so extreme in some places that help is needed to distribute the charcoal more evenly. Applying powder as mentioned before is only a beginning. After the smudging is done then I use a larger stiff brush to poke down onto the surface. This pushes particles down into the crevices therefore smoothing it out. Dragging a charcoal stick across the panel catches just the peaks of the texture, this brush process forces it done into the valleys.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vague image

This close up shows how loose this stage of the work can be.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

and still more...

Now that the last few bison are roughed in I can start detailing each one only as much as necessary. I let the rough image dictate how much is needed in order to maintain that spontaneous look.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Herd Expansion

The ghost images of more animals accomplished in todays few minutes. To acheive this I start with a large chunk of charcoal and a stiff bristle paintbrush and simply scrub off powder onto the area of the animal outline. Next I smudge and repeat until each one is roughed in.

Friday, February 5, 2010

20 Years from now? 30?

I wonder what my son is going to think of me. What I tried to do, what I accomplished and what I squandered. His name is Kane, he's 8. Wonderful, bright kid, the light of my life. These efforts I make, these smudges. Will they prevail over time? Will he smile at the thought or shake his head? His old man, working away making picture frames for who knows who. Mundane work compared to his dreams. In between, he makes some scratches and scribbles. Dreaming.

Will he feel sorry, proud, inspired? Will he look at my work and wonder what my thoughts and feelings were? What my vision was? Will he be able to connect with the intention, the inspiration, what drove me? I think these things as he sleeps innocently, peacefully. My hope is that he will understand. He will be able to know... somehow what I was trying to acheive, to express, to say with lines and textures. My deepest desire is that he'll think to himself... yeah Dad, I get what you were about. I get who you were. I'm proud.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Planned Spontaneity

I haven't touched this drawing since my last posting but have been looking it over carefully. This particular bison intrigues me a great deal. What has happened is precisely what I've been striving for for a long time. After a minimal degree of smudging and only a few strokes of vine charcoal I was left with this. Now I'm trying to avoid the temptation to fuss with it. That was the lesson I tried to learn with the elk piece I recently completed.

I think instead of barging right in I'll contemplate this awhile. I'm learning that to maintain a minimalist approach takes a great amount of forethought and planning. Is there such a thing as effortless effort? Can spontaneity be carefully planned and if so is it still spontaneous? I think too much me thinks.

Monday, February 1, 2010


This full shot gives an idea of the size of the drawing, it measure 48"x 24". That has become rather standard for me. Actually the next two planned after this will be that same size. I love working large and being able to appreciate the work from across the room instead of just feet away. The small print is the new arrangement made from the study done back in 2002.

Once the remaining bison are roughed in I'll work on the river and grass. The reflection and smoothness of the waters surface will pose a particular challenge to achieve on the texture. The final touch will be adding the main subject of the work. So far so good.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Three Bison Surge

Roughed in a few more bison today. This photo shows the messy process. I let the drawing panel with the texture have it's way for the most part.

Once the finger smudging is over I use vine charcoal to add some detail. This is the point where it's easy to over work the piece and lose the spontaneity I'm attempting to maintain. Next step is to pick out highlights with a kneaded erasure.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2 1/2

Another stolen moment today to rough in a bit more. Nice to have somthing new on the drawing board. Perhaps I can pick up the pace this weekend. My favorite aspect of this piece is the strong light from the setting sun as it highlights the shedding animals. They lose large wads of winter coat each season to expose a smooth undercoat that's evident on the back hip of this first one. Interesting contrasts and patterns will emerge as this develops.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Contradiction is Balance

I finally had a few minutes this afternoon to rough in the beginning of the bison drawing I recently posted adjustments to. It has been many years since I first did the initial study and feel that I can finally do justice to the work. It has been so long since I've gotten my fingers blackened with charcoal that I forgot what pure joy my work is for me. The lapse of time in between drawings illustrates the nature of the demands on my time.

My work is both bane and salvation for my soul. When I'm unable to work I suffer, when I draw I'm totally blissed. Odd contradiction. A song writer once observed that 'contradiction is balance'. Anyone know the song or musician?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Arrangements

This is a detail from a drawing I had nearly completed. Through the entire work I didn't have positive feelings about the composition. It was subconscious to a degree because I'd spent so much time working out the position of the two osprey I couldn't understand why it just didn't feel right. I finally decided to shelve the project after my wife admitted it just wasn't engaging her. I respect her opinion because she is a talented graphic artist and has a good eye for composition.

Recently I've been rearranging a bison study I made several years ago. I felt it was a strong work but still wanted to take it further. I call this the incubation period. It can take years sometimes. Songwriters often rearrange their well known songs to wonderful affect and I greatly enjoy them. I figured that I could do this to my drawings and feel that's the reason for studies in the first place. A few months ago I posted 'before' and 'after' compositions but have adjusted it even further since then.

The osprey nest has also been redesigned and will come back to the table in a new format soon. First comes the bison design which I've just finished preparing a drawing panel for. Over the next few weeks I hope to get it underway providing that responsibilities allow as they have eaten all my time over the past few months.