I've made quite a few changes since the end of the year and my first artisan fair with Market Collective in December. One thing that I really wanted to address, is that I wanted to have a broader range of content for all animal lovers, not just birders! So I have been branching out to Canadian wildlife. I am not so rigid as to only reside on half a continent for my subject matter, but it just seemed like a natural starting point! Never fear bird lovers, this does not mean I will be abandoning our bird friends, more to come in the future.
Another change to my practice that some may have already noticed (hopefully some care), is that I am trying to develop my watercolour/gouache painting skills. This means that I am trying going to be trying to do less ink and wash images, and more pure painting (whatever that means). I am not abandoning my original love of the arts, drawing. I am just trying to hone my skills as I am a fledgling watercolourist. And besides, most good paintings start with a great drawing!
In fact, I have been trying to push my drawing skills with more sketchbooking and mammal studies. (Seen Below)
I'd also like to take this opportunity to look at one of the first watercolours I ever produced (early 2018), versus one I did just a couple weeks ago. (hopefully it is apparent which is which, otherwise I am on the wrong track!)
I'd like to continue to explore different watercolour techniques and focus a little more on building interesting compositions. I have recently completed my first "full scene" with a background landscape. While I love doing animal portraits and a more illustrative focus, I like the idea of playing with more complex relationships of foreground/background and subject.
I am also trying to give up a little control. One of the reasons I am drawn to watercolour is that it is very easy to give up control if you allow the medium to do what it does (it has a mind of its own unlike most mediums that tend to stop moving a fraction of a second after you release your hand, watercolour can keep going as long as there is water to move to.
That said, I am not looking to give up complete control. I tend to find myself in the middle between realism and painterly. I am, for now trying to avoid any nibs that allow me to fall into a level and control and trying to work exclusively with brushes, whether it's paint or ink at the end of my brush.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of where I'm trying to go next, and even more hopefully, I can produce some excellent results (even while learning)!
Thanks for taking a look!
So I wanted to reflect on Market Collective, how it went, what I learned, would I do it again, so on and so forth. Some may or may not know why I started to draw again and what kicked off this one year venture back into the visual arts.
How this all started
At the end of 2018, my wife and I were frequenting the Millarville Christmas Market when we came across an artist's booth who was making very quaint little paintings of birds. She was also making a killing. I asked myself the question that many others constantly asking myself, why aren't you doing this?
Why aren't I doing this?
Well the easy answer is that it's hard to do this. And it is. But still...why am I not doing this?
I can't really answer the question. I can cop out and give excuses, but I can't answer it completely.
The fact is, I've always viewed art with a very "holier than thou" attitude. I've never allowed myself to make work for the masses such as wildlife art. In a sense, this has always given me an excuse I could tell myself if people reject the work, it's that they don't know any better. That's a really negative way to view high art. It's not meant to be held over others.
Also this leads me to the next question, is there anything wrong with Kitch or low art? The reality is that I paint and draw birds not because I think it's a great selling point, but because I love wildlife and nature, and I have had a passion for birds from a young age when I had a pet bird, or even further back, visiting owl sanctuaries in BC as an adolescent.
So after taking a hard look at myself and my nonexistent art practice, I decided that I am no longer "not doing this". I am going to try to do this, and I am going to be selling my art within a year.
What did I learn
So this is a lot harder than it looks. First of all, I am not really a salesman. I am an artist. I suppose I could use that as an excuse, but instead I choose to use this as a learning opportunity. I will go through all my learning points in a list:
How it went
It went well, but not amazingly well. I made money on the weekend, and even more so based on sales surrounding the market (before and after sales online). I handed out a lot of business cards. I was hoping to do better, but as one vendor pointed out to me, "everyone wishes they did better". Well yeah...also "everyone starts out small".
That's the real thing to keep in mind, you can't just start out making fists full of cash. You start small, you build a fan base and you exercise some patience. You take what you learned, and you apply it to the next time. I suppose by now it's obvious that I will try this again, in fact, I've already started applying for spring shows. I also want to try other markets aside from Market Collective (not that I have a problem with them, on the contrary, I think they put on a great event), I just want to see what other events look like as well.
2018 - 2019
2018 has come and gone, I set out and I achieved my goal from that morning standing in a cramped building in Millarville making a life decision to start making art again, building a body of work (27 finished works in total), and developing and honing a new skill (watercolour and gouache painting), to applying for 2 shows, getting accepted to one, and following through with the show. I've sold work online, to friends, and coworkers and complete strangers. None of this would have been possible without that fateful moment in the Christmas Market where I made that decision. It also helps to have a very understanding partner and wife who encourages me to pursue my passions and takes on the regular life duties on her own when I am sitting at the BMO center talking about birds and art.
What does 2019 hold for me in terms of art? I am going to continue drawing and painting birds. I have also made the decision to branch my subject matter out to Canadian wildlife, so if you like my work, but you don't want a bird hanging in your living room, stay tuned for wolves, and bears, and other great Canadian wildlife! I will continue to challenge myself and develop my practice and skills.
(some examples below of some new sketches that I worked on during Market Collective: DaVinci Travel Brushes round #6 and #12, and M. Graham watercolours set in a travel airtight Mijello palette on 9x12 hotpress Canson block and pen on paper)
If there is anything else you'd like to know about doing an Art Fair, or making art, feel free to email me through the site!
and have a happy 2019!
Season's greetings! I want to let everyone in on some of the deals I will have this weekend at Market Collective Holiday show.
4x6” $3 each or 2 for $5
Fine Art Prints
$20 unsigned 8x12” signed $30
$30 unsigned 11x14” signed $45
$40 unsigned 16x20” signed $75
Fine Art Originals
9x12” $175 10x14” $225
12x16” $275 16x20” pls enquire
DEALS! DEALS! DEALS!
Spend $20 or more, get a FREE postcard!
Buy any 2 signed prints and get 5% off!
Buy any 3 signed prints and get 10% off!
Purchase an original work at $350 or more, receive a FREE 8x12” signed print.
Purchase an original work at $450 or more, receive a FREE 11x14” signed print.
Purchase an original work at $650 or more, receive a FREE 16x20” signed print
Here is the image of the second postcard that should be arriving this Monday:
Can't wait to see you there!
Hi everyone! This is just an update to let you know, that if you would like to come and visit me, I will be hosting my own booth at the Market Collective winter fair! I will be showing from December 7-9!
Come on down and visit me!
Well I did my first ever Inktober challenge this year. I decided first and foremost to have fun. This was an opportunity for me to branch out a bit from my usual subject. I also wanted to improve some of my brush skills. I am what's referred to as a heavy handed artist. I'm the guy that snaps pencil leads constantly, or destroys technical pen nibs like they are made of paper. I press, and I press hard. So for almost all of Inktober I used a pocket pentel brush pen. I also got a couple of fountain pens as they give a nice free flowing line and are maybe a bit more durable and sketchy than technical pens which tend to make me very rigid when I am drawing. Brushes and fountain pens let me bust out of my shell a bit more.
For my first go, I decided not to follow any of the prompts, I just wanted to draw for the sake of drawing. I really liked this at first, but nearing the end, I kind of felt left out a bit of the overall idea of Inktober which is to also get you thinking about ideas and being creative. But hey, there is always next year. I will definitely join in again, and I will follow the prompts as well.
If you aren't sure of what Inktober is, it is a drawing challenge created by illustrator Jake Parker, who also shares an excellent podcast called 3 Point Perspective with fellow professional illustrators Lee White and Will Terry. As an amateur illustrator trying to venture to being a professional, I have been listening in quite a bit.
check out the podcast here:
check out the Inktober website here:
check out my Inktober Gallery here posted on my instagram:
Alright we are now time lapsing!! Time lapsing seems to be a really big thing on the internet...kind of doing for visual art what videos did for music in the 80s! I'd like to say I don't get it, but the fact of the matter is, I have found myself lost in the rabbit hole of following link after link of time lapsed speed drawings and paintings on the internet. It is a great way to connect with your audience and share your process, allowing with a further level of understanding with what goes into an individual piece of work.
What tools did I use?
My first time lapse was more of an experiment. I used a Panasonic Lumix FZ80/82 to create the time lapsed footage. I set my increments at one shot every two seconds. I started using an mode that favours aperture over shutter speed to start, and later went full manual. The biggest problem I encountered was white balance, or auto white balance (AWB). I didn't turn it off on the camera and this resulted in major flickering. Once I did turn it off I resolved the issue of flickering but created a new problem of very dark whites. After the process, I read online some tutorials about adjusting the white balance manually, and I will do this if I return to the camera for a future time lapse, but I will be trying the program "Lapse It" on my Android for the next one.
I also used a pretty standard tripod lent to me by my father in law, and two cheap LED lights that I purchased from Walmart for about $9 bucks each. Because I was working on a vertical composition, I knew that sitting at a flat desk with a tripod overhead would not work for my reach, so I chose to work lying down on our home office floor. I used a watercolour board I had a co-worker make for me and I taped off any contact points of the drawing and tripod on the floor and board in case something moved. Incidentally, my daughter turned 1 last week and we needed the tripod for family photos and the board to prevent sparklers on the birthday cupcakes from burning our dining room table!
For the next time lapse, I will be using a small tripod attachment I purchased from Amazon for around $20 bucks that will clamp my phone in place at the top of the tripod.
What did I learn?
1. I learned that proper lighting and the correct settings are key to making the process as smooth as possible. Some of the "effects" I achieved from not having my AWB turned off on the camera really frustrated me. When I finally did turn it off, it really frustrated me that I didn't have the white balance set properly.
2. I learned that 2 seconds is too short of an interval for a 14 hour drawing! I kept filling up my memory card and having to transfer to my PC and build videos after the fact! If I am going to time lapse a big drawing using the Lumix again, I am probably going to set my intervals to as much as shot per 10-20 seconds! 1 shot every 2 seconds @ 30 frames/second of video = 1 hour of drawing over 1 minute of video. Instagram doesn't even let me post a video longer than a minute, and I must admit, I lose my interest in most time lapses after the 2-3 minute mark. So a 14 minute time lapse drawing seems a bit gratuitous to me! Let's keep it real!
3. I learned that maybe it's better to time lapse smaller projects to start, until I can get more time to invest all at once. A two hour drawing will be way more doable and way easier to shoot than a big 14 hour drawing. It also means I'll be able to work at my desk and control my surroundings a little better than on the floor.
Thanks for reading guys! Stay tuned for more, and if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments!
For the past couple months, I have been branching out with new types of media! As a classically trained artist who majored in Drawing (with a personal focus in illustration), this means leaving the comfort of what I am very good at to enter a realm where I am sometimes fumbling around in a dark room. At times, I am tearing up paper, and at other times I am proudly showing the work off to friends and family. The cliche or art is of course to always be challenging, experimenting, expanding, growing, etc. Of course, it's always nice to stick around a bit in that comfort zone once all the experimenting starts to pay off and you actually develop skills with a medium. It is also fortunate that starting a new medium isn't from scratch. There are obviously going to be transferable skills. So I've branched out into 3 different ways of working: Ink and wash, watercolour (also acrylic inks), and gouache. I'd also like to try out acryla gouache, but that's another set of paints, that I'll just as soon wait to buy.
Ink & Wash
Ink and wash has kind of been the transition into something new. It's baby steps. I can work in watercolor and any lack of skills or understanding of the medium, I can make up for with line work. It's a nice way to work for me as it bridges both worlds and creates a nice juxtaposition between organized and neat line work with loose watercolour strokes. The 2 pieces I used this technique for are the Osprey Nest and the very regal looking Great Horned owl.
Watercolour on the go!
I am really starting to love this medium. I am slowly but surely getting better and better at it, and the more I learn, the more I want to try new techniques. I have been searching out the watercolour masters and drawing inspiration from their work. This is an opportunity for me to relinquish some control over my medium, and allow it to act the way it is intended. Watercolour has a mind of its own, and as a right brain technician, this is a great way to challenge my own way of working, forcing me to let go a little bit. As I've said in previous posts, I am a fairly recent father, this means that I work wherever and whenever I get a chance. This also means that I need to be mobile. One of the things that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE(!!!) about watercolour is that there is a whole artist-level tier of the medium devoted to working while you travel! Plein Air painting is a huge deal in watercolour (this means working on location for those unfamiliar with the term). Now while I am not exactly a Plein Air painter (though I do intend to try it as I love to sketch on location), the practice and tools dedicated to supporting the Plein Air painter fit my work style of painting on the go so perfectly!
I have invested in a nice artist grade pan set of 24 colours. Being patient, I was able to find a really good Rembrandt set for $75 CAD on Ebay. These typically retail at around $200+, so a great deal. The set even comes with a fairly good quality red sable #6 round brush.
Now, from everything I've read in my research, this is more than I will ever need! This is true, but as I am new to this, I thought I would get the 24, see what I'm using, and purchase the tubes later down the line so that I can make my own pans using a palette that suits my needs. Now I will say this, having 24 colours means not a lot of colour mixing, which is great as I have limited space on my mixing palette and I don't want to have to carry an additional mixing palette in my bag. If you're anything like me, and you don't just work in a studio, and you like to work at the kitchen table, or on the go, or wherever you are, I really recommend pans. I have a good set of tubes as well, and they have advantages such as creating larger washes, easier to mix colours, etc, but ultimately, the pans are how I love to work. I've also asked my wife for a few travel Da Vinci cosmo-top sythetic brushes for my birthday, I'll maybe blog about them once I have them. I'm also getting myself a little Timbuk2 Classic messenger bag from MEC (Medium size) that will fit my Arches 12 x 16 watercolour block, and all my supplies. This will make it easier to cycle with all my gear. Last week I had a bit of a scare where I was commuting back home with my painting in my Deuter 20L pack with no waterproofing and the sky opened up on me! All I could imagine was my work running down the page!
Anyways, aside from watercolour tools fitting my life style, ultimately I love the end results of it, otherwise I obviously wouldn't bother. I have been immersing myself in as many youtube tutorials as I possibly can, narrowing down to my favourite online watercolour bloggers, and learning as much as I possibly can from them. As I get a little better, I hope to create some of my own time lapse videos. The latest images I've made (below) can also be found in the main gallery and will be for sale via print and the originals are still available as well.
Last but not least I have dabbled a little bit in gouache. I really like this medium as well. It has a lot of the similar attributes of watercolour mixed with traits of acrylic and oil paint. I think the biggest mistake I made was that I went too thick to fast with the paint. Like acrylic paint, the medium is opaque, but like watercolour you can 'lift' or rewet and muddy your colours below. If your base layers are too thick, the blending happens very easily. Next time, I will build my layers up a bit slower. Another thing I really enjoy about the medium is that it has very convenient setup, and you as it's a water soluble medium, clean up is relatively easy. When I have more time in the studio, I will sit down and work more in gouache, but for now, I will be focusing on watercolour! Below is the Magpie I created using gouache.
That's it for now! see you soon!
Lynx Ridge Show
Alright, so before we get too far into things, I wanted to address the show at Lynx Ridge. It went fairly well, unfortunately due to a cancelled meeting, there wasn't as big an audience as I would've liked, but nevertheless I still sold the Bald Eagle illustration (don't worry, prints are still available), and a few prints. The organizer did a great job though and everyone was very friendly, and it was a lovely establishment.
my name tag from the show
Weapon of Choice
So as you may see, I have started to venture away from the inks and Copic markers. Not completely, as I love working with these tools, I just feel like expanding my horizons. I have done a lot of practice watercolour to prepare myself for my first ink and watercolour piece (the Osprey Nest as seen here). Here is a list of some of the items used:
-Bimoji brush pen medium bristle
-White Jelly Roller
-M. Graham tube watercolours
-Premium Hot Press watercolour board
A brief description of everything: The Bimoji brush pen is sort of throw back to the old days. My friend old friend Clement and I used to religiously use these old calligraphy brush pens in art school (can't remember the name). One side had the brush quill and the other side was a broad marker style nib. When I started watching these great Aaron Blaize videos from Inktober using the Bimoji brush pen, it brought me right back and I had to have one, so I found them at my local shop (Kensington Art Supply) for 5 bucks a pop and scored a couple for the road. I really like them, you really have to press hard with them which is perfect for me as I'm a very heavy handed artist. I like using very pressure sensitive tools such as ball point pens vs felt tip pens.
The Copic Multiliners, and HB pencil are pretty self explanatory. I have a set of the refillable multiliners, and I like to use HB pencils. I know a lot of artists prefer using a harder pencil for their lines, but again this comes down to my "heavy hand" syndrome, and I find when I use hard pencils, I press too hard and leave sort of grooves in the paper. This is why I prefer a slightly softer HB or even sometimes a B pencil.
The White Jelly Rollers work great as an opaque white ink to do fine details with. When the Jelly Roller doesn't cut it, I bust out the opaque white FW Ink with a synthetic nylon brush, round 2-6 depending on the level of detail.
The M. Graham tubes are decent, pro level watercolours that also happen to be very affordable. At my store I they cost around 12-20 bucks a tube, and since I tend to avoid the expensive pigments, it's more like 12 bucks a tube.
The Hot Press board is for ink and watercolour, and I explain later in further detail why I chose this.
Drawing vs. Painting
Ok, down to the meet of today's blog, I thought I'd start looking at processes. One thing that's great about drawing is that you can just sort of wing it and fly by the seat of your pants. With watercolour painting, I find this is less the case, although it is still very similar to working with the Copic markers, in that I do have to work in a direction from light to dark. I also encountered an issue that I didn't think would be such a problem, is that I found when I hit small areas around the inks with light pigment, the light pigment still dried over the dark inks causing them to get muted and blurred. I knew this would be an issue, I just didn't know it would be as big of an issue as it was. I ended up going over the light tips of the wings probably 3 times because of this, and darkening and repeating my inks. It makes you rethink your processes. I did a lot of reading other blogs before venturing into ink and watercolour, and I noticed many people talking about adding the bulk of the inks after the watercolour is done. This is really starting to make sense, and I will probably adjust my process to do this as much as possible.
Process of an impatient artist
Ok, so first thing is first. I started with a nice piece of Crescent Premium Hot Press Watercolour Board. There are 2 reasons I used this kind of board. First, I didn't have a wood board for stretching paper at the time of this watercolour, and without that, the paper would begin to buckle and warp as more washes are applied. The second reason is that I specifically wanted a hot press paper (smoother surface) so that I could get clean lines for my ink drawing application. Cold press paper has a far more toothy surface which is great for holding watercolour, but not as good fro drawing on. Hot press has a more similar tooth to a standard drawing paper or illustration board ideal for ink drawing.
As you can see in the below images, I basically started with a pencil outline. Because I'm experimenting a bit, I didn't want to go in too heavily with the inks. I wanted to find the right balance between the two, so I did basic ink outlines and began with the watercolours. You can see this in the first image below. I was really happy with how this turned out. I wasn't too concerned with keeping white paper coming through, but I did keep some loose areas of white. Afterwards, I went back in with my jelly roller to bring white back in.
For the watercolours, I'm mixing my tube paints, I'm using Burnt Umber and Cerulean Blue to make warm greys for the head of the bid. For the beak, I used a Phthalo Blue with my Burnt Umber to make a cooler grey. I used Naphthol Red mixed with a Phthalo Red Blue Shade to make the inner mouth colours and tinted it using my cool grey. The eye is an Indian Yellow tinted with a Naphthol Red and details done with black and white ink.
In image 2, I've carried on with the watercolours. When I got into to the dark feathers, I was using clean applications of Burnt Umber and Sepia. I used Indian Yellow for the tips of the feathers, but at this point, I'm aware that I kind of want the deep black contrast of the inks, so I whip out the Bimojoi brush pen and start to define some real shadows which can be seen in the third image, I also know that the shadows are going to get even darker near the bottom of the Osprey, so I go even heavier with the inks. I'm also starting to map out some of the shapes of branches that I know are going to come in front of the bird. Again I use the Bimoji pen to get those nice thick lines. Line thickness is very important in relation to perspective, and with my illustrative style, I like really bold thick lines, the kind you often see with indie comic illustrators who draw predominantly in black and white.
Next, I'll go over the process of the wing tips. I'm not really going here for what's "real" per say, what I really want is a bold illustration, so I like the feel of the contrasted lines of white over the brown. I didn't really like the look of the watercolour, I wanted it to pop more, so I went back in with my opaque white inks to outline the feathers. The problem is, this created a really "cool" colour because of the brown underneath, so I ended up trying to go back over it with a yellow watercolour which resulted in a muddying affect on the browns and inks below. I didn't really anticipate the light pigment of the yellow affecting the darks so intensely. At this point I was frustrated, but came up with an idea. I hopped over to Micheal's and bought some more acrylic ink. I got a Yellow Ochre and mixed it with the opaque white and that created a nice sort of creamy white. I reapplied this mix to the wing tips, achieving a much more desired look.
Once the bulk of the osprey was completed, I started to work on the branches. I start out fairly conservatively with dark shadows so that I can allow the watercolours to shine through. Once the first couple washes are applied, then I go back in with the inks to create some nice contrasts, and then use the white ink to create some nice stark textures puncturing the darks to describe the feel of the different barks. I really brightened up the moss to give the overall image a nice kick of colour.
The final touchups are applied all over the image to bring everything together. I add some highlights to the top feathers most exposed to direct sunlight and I tone down the whites on the lower feathers that would have more cast shadow.
Well that's pretty much it for this piece. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
I have finally got this website running! At the end of last year, I set a goal for myself, which was to do a drawing a week. For the most part, I have succeeded, but let's face it, life happens, and when it does, you have to roll with it. Furthermore, I love to venture into new styles of working, and in order to do this, sometimes you have to set aside your rigid rules, and let the creative juices flow. In the past month that is exactly what I have done! I bought a couple of travel watercolour sets, some inexpensive (but pro quality tube watercolours) M Graham paints, and some brushes and paper. Watercolour is something I've always wanted to explore but never really have. Ultimately I would like to start working with acrylics, but I have a pretty new daughter, and life as a new parent doesn't always lend itself easily to a medium that requires a lot of setup and cleanup. That's why drawing and watercolour is so great, it's quick to start, and quick to clean up, so if duties call, I can quickly finish up and run to the next task at hand.
So how did this all begin...don't worry, I won't go back to the womb! In the winter of 2017, my wife, Lois, and I took our daughter on a trip to the Millerville Christmas fair. We stopped at a woman's booth and she was making a killing selling prints and original works of birds and general Canadiana. I thought to myself, I could easily do the same. So, long story short...I did. As Lois can attest, when we are riding our bikes down country lanes in the summer, my head is usually turned up to the sky looking for the local hawks cruising the farmer's fields for a meal, or off to the side ponds looking for Blue Herons or whatever grebes and ducks might be meandering around. Bottom line, I really like birds and Canadian wildlife, so I made the choice to do something I never dreamed I would do as a pretentious young artist trying to push boundaries. I let myself love art simply for the sake of what it is for me, something that makes me happy. Not something that has to tell a story, or make a political statement or change or push idioms about art. No, I am now just making art for the love of making art. I am embracing my inner Robert Bateman! Haters be damned.
Coming back full circle, the website. As I said, I started my work goal at the end of last year. This has led to me producing a lot of work, and being invited into a show at my dad's golf club at Lynx Ridge in Bear's Paw. So I set another goal, have a website, a body of work, and business cards by April before the show. Well today is the day of the show, and here we are! The business cards look pretty sweet too! I also have a rock solid collection of about 11 really nice illustrations (and a handfull of less than great practice watercolours). I would love to tell you that becoming a father has made this difficult, but on the contrary, it has turned this master procrastinator into a doer! I used to think I had all the time in the world to make art, so I never did. Now my time is so limited that as soon as I have a spare moment, I have a pen or brush in hand and my head buried in my work. I may have less time now, but I use it a million times more effectively than I did in the past!
Hopefully I can keep this blog interesting and useful. I will try to provide any opinions about products I use, about techniques I'm working with, being a husband and father, about cycling, and about my life in general. And a shout out to the love of my life, Lois, for being so supportive in my venturing back into art, and to my daughter, Dianna (the other love of my life), I do this for you.
Thanks for reading!