Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rain Trees

I have been spending a lot of time sitting in my yard, studying the pine trees, especially the way the afternoon sun turns the branches a glowing orange. Those afternoon sits became the inspiration for my painting, Pine Trees.

The last few times I went outside it was raining. Not a heavy rain but instead that dreary, misty drizzle. I noticed how different the trees looked. The orange and yellow replaced by blues and purples. I thought this would be as interesting a study.

Rain Trees 4’x3’ mixed media (paint, pastel, colored pencil)

This is a detail of the lower branches.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pine Trees

Every afternoon I sit in my backyard and gaze up at the pine trees. As the sun starts to set, the trees begin to glow orange and yellow. I stare and stare trying to figure out the shadows and the colors.

It’s only when the sun is just right that the trees look this way. Soon the sun will duck down behind the horizon and the trees will go grey.

Detail of the pine trees. 4'x3' mixed media (paint, pastels, colored pencil)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Turtle Tank

Below are a few sketches of my turtle tank. The turtle tank is a good way to draw nature from life in the winter. It's much warmer inside than in the backyard. Plus the tank is on my desk so I just plop my sketchbook down and draw.

This is the baby musk turtle forging for food at the bottom of the tank. People think turtles are slow but this guy moves around a lot. I'm starting to understand why Monet focused on landscapes :)

This is the other turtle in the tank, the one from the photo above. Here I sketched him sun bathing on his log. He's much easier to sketch when holding still.

I bought these swamp plants from Lowes last summer. I originally purchased them for the pond outback but wasn't sure how well they would hold up over the winter. The turtles seem to like it and it makes an interesting subject to sketch.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

National Gallery

I recently took my Art History class to the National Gallery in Washington DC. We had a great time. You can see some photos from the trip on the Apex High School Art blog.

After two tours with a break for lunch in the middle, we all had a little free time to wander the museum. I found myself back in the Monet room. I not only found my favorite painting of the gallery, but I can nail it down to my favorite brushstroke.

See that little stroke of blue on the bottom of the bridge? There is just something about the way the blue reacts with the burgundy that gives me a warm fuzzy. I have no idea why. I just love the combination. I sat there and stared for a long time.

This is a detail from a work by Odilon Redon. I really like his work, the colors and the style. It makes me happy.
Winter Fox

Bird's eye view (Phoenix is a bird, right?) of a fox finding its way through a maze of birch trees.
4' x 3' Mixed media: watercolor, pastel, oil pastel, colored pencil

Detail of the fox

Detail of the branches

Friday, November 10, 2006


I love a dark pond. Especially the way a pond looks in the autumn. The water has cleared of the summer muck and is now dark and still. Mysterious. This is my entry for this week's Illustration Friday.

This is the inspiration for a new story I’m writing titled, Shellless. It’s the story of a boy who is always ignored. His only friends are the imaginary shellless that live in a city park pond. But more on that later...

This painting is also a blatant Monet rip off. I saw the Monet exhibit at the NC Museum of Art last week. How can I do a pond without including Monet?

Sketches: I’m starting with a much larger sheet of paper than I normally use (approx 4’ X 2’ ½). It’s also dark, like the pond. So this is all new for me.

First layer: My biggest struggle at this point is style. Getting past Monet, getting past Pollock, and finding Ian. I know it’s in there somewhere. I just have to keep looking.

Last Thoughts: The final(see above) isn’t finished but it is as far as I’m going to take this painting. The new materials gave me some grief. The colored pencils wore down incredibly quick on the rough textured paper. They also didn’t write on the acrylic paint. I like the large sized paper but might need to switch to pastels to create the affect I’m looking for.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pen & Palette Fall Issue

The Fall issue of the Pen & Palette, which is the newsletter for the Carolina’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, came out today. Complete with my cover art. How very exciting!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Aquarium

It was cold at the beach. Don’t believe me? Check out the video.

click here

That’s ok. We went to the aquarium. I took my sketchbook.

Fish move a lot faster than I thought. At first I tried to draw them regular like. Then I realized that by the time I looked at my paper, the fish had swammed away. So I decided to go with blind contour line.

Blind contour is when you draw looking at the object but not at the paper. It’s great for really studying the object, in this case, moving fish. But it sort of looks silly. Try it sometime.

I thought maybe the jellyfish might swim slower. Silly me. Those little things are pretty quick!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Pond

The weasels and I went fishing today down at the pond. It looked so pretty cause the leave are just starting to change colors. I had to snap a few photos.

Not only is autumn my favorite time of year but being around a lake at autumn is my favorite place to be. I love the calmness of the water in fall. It’s dark and calm and sort of mysterious.

My friend the snapping turtle came by to say hello. I think this is the most interesting creature. I could watch her all day long. The neat thing about this photo is you can see my reflection in the water. I’m not sure this is the same one we caught last time we were here (see this post)

Here is one of the fish. This thing was huge. I would say three inches. At least! :P

Friday, October 13, 2006

One of the projects from my Art 1 class found its way to my house this weekend. This project was a lesson in proportion. The students wrapped each other in clear tape then cut the tape away and reassembled the parts. The results were these life sized, see-through tape people.

This one is sitting on my front steps, a nice Halloween decoration.

You can read more about the project on the Apex Art Blog…

I need a haircut!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pen & Palette / IF Trouble

I was offered to illustrate the cover of the Pen & Palette, which is the newsletter for the Carolina’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. How very exciting!

Also, I think this makes a pretty good entry for this week’s Illustration Friday word, Trouble.

click on the image to view larger version


I decided on a fox dragging a kite in its mouth. The fox cause I thought autumn colors would be nice for a Fall issue, the kite because it’s like a logo thing for the SCBWI. Sort of like a donkey represents the Democrats or the elephant represents the Republicans.

I had a few other ideas like a sleeping beer with a kite in its paws. I also thought about doing a moose with the kite tangled in its antlers but… I like the fox.

This is the second stag; the sloppy painting part. This is a hard part to get past cause the work always looks trashed at this point. I think, "Oh no! What have I done to my sketch??"

Here I have gone over the pencil drawing with black paint. With this step and the step before, I try to be loose. But I still feel I'm not loose enough. Like maybe I'm not brave enough to let the original sketch go.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

click to view larger

The other day the kids found the most biggest caterpillar in the world! So we googled it and turns out it was an Imperial Moth caterpillar. Those are those really big brown moths that cling to the size of the house and your thinking, that’s Mothra, when’s Godzilla gonna show up?

It was a little scary looking at first so I thought I could enter it in this week’s Illustration Friday word, “Phobia”.

After a while, I warmed up to it. It was sort of cute in a really ugly kinda way.

This is the real thing crawling across my hand. This little guy stretched across my palm, which is about 4 inches long.

You can preview Pony Wombat and the Second Ark for free! (aren't I nice!) or you could buy a copy! (aren't you nice!)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last night we played the championship game against the number one ranked Renegades.. and won. I even got a t-shirt. Good for us.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I have been working on some spot art for the beginning of every chapter in the Pony Wombat and the Second Ark book.

I'm trying to Match each title with a decent spot illustration. Plus I think the frogs Match and so do the cookies, so its a good fit for this weeks Illustration Friday word.

This is a sample of what I'm trying to accomplish. The title artwork for chapter 7.

Here are two more chapter spot illustrations. Do those look like cookies to you?

This is what it looks like in the book. This is chapter 9. The puppy got his head stuck in the tuba. Does it look like a stuck puppy to you? or am I spinning my wheels?

You can preview the book for free! (aren't I nice!) or you could buy a copy (aren't you nice!)
In September I will be running an online ad on Christianity Today for the book Pony Wombat and the Second Ark .

The ad is a side banner and will run 25,000 times. The click through will be to the Pony Wombat and the Second Ark purchase site.

This is the ad I created. I tried to capture a sense of wonder and excitement while providing as much info about the book as I could in the limited pixel space. How affective do you think it will be?

You can preview the book for free! (aren't I nice!) or you could buy a copy (aren't you nice!)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Pond

This spring I installed a pond in my backyard.

Since then I have been constantly working on it. Now it is more than a pond, it is an entire natural area with flowers, insects, reptiles and lots of frogs.

I planted three butterfly bushes around the pond and I guess it worked cause here this guy showed up. Most of the other plants are wild flower seeds. I particularly like the black eyed susies. Then there is some ivory around the pond. Further back are a few tomato plants. I'm hoping to grow some tomatoes for the turtles.

I bought these water plants from Lowes. They grow like crazy in the pond i have in the front yard, but the turtles eat them back here. I need to keep transferring plants for the front pond to the back. If you look closely you will see honeybees all over the log. There must be a nest nearby because there is a constant stream of honeybees flying around. There is never less than 10 bees and any time.

This little guy, an eastern box turtle, was here before and then he was gone. Now he's back. I hope he stays. I have been enticing him with bananas and dog food and lettuce and mushrooms. If those stupid tomatoes would ever grow...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beach Art: Sacrifice

I took my sketchbook to the beach. This time I brought a cheapo set of watercolors. You know, the kind you get in your Christmas stocking when you’re a kid. I used a sand pail and ocean water to paint with.

It was kind of fun sacrificing “real” art materials, though it was hard to paint with the wind blowing and the sand and all.

You can click here to see one of the sand castles we made this trip or, click here to see some sketches from a previous trip.

This is a sketch of a chair and an umbrella. There was actually a guy sitting in the chair but I left him out. After I started the sketch the wind was so strong that he got up and shut the umbrella. What's that all about?? Hey buddy, I'm trying to paint!

I sketched this one sitting on the deck in the afternoon. It's the beach house across the street from us. I don't think anyone was staying there. There was no car in the drive way and no lights on or anything.

Here's another chair. I did a lot of chairs. But what else is there on the beach? Umbrella I guess, but mostly chairs.

By the way, did you click here yet??
Did you miss me? No? Did you even notice I was gone? Oh well that's ok. But I'm back! Where did I go? You ask. The beach, Emerald Island. For a week. Gee, you would think you would have noticed.

We did lots of stuff. Went on a sail boat, went snorkeling, went clamming, cooked the clams, ate the clams (ate some raw too), saw some turtles, saw some dolphins, did a little shopping, and of course... made a sand castle.

We made two sand castles but this is the only one I took photos of. It was about four feet high and was a traditional type of sand castle with a dragon attacking. This is from the back.

This shot is from the side. Alex and I also made a very extra cool sand castle of a mermaid. It was coming out really great. Then the face and chest slid right off. Alex and I both screamed NOOoooo! Everyone looked at us like we were doinks but we had worked pretty hard on it. Then we rebuilt it into a sea which with a crabs body. It wasn't as good but some people came buy and took photos of it anyway. I wonder if they blogged those photos? Hmmm...