Thursday, February 13, 2020


I have of late been concentrating on illustrations and neglecting landscape painting. To redress this, I'm starting on a series of landscapes that I hope will continue for a few months. I saw this scene in Maine more than a few years ago and wanted to do slightly different version of the painting I did back then. The sun was lowering in the Western sky and creating amazing highlights across the water both near and far. I used a bit of over-painting in this one - usually I try and get it down all in one go! But that's all right, I'm learning that over painting is fine when working in oils. Size is 9" x 12", oil on canvas.

Thursday, January 30, 2020


Mockingbirds around here stake out a winter territory usually around a supply of berries which helps them through the cold months. There are usually one or two seen in the reserve and also in our residential community. As their name suggests, they are accomplished mimics and I have often been tricked into believing I am hearing the songs or calls of other birds. They also sing at night which is a wonderful accompaniment to the chatter of local tree frogs and toads. This bird is on a prominent perch in the reserve keeping a wary eye out for any competition - sometimes a flock of starlings can overwhelm the bird as they all descend on the berries at once! This watercolor study done in my sketchbook - about 5" x 7".

Saturday, January 25, 2020


On one of my walks through the woods near our home, I found this branch lying on the woodland floor and became fascinated by the way lichen had started to grow on the bark. There is a subtle pale greenish-blue color to lichen and I tried to capture this unique shade in my illustration. I'm fascinated by rotting tree stumps and fallen trees, I like to see how the once-solid wood has decayed and crumbled, becoming part of the earth from whence it grew. There are many interesting tones and textures to explore, and as an artist, subjects like this have been a favorite of mine to paint.

Sunday, January 19, 2020


I painted this chickadee illustration in my sketchbook from birds that visit my winter bird feeder. The feeder hangs just outside my studio window so I can sit quietly with a sketchbook on my lap and draw birds as they appear. If I don't move too quickly, they are not too bothered by my presence and seem to realize that there is a glass window between us so come and go as they please.

This was one of the sketchbook drawings I did and formed the basis for my painting above. Along with chickadees come Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Cardinals, House Finches, House Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Juncos, Starlings, Mourning Doves et al - quite a list of them! Occasionally there are also White-crowned Sparrows and other birds that are not so commonly seen around here. All this activity invariably brings predators - most often seen are Coopers Hawks but also Sharp-shinned and Red-shouldered Hawks - Jays are usually the first to give warning calls.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020


All through the fall and now well into winter I have been watching vultures overhead. I see them most times that I go to the reserve but frankly they can be see anywhere and at any time around here. Turkey Vultures are slightly more commonly seen than Black Vultures so I tend to do more drawings of them. Here, however is a pen and ink drawing of a Black Vulture gliding away.

After much looking at vultures in the field, I first draw them using a pencil in my sketchbook then do them again in ink. When the ink is dry, I erase the pencil lines. This Turkey Vulture was the first one I did in this series.

I did these two in slightly more detail (and larger) trying to be aware of the shades on the actual birds since using ink, you only have one color to work with. Various ways of cross-hatching create greys and one can modulate form this way. It is an interesting way to work and I used to do a lot of this kind of work.

These birds are the perfect subject for the medium of pen and ink as they are mostly shades of black and white (only Turkey Vultures have a bit of color with their red heads and legs) so it was a very enjoyable exercise.

I kept most of these ink drawings are quite small - about a quarter of a page each in my sketchbook.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Black-crowned Night Herons are sometimes seen in the reserve, usually at dusk when I hear their calls coming down from the evening sky. Here though, the bird is at its roost sight in broad daylight a few miles away on an island on Lake Whetstone. There is an active Great Blue heronery there and night herons can be sometimes seen along with Green-backed Herons. I did this watercolor study in my sketchbook, the size is about 9" x 5".

Monday, December 30, 2019


I found this burl growing on the thin branches of a tree in the reserve, interestingly there were a few other slightly smaller ones on the same tree. Usually I only see much larger ones around the bases of larger trees near the roots etc, or on the side of the trunk. Anyway, I liked the sculptured shapes of these and also the subtle textures.

This illustration was done on thin sketchbook paper which is not really suited to watercolor but I like to experiment from time to time. It was a bit more difficult to paint this one but came out okay. The start of the illustration is shown above. Thin accurate pencil lines followed by washes to capture the effect of light and shadow. More darker washes follow with the smaller details at the end. Size is about 7" x 9".