All posts by unclefragos

Completed Holiday Card for 2019

I finished the holiday card painting for 2019. The bookshelf took some time but was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Once I finished it, however, it was competing a little too much with the characters so I pushed it back with a black wash. The story was fun to write as well. I had to sit there in front of the painting for a time before the characters started to speak to me. The old sheep felt so tired to me that I couldn’t avoid that coming out in the story.


New Holiday Card for 2019

Finally getting around to posting again. Been a while. I’m gonna keep these short and sweet from now on to make the posting seem less daunting. Here are the finished charcoals for this year’s holiday card. The base is charcoal which was then sealed with about 7 lbs of fixative. Seriously, the thing was swimming in it. I was a little worried as it started cloudy but, as always, it dried clear. Then I went in with white colored pencil and popped out some of the highlights and ushed back in a little more light into areas. Everything goes pretty dark after the fixative.


Larger Animal Painting Value Pass Continues

I’m making slow and steady progress.  Couldn’t resist starting to push in a little detail and now that I am looking at it small, on my computer screen, I see there will be a fair amount of shadow work that needs to be pushed further due to the captain’s large head.  No biggie.  I’m up to the task.  I think I’m going to get my other characters a little more fleshed in.  I’m still not really feeling the cat and may have to amend the face to look more like the smaller cat painting I did earlier.  I mean, I can have two different cat crew members.  The other one is the cook, after all.  We’ll have to see.


Beginning of Larger Charcoal Multi-Animal Painting

I’ve been so wrapped up in the progress of this latest painting that I have neglected to post in a bit.  I started a larger painting, 30″ x 40″ showcasing a few animals together in one scene.  This image depicts our captain and a few of his mates collecting a prize ship.  The mock-up took a while and there are still areas in the comp that I’m going to have to work through on the fly, matching lighting, refining detail, and the like.  Regardless, I finished blocking in most of the image and am now pushing in a little more value range and refinement in the details.  There is a long way to go and I grit my teeth whenever I look at it now but then, as my colleague Johannah said to me, “It looks bad until it doesn’t.”  I’m going to try to remember that wisdom and plow ahead.  I will try to be a little more regular with my progress here.


Martian Sketches

I’m getting ready to start another children’s book based on some H.G. Wells, “Miranda and the Martians.”  The title isn’t set in stone and I haven’t written the story yet but I do know it will involve Miranda and some martians.  To that end, I took a little break from my animals as I gesso some more canvases and started sketching some martian designs.  I sketched out six designs and might try out some more though I am very partial to the bottom left.  I like the tripod tentacles and the face feels like it has a lot of promise.  Who knows, the book is pretty far off so I have time.  There is the animal book due before this one, after all.



Jackrabbit Charcoal Stage Complete

Another charcoal done and added to the list awaiting painting.  On this jackrabbit I not only punched up the lights with a white colored pencil but I also tried pushing in with a black colored pencil to heighten the contrast in a few spots and add in a little post charcoal and fixing detail.  The colored pencils are working great but I have found that you have to have a decently waxy colored pencil to apply this technique.  I tried using a colerase pencil but it didn’t build up on the surface all that well.  I imagine the same would be true with watercolor pencils though I have not tried them yet.  The traditional colored pencils work well though.  I might find myself employing a full range of grays in the future but for now the white and black are working well.


Squirrel Charcoal Stage Complete

SQUIRREL!  So here is my latest charcoal value pass animal painting.  Still making good progress moving forward on these.  This one was quite challenging as it measures 5″ x 7″ and getting the right amount of detail in there was a little difficult.  There are still a few places that I think I will have to push further when it comes to the painting stage but as far as the charcoals values go I think this is a solid place to be.  According to my records, the tally of my animal painting is 11 fully painted, 4 completed charcoals, leaving 11 more charcoals to complete to get enough for my alphabet book.  If I can get them done quick enough, I may be able to meet my deadline to have a show in August.  I didn’t think it was possible but I have a little vacation time saved up and I’m maintaining a pretty good clip.  Lets hope I can keep it up!


Owl Charcoal Stage Complete

I was lucky enough to have some time this weekend to complete the charcoals of my owl.  This one took a little longer than anticipated since I worked a little larger than usual at 11″ x 14″.  I didn’t notice until I was well into it but the frame on this animal is a little skewed so getting it framed is probably going to be a little problematic.  Lucky I work with gallery wrap canvas so I can still display it when I do my show with little issue.  For those of you not in the know, gallery wrap is a deeper canvas that tends to look a little better when displayed without a frame than the shallow canvases.

The white colored pencil proved to be very useful for this one.  Before I got to that stage of fixing the canvas, I found myself turning to the large rubber block eraser that I have had little use for since school.  Getting that long, thin, sharp edge was very effective on those long light feathers around the eyes and in the brows.  I’m definitely going to remember that use!  When it comes to the painting, I’m thinking I might do a very faint pattern on the shirt.  It feels like it needs a little something more down there.


Owl Charcoals In Progress

Here is the latest progress in the owl animal painting.  The different feather textures are starting to come together.  I still have to formulate a new design for the dress as the current design is very busy and I don’t think I want that to detract from the complexity of the feathers.  Too much detail everywhere and I won’t be able to direct the viewers eye effectively.  Again, working in the charcoal with my finger which a lot of artists tell you not to do but I feel like if it works, who is to say to not do it.  We all have to find what works for us personally and that works for me.


Starting Owl Charcoals

Hooray!  I’m remembering to post my work in progress!  I often forget until I’m about through with a stage and then realize that it might be interesting or helpful to see the work in various stages of completion.  Here is a few hours plugging away at blocking in.  This one proves to be a challenge with all the different patterning and textures in the feathers.  My colleague, Johannah O’Donnell, mentioned to me that birds are like that before I started.  I made sure to tell her that she was right on the money with that comment and promised to let her in on any secrets that make the work go faster.  We’ll see if I come up with anything.  Might not do her any good anyway as our processes are pretty different.  In any case, here is the owl in progress.  I managed to find a nice bar maid image to use as reference.  Hopefully it will turn out.  At this stage I’m always a little unsure.