Thinking about next year’s lessons

22 June, 2021.

For the past several years one of the assignments I give to my art students has been to create a scientific illustration. It gives kids an authentic reason and rationale to draw accurately and to create an artwork that is informational. Usually, I ask students to include “field notes” – handwritten facts that are woven into the composition as an integral part of the artwork.

When I was in school, we always had an assignment dealing with calligraphy – something that comes to me only with great difficulty. As a former graphic designer, I understand the importance in visual communication of seamlessly combining word and image. This past year, I added a requirement to include “fancy lettering” in the title. As I have begun to create examples for next year’s students, I put myself to the same test. This example is (a) an accurate illustration; (b) it is factual; (c) it will be informative after I add my handwritten field notes; and (d) it blends typography with illustration.

Morning shadows

21 June, 2021.

Off and on I’ve participated in this month’s 30 x 30 Direct Watercolor Challenge. This study started life as on of those challenge sketches.

But after staring at the original direct watercolor thumbnail I realized that I was interested in the shadow shapes and color cast by the morning sun.

I focused on the geometry of the shapes, simplifying and using a flat brush to paint in the violet hues, an obvious exaggeration of reality.

Smoking meat on a steamy day.

20 June, 2021.

Omigosh! It was such a hot day yesterday, and I’d set aside ten of the hottest hours to smoke a pork butt. As plans go, mine wasn’t a bad one: there was a tiny bit of breeze, and I had a chair set up under a dense, shady canopy. I brought out my sketch kit, of course. But as the morning waned, the breeze disappeared and even the shade seemed steamy. Perspiration beaded up and dribbled down my forehead, down my back.

Inside the smoker, a caramel bark was forming on the exterior of the meat, and the mouthwatering aroma filled the air. A few brave walkers strolled by, often calling out approvingly “What time is dinner served?”

30 x 30 direct watercolor

12 June 2021.

Every June for the past couple of years I’ve participated in the 30 x 30 direct watercolor challenge. “Direct watercolor” means painting directly onto the paper, without the benefit of pencil lines or ink or whatever. As ironic as it may sound (because working “directly” is precisely how I draw in ink), this is intimidating as hell with watercolor! For now, I’m keeping my direct watercolor sketches simple.

At the lake house

11 June, 2021.

A few days at the lake house, hot and humid, the sound of fish and sliced potatoes sizzling in an outdoor deep fryer, the smell of steak on the grill, biscuits and gravy and morning mist, and an evening breeze coming off the water, a highball in hand.


10 June, 2021.

It’s summer. School is out until August. I’m off contract as of two days ago, and I’ve got time to bicycle, to do unhurried workouts, and – of course! – to sketch.

Today’s scribble is inspired by a couple of photographs from three or four years ago, and a really great memory of an afternoon in the company of raptors. Having owls and hawks land on my gloved arm was an amazing experience.