Research Before Drawing

I routinely conduct research about whatever it is I plan to draw, to be able to correctly illustrate things. Searching for the general facts, like sizes, colors, friends & enemies and next finding good photography. First, I envision the character realistically. Next, heavily simplifying the lines. Next, the challenge becomes giving them some human capabilities while retaining realistically identifiable specie characteristics. Here are some sketch examples.

rhino research sketch 4 rhino research sketch 6 rhino research sketh 7

I had no idea!

When I did the research on rhinos I found that I was totally oblivious to their plight. I had no idea that they were so close to extinction. The White Rhino is one of 5 quickly disappearing species of Africa, and Eurasia. Rhinos live in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannah, shrub lands, forests and deserts. Unfortunately, with numbers dropping so drastically, many remain only in wildlife reserves now. The main factors driving the rhino population to extinction:

  • increasing human population creating less and less habitat for them
  • wars and militia massacres
  • greedy poachers

rhino research sketch 5Poachers kill approximately 3 rhinos each day to sell their horns for highly inflated profits. Poachers are the worst threats, very much like drug smugglers or cartels. Honestly, money is most important thing to them. Insidious criminals with no conscience.

Research the Horns

rhino research sketch 8Poached rhino horns are purchased by two major markets in the world. The Chinese and Vietnamese mistakenly believe that magical medicinal properties exist in rhino horn. Not true. Rhino horns are made of “Keratin” which, is what human fingernails and hair are comprised of. If, Keratin is a magical medicine, we don’t have to kill the rhino’s for it. Honestly, anyone needing “keratin” can simply chew on their own fingernails or hair and get the same results.

This horrific act of killing rhinos and harvesting their horns, makes me ashamed to be a member of humanity. I wish it would stop.

Pen & Ink Characters

Pen & Ink is fun

Insects in pen & ink
insects with pen & ink pens

I was looking for an pen & ink character project to work on, flipping through a stack of unfinished or abandoned projects that I am gradually completing, as time allows. Suddenly, I found a old cute rhino character, a male baby on a mission. Looking at this sketch, my artist brain immediately kicked into high gear thinking random thoughts;

  • Maybe a female baby rhino would be better…
  • She could wear a ribbon in her hair or maybe even a ruffled skirt…
  • Hey, there is room for improvement with what she is doing here…
  • It is kind of boring, sweating in the heat all by herself…
  • I could add another character for her to talk to…
  • Hey, the environment needs to change here…
  • I know, I’ll add radical thorns on a cactus plane…
  • Maybe erase this over here.

Before I knew it, a whole new scene and character had emerged. Now, that is something worth inking and

I was ready to go.

Riva the Rhino is hot! She asks, “Where is the water?”

“Turn around, it is back that way,” says the caterpillar on the cactus.

Riva the Rhino
16″w x 10″h pen & ink on 140lb wc paper. A baby rhino is asking a caterpillar in a cactus plant where the water is at.

Next, I found myself looking for “R” names for a girl. She is a rhino so she needs a R name for sure.  I found a perfect name, “Riva” which means “regain strength” in Latin. Riva the Rhino. The rhino population needs to regain it’s strength in numbers really bad. Check out my next post to see what I learned from researching rhinos.

I think Riva the Rhino, could be a real interesting character for an ongoing comic strip or children’s book. What do you think?

 

Pen & Ink – Inktober ’19

I noticed a pen and ink challenge on the Dick Blick Art Supplies site, called InkTober 2019. The juror is Jake Parker, and after looking at a video of his on YouTube, I was ready. Inspired to dust off the cobwebs and do some pen & ink work, after all….

…it’s like riding a bike, isn’t it?

Hummingbird Heaven Attained J3019

The first drawing entered, Inktober 2019 Challenge.

Hummingbird Heaven Attained
10″w x 14″h pen & ink on 300lb Arches wc paper. A hummingbird frozen mid-flight just discovering the blossoms on the vine.

First Pen & Ink

Mrs. Dorinda Lum at Castle High School entered it into the “dip” pen & ink and wildlife rendering. It won the Windward Artist Guild scholarship in 1977.Here is the first pen & ink I did in high school using a simple dip pen and pictures from the classroom National Geographic magazine of elephants in Africa as a reference. It was a pen & ink drawing done on sketch paper, entitled, “Elephant”. Pen & ink has been a highly favored medium of mine since … long, long, ago!

Surprise, Surprise!

Discovering various dried out bottles of ink, fully hardened dip pen tips, rapidograph’s (both clean and dirty) in various stages of assembly and disassembly…. stashed all over the studio. Suddenly,  this little thought, became more-of-a-chore real quick.

What was I thinking? Oh, that’s right, I wasn’t!

Evidently, right now is time for me to clean-out, fix-up and reorganize my drawer of pen & ink drawing supplies. Just when I thought I’ve made good progress in cleaning up the studio, I discover another mess hiding somewhere. Uh huh, the pen & ink stuff is now all spiffy here in the studio.

Grow-Up & Gravel

Are the Woelk’s growing up?

Duh! For years we have acted surprised when Spring arrives. We curse the fact, that just when we need gravel, all roads have restrictions (spring thaw). Remember the mud last Spring? Our driveway was a mud bog for two weeks, we were unable to refill our propane, etc, etc, etc. It was virtually impossible to drive up to the house and unfortunately, it was just as difficult to navigate by foot. You really know things are bad when your boot stays stuck in the mud producing the frozen barefoot feeling we all love. Check out, “Spring Has Sprung“. gravel on driveway 01

gravel on turn-around 01

Gravel

Toners Sand and Gravel delivered 5 loads of driveway gravel last week. Starting with the turn around area getting a full load all it’s own. That is where the propane truck got stuck last year in deeper than knee-deep mud. Intense!

gravel on driveway 05
Second load of gravel dumping
gravel on driveway 03
Pete’s second load of gravel done

Pete was home to show them where to put the loads. He used the tractor to smooth it all out on the driveway and now it looks really good.

tractor smoothing gravel
Pete on tractor grading gravel

Thinking Ahead

It feels good to be ahead of a problem instead of chasing-it-after-the-fact. In our 60’s, it really is about time for us to grow-up, right? Good Job Woelk’s!

Max and Hurley Returned!

Dogs, Got Me Again!

….  said the foolish freaked out doggy Mom in Elk WA. If I’d waited 10 more minutes there would not have even been a post about the dogs. LOL!

MINUTES!  after posting the missing dogs post, guess who walked through the dog door smiling and happy as can be. The two missing munchkins did! What a happy homecoming.

Hurley & Max homecoming

Here is what those two look like after running and playing all night around the neighborhood. They wagged tails, ate breakfast and now it looks like they are down for the count. Snoring already.

 

 

 

Woofer’s A.W.O.L. in Elk WA

If you see these two…

Hurley, golden doodle
Hurley, golden doodle

Please call or text at 509/329-8207

Thanks!

Max, Swiss Mountain Dog-pit bull

Early yesterday afternoon, a coyote howled in the distance and both our dogs took off at a dead-run in hot pursuit. They have stayed out all night and are still not home this morning. I am getting worried because they have never stayed out all night and they rarely will miss morning and night food times….

Both dogs weigh about 80 lbs and are VERY FRIENDLY. Hurley is a tall blond or red-headed Golden Retriever and Poodle mix. Max is shorter but the same weight because he is all muscle. You will notice that they have black collars with a little invisible fence kind of a box unit on it. Evidently, I don’t have the shock correction set at a high enough level to convince them to ignore a coyote.

BTW please don’t tell them that I plan on giving them a bath when they get home, cause I know with the rain and snow they are going to be a muddy mess. A human need to know thing…

Drops On Berry Wet Hucks!

Artistic Challenge

Very, berry, wet huckleberries! Drops of water are covering all the berry surfaces! The prior huckleberry study had a few drops on the berries and leaves? Another discovery of an artist challenge, “the rendering drops”. Drops aren’t easy, because each one is different. Due to, the surface that they rest upon and their location in the lighting scheme.

Berry Wet Hucks I2919 with drops
Very Berry Wet Hucks I2919 the beginning

I reserve the majority of the white areas needed with mastik to be able to render the droplets. First, finishing up the leaves in the background allowing better definition of the edges of my main subject, the berries.

Illustrating Roundness

Next, defining the lights and shadows, ultimately shows roundness of the three berries. While applying light washes of color, then allowing the color to spread. Similarly, removing any unwanted color with a dry brush before my mixture dries.

First, using a touch of white mixed with the purple makes the opaque highlight where the light first strikes the berry. Next, adding magenta as a light wash brings out the red tint that shows through the purple on the berries whenever you view them in the sunlight. Touching the body with purple bleeds into the wetness of the magenta wonderfully. Darkening the purple with a touch of ultramarine blue and burnt umber brings a rich shadow out on the lower surface. Adding a mixture of blue, brown and purple produces the darkest shadows that separate the front berry form from the huckleberries appearing behind. Lastly, I give a light reflective edge to the edge furthest from the light source.

Drops

Now, it is time for the final touches which are the drops. It gets much easier to render these drops if I remember drop is a round shiny object that I can see through. Drops allow what is behind it to peek through, while simultaneously exhibiting highlights and shadows on its round surface. These little shiny round guys are rendered with white watercolor applied very carefully. Simple touches of white bleeding into the background.

I made the details on the front huckleberry with sharp and distinct edges. Similarly, the rear berries have subdued edges to emphasize that they are further away in our depth of field.

Barry Wet Hucks I2919 finished drops
10″w x 7″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Huckleberry Watercolor

Next

First, here is another study of huckleberry watercolor paintings. Loose backgrounds paired with detailed treatments to the berries is what I am experimenting with. “Why is that?”, you may ask. Ultimately, it is the berries I am looking for, when I am up there. Blurred backgrounds and focus on the berries is my way of trying to produce that same reality. While hiking, my eyes constantly rove left and right searching for a particular shade of purple.

HuckBerryWetI2819
9″h x 12″w watercolor of five huckleberries that are wet

Hiking to Pick

Secondly, hiking I love, but berry-picking while hiking is like having your cake and eating it too! Add a camera into the mix and we start to use words like heaven to describe the outing.

These berries love steep ground, or ground that has seen a lot of abuse. We find them where a wildfire has cleared and left the rich ash on the ground for regrowth. Also, we tend to find them where select logging has cleared areas so the shrubs on ground level get more light. I always notice a lot of logs to step or climb over as we spend a day discovering these tasty little gems. Additionally, we use our nose to find huckleberries. These berries  have such a sweet smelling aroma that drifts on the breeze as you walk. Sometimes, we just follow our nose and find them. This is a short video of a place I picked some berries up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort this year.

Today, I had been scheduled to be an artist vendor at the “Huckleberry Festival which is put on by the Roosevelt Inn” in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Unfortunately, stuff happens and I am unable to be there. The Inn is a great historical building (red brick school building) in the heart of downtown Coeur d’Alene just one block above the Hitching Post. If you are in the neighborhood please go check it out. After all, this show is my inspiration to do huckleberry image studies in the first place.

 

 

 

Huckleberries love-at-first-bite

I love huckleberries

Living in the Inland Northwest has given me the privilege of loving huckleberries every year. I look forward to every summer being able to go pick them. Climb up the mountain and taste just one, and you will be hooked-for-life! They are a divine, sweet and tart taste that can only be understood by experiencing the flavor, yourself. There is no better berry on the planet, they taste so darn good! Literally, it is a shame that huckleberries are not able to be grown commercially.

privilege |ˈpriv(ə)lij|
noun

a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people: education is a right, not a privilege | he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege.

Huckleberry Know How

Do you know your edible wild berries?

Lately, many thoughts of these berries have resulted in me doing a series of studies in the studio. I thought I’d share some recent watercolors of these magical fruit delicacies with you. Grabbing two small pieces of left-over 300lb Arches watercolor paper measuring 6″ x 5″. I draw close-ups of bunches of berries, showing how they look when I go to pick them. Then, using mastik to reserve light areas, I begin experimenting.

HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719_1
Initial study of a trio of huckleberries in watercolor
HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of a trio of huckleberries

Huckleberries

These berries are dark smooth little guys with a gorgeous purple color that sometimes show as a magenta in the sun or almost black in shade. Noticeably, they have a very unique bottom that is a little dimple inward with a dot in the middle.

HuckBerryFiveStudyI2619_1
Initial 6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries
HuckberryFiveStudyI2619
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries

Lighting and colors vary a lot for these bushes under the big trees of the forest. Consequently, I try backgrounds in different values and colors. Sometimes, we are in bright sunlit blue-sky areas where the green leaves almost look chartreuse in color. Here, the background is dark when the look of the brown ground kind of mixes into the leaf color.

Peer-to-Peer Birch Trees and Deer

Peer to Peer Teaching

Ron Stocke Spokane WA workshop
Ron Stocke at Spokane Washngton Workshop

Peer to peer teaching is so very valuable. This year I was fortunate to be able to paint with Ron Stocke for a weekend workshop. His style of painting is so inspiring. It reminds me of the much freer painter I used to be in my youth. This inspired me to return to a freer style and quit trying to render picture perfect images.

Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo
Ron Stocke Spokane WA Workshop Demo

Sharing Talents Peer-to-Peer

Similarly, I painted another day with a friend and fellow artist (peer), Becky Gromlich, at her studio where we did some birch trees together. During this one day workshop, she showed how certain steps can make this kind of tree painting so much easier. It was so very helpful, to learn this.

Till then, I never realized how much fun these trees can be to paint. Birches and larches are no longer things that I face with trepidation in a layout. She opened me up to painting trees more often with vigor. Here is one I did shortly after her workshop.

Wish You Were Here - Fall Birches J3318
Wish You Were Here – Fall Birches J3318, 10″w c 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Later, using these same skills I painted many birch trees using house paints in a landscape mural up at the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. Using the same steps with a different medium.

Continued Experimentation

49 Degrees North Ski Resor winter mountain landscape mural
Winter mountain landscape mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort Children’s Area.

This watercolor entitled, Muley Deer C1919, sold at the SWS (Spokane Watercolor Society) Member Show last year. It was painted using the same kind of approach for the trees combined (Becky) with a freer style of rendering for the deer, learned from (Ron Stocke).

Muley Doe C1919
Muley Doe C1919 9″w x 12″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

Here is another watercolor entitled, Yellow Rose J3218 which is another example of the freer style of watercolor (Ron Stocke). It was inspired by a beautiful rose blossom I picked in my garden earlier that day.

Yellow Rose J3218
Yellow Rose J3218 10″w x 15″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

As an artist, I benefit a great deal from fellow artists who share, helping to expand my skills and creativity. Additionally, I have found that it is easier for me to learn from a working (painting) artist (peer) than a school teacher type of person.

Finding My Peers

The SWS group that I belong to surrounds me with exactly this kind of inspiring artistic talent. The Spokane Watercolor Society is a club full of amazingly talented artists, sharing friendship along with many watercolor methods that they know and it has been a wonderful blessing to me.  Artists always seem to need to strive for growth in all kinds of new avenues and this open friendly club provides a very healthy circle of inspiration to me as I grow.