This is a drawing about a saxophone

sketch of an alto sax player

This is a sketch from a couple weekends ago. My friends Sarah & Tara were performing at Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, and the band that followed them was
Elijah Shiffer And The Robber Crabs. The sax player had a sort of steam punk-looking alto sax— it had a machine-like patina not generally associated with such an instrument. .

I began to draw it, but with so much detail amid all the movement, it was difficult to pin down. Anyway, I quite like this sketch, even unfinished.

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A recipe for crisp-edged watercolors

photo of desktop showing drawings, paint, and paintingsLast week I posted some gentle little watercolors, and briefly described the process. Here, as promised, is a more detailed view of that process.

Step one: Draw your shapes in pencil.
step one: pencil drawing
Step two: scan the drawings, and import to Adobe Illustrator. Trace the shapes using the pen tool, refining as you go, to create your idealized vector shapes.

step two: scan and trace the pencil shapes in Illustrator

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Some gentle little watercolor illustrations

watercolor of a prawn

Here are some illustrations I’m working on for a project. The process involves first doing a pencil drawing of the shape, which I then scan and trace in Adobe Illustrator so I have a clean-lined vector shape. Then I print it out as just a black outline, and tape to the back of a piece of watercolor paper.

Next, I place the sandwiched sheets of paper on a lightbox, and paint with watercolor. Finally, I scan the painted pieces and use the vector shape as a clipping mask to regain the crisp edges of the original drawing.

It sounds like a long process, but it’s a wonderful way to combine the organic flow of the watercolor with the sharp lines of a vector illustration.

If I have time soon, I’ll put some process pics up here, as that probably sounds like a foreign language to anyone not familiar with the tools involved.
watercolor of parsley
watercolor of a fishwatercolor of a cuke slice and some watercress

Cheerful, cooled, and brittlebush

paint chipsIt’s time for some updating and new colors. I’ve been thinking about some new colors for awhile, and went to browse the chips this afternoon.

quick drawing incorporating the colorsWhen I got home, I checked them all out in the rooms and against the light and existing paint, then gave them a quick run-through in Photoshop, as I can’t resist that sort of thing.

Two shades of yellow for the kitchen; a rustic sort of dark Naples yellow for the walls, with pops of a true, bright yellow (this tint named “Cheerful!”)

before and after kitchen colorI’ve rather always regretted how very subtle my choice was for the kitchen— looks barely a color in that West-facing room. Time to make right.before and after kitchen accent colorbefore and after kitchen colorsThis exuberant yellow will appear in two pops, on walls directly opposite one another— in the recessed shelves and on the double pantry doors. Can’t wait to see it up!before and after bathroom color
And in the teeny, tiny bathroom (which has done really well in a nearly-black brown color for 7 years now) shall be updated with a color pulled from a couple of the tchotchkes in there, eg. the bath salts tin— a sort of burnished aqua tone.

I’m hoping that it will make the awful dusty-rose tiles appear more neutral, and disappear in its high-key presence. Distraction is often a key component— a designer’s sleight-of-hand.

Materials don’t make the artist, but they can hinder the art

watercolor drawings of banana peopleSome recent spreads from my sketchbook. It is not a Moleskine— I chose a knock-off for this trip, which was a little wider, and had white paper instead of the cream color of moleskines. Unfortunately, though the paper is nice and heavy, this paper lacks the clay coating or whatever it is that makes a moleskine so great for watercolor.

watercolors of NYC iconsOn these pages, the watercolor just sinks in immediately, losing its vibrance and its ability to move around, meander a bit before settling.

The only color here that is vibrant is the cadmium yellow, which is a different brand of half-pan than I’ve been working with, which is more like a gouache, really. (The red on the second spread is mixed with some of that yellow)

It lacks true transparency unless used with a lot of water. A problem, as I tend to paint over inked drawings, whose lines can get obscured beneath it.

A couple of mild disappointments— and lessons!

Montmartre— in light and dark

Montmartre— dans la lumière et l’obscurité

Sacre Coeur blackand white photo angle from belowThese are photos from our first afternoon in Paris. It stayed light til 8:30.

Now, you know, I’ve been dreaming of the trip— now that it’s over. As I did before it was born. Friday was two weeks since we left for farther shores. It went by fast and slow, as time does.

Felt like four days; felt like four weeks. Away –and three cities away– will have that effect.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and white
streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

Life is different —and the same— when you return. That is to say, life is the same but you’re a little different.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

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Returned from a trip abroad

cartoonish drawing of zac jon and i

Apologies for the long gap in activity here. I did so well with a minimum of 1-2 posts per week for over two years, and recently dropped the ball! I was on a trip to my usuals over the past couple of weeks; Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris— photos forthcoming as I go through my selects, and follow the threads of some stories.

I traveled with Z, and by younger brother, J. We had a wondrous adventure and spent lots of time with old friends, and some new ones. Above is a little cartoon I drew of us one evening in Paris. This is purely from imagination, not a true portrait,  but I think it captures us on our trip rather well.

More posts to come very soon, as I find time here and there to process and unpack the many photographs (and thoughts, feelings) from my travels.