Saturday, December 28, 2013

Historical Dress Sketches

I watched A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott) a few days ago, and observed how clever the creators were with the clothing.  This was the first time I noticed how the attire in Scrooges past matched more of a 1700's style dress (knee breeches and spencer jackets), while the older Ebenezer had an early 19th century style.

I realized yesterday, after poking around some files on my computer, how many period clothing references I have.  The style for the bottom drawing was inspired by the self portrait of Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux.  What a lady!

And I can't leave without saying just how much I enjoy the previously mentioned production of A Christmas Carol.  The interaction between Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas present is superb... but then again I love all the acting in the film.  If you haven't seen it, you should definitely watch it soon.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

A small Epiphany sketch done today for a painting to be completed later next year.

Special thanks to everyone who has followed my work and been supportive this year.  I really appreciated it!  Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I'm Still Here

Or "there" considering my absence from this blog for four weeks.  It's been an insane last three months.  I'll have to recap sometime if I remember everything.

Here are just a few sketches from Friday night.  It's been roughly three weeks since I've had a chance to draw.

I've been revisiting old anatomy books and notes lately, and feeling more responsive to what I didn't grasp years ago regarding anatomy and form. It has been fun revisiting a lot of the basics and I should do it more often. 

I've made invaluable art book discoveries too.  I found a J.W. Waterhouse book misplaced in the photography section at Books-a-Million (probably the only reason it was still there).  Also I found Andrew Loomis books at a local art shop that I love to frequent.  They cover design, composition, color, and more.  A great addition to the art book collection.

Pdf versions of these books can be downloaded, and what is funny is I've had copies on my computer now for almost a year.  The only problem is I hate to sit and read something lengthy at my computer.  Drives me nuts!  I was ecstatic to find these.

I also found some great anatomy models over at  If you're studying anatomy for drawing or sculpture it would be a good idea to check it out (Warning: the site is for artists and medical students and does contain some nudity).

I found these through the blog of the fabulous sculptor David Lemon.  He's a real inspiration!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Completed Pope Francis Portrait

23 1/2" by 29 1/2" oil on canvas

    It was a pretty quick turn around on this painting.  As I said before it needed to be completed in roughly two weeks so the paint would be dry enough for varnishing and shipment to the Vatican in December.  Click on the label below to see the painting in its various stages.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scottish - Pencil Drawing

Helen Mary MacGregor perhaps?

This one is pencil on Strathmore sketch paper - about 10 1/2" by 14".  It was a quick drawing I did last night.  There are probably a few things I would change if I was going to paint it, but for now this is how it will stay.

I've been sketching Blue Bonnets and Redcoats for free time drawing last week and listening to a little music...

Rise Rise - Sung by the Corries

Ye Jacobites By Name (Robert Burns)

Sherramuir Fight! - an action packed piece written by Robert Burns around 1787 and sung by the Corries.

I don't know about you, but bodhráns can get me worked up!

Prelim work for the Helen Mary pencil drawing

    I had an idea to post these preliminary sketches for the above drawing - this has been a good method for me over the past few months, to work out several roughs, refer to them for a large loose pencil sketch, and then lay a clean sheet of drawing paper on top, tracing out the basic shapes and adding details based off the earlier sketches.  Having three different roughs helps to choose what details are best to put it.  Have one that is simple block shapes (since you want your drawing to communicate quickly) and the others with several variations of details.  It's almost like having several reference photos and you assemble what you like best in the final piece.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Studio progress - drywall

A little panoramic shot

We're ready for paint now!  This should start moving along quicker.  I'm thinking I'll have it finished before Christmas if all goes well.

Green Eyes

    Here's a quick digital sketch I did the other day.  I've been told over the last couple weeks that I draw "dippy, doe-eyed" girls, and in less harsh words have had it confirmed by others.  Whoa!  I always thought they just looked spirited!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Portrait progress (unfinished)

    I've made some progress on a portrait of Pope Francis commissioned for the North American College in Rome.  This is roughly two days work which is encouraging.  I'll need to have it completed by the end of next week so it can be shipped before December.

Cover Work

    For the last couple of weeks I've been working with designer and illustrator Ciara Gay on some covers for an upcoming series of books with Simon and Schuster.  It's been an interesting challenge especially since the two characters featured are identical twins.

    The covers were done digitally in Photoshop with the layers on top of the detailed drawing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shoutin' Cowgirl

No one shouts louder!

Drew this a long time ago after reading an article on horse training.  Unfortunately I've resorted to digging through my piles of paper for drawings to post.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sculpture - Lighting Reference


    I made this small Plastalina clay model for lighting reference.  I'll be primarily drawing the figure from this so the face doesn't have much detail.  If I get this one finished, I'll do a full post about it - preliminary drawings and references showing how the idea evolved (more blog promises, I know).  I just received two new portrait commissions so right now it's vital I get that studio finished!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Studio Progress II

I was never one to draw on the wall when I was a child, but now that I've built my OWN wall...
Who can stop me!!!

I've got some time scheduled over the next few weeks to get it wrapped up, so I'm pretty jazzed about that.  Finish the drywall and mudding, then on to the painting, flooring, and trim.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back from the Beach

    Just got back from a healthy break away from computers, to do lists, and stressful work.  It's my first time to the beach for a vacation since 2008, which is really insane when I think about it.  I only live ten minutes from the coast.  And just as last time I took way too many drawing pads and pencils, which sat alone and neatly packaged most of the time as I enjoyed the view and went swimming.  This picture, however, had to be done!

    I woke up the third morning at the condo and stepped out on the balcony just in time for my sleepy eyes to focus on a fox running through the dunes below.  He was a terribly scrawny little fox, and he scampered along like he knew where he was going.  It didn't take him long to find a rat that was hiding safely in the sea oats directly below me.  The rodent darted to one dune, and then doubled back running about seventy yards to the east, escaping the scruffy red hunter.  It was fun over the next few days glancing down at the tracks in the sand which told the whole story, and also seeing old ones that seemed to indicate the fox was a regular to that spot.

    I did think too, that this would make a better drawing than the spinner sharks that were swimming in waist deep water around a beachgoer from Minnesota, later the same day.  It's a wild world.  Just ask a fox.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Oil Portrait of Father Coyle

This portrait of Father James E. Coyle was commissioned by the Archbishop of Mobile, Thomas J. Rodi, as a gift from the Archdiocese to McGill-Toolen High School, where Father Coyle was first rector.  Father Coyle was shot and killed in 1921 by Klansmen Edwin Stephenson.

I had only black and white photos for reference, so research had to be done to determine certain details, particularly Father Coyle's eye color.  It was discovered that his great-niece had eyes similar to his, a bright clear blue, and it is apparent in photos of Father Coyle that his eyes were particularly bright.

You can read more in this article at, or at the website dedicated to Father Coyle.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I remember working on this drawing, adding some additional touches to the garrison cap, leaving for a steakhouse with family, and never finding it in me to fit this one back into the schedule.  That was a few months ago, and Abandoned seems like a fitting title - at least for now.

Things like this happen to me a lot.  I'll work on something for awhile, get pulled away, and when I have the opportunity to pick it up again, I have an idea for something else I like better.  I may forget about it entirely.  Not much unlike my teenage self (there were triple the number of unfinished paintings to finished).

Anyway, I'm putting in a little more time to complete a few project before going away for a week.  I hope all goes well.  It's been too long!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back Again to the 18th Century

    Many of my free-time sketches have been of a historical nature - if not a colonial period sketch for Men of Bounty, than usually a medieval one.  It has been an escape of sorts to think of times gone by as I work on other things, and so it comes out in my drawings on the side.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Boxcar Children

I've recently worked on two new releases for The Boxcar Children series - The Return of the Graveyard Ghost and The Mystery of the Fallen Treasure.  They were a blast to illustrate and I'll be working on some more coming up.  Here are a few of my favorite illustrations. (The cover art was created by the awesome Tim Jessell.)

Check them out this September!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Men of Bounty - Character Pencil Drawings


Duchess is a trusty crew member of The Balance and good friend of Captain McQuaid. She keeps her knives as sharp as her wit, and always pays close attention to detail. She sometimes strays however, if she feels she has a better plan.

Captain Byrnes

Not exactly a fellow you would want to meet.  Captain Byrnes can be as rough as they come.  Frequently he corrects some of the slower men of his crew who falsely think his name is "Burns" due to the rope marks on his neck, which (on special occasions) are covered by a vibrant blue scarf.  When things are going his way he can be too sure of himself, believing that his plans are working and you don't know it.  See how he smiles?  He thinks you don't see that dirk in his hand.

A darn cool story is coming together with these characters, so I'll probably be posting this kind of stuff for the next couple weeks.  I hope you like the Age of Sail.

Studio Progress

Slow and steady.  The studio has been at a standstill for a few months due to other work I had lined up.  Sadly one of the projects was a large oil portrait that left me cramped in my current painting space.  I need a good photo before I deliver it later this month, but for this post I'll give a shot of the studio in progress.

Sunday, June 2, 2013