Saturday, September 27, 2014

SKETCHBOOK: "Ren Fest 2014"

Today I had a fun sketching at the Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs, MO.  I've gone sketching there three years in a row, and each time try to find something different to draw.  I would have had sketches of people in all their wonderful costumes, but they kept moving all the time. So...I captured a couple of buildings, a statue, and a horse. A great day to be outside.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Painting a DIDGERIDOO!

Today I had the pleasure of delivering a project that I've been painting on for a couple of weeks.  My incredibly talented musician friend, Amado Espinoza, makes instruments as well as performs with them.  He had asked me if I would barter with him...drum lessons in exchange for me designing and painting his hand-made "didgeridoo".  This is an unusual instrument from Australia that he made from PVC pipe that you can find at the hardware store.  He crafted a unique "slider" tube that allows for changes in pitch when he plays.  Above is the "Big Reveal" with Amado and his wife, Karen Lisondra.

These are some images of research that I gathered for inspiration.  Amado had shown me the pattern in the upper left corner that he liked.  I also found some other "didge" designs, as well as photos of the "goanna" lizard from Australia.  Amado wanted a more "Aboriginal" style.  Below is the didgeridoo before it's been painted.  Amado was playing it in my kitchen, while I recorded it with my little digital microphone on the floor.
I made some quick sketches at the kitchen table while we discussed some options of what this could look like, colors, techniques, etc.  On the right side are some photoshoped renders of how this might look with a solid black "slider".  I was concerned with scratches that would form during use of the slider pipe, so I suggested a "spatter" effect, which we went with in the end.
I used ENAMEL spray paints, so I had to set up outside...the fumes were quite strong.  Probably would have been fine if I had been on a "walkabout" looking for some "Dreamtime" experiences.  But I needed to keep a clear head. :)

I made a little stand out of a broom handle and some scrap wood.  This came in handy for the detail painting and for moving the "didge" around while it was drying in my garage. I used BLACK for a base coat.  Then I used BLACK, GRAY, and WHITE enamel paints that I sprayed into a bristle brush. I would sling dots of spatter on the upper slider tube, building lots of layers up of alternating tones.
After I let that dry, I used a RUSTY RED on the bottom tube.

Once the enamel coats were dry after a couple of days, I began the detailing work.  I masked off the main area with blue painter's tape, creating the GOANNA lizard. I then painted the shape of the lizard with BLACK acrylic paint, brushed on.
Then came the laborious process of drawing and painting DOTS and DOTS and MORE DOTS!!!  For the white areas of details, I primarily used a WHITE SHARPIE pen.  It is acrylic water-based paint.  I changed up the patterns on the lizard a bit before I was all done.  Then I used a 1/4" wide wooden dowel to paint on all of the larger border dots.  I would dip the dowel into acrylic paints...follow the shapes of the lizard, and alternated WHITE, YELLOW and ORANGE dots until all of the tube was covered.  This was not so much fun, because I had to go over everything TWICE to get the coverage to be opaque enough.  This took several hours, with a day for drying between each application of each color.
The last stage was to spray the whole designed area with clear enamel varnish.  Below is the final didgeridoo with Amado's "AE" logo at the top.  He was very happy with the finished piece...which makes ME happy!
If you would like to learn more about Amado and his music and the instruments that he makes, please visit his website:
or you can find him on Facebook here:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

SKETCHBOOK: "Cicadas and Spudnuts"

About two hours ago, I just got home after driving 9 hours from my home town, El Dorado, Arkansas.  I spent the week with my mom, "Miz Dee" and visited with my brother Kris and his wife Debra.  I had no real plans other than to spend a lot of time sketching.  Mission accomplished!

The sketches above are my first attempts at drawing some bugs from actual specimens.  It was very enjoyable and I will do more.  The larger Cicada was already just a shell when I found it on my Mom's deck.  The little brown ones had already been discarded by molting cicadas and were clinging to the tool shed in the backyard.  Fortunately, Mom had an old magnifying glass I could use...tri-focals are NOT good for sketching bugs!!!
Below is the "Tool Room" where my brother Kris is co-owner, and works with his buddies David and Phillip.  My Mom and I just hung around and drew for a couple of was hilarious.  Reminds me of Floyd's Barber Shop in Mayberry (the old Andy Griffith Show)...the guys and customers say all kinds of ridiculous and funny things.  I told Kris he needs to just put up a microphone and record the goofy things said.  Would be a hit radio show!
Below is my sketch from our time there.  I had wanted to catch the sunlight that shines in through the front door on all the rows of tools and supplies.
Staying with the theme of "sunlight", I was attracted to the early morning sun shining into my Mom's front living room.
Next up...a few shells from Mom's collection at home.
One of the mornings, Mom and I went sketching at the downtown "Square" in El Dorado.  They are currently working on some improvements, and I drew this little CAT while the work crews were getting ready for the day.
We had some time to waste while waiting for my brother and his wife to meet up with us for lunch.  Below is a sketch of "The Black Cat" where we ate.  The tree on the left was actually this flat on the top...I'm not sure why, since there were no power lines to keep the tree away from.
Most of our sketching out doors was done in the was pretty hot this week.  One of the places we go to often is "Rusty Acres" salvage yard.  I've drawn stuff from there before and posted it.  The piles of junk just go on and on and on!  This sketch was of a rusted out old dirt-mover and an abandoned truck bed.  We only lasted a couple of hours before the heat got to us, so I only have one sketch.
Below, Miz Dee is showing a curious customer some of her sketches.
On my last day at my Mom's house, we just decided to stay home and draw and looked at some of her collection of art books.  Mom found this old set of guache paints that had not been used for 30 years.  I gave them a try, and they still were "good".  I have not painted much with guache...not sure I like them.  I was trying to see if I could build my colors with layers, like I do when I paint with oils.  It will take a lot more time messing with the paints before I feel like using them over water colors.  But I had fun anyway.
I had taped off the brown-toned paper with masking tape first.  The little shed was done in the late evening as the sun was going down behind the shed.  Mom was a very cooperative model, and let me paint her while she took a nap in her festive muumuu.
And last but not least...a SPUDNUT!  Can't make a trip home without eating some of those!
That's it for this post.  Thanks, Mom, Kris & Debra for a fun time!!