Here’s my latest art – both traditional and digital.

Dory Boat

Dory boats are small, flat bottomed fishing boats designed to launch and land from the beach at Pacific City on the Oregon coast. Haystack Rock is a mile off the beach and is the tallest of several large rock monoliths along the Oregon coast. This is the second small 8×8 … Continue reading

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Minto Island Poppies

Click the picture to see a larger version. The local group of artists that I belong to (Artists in Action) will be holding a sale at the end of June (at the World Beat Festival in Salem) to raise money for the group. This year members are painting 8×8 inch … Continue reading

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Poppies and Lupin

I’m testing Faber-Castell Gel Sticks. These watercolors in gel form are meant for kids. They are like a twistable crayon and come in a set of 12 colors. I thought I would try them out on a flower sketch.

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She Wolf Portrait

The last two days I’ve experimented with new art supplies. I bought a new Kuretake watercolor palette. It took a month to get here from Japan. So, I was anxious to try out the colors. I decided to use a portrait reference from the Julia Kay Portrait Party group on … Continue reading

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Four Flowers

I did these small flower studies all on the same piece of paper. The first thing I did was adhere the paper to a piece of 2mm Sintra PVC panel with some brushed on acrylic soft gel medium. I let that dry for about an hour under some heavy books. … Continue reading

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On the Willamette

I did this small study today to test out how watersoluble markers work on a smooth gessoed panel. It’s like working with a limited selection of watercolors. Also I discovered that ink just sits on top of the gesso. It does not stick or sink into it. So, if you … Continue reading

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Daffodils in the Woods

I’m looking for a way to do plein air paintings without carrying brushes or water or wet media. I did this small study to see how tempera paint sticks and brush markers handle on canvas panel. I laid in the major areas of color with the paint sticks first and … Continue reading

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Camellia Bush

  This bush is in our backyard. It’s in full bloom. I’ve been glancing at it throughout the day thinking about how I’d approach sketching it with paint sticks dabbing on the pure color. Finally, before dinner I found the time to sit down and try out my plan. Fabriano … Continue reading

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Donnottar Castle Scotland

Sketching from Google Street View. Testing tempra paint sticks on smooth paper with water. Strathmore Mixed Media 400 Series 9×12 inch (22.9×30.5 cm) paper, pencil, Mod Tempra Paint sticks, Arteza flat waterbrush, ArtGraf Viarco 6B water-soluble pencil, Kuretake #13 brush fountain pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink, and Molotow 2mm … Continue reading

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Freehand vs Traced Underdrawing

Today I did two small sketches (3.5×6 inches each) of the same photo reference to compare sketching freehand and sketching using a traced underdrawing. I did the freehand sketch first.

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Slide Miniatures

The other day I found a box of cardboard heat-seal 35mm slide mounts and an old custom built slide mounting press. I wondered if it still worked and if so, how I might put it to good use. It occurred to me that I could do miniature paintings and frame … Continue reading

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Willamette River

Winter in the Willamette Valley has its own stark beauty – cold and gray. I thought charcoal would be the best medium to express this scene interpreted from a personal photo.

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Yachats Trees Block Print

This is a seven color hand-pulled print 6×6 inches (15.2×15.2 cm). There are 10 prints in this edition. Some projects take a long time to complete. I worked on the first six colors over the course of several weeks last Spring. Then the project sat on the shelf for six months until I … Continue reading

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Sun Over Mountain

This little print (4×6 inches, 10×15 cm) is the culmination of two weeks research and planning and gathering of materials and tools. It is my first attempt at printing in color. It uses six plates to print six colors.

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Nikki – Linocut

When I first moved to Oregon and lived out in the country, I got a puppy to keep me company. I called her Nikki (wild dog of the north). She was a Collie / Husky mix – a very smart, sweet dog. I used this photo of her as a … Continue reading

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Garden Watercolor


I got a new #8 Round Princeton Art watercolor brush for Christmas. I like it. It does nice washes as well as detail. This painting is about 6 x 8 inches. I used a photo reference. I took this photo of the Oregon Gardens last Spring.


I’ve tried a number of ways to use the iPad as an aid to drawing and painting. On this painting I used a grid system. It’s easy to overlay a grid on a photo on the iPad. I used the Inkpad app. Notice the grid is in one layer and the photo is in another and that the grid lines are one inch apart. I lowered the photo’s opacity to 61 % to make the grid lines show up better.


I used a colored grid to make it easier to identify and track particular squares. Here’s the full image that I used on the iPad as a reference for the drawing.


I made a 6 x 8 inch grid out of matte board and colored thread that I clipped to my sketchbook. I placed the iPad below the sketchbook while I worked and lined them up vertically so that it was easy to glance up and down and keep track of where I was while drawing with a pencil. Here’s the setup on my lapdesk.


The threaded grid is a great innovation. You don’t have to draw and later erase the grid on your piece of paper. The thread has enough “give” to it that you can draw underneath the lines. Roughing in the basic shapes and perspective goes quickly. It’s faster than other methods (like using transfer paper) because you only have to draw the scene once. It’s more convenient than a projection system because you can use it in full light and it doesn’t require power. Also, it’s lightweight so you can carry it for use on location.

Usually I remove the grid and clean up the drawing a bit before painting. In this case I just needed a quick drawing to test out the new brush. So, I didn’t bother. Here’s a close up of the pencil drawing with and without the grid.


I also used the iPad as a reference while painting. I set it up on a tripod mount, positioned it in front of me, and displayed the original photo.


I did the painting in one sitting. It took about an hour. I let it dry over night and then scanned it to my iPad and used Photogene to rotate, crop, set the white balance, sharpen, and resize the image for display on the web.


Salinas Station


This is the train station in Salinas, California. I photographed it a couple of years ago on my way to visit my Dad. Can you see the train? It’s reflected in the window on the right. 

I started this painting on the iPad in ArtRage using the photo as a reference. I made a pencil drawing. I then printed the drawing onto 9 x 12 inch watercolor paper using my Epson Stylus NX430 wireless printer. I did this directly from the iPad. Next I painted with watercolors and let it dry over night. The next day I scanned the painting on the Epson printer (it’s an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier). I did this from the iPad and saved the scan into the iPad’s Photos. Finally, I brought the watercolor scan back into ArtRage to do some touching up. I cleaned up the sky a bit and defined the roof line. I also worked some on the large window, touched up the brick in the upper left corner above the doors, and fixed the right side of the drain pipe below the overhang. 

I really like this workflow. It uses each medium to its strengths. It’s easy to make a pencil drawing from a reference photo on the iPad. Real watercolor provides textures and color effects that just aren’t available yet on the iPad and happy accidents happen when you paint in watercolor. Corrections, while difficult in watercolor, are wonderfully easy on the iPad. 

Art Notes:

I used the Ink Pen in ArtRage set to a light gray to draw the pencil sketch. 

Epson Durabrite inks are waterproof. You can paint right over the lines without worrying about smears or bleeds. The downside is they cannot be erased like pencil.

It’s best to slowly build up watercolors from light to dark. You have to let each pass dry before adding more color. Otherwise the colors become muddy.

I got a memory error when I tried to scan on my iPad 1. I had to close all other open applications. Then it worked. 

I used Photogene to correct the scan on the iPad. I used curves to brighten the whites. I also did a bit of sharpening. I resized the scan down to 1400 pixels wide when I saved it back to the Photos. That’s the largest size ArtRage can handle on the iPad 1. 

I did the retouching in a seperate layer above the scanned image in ArtRage. I used the eye dropper to sample local color and then painted with the oil brush set to a small size. I then used both the wet and the blur palette knife settings to blend the color into the background painting. Occasionally I used the eraser tool erase out some of the color I applied. 

I like retouching on the iPad. It’s much more direct than using a tablet and pen with a desktop computer. 


Sent from my iPad



Watercolor Pencil Test


This morning I painted this test image using Faber-Castell watercolor pencils. In the past I drew with the pencils first and then added water with a brush smudging out the color on the page. This time I applied a wet waterbrush to the tip of the pencil to pick up pigment and brush it on the page. It works much better.

I didn’t have anything in mind when I started. I just wanted to test the technique. So I didn’t do a pencil sketch first to lay out a composition. I began at the top using Prussian Blue. It turned into sky. It worked so well that I tried adding some Light Chrome Yellow to the waterbrush to see if I could get a green. I painted the hills. I picked up some more yellow and painted beneath the hills. I went from there down the page experimenting with various colors and mixes. After it dried, I then went back in and added some detail. I wanted to see how fine a line I could get with the petit waterbrush. I did the trees and brushes. I did the splatters by flicking the brush against the tip of the Ultramarine pencil close to the paper.

Finally I used the pencils to draw some fine lines. I did the grass in the foreground and lined the far shore of the river with a Dark Sepia pencil.

I worked on a lap desk. Here’s the setup from my point of view.


The lap desk is a white plastic one with a bean bag on the back. I used drafting tape to hold the corners of the paper down. The brush is a Kuretake Waterbrush Pen – Petit. It used only about a quarter of its water reserve to do this painting. The paper is 6 x 9 inches. I cut a half sheet from a 9 x 12 inch pad of Strathmore Bristol vellum, 100 lb. I used a piece of paper towel to clean the brush. You just squeeze out some water and wipe the brush on the paper towel to clean.

I’m right handed. I found it convenient to hold the pencils in my left hand with the tips pointing up. I could easily pick up color with the waterbrush in my right hand and then paint. It was like holding a palette of colors in my left hand, but without a mixing pan. It occurs to me that I could hold the case and tuck a piece of paper in the front of the case to test colors and mixes. By the way, I made that self standing case from a piece of card stock. I patterned it after the original pencil box, but pared it down to fit 12 pencils instead of 24.


New Pen Tests

Testing my new pens.

    1.    Kuretake Zig Cocolro pen with sepia ink

    2.    Zebra disposable brush pen – extra fine

    3.    Pentel Aquash Waterbrush pen

    4.    Kuretake Waterbrush Pen – petit set


I tried the Zebra disposable first. It has a nice fine tip. You can also use it on its side for a broad stroke. I touched the Kuretake Petit waterbrush to the tip of the Zebra and found that it deposited some black ink to the brush so I could do an ink wash. Worked great.


Next I touched the Kuretake Sepia pen and found it did the same thing and that I could do nice brown tone washes. The waterbrush draws most of the ink off the tip of the ink pen. So, you have to tap the brush on a hard surface to get ink to flow again in the pen.

Next I wrote a note on the right hand side with the Kuretake sepia pen. Notice how it gets faint about half way into the note. That’s because I did another wash and drew more ink off the tip and discovered that I had to tap the pen to get the ink going again.

I tried some watercolor with both waterbrush pens. I used the Grumbacher paints in my larger travel palette. I also tried Portfolio Series water soluble oil pastels. It’s the light blue down in the lower right hand corner. Water hardly smudged the pastel at all. So, that’s a disappointment.

I found I could do splatters by flicking the waterbrush across the tip of the ink pen.

Finally I used a white gel pen to make some fine lines across the watercolor. It works but you have to do it in single strokes. If you scribble back and forth it gets muddy because the gel ink is water soluble. It picks up the underlying color.

I wrote my artist’s notes in Notability on my iPad. You can export your notes as a PDF. Here’s the PDF file in case you want to download a copy and open it in iBooks on your iPad.

New Pen Tests.pdf (285K)


Sent from my iPad

Daler-Rawney Watercolor Test

I was in Walmart the other day when I stumbled into a Daler-Rawney Watercolor set. I think it was $12. I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a small set of 12 student grade watercolors in a convenient pocket size palette. It’s about 5 3/4 inches (14 cm) long. The colors are in individual half pans which can be replaced easily with professional paints, but before I did that, I thought I’d test out the colors and see what they could do.


I used a Niji flat waterbrush to lay down each color. I then did a few blends and mixes. Finally I did a little sketch to see how the colors worked together and how easily they could be lifted by blotting or brushing.


They’re not bad. It’s a nice combination of colors in a handy size. There’s not much pigment in the paints, but that’s to be expected.

Watercolor Test


This is my first watercolor test with a new kit. The left side was done with watercolor pencils and the right with paint. I also used brush pens for the blacks and grays. Done on 6 x 8 drawing paper.


The main thing I was testing was my new Niji waterbrush. It was very easy to use. I look forward to painting with it on location.


This post was made in Blogsy on my iPad. 

Apples Outside My Window


Woke up this morning to bright sunshine. I looked out the window and saw these apples and had to paint them.


The pencil sketch took more time than I anticipated (about an hour). I used a clear wax crayon to mask the highlights. Adding the colors took about another hour.


Pencil and watercolor on 6×8 paper. iPad, Photogene and ArtRage apps for photo correction (color and contrast) and erasing a few stray marks.e


Working in ArtRage again today trying different tools inspired by the work of Dan Harris (Gringovitch).

I started by squeezing out metallic tube paint and then I smudged it with the palette knife to draw it out into tendrils. I also used the Paint Roller and the Brush set to dry (no loading). Some of the textures were made by daubing the Brush with no thinner and lots of pressure and loading.

I worked in three layers. I used the roller in the background layer and had two layers for the animals and foreground.

Hut on the Pier


Today I’m experimenting with a new free art program for the iPad and iPhone called Ukiyoe – Woodcut. It mimics creating woodblock prints. The free program comes with one chisel which is pretty large. Swiping with your finger digs out a chunk of wood and like a real woodblock print you work in reverse (a mirror image). Here’s what the interface looks like.


You can rough in a sketch with a pencil and then start carving. The raised areas print black and the dug out areas remain white. You can save the image to your photo gallery, but unfortunately it isn’t very big. It’s only 512 x 758 pixels. Here’s the original saved image.


I tried a number of revisions using a variety of applications. I first used Photogene to flip the image.


I then tried Art Camera to make a negative using the Inverse filter. You could also use PhotoPad to do the same thing.


That didn’t appeal to me. So, next I brought the image into Brushes, sized it up a little bit, but left a white border, and did a bit of touch up in a separate layer. I added the door and repainted the window and fixed the two pilings and gave some definition to the roof and stovepipe.

I hope the developers continue to improve this application. I’d like to see a true HD version with higher resolution. I’d also like the ability to import reference images from the Photo Gallery.


Sent from my iPad

Backyard Sketch


Sitting on the back porch today trying out my new equipment before I take it on location. I’m using an iMount tripod adapter for the iPad and I’m painting with a Nomad Brush. Here’s what my setup looked like as I was painting.

Backyard Setup

Backyard Setup

I found I could sit comfortably with the tripod between my knees. The height and angle were just right so that I could use the lower part of my bifocal glasses to look at the iPad and the upper part to look at the scene. I like using the tripod because it frees up both hands to paint. I can use my left hand to choose tools and colors and my right to work with the brush.

After I was done, I took a reference photo with my digital camera.


And printed a 4×6 glossy photo with my new Epson PictureMate Charm portable printer. It works great. You get a borderless print in about a minute. I got the optional battery so I could take it on location, but I’m not sure I will. It’s a lot more to carry and usually I use a reference photo after I get home to refine a painting done on location.

I did the sketch in ArtRage. I made a template painting beforehand with 3 layers (background, middle, and foreground). To get started I duplicated the template. I used the roller to rough in some sky and tree in the background layer and then I switched to the middle layer and used the oil brush to paint in the rest. I used about 3 different brush sizes. I ended up not using the foreground layer at all. Total time was about 30 minutes.

I always have a hard time judging contrast outdoors. This time was no exception. The darks were not dark enough. After I came indoors, I used Snapseed to increase the contrast. Here’s what the original painting looked like so you can compare it to the one up top.



Copper Tiles Tutorial


Art is like magic. The audience never sees all the preparation and practice that goes into the making of the illusion and of course they never see all the steps necessary to do the trick. So, the effect can be both marvelous and mysterious.

And now for your amazement, here’s the finished painting.


The Trick Explained:

I painted this using six different apps on my iPad. It started as an experiment in InkPad. I wanted to see if it was possible to combine multiple shapes into a single mask over a texture. It turned out you could. So, I refined the test into this finished piece.

It’s basically a two step process. First, I created the textures outside of Inkpad and saved them to the Photo Gallery. Then I assembled the textures together in Inkpad using masks to create the tile shapes. In this case I used squares to keep it simple, but any shape would work including freehand shapes.

Step 1 – Creating the Textures:

I used an existing painting for the yellow background.


I imported it into the background layer in Inkpad, turned it 90 degrees counter clockwise, and increased the size to fill the frame. I just needed something to fill the edges of the painting.

I wanted the majority of the painting to have a blue textured background. I started in ArtRage to rough in the blue color on a canvas texture.


I started with a medium gray blue canvas. I used a large oil brush to rough in a variety of brush strokes of various values. I then used the palette knife to smear the colors a bit. Here’s the finished ArtRage painting that I saved the the Photo Gallery.


Next I opened the ArtRage image in Iris. I first applied the “Craquelure” FX filter. It’s located in the “Surface” collection. Here’s what that step looked like.


I then added the “Grunge Frame 2” FX filter. It’s located in “More…/Dust ‘n’ Scratches”. Here’s the finished blue background that I saved to the photo Gallery.


I wanted to try three different textures for the copper tiles. I needed a starting canvas like I did for the blue background but rather than painting a new one in ArtRage I decided to re-use the blue one and just change the color to reddish brown. I opened the blue ArtRage painting in Photogene and adjusted the Color Corrections until I got what I wanted. I then Exported it to the Photo Gallery.


This is the Photogene Exported image.


I opened the exported Photogene image in FX PhotoStudio and experimented with a number of different filters, but the first one I liked and saved used the “Dirty Picture 2” FX filter under the “Texturize” category.


Here’s what the saved image looked like.


I un-did that step in FX PhotoStudio and next applied the “Crumpled Paper” FX filter which is also in the “Texturize” category.


Here’s what the second texture
looked like.


For my third texture I used Snapseed’s “Grunge” tools.


Snapseed allows you adjust the Style, Brightness, Contrast, Texture Strength, and Saturation of the “Grunge” effect. Here’s what the finished Snapseed texture looked like:


Step 2 – Arranging the Textures in Inkpad:

Here’s what the finished painting looked like in Inkpad.


I used six layers.


As I mentioned above, I imported the seascape painting into the background layer. Next, I imported the blue background texture into the second layer. I then created a new layer and turned on the “Grid” and “Snap to Grid” and “Isolate Active Layer” in Inkpad’s Settings.


I then drew a square using a white fill and a one pixel wide, black stroke. I set a drop shadow using the ‘Shadow and Opacity” settings. The shadow opacity was 42%, the offset 13 pt., and the blur 37 pt. I made two duplicates of the square and placed them on the grid. I imported the first copper texture and moved it to the back. I then used the Multi-Select tool to select all three squares and united them in the Path Menu.


I added the texture to the selected objects using the Multi-Select tool. I then chose “Mask” from the Path Menu to mask the texture with the united square shapes. This is the “trick” that allows you to use multiple shapes to mask an underlying texture.


I used the same procedure to create the row 3 tiles in their own layer using the second copper texture image and to create rows 2 and 4 in another layer using the third copper texture.

Note: I didn’t use it here, but I also discovered that you can import more than one texture image in the same layer and apply a united shape mask over several texture images. Just select them all with the Multi-Select tool and then choose Mask in the Path menu.

Finally I added a signature in its own layer.


I discovered two things while adding the signature. First, the onscreen iPad keyboard does not have a copyright symbol. So, I copied and pasted one from Safari into the Inkpad text field. (Just do a Google search for “copyright symbol” to find a text sample).

I also discovered that the Eyedropper tool picks up colors from imported images as well as shapes created in Inkpad. I was able to click on a nice yellow in the border image to select a text color for my signature.


The process sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty straight forward once you understand how to unite multiple shapes and apply a mask to an underlying image. This technique opens up all kinds of possibilities for painting with patterns and textures. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you use this technique in your own work.


Custom Grain Textures

Today I figured out how to install custom grain textures in ArtRage for iPad.

"Brew-Ha-Ha" (evil magician’s laugh inserted here).

Here’s how I did it. The trick was to use Phone Disk to mount my iPad as a hard disk on my Macbook. This nifty Mac app is available for free through December. You can right mouse click on the ArtRage app and Show Package Contents. From there you can open the App Resources folder and navigate down to the Grains folder. All the Grain textures are png files. I made a custom texture in Photoshop – 512 x 512 px – and saved it as a png. I then dragged the custom png file into the Grains folder on the iPad. The new grain texture showed up at the end of the Grains list after all the default ones. The name was the filename. This really opens up a lot of possibilities.

iPad, ArtRage app, finger.

Lesson #1 – Horizontal Marks


I’ve been thinking about the process of learning art. So I thought I’d go back to the very beginning and as a self imposed assignment paint a picture using only horizontal brush strokes. Somewhere I read a theory that people progress through developmental stages. First you have fun making marks on paper. Then you try various types of marks – horizontal, vertical, circular, diagonal. Then comes differentiation of shape – square, circle, triangle. Next is recognition of edge and volume, then size, and finally space and depth. So, by limiting myself to using just horizontal marks I thought I might trigger an early experience.

Additionally, I placed my iPad in a wire book stand so that it stood up by itself almost vertically on the table as if it were a canvas on an easel and I held my homemade stylus straight up and down between thumb and fingers palm facing me with the tip pointing up. Normally I hold my iPad in my lap and I paint with my finger or hold my stylus like a writing instrument.

It worked. The situation was odd enough that I became aware of the process and realized the many choices and decisions that must make it confusing and overwhelming to someone just starting. What brush size do you use? Where do you start and how do you proceed? What colors do you use and how do you pick them? How much paint thinner do you use? What happens when you work one color into another? How do you blend to a different value or another color? When do you stop? There’s really a lot going on. Much of this is tacit knowledge as opposed to explicit knowledge. It’s the stuff you don’t know you know; likely the stuff you learned early on and is so engrained that it no longer raises to a level of consciousness. It’s stuff that’s hard wired and when pointed out to you, you say, “Oh yeah, you do that, but it’s so obvious I didn’t think it was worth mentioning”.

This must be what makes learning art so challenging and why it can only be done by doing through observation, imitation, and practice. You can’t really learn by reading about it or by following a prescribed step-by-step process. Jim

Sent from my iPad