(Dis)Order, Rendering, and Masking

Okey doke, so with my second post here I’d like to discuss a bit about the order I work in.  Many artists work loosely at first (E.g. Sketching, under-painting, blocking-in, etc..) and then refine their work in layers. I’ve seen this loose approach most commonly employed in painting (I paint that way myself), however I have also seen it with graphite, and I’ve even seen the converse in painting; clearly there is no right or wrong and we all do what best works for us.


For me, with graphite, I find I work most comfortably when I complete things as I go (mostly). I will return to tighten up small elements after I’ve completed the whole, but my first pass generally leaves the piece at more than 90% complete.  Generally all that remains are adjustments in contrast. You can see in the image below four stages of progress on Peregrine Falcon #1.

First off these images show how I mask the work as I progress: I do apply a light overall ‘outline’ to the paper before I start so I mask to protect that sketch, and keep from messing up my paper. I simply rip off the masking in 1”-2” strips as I’m ready to expose the next bit.  It’s pretty clear here how completely rendered each section is before I move forward.

The most significant exception to this approach here is the limb that the falcon is perched on. I knew the bird would be heavily rendered and ‘weighted’ in the center of the paper, so I left the limb for last to decide how heavy I wanted it to be at the bottom of my piece. I didn’t want too much weight there, nor did I want it to compete with my focal point.

So there you have it, bit more of the process, more to follow eventually of course. As always any comments and questions are happily welcomed. Thanks for looking. 

works 'IN-PROCESS'

Ok, so here we are, first official post! For starters let me briefly address the theme and name of this journal: 'IN-PROCESS.' Probably obvious, but it's a simple play on the idea of 'works in progress' combined with the idea of not just sharing the WHAT as it comes together, but a bit of the HOW it has come to be as well. 

So here are two pieces I am currently working on.

I don't generally work on more than one piece at a time, but occasionally a specific deadline or request will require my starting a new piece before finishing another. Also, like most artists I know, I do sometimes struggle with a piece and find that setting it aside for a time may better reveal to me its problems, making it easier (or even possible) to correct them or abandon a damned piece all together. 

In addition to the two in-progress drawings shown here I've included one of the reference photos I've used for each drawing. Generally, each drawing will be the result of several reference photos, in addition to field sketches and small thumbnail sketches, primarily for composition. 

I am far from an accomplished photographer by any stretch, however, I do enjoy the time spent outside watching, sketching, and photographing birds often as much (or even more on a nice enough day) than sitting and drawing in my studio. Often I find the best way to get over the routine frustrations of creating in the studio is to grab the big lens and go sit in the woods for a few hours. 

The top is a piece I'm working on of two Tufted Titmice. Like most backyard birders in the Northeastern US I see Titmice everyday, all year round. I staged this photograph by placing a retired street sign (it was given to me by a friend who works for a local DPW, NOT stolen from its roadside perch I assure you) in my backyard with a small feeder attached to the post behind the sign. I set up the tripod at a back window and fired away for days.  

The lower image is a drawing and reference for a Tri-Colored Heron. I took this photo on a golf course near Ft. Lauderdale. I recall it was a very busy 9th hole: spread across the fairway and green, among the small ponds and canals were Tri-Colored Heron, Great Blue Heron, Wood Storks, Anhingas, Cormorants, Pied-Billed Grebes, Great Egrets, Ring-Necked Ducks, and Blue-Winged Teals. Not a bad hotspot considering I was just passing in the car and hopped out to photograph one napping Wood Stork and ended up spending a couple busy hours. 

This entry is already a bit long-winded so let me quickly address some technical stuff and then wrap up til the next one. (I will get more in depth in future entries, and, again, will happily answer any specific questions in the comments below). So for both of these pieces, and much of my graphite work, I am working on 300lb hot press watercolor paper with graphite ranging from 4H to 4B, concentrating mostly with 2H to B for the majority of the rendering.

The completed images will be in the WILDLIFE folder to the left once they have been completed and photographed. 


I'd like to start here with a quick little hello before my first official post. However you've stumbled upon my little Journal/Blog here I welcome you and I hope you enjoy yourself. I am very happy to share my work and process here with anyone interested in it, and I'm certainly interested in reading any thoughts or comments you may have on any of the content herein, so do feel free to share them below. (You may also email any and all queries to me through the contact page here on my website.)

Thanks so much for looking!