The Big Gouache Challenge with Maru Godas

Process
Gouache-Academy-small

Green roof at the California Academy of Sciences

Gouache is an opaque water-based medium. It has the easy cleanup of watercolors, but with the ability to layer the paint. I have tried painting with gouache a little over the past few years. In my imagination, gouache would let me create painterly sketches. I dreamed of glowing light and rich brush strokes. Acyclic without all the hazards and hangups of arcylic. In reality, I felt like a grade-school kid struggling with poster paint. I made dull, flat paintings that felt lifeless and muddy. After a few failed attempts to work gouache into my painting routine, I ready to put my gouaches in a drawer and forget about them.

Fortunately, my stubbornness got the best of me and I couldn’t give up. After posting about my struggles on Instagram, fellow SF Sketcher Cathy McAuliffe pointed me to Maru Godas’s work. Cathy mentioned Godas was coming to San Francisco and nudged me to sign up for one of Godas’s workshops. Godas’s paintings from the Chicago Urbank Sketcher’s Symposium blew me away. And the title of her SF workshop, Big Gouache & Mixed Media, had me hooked.

If you’ve seen one of my sketchbooks in person, I paint and sketch small. There’s a lot a brush stroke says in a small painting that gets lost in a big one (or at least you need a MUCH bigger brush to say.) There’s less commitment in a small page. I scribble and go. I’ve been able to scribble big on newsprint, but struggle with a large canvas when it comes to paint. Even though I’d struggled with this medium, I wanted a chance to try to paint big.

 

Big Gouache & Mixed Media the Maru Godas way

Godas’s workshop presented a great introduction to her big gouache sketching approach. She started by explaining how a limited pallet helps her express herself quickly. Fewer choices mean she can cut to the chase. No need to reach for the *right* blue. The only blue you have is the right blue.  

As far as her approach to layout, Godas likes to have an 8:5:3 ratio. Her paintings have a large element, a medium element, and a small element. The proportions of the elements use the Golden Ratio. Godas explained that people often play the role of the small element in her paintings. She explained that while they may be small, but they grab the eye and bring life to scenes.

Godas also uses mixed media as part of her painting. Ink, colored pencil, oil, and chalk pastels all add emphasis and details to her paintings. She also uses mixed media to build form and add diversity to her scenes. Alternating between line and brush can be a great way to show the layering and jumbled feeling of a city.

Godas’s plays with perspective and distortion for emphasis. She may exaggerate elements or bend the whole composition in a way to show movement and activity. One thing I found particularly interesting was how she plays with the point of view in her paintings. The Urban Sketching society follows a set of rules. Rule 1 is that our work should be about “…capturing what we see from direct observation.” Moderators can be a bit strict when it comes to this rule. It had me wondering: is envisioning a scene from a  vantage point 40ft up in the air a direct observation? Or is this covered under rule 2: “Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings…”? Godas’s work makes an argument that story of the place is as important as any literal representation of a place.

The workshop was a wonderful learning opportunity. I walked away with two paintings I thought were good starts. I had set low expectations for myself and had exceeded them. As we wrapped up for the day, Godas left us with a parting request: “ Go home and paint 8 big gouaches!”

 

 

The Big Gouache Challenge

The assignment was simple: take what we’d learned and apply it to 8 new large gouache paintings. Once finished, post each of the paintings to Instagram with the hashtag #biggouachechallenge. I’m a sucker for a good art challenge so I decided to give it a try.

13th St Dunes, Barnegat Light, NJ

13th St Dunes, Barnegat Light, NJ

I started out tentatively, sketching a landscape I’d been thinking about from a photo. I liked the range of greens and tans this pallet produced. I didn’t use the compositional ratios and distortions, but it was a good start. I put brush to paper.

 

Gouache-Pacifica-process

Pacifica State Beach, Pacifica, CA

The second painting was special. I’ve been unable to surf for several months due to an injury. I painted this one on the beach after my first morning back surfing. I plan to write a post about how this injury impacted my drawing in a later blog post but for now: beach painting!

One of Godas’s other well known takes on gouache is to “Gouache like a Child.” Simplify things as you paint. Don’t worry your form or perspective isn’t perfect. This attitude was very helpful in painting this beach. The curve of this cove has been a challenge for me when I paint it realistically. It always looks “off.” With the “childlike” approach, I could skip trying to make it perfect and try for something that works.

I had a lot of hesitation around adding in the people. I had to convince myself that a few suggestive lines would be good enough. I had to have faith it wouldn’t ruin the painting. With practice, this will get easier.

 

Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, CA

Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, CA

 

Gouache-Alamo-small

Alamo Square, San Francisco, CA

Painting in Alamo Square was challenging. I’d hoped to use mixed media to help bring detail to the complicated house designs. Instead I felt it resulted in a muddy mess. I also found I couldn’t add whites back in like I wanted. They lost their crispness. It could be my watercolor background, but I’d rather preserve whites than add them.

This painting left me myself questioning whether “urban” sketching is right for me. I enjoy painting wild spaces so much more than fiddling with architectural details.  

 

I enjoyed working on this one of the green room above the California Academy of Sciences. This subject was perfect for practicing how textures scale from the background to the foreground. I leveraged contrast to separate the “hills” from each other. Variation in color became more important as the rolling “hills” of the roof got closer. I had to use brush strokes to define clearer edges and sharper details.

 

Dunes at Judah and Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

Dunes at Judah and Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

For this one at the Judah dunes, I felt like I completely departed from the exercise. There wasn’t a clear 8:5:3 structure. I didn’t use distortion. The mixed media served more as an add-on than anything else. It does have an 8:3 composition and I’m very happy with how the intersection and far off hills turned out.

 

Gouache-SealRocks-process

Seal Rocks and the Camera Obscura, San Francisco, CA

Here I went all out for the distortion, had a better 8:5:3 ratio, but I struggled to incorporate the mixed media. I’m not sure what it is that keeps me from including it. Is stopping to reach for another tool while I’m in the act of painting is too big a barrier for me to cross? It mat help to plan before I start painting where I want the mixed media to be and what role I want them to play. In Godas’s paintings, the mixed media plays diverse roles. It can add detail to a scene or separate the subject from supporting elements. I know there are many options for using mixed media. I need to find the ones that are right for me.

 

Gouache-YoungerLagoon-small

Younger Lagoon, Santa Cruz, CA

I painted this one while on a field trip with The Nature Journal Club. I didn’t use distortion here opting to focus on the contrast of the surf against the cliffs. I used mixed media for texture.  

 

What I learned

I learned that many of the watercolor techniques I was already using work well here.

I worked on giving up my fear of ruining a big piece of paper. Instead of seeing a failure on a big sheet as a big failure, I’m learning to see it as an opportunity to try a composition from a new perspective on a new page.

I aimed for expressive, not perfect, and got to some good results.

I learned to love gouache straight from the tube. Unlike watercolor that can be re-wet over and over, gouache is a medium best used wet. It’s not impossible to use dry, but it’s much easier to work with fresh paint. Many artists have airtight pallets to keep their gouache wet. Even in a tight pallet, my gouache was drying out. It added an unnecessary level of stress to painting with this medium. Rather than wrestle with pallets, I opted to bring tubes of paint with me on location. I refill my pallet as needed. I didn’t have to worry about returning to a dried out or moldy pallet, but I always had nice wet paint.

 

What’s next?

This is a tricky question to answer.

Short answer: go bigger! These “big” gouaches were only 8¼ x 22 inches. It would be fun to try something larger, like a full watercolor sheet (30×22in) or even a half sheet at 15×22. Or I could try other mediums at a larger scale. It would be nice to give big watercolors a second chance.

Longer answer: While it’s interesting and fun to try to paint according to another artists style or instructions, it’s not something one can do indefinitely. At some point, all artists have to make something that is their own. I’m struggling to figure out what that means for me here. Is using Godas’s color pallet too much appropriation of her work? Are our subject matter or our styles different enough that I can call what I am painting my own? For right now, I’m going to keep painting and keep thinking and see where that takes me.

 


 

Other gouache painters who have inspired me

While this post is about the Big Gouache Challenge, I’d be doing a great disservice if I didn’t also mention these wonderful gouache painters. Each of these painters has inspired me to keep at gouache painting. Their workshops, classes, youtube channels, and process photos are a valuable resource.

  • Nina Khashchina – Nina is an SF Bay area urban sketcher who recently completed 100 gouache paintings of Silicon Valley. I’ve taken one or her gouache workshops. She is a wonderful teacher.
  • Heather Martin – Heather is another SF Bay area artist and illustrator. Her plein air gouaches have this dreamy light brush strokes combines with energetic colors. She also has a youtube channel where she shares her painting process.
  • Nathan Fowkes – Natan paints amazing gestural landscapes. He also has several wonderful courses on Schoolism about using gouache and understanding painting composition. I highly recommend them.
  • Mike Hernandez – Mike’s plein air seascapes always stop me in my tracks. His work is definitely worth a follow.
  • Bill Singleton – Bill is also a part of the Nature Journal Club. He regularly shares his gouache observations of the Sonoran desert. His youtube channel is informative with answers to gouache painting questions.

 



 

Prints are up in my Etsy Store

I created prints from several of these paintings. They available in my Etsy shop. I’m offering free shipping on any items purchased before December 17th so order soon!

 



 

Artist-in-residency practice at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Process

 

Dunes-Beach-Blowout

Beach House Blowout, Trail 9, Indiana Dunes State Park

 

Through the magic of Twitter, I stumbled on Lucy Bellwood’s amazing comic “Mappin’ the Floor: A Scientific High-Seas Adventure.” It was thrilling. It had adventure. It had science. It told a great story of professional passions and discovery. It was beautiful. It spoke to me, and I fell in love with it

When I saw that Bellwood created her comic as part of an artist-in-residency program I nearly jumped out of my seat. I had the sudden realization that “I could totally do something cool like this!” Unfortunately, I had already missed the deadline for this specific program. But with a little research, I found a wealth of other similar programs to explore!

It turns out many regional and national parks have residency programs. These programs are a way for parks to generate public interest. The parks provide lodging and amazing scenery. The artist agrees to donate art or give a talk about what it’s like to be an artist-in-residence at this park. Artist-in-residencies are more than an opportunity to create art. They are an opportunity to share the mission and the spirit of a place in a way that reaches far outside the park.

They are such a popular form of community outreach that there are plenty to choose from. California alone has seven active residencies (I’ll have links to these at the end.) There are six in Alaska, one in Hawaii, and even one in the Dry Tortugas. For me, the choice was easy. I chose the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is home. It is 15,000 acres on 15 miles of Lake Michigan lakeshore. It’s a rapidly changing place subject to erosion, flooding, fire, and industry. It’s different every time I visit, but it is always beautiful.

 

Dunes-Sunset-Marsh

Marsh Sunset off US 12

 

The Application Process

Swooning over a place is one thing, putting down into words exactly what you’re going to do while you’re there is another. As a casual sketch-artist, I haven’t had to write about my work. I’ll post a little process on Instagram here and there, but it’s hardly “application” grade material.

I broke it down into 5 steps.  

 

Step 1: Overcome imposter syndrome.

  • “Is my work good enough to apply?”
  • “Why would they pick me when there are so many better artists?”
  • “What if they pick me and I fail?”

Those are real things I actually said about a dozen times during this process. Everyone feels this way sometimes, especially when out of their element.

Whenever I teach friends how to surf, I try to frame each awkward moment in the learning process as practice. You practice carrying everything to the beach. You practice putting all the gear on. You practice getting out past the waves. Learning to surf is not only riding a wave but all the small steps that get you there. Feeling silly or out of place is one step in many. Focusing on learning makes it more likely you’ll keep going, not matter how much of an imposter you feel you are.

This idea kept me going while staring at that blank application page. Whenever I’d question whether I even deserve to apply I’d tell myself: It’s all practice. I am practicing organizing my ideas. I am practicing talking about my work. I am practicing putting myself out there. And if I fail, that’s practice, too.

 

Step 2: Pick a topic and organize your ideas

The next step was deciding on a topic. “Oohing and ahhing” over how great the dunes are wasn’t going to cut it.  I read through the application to make sure I was considering all the requirements. I had a few ideas that I fleshed out with research.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the home of the Theory of Ecological Succession. Henry Chandler Cowles came up with his theory studying the Indiana Dunes. His research focused on how the environment changed from bare sand to thriving forests or wetlands and back again. Cowles contributions to ecology helped scientists see the world not as rigid ecosystems, but as places that change over time.

I wanted to document the changing landscapes that Cowles saw. I wanted to learn about all the plants and animals that contributed to and benefitted from these changes.

 

Step 3: Write, rewrite, and have a good editor (or two)

This was the most laborious part of the process. I started with an outline. For each bullet point, I included notes about what I wanted the reader to take away from that section. I wrote and rewrote three drafts using Google docs to track my work. I put together art samples and described how each of my past works of art related to my plan for this residency.

I didn’t do it alone. I had help from some fantastic writers in my life. They helped me hone my message, tighten up my language, and fix all my typos. I couldn’t have done it without them and they have my eternal gratitude.

To make life a little easier for them, I ran my drafts through automated editing programs. I used Grammarly and Hemmingway, to look for basic grammar and spelling mistakes. Both are free. While the final pass still needed a human touch, these robot-editors helped get the easy fixes out of the way.

 

Step 4: Mail it in and wait.

The application process differs from residency to residency. For the Dunes, I had to physically mail my application in with a USB drive of my work. I mailed it in with three weeks to spare before the deadline, in case the mail took longer than expected.

The application also required I provide a self-addressed stamped envelope. This allowed the judges to return my drive with their decision. If I have one tip for those applying by physical mail: get tracking numbers. I got tracking numbers on both the package there and the package back. It didn’t cost very much and was worth it for my sanity.

 

Step 5: Focus on what you’ve learned

When my self-addressed stamped envelope came back, it included a rejection letter. I wasn’t surprised. This was my first time ever applying. It’s a learning process. I had learned how to apply for a residency and now I was practicing receiving rejection letters. This setback was an opportunity to improve and try again.

 

Dunes-Stones

 

In the spirit of practice

Sure, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get in but in the spirit of practice I went anyway. I thought this would be a great chance to see how well my proposal actually worked in real life.

My family lives in the area near the Dunes so I was fortunate to have a place to stay. Their town is surrounded on all sides by the park. I could do all the things I’d planned to do without the pressure of having to show something for it at the end.

I planned to go out in the field and paint at least once a day. I thought I’d take a few mediums (watercolor, gouache, chalk pastels, and pen and ink) and see where the mood took me. I had a few ideas about what “changing landscapes” I wanted to paint. I wanted to paint erosion-prone areas and areas in recovery. I wanted to paint the main ecosystems including dunes, marshes, grasslands, and forests. I wanted to paint how the dunes change in shadows and sunlight.

 

What I learned

It was a great two weeks. I hiked with my brother almost every day to scout locations in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Indiana Dunes State Park. I learned so much from this residency trial run.

A few things that went well

  • I got to see parts of the park I’d never been to before
  • I made the effort to go out and see parts of the park in different light:
    • early morning, bright sun, warm sunset, etc
  • I learned so much about the different ecosystems within the park
  • I learned about the different plants that are a part of ecological succession and got to see many in person.
  • I was able to take advantage of park programs like the guided walks
  • I had plenty of time to paint

 

Where I struggled

First, I’m not as tough as I’d like to think I am. It was HOT. I didn’t wind up painting on location as much as I’d hoped. I took photos and reference sketches back home and painted when it cooled down. I also realized I am afraid of ticks. I wouldn’t have been quite so hot if I wasn’t wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into my socks. But if I did that, I’d be a walking buffet for ticks so I sweated it out. Everything I wore was UV protecting, insect repelling, and sweat soaked. I washed my painting clothes every night.

The main challenge I faced was lack of focus. A few days in I realized why I didn’t get into the program. My proposal was over ambitious. I’d said to the judges the equivalent of: “I want to paint everything in every medium in every style every day.” I was so caught up in the possibilities of what I could do with this residency, I didn’t get down to specifics. I “oooed and aaahd” but in fancier sounding words. Had I gone with this plan as a resident, I would have been all over the place. There’s no telling what I would have come up with beyond “paintings.” If I had it to do over again, I would have picked one thing to focus on in one medium.

Because of this lack of focus, I took 24 pounds of art supplies with me. That was quite the carry-on. Had I limited myself to one medium, I could have cut that weight by more than half. I only took the chalks out once! The lesson again here is to focus. I don’t need to paint the entire world with every possible medium today. I can do one medium well per visit and save something for the next trip.

I also wish I’d tried to connect with rangers or local naturalists to learn more about specific areas. Had I selected an area of focus,  it would have been easier to find the right person to reach out to.

This is why we practice, to try something new, to learn from it, and do it better next time. I now have volumes to think about for my next trip and plenty of new experiments to try.

 

Dunes-PricklyPear

Eastern Prickly Pear, Opuntia humifusa, native to the Great Lakes

 

What’s next?

This experience showed me much I love painting dunes. I want to do a series of dune landscapes. I’ve already visited Indiana and New Jersey. Now want to visit dunes in California and Oregon to see how dunes differ from coast to coast. I want to come back to the Indiana Dunes and document how they change season to season and year to year. I don’t need the residency to continue to visit, but I’d like to re-apply once I’ve found the right thing to focus my residency on.

I’ve had so much help through this process and learned so much. If you’re considering applying for a residency and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help. My writing skills may still need work, but I can offer encouragement and support.

 

Dunes-Steps-View

View towards Chicago from Dune Succession Trail Steps, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

 


Links to Artist-in-Residencies mentioned above:

California Artist-in-Residencies

Alaska Artist-in Residencies

Michigan Artist-in-Residency

  • Good Hart Artist Residency Community partnerships often have artist-in-residencies as well. I received this one from a good friend in Petoskey. Their goal is to celebrate the beauty of Lake Michigan and the artist community of the Good Hart/Petoskey area.

 


 

New prints up on Etsy!

I’ve added prints of my Dunes work to my Etsy store and I hope to add more prints of my inktober work and gouache paintings soon. Thank you to all my previous buyers for your continued support.

tiny at STUDIO Gallery

Events and Exhibitions

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STUDIO Gallery features local bay area artists working in a variety of media. They feature solor shows by new aritsts each month and have themed group shows a few times a year.

I am thrilled to have work on exhibit in their annual small works group show, “tiny.” Each work of art is under 7×7 inches in size and priced under $500.

The show opened on Friday, November 10th with a reception on Sunday the 12th. With 175 artists featured, the reception was a bustling event.

There were so many wonderful artists exhibiting work. Michael Chamberlain, Nancy Hartley, Lindsay Kustusch, and Kanna Aoki all had several pieces on exhibit. I could go on, but I’d be listing the entire catalog! There were so many paintings I couldn’t pick even a handful of favorites.

The show runs till December 23rd. It’s a “cash-and-carry” show which means when a piece sells, it’s taken off the wall and a new painting it put in its place. The works on exhibit will continue to change as the show goes on so there will be something new to see each week.

There will be another party on Sunday, December 3rd, 1-6 pm. If you missed out on the opening reception, you won’t want to miss this one.

A big thank you to STUDIO for including me and thank you to all those who were able to attend and support local artists. I appreciated seeing familiar faces and I hope you all had a wonderful time!

My 3 years of Inktober – Part 3

Process

What I learned from 2017

Comparing 2016 to 2017, there were a few surprises:

  • Working on a larger paper was much easier than I expected. 2016’s drawings were between 3×5” and 5×8”. 2017’s drawings were 9×12”. I thought I’d be struggling to fill so much space with ink, but I found it much easier to make fluid lines on the larger paper.
  • I loved using the brush pen. That said, I found using only the brush pen to be a real challenge. Last year I used Copic markers to add value to my drawings. This year I wanted to keep things simple. Even with that goal in mind, I struggled with whether or not to add values with cross hatching. Some drawings felt like they really needed it. Some felt overworked once they had it.
  • I found I liked using black square to help simplify backgrounds. The ability to focus the composition on one area helped me from getting overloaded (and it saved on ink!)


What’s next?

With a few Inktobers under my belt, I see that my process keeps me on track to complete 31 drawings in the month. Now I’m starting to think about how I can improve the quality of my work for the month. I want to experiment not only with how I work, but what I draw.

For next year’s Inktober, I know I want to keep the nature science theme. I want to keep managing my ideas in Trello. I’m happy with how these two elements are working out. As I look back on the last 3 years, there is one very clear area where I could challenge myself.

I could stop relying on photos and create all original work.

😱 [screams of terror]

For some artists, this is no big deal. Heck, they’ve been doing that this whole time. I’m someone who draws what they see. Although I draw from life regularly, drawing from photographs is a way to draw conveniently on a schedule. Now that I have 2 successful years (and one semi-successful year) under my belt, I want to push myself to do more than what’s convenient and comfortable.

I could draw my 2018 Inktober sketches from life. That means practicing sketching in the wild. We have many great resources in the Bay Area like the Academy of Sciences, the San Francisco Zoo, the Oakland Zoo, and the Aquarium of the Bay. If I were to create thumbnails from my museum experiences, I could put those thumbnails in my Trello board instead of photos.

Another idea I’ve had is to try to focus less on realism and really experiment with different mark-making techniques. How little can I draw and still communicate a recognizable plant or animal species? How can I add an element of chance to my work? Does this inkblot say “anglerfish?” Can I keep on schedule if the subject of each day’s drawing is left up to chance? There’s a lot to think about, but I’m confident I’ll be ready to take on the challenge next year.

Angler fish made from an inkblot

Less realism, more element of chance!



Ink-conclusion…

A big thank you to Jake Parker, for starting Inktober and thank you to all the artists who participated. Your work is inspiring!

Many thanks to everyone who followed along. I appreciate your support and all your feedback. Did you have any favorites this year? Do you have suggestions for animals or plants for my 2018 list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 and Part 2 where I talk about my Inktober process in more detail. Otherwise, stay tuned! I’ll have news about upcoming shows as well as more blog posts with my in progress work.






Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!


I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018.



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

My 3 years of Inktober – Part 2

Process

Process from photo to sketch to ink

I started with a photo, created a pencil sketch, then refined the sketch in ink.



A look into the 2017 Process

Jake’s 2017 prompts came out a week before October 1st. I added them to my trello board and started thinking.

First, I had to decide on a theme. I enjoyed learning about the bird subjects for my 2016 drawings. It was fun to share the things I learned in the Instagram captions and I knew that I’d want to continue that. The bird theme was a blast, but I wanted a little more variety. I went with marine life so that I would have a wider range of plants and animals to choose from. The marine life theme was a bit close to what I’d done with my Pier 9 series so I tried to stay away from specific subjects I’d already done.

Next, I had to think about what type of drawing I wanted to do. I decided on larger sketches. I limited my materials to a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to focus more on line work. Any grays in my drawing would need to come from hatching. To keep me from being precious about my drawings, I decided to do them all on newsprint. It’s cheap. I don’t have to worry about wasting paper if a drawing doesn’t turn out.


Newsprint, brush pen, pencil, and eraser on a desk.

My Inktober drawing tools: newsprint, brush pen, pencil, and kneaded eraser.




Once I decided on the style I was going for and what inking tools I wanted to use, I paired marine life with the prompts. For some it was a clear choice. For others, I listed several options to decide between as the month played out. In a those cases when I had no idea what to use, I turned to Wikipedia. It was so fun learning about all the amazing creatures that live in our seas

I scoured Google Images looking for the right photo to draw. My requirements were:

  1. The organism must be alive and in its natural habitat. No catch-of-the-day photos!
  2. The photo must include a credit to the photographer.

It’s very important to me to give credit where credit is due when I draw from a photo that’s not my own. I used Google’s Reverse Image Lookup to track down bylines. If I couldn’t find the photographer’s name, I didn’t use the photo.

I attached a photo to each of the cards in my Trello list. Trello makes it easy to drag and drop photos onto cards. It’s a great tool for this kind of project. I tried to stay a week ahead. I’d spend a few hours each Sunday fleshing out cards with photos and details.


Screenshot of my Trello board and Google Images

My digital tools: Trello on the left for tracking each day’s prompts and ideas. Google Images on the right for finding source images.




The final step was to draw. I tried to limit my sketches to 20-40 total minutes. The timeframe covered both the pencil drawing and the inking. I found working within time constraints to be very helpful. During past drawing-a-day projects, I found myself spending three hours on one drawing. It’s not sustainable! Limiting my time ensured something would get done.

When the final drawing was ready, I photographed it and posted it to Instagram. My captions included a fact about the organism as it related to the prompt and a credit to the photographer. Aside from the drawing, the facts are my favorite part. I learned so much about sea life.

Once up on Instagram, I browsed the #inktober2017 hashtag to see what other artists were up to. To my surprise, there were hundreds of other artists doing nature science series, too! It was great to see their approach and the variety of styles. Some were dramatic and very stylized. Some were more like illustrations out of a victorian field guide. One artist did entirely freshwater mussels. Wow!

There’s more to the story of course. In Part 1 I gave a bit of background on my previous Inktober experiences. In Part 3 I’ll take a look at what I’ve learned so far and where this experiment will take me in 2018.

What does the future hold? Masterpeices? Inkblots? Blank pages?!
Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!





Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!


I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!  

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018.



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

My 3 years of Inktober – Part 1

Process
31 ink drawings of marine life

Inktober 2017


A quick introduction to Inktober

Jake Parker started Inktober in 2009 with the goal of improving his inking skills by drawing with ink every day of the month of October. Inktober caught on and participants share their day’s work on social media using the #inktober hashtag. Inktober has grown rapidly in the last few years. Participants added over three million drawings this year alone!

 

How I got started with Inktober

Drawing regularly has many benefits. Over time, your hand-eye coordination increases and it becomes easier to come up with ideas of water to draw. At its most basic, drawing regularly serves as a record of your time. Daily drawings, no matter how rough, help keep your skills sharp so that when you you have a big idea for a piece or that vacation to a beautiful place to draw, you’ll be ready.

When I first heard about Inktober in 2015, I was drawing once or twice a week. I knew it would be ambitious to go from drawing a few times a week to every day. I decided I’d need a theme to help me narrow down ideas. By chance, my company was moving their  offices from San Francisco’s Pier 9 to a building in the Financial District. I used Inktober as a way to remember our space on the San Francisco waterfront.

As with any new habit, drawing daily can be a real challenge. We all have lives and responsibilities that can take first priority. This is completely normal. Because this was my first Inktober, my only goal was to complete 31 drawings. I did. In DECEMBER. At the time it felt like I’d failed the challenge. Now, with a little perspective, I see it as the start of an experiment.

Inktomber 2015

Inktober 2015

 

When Inktober 2016 came around, I decided the next phase for this experiment would be to find a way to stay on schedule without making drawing every day feeling like a chore. As luck would have it, 2016 was the year Jake Parker decided to introduce prompts – a 1 word theme for each day of the month. These prompts helped me shape a new process for staying on top of the daily drawings.

My approach started with small, achievable goals: I limited myself to one subject matter (birds) and planned concepts ahead using Trello, pairing a bird with each prompt. I decided that if I fell behind, I would move on to the next prompt instead of trying to “catch up.” I wanted to be able to complete a drawing every day and felt this would be the way to do it.

Adding these constraints made a world of difference. I was able to complete one drawing each day, on schedule. It felt great to have 31 drawings for 31 days.

 

31 ink drawings of birds

Inktober 2016

 

There’s more to the story of course. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll go into more depth was that process was and how I applied it to Inktober 2017. In Part 3 I’ll take a look at what I’ve learned so far and where this experiment will take me in 2018. 

What’s next for our heroine and her inky ark of animals? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!



Updates on Upcoming Shows and Sales!

 

I have work in the upcoming TINY show at STUDIO Gallery

I’m proud to announce I will be exhibiting work at the “Tiny” group show at STUDIO Gallery! The exhibit runs November 10th – December 23rd, 2017. There will be an opening reception on Sunday, November 12th from 1-6pm. The show features all local artists with works of art under 7×7” and on sale for under $500. I hope to see you there!

 

I have prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery

I have two signed, limited-edition prints for sale at The Great Highway Gallery. The prints are of of the Sierra Valley and the Bolinas lagoon. The gallery also has prints from several local artists for sale. Stop by and check them out!  

 

My Etsy Store is up!

I have select originals and prints up on my Etsy Store with more work on the way for 2018. 



Let’s keep in touch!

For the latest updates, sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

My First First Friday Wrap Up, Etsy Store Now Up!

Events and Exhibitions

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Thank you!

I’d like to start by thanking my outstanding hosts at Donkey and Goat. I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to bring family and friends together. It was an honor to be able to share my work in their space, especially over a glass or two of their fantastic wines. Thank you to The Winnebago Lounge for their delicious food. Thank you to Two Lions for their lively performance.

Thank you to everyone who supported the show in person and in spirit. Thank you for your encouragement. I had to stretch myself to put together material for a solo show. Your feedback and support made all the difference. I’ve learned so much from both local artists and new friends on Instagram. I have a new level of respect for those artists exhibiting their work on a regular basis.

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What’s next?

I plan to keep learning and keep producing work. I enjoyed getting the chance to share my work. I look forward to the opportunity to exhibit my work again soon.

In the meantime, I will continue to share my art online. I’ve started a mailing list and intend to begin sharing more of my process work here and on Instagram.

Introducing My Etsy Store

It’s also my pleasure to announce that prints and originals from the First Friday show are now available on Etsy.

Stay tuned for more!

Join me at Donkey and Goat’s First Friday

Events and Exhibitions

 

Donkey and Goat is hosting a celebration of local art, music, wine, and food
as part of their First Fridays event on Friday, August 4th from 6-9pm.

I’ll have 15 original paintings of California landscapes on exhibit
with both originals and prints available for sale.

Admission is free. Kids are welcome.

 

More details available on Facebook

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Want updates?

Sign up for my TinyLetter or follow me Instagram

 

Prints and originals will be available for sale online soon.

In the mean time, contact us for sales and info.