Sketchbook Selections

Here are several selections of recent sketches from my travel sketchbook. I’ve had a number of sketchbooks but this is my old go to comfort one. I’ve been carrying it around in my purse for years. It’s become quite battered with dented corners and dirty edges. These sketches are from the very last pages as the book is finally filled up. I feel a little sad that I won’t be bringing it along with me anymore.









Dark-Eyed Junco


Male slate coloured (dark-eyed) juncos are some of my favourite birds. I think there’s always a bit of a “Wallace and Gromit” charm about them . This rendering is acrylic, water colour pencil, and graphite on Arches cotton rag water colour paper (7.5 x 10 in).

Bits and Bobs – 3

I’m continuing to work on smaller scale pieces to keep up momentum when I need a break from larger paintings and drawings. This piece is on a 6″ by 6″ birch plywood panel (it’s mounted on a 1.5″ basswood frame). I didn’t seal the panel so that I could take advantage of the pigment bleed to suggest foliage in the background.

Eastern Towhee

Cedar Waxwing

As I mentioned in prior posts I carry a sketchbook with me pretty much everywhere I go. It’s not always possible to work from life as sometimes I’ll find myself in less than idea locations to source material. I  try to anticipate this by tucking things into the back of my sketchbook (a photo or magazine clipping for example) to base drawings on when I have the time but am faced with things like sterile office walls etcetera. Unfortunately I don’t always remember to do so and sometimes I have to work from memory. I received a call late at night to attend to a family matter and just had time to grab my bag and head out the door. I ended up being out for the entire night and during that time I started this sketch. Upon review several days later I discovered my “memory” had been a bit faulty and my bird was looking a little more chickadee than waxwing. The image is rendered in ink pigment so it was a good thing I hadn’t gone too far. I took the opportunity to bring it closer to form once I was able to get a look at the real thing.

Cedar Waxwing


Crow Study

It’s the beginning of autumn in the part of the world where I live.  During this time we see large flocks of crows (a flock is sometimes referred to as a “murder of crows”) passing through heading south. I’m going to be incorporating some crow imagery into a portrait piece and I thought it would be a good idea to do a rough study to figure things out a bit. I found it particularly helpful for mixing colours as I wanted to get away from using Ivory or Mars Black. I felt that the black created by combining Viridian and Alizarin Crimson gave me a richer tone to work with.

Study- American Crows


I live in a rural area where road kill is a gruesome common sight. Oddly enough a number of these animals don’t look dead at first glance with the trauma from the accident being hidden from a distance. Rather they seem to be in a state of rest. Such was the case with a deer I spotted last week at the side of the road. I think it must have been hit on the far side of a curve, made it off the road, and  fallen dead in front of an abandoned farm house. The tree it was lying under sported an odd sort of decorative item. It wasn’t exactly a sculpture or a mobile but an item made from what seemed to be found items that resembled a cross between both. The juxtaposition of the dead deer “reclining” at the base of the tree, underneath the metal construction, struck me as something noteworthy and storied. So much so that I ended up recreating the scene in a drawing (I know it’s a bit creepy). I’m not sure of a clearer way to describe it other than to say that I perceived a visual weight created through the pose, the tree,  and the swinging metal above. Sometimes it’s hard not to read a mythos into the countryside and the shadows that line the lane ways.