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.








Studio Bits and Bobs

My rechargeable batteries for my Canon camera have bit the dust so I’ve used my printer scanner to upload some of these images. 

This is a pigment sketch I completed in 2013. I never really liked it (scale was weird- angles were off) so it was the perfect piece to mess around with.

Crowing FloralI decided to add some colour and texture. It was an improvement. But… I hadn’t bothered to secure the paper to keep it from wrinkling when it got wet so it was pretty lumpy. I tried spraying it and weighing it down, several times, but it didn’t work. I had some paper tape that’s normally used for printmaking with rag paper so I thought “what the hey” and soaked the paper and hung it up. Of course the sketch was drawn on cheap sketchbook paper which doesn’t react like print paper and the whole thing became even more of a mess with the glue soaking through the thin paper. I ended up throwing the drawing into the sink, giving it a good rinse, and wiping off as much of the glue as I could. As you can see below it finally ripped and the brown glue stain never came out. All in all I think it was a positive exercise as I learned quite a bit about the limits and characteristics of some of my materials.

Learning exercise

Sometimes when I’m feeling a bit stale I try to doodle my way out of it. I’ve never done anything with the little drawings…until now. I had some small canvases (they don’t look it here but red and blue are 5″ x 7″, the yellow is 8″ x 8″) that weren’t ear marked for anything and decided to take the doodles one step further.   I like how they turned out. They’re just simple little images not really located anywhere. I’m looking forward to completing more and seeing where they go.




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


Docked at Port Burwell

I spend so much time sitting it’s nice to hit the road with my sketchbook and see what I can find. This piece was an interesting little experiment. The original outline was done, I believe, almost 2 years ago. I had headed out along the lake shore and ended up in Port Burwell. I wasn’t able to finish the sketch onsite as it was a really windy day. I took a picture so I’d have a resource to use later. Fast forward to a week ago when I came across the unfinished sketch and decided to complete it. My first problem was that I no longer knew where the original picture file was . I have a large amount of digital images that aren’t particularly well organized. It’s an issue for me with using a digital camera. It’s easy to shoot so many pictures, that I can’t remember half the time what’s on my computer. When I shot and developed my own film I certainly took a lot more care with my images.  Anyhow I was able to find an image on-line to use which was very fortuitous. What made things a little sticky was the angles that I had already roughed in with pencil and started to work in ink weren’t exactly in-line with those in the found photo.  I ended up having to do some fudging and the perspective has a “folksy” thing going on. I made sure not to overwork the image to keep with the original intent of an onsite piece. Even though I had to complete it in studio, using an alternative image resource, I think it still retains the immediacy that was established as the composition foundation at the Port Burwell pier.

J.P. Siddall, Port Burwell


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.



Logo Process

A friend of mine recently opened a theatre company. He was looking for someone to put together a logo for him. An upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8 has resulted in all my old image editing software no longer being available for me to use  as most of it is no longer compatible with the updated OS. I was still able to create something for him using Microsoft Word ( I can’t even find the words to express how much I miss my old computer!!). His requirements were fairly simple in that he didn’t like shading, it wasn’t to be overly ornamental, and he wanted something that illustrated the company name. I did a couple of really quick sketches and then built a rough mock up. Using that basic build  I put together around 20 to 30 variations and sent them off to him for approval.

mockupThis was the original build. You can see it’s made by simply overlapping shapes.From that starting point I was able to create a number of compositions- such as these 3 below.

Mockup4 mockupb





Here’s the one he chose to use for the banner of his company’s premier production.


It’s pretty simple but it met his immediate need. This might not be his final decision but for a MS Word build it doesn’t look too bad.


I still had those rough sketches that I started with and rather than toss them in the trash I fleshed them out into a finished pigment drawing…booksketch


Sketch Book Selections


Almost everywhere that I go I carry a small or medium sized sketchbook, pencils, sharpener and an eraser with me. When I find myself with a bit of time to kill, say at the doctor’s office or on a plane, I pass the time by sketching. I have a number of sketchbooks that I use but I have one in particular that I’ve been returning to, on and off, since 1997. It’s almost full and looking pretty battered. The edges of the pages have gotten dirty and bent from the book being carried around. It didn’t start out that way, as you’ll see, but for some reason it eventually became the book I drew birds in. The sketches  range from quick studies to more developed explorations.  90% of the drawings are finished with pigment or ink pens. There’s something about working with ink that I find very satisfying. I’ve included drawings from the beginning, middle and “almost” end of the book.  The subject matter for the sketches includes real life, photos I have taken or print pictures (one sketch is based on a painting I completed that was inspired by a print photo I liked). I have included a picture of a sketch I’m currently working on. I saw a beautiful bird at the New Orleans Zoo and whilst on the plane ride home I passed the time by drawing a picture of the bird in my sketchbook.