Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Early on in the last week or so, I came to a passage in my rereading of The Hobbit, it is where Bilbo is up on a limb saving the Dwarves from the giant spiders of Mirkwood. As I was reading I was drawing images in my head and composing a piece to be painted. When I got the chance I picked up my doodlebook and drew out this little rough:

 After drawing out the scene, I kept looking at the piece and thinking there was something oddly familiar about it.  I let it sit a while as I had other things going on at the time, but it was still in the back of my mind as I was for lack of a better word, bothered by the image.

Eventually I got back to it, and sat down with a bit of ink and watercolours and completed my little rough so I could move on to the next phase and get it to the board as soon as I could.

With that done, I still kept thinking "what is it about this drawing that is bothering me?" 

Now, skip forwards a few days and it is the weekend, weather is warmer and time to set up the front porch for another season of porchsettin, so we spend the day getting the porch cleaned and the cushions all aired out, the blinds and the curtains up........it is a nice relaxing porch for settin, talkin, socializin, and doodlin.

After all the work is done it is time to set a spell and as soon as I plop down in my chair ........... I look at the oak tree I have looked at for the past 14 years and my light bulb goes off.............THAT IS MY LIMB!!! I just start laughing as I realized why the image was familiar and bothering me. 

I drew the limb from a tree that has been right in front of me the whole time and just didn't realize it until I sat down on the porch. I walk past this limb daily as I go out our front door, but never looked up or at the tree. It wasn't til I sat down and looked out that everything was in the right order, the angle the perspective and the whole 9 yard that it hit me.

Now, granted I did not draw the limb exactly as it looks in real life, but it is there, it is the influence for my rough. It has been filtered and stored in the back of my brain to finally come out here as the shot needed for the drawing. 

So, the point of this whole long story, is basically to be observant, watch and study everything, you will retain the information somewhere and it will pop out when you least expect it. Reference is EVERYWHERE, everyday things can be turned into the images you need for your fantasy works.

We are all influenced by the world around us visually and  we do store all this information in our heads and are influenced by it subconsciously. There are many, many tools available to us as artists and illustrators that we can glom on to for reference, the internet has become a valuable tool, but we cannot forget about the world right in front of us. Observation is an amazing gift if we just look at the things right in front of us. Sometimes we see it and just don't realize it.

Monday, March 06, 2017


Sometimes when you read, there is a passage that sticks with you, just resonates and sort of speak to you......you get it, and in my case I sort of see it, it is there visually for me. 

For me, when I read, I take visual notes of things to possibly draw,  as I a rereading The HOBBIT again, I came to this part of the book:

" he saw all round him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflies. "

When I read this again, I immediately sketched out this image:

That very brief passage was for me the perfect amount of description to let my mind go to work. It had all the information needed to move from rough sketch to a more detailed image.

So from the initial rough, I went on to a colour image. The following pictures show the progress to the final piece.........

From here, I will in all honesty move on to doing a full on oil of this image.

This piece is done in Gouache on a piece 9 X 12 Strathmore 400 Series toned paper.