The Eagle, the Endoscopy and the Exit

The day I made this drawing of an eagle’s head I had had an endoscopy. The doctor gave me some strong sedation before the procedure, which was very effective. Afterwards I went home to my parents house and relaxed while waiting for my son to come home from college and for the sedation to wear off. As I waited I did a few sketches and some inking. I was very relaxed. One of the sketches was this eagle

The following weekend I found some time to paint him…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been finding more time and energy to paint as I’ve left (exited) my church.

I found going there increasingly stressful. Playing the piano was part of it but more than that I had trouble managing my relationships and being together with so many people at once. I found I was beginning to dread it. There was too much noise and it was too busy and I was expected to have too much communication with people for my autistic mind to manage. Every time I got things wrong I became more stressed about interacting. It was like a finger puzzle, the harder I tried to make things right the worse things got until I couldn’t do it anymore.

Initially I was going to have a temporary break but I kept getting nightmares about going back so now I have decided to make this change permanent. The relief is incredible. I feel like I can breath again. I am also very sad though, because there were so many really good people there and I miss them. I guess with the autism it was always going to be a difficult place for me. The fact is I can’t manage it.

Zebra – in ink and watercolour


This week I drew and painted a zebra.  Again I used a lot of photographic references for the final design.

This is my method.

  • I began by laying out the animal’s shape in a basic form.  Generally when I start to sketch I use single lines for the limbs and polygons for the body and head shapes.  While playing around with this I also take relative measurements using my pencil to get the proportions correct.
  • Once I’ve got the basic shapes and distances down lightly I begin to draw more accurate forms using the polygons as a map to keep my picture accurate.
  • Then I do a bit of a clean up of the polygon and leg lines and any rough areas of my drawing with an eraser and make any adjustments I need.
  • Next I begin to ink the drawing.  I found it useful this time to ink some basic parts of the animal with the finest ink pen I have, a 0.05 Micron.  Then I started to ink the stripes with a thicker pen.  This was SO therapeutic!

  • The hardest thing about the stripes was trying to use them to help define the 3D shape of the zebra’s flanks.  Once I had that done as well as I could, I finished off the ink drawing.

  • Next I began adding watercolour paint.  Zebra that I have seen on film in the wild seem to always have a dusty look to their lower legs and under their bellies so I wanted to bring that colour into the picture.  I also wanted some background terrain colour and some greys to help define shapes and also on the zebra’s nose where he has a greyer colour.
  • I built this up in stages and then it was finished.

Here’s the final painting…



In terms of using ink and watercolour I think this is the most effective animal I’ve ever tried with this combination of media.  The ink lends itself so beautifully to the zebra’s colouring and just a small amount of additional colour really seems to work.

Atlantic Ghost Crab


Continuing with ink and watercolour this week my post is of a painting I made of an Atlantic Ghost Crab.  I used a variety of photographic references, particularly for the drawing, and for the basics of the colour, but I did use some artistic licence in painting this little fella.


Here’s the ink drawing…


And here’s the finished painting…



In painting this I discovered that I am able to paint more loosely when I have the strong clear lines of the ink drawing already there.  I used my Micro 0.5 again for the ink and my Winsor and Newton Artist’s Watercolours for the colour.

Caterpillar in ink and watercolour


I had some more fun this week with ink and watercolour.  My subject was a little lime green caterpillar.  I think there’s something magical in the way tiny little life forms like this have their own ways, life-cycles and patterns of movement.  When I saw the reference photo for this it looked to me like the little guy was praying!

I worked on this over several days as my pain has been bad again.  I started with a pencil sketch which I helpfully forgot to photograph.  Then I inked the pencils.  Rather than drawing regular width cartoon style ink lines I used my 0.5 micron pen like I would a pencil and sketched the picture in.  It was quite fun because the end of the nib is slightly flat so if I use it at an angle I can get really thin lines from a fairly heavy pen.

Here’s the ink sketch…



Then I began painting the background.  I considered using gouach to get a nice plain flat colour but decided to play around with watercolour again.  Instead of going for a flat look I used a really textured brush stroke pattern.  At first it looked kind of weak…



But as I added more layers it got more depth…



I wanted it really dark so that I could shadow my main subject without losing too much in the way of contrast.  Finally I painted the caterpillar in my usual style.  Here’s the final picture…