Every artist has a process that evolves over time.  For years, I painted using my own hand-made oil paints, built up many layers of thin transparent colors, and discovered how to make the colors sing. With each series of paintings, I would experiment to find inspiration that might lead to new themes and directions. 

Recently, my love of black and white drawings resurfaced and dominated. My creative journey took a hard left that led to my discovering hidden, imaginary characters found within abandoned natural objects.  You can see how that happened by looking at a couple of my most recent drawings, Gator Bug and Bugsy

Original reference photo of root approximately 5-6″ long.

One evening early in the pandemic I was the walking in the neighborhood. Along the fence of the historic Rossetter House I saw the dried root from a Fish Tail Palm that looked like an alligator. I carried the dirty old root home, photographed it in black and white using high contrast digital imaging, and adjusted the angle. After gridding the composition, I started the drawing. I loved all the rich textures, spikes and range of values.

Gator Bug during the evolution of the drawing.

About 1/2 way through the drawing, I felt the creature needed longer feet. I added two larger horse’s hooves for contrast. After 25-30 hours, Gator Bug was created.

Gator Bug, Staedler Mars Lumograph Pencils on Arches 88 paper, 22.5″H x30″W, 2020 ©

Then one day I was leading a guided mural tour in the arts district, and my eye caught a discarded vine root found on the sidewalk.

Photo of original vine root, original length about 5″.

I was inspired! The complexity of the image lead me to truly test my imagination to discover what could really be hidden within the form. Initially, I saw a mosquito and knew there was something else waiting to be discovered. After constant tinkering in my sketchbook and then spending hours in Photo Shop, I came up with a simplified concept that gave me a starting point for the drawing.

I placed a grid over my digital image, and with a Mars Staedler Lumograph HB pencil in hand, I lightly drew parts of a matching grid on my drawing paper, Arches 88. For a couple of weeks I worked on the drawing sporadically standing at my easel for an hour or more at at time throughout the day using the image on my computer monitor for a reference.  I usually use a wide range of Lumograph pencils from HB to 8B. Each day the image slowly evolved until one day she was complete. Bugsy took about 15 hours. Most drawings take about 25-30 hours. 

Image of the drawing, Bugsy, in process.
Bugsy, Staedler Mars Lumograph Pencils on Arches 88 paper, 22.5″H x 30″W.

I plan to add more updates on my magical mystery journey in the future. Hope you enjoy seeing the explanations and will share with your friends.

Please stay safe and well!