Category Archives: Ink

Salted Crimson

The following is a painting that I created especially for one of my brothers. I was trying to think of a painting that he would really want to put on his wall, whether his sister had painted it for him or not. And now that he’s received it, I can post my artwork without ruining the surprise:

enterprise star trek outer space spaceship

This is, admittedly, a bit of a poor photograph. I quickly snapped it before I wrapped it up to send, and did not check the photo before wrapping it. The top third of the photo should appear much less grey.

Paintings and drawings like these have always been a big challenge for me. Architectural shapes, as opposed organic shapes, cause so much more brow furrowing, frowning, and erasing. However, it was a great exercise and a reminder that I should practice drawing highly geometric forms more often. The background, however, greatly contrasts the tightly drawn ship. I used several layers of paint mixed with lots of water to create the nebulous shapes. In the first layer or two I sprinkled salt, which highlights watercolor’s unpredictability wonderfully. The texture in and around the light crimson nebula on the right side was largely created by adding salt just after painting. I brushed away the loose salt after drying and let the remaining salt adorn the paper.

I loved adding all the details to the ship. After I was done painting, I outlined choice areas in black ink, then moved on to colored pencil. By adding colored pencil over the top of watercolor, I can achieve detail, contrast, and effects that I cannot with watercolor alone.

Flowing amoebic forms, sharp geometric details, deep texture, and bright colors made this work of art fun and interesting to create, even though it was not one of my normal subjects. What have you created recently that was out of the ordinary?


Sketching for “Scalloped Owl”

My painting “Scalloped Owl” currently hangs in Lucy’s Art Emporium in Dover, New Hampshire. If you’re in the area, go visit Lucy’s! My paintings will be there until the 2nd of March (and there are great art exhibitions and gifts there all year round!).

I started this owl painting with a photograph of a barred owl from a book I got from the library.

I started with a realistic pencil sketch (as you see on the left, below). I got a feel for the general shapes in the owl, its posture and its feather patterns. Next I drew the stylized drawing you see on the right, which I based on the first drawing and the photograph combined, as well as a good dose of imagination.

owl sketch pencil drawing

I emphasized the dark ring of feathers encircling the owl’s face, the very round and shiny eyes, the variegated bib of feathers about the owl’s neck, and the striped effect of the feathers on its body. I also added a background in the second drawing, experimenting with contrast, texture, and stroke direction. The eyes in the second sketch remind me a bit of Raggedy Ann, an aspect which I enjoy in the drawing, but I didn’t wish to emphasize it in my final piece (below). I painted lots of dots and feathery details around the eyes, but not in the same eyelash pattern as in the drawing.

scalloped owl barred bird painting watercolor

In my final work, I combined my favorite aspects of the photograph and both the sketches. I exaggerated the rounded body, head, halves of the face, and eyes. This round quality kept the owl looking cute, which I wanted to achieve with this painting because that was my first reaction to the photograph I saw. I kept my palette limited to balance detail with simplicity. The photograph had a dark background, which I included in the second sketch, but in my final painting I chose to keep the darkest tones in the foreground and left the background light and subdued.

I plan to add more owls to my bird series. This one was a joy to paint, and I’d like to explore owls in flight, sleeping, in multiples, and perhaps even hunting. Do you have a favorite owl?

(I painted another owl, which you can read about here.)

*Update* The show at Lucy’s Art Emporium is over, but this painting is now available in my Etsy shop, matted to 8″x10″!

*Update* This painting has been purchased, but it is now available as a greeting card in my Etsy shop!

Sketchbook Project Complete!

Here it is, finally: the compilation of all the pages of my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project 2011 for Art House Co-op.

sketchbook project racoon rooster scavenger illustration

I’ve uploaded larger images of my illustrations on my Jem’s Imajes Facebook page, so you can see all the fun details more clearly.

Now all the sketchbooks which have been sent in are being prepared for their tour, which begins in February at the Brooklyn Art Library.

Looking forward to the project again next year!

Step by Step for “Rainbow Owl”

“Rainbow Owl” is a flatly patterned, colorful painting with a limited palette, created as part of my bird series of watercolors. It started with a wash of bright, loose stripes in orange, lilac, and pale green. I studied several photographs of owls and made various sketches to refresh my hand with the basic proportions, posture, and shape of an owl. After that, I made a simple outline drawing of an owl in pencil over the striped painting, and traced over it in ink.

I painted the background a dark grey,

and when it dried I drew leaf and berry shapes across the painting in ink.

I painted around these shapes with a very dark forest green.

Then, to bring more color unity to the painting, I painted the berries bright orange while the green was still slightly wet, so the brightness of the orange berries would vary over the painting and give it a little artificial depth.

After it dried, I signed it, and I thought I was done. Then I noticed three small dots of grey paint which had splashed into the body of the owl, marring the broad green stripe across the owl’s wings.

Removing watercolor from paper can be risky. I could end up with scuffed paper, which can happen if it is rubbed vigorously while wet, which would rather ruin my little painting. It would also be possible that I would remove, along with the dots, the color underneath, wrecking the soft wash of color. Replacing it can’t produce just the same effect as a fresh wash of paint. I considered adding more lines in ink to the back of the owl, as a fix, but I wanted to keep the simplicity of the painting intact. My choice then, was to try and remove the dots with a slightly damp mop brush. I think I ended up with great results, removing only a trivial amount of the color behind them. Here is the finished result:

I had great fun playing with these colors and shapes, adding little details of feathers in the outline of the owl and letting the watercolor swirl amongst itself to create variations over flatly painted areas of the composition. This painting is for sale on Etsy, along with many more of my paintings and drawings.

Edit: I’ve painted another owl and have written about it here.

Black Friday Weekend + Birds!

I just wanted to give a little shout about my shop on Etsy ( This extended weekend (now through 11/29/10) I’m offering FREE worldwide shipping on all my paintings! I’ve added several new paintings recently, and I’ll be adding more every day, so keep checking back! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Some of the paintings for sale in my shop:

watercolor painting abstract yellow blue lavender

painting autumn trees leaves red orange yellow

watercolor painting fish jumping ocean blue green red orange

Additionally, I’ve got a new “making of” blog entry planned soon — for one of my owl paintings I’ve been working on! I’ve really been enjoying the little bird series I’ve started, and I plan to paint even more. I’ve got peacock, raven, and flamingo on my list, and I’m working on a couple of cardinals right now. Have any birds you’d like to see me paint or draw? Post in comments, and I’ll add them to my list!

Tail Feathers

tail feathers watercolor painting drawing bird finch orange purple


rowers watercolor painting ink blue brown








This painting is for sale in my Etsy shop.