Archive for May, 2009

a good scan of Sherlock Holmes

I finally got a chance to scan in the Holmes piece.   The detail pops a little more, and you can see where I used the white acrylic ink in the highlights.

In case you’re looking for a good scanner/printer, I’ve been using a Lexmark 5100 series and it prints and scans beautifully.  It does really well capturing and printing out the vibrant marker colors.



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The final problem – Holmes background solved

Action is the best cure for fear.  You know what needs to be said but are afraid of the consequences.  All you need is that first word.  All you need is to open your mouth and you’re in the game.  The same is true in art.  Can I pull this off?  Will I mess this up?  Will the paper curl too much when I put watercolor on this background?

When the brush hits the paper you’ve committed.  The paper begins to curl and you compensate. The paint gets too thick and you thin it.  You stop wrestling with the medium and you start guiding it, cooperating with it, collaborating.

Then you answer the questions.  Yes I pulled it off.  No I didn’t mess it up.  Yes, the paper curled, but it’s not something a heavy book and 12 hours can’t fix.

Is the work a masterpiece?  No.

Does it work?



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The annual Wilmington getaway

If you drive down I-40 East long enough, the rolling curves and ample exits of the North Carolina Piedmont will give way to a flat stretch of coastal plain.  Periodically the highway will present a sign or two advertising a single gas station or fast food restaurant.  How far apart you perceive these stops to be grows in proportion to how full of soda your bladder is.  After a couple of hours the landscape will give way to the outskirts of Wilmington, ripe with all the generic trappings of any city between there and Barstow, California.  Citgos, Shells, Wal-Marts, and Walgreens proliferate like weeds.  Stick with your drive long enough and you’ll emerge from this artificial thicket into Wilmington’s historic and revitalized downtown.


My wife and I make this drive every year – and have for the last ten – to celebrate our anniversary.  We typically stick close to the downtown, which stands on the edge of the Cape Fear river.  We park in front of our usual Bed & Breakfast and walk through the Victorian neighborhood down to the river walk.  I’m still impressed by the river itself, which moves up and down with the tide alternately bringing the decks of docked boats into view below you and then, hours later, pushing them high above your sight.  The Battleship North Carolina sits permanently across the river from downtown.  She’s been museum since the 1960s having long finished her impressive, though brief, tour of duty during World War II.  The river has since ceased  raising and lowering the warship, and instead has encased her considerable hull in mud.  Once a day the river gets low enough to reveal that her last victory has been against the tide itself.

After ten years we usually find ourselves in the same old places.  We’ve done all the touristy things:  the studio tours and the historic tours, the walking tours and the riding tours.  When all the tours have been done – and they’re worth doing – you’re left with the place itself.  We would just rather be there by the river.  I just want to see the bookstore and the cigar shop.  I want to see the boats rise and fall, and the battleship not.  I want to walk by the old house that occupies two lots that used to look haunted, but now looks like a place I wish I could afford to live in.  I want to walk by the oldest building in town that was standing while John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were still trying to work the kinks out of the republic.


After a few days we pack up and drive back through that generic stretch of road that we could experience anywhere in the country.  The last impression you have is the contrast – the difference between a real place and anywhere.

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Sherlock Holmes preliminary sketches

Here’s the preliminary sketches for the Sherlock Holmes commission.  I originally wanted to put in a pipe, but I didn’t think he’s be walking around London smoking, he usually does that while working through a problem at Baker Street.

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sherlock holmes color in process

Taking my time on this one.   I spent quite a bit of time blending the face with mostly Copic sketch markers.   At this point I’m working out how to color the background.

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On the drawing table – Sherlock Holmes inks

I’ve been reading through the complete Sherlock Holmes the last few months.  I’ve also become a fan of Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the illustrious sleuth.  Needless to say I was more than happy to be commissioned to work on this Holmes peice.

It’s 9 x 12 on bristol board.  I’ve inked it with a Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen and am getting ready to move into the coloring stage.   After I finish up the colors I’ll go over the inks again and vary the line weight.

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the lonely head sketch

Usually I try to fill up the whole page in my sketchbooks.  But I kind of like this one sitting there by itself.


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