Loki Woodcut Process

Here are some process photos for an older woodcut print I made of my dog Loki.

The aforementioned woodcut print (one of two variations):



Here’s the preliminary pencil sketch:


I used a projector and transferred my pencil sketch to the woodblocks (MDF). I had to tape the woodblocks together so that they wouldn’t move as I drew on them (and they did move a little bit). Note that I flipped the image before transferring because when you print it prints in reverse.



After I had my drawing on the MDF blocks I then had to use woodcutting tools to gouge out the recesses in the wood and then it was time to ink and print.

And here’s a photo of the blocks inked up, before I ran it through the press. I made a custom jig to hold the blocks together using some spare cardboard. I think that was my brother’s idea.


First Pastel Drawing

A while back I completed my first ever pastel drawing. If you follow me on Facebook then you’ve already seen this image. But for those of you who don’t have a Facebook, here it is! It’s a girl at the beach with her basket, looking at the waves and intense sky. It’s based on a location in Saugatuck, MI.



This drawing is already framed and ready to sell! It would make a great addition to your cottage or beach house! Message me if you’re interested in owning this original artwork.

How To Draw by Scott Robertson Review

How To Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination


My review of Scott Robertson’s book How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination.

Today I’m going to try a different format for this art book review. It’s going to be based on the “five Ws and one H”. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How (but I am rearranging them to What, Who, Why, How, When, and Where).

What? Who? Why? How? When? Where?

What? What is this book about?

How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination is about perspective. It is essentially a roadmap, almanac, or bible of perspective. It is the designers best friend. Are you having trouble constructing perspective grids? This book is for you. Do you want to learn how to mirror objects in perspective? This book is for you. Do you wish you could draw airplanes but they are just so darn complex and intimidating? This book is for you.

Who? Who is Scott Robertson? Thomas who?

Would you still read an art book if the author was incompetent or had no experience in the art field? I know I wouldn’t. Scott Robertson is extremely competent and he has years of experience in the art/design world. Scott has authored nine Gnomon DVDs about rendering and designing. If you didn’t already know, The Gnomon Workshop is some of the top of the line art/design instruction in the world. Scott is the former chair of Entertainment Design at the Art Center College of Design. He has designed for Hot Wheels, theme parks, BMW, Mattel Toys, Rockstar Games, and Fiat. That sounds pretty knowledgable and competent to me. Scott Robertson technically co-authors the book with Thomas Bertling. Bertling is the Director of Entertainment Design at the Art Center College of Design. Bertling has worked with clients such as Disney and Samsung.

Why? Why is this book important?

Perspective is necessary for good drawing. That’s just a fact of life and if you ignore perspective, your work will suffer. Perspective matters! This book covers many aspects of perspective and design.




How? How does this book teach?

Scott and Thomas talk in an easy to understand language. Perspective is complex but they start from the foundation and work their way through the more complex aspects of perspective and design. Every lesson is broken down into smaller steps and each step is thoughtfully transcribed and illustrated. Throughout the book there are even links to videos by Scott Robertson to further explain a topic. The book starts by discussing drawing materials and some basic skills. Perspective terminology is covered next and then perspective drawing techniques. There’s a chapter dedicated to creating grids, and a chapter for ellipses and rotations. They cover working with volume, drawing environments, drawing aircraft, drawing wheeled vehicles, and finally sketching styles and mediums.

When? When should you add this book to your collection?

You should add How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination to your collection as soon as you can afford to purchase it. Paired with maybe one or two other perspective books and your perspective book collection will be complete.





Where? Where can you purchase this book?

You can purchase it on Amazon, here. It’s a remarkable value for the size of the book, the printing quality and the price. As of writing this review, the paperback edition is available on Amazon for only $25.27. This is the first book I’ve ever read from Design Studio Press and I am very impressed. It is over 200 pages long, it’s 9″ x 11″ and almost an inch thick. The paper stock is THICK. Every time I turned a page I thought there were pages stuck together because the paper stock is so nice. I look forward to more books from Design Studio Press.


Giant Baby

If you missed it on Facebook, here’s a painting I made of a man fighting a giant baby. I might have some process photos around here somewhere.

Giant Baby

It’s acrylic on watercolor paper with some digital adjustments after it was scanned. Drop me a message in the comments if you have any questions or, obviously, comments.

I’m Back!

Has it really been an entire month since I last updated this blog? Boy have I been slacking off!

What have I been doing, you ask?

I have been reading a lot of comic books and various books about the comic book industry and it’s roller coaster of a history. I also went camping for a while and spent a lot of time taking photos.

I have to admit that since I’ve purchased a camera I have been neglecting my duties to draw and paint (and occasionally sculpt but that’s not my forte). I’ve also been neglecting to update my portfolio and my blog. It’s more work than most people realize. There’s a lot of annoying back end stuff that I have to do behind the scenes when adding new work to my website (and having to deal with SEO on all of my posts is pretty annoying). But anyways…

So if you didn’t know, I have a Flickr page where you can see my photography. I will be adding many glorious photos in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

Here’s a little taste of what’s on my Flickr:



Thanks for stopping by! (or not?)

Tiny Painting for Sale


If you follow my Facebook page then you may already know about this but The Art Order has the remaining tiny paintings from the Tiny Painting show from Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2014 for sale in their online store. 

My painting, Psychotropic Cavern (from this blog post) is for sale in the Art Order store. You can go directly to my painting by clicking here.

Psychotropic Cavern

Don’t miss out on owning an original painting by yours truly, John VanHouten!

New Art Added to My Portfolio 6-2-14

I have neglected keeping my portfolio updated. Today I added three pieces I created in 2013. There’s more to come.


Milk and CookiesYou have seen “Milk and Cookies” in a previous post. It’s now officially added to my portfolio.


"Would You Be My Girl?"

This is a painting I made for my mother for her birthday last year. She isn’t going to get any more original art until she frames this haha. I was experimenting with Holbein’s acrylic/gouache hybrid line of paint: Acryla Gouache. It’s great paint. The title “Would You Be My Girl?” is something I feel this guy would say and it’s also from The Police song “Be My Girl”.


Flying Whales

This is one of my favorite pieces of art that I have created. It’s one of the biggest and most detailed drawings I have ever attempted. I prefer working small. This piece was in the 28th Annual West Michigan Regional (Art) Competition at LowellArts!.


Of course all of this artwork is for sale except “Would You Be My Girl?” (because I made it for my mother, duh). Contact me if you’d like to purchase art. “Milk and Cookies” and “Flying Whales” are both already framed.