Looking Back On 2013

2013 Collage

2013 Highlights

2014 is here and I’m anxious to accomplish many things this year. It’s hard to believe that my blog has now been around for a year (Although technically the first post was on January 10, 2013). I somehow found something to talk about each month! When I first started my blog I had no idea how long it took to create a good post. Some posts take several hours to write, revise (and revise again many times), add photos, and much more. I certainly appreciate the work that blog writers put into their posts, now that I know how much effort is required to post meaningful content.

In this post we are looking back on 2013 at some highlighted posts.

The Monoprice tablet unboxing and review:

Some notable painting process posts:

Some art:

Art book reviews:


I hope you have a happy new year and stick to your new year resolutions (unless your resolution is something awful like drowning 100 kittens; then I don’t hope you stick to your new year resolutions).


Macbeth Painting Process

Let’s take a look at the process for my Macbeth painting.


Last year I had to paint a poster for a play or a musical (some type of theatre). My limitations were that I had to use only 4 colors, with the addition of black and white. I chose to paint a poster for the play Macbeth. I thought that I’d give painting with gouache another chance since I had pretty much abandoned it since my color theory class a few years ago.

The four colors I used were Flame Red (Holbein), Permanent Yellow Deep (Holbein), Iris (Holbein), and Primary Blue (Winsor & Newton). In addition to those four colors I was allowed to use white and black. I used Permanent White (Winsor & Newton) and Jet Black (Winsor & Newton).

You can see the thumbnail sketches I did below:



I then picked out my nine favorite thumbnail sketches and drew slightly larger refined thumbnails of those nine sketches. The nine refined thumbnails can be seen below:
Refined Thumbnails

I decided that I liked the bottom right corner thumbnail the most. I gathered some reference photos of Macbeth characters from on the internet.

I found a Sketchup model of a person and set up lighting to find the direction of the cast shadow. I’d like to use Sketchup more in the future.
Sketchup Reference

It was time to do the pencil drawing, which once completed, I projected onto illustration board and refined the drawing even further.
Macbeth Pencils

After the pencilled image was drawn I needed to decide what colors to use for the painting. I printed two reduced 3″ x 4″ images of my pencilled drawing and taped them to some cardboard with painters tape. Below are the two color studies I did:

Color Study Color Study

After the color studies were finished I proceeded with the painting.

Pencils on Board

Red Background

Purple Shadow

The trickiest part of the painting (besides maintaining a consistent viscosity of paint) was painting Macbeth’s flesh without mixing the colors together. Although I could use four colors plus black and white, I could not mixed the colors together (except with black and white). For example, I could not mix red and yellow together to make a nice orangey flesh color. I had to use red plus white and/or black, yellow plus white and/or black, without overlapping.

Painting the Clothing


Clothing Detail Process

Almost Done

After the painting was completed I scanned it into the computer for the usual color correcting and removal of dust from the scanned images. My teacher recommended that I make the shadow a little lighter and I thought the painting looked better that way as well. I lightened the shadow a little bit and then I added the text.


If you don’t know the story of Macbeth, I highly recommend reading it. It’s a great story and although I read it years ago, it still resonates in my mind.

The Christmas Ornament Painting Process

Here are the steps that I took for my painting The Christmas Ornament for the Non-Christmas Show at Fountain Street Church.

The Christmas Ornament

The Christmas Ornament is watercolor and gouache on cold press watercolor paper. 7.25″ x 5.25″. The show ran from November 28, 2012 through January 4, 2013.

The “rules” of the show were simple; we had to use an animal allegory that somehow related to Christmas and a few neon colors here and there would be nice as well.

With that information I did a few thumbnail drawings (normally I do many many more thumbnails) and when I picked the composition and idea that I liked the most, I did a larger pencil preliminary of the image. I took many reference photos of a scene I set up using a christmas ornament, christmas lights, a “mini-christmas tree” aka a clipping from a pine tree, attached to a pop bottle top using a paperclip (the mice would have put this together), and some of my mother’s collectible mice figurines. After that, I looked for some reference pictures of mice. I projected my drawing onto the paper; drew a faint outline with pencil and taped the paper to a piece of wood with painters tape. I applied some thin washes of watercolor and the paper began to bow. I then sought out a different method of keeping it flat.

The watercolor paper I used wasn’t very thick and it buckled quickly so I decided to use the ‘popsicle method‘ found on HandPrint to stretch my paper. I don’t have any popsicle sticks so I used a wooden paint stir stick. I cut it on the band saw into smaller pieces. If you want to know more about this method of stretching paper (which I recommend you learn how to do) go here.

This painting was originally going to be just a watercolor painting but I decided that it needed the brightness you can achieve using gouache. Boy, am I glad I decided to add gouache to the painting!  It immediately started to ‘pop’ after I added gouache. I even tried mixing watercolor paint with white gouache (which is not that uncommon).

Thumbnail Sketches

These are the thumbnail sketches for the painting. The idea I decided to use was two mice, a father or mother mouse, with their child mouse, enjoying each others company and looking at the christmas ornament (hence the name of the painting). We are peeking in at them through a hole in the wall. They made a christmas tree using part of a branch and a pop bottle cap and a paperclip. They dragged some of the christmas lights from in the room into their home.

Pencil Preliminary

The pencil preliminary measures 5.5″x4″.

Mice Reference

Mice reference photos.

Process 1

The Christmas Ornament early in the early painting stages. Here you can see the paint stir sticks I used to stretch the paper.

Process 2

The Christmas Ornament later in the painting stages. Note how flat the colors are at this stage. I believe I had not added gouache to the painting yet. The gouache really darkened the darks and lightened the lights.

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, please contact me. I’d love to do business with you.