Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Pine cone

Ah, this pine cone.

Nearly drove me insane! It was extremely difficult and time-consuming but as with all difficult (and tedious) activities, I found it meditative. Drawing it also put me in a contemplative mood.

I believe it was in drawing this pine cone (hardly a sketch--more of a finished drawing in this version) that I had the defining "religious experience" that made me realize my heart had always been in art.

As I drew it, I felt as if--and this is hard to explain--I saw the face of God. Not a personal god, or a god with a flowing white beard, or a kitchen god, or a rub-his-tummy-for-luck kind of god.

It was what the universe in its entirety looked like. It was, like Blake wrote, "eternity in a grain of sand." The part was the whole and the whole was the part.

Really, I shouldn't even bother describing it. By its nature, the experience is ineffable, but being an artist and wordsmith, my baser instinct is to clothe it in image and text for you, and for my mind.

However, if I were to speak from my heart, it would be silence.

Enjoy the pine cone.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sketch du Jour: The Coming Storm

I usually paint with my fingers and with oil paint sticks, but with the above sketch, I used brushes and acrylic paint. Different effects, for sure, and an earlier dip into abstraction.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Oyster shell

Oyster shell from Point Grey, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
An oyster shell I found on Point Grey Beach in Vancouver, Canada.

I miss that city.

Invite Beauty,


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Chili pepper

Once a green anaheim (or was it a jalapeno?), I planned to cook with it, but then I procrastinated and it turned red and dried up.

So I sketched it in colored pencil.

Later, it was eaten by field mice that invaded my home when I was away on vacation.

I miss that pepper, but at least I have a sketch of it!

Take care,


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Apricot


This is one of my all-time favorite sketches, done in watercolor. It's of an apricot I plucked from a tree in Marin County (near Point Reyes Station). I put it on my dashboard and raced against the clock to paint the still life before it wilted.

Invite Beauty,


Friday, November 24, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Andrew

A sample from a life drawing session.

Again with the masochistic pen! This time I used a TomBoy brush pen, I think (it was a little over a year ago that I drew this), which has a thin marker on one end, and a thick marker on the other.

I've got some crazy cross-hatching going. Somebody at the session remarked that I had a "unique style." Funny thing was, I wasn't cultivating a certain style, I was just drawing and doing my best to make an interesting picture! I'd probably draw another way if somebody suggested it. I'm flexible. Well, in certain things.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Mine was full of delicious food and wonderful friends. It seems I spend too much time alone painting and drawing, because being with other people I felt different, afterwards. Rejuvenated. Almost human again, ha! We are social creatures, eh?

My gratitude to Marie, an extraordinarily gifted artist (how she gets those minute details of birds and their nests on cold press paper, I'll never know--even with those eyelash brushes she uses, I don't think I could effect the skill or talent in her right pinky!), for the invitation, and to her delightful neighbor, Lee (boy, did she have some stories I couldn't get enough of--I may take her up on her invitation to dinners in December just to hear more--and she's a brilliant cook, too), for barbecuing the turkey to perfection.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Rooster

I was experimenting with watercolor pencils on this sketch of a rooster, based off of a wonderful painting by Bonnie Minardi.

The medium is a little quirky (what medium isn't) and I have to say I prefer traditional watercolors. Still, the pencils were fun to play--laying down color and then wetting it, almost like a paint-by-numbers book (or something like that...where the paint was on the paper already and all you had to do was add water?).

What happened, though, was that I started dabbing the pencils with my brush and painting with the brush directly! So I started to use the pencils as my palette.

There's an old saying that if all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. Hm.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Found and Lost

Found and Lost, oil on canvas, 16" x 12"

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to bid on this bittersweet, original painting.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Sketch du Jour: Prairie dog

Okay, so this isn't exactly a sketch, but if life's a work-in-progress, why not art, too? (Like that wasn't obvious by how many times I give my paintings makeovers.)

This li'l cutie is a scratchboard illustration of a prairie dog, based on a photograph on the brochure for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, one of the best natural history museums I've ever been to.

The image started off as a pencil sketch, which was then transferred to scratchboard (a hard board coated with a thin layer of white clay) via carbon paper; the image was then inked with India ink, and finally the details were scratched in. So much fun! I'd probably do more scratchboard if I weren't paranoid about breathing in all the clay dust!

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sneak Preview! Found and lost

You saw the pencil sketch, here's a sneak peek at the painting as it dries on my easel!

It's 16" x 12" x 0.5", oil on canvas, and is the latest in my Merman Series.

I haven't settled on the title, but I've got one brewing in my head (Found and Lost). We'll see how I feel about this painting when I'm ready to make it available sometime tomorrow. The paint ain't dried yet!

Invite Beauty,


Sketch du Jour: L.A. Hippo

A hippo from the Los Angeles Zoo, sketched during a field trip with the LA chapter of The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

Drawn again on Canson Mi-Teintes colored paper. The pen is a regular ol' Uni-ball microfine with water soluble ink (until it dries). Great for impromptu ink washes!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sketch du Jour: New merman painting sketch

Today's sketch (as promised in my newsletter) is the one I'm using as the basis for my next merman painting. It's cropped from a larger drawing, but now that I look at this pic, I think it might even be the way I'll make the painting! Or not. Or for another painting. Who knows.
I'd like to say that I'm one of those artists that can easily obsess over one theme not only for a length of time, but for a lengthy series--but I can't make that claim. I do my best to respond to the world around me (one way is through my art), and I have to have an honest response to create an honest piece of work. I refuse to crank out art that doesn't move me.
So if my work seems scattered, take a step back to see the larger picture. I'm painting my life here. It all fits. There are times when I've made a difficult decision, and it comes out as The Mynah Escapes and there are times when I fall recklessly in love and I paint Coup de Foudre.
And there are times when I mourn a loss, and it becomes a merman painting.
Take care,

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Bishamonten

This is a sketch of Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings in the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon who guard the cardinal directions (he's the guardian of the north, and also considered the leader of the other three protectors).

I made this sketch with a regular HB pencil (also known as a #2) on Canson Mi-Teintes paper I had left over from my science illustration class days. It's both textured and colored, so it provides a wonderful background to whatever you're drawing (colored pencils go well with this paper, too).

The figure for this piece was a small statue at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and was only there for a short time. I was lucky to have seen it in person, and to have had the pleasure of sketching it.

I time my sketches (it's just a good business practice to cultivate--knowing how long it takes you to do something), and this one took 38 minutes. A little longer than usual!

Anyway, this and several other sketches are in the possession of my art exchange friends--pen pals who swap art daily to weekly, even if it's just a scribble on a cocktail napkin. The point is to develop the habit of drawing every day.

Unfortunately, I usually ended up being the only person keeping up with the schedule, so after a few months of not receiving art in return, I'd lose my "pen pal" and we'd go back to our normal ways of conversing.

It was a great encouragement to keep drawing and practicing, knowing somebody was out there waiting for my work! We never judged, criticized, praised, etc. each other's art--that was never the point. It was, once again, all about expressing creativity.

Take care,


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Sunflower

This was a watercolor sketch done directly on a friend's birthday card. She loves sunflowers.

Very fun to do--I entertained ideas of being a science illustrator for a while (loved the program, faculty and all, at University of California, Santa Cruz).

I naturally tend towards realism in my art (which I've resisted in order to explore other ways of seeing and expressing), but it is definitely exhausting--probably why I found it so meditative. I was focused for several hours when I did artwork in this vein.

Regardless, my sensitivity to certain physical limitations influenced my decision not to enter the program, and so here ya have me!

Have a great Saturday!


Friday, November 17, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Eldest

Yesterday, I posted my sketch from the cover of Eragon by John Jude Palencar.

Here's my sketch from Christopher Paolini's second book in the Inheritance Trilogy, Eldest, with cover by the same talented Mr. Palencar.

The last two sketches were both done with a ballpoint pen. Call me a masochist, but I work in pen so I can't erase--I want my sketches to be an honest record of how I saw and drew--how I shaped the image on the paper.

True to my art teacher from elementary school, there are no mistakes. It's all about the process of making art: being creative.

Each of these daily sketches are 3.5" x 5" and take anywhere from 2-20 minutes, sometimes longer if I go back and tinker with them (I don't tend to mess with sketches, since they're jumping off points for me, but sometimes I go back with a different colored pen and continue to work on the picture).

Take care,


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sketch du Jour: Eragon

Eragon, after John Jude Palencar
I used to sketch daily before I got busier with my art business (ah, the struggles of a lone painter!), and my subjects were dictated by my surroundings. This means I sketched landscapes, people, birds, etc.--whatever was around me--but it also meant I took suggestions.
One popular suggestion was dragons, in particular the dragons of children's books and young adult novels. Enter Eragon, the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy written by the uber-talented Christopher Paolini (the guy started writing the first novel when he was 15, finished when he was 18, got it published a couple of years later or thereabouts, and is now preparing for the December opening of the film based on his book!).
The original artwork for the cover is by John Jude Palencar, whose web site is still coming along, but whose work can be seen on several books. His work is amazing and well worth poring over for the sheer detail and intense attention he obviously devotes to each painting.
Anyway, I figured that those who have been checking my blog deserve a little more from me than the rushed post here and there--howzabout a daily sketch, eh? I have several sketchbooks I plan to plunder for Insight, but I'm also going to start my daily sketches again. They were a great source of material, reference, and inspiration--just like all those art teachers and books said they would be. I'll also include some sketches specifically made for my paintings. You'll get to see how different things turn out once paint and color is added.
That's it for now. Are you juiced for tomorrow's sketch?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New from Ivan Chan Studio! Desire's Broken Heart

Desire's Broken Heart, oil on canvas, 16" x 16"

Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to bid on this painting.

Ivan Chan Studio: Invite Beauty

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New from Ivan Chan Studio! See and You Shall Find

See and You Shall Find, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"
Please click on the image to read the description, see detailed pics, and to bid on this original painting!