Graphite pencil portrait of the Standardbred racehorse, Hogies Cam.
Hogies Cam was the winningest Stardardbred racehorse in North America in the 2008 harness racing season. Hogie retired from the racetrack to Twin Orchard Farm in Southampton, MA. Hogie was dearly loved by his family, and by all who worked with him while learning introductory horsemanship in the Horsepower Unlimited lesson program.
I have recently started to explore zhiné meditation. Unlike the samatha mediation that I normally practice, zhiné meditation involves focusing on an object of concentration. This mandala is my interpretation of the traditional zhiné object of concentration:
Zhiné meditation - which is also know as calm abiding meditation or Tibetan dream yoga - differs from samatha meditation in that rather than concentrating on the breath or other internal sensations such as body-scanning, the practitioner focuses on an physical object outside of themselves. Traditionally, zhiné meditation is practiced by focusing on the figure of the Tibetan letter A, which is enclosed within five concentric coloured circles of indigo, blue, green, red, yellow, and white.
The purpose of focusing on a physical object that is outside the body is to develop stability during the perception of external objects. This practice will allow one to clearly perceive objects in a dream, and lead to increased states of lucidity in both waking life and when dreaming. The ultimate goal of zhiné meditation is to allow for the practitioner to be lucid upon death, at the moment when the soul exits the physical body.
The Zhiné Meditation Mandala is painted in acrylic, which I applied as a glaze in order to build up the colour while allowing the wood grain to show through. The Tibetan letter A at the center and all the outlines are gilded by hand using pure silver leaf. The painting is finished with several coats of clear varnish to protect the painting and gilding.
I have found the practice of working with these intricate and repeating patterns to be a meditation itself, and am looking forward to continuing the exploration of these sacred forms. It is my hope that the peace and presence that enfolds me while creating these works of art is also experienced by those who view them.
Just wanted to share a photo of Fox In The Snow after I had it framed:
I decided to go with a heavy 2 inch frame and 3 inches of matting. I had the print bordered with a black matte, and then added a spacer between the white and black matte to create a shadowbox effect. The entire piece measures 21" x 16".
I think this print would look just as lovely with a thinner frame and matting. I had also looked at framing with a polished wood frame that was the copper-y colour of a red fox's coat, but once we went with the heavier matting, I found that the black frame suited my tastes better. Working with a professional framer gave me a lot of options - I had never thought to use a spacer between the two different coloured mattes before!
I hope everyone has fun selecting the frame and matting options for their artwork. Feel free to share photos of your print once you have it framed, I'd love to see what creative touches folks come up with!
I am pleased to announce that prints of Fox In The Snow are now available for purchase!
Originally inspired by a red fox's early morning visit to our yard last January, this illustration was drawn by hand to resemble a wood-cut print.
Ready for framing, this giclée print is a perfect reproduction of the original pen & ink drawing as shown above. Professionally printed on on Hahnemühle German Etching (310gsm) cellulose archival paper using Epson UltraChrome matte black ink, each print measures 11.7" x 6.9" including the 1" border, and is signed and dated by the artist. Every "Fox In The Snow" print will be shipped with a card detailing the energies and attributes of the fox as a spirit animal.
Prints are $25 each, and are currently available at Crosstown Graffic on Etsy. To celebrate the launch of our first-ever available print, the first 10 orders placed will receive free shipping! Just type FREEFOX in to the coupon code text box when checking out, and the shipping fees will be deducted from the purchase amount.
Portraits of human and animal subjects needn't be traditional in style - this is a painting that was inspired by my friend's cat, Wednesday. She was a sleek, black beauty. I'm not the biggest fan of cats in general, so you know Wednesday was a special girl simply by the fact that she inspired me to paint her portrait!
My love for classical animation and mid-century modern design are obvious influences on this particular painting, with the hard, clean edges, colour selections, and smooth shapes. I like to get creative when painting in a graphic style, and look for ways to add little touches that make the images even more unique - in this instance, the bell on Wednesday's collar is gold leaf, and her eyes glow in the dark when you turn out the lights... Similar to those old paintings where the eyes follow you around the room, Wednesday will keep a watchful glowing eye over you as you fall asleep!
Consider a more graphic approach to any portrait you may wish to commission. I can even work with colours that match with any existing decor or colour theme if you already have a place in-mind for where you would like to display your original work of art.
Animal companions bring so much joy and pleasure to our lives, it's no surprise that people enjoy commissioning personalized portraits of their four-legged friends.
Working from photographs, I strive to not only create a realistic rendering, but also to capture the unique characteristics and individual personalities of each subject. Below you can see two examples of equine portraits that I created, one in pencil and the other in oil paint.
Personalized portraits in pencil or paint make for a thoughtful gift. Please feel free to get in-touch should you wish to commission a portrait of your special animal friend.
Last night's model was excellent at striking dynamic, challenging poses, and had the sort of musculature that creates interesting shading. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to sustain the poses she chose for the entire 40 minutes, so I was only able to complete the outline and part of the shading before she had to shift from this position.
My neighbour in last night's session offered me a sheet of his bristol paper to try out after we had a conversation where he asked me why I prefer to draw on tracing paper. Like tracing paper, the bristol has a smooth, slick surface that allows the pencil to glide over it freely, but unlike the tracing paper, you need to apply a lot more pressure to build up dark areas. While I enjoyed trying out a new paper, I think I will stick to drawing on tracing paper since it requires less effort to build up shadows.
I also realized that I need to switch over to the other side of the room if I ever want the chance to draw the front side of a model - the facilitator of the class likes to draw faces, and so he usually has the models turn to face him. Hopefully I can arrive early enough to snag a spot where I get to draw something other than backs and bums next week!
I recently completed some illustrations for a children's book titled "Ask A Sailor." The author of the book asked me to pick four verses of the story to work from when creating the drawings, and granted me complete freedom to design the characters and environments, which made the project really enjoyable! I had a blast conjuring up images that would help bring her words to life.
All the illustrations are pen & ink on illustration board, and are painted with acrylics using a technique that resembles watercolour painting. The verses that inspired each illustration is included below the images.
Please click on the images to see a larger, uncompressed version.
One of the local universities offers pwyc life drawing classes every Thursday evening during the school semester. I try to make it there as often as I can. The 3 hour session starts with a few rounds of 2 and 5 minute gesture poses, before moving on to one 20 minute pose, and two 40 minute poses.
This drawing is from the first 40 minute pose of last night's session.
After 15 years in the animation industry where much of my work process has taken place on computers, I have decided to get back to my roots and embrace the hand-drawn image!
Switching the mouse out in favour for the pen, pencil, and paintbrush will not be to the point of excluding technology entirely - I aim to combine the best aspects of both the traditional and digital mediums. Much of my artwork will be drawn and inked by hand, and then scanned and coloured in a digital program - hence the whole "scribbles to bits" theme of this blog!
I look forward to sharing my work here, and having a forum that will keep me accountable for continuing to create. Most posts will include images, and there are plenty more to come in the galleries and pages of this website as I get my artwork scanned and photographed. I welcome comments and feedback by either commenting to these posts, or by filling out the contact form.
To keep up to date with all the latest posts and offerings, please "like" Crosstown Graffic on Facebook or subscribe to our RSS Feed.