travel sketchbook – Oswald West State Park, Oregon


I’m just back from a great “camping” trip down on the Oregon Coast (not exactly camping, if it’s in a trailer, right?).

I spent a day down at Short Sand Beach, in Oswald West State Park, taking photos and painting little watercolour studies. After spending way too long on a larger, fussy painting the day before, I realised that if I just did littler versions, and focused on getting the general feeling of the place down, I might be able to loosen up a bit. The studies are 4 7/8″ x 3 3/8″.

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sketchbook – Bowen Island

I’ve just had a little mini vacation to Bowen Island – my favourite local getaway. When I’m there I’m virtually unreachable, and have no internet access, so it’s a proper rest from the usual everything-bombardment.

I spend the time working in the my grandma’s garden, or having long art-related conversations with her over lots of cups of tea, and I also take myself off to one of my many favourite painting locations and practice watercolours.

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Pigs + Society6 free shipping until Nov 17th

There is a free worldwide shipping offer on my prints on Society6 until Nov.17th 2013, through this link.


4-H pigs at the PNE

And, totally unrelated to prints, did you know there is a pig sanctuary in Mission, B.C. for unwanted ‘mini’ potbelly pigs.

I remember when there was the potbelly pig craze. And they were being touted as wonderful (small) house pets. And then people realised they weren’t so small, and actually required a lot of work, and unwanted pigs started showing up in shelters.

One day, when I was a kid growing up in a rural part of the Fraser Valley, an escapee potbelly pig wandered up our street and onto our driveway. Continue reading

sketchbook – 4-H animals


Live livestock drawing…

I took a detour through the PNE livestock barns on my way home from a friend’s birthday celebration at the track, and couldn’t resist stopping to draw some animals (and tickling some pig snouts) before heading home. Most of the animals (not the bison) in these sketches are 4-H projects, at their final fair.

Now all I want to do is go back and draw animals all day.


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sketchbook – flowers for bees


Borage & lavender | watercolour and pencil

Bees are having a rough go of it these days, so I’ve tried to make our garden as bee-friendly as possible by increasing the number of blooming plants they prefer, as well as those that bloom throughout the season. A few years ago, we added a mason bee house to the garden. In return, we’ve been rewarded with a much higher rate of vegetable and berry pollination.

The variety of bees and pollinating insects we now have in the garden has exploded in the last couple of years. It’s been pretty fascinating to watch them. We’ve seen the mason bees hatch from their cocoons, and watched other solitary bees carry cut leaves into little nest holes they’ve dug in the dirt of the potted plants.

For the past couple of springs, there has been a chickadee pair trying to excavate a hole in a nearby telephone pole, without success. This year, we broke down and installed a nest box for them, but I guess they’d already found alternative accommodation because they ignored the box.

Last night we decided to have a peek inside the to make sure it wasn’t becoming a wasp colony (like the underside of the bbq lid) and were surprised to see it 1/3 full of moss and dryer lint. It didn’t resemble a bird’s nest, and there were no feathers or eggs visible, so I poked it with my finger and dislodged a very indignant queen bumblebee. We left her alone, and she went back into her nest where we’ll leave her to in peace to raise her larva.


It must have been quite a job for her to excavate and carry all that moss up into the box; bumblebees aren’t the most effortless fliers unencumbered.

Life Drawing – Dr Sketchy’s (1)

I tried out something different this time around and went to Dr Sketchy’s.

I found this evening super challenging – crowded room, close vantage point, small drawing pad, glass of wine, and corsets doing crazy things to the body shape – tons of fun! I’ll definitely give it another go. I really enjoyed drawing the bits of clothing, especially the hooped, tasselled skirt at the end.

-> photo gallery from the evening on the facebook event page.

1-15 minute poses, Derwent Drawing pencil on 9″x12″ Strathmore drawing pad.




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Life Drawing – 2

Session 2 – December, 2012

I’ve always found male figures a challenge to draw. Female figures usually have a fluid line that I find helps me join the bits together, or emphasises force or movement, but males – they’ve got unexpected planes, flat bits, and angles where I expect curves. It really pushes the learning to see side of drawing and helps me avoid making assumptions about the anatomy.


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Life Drawing – 1

Session 1 – November, 2012

I started going to life drawing with a couple other illustrator friends. It’s been years (probably more than 10) and I’m super rusty. So this begins a series of posts of wonky figure drawings. Hopefully there will be some improvement over the course of the next year, and hopefully I can keep finding the time to go.


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Sketchbook – Oregon Coast

Nye Beach, Oregon
(photo by Darren)

I went on vacation, a camping trip down the Oregon Coast. Because we were driving, and there was no packing for airplanes involved, I brought an oil kit down with me too. I’ve never done plein air oil painting before. The first attempt was not so successful as a painting, but successful as far as being a totally enjoyable process (and there were grey whales spouting not too far off the shore – I don’t get to see that when painting in the studio). I can’t wait to give it another go.

Beverly Beach, Oregon
Beverly Beach, Oregon
study, oil on board, 5″x7″

Although though we were down for 10 days, I didn’t manage to get as much time to paint as I hoped – time flew by and we moved around to a few different spots – Nehalam, Beverly Beach, Champoeg, & finished up in Portland (where we rounded out the trip with a comfy hotel room, some great food, and tasty cocktails). Now that we know what part of the coast we liked best, and we’re hoping to return again another time for a longer stretch in one location.

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Sketchbook – Bowen Island

I spent a couple of days last weekend on a two Bowen Island beaches, trying to get this watercolour thing to work for me, while remaining zen about the mistakes. I need to work much, much harder on editing out the unnecessary details, eliminating the overworking, and getting more confident with making marks.

Cates Beach (1)

Cates Beach (2)

Cates Beach (3)

Bowen Bay