Friday, December 16, 2022

Recent Work

As 2022 comes to a close, I would like to share a handful of images from the various projects in which I've been involved this year. In addition to these projects, I taught an online class on painting underwater ecosystems which featured some of these pieces. 

All of these images were produced digitally, using a couple of different applications and a Wacom Cintiq stylus pad. 

Lake Ecology - Introduction

The images shown below were completed for an online course for Michigan State, teaching participants aspects of lake ecology and waterfront property usage. These illustrations are also being used for promotion purposes to show how exciting and varied freshwater ecosystems can be. All images copyright MSU, 2022. 

Exotic Invasive Aquatic Plats

The second set of illustrations, currently in process, are also being completed for MSU and are a continuation of a project begun in 2018. The goal of the project is to create images of invasive and native aquatic plant species for field identification purposes, to be used by the public for identification purposes as well as field volunteers and experts in the removal of invasive species. These are currently in process with an expected publication date in 2023. 

White Water Lily - Native to Michigan

Curly Leaf Pondweed - Invasive to Michigan

Friday, August 12, 2022

Today’s Dive Results

 Today’s photos are from Lower Herring Lake in Arcadia, MI. Depths ranged from 8-20’, with most of the “action” taking place around 12’ as there was a nice drop off with lots of vegetation and fish.

There are a number of wooden boxes on the bottom of the lake like those shown above. They served as floats when the lake was on an active logging camp in the late 1800s. The boxes were linked together using chains and iron straps tied to logs like this one here, to corral masses of logs together so they could be moved to ships moored at a long pier in nearby Lake Michigan. It’s amazing that these boxes are still holding up after more than 100 years. Notice the Walleye sitting on top of the box!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Wednesday at Watervale


Boo Hoo as viewed from the Duncan Deck. Watercolor and gouache on paper.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Catch of the Day - Lower Herring Lake

After a couple of days of rain, this is the first chance I’ve had to post any images from northern Michigan at Lower Herring Lake. These were taken this morning while snorkeling in front of our cottage to get a sense of the water clarity. It’s fun to be back in the water with a camera!

The settings for the following are a mixture of Auto and Manual settings, using a 20mm lens and dome port using ambient light and auto white balance. Depths ranged from 2-12 ft. Water temps were in the 70s all the way to the bottom!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Sunning Alligator, Watercolor Materials, Technique and more.

 After working on underwater images over the past couple of weeks, I decided to dig further into other images from our trip, including many taken at a number of nature preserves we visited. I came across some good reference of alligators sunning at the edge of a pond in the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary in Naples FL. It is a unique environment with a boardwalk that spans four different ecosystems, providing an abundance of birds, plants, insects and in this case, reptiles. Due to development, areas such as this are becoming rare, so it is worth visiting and supporting if you are planning a trip to that area. 

Alligator Sunning, Watercolor, 5.5" x 8.5"

Technique and Materials

Here are the materials I've been using for all the sketches I've posted over the past couple of weeks. 

I am using a mix of Daniel Smith, Windsor Newton, Cottman, Aquarelle tube watercolors in a plastic folding palette. Colors are arranged by hue, which I've labelled in the tray but are as follows:

  • Ivory Black, White, Payne's Gray, Davey's Gray
  • Van Dyke Brown, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
  • Yellow Ochre, Cad Orange, Cad Yellow, Cad Yellow Light, Naples Yellow
  • Windsor Violet, Rose Madder, Alizarin Crimson, Windsor Red, Scarlet Lake
  • Hookers Green Dark, Windsor Green, Sap Green, Terre Verte, Serpentine Green (in one of the mixing areas)
  • Indigo, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue
I use a number of different brushes, including Windsor Newton Kolinsky Sables (Size 1, 2 and 7), Blick Master Sables (4,6) and an Isabey No. 3 petit gris, one of my favorite brushes as it works equally well covering a lot of surface as well as details. 
The paper I used for the sketches from the past couple of weeks is a Strathmore sketchbook, with perforated pages for easy removal. Even though the paper is thin and has a tendency to bend (but not buckle!) as it is drying, I like the surface as it is easy to remove color if I paint a heavy coat of black and remove it to add color. I will often start a piece by sketching quickly with lighter tones and then applying layers of darker colors, which once dry, allow me to pull details out with a wet brush. 

If I want a higher quality paper that won't warp as it dries, I also carry a block of Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper, sized 7 x 10 to fit into a backpack along with other painting supplies. It is a great size to toss into checked luggage when traveling. 

In a future post, I'll list the photographic equipment I've been using. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Painting Studies

Over the past week, I've been sorting through the hundreds of photos taken on our trip, selecting images and topics that I'd like to explore further. As part of that process, I've been creating small pencil thumbnails and oil sketches, to develop some of the themes prior to completing larger versions. 

Today's post includes a few of these explorations, all of which were inspired by real-life experiences. 

Master and Commander, Oil on panel, 6 x 12"

Threat from Above, Oil on panel, 6" x 12"

Smooth Trunk Fish, Oil panel, 9" x 10"

Monday, February 21, 2022

One Last Visit to the Reef and Postscript

The winds died down a bit on Friday, so we decided to jump in for a final photo session before leaving to return home the following day. The water was a balmy 81 degrees so no need for a wet suit. We took a variety of photos, to capture the feeling of the reef as well as the different types of fish we’ve come to know over the past two weeks. 

We bid a fond farewell to the beautiful waters that surround this island and will remember our experiences here always. 

Can you find the trunk fish?

Postscript: This post is being published a couple of days after returning home so I am including two experiments that were created on the iPad while on the plane, both there and back. The first was drawn from memory using images taken last fall while snorkeling in a freshwater lake and is in prep for a larger painting. The other references photos taken this past week and is still in process. It is an experiment with a different technique to build coral and reef texture, so it feels very different from the watercolor sketches. Now that I am at home, I’ll be posting additional photos as I process them on my computer. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Wrapping Up in Grand Cayman

Yesterday, we ventured to the leeward side of the island for respite from the wind, snorkeling at Smith’s Barcadere, otherwise known by the family as Karen’s Cove. It was one of the locations we snorkeled in 2014 which served as inspiration for a number of paintings. The reef was in better shape than when we visited earlier, due I suspect to lack of tourist activity from Covid and the island not allowing cruise ships. There were some nice examples of elkhorn coral and decent sized schools of blue tangs. We also happened upon a scorpion fish, pictured below, which was a nice surprise. We also noted places where coral frags were attached in hopes of rehabbing the damaged coral heads.

Today, I got up to see the sunrise, with spectacular cloud formations as adornment as the sun broke over the horizon. Later in the morning, though the surf was rough, I snorkeled for a bit to see who was around and active. Visibility wasn’t good for photography, so I enjoyed floating with the surge of the waves, swimming between coral formations as the denizens of the reef scurried about. Knowing this was likely to be my last snorkel, I left the reef and headed towards shore and as I did so, a spotted trunk fish came by to bid me adieu. It is sad to say goodbye to the inhabitants of the reefs we’ve visited and gotten to know but look forward to our next briny adventure, destination unknown.

Surging surf, watercolor 

Sunrise, North Point beach

Clouds at sunrise, North Point beach

Moray eel, trapped in tide pool
waiting for high tide

Smith’s Barcadere, Grand Cayman

Blue tangs, Smith’s Barcadere

Scorpionfish, Smith’s Barcadere

Sargassum weed, washed ashore during a storm