Convolutions

I continue to be inspired by nature, and to convert that inspiration into artwork. Since I’m a teacher I have Summers off, and that gives me both more free time and new responsibilities. Foremost among the latter is caring for my beautiful baby daughter.

Our favorite way to spend time together is to hike through Allegheny Cemetery, one of Pittsburgh’s historic gems. We can easily get lost in its fifteen miles of quiet roads. It is fun to think that we are often the only people to visit some corner of the beautiful 300 acre grounds on a given day.

My daughter & I have great fun spotting wildlife such as hawks and deer. Yesterday she pointed out a robin and a chipmunk! One of the most fulfilling things about fatherhood for me is the ability to see the world through a child’s eyes. Though I’ve seen these things for nearly four decades and too often pass them by paying little notice, they are all new to her, and her wonder lends joy to my experience of the commonplace. I was taught to feel excitement and awe in the presence of Nature’s richness, and I intend to pass that relationship on to my girl.

The Cemetery is a great spot to find the kind of gribbly little oddities that I adore. Over the last few busy days I’ve made time to complete another drawing, this one of some lovely blue lichen growing at the foot of an oak tree.

It fascinates me that what we call a tree can be so much more. It’s a whole world to a host of other organisms, which clamber and climb over one another to gain the best territory and colonize another inch of bark each year. Here I’ve caught an intense struggle between the lichen and the encroaching moss.

I documented my process for this drawing and will put together a tutorial for anyone interested.

Leave me a comment if you like these drawings I’ve been doing, or if you have your own thoughts on the majesty of small wonders.

Exhausted by Moss!

How do you know when you’re finished?

I worked on this for many hours, strained my eyes terribly, and carried a headache around all afternoon for my trouble. I could still add hours more of tiny adjustments in an effort to make it better.

Now, I’m definitely in favor of sticking a project out and meeting the standard you aim for. But there are only so many times a guy can kiss those tiny stalks with a pen before they all get cut in two (or three, or four) by an errant stroke. I certainly cut a few!

When I saw the smiling face emerge from the shadows in the moss, I knew it was time to stop. Can you see him?

As usual, I was inspired by a reference photo. This one was from my mom.

Look at those colors! If only I had the creative powers of Nature! I love a carpet of moss creeping over things.

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If you’re interested in buying this piece, contact me for information.

Moss Boss

Can you imagine this moss beneath your bare feet? Mmm…

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I love drawing moss. Here I was having fun juxtaposing volumes rendered entirely in soft, rounded strokes with others treated much more sharply. I was also trying to convey both the basic cylindrical shape of the log and the individual masses of the features on it. A fun experiment!

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If anyone is interested in purchasing one of my drawings, send me a message and we’ll work something out.

Turkey Tails

Every so often I get the desire to create something other than minis and little miniature environments. I always heed this call, but it usually only lasts for a short time. In any event, the muse whispered in my ear a few days ago and I’ve put all my energies into drawing some nice turkey tail mushrooms growing on a mossy tree.

It was a very fun exercise in texture. This is the sort of thing I like to draw, just little funny things like mushrooms and moss and humble bits of nature. I love the way they erupt into and onto the world, coloring it, disguising it, and giving it a new personality. I wish I could draw impressive scenes filled with excitement and so on, but I never seem to be inspired in that direction. Especially in art, I like quiet things, things that are easily overlooked. I probably get this from my mom.

My mother has become a very fine and enthusiastic photographer in her retirement. She has a great eye and sends me awesome reference work/inspiration all the time. Whenever she walks through the woods near my family’s cabin, she always keeps a lookout for any small wonders. Many of the images I’ve used around ToadChapel are hers. It’s always fun to trade creative insights & intuitions with my mom. She encourages me in whatever I do. She’s the best.

For anybody interested in the process, I used Sakura microns & Copic colored pens & brush pens. Most of the work was done with brush pens and a black 0.2mm Sakura. If you like drawing, get yourself some microns. They are fantastic!

Sakura Micron Pens

Copic Brush Pens

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If you’re interested in purchasing one of my drawings, send me a message and we’ll work out the details.