Creating a NickerDoodle – Step by Step

August 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’ve been working on NickerDoodles for several months and for several different sources; Bits & Bytes Farm, and the GDCTA Newsletter, “Collected Remarks”.  I enjoy my horses and my horse friends, so doing NickerDoodles is a joyful task.

A few people have asked how I come up with ideas so I thought I’d share the development of a recent issue – Steve and Fred, two horse flies that accompany their friend, Horse, who competes at the London Olympics.

I wanted to do a special, short run series of NickerDoodles to celebrate the Olympics. I knew immediately that I didn’t want to feature a horse or rider, that’s a little too obvious. I thought about a groom or the parent of someone competing but wasn’t really inspired by either idea. I settled on horse flies after coming home one afternoon to find my horse, Kain, standing at the fence with a huge swollen horse fly bite in the middle of his face. Poor fella, but Kain’s booboo inspired, Steve and Fred.

I spent a few hours doodling to create the characters. Once settled on Steve and Fred’s characters, I start making thumbnail storyboards of cartoon strips. This particular example is the second or third issue. Steve and Fred are in London and attend the opening ceremonies only to be unceremoniously, but predictably, swatted by the athletes.

Each strip starts with rough sketches and copy or conversational notes in my sketch notebook. I seldom leave the house without a sketchpad. Ideas for paintings pop into my head all day and it’s handy to have a place to make a quick note. My sketchpads are an assembly of scribbles and words, non-sensicle to anyone, but like a bible to me.

Using the scribbles as a base, I draw a more refined version on tracing paper with a soft pencil. I use the same tracing paper to transfer the line drawing to good paper. At this point, I seldom make significant changes. The line drawing pretty much represents the final inked piece.

Once transferred to good paper, I grab the rapidiographs and ink, adding shadows and texture where needed. Assembling the individual frames is simply production work – scanning and Photoshop and – a new NickerDoodle is ready to post!


The Gossip Fence – The Place to Be and Be Seen!

June 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

I see pictures in my head when people talk to me. If you tell me a story, I understand when you’re saying by creating a movie or stills in my head. Sometimes a few words within a sentence inspire an image and such is the case with this latest painting, “Gossip Fence”.

Sitting under the shade tree with Elizabeth (Bits & Bytes Farm) and Cindy Oliver, we were talking about riding and enjoying the cool evening. In front of us is the entrance gate to the ring. Behind us a huge oak tree whose shade is a thankful respite throughout the day. We refer to this shady corner of the ring, where we mount, adjust tack, sip from the water bottles lined on the fence post – as the “Gossip Fence”. Humans and horses migrate to this corner.

This particular evening, Cindy’s daughter, Kaitlyn was riding her horse Spot. They took a break along the gossip fence to join in our conversation. Suddenly Cindy said “wouldn’t it be a fun painting, to paint all of us on our horses hanging at the Gossip Fence?” As soon as she finished speaking, my mind had already defined the entire composition.

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I just finished “Gossip Fence” with thanks for creative direction to Cindy. Cindy also purchased the painting so the Oliver Family is my newest collector of works (thank you). For now, I’m not going to identify the people and horses but check back. Cindy is having a contest at the barn and awarding a prize to the best guesser. I’ll post the results in a few weeks.

I never know where I’ll find an idea for a painting. Many times, the composition just pops into my head. Sometimes I see the entire painting in a piece of paper and I simply outline the forms. And sometimes I have to work very hard to compose a piece. But this was a fun piece inspired by a few words from a casual conversation at the barn!

UPDATE June 28!

Last night I met the Olivers at Bits & Bytes Farm to deliver their new painting, “Gossip Fence”. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was delighted to find a party i the brewing. We all enjoyed an evening at the barn discussing art, food and horses.

Cindy is sponsoring a contest for the boarders. The person who guesses each horse and rider correctly wins a gift basket. Most votes were cast and put in my care until we collect everyone’s ballots. The winner and correct answers will be posted in a future update.

After libations and a good dinner, I presented the painting to the Olivers. Thank you again Cindy for inspiring this piece.

UPDATE August 4, 2011

The big winner is Kaitlyn Oliver! Kaitlyn studied carefully and struggled over two figures, but in the end, she was correct. The grand prize was a case of IBC Dark Cherry Cola!

The winning guess (from left to right, starting in the front row); Andy on Casey, Suellen on Monarch, Bubs and I, Adrienne and Bo. (from left to right, back row, starting in front of the gate); Elizabeth on Wings, The head assistant trainer, Baroness the Cat, Cindy on Pull, Kaitlyn and Spot and Loui on River!

Trail Riding – Exploring New Ground

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to find a way to incorporate more line work in my paintings. This new piece called “Trail Riders” was a perfect composition to explore line and a little depth of field. Previous work has typically been flat without perspective. I worked hard on this composition to create distance between the figures in the foreground in relation to those in the background. After all, when group riding in the woods on a winding trail, you are often strung out along a pretty good distance. Additionally I used sweeping lines as abstractions for trees and brush to enhance the sense of distance between lead and last riders.

As an aside, this large piece (24″ x 24″) included another challenge. I seldom include such a large central figure as I did with the second rider. This figure became a little problematic when it was time to paint. I kept mixing what I thought were huge mounds of color but that horse’s rump was so big, I kept running out of paint. I had to remix the dark brown color three times to cover the area. And that’s no mean feat when painting with gouache!

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“Sleepers” Sounds Like the Name of a Horror Movie but It’s Not!

September 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

"Sleepers" for everyone who sleeps with their dogs

"Sleepers" for everyone who sleeps with their dogs

Today I finished another gouache painting. “Sleepers” is a painting of contrasts. The complicated quilted pattern juxtaposed against the simple sleeping figures. The earth tone colors are meant to reflect warmth, repose and comfort. Nothing beats a cold winter night, snuggled under a heavy quilt with your dogs in the bed. I think this topic is one to which many people can related.

And yes, Gustav Klimt’s painting, “The Kiss” is an influence. I love how the intimacy of pattern envelopes the couple in his painting from the turn of the last century.

To see images of this painting in progress and the original sketch drawing, please read recent past posts.

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