Champlieu, Ruines de l’église de Champlieu et Calvaire

Traveling in France with my family in 2009 we came across breathtaking ruins of a church.  Just down the road from these church ruins (half a kilometer) were Gallo-Roman ruins that included a temple, theater, and baths.  Unfortunately we did not get to see the Gallo-Roman ruins since we did not realize they were there until we got home and started to research places we stumble on during our trip.  The church ruins were beautiful, but how cool would it have been to explore the ruins down the road – next time.

This sketch was inspired from photos of the church ruins.   When we arrived a couple cyclist were just starting their day after camping for the night at the church ruins.



11×14 Graphite

If you want to see what we missed check out these Gallo-Roman photos.                      Now back to the Vintage sketches. 🙂


Vintage Style


Vintage Series - 13.5 x 17 Graphite
Vintage Series – 13.5 x 17 Graphite

14 x 17 Graphite

A piece I completed while visiting Vancouver Island this summer.  The weather was so beautiful that I did not have a lot of time to draw.  In this case that is a good thing. Most of my time was spent outside playing and enjoying the Canadian Pacific coast with my family.

This piece, Summer, is the first drawing in a series of Vintage Style pieces that I will be working on.

Graphite, Uncategorized

Barrel Racer

The Finish

Barrel Racer-2

24 x 19 Graphite-Barrel Racer

     At this point I usually step away from the drawing for a couple of weeks.  I try place it somewhere where I will catch a glimpse of it as I walk by.  Sometimes I will not touch it at all, but usually I will do a couple of touches here and there to polish the piece.  The touches may include making the back ground darker (or lighter), making shadows deeper, or adding a few crisp edges for definition.   I then spray the piece and have it scanned to digital format ( the above is a digital photo).


Back to the Process

Being out-of-town for a couple of weeks put a halt to the Process, now that I am home I am excited and eager to continue.  As promised I am posting a few photos of the next stages.

I usually start from the left hand side of the my paper.  This helps reduce smudging the drawing as I work.


Moving to the right and down, I continue to add detail and define shapes.  As I work my hand is resting on paper to keep oils from getting on the drawing surface.  I never smudge with my fingers.  Oils from hands and graphite don’t mix well.  When oil is deposited on the paper the area becomes darker and hard to control.  Give it a try, in your sketchbook not on your drawing. 🙂


Before I draw the mane of the horse, I try to lightly shape the body of the horse.  It is just easier this way.  Creating shape for the mane to flow over creates a more natural look.


Continuing on, I will go back and forth to add deeper shadow areas, knockdown highlights, or add new highlights.  Standing back from the drawing or looking at it from a different angle helps me to see which areas look flat and need more depth, and where proportions are not right.  Looking at the drawing in a mirror is also helpful.   I usually leave the background area for last, but I am trying to incorporate it as I draw to help decrease smudging in the drawing.  As you can see, I have not progress too much on the background, actually, not at all. 🙂

I really enjoy this stage of a drawing.  It is really hard to put it down, I just want to finish!  Keep posted, the finished drawing should be up soon.


The Process

A few people have asked me to post the process that I go through when I draw.  I know there are many methods out there, but this is what works for me.

I think the hardest part for me is deciding on the composition as a whole.  How do I want to crop or frame the subject?  What do I want to do with the foreground and background?  Sometimes it is just a matter of, am I brave enough to try execute what I visualize in my mind?  When I finally come up with some ideas I can begin drawing, and this is the fun part.

I start most drawings by blocking out shapes on my paper.  I want to be able to erase the marks later, so I am very careful to make the markings light.  If the graphite is ground too deeply into the tooth of the paper it is hard to remove.  Too much pressure from dark layout sketches can also damage the tooth of the paper.  While blocking out shapes on my paper I often squint, this allows my focus to shift from detail  to shapes and silhouettes. Once I am happy with the collection of what looks like a bunch of shapes and lines I start joining these shapes to create a line drawing of my subject. Next time I will post a photo of this step.

As the shapes are being joined I will add some shadow lines or shadow areas.  These markings become great reference points as I begin to add more detail.  The photo below is a sketch I am currently working on.  The shapes have been joined, most unwanted lines have been removed, and more detail is being added.


19×24″ Barrel Racer

In order to make the photo more visible the lines on this sketch-up have been darkened in Lightroom.  My original is much lighter.

Before I actually start adding life to the sketch I will do a few small practice areas in my sketchbook.  This helps me decide what look I want to create, and work out any problem areas before I start the actual drawing.


From my sketchbook

The practice drawing helped me determine what pencils I did and did not want to use and gave me a chance to try create the angled back leg.




As the piece evolves I will post updates on The Process.  I just have to remember to take photos as I go. 😉  …happy drawing!


The Brawn

New Series

This is the first piece in a new series of drawings.  With Calgary Stampede and Heritage Days fast approaching it seems fitting to focus my attention on western life.  Growing up on a farm, I remember how exciting this time of year always was.  It was thrilling to see baby animals, new plants,  mud (yes, mud was fun), and the end of the school year.  Simple pleasures, it seems, but with these simple pleasures came a sense of newness and starting fresh.


Western Series - 13.5 x 16.5 Graphite on Bristol
Western Series – 13.5 x 16.5 Graphite on Bristol


 14 x 17 Graphite

The Brawn

The brawn, or muscle and strength of the horse, was my focus in this drawing. I wanted to capture the power, fortitude, and splendor that these beautiful animals possess.

“If you have seen nothing but the beauty of their markings and limbs, their true beauty is hidden from you.”  -Al Mutannabbi


In the Art Room

It is always exciting to start a new sketch. Taking a white piece of paper and making it something more.  Allowing myself time to escape into a world where all the busyness of the week slips away…

Drawing Room

19 x 24 graphite

It all starts with drawing out shapes and lines. Sounds simple, and it is – really, it is.  Sometimes I will draw with my paper sideways or upside down, until all the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Once I am happy with proportion and layout I start adding the details (again looking for shapes as I shade).

This method of drawing, know as right-brain drawing, allows access to the appropriate  system in the brain – the visual mode of the brain. Known for being subjective, relational, intuitive, and free of time constraints it allows for creativity.  The left-brain mode is objective, verbal, numerical, rational, linear, and symbolic.  It is said that half a brain in better than none, but I think a whole brain would be even better.  Why not utilize both sides. 🙂

Graphite, Uncategorized


“The important thing is not to stop questioning.  Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

                                                                                                 – Albert Einstein

Animal - 17  X 14 Graphite on Bristol
Animal – 17 X 14 Graphite on Bristol

The Wolf

I have always appreciated the nature of the wolf.  They are not mean and ugly creatures (from a distance).  Yes, they are wild animals and should be respected as such.  Instead, words I would use to describe them would include:  playful, social, intelligent, loyal, family orientated, and curious.    Check out the Wolf at Canadian Geographic for some great facts.

The Art

When I started this drawing it was actually on completely different paper.  I have learned not to work on my sketch at the kitchen table.  Honey, paper and graphite do not mix well. So, I started over and I am glad I did.  The original piece was on paper with a deep tooth making it hard to achieve detail.  The final sketch was done on vellum paper.  I wish I would have kept the first sketch so I could have posted the difference – next time  .



“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin.

Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”

   -Alan Cohen

I love new adventures, beginning new journeys, learning new things and conquering new challenges. Learning how to design and set up a website has been more challenging than expected.  There are moments of fun and moments of frustration. It is when it starts to come together that I remember it is worth the work.


14×11 Graphite

Website Header – Completed Sketch

Paper and pencil is much more relaxing than the computer :), just saying!