Questions from Nannette: "I'd like to know how you begin. Do you grid? Do you use graphite? Do you use photos to work from - and if so do you take them yourself? What other subjects do you enjoy besides pebbles? Is there something you really don't like to draw?"
I take my own photo references since my creative process is deeply entwined with the subjects I study and - dare I say - even obsess over. Photos are secondary to my vision and I always seek to recreate those images that are already in my mind. I rarely get a perfect picture! I'm not a great photographer but I compensate by taking hundreds of shots. Below are examples of experimentation with pebbles and ice that I did at home.
I usually work on the composition in Photoshop from one or several images. Then I trace a rough outline directly from the computer monitor onto a sheet of tracing paper using a soft graphite pencil and a very light touch. Sometimes I free-hand the outline, depending on the complexity (I don't grid anymore but I used to). Finally I scan the pencil drawing and enlarge it with this program: PosteRazor: Make your own poster!
After printing out the enlargement and taping the individual sheets together, I trace the drawing onto the final paper. In the picture below you can see me tracing over a sheet of glass. At this stage I use Verithin colored pencils in the local colors of the drawing because I don't like to erase graphite.
Whenever possible I prefer to work directly from the computer monitor versus a printed photo. It gives me more freedom during the "painting" phase. I can adjust colors and values, enlarge details, lighten dark areas, not to mention the saving in printer ink and photo paper.
In the past I've explored various subjects and techniques, however in the last several years I've been focused on flowers and rocks and their interaction with water. I study them above water, below, and in-between, and observe how their visual characteristics change and relate to each other.
In general I don't enjoy drawing man-made things like buildings, cities, cars, or mechanical objects.
Thank you Nannette for asking these questions. It gave me an opportunity to share my thoughts and process with other artists.
More "You ask, I Answer" posts coming up in the near future. Look for a post on "burnishing" and another on "how I make my pebbles shine".
If you have questions that relate to my art and especially my process and technique, please feel free to ask them in a comment.