great faces, great places

For a hot minute I thought I should talk about the art festivals I've done so far this year or the gallery shows I've participated in their have had their ups and downs and take home positives and things I've learned, for me that is the logistical side of business and...logistics bore me! Hence why I haven't blogged since May. So I am just gonna talk about MY process which is A. My inspiration and B. How I make my stuff. Because I'm into it and could talk about it all day.

So I went to South Dakota, ya know that place you went with your family in 2nd grade and you'll probably never go back to until your kids are in 2nd grade. Its a lot cooler than you remember by the way. It is honestly kinda love everything about it, well minus the couple tourist trap aspects but I get it they gotta make that money.

The Badlands are where its at, well ok its tied with Custer State Park, they are equally awesome. The Badlands have the biggest bison I've ever seen, it was like a truck, tons of bighorn sheep, loads of black tail deer. I loved it I just flat out was in heaven.

I love this little guy!

I love this little guy!

and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

and this huge guy, seriously built like a brick house 

I want to like draw and paint every nature moment I had there. Caught some beautiful fish, saw some gorgeous deer and pronghorns, and a billion beautiful sunsets. I utterly loved it. I recently started this landscape of the vista from the needles highway in Custer. You don't really think vastness or mountains really for South Dakota but it really was, the Black Hills are a lot more breathtaking than you think.

so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

so rocks are hard but i love the sunset meeting the far back mountains

I kind of love doing this cartoon-esque landscapes. I don't know if other people like it but I find them so fun and I like the character of it. I want to do some from the badlands too. There was so much color and life at the badlands that really surprised me. 

I also went to northern Minnesota to some mining lakes and want to do a bunch of Minnesota paintings now too. I started by doing a drawing of a Minnesota mermaid with a nice freshwater trout scene.

I freakin' love it

I freakin' love it

So this is probably my best artwork to date. I have only dabbled in colored pencil in the past and this is my first completed colored pencil drawing. I still use copics for blending and "blurring" spots, I have to learn how to blend with mineral spirits still. I have started to try what I call effects, but essentially playing more with reflections and shadows than I normally do. I love the water ripple reflections on them both, I had no reference photo so its not perfect but I think it turned out cool. I think using tan paper helps give it the underwater murky feel. 

I want to make more of these, do a couple of different freshwater mermaids. I am really into fish lately, they are so fun and have so much texture and color that lends good to colored pencil. 

So maybe I will start a more frequent blog schedule and just talk about the things that interest me, probably what a blog is actually intended for. 


Yellowstone is, let's keep it real, one of the best places if not the best place in America. Everyone knows it's great but if you haven't been there, know that it's 10 times better than you think. It is like nothing you have ever experienced. I am doing a whole series on Yellowstone so I am going to talk piece by piece about the inspiration from the park in each painting. 

So I'm gonna talk about the grand prismatic spring for a second here. It is huge. There are paths to see it from a higher ground to get a larger view of it but I really preferred it from the boardwalk point of view. There are so many small areas of beauty, it of course is amazing and beautiful as a whole but when you are up close and personal with it you get to see that it has so many more colors and it such a delicate feel. In the fields leading up to the spring the water flow on-top the mud has caused the bacteria to form these windy trails that look like arteries almost. I love when you see biology within other biology, it gives you a sense that we are connected to the natural world, because we truly are.

Midway geyser basin is the stop you need to make in Yellowstone, if you are doing a one day trip driving through this is the place to stop, not old faithful. In this one stop alone you get to see 2 gigantic springs [grand prismatic and the dormant excelsior geyser] and the incredible turquoise pool, which I will also be featuring a piece on. 

For this painting I wanted to focus on the edge of the bacteria line, where the vibrant colors are beginning to pop, and there are mounds of clay/dirt. I had a lot of fun time making this, abstract pieces are always interesting to play around with new methods of blending and application. I wish it had turned out a little less peach and more orange but I really love this piece. 

year of the bison

We all know that bison are the ish. 

I met a ton in the Dakotas and Wyoming, but it seems the ones I get to encounter close up [not that close though, I'm not about to selfie with a bison] are bulls going through rut looking a mess like this. 

If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

If you could only hear the bellowing belch/honk coming from this guy. So about 3 minutes after this picture was taken, he walked out towards our car on the road stared into my soul and yelled at us. He never broke eye contact as we drove away. I will never forget you grumpy bison! 

Not that I have anything against grumpy drooly bulls, I just wanted to paint a sweet one. When I think of bison I want to nuzzle my face in their fluffy fur on their forehead. Knowing that I can't do that in real life [apart from the goring and death factor they kinda have a smell and are covered in nast] tears apart at my soul. 

Most of the bison I saw were in Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Yellowstone did have a lot as well but at TRNP they were bam right there and we lucked out and got to see an entire herd in motion both times I've been there. I would love to do a whole series on TRNP as well [I am already working on a Yellowstone one] because there is such cool stuff there and I feel like nobody knows about it. The Dakotas have so much just incredible stuff and I think it gets overshadowed by the tourist traps. Spearfish Canyon is one of the best scenic drives in the country, and you probably would never know about it unless someone told you, so here I'm telling you. If you go to Rapid City skip deadwood drive up 14 to Spearfish, stop in Lead at the bakery, and you can either go to Devil's Tower or back to RC.  

Anyways, back to the painting, I found it hard to get depth in the fur since they are so dark brown but overall I am happy with how he looks. I wanted him to be peaking out from behind some spruce, because I saw a ton shading themselves in the trees and I like giving animals a more [for lack of a better word] cute feel, although I have contemplated recently to do a series of grumpy animals. 

*clap*clap*clap*clap deep in the heart of zion

I got the chance to visit Zion National Park last month and it was pretty incredible. 

Somehow we were able to make it there the week before the shuttle system began, and thank god man. It was actually some sweet-ass driving in Zion. They really have their roads on point. Most mountainous national parks have some moderate to difficult driving on the way to and within the parks [not that I'm complaining I totally get why they have roads like that] but Zion was a dream for driving, in fact all the mountain roads and highways in Utah and Nevada were nice, god what life must be like without winter potholes. 

There was about a billion and a half people parked by Angel's Landing, and it had just poured pretty hard so I wasn't about to walk up slippery rock dropoff holding a wet chain, so we chose to do the Emerald Pools Trail. [which I highly recommend] Also, may I say the place smells so good. They got some fresh breeze/crisp juniper/light sage/cedary type of thing going on in the air, and I was digging it. Anyways, there's 3 emerald pools, you can hike all the way to the top waterfall to see the upper one, we didn't make it since rain was closing in, but it was still an incredible hike with cool sights. 

Most of Zion is accessible from the canyon floor, which gives you a really cool play on light and shadow from the bottom perspective. The rock gets 'dyed' from water run off and turns an indigo shade in certain places. I was there during winter, and even without the greenery of leaves there was still TONS of color in Zion, which lends itself nicely to painting aesthetics for a winter season artwork.  

As far as the painting is concerned it didn't really capture what I was going for. The rockfaces in  Zion are so drippy gooey dark blue and black on top of the vibrant red rock. But in paint its hard to walk that line without it getting muddy and unreadable. It's even difficult to photograph in person. The mountains have an iridescent quality and from the canyon dark and shadow can deceive the camera. Obviously most mountains or any nature scene doesn't live up to the reality of seeing it in person but Zion has this on a whole 'nother level. I'll consider this a practice and attempt another in future, but for now I am pleased how this turned out.