Tag Archives: Graphite


I haven’t seen or talked with my dad since sometime in the mid 90’s.  We had a falling out.  He passed away in 2003 at the age of 59, alone – well alone in the sense that he had no family around.  He was in his childhood hometown, Placerville, California, and his brother lived in Pollock Pines, and his father in Sacramento.  I assume he had friends at the assisted living home he was in at the time, but he greatly valued family, and none were present when he died.  I still feel great remorse at the fact that I couldn’t be a better man for not talking to him for years.  It goes back a few years, though – our history.

He left mom for another woman in 1976.  I was 7 years old, my brother was 4, pushing 5.  Our world collapsed on us, and we ended up moving from San Jose, CA clear across the continent to Jacksonville, FL, where mom was from.  We flew out to San Jose the next Summer (’77) and visited for a couple months.  The next time I would see him would be after I graduated boot camp 10 years later.  My brother had to wait until my first marriage in 1991 before he saw dad again.

Reconnecting was awkward after so many years.  We barely remembered him.  I can’t imagine how that must’ve been for him, our father.  He had an anyeurism burst in his brain, and nearly died shortly after he left mom.  He changed after that.  He was cantancerous and bull-headed.  One day, I took it the wrong way, and that was the last time I spoke to him.  I’m sorry, dad.  Turns out I was bull-headed, too.

He and his second wife adopted a little boy, who I am now fairly close with, although he lives in CA and I in GA now.  We both made it to his funeral in ’03, where he met my younger brother for the first time.  They both got along amazingly… so much alike, they were.

My blood brother ended up killing himself in 2006, almost a year after being my best man in my wedding to the absolute best woman I ever knew.  I miss him terribly.  He was my best friend.

Grandpa outlived them both, passing away in 2012 at the age of 93.  I got to see my adopted brother again then, and we enjoyed our time together in Sacramento for the funeral.

A couple weeks ago, he texted me a photo of our dad.  It looks to be about the late ’80s; about the time he and I first re-connected.  Today during lunch I used that photo to practice with my brushpens, and it turned into this.  Not too serious an attempt, but better than sketching (as that’s how it all started).

Brushpens, watercolor, and charcoal on pressboard backing.

Brushpens, watercolor, and charcoal on pressboard backing.

Spiderman Cowboy

Not much to show of late, unfortunately.  My mind races nearly constantly with all sorts of things from work problems to the impending birth of our twin girls in the next couple weeks.  It races so much so, that when I do have an hour to spend alone (of sorts), as in the hour I had last week waiting for my daughter to finish her tumbling practice, and with the premeditated intent of sketching in the sketchbook, I could do nothing more than stare at the blank page before me for at least five minutes without a hint of what to sketch.

So, I flipped through the images on my phone and came upon a photo of our boys dressed in their superhero outfits, and decided to draw Owen, who had the impressive combination of a Spiderman suit with a cowboy hat.  The hat was red, so it matched.  Even if it hadn’t, the combo was impressive!

Owen as a Spiderman cowboy. Pencil sketch in the Moleskine sketchbook.

Owen as a Spiderman cowboy. Pencil sketch in the Moleskine sketchbook.


Alex Mathers

My next Sketchbook Project entry is Alex Mathers (@MoonApe on Twitter). Alex is a fantastic illustrator with quite the following.  From his website:

With a degree in geography, I am a self-taught illustrator from London, living in Tokyo and born in Copenhagen in 1984. I’m currently working with the Google+ design team, amongst other projects.

I’m a fan of volcanoes, snow monkeys, electronic music, sea creatures and outer space.

I run a site for creatives called Red Lemon Club, through which I’ve self-published four books aimed at creatives and freelancers. I also run a contemporary visual arts site called Ape on the Moon.

My previous clients have included:

Saatchi & Saatchi, NY
Wired Magazine
Smith & Foulkes
Future Cinema
United Nations Environmental Programme
Popular Mechanics Magazine
Singapore Business Times newspaper

Alex is a very talented (and busy) guy, have a look at some of his work HERE.

I’ve had my hand at different mediums throughout the sketchbook, and I didn’t want there to be a bulk of one particular style.  And as much as I want to keep my portraits in the form of the Twitter follower I am depicting, Alex’s illustrative style is just something I didn’t think I could pull off in a portrait.  It is difficult to draw and paint in other folks’ style… try it.  Anyway, I was afraid I’d do Alex a large disservice, so I opted for a simple graphite wash.  Simple, but nothing I’ve tried before in this sketchbook.  Of course, the scan doesn’t help (must get a better scanner).  It looks a bit smoother in person, believe me.  So… Alex Mathers.

Alex Mathers - Graphite wash

Alex Mathers – Graphite wash

Alex, thanks for following me on Twitter!

Rob Adams

Next in the Sketchbook Project sketchbook is Rob Adams – aka RobAdamsArtist on Twitter.  Rob is a Detroit-based artist, with some stunning work.  He’s also the founder of the Hard Work and Dedication movement, or HWAD, thus the “HWAD” on the bandanna covering his mouth below. Read more about Rob from his website HERE.

He does a lot with spray paint, and I really wanted to recreate some of that feel with the piece I was going to do on him, but spray paint just isn’t practical with a 7 x 5 piece of sketchbook paper.  So while I was sketching out the drawing, it just sort of grew into a pencil drawing, which I haven’t done for this sketchbook project yet.  It worked out, and I actually like the contrast it brings to his work.  Sort of balances, I think.

And here’s Rob!

Rob Adams - pencil drawing

Rob Adams – pencil drawing

Mishima Station

I wrote about my mobile studio a couple posts ago, so I thought I’d show you what it looks like.

The black leather back pack, a.k.a my mobile studio, hanging on a hook in my office at work.

Contents of the mobile studio: 3 sketchbooks, 2 2x2 canvasses, 2 watercolor sets, 2 watercolor pencil sets, 1 graphite/charcoal drawing set, various brushes, pencils, and a fine-point Sharpie.

Now, my next sketchbook project…

It’s my first attempt in a while at dealing with perspective.  In 2005 I traveled to Japan for a week, and absolutely fell in love with it.  I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but I was fascinated with their transportation system.  Trains everywhere.  What I’m attempting to recreate here is from a photo I took at the train station in Mishima .  We’re looking down-track from the platform, the Shinkansen (bullet train) is on the right of the picture, although at this stage its probably difficult to see that.  It’s a thrill to ride, very, very fast.

View from Mishima Station (the beginnings of it, at least): Pen & marker in the Moleskine sketchbook.

I’ll work on it some more during lunch and keep you posted on the progress.

Sketch & Wash

More lunch work. I’ve got a “Sketch & Wash” graphite pencil, and thought I’d give it a whirl. After brushing the original drawing with a brush and some water, I was somewhat pleased with the results. Then I had to add a bit of color and got all dorked up with it. Not proud, but here’s what happened, in 3 phases.

The original sketch with the "Sketch & Wash" pencil

Phase2, after washing with a brush (paper was wet, can you tell?)

Phase 3: Dorked up with color (should've left it alone). Honestly, it doesn't look that bad in real life.

What’s really bad is that I did this on a sheet of printer paper. It absorbs water like a sheet of plastic! Just horrible. And I know that, too. This started out as a warm-up exercise, and I was going to do this in the sketchbook. Maybe I’ll do that anyway. Maybe not. Who knows. Have a great weekend!

The Faucet

I saw an article about drawing/painting textures, specifically metal, then wood. I thought of an exercise for myself: draw, first in pencil, then in ink, and paint a metal object. Looking in the mirror earlier this week, I found my object.

The bathroom faucet, sketched in my Moleskine sketchbook.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to do this in ink, so you might not see the other versions of this anytime soon.

Starting without an end in mind: Abstract graphite on paper

One of the things I really love about art is how creative you can be with it.  Sometimes I just feel like being creative.  I’ll walk around the house with nothing but the urge, and it gets frustrating because I can’t decide on a focus for it.  This piece came out of one of those creative episodes in which there was no focus in the beginning.  It’s about 7 years old, and it was made during a difficult time of my life when I needed a medium to shift my attention to once in a while.  As with most of my stuff, this has no hidden meaning, no inspiration, no message.  Just an evolution in creation on a piece of paper.

Graphite on Paper

Infinity: Graphite on Paper

Self Portrait

I find self portraits to be boring for the most part.  Really, the only self portraits I’ve liked were by Van Gogh.  This one isn’t a finished product, but I find it hard sometimes to take self portraiture seriously, so finishing it is not high on my list of things to do.  It was a fun way to pass some dead time (won’t say where I was when I was passing said “dead time”).  I had someone take a picture of me with a disgusted face, and I was going to put this picture in a presentation at work that had to do with why our production was sucking wind at the time.  It was frustrating… that’s the look: frustrated.  Isn’t it funny how everything has a story?

Me at work

Pencil Drawing

There have been several close-up pictures of my son that I’ve loved.  This drawing is taken from one of those pictures.  Originally, this wasn’t intented to be a finished product, meaning something I would have kept.  I was doodling when it all of the sudden got serious.  The smaller drawing was all scribbles, and I erased as much as I could to make the bottom part look better, then ended up drawing on the scribbles to make them look good.  I could see somebody asking the meaning behind the smaller drawing and why they’re both seemingly encased in bubbles.  No meaning whatsoever… I had no statements to make.

My son