Tag: sketching

Sleepy Sparrow

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Yet another 6″x6″ drawing on Claybord of a little bird, this time a very sleepy female House Sparrow. I used ink, graphite, and scratchboard techniques.

Above are four different stages, with the final one at the top of this post. As always, part of me likes the first version of this as much as I like the final version, but I can admit I’m not crazy about anything in between. If I ever had enough nerve, I’d experiment with a more stylized version and stop with a sparse, simple final product… but I kind of doubt I’ll ever have enough will power to actually do that.

Eastern Towhee

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I grew up knowing this bird as a Rufus Sided Towhee, but now they’re known as two separate kinds, the Eastern and the Spotted. It’s a handsome bird no matter what its name. This is another ink on Claybord with some graphite and lots of scratchboard techniques.

I’m experimenting with finishing all my Claybords. I used three coats of Spectrafix Final Fixative on this one, which leaves dotted marks on the smooth surface. So, I’ve been using either Spectrafix Natural Glass or, on this one, Gamblin Cold Wax Medium as a varnish. Natural Glass leaves brush marks, no matter how carefully I apply it, so I’m trying wax as another alternative. I’m nervous about the cold wax, as I need to wait until it’s no longer tacky and then buff it. I’ll check it in a week. My ultimate goal is to be able to finish these Claybord panels without anything terribly toxic (although there are ample warnings on the wax) and then frame them without glass.

Categories: Art Ink Pencil

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Claybord Birds


These are both 6”x6” Ampersand Claybord panels with ink for the backgrounds and a combination of graphite, ink, and scratchboard techniques for the birds and branches. I can use a spray varnish on these and simply pop them into a frame, which is a real plus when using a surface like Claybord.

I love using this type of surface compared to paper because it’s both an additive and subtractive process. I add in colors, shapes, and values, and then I can scratch and erase detail and highlights. With these two birds, I used graphite for shadows and dulling some of the bright white lines that happen with scratching.

Travelers Journals

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I’m going back to my travelers notebook theme this year, using the smaller passport size for daily sketches, birding notes, and an exercise log. The larger, A5 journal has one booklet of sketch paper, one of multimedia, and one general notebook for art notes. My pencil is the Tutto 3 mechanical pencil with three different lead sizes and types, a .3, .5, and .7. So far, I’m loving this system, and I hope to stick with it for a year.