The Value of a Critique

I was fortunate enough to have my piece “Amanda’s Surprise” critiqued by the fine group of artists (Jake Parker, Will Terry, and Lee White) found at SVS Learn Third Thursday. While they had many favorable comments they also had a lot of constructive critique as well. Thanks guys!! I reworked the image using all those suggestions…well not the gun but it was a nice thought Jake.

Here are the changes:

1. Added volume to the girl’s hair.

2. Shortened her left forearm.

3. Fixed her stance.

4. Added some additional light to the inside of the room.

5. Switched up the position of the bugs to add some interesting variance to the composition.

6. Darkened the table, chair and the bugs.

Compare the reworked image to the one I submitted. While I didn’t win the “prize” I was pleased to get a critique no the less. Three other worthy images were selected as the winners. Check them out at

Reworked art after critique

Reworked art after critique


Another Challenge

So if you haven’t checked out the “Third Thursday Critiques” offered by the fine folks at do it now! I’ve purchased many of Will Terry and Jake Parker’s tutorials and they are well worth the money.

Another “Third Thursday” is approaching and the assignment was to create an illustration for the prompt “Amanda was so excited for her first day at the cottage until…”

This is a digital painting I completed this week for entry. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a “solid” drawing as the foundation for the painting. I re-worked this drawing several times. Perspective is such a tricky thing to master. I’ve got a lot of work to do!


Digital Technique

My goal for the summer is to really begin to refine and zero in on a digital technique that feels right for me. I love the look of traditional gouache paintings like those of Mary Blair and Drake Brodahl.

My wife loves Orcas so I made this painting for her.whalesweb

Martin’s Surprise


This was a painting I did for a critique offered by I had originally used a different character and the painting was done in black/white. Although I didn’t end up getting a critique I did go back and color the painting and changing the main character to the Trex.

Multimedia Watercolor

Sunset_kidsThis painting started life as a traditional watercolor. It seemed to need more punch. I ended up adding pen/ink, gouache, and colored pencils. If a painting isn’t working as-is try using some additional materials to bring it to life.


A Fun New Scribble

I started sketching this cat over the last two weeks. Inspired by our late cat Jack I wanted to show the “Hairball” from creation to delivery from the view of a cat. I had fun creating this.

Creating a Hairball!

Creating a Hairball!

Just One More Change!

I continue to work on my “Grumpy Puppy” webcomic. The characters are changing, the art technique is changing, the format is changing! One good thing about not being popular is that you can fail, reboot, and try again. Grumpy Puppy is an experiment and a learning tool. Many thanks to everyone that has taken the time to check out

I’ve also been painting using watercolors lately. It feels good to put brush to paper!

Grumpy Puppy character sketches. Jack the cat.

Grumpy Puppy character sketches. Jack the cat.

Grumpy Puppy character sketches. Grumpy Puppy.

Grumpy Puppy character sketches. Grumpy Puppy.

8x10 watercolor

8×10 watercolor

The Struggle!

Last month I launched my new webcomic called Grumpy Puppy. If your interest you can find my webcomic at I wanted to do a webcomic for the fame and fortune that comes with that genre. Just kidding!! The real reason I wanted to do a webcomic was to challenge myself for at least a year. Having to post a new comic strip twice per week seemed like a good starting place.

Well guess what? Its a lot of work and drawing the strip has been challenging me in ways I could not have anticipated. Thinking I had my character design figured out I find myself needing to change the design of the characters. I am struggling with line and the overall look of the panels. Several of my mentors have commented on how flat the characters appear. I agree!! To date I have done everything digitally. Today I went back to traditional media mixed with digital and changed the character design somewhat. I’m trying to give them a more life like volume filled shape. While I’m not all together happy with the latest look I feel things have improved. But there is more improvement to be had.

Drawn and painted digitally.

Drawn and painted digitally.

If you want to challenge yourself step out of the box and do something that will make you uncomfortable like a webcomic.

Drawn and painted traditionally.

Drawn and painted traditionally.

To Make a Web Comic!

Well after working diligently for the past few weeks I launched my web comic entitled “Grumpy Puppy”. Grumpy Puppy allows me to create a sarcastic and fun character named Lucky who happens to be a purple dog.

The reason(s) I wanted to create a web comic was:

1. Meeting even a twice weekly update schedule would keep me drawing and creating on a regular basis. Drawing daily really boasts an artist skill set and having to come up with new material all the time enhances one’s imagination.

2. I needed an outlet for my sarcastic humor

3. I’ve always love drawing cartoons and have always wanted to make a comic strip.

4. The need to create more characters that make me laugh!

Creating comics is really hard work and the more good information I could get my hands on the better. Recently while attending the Emerald City Comic Con I luckily ran across a both ran by a couple of fellows, one named Dave Kellet. Dave just happened to be the director of a new documentary called “Stripped” which is all about comic strips. It is a great documentary and it is available on iTunes as well as at Dave and his buddies had also written a book called “How to Make Webcomics”. I bought the book and the movie. Both are excellent resources!

Years ago I had created editorial cartoons for the local newspaper in Madras, Oregon. Each week I would create a cartoon that address some local political issues. I got myself in trouble a few times but for the most part I really enjoyed creating these panels. Creating the new strip sure brings back memories of the Madras days.

If you get a chance please check out “Grumpy Puppy” at


My “Writing Process” Blog

My friend and mentor, Mark Mitchell recently tagged me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. I considered myself to be an apprenticing author/illustrator. My dream has been to create illustrations and stories that children would find entertaining.

While working on my skills as an artist I also have been busy developing story ideas. One story idea “Undead Ted” stood out as a fun project that I could create as my own digital picture book. The story was written in the spring of 2013 with the art for the story created this past summer.
Undead Ted” went through a series of rewrites. The original scribbles had a word count of greater than 650 words. After at least eight edits the final story was less than 500 words.

It was a true pleasure to create the picture book called “Undead Ted”. I learned a lot about creating a story that was both funny but a little scary. This past September I self-published “Undead Ted” to the Kindle store.

Creating “Undead Ted” has not lead to instant success in the Kindle Store but it has given me some new insights into the business and also resulted in other opportunities for success like the webinar that Mark Mitchell and I currently offer called “Building E-Z Picture Books for Kindle”.

1.) What are you working on?

Currently I am in the process of working on a new story idea that would translate well to either a graphic novel format or a middle grade chapter book. Also, I have been working on producing “Undead Ted” as a story APP that would be offered in the iTunes store.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I try to infuse my humor into each story idea mixed with a little suspense.

3.) Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always liked to read stories filled with adventure and rich characters. If the story doesn’t grab me within the first couple of chapters I usually lose interest. I create stories full of friendship and caring but I like to mix in a little peril. These days most kids so busy with sports and other activities they don’t have the time to just to be kids. I want to write stories that would make them want to take a break and read a book.

4.) How does my writing (or writing with pictures) process work?

The story always comes first then the illustrations although lately I have been experimenting with sketching some of the characters first so I can start to know those characters as I am beginning the writing process. I’ll draw the characters interacting in an interesting scene. This sets my imagination free and can lead to a new story direction.