That blog post title almost makes it sound like I’m starting a circus of some sort. While I’d love to have a herd of dancing elephants and a few tigers to add to my cat collection, there’s just no room in my garden for a show under the big top. Instead, the only show I have for you are a couple of my latest pieces of colored pencil art.

Hey, Buddy

The first piece was inspired by another terrific photo by Alicia Elliott (whose work also inspired a couple other recent drawings). I think this is actually a seed pod, but when I first saw it, I thought it was a flower bud, hence the title “Hey Buddy.”

This was the final piece I needed to complete for my art show (actually I intended it for my show in May, but it ended up fitting well with some other work that was going into the April to June show). Unfortunately, some sort of sinus infection/cold captured me just as I was starting this.

However, I was also lucky as this piece, with its delicate colors, simple lines, and white background, didn’t involve too much brain power to do…which is good because most of brain was occupied by mucous rather than neurons.

What else can I say about this? Not much. I didn’t hit any snags and it was just one of those pieces that fall together like magic. I didn’t quite achieve the deep rose tone at the base of the bud/pod, but this was such an easy piece to do, I’d be willing to give it another try to get the colors just right (hopefully minus the nasal dripping while I work).

Hey Buddy – Colored pencil on Dura-Lar 8″x10″

Flying Dragons

While Hey Buddy was a walk in the park, I was about to pull out the insecticide while working on this dragonfly (reference photo by Alicia Elliott, again). I first started this on bristol trying to work the background. But, as you know by now, backgrounds are my nemesis and that piece of paper is now in the scratch paper pile.

I decided to ditch the background and also to ditch the opaque paper. Instead, I opted for a lovely piece of translucent DuraLar so I could more easily see and work the details on the wings. I thought these would be the worst task, but they actually turned out to be a fun challenge.

Once the wings were done, I worked on the stems and leaves. This is when I first started encountering troubles. As you can see in the reference photo, Alicia has focused on the body and wings, while putting most of the stems, leaves, and head to the background (aka “blurry”).

Because I wanted them crisp, I had to wing it (haha, pun intended) in a few spots trying to guess how the leaves attached to the stems and how to work some of the leaf details. A less fun challenge. Then came the lower portion of body. This turned out amazingly well and I was on a “I ROCK” high after getting that deep black to look a little bit shiny.

But my high was short-lived. There was still the out-of-focus head and main body to do. I looked up dragonflies in my insect identification guide but couldn’t find this guy. I did get a general idea of how dragonfly heads should look so once again I was left winging it in the hopes I could pull it off.

I couldn’t. Okay, where’s the dragonfly swatter?

I played around a little more trying to fix the weird foibles of the head (I’d gotten something a little off on the angle and shape). Eventually I made it into something less mutant-ish. But I still wasn’t done. Something was just off. The background was too plain, the overall picture looked cold, and the wings – which I wanted to be the eye-catching bit – weren’t standing out. Time to put on the creative thinking cap.

I played around a little bit with paint, thinking I could give the background a light coat of paint to make it less plain. Nope, too messy looking. I got out some iridescent paint thinking I could apply this behind the wings to give them a little shimmer. Nope, too grade-schooly. I banged my head against the wall. Nope, too painful.

But the head banging did knock something out of the idea jar in my head. I took some white paint and on the back of the DuraLar very carefully painted white behind the wings. Pop! Those wings stood out just like I’d hoped. For the background, I added a light touch of warm green. I then placed a cream colored piece of drawing paper behind it and ta-da! the cold white was gone and I had a warm-toned drawing.

The painted wings pop, but it’s still too cold overall.
Ooohhh!!!! No title yet – colored pencil on DuraLar – 8″x10″

That’s it for my art world this week. Next Wednesday I’ll be back with the story of the art show setup, and Saturday I’ll be here with a little update on the seemingly-forever-work-in-progress novel.

Any colds slowing you down? Has your creative thinking cap gotten you out of any sticky spots recently? Tell me all about it!!


Saturday, 15 April 2017  * * * Noon to 3:00 pm

Please stop by to say hello, grab a snack, and view several pieces of my colored pencil and acrylic artwork!! The gallery is at…

Clackamas Community College, Wilsonville Campus, 29353 SW Town Center Loop EastWilsonville, Oregon 97070

Can’t make it? Don’t worry, the art will be on display from 3 April until 16 June 2017

15 thoughts on “Time for My Flying Dragons and Little Buddies

  1. Oh, how awesome! I especially like Hey Buddy – it’s almost crossing the line into abstract. And thanks DuraLar for saving the dragonfly and making his wings really pop! It got me thinking though… How translucent IS DuraLar? And could you use it to cheat your way to blurry backgrounds in future by putting a strongly-coloured painting or drawing on a separate sheet behind the main image on DuraLar?

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    1. I tried that too, in a manner of speaking…I was pulling out all types of colored paper in an attempt to cheat my way to a better background. None looked quite right, though. But perhaps a print of Starry Night or some impressionist waterlilies would have been the better choice. DuraLar is just a little less translucent than tracing paper.

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      1. Hahaha! Save me a spot… That’s on my to-do list too! The only thing that’s holding me back is finding a local beach where I can do that without getting hypothermia. 😆


      2. Hahaha, that’s right! I was on an Oregon beach once, and made the rookie mistake of dipping a toe into the ocean. I thought Pacific Ocean = Pacific islands = warm water. Noooope! And the worst part is that I was only 10, so drinking to warm up wasn’t an option! 😆


      3. Clearly not proper Irish ones 😆 I did get to try the odd sip of my dad’s home made wine though… I thought they were all horrible, and swore I would never touch the stuff. Fast forward a couple of decades… “Daaaaaad, did you make any more lemon wine this year?” 😂


      4. Yeah, it’s REALLY good. Especially with fish. As far as I know, he got the recipe from the most 70s wine-making book EVER, which has been a mainstay of our kitchen bookshelf for as long as I can remember. But I imagine those there internets should be able to guide you if you want to give it a bash!

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      5. I have a recipe for orange wine (also from a fine example of 70s How-To-Ness). I can’t imagine lemon wine would be too different, just maybe more sugar to start. Now, if only I had a lemon tree. 🍋🍋🍋

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      6. Oooooh, I’d love a lemon tree! But alas, the Irish climate is not especially conducive to the cultivation of lemons. I believe my clever and thrifty dad sources his from the bargain department of the local supermarket – stuff that’s getting past its best, so they sell it for cheap!

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      7. Aha! Perfect! Hopefully there will be some tasty bargain bin lemon wine bubbling away soon in your​ home. I found out yesterday that a beer making supply place has opened just down the road… Dangerous! 😀

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