• Revivify – what a word !!

    As an alternative to revivifying the face, as you’d noted it was good before? How about dullifying the greens? I’m thinking a very thin layer of cool grey to mute those tones behind, something towards the bluer end would have the reverse effect of the face becoming pale and perhaps introduce more depth to the overall piece?

    Composition – grab a coffee and start reading about golden ratio and why 1.618 is an important number. It’s a rabbit hole worth falling down, though I confess to doing the most basic of composition checks when planning layouts. For a quick check I sometimes take a photo and then flip it horizontally to see if it still looks right.

    • Haha yes I’ve been hitting up my thesaurus! And man, that’s outside the box thinking on the background. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t try that first, it might have been easier. The only thing I can think of is maybe since I’m so weak on backgrounds that I was afraid to change that at all.

      On that golden ratio situation, I have come across that before. But to be totally honest, I didn’t really understand it! I figured I better not even try to discuss that here, since literally the only take away I had was that the little overlay seems to look like a seashell. Do you happen to have any good resources or recommendations on the subject?

      • I find that most guides, even those in books, seem to try to find a connection between paintings and the composition lines, often to the extent of shifting the lines around to meet the painting. To my mind I could take almost any picture and find and force composition lines to fit, to me proof needs to be exact which is how they portray it but is factually incorrect.

        In other words, it’s not something I’m going to get hung up on. But I still have it in mind for when I’m being a bit more creative.

        I find it easier to think of that seashell in its box form like on the link below. And even easier to think of it as a variation on the rule of thirds with thinner boxes rather than an even split.

      • That makes sense, I think I’m in that same mode. Maybe it would be cool if I could get to the point where I could keep that stuff in mind as I make something. But I could never see myself actually changing a painting or drawing to fit something like this.

        It’s all very interesting and I do enjoy learning more about it. But man, it can get so complicated! I really just want to have fun painting, you know?

  • I appreciate the discussion of “failures” or as we called them at work, lessons leant. I have 5 efforts to the one that I eventually post. Great stuff.

    • Thanks Omar, I’m glad to hear it was a useful thing to read about! Like most people probably do, I struggle a bit on whether to share the failures and rough patches along with what I’m proud of. I try to share the learning experiences as much as possible, but there have definitely been some that I just had to trash and move on from. I guess that’s part of the whole experience, eh?

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  • Great post, Jon, and I understand your dilemma re what and when to post. I decided a while ago to shorten my text when blogging to give me more time to create. Then I realised writing is actually a way of consolidating my art process in my own mind and I needed it. It performs a brain-sorting exercise; a clarifying and reminding of what I wanted to achieve, what I tried, how it progressed and what the outcome was. I now feel it’s as valuable a tool as the making because it’s a permanent record I can refer back to when I’m trying a similar thing again and it lets me know if I’m stagnating or improving.
    Love both of the images above and I’ve watched both time-lapse videos. The amount of work in those faces is amazing. You’ve transitioned from pencils to oils seamlessly.
    Enjoying following your journey, so don’t stop blogging!!

  • Hi Jon,
    Glad to see you are trying to mix blacks! If you are interested, here’s a blog post on the varied ways to mix cooler or warmer blacks.
    I think it’s a good idea to look at shadows on faces more closely. Or shadows on snow, or on other surfaces. Shadows are colorful, yes! especially on faces — and using black for shadows there works less well than a darker shade of the flesh tone you are using. Trying adding a blue instead of black for your shadows, or even mixing your flesh tone with some darker green. Early on, frustrated by my attempts at natural self-portraits, I did a one in colored pencil, using only red, yellow and a dark green. All the shadows were rendered in green and green mixed with red to make a brown, and all the lighter areas in yellow or yellowed reds. I was very pleased with the results and to this day it’s one of my favorite self portraits. This exercise taught me an important lesson, that any color can work as a shadow color as long as it’s darker than the main tone. And much darker than the light-colored highlights. It was fun too, to try to limit my palette colors to just three. I highly recommend trying this, and no black allowed!

    • That’s quite a useful post, thanks for sharing that Phoebe! This really has been such a learning experience, which is definitely going to be an ongoing journey. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone though and tried painting, because I can take these same lessons back to colored pencil (if I ever find the time for it haha). I really appreciate your suggestion from December about that same topic – I feel like it had a great impact. Since I’m so far behind sharing paintings, this one doesn’t really reflect it, but hopefully within a few points I’ll catch up to some that feature more color blending.

      Color mixing is such an incredible learning curve – I really feel like this might be one of the aspects that takes the longest to get the hang of. Measured in years instead of months it seems!

  • Great project and nice paint

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  • Beautiful writing

  • Nice paintings, you are really good at these mideval characters. I like how you used like selective primaries in your characters, one cyan the other magenta, etc.

    • Thanks Shawn! I’ve really got so much to learn when it comes to composition, I’m definitely a rookie there. But I’m trying to find my way to using colors in a creative way sometimes.

      And I definitely enjoy the fantasy/medieval themed characters – it’s so fun to me to draw or paint from things within that realm. Actually, that even goes back to when I was a kid! It’s always been so fun.

  • Ouch 150 drawings to get comfortable?! Man o man do I have a long road ahead of me. I’m enjoying reading about someone deep in learning mode balances out watching the YouTube experts. Good work!

    • I appreciate that! Honestly, it sounds a lot more daunting written than it actually is. And I’m kind of neurotic about my view of my own artwork, so I may not be the best judge of “comfort” exactly. Change and improvement just sort of happen over time as you create. As months turned to years, I started to see really significant changes in how things looked. It’s one of the many things I’ve liked about blogging – there’s a place where you can get a clear view of your older stuff.

      So, how far into your drawing journey are you, Omar? I really thought I was following your blog already, but I’ve corrected that oversight now. Anyhow, I did some browsing to see if I can get a sense of your progression – I think you’re improving even over the course of the last couple of months. I think as long as you feel like you’re growing and learning, that’s the important thing!

  • Beautiful work and thought provoking subjects.

  • That’s a terrific tool. So logical when you realise how to use it. Not having had painting tuition myself I haven;t come across it before. Thanks for the video.

    • Hello Claire – I’m glad the video was useful! It’s so funny that I finally learned about such a useful tool just when I’m trying to improve my freehand painting skills. It was actually kind of tough to force myself to put it down…but I do think it’s probably going to be something I go back to often.

      It’s so weird how sometimes a cheap little thing can become a major difference maker. Anyhow, hope everything is good with you!

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  • Just ordered the proportion tool – thank you for the recommendation!

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  • Jon, Digitalising paintings is fraught with issues. You’ve mentioned some, fluorescing colours dont help ( an issue I have with chalk pastels). I just use a panasonic lumix set at 14mpx. It’s better done in an area lit by northern light and a tripod will help. Sometimes you just have to compromise over colour balance, though you can play around with it on the computer. I just keep an image for my reference
    As for selling prints. I am not sure whether it is cost effective. There is expense getting it done well enough to sell and time taken packaging – backing card and cellophane. Depends what you are doing it for. I just want to paint. Everything else just makes it into a job and I dont think the rewards are worth it. Unless that is, you are selling most of your painted output and the demand is such that you cant keep up with it. Yes, then consider the print option. Unfortunately I havent reached that stage.

    • Greetings Graham – that does sound like quite a process in terms of creating and selling prints. It’s something I want to try, mostly just to explore something I’ve never done, but the entire thing is fairly intimidating due to all the extras you mentioned. I completely understand your thoughts there though – the “I just want to paint” sentiment. That’s exactly why I’ve fallen so far behind on writing blog posts. I like to write too, but I like to paint even more…so painting just keeps winning the free time battle.

      Thanks for the tips on northern light and camera set up. Now that I read your comment and I’m thinking about it…I’ve been photographing in light coming form the south. That’s at least one thing I can try that doesn’t cost money!

      • Best of luck Jon. On your painting writing dilemna; you might need to chose or do both unsatisfactorily. I have given up quite a few hobbies after deciding how much time is available and putting aside time for what I must do. Then making a choice over what it is I would most prefer to do and going with that. Life’s a bitch.

      • Isn’t it amazing how there never seems to be enough time to fit everything in? That is indeed life, but it seems like the best course of action is to just pick what makes you happiest. If I’m loving painting, I should paint.

        Well, I could do that…or just not sleep anymore. Haha that could probably work right?

  • Hi Jon
    I Hope you don’t mind the following suggestion:
    Consider using less black in painting as shadows have color! Also you can mix a basic dark shade almost black with ultramarine blue and burnt umber… but I’d suggest trying to paint without using black at all or very sparingly. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.

    • I don’t mind at all! In fact, getting tips from experienced artists is one of my most favorite things about blogging. Comments and other peoples’ posts are huge sources of information for me. Haha I like to say I got art degrees from WordPress University and YouTube College

      I think color mixing is a major deficit area for me right now – I’ve watched a few videos on it centered around skin tones, which really brought home how much I don’t know. That is a great tip though, thanks Phoebe! So, on that topic, do you think black is more reflective and that touches on the challenges I’ve had photographing paintings? Or do I just need to be more patient about letting these things dry?

      Also, I’m curious how you typically digitize your works? Do you sell prints or do you stick to originals?

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    • Thanks Shawn! Just catching up on your blog, I see you have been a bit backlogged just like me. Good to see your summer 2022 works, they look great

      • lol, my backlog is getting unmanagable. I still have half of my 2022 photos to edit. I went on some nice trips this year. But these will be great inspiration photos for my artwork in the next few years.

      • I hear that, sometimes I legitimately feel like sharing artwork is a full time job in and of itself. If only I could figure out how to actually make it pay like a full time job, eh? Maybe someday…like when I retire haha

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  • I was extremely moved by these portraits, thank you for sharing them

    • I really appreciate the comment! Although the event was small, the topic/subject matter are bigger than most of what I work on with this hobby. I really wanted to show I was up to the task, so it means a lot to hear such feedback

  • My mantra: “Placement is everything.”

    • I’m with you there – although I am finding oil paint to be more flexible than colored pencil in terms of fixing mistakes, the other side of that coin is that this mysterious shifts in position seem to happen to me more often. Like, some placements I thought I had well in hand slowly move ever so slightly out of place. Then either it just looks “off”, or I ended up with multiple small shifts that added to a big one!

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  • Lovely portraits and a fitting tribute – thanks for sharing.

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  • Hi Jon,

    I LOVE the grandfather’s face, (whether it looks like Falk or not doesn’t matter to me). You got the nose with the glasses just right, and that’s not easy. Also the mustache is very good and the cheeks too! How big a canvas or paper do you work on? If you work on small canvases (less than 9” by 12”) you might try reducing your subject to just the old man’s face and shoulders, which would make a very interesting portrait even if not a recognizable scene from the movie. In any event, there are no failures, just paintings we learn more from than others. Best wishes,
    Phoebe Wagner

    • Hello Phoebe – thank you for that! Definitely appreciate your perspective on this one. My usual size is 9″ x 12″ paper just for ease of storage. And I think that’s great advice about going with the head and shoulders view. It really is my favorite perspective and gives me the best opportunity to practice features.

      I regard you as a pretty adventurous and experienced artist – do you vary your sizing often? Or do you also have a favorite size/material that you typically return to? It seems like I’ve seen many different mediums, approaches, and techniques in the artwork you share, so I was just curious if you mix up sizes drastically as well?

  • The likenesses and especially the facial expressions are great in the pencil drawings!

    I have the opposite problem: I am happy to sketch in oils with a brush (even if things go wrong), but not great with pencils. It seems like too much control, if that makes sense.

    • Thanks for the comment Tommi – yes, that does make sense! That’s very interesting because I’ve had some similar thoughts lately about the greater flexibility/adaptability of paint. Recently, I started trying these paintings without any sort of pencil sketch – basically just doing an underpainting as my outline. Some other artists I’ve been trying to learn from on YouTube talk about “molding/shaping” the paint, which is definitely not flexibility pencils give you.

      I wonder if that’s at the heart of why I’ve been loving paint so much? It feels less rigid in some ways – a very different experience I think

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  • I hope you’re still painting. I love the look and feel of your self portrait. Beautiful!

    • I appreciate that Kelly! I am still painting and still learning as I go – I am a bit behind in terms of actually writing blog posts about everything though. Hopefully I can catch up at some point

      Thanks for checking out the artwork and for the kind comment!

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  • Nice painting, you are really going out of your element by painting landscapes. Your painting really has some interesting texture.

    I like the sharply angled peeks, and golden green colours in the foreground. I have never used a palette knife before, I know you can use them for Acrylic too, they are just too unpredictable for me to trust.

    • Thanks Shawn! I’m really trying to push myself – I think I need some additional materials before I try another landscape, but it was fun to try.

      At this point, I’m really just trying to get practice in and learn. I’ve got miles under me when it comes to drawing, but I’m still so green when it comes to painting. But I really feel like I’ve gotten something out of every painting so far, so it feels encouraging!

  • I dont think that was the one I saw, John. What I saw was a straight, pretty objective, documentary about his life story and how he built up the business and how he got the programmes aired.
    I do about 5 or 6 a year, but it does seem to be building up – maybe there’s a high mortality rate amongst demonstrators and I’m the last man standing.

  • A problem with paper will be oil soaking through and degrading the paper itself. I’ve primed paper and boards, old canvasses too, with gesso, tinted with a small amount of a nearly neutral mix of acrylic paint. It gives a nice painting surface and is quick (don’t let it dry out on brushes!). Having a neutral – warm or cool as appropriate – ground makes it much easier to get tones balanced and can add an interesting underpainting effect too.
    You’ve got me curious about his show now…
    Best wishes.

    • The drawing paper I’ve been using is fairly thick so I haven’t experienced any soak through yet. But I do prefer Strathmore’s linen paper that’s made for oils…I haven’t used it for everything though, because it’s definitely more expensive per sheet than the other. I guess that’s life with painting though eh?

      That does make me wonder though – are there long term issues with using drawing paper with oils? Even if it’s not apparent right now. Perhaps yellowing? Paper degrading over time?

      The show is pretty funny if you like surreal/bizarre comedy – it’s also definitely NSFW (if you have anyone around sensitive to that sort of thing). There have been times when I was so taken by surprise by what was happening I couldn’t even catch my breath from laughing. The first time I saw a sketch called “Bird Up” was like that. Just a moment of “what in the world is happening here.” It’s definitely niche though!

  • Great job!

    • Thank you Phoebe!

      By the way, I love that House on Cherry Street painting you’ve done – I really appreciated the texture and color variations. Now that I’m painting, I feel like I’m examining other works in a different way to see if I can figure out how it’s done. This one has such great use of small color differences for shadows. Very nicely done

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  • I think that magic white allowed him some lovely techniques. They recently reshowed his programmes in the UK. Unlike you, John, (and many others) I wasnt calmed. Half way through I am yelling at him to stop. Just leave it there Bob – walk away.
    Some lovely atmospheric starts which he seemed to trivialise.
    I keep meaning to buy some of this magic white and have a go myself. Though I always find it is difficult to pick up someone else’s technique; but if you persist a bit you come through.

    • I actually know exactly what you mean! Although I do obviously love the shows and find them relaxing, towards the end sometimes he’ll plop something right in the middle that just wrecks it for me. I’m thinking of some with a massive pine tree that just dominates what was a beautiful scene. To be fair, him knocking those out so quickly and timed for a show is quite a feat from my view. Also, I should give him further credit for being so brave about that. I’m cautious to a fault when it comes to art I think, so that’s something I admire.

      This is probably a basic question, but consider it’s coming from someone so new to all this – what is the effect that magic white is supposed to give you? Is it just really effective or smooth blending and color mixing directly on the canvass? It would be really cool to see what an experienced artist like yourself can do with it

      • There was also a programme over here, about Bob and the making of his videos. He is actually copying a pre-prepared version which is out of camera shot. So when he says; let’s go crazy – well he isnt. To be fair, you have to do it that way. To do that time after time seamlessly, is almost impossible. I did a pastel demo for a painting group last night and I had practised the painting beforehand – otherwise people would lose interest as you bumbled about. You’d probably complete the painting, but the audience might not be any the wiser.
        I think the magic white allows easier application of paint with the palette knife and smooth transitions of tone and colour which results in those great starts. Then, as you say he plonks a bloody great pine in, or worse still – that log cabin.

      • Haha oh those log cabins, he sure did love those things!

        Is that from the Netflix documentary – Happy Accidents Betrayal and Greed? Or a different one? If you haven’t seen that one, it’s a pretty solid watch. Definitely told from one perspective and could be a bit dramatized for impact, but still quite a few interesting aspects to it.

        I think you’re right about practicing ahead of time. I’ve never done such a thing (public demo), but I imagine if I ever did, I would feel like I had to practice it a few times just for piece of mind. Do you do a lot of those demos for art groups?

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  • Looks pretty good

    • Thanks Janice! It’s all a learning process, but I feel like I’m slowly showing improvements as I get more practice.

      • Thats True, it’s a learning process. And it’s all about practicing. 😉

      • I love when you can start to detect real results over time. I think that’s one of my favorite things about blogging – being able to look at your progress over time and see how you’ve developed

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  • Chuck those pencils out, those portraits were great but these latest ones with the paint, even the scrap leftover paint – bloody fantastic !!

    Both of those were tricky angles to capture by the way, let alone the fact the face lighting is superb. You’re continuing to impress 😀

    • Haha thanks man! For real though, those poor colored pencils might start to collect dust because painting is just too enjoyable. I’ve been trying to be better about conserving paint and not letting it dry/go to waste. As someone who’s experienced with paints, do you have any tips for a rookie on that aspect? I did buy an “air tight” (so it claims) box to keep my palette in, but I’m not sure if it’s actually doing anything.

      • Best advice to prevent wastage? Watercolour 😹

        Let them dry out, go back a decade later and you can still re-wet the palette and start where you left off.

        However, for the acrylics I also put out too much paint. I’m getting better though and judging a bit better.

        I also made a palette from a Chinese food container. It’s a good size, just have several layers of soaking wet tissue paper, then a couple of layers of tracing paper on top of that for the paint to sit on. Once the lid is on then it’s airtight and creating it’s own watery eco-system for the paint to not dry out.

        In your case however, you’d need water-based oil paints (that concept messes with my head) to do the same.

      • Well played indeed! Haha, yes I was sort of holding out hope there was some way to “revive” old paints…but it doesn’t seem to be reality in the case of oils. And I guess acrylics are similar in that way? Ah, so much yet to learn. Maybe I really should try watercolors – I love the look too, but it would certainly be more cost effective.

        And…water based oil paints? Man, you just blew my mind! I think I need to get back to some googling…I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

        Have you ever done like an instructional run down of your painting set up? It sounds like you’ve had the benefit of experience to find what works for your set up. It would be interesting to read about (and see photos) of stuff like your palette solution and so forth.

      • I haven’t done any instructional run down, or a post on my set-up. And the main reason for that is that I still consider myself as a newbie to painting – though I guess that I’m now a few years into it and have done enough of it now that people want to part with their hard earned cash to hang some of my stuff on the wall.

        It’s strange, I hadn’t even considered it that I guess I could consider myself a painter until you just mentioned it… It’s like it’s crept up on me 🫢

        I don’t think anyone could (or should) learn anything that useful from my methods as I don’t consider myself to know much but if I can I’ll add some more detail to the process on my posts. I used to take progress shots but haven’t done it so much…

        Look out for a “dog painting” post coming up, I’ll include as much detail as I can remember and also how I changed the whole look of it after I’d considered it finished and signed off only to be told “it’s the wrong colour”. Watch this space 😁

      • Perspective is such a strange beast. From this end of things, I consider you an expert on several mediums (including acrylic paints). More specifically, if I wanted to explore paintings of cars/bikes/other vehicles, Steve Kidd is a name that would pop into my mind right away. And plus, by definition you are a professional artist – as you said, people buy your artwork!

        I will definitely keep my eye out for this dog painting! Looking forward to it for sure

      • Here you go, I hadn’t planned to post anything on this just yet – and certainly not in any level of detail but as you asked so nicely…

      • This turned out so great, Steve! The painting itself, but also the details of the post are excellent! I’ll comment more directly on your site, but absolutely fantastic

  • Nice painting of the girls. You really captured them well. This is an amazing piece that is consistant with your style, in a totally new medium for you. Oil Paint

    • Thank you Shawn! I really appreciate it – I’m still trying to find my way in this medium, but I am definitely enjoying the learning process. It’s also nice to hear that the style has remained somewhat consistent too. I guess some habits follow you through anything, eh?

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  • Hi Jon

    It’s wonderful to hear how you got lost in painting and didn’t keep track of time spent! That’s the whole point to me, to love and enjoy doing something so much you get immersed and lose track of time. So happy to see you are making this transition and your painting progresses by leaps and bounds!

    Best wishes

    Phoebe of Wagblog

    • Thank you Phoebe, it’s quite a fun sensation isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy drawing a lot. But I don’t recall ever getting quite so swept up in a pencil drawing the way I seem to with painting. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but lately I’ve just wanted to just spend all day doing it. A pleasant surprise for sure!

  • Wow, what a successful transition between media, Jon. Your style still comes through with the oil paints and the girls are instantly recognisable.

    • Much appreciated Claire! I’m glad to hear that there’s something recognizable there – that was actually something I was curious about, whether it would look drastically different than the pencil drawings from a style standpoint. I mean, first I didn’t even know if I could paint something that looks like a recognizable person. But then, would I have quirks that I fall into that carry over? So many unknowns about this, and I’m very much enjoying seeing how it all falls into place!

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  • Love this one; the movement in the t-shirt and the mussed up hair and, of course, the place I always look first – the eyes.

    • Hello Claire, much appreciated! I’m glad I got the hair to look wild – in theory, this is a guy who just finished playing basketball, so messy is definitely good in my book.

      Just catching up on your most recent posts as well. I have to say, I love the paintings you’ve been up to! I still have a few more posts to read through, but really enjoying them.

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  • First off – congratulations for getting that monkey off your back. My paints languished unused in the drawer for several months (potentially over a year) before I decided to paint something other than a colour test card.

    Now to this painting, I love how it’s still recognisably one of your works despite the different medium and method.

    And of course, why not start at the hardest subject – oil portrait painting. You removed the armbands and rather than getting in the shallow end you headed for the diving board. Well done.

    Three hours is amazingly quick as well. I often do 1-2 hours slots and there’s no way I’d be looking at something like that within two sessions… King Procrastinator here.

    I am amazed. Impressed. Inspired. Encouraged. Well done Jon 😀

    • Man…I’m really flattered and humbled that you’d say that. Coming from someone like you who is skilled in so many mediums and subject types, that made my day. Really, thanks for that!

      So, would you consider oils harder to work with than watercolors? I had thought about both, but watching videos of watercolor artists, for some reason I couldn’t wrap my head around some aspects of it. Like, how do you control the looseness of the paint? It seems so wild – but maybe that’s the fun of it too, eh? Although oil paints vastly exceeded my prediction for how messy they would be, I still felt some degree of control in terms of how I could apply them

      I’m curious, what was your first painting? Although I’ve been following your art for a long time, I don’t recall ever seeing you as a beginner in any area

      • Well that’s very kind of you to say – made my day that you said that about me as well 😀

        I’ve never done oils so I can’t comment on whether it’s harder than watercolour.

        In fact, for some reason I’d got it in my head early on that watercolours was the easiest medium. After all, that’s what the kids use right?

        Turns out I was wrong about that, or in fact I’m not sure if “harder” should be the right term. It’s different and because there’s no Undo feature you need to maybe have a bit more planning going on before making a mark.

        From my watercolour world I hadn’t looked at acrylics or oils because I considered that was for the serious guys and I’d need to stock up on various bottles of solvents, piles of rags, etc. I’d dismissed it as a possibility. It was only a chance comment that someone mentioned acrylics were water-based and I was like “wait, what did you say?”. I had my order in before the day was out I reckon 😁

        As mentioned, despite getting the paints and doing a colour test card straight away I think I found the prospect a bit scary and so they went in the drawer whilst I made up excuses and got back to my comfort zone. Now I’d say that the acrylics are my main medium, it seems to suit the car art better than watercolour generally though I will still be using watercolour frequently. I do like the permanence of acrylic on canvas – plus there is some potential for that “Undo” feature so it’s ironic that my comfort zone has shifted now.

        As you asked, this was my first from March 2020. I still have that tiny painting on the shelf right next to me, it watches over my art desk constantly.

      • I don’t really have a clue what I’m talking about on this topic, but I have this notion that all types of painting might be more difficult than drawing with pencils. Although I’m surprised so many skills/habits seemed to translation from pencil to paint, it just seems like there’s so many more pieces to account for with painting. I’m only two paintings in at this point (finished another this weekend), but what you said definitely seems right to me about having to plan.

        So, acrylics are water based? Haha I’m learning more every day. You like it because it’s a little more flexible maybe, and that you can more easily fix mistakes? I’m going to spend more time getting used to oils, but I definitely want to keep learning about other types.

        Man, that Notorious BIG is great! What a first painting you had there. How in the world did you get such detail in a small area like that? Now that I’ve tried to paint, I see how hard it is to capture finer details…that perspective makes this tiny art you did that much more impressive.

      • Ahhh, okay interesting. I’ve been trying to study up a bit more (via youtube painters) on mixing different types of paints. So, do you ever combine acrylic with other types? This guy Alpay Efe uses acrylic when he needs a fast drying base layer, then goes over it with oil:

        Interesting strategy!

    • It’s a lovely artwork Jon…. You have put your full heart and soul in it and it comes across beautifully 😍

      • Thanks a lot, Sharmla! I gave it my best shot – I was definitely worried in the early stages, but fortunately the paint was forgiving enough to get by as I learned some basics.

  • Congratulations! You should be proud! That’s a very nice portrait and it captures depth of the features. Great job.☺️

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  • This is great!!! it has much feeling, looks terrific — it may be your new medium!

    • Thank you! I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but I hope that what you say is true. It feels a little strange to say, because I do enjoy drawing…but I just had so much fun painting. It’s like another level of enjoyment or something. Maybe I was just in a good mood that day? I suppose I just need to paint some more to see if that continues

  • Well done and keep going! I’ll try to reply on some specific points later, on the early bus to work just now. If solvent is an issue, have you looked at water-mixable oils? Windsor and Newton make them, likely others in US too? Best wishes.

    • I appreciate that! One of my favorite things about WordPress is the incredibly helpful community of artists that share techniques and advice. I got so many great tips when I was learning to draw, I’m excited to try things from experienced painters!

  • Great first try, Jon. I’d be happy with it – certainly happier than your subject.

    • I appreciate it, Graham! Haha yes as long as the look on my face is more satisfied than this subject’s, then I think it’s a good state to be in!

      • Jon, I just noticed – watch that the tilt of the eyes and mouth match. In yours they’re going in opposite directions. It may be the case, but it’s not normal.

      • You have got a good eye! I didn’t even notice that until now – yes there is definitely some, to use a highly technical term, wonkiness going on. I tried to watch the video I recorded to see where that tilt was introduced, but unfortunately the camera angle and poor focus prevent a good view. I think perhaps the sketch was okay, and then as I painted I gradually moved the position somehow.

        Definitely a good overall balance/composition thing to keep an eye out for it, thanks for the heads-up!

  • Good job! Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks much Jack, I appreciate it!

      Also, I’m unfortunately quite behind on my blog reading. As I caught up on your site, I’m so sorry to read about your brother. My condolences to your family. The tributes you’ve done are wonderful, sharing those moments. Take care – Jon

  • Wonderful first portrait. Keep it up!

    • Thanks Phoebe! I still can’t believe how fun painting is, I’m so glad I finally tried it. I definitely plan to keep at it!

      • Hi Jon, yes painting is great, and it goes so much quicker than colored pencils, which I too used almost exclusively for years. Glad to see you are breaking away from these and out of your comfort zone, and trying new mediums! Take care,

      • That’s really good to hear – I can definitely see how, once you get familiar/comfortable, painting would go more quickly. I feel like a lot of the time with this first painting was consumed just trying to figure out how to mix colors and get used to everything

        Thanks for the comments, hope everything’s good!

  • Looks good. Keep on going

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  • “ultimately knocked a couple thousand off the originally booked price”

    Wow, it doesn’t matter how annoying you were – that is some discount !! I’d really like to visit Ajaccio – for no real reason other than it featured several times in the curriculum when I was learning French 😁

    • Greetings Steve! Yes, I was a bit surprised to be honest – I’d have to compare the original booking to the final tally, but I think it was in the range of $1500-2000 or so. I’m not completely sure about other cruise lines, but I found Norwegian’s pricing to be fairly hard to gauge. They almost always have varying promotions and so forth (i.e. 40% off), but they also change the baseline prices to compensate. And rooms change price based on availability. So it becomes hard to tell if you’re actually getting a good deal. But I basically just called their customer service every once in a while and asked them to price the same trip for me, let me know if it was a lower final cost. I did this while I was still in my cancellation period, so that was my back up plan if they weren’t willing to play ball for some reason. But NCL’s customer service was always good about things.

      Oh man, definite thumbs up for Ajaccio by the way! Although it’s hard to choose a favorite out of all the destinations on this trip, I do think Corsica overall is up there at the top. Really just a cool vibe to the place; must more relaxed than some other destinations.

  • Really interesting building in Florence Italy!!

    • Hello Shawn! Yes indeed, I found the buildings fascinating there. Really unique, even compared to the other Italian cities we visited. Florence is definitely a place I wished we had more time to roam around

  • Excellent Photos of the Mediterraininan Cruise.

  • Great cruise round-up Jon. My husband & I enjoyed a trip to Italy, some of the same sites as you, 3 years ago. Spectacular. We (living in Australia) have recently returned from a cruise around the North West coast of Australia which was stunning. I totally agree about a balcony, if you can afford one get it as it was a delight to sip wine sitting on our outdoor chairs watching the scenery go by. Excursions, in our case, were all organised by the ship as we were a small vessel of 99 passengers and tenders moved us around and onto shore easily. No towns nearby but plenty of crocodile warnings, and viewing of very, very old Aboriginal rock art, mangroves, crocodiles, sea turtles and so on.
    You really feel renewed when you get home, don’t you? They’re trips worth remembering, both in your mind and with photos.

    • Hello Claire! Italy sure is incredible, isn’t it? I really thought American pizza would mostly hold up against Italian, but I have to admit I was incorrect. I mean, of course there’s much more to it than the food, but that aspect really was remarkable.

      That sounds quite nice traveling with a smaller ship – the mobility would have been a tremendous advantage. Is this a commercially available option, perhaps a company you would recommend traveling through? We used Norwegian Cruise Lines, which was quite good, but I’m always interested in recommendations. And was your European voyage also a smaller vessel?

      Haha although your crocodile warnings sound quite terrifying, that does sound like a great trip!

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  • I enjoyed your post and your drawing. Rick Steves is a favorite! 🙂

    • I appreciate that! He has definitely become a go-to travel resource for us. I’m still amazed it took so long for me to hear about him, where have I been all this time?

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  • lyonkirsten2

  • Oops I input the wrong e-mail!!!

    • Sorry about the delayed response, Kirsten! I should be able to remove or delete the incorrect email. The only challenge is that this website has an anti-spam filter that may not allow a full email address in a comment. Can you give me the email without tying an “at” sign? That should get around the anti-spam.

      Aside from remove the incorrect email, you should be able to just add the correct one in if you still want to try for the portrait prize!

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  • It’s so weird reading this post now. Luka turned into one of the best players in the league! I almost can’t believe that I didn’t overhype him – the man is a legit MVP candidate every year. And Brunson turned out to be a pretty excellent player in his own right…but for the New York Knicks (boooo). And Dennis Smith Jr is on the outside looking in currently, trying to find a roster spot. I’m still rooting for DSJ, I hope he lands somewhere and plays well.

  • I’m a self-admitted “skimmer” here, I have no shame in saying that I’m look at the blogs I follow and the social media channels purely to look at the art. Sometimes I will take the time to give a proper read (I did with this one actually even though it’s not about a portrait :\ )

    For me, WordPress blogging is pretty much a dead duck. I started in the same year as you, I was seeing a steady increase in subscribers, comments, etc.

    Then I switched over from wordpress .com to .org – a managed wordpress service, purely because I thought it was the more professional thing to do. Even though it was alleged that my WP follows would still be there it was clear that something had happened, likes and comments fell off a cliff.

    After a year or so (I think) I switched back again from a paid plan to the free wp com blog that I had before but it’s never recovered. For most posts I’m pretty sure that no-one ever sees them. I’m at the stage now where I’m only noting things down for my own benefit to export to some other platform one day.

    • Unless I’m misremembering the timing, I believe your experience moving from to .org is one of the factors that kept me from trying the same thing. I still wanted to experiment with .org though to see how it’s different, and ended up building a totally separate site ( It’s okay and the price is nice, but .org (first through bluehost, then siteground) feels a bit more unwieldy at times. I do wish plans were cheaper, but I guess you have to pay for the cohesiveness, support options, and the WP Reader.

      Haha I know at least one person who sees the posts on your website – me! I’m a dinosaur though, stubbornly hoping blogging someday becomes “big” again. Although I admit, I do often end up browsing in batches rather than as they happen.

      Also, your comment about us starting blogging the same year got my pondering other sites from that time. It seems like a lot of my favorites have dropped off over time. I tried to come up with a list of sites I enjoy that were around in my earlier blogging days, back when we both started, but I can only think of a handful that are still pretty active:

      The one and only Steve Kidd:
      Outside Authority:
      Hilda Rogers:
      Tactual Textiles:
      Art Chap Enjoin:
      Craig Ford Fine Art:
      Christine Mallaband-Brown:
      Pessemier Painting:

      I feel like I might be missing some artists from back then, but their names aren’t coming to me. I’ll put it this way – there was an even higher number I remembered that I just searched, but their blogs are either gone now or haven’t been updated in years.

      • Yes Jon, I sacrificed my once-successful WP site over to org and it’s been downhill ever since, even after switching back to com.

        Mine is now on a free subscription so no doubt my pages are plastered with ads but after spending loads on a hosted plan and an additional hefty subscription for Shopify for a very short while I vowed to try and keep everything as cost-free as possible.

        Maybe one day if the “one and only Steve Kidd Art” (catchy title, thank you) starts to make a profit then I’ll look at upgrading to a packaged site but so far it’s only ever been a loss-making venture. Considering I was aiming for a retirement plan (not there yet) I may have to re-think.

        As it happens, I’m far from being the one and only Steve Kidd – but it was a surprise to find that there is another Steve Kidd Art on Instagram. I wonder if that one bumped into my name when setting up and had to change his intended name tag.

        I’ve had a look at your other site, I like the look of the cinnamon granola bars.

      • Actually, your site isn’t too bad in terms of ads. Just browsing through, it seems like the most heavy location is at the bottom of blog posts. But for the most part, areas like your galleries and other pages seem to have a single, unobtrusive ad at the end. Of course, I’ve never understood how WP determines placement and whatnot – is it dependent on your site’s theme/layout? Anyhow, I don’t think it’s distracting or anything.

        Man, I hear you on the whole “turning a profit” thing. My goal has always been to find a break-even point with the two websites, but in all honesty, I’m not even at that modest goal! Even if I include book-related sales and so forth.

        Now you’ve got me curious, so I did some googling – apparently there’s also a Steve Kidd who is a photographer? And there was a deceased American illustrator named Steve Kidd. So technically there are some others. But maybe just talking about you being “The One and Only Steve Kidd, Artist” will trigger some Google algorithm magic!

      • Ha ! Let’s hope, I’ll let you know when I’m “trending” and cut you in on the millions 👍

      • I like this plan! Haha

  • Nice portrait paintings, you really captured the people well!!

    • Thanks Christine! Also, congratulations to you on your book and the major scholarly accomplishments! I am trying to catch up on some blog post reading, and just now saw some of your springtime news. That’s so awesome

      • You are very kind! I now need to try and find a small publisher. But I also want to get on with new ideas. X

      • I can understand that, keeps things interesting! On the publishing topic, have you considered self-publishing? If you don’t have any philosophical objections to Amazon, their KDP program makes the process fairly easy. You basically download MS Word templates and copy/paste your book’s materials in. I’ve also done IngramSpark for self publishing, which is a bit less intuitive, but still not too bad.

        It’s not exactly a comprehensive guide or anything, but I did talk more about the pros and cons here:

  • Wow, these are very beautiful and authentic paintings. I like them

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  • Wow, looks like someone shared this drawing to Reddit:

    That’s pretty cool, I wonder how they came across the drawing? I’m honestly a bit honored someone thought it was good enough to share (haha that’s probably a bit dramatic, but still). Though it is probably my favorite of the multiple Elden Ring sketches I did.

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  • That was interesting! I must admit, I mostly look at your pictures, but skim the written material, too. I write and paint, and I can tell by feedback that sometimes my readers like the writing and other times the paintings. Like you, I keep on because I enjoy it (weekly, since 1998)

    • Wow, you’ve kept your blogging streak up since 1998?! That is indeed impressive, definitely something to be proud of. I hope to stay on that track over time as well, although I do have a ways to go to match that writing level!

      And honestly, I’m right there with you about blog-reading habits. There’s just so much great artwork out there, even just within the WordPress blogging realm. It’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with everything, so I also find myself skimming text and focusing on the images. I try to read more closely when something seems instructional, because it’s always my hope to learn something from the more experienced artists out there.

      But I certainly agree with you – the best thing is to go with what you enjoy, and this has been a great outlet for channeling some creative energies, both in terms of writing and drawing.

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  • It’s hilarious to look back at this now. So many of these cryptocurrencies are either gone or close to zero. Interestingly enough, my overall portfolio is pretty much right where it was when I started four years ago – I’m actually up $15 from my initial cash outlay. The big coins that are still around that I have are Bitcoin, ADA, XRP, BAT, XLM, WAVES, and Ethereum. And apparently Dogecoin, which is pretty funny.

    I’ve considered doing another post about this, but I’m not sure that I have enough to even talk about for a full write-up. I guess NFTs are a new thing I haven’t discussed, which could be relevant in some ways since I’m an artist. But I don’t think much of them, so it probably wouldn’t be a very positive take. Essentially, I think it’s a grift that is chocked full of people blatantly stealing intellectual property with (so far) no repercussions. I made an account on one of the big platforms so I could explore it firsthand…for the most part, I saw a bunch of repetitive, uninteresting clip art.

    Anyhow, maybe I’ll write more about that at some point. Particularly if companies like Nintendo and Disney start going after their IPs on these platforms.

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  • Nice painting from the wedding, you really captured the couple well. I really like how you got the texture on their skin!!

    • That’s much appreciated Shawn! Although sometimes I can’t muster the patience to layer the colors as much as I should, I think this time it worked out!

  • The thing I like most about this post is that you are taking a critical look at your work, identifying areas of improvement, acting on it, etc.

    This is a master class in how the process should be in my opinion. Well done.

    As for the blogging, I can related. A few months ago I realised that there were 2-3 pieces I’d done that I hadn’t even mentioned on WP.

    As much as I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram there’s no doubt that it gets faaaaaaaaaaaar more visibility than any WP post so it tends to get forgotten about for me.

    • Thanks Steve! I really do try to dive into the good and bad with every writeup. I’m honestly not trying to roast myself or anything like that, although I admit sometimes it may seem that way. I feel like every single piece is another learning experience, so it helps me to try to take a lesson from each one wherever possible. Even if it seems like the lessons are pretty repetitive! For example, my noted weaknesses with scenery, clothing, and objects comes up a lot in these.

      That’s so funny you mention that about Instagram vs WP visibility – I was just pondering that the other day. I wonder what the next “thing” is going to be? Blogging had its revenue generation hay day, then social media took all clicks. I’m sure it’s something we can’t even fathom (or if you do, go ahead and invest, right?). Maybe the video-centered platforms (Tik Tok, YouTube) will bury the others? Or will virtual reality (Meta) finally become a thing? I doubt that last one, but I’ve been wrong many many times when it comes to tech.

      I’m glad you stopped by though Steve, it reminds me I need to swing by your Instagram and catch up on your work! Haha

      • Yeah, swing on by to Insta – if you’ve been exceptionally observant you may see that my follower count has dropped from over 1,500 to about 700. They didn’t abandon me, I’ve been deliberately deleting them. Apparently I had a lot of “ghost” followers… that’s not something I thought about on wordpress though I fear if I did the same on WP then I’d be left with you and two others. For real !!

        Every painting is a learning experience, fine words !!

      • Wow that is wild! I figured there were always some bots floating around, but that’s surprising there were so many once you weeded them out. 700 is still quite a lot though from my perspective, especially if you feel better about them being actual people interested in artwork.

        I would guess I have a similar number of ghost followers. I know for sure there have been some on WordPress, although I’m not sure quite how many. Whenever someone subscribes, I try to look at their stuff too (particularly if they’re an artist). But there have been times where I click the user and it just says something like “this site no longer exists.” It’s not frequent, but it’s definitely been more than once.

        By the way, speaking of your Instagram – so @moospeed is also yours? But just dedicated to car paintings right? I’ve got both followed now, but I just wanted to make sure I’m on the right track there.

  • Love how you have done the progression. Very skilled and beautiful.

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  • Love these character sketches! I used to enjoy RPG… never see to have enough time these days to fully get into it.

    • Thanks very much Judith! They really are time consuming, I am with you there – it’s been a long time since I really dove into one like I did with Elden Ring. I’m glad I did, but I definitely need a break from such an all-consuming thing like open world RPGs now

      • Have you done Live action? I enjoyed LARP-ing back in the day… not sure how much of a “thing” it is now.

      • I haven’t tried that, but I used to have a neighbor who seemed to have a great time with his friends. This was probably 20 years ago though, so I’m not sure if they’re still about it. I always wondered if they sort of ad-lib the events, or if it was more like a Dungeons and Dragons session, with a carefully planned scenario?

  • Very interesting character designs!!

    • Agreed Shawn, I think From Software and all the people behind Elden Ring did an absolutely amazing job! Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin in my opinion really made a fascinating world full of compelling characters

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  • So much life in this drawing, Jon. What a lovely tribute and something tangible you and your wife can hold on to when remembering her father. He looks like such a happy friendly person. You’ve done him proud.

    • Thanks so much Claire for the kind words. He really was a such friendly person, you could see him just light up when he interacted with people

  • beautiful memorial, in drawing and in writing.

  • A little note on one of the characters I’ve tried to depict; Black Knife Tiche is actually a bit more involved in an important plotline than I realized. You can read more about some events she helped kick off in this post (Warning: Heavy spoilers are behind this URL):

    She was still sort of a minor character, but was involved in something pretty big.

  • Also, a small side note that I found interesting. One of the Spirit Ash summons I drew in another sketch, Black Knife Tiche, is actually one of the assassins who took down Godwyn the Golden. So, she’s actually one of the people responsible for kicking off all this chaos! I’m not sure if the game delves into this at all, since I haven’t reached the end, but I wonder who was pulling the strings? What’s the motivation and who really wanted to shatter the Elden Ring? Hmmm…

    More on Tiche’s background here:

  • I just realized I made a small mistake – looking at those Reddit family trees, I think Radahn and Malenia might actually be half-siblings rather than cousins. Since they share the same father and all. I guess my first hint should have been that distinctive red hair!

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  • Interesting drawing, it must have taken a lot of research to get the armor and costumes so good in your painting. I know there are a lot of extra challenges to creating period specific artwork pieces.

    • Much appreciated Shawn! In all honesty, it wasn’t too bad figuring out the armor and so forth. For the most part, I leaned heavily on styles within the game. I took detours regarding some of the details, partially because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to replicate clothing details that aren’t really in color within Elden Ring.

      Overall though, it was fun to try to adapt to what I had in my head!

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  • Well, looks like I had another Elden Ring drawing in me after all. A full blog post coming soon, but for now I’ll link the video:

  • Nice drawings, you really have a distinctive style to your portraits.

    • Much appreciated Shawn! As do you, I really like your pointillism nature scenes especially. Appreciate you commenting – it gave me a chance to see your artwork as well.

  • Interesting drawing of your subject reflected in the mirror!!

    • Thanks Shawn, it’s something I’m glad I attempted! Sometimes I have to talk myself into trying something new, so it’s good branching out worked out in this case

  • I particularly like the image of Finger Reader and Tarnished. There’s such an energy coming through from the directional line work.

    • Thanks Claire! While I was working on that one I wasn’t sure about it, but it really grew on me. I was surprised to find I liked the final result much more than I thought I would. Isn’t it a nice surprise when that happens?

      It’s a nice lesson that perhaps I should see things through even when I’m not sure. It’s interesting timing because just before this, I tried doing a portrait of Donnie Yen from the Ip Man movies, but I abandoned it because I just couldn’t capture his likeness. Maybe it’s time to loop back around to that again?

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  • You’d think it would be a double challenge as you’ve effectively got to draw two people, without a photo reference I think you’d have to be exceptionally skilled to imagine the side and back of someone’s head in perspective.

    My daughter is doing a media course at the moment and it’s surprising the lengths they go to when filming mirror scenes, to the extent of filming it twice and ignoring the fact there’s a cameraman in the reflection.

    Then you get tricks like this one I drew last year. Obviously I used two reference images for it but even with that in mind it was harder than I expected it to be. The hand for instance is reflected normally.

    • Oh man, yes I can’t even imagine trying to do it without a reference. I would have no clue! It might be interesting to try, but I have a feeling my version may look like an insane dream or something.

      That’s a cool one you linked, very well done there indeed. The techniques you used almost makes it feel like there’s motion in the piece to some extent.

      Also, that’s quite interesting about filming mirror scenes – I figured they used some cool trickery, but I just filed it away in my brain as “movie magic” and left it there. Of course, that’s assuming it’s not a low budget flick set for MST3K or Rifftrax, then they are very likely not to even care

      • It amazes me just how much time and effort goes into film making, it’s no wonder the list of credits is more like a phone directory these days rather than a readable list.

      • So true – not to mention money! I truly don’t understand the economics of the whole enterprise. It seems impossible to recover how much money they spend on some of these movies

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  • Excellent work, good luck 🤞

    • Much appreciated Steve, hope things are good with you!

      • Thank you. Yes, I took a break from social media and WordPress during February to fully concentrate on skilling up further with the art so I’m only just back and catching up.

        Your kitchen drawing captures the moment so well.

      • You were already on point with the realism – definitely looking forward to the results from your February activity!

  • I’ve my fingers crossed for you Jon, hope you get to see your work displayed. This is a great piece and your elder daughter is super-concentrated on what she’s doing. After following you for so long I’d recognise your family if I met them in the street!
    Somewhat spurred on by your lead and needing to make a firm commitment to myself re my printmaking I’ve just joined an exhibiting group. I submitted my portfolio for review and was accepted into their ranks. I find there’s something about collectives, groups and associations of like-minded people that generates energy and enthusiasm to explore, create and work to a deadline instead of my normal practice of doing too much thinking and not enough doing. I can’t wait to meet them all soon.
    I’m thrilled to see my on-line profile is already live at

    • Thank you Claire! Haha yes that’s true, I certainly have drawn them quite a few times. One thing I wonder sometimes is what the kids will think of all this when they’re older. I’m planning on giving them all these drawings someday – will they think it’s crazy that there are so many? Will they have favorites?

      That is very cool about the printmaking group! I did some browsing around the site you linked, it sounds like a really great opportunity to collaborate and interact with other experts. I like the profile write up and connected site too, quite nice. Well done and congrats – looking forward to seeing/reading more on the group exhibitions if you post about them on your blog!

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  • Good luck, man! Also, a great way to make connections in the art community is to look for life drawing sessions in your area, or portrait sessions. Both usually have groups of regulars that attend.

    • Much appreciated! This is a really great idea – I’ll have to keep an eye out on some of the art centers I followed when I was looking for art shows to enter. I don’t have much experience in this realm though, where else would you look for sessions like that? Perhaps colleges or libraries host them? I’ll have to do a bit of googling

      Anyhow, hope you’re doing well! Great to see your most recent post, and l look forward to seeing more from the print exhibit you’re featured in

    • Just visited your site SiverBlack. Loving your printing especially the screen-printing experimentation.

  • Best of luck to you, Jon, you’re on the right track !

  • Wishing you all the best with this, Jon!

  • If this exhibition interests anyone out there, and you happen to live in Texas, the deadline for entry is two days (Saturday, February 5th) at 6pm. There is no entry fee, and you can submit your artwork online! So it’s nice and easy.

  • Oh, actually I guess the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture did say exactly when they’ll notify of the results. I didn’t see it initially, but the list of artists will be posted on March 12th here:

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  • Nice Jon! I can see YOU have been busy in the months that I have been absent from blogland!!! Please send me a small cupful of YOUR energy and enthusiasm to help me get my own blog restarted!!!! Happy New Year! I really hope 2022 is going to be a GOOD one!!!!

    • Hello there Hilda, great to see you in the blog world again! I just saw the new post on your site, which I will also comment on – but thank you for stopping by here to say hello.

      There are a couple of artists I follow that have taken a bit of a pandemic-era break who I’ve been wondering about and hoping they’re doing well. Yours has indeed been a noteworthy absence! I hope everything is good, and definitely looking forward to seeing more of your great portraits and landscapes at some point in the future.

      Cheers to a great 2022!

  • nice collection! I like this as a GROUP. And the use of color is a bonus — I realize now that is your “older” style, but I like it and maybe somewhere in between is where it will all eventually land..

    • Thank you for that great observation and the kind words! I really didn’t have a good appreciation for that fact until looking back after reading your comment, but the use of color is quite different. I have certainly fallen into a “how about some more gray” mode, haven’t I? I like the idea you’ve mentioned though, trying to find an in-between zone to land.

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  • The advantage here as an observer is that I don’t know any of the shows or characters you are referring to – so I can admire these for what they are to me… portraits.

    And jolly decent ones at that, I particularly admire that side profile and the expression on the forward facing chap. Nicely done.

    • This is a great point Steve, I don’t often consider these things from that perspective. Sometimes I do try to imagine from an overall usability standpoint how visitors to this blog might experience the homepage, navigating, and all that. But I should try to view individual posts that way too sometimes.

      I did some browsing of some random posts just now, trying to imagine them completely at face value as a neutral person. It made me appreciate how I need to work on eyes and eyelids more. Haha some of my portraits have straight up crazy eyes, like that Nicholas Cage “you don’t say” meme.

      Thanks for the kind words about the drawing!

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  • I’ve been fighting with my style of printmaking versus other printmakers of a similar standard to myself for quite a while. Their work seems more interesting, some aspects more refined and subject matter that can’t help to attract. I discussed my lack of confidence with my husband as he’s a good sounding board for me to analyse my achievements.
    Several thoughts came from this but one thing stood out: when we work on a piece it becomes familiar to us, like a piece of our old furniture – comfortable, safe, known and reliable. But when we initially see another person’s art if seems fresh, spontaneous, different, alluring and that’s because we haven’t had the experience of living with it over time while it develops, as we have with our own pieces. So is it realistic to compare our (familiar) work with others and find ourselves wanting?
    I think my prints are quite good, relatively speaking, and I’m trying to stop looking at other work and thinking “what a great idea, I wish I worked like that” because I’ve realised that my way IS my way and the prints that appear from my hands are going to be exactly that – what my hands can produce and from the place my mind is at at the time.
    I’ve had printmakers compliment me on finished prints and ask my process. WHAT? Really? As I speak with them, Jon, I can see they have exactly the same insecurities as I do. They enjoy my work because it’s new and fresh to them, the same reason I like theirs.
    I think you’re doing brilliantly and if you’re working on subject matters that you like and you’re realistic enough to see where you can improve, or change something next time, then that’s a winner.
    Oh, super-cute squirrel by the way and I love the bike.

    • Wow, thank you Claire for this thoughtful comment – this is the type of insight into other artists’ thoughts on the matter I was hoping to hear! My work life is all about analysis and data, so sadly that creative side of my brain doesn’t get to play as much as it wants to. Most of my connectivity to other people also interested in art comes from reading blogs, so sometimes I can’t tell for sure if I’ve got “normal” art thoughts/insecurities churning. Haha I really should get out more…er, as pandemics allow anyway.

      It is reassuring to hear you’ve had some similar thoughts, but also kind of surprising. I don’t know a ton about printmaking, but I’ve followed your blog for quite a while now, and you seem to be at the advanced levels of the craft. For example, I had to browse a bit to find them again, but the Trees Book Project and “In Isolation” – being able to make something like these, it is no surprise at all to me that other printmakers would be complimentary

      You know, it’s funny you mention your husband as a sounding board. My wife has also been great in the same way – and she thinks I’m out of my mind the way I pick apart these drawings. But I think you are really onto something about familiarity. You spend a good amount of time making something, it does become common to you in a way that fresh creations from someone else aren’t.

      I appreciate your insight on this! Happy new year to you!

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  • good to see you drawing!!!

    • Thank you, I do wish there was more time for it! Life always seems to have a line it wants me to go wait in. It’s always good to get back into the swing of things though.

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  • I should mention, I ended up shutting this Discussion Forum down. It was a fun idea and the plugin worked really well. But ultimately, it was mostly just me posting random nonsense. And I figured I should focus my writing energy on normal posts.

    Maybe I’ll bring it back some day just for fun, but for now the plug is pulled!

  • I like the timeline images. The latest drawing looks a little softer in line work than the others and, as I’ve mentioned in the past, you’ve a great eye for hair. Great image.
    I also like the size and angle of the cup which appears to be white porcelain to me. Cute cats!

    • Hello Claire! Much appreciated, agreed it definitely looks softer than the others. It seems to me like there is even a gradual change of hard lines to much softer throughout all of them. It wasn’t an intentional change, but just sort of happened. Perhaps more aggressive color layering is factor?

      I love those cat coffee mugs, I think they’re some of my favorites. Perfect slightly larger size, hilarious cat faces. My mom has two of them and I have yet to find them in stores – but I won’t give up!

  • Are looking in a mirror or is this drawn from a photo reference ? All in all great work, I dig all of them. Video would’ve been a hoot had the actual artist turned to face the camera with cat mug in hand.

    • Greetings Matt, appreciate that! It’s from looking at a photo – I am really not very good at drawing from life, even if it’s myself in a mirror. I think that’s probably a good future avenue for practice though!

      Haha yes that would have been really funny to have a clip at the end of me actually holding that mug – have the video flip based on the mug moving toward or away from the camera. Then maybe even have a cat jump onto the table or something – next time, cat mania!

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  • If I won, I wouldn’t have a problem with you saying it’s a drawing of me Jon 😁

    • You know Matt, if you are good with it, I would include your name and link your site as well! Sad to admit, I never even thought to ask previous winners if they had a website, youtube, or some other project they wanted me to promote. I really like that idea

      Good luck to you on the raffle!

      • That would be perfect bro 🙂 hell maybe you and I should cross promote each other, I could draw something for you you for me in general, if ya want

      • Man, you’ve got the good ideas flowing!

        Another thing that just came to mind, what if I selected multiple winners? I have the ability to select multiple randomized winners…I wonder if that would be biting off more than I could chew? Hmmm

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  • Good stuff, used to have a Persian which looked not dissimilar 😸

  • nice work! and your children will benefit from having a pet…its always nice to have someone to talk to lower down on the totem pole!

    • Thank you! Haha actually I’m already starting to wonder if the little guy understands what the pecking order is supposed to be…sometimes his meows seem to be a list of issues he has with our customer service!

  • Congratulations on the newest family member!

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  • Wow, I can’t believe those links still work and aren’t broken. It’s been 10 years!

  • Whew…boy did we ever not “flatten the curve.” It’s weird to look at this post a year and half later. Weird, and honestly pretty dang sad.

  • I should probably also link the more recent drawing I did of Mike Patton:

    Definitely interesting to see how much my artwork has changed!

  • An excellent idea, the perfect accompaniment to the drawing video!

    • Thanks man, I’m really excited I got to match up his music to the drawing! That was really fun.

      And basically any time I sat down to write, I ended up getting distracted through various musical rabbit holes. But it was a good time indeed!

  • Still pretty decent brother

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  • I think I’m seeing a tone of “dejected” as well, it sounds a very hard project to capture.

    I do remember a fellow artist commenting on one of my dog portraits. She said “wow, how did you manage to really capture the soul of the dog like that?”. I had to answer, “I just tried to copy the shapes and colours”. I think it was more her interpretation than anything on my side, I didn’t even like the picture much.

    Overthinking… choose that for the next expression 😀

    • Hey there Steve! Although it’s not quite what I was going for, “dejected” is at least somewhat in the ballpark. I’ll take it as a partial win! Ha – at least I wasn’t going for a downbeat type emotion and ended up with her looking happy or something.

      I’m going to have to hunt down this dog portrait, was this a somewhat recent one? I’m very certain I’m not at a place where I can capture a soul, but that’s certainly something to shoot for!

  • I’ve just watched the video from Kirsty Partridge. Wow, I had no idea but I guess if you want the realism you have to take the time. The part using the craft knife was fascinating, and what a difference to the result.

    • I actually tried that craft knife thing! I just wasn’t able to get anywhere close to that effect though. It does appear that she’s vastly more patient with her layering…not that I’m saying I’m lazy. But yeah, maybe in comparison I am! Haha

  • Hi Jon, I read her expression as either apprehension or dejected. The hunched over position (which I love) leads me to dejected. The mouth is really good, but I’m not quite comfortable with the focus of the eyes. Even though they are on the same level as the guys it doesn’t seem like she is focusing quite highly enough to be looking into his eyes, which might give a more assessing or appraising expression.
    I like the gifs although this format allows us to enjoy your little ‘helpers’!

    • Hello Claire! That is so true, I do have some helpers that like to make cameos. I do enjoy when the kids pop in, but I’m not so sure the cat is helping too much. I think the next one, which is a portrait of the kids, has quite an extensive helper section!

      I definitely have to agree with you on the eyes – the line of site isn’t quite where it should be. That’s actually a third aspect that I find very challenging. First, making sure the eyes actually align in the same direction, and also that they’re looking at what they are supposed to. It’s interesting, there are some areas that I can refine and rework, like the nose or mouth. But I feel like with the eyes, if there’s too much pencil traffic, sometimes it’s hard to save it.

      Anyhow, I appreciate the thoughts on this one!

      • I forgot to mention the hair and your challenge with it. Honestly I don’t see it, because I’ve always thought the hair to be really well rendered.

      • Thanks Claire, that is really good to hear! It definitely feels like a struggle when I’m working on it, more so than so many other aspects. I think it’s some combination of me needing to be more patient, plus probably needing some more practice. I was watching this video by Kirsty Partridge, who I mentioned in the write-up, realizing how much I can still learn about hair techniques:

  • Always astounded when he has a beautiful landscape on the canvas and he takes a knife full of almost black paint and obliterates a whole section, only for 5 minutes later that dark patch is now a path leading into the scene with ripples on a lake and seemingly endless detail. I don’t do landscapes but I am tempted to follow along with one of those demonstrations one day. 😁

    • For real man! I have the similar thoughts watching him…like here he goes with that knife, and I’m thinking there’s no way this is going to work out. And of course, it looks fantastic at the end. If I ever get more adventurous and try paint, it sure would be fun to try to “Bob Ross” (a verb) something like that

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  • Love your creative style.

  • Love it! I like Bob with his ‘doers’ and happy little accidents. Lovely portrait x

  • Terrific post! I too love Bob Ross. Years ago I discovered the added bonus of observing my feisty toddler suddenly calm and drift into a nap while watching an episode. Great news about Roku as well! Enjoyed this!

    • Thanks Liza! Really glad you enjoyed it. That’s so funny, I wish I’d thought to try watching Bob Ross when my kiddos were younger! Might have really helped with naps time.

      The Roku thing is so great – I really can’t figure out how they’re able to give so many channels for free. I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts though, because surely they’ll monetize it more heavily at some point right?

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  • I wanted to click like but the button didn’t load x

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  • Interesting post Jon.

    I’ve never bothered with adding advertising on my site but last year I switched back from paying for a hosted WordPress.Org to a free WP site as it didn’t make any sense to keep paying out. It was eating into any of the money I’d sold any artwork for.

    I realised that I’d effectively given away several artworks just to keep my website alive for (realistically) not many followers. It was at that point I decided to move to a free site and let WordPress get revenue from their advertising if they want it.

    I’ve also changed my main URL to point straight to my Etsy shop in the hope that I can make some sales to get into the green 😀

    • Hey there Steve! I do remember reading about your journey moving to and from .org, it was a learning experience for you I’m sure, but also for people who follow your site. At one point, I thought about trying to port this site over to .org, but I remember reading about what happened to your followers and other issues and it scared me away from doing it. I ended up making a completely new/unrelated site via .org just to try it out without messing with my current setup.

      That balancing act is really tricky, man. My goal has always been to approach “revenue neutral” with the art hobby if possible, but I’m still not there. Even considering the affiliate links, book sales, or anything else. I really don’t think I could do it with paid web hosting! So I totally get the move you made connecting to Etsy.

      It’s quite a balancing act, isn’t it?

      • Yes, the heyday for me on WordPress seems to be the first 18 months after setting it up.

        After that, despite the art being better, the format being more professional and the posts being more informative – the fact is that the stats took a nosedive.

        Now I think of it just being as much a reference for myself as much as anyone else. I’m not a stats driven person at all so it doesn’t bother me if I’m writing to myself.

        I wanted to keep the domain name so it made sense to point it to Etsy for now and then change it back to a ‘proper site’ when I’m rich and famous 😜

      • That’s very interesting, I always wonder the “whys” of site traffic. Sometimes, things just take hold and people check stuff out. But then some topics or posts that I think are quite interesting don’t go anywhere at all. I’ve never been able to figure it out, to be honest. Like, my all-time most popular post on WordPress is a basic thing that just lists Excel functions that I use the most. It was never featured anywhere in particular that I’m aware of – it’s just consistently stumbled upon via Google apparently.

        That’s very true about your art though. I can see a real difference between the pieces from when I first started following your old site way back when. I had to do a doubletake on one of the recent cars you had on Instagram – I thought it was a photo at first, but then I realized it wasn’t! By the way, what is the current best path to your latest stuff? Is it Instagram or via that Etsy/ portal?

      • Thanks for compliment and interest. Instagram and WordPress will have the latest stuff posted.

        Etsy is just the shop so only features a small subsection of what I create, ie. no sketches, or other rubbish that isn’t worth selling 😉

        Though as with the stats there’s no apparent logic as to what people want to buy. Instagram stats are odd as well, my most popular post was neatly deleted at one point when I was doing a tidy up 🤷‍♂️

      • Ahh I gotcha, yes that makes sense. Although, in keeping with what we’ve been talking about with traffic/online interest being unpredictable, I wonder if some of your informal stuff would sell too? Like the casual sketches and whatnot? Haha, you never know eh?

  • Love to follow your work and your progress. Your portraits are beautiful

  • Thanks for this, I’ve been meaning to set something up on my page that makes transactions more easy and you’ve give me some really helpful pointers here!

    • Excellent! Quite glad this is useful!

      I hope your ecommerce experiments go well. As I said in a previous comment, I’m definitely no expert, but please feel free to post again if you want some feedback or brainstorming. It’s always interesting to see how others approach things as well

  • Your topic is exactly what has been on my mind for the past two days! Thank you very much for giving so much useful information!

    • That’s awesome, I’m glad to hear you found it useful!

      I’m by no means an expert at this, but if you want to bounce anything off of another person who has experimented with this stuff, feel free to pop in. I’m always glad to brainstorm with another art blogger!

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  • In terms of design, I had in mind a sort of exhausted Santa taking a break from his delivery job to eat some cookies.

    • I do appreciate you checking out the site…but I don’t typically allow links in comments unless it’s a blogger I’ve interacted with a bit. I’ve removed your link but left the comment text as is.

  • Of those major traffic sources, online-sweepstakes com, contestgirl com, and various Facebook raffle groups are easily the heaviest hitters.

    • Okay, I see what you’ve done here. You’re copying and pasting text from my posts as comments, trying to imbed a link. I guess this is for search engine optimization or something?

      As I said in the other post, I don’t usually allow links in comments unless I know them from prior interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • Of course, the most significant thing was simply the fact that these aren’t people.

    • As I said in your other comments, I don’t usually allow links unless I know the person from previous interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • In a couple of ways, I consider this post to be somewhat of a do-over.

    • As I said in your other comments, I don’t usually allow links unless I know the person from previous interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • I’ve noticed that you self criticize a lot. I actually like the drawing posted, it’s got a nice flow to it. I don’t much care for realism ya know…This drawing has a real manga feel to it.

    • Hey Matt, I appreciate it! Yes, that’s true I am sometimes a bit critical of myself. I try not to overdo it, but I find it helpful to write about what I was trying to do versus how it actually ends up. It sort of lets me know what I need to practice. Haha hopefully that’s actually a productive thing. Can’t forget about the positives though, keep it a balanced look right?

      I hope you’re doing well!

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  • I couldn’t fit all of my supplies in the links at the bottom of the post, so I’ll paste the full list here. Also, happy new year!

    Materials used:
    Prismacolor colored pencils:
    Graphite pencils:
    Strathmore 9 x 12 paper:
    Pencil extenders:
    Adjustable arm:

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  • Nice one !!

    As far as I know every master artist I’ve read about creates from some form of reference. To pluck images out of your head without any reference at all is a whole other skillset 🙂

    Happy Christmas to you and yours Jon, keep safe.

    • Hey Steve! Thank you man, I appreciate that. I definitely don’t have that skillset! It’s so weird, because I’ve always thought of myself as having a decent imagination, but apparently not when it comes to this hobby.

      Hope you have a great holiday season/Christmas/New years, etc as well!

      • I think you can still have a decent imagination but not be able to get it down on paper in art form.

        That’s where written works are easier (or would be for me) to pluck out of that imagination.

        Not sure if you’ve seen The Mandalorian series, or the Dinotopia artwork? Both are examples of where the writing and artwork have developed at the same time, one bouncing ideas off another and most importantly, going through many iterations before settling on the one we actually get to see. And also in both, life references were used.

        Have a good one Jon, see you next year 🙂

      • That’s a good point, it’s certainly not a given that the pencil will cooperate with what goes on in someone’s head. I should make practicing that my New Year’s resolution maybe – it’s certainly something I’ve wanted to work on for a couple of years now.

        I haven’t, but I keep hearing good things about the Mandalorian. I’ll have to check out Dinotopia as well! I’ve always been a big fan of dinosaurs.

        You too man, see you in 2021!

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  • If you didn’t already read it at the top, since writing this review, I was inspired to create a separate website for product reviews. They really don’t make sense to have on Amdall Gallery, since this is more about artwork. The new site is here:

    I also reviewed the Fossil Hybrid Collider there.

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  • I made an updated outline/planning/measuring video that I think is a bit better than this one. The new video is here:

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  • This is fun! I think re-using music tracks is fine. Other U-tube artists do it.

    • Thank you Laura! That is good to know, I really wasn’t sure if that was common. I was imagining people clicking through and thinking, “this dude is either crazy or lazy”

  • Its lovely to watch the sketch come alive🤩

  • This is one of your best, I think. Really well done!

    • I appreciate that!

      Also, I have to say I love your artwork. The chicken illustrations are so expressive, they’re very well done.

      • Thank you so much! They have improved over time. The first sketches were just on sticky notes at work!

      • How did i miss your reply? Sorry about that! Yes, I have to agree with you – I can see the progression from the posts on your site. It’s so fun to see how artists change over time, one of my favorite thing about WP and following other peoples’ sites.

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  • This is excellent! you have made such an improvement in that short space of time! Dark Tower is also my favourite series. I’ve just received delivery this morning of Dark Tower: Beginnings graphic novel. My own art is improving, but not as fast as yours. Nice one!

    • I appreciate it, Steve! How is that graphic novel? I could always go for some more Dark Tower content. In fact, maybe it’s time for another series read through for me – maybe Roland finally figured out the right path this time!

      Do you ever share any artwork to your site? It would be cool to check it out – I love seeing people’s varied interpretations of the Dark Tower characters. It’s always interesting to see how different they can be

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  • I agree that if the person you did it for is happy then that’s the most important thing. However, I enjoy your analysis as it brings more knowledge to the outcome than just the visual image, and it teaches me something.
    The eyes are very good; clear, distinctive and alert. These people are looking right out at us. I also really like the grey jeans on the other image, the guy second from the right, as they are definitely ‘worn-in’ and comfy looking. Great movement in the clothing and the focus is definitely on the people not the land/seascape.

    • Thank you Claire – I’m sure I’ve type this somewhere in comments before, so apologies if I’m repeating myself. But, small impacts mean a lot to me. Sometimes I wonder if I write too much/go overkill on some of these artwork posts, but then occasionally someone will say they actually got something from it. It probably sounds silly, but knowing there was that little ripple for someone validates it! It makes me feel like I’m part of a little art knowledge swap or something, because I’ve gained the same from other artist sites like yours.

  • Jon your illustrative style isn’t completely realist to begin with, being too hard on yourself. Beautiful drawings, the fact that you made someone happy with them should be what’s most important. I get it though we as artists will always only see the flaws, but sometimes you really got to relish is that other persons happiness 🙂

    • Thank you Matt, you’re probably right about that – I am such an easy target for myself though! Haha, only sort of kidding there. I try not to dwell and beat myself up too much, but at the same time I like to be honest about my thoughts on these things. A tricky balancing act I think.

      But it’s true, by far the most important thing is that the person it was for liked the result. That’s definitely the biggest win and I’m thankful for it for sure.

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  • Still use the grid method often, can’t see a need to ever drop that having seen extremely professional artists continuing to use it. Funny to think that something I’d tried as a four-year old would be picked up again at ten times that age 😀

    • That’s pretty encouraging, man! I’ve continued to wonder about other people using grids and little proportion strategies. I really have to lean on measuring tricks when it’s something important, like a request or gift. Granted, most of my stuff is nonsense that just goes in a portfolio. But you want to get those requests/gifts right, you know? A drawing of The Witcher doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I want to give a portrait for my mom for example the best effort possible.

      • Absolutely, if it’s anything other than a quick sketch then I usually do something to check the proportions and stuff.

        One thing I have learnt is that you don’t need to grid the whole paper, just the bits of detail and maybe some larger blocks for general spacing.

      • That’s smart, definitely no need to waste time marking grids for areas that are empty! I like to think of myself as a fan of “lazy grids” – not perfectly measured or even complete, but at least good enough to not have wildly terrible proportions. Even just measuring and marking distances, I think the ruler is my friend. Now, why don’t I ever use it to help with straight lines?!

  • Wishing you success with this Jon.

    I’ve posted up a few videos for years under my alter-ego for car related stuff.

    For the art stuff I’ve only done a couple, as you say it’s awkward enough creating the art without the added challenge of doing it around and out the way of a lense.

    What I have intended to do though is keep the video really quite short because I’m aware that most of the viewing public have the attention span of a goldfish and will move on within seconds. However there’s definitely a good few that will sit through something longer, and quite often be better off for it.

    • Is your channel something you’d be okay publicly divulging as a Steve Kidd project? I’d love to check it out and see how you’ve done things. Recording video is still super awkward for me…have you found a workable position? I’m using a pretty basic tripod, but the best position so far is unfortunately right in front of me while drawing. And I still haven’t figured out the lighting situation – I already have difficulty with lighting just trying to photograph things, video is even more noticeable.

      Honestly, I’m a bit worried this YouTube project is becoming an abandoned project…I started off like a tornado with the videos, but I haven’t done one in a few weeks. I need to get back on it next time I draw!

      • I don’t really have a workable position as the only videos I’ve done were completely ad-hoc and unplanned. I don’t have any intention of creating a channel as such, got enough on my plate already 😁

        I think this is the art one, it says No Content but then there’s a few videos under Videos section. I always thought that YouTube was for videos so not sure what content it’s referring to 😕

  • Nice work… could you see my works

  • Love the soundtrack you’ve included. Adding that to my playlist. I think Triss’s hair is particularly good.

    • It really is a well-done soundtrack, Toss a Coin to Your Witcher is super catchy. We often find ourselves saying to the kids, “Hey why don’t you toss a coin to your dad/mom?”

      Also, thanks for saying so about the hair – I’m satisfied with it too I think. At first, I was a bit worried about diverging so far from the video game version’s hair color. I am definitely not the best at the creative side of drawing, but I do think the more natural red worked here. Being able to diverge from source material is something I’ve tried to work on, but I never know how it’s going to go!

  • Regarding armour looking like cloth? I think I noticed you had drawn lots of parallel lines.? If you look at reflections in metal they tend to be more block shaped, with maybe one or two fringes of lines around them? Does this make sense?

    • Ahhh, that’s a good idea – definitely worth a shot next time! That does make sense; it sort of shapes itself by how the light hits it I guess? I feel like this is something I need a fair amount of practice on if I want to really get it down. Have you done any metal-heavy drawings on your site I could take a peak at?

      • No not really, but when I ain’t scenery I have to do things like metal lamps or other things (sorry that’s a bit vague), metal is similar to glass, the reflections in it follow its curves, so partly it depends what’s being reflected. Look at any shiny surface and you will see what I mean. Your armour looks scratched and scored, maybe following many fights. You can also add dents and broken edges. X

      • I’m definitely going to need to study some reflective surfaces a bit more. Do you ever use pencil to depict metal or glass? If so, how do you blend it? Like sort of in that square pattern you mentioned? Just curious if there were some tricks to it

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  • Awesome to watch you work! My two cents on the video format is that both were great (digging the music too, lol), and I think both have a place on YouTube, if you specify the purpose in the title (and/or video description)—so someone seeking out a longer, tutorial-style video to watch would find that one, and others could enjoy the sped-up “look how cool this is, watching a drawing come together” version. I personally would love to see your initial outline-sketching phase, perhaps even in its own video, sort of a different type of tutorial. Hope this helps, good luck with your channel!!

    • This is fantastic feedback, I really appreciate it! Coming up with a good title and description was harder than I thought it would be. I just changed the title and description a bit, hopefully it’s a little more descriptive now.

      Next time, I’ll add the graphite sketch portion too – I wasn’t sure if that was useful, so that’s good to hear it would be interesting to see. Thanks for checking it out, Anna!

  • Nice portrait!

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  • Thank you . Super helpful !!

  • these are great sketches

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  • Thanks for creative works!!!!!! Hopefully for a posssible sweeps win!!!!!! Happy Mother’s Day

  • I like the minimalist background. It keeps the eye on the main subjects. Terrific portrait and, as I’m such a dog lover, especially love the dog.

    • Thanks Claire – I’m really starting to enjoy drawing pets, I might try to do it a bit more. Fur is an interesting challenge that I’m still trying to get the hang of, but I think I see an improvement

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  • I always love seeing how you start your sketches—it looks so different from how I do it so that’s really cool to me. I’m not sure exactly what it is that distinguishes our styles of sketching, but you seem to have a good way of capturing the “necessary” elements to the drawing before you flesh the whole thing out (pun sort of intended).

    • Well played on the pun! Thanks Anna, that’s one of the things I’ve most loved about WordPress – getting a peak into other peoples’ processes and approaches. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I don’t think I would have seen the same improvement over the last few years without that learning element. For example, I first learned of thick colored pencil layering/heavy burnishing from your Drawing Through site and Luisina Juliete’s YouTube videos. And I’ve picked up so much from artist bloggers like Steve Kidd, Hilda Rogers, and others.

      I believe we do both start with outlines typically, right? After that, I tend to fall into the same flow: 1) base layers, 2) shadows, 3) blending, 4) detail, 5) more blending. Do you tend to follow consistent patterns or does it just depend on the subject? I was looking through some of your Drawing Through pieces, and it looks like on “The Eye” you went with details first and skin color towards the end. But the portriat of Bodo The Dog actually seemed really similar to how I approached the few pets I’ve drawn.

      • It’s funny, I am generally a super neat and organized perfectionist, but often when it comes to drawing, especially using color, I seem to approach things at random! I noticed that when I do a fully monochrome pencil sketch, I will jump around even more, adding shadows before the general outline is done, whereas the nature of colored pencil leads me to be more precise—erasing is not really an option, so there is more planning and intentionality involved, and the initial sketch must leave out details I would otherwise include, in order to avoid the pencil marks showing through in the final piece. Thanks for listening to my TED talk. 😉 I’m curious about how you see your approach to colored pencil drawing differ from your previous pencil-sketching style—maybe a post idea if you run out at some point? I don’t recall your book going into that specific comparison (if I even worded that in a way that makes sense…) Do my overly lengthy replies hint at the current quarantine? Haha

      • Hey I guess that’s the spirit of art though right? Going where the pencil takes you, not fighting that creative part of your brain. That’s a fair point about erasing though, I feel like I’ve definitely gotten into trouble in the past with un-fixable mistakes.

        Also, fantastic idea on writing about the differences between colored pencil and the graphite approach! Although I’ve certain explored colored pencil changes over time, I really don’t think I’ve touched on that at all. In hindsight, it’s kind of a “why didn’t I think of that” moment – it would have been a great thing to talk about in in some detail in the book! Because it is definitely a different approach. I’d have to ponder it a bit more, but I think my graphite approach was more similar to yours with a lot of jumping around.

        (100% there too on quarantine stuff by the way)

  • Great gift

  • very cool jon

  • Just for my own future reference, I’m going to use this comment to track some of the other places I shared this giveaway:

  • Your wife’s expression is perfect! Well done 👍

    • Thank you, man!

      Eventually I guess this will need a sequel, since the kiddos are all about that Goofy Faced Life too. It’s near impossible to get a photo of all four of us without someone doing something ridiculous

  • Nice! I always find it hard to retry drawings—the reason why I don’t think I could be an illustrator; the character would vastly differ on each page. You’ve managed to make improvements while maintaining the features of the original drawing. Have you heard of the colored pencil trick of layering Dark Umber and Indigo Blue to create a more natural-looking black? At least I think there were the shades 🙂 I’ve had some success with trying it (regarding your comment about the sides of the guy’s mouth)

    • Oh me too, I totally get that. I put together a little kid’s book a few weeks ago, that’s what I kept running into. It’s about a family of robots, and I kept making the dad robot’s body change drastically from page to page. Like in one page he’d be super wide, in another his head would be bigger, etc. Illustrators who can maintain consistency have a really underrated skill! I hadn’t even really consider it much before.

      Also, thank you for that tip. I had never heard it before, but I just tried some experiments with blended indigo and dark umber. It looks really good! Like you said, a natural shade of black. It’s almost like just regular Prismacolor black is slightly shiny or has a “brightness” to it (maybe that’s not the right word). But this blend seems more muted, like it wouldn’t distract next to other colors. Thanks!

  • What a difference! Much more drama and life in these now – the benefit of 2 more years of practice and experience. The dress in particular has so much movement in it.

    • Thanks Claire! It’s so wild to think about how much artwork can change over the course of a year or two.

      After posting this update, I was thinking about how I could show progression on a larger scale – comparing two pieces isn’t too hard, but I wonder if there’s some tool I could use to visualize like 10+ drawings and how they change. Maybe there’s a plugin or widget out there?

  • Just came across your art blog (thank you for the mention!) and it’s awesome to see how you developed your style with the pencils! Love the ones from March 19th and April 17th this year. Amazing style !

    • That really means a lot, Luisina! Your YouTube videos were such a tremendous help when I was trying to learn how to use colored pencils. I must have watched that Emma Watson portrait dozens of times (this one: Before seeing your tutorial, I had no idea the white pencil could be used to blend! That was a game-changer for sure, particularly trying to move from that scratchy light coloring to a more paint-like blending.

      It’s really cool to have an artist whose work I’ve admired compliment my progress. Thank you for that, definitely made my day

  • “if I were a perfectionist it would probably be an issue” 😂

    • Haha, isn’t another way to say that “yes, I am kind of lazy”

      Seriously though, I do have a bad habit of kind of messing up drawings I spend too much time changing. I’m trying to protect these portraits from myself!

  • Hi Jon. Thanks for stopping by my site recently and it’s great to explore your site. This post in particular resonates with my own ongoing experiences and I hope, as I do, that you can take some comfort from knowing that you’re not alone with these feelings! I don’t have any answers beyond what others have already said I’m afraid but it looks to me as if you know how to ‘manage’ this! All the best

    • Hello there John, and thank you as well for checking this one out! As an art-viewer, watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, so I’m quite glad to have stumbled across your artwork via the WP Reader. The scenes you paint are quite excellent, particularly the city paintings with people out and about (that’s not just because of COVID-19)

      It is actually pretty reassuring to hear that is something other people experience too. This probably sounds illogical, but it’s hits home even more when it comes from talented artists like yourself and others I’ve come across in this blogging ecosystem. This made me of one of your posts I just read today “Am I an Artist?” I’ve definitely asked myself the same question. I guess it’s hard to really judge your own work sometimes. (for what it’s worth, l vote yes – you are an artist for sure)

      • Hi Jon and many thanks for such kind and generous comments – I really appreciate them. I suppose we’re all in our own way riddled with doubt (and I daresay I’d distrust anyone that said they weren’t!). It’s often really helpful in so many ways to hear how others view or perceive your work and abilities – especially at times when you may find yourself at a low ebb! Anyway – I’m really grateful for your comments and for you spending the time on looking and commenting! Look forward to seeing more of your work now I’m also following you.

      • I hear that, it can be a bit difficult to put your artwork out there at times. Especially since I’m probably the worst judge of my own stuff. It’s easy for me to forget that the viewer doesn’t always experience things the same way the creator does. Like some little detail might drive me crazy, but 99% of people who see the portrait may not notice or care.

        Anyhow, definitely looking forward to seeing more of your fantastic paintings!

  • Like you, Jon, I’ve looked back at much of what I’ve photographed in the past and reviewed my seemingly ongoing struggle to get even light across a whole composition. To add to it, I’m also often photographing 3 dimensional objects and books.
    At the beginning of this year I finally purchased a large (80cm square) portable photo booth with adjustable lighting, various ‘portholes’ to aim through and 3 different colour backgrounds. It’s been a Godsend. I can’t say that I’ve wrinkled out all my issues as I’m still coming to grips with it but my pictures are much improved. I use a small easel to stand items upright and have just started experimenting with vignettes laid flat.
    An online course I’ve just started recommends using an iphone and certain apps which manipulate and improve photos but the struggles I see people experiencing keeps me with my wonderful Canon camera firmly in hand. I download and manipulate as little as possible (if at all if I’ve used the photo booth) in Photoshop, mainly resizing for web use.
    I’ve also found a huge difference in the 2 computer screens I toggle between. Both the same brand and size, settings the same but oriented at different angles on my corner desk. I really have to ensure I’m looking at the right angle for each because imagery can seem very different if you’re not fully head on in front of the screen.
    It’s no longer just about the art, is it? We’ve moved into the complexity of displaying the art, and I find that can take just about as long as producing the piece in the first place sometimes.

    • This is quite a timely comment – I’ve been trying to figure out the “ins and outs” of just such a thing. I’m not a photographer by any means, so all of this stuff takes some effort to wrap my brain around.

      If you don’t mind sharing, what brand/model of photo booth/light box did you buy? It sounds like it’s been great, so you would recommend the one you’re using? Honestly, looking over options is a bit daunting because 1) I don’t actually know how to judge them and 2) the price seems to vary wildly. By way of example, here are two I was looking at:

      Is the $141 so much better than the $65 one? I have no clue! There are reviews of course, but when they’re both a mixed back, I’m back to square one.

      You are sure right about the complexity of displaying art though. Since most of the audience are viewing what we create digitally, it’s pretty much vital to present it well. Definitely not something I expected to be such a core component of the process!

  • Definitely recognisable!!

    “does look less cartoony than the originals” – the originals of these characters and of those in Tangled have crazy proportions. Yours are more lifelike probably due to the proportions I reckon…

    • Hey there Steve, happy Friday to you! Yes they do indeed, their eyes seem especially bizarre. When I was looking over the Frozen characters, I couldn’t help but notice how hilariously large they are.

      Also, it’s funny you mentioned Tangled…that is suddenly becoming very popular with the kids. Not quite at the level of replacing Frozen (as long as my kids call themselves Anna and Elsa, its status as champ is safe), but they are consuming all available Tangled content on Disney+. Ha – might be a matter of time before I get recruited to sketch draw those folks too

      • Ah yes Tangled. Something topical about that at the moment.

        Rapunzel locked away from the world and her Kingdom. Isolated you could say… The name of the kingdom? Corona!!

      • Man that is absolutely hilarious, that’s exactly what my wife kept talking about when we were watching it the other day. At the beginning, when she’s cooking a ton and bored out of her mind…”hmmm does this look familiar at all?!”

  • Wishing you all the best with the book Jon 👍

  • Thanks for the info, Jon. I shall try some better blending when I get to Day 18 of my ‘Jack’ drawing challenge which needs to be soon. I see you’ve been following my progress – all critiquing accepted!
    Glad to know that self-isolation hasn’t cramped your creative spirit.

    • You bet! I’m not sure if this helps or not, but I got a lot out of watching videos by an artist named Luisina Juliete. I watched this video a few times specifically: She’s really quite good at blending and pulling together different colors using white. It’s taken some time for me to figure out, but pushing harder than I was accustomed to with the white pencil was sort of a game-changer.

      I’ll keep an eye out on the continued Jack portrait adventures!

  • Jon, I’m very interested in Elsa’s blue bodice. From the gif I see you made the small rectangular shapes first then overlaid more colour so ‘blurring’ and unifying the first layers into the whole. Is it all done with pencil or do you use water-colour or similar? Some of the areas are beautifully smooth, more painterly than I ever get using coloured pencils.

    • Hey there, Claire – I hope you are doing well!

      It is actually all done using colored pencils. I started with a bunch of squares in turquoise and blue, most were outlines with some solid. Then, I layered some dark blue and grey into the areas I wanted to shade, and some lightly colored turquoise over the lighter non-shaded areas. The last touch was to go in with a white pencil and blend everything together.

      I was a bit worried about that last blending step because I didn’t want to push the colors into an unnatural looking direction. I actually lost more of the dark blue in the blending than I thought I would, but I think it worked out in the end. So, short version – layers and heavy blending. These are Prismacolor pencils, by the way (if that helps)

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  • If you’re a video game fan there are a ton of games on sale right now.

    First, GOG has a ton of free games available for download:

    Also, if you haven’t played Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yet and want to check it out, it’s on sale both on Steam and GOG for 70% off. So you can pick your favorite game distributor and go for it!


  • The drawing has action in it, which is in itself a success.

    • Thanks man – that’s true, at least I did convey action! Although it’s not quite what I hoped it’d become, there are some positives here. And it does sort of align with the art style of the game itself.

      I hope you’re doing well during the current pandemic insanity, Steve. Weird times for sure.

      • Doing as well as can be expected I think. Various disasters occurring buy could be massively worse of course!!

      • Glad to hear you’re doing well, and that’s true – global pandemic aside, so far no alien invasion or anything like that. And I haven’t had to fight anyone in a post-apocalyptic Thunderdome yet, which is nice!

  • Free access to ABC Mouse for the kiddos:

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  • I’m going to also use the comments section of this post to share some free stuff to do during downtime at home. First up, a list from NPR of stuff that’s free now that wasn’t before:

    • Education
      Want to feed your brain with something other than constant coronavirus updates? The eight Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of online courses to the public for free.

      Dhawal Shah, founder of the online course aggregator Class Central, compiled a list of more than 400 classes that are available in subjects as varied as Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics from Columbia University; HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism from Princeton University; The Science of Well-Being from Yale; and Gamification from the University of Pennsylvania.

      The educational publishing company Scholastic announced it has a digital learning hub for free that’s intended to “support virtual learning plans.” It says the curriculum covers English language arts, STEM, social studies and social-emotional learning.

    • Fitness

      Not interested in stimulating your brain? How about your body? Many gym chains across the country have shuttered but are offering online classes for free.

      Peloton is offering new users a 90-day trial on its app. This news comes as the company announced the closing of its showrooms until at least March 29. It added that this week it began producing content from its new studios in New York, “but it will be entirely closed to the public until further notice.”

      Golds Gym is offering free access to its app, Goldsamp, until the end of May, where more than 600 audio and video workouts along with DJ mixes get you ready to work up a sweat. Planet Fitness is offering “Home Work-Ins” streamed live at 7 p.m. ET daily on its Facebook page.

      If you are looking for something to offer strength and maybe a little stress relief, there are some paid yoga sites that are now providing some online classes for free, including Core Power Yoga and Down Dog.

    • Classic sports streaming

      With all the major sports leagues shut down, some of the leagues are dropping their subscription fees to their paid streaming services. While sports fans may not be able to get their live-action fix, at least they can relive (or perhaps experience for the first time) some classic games and rivalries.

      Starting Friday, the National Hockey League is making all games played during the suspended 2019-2020 regular season available to stream on demand. Additionally the league launched “NHL Pause Binge” on its website and YouTube channel, allowing fans to view documentaries and “full-length classic NHL games dating from the 1950s to present day.”

      The NBA and NFL are providing similar offerings through NBA League Pass and NFL Game Pass.

      If it’s sports history you crave, PBS announced that it is making the 1994 Ken Burns documentary Baseball available to be streamed for free.

  • The piece really comes together between the last two gif shots! Thanks for explaining the curve thing/ graph, too—I think that will help explain it to someone reading that didn’t quite get it before

    • I think so too, I definitely felt like her face was a bit smudgy and didn’t really have much definition until the end. Also, I’m glad you found the graphs useful – there’s an overload of information out right now about this, so I tried to stick to the high points. Anyhow, I hope you are doing well!

  • Informative commentary on your process. I like that. It’s needed. You inspire me and no doubt many others.

    Stay safe.


  • Solid likenesses. Recognized them right away! I’ll have to go check out the new trailer now…

    • Thanks Anna! That’s exactly what I hoped, that people might at least be able to recognize the actors/characters. And yes, if you are a Stranger Things fan (especially of one particular character), I think you’ll really get a kick out of it. I know it made me happy – I celebrated like I just won the Super Bowl or something

  • One of the clearest articles on this topic. Thank you!

    • Absolutely, I’m glad you found it useful!

      It’s been a while now since I went through this process, but seeing your comment reminded me of some things I’ve found since writing the post. First, I didn’t even think about libraries, but they also have access to the Ingram catalog – my local parish (county) library actually bought a couple copies! Also, although it wasn’t a big seller in the grand scheme of things, it did somehow end up on a couple “popular new book” lists I found online. And it was surprisingly sold online in the U.K. and Australia.

      Another interesting thing is that I found out my book was being pirated. Occasionally, I google the book to see if it’s discussed anywhere. One of these searches showed a forum where someone was sharing a free hosted download link. I didn’t do anything about it, but it seems to be gone now. This is kind of a weird thought, but I was actually kind of honored that someone thought it was worth stealing. I mean, if they wanted it badly enough to risk viruses on some sketchy download, that’s on them.

      I also wanted to mention how effective having an eBook through Amazon’s KDP Select is for getting attention for your book. KDP Select is controversial because it grants exclusivity to Amazon for your eBook, effectively give them even more market power. But it does generate a ton of attention, and even helps your paperback/hardcover sales.

      Anyhow, that was an unnecessarily long answer, but thanks for reading and stopping by the site

      • I was just thinking about this again the other day. First, I do have my doubts that the book was actually being pirated. I wonder if it was just a bait link chocked full of viruses with no actual book content. I can’t figure out how they would have gotten a pirated version, since I’ve only ever had it available on Kindle, and a Kindle hack/exploit would probably have gotten a lot of attention right? Anyhow, it seems unlikely in hindsight that it was the actual book.

  • Nice presents, well done on doing the horses.

    I’ve seen very experienced artists fall apart doing horses, especially face on.

    • Hey Steve, happy holidays to you! Man, you aren’t lying about horses. Trying to draw a horse face feels a lot like trying to sketch a weird brown alien.

  • Pingback: Holiday Portrait Gift | Amdall Gallery

  • Have you tried any of the Amazfit smartwatches? I ask because you talk about the battery life being a “game changer” on this, while the Amazfit smartwatches offer better battery life along with more features (AMOLED, touchscreen, GPS, more sensors, etc.) and at a lower price.

    • Actually, the Amazfit Bip was one I almost pulled the trigger on multiple times. The price and feature set (and the incredible battery life, as you said) is really appealing. The thing that always held me back was the unknown integration with Google Fit. I know Amazfit has their own app, but I could never figure out if they operated like FitBit in their own ecosystem, or if there was some sort of data push to Google Fit. Without knowing for sure, I never could quite convince myself to hit the buy button.

      Once the rumors of this Fossil Collider started, and I saw how watch-like they looked, I was hooked. The e-ink/e-paper thing, combined with the overall aesthetic, was enough to get me to bite. I still may try an Amazfit someday though, because the brand’s offerings remain appealing.

      If you’ve used the Bip (or even one of their other watches), what’s your experience with their app? Does it connect to other things, like Google Fit? If so, is it pretty seamless?

  • I really idolized all your works Jon! 🙂

  • Update: I’ve run into something that sort of seems minor, but from a practicality standpoint, it’s been a somewhat significant negative. I’ve been running at dusk lately, and had trouble trying to see my mileage and stats. It’s that point in the evening when it’s too dark to see without the backlight. The problem is either that the backlight is too weak to see at dusk, or that it’s just really hard to activate while I’m running. Once it’s actually dark towards the end, when I’m walking, I can see it.

    I still love the watch, but this is certainly an inconvenience…and probably will be until it starts getting dark later again.

    • I’ve run into another issue that’s sort of a big deal. I lost one entire day of tracking (HR, steps, exercise, sleep). I opened a ticket with Fossil, they can’t seem to figure out why. It only happened once – the data just disappeared as I was syncing the watch to the app in the evening. If it happens again, this issue may actually be a deal-breaker for me. I just can’t be losing tracking data. I used FitBits for years and never had something like that happen.

      I keep the watch connected via bluetooth pretty much all the time, and it disconnects from the app about once a week. Don’t know if that’s related to the above issue or not. To fix, I have to turn off bluetooth, close the app, turn on bluetooth, reopen the app, tap connect. Fossil support, which I had always heard was pretty good, appears to have given up on my issue. I can’t reproduce it, and they closed my ticket with a “if it happens again” message.

  • Also, just circle back on the supported notifications thing. Android Police (a tech site, not robot cops) did a review on this smartwatch. It’s an interesting review to me, because it seemed like the had positive overall impressions, but really gave it a bad score (6/10). Apparently, they care A LOT about app notifications, because that was the main point they hammered. Anyhow, Android Police contacted Fossil and got a list of additional apps supported with their next update:

    American Airlines
    Bank of America
    Capital One
    Google Inbox
    Sina Weibo
    Skype for Business
    Square Cash
    Tom Skype
    United Airlines

    Still quite a few that I’d like to see, like WordPress and perhaps Reddit. And it’s sort of odd that they’re included some apps that don’t exist anymore like Google+. But it’s good that they’re working on that aspect.

  • Battery life update: I’m at the 10.5 day mark now, and it’s got 20% battery left. Unless I’m totally failing at math (which definitely happens), I could probably squeeze another 3 days out of it. That would land me just short of the 14 day mark. I’ve got device charge anxiety though, so I went ahead and plugged in tonight.

  • Thank you! I’m keeping this ost so I can try and create a gif. It will take me a while but it’s very useful. Thanks again!

  • Well there you go, I’ve been using Google photos since they invented it and I’ve never tried the animation feature. Learnt something new.

    Makes me feel a bit so sloppy on my posts. I don’t put any thought into the majority of them. “Here’s my picture” and then if I’ve got the time, and the inclination, then I’ll add “and here’s how I did it”. 😳

    It’s definitely Gif G G G all the way. Jif is a brand of floor cleaner.

    • Isn’t that cool? I do wish Google Photos allowed you to create .gifs out of videos, but right now it’s just still frames. Despite the fact that the app will randomly automatically make looped .gifs from videos for you.

      Dude, there is nothing wrong with that! Sometimes I wonder if I’m going waaaaaay overkill on these posts. Like people open them and say, “settled down guy, I’m just scrolling to the picture anyway.”

  • I do like your progression gifs. Helps see how you tackle shading.