Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



I wish you a most joyous Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not Your Average Millionaire: The Hit and Miss Career of James Altucher



The career of media mogul James Altucher could be likened to a 20-year roller coaster ride, or a sprint through a minefield.  Few have experienced a career as erratic, and with as many highs and lows as that of Altucher. Despite his many setbacks, he has been a pace setter in the fields of finance, corporate ownership, management, writing, blogging and podcasting.

After studies at Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University, Altucher did a three year stint at HBO, working in their IT department as an online producer. His first broadcast experience found him roaming the streets of New York at night as an HBO reporter, interviewing New Yorkers.

Altucher claims to have failed at 17 of the 20 companies that he has either founded or co-founded during his mostly chaotic career.  As he said on his podcast just today, “You gotta keep movin’”. And move he does. He founded Reset, a web design company, in 1996, then sold it five years later for around $10 million.  Within two years he had lost it all in failed business ventures.

Fast forward ten years. In 2006 he founded StockPickr, then turned around and sold the company for $10 million.

In the early years of Altucher’s career, TV stock market pitchman Jim Cramer hired him to write articles about stocks. That led him into increased involvement in the financial markets. From 2002 to 2005 he traded hedge funds. He then founded Formula Capital, an asset management firm, where he currently acts as managing director. He is also an angel investor in the fields of technology, biotech and energy.

Somehow Altucher has found time to write eleven books and countless magazine, newspaper, and blog articles. He began writing for the Wall Street Journal in 2009 and continues to the present day. In addition, he is a columnist for Financial Times, TheStreet.com, and The Huffington Post, as well as a frequent guest on CNBC and many other television programs.

Not one to slow down and take a breath, Altucher launched a blog, Altucher Confidential, in 2010. It racked up over five million page views within the first year. Next came his podcast, The James Altucher Show, launched in January of 2014. In his first months online with his podcast he has compiled an impressive lineup of high-profile guests, including Mark Cuban, Dr. Wayne Dyer.

His newest book, as of summer, 2014, is The Power of No.


James Altucher’s books: The Power of No (Hay House), Choose Yourself (LionCrest), I Was Blind But Now I See (CreateSpace), FAQ Me (CreateSpace), Altucher Confidential: Ideas For a World Out of Balance (Round Table), How to Be the Luckiest Person Alive (CreateSpace), SuperCash (Wiley and Sons), 40 Alternatives to College (CreateSpace), The Forever Portfolio (Penguin), Trade Like a Hedge Fund (Wiley), Trade Like Warren Buffet (Wiley and Sons). 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Finished Art



This is the final installment in my Tristan da Cunha Paradise Travel Map series.

It may not be immediately evident by looking at it, but I spent a lot of late night and early morning hours working on this map...three months and 65 hours, to be exact. I started on it on March 23rd and finished on June 23rd. I must be a glutton for punishment to work on these travel maps in my off-hours since it's how I spend most of my on duty time, working on cartoon map projects. (www.funmapsusa.net)

All of the text and header lettering were done by hand. Having taught myself to hand-letter in eighth grade has served me very well over the years. I drew the map on paper with Micron pens, then scanned it into Photoshop and colored in with a Wacom Cintiq. Prior to beginning the artwork, I spent many hours researching the island so that I could intelligently portray it graphically.

If you haven't been following my articles, some time ago I discovered a far-flung, remote, populated island in the South Atlantic. It was Tristan da Cunha. I found it to be such a fascinating locale that I was inspired to create a map of the island to add to my Paradise Travel Map collection.

One of the first things that I want to do with the map is to send it as an attachment to the editor of the Tristan da Cunha newsletter, plus some other prominent Tristan islanders. That should come as a huge surprise to them since Tristan is rarely if ever mapped at all because of it's remoteness. I have yet to see a single map of the sole settlement on the island, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. My Edinburgh of the Seven Seas inset map may be the only such map in existence.  


I might point out that the map was created in CMYK so the colors are very gaudy onscreen. I wish there was some way that this problem could be corrected.

If you have any ideas for a Paradise Travel Map, I welcome your suggestions.




Friday, June 13, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 12



This is the 12th in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map.

The map may appear to be completed. Actually, all the elements are more or less finished on the map, except for the island itself. There is still a lot of rendering to do on the island. I have painted in the base colors, and now I have begun the rendering process. I have been experimenting with how I will render the details on the map, especially the gulches. Every stream, with its accompanying gulch, originates on Queen Mary's Peak, the volcanic peak in the heart of the island that erupted in 1962, causing the islanders to take to the sea in fear of their lives.

There is one small area on the island that may be close to complete. It's the gulch area between the Queen Mary's Peak banner and the notation in the water saying: "Healthcare is free on Tristan". I've found it a challenge to accurately render the craggy gulches to my satisfaction. I think I am satisfied with this area, so I may proceed around the island, rendering all the streams and gulches accordingly.

I have derived immense satisfaction from working on this map, though it has extended out much longer than I had planned. I began the project on March 23 (2014) and I have been working on it off and on, late nights and early mornings since then. In the process, I have become fascinated with this tiny, remote, little known island nation. I have spent hours watching documentaries and reading everything I can find about Tristan da Cunha. It is truly one of the most unique populated places on earth.

Not that I would choose to visit Tristan da Cunha. You would have to be very motivated to actually visit the island. First, you have to get to Capetown, South Africa. Then you're looking at a week long boat ride halfway across the Atlantic Ocean to get to the island. Then, once you're there, you better be prepared to stay a while. Boats call on Tristan only about ten times a year, and there's no airport. So if you travel to Tristan, you must stay for several weeks until the next boat comes to get you. Oh, and don't get sick on Tristan. There's no air service to airlift you out to a hospital. There's no airport on Tristan da Cunha.

Hopefully, only one more update post, and the map will be complete.

To get a glimpse of what Tristan da Cunha is like, click here

If you'd like to see more of my cartoon maps, go to www.funmapsusa.net


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 11


This is the eleventh in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. If you've been following my posts, you can see that I'm on the home stretch now. I just finished coloring in the two corner panels on the right, and I toned the background for the text banner on the right. I also toned in the art for Tristao da Cunha on the text banner.

All that remains to color are the images to the right of the island, and the island itself. Stay tuned for the next post, which will probably be the last one for this series.

To see more of my cartoon maps, go to www.funmapsusa.net

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 10



This is the tenth in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. Feel free to scroll down to see all of the previous posts.

The coloring process is moving ahead, slowly but surely. The left two corner panels are now completed. Also finished, the Five Finger fish, the Tristan Longboat and the Spectacled kestrel, to the left of the island. Most people would never imagine the hours that can be invested in an illustration.  A lot of feather rendering was involved with the Spectacled kestrel in the lower left. I worked on the kestrel for an hour and 15 minutes.

Stay tuned. I'll be posting the next color steps very soon. To see more of my cartoon maps, go to www.funmapsusa.net

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 9



This is the ninth in a series of articles describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map.

What is a Paradise Travel Map? The vast majority of my work as a cartoon cartographer involves working on assignments. I'm hired by corporations, chambers of commerce, city and county governments and private individuals to draw cartoon maps of cities, towns, islands, coastlines. You name it, I've probably drawn it.

A Paradise Travel Map is a map that I've drawn for myself. I come across a place that intrigues me, like Tristan da Cunha above, then I create and market the map myself. Even though the map is not completed yet, I'm already getting a lot of traffic from the UK regarding the Tristan map, because Tristan da Cunha is a British protectorate.

Since my last post, you can see that I've started to tone the water a bit. I gradated darker hues into the water around the edges. I also finished up the inset map of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the village on Tristan. And I finished the ship on top of Tristao da Cunha, the discoverer of the island.

Stay tuned. I'll be showing more color soon. Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tristan da Cunha - Part 8 - First Color


This is the eighth in a series of installments that describe my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. This is a map of Tristan da Cunha, a small little-known island in the South Atlantic Ocean that supports a population in one village of under 300. It is considered the most remote inhabited island on earth.

Now that the ink line is finished I have begun applying the color in Photoshop, by way of a Wacom Cintiq. The ocean water color is now flat, but there will be a lot of tonal variation and rendering in the ocean as the color progresses. The descriptive banner to the right also has flat color at this point.

The title banner is finished. You can see that I rendered on top of the flat color to give the banner to "age" it and give it more authenticity and flavor. I also did a lot of toning and tuning and shading in the color letters. All of the lettering on the map is done freehand. I taught myself to do freehand lettering when I was in eighth grade. I'm eternally grateful for learning that skill. It has benefited me almost daily for my entire life.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Springtime in South Prairie



This afternoon the weather was so beautiful, I felt compelled to throw my leg over my motorcycle and ride to the nearby country town of Orting, in the Puyallup Valley, Washington State, USA. I took some drawing work with me and plugged into the Wi-Fi at Orting McDonald's and worked on my drawing. 


Upon finishing my artwork, I decided to keep riding, so I headed southeast out of Orting on Highway 162 to one of my favorite spots, South Prairie, a rural community in the shadow of Mount Rainier.


To my surprise, I found the meadows along the highway were ablaze with spring wildflowers. I know the montane, sub-alpine and alpine wildflower varieties, but I'm not very familiar with the lowland wildflowers. My best guess is that the white and purple flowers are valerians. But I only know the Sitka valerian that grows in the subalpine zone of the Olympic Moutains in Washington State.


I wish I knew for sure what these beautiful golden flowers are. Many of the fields and meadows along the road were carpeted with them. Upon further checking, it appears that this is a wild mustard field.


More mustard fields, this time with a herd of cattle. I only spent about 45 minutes in South Prairie today before I felt I needed to ride back home. It was a memorable motorcycle adventure.

It's easy to see by the above photos why I'm so glad I live in Washington State. I never take for granted the lush pastoral beauty that is rural Washington, my home state. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 7



 This is the seventh in a series of posts describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map, in this case, Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island on earth.

Speaking of remote...don't get sick when you're on Tristan. If you do, there's only one doctor on the island. If your condition is serious, you're in big trouble. There's no airport on Tristan, so you can't be airlifted to the nearest hospital. You have to wait for about six weeks for the next mail boat from South Africa. Then you have to endure the long voyage from Tristan da Cunha to Capetown. You could be deceased for several days by the time you finally arrive in Capetown. This is one of many reasons why you would want to think twice before moving to Tristan da Cunha. Of course, you couldn't move there anyway. You have to be a native Tristanian in order to live on the island.

Above is the finished ink line version of the map, with all the elements carefully adjusted and  positioned where I want them. I lettered the title on a separate piece of paper. Then I scanned it and positioned it on top of the map. There is no typesetting on the map. Everything is hand-scribed. The next phase that I will post will be the initial coloring, where I will lay down some of the base colors.

The most enjoyable thing about this project has been learning about Tristan da Cunha. It's been a truly fascinating study. Since I couldn't get everything that I wanted you to know about Tristan onto the map, I'm planning on building a separate page on my cartoon map site, www.funmapsusa.net, so that I can display the map, along with much more detailed information about the island.

Stay tuned for a first look at the color soon.

Have you seen my other web site, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Friday, May 16, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 6



 This is the sixth in a series of posts describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. The illustrated map above is of Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island on earth. All of the previous posts have involved the research, penciling and inking process. I have now completed the inking and hand-scribing process. Everything is now inked and lettered.

Next comes the scanning, which will be done tomorrow morning. Then the title banner, which is on a separate piece of paper, will be scanned and placed on the page. There will also be a lot of shuffling and adjusting of all the elements on the page until everything fits properly. Then it will be ready for the color, which will be done in Photoshop, using my Wacom Cintiq.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 5



 This is the fifth in a series of posts describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. The above map is of Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world.

Since the last post, I have hand-scribed the text that you see in the banner on the right side of the map. Also, I found some space on the bottom right to draw a small map of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the lone village on the island. This may be the only published map of the village. I haven't been able to find one, other than as it appears as part of the island map.

Now I'm filling in the last open spaces on the map with art. Yesterday I drew the little penguin off-shore on the southeast side of the island. Also the longboat in the water on the left side of the island, and the mileage marker in the top center spot. Three or four more spot illustrations and I should be finished with the line work. Then on to the color.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 4



This is the fourth in a series of posts describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map of the remote South Atlantic island, Tristan da Cunha. If you like, you can review the previous three posts to catch up.

After composing the text in Word describing the island, I carefully ruled and penciled in the text on the right side of the page. Then, using a Micron Pigma no.1 pen, I inked in the text. I had to work very carefully because, as you see,  the "font" size was very small. It takes concentration to maintain control of letter forms at that size.

For all my pencil work, I use the pencil version of the popular Pilot G2 pen, the G2 pencil. My wife found one somewhere a few years ago and bought it for me. Since I do all my writing with a G2 pen, I like drawing with the G2 pencil.

Next I began work on the first of the spot illustrations that will be carefully placed at strategic spots on the map. I wanted to find a picture of Tristao da Cunha, the Portugese explorer who discovered the island, and I did. I found only one image of him online. So I tucked it into the text on the banner, as you can see. It's faint because it's still in pencil. It will be so small that I will need to use a Micron Pigma 005 to ink it.

Then, I moved up to the top of the page. I wanted to include an illustration of da Cunha's ship as it approached the island. It took some research to find what I believe to be the correct ship. a Portugese Carrack ship from the 15th Century. I penciled and inked it on top, near the island. So I will reduce the title banner in Photoshop so it fits between the ship and the upper right corner panel.

I found an open space below the text banner, so I plan to fill it with a small map of the village, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, referred to as "the Settlement" by local islanders. You can see it, still in pencil form. It could possibly be the only published map in existence of the Settlement itself. It's always included as part of a map of the island.

The next post may be the last one to describe all of the pencil and ink preparation work. I will pencil and ink all of the necessary spot artwork in whatever space is still available. Then it will be ready for Photoshop adjustments, then the color. I'm looking forward to applying the color.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 3



This is the third in a series of posts describing my process in creating a Paradise Travel Map. I have now completed the ink line for the border, border art panels, title, and the island itself. I'm using Micron Pigma pens, size 1 for most of the lines, and a 005 for the tiny shading in the gulches leading from the volcanic peak to the sea. Next comes the informational text in a banner on the right side of the map area. I will post that in a few days. Then comes the illustrated icons, like Tristao da Cunha's ship (the discoverer of the island), which will probably be placed in the top left, just above the island. I will place other illustrative icons around the map, wherever space allows. Then, finally, I will begin the color, in Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map - Part 2



This is the second in a series of posts describing the steps that I follow in creating a Paradise Travel Map. This promises to be one of my favorite maps, because it will feature one of the most unique places in the world, the island of Tristan da Cunha. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited island on earth. It has been a fascinating place to study.

You can get a closer look at the island and its inhabitants by way of  these YouTube clips. Here's one from Where's Andrew? Then, Andrew's return to Tristan da Cunha. I would venture to say that very few people have visited Tristan da Cunha twice...it's just too hard to get to. You can't fly there because there's no airstrip. It requires a seven-day boat ride from South Aftrica or England, and the scheduled ship only sails about once every month or two. So once you arrive on Tristan, you must be prepared to stay a while.

In my first Tristan da Cunha post you got a glimpse of the research that creates the foundation for the map. From that research I begin to put the map together in pieces. The first section that I completed was the title and subtitle. I went ahead and inked that, knowing that there would not likely be any modifications needed on the title. So it is now ready for the color phase.

Next came the map frame and corner panels. If you enlarge the above image you can get a closer look at the contents of the panels. I chose two unique creatures that are part of the island fauna for the top panels: on the left, the Tristan thrush, endemic to the island. And on the top right, the Northern Rock Hopper penquin. I learned that these comedic creatures do actually hop from rock to rock along the coastline of the island, as opposed to the Jackass penguins 1500 miles to the east in South Africa that sort of stroll around.

I chose two endemic species of flora for the bottom two panels: on the left, the Nertura depressa, a type of bead plant. On the right: Epymenia flabellata, a species of seaweed that flourishes in the waters surrounding the island.

After inking the frame and corner panels, I began to pencil in the island map itself, which will include the island's volcanic cone. It erupted in 1961, sending the island's inhabitants fleeing to England. After penciling in the land mass, I lettered all the names that define the coastline around the island. That's as far as I've come at this point.

The only town on the island, called "the Settlement" by locals, is Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. I'm considering  drawing an inset map of Edinburgh below and to the right of the island. This might possibly be the only map ever drawn and published of this most remote village. Then, directly to the right of the island I  plan to create a parchment-style document page on which I will scribe some of the most interesting factoids regarding the island.

Another decision that I will soon have to make is whether or not to create a back side to the map. There is so much to say about Tristan da Cunha that more art and text could easily spill over to the back side. Stay tuned for an update on my progress soon.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Creating a Paradise Travel Map



 The first step in creating a Paradise Travel Map is the research phase. This map will feature Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world. On the left is a page from my sketchbook. If you enlarge the image you will see thumbnail sketches of some of the flora and fauna of the island, which will be featured in the corner panels of the map. On the right are notations of people, places and historical events regarding the island.

Here's my Paradise Travel Map of the exotic South Pacific island of Rarotonga: http://funmapsusa.net/maps/view/rarotonga-cook-islands

Check back soon for the next step in completing my Paradise Travel Map of Tristan da Cunha.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Just Another Day at the Office

Yesterday the weather was good so I decided to use my motorcycle to "get to work". My office yesterday: Starbucks in Orting, a small town in the foothills of the Washington Cascade Mountains (USA). There I got my comic panels penciled and inked and ready for the syndicate. Plus some revisions on my Turtle Farm Theme Park cartoon map in the Cayman Islands.


My work finished, I decided to ride up through the South Prairie Valley, then stop along the way to get my daily exercise. I walked along the Carbon River, with its headwaters on the slopes of Mount Rainier in Washington State.


I found this beautiful fern glade along the bank of the river...


...and this beautiful spray of sword ferns growing up against a mossy boulder nearby.


Then I exited Hwy 162 and followed South Prairie Carbon River Road, which is where I found this pastoral scene with the sun low on the western horizon. This late afternoon ride helped make it an exceptionally good workday yesterday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good Times at Carson Elementary


Isaiah won my Squiggle Game, so he got to come up front and make a squiggle on my drawing pad. The squiggle he made is the outline of the insect creature in the lower right corner of the pad. The object of the game is for me to turn the student's squiggle into something recognizable, then create a scene around it.


Thanks to Debbie Bair, AKA "Mama Bear", for sending this picture of me with her daughter.


One of my favorite parts of the program: autographing my books and posters.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Toad Warrior poster

Skagway is a toad character that I have used in my school programs for many years. The students have always enjoyed my quick-draw Skagway drawings. I finally decided to introduce Skagway to my blog audience in poster form. Actually, this Skagway image was one of the first images that I posted on this blog. I thought I would reintroduce him to those who weren't around when I first started the blog. You can see in the side panel to the right that Skagway is available on Zazzle as a t-shirt, as well as other Skagway products.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Last Week's Read Across America Program


Last Thursday I was honored to be the featured guest for the Read Across America Program at Fruitland Elementary School in Puyallup, Washington. The students just finished their monster drawing that I demonstrated for them from my Monster Safari How-to-Draw Book. They wanted to hold their drawings up to show me... so I grabbed my camera, just in the nick of time. It was a fun and memorable day. I will have more Monster Safari Programs through the Spring semester and next school year. 

I would be happy to answer your questions regarding bringing my Monster Safari and/or Read Across America Program to your school: http://bronsmith.com/schoolprograms.htm

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bumble Bee Pollinating Discovery Bay Rhododendron



I've been working on this painting on and off since November 27, 2013. The biggest challenge in  painting in a realistic style is the time commitment. Realistic paintings progress very slowly. 

I used Prisma Color pencils with a colored pencil blender pen to give the painting a "wet" look. I saved the best for last...yesterday I painted in the bumble bee in the middle of the rhodie bloom. That was the cherry on top of the whip cream. 

I draw and paint so much for public consumption and almost not at all for decorating the walls of our house. So this will be framed and will hang in our family room. The actual purpose of the painting is to enhance my Painting in Paradise web site. 

My Painting in Paradise workshops allow people the opportunity to travel to an exotic South Pacific destination, the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. There I teach participants how to paint exotic tropical flowers in a realistic style. It is truly a painter's paradise holiday. You can get more details in the link in the above paragraph.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cayman Islands Water Bottles



I got a surprise in the mail yesterday. My cartoon map associate in the Caymen Islands sent me these Cayman Islands cartoon map water bottles. It's one of the ancillary products that he has spun off of my Cayman Islands Cartoon Map.  He has also produced giant Cayman Islands Cartoon Map beach towels. I put the water bottles on the book shelf along with my new Monster Safari How-to-Draw Book. Thanks, Paul!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Discovery Bay Rhododendrons: More Progress on the Background



 I've been working on my Rhododendron painting on the side since last November 27th. I'm keeping track of my time, and I shudder to think how many hours I will rack up on this painting. Instead of working in watercolor, as I had originally planned, I decided to render the flowers in Prismacolor pencils, then use a colored pencil blender to add the "wet" effect. I'm quite pleased with the results in using the blender for the first time, but I learned that the tip of the blender doesn't last long. I begins to break down fairly quickly, which makes is more difficult to be precise in your blending. I will go through three or four blenders before I'm finished with the painting. For tips on how to use colored pencil blenders, see the post below.

The finished painting will be posted on my Painting in Paradise web site. Our next workshop is scheduled to depart this coming March 30, 2014. Details at the web site: www.PaintingInParadise.net

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles? trowbridgechronicles.blogspot.com


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Discovery Bay Rhododendron Progress - Colored Pencil Blender Tips



Here's the latest update on my Discovery Bay Rhododendron painting. Since my last post I've filled in considerably more background on the right side. I will continue filling in background information in a counter-clockwise direction until the painting is finished. Then there will be a little visual surprise at the end of the painting. 

COLORED PENCIL BLENDING TIPS

Have you worked with a colored pencil blender before? Here are some tips that will help you get the most from using a colored pencil blender to enhance your colored pencil work.

1) When you've been blending in a dark area, like the dark background behind the flowers above, roll and dap the point on a tissue thoroughly before you move into a light-colored area, like the white petals above. The point of the blender will pick up the dark color and transport some of it into the light area, and "stain" it with the darker color. When you're blending an area of dark and light hues, blend the light color area first, then move into the dark area. 

2) The tip of the blender doesn't hold its point very long. After  blending for a while, you'll find that the tip has crumbled slightly. You will then have to be careful when blending in tight areas. If you're not careful when blending in a tight dark and light area, the dark color on the tip can stain the light area. Once the area is stained, it's not easy to remove. You can scrape it with an exacto knife, but in doing so you can easily damage the surface of the paper. This is the big advantage that Photoshop has over traditional painting. I must admit that I've been spoiled by Photoshop. 

3) To get the feel of how the blender works, you may want to experiment on a separate piece of colored pencil art that you don't mind practicing on. The above painting was my first experience with the blender, but I just dove in and got the feel of the blender through the course of the painting.

4) As you apply the blender to your colored pencil, you'll find that it makes your "dry" colored pencil strokes look wet, like watercolors. Yet the colored pencil strokes will still be somewhat visible. The blender also fills in the tiny white specks that occur when you don't thoroughly cover the paper with the colored pencil. You may prefer to practice using the tool before starting your painting to get the feel of applying the blender solution in different strokes, like long and smooth, or tight circles.

5) The blender I used is called: Artist's Loft Colored Pencil Blender. I bought it at Michael's Arts and Crafts, an art and craft chain store. The blender has a large tip on one side, a small tip on the other. To give you an idea of how long the blender lasts, I will go through three or four blenders to complete the above painting, which is 8.5 x 11 inches.

Check out my Painting in Paradise web site for the date of our next workshop. On the "Package Info" page you'll find the departure date for the fantasy South Pacific island of Rarotonga. In the course of the workshop I will teach you how to paint flowers in the realistic technique that you see above. www.PaintingInParadise.net


Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles


Friday, January 10, 2014

Discovery Bay Rhododendrons Painting Progress - Lower Background Finished



My Discovery Bay Rhododendron painting is slowly coming together. I started the painting on November 25, 2013. I wish I could move more quickly through the painting, but it's one of many projects that I'm dealing with. Plus, painting in a realistic technique is painfully slow. This is my early morning-late night project. The lower background portion and the foreground rhodie on the lower right is now complete.

I found this rhododendron along Highway 101, just west of Discovery Bay, in Washington State, USA. There was something special about this flower that you can't see yet. It will be revealed at the very end of the painting. 

I normally teach painting in a watercolor technique. But I decided to try something different with this painting and render it in Prismacolor Pencils using a colored pencil blender, which gives the wax pencil more of a watercolor appearance.

I'm still a bit unsure about how I will handle the background in the upper portion of the painting. Will I fill it with detail as I have in the lower portion of the painting? Or use more dark areas with less detail, so the flowers stand out more? I will be addressing that issue soon.

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Discovery Bay Rhododendron Progress



I'm still plodding away on my Discovery Bay Rhodie painting. I try to put in an hour early each morning on the painting before I start on my regular projects. I'm painting this to add more floral images to my Painting in Paradise web site. This is the painting style that I teach in my Painting in Paradise workshops.

It may seem difficult to you to paint anything in a realistic style, but in my workshop I break it down into easy, understandable steps so that you can get results like what you see on my web site. If you don't you could do this, just check out the "workshop" page on my web site. The two paintings that you see by Alice were her first realistic paintings. Karen's pink flower was her very first attempt at painting. I was very proud of her.

Regarding the above painting, I decided to depart from the usual realistic watercolor technique and experiment with a Prisma Color Pencil technique, using a colored pencil blender to "seal" the colors. This gives the image a watercolor-like appearance. Now that the petals and leaves are finished, I will  be working on the dark background. I'm looking forward to this phase of the painting because the flowers will finally begin to "pop", and gain contrast with the dark background behind them.

You'll find more information on my workshops here at my Painting in Paradise web site.