Camping Full Page

All the pieces together...I have been showing the progression of this page over the past few weeks.  Here is the finished page.  Can't wait to go camping again this summer. 

Maple's "Real World" Advice

We picked out Maple 4 months ago from the rescue.  Like my nephew Steven, Maple is also a summer Graduate and would like to share what she has learned over his many hours of higher education.

Airport Sketches

     Recently I was at the airport passing the time drawing people at the gate. This seems simple, but I can never get over the fear of being noticed. Will I be asked what am I doing? Am I judged whether my sketches are good? It is a little silly to think anyone might be that interested.  Still it seems to be a block for me at times.

Where do you draw?  

Do you have a suggestion for drawing in public? 

Do you have a technique for dealing with questions? Comments? Interest?

     But if you can find a good spot to sit and people watch, from a safe distance:) Listen with your eyes to the different visual stories happening around you, it can be very rewarding.

Guilty Faces

Last panel of the page...

     The end of the day, just remember to save some hot dogs and marshmallows for mom and dad.  Especially if we are getting the tent ready for bed.  The best camping spots for us are up towards the bridge in upper Michigan.  We went to Porcupine Mountains last year, much farther north.  Very beautiful but to many bugs.  Camping next to the big lakes, a little away from the larger campers, in a "walk to" spot seems best.  

   Capturing a few of these moments in sketches, gives me something to look back on.  Also good storytelling practice.  Even if I embellish a little.  A dad can do this....

Hot Dogs and Stars

    My  favorite part of camping.  Eating outside under the stars.  Warm fire and yes, franks and beans.  Two items I usually don't eat at home.  But for some reason, they seem to be perfect for camping out.  Afterward, we usually go for some marshmallows and chocolate.  A lot of nights spent watching the fire.  The kids are young enough to not object yet.  I am sure this will be "boring" soon enough.  But until then....

Dinner time camping

This is the first panel of a single page.

     Camping is fun but with pre-teen kids sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.   Often our lunch or dinner had a few lines like this.  As the kids sat surrounded by the unloaded supplies from the car. The lazy question was bound to pop up.  I don't imagine we are alone with this.  I just think it funny, sometimes it feels like a reflex question more than anything.

     The answer, "turn around and look" or we say " No, we weren't planning on feed you both until we got that a problem?..hehehehe

Clay Sculpting in Plymouth

Take your kids someplace and make stuff.  They need to learn how to work with different materials.  They need to understand that reality is what happens between the planning and the making.  Flexibility means to work around the mistakes. Experimentation is what we call "work". Experience means you are better at working with your mistakes, and care less about them.  Art is a perfect medium to explore all of the above.  Creating something of emotional value is a skill we need to grow in our children.


Spending Saturday making a sculpture.  Using materials that really allow experimentation and exploration.  Making something of emotional and personal value.  Telling a story with each decision.  Ethan and Natalie did a great job and had a lot of fun.....

He started with a sketch.  He is detail focused and was able to put it into 3D. Next steps will be color and glazing! 

Bed Time story

The bed time story, late at night after the campfire is dying out.  It is always one of the best parts of camping.  If you are not to tired out of course.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to keep my eyes open.  Natalie is always the first to fall, but Ethan, seems to only get more awake. Finally they are all asleep.  Everyone but me.....


      Our girl's end of year grade school project. To create and sell a "product" to her classmates. Natalie wanted to make "Schlubber" which, as she puts it, "Is a cross between flubber and slime."   

     What is the story?  It can be stretched and formed a little. It can't be eaten.  Its not playdough or silly putty. 

    We spent an evening talking and sketching ideas.  One idea was give Shlubber "personity".  Maybe it (he/she) had a face and a bit of a story?

 Shlubber needed to be saved.  Trapped somehow in this plastic bag hoping to be saved, to be loved.... 

Sketching out Ideas ....


Sketching ideas or the lack of... always leads to something...if nothing else, happy accidents


We always work together to set up the tents. It takes a bit of practice to get it all set up before dark.  We are still working out the bugs in the system....

We bought new sleeping bags this year.  They couldn't wait to test them out. From outside the tent I heard the yell "Worm Wars!"...They were flopping about in the bags on the air mattress.  They didn't sleep much....

After Dark - the trail

I never get lost in the woods.  I always know where I am ...wink wink. Its the trail that moves.  Like fish in a stream the "Trail Trout"  swimming through the dirt and the well worn trails.  Every so often they change direction and take the trail with them.  

And the "Mudd Bears" that lie on ground sleeping all day.  If you happen to walk on them while on the trail, they let out this crazy sound.  Its the Mudd Bear, always the Mudd Bear....never Dad....


Just a quick sketch while the boy was busy with math homework.  Done in Magna studio on my tablet. l am considering a new Surface pro or Ipad Pro.  Took the Ipad out for a test drive with its new pencil. It was nice but without Manga studio to test I was a little skeptical.  Surface pro seemed better to me as the pencil had more of a textured drag or resistance on the screen.  The apple felt like drawing on slick glass instead of paper. 


It's Been A While...

Been out of my head for a while and found it difficult to write, sketch or post. I am sure this happens to many.  Not sure where to go next.

My last project had to do with our summer camping trips.  We spend time in Northern Michigan along the big lakes.  It is very beautiful and allows for great quiet getaways. We spend time with the kids, tenting and hiking in the woods.  I think I like the cookouts the best.  Hot dogs, beans and s'mores are all better outside under the stars.  

Last year we went out in the woods and Nat asked about the animals.  We made up a few of our own.... hope to show more of these in the coming days.  

This Topic is no good...

     Visiting my brother in MN for Christmas. (We had a great time!)  My nephew told me about his high school art project.   Create an image around the theme of "human reflex" meaning reflexes like sneezing, kicking, blinking and coughing. this topic. But at times a topic, no matter how broad, can seem confining.  There were comments about this being a difficult or limiting topic. I see this with my kids also.  

     I think some of the biggest issues with creativity come thinking to literal.  Art can teach abstract thinking that allows a loose interpretation of a task.  This may open up a new way to approach a problem.  Maybe a new way to define a question or task.  

What Is a Cough?

What feeling do you want your viewer to experience?

-Your image can be literal or symbolic...

-You can use different Materials or different Styles....

-Lastly your choice of Composition should work with your previous decisions

Ideation Thought Starters....Thumbnails

Who is coughing and what type of cough.....

Does it need to be a human?  or an object? or show the Environment that you cough in?

Maybe create a stylized expression of a cough....or just the an abstracted graphic representation.....

Materials and Color adds limitless possibilities to this equation 

Ready for Class Visit

On Tuesday I hope to be drawing Pirates with the kids at our local K-5 grade school.  I take the day off and make a day of it.  It is always fun, busy and entertaining.  My visits will include a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. (One class is a 3/4 split)  Each grade has a different interest and attention span to consider.  What do I bring?

-A large poster  (36" x 48")  to hang in the front of class for reference and to leave with the teacher for the day...

Next, I bring a small, 16 page, coloring and drawing workbook to hand out to the kids and teachers. With all the classes this week I have printed out about 100 books...stapled, trimmed and counted ready to go!

Finally, I will be bringing my tablet and a projector.  Sketching using Manga Studio 5 on the tablet with a few canned sketches. I will be sketching on the fly with suggestions thrown out from the class.  I usually prompt the kids for suggestions that lead the character development.

I usually focus on 3 main lessons...

1) Relax and draw from your shoulder.  I want to show them how to draw a clean simple bold line not chicken scratch.  I think confidence and control need attention. Often, the kids are still learning basic coordination skills with items like scissors or crayons. This lets them be a little more bold and less cautious.

2) Draw lightly first, darken up later. I want them to consider composition and variations before settling on their first thought.  Often I scribble all over the page lightly to show how I am just trying to figure out what to draw.  I ask them to hold the pencil at the very end as they draw to ensure they can't draw to dark. When I darken up the key lines the kids see how the under scribbles disappear and the bold lines stand out. 

3) No Erasers!  This is also about confidence. Often the kids seem to have, in their head, an idea of the "perfect" line they want to draw. This can spiral into a cycle of drawing then erasing over and over. I want them to understand that mistakes are a part of the process.  It is easier to just ask them not to use erasers than trying to limit their use. 

Above all, the message is to have fun.  I try to show them good examples but leave them to determine how much they want to try. My only "demand" is that they try sketching something, not just asking questions. I may go in with Pirates but if all the suggestions are to draw a pumpkins, then we draw pumpkins!  But, I may add an eye patch and a wicked sneer!

Keep Sketching!!!!


Pirate Day Oct.20

I almost have the final sketch/coloring books complete for Art Parent.  I have been reformatting and changing a few of the final sketches but I think it is almost done.  I have a projector on order for the day so I am hoping for a sketch video to go along with the handouts.  I have a few rooms to visit, so it should be a fairly busy day.  I hope the kids are up for it.  Here is a taste of a few of the pages, almost complete....


Looking at a fun tall guy pirate for another Pager on body types for Oct 20th and the Pirate sketchbook


Inkfest Oct 2