The trees in this drawing are taking a whole lot longer than expected, and I’m not there yet. I’m pretty worn out too, but pleased with the rich interplay of textures, tone and shadows. And I’m learning still more about just how much I can rip and scrape into a sheet! Sometimes, when the paper is damp, it feels more like I’m sculpting than drawing, as I literally push around small areas of  surface pulp. In a sense, I’m actually building these trees! Once I’m finished, I’ll have to stabilize areas that I’ve abused so thoroughly that they’ve become fragile. Lots of little tags, flaps and fuzz will have to be glued back down, and I’m sure I’ll need to patch and strengthen some places from the back too.


My new estimate is at least 5 more days to completion. Once I’m through with leaves and branches though, I’ll probably take a break and begin a new drawing, something much looser. I’m thinking it’s time to do a view of the Paterson Great Falls.


I’ll check in again in a couple of days –

Your Buddy Bill ————————-


PS: Here is a quick shot of my drawing as it is now. The photo doesn’t do it justice (too contrasty), but if you compare it with the one I took last wednesday, you can still see I’ve come a ways! To enlarge the images, click READ FULL ARTICLE (in the gray bar), immediately below the photos.



Some of my none artist friends seem to think that being creative means I have some sort of special magic.




Success is hard earned. I try something I think might work, over and over again until either it finally does, I’ve worn myself out – or I’ve figured out different way to keep trying. I chase after whatever move of the moment feels the most right, then I move on to the next moment. Most drawings are made up of a lot of these, with a fair dose of confusion accompanying them. Even if I’m up to something minimal, like a gestural drawing of a cat done with flying moves, I still have to find the few that get it right. I almost always get it wrong first, a bunch of times, with one or two just missing by an unfortunate mark or two. So, it’s mis-stepping across the finish line. I’d like to think that most simple looking, absolutely masterful drawings I’ve seen came about after their creator went through the same thing.


I tear up all my failures and use them for scrap paper so no one discovers how much I stumble.


One thing I’ve been working hard on is trying to accept that the very best drawings can have a little ugly in them. Sometimes, it’s what really defines them, like a slightly flawed vocal character that makes a great singer unforgettable. As obsessive as I am, it’s very, very hard to embrace flaws. Sometimes I put a patch over them and man oh man, am I good at it! You can’t see ’em. You can’t even feel it if you run a finger over them! I sand down and feather their edges. I glue them in perfectly. I’m obsessive, got it? Maybe it’s cheating, but then maybe not. You know those scraped drawings I just mentioned? Lately, I’ve been using bits for my patches! There are at least 5 small ones in the foliage of the last drawing I posted – two were from bad cats and another came from the head of an owl that tanked. Who could have guessed these losers had a future as leaves?


There’s probably yet another lesson in this; maybe about better understanding or assessing the character of marks and texture, outside of context? Oy, like I don’t already have enough to think about?


This is a detail view of my drawing this morning before I start back in. It’s also my view right now, in this tight, as I keep moving leaf by leaf towards the right. In the middle of this copse of trees is an area where we glimpse the sunlit road through darkened trunks. This little vignette is one of the things that first fascinated me with this scene. I’m also adding a shadowy hint of other manmade structure behind the rest of the trees too, which is hard to do and make believable. I’ll stick with it and get it there.


Happy Weekend!


Your Buddy Bill —————————




To expand this image and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

In my last post, I said that sometimes the drawing is in the driver’s seat. Clearly, I’m just along for the ride with this one. If I’m not sure I like where we’re going, I’m still making the trip.


It’s not going to be as painterly and broadly suggestive as I had hoped. A lot of leaves seem to want to pop in, and though I’m getting better with foliage, I’m beginning to feel like I’m going about the whole drawing dot by dot. That might be okay. If you scroll down two pictures (to the second image in my last entry), you can compare where I was then with where I am now.


We’ll see what the next day or two brings, and then I’ll check back in.


Stay snug,


Your Buddy Bill ———————-




To expand this image and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

Here is my plan: I’ll make pictures of the Passaic River from a few hundred yards above the Great Falls, down past that big plunge and then a little further on, where the banks are lined with factory ruins. This will take us on a short excursion with scenes ranging from dramatic (and at times a little industrial apocalyptic), to the most mundane of views, where you wouldn’t expect any visual poetry at all. To find it, and realize there is enough to keep making more pictures of it is a new experience for me. I’ve never seen my buddy Bob (who is also hard at work painting Paterson), take more than 10 minutes to set up and start getting paint down. He must have clearer vision than I do, but I’m working on that.


These two pictures are my start. Both are of the river immediately above an ugly bridge, that I’ll soon tackle. This view though, is of the river you wouldn’t even glance at. But I did, and the way it was sliding along needed considering, and then the bank started blooming as the water level dropped this summer. There was duck weed along the edges, which meant there were ducks there too of course (you might see ’em if you look close). Now, in winter, the scene is bleak and harsh, but there is a picture I could do in that too. Geez, I had better be careful – I gotta get on down the river!




Your Buddy Bill—————————–


Passaic River #2, Autumn, Above Spruce St. Bridge. Paterson, NJ.

Done largely on site, then finished in the studio.



Passaic River #3, Autumn, Above Spruce St. Bridge. Paterson, NJ.

This is the drawing I’ll settle into as soon as I’m done with this post. It’s tighter than the first one, though I’m trying to fight that. Often, a picture leads me along, every bit as much as I guide it.



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Again, it’s Mt. Haynes, this time in winter – at least that’s what I’m trying for. Does it look that way?


I’m not convinced I’m finished with this picture, but that’s my normal state these days. It’s in my nature to take a finish right down to the last twig and dot. Truthfully, it often means more work than benefit in terms of how much stronger an image becomes. I’m trying hard to quit earlier, but knowing when to remains kind of confusing.


I have three more mountain pictures on the boards, but I’ll have to finish them in side moments, or when I play hooky from my Paterson drawings, which I will settle back into tomorrow. I hope I can keep my momentum up. I’ve managed to finish 5 pretty intense drawings in as many days!


Mt. Haynes F BLOG


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I’m in the midst of one of my best creative bursts in recent memory! It began a few days ago when I decided to pound out an image or two of one of my favorite peaks, Mt. Haynes in Yellowstone National Park. I didn’t care one bit whether or not I managed to do something decent. I just needed to clear cobwebs before settling down to some serious mark making after nearly a month off. It’s not unusual when I do such a thing, to manage nothing more than inky messes, which by the way, are still just as likely to lead to new, unexpected moves. This time though, the going has been great! I’ve finished four very rambunctious pictures and have a couple more coming along! This doesn’t happen to me very often, so I hope you will forgive my crowing a little!


I had thought to begin with, that these would all be night scenes, but now some look more like stormy weather. It doesn’t matter! I particularly like the visceral surface and texture I somehow managed in the first picture.


Mt Haynes E blog

Mt Haynes C BLOG


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The smallest revision can make all the difference in how well a picture functions. So often, the sticking point has to do with how we perceive what we’re looking at – or how easily we become distracted by something within a picture that claims too much attention. When this happens, a balancing act is often called for, between remaining stubbornly artsy and accepting a more literal solution that, while it communicates better, may seem just a touch disappointing as a compromise. If a picture is to speak clearly and with focused strength though, you sometimes just have to do what’s necessary.


Here is a great example: the first photo below, is of a drawing I completed yesterday and posted very early this morning. My sister has since (very astutely) pointed out that while the irregular shape of the top of the image, with it’s ragged dark edge and white corners, is exciting, it’s too visually dominant. As a result, the darkness doesn’t read nearly as well as a night sky, and the quiet contrast between the sky and the gray mountain is badly overpowered. The simple fix was to darken the corners and top edge, as well as two light spots in the right half of the sky. Take a look at the 2nd photo, and you’ll notice that your attention is now solidly focused. The sky is the sky, and the mountain looms against it! Overall, the drawing is a trifle less abstractly thrilling, but it functions as it should.


Mt Haynes D1

Mt Haynes D BLOG


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I must take better photographs of my drawings for you! Though I’m not sure how to capture the intense surface alteration and texture that is becoming so prevalent (thus far my photos flatten out or largely negate it’s character), one immediate improvement is to both match the warm tone of the paper I’m using, and to accurately record the range of temperature my grays now have. I had better explain this last, yes?


The India ink I use is the same I started with as a youngster almost a half century ago (geez). It’s Higgins Waterproof Black, which when diluted, yields grays with an appealing warm tone. Recently, I’ve stumbled upon something odd. I’ve discovered that when pressed deep into a sheet, my ink shifts from from a warm to a decidedly cool cast. Stranger still, straight black ink pressed in turns a surprising gray! Let me show you what I mean: below is another of the loose, expressive night time drawings of Mt. Haynes that I’ve been working on. Believe it or not, the dark sky and the battleship gray of the mountain are exactly the same ink, done at exactly the same time! Here was my method: I rapidly laid down large strokes of clear water where the sky and mountain are, then slashed in ragged strokes of pure black. You can see in the sky where it spread and ran in the wetted area, and also where it speckled and diluted when I hit it with a splatter of water from my spray bottle (especially noticeable in the upper left). My very next move was to place a piece of very thin, flexible plastic right on top of the area of the mountain, after which I simply pressed and swiped the side of my hand across it. The ink underneath was driven more than halfway through the sheet, and immediately turned a much lighter, almost bluish gray, that as it dried, gained a decidedly chalky appearance. I don’t exactly understand why my black so dramatically shifts its appearance, but it sure is startling and effective!


Mt Haynes D1


I’m going to finish this post with one more picture, a new shot of the same drawing I showed you in my last entry. Compare this much better photo with the earlier one (scroll down just a bit to see it), and you will get a clear sense of how rich my drawings really are in appearance. With the tone and temperature shifts in my grays and the creamy color of the paper, it’s almost as if, just barely, I am working in color!


Mt Haynes blog2


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Here is the result of exuberance in the afternoon – and I am covered in ink and carbon dust (I’ve been sanding my drawings more and more). Reidun says I look like I’ve been working in a coal mine!


This is a drawing of Mt. Haynes (Yellowstone National Park) at night. I actually kinda like it! If you would like to see several other Mt. Haynes drawings – one or two of which might be a bit less crazy than this one, go to:


Ink on paper, mercilessly abused, 18″ x 24″




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Hey Everybody –


Christmas is over, and it’s time to get back into my studio routine. Between now and late spring I hope to manage quite a few new pictures of Paterson, NJ. It will be a push, with plenty of show & tell along the way. First though, I can at last tell you about the Great Logan 2014 Christmas Project! As with past projects, it was meant as a gift to my Sweetie from my sis (Kay) and me. In typical Logan fashion, our task became much more involved than we imagined.


Our plan was to animate segments of a wonderful poem Kay wrote for Reidun, in which a Norwegian hedgehog (named Amelia Hedgehart) is determined to learn how to fly. Though she has a very un-Nordic name, she’s as resolute as any viking critter ever. It’s a good thing too because she faces all sorts of drama and quite a bit of soul searching. She must accept that being different means that sometimes you’re a loner. There are moments of wonderous beauty, as well as the daring rescue of a wounded friend who would otherwise perish in the fierce arctic night. Need it be said that no hedgehog had ever ventured out thus before? Of course, no tale of this sort would be complete without a few trolls and hags, but there is also a cozy hibernaculum to come home to, with crazy quilts, comfy pillows, and a plenty of tasty grubs. What can I say, it’s an epic saga . . . and that should have been our first clue that we were taking on too much. Oh dear, you simply can’t make an animated, short-subject Oscar contender in a month. In fact, you can’t even get all the prep work done, let alone make sense of the software.


Our most exciting moment was when we managed to make Amelia blink. Yep, we did it – she takes about 3 steps, makes a little hop, waves her paw slowly and BLINKS THREE TIMES! Bliss.


Sadly, we don’t yet know how to get even that into a form we can show you. We hope to soon. Meanwhile, you and I can have some fun with still shots from the grand scheme!


Happy New Year one and all!


Your Buddy Bill —————————-


Amelia Hedgehart – Our Heroine.

She is really cute, and designed in layers to articulate very like a puppet. She can look up and down, straighten up or bend over, and all of her limbs move. She also has about 20 different eyes, which means she can throw us all sorts of looks! In an act of graphic daring, I decided to keep her in black & white, while the backgrounds she inhabits (you’ll see ’em in a sec) are in stunning color.



Here is a chart that explains the alignment of Amelia’s different parts. I did it for my sis, to help her understand how everything fits together, pivots and moves.



And this is Amelia’s selection of eyes. I actually stole them from a bunch of my owl drawings. Because they can be infinitely reshaped and fiddled with in Photoshop, I can give our little friend any expression she needs.



Meet Torvald Haematopus Ostralegus, a Eurasian Oystercatcher.

Amelia hears him crying in the frigid night; a sound encompassing the very essence of sorrow and ill-fate. She finds him with a broken wing, which she sets. Obviously he can’t migrate, so Amelia leads him back to her hibernaculum (Norwegian hedgehogs always have very inviting ones). They pass the winter quite comfortably, sharing a deep appreciation for grubs and a passion for flying. Sadly, my Thorvald still needs legs and his wing, broken or otherwise. I must attend to it.



Amelia’s World

I put together a very, very long panorama, made up almost entirely from 5 of my wife’s childhood drawings. One in particular, repeats over and over again, each time altered and colored differently. I’ve become so good at doing this (again in Photoshop) that it’s a sunshiny day where Amelia enters at the very left. As she (and we) progress towards the right, the world moves into sunset, dusk, night and finally moonlight at the far end, where the view opens up and Amelia has left the light on in her hibernaculum – which is unfurnished as of yet.



These next pictures are snippets taken from left to right, so you get a good look at Amelia’s wonderful world, from her viewpoint. In Norway, hedgehogs are called pinnsvin (pronounced pins-veen). Isn’t that a great name?



Meanwhile, Kay worked on this:

After hearing the soul-wrenching cry, Amelia sets out into the night, and eventually meets Thorvald. The Aurora Borealis (made of colorized, digitally altered versions of some of my drawings) puts on a breathtaking show. There is also a passing comet, but unfortunately, it looks too much like a crashing starship Enterprise, so I’m not gonna show it to you. Amelia struggles on, through the forest carnivorous, where at one point she encounters a very frightening night predator (one of my owls, turned wraith-like).



Geez, we have so much to do if we want to finish even the segments we’ve begun. Perhaps we’ll find a little spare time amidst next year’s big projects. I kinda hope so.

I’ve just sent it out. The image was made from three of my Sweetie’s childhood drawings, which I color altered, collaged and digitally drew on in Photoshop. I had such fun with this. Do you wanna see what Reidun’s originals look like? Keep scrolling down!


2015 CARDblog








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In my previous post, I showed you one of my sister’s lovely woodcuts. Kay has a real affinity for this printmaking process. To watch her work is to witness inventiveness, childlike wonder, sometimes glee, often confusion, and always the determination to see sophisticated ideas through. And lets face it, regardless of how things are going, if you get to carve into something or attack it with a hammer and chisel, you’re gonna have fun!


Two summers ago in Norway (and under Kay’s tutelage), I couldn’t resist trying this for myself. Sure, to begin with I spent some time doing my inky thing (you can see how that went here: By the end of our trip though, I was a wood whacking convert. Aside from using real carving tools, it turns out that anything you can scrape across, pound or punch into a wooden plank’s surface might leave a mark worth printing. I got a little carried away, and Kay was probably a bit taken back, but she was also amused. I finished three blocks – my first ever. And here they are printed!


Weedy Bird – variable edition of 10, 9″ x 12″ on a 16′ x 20″ sheet.

At top is the second impression from the edition. It’s almost a straight forward transfer of image, but I was already beginning to sand, scrape and peck into the paper beforehand. I was curious about how much it would effect the printing. It turns out that when you’re hand rubbing, it can add quite a bit of grain and gritty character. By the last impression (at bottom), I was also manipulating the ink on the block before printing by selectively wiping it with a rag and scrapping with steel wool.



Preen – variable edition of 11, 9″ x 12″ on a 16′ x 20″ sheet.

This time I kept the carving simple, leaving a lot of the block’s surface untouched. The reason was that I wanted to see what could be achieved with selective, sensitive inking and rubbing rather than carving. I should explain that printing by hand rubbing means no press is involved. Instead, the block is inked and a sheet of paper is laid on top of it. The ink is then transferred from block to sheet by rubbing the sheet’s back with a smooth object. The tool made specifically for this is called a baren, and it’s a flat, disc-like affair with a handle. Wooden spoons also work well. There’s nothing wrong with using your palm or finger tips too!


In the print at left, you can see that scrapping and pecking the paper before printing resulted in raised scars that picked up more ink. They’re especially evident in the bird’s neck, where they appear as ragged lines and white-haloed black dots. The graduated tones and shading (also very noticeable in the neck and head) were accomplished by carefully altering how much pressure I applied while rubbing. The impression on the right had every trick thrown at it. The paper was really roughed up, and the inked block was again scrapped with steel wool. I even used a brush to paint a few crude feather lines back into the scrapped areas before printing the image.



En Ugle til Reidun (An Owl for Reidun) – variable edition of 20, 9″ x 12″ on a 16′ x 20″ sheet.

I had to do an owl too! My focus this time was to begin exploring the character of my carved marks and lines – and to simply enjoy creating an image in white line on black. It’s not something I get to do when I’m drawing!


The impression at left was a straight forward transfer to an unaltered sheet. Next to it is one from near the end of the edition, which once again has had it’s ink manipulated with steel wool.



To expand these images and see more detail, click READ FULL ARTICLE, immediately below.

It’s been a bit too long since I last wrote. The Boss Elf has me working hard on our Great Secret Christmas Project. Some fine effort has been put in, with a lot more ahead yet, and less than two weeks to go. We’ve had a few real eye openers. I feel like I’ve had a change of brain, if only temporarily. This is quite pleasant.


Since I still can’t show you what we’re doing yet, I’m again glancing back, this time to last Christmas, when Kay (my sis) made a sweet, sweet, sweeeeet woodblock print for Reidun. Honestly, to really capture the charm of it I could quite rightly add even a few more sweet, sweet, sweets!


Here, see for yourself:




These were printed with oil based inks. All the color was applied to the block and printed at once, via hand rubbing. There was a good deal of experimenting, with each impression coming out differently. Some didn’t work. This next one was too boldly colored. Kay was going to scrap it, but she let me mess with it instead. Sadly, I drew the cat that ate her tweety bird!




The woodblock that did the actual printing, still stained with remnant inks, is gorgeous too!




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Today, I am an elf!


I’m about to leap into the Great 2014 Christmas Project. It’s moments away in fact. As soon as my computer finishes downloading super secret files to a super secret elfing location, I’ll launch, and I have that wonderful, excited (and also sinking) feeling that comes when you know it’s going to be a toboggan ride – and kick off anyway! It’s always like this when the Logan elves (me and my sis) let ideas run amuck. We giggle a lot.


I can’t tell you anything about what we’re doing yet, but if all goes well (or even a little does), there will be very neat show & tell here late in the month. Until then, I’ll post pix of past Christmas projects (I told you about a really good one two posts ago).


I have a lot of favorite times of year, but when the workshop is open and the elves are banging away, it is special –


Your Buddy Bill —————–


For your amusement: two CD cover designs done for compilation discs given to the Boss Elf last Christmas. Both combine elements of my real drawings, digital drawing and a lot of messing around in Photoshop. The blank areas on the left halves are where the lists of tunes were eventually added. I didn’t expect much when I started these, and was pleasantly surprised when finished. I particularly like the top one; that trumpet player is a hepcat, man!






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Hey all –


This morning, I realized I didn’t want to begin another day of careful rendering, or problem solving. I just wanted to sling ink, beat the crap out of a sheet and see if something interesting happened. So, I decided to attack a sacrificial drawing and either finish or scrap it by day’s end. An odd owl with some nice moves was my selected victim. He had stalled more than a year ago. Geez, that didn’t seem possible.


It was a good day.


And long one too. I’m pooped, and a meatloaf sandwich seems like the nicest thing that could possibly happen right now. So, here are THREE new owls, and then down the stairs I go!


Your Buddy Bill ——————-


This is the one I picked to die – but he didn’t! He’s still odd and awkward, yet he keeps you looking.



These two were done today from start to finish. They also play peekaboo with their trees, and are good examples of how my pictures are becoming increasingly textural.

owl 1 owl3


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Reidun is my sweetie, and more fun to give gifts to than anyone, because she’s always amazed by it. Genuinely, as if it’s the single kindest thing anyone has ever done. Oh, and as if she has landed on Free Parking, won Lotto, is 9 years old again, gets vanilla chocolate chip ice cream and is sitting in a patch of sunshine so perfect it took the sun billions of years to get that good.


Now, my sis, Kay, is perfect for Reidun because she’s a weirdo, and and more elf than human. She’s scary creative. Each year, in October, I get my phone call from the West Coast Branch of The United Elves Manufacturers and Packers, Chapter 127-5-A. It sounds suspiciously like Kay announcing she has The Christmas Plan. I thought when we unionized, and got disclaimers and everything, that I might have some protection and say so, but nope, I always seem to sign on. It doesn’t even take much of a push. Well okay, last year I did nix her idea of making yarn winders out of Tinker Toys. But the 2011 Textile Design Project was beyond brilliant.


It’s easy to have any design printed on fabric, yards of it if you wish. Kay found the perfect outfit online, then drafted me to secretly gather and scan a great pile of Reidun’s kiddie drawings. We also had her niece translate favorite Norwegian childhood songs into English, so we would know what they’re about. Did you guess that Reidun is Norwegian?


With this goldmine of source material (yep, it’s a pun), the elves went to work. Kay combined her own illustrations, the song lyrics and Reidun’s drawings to make delightful fat quarters (a quilter’s term meaning quarter sections of fabric). My plan was to create new upholstry fabric for the futon couch our sweet little kittie cats had torn to shreds.


I should mention that the elves are setting up shop again in the next few days. Can’t say more, but stay tuned.


Your Buddy Bill ——————–


My 2011 Upholstery Fabric

I used Photoshop to color manipulate, digitally draw upon and collage Reidun’s drawings. This panel is designed to print on fabric 58″ wide, with a 36″ repeat. This means the right and left edges are aligned so they will match up when printed in series. FINISHED_BIG_PATTERNblog


Here is what it looks like repeating. The pattern is set up so the lower half is the part of the couch you sit on, while the upper half is the back.



These are examples of how Reidun’s drawings looked before and after manipulation. The absolutely perfect drawing at lower left was used just as it is. I adore the picture of her dad. I believe he’s repairing a shoe. Andreas could fix anything, and was an incredible man.



If you’re gonna do couch fabric, you must provide for cushions. Here are some of the patterns, along with Reidun’s drawings again.




Kay Logan’s Fat Quarters

WOW! What more needs be said about such incredible visual treats?


There is a funny story about the first one. The song tells of a grasshopper that regardless of whether he should or not, falls in love with the poppies he can’t quite reach. Hilda (Reidun’s niece), who speaks almost perfect English, translated poppy as puppy, so to begin with, our lil’ hopper had a thing for the pooch. When Kay was informed of the error, she took it artfully in stride.


biw mikkel rev fat quarter copybiw helene fat quarter copyreindeer fat quarter biw copyHedgehog_fat_quarterEMAIL copy


This drawing is unusual for me. The last time I drew a choo choo was waaaaaay back in the early 1980’s, when as a commercial illustrator, I did a picture for an article on railroad mergers. I had to knock that one out over night. This one took a whole lot longer, but was much more fun!


One cool fact before we look at the photos: steam locomotives are classified by their wheel configuration. This one is a 2-6-0: 2 front wheels, 6 driver wheels (the big ones), and none under the cab = 0.


Last note: please forgive the bendy distortion (you can really see it in the track). I work on thin paper, which gets quite wavy before a drawing is flattened again once it’s finished.


A Paterson 2-6-0 Locomotive #3, 18″ x 24″

Except for the first rivets (the rows are that crooked in real life) and the walkway going forward (seen on edge), this is how the drawing looked after I slapped down the basics at the tail end of a day spent on site. That was one heck of a good hour and change!Rogers#3BLOG


Added: lots more rivets, cab detail, pipes and the locomotive’s number (well, the part we can see).



Here comes the beginning of the front end detail, and hand railings so the engineers won’t fall off when they’re on the walkway.



More front end detail has been added, but the part I’d already done seemed too distracting, so I lightened it up a bit. Then I darkened the engine and added still more fittings. It’s starting to look like quite the sooty contraption now!



Here it is finished, with detail all over the place. Yet there’s actually a good deal less than you think you see. In fact, I’m pleased with how this drawing shifts character within itself. Some areas retain the spontaneous marks thrown down in the initial sketch, others are deliberately vague and yet hang right in there next to detail that has almost become mechanical rendering. I was REALLY tired of doing rivets by the end.



Bonus Drawing: A Paterson 2-6-0 Locomotive #2, 18″ x 24″

This is the strange drawing I spent most of that day working on before starting the one we just looked at. I’m not sure why I’m so taken with it. Maybe it’s the locomotive’s  ghost-like quality, and the gritty atmosphere.


This is one of the two Long-earred owl drawings I wrote about last week. My thought moving forward, was to center the highly detailed area of the picture on the legs and feet, while really making an effort to keep the rest of the drawing far more suggestive. The problem I’ve landed myself in is that the camouflage patterning on these little guys is already a seemingly random confusion of speckles and bars. It’s incredibly effective. Underlying structure is utterly obscured. Trying to just slap down some indication of it all has led to gorgeous mark making. . . and a horrible gray mess! I sort of wish I’d left everything except the feet as it was, barely indicated, but that would have felt like a lazy way to find a finish. Now there is no choice except to keep going. It will require more daring. I hate having to be that way even before breakfast!


More to come,


Your Buddy Bill ——————-



The feet and legs are coming along. I think I will finish off the left foot and forgo as much highly rendered detail on the other one. Right now, I like the way this cropped image looks better than the full picture.




When I started counting how many half finished drawings are stacked up on my work tables and shelves this morning , I stopped pretty quickly. I was getting a little overwhelmed by how much remains to be done, and maybe even kind of upset that the same thing happens over and over. Almost always, I start a new image with a great burst of clarity, and just pound along. Sometimes (it’s kind of rare) I get clear to the finish. As pleased as I am, I’m also a little disoriented, because I’m not quite sure how it happened. This is NOT the way things normally go. Usually, somewhere in the middle (and when a picture is beginning to look really good), I reach the point where I either don’t know what should come next, or worse, I have a vague hunch but no clue how to get it done. I care too much; the idea that I might fail locks me up. I stop. I prop the picture up, sit back and look at it long enough to realize there is nothing in my head but static. The really weird thing is that if I start a new drawing, I go right back into overdrive and charge off again. This has become a too familiar rhythm.


Thus far, I’ve dealt with stalled drawings by setting them aside. We all know that if you let problems rest for awhile, you’ll see them differently, and maybe solve them. It often works, but now my studio has become an archeological dig. At the bottom of piles and in overlooked corners, I’m finding really good starts that should have been completed. It feels like neglect not to see them through, but my thinking and mark making have evolved; I want too keep rolling, but I’m dragging all this weight and keep adding more!


Lately, I’ve had a sense that some kind of turning point or a big leap is coming. When I fail these days, it’s often on a level that I would not so long ago have been thrilled just to reach. I am making progress. As I write this, it’s reminding me to hold that thought close. I’ve decided I’ll have to abandon some old work. Better yet, to just get it gone, I’ll tear it up for scrap paper. I’m also going to try to be less concerned about failing on something I put a lot of work into. My big picture should be made up of all the pictures I’ve completed (or maybe even just worked on) in a series, or a season, or a year. It ought to be a vista I can look out over and see a creative migration.


Reidun, the love of my life, says that I should stop worrying about what turns out great and what ends up finished but a touch disappointing. She says that if I don’t tell folks which is which, they probably won’t know, and that if I keep moving, good work will keep coming. Where being practical is concerned, she has good sense without fail.


Once there was a man and his son who were reindeer herders. After a particularly long day, the kid asked, “Dad, when will we get there?”


His father replied, “Son, we’re nomads. We’ll never get there.”


Put a brush in my hand and off I go!


Your Buddy Bill —————–


Here are a few drawings that perplex me. I’m determined to finish them:


Mt. Haynes Behind the Madison River #5, Yellowstone National Park

The question: How do I resolve the middle area, where the wall of new growth trees ends at the water’s edge. You’re probably trying to find what the heck I’m even talking about. The interplay of textures and exuberant brushwork in the bottom half of the picture is sooooo lovely and suggestive, yet at the same time so indistinct. I like that, don’t want to lose the essence, but don’t know how to bring the bottom into harmony with the top half, which has become more defined.



Mt. Haynes #6, Yellowstone National Park 

This one is really an essay in wild, almost abstract mark making. Yet I see space and depth in it, with the mountain perhaps in winter time snow under moonlight? Yep, really! Now, How do I get it to the point where you might see it too?



The Paterson Power Plant, #1 

How’s this for jumping from wildly expressionistic to seriously realistic? This is the first Paterson Project picture I began, late last winter. Oh my gosh is it tight, and threatening to torc down further. I wore myself out on it and only now am about ready to go new rounds. The windows will take as long as the rest of the drawing has so far; if I manage it, you’ll see what I mean!


PS: the blue and orange lines are tape masking areas out – not the longed for addition of color some of you keep hoping for!



Roadkilled, Long-earred Owl #4

It started as a sketch with no prep beforehand, and has since morphed into an all out essay in texture and pattern. Lots of problems too, starting with the fact that it’s very hard to undo rapid gestural drawing decisions done in ink! As it turns out, every mark in the barely indicated breast and head is in an utterly inconvenient location. As I try to figure out how do deal with that, I’m also wondering how I can perhaps keep the whole area far less highly resolved. As a friend has pointed out, if I dot every eye, this could end up looking like an Audubon Field Guide drawing.



Roadkilled, Long-Earred Owl #3

And this time, I feel I need to finish the super detailed feet/legs and really, really slide into a more suggestive, spare finish for the rest. I think.



Finally, here are two views of a Bear Swamp Creek pool in low water and autumn leaf clutter. Wonderful textures and brush work are happening in these, but both pictures are dizzyingly fragmented and disjointed. The real scene is like that too – the woods are at their most cluttered right now, yet if these are to function at all, I must pull them together some how. I think it means that I must figure out how to lie a little!

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