Sunday, December 17, 2017


Self-Critique - can this painting be saved?

I started this painting rather impulsively. All I knew was that the painting would be mixed media, watercolor, acrylic, pen and ink, with collage, on 9x12” canvas.  It began with the idea of the unusual hand pose. That hand position is taken directly from a picture in Nat Geo magazine. It intrigued me. Unusual, yet graceful. I’ve been told that the hand doesn’t seem quite right, but it is actually drawn quite accurately.

I began with a couple of coats of Gesso on the canvas to prep it. After it dried I added some random strokes and splotches of Matte Medium. Next laid out a background with watercolor wash. Where the wash covered the Matte Medium it reacted differently than on the Gesso creating unexpected texture. Then I added tissue for more texture. Next, after everything dried, the whole canvas was painted over with Clear Gesso to seal the background wash and prep the surface for an acrylic layer. I have done this before successfully, but this time there was another variable, the tissue. As I started developing the form and figure the acrylic radically changed value in places. Over saturating some areas. The only thing to do was repaint those areas heavier. The problem was that now the texture and granularity of the wash background was starkly different from thick acrylic. The whole thing started looking odd. That’s where I stopped.

Here is my summary of the top 5 problems:

1) The composition and structure of the painting was not thought through. No value study, no thumbnails. The overall composition is just so so.

2) Not a compelling subject. Of course a good painting can overcome a mundane subject.

3) There’s no interesting treatment of light. Very flat. Not visually appealing. 

4) A confusing combination of surfaces and texture. (more apparent in person).

5) I don’t know what to do with the top left corner. When I started I intended for it to be that way. For a while it looked Ok, but now it seems out of place.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Monday, September 11, 2017

ART Imagined

Painting from Imagination

Until recently I have been drawing and painting from life or photos. Typically I use photos taken while walking or traveling. Sometimes I photograph a still life scene from objects in the house or found. These works are quite literal and realistic.

My mentor and very close friend challenged me, not directly but through example, to try some imaginative art. In other words not to paint what I see literally but rather paint what comes from my imagination. She has mastered this approach. I have been amazed by the variety of scenes she imagines and the sheer number of sketches and paintings she produces straight from her imagination.

She often creates a mental narrative and then whips out a sketch right on a blank page. Other times she will start doodling and a narrative will be imagined. This is not an approach that I am comfortable doing. It feels very risky, but I wanted to try...

I decided to start off making a few pages of abstract background designs. I knew starting with a blank page just wouldn't work for me.
#1, Toned paper sprayed through plastic net with spray primer.
The technique used here is accomplished with spray primer in black, gray, and white. The texture is from a plastic net in which oranges were packaged.

I made several pages using the net technique. I set them aside for several weeks. When I felt ready and inspired I pulled them out. I visually studied a couple of pages until I started to “see” figures and develop a narrative. If you look at #1 above you may see the crossed hands in the formed by the netting in the center.
"Many Concerns"

 I had actually tried something similar earlier (below), but it was not successful. My style was too tight and literal.
# 2, Unsuccessful attempt. Image expressed too literally and style too tight.

 This time I tried to be loose and flowing with the brush. It worked on the first painting but I tightened up on the second.

New lessons learned on the path of Learnng2Art….

Monday, August 7, 2017

Colorblindness has Consequences

Learning art gets complicated when color is added

A little back story. I graduated from High School at the end to May 1964. I immediately entered Auburn, in June, as a Commercial Art major. In my first year I excelled at drawing. Basic drawing, figure drawing, perspective, etc. It was when I started a design class that I ran into trouble. Color. I think I see colors reasonably well in the mid-tones. But as colors go lighter and darker in value I get lost. This became very apparent in the color chart assignment. My instructor was dismayed at the chart I turned in.  : )   The next Quarter I was a Business major. One and half years of art school derailed.
Pencil drawing - 1964

I always wanted to get back to art. After I retired I eased back into it. It wasn’t long before color became an issue again. When I tell people I’m colorblind I often get responses about how interesting my work can be. That I should go for it and exaggerate it. That I see a different world, an exotic world. However, when they see my work they are reaching for the barf bag.
Recent watercolor with "unconventional" colors

So far, my main problem has been the greens. I have evidently used some very inappropriate “greens” in some pieces. I tried to mix green. I tried straight from the tube. It does not go well. In particular I am having problems with the color of water (in lakes and streams). Occasionally water will be reflecting a clear blue sky, but most of the time it appears green tinted to me.
People say the greens I use are too bright (as well as the wrong green for the subject). That makes sense. My vision is not as sensitive to green and red as “normal” vision. What doesn’t make sense is that they think what they see in my art is how I see. Well, maybe, but I don’t think so. What shows up in my art is the result of my inability to make accurate color selections. For instance the color Viridian. That color is in my new pocket watercolor palette. I wasn’t at all sure about that color. I Googled it. I found out it was green. A cool green. A blueish green. Sounded like a color for water. I used it.
I often make inaccurate assumptions about the color of things. When confronted with a gray wall paint I may guess it to be green or blue. Another complicating factor is the different color vision in my eyes. I had cataract surgery in my right eye a year ago. With that amber colored cataract gone, now my right eye is much more sensitive to colors than my left eye. Color is much more vivid in my right eye, especially blues.
Another thing I have become aware of is that I simply tend to ignore color. Although I see plenty of color, I just don’t “SEE” color. I am more sensitive to texture and value. For instance, if I am looking at a sunset with someone they may comment of the pinks and lavenders they see. I will not be aware of those colors until they say something. Once it is brought to my attention I will begin to see them, too. Another example is a rose bush. I will see a bush. I may pick out a rose bloom based on its different texture from the leaves, but I won’t think of the leaves as green or the bloom as red. If someone tells me the rose is reddish pink, I will then start to see in color. There are times, though, when the green hue of the foliage and the red of the bloom will be in my dead zone. I will not distinguish one from the other.
Sometimes I will have a “happy accident” in my art. The colors may not make sense, but they turn out pleasing or at least interesting to others.

I am developing strategies. Studying color theory. Developing resources.

A limited palette is an option.

Otherwise, I think I must rely on some “happy accidents”.

"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment" Claude Monet

PS: This post turned out much more personal than I planned. I guess I needed to vent. I intended to provide resources about colorblindness and artist. Maybe I'll try again....

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Art Supplies: Exponential

Art Supplies: Exponential

 A little over a year ago I started sketching. It was simple. A pencil or two and a sketchpad.

 I progressed to sketching and drawing. It got more complicated. I needed (wanted) more marking tools, more surfaces, more textures. 

In the Bag
Urban Sketching / Plein Air Kit

My supplies multiplied.

Now, I have added painting. Watercolor paints in tubes, pans and pencils. Then came Gouache and Acrylic paints along with more surfaces; canvas, watercolor blocks, exponential... 
Beginning of Project Creep
Since I split my time in two locations I found it necessary to box up supplies to take with me. Never knowing what might be needed. 

I started with a plastic container with a snap on lid. It measured about 15x13". Enough to handle 9x12" pads, paints, brushes, pencils.

Plastic Box - worked for awhile

Supplies soon overtook it so I added a Banker's Box. The plastic container just fit in it. Now, everything could be carried in one load.

Good Fit - Uninspiring
Oh, but that Banker's Box looked dull. Decidedly not artistic.

Yesterday I decided to add some pizzazz to that old box. I had some left-over wall paint and ceramic tile from a recent bathroom remodel.

That's more like it

Packed and Ready to Travel

Now that Banker's Box has some character.

Bottom - You Shouldn't See This

End - I've Got This

Side - Art Doesn't Always Go Well

End - Zonk

Side - It's All Good

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Art of Procrastination

What color is your excuse?

I’m just back from vacation. What an excuse. It is just one of many colorful excuses I have painted myself with recently. Another “reason” I haven’t done art. I suspect I’m not alone. What about you? Have you hit the wall, tripped on the hurtle or otherwise been derailed? Or maybe more honest, allowed yourself to be stopped.

One of my favorite entertainments/learning activities is listening to "The SavvyPainter Podcast" [ ]. I just listened to the latest one. Our savvy hostess, Antrese Wood, interviewed Julian Merrow-Smith. Julian is a brit living in the South of France. Antrese’s interviews never fail to deliver. She has a very natural curiosity that guides her interviews. She is curious about what makes artist tick. Why they do what they do. What motivates them. What derailments they have had and how they overcame them. Julian it turns out is a very prolific and fast painter. Julian's daily paintings can be viewed here [ ].  He is often painting one or more paintings daily. I highly recommend listening to that interview or any of the hundred+ podcast that came before it.

So, what’s happened? Am I derailed again? What does a Podcast have to do with procrastination? Well, a lot, actually. I just went about eight days without even making a mark (how does that mesh with someone doing one or more paintings daily?). When I did start back, I just did one little sketch. It was a continuation of a series of thumbnail sketches. The purpose of the sketches was to establish a composition and more importantly capture the gesture of a pose. I was sketching from a photo. One I took while on a walk.

I find to photo very appealing. I have a vision of how I want to paint it. I lost traction, though. Not getting the gesture correct stopped me cold. I did the first three thumbnails in about an hour one night. The fourth was done over a week later. And worse, I spent at least an hour on it alone. It's still not quite right. Now I am allowing my lack of success to stop me again.

I have given my canvas over to Procrastination. It seems that Procrastination is always near. Always close to the things I intend to do. Always has a palette of excuses. Here, try the purple (I can’t get it right I might as well stop) excuse. Procrastination is even adept at mixing colors. Two thirds Paynes Gray to one part Cerulean Blue makes “I’ve got the work-space all picked up. It’ll take too long to get everything out again”. That is what I call the Art of Procrastination. The time I could be doing art is painted with hues coming from Procrastination’s palette.

After listening to over a hundred podcast I find a very consistent thread. The “pros” push Procrastination’s palette aside and use their own.

I'm inspired! I am off to do that painting….right after my “Forest Green” nap….yawn…

Monday, June 26, 2017

En Plein Air, Plain Fun, or Plain Frustrating

My first En Plein Air

There was a big En Plein Air affair here in Richmond last week. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into town to see any of it. I had hoped to, but …. other things…. you know…. Anyway, you can read a bit about it on this blog (it’s the official, but there are others).

I do some sketches outside. We have some walking/biking trails here. Some go to playgrounds or parks and some go to the lake. I never thought of what I do as En Plein Air. Take a walk, do a sketch. Well, today that changed. I got inspired by the big Richmond Plein Air affair. I wasn’t just going to sketch while on my walk today, I was going to paint En Plein Air.

Turns out it wasn’t so easy. There is a learning curve. There is stuff to know. Experience counts. My first experience was pretty dismal. 

I had just gotten a compact Winsor & Newton Cotman brush pen set (Father's Day gift).

Winsor & Newton Cotman Compact Brush Pen Set 
Very compact, shirt pocket compact. It came with its own self-contained water brush. I thought “this will be a piece of cake, soft, moist, yummy, easy to eat cake”.    It wasn’t.

I had read reviews about the Winsor & Newton Cotman brush pen set. Very favorable reviews. The only negative that stuck out was one lady’s little rant about the half-pans and paints falling out when she dropped hers. I thought "silly lady, just be careful".

I walked to the lake (that's an understatement, I was jacked up. I was almost skipping. It's hard to get a 72 year old guy excited about much, but thank goodness it can still happen).
While walking the path beside the lake I was looking for a subject to paint En Plein Air with my compact watercolor set. I was feeling a little anxious. I never even tried the new paints. The water brush idea was new to me, too. Never used one. Perhaps the anxiety made it difficult to find a subject. Instead of a new subject I decided to just paint a drawing I had done a few weeks ago on a previous walk. Wouldn’t have to waste time drawing. I could just start painting. En Plein Air!
I'm Stumped - the sketch
Did I mention I’m slightly colorblind? That turns out to be important….

I didn’t bring an easel, just my 8x5.5” multi-media sketchbook and my new compact watercolor set. Luckily, I found a bench by the path that was very close to where I did my sketch. I could stand up, take a few steps over and get my original view. I got the feel of the location, sense of the light, warm breeze off the lake. It was very En Plein Air. Monet, Pissarro, Sargent, Renoir,....

I got the water brush flowing. Dabbed some paint. Made some test swatches on scrap paper. Mixed a little color. You see I had arranged the half pans so that I knew where the colors were. On these dry paint cakes I can’t tell the dark colors apart (that colorblind thing). Once I wet them and dab some on paper I can tell, but not while they are dry in the pans.

I was off to a start. Going light to dark. Mixing my colors as best I could. I decided I needed another look at that stump. As stood up my compact set of paints flipped right off the bench. I suddenly felt the rant of that lady reviewer. Paints and pans all scattered about under the bench. The ground under bench happened to be moist and sandy. As I picked up the paints they were already sticky and covered in sand (as a possible future plus, they do wet easily). All paints and pans were separated. That was bad. The pans have the color names written on their sides. That’s how I knew how to arrange them. Now, I had no idea. Other than the white, yellow, and yellow ochre they all were pretty much the same….dark. Now I was in trouble!
I'm Stumped - I only have a vague idea about the colors in this learning experience

I got the paint cakes back into pans. They were not in their designated pans or my memorized locations. I couldn’t tell by name or location what color I was dealing with. Just trial and error. I couldn’t remember the paint colors as I used them, either. I had memorized them before. That memory was interfering.

Plein Air had become plain frustrating……
(skipping back home, never occurred to me)
Should colorblind people be allowed......
If you would like to add a comment, and I wish you would...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art Is All Over the Place

Art Is All Over the Place

I enjoy the ambiguity

I enjoy the ambiguity of the statement “art is all over the place”. Two meanings immediately come to mind.
1.      Everywhere you look you see, hear, or read some form of art.
2.      There is a tremendous variety in the art that we are exposed to.
Even when we limit the “art” to visual arts, we still are presented with an overwhelming amount of visual variety. With variety comes preferences. With preferences comes identity, which leads to choices. When choices are made they often become personal. When people have similar preferences and choices they often form “camps”. Now the variety is becoming filtered. It is a way we deal with the overload. As we identify with a certain media, style, genre, etc., we become personally invested. Now things start to get interesting….
Groups, clubs, associations have been formed to impose filtering. Rules are agreed upon. Renegades need not apply. Of course, there are more open-minded associations, but even then most require a declaration. Watercolor, oil, mixed media, collage, drawing, sketch….there are so many methods, so many ways to filter….abstract, observational, realistic, plein air, urban sketch, landscape, portrait, figurative….
Sometimes the filtering becomes boundaries. The strong personal identity leads to exclusion and exclusion to elitist attitudes. To me this is detrimental to “art”. Of course, I understand that if you are having a Watercolor or other media competition you need the boundary. I’m referring to outside of competition when some artists take a position that only their favorite media is legit.
So much for my mini-rant. I know there are very few artists out there that take these extreme positions, but I do occasionally come across them.
I’m so new to “art” that I just now learning about the “camps”. I haven’t been considering them much. I have “paintings” with Gouache, Acrylics, Watercolor, Ink, and Charcoal. I wasn’t filtering at all. Just grabbing for something that might solve a problem. Maybe as I mature as an artist I will gain control over my impulses. Learn to filter. I doubt it, though.
I am reusing a painting from the Still-life post.
So Succulent - 11x14 canvas on frame,
mostly gouache, but acrylic, a bit of watercolor,
ink, and a smudge of charcoal.
Today I have been reading reviews about acrylic gouache. It sounds intriguing. Just might solve a few of my problems. It won’t solve my main problem, though. I just need to do some painting. I haven’t made a mark in days.
Anybody have experience with acrylic gouache???

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Still Life Genre

Definition:  A work of art that depicts inanimate subject matter, such as food, flowers, or tableware.

Still Life, a descriptive yet rather odd name. I get it being 'still' as in not moving, set in place, inanimate. The 'life' part is what I find strange. I am just supposing that it derives from painting florals. The flower(s) alive but in the setting of the artist choice. Well, whatever, it's a popular genre for art.

 It is certainly appealing to be able to choose from a variety of objects that interest me and then arrange them according to my idea and compositional desires. This is quite different from 'plein air'. With 'plein air' we are painting what interest us from what nature provides. We may change a few things to create interest, contrast, or to improve the composition of the viewed scene, but typically it is what it is.

 Ah, but with still-life we pick and choose and arrange until we get what we want. Sometimes it's just to get a pretty painting. Sometimes it is to make a statement...

 Here are a few examples of still life I have attempted while learning this art thing...

9x12" graphite and white pen
I just wanted to practice drawing and quickly assembled these items. I was sitting at the kitchen table and put this ‘still-life’ together right there on the table to my right. Wine bottle, cork, wine glass, Asian pear and a match box. Hmmm, I wonder what statement I'm making.....?

Graphite, ink, and white pen.
Sometimes when I walk by the lake I will pick up driftwood that interest me. It may be the shape or the texture that appeals to me. I found these two pieces on separate outings.
When I was looking for something to sketch I picked them from my driftwood cache. While attempting to arrange them, on the top of the clothes dryer (of all places), they just fell into this embrace. Why the top of the dryer? To get them at eye level while sitting on a stool. Plus the lighting was good.

Graphite and white pen.
This was a warm up sketch. Never got the perspective right. I think I was sitting too close. Anyway, it was a good exercise with my new General Pencils. It's done on a toned typing paper, but not enough tone to show off the white charcoal. Someday I may learn to get the drawings fundamentals correct at the start. I think I can do one of these items ok, but together, nah. This scene is in the corner of our family room. I see it all the time and think "I'd like to draw that". I'm over it now. It’s a fail. My Sketch Club mentor said she liked it and that I should redo it and really exaggerate my missed perspective. Do it loose, more abstract. Hmmm, not sure I’m up to it.

11x14", Gouache on stretched canvas

I think this is the only “finished” painting I’ve done. My wife does not have a green thumb, but she has managed to keep these succulents alive. My granddaughter is also a fan of succulents. I gave her this painting as a high school graduation gift. This is an unusual painting. It is Gouache on canvas. It was a problem of my own doing. I prepped the canvas with mid gray interior house paint. The Gouache didn’t do well on that surface.

This one is a digital finger painting. An experiment using a 7” Nook Tablet running a sketch app. There are some parts I like. It's a doodle. I was trying to learn the app. The app has a blend/smudge tool. That is what I used to get the smooth transitions.

9x12", 90lb watercolor paper, ink and watercolor.
Does a clock count as a still-life? I'm guessing it does. I did this drawing while visiting my wife's family. Her Aunt asked if I would sketch her Grandfather Clock. I did a quick sketch for reference, along with a photo and then did this drawing at home. When I finished it I sent it to her. After all she had my favorite cream cheese cherry pie for dessert.

6x5.5", General Sketch and Wash pencil, General Graphite pencil

On the same trip I sketched these shoes. She had a whole row of her daughters' shoes displayed on a dresser. Progressing from baby to tween.
Since they obviously meaningful to her I picked two pair, smallest and largest. I was really interested in the folds and creases in the baby shoes. This is a preliminary study. I intend to do a pen and ink with wash of this setting. I'll add a clock to the scene. There was one on the dresser. Passing of time, you know.
She was really pleased with the sketch, rough as it is. I photographed it and left the sketch with her.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What is Art?

Is there a better question?

I occasionally get in a questioning mode. That’s good thing. Its healthy to question, unless that gets obsessive. Anyway, one of those questions I have is about art. I start thinking about "what is art?". If I draw a diagonal line is it art?

Should I write about “what is art”?

So, what do we do when we get that curious, questioning feeling?

We Google it, right? Well, right off I found lots of definitions and opinions about “what is art?”. I mean there is lots. So much so that I realized that I didn’t have anything additional to add. It has pretty much been covered.

That wasn’t exactly a dead end, though. My curiosity began to take me in another direction. I began to wonder, “When is art”? Was that diagonal line art when I drew it? Was it art when I imagined it? Or perhaps, was it art when someone else saw it? I found these to be interesting questions. In fact, I found these questions more interesting than “what is art?”.

Let’s say I go on a walk and I have my little sketchbook with me. I see this interesting scene. I stop, I sit down and take a careful look at this scene. What was it that I found interesting? Why would I want to draw it? Before I start sketching, I start imagining how that scene might look on my paper. An image starts to form in my mind. So, did I create art at that time?

Ok, lets say maybe not. Maybe generating an image in our mind is not art.

Let’s take the next step. I do a light pencil sketch.
Just enough to start working out the proportions and composition. Is it art now?

Continuing. I ink in the lines I want to keep. I emphasize some lines, let others disappear. Is it art now or is it still becoming art?

What if I stop now, declare I’m done? Have I also declared it “ART”?

Is it art now because I declare it so? Am I the only one that has a say in this?

There seems to be something missing. That is a closed loop. Shouldn’t there be more to it than that? Does it require someone else to see it? Someone else to take the image of my drawing into their imagination and conclude that it is art.

I wonder, because now it seems we have come back to “What is Art?”….

I am interested in getting your thoughts.

I am also thinking "why is art?". But, that's another day.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Benefits of Sketch Partners

An invite to a Sketch Club

It’s been almost a year since I was invited to join a very small Sketch Club. Initially there were only three members. It was very low tech. Very private. Everything communicated via text message. The rules were simple. Text a sketch every day. No sharing others' sketches.

Eventually there were five of us, but only myself and the club originator stayed active. Although, I missed many more days than I posted, she was very consistent. We are very forthright with each other. Commenting on each other’s sketches, making suggestions, what worked, what needed another look.  The other members occasionally make comments and suggestions, also. They are our passive sketchers.

A few months ago we decided to post work that was a little more than a sketch. Occasionally we will post a complete painting.

I have enjoyed being in the Sketch Club. I don’t know if this activity is for everyone, but its worth a try.

This is a sketch I did this past Wednesday. When I posted to the Sketch Club it was just the light initial pencil concept sketch. The members couldn't even make out the subject. Then Thursday night I added some washes and ink.

I did the sketch on location. I took a walk to the neighborhood lake. There are paved walking paths in some areas. Along the paths are benches. I was looking for an interesting view to sketch. I wanted something with a sweeping movement. Unfortunately, the benches are located to take in the vistas of the lake. I ended up sitting sideways and sketching a mooring post that was close to the bench. It wasn’t much of a subject.

Here is the sketch and a comment from my Sketch Club partners…

Meet Me at 3
Meet Me at 3
pen and ink with wash
the wash is from watercolor pencils
mixed media sketch book 8.5 x 5.5"

Comments from Sketch Club

This gets a thoughtful Hmmm, with a plus. I like it but I am not sure why.

This one is good, and yet I don't know why. Maybe Melanie can help.

It seems to merge representational with very abstract. Surreal. It works well.

okay. Being me. Think about placement on the page. The big blob--maybe too centered.

Mostly really good.

Hats off!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Portraits - I've been thinking...

Talking ‘bout Portraits

Today I’m thinking about portraits. I belong to a Google+ Community (Sketching, Drawing, Painting). I see some amazingly skillful portrait drawings there. Frequently the subject is a celeb, model, movie star, etc. I presume the drawings are from photos. Some of the drawings are photo realistic. Truly amazing.

So, I’m thinking when does a portrait become more than, well, a copy of a photo. Don’t get me wrong, I use photos as reference, but I usually don’t try to do an exact copy.

Typically, I select a photo reference because I am intrigued by the lighting or the pose or the facial features. I may try to capture what intrigued me, but not directly copy them. OK, sometimes I do try to copy the facial features to get a likeness. Also, a direct copy can be a good exercise, but I don’t see doing it for a final piece of art.

What do you think?

Am I way off? Am I getting in trouble here?

Portraits in different media/techniques

This is an exercise sketch/print.
 I did the first one using General’s Sketch and Wash pencil for the face and General’s Carbon Sketch for the hair. The sketch was on a sheet of copy paper.

Print - transfer from above sketch
The print was produced by wetting 90lb watercolor paper, from a sketch pad, and placing it over the sketch. I then rubbed the back of the watercolor paper with the back of a large spoon to activate the transfer.
Old Man - Pen and ink with acrylic wash.
My reference here was a small picture in a newspaper. It was b&w. I was intrigued by the composition. The dark patterns of the background.
Girl Gazing

I was warned that Gouache was a difficult media to start learning to paint with, so that's what I did. I figured if hadn't tried anything else I wouldn't know it was difficult. Well, I know now.....

Miss Pauline
8.5 x 5 watercolor paper, 140 lb from sketchbook

______________________________ Dylan(ish) – digital paint

This was done last year about this time. I had not started using traditional media at that time. I had just joined a daily sketch club. We are supposed to submit a sketch a day. I was about miss a day. I grabbed a Dylan CD cover for a reference and got my submission in.

Old gent sitting - I did this first as a pen and ink and wash about 4x6". Parts of it I liked but overall it was a fail, I learned a few things and tried again.

Here is my redo.
A light pencil sketch, then pen and ink with watercolor.

This one is better, but there are proportion issues. Also, I missed his expression. Too bad, since that was part of my reason for doing this one. He had a gentle, sweet expression. Reference, a picture in the newspaper.
9x12" 140 lb cold press watercolor paper