This sketch is for a painting to illustrate my next Living Jewel story. In this sketch, Carol (the protagonist) is running out of a fire. She only wears a bracelet with a jewel in it. I used the flames to keep her modest.
I had three challenges I hope I met. The first was to sketch a running person with some depth. The second challenge was to ensure the person looked like a woman without using hair or eyebrows. The third was to draw fire around her and keep her modest without covering up too many features.
If you are interested in catching up on the Living Jewel Series, I listed what I’ve written so far below.
I sketched this tractor because I want to paint one to illustrate the next short story in the Living Jewel Series.
I wanted the tractor to go from left to right, but I didn’t find a model online I liked. So, I found one I would just use for reference as I sketched the tractor going the way I really wanted it to go. But then I sketched it going the wrong anyway. Ugh.
I found this sketch difficult. The vanishing points were way off the page. If my line was not straight, the tractor didn’t look right. The tires were unforgiving too: it’s obvious when ellipses aren’t right. And look at that right front tire. I didn’t even think about composition until the last minute, so I tried to make it up with framing.
If the painting is mostly landscape with a tractor in the distance, you’ll know why.
I sketched this for a painting I’m working on to illustrate the next installment in the Living Jewel Series. Ashley is a detective and she is sitting at her desk. She is unknowingly holding the Orange Living Jewel.
My youngest boy has been asking me to tell him stories at bedtime about stones with special powers. I have told him several; and now I’m having trouble keeping track of characters, stones, and powers. Therefore, I’m going to write them down here. However, I will call them Living Jewels for a reason you’ll find out if you read the stories.
I’ll get back to Steven and William later in case you were wondering about them.
The sketch in this post illustrates a scene in the first story. I hope the foreshortening works. The point of view is that of a man looking down at his palm.
This week, I am working on the third part of Steven the Gray Fox’s story. I was not planning to spend so much time with this character and his story. I simply wrote an exposition that was way too long – as long as my usual short stories. Therefore, I was compelled to give each subsequent part of the story the same word count. Because writing is a temporal art, I want my visitors to enjoy themselves, and I want them to leave my blog feeling like they got a complete story; I do try to make each part stand alone.
I am also working on painting a fox for the story. The image in this post is the structural drawing I will use for it. I would have never expected I would draw and paint so many foxes.
Paul sits still in the grass, but is not blending in. The tall fescue is a rich green, while he is gray and brown with specks of black here and there. He is an eastern cottontail, and he is the guardian of this and four other front yards. That is, according to him, he is.
Of the five yards, this one is Paul’s favorite. The lawn is poorly maintained; therefore, it provides clover, crabgrass, dandelions, and other delights. There is also a garden in the backyard with salsa plants, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, and cucumbers. The backyard is surrounded by a fence he can easily crawl under in case the dog is let out of the house. Since the dog cannot go to the front yard, he can leave his fecal pellets scattered around the front yard for later snacking and redigestion.
If we look into Paul’s heart, we will find a great desire. That desire is to be a hero. He feels his large ears are meant for super hearing. His large hind legs are meant for super running. His large eyes are meant for super seeing. He knows not the purpose of his short and fluffy white tail, but it must have a super purpose as well.
Paul goes to the backyard to eat his next course of flowers and to think heroic thoughts. With his super bunny ears, he hears the back door of the house open. A toddler sneaks out of the house into the backyard. The child’s eyes are attracted to the flower bed by the bright colors. There, on the mulch, he sees the rabbit sitting still with a petal hanging from its lip. The child screams with delight and begins to toddle toward the rabbit.
Paul must act eventually: the toddler is not very fast. The child walks toward the rabbit with each step rocking side to side. He appears about to fall, but disappoints. The toddler’s chubby little arms are stretched forward like a sleepwalker on television. Paul imagines the fat little hands pulling at his ears. That must not happen, he thinks.
Paul jumps from the mulch of the flower bed into the grass. He zig zags around the yard at an impressive speed. The toddler is delighted by the erratic movement. Paul runs from the child as far as he can in the backyard. Then, he sprints toward the child as fast as he can. At the last moment, he jumps and knocks the child down. The toddler begins to cry. A few seconds pass and the back door is opened by a woman. She does not even catch a glimpse of Paul’s fluffy tail as he goes under the fence into the neighbor’s yard.
It is dusk and the neighborhood is quiet. Parents are home from work, children are inside doing their homework, and mosquitos deter walkers. Paul sits in the front yard of his favorite home eating clover between a hedge and a blue spruce. Both would provide perfect cover should a hero require it. Days have passed since Paul defeated the toddler in the epic backyard showdown. He is anxious to put his super powers to good use again. He is anxious to test his courage. An opportunity arrives.
From three different directions, Paul sees three little girls come together across the street. All three elementary school girls are completely neglected by their parents while the sun is out and shortly after. Karen, a nosy walleyed girl, lives across the street. Nancy, the Insatiable, lives a few houses to the west. Betty, Le Terrible, invades from a couple of blocks to the east.
Tonight, they threaten Paul’s favorite yard with fire. Betty has a large box of matches. She strikes one on the side of the box. A bright yellow flame beside the head of the match appears and consumes the match quickly. The light illuminates the three little witches and casts sinister shadows on their faces. Karen asks for a match to light. She strikes it against the box and becomes scared as it flares in her fingers, so she throws the match into the street. Karen’s eyes open wide as her mind gives birth to an idea. She takes a match and presses it with her index finger against the box. With a quick and nimble stroke, she strikes it and sends it flying in an arc across the street. The girls are delighted.
Paul watches the girls take turns flicking matches. They become better at launching them longer and longer distances. One lands in his yard just a few feet in front of him. He jumps over to it. With his furry back foot, he thump-thump-thumps it out. Another flaming match lands in a mulch bed to his right. A small fire begins to spread, but he jumps to it and thump-thump-thump-thump-thumps it out. Then, a third match lands in the grass.
Paul is so focused on putting out fires that he does not notice the girls approach. After he puts out a tiny fire in the grass, he looks up and sees the three villains around him. He freezes. He evaluates his escape routes. Running by Terrible Betty is foolish. Walleyed Karen may have the worst hand-eye coordination. Portly Nancy may have the slowest reaction time. He bets against Karen and Nancy and loses. Nancy grabs him.
Paul has never been held before. He is a wild animal with ticks, zero healthcare, numerous predators, and at high risk of colliding with automobiles. He stops moving when Nancy’s powerful fingers press against his chest. He cannot breath. Adrenaline shoots through his body as she lifts him off the ground. It feels like a shock. He flails, but Nancy is too strong. He bites one of her hot dog fingers. She screams and drops him on the ground. After a breath, he sprints back into a neighboring backyard.
Paul hides safely under the cover of a bush. His heart beats like a drum roll. He can taste Nancy’s blood in his mouth. He does not like it. He also has a bad sensation weighing down his mind. He tries to think through the reasons he should be relieved. He thinks he prevented a fire in his yard. His bite may have sent the girls home. He left the danger behind him. Perhaps a hero would not have left. His mind is heavy because he did not see the situation through. He needs to go back. He is afraid, but needs to go back.
Paul takes a deep breath and runs out of his cover back to the front yard. He tries to think about what he will do when he gets there, but nothing occurs to him. He does not know what he will do if the girls are still there playing with matches. It takes him less than a minute to arrive. He sees the yard is empty. The girls are gone. There are no fires.
The weight is off Paul’s mind. He is proud to be a hero. With his large ears, he hears the front door across the street open. Karen’s image falls on his eyes. She glares at him. He defiantly picks up a fecal pellet and chews it as he looks back at her. It tastes much better than Nancy.
I’m not a man,” said Margaret, “and I don’t know anything about ties, but I do know they shouldn’t be that wide. Or that short.” Margaret was short brunette. Her hair was naturally curly and it framed her face, which had a look of gentle authority.
“I never noticed,” said Susan. The waitress arrived with the lemonades the two women had ordered and set them on the table. She looked briefly at Susan for any needs. Susan was a thin woman with black hair and a shy demeanor that suggested she might play third chair violin in a symphony orchestra. The small Italian restaurant filled with a lunch crowd. The waitress noticed the hostess had just seated a party of four in her section and left to greet them.
“You never noticed our Pastor’s clown ties?” asked Margaret.
“I only know he wears a suit,” said Susan, “I sit in the back and never see much of him.”
“Well I do,” said Margaret. “His ties are twice the width of normal ties and they never make it past the apex of his big belly. It’s like a giant arrow pointing at his stomach and reminding us we need to pay tithing to feed him.”
“Oh, Margaret!” said Susan, “You are just as bad as Jessica!”
Margaret smiled and sipped her lemonade through a straw. She held it between her right index finger and thumb and picked at the ice in her drink repeatedly. “How is our wild friend?” she asked.
“Still the same,” answered Susan. It was louder in the restaurant than when they first arrived. Susan felt her words masked by the noise and that it gave them a fair amount of privacy. She became bold. “Did I ever tell you what happened with Brother Mark?”
“No,” answered Margaret. She leaned in. “Are we talking about Brother Mark the deacon?”
“Yes,” answered Susan, “that Brother Mark. And Jessica. I never told you anything?”
“No,” replied Margaret. “So tell me.”
“Well,” said Susan, “A couple of Sundays ago, I dropped Brother Mark off at his home after Church like I always do. As he thanked me before opening the door to get out of my car, he put his hand on my leg.”
“He did what!” exclaimed Margaret. “That’s gross! He’s married! And twice your age! And GAG! What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything,” answered Susan. “I kept my hands on the steering wheel and looked straight ahead out the windshield with my eyes popping out of my head until he got out of the car.”
“You are too nice,” said Margaret. “I would have slapped him on his ear. You called him and told him you wouldn’t give him rides to church anymore, right?” Susan took a sip of her lemonade and inspected the condensation on her glass as a way to avoid eye contact with Margaret. “Susan, you told him didn’t you?”
“Well, no,” answered Susan.
“Susan!” exclaimed Margaret. “Why didn’t you tell him?”
“Because I didn’t know who would open the church,” answered Susan.
“So you were afraid that if you didn’t give the old adulterer a ride to church, the congregation would just gather around the front doors whimpering in the rain?” asked Margaret. “Everyone would be OK, Susan. Besides, how ridiculous is it that an old man like Brother Mark needs a ride. What was Jessica’s role in all of this?” The waitress brought the women’s’ entrees. Susan watched Margaret smile and thank the waitress, but she could tell her smile was forced. Margaret was frustrated with Susan’s meekness.
After the waitress left them, Susan said, “Well, I told Jessica what happened. You know Jessica, she made fun of me. Saying we would have ugly babies and that I was going to hate changing adult diapers.”
“That Jessica,” said Margaret. “Did she tell you anything else? She wouldn’t miss a chance to tell you what to do.”
“She told me to tell Sister Sarah, his wife,” answered Susan.
“And she probably offered to go with you to tell her,” said Margaret.
“You know she did,” said Susan. “Of course, I told her I wasn’t going to cause problems in their marriage.”
“You are not the one causing problems in their marriage, Susan,” interrupted Margaret.
“So Jessica said that she wanted a ride to church every Sunday too,” continued Susan. “The following Sunday, I picked her up first and then we went together to pick up Brother Mark. He was not happy to see her. Jessica stepped out of the passenger side – you know I have a two door – and folded the passenger’s seat forward suggesting to Brother Mark to get in the back seat. Realizing what she was asking, he said something about being bigger and having bad knees. Jessica just yelled, ‘Shot Gun!’ as if that settled things.”
“What did he do?” asked Margaret.
“He didn’t know what to make of the situation and Jessica didn’t move, so he had to crawl into the back seat,” answered Susan. “It really was too cramped for him back there.”
“Serves him right,” said Margaret.
“Jessica baited Brother Mark during the entire ride,” said Susan. “She asked him things like how the wonderful Sister Sarah was doing. How he and Sister Sarah went on dates without a car… Asked him if he’d ever learned to drive… She mentioned to me loudly that one of the young single men had asked her about me. Picked a cute one too. I’m sure she was lying.”
“What did Brother Mark say?” asked Margaret.
“He mumbled his answers,” answered Susan, “but Jessica didn’t care what he said. She knew she made him uncomfortable. When we arrived at the Church, she said she was glad we had decided to carpool together from then on.”
“And what did he say to that?” asked Margaret.
“Oh, he complained about his back and his knees as he got out of the car,” replied Susan. “He said they should take turns riding in the passenger seat. Jessica guffawed…”
“Guffawed?” asked Margaret.
“You know with her it’s not a laugh,” said Susan. “She cackles like a witch chasing children. Anyway, she told him he was such a kidder. Then, she grabbed my arm and dragged me toward some sisters that had just arrived and left Brother Mark to unlock the church on his own.”
“She’s a mean girl,” said Margaret.
“She is. And then, she sat by me during church,” said Susan. “When she saw him looking at me, she put her hand on my leg.”
“She didn’t!” exclaimed Margaret.
“She did. I could feel my ears go red and hot,” said Susan. “At one point, she looked him right in the eyes, grinning. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t even a normal human grin: she looked like one of those dogs on the internet that smile after they get caught doing something wrong. You know what I’m talking about?”
“Like that,” said Susan. “Well, it’s been a while since Brother Mark was in middle school. He didn’t know how to respond to that. After Church, he caught me at a moment when Jessica was off somewhere and briefly told me he found another ride home.”
“Have you heard from him again?” asked Margaret.
“No,” answered Susan, “But Jessica called him to ask if he wanted to ride with us to church on Sunday.”
I sketched this to help me resolve some questions about the composition of a painting I’m working on. The sketch is on a 4in x 6in sheet. I am working to depict a scene from a fight at Spangler’s Meadow at Gettysburg Battlefield on July 3, 1863. I wanted to look at soldiers in the meadow from a wall. I thought I would find a reference photo online with all of the elements I needed for the painting, but I was wrong.
The painting will be posted along with a short story I’m writing. The story will take place in Spangler’s Meadow; but the characters will be from my imagination, and I will use the place, events, and incidents in a fictitious manner.
The protagonist in my next story interacts with a runner on the subway. I sketched this to work out the composition of a watercolor I’m planning for the story. The right side is obviously and unintentionally dark. The reason is I used scrap paper and there is an image printed on the other side. I don’t like that y’all can see it, but I’m OK with it: I’m just going to make copies, do some color sketches, and find a color scheme I like for the painting.