Thursday, May 16, 2013


In my last post I talked about the BEA Auction of Original Art ( and the two pieces I donated to that event.  In this post I'll show you the steps I went through to create one of those donations, my Sendak piece.
 I started, as I always do, with a graphite pencil sketch.  I almost always make these sketches on a vellum tracing paper, Borden & Riley's "Sheer Trace".  I love the feel of the soft pencil against the slightly toothy surface of this paper.
The transparency of the vellum made it easy for me to use my light box for tracing the gist of the sketch onto the working surface.  For this piece my working surface was Lanaquarelle hot press watercolor paper.  
Here is the nearly-finished the ink line work, executed in crow-quill pen and waterproof black ink.  I haven't yet erased the pencil lines.  You can see that I did a little more pencil sketching before I began the ink work---I toyed with adding shrubbery behind the figures, but decided it would confuse the composition.  And if your eyes are sharp, you will find three "mistakes" in the ink work.
This is the final piece, colored with Winsor & Newton watercolor.  The "mistakes" are no longer apparent.  During school visit presentations, I love making a mistake in my demo drawing, and then showing students some of the tricks that can make the mistake disappear.  And if you couldn't find the mistakes in the piece above---well, that's what I tell students:  often we creators are the only ones who can see the "mistakes".

Be sure to check out the auction! There is some fantastic art up for auction.  And it's all to benefit a very worthwhile cause.

Monday, May 13, 2013

ALDREN A. WATSON 1917-2013

My father, Aldren A. Watson, was born on May 10, 1917.  He died on May 5, 2013 at the age of 96.  He was a prolific and gifted artist, writer, designer, and creator.  He was also my artistic mentor.  When I was 8 years old I decided I was going to submit a book idea to a publisher.  Dad helped me put together a typed manuscript and a dummy; suggested where to submit it; helped me package it up and mail it.  The book was rejected, of course.  But never once did my father try to discourage me in that attempt.  He continued to be involved and interested in my work from then on.  Just a few weeks ago I mailed him copies of sketches from my current book idea, and we discussed them together over the phone.  
After Dad's death, I found on his desk a handwritten rough draft, dated May 1, in which he was wrestling with the opening words for a new piece of writing.  Next to it lay a rough sketch---of a rotted tree stump, one of his favorite subjects---that he had made just a day or two before he died.  And his last book, Waterfront New York, Images of the 1920s and '30s, will be published posthumously by David R. Godine, Publisher.  Dad was the epitome of a dedicated artist who continues to create, no matter what difficulties life is presenting.  As I continue with my own work, I know that I will feel him there still, at my shoulder---commenting, critiquing, and above all, encouraging.  Thank you, Dad.