Wednesday, August 2, 2017


I've been pretty busy the past few weeks so I haven't had a chance to do much sketching. We've been taking the boys on "treasure hunts'" searching for painted rocks. I did have time to paint a few and since the boys like minions that was my subject. I'm trying to get a dozen or so painted before I go and hide them around Albany.

My first trio, Kevin, Bob and Stuart from the Minions movie are almost finished. Then I'm going to try to do some of the more notable minions. I haven't seen Despicable Me 3 yet so I don't know what new/different minions may be in that one.

Kevin, Bob and Stuart (with the guitar). I'm not quite finished with Stuart.
Future minions have the first coat of yellow paint on them.

Rock painting is definitely harder than painting on a flat piece of canvas. The contours and porous surface of rocks are a lot to deal with -- at least for me.

Here's a few progressive photos I took while painting Stuart. I use craft paints from Walmart and a mix of cheap watercolor brushes and a small short-haired red sable brush for details. Oh, btw, I find reference photos online to use as a guide.

Finding the right shape of rocks is probably one of the hardest parts about painting minions. Unless you are just going for a painting on the rock instead of a painted figurine that I'm trying to achieve.  

Stuart in the raw. Finding "pill-shaped" rocks is the hardest part
unless you want to just use the rock aa a canvas and paint 
the minion onto it. Be sure to wash the rock before painting it.

I usually sketch out some ideas  on paper first.

A quick sketch with a marker to see if Stuart
and the rock are compatible. The paint is opaque (with two coats)
so I don't have to worry about the marker showing up through the paint.

The first coat of paint is applied. The marker is still barely visible.
I generally sit the rocks out in the sun to let it dry between coats.
This week we are at plus-100 degrees so they dry rather quickly.

I forgot to take a photo of the pencil sketch I do once I get the yellow paint on. Sorry. I then proceed to apply a loose painting of all the features with a wide paint brush. Pencil doesn't erase very well on rock so you need to be close to your final version although applying more yellow paint works as good as an eraser.

I then go in with a small brush (I use a red sable flat brush with really short hair) and hit all the details as well as fill in close to the edges to finish up where I used the wider brush, such as on the blue overalls.

I then ink the borders and fill in the black areas such as the mouth, gloves and boots. I generally use either a black permanent marker or in Stuart's case, I used platinum carbon ink I had in my Pentel brush pen.

I use a white Gelly Roll pen to add the seams to his overalls and highlights around the fingers in the gloves and twinkle in the eye. Then I add any shadowing (which is proving to be difficult for me to find the best way to do that.)

Finally I use a sealer -- just clear spray paint -- and Viola!

All that's left is the details--Shadowing, highlights, hair, etc. Then
applying the sealer.
And that's how I paint a rock ... Interesting, yes? Not really. It's only rock painting after all, but the boys like 'em and that's what matters. 

Oh, you can check out Linn County rocks on Facebook to see rocks from my area that people paint and find.

Have a great week and if you happen to be around Albany in the next week or so keep an eye out for minions. They may be hiding in a spot near you. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Today is THE KONA LIFE's 10-year anniversary. Although you'll notice the web address is amilucid (Am I lucid?) which was named for the screenplay I was working on at the time and I began the blog to record of my progress although I quickly changed gears and it became a diary of sorts for my adventures in triathlon.
Me finishing my first-ever triathlon -- Lavaman.

I'd encourage anyone who is training for their first triathlon, especially their first Ironman distance tri to read through my posts. There are a lot of training details and a lot of obstacles I encountered along the way that may help you through some of the challenges.

The original header for The Kona Life. That's me right in the center walking out to Kailua Bay for a Peaman race.

West Hawaii Today even published a few of my blog's entries leading up to my first Ironman in 2009.
I've also shared the worry of a parents as our son was deployed to Afghanistan as a Marine and elsewhere on three tours. The birth of our first grandchild, Training with world-class professional athletes, Search for Lance Armstrong (before his plunge into the abyss). It also records my 2 minutes of fame as NBC Sports followed me around while I participated in the Ironman World Championship.
My favorite place on earth -- Kailua Bay. I miss that place so much.

Some of the most important, fun and challenging events in my life are recorded on this blog. Even though blogs are becoming a fad of the past I think I'll keep adding to it. Though these days it doesn't have many visitors as it did when I lived in Hawaii.

Nowadays, The Kona Life is all about sketching, but I'm hoping to get back to training. Maybe not triathlons but who knows.

So if you happen to be reading this, thank you so much for stopping by and visiting my blog. I'll see you on the web... Take care.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Wow. With summer being in full swing I haven't been able to do as much sketching as I want to. I actually go days between sketches which is frustrating.

RED, WHITE AND BLUE: From the fourth of July family gathering. Our son, Daniel, A US Marine stationed in South Carolina came out for a visit over the holiday. We actually had all but one of our kids together for the first time in 10 years.

Here's a few sketches I managed in between other outdoor activities.

The Tree Sisters in Eastern Oregon.

The corner of Water and Montgomery in Albany.

Albany City Hall.
Colorful alleyway doors in Albany.
Just a quick note: In two days it'll be 10 years that I've been writing THE KONA LIFE. It started out as random ramblings and quickly became a journal for my triathlon journey. Now it's morphed into a sketching blog.

If it all works out I'd love to kind of combine my passions for triathlon, running, biking and swimming and sketching into one blog and begin posting sketches of athletic events as well as start doing reviews of products from pens and sketchbooks to running shoes and swim goggles. 

I started a new sketchbook (Stillman & Birn Beta series A4) and for my first sketch in a new book I like to sketch what tools I will be using in it. This time I intentionally sketched and painted as quickly as I could, as well as leaving myself a note to remind me to, keep my sketches loose -- at least in this book.

While Daniel was here we went to visit Steve Prefontaine's memorial in Eugene.
Pre's memorial

Lots of mementos left by visitors

Here's a few of the above sketches with the actual locations.

Have a great week. If you actually read this stop by and say hi on July 19, 2017. It'll be THE KONA LIFE'S 10-year anniversary. 

Monday, June 19, 2017


Sketching the Junipero Serra Museum arches from a photo.

The final result. Sketched on Stillman & Birn Beta Series hardbound A5 sketchbook, M Graham watercolors, DaVinci sable travel brush round No. 10, Platinum Carbon desk fountain pen and platinum carbon ink.

I found this image online of the Junipero Serra Museum overlooking Old Town San Diego and thought it would be challenging to sketch. I've  never sketched archways in perspective and I thought a good one point perspective view would simplify things a bit.

I've taken two online classes on perspective on Craftsy that were taught by Stephanie Bower and I learned a lot about one and two point perspective as well as how to draw arches, stairs roof angles, etc in perspective.

You should check out her classes if perspective is a mystery to you. I also have her book on perspective: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location (an Urban Sketching Handbook)

Here are a few shots of my sketch in progress:

A light pencil under sketch.

After inking with a Platinum Carbon Desk fountain Pen and Platinum Carbon ink.

adding the sky and foliage. I've been trying to avoid drawing trees, bushes and plants in general thinking that they look more natural or wispy with paint only. Although I do sketch a rough outline in with a pencil so I can ink in around where I plan to add trees etc.

Originally I was going to just leave the red tile flooring with a lot of white space as if the sun was reflecting but I thought it drew too much attention and messed with where I wanted the viewers' eye to flow. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


It's been pretty hectic around the house so I haven't gotten in much sketching ... or running ... or anything else that is hobby related done.

We are going on vacation soon so hopefully I'll get in some actual on-location sketching done instead of having to draw from photos.

I also got a new fountain pen that I'm trying out. The Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen. I'll do a review on it soon.

Here's a couple of sketches I did last Saturday from photos. I think I sketched and painted both of these in under an hour.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. My son is a Marine and went through here. This is from a photo I found online.  This is sketched in pencil with a just a little ink for the blacks. Watercolors are M Graham's painted with a Da Vinci Sable Round #10 travel brush on Stillman & Birn Beta Series A5 hardbound sketchbook. 

I used my new pen, the Platinum Carbon fountain pen to draw this sketch of the Point Reyes abandoned boat. Platinum Carbon makes a great waterproof fountain pen ink so you would think, or at least I thought, they would ship their pens with that same great ink in the cartridge with their pens. Nope. 

As soon as I got the ink wet it started to run. So I had to just dab the paint on. I'm not happy with the result. I immediately threw away the ink cartridge that came with the pen and replaced it with a converter and Platinum Carbon waterproof ink. Painted with M Graham watercolors, Da Vinci Sable round #10 travel brush on  Stillman & Birn Beta Series A5 hardbound sketchbook.

Marc Taro Holmes posted on his website Citizen Sketcher about painting portraits in layers so I thought I would give it a try. No sketching first, just building them with watercolors starting with simple shapes then adding detail in layers.

Although these are embarrassing to share (as are all of my sketches) I hope that someday I'll be able to look back on these and see them as a stepping stone. I also need to remember I've only been sketching and painting since December (6 months) so not to judge myself so harshly.

If you haven't taken any of Marc's online classes you should check them out on Craftsy. He's a great teacher. Here's his link on Craftsy

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Here's a few sketches I've done this past week. I've actually not sketched that much this week. The bottom sketches are from a month or so ago.

Casa Rojas Mexican Restaurant and Cantina is near my work place. I did this sketch over a about three or four days, just doing a little bit at a time. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Well happy end of May. Hope everyone had a safe Memorial Day weekend.

A 5 minute rough sketch from a photo of a boat harbor.

I've been thinking about getting a weekly or monthly lunchtime sketchwalk organized at my place of employment but haven't really committed to the idea yet. I started writing up an announcement, queried a few people to see if they'd be interested (they would), and started a list of possible sketching sites we could walk to from work but haven't pursued it beyond that.

A lot of my sketches come from my lunchtime strolls and I thought it might be fun to ask others along but we'll see.

Anyhow here are a few sketches since my last post.

Thanks for taking a look. Have a great week.


Thursday, May 25, 2017


Here's a  few sketches from the past week or so.
The train trestle near Bryant Park in Albany, Oregon.

and with the actual trestle in the background.

For some reason this is probably my favorite sketch I've done. I even made it my phone's lock screen image. Mostly because it's not only the largest sketch I've done, 8x16 inches, but also I did this one entirely in ink first. I think all my previous building sketches I at least used pencil on some of it before inking it in. I hope going straight to ink is a trend I will follow. 

I love the spontaneity of it and I love having to live with the mistakes. It has a more urban feel to it. It has more "feel' to it altogether that the drawings I do in pencil first seem to lose once I ink them in. 

quick character sketches while watching "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix.

A couple more quick character sketches while watching "Better Call Saul." It's amazing how as soon as I decide to sketch a  character they quit showing him so I only have brief glimpses of them. I refuse to rewind and/or pause the program so that it is more like on location sketching. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Like many sketchers, I have several sketchbooks and watercolor sheets and blocks going at once.

A selection of sketchbooks from Dick Blick. 

I have a Moleskine 3.5x5.5 scribbler that I carry with me in my pocket pretty much everywhere I go.

I have my trusty Stillman & Birn Beta A5 hardbound sketchbook. 

I also have a spiral bound  Artist’s Loft sketchbook that I use while watching TV just to practice reportage and likenesses of the characters of the shows I’m watching. I try to do a few pages of each hourlong series I watch each week. I also try to capture a few gestures/likenesses of characters from movies I’m watching.

On the Hong Kong Metro. From a video.

I use the spiral bound sketcher for pretty much everything from trying out new pens, signatures, warm ups such as drawing pages of circles and lines, contours. You name it and I use this book for it.

It’s really the only sketchbook I feel comfortable messing up in. I feel free to try new things, different styles, free association drawing, blind contours, practicing proportions, etc. without worrying that someone else will see them. This is basically my drawing diary that I don’t plan on anyone seeing.

If I happen to have a particular drawing in my spiral that I like a lot I simply tear it out and stick it in my Stillman & Birn.

A church in the Philippines. I posted the ink version of this on my last post.

I'm doing a series on rural life, that I use a Strathmore 400 series 5.5x8.5 that opens to 5.5x17 landscape.

I also started using loose watercolor sheets 9x12 Arches cold press and Fluid water color block 8x16 which I really like. The Arches is 100% cotton and since I don’t use it that often it takes a bit of getting used to compared to other papers. But the colors look great on it.

So here’s a few sketches from the past week or so.
A rough pencil sketch of Novak's Hungarian Restaurant on 2nd Ave. In Albany Oregon
The finished ink sketch of Novak's.
Novak's with watercolor added.

On location.
 They suck, I know. But hey, I've only been sketching/drawing since December so I'll give myself a little slack.


I've been pretty busy the past few weeks so I haven't had a chance to do much sketching. We've been taking the boys on "tre...