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Brené Brown & The Man in the Arena

As cliché as many might be, good quotes stick around because they resonate with so many people, even though some can be overused until they mean nothing.

That quote by Einstein, if indeed he was the one who really said it, about doing the same thing over and over again, we’re all tired of that because people trot it out every single day, usually on social media. That should be included in the definition of irony.

I was reminded of one recently, however, from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt. It’s usually just referred to as The Man in the Arena, and goes like this…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

As someone who gets a fair amount of criticism, whether it be from people who don’t like my cartoons, my animal art, or my writing, you soon realize it’s just part of the territory. You can’t put yourself out there without painting a target on your back. It has always been easier to criticize than to put your neck on the line and risk something yourself.

When I was younger, I would bristle at the nasty comments I would get, first on forums, then later on social media. Most of the time, it was from strangers, which shouldn’t make a difference, but as any heart-on-their-sleeve creative type will tell you, 100 compliments never seem to matter as much as one criticism.

Sometimes that criticism comes from a friend or family member and when oft-repeated, it can take a toll. But eventually, you realize that someone who makes it a point to criticize often, or lob the same criticisms again and again, well, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

Constructive criticism should be welcomed, especially if it comes from a trusted source who genuinely wants to bolster your success or help you be a better version of yourself. Sadly, that is more rare than the former. I am fortunate to have had plenty of constructive criticism in my time that has made me a better artist.

In either case, you trim your sails accordingly.

Rather than write a long missive on this, I’m going to include links to Brené Brown’s two TED Talks that prompted the writing of this post, since it was she who reminded me of the Roosevelt quote. I could poorly paraphrase her insights, or just let her speak for herself. The first is one of the most watched talks in TED history, the second not far behind.

While drawing a cartoon this morning, I watched/listened to her recent Netflix special that I would highly recommend, called “Brené Brown: the Call to Courage”. In fact, you could probably skip the TED videos and the special would cover most of it, but the talks have some pretty funny moments.

If you’re struggling in the darkness, there might be some light there for you.


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A Little Death and Darkness

SkullTopHatFBEvery once in a while, it’s nice to explore new challenges.  It was an exercise doing that very thing which led me to create my popular series of Totem paintings, which are still my favorite pieces to paint.  Recently I painted my first landscape, and while it was different for me, a worthwhile exercise and something I’ll repeat again, I doubt that landscapes will be one of the foundations of my future work and business.  Feel free to call me on that statement if years from now, I’m painting more landscapes than anything else.  As somebody who had never planned on being an artist for a living, I’m well aware that today’s plans are often replaced by tomorrow’s happy accidents.

Recently, a commercial opportunity was put in front of me to paint some images that are a departure from anything I’ve done before, some paintings with a little death and darkness to them.  Still encouraged to use my own style in the renderings, which means they’re unlikely to steal any sleep from anybody, this pending series of paintings will definitely look like a matched set.  I have no plans to abandon my Totem paintings, but for the next little while, you’ll be seeing the sort of image shown here, while I explore this genre.

While I can’t say anything right now about the intended use for these paintings, I plan to have a little fun with it, stretch myself a bit, and see if I can’t poke a little fun at the darker side of life.

This was painted on both the Wacom Cintiq 13HD and the 24HD displays using Adobe Photoshop CC.  It began as a concept sketch that you see below, with the finished piece beside it for comparison.  You can click on the image to see it larger.

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Cajun – A Portrait

CajunThis is another commissioned piece, a portrait of Cajun who sadly passed away earlier this year.  She lived a long life and the family wanted a painting to remember her.  I had plenty of reference photos to choose from, but only one or two that I felt would work well for the painting and thankfully the family agreed with the pose I chose.  This painting goes to proof this week and once everything looks the way I’d like, it will be printed as a 15″X20″ canvas giclée with a black shadowbox frame.  I don’t mind saying that I always get a little teary eyed when I finish these memorial paintings, which to me means I did my job.

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Another iPad Painting

Stump01Went for a hike up to Grassi Lakes here in Canmore yesterday afternoon.  Named for noted local, Lawrence Grassi, it’s not a long trail, but if you take the ‘difficult’ route, it’s quite steep in places and is very pretty.  There are a number of relatively short hikes I take in this area when I just want to get my daily exercise, each about an hour or two in duration.  Cougar Creek I can walk to from my house, but if I have to pull the car out of the garage anyway to get groceries or run errands, I’ll head to Grotto Canyon or Grassi Lakes for a change of pace.

During the summer months, Grassi Lakes is usually quite busy.  Even in the fall on weekends, you’ll find plenty of people walking this moderate hike, especially since the ‘easy’ route, which is essentially just a dirt road, makes the trail accessible to most people, regardless of their physical fitness.  Yesterday, being a Monday, I almost had the place to myself and it was very peaceful, both on the trail and at the lakes themselves, which are really two connected ponds.  The emerald colour of the water is very pretty and it’s a nice little spot.

I’ve noticed this tree stump at the lakes on a number of occasions.  For locals, look up on your left, just after you cross the little footbridge between the lakes.  More than once, I’ve sketched it, but yesterday I figured I’d like to paint it.  Since I haven’t done much paint sketching in the last little while and didn’t want to make a finished piece out of it, I painted this on the iPad while watching TV last night.  It sort of turned into a two-colour image and I quite like the finished result.

Painting on the iPad is a real challenge because of the low resolution (especially on my first-gen device) and the imprecise nature of the stylus.  By varying the opacity of the brushes and layers in the procreate app, I manage to simulate pressure sensitivity and have developed a method that works quite well for me.  Actual size of this image is 704 pixels X 960 pixels at 72ppi, so it would make a poor print, but it’s good practice.

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Sketch Paintings


One of the things I noticed at the recent Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is that many of the artists were selling books.  Some were elaborately done with high production values (and costs, I’m sure) while others were smaller and  produced on a budget, but still looked great.  I’ve mentioned before that the Expo was a great learning experience and I’m still processing all of it.  In addition to drawing and painting, I also enjoy writing a great deal.  I’ve even got a couple of novels on the shelf I wrote years ago that I wouldn’t mind taking down and doing a rewrite with fresh eyes and a little more experience.  One of them, anyway.

Sailing and fishing my personal creative ocean day to day, the idea of publishing a book that combines my artwork and writing is something that is never far below the surface of the water.  As time passes, the idea keeps growing larger, is circling more often, and it’s clear that I need to haul this in pretty soon or I’m going to need a bigger boat.

While this future publication is still just in the idea stage, I do know that it will likely focus on my animal artwork.  What I like most about the books I’ve bought by other artists is seeing the sketches and work that isn’t as polished and detailed.  Since the goal for the majority of my animal paintings has always been to produce finished pieces for clients or galleries, I don’t actually have a lot animal sketches and paintings that weren’t destined for print.  I figured I’d better make time to do more of that work since I don’t want a book that is devoid of variety.

Had I gone to art school or started drawing animals when I was younger, I might have stacks of sketchbooks of this stuff in storage, but before the late 90’s, all I ever did was doodle.  After that, it was mostly editorial cartoon work and nothing I’d want to share now.  This painting obsession didn’t really take hold until sometime in the last ten years, well into my 30’s.  What I’d like you to take from that is that it’s never too late to learn new things and do what you love.


In an effort to create these additional sketches and paintings, there are some great side effects.  One, of course, is that it’s wonderful practice.  With no client to please, I can spend a half hour, an hour, two hours and just stop whenever I want.  For somebody as obsessive as I am, just being able to stop and leave it alone, knowing there is plenty of room for improvement is an accomplishment by itself.  Secondly, it’s like a palate cleanser, a reset button in between larger projects, very much like getting up and having a stretch.  Having just finished two cat portraits for clients and moving on to another Totem piece, the meerkat sketch I did yesterday afternoon was a way of leaving one painting behind and starting fresh on another.

Finally, these are a lot of fun.  Pouring rain that turned to snow yesterday, which can happen any time of year in the Canadian Rockies, gave me no motivation to go on my afternoon walk in the woods.  Bored of training videos after about an hour, I just decided to make some fresh coffee (unusual in the afternoon), crank the tunes in the headphones, find a reference photo from a recent trip to the zoo and start drawing.  Before I knew it, it was coming to life and I was really enjoying myself.  Yes, I have deadlines right now, a long list of work I need to get done that will take me well past the summer, but making the time to do sketches like these on a regular basis is proving to be very good for me, almost like I’m taking a mini-vacation.

Expect more of these whimsical, cartoony characters in the coming months.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even turn one or two of them into a Totem painting later.


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Two By Two: The Sequel

About three and half years ago, I created the artwork for a family board game called Two By Two for Valley Games, a company out of Calgary.  Around that time, I actually illustrated four titles for them and they were a lot of fun.  A small company at the time, but with great momentum and their board and card games have become popular worldwide with fans.  While I haven’t done anything in a couple of years for them, I recently got the call to create artwork for an expansion pack to the original Two By Two game.  Here’s the original artwork I did.  The box cover…

Ship at Port

…and the animals…


My artwork in general is constantly being refined.  While the look of my work years ago is still recognizable as mine, I’m always trying to improve, so while I’m still proud of the work I did on the original Two By Two, the choices I would have made if I’d done it from scratch today would likely have been different.  Everything from the animal design to the colour and texture choices, not because I don’t like what I did, but just because artwork evolves.  With this expansion pack, however, it had to look very much the same.  So rather than designing characters from scratch, I used the old animal style as models for the new animals, and the old cover as a model for the new cover.  The titles are still the same at this point, but I know I’ll be asked to change them soon.  They don’t quite know what to call it yet.  Two By Two 2 doesn’t really have much of a ring to it.  The invoice has been sent, but I knew from the beginning that this change would be requested at some point in the future.  Here’s the new cover…


…and the NEW animals…


The beauty of Photoshop files, and designing with layers is that I was able to use some of the parts of the original file for the new cover, which really helped with the continuity of the look.  The water texture, sky, clouds, titles, Valley games logos were all re-used.  The rest of the cover was new drawing and painting.  The animals can’t be all that detailed because they go on small tokens.  If you use too much texture for something small, it can look muddy when it’s shrunk.  The expansion pack box is a lot smaller and has different dimensions.

One of the problems artists have a hard time getting used to when working for commercial companies is that you’re not creating art for yourself, you’re creating it for a product.  Even with licensing on work already done, you have to expect that your work is going to be changed, and it’s up to you how much change you’re comfortable with.  For example, my t-shirts with The Mountain are designed from my Totem paintings, but due to the look and texture of their shirts, they don’t want the backgrounds I painted, so I remove them.  They may also scale, crop, mask and compose the image differently than I did it, most noticeably with my Ground Squirrel Totem, where they didn’t use the body.  I am comfortable with these changes because it’s still my painted work, but they know their business better than I do, and they haven’t ruined my work by tailoring it (pun intended) to their product.

With something like this board game, however, I was hired to create specific illustrations.  The work is not based on my vision.  I was given a list of animals to draw and I don’t even know why these specific animals were requested.  For example, there’s a bunny AND a rabbit.  I’m curious as to why, but I can live without knowing.  There’s also a mythical chimera, the goat/lion/dragon heads.  On the cover itself, all of those elements you see were specifically ordered.  Everything from the nest in the tree to the dolphin and platypus in the water.

While I still own copyright of all of these images, I’ll very likely never use them for anything else but my portfolio, because they were drawn specifically for Valley Games.  When you’re a freelance artist, a lot of your work is just going to be work based on other people’s ideas.  This was still fun to work on, and proved to be a challenge to get everything to look like the older game, but it’s contracted work, which is what most freelancing is about.  It’s a great job, but you still have to treat it like a job.  That means giving the customer what they want, making sure they’re happy with it, and moving on the next project.

In this video, you can see a review of the original game.  I designed the animals for the tokens, and the cover, but not the board or other token textures.  They also made changes to the cover layout, which is why I supply the finished product in layers.  Changes are expected and they need to have a flexible file.

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The upside of 2011

Bighorn Sheep TotemAll things considered, 2011 was a great year.  While every year will have it’s challenges, I’ve been fortunate that I’m honestly able to see each year of the past decade as having continual forward momentum.  The work I’m doing is far beyond what I had hoped for when I first started in this profession and I’m very grateful for it.

I became nationally syndicated in September of 2001, sending cartoons out across Canada each week, and got very few bites.  For two years, I had no more than three newspapers, paying the bare minimum rate, and I will admit to almost giving up on it more than a few times.  With a full-time job to pay the bills, I had to get up at 5:00am each morning to get a cartoon out before I went to work.  When I came home, I had to sketch in the evening and work on the weekends in order to manage it all.  Finally I started making progress, got a few more papers, took advantage of other opportunities, and about six years ago, I was able to leave my job and play this game full-time.

Through it all was my ever supportive wife, Shonna, and I’m incredibly grateful that she never told me not to do any of this.  The only caveat given when I went full-time was that if I couldn’t pay my half of the mortgage and bills, I had to go back to work.  Canmore is an expensive place to live and we couldn’t do it on one income.  Fortunately, it never came to that, and each year has been better than the one before.  At the time, it was an incredible struggle, but in retrospect, I’m glad I had to go through it because it makes the present all that much sweeter.

If my 2001 self could see the work I’m doing now, he’d be pleasantly surprised, and I try to think about that when I’m having a bad day or feeling sorry for myself because of a heavy workload or when money is tight.  So far, I’ve not only gotten what I wanted, I’ve gotten much more.  Best of all, I discovered that I loved getting up at 5:00am to work, I still sketch in the evenings, and being self-employed means you often work weekends anyway, so I was already used to the routine.  Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Here’s a recap of my professional highlights of this past year, some of which I’d forgotten about until I went back through the blog entries month by month.

iPad Painting: Started playing around with this in January, and damn if it hasn’t been a lot of fun figuring it all out.  Ended up trying four different styli and half a dozen apps.  It would seem that I’ve finally settled on the Wacom Bamboo Stylus, the Nomad minibrush, and the procreate app.  The combination of those three gives me the best results, and while I don’t consider anything I paint on the iPad to be finished work, I would go so far as to call it advanced sketching, and I plan to keep doing it.

PhotoshopCAFE DVDs:  In March, I finished my first DVD, called Cartoon Illustration Techniques in Photoshop.  Easily one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever worked on.  Having only done a little bit of sound and video editing for a failed Flash animation project a few years back, it was a struggle.  But I finished it, it went into production, and is selling well.  I’ve heard from many who bought the DVD that have learned a lot from it and complimented me on my instruction, so I’m guessing I didn’t do so bad a job.

The second DVD, Animal Painting in Adobe Photoshop, was a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable as I wasn’t teaching raw Photoshop beginners.  It was more about the painting than the software and while it was a challenge, the difficulty I went through with the first DVD paid off while recording the second as there were few problems I hadn’t already solved.  Recording one DVD this year would have been enough of a milestone, but I never expected to record two, and to be very pleased with both of them.

Cartoon Ink: While my old website was ‘fine,’ it had become difficult to use and it was no longer the image I wanted to project.  While I had always done my own website in the past, this time I realized one of the most important business practices that so many have learned before me.  Hire professionals to do their job, so you can focus on doing yours.  With that in mind, I hired Erik Bernskiold of XLD Studios in Sweden to create a new website for me.  I knew Erik’s work and know him personally, so I was confident he would deliver much more than I could create myself.  With the help of Elizabeth Gast at Design by Firgs, another colleague and good friend who consulted on the site, and created an improved evolution of my logo, I was very pleased with the final logo and website and would highly recommend both of their work.  The time I saved was well worth the money spent and reduced stress.

Wacom: I began to form a relationship with the great folks at Wacom at Photoshop World in 2010 after I won the Guru Awards for two of my Totem paintings and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Having used their tablets since the late 90’s, you won’t find a bigger fan, so I’m very pleased to be working with them from time to time.

Over the course of the year, I’ve been featured in the Wacom eNews, have represented the company and demonstrated their products at one of Scott Kelby’s seminars in Calgary, and have been a featured guest on two of their one-hour Wacom webinars.  The people I’ve worked with at Wacom have been incredibly supportive and are absolute pros at what they do and I look forward to a continuing relationship with them.

The photo shown here is Joe Sliger demonstrating the new Wacom Inkling for me at Photoshop World this year.  He is also one of the moderators of the webinars.

Island Art Publishers: In July of this year, I began a licensing deal for some of my Totem paintings to be produced on art cards.  These are distributed throughout Western Canada and the northwestern U.S. and time will tell whether this arrangement bears any fruit.  An artist friend once told me that art cards are often your best advertising, because not only does the person buying it see your work, but so does the person receiving it.  You may not make much money early on, but it’s enough to get your work out there to a market that otherwise might not see it.  And the cards look really good.

Photoshop World: While it’s true that I didn’t learn much about technique or improving my work at this year’s Photoshop World in Las Vegas, I still think it was worth attending because of the networking opportunities.  Having recorded two DVDs for PhotoshopCAFE, it was great to finally meet the owner of the company in person, and see their operation on the Expo Floor.  I was able to meet a few more of the Wacom folks in person, and talk with other industry professionals I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to talk to.  Online interaction is fine, but it doesn’t compare with face-to-face conversations.  So while I won’t be going back as an attendee, I still think this year’s trip was well worth it.

knmadventuresAt the time, I was doing some illustration work for wildlife photographer and instructor, Moose Peterson as well, and being able to go over sketches with him in person was a real treat, as most of the time this would have all been done online.  The other benefit of the Photoshop World conference is that I get to meet with so many talented photographers, many of whom I consider close friends.  For somebody who relies on great photo reference for my painted work, their skills and talent are often one of my most valuable resources, not to mention their generosity with their work, and the support they offer for mine.

Paintings: Saved the best for last.  I am so very pleased with the progress I’ve made on my painted work this year.  The first half of the year, I was so busy with the DVDs and other work that I only painted one animal in my Totem series, the Great Horned Owl.  When I realized this in the latter half of the summer, I was ticked off.  The work I love to do most, I had placed in last priority.  In retrospect, however, I’m glad it happened because when I realized it, I vowed it would never happen again and it stoked the fire.  The end result is that from September to December, I’ve painted a number of new images and I feel they are my best work to date.

I had been becoming bored with painted caricatures of people in the past couple of years, but recently, I’ve realized that it wasn’t people I was bored with painting, just caricatures of them.  Beginning with a couple of iPad paintings, I’ve discovered how very much I enjoy painting portraits, and I’ve done a couple of pieces recently that I’ve really enjoyed.  Inspired by the work of Drew Struzan and others, I think I’ll be painting a lot more portraits of people, if nothing more than for the sheer enjoyment of it.  While style is always evolving, I think my paintings now have a definitive look that is mine, whether it’s people or animals, and it’s one I want to continue to develop and refine.

I’m now getting commissions to paint pet portraits and caricature this year, and it’s really enjoyable work.  The painting of Don Diego that I did for my DVD, the memorial to Titus the cat, and to being able to finally create a real painting for my folks of their dog, Bailey, it’s looking like this could be a big part of my work in the coming years.  Working on another commission at the moment, and having fun with it.

My real passion, however, is still the Animal Totems.  Nothing I’ve ever done in my career has filled me with as much joy as that I get from painting these whimsical caricatures of wildlife.  Not only are they fun to work on, but they sell well in the galleries which means others like them, too.  I’ve been fortunate that a number of wildlife photographers I know have been willing to sell me the license rights to use their photos as reference, or have enjoyed my work enough to want to trade me the use of their images for canvas prints of the painting when it’s done, both of which I’m more than willing to do.

Humpback Whale TotemEach of them is my favorite for different reasons, but the one I was most happy with this year was the Humpback Whale Totem.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve wanted to paint it for so long or that it was such a challenge to paint an animal with no fur or hair, and the end result lived up to my expectations.  Either way, these paintings are the only work I’ve ever done that I still enjoy months and even a year after I’ve painted one.  That alone tells me this is the work I’m meant to do, at least for now.

As you can see, I’ve had a very good year, and I’m grateful for it.  For all of you that follow my work, your messages of support here on the blog, through social media, and email are all appreciated.  It’s a solitary existence, this freelance lifestyle, and it’s nice to know that others are getting enjoyment out of the work I do.  And if you’re struggling with your own creative endeavors, whether you’ve just begun or are just trying to keep going, I would urge you not to give up.  It may not seem like it in the moment, but I assure you, if it’s something you love to do, it’s worth the effort.

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Painting DVD is now available!

It is my pleasure to announce that my latest DVD, “PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass | Animal Painting in Adobe Photoshop” is now available for purchase.  Painting is what I love to do most, so I’m very proud of this release.  The image that was created during this DVD is one of my favorite pieces and some of my best work to date.  It’s a real thrill for me that the whole thing is recorded from start to finish.  Here’s the text from the back cover…

In these highly informative sessions, Patrick will teach you how to paint a photorealistic animal from scratch. You will learn the entire process, from working with reference photos, setting up the digital canvas, blocking in shapes, adding detail and finishing the painting. Watch how an experienced painter approaches a piece and learn the tips and tools used. Pick up many closely guarded secrets that would otherwise take years to figure out on your own.

This video follows the entire painting from a blank canvas, all the way through to the completed masterpiece. Patrick clearly explains exactly what he is doing and why. Watch an original piece of art unfold before your eyes and learn the techniques so you can apply them to any painting that you desire to create yourself. This training is in-depth enough for a budding painter to start learning, or for a more experienced enthusiast to learn some new tricks from a master painter.

This fast loading DVD ROM contains 3 hours, 17 minutes of high quality video instruction! The advanced interface allows the user to instantly jump to any of the lessons with complete control over the playback.

If you have been looking for some excellent instruction from a real artist, look no further. Watch the entire workflow and become equipped to create your own paintings.

The DVD will be available at the PhotoshopCAFE booth on the Expo Floor at Photoshop World next week in Las Vegas.  If you happen to be attending, I will also be giving away one or two signed prints of the Don Diego image I created in this DVD, as well as some other prints throughout the week.

The giveaways will be announced each day on Twitter, so follow me @CartoonInk and if you’re in Vegas, you just might win a print!

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This is my latest painting.  While I treated it like a commission, this was a labour of love, as it was a gift for my mother’s birthday.  Bailey belongs to my folks, but as anybody who has ever met a shih tzu knows, my folks actually belong to her.  She’s a real sweetheart and my parents just adore her.

I’ve wanted to paint this for a couple of years now, but could never seem to get out from under the work.  I finally made the time this summer and I’m pleased with how it turned out.  I couldn’t have done as good a job two years ago, but then I’ll probably want to do another one two years from now.

This one was incredibly tough because it was personal.  While I try to do my best with every painting I do, this one will be done on canvas, framed, and since I already know where my Mom is hanging it, will be displayed prominently in their home.  I’ll have to see this for a long time.  So I nitpicked it to death, and given unlimited time, I could probably work on it ’til Christmas.  Sometimes you just have to hit ‘Save’ for the last time and move on.

While I’ve still got other illustration commissions to work on in the next few weeks, this will be the last painting I work on until after Photoshop World, so sometime in mid-September.  That’s actually a good thing, because I’ve finished three in the past few weeks (including the DVD), so I’d like a little break from it.

But I’ve got big plans for a number of new paintings in the Fall.  Some of them are commissions, some are for my Rocky Mountain Wildlife series, and at least one will start off my Pacific Coast Wildlife series, which I’m very excited about.

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Catching my breath.

Looking back on my career so far, it would seem that I spend most of my time living through periods of deadline panic with large projects, followed by periods of lesser panic where I figure that NOW I can finally gain some control over my life and relax.  This delusion is then followed by the next period of deadline panic with a large project.  I’m a slow learner.

Last week, I finished another DVD for PhotoshopCAFE, which definitely falls under the ‘deadline panic with large project’ category.  While I know that it will be ready for Photoshop World in Las Vegas the first week of September, I would imagine it will be available sooner than that online.  This was a big one for me.  While my first DVD effort was on cartooning, I’m pretty comfortable with that process, so even though the actual recording was hell (why mince words?),  the subject matter was fairly routine, as I’ve been drawing cartoons in that fashion every day for a number of years.

This second DVD, the recording and painting were both challenging, but still very enjoyable.  The editing, however, was just challenging.  I enjoy painting more than any of the other creative work I do, so I wanted the painting in the DVD to be my best effort.  While I’m pleased to say that I think I achieved that, I’m relieved that it’s done.  I ended up taking an involuntary day off once all the files had been sent, because I was completely exhausted.

Finished a commission of a cat painting this week.  There’s a great back story to this one, but I can’t share it, or the full painting, until after the client gives it as a gift.  Keeping secrets is often part of the job.  But I’m happy with how it turned out.   Recording the painting DVD created a little pressure (self-induced, of course) to up my game, and I’m looking forward to my next wildlife painting.  I’ve been thinking about this one  for almost a year and I’m excited to get started on it.

This week, I intend to finish a painting of my parent’s dog, Bailey, a wonderful little shih tzu with a great personality.  Been wanting to paint her for awhile and pleased I finally get to give this gift to my Mom.

I’ve got one more large illustration gig to wrap up in August, but other than that, I’m almost caught up.  I still have my regular editorial cartoons to draw, and five or six extras to get done in advance for my week away at Photoshop World Las Vegas at the beginning of September.  But, all in all, I think I’m finally going to be able to find a few days of downtime soon, gain some control over my life and relax.

Did I mention that I’m a slow learner?