Monday, September 15, 2014

"Houston, We Are Cleared for Launch!"

"Houston, we are cleared for launch. T minus 30 and counting."

To maximize the multi-media experience for readers unfamiliar with the Multi-Touch 
format a 3-page user's guide to the book's "bells and whistles" has been included

Well, OK, I don't live in Houston and publishing a media-rich, interactive ebook isn't exactly rocket science. (Although, for someone who usually makes his living with technologies that harken back to the Rennaisance and beyond, it can sometimes "feel" rather Buck Rogers.)

Hi-res panoramas, oils sketches, and (on the following page) finished paintings abound

Everything has been checked -- images are all in place, the text has been proofread (thrice) for typos, all the videos run, and all scrolling sidebars scroll. Apple has approved the final manuscript (all 155 pages). Sales begin in 51 markets* world-wide on October 15. (That's where the "T minus 30" came from.) And pre-orders begin TODAY!!!

Pages from my journals are reproduced throughout the book

If you like the images in this post (All are screenshots from the book.) please visit the iBookstore ( to see more. Be sure and download the FREE sample excerpt. And, if you find it interesting, I hope you'll buy the book... and tell your friends. (Please note that 100% of my royalties go to support future adventures and the books they generate.

Text from my adventure blog is combined with excerpts from my field 
notebooks and all-new notes and observations

Thanks, as always, for your support. 

* NOTE: To make navigating to the Apple iBookstore easier for readers living outside the U.S. I'll be posting hyperlinks (2 each day) to stores in each of the 51 countries currently served in the Comments section below. (If you don't see yours please check back or PM me.) Cheers!

Monday, September 1, 2014

North Cascades - The Final Progress Report!

early blocking in of what I thought would be the last painting

Yep, it's finally complete. All the text. All the images. All the neat interactive bells and whistles. This week the final manuscript is with the proof readers and (barring any typos and/or omissions) it should be off to Apple for final approval by week's end. So, you can expect the next "North Cascades" posting to be the announcement of the release date... and the rolling out of the free excerpt!

and blocking in the foreground

Oh, I know I said in my last progress report that I only had one oil painting to complete. Well, I didn't allow for how much fun I have with Gamblin oils and Ampersand Gessobord panels.... And one painting became three. (I can't tell you just how hard it was to stop myself at three!) So, the final count looks like it'll be 83 works on paper, 23 oil panels, 13 videos, and 152 photos.

early stages of the first "bonus" panel

To all of you who have waited so patiently while I worked on this project (and especially those of you who offered words of support and encouragement over the past couple of months) I offer my most heart-felt thanks!

and the W-i-P phase of the final panel

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

North Cascades - The Penultimate Progress Report

adding a 1951 Chevy DeLuxe to the "cultural artifacts" journal 

I've selected the final 83 works on paper, 20 oil paintings, 156 photos, and 13 videos for the new book. I have one more panel painting (OK, maybe two) to prepare while I do the final proof reading. And then North Cascades can be sent off to the publisher. (Yea!)

completing a study of balsamroot (this time sans bears)

I thank you all for your patience and support while I've been working away at this project over the past few weeks.

And, if all goes well, my next post will be to announce the release date for North Cascades: A Tale of Two Seasons (Spring). Cheers!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

North Cascades -- Progress Report, 12 August

Adding a splash of color... 

This week's tally -- 79 works on paper, 20 oil paintings on panels, 130 photos, and 12 videos. I got a little more wrapped up with the works on paper than I had in mind at the time of my last update. So, I have yet to get back to the oil paintings. But I'm getting steadily closer to project completion. (Yea!) some of the botanicals...

Anyway, I should finish up the current round of works on paper this week and be able to return to oil paints ("Yea!" again) by week's end. After that it's just a matter of proof reading (I'll get 2 or 3 other folks to do this with me to gain fresh perspective.) and then it's Submission Time. (Really big "Yea!")

...and one of the "cultural artifacts" I found in the woods

If all goes well you can expect the release of the free excerpt around the end of August. (Stay tuned for more details.)

With more windows (or maybe a hinged roof) this might make a cozy little studio.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

North Cascades -- Progress Report, 24 July

finishing up the inking on a Woods' Rose prior to adding the w/c washes

67 works on paper, 20 oil panels, and 123 photos and videos completed thus far.

adding the final stippling to another wildflower study

For the past two weeks I've been focusing primarily on photos, video, and works on paper -- with a little fine tuning of the text thrown in for good measure.

adding the contour (i.e., elevation)  lines to one of the day maps

Next week I'll return to working with oils and will probably wrap up that medium. I have one panel planned for sure, and may opt to add one more for good measure (and because I'm having fun.)

More updates (and, hopefully, a release date) soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

North Cascades _ A Progress Check

View from the Switchback, Rainbow Creek Trail (WiP), 9x16, oils on panel
(the lower third's barely been blocked in but I'm "in the zone" and all is progressing swiftly)

18 oil paintings on panel, 58 works on paper (drawings, watercolors, and illuminated maps), 73 photographs, 3 videos, and almost all of the text! That's where I stand with the new book (The North Cascades: A Tale of Two Seasons) this week.

As things stand now I'll likely add two more panels and then turn my focus to selecting the final works on paper, photos, (maybe 2 dozen of each, I think) and videos. (Fewer of the latter -- maybe rounding it out to an even half dozen -- otherwise they can easily exceed a reasonable file-size limit for the book.)

More to come soon. (So, please stay tuned.)

A Word (or Two) About Custom Panels --

During my travel adventures I love to work on paper and panel. Both are versatile and compact. Un-cradled panels lend themselves particularly well to the rigors of working plein air. And Ampersand panels come in a wide variety of standard sizes that easel meet most artist's needs.

a 5"x14" panel (already toned) atop a 9"x16" panel

I also love to explore the creative potential of elongated rectangles (a format shape that is more common in oriental art and which I was introduced to while living in Taiwan many years ago.) And I especially find the elongated vertical and elongated horizontal formats of particular interest when working with landscapes.

Fortunately, the folks at Ampersand are particularly accommodating when it comes to the special needs of artists and were quite happy to produce custom panels for this project. You won't find my 9"x16" or 5"x14" panels in your local art supply shop or on any of the online retailers. But, if you've got something special in mind, you might visit the Ampersand website then click on "Products" > "Gessobord" > "Standard Sizes". Then scroll down to the bottom of the chart and click on the "For information about custom sizes please contact us." link and let them know what you need. Turn-around on orders is about two weeks, once the order has been placed. (They'll keep you informed at each stage of the process.) And customer service is outstanding!

Stay tuned for a follow-up article on a special project with really over-sized custom panels (Works that run 80" in width qualify as "over-sized", don't they?) from the folks at Ampersand.

And A Few More Words About Toned Panels --

As a general rule I prefer not to begin my paintings with a white surface. I find the glare under our Southwestern sun almost painfully harsh. And it's next to impossible to accurately judge the eventual hue and, in particular, the final value of color placed on a white surface. Any color (every color) will appear darker against a white background, and will appear to lighten in value as the white surface is covered with paint.

a standard 9"x12" panel toned (and textured) with Gamblin Yellow Ochre

For years I was in the practice of toning my blank canvases and panels with Gamblin Artist's Oil Colors Yellow Ochre. (I am particularly fond of how the ochre compliments the bright cobalt blue our predominantly cloudless Texas skies.) But, when my travels began taking me to places that experienced more variety in their weather I started experimenting with a more neutral (and a little more versatile) toning color.

After several experiments I have now been won over by Gamblin's Torrit Grey. First, because when I apply Torrit Gray with a variable brush pressure the paint film actually takes on a polychromatic appearance! That is, slightly thicker areas appear cooler and slightly "greener" (This can be explained by the fact that the dominant pigment in this mixed gray is phthalocyanine green.) and thinner areas appear to be warmer -- almost earth-toned (likely caused by simultaneous contrast.)

the range of tone and temperature in the Torrit Gray is due solely to 
variation in thickness of the paint film 

And the second reason I like Torrit Gray so much? It's free! If you aren't familiar with the Gamblin line of oil paints this may come as a surprise. But the story goes like this: each year Gamblin cleans the accumulated pigment out their Torrit air filters (These filters protect their employees from the potential hazards of breathing pigment particles.), mix the pigments with linseed oil, and give the paint away to their customers (through their retail distributers.) (Good for their employees, good for the environment, good for oil painters everywhere.)

Oh, and since the paint varies in value (from a middle tone neutral gray to a dark charcoal) from year to year, the company now dates each tube for artists who wish to build a collection of "vintages." (My pre-dating tubes of 2006 Torrit are a buttery middle-tone.)


Thursday, June 26, 2014

So, What's Next? (More Books, More Adventures!)

You might think after all the work involved in getting three books published in as many weeks that I'd be giving serious thought to taking a nice, long vacation. (Well, I will admit that the thought had crossed my mind.) But I've go s-o-o much material, and I feel like I'm kind of on a roll. So, I think I'll just keep on going till it's time to leave on the next adventure.

The Next Two Books --

Coming soon to an iBookstore near you!

Before I turn my attention to the next volume in the Drawn to Adventure series, I'm going to take a bit of time to finish up a two-volume series entitled The North Cascades: A Tale of Two Seasons. Volume 1 (Spring) documents the sights, sounds, and adventure -- through journals, blog posts, drawings, paintings, maps, videos, and sound recordings -- of my first season as North Cascades National Park's artist-in-residence in Stehekin, WA.

Adding finishing touches to one illustration panel...

The book is rapidly nearing completion (almost all of the text has been completed, and about three-fourths of the "visuals" are now in place) and, with a finished length of 130+ pages, this will easily be my most ambitious (and most profusely illustrated) book project to date.

...and underway with another.

Volume 2 (Fall) too is currently "in production" and will tell the story of our (my son and daughter were invited by the park service to join me as fellow A-i-Rs) second season as NCNP artists-in-residence.

I'll post regular updates here on the books' progress. And, in the meantime, I'd live to hear back from readers of the first three books. What did you like (or dislike) about the book(s) you read? What would you like to se more of? Was there anything you'd like to see less of?

Book Reviews --

Do you publish your own blog or write a newspaper/magazine column? Would you be interested in reviewing one (or more) of my books in exchange for a free copy of the book(s)? If so, please contact me and let's have a chat.

The Call of the Wild --

Why the unusual (and slightly uncomfortable) sketching position? 
(Watch the video below and see.)

After a few days in the studio or at the computer I have to heed the siren call of The "out-of-doors" (and, preferably the out-of-town out-of-doors.) So, at regular intervals you can expect a post that finds me and my day kit on sketching safari -- always with artwork included, sometimes even with step-by-step videos.

(I try to think of the "breeze", road traffic, and lawn crew as "aids" in honing my concentration skills.)

Far Away Places and Open Spaces --

And sometimes the wanderlust bug really bites deep. When I can no longer resist the siren-song (OK, admittedly, I don't try very hard to "resist.") you can expect posts as I hit the highways, byways, and even airways in search of new adventures -- and (if I'm really lucky) the subject for yet another "interactive, multi-media" book project.

PS, This is my first attempt at uploading video directly to Blogger instead of via YouTube. Please let me know what you think (and expect additional video posts soon.)