Category Archives: Community

Evolution of a Drawing


“What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing.” – David Hockney

Earlier this summer, my friend asked me if I would do a drawing for an auction to raise funds for her neighborhood swim team.  This was technically my first “commission”, so I was nervous that I would not meet her expectations. But since Stacie and I have a strong connection to that pool (we used to belong to that club, and we have a lot of friends who still do), I agreed to give it a shot.

I don’t normally take pictures of a drawing as I am working on it, but I wanted my friend to understand what I was creating, so I sent her these updates as I worked through the drawing.  And since I saved the photos, I figured I would share them here, as some of you may be interested in the steps I took to create this drawing.

To make sure I had the basic building blocks and the correct proportions, I started with an outline using a 2H pencil.  So far, so good.

Then I drew over the pencil with a Pigma Micron 005 black ink pen.  At this point, I was feeling confident that the drawing was on the right track.

image-2Okay, the ink is largely complete.  Do I really need to add color? This is looking pretty good as a black and white.  What if I screw up the color now?  Alright, fine – time for color.

image-3The sky – never easy to capture the sky, but since it’s mostly blue and cloudless during the summer at the pool, that’s the impression I went for.

image-4Now for the water – Tombow markers with a wash.  There was major potential for mistakes, but I like how the wash made the water look like water.  Do I really need to paint the trees?  Aaaah, the color green – Nature’s delight, but an artist’s burden.


I played around with some different shades of green, stole some techniques from Pete Scully, and finished the trees.  I wanted to keep the drawing airy and light, but at this stage, the drawing still looks flat.

image-7So, I added some black ink to the palm trees to give them more contrast.  And to complete the drawing, I drew Kermit and the Woodlands flag on the shed.  Done.

A big thanks to my friend, Angie, for asking me to do this drawing, and for taking all of the source photos.  It was a team effort.  Go Woodlands!

P.S. Since I haven’t yet convinced Stacie that we desperately need an artist’s drafting table in our back room, I sometimes take over our dining room table.  This is what my creative process really looks like.
image desk

P.P.S. This is my 100th post.  I was feeling rather proud that I was about to write my 100th post until I remembered that Seth Godin recently published his 5,000th post.  I could say that quality trumps quantity, but Seth Godin’s stuff is really good (albeit unrelated to sketching or art).  Nevertheless, thank you for visiting The Hipping Post, particularly to those of you who have stayed tuned through two years of my evolving experiment.  There’s more to come – so please stick around.

My First Art Competition


Each year, KFOG, a San Francisco radio station, records and publishes on-air live performances of artists who visit their studio, in a CD entitled Live From The Archives. KFOG also holds a contest for Bay Area residents to submit cover art for each volume of Live From The Archives.

My colleague told me about this year’s contest on Monday, and today was the deadline for submission. So I only had a couple of evenings to complete the artwork, and to get it into a CD cover format. I had lots of ideas, but since I can’t draw well without a reference (i.e., I suck at drawing straight from my head), and I didn’t have time to take a bunch of new photos, I used a picture of our eldest son on his second birthday as a source. I thought it was an appropriate image for the contest, and one that would be different from the other entries, as I didn’t include the Golden Gate Bridge or a Cable Car. After two late nights, including one where my buddy, David Cervenka, introduced me to the Pandora’s box that is Photoshop, I submitted the above cover art.

This evening, KFOG unveiled the top ten finalists, but they did not include my entry. I would like to have made the cut, but I’m glad to know that whichever cover art wins,  all of the proceeds from the sale of the CD  will benefit Bay Area food banks.

So if you are in the Bay Area this November, visit a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, purchase a CD, support the local food banks, and enjoy some live music from KFOG’s archives.

P.S. A special thanks to David Cervenka, without whose help, I could not have created such a polished looking CD cover (nor would I have submitted it on time). David and his wife, Alicia, are wicked photographers, so check out their websites at and And also thanks to Mark Madison for his input, and for poisoning my mind with why fonts matter.

Rebuilding Joplin

On May 22nd, 2011, an extreme EF5 tornado carved a 22-mile path of destruction through the center of Joplin, Missouri.  Winds peaked at over 225 miles per hour, and it grew to over a mile wide.  The tornado killed 160 people, destroyed 7,000 homes, and caused an estimated $2.8 billion worth of damage.  It leveled the city’s only high school and moved a nine story hospital building four inches off its foundation, rendering it unusable.

Last week, I travelled with 32 members of my church to help thousands of volunteers rebuild Joplin.  I had never seen the aftermath of a tornado, so I was shocked to find that a year later, neighborhoods that had been hit the hardest, still looked as though a bomb had gone off, destroying nearly everything in sight.  New homes were being built, but they stood next to empty lots where all that remained were cement foundations, remnants of driveways, and brick stumps that once were chimneys.  Joplin is a lush city with beautiful magnolia trees.  But for the neighborhoods that stood in the tornado’s path, few trees remain.

I was fortunate enough to spend most of the week working on the home of Larry and Amy, a couple with three young boys.  Larry and Amy were home with their kids when the tornado struck.  Larry said that the day started with few clouds in the sky.  In the afternoon, he felt the winds pick up, and then he heard the tornado alarm.  As the wind gathered strength, he heard a second alarm and decided that the family should move into the basement.

When the family was safely downstairs, Larry peered out the basement window and saw a dark sky.  He then saw a 2×4 fly through the air like a bullet and pierce the side of his neighbor’s house.  Knowing that a tornado was on its way, he bolted upstairs to grab some blankets and a flashlight.  Larry’s dog was under a bed and was too frightened to move.  With his arms full, Larry had no choice but to leave the dog there and rejoin his wife and kids.  The family huddled under the blanket as the tornado moved over their home.

Larry said, “The air pressure suddenly changed, and our ears went pop, pop, pop.  It sounded like we were under a bridge with a freight train speeding over our heads.  It was so loud.  Then I felt our house get torn apart above us.  Thank goodness we had a retaining wall running through our basement, because the chimney fell right into the middle of the house.  The chimney probably would have fallen on us if it wasn’t for that wall.”

When the tornado passed, all that was left of Larry and Amy’s house was a pile of bricks and broken studs.  What belongings remained were scattered everywhere and their cars were totaled.  A car that Larry had never seen was lying on top of his gas meter.  Before the tornado, that car was parked in the hospital parking lot, over a mile away.  Fortunately, Larry, Amy and the kids survived unharmed.  But I had not seen a dog running around our construction site, so I didn’t ask what happened to the boys’ pet.

If having their lives torn apart by a tornado wasn’t bad enough, the reason we were helping build their house was because a contractor, who was supposed to build them a new home, took most of their insurance money and disappeared.  Larry also told us of looters who came into town shortly after the tornado and tried to steal what little they had left.  His anger was palpable as he told us stories of other people who had been ripped off by opportunists who took advantage of Joplin’s suffering.

Catholic Charities USA read about Amy and Larry’s story in the local paper, so they offered to build them a house with donated materials and volunteer labor.  Our group was one of many that had worked on their home.  When I asked Larry what it was like to have different people at his home every week, his anger disappeared.  He said, “The volunteers?  They are incredible.  You guys are incredible.”

His friend, Sean, was standing beside him, nodding.  He said, “We just couldn’t say enough about how thankful we are for all the volunteers.”

At the end of our last day of work, we gave Larry, Amy, and Sean a hug and said good-bye to their kids.  I was happy with the work we did, but we left Larry and Sean to finish the projects we had not completed.  Volunteers from all over the country are helping rebuild Joplin, but it’s the people of Joplin who stay and do the hard work to restore their lives.

On the way back to the hotel after our last day of work, we drove by a pile of rubble that was once Joplin High School.  I had been there earlier in the week, but in the days between my visits, someone must have climbed the fence and changed the school’s sign.

I am confident that Larry, Amy, and the rest of Joplin will persevere and carry on.