Working in my studio
As an artist I’m most known for a technique called Pointillism, or maybe more accurately, Stippling. In this technique I use Rapidograph pens with tiny points to create images in ink literally one dot at a time. Dot after dot after dot ……….. Although this allows for intricate details it can take weeks or months to finish a large piece.
People often ask how I can sit and layer in dots for such long periods. (They wonder if I’m crazy) This dot dot dot dot dotting creates a rhythm . . . and when I’m relaxed I’m not consciously placing single dots but watching as my hand movement creates a pattern of layers. As I watch the image materialize, the act of laying in the dots takes on a life of its own. It feels like the image is emerging from the paper and I’m simply an observer.
Pointillism details of elephant ear and tusk
- Pen & Ink Pointillism “Testing the Air”
I encountered this curious Bull Elephant on one of my safaris in Botswana. The background of this original is watercolor but the entire elephant is created – yes – dot by dot. If you look closely you get a better sense of how the dots are layered to create the textures, details, and values from light to dark. It took several weeks working many hours a day to complete.
Then people want to know how many dots are in my pieces. There are thousands – although I’ve never actually counted every single one. That would be crazy! Following is a video clip giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of this Elephant in my studio. Take a look. What’s your obsession? Join me on my journey.
Some of the things I once thought I knew haven’t stood the test of time. I know what I love. That’s a long list. I know what I hate. That’s a short list. But in contemplating the world around me, what do I know for sure?
Over the years my travels have taken me to all kinds places and immersed me in close encounters with people and wildlife. I’ve stood face to face with indigenous people whose culture and language were as unrecognizeable to me as mine to them. Initially this seemed an insurmountable barrier to communication. But who needs the same language and culture to express warmth and curiosity and humor and hunger and caring and a helping hand? Even more profound, you don’t have to be the same species. I’ve found similar characteristics in communicating with animals and wildlife. Talk about different cultures and language! We’ve all had these experiences with our beloved pets but I can tell you it goes far beyond that.
That's me on the bottom right reaching out to a baby gray whale who repeatedly surfaced to watch and splash us
Once I went to Baja and spent time in an inflatable raft – a zodiac – in the lagoons where the gray whales migrate to give birth. We were at water level with these spectacular marine mammals and could see mother-calf pairs spouting and surfacing around us. Then a very surprising thing happened. A mother swam with her very young calf to our zodiac and surfaced right next to us. They stayed with us for some time as the calf, who was only a few weeks old, repeatedly surfaced to look at us and splash while mother kept watch. I know I was communicating – joy and excitement – as I instinctively reached out but couldn’t quite touch. And the baby gray was certainly captivated by us. The connection was there. It was tangible if unexplainable.
Then the mother did a remarkable thing. She swam within inches of the stern of our zodiac, suddenly dove and swam underneath us and then gently surfaced at the bow with inches to spare. I was able to caress her back as she carefully surfaced.
Caressing the mother gray whale's back
She was also reaching out and communicating in her way. These were wild marine mammals. So what do I know for sure? We are truly connnected with all life on earth.
Tell me what you know for sure. What has stood the test of time for you? Join me in the journey.
My Art is inspired by the adventures I have in wild and remote places around the world. I have a treasure chest of video, photos, art and stories to share. A highlight of one of many trips to Africa was joining a clan of Meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. I was at their den as they emerged at dawn for their ‘sunning ritual’ and then followed their antics as they busily foraged for frogs and other ‘delicacies’ through out the day. I keep a journal when I’m on location to record my impressions and observations as well as doing some quick pencil sketches. Enjoy this video clip – it starts off with the Meerkats posing for their portrait! I’ve added the portrait I created of them to the slide show on my blog’s Art Page. Take a look!