More faces from last week’s sketches

I am remaining dedicated to my daily sketching routine.  I believe I have been focusing on faces simply because it’s so easy to find reference images and the fact that it is somewhat familiar territory for me.

However, in the future, I would like to start sketching more from life.  I typically work using a reference image.  I think I need to begin sketching in nature or in public places in order to capture the environment I find myself in.

Of course, I think given my work hours and other weekday responsibilities this opportunity for Plein Air sketching would only present itself on the weekends.

I’m not making any promises I am only saying that this is something I am working towards and something that I need.

Anyway, enough rambling, time to get to the sketches!

photo jan 24, 6 47 16 am
I used a high key photo as a reference for this sketch.  The lighting, from the right, was so brilliant that it obscured all detail on the right side of the photo.


I decided to try a new sketching tool this past week.  I purchased a water brush and filled it with Higgins Eternal Ink.  The ink is diluted with water to create a wash.  This is a totally new tool for me.  I think my ink to water ratio may need to be adjusted to create a more diluted effect.

The sketch below is my first attempt to use the ink wash.  My original intention was to use a pen for the necessary linework only and then use the wash to convey all of the shadows.  I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work (at least not this time).  So I began to build up the darker areas with hatching and then tried to soften those areas using the wash.  It seems to me that I went a little overboard with the inks and ended up with a sketch that is dark and splotchy.

All well, one does have to learn.

photo jan 27, 11 40 56 am

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day!

Mike L.

Pen and Ink Portraits

A few more sketches!

The portraits below were sketched this past weekend.  You will find that these are not as carefully drawn as some of my previous work.  Truth is, all 3 were rushed just a bit.  I’m not sure why I think it may be somewhat due to being created on a weekend and being outside of my usual early morning zen routine.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter.  When I decided to start sketching again I promised myself that I would not overvalue my sketchbook.  I’ll allow myself the freedom to create as I see fit in the moment, and that is exactly what I am doing.  So some of my sketches may turn out a bit rough and some may be wonderful.  I think it is all part of the creative process.

Giving yourself the freedom to experiment, the freedom to create a mess, I think this will lead to greater creativity and skill.

photo jan 21, 8 42 55 pm
Once I had finished with the ink work it felt like this sketch needed a little punch of color.  A blue highlighter provided just enough color.


photo jan 21, 8 43 29 pm
It may be hard to see, but, I continued the blue theme here as well by using a blue highlighter on the eyes.


photo jan 21, 8 54 41 pm
A little blue hair and lips never hurt, Right?


Thanks for visiting.

Mike L.

Winter’s Chill

Ice Storm Featured Image

This past weekend brought some icy weather to my neck of the woods.  So I ventured out with my camera to see if I could find any interesting shots.

The images in this post were all taken in my backyard, no more than 100′ from my house.  It just shows that if you really look at the opportunities that have been provided for you, you can find inspiration and beauty.

All of the images in this post where shot using a Canon EOS Rebel T5 with a Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Prime Lens.

The images below are linked to a larger version.  Just click on the image for more detail.

Ice Storm Comp 02

Ice Storm Comp 01

Ice Storm Comp 04

Ice Storm Comp 03

Ice Storm Comp 05

Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Mike L.

Pen and Ink Pine Comb Sketch

Pine comb featured image

This is another drawing from my morning sketch practice.  This time I chose to create a sketch of a pine comb using a photo reference.

Pine comb sketch

I am certainly enjoying my new found dedication to sketching.  It is amazing how much calmer and focused my mornings are now that I have began sketching again.

Once I am awake, showered, and dressed I take a seat at my drawing table with a fresh cup of coffee next to me.  I open Pandora and select my favorite classical station, then turn the volume down so it is just loud enough to provide some low background music.  I then pick up my pen and sketch for 30-40 mins.  The act of “no pressure” casual sketching relaxes me and calms my mood.  This seems to set the tone for the remainder of the morning and gets me off to a good start.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mike L.

PS, I managed to squeeze in a bit of photography during an ice storm this past weekend.  I hope to publish those photos in a day or two.

Asian Inspired Dragon

Another page from my sketchbook.  This sketch was completed over 3 different sessions of around 45 minutes each.  Since this is in my sketchbook, I just dove right in with ink, no pencil under-drawing.

This sketch was based on a photo of a statue, so it comes off a bit cold.  I still need to work on loosening up a bit, but I think that will come in time.

All in all, this was a good exercise for me…a little different than my usual sketches.

Dragon - Sketch


Dedicated to Daily Sketching

One of my goals for 2019 is to sketch each day.  So far, I have been choosing to sketch in the early morning hours prior to leaving for work.  This seems to work well with my natural ebb & flow of energy.  My mind is the sharpest and most focused during the morning hours.

My weekdays are full of both professional and family responsibilities, so free time can be limited.  However, I am dedicated to making sketching a normal part of my daily routine.

I started taking drawing seriously in the fall of 2016 and continued to draw all of 2017.  However, I moved away from drawing in 2018 to pursue other interest and looking back on it I feel that it was a poor decision.

In the past I have treated my sketchbooks as though they were precious items that can only contain “good” drawings.  I am realizing that this leads to a fear of experimentation.  This year I intend to make a habit of being free within my sketchbook.  Free to experiment, free to make mistakes, this will ultimately lead to growth in my drawing abilities and creativity.

So in 2019 expect to see more drawings and sketches on this blog.  Today, I am sharing a couple of pages from my sketchbook / journal that I carry with me daily.

Both pages below contain pen and ink eye studies.

photo jan 11, 8 37 55 pm

photo jan 11, 8 38 05 pm

Thanks for visiting,

Mike L.

Getting back to my old habits…

It’s been a while since I posted anything drawing related.  To be honest with everyone I actually put my pens and pencils away for a bit in order to concentrate on other things.  Lately, I have been feeling an urge to pick up my pencils and draw again.

I must admit that I have missed drawing, I have missed the therapeutic feeling of just zoning out and drawing, to get lost in the details of a sketch, to truly observe your subject.  When drawing, your mind tends to become hyper-focused on the task at hand and that allows the outside world, and it’s distractions, to disappear for a while.  It is a nice break!

In the past, I have used the app Sktchy for a lot of my portraits and naturally, I went back to my old habits.  The reference photo for this portrait can be found here.  Below is my sketch, I hope you like it.

Lukiss Sketch Image

I think there will be more drawing content in 2019!

Thank you for visiting!  As always, it is sincerely appreciated.

A Stroll Down Gateway Walk

A couple of weeks ago we spent a couple of days in historic Charleston, SC.  For those who aren’t familiar with Charleston it is a charming coastal city located in the southeastern United States.  Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston, built in 1772, is the second oldest church in downtown Charleston.  The church has a unique cemetery, the walking paths are well maintained but vegetation within the grave sites is allowed to grow naturally, creating a fascinating and extremely peaceful environment.

Below are a few photos from our visit to the church cemetery.






Thank you for viewing my photos.  I hope you liked them.

Mike L.

Shop Update 02

I have been continuing to spend most of my spare time in the shop.  It seems that my creative interest lay squarely in 3 pursuits.  If you have been following my blog long then you probably already know that those pursuits are drawing, photography, & woodworking.  I don’t seem to have the ability to focus on all three at once.  Instead my natural instincts are to focus on each one singularly.  I’m not sure if this is a hindrance or an asset to my creative growth. On one hand it is good that I naturally want to focus my efforts into a single medium…but, on the other hand, does this narrow my opportunities in other creative forms?  I’m not sure.  This is a topic that I will continue to ponder and I may begin to write a few blog posts on this subject.

What about you?  Do you bounce around between different creative pursuits or are you hyper focused on mastering a singular skill?  I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangentback to The Shop Update

For the last couple of weeks I have filled a few Etsy orders and I have spent some time building an item for myself.  This may come as a surprise but I rarely have the opportunity to actually build something that I want for myself.

Lately, I have been drawn to seating, particularly chairs & stools.  I have never built any type of seating before so, I decided to attempt to build a stool that I could use at my workplace.  I poked around the internet to find some inspiration and that inspiration was found in a stool designed by Filip Gordon Frank.  I liked the clean lines and overall shape of the stool.  Since I am making this for myself I didn’t see any harm in mimicking his design.  I would never take someone else’s design and try to claim it as my own or reproduce it for profit.  Anyway,  I put together a sketch to determine the correct height and geometry the stool would need to make it fit the use I hand in mind.

I decided to use walnut and oak because of the strong color contrast that these two species would provide.  The rear legs & foot rest are walnut, the front legs and back rest are oak.  The seat is a combination of both species.

Below are a few shots of the build process.  I started out by milling some rough sawn walnut to build the rear legs and seat supports.  Each side of the stool was assembled first so I could ensure symmetry.  Once the sides where completed I added the rear stretcher, foot rest, back rest, & seat.

Below are a few shots of the completed stool.  Click on any of the images below to see a larger version and description.

Thanks for reading my post.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Mike L.

Kid in a Candy Shop

About a year ago our little town was fortunate enough to have an adventurous couple move in and open a candy shop in one of the historical buildings downtown.  The shop is comfortable and charming.  They not only sale candy but also feature handmade goods from local artisans.

We like to visit the shop every couple of weeks to fill up on the wonderful sweets that are offered there.  We were visiting the shop a few weeks ago and I decided to snap off a few photos of the brightly colored candies.

View these photos at your own risk…you may leave this page with a sudden craving for something sweet.




Shop Update 01

I haven’t posted anything related to woodworking in a while, so I thought it was time to get off my butt and do something about it.

My woodworking drive is somewhat tied to the seasons.  My interest usually intensifies when the weather begins to cool down.  The reason?  I simply have more time available to get into the shop and build stuff.  When the weather cools down my chore list usually shrinks with the temperatures.  Maintaining the yard is no longer the main time suck and my mind begins to ponder on new and exciting possibilities.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy woodworking year round.  For the last few months I have maintained an Etsy shop at and sale a variety of small items.

This valet tray is my best seller so far
Photo May 23, 8 01 59 PM
I also offer wooden wallets

This puts a little extra cash in my pocket and let’s me enjoy one of my hobbies at the same time.  The items I offer are easy to package and ship which helps me to keep the shop manageable, since it’s a side hustle.

When it comes to woodworking I’m really drawn to furniture.  Specifically, modern furniture, basically anything that is rooted in mid-century modern tends to catch my eye.  I have built some furniture in the past, mainly small accent tables and…umm… yeah, some small accent tables.  But, I have plans of tackling  bigger projects this winter and I hope to take you guys along with me.

My intention is to include the “Shop Update” as an on-going segment.  At this time, I’m not sure if I will post a shop update weekly, monthly, or just when I have something interesting to share.

I still plan to post my regular content but, I also want to introduce more diversity on this blog.





Autumn Sunset

I love Autumn, it’s my favorite season.  I like the cool brisk mornings, watching the leaves fall from the trees, seeing the frost laying on the grass and roof tops.  Autumn can also produce some really vibrant sunsets as well.  I shot this one from my backyard yesterday evening with my iPhone.  I just thought I would share it with you guys.

Photo Nov 06, 5 34 30 PM

Have a great night!

For the Love of Apples

Every year, since my childhood, on the first Saturday of October.  My hometown closes the streets and makes preparations for the biggest day of the year…The Apple Festival.

The Apple Festival is a single day festival that features crafts, artisans, food, music, fun & games.  The typically quiet streets come alive with spectators, performers, and the tempting scents of a variety of good eats.

Lately, I have been very interested in street photography.  However, I have the same fear as many aspiring street photographers…and that is…the fear of someone being upset over having their photo taken.  But, in a festival setting…it just feels safer.  The streets are so crowded and people are so distracted that know one really notices, or cares, if a stranger is pointing a camera at them.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I certainly didn’t wade into the crowd just clicking away and pointing my camera at every interesting person I saw.  In reality, I was still cautious and selective about where or who I pointed my camera at.

Many times I either flat out missed opportunities or simply hesitated and the moment was gone.  But, the more I pressed the shutter release the more confident I felt and the more fun I had.

Below are few images from that outing.  Honestly, I realize that they’re a bit amateurish, but, I wouldn’t expect anything better based on my experience.  I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the act of attempting street photography.  I plan to try again soon.

A couple of food vendors trying to keep up with customer demands.


Yes, The Apple Festival really draws a crowd, as seen here, a couple of imperial storm troopers managed to make the journey.


This ladies tattoo caught my eye.  It was obviously done by a very talented artist.  I had to get a photo.


I’m not sure what to say about this one.  I was actually photographing the van.  It was part of a vendor’s booth setup.  Plus, I just like Volkswagon vans.


These guys were breaking it down old school.  The most interesting of the three was the guy in the black hat playing the spoons.


This guy should win to award for the most enthusiastic.  Prior to taking this photo he was attempting to lead the crowd in a spirited singing of America the Beautiful.  I don’t know what the gentleman on the left said to him but, judging by his expression, it must have been amusing.

As always, thanks for viewing my photos…I hope you enjoyed them.

– Mike L.

Taking a closer look…it’s all in the details

This past week’s challenge was all about the details.  So with that in mind, I wanted to photograph somewhat everyday items but in a way that highlighted the finer details.

I had originally planned to photograph details in the built environment, such as, architectural details, mechanical details, etc.  However, the weather was not cooperating and so I ended up scavenging items around the house that I thought may be interesting to photograph.

For this challenge I used a simple lightbox with a black background and a single source of light.

I have always been fascinated by pine combs.  To me, they are always a welcome sign of Autumn and cooler weather.  I find their structure intriguing, I have photographed and even drawn them before.


This camera actually belonged to my parents.  I stumbled across it a few years ago and it’s currently displayed on a shelf in my study.  It’s no longer functional but makes for an interesting photo.


I thought this small oil lamp would also be an interesting subject, especially when lit.


I couldn’t resist a classic Zippo lighter.


As always, thanks for viewing my photos…I hope you enjoyed them.

– Mike L.


Abandoned & Lonely

There’s something about this image that I find intriguing.  To me, it speaks of loneliness and abandonment.

The bars on the window indicate that perhaps, at sometime in the past, this building held items that were precious to someone.  The building and it’s contents where important and worth protecting.

Now…only shards of glass and tattered drapes remain.  Important to no one, simply forgotten and neglected.


This image was shot during the same outing as my On the hunt for reflections… post.

As always, thanks for viewing my photos…I hope you enjoy them.

– Mike L.