Thursday, August 30, 2012

Orr's Island

A few sketches from a recent weekend on Orr's Island off the coast near Brunswick, Maine. Many thanks to our gracious hosts and close friends, the MacAvoy's. 

© Rob Dunlavey
a small cove near the house. Beyond that horizon is the wide and wild Atlantic Ocean

© Rob Dunlavey
A gull on a boulder at low tide

sketchbook spread: sailboat and cormorant



© Rob Dunlavey

sparrows roosting on a stacked of old lobster traps
© Rob Dunlavey

another view of Lowell Cove (ink, wash, litho crayon)
© Rob Dunlavey

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The End of Summer

Enjoy the end of the summer. It's a long period of low light, busy birds, singing crickets and school buses.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Watercolor sketches

A sandpiper. He skitters along the top of the dam and the fish ladder and is in constant motion.

The dam rendered in colored pencil and a light gray ink wash

mallard in & out of the water

three mallards dabbling at a drier algae-encrusted spot on the face of the dam.

mallards and riffles

A duck's life: foraging and preening!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sketchbook Pages

Recent scans of sketchbook spreads. All this work done at the dam in South Natick or Lake Waban in Wellesley.

A very humid day last Saturday; 7 cormorants were on their favorite perch.

two mallards investigating the cascade of water. This was in a light rain.

mallard stretching wings and trying settle his feathers

mallards walking up the sides of the fish ladder looking for things to eat.

mallard resting on a log (ballpoint pen, wash)

Last Sunday: a view of the island below the dam from the bridge.

A sandpiper

Sandpiper on top of the dam

mallard feeding atop the dam (charcoal, ink wash)

mallard plumage

mallards and sandpipers

looking for food

I love the sinuous bodies of ducks

preening mallard and flowing water

flying mallards

Friday, August 10, 2012


I'm working in a smaller sketchbook right now. It's about 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches tall (rather than the larger black books). It's okay but it requires an adjustment; I tend to jot a bit more in it instead of making "compositions". For artists, scale is everything and sometimes it takes an effort to get the same creative flow at different sizes. Why is this?

It's because Art is made by fingers which are attached to hands which are attached to arms that are part of a human body. Each link in the chain and change in the kinesthetic causes different kinds of marks. The body becomes another medium and another tool. Did you know that?

It's good to try different approaches. I do this not just to keep loose but also because I like the surprises that a new method of working fosters. Some of my best brushes cannot be bought in store: they are old and decrepit and missing many bristles. My best paper is in an ever growing pile of castoffs and things saved from the garbage man. Paints come from yard sales and people too tired and uninspired to paint anymore. The downside of all this rag picking is that once I use some orphaned thing up, I can't replace it because its provenance is lost in the intertwined destinies of strangers, their attendant objects and my magpie self.

So there you have it: today's little quick sermon on what it's like for this artist trying to sort things out. And below are some mallards and things from the river that flows near my house. All done in that small sketchbook.

sketch of mallard and a heron

two mallards near a cascade

one lone mallard duck

Canada Goose standing on top of the dam, preening

an arch of the Pleasant Street Bridge

A hard-to-see example of my fanciful work.
See more on my blog

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ink Drawings

These were drawn with sienna ink and conté pencil


It's been very humid lately and that makes it problematic to draw with pencil. The paper gets soft and you have to bear down more with the pencil. And, I'm getting a little bored with the pencils anyway… so I've been using ink in my en plein-air drawing. And this burnt sienna ink gives the drawing an old fashioned look. So that's kind of fun too. How interesting!

There's a reason for everything, even when there's no reason or when someone is being unreasonable!
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