The Awakening II Art Process

Coming soon is the my newest original art collection, Awakening II.

On my walks through the starkness of winter, especially into February, the landscape looked rusted over and grey. There wasn’t much to catch the eye and I felt inspiration was low. But towards the end of the month, I began to see signs of hope and encouragement with the blooming of the camellias and a few brave lenten roses letting their blooms show. Slowly through March, I saw other blooms appear through bits of the grey and cold. They were especially beautiful against that harsh landscape. These brave little blooms are the inspiration behind this new collection.
Last year, I created a collection of small works based on this same idea. They were on blue paper with white charcoal. This year I was inspired again by these blooms but wanted to go bigger.
This new collection is based on the flowers I’ve encountered in my daily life in early spring to early summer. They’re created on heavy, fade resistant, black paper with white charcoal. And I can’t wait to finalize some of the pieces and release the whole collection to you. Until then I thought I’d share my entire art process with you.

"Each day expect one miracle, one instance of elegance or beauty from the world - it's your right."

When I create these, I always start with blooms I see around me. It’s where my inspiration begins. I make some cuttings (usually) and bring those cuttings inside so I can photograph them.

I use a black backdrop and plop the blooms into a glass. I use natural light to create the photos. My studio has 3 large windows, 2 on one wall and 1 on an adjacent wall. I want to create harsh light that accentuates the highlight and shadows. With all of the windows, the light tends to soften or is overwhelming.

To create a more direct source that casts shadows and highlights, I cover over the 2 big windows and leave only the one as the direct source of light. To make the light harsher I place the flowers and backdrop directly next to the window.

Then I start shooting with my dslr camera (even though phones have come a long way, the quality is still much better and shooting in RAW allows me to manipulate the image more). I try to position them in a natural way that also has potential for a good composition. I shoot from a number of angles and am constantly rearranging the flowers for different compositions and lighting options.

Emerging Hope

Once I’ve captured the flowers, I process them in Lightroom and export. Here I sometimes print them out, other times, I use my screen, putting several shots together.

Using the several shots, I work through compostion possibilities in my toned sketchbook. When I’ve got an idea of placement, I get to work on the black paper, lightly drawing in blocks where I want each element of the piece to go.

With the blocks drawn in I start working on drawing the blooms and leaves, usually starting with the blooms first. I concentrate on studying the values and blocking in the darkest darks and the brightest whites.

Most of the values will get blended together later anyway so I’m not trying to place down every value right now. I am, however, concentrating on also the direction of my strokes and how the strokes are going down. I want them to follow the curves of the blooms and leaves. And watching how many strokes I put down and where also allows me to consider the future in between values I might create.

I keep working until I have the piece I want. And then I abandon the photos.

Then I begin the process of blending all of my strokes. This creates more subtle values. It’s here I sometimes pause and consider leaving the original strokes without blending but I also love the depth and more intentional strokes I use at the end. I feel like it also gives it a more painterly feel that is more my style.

Once it’s all blended, I move on to recreating the brightest highlights and more varied values. Here is where the art and I form a more deep relationship. It begins to tell more where I should place certain values. Since I’ve abandoned the photos, I’m not relying on realistically portraying the lights and darks but instead asking what would be interesting, how is this flower folding or moving. How does the leaf turn and how should my strokes work with it.

I’ve studied all of these flowers so much anyway I have a memory of how they work realistically and I use that but I’m not as concerned with a realistic portrayal. Instead I’d rather give a representation and let the art form their beauty. So instead of fighting with the art to create something necessarily realistic, I’m working with the art to create something that is it’s own thing but representational of the real thing.

So the art evolves. Here I’ve usually got one pencil behind my ear, a couple of blending sticks and a Tombow eraser in my hand and a kneaded eraser usually bouncing around the art board somewhere. In other words, I’m constantly drawing, blending, erasing. Switching it up as I feel the art speaking what it needs. This is the part that is captivating but so much fun.

The blending process is below with the final below that.

I created this collection because it speaks to me of our own lives. We often live through winter moments in our lives where we wait and wait for the first sign of hope or change. It is these early spring flowers that inspire me and remind me that there is hope always and I look forward to change for the better, a new awakening.

At times I know those winter seasons in our lives can seem never ending but there is hope.
My work in your home will remind you of that hope and renewal.


Right now, I send out an email a week with a new release of the Awakening II collection. If you’d like to receive those emails and be the first to get the option to purchase in the collection at a special price, sign up below. These art pieces will go public sometime in July at a higher price.


awaken a beautiful hope in your home