Friday, September 27, 2013

Now it's Personal!

Helping to Save the Jaguars of Panama

Drawing "Darien" for the Panama Wildlife Conservation

Exclusive Conservation Print Available for purchase. 
A percentage of each sale will go directly to help Panama's amazing Jaguars

Darien. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

When I opened an email from Dr Luis Urena, a Panamanian Biologist living in London, a few weeks ago I instantly stop what I was doing. After seeing my artwork and my love of  animals he wrote me requesting assistance in developing  a piece of art to promote his cause, saving jaguars in his native Panama. He had decided to start a Conservation group for Panama called "Panama Wildlife Conservation" and was dedicating his time and efforts into building awareness and saving Panama's incredible natural resources and endangered animals.

Darien.  Copyright © 2013 Luis Urena

Attached to his email were personals photos that he had taken of Darien, a rescued jaguar from the illegal animal trade in Panama. Darien is living in Summit Botanical Gardens and is being rehabilitatedAs soon as I saw his absolutely beautiful photos of Darien my thoughts were "I have to be a part of this!" The photos he send me (you can see more of them lower on this post) were so intimate, such up-close and personal images of this absolutely incredible creature. As I looked at the images I felt like I was looking into the eyes of a animal that I knew.

I instantly connected with Luis's photos because they took on the same purpose as my drawing. To have to viewer stop, and look into the face, into the eyes, of creature that needs help, that has feeling and emotions, and has astonishing beauty. Something all of us need to realize and make a different in protecting.

I wrote back to Luis and told him I wouldn't do a commission for him, but instead would gladly volunteer to create a piece for his cause which he could then use for his organization. It was my first chance to use my art for the purpose of giving something back to the animals I love so much.

Over the next 3 days I drew Darien and send the finished drawing back to Dr Urena, which he was very excited about and immediately implemented into the image to promote his cause. My Darien drawing will be printed on t-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise to raise Charitable funds for Conservation efforts in Panama. Something I am very proud to be a part of. I'm also going to contribute a percentage of any sales that I make of my "Darien" print in my shop to the Panama Wildlife Conservation. I'm offering a variety of prints of Darien for sale which you can see here:

My hope is to do this for other endangered animals. I love to draw, I love animals, and I love to draw animals, and if something I love to do can help the subjects that make me motivated to create, then I've finally made the personal connection I've been looking for.

Detail of the Darien's head

Detail of the Darien's eyes. How can you resist him!

Darien's drawing in process. 

Working on his eyes

Here the head is almost complete. 

Meet Darien

Photos Copyright © 2013 Luis Urena
Summit Park wildlife rehabilitation center, Panama

Monday, September 23, 2013

Horse of a Different Color

Drawing the Graphic Standard of Animals: The Zebra

Available to purchase as prints and signed reproductions at:

Plains Zebra. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

First question. Are Zebras white with black stripes, or back with white one? All I knew when I was a kid was that I could draw the entire animal with one black marker, and that was cool! When I first realize I loved to draw, back in elementary school, the very first animal I attempted was a zebra. The graphic stripes were so inviting to draw. Simple by wrapping the stripes around the animal it gave the appearance of a 3 dimensional image. I drew Zebra after Zebra after Zebra, and never got bored. Plus, I could change up the stripes on everyone and make them all unique. Drawing this Zebra brought me right back to my first animal drawings, and even today I still love drawing a Zebra. Plus this animals true colors are two of my favorite...Black & white.

The stripes on a Zebra are unique to each individual, and that no two are alike is amazing. Due to over hunting for skins and habitat destruction they are endangered. One subspecies the quagga became extinct in the 19th century.

Detail of the Zebra's head

Detail of the Zebra's eye. My favorite feature.

 My Zebra in process. 

Here the head is almost complete. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spots in My Eyes

Drawing a Spotted Moray Eel

Available to purchase as prints and signed reproductions at:

Spotted Moray Eel. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

I'll never forget the first time I encountered a moray eel close up. I was a teenager and just started scuba diving with my brother Tony in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. We loved diving and exploring the many ship wrecks that litter the sea bed along the Outer Banks. Most of the wrecks were merchant ships, sunk during World War 2 by German U-boats. And after 50 years underwater the metal hulks had become covered by coral that gave them the appearance as if they have been dipped in batter, fried, and now had a think layer of sea life crust coating. Throughout this coral coating are thousands of holes that a variety of sea life makes it's home. Various fish, crabs and lobsters use the holes as a safe place to leave. Our main goal was to find lobsters, and we would search endlessly for a large lobster to take as a prize home to eat. While looking in one particular hole, and sticking my head in to see if a lobster was home, I came face to face with a Spotted Moray staring back at me. As a Moray breathes it mouth opens and closes to force the water over it's gills in what looks like an aggressive motion. This startled me at first, but I realized it was just breathing, and I'll never forget just staring at it's beauty, gracefulness, and the exquisitely detailed camouflage skin patterns that cover it with amazement. I literally had spots in my eyes!

Spotted Morays are incredibly beautiful, graceful creatures. They can be found in the Western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Brazil. They can grow up to 7 feet long and live in depths of up to 200 meters.

Detail of the Moray's Head

Detail of the Moray's Eye

Me and my very close friend Shane O'Malley with the Spotted Moray Eel drawing I did for him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Twist of the Neck

Drawing a Giraffe from a Different Angle

Available to purchase as prints and signed reproductions at:

Giraffe. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

By now you know I love spots. Take spots and put them on one of the most unusual animals on the planet, and you've got my attention. I've always been intreged by Giraffes, I've done a lot of sketches of Giraffes, but never taken the time to study, examine, and really get to know what an amazing creature one is. Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrail animal and the largest ruminant on the planet. Fully grown they stand 16 to 20 feet tall. 

When I started doing sketches for this drawing I was going to do a horizontal composition. Kinda like the one from my sketchbook (below). But something just didn't feel right. The Giraffe felt boxed in by the edges of the paper. It felt like it didn't have freedom to move. A vertical composition, which I do very few of, worked out perfectly. The one other aspect of the animal I was totally fascinated with was it's neck. One of the most amazing features of the animal. I couldn't just do a straight view of the neck. I had to show it's incredible beauty and anatomy as it twisted from top to bottom. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I had drawing it.

Detail of the Giraffe's Head

Detail of the Giraffe's Eye

Work in Progress after about 8 hours

One of my Giraffe sketches in a Moleskin

Monday, September 2, 2013

Drawing a Octopus

One tentacle & Spot at a time

Available to purchase as framed and unframed prints at

Striped Octopus. Framed in Padauk wood. 25 3/4" x 21 3/4"

I did this drawing for a few reasons. Quite a few people suggested doing an octopus, my love of scuba diving and ocean creatures, and an octopus just screamed detail. But I didn't want to do just a plain octopus so I did some research and found out there's a very rare type of octopus that was just discovered in the early 90s called the Large Pacific Striped Octopus. It's remarkable for its dramatic coloration, which can switch from a dark reddish hue to black with white stripes and spots in fluid waves. The octopus can also assume different shapes, both flat and expanded. My new favorite Octopus!

Drawing at my table. Close to finishing it.

At this point I was about half way through the drawing and 3 pens

Adding in the ink wash background.

The final drawing.

A detail of the head.

And my favorite part of all, the eyes.

You can find my drawings for sale as prints at: