Visiting with Friends

Visiting with Friends

Summary: Nameless Toads Playing Cards, Clandestine Notes, and Surprises!

And so it was, that on a bright afternoon friend and fellow Foolscap Press owner Larry VanVelzer stopped by the studio to ask me to create a watercolor as a surprise birthday present for his wife and partner Peggy Gotthold. Without hesitation we set about crafting our clandestine plans to create art. We looked through my sketchbooks and found a sketch that had potential.

As the sketch developed it called for a lot of personal details. But how could I ask Larry for these details with out arousing Peggy’s suspicions? One day I stopped over “just to say ‘Hello.'” While Peggy wasn’t looking I slipped Larry a note with my request on it.

One never knows when skills learned in the back rows of a classroom will come in handy!

A slideshow of the process of creating this painting.

(note: the slide shows are automatic, but if you hover a cursor over the image, it will pause for you.)

1.) This is the rough pencil layout. It was drawn after numerous thumbnails and character studies.
2.) This is the final line drawing. All the details have been gone over and are appealing to my eye.
3.) The Overall Value Study. This is actually quite small, about 3x4" on vellum.
4.) The painting in process. At this point most of the main parts of the painting are in order, and it is time to delve into the details of the characters next!
5.) The final painting. Once all the parts of the painting are "spoken to", it then becomes a matter of balancing values, and working with edges.



You can spot some of the fun details.

  • There are the card playing Fire Bellied Toads, who have no names.
  • The white wisteria and bountiful garden are a part of their home.
  • It seemed appropriate to incorporate both Peggy and Larry into the piece as their relationship is one of the ways in which abundance shows up in their lives.
  • Of course there’s a letterpress printing press, although it was a challenge to represent the bindery … so I opted for purple. *shrug*
  • The sign is a stylized version of their Foolscap Logo.
  • You can guess what their house number is …

A quick look at the development of the Rabbit.

The line drawing for the Rabbit. Previous to this are numerous thumbnail drawings and explorations.
This is a value study specific to the Rabbit. Understanding how each of the forms work before going to the painting is very important!
The final watercolor painting. All the previous drawings and studies add up to the final illustration.


Since working with Foolscap Press on our book The Story of the Fisherman, they have become some of my most cherished friends. Having an opportunity to express to them what their friendship means to me through a painting was an honor. I hope it brings them many years of happiness.


Thank you for visiting!

As ever, I respond well to enthusiasm. Feel free to leave a comment, share with friends, and connect via the Insta-tweet-a-books.

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