Summer afternoon watercolor

Memorial Park watercolorI painted this en plein air last Sunday afternoon in Houston’s Memorial Park. It’s been very hot of late, but I really love late afternoons this time of year; the smells, the light, the sound of the cicadas. It was about 5 o’clock when I went out. As usual, I purposefully did not try to find an ideal spot; partially because my time window was short and partially for the challenge of just painting the first spot I come upon. In my haste to leave the house, I forgot a water receptacle, so just used my empty paper coffee cup.

This was my second attempt. I flipped the page and started again after a false start, and consoled myself by realizing that I probably needed to loosen up first. Painting a jumble of foliage and trees is very challenging. So is capturing the light, which was coming from the front and right. A great trick I learned from my watercolor hero John Pike is to start to paint the back-lit leaves with a first wash of yellow, then add progressively darker greens on top. It really does work.

The finished painting is about 11 by 8 inches and took about an hour-and-a-half.

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Rick and Ilsa

Graphite sketch: Rick & IlsaI was asked if I would design the collateral material for this year’s Houston Heights Home Tour. It’s a gratis project of course. Since I’m trying to build my freelance graphic design and illustration business, there’s always the anticipation that such projects will raise my profile among prospective clients. That’s never a given, but I can alway hope. Besides, the theme seemed like a fun and interesting idea to design around, and possibly get some nice portfolio pieces to boot. The Heights, like all of Houston, is going through enormous transformation. Hence the main theme “Embracing Change.” The theme for the auction/gala however, is “Casablanca.” The original idea given to me was to use a still from the iconic final scene from the movie. Instead, I offered to create a custom, original image that tied in to the neighborhood theme. I must admit, I was motivated by the anticipated challenge and fun. The final image was created in Adobe Illustrator. I used a graphite sketch I worked up as a template. The only mentionable changes made from drawing to finished art are that I altered Rick’s slack-jawed mouth, and I reduced Ilsa’s figure a bit. Oh yes; and instead of a waiting plane in the fog-shrouded background, I added a home-lined neighborhood street with oak tree foliage.


United Way muralThis is a freelance digital illustration that I created for a corporate United Way fundraising campaign. The image is displayed as a paneled mural in the company’s main lobby. The finished size is 22 by 14 feet. I’ve been creating these for over ten years. See more here. Each year has a theme, and I either produce an image based on that theme, or on a concept that the client comes up with. I always create a concept sketch for approval.Concept sketch I use Photoshop and a Wacom drawing tablet, and import the sketch into Photoshop as a template. These can get pretty detailed, so I make multiple layers so that I can keep track of everything. Despite my effort to keep them simple, I must admit, I love noodling with all the minutiae.

A new home

Framed watercolor

One of my Facebook connections saw my post about this watercolor (see two posts ago) and asked if it was for sale. “Yes!”, I said. She showed it to a collector-relationship of hers and she bought it.  Virtually all of the art on this site is available for purchase. I also accept commissions. Can you say “holiday gifts?” Having informed all of you of that, a couple of FYIs: The actual watercolor is eleven and a half by nine and a half inches. Except for the painting itself, in the image you see posted here, the frame, matte, background and “SOLD” banner are all digitally created in Photoshop and Illustrator. I love doing that.

Winter Street Studios

Winter Street Studios

I set up my easel at Winter Street Studio last Sunday afternoon and painted this watercolor. I’m not necessarily a transparent watercolor purist, meaning that I use opaque white when the need arises, especially out-of-doors when I’m having to paint quickly and don’t really have time to mask small areas of paper so that they will stay paint-free. So it was freely used here, apparent in the sunlit telephone lines, but not as much so in the highlighted areas of the transformers and the fence.

Self portrait

A self portrait of Barry GremillionMy very first drawing of myself. Warts and all. Am sure it won’t be the last. Had a feeling it would be challenging, but it was much more than I thought it would be. I’ve been obsessing about doing this for a few weeks, so when my wife was at an event last night, I grabbed a small art deco mirror from our dining room wall and propped it on the sofa. I sat with my drawing pad on my lap and a stick of soft graphite in hand. On second look it’s a tad distorted but I think it captures a certain something about my personality. Certainly my sense of humor! An Alice Nealish quality; don’t you think?


Hands from Hell

Haloween sidewalk chalk drawingI wanted to create chalk drawings on my front walkway and sidewalk for Halloween, but was disappointed with the store-bought color choices. So I made my own, using a variety of powdered temperas colors, water-mixed with plaster-of-paris. Once ready, I poured the goop into tiny paper cups. When dry, they were popped out and piled in a plastic bin for use. Fun!

Mausoleum at Glenwood

Watercolor of a mausoleumI went to Glenwood Cemetery off Washington Ave. to paint this watercolor yesterday. It’s one of my favorite places. The most beautiful place of its kind that I’ve ever seen. Opened in 1871, it’s terraced, hilly, haunting and mysterious, I get a real sense of history when I’m there. Today I craved a different subject than angels and tombstones. My thoughts turned to the many mausoleums there. I chose one on top of a very steep hillside, so steep from the road that I couldn’t get a good setup from in front. So I climbed to the top and set up my gear behind it, sitting on a low cement grave barrier. I’ve always loved the challenge of painting dappled sunlight. And a challenge it is. The sun kept going behind a cloud, but it stayed out long enough. This took me about an hour and a half to paint.