Take a Breather

10/2017: Take a Breather
Take a Breather

The chair, a wonderous marvelosity
The chair, with silent generosity
Will give you its best
A moment to rest
The chair, devoid of all verbosity



See more sketches in the Sketch Gallery.


Friend or Foe?

10/2017: Friend or Foe?
Friend or Foe?

I recently started reading the first book of the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques. I had never read it before but have always been drawn to books in which animals are the characters. I decided to take a break from portrait drawings and do an illustration based on my mental image of the story.

This moment in the illustration follows the attack of Redwall Abbey, led by the legendary Cluny the Scourge. Cluny’s spy has recently stolen something from the Abbey which serves as a source of inspiration and identity-orientation for all within the Abbey. At this moment in the drawing, Matthias, a self-effacing yet fiercely loyal monk from the Abbey, is venturing to St. Ninian’s Church where Cluny’s army has setup camp to confront him. Along the way, he encounters Basil Stag Hare, a proud and elusive hare who offers his support.

I was first attracted to Jacque’s description of Basil Stag as a “patchwork” animal. I’m not quite sure what was meant by that word but it gave me the image of a somewhat rugged creature. I wanted to use this drawing as an attempt to draw some animals and portray the two figures from two different perspectives (head-on for Basil Stag and from behind for Matthias). I’ve also been spending more time adding background details to my drawings so this one provided many different elements for practice, including a distant figure of St. Ninian’s church, a dirt path descending over a foreground horizon line and continuing on into the distance, and various bits of forestry.

See more sketches at the Sketch Gallery.


September ’17: Cherish

I have no words to tell you how
To cherish the moment of here and now
But watch me closely and you will see
For such an art is first nature to me

I know not of time nor how it is measured
Save that the present is a thing to be treasured
And when it passes, I’ll welcome the next
And savor it fully; that’s what I do best

So come with me and I’ll show you the way
To discover the secrets God has hid in this day
Close your eyes, just a moment or two
Be here and be thankful – that’s all you must do



More sketches in the Sketch Gallery.

Heart’s Desire

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The heart now sleeps within the chest
And dreams of where it is suited best
Yet, slumber spited, finds no rest

The heart yearns for things beyond the self
Past status, position, or material wealth
Of all places, the heart lists for somewhere else

The heart is a curious thing indeed
Akin to the paradoxical acorn seed
A tiny shell that hides a towering tree

The heart was given a thirst it seems
That cannot be quenched through earthly means
But ‘tween the banks of eternity’s streams

The heart is a story that will forever entail
A stout longing to find the hidden trail
A yearning to peer ‘round this present veil

The heart and its ways are akin to the rebel
Creative in manners to frustrate and meddle
To disrupt the plans of one willing to settle

The heart, after all, was forged in desire
Then set in a body amid the earth’s mire
To inspire its bearer to reach for things higher

The heart is a diamond that we borrow on loan
Not a trinket to hoard or trade or to own
And the God who made it is calling it home

The heart, in the end, leaves the body for yonder
For it was created to live a full life that is longer
And carries the pulse of a strength that is stronger

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart”
– Psalm 37:4

At First Sight

At First Sight
September ’17: At First Sight

Amazing things happen to people in the presence of a child. Though this phenomenon is difficult to describe, you can’t miss it with your eyes.

My brother-in-law is a man of adventure whose world travels from the frozen mountains of Iceland to the hills of Florence to the vast wilds of Yosemite will someday make for an enthralling novel. A seasoned software engineer and mountain climber, he bears a broad and balanced palette of expertise in technology, wilderness, and culture.

He became an Uncle for the first time when my daughter was born. This is a sketch of the moment when, after months of anticipation and a long cross-country flight, he held her for the first time.

In getting to know these two as individuals, it strikes me that they both have a a knack for discovering what’s “out there.” My daughter will climb, burrow, and tumble through any physical space that’s available to her to quench her thirst for exploration. Hans could not be a better Uncle with whom to share that thirst. I can’t wait to see the adventures they’ll have together.

Until then, may their bond continue to blossom in that special kind of tenderness that exists between Uncle and Niece; the kind that begins at first sight.

Template for Humanity

Human Template
August ’17: Template for Humanity

Bottom: w/tutorials (pencil sketch finished w/ink)
Top: w/o tutorials (all ink)

I recently learned about drawing the human face and I encountered a few revelations not just about drawing but also about God and humanity as well. Let me tell you more…

I watched Alphonso Dunn’s amazing 3-part tutorial on drawing the human face in profile and head-on views (see ‘reference’ links below). He does an amazing job simplifying this complex task and inspiring some creativity. He walks you through creating a basic template for obtaining the approximate proportions and placement of facial features (see the sketches above the female faces) in both profile and head-on views.

Finally, the third tutorial reveals countless unique characters can emerge via simple adjustments to the basic facial template. This very technical process beautifully parallels a truth about humanity: God created us equal. We look different, we come from different cultures, we speak different languages, just as we should. God took the same basic template of humanity and when he made you, he added a few creative adjustments.

Sadly, these creative adjustments are and have wrongfully been the subject of feuding, war, and bloodshed.

White supremacists believe their skin color grants them superiority over those of different pigments but God has told us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) and to “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Some believe that their place of birth grants them a higher status and a right to leave the refugee to suffer, but God has told us “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Some believe that wealth is a just ruler with which grace and compassion can be measured out to others, but God has told us “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2) and “suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4).

Whether we realize it or not, we are all guilty of trying to falsify the claim that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Some of us do this through outright aggression, others through passive thoughts, attitudes, ignorance or tolerance of the structures that cater to the few and oppress the many. Perhaps we may recognize and agree with Jesus that greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind“.  But don’t we leverage the fact that “love your neighbor as yourself” is the second commandment Jesus refers to, misinterpreting ‘second’ as ‘optional’, and forgetting that Jesus said “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments“? (Matthew 22:36-40, emphasis mine).

So what is to be done? As with these drawings, let’s get back to the basics. Let’s lay down our excuses, justifications and any other fancy word we’ve contrived as a softer label for pride, favoritism, and hatred. Let’s remember that God is the template for us all, for, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). Let’s remember that God is our template from which we know what it means to love one another, for he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Let’s remember that we, despite all of our uniquenesses are united not only in our creation origin, but also in our imperfection, and our need for salvation and redemption in Jesus, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).

Lastly, let us remember that we need God’s help to be the humanity we were meant to be, for “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) and “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

On earth as it is in heaven…







Alphonso Dunn
Part 1: Proportions of the Head: https://youtu.be/SYjpkg6vrlg
Part 2: Profile Proportions: https://youtu.be/M5X0Y6gf-kk
Part 3: : How to Create Characters in Profile: https://youtu.be/uz_kJ4afTmA 

Bible verses
Equality: http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-equality/
Others: https://www.biblegateway.com/