Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Mouse in a storm

Earlier this year I was contacted by a longtime fan Anthony. He and his friend David had been placing orders in my online store for a while, sending the items to each other as secret gifts. Anthony reached out because his longtime friend since art school, David, was dying of cancer. He wanted to commission a piece for David that he could receive in hospice to help brighten his final days.

Here is the commission all colored, but I will go through the process for this piece in today's post.

The emotional bond, not just of two long time friends, but brothers-in-art, struck a chord with me. I thought of those brothers of mine, and while we are not family, how much we mean to each other. David was going to be leaving behind a wife and young children too. It was an emotional circumstance to try and create a piece of art for.

I drew a lone Guardmouse. Because David's treatment options were all but exhausted, he opted to spend his remaining days at home, with his family. The Guardmouse has his sword sheathed. His body faces one direction, but he looks onward in the other––torn between past and future. Around him the crunch autumn leaves are coming off their branches, smaller twigs are breaking off and blowing past him in the cold winter wind that is inevitably coming. Yet, the Guardmouse stands and faces it.

Unlike many of my compositions where I draw on multiple sheets of copy paper and then combine them all, this time I drew it all in one shot. I taped that drawing to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol and inked it on a light pad. I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs).

I'd left most of the groundcover and debris as loose scribble in the pencil drawing––inking those kinds of things in on the fly is a zen place for me, where I can zone out and just think about creating depth and pattern with densities of inkwork.

The original inks were sent off to David, and I received a touching letter back from him in return as well as some examples of his drawings.

I started working on a color version from the scan I took before mailing off the original. 

This step it like professional coloring-in-the-lines, and most of the color choices were based on the natural world, other than the mouse's fur (which I inherently kew should be a light tone) and the cloak, which I chose to compliment the orange autumn leaves.

I finished the color by rendering it with the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop (as well as a stock textured brush). 

I emailed the colored piece to David––but he had already passed away. His widow wrote back a very lovely response. I wish their family the best in their loss, and that includes David's art-brother Anthony too.

Rest in Peace, David Houry.

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