Posts By cherylmcalister

Sketchbook Pages: May-June, 2019

I haven't been adding much to my website lately because I've been working on another large project. I do continue to work in my sketchbook, however, and the images below are some that I made over the last month between the middle of May and the middle of June. I apologize for the crummy quality of the photographs. I snapped them quickly to put them up.

You can tell that I like to play with text in my sketchbook. I use these drawings as a means of journaling, but I don't really want them to be entirely legible. There's enough there so if I look back on the image in a couple of years, I'll be able to glean what I was thinking.

The landscapes are from a brief trip we took to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. We stayed in a lovely apartment above a marina. It rained for much of the three days we were there, but when the sun came out, it was glorious. These sketches were made from the window looking out onto the marina.

New portrait delivered!

The Kiss, Peggy and Bruce at Clearwater Beach, acrylic on canvas, 24" X 36"

The Kiss

I began this portrait back in December. It was delivered on June 5, 2018. My goal was to capture the love and comfortable friendship of our dear friends, Peggy and Bruce.

On the left you can see what the portrait looked like when I first began. I roughed the whole thing in as an underpainting in paynes grey. It was painted from a series of photographs that I took at Clearwater Beach, FL in the summer of 2016. I prefer to paint from life whenever possible, but most often people don't have the time or patience to sit for a portrait. Additionally, I try to reveal as much of the personality of my subjects as possible. Sometimes this means capturing them in their favorite places, as I did here. That day I took many shots of Peggy and Bruce, knowing they would be used for a portrait.

Roses for Aunt Marcy

Roses, 12" X 12", acrylic on illustration board

I made this painting in honor of my great aunt's 100th birthday. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time between finishing it and delivering it to take a decent photograph so the color is a bit off in this image. I honestly believed I'd finish this little painting in a jiffy. Wrong. The roses kept dying, which made the painting challenging, but I found myself tempted to keep repainting them as they got more interesting. I also edited one out completely because the overall shape of the composition had become cumbersome. 

As you can see, the roses were mere buds when I started. When they began opening they got very big and the composition looked top heavy. They compacted somewhat as they started dying. As I went along I found it necessary to adlib and edit a bit, but that was actually fun. Unfortunately, it added time to the painting, and I finished the night before we were traveling to the party. A bit too tight for comfort.

More from my sketchbook




Boatscape near London


















Rick asleep

These sketches were all done with my twelve-pan Cotman watercolors. Some of the pages are raw. On some of them I "rubber cemented" in Duralene® drafting velum.





Sketches from summer 2017 with a twist





This is a self portrait I made directly into my sketchbook the way I had been making the sketches in my last post. As you can see, the page is again crinkly, which as I said, I like, but I have a tendency to overwork my sketches and risk making holes in the paper. So I got an idea...





I wondered what would happen if I "rubber cemented" pieces of Duralene® into my sketchbook. Duralene is a nonporous velum that can be used for drafting as well as sketching. I love working on it because it is easy to erase and because you can "push" wet media around on it. Several of my figure studies were done on this substrate. So, I sliced several pieces and glued them to the pages of my pad. First, I tried another self portrait.

Then, I started making sketches of animals. I drew any animal I wanted. Notice how vibrant the color is on the Duralene. It took some getting used to, but I began to love being able to "push" and "pull" the paint around for a while before it dried. I also began adding text so I could use my sketchbook as a sort of journal. The text is done with a Signo Uniball® Pigment Ink UM-153 white pen. Little by little, I am finding a new direction for my sketchbook drawings that I not only find relaxing but also immensely rewarding.

By the way, I am painting with a fine point water pen. Mine is made by Sakura. The paints are the Windsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Sketcher's Pocket Box. I use the ten color set. And here's a tip I learned from a guy at Dick Blick Art Supplies: If you run out of a color, buy a tube of Cotman watercolor and squeeze it into the little pan. Then let it dry for a day or two. It is the same paint. There is more paint in the tube, and the price is lower than buying a new half pan. I tried it, and it worked perfectly.

Sketches from London

These are a few of the sketches I did in London this summer. The first two are of my husband. The third is of my sister. I began sketching in watercolor directly into my sketchbook. I had purchased a small watercolor pad in France (I was there for three weeks before London), but I really liked the crinkly sound of the paper after painting on it so I kept using it for quick sketches.

Recent sketches

These are recent sketches from my sketchbook:


I was out walking with Rick and some friends, trying to sketch as quickly as possible. Our group stopped whenever we saw a beautiful bird or an alligator, but there was no time to make a really considered drawing.


I can usually get a sketch of Rick done if he is at his computer or dozing. In this case he was watching animal shows on PBS.

Finally finished: Portrait of Rick

Rick (acrylic on paper) 10.5″ X 14.5″

It took me a long time, but I finally finished this portrait of Rick. I started it about a year ago, but we were so busy I couldn’t work on it consistently until last summer. Then, for some reason, it took me longer than usual to capture Rick. Hopefully, the painting I’m working on now won’t take nearly as long. Now that I have a dedicated studio, and I am no longer farming or teaching, I paint for several hours almost every day. I should have a better chance of finishing my next paintings in a more reasonable timeframe.

Golden Open Acrylics

I love Golden Open Acrylics

As you can see from the above picture, I have a few paint brands mixed up in my box, but Golden is my favorite brand and their Open Acrylics are my favorite paints of all. I love them because their drying time is much slower. They feel like painting with oils.

Here are a few reasons why I love these paints:

  • The colors are beautiful.
  • They dry slowly.
  • You can use a palette knife with them if you want. I use one to move paint around on my palette or to scrape the canvas the way I would with oil paints.
  • Like all acrylics, Golden Open Acrylics don’t smell like anything, and they clean up with water.
  • You can cover your palette and the paints will still be wet the next day. They stay wet for a few days when they are covered. I use plastic wrap which sticks well to my glass palette.
  • This one is weird, but I like the caps Golden uses. They don’t get gunky and are easy to get on and off.
  • Another thing I like about Golden is their website. They have information pages and a newsletter that are excellent. Take a look at the page for Open Acrylics:

If you paint with acrylics I highly recommend Golden Open Acrylics. I painted with oils for many years, and I loved their “plasticity”, but I stopped using them because the solvents required are toxic and hard on septic systems. Golden Open Acrylics feel a lot like oils, but frankly, I like them better.

Self Portrait: progression

I think it's interesting to see an artist's work as it progresses from start to finish. I didn't have many photos of this self portrait in progress, but these give an example of the beginning, middle and end. Most of my work starts out as a searching mess. I've seen other painters whose work is very organized from the beginning with well defined planes and values. More often than not my values are well defined, but the planes usually find their way into the piece as I work. I have a sort of dialog with myself where I ask myself questions and answer them visually. It seems my work develops organically.