Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Friesian Elegance - WIP

I started a smaller 10"x8" piece today of a Friesian horse in harness.  I really enjoy doing the leather work along with the horse- the variation in texture is always a challenge I enjoy.  I hope to finish this piece this week.  I think I am aiming this one toward the AAEA show if they allow me to use photos with references I did not take (have to re-read the rules).  I e-mailed last year to ask what category I could enter my scratchboard in and was told I could not enter it because there was no category!  But Julie Bender has entered her woodburning pieces for several years and there is no class for her either.  I e-mailed Julie earlier this year and she enters her pieces as paintings!!  So this year I am going to send in my entries, put them as drawings and see what they do with them- worst case they don't let anything in.  Best case I win some cash or sell a piece!  The AAEA show is hold at the Kentucky Horse park, which also happens to be where the Friesian Horse Association of North America's main headquarters are....hmmmm.... maybe someone will see is from there and not be able to live without it!   :D

 The lovely photo reference was provided by Daisyree Barkkar, a friend from wetcanvas and fellow artist.  Thanks Daisyree! 

I get asked sometimes how I do it when there is long hair (such as a mane) going over the top of shorter fur.  In cases like that I work the short fur in first and then the mane and forelock will go over the top, just as it is in real life.  However I do it darker and less dense than areas where it is not covered, as the mane usually obscures the fur and casts a shadow on it.  In my next update (or two) you will be able to see this in practice a bit more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New image of the Kingfisher

Someone pointed out an inacuracy with my kingfisher board, in that the common kingfisher has very bright feathers on the middle of his back which would be visible from the angle I drew him.  I was happy with the way I had it, but after looking at many photos the inaccuracy started to bother me ;)  So I went back and reworked his back feathers to be brighter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

maned wolf puppies at Denver zoo

When I went to the zoo in early March I was seeking out pics of the new litter of maned wolves born at the zoo in late December, but not on exhibit until the end of February.  They were out of sight and sleeping on that day so I stopped back by today and battled the throngs of school children and one of the pups (there are three total) was out and about for quite a while.  They are almost 3 months old and very leggy and tall already.

Not great photos as it was bright sunlight on top of the snow from two days ago and rather midday, but they are not a critter you get to see all that often, so what the heck :)  BTW they are much darker brown when very young and start to get their red coat and markings at about 2 1/2-3 months.  You can see they are much lighter red than the adult still.  I love the little milk moustache marking on them (adults have it too)!

The little one climbed right on top of Mom and was so cute.  Mom gave him a bath and was very sweet to him.  Unfortunately the cutest shots were out of focus.  My camera needs to go in for some repairs, as it is misfocussing much more than it should, but I just can't part with it... LOL

Look how long thier legs are already!

just for size and color comparison with Mom

The bald eagle also put on quite a show and was screaming and throwing back his head.  Unfortunately backlit and I didn't bring my flash with me for fill flash, but still a nice pose.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"On The Prowl" Completed

Not a huge difference from the last posting, but the little things are important too :)  Dark whiskers, softened the hot edge of the front leg and touched up some edges and values... and with a signature I am calling him done.  You can see the zoomify version at:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prowling... all day long

I worked on this piece most of today and will likely finish it tonight.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the Prowl - WIP and Bending

I am working on a new mountian lion scratchboard that I have titled "On The Prowl" size is 12"x24" , which looks pretty close to cougar life size.  Here is my progress to date.

A close up look - I suppose maybe around the actual size, maybe a bit bigger.

And I guess I didn't post this one that I finished this last week too.    Well maybe not finished, I think I am going to work the tail a bit more.  This is a smaller piece 10"x8"  This ended up being a very tough angle to make look right!  Title on this one is "Bending"  It is colored with Ampersand Inks

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Kind Eye Finished

A Kind Eye (Quarter Horse)- 12"x17"

This piece is graphite (not scratchboard)

Original Graphite Artwork © Cathy Sheeter
Original Available from

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One of those days...

I have been working on a new smallish scratchboard (8"x10") and it just isn't coming together to my liking... so after struggling with it for several hours... still not quite ready to bin it... but feeling a bit frustrated.

Anyways decided to give it a break and come back to my graphite piece "A Kind Eye"  I think I have the eye close to the softness I want, now just finishing up the rest of it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Limited edition Prints now available

Several new works now have limited edition prints available for order.  All of my giclee prints are printed on the highest quality acid free materials and printed with archival inks.  All are sold with a certificate of authenticity.  available for overseas shipping, but please contact me for a shipping quote before ordering.

New Prints are of :
The Interrupted Drink (White Tiger)
The Hypnotist (Snow Leopard)
Blue And Gold (Catalina Macaw)
Windblown (Friesian Horse)
A Distant Gaze (Quarter Horse)
Yielding (Quarter Horse)
What Next? (Quarter Horse)

On most works prints are available in three sizes.  Click each link above to see prices or to order.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

references and photoshop

While I do not have any formal art training I did take several classes in high school.  One of the things we did time and again was thumbnail sketches trying to work out compositions and layout.  Today for many artists, including myself, things have changed.  Now photo editing programs (such as photoshop) allow us to composite as many photos together as we desire and move them all around until we get a composition that we want. 

Some people may think that when artists work from photos that we simply take that photo and essentially replicate it in our art.  Very rarely is this actually the case.  Usually artwork is many images put together to come up with an original piece.  Often the background will be a few images, the animal may be another one or two (or more), trees or rocks may be from another, etc.  I have used up to 10 different images combined into one piece to create the artwork.

Above is a composite of 6 photos put together.  This is in fact the same pronghorn from 6 different photos.  The advantage of using the same animal over and over was that since all photos were taken within a few minutes of each other the light direction and intensity is the same.  The disadvantage is that... well its obviously the same animal and I would have to alter them to make them look like distinct individuals.  Because this pronghorn is the same animal I would have to resource some additional photos to find different sets of horns for each one, as this particular animal has a distinct set of horns with a twist at the tip.  He also has a distinct whirl of fur up on the top of his back that shows that he is the same animal.  Furthermore usually in bachelor herds there are some older males and some younger ones.  This would require more alterations.  For the completed layout I would also resource some additional images for shrubbery and perhaps some rocks.

So when you are looking at art realize that usually it is not just one photo but often MANY images resourced to create the original work.

The King Finished

I finished up "A King On His Throne" - not a huge difference from below but you might notice some slight varations in the dark in the background now and slight touch ups on the bird and branch.  You can view a zoomified version (full 100% view) at:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A King On His Throne

This is the piece I have most recently been working on.  Size is 12"x24" and it is colored with ampersand inks.  It is not quite done yet, but getting close :)  Reference photo used with permission taken by Ben Fredrickson.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A few hours at the zoo

I took a trip to the Denver Zoo today, as they have a litter of young Maned Wolves that are just recently put on exhibit.  Unfortuantely the pups were out of sight all day, but I did get some other good images.  The amur Leopard and Grizzly Bears were quite cooperative.

Glass or No Glass?

The debate of whether scratchboard work needs to be protected with glass is not one that is easy to answer and not one that everyone will agree on.  Without a doubt our artwork looks its all time best in the natural state.  You can take in all the fine details and every little tiny line best without anything between you and the board. 

However, is this best for the art?  A few important aspects need to be considered.

1) the Lightfastness of the material- does it need UV protection from UV protecting glass? - The answer to this one is that colored inks are more prone to fading than black.  Black ink is typically made primarily with carbon as the pigment and carbon is very resistant to fading even in direct sunlight.  The black ink has its own natural UV protection so for black and white scratchboard UV protection via glass is not needed.  Fine art should never be hung in direct sunlight to maximize longevity no matter what medium, but black and white boards should not be as affected as most other mediums by sunlight.  Color inks are not as light fast and would benefit from additional UV protection.

2) Resistance to incidental scratches - Here things get a bit more complex.  Most artists spray scratchboard with multiple coats of a fixative varnish to protect the work once they are done.  Once it is sprayed it will not scratch as easily or accept additional inks.  The sprays also break down oil from the artists hand to give a nice clean look to the board.  How many layers of fixative a piece needs to protect it is debatable- but in most cases a minimum of 4-6 layers should be used.  This makes it much harder to scratch through the spray and down into the clay through incidental scratching.... however it is still possible!  Something very abrasive rubbed against the board could still damage it.  And the spray layers themselves are susceptible to being scratched and will show scratches if this occurs.  While there is no real damage to the board and it is fairly easily repaired by additional spray (sometimes a bit of sanding of the top layers of spray can be required if the scratch is deep) most collectors and owners of original artwork will have no clue how to do this or what type of spray and it is simply an inconvenience.  Areas of solid black will show scratches into the fixative more visibly than scratched areas. 

3) Resistance to damage from oils and acids- I do not have all the answers on this one either.  For example if spaghetti sauce accidentally splashed up onto artwork without glass and was not noticed for a month, could it be removed without damage when it was noticed?  Would the acidity from the tomato sauce eat through the fixative?  Even after it was cleaned would the oils leave a noticeable ring?  I have used glass cleaner to clean a sprayed board and it worked well, but I was only cleaning a water based material from the board.  Glossy finishes seem to clean more easily than matte finishes in my experience.

4) Where will the art be hanging? - This can be a key deciding point in my opinion.  If the art is to hang in a high traffic area or an area where there is a reasonable chance it will be brushed against or have something sprayed or splattered on it I would always recommend it be protected behind glass.  If it will hang in a highly protected area or one where there is very little change of damage then it is probably ok without being behind glass.

I know some scratchboard artist that have for years hung their original work without glass.  They have had no problems and feel confident that their work is safe without glass.  But for me, I suggest museum glass to all of my collectors.  Yes it is quite a bit more expensive but presents the artwork is such a fashion that the glass is not a distraction (very minimal glare) as well as providing additional UV protection.  When you look at work behind museum glass it is almost like there is no glass at all.  standard glass, while the least expensive, provides no UV protection and can catch a lot of glare which is very distracting.  Non-glare glass has a frosted textured look which can be almost opaque at certain angles.  It does provide some UV protection, but the frosted look can be very distracting and totally obscure the details of the artwork.  So in my opinion museum glass is the only way to go for long term presentation. 

Shipping scratchboard behind glass can be very scary and if the glass breaks it can certainly damage the board.  If shipping to shows or events I suggest only plexiglass or acrylic.  No, it does not look as good, but it does protect it and when the work comes home (or is purchased) it can have museum glass reinstalled.  If you must ship it with glass always tape the glass so that if it does break it will not shatter all over the artwork.

So glass or no glass is certainly up to you, but for this artist all of the work purchased from me will be behind museum glass maximizing the ability to see the details of your board, but also protecting the work from UV rays and incidental damages.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Another small piece done- just a little 7"x5" work that I titled "Dignity."  She may go off to a couple equine shows too... who knows??  She is from one of my own reference photos and the size she is when you click on the thumbnail is close to the actual size.

Are you getting tired of horses?  I am a bit, but it seems to be what my galleries want, and who doesn't love a beautiful horse?  So more horses it is, though I do have plans for other critters too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More on Graphite piece

I have made more progress on "A Kind Eye"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back from the Framers

I just got some work back from the framers.  One of them was "Roping Box Readiness", which I am thinking about sending to the first ever Rocky Mountain Equine Expo Art show, which I was invited to participate in.  I think it came out quite nice.  They did ask for scratchbaord though... soooo I'll see.

I also have a new graphite horse I have been working on.  Size is 12"x17"  Right now he is kind of headless, but should be fixing that soon!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Results are up for Art Show at the Dog Show... and you could say I cleaned up :)  Awarded the following prizes-

"Moment of Reflection" (scratchboard border collie eyes)- Purina Award of Merit; 1st Place Other Media; Best Entry Depicting a Dog from the Herding Group

"Charisma" (scratchboard brindle great dane)- 2nd Place Other Media, Best Entry Depicting a Great Dane

"Soulful" (photograph black lab)- 3rd Place Photography; Best Entry Depicting a Dog from the Sporting Group

You can see my entered images at