Painting “A Special Bond”

I took several pictures as I painted this image to point out some tips and discover new ones.

Starting with a tracing with carbon paper onto an 11 x 14 piece of Yupo paper,  is like creating a color by number for adults without any numbers.

1 Trace smlr

Next the background is poured and brushed with Spectrum Noir Refills E3, E5 and E8.  The refills are really dark and rich. I wanted to get the richness of a barn without including the details.

2 Pour Background smlr

I was asked “Where do you start?” Since I’m right handed, I start in the upper left hand corner so I’m not dragging my sleeves through wet ink.

3 Start Horse smlrIn other kinds of painting you lay down dark layers and 4 light layer horse smlrthen add light.  With the inks I find it just the opposite. I lay down light layers and then add dark.


With the horse pretty well finished, I check in with my black and white photo to make sure the values look right to me. 5 Checking horse to photo smlr

I was a bit worried about the dirty cap. I painted with Stonewash and then dabbed with different grays.6 got the dirty cap smlr

The blending was with the marvelous Chameleon blender pen – an indispenible tool.  The reason is that the nib it very small and flexible and much easier to control than other nibs, for me. (For size comparison the left is a Copic Marker, Chameleon in the middle, and Spectrum Noir on the right).

Chameleon Blender PenChameleon Tip


The beard was lots of work.  I put in layers from light to dark.  My sepia pen turned purple when I got ink on it.  I borrowed a better pen from Linda Chadwick but decided that the purple wasn’t really too bad.  Here’s a picture dabbing in the pen work and then blending it with the Chameleon Blender Pen.

8 fine lines in beard to be blended smlr9 Blended the beard smlr

The next challenge was the fabric of his shirt.  I used a lovely flat brush that would show fabric strokes. I wanted to use Eggplant but there’s just too much alcohol ink it.  I let it sit in the pallette to evaporate but didn’t have much ink left to paint with.  A bit of scary Indigo and IG10 dark gray helped.

7 Start Beard smlr

So what I observed is that I love the Chameleon Blender Pen to blend multiple bits of color.  I also saw that working from light to dark works with the ink.  I hope my experiences can help you.


Questions are welcome.



11 responses on "Painting "A Special Bond""

  1. This is pretty amazing! Thanks for sharing your process. I think you are a terrific instructor!

  2. Thank you so much Sheryl for your newsletters! You write clearly and your illustrations are spot on.

  3. EEE-GADS, you are getting good at the painting instructions. Just curious, you mentioned with Alcohol Ink you start with light colors for the back ground and then finish with dark. It looks like for the beard it was the opposite. Is that the case? I think you could have deleted the colorless blending pen picture and used the picture with the three, but show the picture of the pens completely. Well done…I even understood the description!!

    • Hi Karen, the beard actually did have a layer of really pale yellow and then gold highlights. The last picture in the text shows the beard before the dark colors went in. After that I went in for the dark browns and purples to bring the yellows forward and discover the darks below and the skin below.

      Glad you understood my instructions.

  4. I’m glad you got the point about Indigo. Made me smile.

  5. Hi Mary, I don’t seem to lift very much except to fix “mistakes”. I lift with the blender pen too.

  6. I want to race out and buy some AI pens!

  7. Question: when you mention layering, how much time is there between layers? And do you use markers or brushwork for the layers?

    • I just let the ink dry. It’s really quick for the light colors.

    • I use both markers and brushes. Some of the spectrum noirs leave a little dot where you place the marker on the paper. I can blend the dots out with the Chameleon pen. I prefer brushes and love Copucs but they’re really expensive. For a large area layer I’ll use the large side of the marker.

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