View Full Version : Robert's 12 Joys of December

12-01-2010, 01:48 PM
I'll probably be reposting these in whatever sketchbook they're in. Chances are many will be in my Sketchbook Project one because that's due in January and I really need to use up the pages fast!

So here's the first easy one:

One tree for my first December Joy, seen with noon shadows on it.


Pitt Artist Pens with Pigma Micron caption in Moleskine Cahier notebook.

12-01-2010, 02:21 PM
Great start. I'm looking forward to 12 versions of Ari. :cat:

12-02-2010, 12:56 AM
A dozen Aris? Can you imagine the size of the furr balls from the cat hairs of inspiration? :)

12-02-2010, 11:19 AM
Hee hee, oh yeah, you'd have enough to knit a whole litter of kittens!

12-02-2010, 01:56 PM
Gee, the way I'm doing these I could almost sing it, y'know?

Pitt Artist Pens (48 brush tip) on Moleskine Cahier journal.

Two spiral shells and a pecan tree out my windowww...

12-02-2010, 04:23 PM
LOL, I can just hear it. . .
Nice shells. . . and I'm sure you'll have no trouble getting Ari in twelve poses

12-02-2010, 05:08 PM
The spiral shells are a great twosome.

12-02-2010, 08:03 PM
I love the shells.

Yes! Yes! Clapping! I'm looking forward to twelve sketches of Ari.

Boy am I glad I looked at this thread Robert. Oooooo wow! I almost made a huge blunder here! I thought we had to draw one thing throughout the project instead of twelve different items. Wetcanvas almost got punched with one doll!

Keep going Robert!


12-03-2010, 03:26 AM
On the 1st day of Christmas, Robert Sloan sketched for us... a pecan tree from outside... On the second day of Christmas, Robert Sloan sketched for us, two spiral shells, and a pecan tree from outside....

Wow that didn't go well. I'm talking about the lyrics. Not your sketches. These are going awesome so far, Robert!

12-03-2010, 04:18 AM

Joan T
12-03-2010, 12:10 PM
Robert - Great job on the pecan tree and those wonderful spiral shells. I'm thinking of joining in, but first I have to plan a bit so I have something I can do 11 & 12 of. lol Nice start!

12-03-2010, 02:50 PM
Hee hee, like the verses even if they don't scan. Thanks for all your comments! Yes - it's a different subject each of the 12 days, but you need to draw it as many times as the day it is. Starts deceptively easy, doesn't it? Wait till these get up into the higher numbers!

For today's, I used three different photo references that my daughter snapped on her phone camera one week after Eowyn was born. She's several months old now, nowhere near as tiny. She's "gruya" colored, a lovely archaic pattern of light and dark grays.

Pigma Micron and Pitt Artist Pens on Moleskine Cahier sketchbook.

12-03-2010, 03:45 PM
Robert....I really like the shells and the pony. Have a great holidays!

12-03-2010, 04:26 PM
Nicely executed pony. Such a cute little thing.

12-03-2010, 05:53 PM
Thanks! This is easy up at this end, when I start getting to higher numbers it'll get tricky. Challenges ought to be challenging though, right?

12-03-2010, 10:31 PM
Lovely little foal.
Like you I am wondering how 12 of something will fit on the page. I decided to do the challenge in a journal bigger than my moleskine. :)

Nice design beside the shells to balance the page.

12-03-2010, 11:25 PM
great job on the shells and a nice looking young horse...:)

Joan T
12-04-2010, 04:38 PM
Great job on the foal in different positions!!!

12-04-2010, 06:33 PM
Wow, thank you for all the comments! I've decided that I don't need to keep it down to 12 pages - rather than draw really tiny, I'll just use as many pages as it takes to do the higher number ones. But I will try to keep them to whole pages rather than have other stuff with them on the same pages.

Here's today's - used one of the WDE images because Sascha chose to watch a documentary on bears and told me what I already knew: she loves baby bears.

Pigma Micron and Pitt Artist pens on Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

12-04-2010, 10:45 PM
Very cute bear cub studies. I like bears too.

I did mention in the challenge to take as many or as few pages as necessary for you to do the required number of objects. I had a feeling 12 of something, unless really small, were going to take a couple of pages in a sketch book.

12-04-2010, 11:21 PM
All great sketches with the Pitt pens, Robert - you are the prince of Pitt pens' precise painting! The foals and bear cubs are my favs so far. I don't think I mentioned this in any of my other journals, but I have a bear story from about a month ago...if I did, sorry for the repeat story.

I feed birds, with a couple suet and seed feeders hung up in the back yard. We live on a golf course, and on the other side of the golf course is a steep, rugged ravine that is part of a large continuous preserved forest. Bears and cougars are routinely seen in the area, but we had never seen them around the house. So one night about 9:00 I was working at my kitchen table and heard a loud crash outside. I thought maybe our frequent windy conditions had weakened one of the feeder poles, so grabbed a flashlight, opened the door and stepped outside. The flashlight showed a BIG (350 pounds, probably) black bear sitting on his haunches and stuffing his face with suet from the now-destroyed suet feeders. He ran away, but came back half an hour later and I had to scare him off again. So now every night I bring the bird feeders into the garage just in case...!

12-05-2010, 05:34 PM
fun :)

I'll try to catch up with this project

12-05-2010, 08:04 PM
cute bear cubs and really admire they way you did all four differently!

12-05-2010, 08:42 PM
Thank you! Wow, John, you get interesting critters at your bird feeder. Maybe put the "bear feeder" a bit farther from the house? I can see why you take them in at night now, suet would be irresistible.

Did my page for today with five regrettable hand studies. I know I could've done better but was still fighting some pain earlier while I was doing them.

Page 34, lousy hand studies for 12 Joys of December in Pigma Micron

12-05-2010, 09:26 PM
Sorry about your pain. I take it the weather is acting up again?

Nice hand gestures.

12-05-2010, 09:38 PM
These are fun drawings to look at. Am I detecting more power in your strokes? The bear one is fun to look at. They are curious creatures aren't they? I hear on every night, I think, outside my house. They make cute little noises. Unexpected from a large animal.

I wonder what else you will come up with.


12-06-2010, 09:07 AM
Thanks, Debby. I'm not used to having to redraw lines in my ink sketching, they skidded all over the place yesterday. It's that it's winter. I'll have some of this trouble every day till spring with the arthritis, but some days are much worse than others. At least now I'm actually drawing again unlike half of November.

Diana, thank you! Yes, I think my strokes are becoming more powerful and decisive. All this sketchbook practice has given me a lot of confidence so I sometimes use one stroke where I'd have done five or six before. The bears are interesting. I loved the reference for its clarity and showing the animal's anatomy so well. If there were cats in the WDE of course I'd have done a cat, but the bear was an interesting cat substitute.

All I know for certain is that I'll definitely use Ari as my model for the 12th day. I can easily fill a two-page spread with little Ari sketches! I'll probably warm up to him with extra Ari sketching along the way as I have been. He's so beautiful and endlessly fascinating to draw.

Sketching him helped me with the bear, with any quadrupeds. I find myself looking at them in relation to Ari. Shorter back, thicker legs, longer legs... if I drew a ferret it'd be a stretch cat... he's even helping me with horses and things. The more I draw him, the better I am at all animals.

12-06-2010, 09:12 AM
That's really interesting about being better at all animals from drawing Ari so much. It goes to show how valuable practise is.


12-06-2010, 12:25 PM
Yep. If I needed to prove that to myself, my series of Ari cat gestures has done it - all this sketching practice is doing wonders for my drawing and painting.

Page for today should be #6 with six versions. I got out a cool large quartz crystal to sketch. But I miscounted so I've done seven versions, there's an extra. Whoops!

Unfortunately the uploader's decided not to work so I'll attach it.

12-06-2010, 01:48 PM
Crystals are so cool. Nice sketches.

12-06-2010, 04:15 PM
like all the angles you did it from and the pops of color.

12-07-2010, 03:19 AM
Wow, half way there Robert (sort of). :clap: Well done, I like your subjects.

12-07-2010, 04:30 PM
Big thanks to all three of you! I'm still rolling along doing one of these per day. I'll be done on December 12th unless something interferes and I miss a day. Each time I'm deciding when I start what would be the most fun thing to draw X many times. Today it was Ari's feet. I did hand studies of myself, why not of him?

Seventh out of my 12 Joys of December project, all Pigma Micron sketches.

I love his fluffy feet and will continue doing Ari paw studies till I manage to capture the lovely shine they have and the pale tufts between his toes. He is an endlessly fascinating cat.

12-07-2010, 05:24 PM
Marvelous cat paws. All 7 of them. I think you're going to be the first to finish the challenge.

12-07-2010, 05:25 PM
Love those adorable paws! And I agree with Debby. . . you are going to finish way before the end of the month!

12-08-2010, 01:53 AM
Very nice paw studies... that is creative to think of..... great job!

12-08-2010, 03:47 AM
Wow Robert you have been busy to get so far so quickly! Great stuff!

12-08-2010, 12:41 PM
Thank you all! Wow! I didn't expect to be so far ahead of the group. I seem to be the only one who's doing "page a day" with the 12 Days challenge. I'm vaguely hoping to do the whole series without skipping a day. I might have to use two page spreads for some of the last few but today I'm 2/3 done with the challenge.

It's a great feeling even though 9, 10, 11 and 12 are going to be bigger and bigger. Today's worked out very cool. I applied some of the things I learned in Johannes Vloorthuis landscape class to these and tried to make these trees varied, melodic and interesting. I didn't 100% succeed in avoiding repetitions of shapes but I think I came closer than usual.

Of course in pen there's no going back - if it was pastel or something I'd be able to break up some of the repeat shapes easier. Do these each have character? Are they all individuals?


Pitt pens and Pigma Micron pen again, as usual.

12-08-2010, 10:18 PM
Deceptively simple, but really well done, Robert. :clap:

Any cat that has a paw on my leg normally has claws sunk in!

12-08-2010, 11:53 PM
I would say you succeeded. Number 4 and number 7 are close to the same size and shape, but there are differences.

12-09-2010, 12:03 AM
Great trees!!! #1 and #4 are my favs. . . nice work. You can do anything with those pens!

12-09-2010, 12:29 AM
Great work on the trees - both structurally and with the colors!

12-09-2010, 01:08 AM
Very nice snow-on-tree depictions! Simple yet realistic. A lovely thing to try to draw.

12-09-2010, 03:01 AM
quote"All I know for certain is that I'll definitely use Ari as my model for the 12th day. I can easily fill a two-page spread with little Ari sketches! I'll probably warm up to him with extra Ari sketching along the way as I have been. He's so beautiful and endlessly fascinating to draw.

Sketching him helped me with the bear, with any quadrupeds. I find myself looking at them in relation to Ari. Shorter back, thicker legs, longer legs... if I drew a ferret it'd be a stretch cat... he's even helping me with horses and things. The more I draw him, the better I am at all animals."

I agree, Robert. Sketching horses has helped my with other animals.
I think you get used to how the fit together and what is possible in movement. I certainly find I can look at proprtions and how the parts of the bodies fit together from different angles.

Great trees. Love the snow affect. They are all different.

12-09-2010, 12:15 PM
Thank you!

LOL Chris, yes, they do that. Ari is actually pretty good about it, he just hooks one claw to keep his paw from sliding off but doesn't put any weight on it other than the negligible weight of that paw.

Debby, thank you! I chose random RIL references for these trees, each is from a different reference or different part of a reference. The ones that are vaguely similar are probably the same breed.

Rainy, thank you! Yep. The more I use them, the easier it is to do anything I want with these pens. Though I wish they'd come out with a few more very light hues, sometimes I look for colors I don't have. A good olive green would rock too.

John, thank you! I know you're in the Vloorthuis classes so when you say structurally, you're looking with the hyper-critique eye I've got sometimes now after taking them. This page was a mental challenge after the whole Evergreens class, trying to put its principles into action! It helps that I'm using brush pens, so I can somewhat echo his brushwork.

Candace, thank you! Snow on trees has been a challenge to me since I was a kid growing up in Minnesota. In the deep winter it always fascinated me but my drawings of snow covered trees always fell short of the reality.

Elain, yes! That's so cool. My daughter pointed out the difference between horses and cows in the distance - horses' backs being the same length as their legs, cows with shorter legs. I think once you have any quadruped's proportions down accurately and the direction their leg joints go - so different from a human's or a bird's - then the rest becomes noticing variations.

Today's sketches for Day 9 are life studies of eight different rocks. I turned one of them around because it had two interesting faces.


12-09-2010, 08:36 PM
Robert, your pen strokes are so much like Eric Sloan's. That isn't his real last name, but he named himseld after his teacher who was a Sloan. So, his style would be like Mr. Sloan's whose style is so much like yours.

I swear, if I didn't know your last name I would guess that it is Sloan!

And this is a compliment. I used to read his books when I babysat for a family and liked them so much that I gave some to my Dad for Christmas when I was in high school. I told my father last year that I want them back someday...

Keep going.

I am behind but I will catch up with you.


12-09-2010, 09:17 PM
Oh wow! Thank you! I got a little confused because of his subject matter when you sent me the link, but now I do see the similarity.

John French Sloan worked slow and meticulous, a lot more like you. I've been edging more and more toward fast loose rendering. Still representational, still with detail and accuracy when relevant, but looser with more varied textures and edges. I don't know if I'd have the patience for an entirely stippled value drawing any more at all.

12-09-2010, 10:05 PM
I wish I could draw faster.

12-09-2010, 11:37 PM
Nice rocks, Robert! You must have a pretty good collection or rocks and fossils.

12-10-2010, 09:40 AM
Diana, I got to where I can draw faster mostly by loosening up. Using a thicker pen and doing a lot of short timed gesture drawings so that I learned not to hesitate. There's a big difference between patiently layering a drawing like your glorious graphite realism and just jotting in the shadows fast to give it form. I can still do slow detailed drawing but have been practicing more by doing lots of quick ones.

I also noticed in these pen drawings that it helps knowing I can't erase - just get it down the best I can. I get more accurate overall without worrying about specific mistakes.

John, thanks! Yep. I've got a small but select collection of rocks and fossils - actually a lot of pebbles and polished stones and a half dozen good fossils. Plus maybe a couple dozen shells and a lot of marbles. They're all in my "Still life objects" boxes.

And here's the page before the penultimate page... holiday nuts!


12-10-2010, 04:34 PM
Maybe you can do another 12 Days of Christmas. Encore! Encore!

Or someone (me?) should make up another challenge for you.

This will keep you happy.

How is your birthday today?


12-10-2010, 09:08 PM
Wasn't on yesterday and missed commenting on the rocks, which rock. (sorry couldn't resist the pun. :lol:)

The nuts are very cool. We know what 12 is, what is 11 going to be?

12-10-2010, 11:05 PM
Very nice pen work with the rocks and nuts, Robert, very effective.

12-11-2010, 12:04 AM
Thank you all! Hee hee, you'll have to wait till tomorrow to see, Debby. I'll tell you this, I had it picked out yesterday. It's one I've been waiting to do. A bit showoffy compared to rocks and nuts. 12 is Ari of course.

I had a great time on my birthday. When I got up my daughter sang Happy Birthday in French, which completely focused me in the moment. No one else in the world would do that. She followed it with French toast. Then today I got pampered, with incredible food and dinner and cake, everything was exactly the way I like it. Her present to me was her art - chef art!

Joan T
12-11-2010, 10:22 AM
Great job on the trees, rocks, and nuts!!!! Glad someone is sailing through this month easily! I only did 2 so far.

12-11-2010, 12:00 PM
Me, too, Joan. Working on #3 today. Robert, lovely work on the nuts! They looks yummy. . . esp. the pecans and almonds which are my favs :)

12-11-2010, 01:43 PM
Thank you all! Hee hee, you'll have to wait till tomorrow to see, Debby. I'll tell you this, I had it picked out yesterday. It's one I've been waiting to do. A bit showoffy compared to rocks and nuts. 12 is Ari of course.

I had a great time on my birthday. When I got up my daughter sang Happy Birthday in French, which completely focused me in the moment. No one else in the world would do that. She followed it with French toast. Then today I got pampered, with incredible food and dinner and cake, everything was exactly the way I like it. Her present to me was her art - chef art!

What a great birthday you had!


12-11-2010, 01:48 PM
Rainy, I like them all but the brazil nuts and hazelnuts are my favorites - we'd have a good time going through a bag together!

Diana, yes! It's been the best one yet. I didn't even mention what happened on Facebook - I was floored by how many friends posted birthday messages. It blew me away totally - changed everything! Facebook was like a love riot!

Joan, I'm looking forward to it! I think I did it this way because I knew I'd do it if I did it every day. Tomorrow's the great Day of Ari!

Now this one was difficult:

I did eleven marbles for Day 11 of 12 Joys of December.

But I still can't upload! It happened last night too.

Ella Ann
12-11-2010, 03:09 PM
Wonderful sketches - really loved the paws! It has been a joy to view this thread. :clap: Can't wait to see the marbles and Ari.

12-11-2010, 04:06 PM
12 Joys of December #11: Marbles
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Pitt Artist Pens on Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

Ella Ann
12-11-2010, 04:23 PM
Oh Wow, those marbles are truly magnificent! :clap:

Marbles are not easy but you have made a great job of them really capturing the transparency and I like the different colours/designs you have too.

12-11-2010, 04:24 PM
A lot of people love you Robert!

The marbles are beautiful. Lovely.

You know what? I just Googled "twelve days of Christmas" and the first day doesn't start until Christmas Day and ends on the 5th? of January.

You're early. I think you are going to have a ot of good luck this coming year.

Keep us up to date!


12-11-2010, 09:20 PM
The marbles are spectacular.

Happy belated birthday. Glad you had an awesome day.

12-11-2010, 11:56 PM
beautiful, colorful marbles! Is it still sounding like a song. . . mine sorta ARE, but then I've only done three as of today.

And Happy Birthday. . . gosh, I am not on facebook much lately and I missed your birthday. Bad on me. . . glad you had a good day!!

12-12-2010, 12:22 AM
Robert, I thought I had lost my marbles, but you have them, that's a relief!:D

Nice colourful sketch, :clap: you must have a big set of the Pitt pens, I didn't know they had such colourful ones.


12-12-2010, 01:20 PM
Wow, thank you all! I agree, these are much better than the last time I did marbles with Pitt pens. I really worked on shading them and getting the value areas right so that the highlights were the only pure whites.

The Finale!!! 12 Joys of December completed in 12 Days!

Coffee, Cigarettes & Cat Hair page 74
12 Joys of December - 12th Day! Ari! (Part I)
Pigma Micron on Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

Coffee, Cigarettes & Cat Hair page 75
12 Joys of December, 12th Day! Ari (Part II)
Pigma Micron on Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

Some are from photos, those from life are marked. He hid through about half of these!

12-12-2010, 06:35 PM
These are great. I think my favorite is Ari stealing pencils. :cat:

12-12-2010, 06:39 PM
Yep, I think the pencil stealing steals the show! What a funny little fellow is Ari!

12-12-2010, 06:53 PM
He is fantastic! I had a photo from when I had an art supply order come in - had it all spread out to photo the stuff when he snuck in and started stealing pencils out of the setup. Had to snap the cat stealing pencils and sketch from it. He loves them. I have to keep pencils to my left or he'll take them.

12-12-2010, 08:25 PM
Nice sketches of your feline friend. Congrats on your great December challenge.:clap:

12-12-2010, 09:19 PM
hehehee, maybe he is not satisfied to just be the muse?!

12-13-2010, 11:37 AM
Purr thanks! LOL Margo, I wondered if he wanted to try drawing. But what he wanted was to chew on pencils. I gave him a cheap graphite pencil instead of the expensive colored pencils and he was just as happy. Now I have to keep his pencil handy on my desk so that he can chase it and chew it.

He likes to stalk my art supplies. He'll creep up, wait till I'm typing or busy, then gently paw something off the right side of my table. I notice and take it away from him. He sits there and reaches for something else. It's this slow game of "will Rob notice before I can steal this toy?" and always ends with my putting something he can have, like his jingle ball or a cheap pencil, into the target area.

12-13-2010, 02:04 PM
what clever kitty, he has learned how to get a toy and how to get something most animals find even more valuable, you attention :)

Does he like to chew the pencils? Or just roll em around. . .

12-14-2010, 02:42 PM
He does both. That's why I have to watch out for him at it, he'll chew off erasers and leave the pencils a bit mangled. He's a great cat. Also he tends to bat them around the room and hide them under furniture when he gets pencils.

We have a lot of cat games like that, where he wants my attention and wants to play and get rowdy. Over the years we adapted to each other. He understands that I don't like to get up and run around as much as he does but I'll dangle a towel for him to chase or roll things for him.

Once in a while he'll still jump up and grab my leg, but he's 15lb now so he doesn't try to hang from my leg by his claws any more. That works for a two pound kitten but not a great big cat!

12-14-2010, 05:03 PM
ouch! sounds....... painful!

phew! Glad to hear Ari is just as happy with a cheap graphite as he is with the expensive stuff...... :lol:

12-16-2010, 01:52 PM
great job with the marbles using the pitt pens.

Ari though steals the show as well as pencils.

Some beautiful sketches capturing essence of cat - silhouette, # 6 7, 2 and #1 from life - well caught.
Belated happy birthday too! Sounds like you daughter made it a very special one.

12-16-2010, 02:01 PM
Thank you both!

Jackie, he learned not to claw me. That's why he just grabs my leg in a bear-hug and walks along with me on his hind legs. He's got great claw control when it comes to me - and it's sweet the way he does love bites. He'll just grab me with his teeth to show he could bite, then stop and wash the spot he bit to make sure I know he didn't mean it as a bite.

The older he gets, the fewer scratches I have. He's learned to be gentle. When he was a kitten though, I had scratches all over from the little guy. Loved him anyway of course.

The more often I draw him, the more I enjoy drawing him and the easier it is to sketch the poses that only last an instant. I can remember them better.

12-16-2010, 04:47 PM
great sketches :>) I've only just surfaced from a huge workload :>( with more to come - but still hope to have a go at this before then end of the month

12-17-2010, 12:34 PM
Nice ending to the December project - and with your favorite muse as the subject, of course!

12-17-2010, 03:20 PM
Vivien and John, thank you! Vivien, looking forward to see what you do with the challenge!

12-18-2010, 02:42 AM
Oh man! My favorite kitty is #5. He is so awesome. My favorite favorite cat drawing ever. Reminds me of all my babies! Thank you

12-19-2010, 05:50 PM
love these December journals, especially like yer spiral shells, christmassy trees, and those marbellus marbles, and the 12 sketckes of Ari cat are tops. Loved reading about all his antics, purfect chums. Glad you had a lovely birthday too...

12-25-2010, 09:34 AM
Hi Robert, I really enjoyed seeing your sketches of Ari! Merry Christmas! Today I will work on my Twelve Days. One was already done but I didn't get to the art piece I said I would for it. So tomorrow is Day # 2.


12-26-2010, 05:52 PM
Thank you! This was such a fun project. Diana, I'm looking forward to your 12 Days of Christmas!

12-27-2010, 05:51 PM
Hi Robert, It's coming. I've been working all day on a little painting of my first one. Should I put that in my thread because it is sort of part of the "Twelve Days" project? If I put it elsewhere folks may not relate to what it is you know? It's not finished yet.

Aw heck, I'll just post what I have. The second and third drawings should be tonight. I'm a day behind.

Thanks for the support.


Vivien Maloney
12-27-2010, 10:38 PM
Hi Robert and Merry Christmas to you. I've been trying to catch-up with the Journal Forum as I've had Internet problems so I'm way behind with commenting.
Love your 12 days of Christmas - wonderful sketches and of course Ari is looking beautiful as always. Congratulations on finishing the Challenge so soon and you've made a awesome job of it!

Joan T
12-28-2010, 01:29 PM
Between my trip to GA, Christmas, and our snowstorm, I haven't been able to check all the journals in a while. :clap: :clap: :clap: Congratulations on finishing!!! Love the page of marbles...so transparent and shiny, and great colors. Wonderful finale of Ari sketches...in almost every possible position. Happy belated birthday!!!