This year I signed myself up for VMAT or a Very Merry Art Trade. It is run by a couple of illustrators that I follow on Twitter. While my schedule as of late has been pretty hectic, I figured I could find some time.

The premise is simple. You sign up via email before the selected due date and people are then randomly paired off. You have until Christmas Eve to get your piece of art into the mail. The whole process is run through a website cslled Elfster. It basically runs Secret Santa gift exchanges for groups. You can setup wishlists and ask questions to your person to see what they want for Christmas if you want. Or you can just do whatever you want to do. I chose the later.

The last art swap I participated in I managed to enlist the aid of my son. I figured this one would be no different.

I quickly and very lightly put in some washes on canvas paper using Prussian Blue and Cadmium Orange. This created a nice neutrally grayish green ground. And then I broke out the finger paints and let my son have at it.

photo 1

This was the painting before my son did his handy work.


photo 2

Then I went out and quickly (perhaps too quickly) sketched out what I was planning to paint on a separate piece of paper. It seems I keep settling on a wild life theme for art that I randomly send out to people. I later transferred the drawing to my pre-painted background.

photo 4
A picture of the initial sketch. I’m kicking myself for not taking any more process shots. It was usually late when I got the chance to work on the painting and I was rather nervous of it’s outcome.

After laying out some white, I started out by drawing out the basic shapes and some shadows using Paynes Grey and Prussian Blue.

Side note: I tend to not use oil paints when painting as I do not have a sense of smell (not kidding) so playing around with turps makes me a little leary. For this painting I used primarily acrylics.

A lot of changes were made from my original drawing. Mainly, the snout was too long.

Once the main highlights and shadows were established, I then stared working in the colours. Using mainly Red and Yellow Ochre, Prusian Blue, Raw Umber, Paynes Grey and Titanium White. Darker details were added using a combination of Mars Black and Raw Umber. Gold paint was added in a few spots for effect.

Afterwards, I blotted a lot of darker colours around the edges of the artwork to create a vignette. This was at the urging of my wife, photographer extraordinaire, who felt the focal point had to be stronger. Then I used a tea wash to help artificially age the work. To make the wash dark enough, I used one half cup of boiling water and three tea bags. This wash was then painted on in little dabs all over the artwork avioding the main focal point of the painting.

Once everything was dry, I used a white gell pen and my trusty Pentel Brush Pen to refine a few small details and sign the artwork.


Hopefully the work will be well recieved by my recipient and it will be in one piece when it arrives. I am also anxious to receive my art gift as well. I will post once I get it.

It is possible that my illustration may go up for sale as a print in the new year. I guess that means I’ll have to come up with a name for this guy. Summer Wolf perhaps? Or just maybe Fred? I’m terrible with names. We shall see…