Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

The Shoes

Posted: September 17, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

Before going to Kenya I decided to commemorate the trip by purchasing a pair of red Toms and drawing on them.  It was the natural thing to do.  Here are the Toms:

While tree planting with my team I was privileged enough to meet Robin Wiszowaty, author or My Maasai Life.  Robin has been working with Free the Children for a decade now, seeking out the work in international development after she spent a year living with a Maasai family.  I took the liberty of introducing myself to Robin, as I had read her book before embarking on the trip.  Not long into the conversation Robin noticed my shoes.  Her excitement and awe over the illustrations is very difficult to describe in words.  She couldn’t stop expressing her amazement over the detail on the giraffe and the accuracy in the map.  Nearly right away she commissioned me to draw her something.

Upon my return I picked up her book once again and glanced through the photos located in the center.  A photo that struck me while reading it struck me again.  This is what I was going to draw her:

Robin’s story of her experience in the Masai Mara is inspiring, funny, insightful and beautiful.  I was thrilled to draw her something upon her request.  I have mailed this drawing to the Toronto location of Free the Children.  Robin will be touring Canada (she lives full time in Kenya) while speaking on the Me to We tour.  I’m excited for this drawing to find her!



The Talent Show

Posted: September 8, 2012 in Pen Sketches, Portraits

I recently went on a trip to Kenya with an organization called Free the Children.  My small group in this big organization decided to have a talent show on one of our last nights.

I made some amazing connections while I was there, mainly with the locals.  One of the people I met is Jacob, our Maasai Warrior Guide.  Jacob was there for us to pepper with questions whenever we felt the need to ask.  I learned more from Jacob than anyone else on the trip.  Jacob told us all about agriculture and types of trees in the Mara that are used for different things.  Among these trees we learned about a bush that is used as a natural bug repellent – popular with the animals.  Jacob also taught us about Maasai culture and certain rights of passages that are completed by the boys as they grow up.

Jacob was very inspiring and an incredible human being.  He loves his family tremendously and treated us with respect, care and love.  When it came time for the talent show I knew I wanted to draw a portrait of someone on the trip.  I managed to get a fabulous photo of Jacob just after he had beat someone at a game called Sumo Slaps.  He was quite proud of himself and flashed a huge smile.  Snap!  Got it!  Drew it for the talent show:

Unfortunately I’m an idiot and didn’t listen to anyone when I was told 100 times to bring my pencils and sketch book.  I figured this would be unwanted weight and space-taker-upers when I will only use it maybe once.  Considering I was tool-less I took a pen used for my journal and begged one of our facilitators for some blank paper.

It all turned out in the end.  When I presented the photo at the talent show four girls burst into tears and Jacob himself, tough Maasai Warrior fought the emotion of such a gift.

Jacob told one of my friends later in the night that he planned on keeping the drawing his whole life.


Music to My Ears

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

I know some very creative and talented people!  Most of these people are talented musically.  I have been to more band shows than I could count.  I even have a playlist on my iPhone titled ‘Friends’.  I usually listen to this when I’m away from home, as it reminds me of the amazing community I have to come back to.

One of the first bands I remember not only supporting, but really loving their music (you go to a lot of concerts at the request of friends, but don’t always enjoy the music) is Treelight Room.  Treelight Room only lasted a couple of years and released one album, which I still listen to these days.  Still love it.  Though Treelight Room is no longer together the members of these bands have moved onto other bands that are still just as good and better!

Treelight Room was made up of three people, two guys and a girl.  The girl is Jocelyn and I knew here during her years before bands when she use to quietly play a piano at a camp we worked at together.  I remember sneaking in on her and requesting quite profusely for her to play me just one little song.  Loved those days.

This is Jocelyn.  This is also one of the first portrait drawings I did of someone I knew.  It’s pretty smudged, as it’s been around a while, but when I look at it I can hear the beautiful music Jocelyn is capable of creating!  It’s good to have reminders in your life of the people around you.

Jocelyn is now touring with the Jordan Klassen Band and is just as talented as ever.  In case you were curious, the two boys from Treelight Room are now apart of a band called Nuuka and will be releasing their first album in early September!  I am very excited to purchase this album and add it to my Friends playlist!


Posted: July 19, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

I have been working with youth and mentoring youth for roughly ten years.  This year the last of the youth I have chosen to be committed to are graduating, or should I say graduated.  It has been an incredible season of my life.  Years of volunteer work.  I have loved doing this and having it be apart of my life.  Though I have stepped back in many ways I am still committed to my girls when they need me.

Volunteering has been such a huge aspect of my life and this year I am receiving an earthly reward for it all.  In three weeks I will be heading on a trip to Kenya to volunteer my time with and organization that has been investing in the community for years!  The best part is that the whole trip is being paid for – it’s a gift.

Life is full of amazing seasons.  Some are bad, some are good, some are harder than others and some you just embrace with both hands.  It does feel that one season of my life is ending and a new one beginning and I am ready to embrace it!

I’m graduating!

– Photo of Jasmine.  One of the girls I am committing my love and time to, whenever she needs it!





Posted: March 14, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

Recently I saw a presentation at my work regarding Midway island.  Known in the past as to where a vital battle took place in the Pacific war of World War II.  Today it is a bird sanctuary to that of the very large albatross.  The documentary focused its attention on what is known as the “garbage island” in the Pacific.  Due to masses amounts of garbage being dumped in tho ocean each year the albatross have begun feeding on the plastic found.  100’s of albatross die each year due to plastic intake.  The videographers making this film have taken pictures of dead birds on the ground who’s insides are literally full of plastic; not the kind of plastic you might be expecting either.  Plastic in the way of lighters, toothbrush handles, Lego and baby toys.  It was pretty shocking.  You might be asking yourself what this has to do with MacArthur.

After this documentary I had a desire to brush up on my history of the Pacific war.  Being more in the mind of the rest of the world, my interests about WWII lead more towards Europe and Hitlers advances.  Thanks to Netfilx brushing up on pretty well anything has been made super easy.  I found a 23 episode documentary called The Crusade in the Pacific and I highly recommend it.  This documentary consisted of newsreel footage and footage taken right from the field of soldiers who were responsible for documenting all that happened.  I was quite taken with the whole thing.

This documentary talked a lot about General Douglas MacArthur.

Taken from WikiGeneral of the Army Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964) was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign. Arthur MacArthur, Jr., and Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to each be awarded the medal. He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.

He officially accepted Japan’s surrender on 2 September 1945, and oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951.

Upon seeing General Douglas MacArthur in the documentary with his magnificent pipe I knew I had to draw him, so today I did just that:

It took me quite a while to get his face just right.  I found I kept squishing his face upwards, which just looked plain wrong.  After watching MacArthur (the real MacArthur not some actor) through The Crusade in the Pacific I felt quite a connection to him and his work in fighting the war and eventually and personally accepting Japan’s surrender.  Being such a long documentary as well you almost feel as though you walked through  bit of their journey with them.

Being that it is quite an old picture the texture of his face appears rougher than it probably is.  In saying this, I enjoyed drawing the contrast of the rough surface of his face against his aviators, hat and shirt.  Here is a closer look:

To get the rough surface I used the side of an 8B and 4B pencil on top of a smudged and shaded surface.  His glasses, hat and shirt are all rubbed down quite a bit with a paper smudge.  I’m pretty happy with the results of both.

Now that I have brushed up on my history of this war I am looking to watch the mini series The Pacific and will look forward to ‘Hollywood’s’ interpretation of the stories lived.

If you are interested in the documentary regarding the albatross birds and the work of the “Midway Journey” documentary, please visit their Facebook page.  I highly recommend reading up on their word and looking for a launch date of their film:

If this link doesn’t work, please search Midway Journey in Facebook.

Bringing People Together

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

Often when I draw I like to make it an event.  I spend a bit of time looking for that perfect picture, gather my supplies and head to a local coffee shop with the intentions of staying a long time.  Usually I do this in the winter.  Cabin fever kicks in and the thought of a hot latte I didn’t make kicks me out.

People are a lot friendlier than we give them credit.  The whole idea of “Stranger Danger” is great for a five year old in a playground; however, adults tend to apply this safe-guard when it’s not always needed.  Nearly every time I have drawn in public I meet someone.

When I drew the above there was a group of people sitting outside the window I was drawing at.  I could tell they were constantly watching my progress on the drawing and this made me nervous.  Not in the ‘Stranger Danger’ sense, but I felt a need to get each thing right.  Near the end of my time there one of the guys from the group came in.  He was in a wheelchair and commented on how talented I was.  He asked me where I got my inspiration from and began to tell me he was also an artist who got inspiration from his travels.  I asked him where he had been and he began telling me of one of his adventures; hitchhiking across the USA and yes, he was in a wheelchair during this adventure.  I bet his story would make an amazing film, but you would have no idea that story was there unless you asked.

I remember an Oprah show once that talked about peoples stories, complete strangers around you who had tales that could win Academy Awards.  The guy Oprah was interviewing on this subject would take phone books, point to random people, call them up and whoever answered the phone got to have a biography on them filmed and aired.  At the end of the show they set up a dartboard of the setting chart of her audience.  The guy Oprah was interviewing threw a dart at the board and the seat it marked had a segment on their story in the following weeks.

I remember the guy who was selected was originally from Africa and had a heart wrenching story of slavery and war. I can’t remember a lot of details and don’t want to attempt to write them from memory to ruin his story, but you get the idea.  Just think about that the next time you are sitting in a coffee shop.  Who exactly is sitting next to you?

Oh Brother

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Pencil Sketches, Portraits

How many of you out there have a brother?
Yeah me too

How many of you out there got sat on by your brother?
Yeah me too

How many of you out there got spanked for something your brother made you do?
Yeah me too

How many of you made your brother’s nose bleed?
Yeah me too

How many of you banged on your brother’s door screaming you hated him?
Yeah me too

How many of you broke something of your brother’s and he got really mad?
Yeah me too

How many laughed with your brother until you cried?
Me too

How many have trusted your brother with a deep secret?
Me too

How many threatened to get your big brother if you continued to be picked on?
Me too

Cried with their brother?

Consider their brother to be one of their best friends?

Couldn’t imagine having to go through something tough without their brother?

Love their brother to death?


My brother: