“The Red Path”

By Annie Stegg Gerard

Oil on Panel

18 x 24 inches

Today I am pleased to share with you the follow-up post to my previous Muddycolors entry on my “Plague of Dragons” series with Annie!  The framed painting debuted (and sold) at DragonCon in Atlanta last weekend.

It was based off a small pastoral sketch I drew while watching my children. I have been slowly amassing a collection of these small sketches drawn in between larger projects and while baby-sitting. They are done freehand, with no reference, and based entirely on memory.  (Okay, so the dragons *might* not have been there at the time, but I have a pretty poor memory, so who can really say?)

Each of these pencil drawings is only 4 x 6 inches. They are what you might call, “art-under-the-circumstances.” And the circumstances are wild! My wife and I both work full time painting and drawing, and while our children are awake, we also watch the children! Sometimes alone and sometimes together, and this means that some days I simply can’t work on larger paintings (unless I’m feeling particularly risky).

This means our children see us working a lot. And we love what we do, so we can’t really blame them when they see us having fun collaborating on a painting and they want to join in as well…

A Surprise Collaboration

So… I’m nearly finished with my drawing and it’s lunch time. My toddlers are playing with blocks next to me. I turned around from the kitchen table to pop down some toast, and somehow in that brief space of time, one of the boys had managed to cross the room, silent as a ninja, climb onto my chair, grab the pencil and proudly say, “Look Dadda! Look Dadda! Look Dadda!” …as he furiously scribbled all over my drawing, making sure to bore hard down into the paper, adding his personal flourish and what I believe may also have been a signature. 

It was a low point for me. But a happy one too, as I am excited too see him so excited to draw. And in general, while there have been a few drawings killed-in-action like this one, they usually go very well and I have had a lot of fun drawing while the kids color with crayons or play with play-dough next to me.

The trick to working while baby-sitting is to have a very compact and mobile setup!

The key features to my setup are a lightweight clipboard, mechanical pencils or hard lead pencils (that don’t require sharpening), an eraser stick, a heavy bristol paper that can stand up to repeated abuse, an oversized rubber band for holding things in place, and a willingness to drop the drawing at a moments notice when needed.

If you can get a good retractable mechanical pencils that’s a bonus as well, as they may help prevent any surprise collaborations.

Each of these mini-landscapes will be featured in my upcoming sketchbook (hopefully later this year!) And will also be displayed (along with several more) at Illuxcon later this year.

While the circumstances can be tough, I only lost 1 out of the 30 that I’ve made so far. That’s a pretty good ratio all things considered. So I hope this post doesn’t scare any of you who are artists-and-soon-to-be-parents out there. I love collaborating with my family on paintings and I hope that as our kids get older we can do less surprise collaborations, and more planned ones instead.