Of all the trolls and creatures to haunt my sketchbook collections, there are few real world animals which feature in those pages like owls. They began making an appearance back in 2011’s The Hidden People and have worked their way on to a few more pages over the years.

The shapes, the eyes, their mythic status in many cultures across time; for all these reasons and more I enjoy studying and drawing them.

By structuring each series on a theme I give myself a framework to build upon, a place to iterate ideas and explore the various angles as I turn the theme over in my mind. My 2020 sketchbook was no exception, of course, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that as it’s all trolls and creatures there’s the theme. I certainly thought so. What do I mean? Well, there’s the glimpses of the different creatures and general sense of the world contained within the sketchbook, ah, that’s the cohesive theme holding it together. And that works for me. With this collection that’s about as far as I planned it, truthfully. Now, I don’t think that’s wrong, by any means. I like for these “themes” to be as loose as is useful for me. I never want to be so rigid that the notion of a theme feels like a trap. I’ve found that they lend the most when used as a kind of scaffolding, a place to hang ideas.

But as it usually happens, once the sketchbook is done and off the printer and I’ve had to time to consider just what did I get up to with it all, other ideas that were just below the surface start to crop up. Thoughts I hadn’t directly planned but are just in the water supply, so to speak.

A set of secondary themes that I’ve only just recently picked up on in Glimmer are interest and nurture. Put another way I think you could explain it as actively passing on knowledge. Not every piece embodies this of course, going back to my preference for loose themes, but it’s there for several.

Once such piece features this little fledgling.

After the sketchbook was complete I went back, finished the drawing for this little one, and painted it up.

In the spirit of passing on knowledge, for what it’s worth, here’s a look at the steps which lead me to the colored work.

From coloring under the lines at the beginning to then building up highlights before laying down some unifying washes of color, it’s a simple digital process. A method which I’ve worked to streamline over the years and one that most always treats me well.

Here’s hoping that as we move towards the end of the year (I can’t believe it!) and the holidays you are able to find plenty with which to nurture, learn, and inspire.