All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Monday, November 5, 2007

Preparing for PiP

I will be focusing on preparing for the Pirates in Paradise festival, coming up at the end of Novermber.
For the near future, check out my blog of pirate art:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Birds, October '07

More Bird drawings.
Another one of Nikki from the field sketches the other day. He was so good and gave me a couple really good, long poses.
This is probably the most accurate scan out of all the pix posted. This is still in progress, and is still quite grainy and light.
The under sketch is Derwent Drawing 6300 Venetian Red:

Nikki 10/29/07
Prismacolor on Bainbridge 2000 Illustration Board, 5"x7"
I tried painting on the unprimed illustration board with acrylic. The results were hideous. So I primed a board and will try that next time.

I was beginning to like what was happening with the Prismacolor, so I tried this one on Canson paper. The color is pretty saturated. This is from yesterday's field sketches of Norman.
The under sketch is Derwent Drawing 6300 Venetian Red:
Norman 10/29/07
Prismacolor on Canson Mei-Teintes Cream paper, 8"x10"

I was so jazzed that I had to post this one.
After struggling with paintings, I decided to go 'back to basics' and return to my strength - drawing - to work on my drawing skills and gain a little momentum.
At the aviary yesterday, I used a Dark Umber to sketch Nikki and Sullivan (two Blue and Gold macaws.) Nikki was being a pill and climbing up the cage to get right in front of me so he could see what I was doing. He just stayed there watching me curiously for the majority of the time, so I got a good close-up of the details of the features of his face. About halfway through I began to fill in the various sections with light 'washes' of local color using the Prismacolor pencils. I liked the effect, as if the sections were 'stained' or dyed the local color.

Nikki 10/27/07 (from life)
Prismacolor on gray card stock, original 8.5" x 11"

This next one is still in progress. I decided to push this one of Nikki a little further, to develop the form and push the color saturation. I am fairly pleased with the results, kind of a cross between a line drawing and a full color form study.

Nikki 10/28/07 (composed from field sketches)
Prismacolor on beige card stock, 8.5" x 11"

Value studies

Yes, here they are. Mikey's infamous value spheres. They are everywhere, and they pop up randomly. It is the most direct way to test the working properties of a medium or surface.

Occasionally, I will do one just to tighten my chops, to stimulate my brain, or perhaps just to pass the time. Constructing a circle from scratch - by hand, with no drafting tools - is a good way to fire up my synapses and get the juices flowing.

This is a joy, nothing but pure form and light.

In these examples I am trying out the various colors of Derwent Drawing pencils on various papers:

The two colors yield very different surface qualities, yet they are the same brand, the same line, on the same piece of acid-free card stock.
The one on the left is Derwent Drawing #6300 Venetian Red. The one on the right is Derwent Drawing #66 Chocolate.
The Venetian Red has a grainier surface quality and the darks are punchier. The Chocolate has a finer surface quality with more subtlety in the lights, and the darks took much longer to build up. Quite the opposite of what I was expecting.

Here is the Venetian Red on parchment colored acid-free card stock. Ooooh, parchment:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Well scupper me uppers and blower me lowers!
I will be returning to the Pirates in Paradise Festival in Key West this year.
I will be selling my artwork and doing pirate portraits on location.
For a sample, I donned me ol' pirate bandana and had a go at it.

Prismacolor on beige paper, 5.5"x9"
30 minutes

Monday, October 15, 2007

Portraits 10/07

I have been working on this portrait for a while now, and finally had a breatkthrough.
The reference photo is from JoSchwab on THe original photo leans toward a very monochrome feel, and is pretty high contrast. I simply liked the pose and the feel of the piece, and all of the cool flesh colors in the shadows.

It seemed at the time that this would be fairly straightforward.
Ha-ha. Things are not always what they seem.

Here is my initial painting in acrylic, 11"x14". Some good things are happening, but the flesh tones are kinda pasty. Overall, the whole thing appears flat. In addition, it seemed I couldn't get the lights white enough.

I decided I needed to work on some color studies to get a handle on this one.
My friend Rose suggested I try a bright underpainting to give me something to bounce the colors off of.
Here are a few studies 4"x5"with a various underpainting colors:

Interesting, but the skin tones are still not happening as I would like. I decided I would have to liven up the flesh tones, even though the original photo was very cool and bluish, and almost washed out in the lights.

After some research and experimentation, I realized that I was pushing the colors too far to the extreme ends of the value scale. So I revisited and I found some simpler and more straightforward methods of mixing colors that resulted in a variety of warm, cool and neutral flesh tones.
The first one on the right was a step in the right direction, but still the flesh tones were dead and flat.
The second one on the left was better. Getting closer...

I realized that I needed to keep the colors closer in hue as well as value. A little bit goes a long way when it comes to flesh tones.

Here is the most recent study 4"x5":

BAM! Now we're talking!
This one is finally coming alive! It is such a rush when you get to the other side of a breakthrough. Finally, I feel like I can actually paint.

In the end, it is all about value, and small shifts in hue. There is no pure white nor pure black in this one.
This is quite a departure from the original photo. I need to go with what works for the painting and not be a slave to the reference. When all is said and done it may come back around and be quite a bit more like the original.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Projects from the Academy 1998-2004

I just stumbled upon pix of some of the projects from my studies at the Seattle Academy of Fine Art, now the Gage Academy in Seattle, WA.

Shannon 2001.
Graphite on Strathmore 400 Series paper.
Original 18x24" (image cropped)

Sonnia 2001.
Oil on canvas, 16x20".
This piece won honorable mention in the 2001 show.

Rachel 2002
Charcoal on Strathmore paper, 19x24"
One of my first forays from graphite into charcoal.
("Welcome to the dark side, T-Dog.")

DK Pan 2002.
Charcoal on Fabriano Igres paper, 18x24"
A fascinating model.
This piece won Best in Show in 2002.

Mary Reclining 2002.
Charcoal on Fabriano Ingres paper, 18x24"
This is one of my favorite pieces. Mary was an awesome model.

St. Francis 2003
Charcoal on Fabriano Ingres paper, 16x20"
Oh, the troubles this one gave me. It was damaged and had to be repaired 3 times between starting and completion; twice to the point of near destruction, and the final time by the framer who was mortified and apologetic. As I picked up a piece of charcoal and began the repair, I looked up nonchalantly and said "You know, I'm getting pretty good at fixing this drawing."

Skulley2, 2004.
This begun as a demonstration of the 'rub out' technique, and turned into a full-out 'challenge' between myself and Yumiko, one of my mates in Juliette's Classical Atelier program.

Apollo 2004.
Chracoal on Fabriano Ingres paper, 18x24"
My final piece of 2004, which won 1st place in the Still Life category.
This is the piece I am working on in the photo at right.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sanford Zoo 09/07

Sanford Zoo 09/28/07
Another visit to the Central Florida Zoological Park. This time we got up close and personal, a BIG thanks to the staff at the zoo.
Nothing can compare with the animal being right in front of you while you sketch. You have so much more to draw from, and can capture more of the essence of these magnificent creatures.

Ara is a Green-Winged Macaw:

A cool Iguana:

I loved the eyes on this Great Horned Owl:

A beautiful young female Bald Eagle:

This beautiful Amur Leopard had an awesome expression and penetrating eyes:


Today I went to the Sanford Zoo with some artist friends. It was awesome! I must go back.

Here are some of the sketches.

A Caracal:

I liked the light on this elephant behind a fence.

A couple of Bald Eagles. The dark one must have been young.

A few studies of the Coati. These guys are awesome.

Landscapes and Skies 09/07

After trying watercolor and discovering how much fun it is, in addition to being a great medium for skies, I decided to do regular 'sky studies.'
I was originally going to do "a sky a day" for the month, but... sometimes it rains.
I am aiming for 3-4 skies per week. I will post as many of them as I think are worth showing.



This evening's sky was superb. 09/14/07

Here is my first. 09/08/07

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wildlife 09/07

Starky (my favorite dolphin at Sea World Orlando) critiques a sketch.
Photo by Loran Wlodarski


Study for "Out of the Deep - Brown Shark"
Charcoal on Fabriano Ingres paper, 6" x 10"
Reference: sketches from life of brown sharks.

Horse Study, Charcoal on Fabriano Ingres paper, 8"x10" 2 hrs.

I loved the way the light was playing across the form of this noble Andalusian.

This study used the 'lift-out' method: covering the surface with charcoal dust, adding the darks with vine charcoal, and lifting out the highlights with a kneaded eraser.

I learned a valuable lesson about fixative. Too many coats will take away the lights, almost as if a fine gray was sprayed over the whole image.

Still, I like the drawing. It’s times like these that I remember how much I love charcoal.

The light glints off a polar bear swimming in the frigid waters of the Arctic.
Derwent HB, 2B, 4B on Canson 50 lb sketch, 4"x8"

Back to my roots and an old favorite, graphite.

FIgures 09/07

Figure Study; Charcoal, 8"x10", 120 Min
This piece uses the 'lift-out' method, where I put down a layer of charcoal, laid in the darks with vine charcoal, then lifted the highlights out with a kneaded eraser.

I liked the way the planes of the torso alternately turned toward, then away from the light, and this was one of the main things I wanted to capture.

The point of this exercise was to refrain from putting in detail, and to get the image to ‘read’ correctly, with subtle shifts in value – as if seen from a distance or through squinted eyes. I got the idea when I was looking at a sketch after taking out my contact lenses.

Reference: Original Photo by surfrat13

Study Paintings 05/07-08/07

Here is a series of quick study paintings. The point of the exercise is to get the important aspects on the canvas in a short time.

Horse Study; Acrylic, 8"x10" 45 min

Deer Study; Acrylic 8"x10", 60 min

Pirate Still Life Study, Acrylic, 4"x5", 20 min.

Sea Scape Study, 6"x10", 30 min.

Kingdom Of Heaven Study, 8"x10", 60 min.
From the movie Kingdom of Heaven. I loved the costuming and scenery in this movie.

Still Life Cups Study; 4"x5", 15 min.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Caricatures '07



Classic Clint
Pastel and Conte on beige paper, 12"x16"

Megan ("M-Bot")
Pastel and Conte on beige paper, 12"x16"

Some NFL Linebacker
Pastel and Conte on beige paper, 12"x16"

Couldn't resist this pic of BIggy Big
Pastel & Conte on beige paper, 12"x16"

Dig that Rappa cap.
Pastel & Conte on beige paper, 12"x16"


Dino's Dad
Markette Marker with Prismacolor Art Stix on 20 lb Bond


My buddy Regis. Love da hat.
Markette Marker on 20 lb bond, 12"X16"

A guest at the park.
Markette Marker on 20 lb bond, 12"X16"