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4 (Book posts are delayed)

February 23, 2021

The Texas weather took me away from home, I’m afraid. Of course I did carry drawing tools with me so I managed to get three decent preliminary page sketches done. Unfortunately, the plan for this project keeps changing and I’m not comfortable posting a page at this point. What I will do is post an image from a future page to make up for it.


February 8, 2021

I admit I could hardly believe my eyes that day, but I trust what my eyes see and I do believe what they show me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chirping birds, the rustle of leaves and the skitter of little things moving in the grass were all part of my childhood. My grandfather taught me how to listen to all the sounds the forest makes and how to see things that were different so I could walk in the forest safely.

He said there were predators there and he taught me to use a sharpened stick as a spear and how to use a knife. He also showed me how to use his sword. He said my father would have wanted it to be that way.

I often went walking in the woods, to hear the sounds and see what might be new.


February 1, 2021

I grew up in a stone cottage at the edge of the forest. My grandfather had built it as a young man when he and my grandmother began their life together. I never knew my parents. My grandfather told me they had died in a great war shortly after I was born. My grandparents are gone now, but I still live in that old cottage.

Finding Katya

January 25, 2021


Finding Katya began as a graphic novel, basically a story in a comic book format. Almost all of it has been sketched together in pencil form with very rough draft text. When the ink work started I found that ruling all the panels, drawing speech bubbles with leaders and drawing at least six illustrations per page was going to be tough for these 77 year old eyes. That’s a lot of precise inking. I decided to go with fewer illustrations per page and make them larger. Gouache seemed like a good idea, like little paintings. After a few of those, my detail work didn’t meet my expectations. I went back to ink and watercolor (mostly). I took a look at some of my favorite books and comics. Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee stood out, as did Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant pages. I am no Brian Froud or Hal Foster, but I’m using some of their approaches to put this projet together. Some things are very likely to change as we go along. What I’ll post here will be a mixture of edited second draft and unedited first draft as it is written. A lot of the art may change. The final work, some months and possibly a couple of years, down the road is intended to be printed in a 6″ x 9″ book format.

I’m having fun. I hope you will enjoy going on this journey with me.

~Ralph Parker

^ ^ ^

In the days of the Great Forests, people built their houses and their villages on the edges of the woods, often building under the trees, but close enough to the open grasslands to enjoy the sunshine and plant gardens. They ventured into the woods to gather edible foliage and fruit, to hunt game, and to cut logs to use for building.

They didn’t often go very deep into the forest. Sometimes stories were told about people hearing what sounded like voices, almost like whispers, speaking but never quite understood. Most people laughed at those stories, saying those who told them were imagining things, that the sounds of the trees overhead were playing tricks on them. Although my mother had told some of those stories to me as a child, as I grew older I became one of those who laughed.

And then one day I discovered those voices were real.

My name is William Sawyer and this is my story.

Here We Go Again

January 24, 2021

Yeah, I know. Incosistent. Short attention span. All that. And here I am, after another absence and another change. I’m surprised any of you are still with me. On a positive note, I just celebrated my 77th birthday and I’m still going.

Here’s where we are:

This image appears a bit into the early part of the book, but it’s representative of how I’ve decided to go with the artwork. Yes, it’s ink and watercolor. It’s the medium I’m most comfortable with. Here’s another:

Here’s a potential two page spread:

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an image so hopefully these are a decent size. I’m making some progress although slowly. I’m toying with the idea of posting excerpts as the pages develop but I’m not sure where to do that. Here on WordPress? Instagram?

We all know I’m not good at posting regularly on multiple applications so it’s important to make the right decision. I’ve also sought advice on Facebook.

What do you think?

Illustrated Story vs Graphic Novel

October 9, 2020

Yep, it’s been a long time, but I’ve been working on a long-range project and things change. For years, the main focus of this blog was the use of gouache. It even spawned a book about gouache: However, if there are any of you left who read the blog in the past, you know that I have a tendency to wander into different artistic territory from time to time, exploring different media and different subject matter.

For many months now, I have been working on a graphic novel, which has taken most of my attention. I did a lot of research into comic art and techniques and getting my pen and ink hand back. I have a 3 ring binder with over 130 pages of comic style story sketches in pencil. It’s all in sketch form, although there are a lot of practice and test pages in full ink and watercolor. A lot of work.

And the more I did the more I wondered if I have the temperament to sustain the work that needs to be done. When I combine that with the small, detailed work that pen & ink requires for this project, I’m questioning whether there is another way.

I spent several years learning to paint with gouache, developing my own techniques and styles because at the time, I found very few examples of people using it. Today there are a ton of people using it. I do miss painting. Yes, I love pencil and pen & ink, but my style of ink is very time-consuming and produces a lot of eye fatigue. Gouache has some distinct advantages for my project. I can screw up as much as I want and still make corrections. I can alter colors to change moods. I can make changes in figures and faces and clothing and a whole bunch of things without having to start over.

At the moment, I’m shifting my approach a bit, moving toward an illustrated book rather than a graphic novel, producing larger images with less detail and text on the facing page. Or some variation of that. Maybe I’ll find a way to mix different sizes and media on the same page.. We shall see. In addition, I’ve ordered James Gurney’s book Imaginative Realism for inspiration.

The experiment continues.

A New Outlet

September 3, 2019

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We make the drive from our place in Liberty Hill, just west of Georgetown, to Mason and San Angelo periodically.  The town of Burnet is on the route, right on Highway 29 and every time we’ve passed through Burnet over the last year, we’v commented on a store called Ritzy Texan, saying we ought to stop some day and check it out.  The show windows indicated an interesting shop with unusual crafty things.;

About a week ago, we decided to make the half hour drive up to Burnet.  It was a hot day, but good for a drive and we wanted to get out.  It turned out to be a serendipitous decision.  We found a spacious store filled with a wide range of home decor items, nice crafts, and lots of art of all kinds.

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We visited with Sandi Holt, one of the owners and inquired about how they select their artists.  That conversation led to a meeting the very next Saturday in the store’s back office with Sandi and\Debbie Denison.  They had already had access to my website at and we brought a wide range of work with us to the meeting, everything from gouache and acrylic paintings to whimsical ink & watercolor drawings to a tub full of our little framed mini art.  They liked what they saw, kept all of the minis and sent us home with a list of paintings and drawings to be framed.  Debbie was already brainstorming how they might group similar pieces together on shelves and walls.


I was especially delighted that a couple of my coastal pieces will be displayed.  I didn’t really know if they would play well in the Texas hill country, but apparently the store has a lot of customers with weekend beach homes.  We have two large acrylic landscapes,  well over a dozen small paintings, as well as colorful drawings that will be headed for the store later this week.

Proof once more that you’re never too old to find a niche somewhere.

Sketches from Photographs

July 24, 2019

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For the last couple of weeks I’ve mostly relaxed, spent time with family and done a little work on my website at I did pull out the pens and watercolors the last couple of days and did a little doodling from photographs. We’ll be home next week and I’ll get back to the big “mural” paintings among other things.

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I’ll probably play with a couple of these a bit more, adding a bit more color variety.  I enjoy this kind of work, and with years of travel photos, I have plenty of images to work with.


The Studio

June 26, 2019

Very often when I post photos of painting being done in the RV, I tend to crop the photos quite a bit.  But that doesn’t really give an idea of how much space I’m actually using.  Here are some photos that show a little more.

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For this project, I’m using the french easel.  I have two old large bath towels that I put down to protect from spills and drips.  I’m a pretty neat painter, so that’s not a big issue, but you can bet that the first time I don’t put the towels down, I’ll drop something really colorful.  And since I’m using acrylics, that would not be good.  On the left side of the leather rocker where I sit is a slideout with a small desk, and wall-mounted TV with a cabinet below.  I’ve tried a lot of different arrangements, but this one seems to be working best.  The laptop with reference photos sits on the desk.


Working with the 30″ x 40″ camvas can fill up some space in an RV, but when one has a very understanding and supportive spouse, it can be done.  The dark blue chair at the desk faces the room for a reason.  It’s also covered with a towel, and when I want to get some distance between me and the painting I can set it on that chair and step back a reasonable distance to study it.


I’ve used a variety of mixing palettes over the years and at the moment I’ve reverted back to the aluminum pan.  Acrylics dry so fast that I’ve had a lot of wasted paint; this allows me to snap the cover on the pan and get a couple of days out of a blob of paint.  The box with all the paint tubes was rescued from an antique/junk shop for less than $20.  It’s solid wood and a bit heavy, but it holds far more paint than I thought it would.

The downside of painting in your living space is that things have to be closed up and put away when it’s time to just live life.  It’s a pain, but I’ve got it down to about a five minute process.  The most time-consuming thing is folding up the french easel legs.  All of this stuff fits under the desk when not in use.

The painting on the easel is about to be painted over and started again.  This is kind of painting is still new to me and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it fit my vision.  On the floor is the beginning of ideas for a second Star Wars panel.

I’m finding that I’m typically good for 3 to 4 hours of painting a day, although there are times when I’m focused and things are moving along and may spread several more hours over a day.  This is truly a major project for me.  It’s frustrating at times, but I’m enjoying discovering new capabilities.


Project Progress

June 17, 2019

I’m making progress on the second project painting.  I’m finding that getting the composition the way I want it in a painting like this takes some time.  Simple sketches only go so far because they don’t show how much visual space each object takes up.  That means an investment in time and paint to get the object laid in, then more time and paint to make changes.   Paint, repaint, repeat.  It isn’t finished, but at least we can see this one taking shape.


The project will reflect the interests and activities of the client family.  This painting touches on a very special trip they took with their young son.

The completed project will consist of  two rows of four paintings each.  With the first two paintings on the top row  well along, I now have to decide whether to start work on the bottom row or keep going with the top row.

Stay tuned.