Obituary for Mark Perez

As many of you already know, my wonderful partner Mark died suddenly last week while in Texas on business. So many have asked for funeral details that I will post his obituary here. Thank you for the hundreds of kind messages that have arrived over the past few days — they have been a deep source of comfort and encouragement.

Donald Mark Perez, 53, passed away unexpectedly February 16, 2018, in Dallas, Texas. He was born December 24, 1964, in Mobile, Alabama, to Donald Edward Perez and Carole Moncada Perez.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where his quick wit and warm personality led to lifelong friendships with his brothers in Delta Chi.

He was successful in a number of careers. As a young man, he combined his love of the culinary arts with his talent for organization to staff and develop new Cracker Barrel restaurants across the southeast. Later, Mark returned to his hometown and joined his father to become a custom homebuilder. He served on the board of the Home Builders Association of Metro Mobile. Most recently, he worked as an insurance adjuster for Worley Claims Services.

Mark loved his family, his friends and his community, and was always generous with his time and talents. He organized culinary workshops and taught them in his own kitchen. He was a founder of Mobile SketchCrawl, a quarterly public arts event that continues to grow and thrive, and Postcards from the Gulf, an international arts fundraiser to help with disaster recovery. Mark was happiest when he was helping someone else.

Preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Cynthia M. Perez, Mark is survived by his partner, Val Webb of Foley; stepdaughters, Hannah Milne (Joe); Nissa Gordon (Ricky); Zarah Webb; and five grandchildren.

He also leaves two sisters, Karen Perez Leonardo (Joe) of Tampa, Florida; and Kathy Perez Baker (Patrick) of Memphis, Tenn.; nephews Greggory J. Leonardo of Elmhurst, Illinois; Matthew J. Leonardo of Boston, Mass.; Kevin Baker (Noelle) of Waco, Texas; and nieces Allison Baker of Dallas, Texas; and Laura Baker of New York, New York.

Funeral services will be Monday, February 26, 2018, at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, 308 East 22nd Avenue, Gulf Shores, Alabama. Visitation will be at 9:45 am. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in memory of Mark at 10:30am, and burial will follow at Pine Rest Cemetery in Foley.  A reception will be held afterward at The Gift Horse Restaurant, 209 W. Laurel Avenue, Foley.

Mark also will be missed by his rescue dog, Atticus. Memorial donations may be made to Mobile SPCA, 620 Ziegler Circle West, Mobile, Alabama, 36608.

Bird, Butterfly, Botanical art courses $40


Never had an art class before? That’s fine — I’ll provide step-by-step videos and illustrated printable pages to get you started on your way. Now is a perfect time to jump in: through Sunday, I’m having a $40 Flash Sale on any course about birds, butterflies or botanicals.

You can choose from the following courses, work at your own pace (take up to a full year) and get unlimited instructor feedback:

  • Birds in Watercolor & Beyond
  • Birds in Colored Pencil
  • Draw Owls: Designed for the Dark
  • 8 Flowers 8 Ways
  • Heirloom Garden in Colored Pencil
  • Botanical Sketchbook Painting
  • Draw and Paint 6 Culinary Herbs
  • NEW! Vintage Postcard Birds & Butterflies

Click here for full descriptions and supply list info.



After my mom died, I dug up these sedums from her back yard and planted them in mine. She got them from her grandmother, who got them from HER grandmother’s perennial garden planted before the Civil War.

I hope my young grandchildren will pass them along one day. Year after year, they emerge full of life and promise from the bare winter soil.



Prepping for the new course…

Project 1 demo

Red Helen butterfly in progress

We’re experiencing record cold (along with the rest of the nation) this week, but that’s okay.  Armed with plenty of hot tea, I’m hunkered down in the warm studio, preparing material for my upcoming online course.

Vintage Postcard Birds and Butterflies is different from anything I’ve offered before: we’ll recycle wonderful old postcards as canvases for tiny paintings. The course includes a “Basic Skills Bootcamp” session with video tutorials on drawing birds and butterflies, but participants can also choose to forgo sketching and simply transfer a reference image directly to their postcard before adding layered paint and colored pencil (transfer instructions are provided, too).

There is something slightly mysterious about old postcards. Their messages provide a tiny glimpse of someone’s daily life, lived many years ago. Old handwriting and old stamps create a lovely, slightly faded background for the rich colors of gouache and colored pencil.

I can’t wait to share these projects!

Click here to find out more.

Happy drawing,



NEW! Vintage Postcard Birds & Butterflies mini-course

POSTCARD thickbilled parrotPOSTCARD swallowtail

Birds & Butterflies on Vintage Postcards
Mini-course (Five 1-hour video lessons + 12 printable pages)
4 Vintage postcards included $55

Buy Now Button

Create artwork inspired by the lovely nature journals of Victorian explorers. We’ll start with stamped and postmarked vintage postcards, then add gouache (opaque watercolor) and colored pencil for unique portraits of favorite bird and butterfly species. Keep your video access for a full year from your start date.

What information does the course cover?

Using step-by-step instruction delivered in five 45-minute video lessons, plus 12 full-color printable pdf pages, you’ll learn:

  • Design principles to plan your postcard art
  • Basic science drawing techniques to draw your subject OR
  • A simple method to transfer your reference image with no drawing needed
  • How to paint black butterflies and how to paint light-colored butterflies
  • Painting closeup views of birds’ heads and painting whole birds
  • Brushstrokes and pencil strokes that create realistic textures
  • How to layer and blend gouache and colored pencil
  • How to mix colors with confidence
  • Fun and interesting choices for background shading
  • Tips for shading birds’ eyes and butterflies’ wing patterns
  • Ideas for framing or displaying your finished postcard

What supplies do I need?

The course is designed with a very modest, basic supply list. If you have previously taken an online course with me, you already have some (or possible all!) of the supplies. Click here for the list:

Postcard Course Supply List

Where do I get vintage postcards?

Wherever you are in the world, I will mail you two stamped and postmarked vintage postcards (for painting) and two additional blank vintage postcards (for practicing). If you fall in love with postcard art and decide you want more, you will be able to order them on my website.

Where do I get reference images of butterflies and birds?

A large collection of high-resolution, color reference photos will be posted on our course website. All images will be licensed for our use, so you may freely download them for the class or you are welcome to use your own images, if you prefer.

What if I only want to paint butterflies? Do I have to paint birds, too?

You are completely free to choose your projects. Only butterflies (or only birds) will be fine. Do what makes you happiest.

How does the course work?

All lessons, videos and printables will be located on a private, password-protected website. When you sign up, I will email the site link and password to you.

The course will open on January 20, and when you open the site after that date you will have immediate access to all the course material. You may access the site anytime and work at your own pace. Unlimited instructor guidance and feedback is available by email.

There will also be a private Facebook group for the course, which is completely optional. It’s a place to share comments, links and images with others taking the course around the world.


Free printable: Sketching Coyotes

coyote printable

A few years ago, I was up early having coffee on my back porch when my eye caught a slight movement in the tall grass at the edge of the pasture. A coyote trotted out into the yard, moving steadily toward some destination only she knew. She cut across the lawn, passing within 15 feet of me, and continued silently on her way.

I live in a rural area where coyote sightings are common. Increasingly, however, they show up in the heart of the city — and thrive there. Coyote pups born in an urban environment have a survival rate five times higher than rural coyotes. It’s not usual to hear the eerie nighttime howling of Canis latrans in city parks and neighborhoods.

Related to wolves, foxes and dogs, the coyote is roughly the size of a whippet. In sketching a coyote, be careful not to draw him moving as a dog moves. In motion, nearly everything about the coyote is different from his domesticated cousin: the coyote moves with head and tail low, looking more like a fox than a dog.

We’ll approach our coyote sketches by putting special emphasis on the dynamic line, an invisible meridian that runs from a point between the ears, along the spine to the tip of the tail. Any time you draw four-legged animals in motion, the range of movement starts at the dynamic line. Get this line correct, and your pose will be natural and accurate.

Click to download a printable page of sketch tips and two sets of licensed reference images:

Coyote Sketches

REF Coyote 1

REF Coyote 2

Get my other free nature drawing printables here:




Free Printable for Kids: Mystery Animals

mystery animal photo

This week is Thanksgiving, and young artists will need something to do while the turkey and pumpkin pie are baking. Grab a pencil and any sheet of paper and draw a mystery animal! This is especially fun if one person (an adult?) reads the directions, step by step, so that the animal’s identity is unknown until the very end. Happy drawing!

Click to download two Mystery Animal pages:

Mystery Animal Horse

Mystery Animal Lion