Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Another year is drawing to a close and that means it's time for Christmas; which left me in a pickle as to what I should do for presents. I realized it's been a long while since I had drawn Princess Diana of Themyscira (normal folks may be more acquainted with her as Wonder Woman) for my mother, so I figured there was no time like the present!

Oil on canvas. 24" x 36".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blagards to the bone!

"We're seven drunken pirates, we're the seven deadly sins!"

Ever since I read the Divine Comedy in high school I've wanted to illustrate the seven deadly sins. Truth be told they're always so grim and bleak; they can be real downers! So I wanted to do something different and have fun with them, and thanks to a little inspiration from Flogging Molly, I think fun is what I got.

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride; can you find them all?

Oil on linen. 42 1/2" x 23 3/4"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Coming soon!

Sail away where no ball and chain
Can keep us from the roarin' waves
Together undivided but forever we'll be free.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Muad'Dib has a Posse

Warm up for the day. Recently finished reading Dune so it was kind of on my mind.

Oil on canvas paper. ~ 11 x 14

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I took a little vacation down to Monterey, and the only thing I really cared about packing to take with me were my painting supplies. I didn't know if I was going to have time enough to set up and paint, but I knew I was going to try to find the time. As luck would have it, I found the time. So, I climbed out onto the rocks in Pacific Grove and set up my kit.

Painted in Pacific Grove looking out over Monterey Bay towards Seaside.

Oil on panel. 11" x 14"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homo Geomyidae

A friend of mine recently graduated from the local "digital arts" college with aspirations of being a modeler (for video games and movies and the like). Among the tools that he was constantly blabbing about was a program called ZBrush. What made it stick out in my mind was him telling me one day, in a very matter-of-fact way, that I'd probably love said program. Well, for whatever reason I dismissed it entirely; probably not wanting to dedicate any more time learning the in's and out's of a newfangled computer program. He did mention that it was a lot like sculpting with clay, so I probably dismissed it because I'd rather sit down with an actual clump of clay to make something happen.

With that being said however, something came over me the other night and I actually looked into
what this program could do. Admittedly I was blown away. So I got my hands on a trial version of the program and started playing around. After about half an hour of hacking away at the preloaded sphere, this is what I came up with - Gopher Boy. I'm pretty sure I'll be experimenting a lot with this program in the coming days, weeks, and months; I'm equally sure that I'll be sharing some of the more precious gems here, with you. Until then, happy painting. Or drawing. Or sculpting with digital clay.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Art as a Science: Part 2

Continuing the exploration of medium versus surface - this time around the medium changed. Last time galkyd was my medium, this time around it's a concoction that I read about that supposedly what J.C. Leyendecker used. Again, all four paintings are oil on linen canvas with the same variation in surface treatments applied. Like the last round, I think the third and fourth panels were the best surfaces to work on, with the second taking a close second. In last place would be panel number one, which is just way too rough (almost like painting on rough sandpaper) for my tastes.

I introduced another condition to these tests this time around; I didn't work on any single one for more than an hour. It forced me to make snap decisions and not get too precious with the results - plus it just lets me get more done (and information collected) in a shorter amount of time. To that end I really limited my palette for this go; titanium white, ivory black, yellow ochre, and cadmium red. The interesting thing I glimpsed was how versatile that limited palette is.

Now that my samples on linen are complete, I plan on trying out the same set up on four different surfaces; heavy weight cotton canvas, light weight cotton canvas, canvas paper, and illustration board. Based on what I know, I think heavy weight cotton duck will be a similar surface to the linen, but I'm curious as to how it differs exactly. Hopefully I'll be getting those done in the next couple of weeks.

See you next time, I've got sketches to finish.

All paintings: Oil on linen. 5" x 5".

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A friend of mine decided to learn how to make his very own little Moleskine journals, and was gracious enough to ask if I wanted one and if I had any special requests for it. Well, it was just too good to pass up to have a custom little Moleskine; my only request was that it have a medium-dark grey paper. A few weeks after having made the request (and having forgotten about it entirely) it arrived in the mail and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. As I was in love with doing casein studies at the time I decided to start painting in the book right away. The paper that he found performed marvelously! It's heavy enough not to want to warp as I slathered water and paint over it, and toothy enough to just grab the paint right odd the brush. I've only done three little paintings in it so far (I've been distracted by other things, mainly Star Craft II), but it's such a joy to work in - especially for warm-ups before settling in for more serious work.

Each of them is casein on paper and done with a larger-than-necessary brush so that I could ignore pesky little details; though that didn't stop me from trying... There are passages in each of the little paintings that I rather enjoy, and leaving as much of the paper showing through as possible has been a fun challenge. At any rate, enjoy. And as always, thanks for reading!

Casein on paper. Roughly 4" x 5".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Art as a Science: Part 1

In my last post I stated that I had done some follow ups to my experimentation on linen canvas. This represents the first batch. I couldn't decide if it was the canvas, the medium, or the gesso that made working on that stretched linen canvas so pleasurable, so as any good O.C.D. patient would, I set about to systematically test each of the different variables.

For all four paintings are on linen canvas and I used galkyd as my medium. The only factor that was changed from painting to painting was the way that each sample was sealed: the first sample was sealed with clear gesso that was brushed on; the second was sealed with clear gesso that was scraped on; the third was sealed with two layers of white gesso and one layer of clear, all scraped on; and the last was sealed with three layers of white gesso, again scraped on. (I should probably go over what I mean when I say scraping on gesso in a later post.)

For my money, I think the third and fourth samples have the best surface, with the second coming in at a pretty close second. The first sample, with it's brushed on gesso, was a surface that proved to be far too rough and far to difficult to manage. It would probably be best when used with either thicker paint (perhaps an impasto) or a palette knife, as any level of detail is difficult to obtain.

Even though they're all small and quick studies that were used primarily as a tools test, I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I don't recommend using polaroids as reference, however. I'll post round two in the coming days.

All paintings: Oil on linen. 5" x 5".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Union Jackie

This painting is really a three part experiment, which is probably the least effective way to conduct an experiment.

The first part was the support - the canvas. When I was in school a professor told me that painting on linen was a heavenly experience. It's pricey stuff and I've never been able to afford it. I came across some reasonably priced stretched canvas in my favorite art store and couldn't resist the impulse. It was sealed with clear gesso, so I was thinking it'd be super toothy.

The second was the medium. Normally I use galkyd as my medium, but I rummaged out a bottle of oil that I mixed up near five years ago. I lovingly refer to it as Leyendecker Juice, as it's the closest approximation I've been able to find to the mystery medium J.C. Leyendecker used.

The last part was the color palette. I've been experimenting with a very limited palette (yellow ochre, cadmium red medium, titanium white, and ivory black) but sometimes you just need to paint something blue. So I introduced Payne's Gray to bias some things towards blue and the cooler side of the spectrum.

I consider this experiment a win; though later I realized that I couldn't tell if it was the clear gesso, linen canvas, or painting medium that I was responding to. I did some follow experiments which I'll be posting shortly.

Oil on linen. 11" x 14".

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More from the sketchbook

The thing I like most about working in the sketchbook? It's the best way to procrastinate and still be productive. It's such a happy distraction.

Another venture in distracting myself from what I should probably be working on.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Taking My Brain For a Walk

I've got an ambitious project on my board and truth be told I'm kind of scared of it. So, whenever I hit a roadblock in the process I would pull out my sketchbook and just do some random drawings to get my head right again. I think Brad Holland put it best when he referred to making art as taking his brain for a walk. So that's what I did, I took an inward vacation and drew for the sheer joy of drawing.

No pressure. No deadlines. No expectations.
Just me, my pencil, the page, and music blaring in my ears from an 86 GB well.

On the left is a sort of warm-up doodle, which is followed by a warm up sketch. I guess the point was to take me away from the problem I was working on while keeping my brain in the "art zone". Thus allowing me to get the distance and perspective I needed. Whatever the reason, it worked. I was able to get back to my project and slide right past the roadblocks. (Unfortunately there are always more waiting on the other side!)

At any rate, I have a few more things to post in the coming days - and I hope by the time I run dry I'll have finished side-stepping roadblocks and can share it with all of you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Room With A View... For Type

When designing paintings (or whatever your medium of choice may be) it's always a good idea to leave space for the eye to rest. This is especially true when designing covers for books, magazines, motivational pamphlets, and anything else that an illustration will have to share real estate with type. As an illustrator the last thing you'd want is for a designer to place type over some tasty bit of the image you worked hard to create. (And I hear the designers are none too happy when they aren't left room to work either...) To that end it's always a good idea to not only leave room for bleed (a topic I'll tackle in a later post) but to design for type as well. If for no other reason it'll show that you're capable of doing such and could lead to work in the future.

To that end, whenever I'm designing specifically for a cover I like to drop in type when I'm done to get a sense of what my image will look like all packaged up and sitting on a shelf. Since the book I recently re-imagined already exists I was able to use the copy that's already there. The design was just a really rough, really quick lay in. I'm sure a proper designer would do a much better job - I just had to know if the addition of type, and logos, and titles, and names would detract from my illustration.

Aaaaand, since I went through the bother of painting the image as a spread, I dropped in type and such on what would be the back cover as well. Again, using the basic design that's already in place, I just dropped in the information to make sure my image isn't ruined or too distracting for the type. Overall I'd say things worked out well. Even though it's a rough treatment for the type, I feel everything works together pretty harmoniously .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Star Wars: Betrayal

It may be no secret that I'm a huge nerd. I literally wear this fact as a brand on my arm (and jacket, and car) for the world to see. However, it's been about five years since I've done a painting that's based in the Star Wars universe. I'm kind of ashamed. (Bad nerd! Bad!)

The Legacy of the Force is one of the most recent story arcs in the Star Wars universe of books (to which I'm a little more than addicted). It takes place about 40 years after A New Hope and follows the exploits of the Solo kids and Skywalker boy, blah blah blah. At any rate, I've decided to re-envision the covers for all nine books in the series as a self-promotional ploy. This is the first installment in the series; Betrayal.

This is the painting as it appears on the easel. I've dropped in a quick type treatment to give myself an idea of how it would look on the book shelves, and I'll post that tomorrow. Next in the series would be Bloodlines, but I may skip around a bit and work on something else for awhile.

Oil on canvas. 34" x 20 3/4"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #10 and #12

My lady has been on vacation for the past couple of days, which has made getting artwork done a lot more difficult than I had imagined. All of a sudden there are three furballs brawling it out for my undivided attention. Needless to say my concentration has been shot. Between that and struggling with my recent painting (which I'll post in a day or so) I've been off track on painting my ugly mug. I did this one earlier in the week, from life. The last few I've done have all been black and white over the white of the page, but I thought this time around I'd try it over a red ground. It's interesting, I think. We'll see where it leads.

Casein on canvas paper. 2.5" x 3.5"

This week's offering I kind of phoned in. I've been sketching a bit more again, so I wasn't really feeling sitting down with paints; and then there was the fuzzy coalition protesting in my apartment - one of whom is a really inquisitive cat that likes to get into everything. On more than one occasion he's jumped onto where my palette is kept and I have no desire to clean up a painted kitty. So I deferred to a quick pencil sketch.

Pencil on bristol. 2.5" x 3.5"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #9 and #10

I kind of skipped last week's Ugly Mug Monday!. It was completely accidental, I swear. I was up late duking it out with the final drawing for my latest full scale illustration and by the time it occurred to me it was something like eight in the morning. Then I spent the past week wrestling said drawing into submission and before I knew it - POW! - it was time for a new week. So I did two portraits for this week, as a way to play catch up. This time 'round I tried working from photo reference instead of sitting in front of a mirror. I kind of felt it was cheating, as I usually (read: always) work from photos, but I stumbled across my senior portrait and couldn't resist.

Once upon a time I had an afro. I thought it was cool. What can I say? Also I have a gap in my teeth. It isn't nearly this bad, but i thought it was hilarious and just couldn't help but leave it. It was originally the center-line in the face and wound up being one of those happy accidents that end up making a picture just that much more whimsical and quirky.

I realized that with the exception of my first week's offering, all of the self-portraits in the Ugly Mug series have been in black and white. There are two reasons for this;

1. I look at things in terms of tone. The simplest way to do this is in black and white.

2. I only have three tubes of casein paint. Black. White. And red. As it would happen I've fallen in love with casein and I sort of naturally reach for them whenever it's time to paint my ugly mug.

That being said, someone once told me I was afraid of color. She was basing this on the fact that everything in my sketchbook was in black and white. Either pencil or pen and ink. I was taught fairly early on that "if it doesn't work in black and white, it isn't going to work in color" and "you choose a color for it's value". These are the two things I hear in the back of my mind whenever I'm painting. So a lot of the time yes, I do work in black and white, but I think it's ridiculous to say that I'm afraid of color. To prove it, I put some red in this one. Hope you like it.

As an aside I really like these two paintings. I think the economic use of brush strokes is pretty cool, and I'm quite fond of the purely implied expression - especially in the second one. I'm liking the direction these are heading in, I hope you good folks do too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #8

"Schedule time to utterly fail."
-Craig Mullins

"You have to do 1,000 bad drawings before you can do any good ones."
-I can't remember who said this.

This is quite obviously one of the bad ones. It is however a good example of the "Rule of Two". (Hey, if it's good enough for the Sith, it's good enough for us.)

The "Rule of Two", simply put, states that if something is important to your process, you should always have at least two of it. Spares are invaluable. You wouldn't want to be pulling an all nighter and have an important part of your process die on you, now would you? This ranges for everything from technology (projectors, airbrush pump, Wacom tablets, etc) to things that seem so incidental like tubes of paint. There are a few colors I just have to have on the palette when I'm working and if I were to run out of one at 3 am, well, there isn't anything I could do about it. It's to that end that I always have two tubes of my "go to" colors.

Now, that being said, I didn't heed the "Rule of Two" when it came to this week's Ugly Mug Monday! I started this drawing with my trusty Pentel brush pen and quickly realized that it was starting to run dry. As a result I tried to rush through it before the pen died and, well, I failed. Oh well, this is why experiments must be ran.

Ink and brush on bristol.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #7

I've been enjoying the casein studies that I've been doing so much that I decided to shake things up a bit. There are a lot of things digital "paintings" can do well and I think my favorite are the blacks. You can get them instantly without any fuss and they don't have the tendency of deadening a picture. Rich blacks are fantastic.

At any rate, this week's offering for Ugly Mug Mondays! is a digital one. I've been tooling with the ol' Wacom less and less often these days (other than value studies for paintings) which I'm surprised to say surprises me - I'm really starting to have fun pushing the pixels around.

I've got two paintings in the pipe right now. I hope to get those up here within a fortnight.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #5 and #6

Last week I didn't post a painting for Ugly Mug Monday because the moment I finished painting it I was all set up and loose enough to start work on the Steampunk Mailman. By the time I stopped painting that evening (and really it was 8 in the morning) I was too tired to take a picture and write up a blog posting. So, here it is.

It's oil on watercolor paper. It's something I've played with once before and didn't much care for it then either. I got some nice loose effects that I'm fond of, so I think it's something that I'm going to continue experimenting with. This time around I tried applying linseed oil quite liberally, but the paper still soaked that up almost instantly. Next time I think I'll actually soak the paper in linseed oil and see what happens.

This week's offering is back to casein on canvas paper. I'm really liking how that combination handles. I just start blocking in darks with a flat brush and correct as I go. I set up my black mirror to keep my values low and better controlled, since I've noticed my tendency to go more towards high key in my value structures. At any rate, it isn't bad for a 20 minute study.

I wonder what I'll come up with next week! The 12 week challenge is keeping me pretty busy, but it's all very exciting.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Creative Quarterly 20

April 30th was Creative Quarterly's deadline for their next round of judging. I've entered four pieces for consideration this time around, and I have a pretty good feeling about it. The four pieces are:

"Run, Fat Girl, Run"

"Bath Time"


"Priority Mail"

Winners will be notified in 6 - 8 weeks, so if I hear anything I'll be sure to let you know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Steampunk Mailman: The Process

Howdy fellow illustration folk! Since everyone wanted to see the final for my Steampunk Mailman painting I figured I would do ya' one better and post my process (with helpful captions as to what on earth I was thinking) from start to finish.

Typically I do all of my thinking on paper. So once I get an idea I sit down with a sketchbook and start working out concepts (composition comes later) and just generally letting things germinate and come to the surface. I usually make lists of props that I may want to be involved or just things that may be associated with the image in general. I'm basically looking for "the hook", or the thing about an image that really gets me interested and drives me crazy. Once I find that I'll move on.

I did things a little out of order this time around. Early on I realized that if I wanted to have my figure dangling from a rope ladder I was going to have one heck of a time getting the reference for it. In the interest of costs I built a maquette so that I would have a good idea of what a rope ladder would do under weight and the like. Years and years ago I bought a bunch of Stikfas figures and they make decent stand ins when I'm just kicking ideas around. I fashioned a rope ladder out of twine and toothpicks; but the twine was too stiff and didn't really have any give in it. So I took another stab at it, this time using sewing thread and toothpicks and things worked out much better. I moved on with the sketches having a much better idea that this was going to work out.

Now that I know what I'd like my concept to be I sit down to try to figure out what I want the composition to be. At this stage I'm looking to see how it may look on the page. Really I'm still working with thumbnail-sized drawings so that I don't get caught up in the little fiddly bits. "You wouldn't build a house by starting with the lace doilies, would you?" Also I tend to draw in tone and value patterns, which helps me tremendously. If something else comes to me at this point I'll jot it down - I wouldn't want to lose something that I may want to use later on, now would I?

For this project I decided that not only did I want to have the figure as the center of attention and the clouds as a dominant element, but that I really wanted to have a cool airship in there somewhere. (Of course! Why not?!) So I was looking to see if I could have the three as dominant elements, but not compete with one another - even now I don't really know what I was thinking. Having my little maquettes was invaluable for this though. As I got stuck in the sketching I was able to move around them and see how things would be more dramatic or more compelling from various angles. I decided to go with the composition on the second page at the top.

Now that I have a direction I knuckle down and refine the sketch a little bit more, just to make sure that everything works out and that the eye will go where I want it to. This is the sketch that I approved and from here it was on to the referencing stage.

The maquettes I made were good for figuring some things out at the planning stage, but they weren't going to be adequate substitutes for drapery, and lighting, and accidents, and small insignificant things that we never think to plan but always make things seem so much more real. So, naturally, I was going to have to build a rope ladder. (See past posts here and here.) So that's exactly what I did. I had to do whatever it took to get the reference I needed.

This is where the fun begins. Illustration is not photography - so I take the reference I've collected and do a final drawing. All the time I'm making decisions about what's important and what isn't and doing a kind of editing as I work. I'm still drawing mostly with tone, looking at value patterns and boiling things down to what's in the light and what's in the shadow. I decided the bottom half was still kind of boring, so I added the canada geese to fill space and create movement and interest.

Now, to be honest this part I kind of just phoned-in this time. I had a deadline to keep and I didn't really have the time to devote to this step - but I feel it's important to point out that I thought they were important enough to do anyway. Once I know what my drawing is going to look like I do a black and white value study (usually in Photoshop). Generally speaking I have a sense of where my lightest lights and darkest darks are going to be, but I want to know about all of that information between those two points. One of the main ways I direct the eye is with value (part of why I don't draw in pen anymore and tend to draw with the side of a pencil). For instance I knew I wanted the space between the flaps on his jacket to be a lot lighter in tone than the jacket itself, and therefore creating contrast, interest, and a focal point. I don't really leave anything to chance; it's all very deliberate. Then the color rough helps me make sure that my palette and color choices are harmonious, interesting, and vibrant. I managed to get away with such a simple color rough because, well, blue and orange work well together. Something about opposites attracting and the like. Really I just wanted to make sure that the over-abundance of orange wouldn't be overwhelming and kill the painting. I like painting when I'm at the easel, not making a lot of decisions. If I know what my colors are going to be before hand I don't have to sit there hemming-and-hawing about what color I should paint his bag, or the ship, or his boots.

And really, from here it's clear sailing. I've done all the preliminary work and I've made all my decisions and choices so all that's left to do is paint. And usually this goes by pretty quick. I'll just post some in progress shots of it as I went through.

And the final!

I left out all of the fussy bits about surface preparation and how I get from the drawing to the canvas, but if anyone wants to know about that process I'd be happy to write something up for it. At any rate, there you have it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Steampunk Mailman

If anyone has been paying attention, I missed this week's "Ugly Mug Monday", but I feel I have a good excuse - I finished my Steampunk Mailman painting. (Yay!) Which, is a self-portrait of sorts, so I feel it breaks even.

I had a lot of fun working on this piece and I pulled out literally every trick I've got to get it done. It was a new challenge and I'm really pleased with the outcome. I'm thinking of doing a blog post detailing the process - so that may be in the works.

Oil on canvas. 20 3/4" x 34"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #4

It isn't much of a likeness this time around. I just didn't have it in me, I guess. I've discovered that I'm enjoying the casein but I don't know. My head was elsewhere. I'll make it up to you next week.

Casein on watercolor paper.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rope Ladder

Well, I said I'd be back with evidence of my rope ladder, and I like to think I'm a man of my word. Originally I was thinking I'd hang the ladder from the lower branch that's visible in the picture, but... well, I got a little over zealous when I was making the rope ladder. I wound up making it considerably longer than initially anticipated. Oh well, these things happen. I scampered up the tree and affixed my ladder to a branch about twelve feet off the ground and prepared to dangle from it like a goober. And dangle I did.

Honestly I'm impressed with the construction of the ladder. When I was making my maquettes I had issues keeping the rope an even length as I worked my way down - as a result the length of the rope isn't equal between the rungs so things are a little unsteady. But I didn't have that problem when I turned to work on the full scale, I managed to keep everything straight and. I think what surprised me most is how quick the work went. For a ladder that's a little over eleven feet long it only amounted to about an hour's worth of work.

There you have it. The ladder that I was sure was going to kill me was a success. I hope to have it's corresponding painting done soon. I'm sure I'll let you know when that wraps up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #3

It's that time of week again! I found some casein while cleaning up some stuff in my studio so I thought I'd play with it a little. I tried to keep it loose and quick, so I used a single #4 flat brush, just so that I wouldn't get caught up in any of the detail. There are some pretty tasty passages that I really enjoy and some things I wish I spent more time on - but that's how the cookie crumbles.

Casein on canvas paper. 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays! #2

Originally when I set out to do this thing, this... Ugly Mug Mondays, I had intended them to all be paintings. Well, I had a couple of false starts tonight and the clock kept tick-tocking away and before I knew it, it was pretty darn late. So, I trashed what I had done so far and sat down to just do a pretty little pencil drawing. All was not lost! I learned a couple of things.

I apparently can't sit down and produce a "realistic" self-portrait. I always have to exaggerate something. But you know, I feel it always looks like me. Maybe it's because I'm so used to seeing myself that I have to play with my appearance to get through the drawing. Kind of like a kid sticking his baby carrots into his mashed potatoes to make a blob monster that's reminiscent of something from Calvin and Hobbes.

I also tend to make the same squinty one-eyebrow-cocked kind of face when I plan on doing a self portrait. (I wonder what the hell that's about.) So I made my eyebrows really big - especially the one I was cocking. What's more is I tend to make dumb faces in general. Oh well. It is what it is.

Pencil on bristol. 30 minutes.

My ears don't really stick out that far. Just felt the need to let you know that.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Found My Lost Shaker of Salt

I did this little painting last Tuesday as a means to experiment. The sad reality is that I only took one painting class when I was in school and I never did too much painting from life, or in this case, salt. Early on I realized I needed photo reference and I got in the habit of just printing off pictures that I needed before painting. So I set up a little still life of salt and drapery and got busy painting.

A year ago or so I picked up a trick from an "old pro" and had just kind of filed it away with the other nonsensical information in my brain. What this old salt (pun intended) shared was that after he does his drawing on his board he'll touch it up with gouache before spray fixing it. So, I tried it. I did a little underpainting in gouache (mostly to identify the shadow shapes and patterns) then I spray fixed it and let it dry. Then I came back on top of that with oils.

I think the most impressive thing I learned was how thin I've been painting these days. Effectively I ended up just glazing over the gouache for some rich and luminous effects. I'll have to keep it up, I really enjoyed painting from life and having a loose and free underpainting to work with.

5x7. Oil on masonite. 1 hour.

Friday, April 2, 2010


The current painting I'm setting up calls for the central figure to be climbing down a rope ladder. Actually, it's more like he's hanging off of a rope ladder than climbing down it. I got all excited and dove into the sketch phase and after a short time I came to an idea that I rather enjoyed. Then the excitement wore off and I found myself staring a problem in the eye. How was I going to get the reference I needed? My first brilliant idea was to pose little toys on rope ladders made from twine and toothpicks. And truth be told it worked a little - they gave me a better idea of what the weight distribution should be like. But I would still need to get a figure in costume in the proper pose for actual weight distribution, and drapery, and lighting, and those great little accidental moments you get, and and and... I was going to need to get a rope ladder.

I could have bought one, sure, but as is often the case none of the ones on the market were quite what I was looking for or even in my budget. I was going to have to get crafty. Facing facts I took a trip to the local giant hardware store with my DIY research in tow and did some shopping. I think what I got is what I'm going to need. Everything purchased was with safety in mind (after all I don't want to end up injured or the recipient of a Darwin Award) and far exceeds the qualifications to support my weight. Sure, I wouldn't take any of it mountain climbing, but it should be more than enough to support me for a photo shoot.

I sat down this evening and fashioned what I need, and tomorrow I think I'll try to set up the camera and take pictures - weather permitting. I'll be back to let you know how it all turned out. If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, well, it means my deathtrap lived up it it's title.

Happy painting!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ugly Mug Mondays!

Once upon a time I thought I would start doing self-portraits once a week. As with most things I had the thought and let it slip past me. Well I came back around to that notion just the other day, but this time I gave it a name. I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing, but I have named it:

Ugly Mug Mondays!

The plan is to post drawings or paintings that are of the self-portrait variety. Of my ugly mug. It isn't that I'm vain and that I love staring at myself in the mirror - or even that I'm that great of a model - but hey, I'm always available. Cheap and available. If nothing else, I always know where I am.

For the first venture, I broke out the gouache set again. I started with a quick and loose drawing on bristol then I spray-fixed it. Once that was all setup and ready to rock and roll I made a mess on top of it with the gouache. Messes are fun. Weird things happen when you make a mess and have the daunting task of cleaning them up, and in that weird space you learn. I can't wait to see what happens next week!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Playing Make-Believe

When I was a kid I used to play dress-up all the time. Of course all of the standards were present; cowboy, police man, army man, Superman (with the ever present clothes-pinned bath towel for a cape), and ninja. I think most people grew out of this phase, and I think my mom really hoped I would. 'Cause after all, I scavenged what I could from around the house to aid in my make-believe adventures. Here I am, "all grown up" and I'm still dressing up in my free time and traipsing around the living room.

Anywho, I've been working out a drawing for a new painting and I wanted to make sure the costuming was convincing. There are a few more kinks to work out, namely how to photograph the action I need, but I thought I'd share this picture with you good folks as a sort of teaser.

Also, you'll note the sleeping dog on the pillow on screen left. He's such a lazy little thing.