Thursday, October 27, 2011

Commission: Ana, 2

A continuation of Commission: Ana, 1
As promised in the earlier post, this is stage 3, initial block-in. Working color-by-color.

First, blue:

Then green:

Then more green:

And a little more brown:

At this point I tried to use glazes to modulate the base colors, but it wasn't working the way I had intended. So, instead, I decided to pre-mix my palette (yellow into brown into green into blue) and painting alla prima. These are the result:

I gave them a day to sit, and gave them one more pass. I'm pretty pleased with the way they came out:

Now it just remains to see how the client likes them.

I'm greatly beholden to James Gurney for his idea of Sky Panels, and learned quite a lot in the process of painting these. Thanks Ana!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Commission: Pauline

Thanks to my roommate's relatives, I now have two commissions. This is the second (the first one begins here: Commission: Ana): a single 36" x 48" painting, in acrylic.

Several layers of dark paint, glazed on to create a sense of depth behind the foreground-to-be. Pauline wanted the painting to be pearlescent, with gold paint. Naturally I obliged.

And the final piece:

I have enjoyed working on this piece, and hope Pauline enjoys owning it even more.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daily Sketch 9-7-11

Today's sketchbook page has thumbnails and titles for possible postcard designs for my up-coming show (10.10.11). I'm starting to get nervous, but in an OMG-I-need-to-get-off-my-tail-and-paint-something kind of way.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Daily Sketch 9-5-11

A new job is a wonderful thing. It does, however, take some getting used to. Especially as far as scheduling is concerned.

Still, some time can be found...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-26-11

At the behest of one of my good friends, a mini expression sheet of...well, it ought to be an Atlas Deer/Barbary Stag. 

Better than the usual melancholic and/or introspective look my character designs usually have. He's right, though, "Aggressive" looks more like plaintive, or possibly agonized...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-18-11

I was able to spend a few hours today in the Natural History Museum on campus, and spent a good deal of time (after photographing everything, of course) drawing these. It was a lot of fun, and I think I've improved immensely. These were done right-to-left, by the way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-17-11

Done today at work:

A scarf- and sweater-wearing badger and a saintly camel pouring fluid scorn (metaphorically) upon the words "Pouring Scorn." I like the way the latter is going, and may end up doing a large painting of it (for my show perhaps). It would be good lettering practice.

The phrase, by the way, stems from my listening to the Redwall book-on-cd (it's been probably a decade since I'd first read the book, maybe longer). It's interesting how our tastes can change as we develop a sense of discernment. I had never noticed how many adverbs the book has in rapid succession, nor how much Mr. Jacques seemed to still be feeling out the world he was creating (a world that is far more solid and confident in itself in such later works as The Long Patrol and Mariel of Redwall). Fascinating from a literary standpoint, and of course the entire series is a wealth of possibilities for illustration. But that is for a later day...

Daily Sketch 8-16-11

Roman baths (as mentioned here), a little waterfall/spring thing, and an even littler sketch of an Anubis. yay Anubis.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You know you're an artist when ...

... you find your work posted somewhere, without your knowledge.

I was doing a random Google search tonight, because I wanted to show a friend how I was intending on doing an illustration (hopefully tonight's Daily Sketch Edit: Daily Sketch is here.); namely, in the style of David Macaulay.

The image I had in mind was from his amazing book Great Moments in Architecture, specifically plate XXIV, "Homage to the Revolving Door."

I had, many years ago, done several studies of Mr. Macaulay's work, particularly the way he depicted miniature people in his drawings of architecture (rather like Piranesi's etchings, wherein the structures are so massive that the people are reduced to stick-like blobs), and had done a drawing from that particular plate.

In amongst the bad Facebook photos and other unrelated things the Google search pulled up, I found this image:

It was the one I was looking for! So I opened it in a new tab and then got a look at the actual name of the image ... no wonder it looked familiar: it was the self-same study I had done years ago [originally posted here.], now used on a blog about (I think) the revolving door feeling of the American Health Care system [or somesuch. This is the site—if you go, I recommend turning your sound down/off, as the author has music embedded].

I'm not mad, and actually thought the whole affair was rather hilarious. Though in retrospect, it is a little unnerving how easy it is for one's work to be re-purposed like that, with no credit given, no permission asked. And, of course, it's not even the original work. At least I make plain the fact that my drawing is a copy, an exercise.

It's amazing what you can find on the internet.

David Macaulay's website
My original post.
His book: Great Moments in Architecture
Wikipedia's entry on Piranesi

Friday, August 12, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-12-11

It always surprises me what 15 minutes and some good focused effort will do.

Drawn from an illustration by H.J.Ford (though the original was a young man, a'la Howl from Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, and not a dragon).

I wish I could figure out why my scanner is so blurry all of a sudden...I may need to re-install the driver. Such a pity when technology falls down on the job.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-6-11

I love drawing with non-photo blue pencils...but gosh are they ever hard to photograph!

I can't wait to begin inking and painting this...perhaps tonight, perhaps tomorrow. We'll have to see...

The statue of Homer-bunny is based on the one in the Sorbonne, and yes, that's a shark.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-5-11

First part of a weekend-long page. Slow going tonight, but a good start. Hopefully the next few days result in a faster workpace.

I need to work faster.

And yes, that is a rocket-powered penny farthing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-4-11

I'm tired, so here's a laughing goose and a pair of blue jays. Sorry for the low quality: cell phone pic.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-3-11

-Yawn- so tired, but here's today's sketch. It's done with Faber-Castell's PITT big brushes - 4 colors only (red, yellow, blue, green), over a non-photo blue sketch.

Poor bunnies, moving their sofa around...apparently bunnies like to redecorate their cages a lot. A continuation of Portly Lagomorph week.

Hmm, it looks better in person...guess that'll teach me not to use very wet markers on very glossy paper. I'll stick to watercolor for the time being, I think. Ah well, live and learn; that's the whole point of this daily sketch thing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-2-11

In celebration of Fat Bunny Week (aka Shark Week), here's a fat bunny.

He's checking his pocketwatch, waiting for the precise moment when he'll hop in his blue steampunk carriage and beat that tortoise in the race...or something. I like where this is going, and may spend the next few daily sketches investigating it...we shall see.

I wish there were a better way to scan gold paint. Ah well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Daily Sketch 8-1-11

For today's daily sketch, a little family vignette. A Roman citizen (probably a wealthy merchant, judging from the size of his box, though not a senator - no purple on the hem of his robe) has taken his son to see the games. The citizen is bored, but his son seems to be enjoying himself. They're foxes.

A quick sketch, with no research nor preliminaries. But pretty good nonetheless. Took about 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Daily Sketch 7-31-11

My first of—hopefully—several-to-many daily sketch pages. Done as a mutual challenge with my good friend Tony, who's posting his daily sketches over at his blog, Motu Proprio.

...starting rather modestly, with the cleanup of a page of notes from 10 days ago, at the Nevada Art Museum (top-left, top-right, middle-right) and sketches of the racehorses on screen at one of the Reno casinos (bottom-right), and finally some horse-head sketches from tonight (bottom-left).

Got a new tube of watercolor: W&N Terre Verte (on the blackberry leaves, among others) and I really like it. It's smoother than the Grumbachers that I ususally use (because they're cheap), but it seems to wash away easier.

For some reason, my scanner made it blurry. I'll have to look into that...

Commission: Ana, 1

Thanks to my roommate's relatives, I now have two commissions. This is the first: 3 paintings, in acrylic, 24" x 36"

A tree on the brow of a hill, with a stream running by into a waterfall.

Here is the first stage of the three canvases, a quick graphite sketch to determine composition.

And here is the second stage: a semi-opaque glaze that will create an underlying tonal unity between and within the pieces, as well as adding richness to the colors I will paint over them. [I know it's a little hard to see the drawing underneath now, but that will soon be remedied...]

Coming soon: Stage 3, initial block-in...

EDIT: The remaining steps are now available, here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

On the end of an era...

Well, it's over. The last Harry Potter movie. Granted, it was over in 2007 when the final book was published, but there's something different about the Potter movies.

More than Lord of the Rings (8 movies is more than 3), more than Star Wars (because there was so much of a gap—in time as well as style and story—between the two trilogies), the Harry Potter series created a world with rules. Especially as the visual technology improved (just compare the quality of special effects in HP1 to those in HP7pt2), it was a world in which we came to expect certain things.

Stairways shifted, paintings were alive (and that's an idea I particularly love), space was malleable to an almost-cartoony sense (see the Room of Requirement), other people's memories could be experienced first-hand, and even typography was mobile.

It was a world rich in history (as clearly emphasized by the thick layering of paint on Ollivanders) and full of life. I will miss exploring the halls of Hogwarts, wondering where the next secret panel or hidden doorway will be.

If nothing else, it was immersive. I'll miss it.

p.s. I did like the books better, but there's something to be said for seeing the worlds you've read about.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why I Create...

I create as a means of exploration.

There are things in my head—characters, vistas, cultures, metaphors, puns—that will never see the light of day otherwise, and often in the process of bringing them out, other things are discovered. That's why I am so interested in realism, in the Old Masters, in the Baroque, in fantasy & science fiction, even in typography. It's the ability to tell a story with an image, a phrase, a typeface; to convey more than what's there; to encourage the viewer/reader/audience to ponder, to bring their own stories to the piece.

And, of course, it's to create a pretty picture, to tell a riveting story. I've heard it said that you should draw what you want to see. Often that's the only way to experience something like one can write the story you're dying to read, not the way you want it; no one can show you a picture of what's in your head. They can get close, but no further.

That is, I guess, the hardest thing about being creative: when the image in your head doesn't match what comes out on the page. But that's why we keep practicing, right?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Books I've Read: J.C. Leyendecker

J.C.Leyendecker by Laurence S. Cutler & Judy Goffman Cutler

This was easily one of the best art history books I've ever read, thanks—in no small part—to the massive amount of "pretty pictures" contained therein. For example, the book collects every one (or very nearly so) of Leyendecker's 322 Saturday Evening Post covers, ranging from 1889 to 1986 (published posthumously, of course). But, aside from the wealth of illustration depicting Leyendecker's finished work and preliminary sketches, the book also contains a well-written text documenting the artist's life and struggles.

Yes, Leyendecker was not only gay, but lived with one of his models—the Arrow Collar Man, Charles Beach—from the 20s until Leyendecker's death in 1951. In their early years together, they lived a lavish life that can easily be seen in Leyendecker's paintings of fabulously graceful women and haughty, confident men (as well as being the inspiration for The Great Gatsby).

But what really comes through in the text and illustrations is a sense of Leyendecker the artist. While there was a "Leyendecker style," he always seemed to come up with a new twist on a problem: one need look no farther than his magazine covers, each one different, no matter the holiday. It is Leyendecker we have to thank for the icons of Thanksgiving turkey and football, for the baby New Year, for Santa in red and white, for the way in which nearly every American holiday is observed (especially by way of greeting cards).

And that's what makes a good book: learning something new. I highly recommend this text to anyone with an interest in the history of American culture, or advertising, or illustration. It chronicles the life and times of one of the greatest forgotten artists of the Golden Age of American illustration, and best of all, shows his sketches and works-in-progress, allowing us a peek into his techniques.

This is definitely going on my bookshelf.

Available on Amazon: here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Upcoming Show

That's right, dear readers, I have an exhibition coming up soon!

It will be from 10/10-10/14/2011,
at the Witt Gallery,
Kadema Hall
Art Department
California State University, Sacramento
6000 J. Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6061

Of course, this means I have just over four months to prepare...and already I'm starting to worry, heh. Not only do I have to 1) select art, 2) finish, update, and otherwise retouch art 3) create new art 4) decide how to hang the art...

but also 5) design the poster/postcard for my show. And that's really starting to stress me out.

And then I remember that I am a graphic designer, and it's my job to do things like that. 

So...take a deep breath and jump into process:
1) problem statement
2) research
3) brainstorm
4) produce
5) revisit problem statement & refine

I may post some of the above steps here, because I know that showing process is (almost) always a good thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Typographical Thursday

One of the things that really energizes me about being a designer is all the cool type I run across now and then. The work of Alphabet Soup (created by designer and illustrator Michael Doret) is truly wonderful, a blend of early twentieth century nostalgia with present day digital sensibilities. Most of the typefaces he has created are packed with alternates, swashes, ligatures, that give them a hand-lettered feeling.

But what is truly astounding are the sample posters he has created for his typefaces:

What can I say but that I really want these faces now! A testament to what can be done with a little ingenuity, and a lot of design sensibility.

Alphabet Soup on here.
Michael Doret's portfolio site here.