Sunday, October 28, 2012


Did a little drawing down at the Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie Campus in the Philly Navy Yard, and out at Terrain at Styer's.  One of these days I'm going to spend a day down at the Navy Yard drawing.  It's pretty incredible - the boats, the ferry terminals, the docks - I dig it.  I did the aircraft carrier first, and then pre-prepped the gouache on the drive out to Terrain.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Illo for The Observer for one of my favorite writers, Shalom Auslander

So the story of this piece is pretty funny.  I was working with Ed Johnson at the New York Observer - nice guy and witty emailer - knowing that I was going to do a piece for this Shalom Auslander story.  I love Auslander.  I got to know his work from his readings on "This American Life", and I've been reading him ever since.  Suffice to say, I was psyched.  This is the second of his pieces I've done an illo for, and while I liked the first, I felt it could have been better - not for lack of direction, Scott Dvorin is an absolute ACE! - I just didn't like the choice I made for the finish, and I wanted this one to work.  The only problem was . . . . there was no story.  I won't share what Auslander shared with me and the AD, but it was pretty vague.  But he's a great writer.  Him being vague just sent my mind a flutter with ideas.  I understood it to be about the election, death, the onset of winter, and a general malaise associated with the fact we're all at least little bit effed with whoever leads this monstrosity we call the USA (pronounced Yoo-sa - BING has sent me notice that for lack of education funding, we're going phonetic or onomatopoeia-ic [thus "bing"] ).  So I sent a smattering of sketches dealing with death-ish issues and fall.  I sketched an apocalypse now type thing with Auslander as a crazed hunter, a skull and crossbones topiary . . .   I was psyched when the wolves were selected.  Who are they eating?  Bill O'Reilly!!   That's just between us and the NYO readers.  Ed made a good change and said - "Though lets not make Auslander stand-in bloody at the mouth, maybe just his hands. Don't think implying cannibalism makes sense w/ story."  Very true - and a good call.  I responded - "no prob.  no cannibalism after Labor day."    Anyway - it was a quick finish, but I'm happy.  It's a little morbid, a little comic booky, and quite bit bloody: an illustrators dream.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Class Demo

Here's a little gouache in class demo I didn't get to finish in class - I'm still trying to figure out how to a finish in an hour.   I'm just going to walk through the process a bit.
Here's the finished piece.

Hour 1:  Working thin, and not using the full opacity of the gouache, I'm laying some basic warms and cools, focusing a bit more in the cools in the shadows.  Im basically laying on some color and then subtracting out to maintain a little bit of a value structure.  In all of these color in the face, I have a little bit of a pale coppery blue-green (besides the hair).  I want that to be a unifying theme color.

 Hour2: I kind of liked how the warm we're looking on top of the cool - so I decided to warm the whole thing up a bit, and lay in the background color.  I'm also starting to shape the hair a bit, and looking at how all those curls are working structurally.
Hour 3: Ok - so I like the warm, but now its too warm - so I bring back my tealy base color: a little darker, in the sky, and bit cooler on the ground.  In the sky, I'm painting thick on top, going lighter on the bottom toward the horizon, so I can have a little dusky feel.  I subtract out some secondary highlights in the hair, and add some darks in the hair.  This is why I love gouache - you can still make some big changes, and blend.

 Hour 4:  I figure I'll work in a little narrative imagery, and after listening to a podcast about the wizard of Oz, I figure I'll make it about a woman who finds religion after her house is destroyed by a tornado.  I add some cools in the hair - same cools as the ground color.  I also threw in a white morning glory in her hair.  I want to pull the foreground forward, so I added some more warms to the ground, and a few stars in the sky.  I also like the pale of her eyes after hour 1, so I brought back the pale blue.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Analog Arkanoid

"Analog Arkanoid"
8" x 10", pencil and gouache
on watercolor paper
Here's my submission for "The Old School Video Games Art Show Level 2" at Gallery1988's Venice location.  I was one of only three kids in the continental U.S. who grew up in the eighties without any video game console, so I loved the simple games.  I didn't have 300 hrs to put into Zelda, or Castlevania - so I loved the games where all you needed was hand eye coordination: Space Ivaders, Centipede, Spacewar (oh yes - the oldest game on the books), and of course the Pong revamp Breakout, which eventually became my beloved Arkanoid!  Given how low tech my childhood was, I thought I'd pay homage to the simple joy of destroying something effectively, so here's my "Analog Arkanoid".

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Misaki Kawai

I love Misaki Kawai.  I remember when I first saw her work 8 years ago, and had my favorite type of reaction which somewhere between "What the hell?" and "This is genius!" - but I knew I liked it, and I still do.  It's one of my favorite people to show students to tell them that as long as their being earnest and applying themselves fully, the work will be great.  Kawai bends or discards nearly every academic rule, and yet, it works.  Picasso said "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, and a lifetime to paint like a child."  Misaki's ahead of the curve.
I even love her drawing of sweatshirt sizing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

That's why the Space Program must go on!

I'm a big fan of the space program, and forgot to post this old painting I did of Armstrong in 2009.  So here's to you Neil!  A belated remembrance for a pretty amazing guy who passed away this summer. Over the past few evenings I've been watching the "When We Left Earth" series from a few years ago - not as good as "For All Mankind", but a decent, if overly glossy, portrait of NASA, which has got me thinking.  In college my friends and I had a saying coined by Wes Cox: "That's why the Space Program must go on."  Whenever someone would do something innovative or crazy, or innovatively stupid, or ask questions to which there were no answers - why are girls like that? would you die if you jumped off this? etc . . .  The answer was a statement - "Well, that's why the space program must go on."  It was a statement of faith that if we put some smart guys working on it, we could solve anything.  We put a this man on the moon, didn't we?

It's great that we're pursuing unmanned missions to Mars - I mean check out Mars!  But the manned program - even considering the danger and the disasters that happened with the shuttle missions - is a worthwhile endeavor.  People willing to take the risk.  Neil Armstrong was.  At some point, we're going to need someone on Mars, and the cost - compared to military budgets, social security - are tiny and the gained knowledge would do what the Apollo missions did - drive the economy for fifty years!  I'd pay a .5% "space" sales tax.  I'd donate to NASA directly if it was a little easier (to do so now seems very complicated - but I think you can send them a check?).  Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has been making an impassioned plea and I agree with him whole heartedly, and I think we need to stop thinking of space as something frivolous.  Have smart people figure out incredibly tough problems - and the innovation will flow like Tang!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Last Policeman

New spot for Scott Dickensheets at Las Vegas Citylife for a review of "The Last Policeman" by Ben H. Winters.  The novel is about a detective trying to solve a murder disguised as a suicide.  The twist?  There's an asteroid heading towards Earth that's going to kill us all anyway.  Sounds like a good read - post apocalyptic stuff is great, but I love the new PRE-apocalyptic genre.  The piece was done with gouache - laying out a modeled grey in the face and hat and the maroon-ish asteroid "transparency", subtracting out the highlights, and then going in with some darker tones.  The asteroid and noose were drawn with gouache, and then the whole thing futzed around with on photoshop for a little tweak and arrow adding.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Here's a little sketchbook project I've been fooling around with for the last few weeks.  I feel like I've been a bit lost - pursuing things more technically than artistically . . . ?  Anyway, I thought I'd try to mess around with something a little abstract.  So - I love aquariums.  And that love has led to the death of many fish.  But I thought it was an interesting problem - an ever changing rectangle of shapes.  So here's the beginning of a little side projects.  I present to you - AQUARIUMS!!