30 March 2010

Up to the Challenge

The Beholder

In this wacky online world that I've found myself in, there recently came to my attention through a post on Escape from Illustration Island's site, the 12 Week Challenge from Jonathan at Zero2Illo. Let me just say, BRILLIANT concept. As one who's doing aiming to transition to full time illustration, this is such a great asset. So, I am taking the challenge.

2010, is already a good year for illustration, and there's much more on the horizon. Going forward, I need to find the nexus between my ambitions and intentions, and the practicalities of life. As I've said to some of my friends, "There is no plan B."

Anyway, I am looking forward to meeting a growing community of illustrators through this challenge, and encourage you to follow along here as I'll be chronicling my experience here.

Here are some of the links to the challenge {here} and to Escape from Illustration Island {here}
As ever thanks for tuning in!

23 March 2010

Figuring It Out, One Drawing At A Time

5 min warmups

Sometime here in the recent past I realized that I hadn't been posting any drawings from a figure drawing session that I attend. I also realized that my posts can be a bit... hmm shall we say "wordy?" In that spirit, I'll keep it brief, and.. here we go.

20 minutes

I don't suppose one can over state how important regular drawing, and regular figure drawing is for an artist. As some of you may know, it's simultaneously like working out at a gym, as well as incredibly liberating.

20 minutes

20 minutes

1 hour

20 minutes

Stay tuned for more drawings and paintings. Also, if you feel like putting in your comments, I'd love to hear what you have to say about the work here.

Also, to see my other figure drawing blog posts, check them out {here}

Thank you

16 March 2010

Ol' #6: A Past Future In The Present

Recently I had the good fortune to paint the cover of Steampunk Tales #6. It so much fun to work in a genre that I really dig. I like to describe Steampunk Tales as a 'Digi-pulp.' They are really taking a great format that has propelled so many story tellers and illustrators forward from the past, and bringing it into the 21st Century by making it accessible to so many tech platforms. Sort of a past future in the present, much like Steampunk.

{ I've posted links at the bottom of this post where you can go to download the latest issue, please check it out! It's a lot of entertainment for just $1.99}

I really enjoy Pulp action and drama, and may have really started my romance with them after reading { and by 'reading' I mean 'mostly looking at the pictures,' } "Bradbury: An Illustrated Life, A Journey To Far Metaphor. Ray Bradbury was one of the first authors who really got to me. His work was a.) short, b.) rich with fantastic imaginings, and c.) just down right beautiful. I've been in love with his works since I was in my single digits. Moving forward, what I saw in this book was how he got his start through pulps and fanzines. Of course, next to each one of those stories were fabulous, bizarre, and wonderful illustrations. Many of those illustrators went on to have full and rich careers, but, in the beginning they were doing it in a spirit of adventure and a love of the stories. I don't mind saying that here too, in this same spirit, I wish to send down a tap root in the hopes that my works will, over time, blossom and bear fruit.

I like to share the process of how these images come about. I have to say right up front that I didn't document a lot of steps on this one, but what I have is here.

I guess what really got the ball rolling was a note from the editor that connected me up with the writer G.D. Falksen, whose authored a series entitled "An Unfortunate Engagement." He briefly described an scene wherein the Hero, Heroine, and Sidekick are liberating slaves from a Siberian airship factory. Already I was drooling, there is just so much to work with here; giant airships, explosions, narrow escapes... ahh the stuff that pulps are made of!

The first take that I was ready to settle on { there were many that ended up on the cutting room floor } was one that showed the Hero charging at the front of the masses, grit in his teeth, and explosions all around! I described it like this in the email: "Take 1: Our intrepid trio crests a hill ready for more action as the giant airship burns to the ground in the background. Airships! Ray guns! Action and Adventure!"

As I continued to work over what was going on, I wanted to leave more for the imagination of the reader. Some of my favorite works of art allow the viewer to access what's going on. This can be done in an infinite number of ways, the way I chose was to allow most of the action to be "off screen" and to focus on the Hero and Heroine. The second sketch was discribed thus: "Take 2: The faces of two of the Intrepid Trio turn to face the explosions from the airship factory below, they are illuminated in crimsons and orange. Above them a Steam train waits to whisk them to their next adventure! Explosions! Narrow Escapes! and a Train bound for Adventure!"

Some other smaller details that I enjoy are a sense of timing. To name sources here, this comes from at least two different places if not more. The first would have to be "Drawing Comics The Marvel Way" where there's discussion of dramatic action and the example is drawing someone throwing a punch. The gist of what they said is that showing the moment just before the action or just after the action creates the highest drama. The second source that came to mind { and this is where you'll have to bear with me as I geek out a bit } is in the book " The Art of Jeffery Jones." Now, the image I am talking about is actually a painting by Harvey Dunn, which is shown as an early painting influence. The image shows a man sitting in a barn window with a stern look on his face, now it took me a while to put it together, but there's this wonderful wisp of smoke just above his rifle... AH HA! I thought, "he's just fired his gun and his expression is in reaction to that." Now that's the kind of timing I'm talking about, "What just happened, What's happening, and What will happen."

I have to be honest here, and just say that I read as many books and look at as much art as I can, it all percolates around inside, and sometimes it comes out in strange and wonderful ways. You can see that in the final drawing here a few changes have been made from the sketch. One, the sidekick was dropped. I felt like the duo made a stronger triangle shape on their own. Two, you'll notice that the gun's come back... and there's that smoke.

I also like the train in the background, because for me it gives a sense of 'future'. In a way, the past is where they've come from, the present is him shooting into the bright light of an explosion, and there, just over the rise, Ol' #6 waiting to take them to them into the future. Next stop.. ADVENTURE!

The new issue is out now, so please check it out and download it. For the low low cost of $1.99, you could have some great fiction, and fun art!

You can download Steampunk Tales issue #6 {here}

Please contact me through my website if you are interested in purchasing a print of this. {here}

To see other Steampunk inspired works by yours truly {Steampunk Made The Old Fashioned Way}, also {Dorothy: Then A Strange Thing Happened}
and some other works on the website {here}, and {here}

Books mentioned in this post: {Bradbury: An Illustrated Life}, {How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way}, and {The Art of Jeffery Jones}

10 March 2010

Alien Moon Phases

You just have to love having creative friends. Recently a friend of mine finished writing a fantasy novel, which is looking for a publisher. In order to create a more positive and appealing property he decided to commission a few pieces of work from me, which I am more than happy to do!

The first step was to create what amounts to chapter headers, and a kind of time signature through out the book, he suggested the 28 moon phases of the double moon that hangs above this fantasy world.

I suppose I could have done quick pen and ink moons, but I couldn't resist just giving it my all, and doing my best. So, I first had to figure out how to create 28 pieces where the moons would go through all of their phases. Early one morning as I woke up, I realized a method that would accomplish just that, { ancient artists secret, corner me at a party and I may tell you. } After a few small experiments I settled on a method of production, and then it was off to the races.
Considering my choice to work with watercolors, I am often endeavoring to create works that are solid pieces, and that use watercolors for their strengths, as well as trying to strengthen their weak points. Recently I have become fascinated with edges, both hard and soft. For me, it is more difficult to create a soft edge, so I took this opportunity to work it out on the page.

In using watercolor, one method to create soft edges is the wet-into-wet technique. Which if you are unfamiliar goes basically like this; make a puddle of water, charge your brush with color, dump the color into the puddle, stand back and make faces as you try to control the chaos below. So, that became the first pass on the moons. Sometimes I used just blue, other times blue and black in the first wash.
Next, after the first wash has dried, I came back over them with a wash of black. There is an effort on my part to consciously loose the edges in the moons' shadows, and to create the chunky craters and such at the shadow's edge. During this wash I also experimented with creating little flares of color to break up the hard edges along the outside of the wash.

That process went a little like; make the first wash, while it's still wet come back with another clean brush and create a puddle just a hair away from the edge, when that is done simply break the tension between them, and BOOM! the color rushes into the puddle. { It actually works better when you use the sound effects out loud. Another reason I work by myself, otherwise people would just think that I am crazy...}

The final *phase* of this paintings { ho ho ho } was to wash in the light gray texture of the illuminated side of the moon, and to clean up any odd bits. Baddabing.

All in all I really learned quite a bit about painting during this process. Which, you know, amazes me because I really thought, just prior to this, that I finally knew everything... { he he }
As a bonus, due to the nature of these paintings, I cobbled them together in a quick little Quick time movie. Enjoy!

Addendum: see the final piece for this project { here! }