Blue Hat

Drawing, Pencil, Photoshop, Portraits, sketch | November 28, 2005 | By

I’ve been reading a book this week called Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor (Rankin) which has been affecting my thinking about other kinds of painting. Perhaps you’ve seen a watercolor painting in which the colors seemed to glow from within, or one that had an ethereal feeling to it. How do they do that? The author says that effect can be achieved by using thin layers of transparent color over white paper and using glazes in the right order and of the right value. The author is particularly fond of glazing with Winsor Blue, Winsor red and aureolin yellow (or new gamboge.) Although watercolor painting and digital painting use completely different processes to achieve different hues (one subtractive, with pigment and one additive, with light) I thought it would be interesting to try ‘glazing’ in Photoshop by building up the color on multiple layers. This was just a quick experimental sketch on a piece of scrap paper, scanned and then painted, to see how it would work.

More folding

I’ve been continuing with the folds challenge. The more I look around my daily environment, the more I am aware that folds are everywhere. Fabric is only a fraction of the picture. On my desktop I see a folded plastic bag, Kleenex coming out of a box, several pieces of crumpled paper. Out the window leaves are bent and folded. Even mountain ranges are folded. People are practically seas of folds, from their garments to their flesh to the things they carry. So here’s another one …

Illo Friday – Strength

This digitally-composited poster incorporated a soft-block carving which I did of a statue of Kwan Yin, as well as photography at the Pacific Asia Museum.

Road Trip. Stop #1

Friday morning we headed out of town to drive up the coast to do some interviews for a show we’re working on. We got about a half a mile from our front door before we stopped for coffee and a cinnamon bun to share. “Road food.” Breakfast of champions. Or at least, Breakfast of road warriors. I need to get out of the car every hour or so and stretch my bad knee so it doesn’t stiffen up on me. 20 ounces of coffee is a pretty safe way to guarantee periodic stops. Well-caffeinated and sugarfied, we hit the road in earnest. I’d tell you the name of the coffee and bun place but they’re not kicking in for product placement. I’ll just call it Ishmael’s.

Friday’s weather was spectacular – in the low 70s F, with blue sky and occasionally puffy clouds. Trees were turning color all the way up the coast, but of course we had an appointment time and couldn’t stop for drawing. Taking pictures and picking up leaves was the best I could do. I think the leaves will hold their color for a day or two longer …

I need more RAM

I need more RAM
Not the computer kind. Not Random Access memory.
That kind of RAM I’ve got plenty of.
I need this kind. The kind with hooves and horns. The kind you catch a glimpse of on a mountainside.
I need more days outside before the chill of winter comes.
More trips to the zoo, more walks in the park.
More ruddy sunsets at the beach, more paths strewn with leaves.
I need more outdoors and fresh air, more forest brooks and smooth round rocks.
More Saturdays at the arboretum, more mornings in the hills.
Less widgets and more wallabies
And lots more ram.

Brush pen in a Moleskine

Encountering the Inner Aphrodite

Moleskine, Pen and Ink, Photoshop, sketch | October 18, 2005 | By

After posting my contour drawing of Perseus a few days ago, an art buddy wrote me a very nice note and suggested that maybe sometime in the future I could draw something a little less scary, like Aphrodite, for example. So here it is, based on the statue of Venus de Milo. Again, this was about a 3 minute drawing while keeping the penpoint on the paper. It wasn’t blind. I did look at the paper frequently.

If we take a trip back to junior high history and English, we’ll remember that Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty and one of the many Olympian deities who took pleasure in meddling in the affairs of humans. In spite of her captivating appearance and charms she was not particularly a nice goddess, unless you were a devoted follower. Aphrodite, after all, was responsible for starting the Trojan War when she promised Paris the hand of Helen (a married woman) in exchange for Aphrodite being chosen the most beautiful goddess of all. Paris fell for this bribe, stole Helen’s heart, enraged Helen’s husband and the rest is history, not to mention more than a few bad movies.

The very embodiment of passion, Aphrodite is generous to her followers. But to those who deny her and her cause (love), she can be wrathful and punishing. She caused prideful women to grow cow’s horns on their heads, and made Poseidon’s sons to go mad. All sweetness and light? Not by a long shot.

So what can we learn from her, creatively? Aphrodite reminds us to be passionate about our lives and to embrace each day as a lover. A promiscuous creature, the goddess encourages dalliances and amorous liaisons. So if you always draw with a pen – have a fling with a pencil. Above all, let art become more than an idle flirtation. It’s time to turn up the heat.

Conquering the Inner Gorgon

Pen and Ink, Photoshop | October 15, 2005 | By

I’ve been doing a lot of blind contour drawings, prompted mainly by the wonderful group activity instigated by Niff and Sutter over at Inkfinger … and that led naturally to doing some contour drawings with eyes wide open – looking at both the picture and the paper. This one was done in 2-3 minutes in the conventional way, trying to keep the penpoint on the paper at all times. The picture was chosen at random from a book – it’s Cellini’s sculpture of Perseus displaying the head of the gorgon Medusa. Medusa had the nasty habit of turning people to stone just with a look.

Only after I drew this did the underlying message and the synchronicity of my image choice become apparent. What is the Medusa but the Inner Critic who can turn creative enthusiasm to stone in the blink of an eye?

The inner critic sees the tentative pencil scratches on the paper. “You drew that? Better keep your day job.” Stone.

“Why are you wasting your time with this? Don’t you have something better to do?” Stone.

“You know, you’re really too old to try to learn anything new.” Stone, stone, stone.

The myth gives a very apt metaphor for dealing with such enemies, whether they are outer gorgons or those that lie within. With help of wisdom (Athena) and a magical mirror-like shield Perseus tracks down the Medusa in its den and catches it off guard. He never looks at it directly but uses a bit of subterfuge as he dispatches it. Me, I have my own style. My sword is a pen and it’s name is Practice. Like Perseus, I don’t argue with my medusa-critic or try to stare it down because I know such encounters can be fatal to the creative spirit. Instead, when I hear its snakes come hissing words of discouragement and defeat, I turn my attention back to the blank page and get busy. It can threaten all it wants but it can’t touch me. And one of these days I may finally have the strength to give it a mortal blow.

More drawings from the Simpsons Scoring Session

The contrabassoon player. I really liked your Hawaiian shirt. I’m not sure that it had palm fronds and hibiscus but I think most of them do, so I hope you won’t mind that I took liberties with your attire.

A trumpet player, sitting fairly far from me. I’m sorry it doesn’t look like you. About all I could see was that you had a beard. Your horn sounded very good, however.

Trombone artist. Same apologies. The bell of the bone was covering your face a lot of the time.

More inking, scanning and coloring of Moleskine drawings from the Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror music recording session.
I know they don’t look like Moleskines now, but that’s where they started.

If you didn’t see the previous drawings, scroll down to October 10 …

LOST – Illo Friday

I had been thinking about the quake in Pakistan and made an attempt to suggest the size and scale of the recovery process with this experimental imaginary sketch painted in Photoshop. So I just finished posting it here and turned my thoughts to Illustration Friday. I was wondering what to do on the theme of “Lost.”

Then it hit me.

I am always amazed at how my unconscious mind is sometimes a step or two ahead of my dopey conscious mind.

Drawing at the Simpsons’ Scoring Session

Yesterday we had the opportunity to be guests at the orchestral scoring session for the annual Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween show with composer Alf Clausen, orchestrator Dell Hake and a roomful of tremendously gifted performers. We stayed for the entire morning session and loved every eerie, spine-tingling, rip-roaring moment. We were in the booth half of the time, which is a good distance from the orchestra, but we could still see through the glass.

I had looked forward to drawing the musicians but somehow portraying them ‘realistically’ just didn’t seem appropriate, given the subject matter. So I did it this way, instead. They were drawn in pencil first in my Moleskine … then inked onto tracing paper which was scanned and colorized in Photoshop. Getting likenesses was just about impossible considering that their faces were about as big as a thumbnail held at arms’ length, so I did what I could and ‘winged it’ for the rest. After one of the breaks we were allowed to go inside the recording stage with the musicians provided we didn’t make a sound (no dropping of pencils on the floor.) Since we have always been fans of the long-running series this was a real thrill for us. There’s something magical about being close to a large professional orchestra playing outstanding music to another very, very funny show. Set your TIVOS – don’t miss this one hour special.

I have some more drawings which I’ll post tomorrow or the next day – from the brass and woodwind sections.