Friday, November 11, 2011

The Forest King

She tried to toss the chicken leg into the bushes, but it was too late.
He had already seen her.

Have a wonderful Friday folks =)

Friday, November 4, 2011


-the act of conveying Meaningful Information.

After four years of art school, I am very used to technical critiques of my work. Perspective, values, edges, colors, and ultimately those are all critiques that prepare us to produce work that is worth the time it takes to give a painting a true critique. By that I mean that I am not learning how to paint so that I can make pretty pictures. I want to use painting as a means of communication. Value, color, edges, rendering, perspective, etc are all the basics of communication - as verbs, nouns, adjectives, punctuation, etc are the basics of communication in linguistics. As anyone who has studied a language understands, these things barely allow a person to ask where the bathroom is. It takes a great deal of developing these skills before any true communication can come about. The same is true in the world of illustration.

As artists, we are striving to have a conversation through images. The viewer asks "what is going on?" Ideally the piece says a bit. The one above says "I'm a kitchen." Inherently we look for other cues that can tell us about what we are looking at. Unfortunately, no matter how many questions can be answered by a painting like this, it is ultimately a conversation without a point. Since it is just a kitchen, there is no reason to care about it.

After a mess of grammatical changes, I decided to place a character in the scene. Now there is a new level of conversation. We still understand that it is a kitchen, but there is now a kid standing ridged with something in his hand. If we can see that he is holding a pair of scissors, the next question is why. Without further corrections, there is no way that the viewer can answer that question. I will update this when I have corrections to this particular story.

Each of the following pairs of paintings is another story I am trying to tell.

These were all quick sketches to help me determine exactly what story I wanted to tell. I ultimately settled on the following story.

, this particular assignment is to tell a story about a tree fort--not about the kids who built it. So, Instead of making corrections to these two paintings, I have started new paintings that better fit the assignment. It's all the maddening and fascinating process of learning a new language. Some days I feel like I can put a sentence or even a small dialogue together, but most of the time, I still feel like I am waving my arms, pointing, and drawing stick figures in the dirt.

I hope ya'll have a fantastic Friday =)

Sunday, October 9, 2011


As my artistic education has become more specific, I find myself having to explain terms more and more often to people who are not in my field of study. One of the odd ones that has come up a great deal recently is the concept of rendering. For an illustrator, rendering refers to painting something in such a way that it is indecipherable from a photograph.

(From a Photograph)

At least that's the goal.

(From Life)

People in other areas of study seem to get a variety of different mental images that rarely relate to painting. The one that I find most odd is that a number of people have asked whether I was rendering fat.

(From Life)

I would like to think they see me, Tyler Durden style, down in the basement of a condemned house planning the demise of "the system."

(Based on a Photograph)

Rendering from a photo or from life is all well and good, but rendering from imagination is quite a bit more challenging. One of the assignments this semester is to paint two views of a kitchen from a wonderful short story by Gary Soto.

Both of these are imagined environments.

On a completely separate note, I have been learning how to make brushes in Photoshop. It's rather fun. The painting below was done to test a new brush I made.

Well fine folk, that's all I've got time for right now. I hope y'all have a splendid evening!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Tree is Dying

(Click on the image and the text becomes legible)

I have been following the riots in London. I wanted to have this on my blog while the riots were still in the public eye, so I didn't have nearly as much prep time as I would have liked. I'm really intrigued as to whether it reads.

We are living in exciting times.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I just dusted off my ukulele! Its delightful how such a small piece of carved wood can bring so much untempered joy. This particular piece of wood holds a special significance because it was given to me by three of my dearest friends! Playing music has such healing properties.

So.... art!

(Masterwork Study of John Bond Francisco)

I've done a couple masterworks from Photoshop artists, but this one was my first from a traditional painter. I learned from the Photoshop painters that I can simplify a LOT more than I do. There were tricks that I picked up from them. I was hoping to find similar tricks about color from working on this John Bond Francisco piece. He didn't use any. He just observed the correct shape value and color.

I've been skating by thus far with my Photoshop paintings. I've been depending on the fact that if I put down a swatch of color that is incorrect, I can just go over it and change it. With the way I have been painting, were I using acrylics, the paint would be caked on. I have thus far lacked precision. Realizing that I have to do more work to be better is obvious, but always a little maddening. I sometimes wish I could just go out to the store and buy the pack of "painter" pills, take them, and be totally brilliant.

I truly love this guy's facial expression. I think this is sort of what I see when I think of what a brilliant painter would look like.

I've also been playing with edges. This is one where I roughed it in and then painted it almost entirely with the blending tool. Like the others, it was done in 30 minutes from a photograph. I realized, while painting this one, that I couldn't just use the blend tool for a painting. There is an interesting quality to it, but it's just to soft and mushy.

Here I tried to use mostly the blend tool and just add accents with the paint brush. Here again, it is an interesting effect, but it lacks precision.

This one is a pretty even combination of the two and I started to like the direction this one was taking. Also I've been noticing how drastically different these paintings look on other computers. I've been told it's a matter of screen calibration. My monitor shows me more range at the bottom of the spectrum than usual. So with this one I just eliminated the bottom of the spectrum.

With this one I wanted to start playing with getting skin to feel like skin. Those little bumps and ridges that skin has are so distinctive. The right side of her face (the side on the right of the painting) is beginning to get there, but it feels a little furry to me.

With this one, I put down an initial layer, used the blending tool and then put the brush at full opacity. I wanted to see how much of the edges i could put in with squiggly lines. It's an interesting look, but I am not fully satisfied with it. It just looks messy.

So I used the blending tool. This second image is almost entirely done with the blending tool with the previous painting as the base. I am happiest with the left side of her face and the oddly implied necklace. For some reason, the necklace fading in and out of being defined really makes me happy.

There are a bunch of things I don't like with this one, but there is something pleasingly urgent about that facial expression.

Well fine folk, without further adieu, I am going to go eat some Chinese food and play my ukulele =)
Have a fun night folks!

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Negative" Thoughts

Looking inward is terrifying. My own potential. My potential to destroy as well as create. My power.

We throw that word around meaninglessly. Kierkegaard had it right. The true sadness is that we are unaware of ourselves. Not in the “I like bacon”; “I don’t like liver” sort of way. In the way I know that I can take a life because I have faced that. I can take a life. I could end the sum total of another’s experiences.

Whether I put these sentences together coherently with a set of pre-determined rules is what brings order to my life. Duh. It is order that brings order. It is structure that lets us become docile and complacent in our humanity. In our honesty. I cannot be honest as a painter because I am too wrapped up in the order that I have. Values first. It must read small. Remember to make it colorful. Squint. The same order that makes math fun. PEMDAS. It is a way of sheltering ourselves. It is a way of helping our “sanity” at the loss of our self understanding. Laws and restrictions keep us from knowing who we truly are. How would I communicate without this structure—this language? I will likely never know. And that may be my loss.

My generation faces an existential crisis because we have followed all the rules. We have not had to question the constraints we, and our society put on us. We fill ourselves with the menial—the trivial—so that we can be at peace with our absolute lack of self awareness. Our cubical jobs, our mortgage, or boss, our teacher, our paycheck, the kids, the news, these are the signs of our constraint. Our constraint is our belief that these things matter.

We face the only time we get to experience this adventure into the human condition and we fill ourselves with the trivial, first impression, skin deep observation of what true power and exquisite potential we possess. To fully understand these things may be our undoing. The people who have faced themselves often don’t come back. They become locked in the reality of their true and absolute existence. They are forced to relive the consequences of having looked into the mirror and having seen themselves. No longer potential but actualized. And I can say I never want to see more than my potential. I don’t want to see those “Dark” aspects manifest. I don’t want to see my true potential power. My true “Evil.” I am too comfortable with my estranged relation to myself. But without my “Negative Self” actualized, I will always live with a stranger in my head. That is my existential despair. The trick is that I must never forget my potential. I must never forget my other self.

He may be the greatest enemy to my happiness, but the greatest enemy to my humanity is the voice that disregards him as “Evil.”

(This is an unedited journal entry.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The American adventure into space, which started nearly fifty years ago, saw the landing of its last shuttle at 5:57 a.m. on Thursday.

For centuries, our species has found the next big adventure and jumped in.

Whether it be a flight of fancy,

or a harrowing journey to an unexplored land,

we carry the spirit of adventure to the next horizon.

There we find beauty.

We find mystery.

We find majesty.

Is it possible that we are the generation who has the burden of saying that, because space exploration doesn't turn a quarterly profit, it is not worth our time?

We don't have to let money dictate our dreams.

On a side note, this is Timmy.

I keep him under my bed to ward away monsters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

All Day Speed Painting

So after finding out that The Lion Sleeps Tonight is an incredibly old African hunting song, I decided to see if there were any dubstep versions.
There are.
They are terrible.

I always imagine dubstep as the music that large robots dance to.

(1.5 hours from imagination)

(1.5 hour from a photo)

I have been trying to figure out how to paint faces.

(30 min. from a photo)

(30 min. from a photo)

(30 min. from a photo)

(1 hour from a photo)

(1 hour from a photo)

Fine folk, I have been anti-socially on my computer for the better part of the day, so without further adieu, I wish you all a beautiful night!

(45 min. from imagination)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Scattered Summary of Speed Paintings

I've heard it said that on average the trauma of moving is greater than that of loosing a spouse.

(30 min. from a photo)

Being that I don't have a spouse, i can't really attest to the truth of that statement. After a month of moving two houses, though, I can certainly say that it is immensely unpleasant. There is a sort of horrific nostalgia to the process of repeatedly putting yourself in contact with memories you are no longer a part of. Then you are faced with the choice of what parts of your childhood you can keep and what parts you no longer have room for.

(30 min. from a photo)

So many memories have become homeless.
I've been trying to keep my sanity in tact by doing speed paintings.

(1.5 hours from imagination)

Though it did not make the moving process any more fun, it did help keep me sane.
My first few paintings were a bit rough.

(30 min. from a photo)

(30 min from a photo)

(1 hour from a photo)

I'm never sure whether or not people know this is a painting of the surf.

(1 hour from a photo)

Shortly after doing this painting, I discovered how to turn on the pressure sensitivity on my Wacom tablet.

(45 min. from imagination)

I no longer felt as though I was imprisoned by this "helpful" technology.
(Speaking of which, I just figured out a faster way of placing these images into my blog-- woohoo!!!)

(30 min. from a photo)

(30 min. from imagination)

(30 min. from a photo)

(30 min. from imagination)

I painted these last five today. The similarities are quite intentional. My newest assignment to myself is to take what I've learned from painting a photo and translate it to something from my imagination.

Well, it's time for me to go. I hope you all have a fantastic evening.

And please, don't do anything too crazy =)

(30 min. from a photo --Rioters in Greece)