Just Goofin' Around

There hasn't been much time for personal art over the past few months, but I'm trying to get it going. No more laying in bed at bedtime and playing pinball on the iPad! Might as well get up and do something!

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Scribbled up the little lady on the left and worked on her for 10 or 20 minutes at a time over a few weeks. I put the lady on the right in because the spot was empty.  I bashed her out in a few sessions over a couple of days. I had a little extra art-time due to a bout of insomnia brought on by a sick daughter who was up most of the night. Sure has made going to work hard this week but who needs sleep?

There is no real purpose to these drawings other than just play. I think of them as characters for a really dumb sci-fi fantasy show that will never be made.

A Window Into Art

I was stoked by the story topic for this assignment. It's terrific to read that museums are stepping up to enhance the art experience. A year or two ago, at a museum I won't name, the ushers were going around asking people to put away their iphones, etc. Those poor ushers were extremely busy and watching them them harass the visitors over and over again brought down the museum-going experience.

Museums have been isolated, impregnable caverns of art for centuries, and they didn't seem to realize they were on the verge of being culturally paleolithic. It totally put me off. So, this story sounds like good news to me. It's by Patrick May and you can read it here. He does great work and is always worth the look.

The painting without the text boxes. This was how it looked before I rearranged things
 to accommodate the layout for print. Open in a new window for a massive image.

After reading the proposal for the story, my first thought was of Rockwell's great painting, "The Connoissuer." I wanted to do a riff on that, and I imagined the character wearing his Google-glasses and toting his iPad. But his back is turned in Rockwell's painting, and straying too far from that iconic pose might have disconnected it.

My solution was to have someone offering him the chance to enjoy his modern painting in a new way. That seemed like it might work!

Doesn't get any bigger. The section front
title font defaulted here, but not in print!

Drawing the Norman Rockwell figure was a lot of fun, and when it came time to render the woman I had planned on taking a photo of my wife and working the image up in the painstaking manner of Rockwell. I roughed in a figure as a placeholder and started refining it. I got caught up in the task and an hour or two later I thought it looked good enough. No need to take a picture and start it all over again!

This was the first rough I put together. I rendered the figures
a skooch more before submitting for editorial approval.

There was a bit of a rush toward the deadline, and the inclusion of the text boxes – representative of looking at the paintings through your Google Glass thing, or iPhone accompaniament – turned out to be trickier than I thought. I imagined it would be no trouble to plop them into the painting but it didn't look or feel quite right to me. I fussed with it, but it still came up a bit short, I think.

Had to wrap it up and send it down the chute, tho. No time to dally with it when the deadline doomsday clock sounds its menacing chime.


Just for kicks I'll post the paintings within the illustration below. Click and open in a new window for giant-size images!

To create the faux Jackson Pollock I went in search of Photoshop brushes made from paint splatters, and I found a bunch. I tried a lot of them but there remains the problem of repetition of splatters. If there are several spattery shapes that look the same, then they cease to look random. So it came down to just playing with the settings on a few brushes and messing around – layers upon layers upon layers – until it looked right to me.

The "Salmon Trout and Smelt" painting is at the De Young Museum and I have memories of looking at that painting going all the way back to childhood. Once, maybe twice a year, my family would drive to SF and either go to the De Young or to the Steinhart Aquarium. I grew up looking at that painting of dead fish.

I resolved not to get too involved with it as a study, and began to paint at a small size, hoping to minimize the effort. But, after a short while, I blew it up big so that I could attack it properly. I was enjoying it too much to do a hack job on it! I don't know if it turned out that great but I spent a little extra time at home so that I could play with it for a little longer.

The whole illustration was a pleasure to create because I was able to work as Norman, as Jackson, as Samuel. It's like going to a costume party as three different artists!

Merry X-mas!

This is a quick post on X-mas eve day; I'm too busy working and can't really get into it. And posting this later in the week is really missing the boat. The illustration ran on the front of today's Merc and all those other Bay Area Media News Group papers! The fine story by Patrick May can be read at this link! 

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Drawn and colored in Manga Studio, more color and some tweaks done in Photoshop. Here's how it looked on A1:

Don't bother clicking. It doesn't get any biggerer.

Lots of fun to work on. Have a happy day!

Texas vs. California

Hey! Found this the other day. It is my very first op-ed illustration, done for the Oakland Tribune back in 2001. I believe the story was about the growth of Texas in relation to California at the time; population, business opportunities, some tech companies moving for tax reasons, etc.

Drawn on actual paper, with pencil and pen. The white swirlies in the water were done in photoshop and are among my first lines drawn digitally. Weird how things have changed.

Gosh, I really wanted to do op-ed illustrations and cartoons, and I did for a couple of years, but that particular career is pretty much dead. The editorial cartoonist and illustrator is almost a mythical beast at this point; there are more Bigfoot sightings than editorial cartoonist sightings. 

Working Under a Watchful Eye

Quick post, late night, under the influence of nighttime cold medication. I'm suffering from a terrible bug and I'm trying to reassemble myself for work tomorrow, after a vacation decimated in large part by the illness that harries me now. But enough about me, here's one of my drawings done for work:

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And here is a link to the excellent story written by Steve Johnson. It's a story that is somewhat disturbing, but definitely a trend that will continue.

I suppose my little cartoon makes light of this topic, but I tend to shrug and laugh when faced with the darker side of employer/employee relationships, and I won't say any more about it than that because, now, I'm certain they're probably listening! ;-P

Here's my original rough sketch.

As a laughing colleague or two pointed out to me, I have, again, drawn naked people for a front page centerpiece. This is a disturbing trend that I do not approve of, mostly because it may betray some tacky thing about me that I was, and still am, unaware of. The doodle above was my first idea after reading the story. I submitted it to those in charge and -- much to my surprise -- it was approved and there was nothing to do but to do it.

I kid of course, unless you can tell me what's wrong with me.

Here's how it looked in the paper:

Drawn in MangaStudio 5 with a touch or two of Photoshop.

Some Food, Part 3

Hello! I hope this isn't getting tedious; here are more food drawings with plenty still to go. I think I'm losing interest in doing the (crappy) lettering job and arranging these all together for the blog. It was fun to draw but damn if this isn't turning into a chore!

Open in a new window for a much larger view of this stuff.

My attitude problem may stem from having to tend to this while I'm on the first vacation I've been on in a very loooong time. I spent some days hanging out with visiting parents and it was wonderful; and just as that wound down I came under the heel of a wretched cold or flu or some gawdawful thing about which I will not go into detail since we are talking about food here.

I've been out of commission for a few days and I'm still feeling terrible, but vacation's end looms and I should get this together since "free time" will be back to a bare minimum shortly.

Same here.

The chicharron thing above was a challenge to draw. It was a lot like my previous post's "chicarron of trout skin" which was not very good either. This one's quite a step up from that one, tho. 

I really like the flat, graphic quality of the seaweeds in this post's second collection of images. I could have composed it a bit better, but that's my favorite, maybe of the whole batch posted before and yet to come -- so maybe I should just stop here and skip the rest!

So sick and lazy tonight. To be continued...

Some Food, Part 2

Two more sets of drawings from my motherlode of art created for Eat magazine, which appeared in the November 30th Sunday edition of the Bay Area News Group newspapers. An online version of the project has not yet appeared, but if and when it does, I'll provide a link. Great writing, great photography, and twenty-six drawings like these:

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I wasn't sure how to approach this assignment when I started. My general instructions asked for drawings of the items served, and I thought I could do pencil style sketches, but the variety of textures and colors made that extremely difficult. It would be more effective to give each a painting-style treatment. The images above were my first two efforts.

On the left, I kept it loose and it just flowed. I was done in about ten minutes and pretty happy with it. The second one was a nightmare. You should see the actual thing; such a rough texture. I experimented with about three different approaches and this was the best of my attempts. I was not overjoyed with it and I meant to come back to it later, but time was short. It's not too bad, but I was really struggling with it.

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Gosh, I also meant to come back and fix the cup on the top one. It took a while to paint all those little round things and I hastily filled in the container just to get the general shape right before moving on to the next one. It looks pretty wonky to me. Too late!

I should mention that for reference, reporter Daniel Jimenez took iphone pictures as he made his way through his meal. I was doubtful about how that would turn out, but his efforts were fabulous. He made it very easy for me, although he explained that he started eating a few things before remembering to take a picture, but I just left out the bite marks.

More coming soon!

Some Food, Part 1

I drew a slew of food illustrations for a special magazine insert for the San Jose Mercury News Sunday paper, which appeared on doorsteps November 30.

Daring reporter Daniel Jimenez bravely went forth into a posh restaurant and ordered one of the most expensive meals in the Bay Area to judge for himself if it could possibly be worth it. Mr. Jimenez did what he had to do to get to the bottom of the story, which meant eating all kinds of stuff I would NEVER eat.

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I created a lot of drawings for this piece and I will share them all, but it would be way too much labor to put them in one post right now; I'm a little full of Thanksgiving turkey and wondrously lumpy smashed 'taters, and can't sit upright in this chair for very long. I'
ll try to show the entire collection in four or five posts and then, ideally, put them in a single enormo-post when I’m done.

Same here.

All of the art was drawn in photoshop, with a touch of MangaStudio here and there. I’ll talk more about the project and the drawings in the entries ahead.

As implied above, I’m not a foodie by any stretch -- I’d frenzy-pounce on the “flash-grilled lobster” for sure, yet flick the yuzu lime thing off my plate with a fork so as not to get any on my fingers -- but I enjoyed drawing all of these.

More to come!

500th (Or Thereabouts) Post!

Officially, according to the list backstage, this is blogpost #502, but I didn't notice when the big one arrived. Actually, I've deleted a lot of posts that, upon revisiting, were bad or stupid or I no longer cared for. This is more like post number 550, I'd bet. But I have to plant the official #500 flag somewhere, I suppose; so accurately or not, here it is. Wish I had a better drawing for it!

To celebrate here's a kind of depressing, somewhat unappealing Caravaggio study.

This is a study from a detail of a Caravaggio painting. I enjoyed drawing those Giants players in my previous post but it was hard because I'm so out of practice. I'm going to try to get back to doing actual studies once in a while. So I started today!

Gave myself 30 minutes, but took about 35 or 40. I approached it like a careful study for about 25 minutes then put away the reference and just riffed a little. Opened the reference back up and tried to fix what I screwed up.

Oh well. It's fun.

Giants Do It Again

The world is topsy-turvy and anything can happen. Weird to think that, a few years ago, I figured I would slip free of this mortal body (many decades down the line) and never see the Giants contend in a World Series. This season, the instant they beat the Pirates in the one game playoff, I would have been more shocked had they not won it all. Again.

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Drew this in photoshop over a couple of days (and a little bit of night) for the special section of the Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times etc. I had a great time doing it!

I'm pressed for time right now, but I'l come back with a more formal post about it in the near future, including a pic of how it looked in the paper, as usual.

Staying in the Game

This painting is in today's TechMonday section of the Mercury News-CCT-OaklandTribune-etc. A link to the online version of the story by George Avalos is here.

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I did loose photoshop painting studies from some staff photos. I wasn't too concerned with likenesses. I wanted to represent each sport rather than each player -- kind of like those old Pee-Chee folders, for those who remember them -- but I suppose Frank Gore's number totally gives him away. Oh well.

While painting I thought I might be channeling Leroy Neiman, but I'd forgotten just how crazy his colors actually are. My humble efforts above are tame and nearly monochromatic in comparison. There was no time to take another shot with a better Neiman emulation once I realized how poorly I'd done. I'll keep an eye out for another opportunity, tho. I would love to try it!

Hm! It usually runs in BW and color, but I've only found BW version
so far. Will update when/if I run across the other.

The End.

Live and Learn!

I created this cute little illo for the paper a couple of weeks ago & forgot to post it. It's about older folks going to school, taking classes and keeping in the habit of learning new things. Here's the story by the always fabulous Angela Hill! 

Drawn in Photoshop!

Had a good time with this drawing. It was difficult coming up with the idea but I really like how it turned out. Tried to keep the characters less detailed than I usually do. It's so easy to get carried away, but I think I managed to keep from complicating it.

The End

The Soulless Scourge of the Humble Commuter

I wrote a detailed post for this piece. Really, I did. It was in draft mode and I, you know, cleaned up the blog a short while ago. I edited and deleted a few things, and... and I guess I don't need to say any more about that.

Drawn in Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop

Rather than labor my way through recreating the missing text-- there was a lot of it -- I'm going to take the easy way out and simply post the final drawing. The illustration was created for a story about the soulless scourge of the humble commuter, the evil red-light cameras.

The End.

The Bagrada Hilaris Is Not Funny

Photoshop drawings done for a project at work that didn't pan out. Hate for them to just sit around, creeping me out. So! Here are ten (10) Bagrada Bugs. Nasty little pests.

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Google and Amazon

This is one of my latest illustrations, created for the Bay Area News Group papers. Here's the story written by the Great Brandon Bailey (unfortunately he is moving on to another job. It's been good fun working on illustrations for his stories and it's a bummer to see him go.)

This was a slightly-out-of-my-comfort-zone effort in that there was a pretty short deadline and I committed to creating it in Illustrator rather than my regular Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop process. It wasn't as frightening as it has been in the past; I must be getting used to it. Not totally happy with how vector art looks when I churn it out, but it's not as ghastly to my eyes as it used to be.

This is the illustration reconfigured for online presentation.

I thought I could save time by making just a few boxes and cloning them repeatedly –– and I tried that –– but it seemed obvious to me that it was the same few boxes over and over again. So, I went in and tweaked all of the box shapes and drew an original face for each one. It wasn't an unbearable amount of work –– much less than I thought it would be –– but so much for my clever shortcuts.

Here it is as prepared for the print edition.

It's always fun to draw, regardless of how I have to do it. Even vector art is better than no art (he said, half-joking and half-not-at-all.)

Here's how it looked in the paper.

The End.