Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Portrait of Scott

I painted this portrait in mys studio today while my best bud Scott Cohn was down visitinga nd working on his comic (Army of Darkness) over the holiday.

We usually sit back to back in my studio when we work, Scott taking the guest table. I've known Scott for 17 years now--half his life, sheesh! he was the first serious comic student I met and I sort of took him under my wing, lo those many years ago. he's gone on to become quite the artist, so you should check his site out.

So I decide to paint Scott in what is a natural pose, working! So while he drew Bruce Cambell fighting demons I painted away, my faithful dog Shazam, sitting between us as all herding dogs would. We then hit the gym and I put the last touches on the painting when we got back from pumping iron. This is 11 x 14 in oil on Dick Blick canvas. I'm pretty happy with how this came out, I'm sure being in my studio and painting a friend gave me a relaxed feeling that so often I don't have when painting in school.

Memory Painting

This is a small memory painting I did today of the night I arrived in Beijing, China. It's small, 3 x 4 in oil on paper. I think I want to eventually do a larger painting. it was quite a strange, or of magical moment as we waited for a taxi to take us to the hotel after the bus ride from the airport. It was a hazy, drizzle, and very dark with many, many people riding bikes past us slowly in the rain. This memory is one of the strongest I have of the trip for it's dream-like quality. I feel like I was painting a dream.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

West Philly Commute

This is another painting in the series on commuting i am working on. This time a painting based on a photo I took while riding the EL into the city. This was the first snowfall that happened back in November and riding through West Philly I was trying out my new Powershot SX 110 from canon. My old reliable Powershot A80 bit the dust a month or so back and I picked up this new camera from best Buy and it's really been great so far.

Riding through West Philly you see all kinds of great images to photograph, draw or paint. Ruined building with graffiti,buildings in all states of decay and now renovation due to the zillion dollar and far-to-long reconstruction of the Market-Frankford line. Though this is based on a photo I did take many liberties here as I am going for a feeling more than an exact photographic recreation. It's still pretty accurate and in a few days when it's dried a bit I might go back in spots and touch it up. This was one evenings work in my studio, 12 x 16, oil, on Dick Blick canvas.

Friday, December 26, 2008

X-mas Presents

This year once again I gave my friends ART for the holidays. I still have a few more gifts to finish but these two presents were given out today when we exchanged gifts. The BBWW was for my Buddy Jamar who runs a blog dedicated to the girtful Maiden of Might, and the Scooby and Mighty mouse still life was for my buddy and Scooby artist extraordinaire, Scott Neely. Both are in oil, 12 x 9 on Dick Blick canvas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

69th Street

Another quick painting today for the commuting series I am starting on. This again is based on a pic I snapped while hustling through the 69th street station while on the way to school one day. The main thing when working from a photo is to learn what to leave out and to be aware of what the painting needs which may at times and in spots be very different from the photo source. Total time here about 4 hours I'd say, and that included a late night dinner break.

Below you can see my steps on this painting, again I was trying to keep things very loose, play with the color and the drama of the scene. This is in oil on Dick Blick canvas, 11 x 14

Monday, December 22, 2008


This is another quick little study from a photo I snapped with my camera phone on the train on my morning commute to school. I want to do a series on commuting, so with school out I am going to start working up ideas, sketches and smaller paintings to work toward much bigger pieces.

below are two progress photos to show how I worked on the painting which is 9 x 12, oil on Dick Blick canvas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Self Portrait 3

This is my thrid self portrait. I did two for school before, but this one I did for myself to do a quick study. one of the things I want to do while I am on the break from school is to try and do a lot more quick studies along with a few longer pieces. This was about 90 minutes or so, maybe a little longer on a 9 x 12 canvas. one of the things I'm going for here is trying to paint the values and not try to draw everything in then fill it in. The drawing is a bit wonky in spots, but I wanted to keep this loose and try and just think of value , shape and temperature. So there is very minimal drawing done first, just big block-in shapes. If I get a chance tomorrow I want to do another quick study.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Dirty Palette Club

A bunch of my fellow students at The Academy...or PAFA have decided to form a club of sorts, a painting and drawing club to get together at school and mostly away from school to draw and paint together and help encourage and push each other along. one of the things we all agree about in regards to school is that we are kinda' tired of the usual "model standing around or laying around" poses we get in school. 99.9% of our poses we get are set up by the teachers in class and they are usually not that "pretty' so far. We also don't get many short poses or gesture drawings, so we decided to get together and do a lot of exploring, drawing and painting outside of school so we can start doing more of what we are interested in, developing our skills and eye more.

So today dave and Will came over and Will and myself took turns doing relatively short poses, about 90 minutes-2 hrs, sitting so the others could paint, Dave posed for us at school Wednesday, doing the same for Will and myself.

I want to do more studies and quicker paintings as well as the shorter one like the study above of Will that I did today. We also plan on doing plien air paintings and even maybe some sculpture. I can't say how great it is to find a bunch of great friends who really want to get out there or in there and draw and paint. So many people just seem to do work at school and then shut it off when they leave.

Not us, now way, our palettes are always gonna be dirty!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fall Semester 08-Done

Yesterday morning was my final class for the fall 2008 semester at PAFA-which they are now re-branding as the Academy. The morning session with Al Gury was the final for the year and went out of a very soft note. We had our last session with the model and then a brief crit by Al. The crit was very light, an general overview of our work, we had to bring in the three painting we had worked on over the semester including the last one we were all trying to finish--which I really didn't. This class was my most frustrating class as I was not able to take the uninstructed portion of the class, this meant I had half the time to work on any painting and I know that contributed to my feeling of frustration with my work this semester painting wise. In each painting I was happy with spots, or parts, but I never feel any of them really totally jelled or that I got that satisfying feeling one gets when something goes right. Al is a very good teacher and such a nurturing type, he kept me from ruining things in a few spots.
In Still Life Class I think I made the most progress in seeking to bring to my work a lot more atmosphere. I was very influenced by a few artists this semester and used them as guide posts for the direction. The first is Thomas Anschutz, a former teacher at the school and one of Thomas Eakins students. Last year when Patrick Connors took our cast drawing class down to the bowels of the old school to see the drawing in the schools collection from past teachers and students I was floored by the amazing atmospheric drawing of casts by Anschutz and Daniel Garber. So Garber is the second by guide this semester, the last being Surat. All three men we excellent draughtsmen, but their best work went beyond a mere replication of what they saw, or academy studies. Their work took on a real poetic-magical quality. In fact Anschutz's drawing have this quality in spades over any of his paintings, when I saw them for the first time I didn't even think they were done by the same artist.

So with those artists in mind as ideals, guides I think I made more progress in drawing and Mike Gallagher was a really big help as well. I think also because I have done so much drawing over the decades now, it's my biggest strength, and painting is rather new, so I have much more to learn as a painter--and that path can be very frustrating and I am also very unforgiving a brutal on myself, which I feel one must be to progress. having had a second class with my original guru Scott Noel was great, I think I was able to build a lot on what I got from Scott last semester and while I can't rock the pastels a great as he can, I do feel I really gained some ground on handling them even more and turned out a few good drawings. I also was excited and happy to really get into sculpting this semester and John horn is just a fantastic teacher. I really learned a lot, and I can't wait to really explore sculpture more. I have a lot of ideas I want to explore along this avenue. But perhaps one of the best things this semester was making a bunch of great new friends at school, fellow travelers up Art Mountain. I can't say how great this is and how important it is also to have the camaraderie and support of your fellow students, and I say this as a student and as a teacher. You can learn a lot from each other in ways that sometimes are not always surface apparent. This made the year quite enjoyable when at times my year was not great at all personal wise. But that's improving too,and one sees the light eventually and you let the past things go off, slip away where they need to go.
So the bag was mixed this semester, but still good, I was frustrated at times and that's part of it as well. You have to accept the fact at times that it's a real fight and struggle as an artist, some days it seems the muse shows up early and brings fresh coffee and cookies and some days the muse is a real asshole, a tease, a charlatan!

I look forward to the next semester, this one was tough also because I had to maintain a pretty heavy workload of teaching at DCAD and Uarts plus my freelance--without which I wouldn't be able to afford school. There were days where I wasn't as sharp because I was juggling so much, and I will take one less day of classes next semester because I need to do more work as I have a new comic series I will be drawing in 2008, more on that soon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Still Life in Grey

This is the final of my acrylic still life painting in Still Life class. We had our final crit last week and I feel I made the most progress in this class this semester in the process of developing both my skills and my direction I want to go as an artist. Doing a painting in acrylic was a bit of a challenge because I kept wanting to go back and push it like oil, and I couldn't. But I think I'll try some more looser, smaller quicker paintings with it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Still Final

This is the final drawing for my my class with Scott Noel and I also showed it I my Still life class with Mike Gallagher since yesterday was my final class critique in both classes. I had to crank this baby out in the usual all night jam session typical at semesters end. i had a great time in both classes and learned a lot, especially in the Still Life lass with Mike, I think I made the most growth or progress there this semester. Today is the final class with John Horn and we will cast our head sculptures, so I am looking forward to that and I'll post pictures when I am done. The drawing above is in pastel on Rives BFK, 22 x 30.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Final Thursday Session

Tonight was the last session of the open studio figure drawing for the semester. This was a 3 week pose and while I am fairly happy with this drawing I'd like another week at it to try and balance things more.

It was a fun group of students to share the evening with drawing, and we had excellent models, the whole thing was a lot more relaxed than the day classes and I think that helped everyone have more fun.

I look forward to the next semester's drawing sessions...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The last Wednesday

This is pastel on Rives BFK

This was the last full Wednesday class, next week is our class critique, so it was the last full class with Scott Noel, and this was the drawing i started in the class. I missed last week due to the holiday, and having oh so many things to do like cook and clean. Scott is the man, no doubt, I have learned so much from having him as a teacher and I dare say now as a friend, he's such a sharing person, a hard task master and demanding master. Time in his Dojo in the cast hall is always well spent. I can't grab the pebble from his hand, but I am far closer to being the type of artist i want to be because of him.

This is the second pass on the Grisaille still life in acrylic I am doing in Mike Gallagher's class. I have one more time at it--tomorrow in the uninstructed class, then I am done with all my classes except for my painting class with Al Gury on Monday. Mike is really a great teacher and I wish I could have him again next semester, but his classes booked up, but maybe in the fall I can take his advanced still life class.

I think I made the most progress in this class this semester, and I have been able to take what I've learned here and apply it to my other classes. Mike suggested I try acrylics this time and it's been tricky learning with them, they dry so much faster, but- hey, everything has a learning curve.

Monday, December 01, 2008

2 Weeks Left!

Here is the latest progress of the last painting in Life painting with Al Gury. I was back at it today, and luckily I have two more shots at it before we are done, and this is going to be a challenge!

I am working my way from the bottom up on this painting to avoid what often happens --the bottom of the painting gets short shrift in the rush to get something done. in this case I think the bottom of the painting is vital and important in holding it all together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Figure Block-in

This is the block-in I did in Monday mornings Life Painting class. I think this is the best block-in so far and we'll see how it goes from here, I am trying to keep this one loose, it's so easy for me to get too tight too soon, so I am really working this one even trying to hold my brushes a bit different to make it loose, they I can decide what to accent later as I will have a good "bed' to paint into as Al calls it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Creepertins

It seems impossible in some ways but the Happy Holidays are upon us already. Tom Turkey sits frozen ready to meet the oven and his delicious fate.

That means it's almost one full year since I started doing the Creepertins in Delaware County Magazine, seems the time flew by and I will so glad to see 2008 go bye-bye. This has been the worst year of my life as an adult, there was lots of really bad stuff this year, so while there was also some very good things like being in School, and professionally to, but personally I can't wait to see the calender for 2008 fall into the waste basket. Too bad some people can't also fall in along with it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Mixed Bag

Here is a mixed sampling of recent work, some finished and some in progress. the above drawing was a two week drawing in Scott Noel's class and it was a bear of a drawing. the light changed quite a bit from the original set-up and then there was a lot to try and get at on this...and I don't consider the drawing really done, but I am happy with parts of it like the skeleton. Funny how the drawing went from being about the model to about the skeleton. I feel very unsatisfied recently with my work at school, I just feel cramped for time and I am trying to incorporate things I am learning which are not fully digested yet. The one group of work I am happier with is the small studies in charcoal. the trick will now to see if I can translate that feeling and esthetic I have in the small drawings into paintings
here is another samll still life in charcoal.
here is a 'constructional" self portrait done for John Horn's class. John didn't want us to render this, but to do a drawing exploring the construction of ourselves. I was influenced a bit by a drawing of a man dressed as a clown by RICO LEBRUN.

Today I started a broad grisi block-in in still life class. It's in acrylic, which I haven't painted in since high school. Tomorrow I go to NYC to see Vincent Desiderio in and get to visit with him and have him talk about his art on a school field trip. man, I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Final Figure Model

Today was the final session with our models Jon and Zenia in John Horn's figure modeling class. The next step is to cast the sculptures over the last few weeks of class.

This was the first bust of someone I have ever done from life and the first since I was about 10-11 years old, when I sculpted a bust of Jesus back in grade school. that piece was disqualified because they said I couldn't have done it myself and must have had my parents help me.

I did have some help on this from Mr. Horn, my fantastic teacher I will readily admit. All John had to do was look at the sculpt for 10 seconds and make a few pushes here or there, or take a tool and make a deft cut here or push there and suddenly the piece would have what it needed.

I have wanted to sculpt for a long time and finally getting to do it has been very challenging, frustrating and also fun. I still hope to be a sculpture minor and have some pretty cool ideas I'd like to make and themes to explore. PAFA is to my mind really the best place left in the country to study figurative sculpture and the cast hall is a fantastic resource in that regard.
This piece still could use a lot more refinement, but that's all the time we have, so this is as far as I could take it. I know with more practice I'd get farther, faster and learn to deal with things like the model moving around, doing eyes (which are friggin hard!) and the esthetics of the smooth surface vs the rougher sculpt where you can see the finger prints of the sculptor, which I really like.
The part I am happiest with is the hair as I think that adds a real nice balance with a cool texture and almost gestural movement.I had to fight this thing tooth and nail at times, the further along you get the harder the little things become. I think I sculpted and re-sculpted the mouth 5 times alone. My buddy Jeff who's taken several sculpture classes before was also a really big help at times, especially when John horn wasn't in the un-instructed classes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cartoon Network Dominance! Batman Brave and the Bold and Sceret Saturdays!

This weekend two of the new Cartoon Network shows, Secret Saturdays and Batman Brave and the Bold are on back-to-back, and I worked on both of them as a storyboard artist and character designer respectively. So while I am not really dominating , I am very well reped this weekend. I have had up to 5 comics on the stands at one time back in the rah, rah, 90's, but i don't think I've had two cartoons on in the same night I've worked on.

This week's Episode of the Secret Saturdays introduces a new character, Doyle into the Saturday clan, and it's the premiere of Batman B&B. Above is the model for this week's villain, Kan Jaro. The rough was done by James Tucker the producer on the show, and often he'd do a rough pass fiorst on the main characters, then I'd take a shot at them or would do the turns depending on what he wanted. Here I did the clean-up and the turn.

Below is a section of my board from this weeks episode of Secret Saturdays. It's always interesting to see how close the final show is to my board. I sometimes feel the animators overseas or the clean-up artists loose the life in the board in the quest to make the characters "on model". I can always tell the A, B, and C level animators from scene to scene, sometimes I watch a sequence and there is really something animating with squash, stretch, overlap, etc., and sometimes the characters just move from key position to key position without much extra juice like anticipation, secondary action, overlap, etc. I still think the process of doing boards and designs here and sending it overseas ends up with at times very mixed results depending on the studios you work with. Sometimes as I understand it, scenes are even farmed out from the contracted studios to smaller outfits, or freelancers as pick-up work.

I know on some of the Superman and Batman cartoons I boarded on the animation and drawing quality would radically change from scene to scenes sometimes and I wondered why, until I heard about how business was done. I know the director is only allowed to call for so many "re-takes", where you send a scene back to be reanimated on every cartoon. So it seems sometimes you have to pick your battles. The aid of computers now in creating the vehicles and the fact that everything is composited in the computer (no more cells and cell paint) has added a lot more creative possibilities for us as board artists in the last few years, but all the slick computer effects can't save a bad drawing or poor animation, it can't "plus' a board, that can only be done by a good artist or animator.