Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Mix: The Commonality of language

Today I'm posting a bit of a mix that I think shows what I am doing as an artist on a weekly, daily basis. The range of art or images I work with as both a student and as a working cartoonist/illustrator. It is so typical of my life to spend one part of the day working in a completely different way, thinking in a different way, in essence having a completely different voice or using a different language. Now some of the root of the language is common, like perspective, anatomy, line, volume, tone, etc, but drawing from observation or drawing from imagination are really different worlds, especially when you factor in that commercially I work in very different ways. This faux new Yorker style cartoon has some similarities with the Batman character designs I am doing, or even closed form drawing I might do in class, but really not much with the painting I might be doing maybe outside of the compositional issues.

For some this might be too "scitzo" to deal with, but it's something I have always done in a way, since I was a kid. I might like or copy Neal Adams drawings but still love Kirby, or Chuck Jones or NC Wyeth. I was and still am constantly being bombarded by multipule infulences or languages visually, school of thought and ways of working that seem to even clash. Each artist has something unique about the way they put down a mark, make a statement visually. Even those artists who must camleon-like blend together like the Disney animators still had individual personality come through in their drawings.

Unlike many artists, critics and worse--TEACHERS I don't have that prejudice between a drawing by Degas or Rembrant and one by Kirby, Schulz or Glen Kean. Instead I am looking for and drawing upon the commanality in the works, "what works" in all good drawings and paintings as well as the specifics, the difference or the articulations of the language that each medium or piece requires to be successful.

I realize of course the reasons any piece of art is created is where maybe the biggest differences are. Some art is created because it has to be created, the artist feels so compelled, so infused or pregnant with the idea they must give it birth, spit it out. Some art is created simply to sell something, a magazine, illustrate a concept or product, to make you laugh, etc. The last year or so has been a very important one as it has helped me better define my thinking and language on these issues and subjects and caused me to both examine and draw upon all I do and to also seperate or draw distinctions that help also clarify my work and my better articulate my language as it were. This is something that is really endless and something all good artists I think must do all of their creative life, this process has also I think helped me not only be a better more focused artist, but in turn be a better teacher.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Final session-4 weeks to go!

There are 4 weeks of school left with one crit week, the last day of each class. it seems the semester just flew by in a huge rush of plaster, paint and charcoal. Today was the final pose with Lisa and the final session on teh still lifes set up in the still life room. I snapped a pick so I may go back and finish the still life up a bit more. I stayed after and helped Jill and the ofther students break down the still lifes set up. We start fresh next week for the last drawings or paintings.

In Carolyn's class we have one long pose left and one painting we have to do from life outside of the class. I'll either do a self portrait or maybe paint a friend depending on the time constraints. There are things I like about both of these paintings and things I don't, many things, but it's all good practice though to be honest I feel pretty frustrated at times doing them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

lisa-3rd Session

yesterday was the 3rd session on painting our latest model, Lisa in my Life Painting class with Carolyn Pyfrom. I basically went back in and repainted on everything, adjusting the overall grouping of the tones so the figure doesn't have these sections of shapes strung together. Carolyn was very helpful in her crits and really gave me some good insights and I feel I'm clicking in her class more and more and getting what she is talking about. One more session on this Friday and then we have one last long painting to do and one outside assignment to do and then that's it....summer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Male Sculpture

Today was the day I've been waiting for in sculpture class, the day when we really get to sculpt the standing model. Last week we built the armature, or rather I was able to save myself at little time by appropriating a cast off armature whaich I had to play Doc Frankenstien on. I made really fast progress today working from the live model, moving the modeling stand around as I modeled to catch different views I and went through a bag and a half of grey clay. My sculpture teacher was very complimentary on my progress. It felt great to slap that clay on there and mush it around...I can't wait till next week.

March Creepertins

Here is the March installment of the Creepertins

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Paint Day

Friday is amy all painting day at school, and so it's my favorite day, though it can be frustrating and taxing too. Standing on your feet from 8:30 till 4 is very tiring. This is the second pass at the new still life in Jill Rupinski's calss. of course i always set a challenge for myself by diving on the difficult piece. We have one more week on this so I might even take some time over the weekend to paint on it a bit. This one has a ways to go for sure.
This is the second pass on the figure from last week. I liek parts, hate partsm so we have two more shots at this for me to either redeem it or totally ruin it. The subject or lesson is paint the figure IN the space and to try and get the light and sense of atmosphere. I feel the space is there and part of the figure, but there still needs to be a lot more work overall to halp tie things together.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Into the Workshop

Today in sculpture class our teacher, Stephen Nochella took us all into the workshop to learn how to weld, bend metal, and cut it. We had to wear protective clothing and the welding visors, etc. It was fun, though I think some classmates were a bit intimidated by all the stuff as you can really mess yourself up if you don't do things right and safely.

I got to learn how to weld something and did a great job, it's fun and I look forward to doing it on the last piece for the class. the pic above is of my classmate Fran using the saw to cut the metal pieces we all had to take turns doing. Next we used the arc welder to weld the two pieces together.
This is our teacher Stephen showing us how to use the Acetylene Torch to heat up the rebar to bend it. You do have to do things in order and the right way with this stuff or you could blow yourself up or seriously hurt yourself as you are dealing with flame, electricity and gases under pressure in tanks with the welding and torches. But that said, I think this should be fun to work with metal and see what we can creat, the assignment is to create a sculpture that is about "personal space".

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Figures, Figure Everywhere

Today we started doing our 36' sculpture of the standing figure. I fitted together the armature and wire and by the time I got it all done the class was over. I am looking forward to spending the last 6 weeks of class on this piece. He looks like Jack Skelington now, but I'll slap some clay on him next week.

This was the first session on the new pose from the new model in Carolyn Pyfroms class. The last two sessions have been a bust with the model. We only have two weeks for this pose so it's gonna be a fast block in and value study. Only 7 weeks left in school, time is flying by....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Busy Weeks

I snapped the pic above of my painting in the school wide student show at PAFA that includes everybody from 1st to 4th year and the MFA program. The show has a lot of strong compitition so I am glad my piece was chosen. Afterwards I headed down to the Philly Sketch Club for dinner and socializing and I plan on becoming a member. It was a busy day....

Things have been busy, about as busy as they can be for me I think. Between teaching at two schools (DCAD,Uarts) and being in school at PAFA more that half time on top of my freelance work and DRAW! I don't have any days off. I'm not complaining really, I'm busy but I think I've got things balanced well and they actually help each other.

On top of all the shool and teaching I've been hired as a character designer on the new Batman cartoon. New you say? Yep. Batman Brave and the Bold is the new show, and it's a more kid friendly version, sort of Batman meets the Superfriends in a way. It's more Dick Sprang than any of the shows so far and I think that's really cool, to take it in another direction besides always trying to make Bruce Wayne younger. So my weeks are filled balancing between school and drawing for the show on top of the other little jobs that pop up like X-9 and the Creepertins. School is over half way done now anyway. And the regular pay is good too! This is one of the reasons that I haven't posted anything as I am working a lot but can't post any art from the show for obvious reasons.

These pics are from the DCAD Draw-a-thon, I got a piece of nice paper from my buddy James and tried some pastels I brought along.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


These are some of the sketches I did at the DCAD draw-a-thon yesterday. It was a smashing success, a packed house fullof students, alumni, teachers and many local artists sketching, painting, drawing andhaving a great time. I can't wait till next year! All drawings are in vine charcoal.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Batman Commission

Here is another commission I finished this week, this time the Dark Knight. I still have a few more to go so I'll be churning them out over the next few days.

Friday, March 07, 2008

BUSTER, gone 1 year

It was one year ago today that my dog Buster passed away, literally died in my arms, probably of a heart attack according to the vet. We had just had the last big snow of the season and both he and Shazam my other Australian Healer were running about playing. Like kids they loved the snow, especially Buster who right up till his last moments here in this plain of existence was still spry and full of energy, still acted like a dog 5-6 years younger.

I still miss his energy, his "always happy to see me personality". He was a great being, a great dog amongst dogs. Shazam as well as myself were pretty down for a while after that, but at almost 13 she's still getting on well, the fact that I adopted a new stray cat, Skavee seems to have helped here a lot and they get along well. A few of my friends even suggested that Skavee might actually be Buster reincarnated. I suppose anything is possible since Skavee basically walked in the house one night last november and acted, stayed like he lived here his whole life, but I think Buster was Buster and Skavee is another little soul who's moved into my life, so Buster is somewhere in the big doghouse in the sky where all great dogs go playing frisbee, eating bones and getting his belly and butt scratched all day long.

I was thinking that you can break down your life into strata, blocks of time like the strata of earth, rock and sediment layers, layers of DOG. each dog defines a pretty specific layer or chunk of time in my life. my earliest dogs Rusty, Skipper and Ginger, my first great dog I got myself Sabastion a shepperd/collie mix lived almost 16 years. that time period included me moving from Michigan to Philly, starting my career in comics, almost getting married (glad i didn't) and then buying the house I am now and overlapping with the era of Buster and Shazam whom i got the last year of his life. Buster's life covered another big chunk of time in my life where i had a lot of big and great things happen.

With Shazam still here that time is still running and sometimes I wonder how many more dogs would I have the fortune to be buddy/pack leader too in my life. I figured maybe 3 more, maybe 4 if I live to be an old man. I like thinking of my life in dog-time because dogs are really almost always happy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Commission

This is a commission I did yesterday for a fan who's been waiting for a while. This week being Spring Break from PAFA I'm trying to catch up on all the things like commissions which have been backed up a bit in the studio.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Still Life Final

Well I've stopped for now, I don't want to "kill it", so I'll let it set a few days and come back at it if I feel I need to. This by far has been the most complex painting I've done yet.

Still Life Progress

Spent the weekend painting a bit and cleaning up, preparing for the taxman. Still working away on this still life, it's by far the biggest painting I've done so far at 24 x 36 and I posted two details from it. I'm sure it will take me a few more days to work away at it, but I am having a lot fo fun on it. All of teh still lifes they set up at school tend to be pretty complicated and this one was challenging because of the natural light, but to me it was the most interesting.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My First Sculpture

Since it's Sunday, The Lord's day, I figured what an apt time to post this pic.

This is my first sculpture, which won first prize back in 4th grade at St. Bridgets in Detroit. It's a bust of Jesus which I did for the school art contest. My mom did help me a bit with critting me I seem to remember, and I didn't want her to work on it as I wanted to do it myself...guess I'm still like that in a way now. And face it, every parent helps their kid on school projects to some degree.

There was a controversy as I recall because they said I didn't do it, it was too good so my parents must have done it for me. They were going to disqualify me. I remember being very mad at that, it seemd like if you tried hard then you were immediately under suspicion because obviously a kid has to make stuff that sucks. Well, what can I say, that was pretty typical of the catholic school education I got. Some very conditional assholes. That as I recall was also the last year we had nuns as teachers, after that they were all gone and lay teachers came in. Jesus and I haven't been friends since....

It's unfired and crumbled a bit over the decades and has been with my Grandma since I did it, first in her home and then in her apt. Unfortunately her health has declined and she's entering an managed care facility. My grandma was my biggest booster as a kid in being an artist, and my parents were too. Grandma always brought me home tons of paper and pencils from Chrysler, where she was a secretary. You know offices toss out all kinds of extra paper, pencils, markers etc., but she always kept me supplied with a fresh stack of drawing paper and plenty to draw with. It's sad to hear of her decline in recent months, but unfortunately we all face the hand of time and the eventual decline in some reguards due to age. My parents recently were cleaning out her apt and took the sculp home and my dad snapped these pics for me. I think it's so funny to see something from that far back, from when I was around 9-10 years old or so and think about what I'm doing in sculpture class now.

Maybe I should do another bust of the man from Nazareth just for fun...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

And Spring Break Begins....

Yesterday was the last day of classes at PAFA before Spring Break which starts this week. It was also the last pose of our third model in Carolyn Pyfrom's figure painting class and Friday's are uninstructed classes without the teacher. I am pretty happy with most of this pose, many little issues with edges, etc. but this one worked out much better and maybe it's because I was better able to concentrate on this pose as my personal life has settled down a bit from crisis mode. The chunks of glass in the peanut butter of life are cutting a bit less.

As always, it's a battle with the light in Studio 4 of the Academy’s historic landmark building designed by Frank Furness. When the school was built the new Hamilton Building where the bulk of the school is now, wasn't there, so as a result in the afternoon the lighting changes dramatically as the north facing skylights bathe the studio not in the once steady northern light, but reflect the changing sky colors of the setting sun, etc., like a mirror directly down into the studios, so if you have an afternoon class it's a big chase with the blues changing to oranges in about 1 hour. So you kind of have to pick a moment and try and go with it. Not always easy. I always struggle with making the model too idealistic, like a plastic surgeon, because of my billion years as a comic artist drawing idealized people I have to be careful not to give the model and extra few inches in the waste or shins to make them taller. That means I have to slow down and really play more attention. I guess the main thing is each painting is a building step on the path.