Sunday, February 27, 2011


Well its the week before Spring Break and that means I need to extra crunches for my six pack so i can make the scene down on the beach with those hot college chicks.

But between sets of ab crunching I'll be crunching paint in the studio as it is almost halfway through the semester and that means that much closer to having to hang my wall for the ASE. The big painting is well under way and I feel getting close, very close to a good end. I feel really good about it which is something I don't always have.

I've had a lot of great feedback from all of my critics and teachers along the way, which if course is the whole point, wiser more experienced painters giving you feedback and sometimes just the right spot of advice in just the right spot in a painting.

I was also happy to be one of the monitors this weekend for Vincent Desiderio's workshop at school, this time on working from photos. Vince also gave me a great crit on my work as well. Vince is a great artist, teacher and really just a great guy. He really spent a lot of time with each of us for the two-day workshop not only on the purely technical, which he did, even doing a demo, but also on the art world as a business and the ups and downs as well as really i feel trying to rally and inspire us as fellow painters the entire time. There were 30 of us, a mix of undergrad and graduate students and Vince kept us going the whole time. the first day we set up and photographed the models, each student taking turns shooting pics with the camera as the two models moved around. We got them developed and printed out at Kinko's and then Vince did a demo and talked about how he worked with photos. the next day we drew from the photos and then shellaced the drawings as I have done before with Vince's workshops and then I inked the drawing in with a warm brown ink and then started painting following Vince's process.

I have taken Vince's workshops I think 4 times now and each time I get a bit more and a bit better at getting his process, besides I just like the guy.

Below is the painting from the workshop which is about 4-5 hours work.
I drew the figures in in charcoal on 4 ply Strathmore then shellaced it with amber shellac so that i could go back in and working in the lights middle tones and shadows in the 'half light" fashion that Vince talks about where you slowly build up the figure by keeping the shadows reflective and luminous and if you must, ignoring for the time being local color.

I'll have more on the details of this approach in a later post probably over spring break.

Judge Parker

Will the Judge's book reception still happen? Angle Morningstar returns with some bad news.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Painting with Kanevski

I have the good fortune to have Alex Kanevsky as a teacher this semester and I am really enjoying my dialogues with him as the class progresses. This painting above is from his class and again i used the Rustoleum, red, black and white on cardboard.

Alex was really on me to use a much bigger brush this week and so I did, I used one of the biggest bruises I have which is a white nylon which is about 4 inches wide. I think the tool you use is the one you need and feel comfortable with, that's all that matters. Alex says he likes to use the biggest brush he can, and if you look at his work it makes sense as he's doing this bold build and destroy type work. Sargent said the same thing, as does my other painting teacher Scott Noel.

But I have painting teachers who use 00 brushes and do highly rendered paintings like Renee Foulks. But I don't get too caught up in that, I think the right tool for the job--for you.

Big and bold is great, and so is soft and delicate, its what's you desire as a painter. We have a student doing trompe l'oeil at school and our school over the decades has had many excellent artist who do this work attend. It's not my cup of tea, but goddamn some of these painters really had great skill.

I prefer the work of Sargent, or Kanevski--or Cornwell, I like bold, but I also like finesse. Rockwell. Bold for bolds sake doesn't do it either and you can just do as many bad bold paintings as picky ones.

I use a malhstick on some work, like some of my train paintings, on others I don't, just depends. I'll sue a spatula if that's what I need to get an effect.

Kanevski and I had a talk today about what's really important, having a consistent language or tempo in a painting, you don't have huge boldness and then suddenly get picky, you have to orchestrate your application and brushstrokes. This is what makes Sargent so great as well as Valazquez or Sorolla, nothing out of character or out of sync. Alex builds and destroys many times in a painting evaluating these things like edges and detail, lost and found, in and out. A guy like Nelson Shanks goes for a really classical Euro feeling, like David or Ingres. I like some of his work as well before he gets too finished.

Another British artist Scott Noel lent me a book on was Anthony Eyton since I am doing a big painting with a dilapidated factory. I'll say one thing, this semester is my most interesting as a painter so far.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Session

Today I did the weekly Sunday Open session at PAFA which is usually run by either or both Scott Noel and Peter Van Dyck. I was running late today as I had some freelance to take care of this morning so I had to hustle and burn some rubber once I was there. My buddy Dave Golas was there as well as my friend and former student Aleson Ho. We had a good session and once again I worked on a sheet of cardboard which this time I coated with clear matte medium the night before with the Rustoleum. I worked in the rough figure figure with a china pencil and then blasted away loading in the masses quickly then working by mixing my paint into the same mass of color so I can quickly harmonize the colors using a paper plate as my palette.

Judge Parker

Constance reveals her plan to promote the Judge's new book.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sunday Session

This is another one-shot painting with Rustoleum on cardboard. This is from the Sunday painting sessions at school hosted by Scott Noel and Peter Van Dyke, they hire a model and get a set up going and it's basically an open painting session for anyone to join. I haven't been able to do so until this weekend despite the fact that my car was once again stolen this last Friday night. it's since been recovered but it's been pretty banged up--and it's a long story I just don't feel like typing now--but rest assured I will be giving forth a post about the whole thing soon.

But tonight I just want to share a little art. the new thing is I have introduced two more colors to the Rustoleum paint--I added a yellow and a blue, so now I should be able to have a full spectrum. it will be interesting to see how this effects the next few paintings as I'll have a greater range to play with.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Judge Parker

Constance the spunky intern and Sam decide to go see the judge...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So the painting part of my week has kicked in solid this week. I finally got to start in on my big painting after a lot of technical issues. And I continue to play with painting with Rustoleum on cardboard. In fact today I purchased a few more colors , a blue and yellow which will give me a full palette. I really look forward to trying these new colors out and seeing what the results will be. The painting above was done to see how the paint would handle trying for a more subtle approach and I really had a blast doing this. because the enamel is shiny it adds a luster to the skin tones especially if you start lighter and then paint over the lighter color and let some of it come through. I am also getting a better handle on the paint and its properties and drying time. It sets up quick, which can be good and also tricky. So I decided top do another in my Super Sad series. The most fun was the hair!
So I finally got the big painting rocking--it seemed like it would take forever to get it going, I wanted to over the break but I was just too swamped with commercial work. So i rented a projector from the school library and hooked my laptop up to it and spent a while trying to get the image as square and as in-focus as I could.
Then I roughed the painting in with a wash of Van Dyke Brown and using a strangle and straight edge I went in and fixed all the wonky distortions and fixed the perspective.
I fired right in and got the whole thing coverd in one day, so all of this was done from late afternoon once the sun was low enough not to wash out the projector till about midnight when I called it quits, and man, my feet were tired after dancing around while slapping the paint on this baby!

The big goal is to make the larger painting just as vital and fresh as the study, which means I have to keep it loose and full of energy and get back from it as I paint to see how the painting reads. I expect this will be another week to maybe 10 days to finish this up--but who knows...the painting will tell me when I'm done.

This was another Rustolem on cardboard and done in my morning painting class with Mike Gallagher. This is a once session painting and I really felt the juices rolling this morning. Since this pose goes for a few more weeks I'll try a few more compositions from this set-up.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Waiting for Superman.

I thought I'd put down some thoughts here in response to the video Eric Powell posted up on Youtube a week ago. Seems the web and comics was a titter and rush with this for a few days. I think Powell had some valid points and the video was funny, but I also think there was also a bit of a miss fire as well in some respects.

I think despite the crappy distribution, crappy retail evironment and the taste of the average fan left reading comic books the buck, or the penpoint stops with the cartoonist. I have often heard the saying "there has never been a great time to be an artist", and I think you can say that for cartooning too. There were bad times in comics in the 50's and comics almost imploded in the late 70's.

The real issue I see is the fact that most cartoonist are lousy managers and businessmen. So many wait for something to change, for distribution to get better, or somebody to come up with millions of dollars and a desire to make comics cool again. Basically for Superman to come in and save comics. Superman is only going to save himself, or Time Warners anyway. And Superman doesn't care about you unless you are drawing him. His freelance slave.

Superman's dominance  doesn't mean that Hellboy or American Splendor won't sell, they sell what they sell because the average comic fans in the direct market prefers Super Dudes. retailers get a better cut from Marvel and DC too, but I don't think that matters as much as the fact that the direct market is a stagnate and dwindling market.

I think there are a few fairly clear paths in the current situation for the cartoonist now.

A) work for a major publisher if you can, or want, they pay decent rates and if you can find steady work ( much more difficult today) you can make a good living. However--there is no loyalty for service and royalties are a thing of the past for most guys I know. Lasting on a book for 12 issues is almost unheard of now, so you'll likely have to dance around and hope you stay stylistically viable and your editor doesn't get sacked. There are way more asses than seats today.

B) Do your own thing.

Now with things like the Diamond minimum and the anemic direct market the chances you'll make a middle class living or even get your work out there is almost zero now. I am friends with few people like Thom Zahler and John Gallagher to name just a few who do this but don't really make a living--they still break even at best. They still support their books more than the books support them. But they are committed to doing their work. I did the same years ago with my Action Planet comics which lead down new paths for me.

2) Try newspaper strips-which are also in decline, but world wide still very popular. They still launch about a dozen strips a year last time I read up on it. Not a great chance, but if you do well, get in at least 200 papers you can make a living. I make decent money doing Judge Parker, if I also wrote it I'd do even better.

3) The Interwebs.

This is like being a farmer. You have to do a lot of work, long hours and then see if that crop will yield. The onus is all on you to promote and stay out there waving the flag 24-7. There are many web strips, but how many beside Kurtz (PVP) and the Penny Arcade guys make a living--a real living I don't know.

I'll clarify here, my idea of a living monthly wage is a minimum of $3,000. Your milage may vary.

You might have to toss many things out there till one clicks.

My old high school buddy Lloyd Dangle self distributes his strip Trouble Town. There are other cartoonist who do this. I think any new crop must be web based as the thrust of all media really is going in this direction. I love print, but I have to give over to the new wave too and hope that print will survive as a reprint form or archive.

4) Find a book publisher and sell then your own graphic novels. I have several friends from Jamar Nicholas to Bret Blevins and Nick Bertozzi who have done this. The fact is the advance is really the only money you will see for a long time, so it better be good. The fact is that the book publishers are in general better at getting and maintaining their stock of books out there. If you can get the libraries to order your book you can do very well, there are over 100,000 libraries in the US. But Borders and brick and mortar stores are in decline...

I have done all of the above, even provided a monthly comic strip, The Creepertins to one of the local Monthly free newspaper/coupon mags..but they dropped the strip for ads.

There are no guarantees now, you have to strike a hundred anvils raise many crops and hope that one will strike it big and be a hit in the market. In the old days guys like Kirby struck a lot of ideas and most didn't stick, but a few became huge. the question also is how flexible are you as a creator, how good is your skill-set? Are you weak and limited and do you have more than one idea? Some people just have one idea, one way of working and that hurts them more than the shittiness of the direct market. Don't just point the finger at the market with a stern wag, but use it to hold that mirror up and look at yourself in a critical way.

You have to take the risk like a farmer, and some crops just get eaten by weevil's or drought, and sometimes everybody brings the same crop so you can't make much $$ that way. My feeling is waiting for Superman will end up being a very long wait.

Judge Parker

The Terminators out of service so Constance is on the scene...Sam wants to know who is she and what's her mix all about?

Friday, February 04, 2011


This was the second full week of school and i ended up missing the Monday classes due to freelance deadlines, but I tried to make up the lost painting time towards the end of the week.

My buddy Dave Golas came in Thursday and so Dave and Will (Who took over Dave's old spot in the gang studio) and I had a mini-Dirty Palette Club meeting. Will set up a still life and we all painted away. U made this a one-shot and its on a Masonite panel.
This painting I did also in one-shot for my Monday Drawing class with Mike Gallagher. This week's assignment was to use different media and surfaces, or non-traditional media. I choose to do this painting with Rustoleum on card board. I used three colors, red, black and white and a little china marker. its 24 x 36 on corrugated cardboard which they sell at the school.I decided to try the Rustolem after Vincent Desiderio recommended I try it the last time he gave a demo at school. It was like painting with house paint in some places and slid around on the cardboard which wasn't very absorbent, I blocked the drawing in with some vine charcoal and then just went at it, but the good thing is the Rustoleum dries fairly quick and tacks up fast. it does have a slight gloss to it as you cake it one and start to build up the paint. the subject is an old factory in North Philly I shot pictures of when Bill Wray and his Buddy Tony Peter's came to town a few years back. Who could resist painting such a subject?

I have another sheet of cardboard so I might try another painting this week with the Rustleum.