Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's this, or what's behind door #3!


This post is for Dana. All other reader(s) will not be the target audience. When I say, "you," I am only referring to Dana. NO ONE ELSE MATTERS!

If you have any requests for further box art, speak now or forever hold your peace.

It's more traditional than stylized, which has a lot to do with my suckiness with tiny brushes. I modeled the hydrangeas off of your stamp, since that seemed an easy way to fit the wedding theme. When the box is displayed nestled in the lid, the blooms on the inner-lid hydrangea are visible while the leaves are not. I can probably add something to the front tonight if you'd like.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Second verse; not as good as the first

While waiting for the gesso on Dana's box to dry, I still had the itch to do some painting. Some interesting stuff happened, but the lack of Cate Blanchett soon took its toll.

It's become clear now that the theme of the latest "On Beauty" additions is temptation. The first painting (in the preceding post) is meant to evoke the starlet scandal of early Hollywood. She's the woman that *almost* makes it worth screwing up your life. Disaster surrounds her, but that only manages to make her more seductive.

This next painting is given away by it's (working) title: Risk Key. This time, the temptation comes in the form of the storied key parties of the 70's. You have to ask yourself: Can I be a swinger?

Since each of the paintings so far have been created while watching a film, it would make sense that this was painted while viewing "The Ice Storm." Yeah, I was watching "The Last King of Scotland." It didn't hold my interest, clearly, so the painting just went where it wanted to go. I had very little control over it.

While the result is interesting both visually and conceptually, it was frustrating to get this framework down. I always start my paintings with a brown or maroon "sketch" - NEVER blue. I chose blue with the idea of painting an Ugandan beauty - eh, it made sense at the time - but this annoying Scotsman kept getting in the way. Blue is a bad sketch color because alone it's too bold and when watered down it doesn't thin as nicely as I'd like. I had to squirt in some precious white paint (I consume white paint as if it were candy) to get proper tonal changes.

This next painting is where things really went off the rails. The movie this time was "The Darjeeling Limited." Wes Anderson has so much style in his films that it almost overpowers mine! It's only fitting that the woman created here is subjected to an ornamental and cumbersome outfit.

The face was a disaster from the start. After getting the first painting sketch to a stopping point, I still had paint. Well, heck, why not start another. During "The Last King of Scotland." A movie that only inspired by losing my attention and causing my mind to wander. Brilliant. (It's not a bad film, honestly. It just had the unfortunate timing of being seen between films that were either wonderfully done or stylistically intriguing.) The painting didn't start to find its form until "Darjeeling" was started.

The goal was actually to work with another stylish film: Juliet of the Spirits. Problem is, I can't paint a woman with the round, sweet face of Juliet. If the face looks out of place, that's because I gave up and went with what I know. The rest of the painting will have to be nudged along until it all fits together.

What is the temptation here? I suppose the ornate settings of Wes Anderson lore made me think of the ornate trappings that constrained women of the, uh. Fuck, what crazy British era *is* that? ANYWAY, once I settled on that I mythologized further and turned the woman into a playing card. I'm thinking by the end, she'll be the "Queen of Clubs" - a name that certainly implies some dangerous temptation, no?

The poorly rendered praying hands were meant to give the idea of the unobtainable temptation. Not only does one have to go through several layers of clothing to get at her, but she's also the good girl who would never let herself indulge in bodice-ripping fantasies. The seemingly unobtainable always has a way of seducing.

I'm not sure what direction my queen will follow as I try to improve/fix that beginning, but it should be interesting.

The question now is... what's next in my slide show of harlots through the ages?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The time has come to paint some chicks

Among my many thousands of deadlines in the next two weeks is one for submissions to the Art at the Mill show. It's a no-cred, small venue local art show that raises fun for a historic mill. Most of the art displayed there is painfully conservative and traditional. (To paraphrase someone... It's a show where many of the paintings are of the mill itself.) Rural landscapes, wild horses, bridges, flowers... all of those are typical mill works. Buuuut, they also let real artists participate! If they think it will sell, they will accept it. It helps the resume and can potentially result in quick cash for an artist.

If I was the uppity sort, I'd reject the whole thing as too commercial. But, uh, I am ALL FOR being commercial! Well, actually, I want to find that spot where I can do what I please and still make money. The task is to work in several forms of art, but keep my recognizable style. By having so many comfort zones, I can choose the type of art I produce to fit the venue.

The mill show is a challenge for me: How can I make my style of work desirable to a crowd that is happy to buy paintings of barns? My first attempt was a complete disaster. I send off photos of my best work... and got one pity acceptance. The piece (Floodgates) was placed among nature paintings and looked revoltingly out of place. It didn't sell. So I changed things for the next show. This time I was going to paint nature scenes - but in MY style! The result was The Hiking Trip.

I had three paintings finished when it was time to submit, so I tossed in two others (five can be submitted, if you suck at math) from my On Beauty series Both beauties got accepted. One hiking painting (which my graduate class hated because it was "too commercial") was also accepted. The rest were put on reserve, to be hung when other paintings sold. For the artist's reception, all five of my paintings were on display. Which meant they had not sold. Shit!

When I went to pick up my work, I did get some good news. Some couple, having gotten the week of the show wrong, had arrived on the last day art could be picked up. They were allowed to look around and, lo and behold, they had chose to purchase one of my paintings! (BEST OF THE REST, BABY!) Oh course, it was the one painting I thought had no chance of selling: Eye Candy 1!

So my one success came from my stable of beautiful women. FINE, I'LL DO THAT! The first week of August will be devoted to some last-minute heroics to create some new chicks for show. (Yes, Dana, this means I'm putting your box first! It'll be ready!)

While the plan wasn't to start any painting yet, I've had such an inspiring summer I was not going to let inspiration pass me by. Last night I was watching the movie Notes on a Scandal, and something about it made me get out the paint. The result: A sinister and seductive women with the face of Cate Blanchett.

The painting is still in "sketch" stage, but I'm reasonably pleased with the progress so far. There's no telling how the final will end up looking, but it's a nice start. I'm just happy to see I can still paint!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Putting the latest sketchbook to rest

6/14/08 - 7/12/08

Yes, I finished a sketchbook in less than a month. It took a lot - A LOT - of mental instability and self-destructive behavior to do it, but I succeeded. In a month where I dropped the ball with absolutely every aspect of my life, I spent that unproductive time working in my sketchbook. Many self-destructive nutjobs waste their lives by drinking, losing themselves online, playing video games and other useless activities. At least sketching and looking at long-term goals wistfully is a great deal better than that. (Like winning gold at the Special Olympics!)

So here are the best of the rest; choice cuts taken as I went through the book before moving to the next:

This one stood out as, like in the last post, there is a distinct lack of cartoon animals. Heck, the only other scribble on the page was of - gasp - a human! I named the image "Suburban Sprawl" mostly because it's clear I did one sketch of some capsule thing and didn't feel like stopping once the sketch was finished.

Autumn is kind of a pain to put in group shots, due to her ears adding significant height to her figure. It's probably why the Autumns posted here all had "expressive" flattened ears until I realized and devoted a full post to her normal pose. Her ears still vex me at times, as getting them the perfect shape seems impossible - especially since I'm not sure what the perfect shape should be. Practice will make perfect.

Getting a full figure sketch to look good enough to scan is hard work! As I'm still focusing so much on getting the heads to look right, the rest of the body is still secondary. Sometimes I get a good head and the drawing of the body just falls apart. Sometimes I rush and the body is way too sketch to scan. Sometimes I just plain can't fit the body in on the page! (I never know ahead of time when a sketch will actually look good, so they can be started anywhere on the page.) For this last image, I decided to pull out my favorite top-heavy or bottomless sketches. (The one great Autumn sketch that had the body cut off couldn't fit, naturally, thanks to her big friggin' ears!)

Closing out, here are some sketches of the secondary characters. Vincent is clearly the oddball here. Not only is his sketch simpler and unshaded, but he's just a background character for the foreseeable future. Suzette should be here with the rest of the supporting cast, but there were very few sketches of her in my book. Why? She's the easiest to draw, so I don't need as much practice. The only fully-rendered and shaded Suzette had a misplaced collar bell, which is enough to make me pass her by.

So that's that! The sketchbook now goes on the pile and I move to a new one. With any hope, this one will take two or three months to complete. It's a weird goal, but I make it knowing I *can't* stop being creative. If I'm not working on sketching, it means I'm doing those art projects I keep putting off!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A distinct lack of cartoon animals

While Precocious has occupied my life, I *am* still an artist if the fine variety.

Today I found a box of colored pencils that I used to make my labels when hanging my art at the Martinsburg Arts Centre. Hey, what the hell; it's Friday - GO NUTS! I'm just so wild that I draw pictures instead of, y'know, have friends.

I'm calling it "Tango" because the original few shapes looked like two figures dancing. (Obviously.) It's a tad overworked, but that's what I do. It's the first me-style art I've done in a while, so yay?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If I had to scan them, you have to see them!

Sometimes I just scan whatever I like and see what post I can make of it. Sometimes, that turns out to be an eerie parade of Bud Oven. These poor saps, not being Bud, didn't get to take part in the post. It's only fair they get their time to shine! (Twice in Autumn's case.)

Oh, and can you tell I've been experimenting with the "WHAT!?" expression for my characters?

A Bud for all seasons

When I talk about how I'm still inconsistent with character proportions, this is what I mean. (Click the image to get the full Bud experience, of course.) Like, well, ALL early comic strips, this is something that won't be standardized for quite some time.

I'm not even sure yet which Bud is the best Bud. The one on the right is EXTREMELY adorable - so much that it melts my cold, shriveled heart - but once I reach that range things can easily fly out of, uh, proportion. (I didn't scan the extreme hyper-cephalic Bud I drew once, as it scares even me.)

Another thing that messes with proportion is the size of the drawing. The second from the right is an example of a smaller drawing - which is cute and compressed. The larger the sketch, the longer (or wider) the sketch can get. All the sketches (except the one noted) are between 2.5 and 3 inches tall, if that is enlightening.

Sure, I can get annoyed that my cuteness is not consistent between characters... OR, I can look at every sketch as a happy surprise!



Monday, July 7, 2008

Kiss them for me, if I am delayed

So...deadlines? What's the deal with those?

I've been treading the fine line between procrastination, idiocy, irresponsibility, mentally deranged and hyper-dumbassery for quite some time now. (It's a very complex line.) Flirting with danger is fun and all - but it's just flirting. I'm apparently looking for a hot, naked sweaty affair with danger as I keep taunting deadlines like a super happy fun ball.

So it's looking like Precocious will not make it's end of July deadline for publication. That sucks, but confidence remains high. Early August is still attainable. The problem is all those *other* deadlines I let sneak up on me... and then let gnaw on my foot... and then let saw off my leg... and then let set me on fire...

Now that I have been engulfed in a fire that burns but does not consume, with some festive dismemberment thrown in, it's time to start thinking about dealing with these problems. I may not be able to bring my allegorical leg back, but dousing the flames is bound to be an improvement to my situation.

Is it time to embrace Zen? Is it time to transform into a person who can structure time well? Is it time to become someone who can just *do* work at a moment's notice? Sure, but me exploding as I type this post is more likely to happen.

My personality is a cosmic joke and we all know it. Whatevs. I'd rather be nutty than boring, so life with chaos isn't necessarily bad. I know that what makes my life a mess is also what makes me interesting. Unfortunately, just knowing (glowing?) isn't enough. Sure, most of my problems are textbook ADHD consequences. I can name that beast, but it's not Rumpelstiltskin. There's not even a sympathy card to play, as ADHD is nearly indistinguishable from Whiny Prick Syndrome - especially IF I BLOG ABOUT IT!

Rationally, I shouldn't have a problem. I am fully capable of meeting my goals. There's just the problem of my head being like an busy airport with no control tower - and all the pilots are drunk. If planes aren't smacking into each other in the sky before they get a chance to try landing, they're colliding as several rush to the same landing strip. The tiny personal planes off to the side can come and go as they please, since they're smaller and less numerous. Those planes can generally move around each other and land quickly, but the cargo is rarely vital. Still, it's very easy to focus on the tiny planes. They may be irrelevant, but at least *something* gets accomplished. Standing at the end of a landing strip with nothing but a pile of crashed jumbo jets can be quite discouraging.

Over time I've learned to manage those simile jets far better, but full mastery is the unobtainable goal. If I let the airport get too chaotic, no amount of control can stop the impending disaster. Maybe it's better to just let the crashing happen and guide in whatever jets remain at the end. If it's too late, it's not worth the stress. Accept it, let the jet crash (or, to mix imagery, let the leg be cut off) and order a new shipment of cargo. Maybe this one will arrive when the airport is less congested.

Holy fuck, that's depressing. All I wanted to do was post some more sketches, but I'm at work so I decided to see if I could write something interesting instead. And now I've blogged all over myself... it's disgusting.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And now for something positive and sweet....

First off, a big congrats to Dana and Jason for their impending nuptials. It warms this bitter, empty husk of a human's heart to see two wonderfully matched people find each other. Awwww.

Because I am both willful and egotistic, I chose to use my attendance reply card as a cartooning vehicle. Hey, it was a postcard with a plain white back and I'm an ARTIST! It would be wrong of me NOT to use that canvas!

Not bad for the back of the card with minimal sketching and no white-out. That stuff may work for production since scanners filter it out, but this is fridge-hangingly real! Aside from the one errant line that messed up Tiffany's jaw, I escaped relatively unharmed. Jacob's expression in the last panel is favorite of mine.