Friday, April 29, 2011

Springing Forward!!!



Start of the spring and my son (left) is ready for baseball. A drawing I struggled with and intend to turn into a portrait of my son in his little league uniform. I'm still working on the small portrait of my wife as well and will post that shortly.

In the mean time with the warm weather coming in I can go outdoors again to paint and sketch. This week I've made trips to a park near my job on my lunch break. I really look forward to plan trips to City Island in the Bronx to paint near the water. Last year I've used my vacation days and off days at work for this, I'll probably do the same this year.
       



 These two sketches were made at Battery Park with a Pentel Brush pen.
These sketches were also made with the brush pen. I didn't try using
a pencil to rough in the drawing first because I felt going straight to the
black ink would force me to work harder at being accurate, (could use a lot more
work on that, but it was fun).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Recent Illustration Assignment


The finished Illustration minus the beards.
Recently I completed an illustration for Guide Magazine. A christian magazine for children . The story they wanted me to illustrate took place in the old testament, I thought this would be fun because of all those years of collecting Savage Sword of Conan magazine I could draw upon that and make a fun illustration.
Here is the description of the what the Art Director wanted me to illustrate:

"Through the keyhole" closeup of the two men, Balak  king of Moab and Balaam, looking slyly at each other. Faces only-
mainly their eyes and mouths are visible, with a sinister/devious look. Dramatic lighting from underneath. The view doesn't have to be through an actual keyhole, but should give the idea that you are looking in on their plotting. The faces should be appropriate to Bible times (Semitic/Middle Eastern look), but it doesn't need to be obvious that they are in Bible times attire.

The comp left was done after I was asked to take the beards off the the characters to make it less obvious that they were biblical characters. Looking back at the description I realized I totally missed the dramatic light from underneath part, which I wish I didn't because that would have added to the illustration. No harm seeing that the Art Director didn't mind.



In the earlier comps I was trying to recapture some of the flavor of the type of drawings done for the Conan magazines by John Buscema ,(like the ones done for Savage Sword issues 16-19). I don't know if those turbans looked right though, or that anyone in that region wore them at that time. You see them so much in old master biblical paintings but I left them out eventually.



Here I was asked to do a close up of the two characters. They still had beards which I was asked to remove as explained above.

 



This is the final Illustration. I got an email
asking me to but the beards back,
which I was happy to do because
I thought the illustration looked
 better with it
                                                                                                   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pen and Ink and Digital Color

A while back I wrote and Illustrated a story for my son when he began to develope a love for dinosaurs. That love has since then disappearded but it awoke the kid in me and I continued to draw and learn about those ancient animals. The learning part is hardest because there are a lot of knowledgable people out there who are ready to pounce  when they see a badly drawn dinosaur, (and I have a lot to learn),but I do the best that I can with what I know and continue to add to that.
These illustrations for that book were essentialy pen and ink drawing that were digitaly colored, I think that they work either way.








Saturday, April 16, 2011

More From My Sketchbook



Another crop of drawings from a few of my sketchbooks. Sometimes I try to recall someone I saw on my train ride to and from work or someone or something I saw during the day and try to draw them. Of course I am also totally making it up. I make a lot of pencil drawings this way and come back to it a day or two latter and ink them with a brush pen or pitt pen.





These are self caricatures


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Art Student Days

I watched a film recently called Local Color. Its the true story of a young man struggling to learn about how to paint like the great artists he admired. He wanted to learn how to paint as a representational artist in a time where it was considered old fashioned. He met an old man who was a great Russian impressionist who, although initially he was reluctant, became his mentor.
So much of this movie reminded me of my school days. In high school, (the High School of Art & Design), I was extremely lucky to come across the instructors I did- Irwin Greenberg, Max Ginsberg and Irv Docktor. I learned about painting in oils, watercolor, gouache, pastel and drawing in graphite, charcoal, pen and ink. I learned about the history of art and about classical illustrators. It was the best art school I've ever been in. Then I went on to college, Parsons School of Design at a time, as in the movie, where pursuing representational work was frowned upon, (as a matter of fact another film comes to mind, Art School Confidential. It was supposed to be a comedy but a lot of that was so true to life). I remember I would always buy books on artist and I especially liked the work of John Singer Sargent. When one of the instructors saw me constantly looking at the book on Sargent she came to me and said something like, "I see you really like Sargent". I said yes and then the next class session she handed me a xerox copy of an article on Sargent that was very negative and compared him to a modern artist who the writer felt was the superior artist. She gave me about three more such articles at the start of three separate sessions. I think at some point I said no thank you. Then I switched my major from illustration to fine art hoping things would get better but actually they got worse. Not all the instructors were bad, some were very good, but if you wanted to learn classical painting it just wasn't being taught back then or it was very hard to find and not in the colleges. Nowadays I see that there are a lot of places that teach classical painting and that's great for a lot of young artist and leaves me a little envious wishing I had that when I didn't have the responsibility of a family, (though I'm very happy to have my wife and two kids thank you).
The works that I post here are things that I did around this time, (the time I was in college). I like looking at the stuff I did back then because it was a time when I dreamed about doing great things, It's easy to get discouraged and think that I'm knocking on 50 and I'm not where I wanted to be. It somehow helps me to think to give it one more day, or to give it another try. I can still dream.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

How I Paint A Caricature



Got to get back to the oil painting I started last weekend. I was side tracked by an illustration assignment and an interview I watched with Donald Trump. In it he all but declared that he would run for president. The interview gave me the idea for this caricature and I spent the day working on it. While I worked on it I took some screen shots to show the progression. The painting was done in Photosop but I scanned in and used the mixed media drawing on the left as an under drawing.






The drawing was scanned at 600dpi









I created a layer that worked as a palette where i placed some color that I would use on the painting. I would simply select the color with the dropper. I might modify it by making it grayer, (cooler), lighter, darker, etc. I also created another layer at about 45% opacity where I would build the painting slowly.








I try not to have too many layers. I usually work on one and when I 'm satisfied with it I merge the layer with the one underneath and create another, reduce the opacity,(45-60%), and add color like I would add glazes in an oil painting.






 I continue to work down refining and correcting as I go along, also adding a background color.








The finished piece.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Digital Freedom



A few years back I made a terrific investment and purchased a Cintiq tablet. Since then my computer has become a sketchbook. It made it easier for me to get into digital work because I draw directly on to the monitor with a pressure sensitive pen. Touch screens are nice but we don't write with our fingers, I wish they would make affordable PC tablets that use a stylus.Anyway, I already knew a bit about photoshop but having this tablet freed me to really get comfortable and creative with the program. First I got into comic book type coloring then I just started painting in photoshop.

I have to admit that I would much rather work with traditional materials and have something other than a virtual piece of work in the end, but this ain't bad either. Especially since I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, its nice to be be able to start drawing or painting any time I want.



This series of screen captures show the progression from
line art to color typical of how one would color a comic book.
I bring into photoshop as 600dpi on a transparent layer and palce
layers underneath where I color the different elements.
Here is the color underneath the main figures.
The line and the color combined.

The background is on a different layer.


The video bellow is a sketch I did on a sleepless night. I used one of the many subway sketches I've made over the years and colored it using Photoshop on my Cintiq.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Worst Thing About Weekends


The worst thing about the weekend is that it's over to soon. There is so much that I want to do, somethings I never get around to, and there is just not enough time. This particular weekend I wanted to work on a painting I started as well as complete an illustration job that is due Monday.  I got the illustration assignment done spent a great deal of time painting today but I didn't give enough time to my family this weekend so I'm going to have to use tomorrow to make up for that, then its back to my 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. That's why my weekends mean so much to me, I try to cram a whole weeks worth of  art in two days. Wish I had more time.
The painting of my son on the upper left was done because I refused to go to sleep. I stayed up late into the night to continue painting



The other two pieces here are the beginning stages of a painting I was doing of my wife. The first one was after the first day of painting.
I finally felt safe working in oils again since my kids are now 9 and 11.





 This one was photo graphed as it sat on my easel today, still wet. I've got a way to go yet with this one, but its going to have to wait for next weekend.