dBurkArt

Help Me, Obi Wan...

Here's a new sketch I did in an effort to capture some Star Wars work in the future. I'm thinking of doing a montage of Obi Wan through the years, so I figured I'd do some study drawings of both Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness. I find that it is always good to make the hand familiar with the subject by drawing it a few times. So cheers to what the future may hold. And Happy New Year, my friends!

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Holiday portrait work

This year, I was fortunate enough to have a few portrait commissions come my way. I love doing portrait work as it is a nice change of pace artistically and helps me hone my skill even more. This is one that I had recently completed. It was commissioned as gift for my client's spouse.

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Illustration Friday: Hatch

Hidden behind the couch, the brother and sister duo could finally hatch their scheme to see Santa Claus.

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Just in Time for the Holidays

I haven't done a holiday-themed illustration before. I had so many avenues to explore - some of which I made note for use later. But the idea I decided on was the excitement of seeing Santa in one's home.

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Illustration Friday: Unbalanced

The Hatter in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is often considered a bit unbalanced - perhaps even mad. But what I like about him is his seemingly random stream of consciousness. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Random thoughts, for me, break the monotony and stimulate creativity. Call me mad!

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Illustration Friday: Flying



Free as a bird,
it's the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.

Home, home and dry,
like a homing bird I'll fly
as a bird on wings.

Whatever happened to
the life that we once knew?
Can we really live without each other?

Where did we lose the touch
that seemed to mean so much?
It always made me feel so...

Free as a bird,
like the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.

Home, home and dry,
like a homing bird I'll fly
as a bird on wings.

Whatever happened to
the life that we once knew?
Always made me feel so free.

Free as a bird.
It's the next best thing to be.
Free as a bird.
Free as a bird.
Free as a bird.

– the Beatles
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Me and My Munny

I decided to take this Munny toy that I've had for years and paint it. But my dilemma was WHAT to paint it. Was it to be one of my favorite comic book characters? Perhaps a movie character? Or something conceptual? Well, after days of thought and deliberation, I decided to make it a self-portrait. Considering the amount of self portraits many artists have done, I figure I have a lot of catching up to do. BTW, I am guessing that the conspicuous bulge on my backside is supposed to be a tail.

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I Sense a Vergence in the Force

Yeah, I know. I have an obsession with Star Wars. Here's another sketch I did working on the likenesses of Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Jake Lloyd.

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Lost Sketchbook Found

Digging for more art supplies, I found another sketchbook. It's a little 5" x 7" book that I used for thumbnails (some of them were layout and logo designs) and small quick sketches. Sometimes it's fun trying to figure out when and why I had done certain sketches. This thumbnail was the basis for the Darth Maul painting I had done in '99 (check it out in my portfolio).

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Illustration Friday: Welcome

As he wandered into the trees, Jacob was welcomed by the local night life.

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A Sketch, A Pencil and a Baby.

Cleaning up my studio area, I found a few forgotten items from the past. It vexes me when I don't remember drawing or why I drew certain things (the pencil). But I do remember drawing the baby. That was me as an infant. I used it in the first iteration of my website. And the gesture drawings were from a day in 2002, when I was watching my son play. He was about 3 back then and I was challenging myself with the proportions of a toddler. What fun it was to just sit, observe and sketch. And how challenging it was to draw my kid as he was moving around at light speed!

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Illustration Friday: Strong

Sometimes strength doesn't come in the form of muscles. Many times it can come to us in the form of friendship and endurance. When we feel defeated or weak, it may take the love of our family and friends to help make us strong.

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Illustration Friday: Magnify

There are moments in our childhood that we will never forget: Christmas morning, your first bike, an event at school. But for this child, it's looking at the full moon with his best friend. It's when we are adults, that we see the little things that remind us and even magnify those moments in time. As an adult, a full moon will hold so much meaning for him.

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Comfort in Fairies

This is the last sketch I did before school started. It's already transfered to board and ready to paint. Just hadn't gotten there just yet. It was supposed to be for last week's IF topic: Wrapped. But I think I will save the painting for another topic.

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Illustration Friday: Caution

For this topic, I am using an illustration I did for a kids science magazine called "Odyssey." The article discussed the outcomes of living forever: the good and the bad. This image reflects the possible bad effects: Would we prolong our wars and hatred throughout the centuries? What are the consequences to society? The article gives us cautionary descriptions to think about when considering immortality.

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Illustration Friday: Impatience

Have you ever been that student who just knew the answer but felt like it was taking an eternity for the teacher to call on you? This student may be a little impatient, but he is sure his endurance will pay off!

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Illustration Friday: Modify

Ah, the imagination. Where all you need to modify yourself into a superhero are a sheet and some goggles.

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Illustration Friday: Idle

These two have had quite a time setting up camp. So they decide to use their idle time near a pond and sit for a moment. Brother decides to make the best of it and sketch.
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Illustration Friday: Tango

The twins are ready to pummel each other. Lucky for them, Mom is around to keep the peace. As the old saying goes, "It takes two to tango!"

This piece took a while to do. I tried using virtual models to pose for me using a program called Poser. However, I didn't anticipate how long it would take for me to "move" and "pose" the models to get the right shot. I think, in a pinch, this may come in handy (if I learn how to use it better) but in the meantime, I prefer the live models!


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Warm Up Between Projects

I don't always use the sketchbook to concept new ideas, draw character designs, or do rough/tight pencil drawings. I also use it to "exercise" my skills in a way. The other day we were out at the Aquatic Center with the family. And if you know me, I'm not particularly fond of the sun or pools. So, I had my sketchbook and pencils handy and just set up shop in the shade. (And at this time of the year in DFW - shade temps were probably around 100º or so!) What I like to do every now and then to loosen up is to do gesture drawings - where you draw from life quickly. Most times it is of the human figure in motion, which at a public pool, there were plenty of figures in motion. These exercises help me to draw more loosely and to learn to capture form with simple strokes. Of course, the designer in me can't resist tightening a few things up (like the pipes and structures) and add a little whimsy here and there. Just to portray the searing heat!



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A New Sketch

Well, for some time now, I wanted to do a new self portrait. I constantly depict myself as a child, but this time, I wanted to do something a little different. I tried to imagine if I were a children's literary character, who would I be? Some of you who know me well may have a variety of answers, but I always likened myself to the Hatter from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As I worked on the sketch, I did not want to be influenced by any of Tim Burton's images that had been recently released from his upcoming feature based on the book. Besides, as much as I like the look and the design, I did not want to portray myself as "scary." And as I was drawing, I became aware that I looked very ... well, "up to no good." So I added my hands holding the teacup and saucer. So here's my sketch. I have begun painting and will post it soon - I hope. Happy

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Illustration Friday: Hollow

In this illustration for Red RIver Kids magazine, our main character is looking at a picture of her dad filling a kid pool for her and her sister last summer. This year, he is not home. She has a hollow feeling, like something is missing and she doesn't know how she will handle this summer without him.

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There's a Dinosaur in My Backyard!

Finally. Complete. Not the book. But my personal assignment of illustrating three scenes. I had a lot of fun doing these pieces and hope to work on more dinosaurs in the future. Maybe even some dragons!




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Illustration Friday: Shaky

Molly finds herself in a shaky situation. Having found the dinosaur bone in her backyard, and making a wish upon it, she has apparently conjured up a large intimidating new friend.

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Workspace

I've been reading a lot of articles lately on artists' workspaces. I find it very interesting the difference from one artist to another. I seem to be more like the one whose work space is fairly utilitarian and worn. I also like clutter and trinkets looking over me. However, I have seen artists' who keep workspaces immaculate and totally presentable as a formal room of their homes. One artist has labeled and categorized his materials, papers, paints and even water! So, here's my drawing table as I was painting the 3 illustrations for Red River Kids. Since it was just 3, I worked on them simultaneously - to keep a consistent palette. The iPod kept me company as the room I'm in is isolated from the rest of the house. For a closer look, click on the image to embiggen!

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Illustration Friday: Worn

This is a departure from my other work. It was a personal piece I did many years ago. It depicts moments in my life where my thoughts and emotions have left me feeling worn and sometimes desperate.

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Latest Work

As I mentioned in my last post, I was contacted by Red River Kids Magazine to produce a few illustrations for a story in their summer issue. The story centers on a girl who is beginning her first summer without her father. He is in the military and was stationed overseas. The day leads to a small adventure with her sister. As soon as the issue is published, I will post a link to the site.

Here are the final sketches. A few tweaks were made as I painted, but it pretty much stayed true to my sketches. The important thing was to portray the emotions experienced by the characters. I felt pretty sensitive to this story, so I knew what i wanted to see in expressions. Thanks to my children for posing for me. I hate to embarrass my son like this, but he posed as the older girl. The fun part was to get him to look panicked. I had to act out the scene with him to help him understand and we just went back and forth. I am very happy with the work and I will post the final paintings soon.





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Illustration Friday: Drifting

This is part of a series of illustrations I did recently for Red River Kids Magazine. The story centers on a young girl as she begins her first summer without her dad. He is in the military and has been stationed overseas. This illustration takes place at the end of her adventure as she is drifting to sleep thinking about her father. Stay tuned as I will premier these illustrations in the coming days.

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Illustration Friday: Unfold

As soon as he heard the noise, he immediately donned his "SpaceBoy" astro helmet and grabbed his "SpaceBoy ray gun. What adventure is ready to unfold?

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Illustration Friday: Craving

I'm digging back to my Photoshop experiments for this one. I think one day I'll probably go back and play in Photoshop, but illustrating in the computer just doesn't compare to actual paints and brushes – even though I used pencils to do the base drawing. I'll let the illustration tell the story, but I think we can get a sense of what each character is craving.

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Illustration Friday: Adapt

SCBWI had an illustration contest last year at around Thanksgiving. The theme was "Thanks but No, Thanks!" And for me, instead of showing a family serving up some hefty helpings of things children would definitely not like on Thanksgiving (for instance, liver, brussel sprouts or even canned cranberries) I wanted to show what it may be like to serve up something we consider delectable to a pair of out-of-towners - specifically two aliens from space. In this particular "story in my head," these aliens are stranded here and have to adapt to stay undetected. In this scene, the family that is hiding them serves up turkey for Thanksgiving. Little did the family know but what some beings consider delicious may be disgusting to another.

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Calligraphy

Recently, I took on a job doing calligraphy for wedding invitations - just the addressing of the outside envelopes and the inside envelopes.

I jumped at the opportunity since it is rare that I get to use my calligraphy pens. I learned to write in italic when I was in junior high and high school. And as an illustrator, I think I neglect the wonderful possibilities a calligraphy pen has to offer - the lyrical thick and thin scrollwork and filigrees. But I decided to keep this job fairly simple as I had to address 130 invitations (which translated to 260 envelopes total). For each envelope, I measured guide lines to use. I set my "x-height," ascender and descender with these guides.



I may feel confident to do this with only a baseline one day, but not today. Without going into specifics on what each term means, I had basically set the guides to show me how tall my capital and my lowercase letters could be. Next, I began the process of inking.

I spent many hours inking. I had to take frequent breaks as my eyes would tire and when that happened, mistakes would too. Then the last step was to erase all the guide lines.

Real simple. As I am not a full-time calligrapher, I think I will leave that work to the pros. And for more info on the technique itself, just give Google a visit. There is a world of information on the techniques and the many styles of calligraphy.
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Illustration Friday: Cracked

I realize that the protagonist in this illustration is not yet cracked, but we all know his demise. When I did this, I had seen what it looked like before the fall and after, but I imagined something in between. I don't know, I guess I enjoy a little tension in some of my illustrations. This I call, "Humpty's Predicament."

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Illustration Friday: Contagious

There are times when laughter can be contagious. These two tiger cubs considered each other enemies at one time, until they survived a life-altering adventure. Upon returning from their journey, they wondered, "Do we resume the ridiculous hatred we had for each other before?" Then the laughter of friendship broke the silence and caught on quickly throughout the pack.
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Mother's Day Portrait

I was contacted by a friend of mine earlier in the week. He wanted me to do a portrait of their son for his wife to give her on Mother's Day. Of course, I obliged! It was a nice change of pace from the week I had previously. And it was to be done in pencil, which I rarely get to do these days. The great thing is that he had a wonderful photo for me to use as reference. It captured the joy and energy of this child. I just hope the mother likes it as much as I did. I almost didn't want to part with it!

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Illustration Friday: Hierarchy

I've posted this image before on my blog. It's one of my first serious Star Wars illustrations. It depicts the Skywalker family tree: Darth Vader (Anakin), Luke and Leia. I plan to revisit this idea to include many of the new characters introduced in various Star Wars fiction, including Han and Leia's children, and Luke and Mara's children.

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Illustration Friday: Theater

When pondering the theater, I immediately thought of the "butterflies in your stomach" - the moment of trepidation before walking onto the stage. I saw this pic I took of my daughter and was immediately inspired. I thought about defining the thoughts in the character's head, but decided to leave it up to the viewer.

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Stage Fright?

You never know when inspiration's gonna hit you. It could be in the middle of a lecture at school or during a root canal. But when it does, you have to jump on it. Whether it's committing it to memory and writing it down as soon as you get a chance or breaking out the sketchbook immediately, you should never ignore your muse when she acts. My muse today was iPhoto. I was scrolling through hundreds of photos, organizing but mostly reminiscing, when I came across this pic of my daughter making faces to the camera in her Halloween costume. I thought of the Illustration Friday topic for this week and thought, "Hey, I bet I can make this work!" So I immediately began searching for supporting images and composed this sketch.



I won't talk about it just yet until I finish the painting and post it to IF. But i am very excited to be painting after a few weeks' hiatus.
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Illustration Friday: Impossibility

A girl is playing in her backyard and discovers a dinosaur bone. Once she picks it up, she is met by an actual dinosaur. Before we know it, they become friends and go off on an adventure. After it is all said and done, the dinosaur leaves and she is left alone again with the dino bone. She recounts her tale to her mother and her brother. Her mother kindly humors her and praises her for finding the fossil. However, her brother mocks her and smugly explains the impossibility of the whole situation. Nevertheless, it was her adventure to be had.

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Illustration Friday: Fleeting

When I did this self-portrait, I wanted to convey multiple ideas. One of them being a child lost in a grown up world. I had always considered myself childlike and often times childish. And I would find it difficult sometimes to function in a fast-paced, cynical world. Another idea I wanted to convey was the fleeting aspect of time – that time will escape us and before we know it, we're older and have not accomplished our goals.

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Happy Easter!

I grew up boiling my eggs and then decorating them. That meant, if you happened to miss an egg during the hunt, you'd still be able to find it months later by smell alone. And how many of you remember those "shrinky dink"-type wraps that went around eggs? I think I may have tried every store bought kit I could find, from PAAS to Dudley. But nothing beats some acrylic paint and a small brush. I just may make this a tradition!

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Illustration Friday: Talisman

"Talisman: an object that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck." I chose this piece I did last year to illustrate the story of the Little Red Hen. Somehow, I'm starting to see the seed as the object of good fortune or magical powers. But it only works for those who nurture it.

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Character of Caricature: Part Two

Doing the final art for Carl Jung was pretty tricky at times. I ink my work so infrequently, that I sometimes forget a few safeguards. One of them is wearing lint-free photography gloves. This prevents oil from the hand contaminating the surface to be inked. There were many a line I had to repair because of that. Another safeguard is a piece of cardboard or other sturdy material to keep my hands from smearing work I had already done. But when it was all said and done, I was very happy with the results. I spoil myself with smooth gradients of color and value that I forget the simple joys of line-work and crosshatching. Well, here it is:

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Illustration Friday: Poise

This is my first foray into Illustration Friday. The word this time s "poise" and it called to mind an illustration I did a while back. I was experimenting with the digital medium because at the time, my style as a graphic designer was very Photoshop heavy. So I did a lot of drawings that I scanned and then textured and colored in the computer. This one shows of Petunia's perfect poise as an up-and-coming ballet dancer.

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Character of Caricature: Part One

My newest project challenges me to do something I hadn't done in a while: caricature. The trick to caricature is capturing the essence of the character in the exaggeration of features. The other trick is to exaggerate the correct things as it relates to the material. When I first did caricature in a public setting, I was in high school. It was for Ethnic Week and I was featured as the caricature artist. Well, I had done caricatures of friends and teachers as doodles in my notebooks and such. So I had a good understanding of how to mock people. But doing this for people, I had to mentally prepare myself to not to exaggerate the unattractive features. I only wished I had learned that lesson before I drew our assistant principal.

This project comes from a friend of mine who hails from my high school days. Elissa works for the Jung Education Center in Houston www.junghouston.org. The center "offers over one hundred courses, programs, and conferences every year that address the critical social and spiritual issues of our time as well as the need for personal growth and development." She needed an artist to develop a caricature of Carl Jung – something light-hearted yet respectful. I paused... so no huge nose or funny teeth - no exaggerating the unattractive features! OK. I can do light-hearted and respectful.

So immediately I asked for examples and at the same time, I looked up images of Jung and briefed myself a little on Wiki. I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a feeling for what he was like as a person to do the drawing some justice. I mean, it would be odd to draw him laughing and smiling if he was known to be unhappy or vice versa.

Here are a few images I had found and a few Elissa had sent me:





From these images and based on a few things I read on the man, I was able to come up with a few rough sketches. And one was picked to move forward:



What I liked about it was that it captured a lighthearted attitude with his smile and the glasses placed on his head. Elissa had told me that some important physical aspects were his glasses, his mustache and the pipe. I thought it added to the friendly nature to have the pipe in his hand. And the great thing was these very objects also added to the respectable nature she also wanted captured.

From this point, I clean the drawing up and transfer it to board where I will begin inking. Stay tuned for part two!
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The Competition

I came up with this sketch because I was told I needed more females in my portfolio. I dug into my past and remembered a number of my friends who were girls were always so competitive with each other - whether it was academic, athletic or social. So I thought this would make a pretty decent subject for an illustration. So I gathered up what reference photos I could find and pieced this together. It's mostly about facial expressions - I wanted to show some sense of jealousy while the other one was not only oblivious but very proud. The writing you see at the bottom is something I sometimes do: I'll write a little paragraph or story to go with the drawing. I'm not a writer. It's just part of my creative process at times. I think it "grounds" the image more to have a story to go with it.

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The Dark Times

When I was a young artist, I guess I thought my only source of inspiration was my emotions. Not just any emotions, but my negative ones: anger, depression, sadness, etc. This may have stemmed from something my high school art teacher told me once. She told me to stay in touch with my emotions, because they seem to drive my artwork. Which it did in high school. Art was very therapeutic. Of course, I would never show my own kids the sketches I did during those turbulent times. When I got into college, I still stayed in touch with those emotions. But many art teachers pointed me in many different directions. But as I reached my 30's and had kids, my emotions changed. I don't know how many moons ago it was when I let go of most of those emotions. But for a while, I was filled with joy and inspiration and positivity. Hardly a place for dark subject matter. My taste for the macabre diminished. I haven't seen a horror movie in ages!

Then there was a point in my career where I had to tap in to those dark images to produce art for a haunted house. I found many of the sketches I created for this project. And just recently, I resolved to use them to work on a Hulk illustration. For some reason, the Hulk has always intrigued me as a character - I suppose it was his duality. Much like Jekyll and Hyde. I also like how Bruce Banner had to maintain his cool to keep the monster at bay. I found this struggle interesting because I can actually understand it: we all have to maintain some civility to coexist. Otherwise, we risk chaos. Or you could look at it as society dictating how we should act - putting us in the position of repressing our true selves. Anyway, here are some of those sketches I did. Kinda has a Wolverine pain and anger to them. Hmmmm, Wolverine....

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Drawing Blind

Sometimes, I like to challenge myself and do some different things with my art. This summer, I did a lot of plein aire painting. Just recently, I wanted to challenge myself to come up with drawings that did not rely on models or photo reference. That really made my brain work. It's almost like drawing blind. At least, it felt like it. The drawings are more cartoonish compared to my actual style and I'm not sure what I think of that. Perhaps it's my way of taking baby steps to more complicated drawings. Or maybe, that's just how I visualize without reference. I had to use many "rules" of art to create some sense of realism in these drawings without reference: shadow, light source, overlapping, proportion, etc. I can only hope that practicing these techniques from memory further enhances my skills when I DO use reference. And perhaps there's a place for both these styles to coexist. We'll see.

I'm going to call this one, "Mortimer Watches Ant Dance."



This one, I'm calling "Fizzard."
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Star Wars: Graveyard Moon

As I build my portfolio, I create my own projects to do. One of the ways is to take a piece of narrative or fiction and illustrate it. For this one, there was a series of Star Wars comics set during the Clone Wars. I decided to do the cover of one chapter of one of the stories, "Graveyard Moon". The downside to doing this particular project was that there was already a cover illustration for it. Typically, it's a good idea to pick a narrative that is less familiar and not popularized already (like Wizard of Oz or Jungle Book). That way, you run less risk of creative obstacles those stories may pose, because they already have some ingrained cultural history. The beauty of Star Wars is that its characters aren't literary - they are based on the actor's likenesses in the film. My drawback was the actual cover composition. I decided to make this an exercise in likeness and just keep the main composition and add flourishes here and there. Here is the sketch I came up with. Along with the final color which I did in Photoshop.





And just for funsies, I did a mockup to see what it would look like as the actual cover. The real cover is first followed by my version.



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Cupid's Aim

As I catch up on some illustration ideas I've had brewing, as well as working on a new project, I thought I'd post this small sketch in the spirit of Valentine's Day. I must have done this about three years ago. I stopped because I couldn't find the right model to pose for Cupid. (My daughter was only one and my son wouldn't be caught dead in a diaper). Anyway, I put it off to the side (like many sketches) to approach again at a later date. Perhaps my son would reconsider wearing a diaper...

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To Date or Not to Date

I'm not sure how many artists find value in dating their artwork. As for me, I haven't given it much thought in the last 10 or so years. I just sign my initials and that's it. But last night, I was going through some old portfolios, and I found a multitude of paintings I did with my watercolor instructor as a kid. Hardly any of them were dated except for one in 1981. I guessed that that put the rest of them at around the same time period. But then I started turning them over. And I found more work I did, but I knew I was older. The subject matter was more personal and the drawing skill was different. I could only guess that I did those in junior high or high school. But I will never know for sure! Now the OCD in me wants to rifle through all of my artwork and date the ones I can remember. But then the artist in me doesn't really care – it was done by me, it doesn't matter when. Oh well. Perhaps I should look at it this way: it's important to me right now because I'm just curious as to when in my life I created a particular piece of art. More than likely, it's not important to anyone else. In the meantime, here is one of those mystery pieces. I don't remember painting half the stuff I found, but I really don't remember EVER drawing anything from "E.T." but here's an "E.T." watercolor I did. That's the other thing that troubles me - why don't I remember doing this? Anyway, since most of the work I found was probably done around '81-'82, I would guess this one was done later. "E.T." came out in '82, so I would venture to guess this was done in that year or '83. But since there were other pieces in the portfolio that looked like they were from my early teens, it's a possibility that I did this in junior high or high school. I'll leave that up to you.


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My First Season of "Lost"

This sketch really wasn't done because I was excited about the new season of "Lost". I was actually wanting to practice drawing more entertainment based artwork again. And when I used to do that, it was very "Star Wars" heavy. (Speaking of which, I will have some new Star Wars stuff coming also!) But I had watched this show and never thought to draw any of that characters. Funny enough, this was originally supposed to be some random character sketch strewn about the page. Then I finished it as a single composition. We'll see if it ends up as a painting...

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My Process: Part Eight

To finish the painting, I added a dark mix of Winsor blue and Burnt Sienna to render Jacob's hair. The t-shirt is where I was getting a little anxious. It takes up a good amount of space and I wanted it to be plain enough not to be distracting but not so plain that it was uninteresting. I laid in a wash of French Ultramarine to start. It has a nice "grainy" look to it after it dries. Then I put down another wet-in-wet wash of that same color to deepen the values – at the same time, I mingle in a few areas of Alizarin Crimson. Then I deepen the darks more by adding some Burnt Sienna to the French Ultramarine. Now, I failed to mention that at multiple interval during the process, I step back from the painting. One thing that I learned in art school, working in graphic design and even in personal life, you should always take a step back from your work to assess, reflect and even to just forget about it for awhile. Otherwise, at least for me, insanity awaits. So I take a final step back to look over the painting. For the finishing touches, I go back to do some lifting. Lifting is where I take a wet stiff bristled brush, and lightly scrub in some light areas by lifting the pigment off the paper. And voila – my finished piece. I titled it "Pride and Joy."

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My Process: Part Seven

I further add value to Molly's hair - keeping in mind the curls and undulations. I deepen the hair color by adding a little more Winsor blue at a time. When I had it all laid in, I looked at the hair and thought that a unifying wash would help decrease the contrast and pull the look of her hair together more. Because at that point, it was very high contrast and her hair looked "piecy." When I put the final wash down, I was also able to soften the blends between the values, which helped quite a bit. I then repeated the steps I used on Molly's face when I painted Jacob's. His was much easier since his face is much smaller in the composition. Before I called it a night, I put a Burnt Sienna wash as a highlight color for Jacob's hair. Funny enough, he and my wife thought it strange for him to be a redhead. We're in the home stretch!

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My Process: Part Six

At this stage, I have added more detail to the mouth. What I find tricky about mouths, even to this day, is that teeth are rarely pure white. (Same with the whites of the eyes). So I had the carefully use light, cool washes to build up the values between the teeth, and the give them some tint. Then, using the same mix I used to do the initial wash for the mouth, I built up the values there – adding Winsor blue to deepen the color. I then moved on to the hair. One of the biggest lessons I learned in art school, was that you should always treat hair as a single form – not to consider it strand by strand. I laid in a light wet-in-wet wash of Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre to establish the highlight color. Then I made a mix of Burnt Sienna and Winsor Blue to start building the values – I laid in an initial wet-to-dry application to establish highlights in the hair. Molly's hair is so curly, so there were a lot of undulations. Next time: Her hair should be done and on to Jacob!

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My Process: Part Five

I have begun to work on the details on Molly's face. With some more glazes, I deepen the darks and shadows and start to define the eyes and nose. I try to cool the colors around the eyes by adding a little more Windsor blue to the skin mix. For the eyes, I eye some cool color to the "whites" to define them. Then I work on the irises. I still need to work on this part, as I think eyes are the most important aspect of a portrait. I've established a basic look – leaving the edges dark and lightening as the color goes to the center. Before I called it quits for the night, I laid in some Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna in the mouth area. This will be my base/underpainting for the mouth. Until next time...

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My Process: Part Four

I managed to warm up Jacob's face a little more today with a light wash of Alizarin Crimson. Then I laid similar washes for Molly's face. This area takes up almost half of the composition. So I worked with a bigger brush and worked wet-into-wet a section at a time. To avoid the demarkation lines left by watercolor as it dries next to a dry area, I wet more than what I was going to paint. Again, I kept the blue tints near her eyes and temples and added red to the cheeks, chin and nose. Once everything totally dries, I will begin adding the darks and the details of the face. (I'm resisting the use of a hair drier!!)

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My Process: Part Three

At this point, I started laying washes down for the skin. I start with a yellow underpainting – establishing values and intended to give the overall color a warm tone.



Once that wash dries completely, I started working on Jacob's face. I mix a skin tone of Aurelean yellow, Alizarin Crimson and a touch of Windsor Blue. Then I lay that color in as a wash – lifting highlights out as it dries. After that dries completely, I add more value by putting in another wash – this time, adding more blue around the eyes and temples and adding more red for the cheeks and chin.



At this point, I think Jake is a bit too "gold", so I am going to let this dry and "warm" it up a little more tomorrow.
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My Process: Part Two

When I paint, I will typically use frisket to mask the foreground while I lay in washes for the background. This time, I decided not to use frisket. To keep the color out of the foreground image, I used a wet-into-wet technique. First, I laid down a wash of clean water in the area I was going to paint only. Then I applied paint before the water dried. Some of the fun of wet-into-wet is watching the colors mingle on the paper. Sometimes, you can even help the process along and tilt the paper to affect the direction of the pigment. I knew I wanted the background to be just color and I wanted it to be predominantly cool. So I used a lot of Windsor blue. To make sure I didn't reactivate any of the pigment I put down on subsequent washes, I waited for each wash to dry completely before applying the new one. This method of layering color over the other is called glazing. So after the the first washes of yellow and blue dried, I went over everything with another wash of blue.



Next step, I begin working on the skin tones!
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