Thursday, December 23, 2010

happy holidays to all!

Here's to a happy holiday season and new year ahead! Thanks to all who have stopped by and left me a comment and kind word. I'll be taking a break from blogging briefly, but will return early 2011. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful Christmas maze drawn and sent to me via e-mail by master maze maker and cartoonist Joe Wos. Joe also runs the excellent Toonseum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the meantime, see ya next year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

artist feature in rooms magazine, issue #3

Late last summer an amazing art publication from the UK called Rooms Magazine sent me an e-mail to see if I was interested in submitting some art to be featured in their mag. Of course I said yes, and filled out their forms, which was a fairly long but not too difficult process. It was well worth it too, as you can see by the quality of this magazine! Their publication is available in both print and online form. Since I've got some work in it (see below), I'll soon receive issue three from them in the mail, which I'll post about here in the future. 

2010 has been a year of many ups and some major downs. Getting my art out there this year, and having it appreciated, sold, and in the company of the art and artists I love has been a major up for me personally.  In the meantime please check out and support this truly excellent magazine. Issue one is officially sold out, and you can find this fine publication in galleries and boutiques throughout England and globally.  Thank you Rooms for the fantastic work you do and for this opportunity!

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 artist spotlight gallery

As with last year, I didn't reach my goal of interviewing an artist a month, but, again, as with 2009, I at least got to feature eight. I've been doing this "Artist Spotlight" for a few years now at my blog, and found it to be both a great and difficult experience. Great, because of the folks who I got to know a little more about and whose wonderful work I had a chance to showcase to a few more viewers out there in Bloggey-land. The difficult part was finding the time to do this, among other things. At times, some interviews never happened that were supposed to happen, either due to communication issues, time issues, etc. No big deal I suppose, but I think because of these things, 2010 will be the last year I do these spotlights, as much as I enjoyed them. In the meantime, enjoy this lovely little compilation I posted for you, and take a some time to drop by their interviews and/or links again, or if you missed 'em the first time around. A huge thanks goes out to all those who participated!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

on drawing and art

While I should be home cleaning like a madman right now, here I am blogging away, but I promise, I won't be long! Something someone said yesterday made me think about something, so I thought I'd write some about what I thought. My friend Eric and I decided to visit the Smithsonian Naturalist Center in Leesburg, Virginia, for their occasional "draw-in" event. Normally, when I've gone to these in the past, attendance was pretty modest. This time around, however, there was a good crowd, and Eric and I initially had some trouble finding a place to sit. We stayed for about an hour, sketched some, and talked some (probably more of the later than former) and met some really great, even inspiring individuals there. Folks would pass on by and glance at us drawing, or watch us even, which was to be expected, and was welcome of course. One young girl, in the fifth grade said something interesting to us, as she watched us draw. She said how she could never draw the way we draw 'cause "she's not that good of an artist". I always have the hope that I might, in some small way, inspire folks when I'm doing these draw-ins, rather than discourage (and as you can see, the sketch below is merely a sketch, nothing all that special). Immediately I smiled and said to the girl, "We'll you've gotta start somewhere, right?". She said how she likes to do cartoons more than draw things realistically. I told her how she should never get discouraged by the way other people draw, and how the best cartoonists helped their own work improve by practice and drawing from life. I also told her how my own drawing improved the more I stuck with it over the past few years, even though I'm an adult.

I can understand this girl's point of view however, and I think most people who make art think this way quite a lot at times. In fact, recently, I was looking at the paintings of one artist with a friend and saying how those paintings made me want to either throw in the towel, or go home and make more art. Of course I stick with the latter, always, simply because the urge is there - that urge to create. In my case, it's mostly about saying something through pictures - through my own visual language that changes and develops, evolves and devolves with time. Sometimes I'll see people's work and I briefly fall into that ridiculous "I wish" trap - I wish I could draw things that realistic, I wish I could make my work more complex, I wish I could be as imaginative as that artist, or I wish I could be more confident in simplicity and style. The truth is, we've all got our own style, and that style can be subject to change, and should change to some degree. I have, despite the occasional "I wishes", grown a lot more confident in my own work - in believing my own art, despite opinion, both positive and negative. Rather than comparing one's own work to that of other people's, I make an effort to learn something from their art. This brings me to the case for originality. Sometimes I'll see people's work and the little snob in me will think, geez, can't that person try and be more original? The fact is, nobody can ever be completely original, no matter how hard they try. Also, once again, you have to start somewhere, and if it's aping the style of someone else, at least for a little while, that's alright. In art, as in life, you will never find the magic bullet or have all the answers. You will have to do some work, and hopefully find enjoyment and fulfillment in that work. Be willing to experiment, develop, change, be consistent, fail and succeed. OK, now back to the cleaning!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


made for the Illustration Friday topic "mail", mixed media on 11" x 9" watercolor paper, 12/2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

boards of canada: "an eagle in your mind" & "the beach at redpoint"

Winter is almost here and our first "real" snowfall has arrived here in Leesburg, VA. I often times relate music to seasonal changes, and one group, a duo actually, whose music sometimes reminds me of winter is Boards of Canada. The duo, comprised of brothers Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin have been making and recording their own music together since they were kids, dating as far back as 1986. After years of releasing obscure cassette recordings and putting out tracks on their own Music70 label, a demo caught the attention of Sean Booth and Rob Brown (Autechre), who decided to release a couple of EPs through their Skam label. Soon Warp Records took notice and signed the group, dropping the now classic album "Music Has the Right to Children" in 1998. The video above includes the first long track from that album, "An Eagle in Your Mind", using footage from an equally amazing animated film known in the states as "Cat Soup". The video conveys the song in a much darker light than I normally would associate it with, but still does a very good job merging the audio and visuals. The film, Cat Soup is a very surreal half-hour slice of anime, dealing with the feelings one might encounter, perhaps on a subconscious level, when faced with the passing of a loved one.

Most fans would describe BOC's  musical style as reminiscent of the warm, analog sounds of 1970s media , containing themes of childhood, nostalgia and the natural world. Mike and Marcus have mentioned the documentary films of the National Film Board of Canada, from which the group's name is derived, as a source of inspiration. This reminds me of when my wife and I were recently watching Old School Sesame Street, VOL 2, Episode 0796. There was a brief documentary-style segment with music that sounded as if BOC made it themselves, while a young boy narrated, in a serious and sombre tone, about how his cows must be fed enough hay during the cold winter season on his farm. Unfortunately, the only image from this truly sublime segment that I could find online is the picture below. It is moments like these that made early Sesame Street so brilliant. It's also this nostalgia which informs the music of Boards of Canada that makes their music so genius. There have been many imitators, for better or worse, but Sandison and Eoin obviously have been there, and this cathode-ray knowledge soaked up in their early childhood, combined with simpler, though no less stranger times shines through in their fantastic world of sound. The track above, "The Beach at Redpoint" (from the 2002 album Geogaddi) is only one of many good examples. In the meantime, there is word on a new album release, after five years of silence from the band. Let's hope this is true. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

artist feature in carpaccio magazine, issue 21

It seems my tortoise and bird drawings have been getting around a lot these days. Currently, you'll find them featured in the latest issue of Carpaccio Magazine, issue #21 "The Long Fall" (pages 34 & 35). Carpaccio is a gorgeous monthly art, photography and illustration publication based in Spain. Most issues are published both online and in limited edition physical form through the wonderful independent publishers, Atem Books. While this current issue will not be available to buy physically, Carpaccio plan on compiling work from this, along with issue 22 and 23 into their “Carpaccio Guide to emerging illustrators, photographers & artists Vol. 4″ , which will be available to purchase in non-digital format. Here's a sample of Vol 3, which is still available for purchase and on sale. In the meantime, you can scroll through this lovely mag online when you get a chance, and keep your eyes peeled in January for issue #22, where I'll have more art work featured. Thanks to Maria and Emma for doing such a magnificent job with this book!

*click above image for larger viewing

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Sometimes I feel like I'm in a constant state of playing catch up. One small example is finally getting around to last week's Illustration Friday topic "prehistoric". I had wanted to do this one all last week, and even found a great photo from National Geographic by George Grail to use as reference. It depicts a baby alligator snapping turtle resting on top of the skull of an adult snapper in a Florida swamp. I automatically thought of turtles when I saw this topic, and thought about how they've hung around our planet, amazingly, for millions of years, dating back to the days when dinosaurs ruled the land. Alligator snappers seem especially prehistoric in appearance, and could easily pass as a dinosaur, with it's spiky texture, long tail and big, clawed feet. I found a good site dedicated to snappers, with some great info on their prehistoric ancestors if anyone is interested.

*mixed media in A4 watercolor Moleskine, 12/2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010


made for the Illustration Friday subject "phenomenon",  mixed media in A4 watercolor Moleskine, 12/2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

blanket magazine featured artist

A little while ago, while browsing the internet for some creative inspiration, like I sometimes do, I found this amazing online art and design publication called Blanket Magazine. I saw they had a call for artists to be featured in their upcoming issue 25, "The Celebration Issue". They were also looking for art for their annual downloadable calendar. So, on a whim, I thought I'd send some files their way. When the magazine's editor Bec Brown e-mailed me a couple of weeks later telling me they wanted to feature my work in their calendar, as well as interview me, I was literally speechless. Honestly, I didn't think I had much of a chance at all, especially with roughly 90 other entries from around the world competing for a spot on the calendar. Up to this point, I was also required to keep it a secret, which was no easy task. 

The magazine itself comes out six times a year and is subscription only. After receiving my free issue this evening, and leafing through, I can see why. It's just as good, and in many cases, better than many professional publications out there in the stores right now, and is literally jam-packed with outstanding art and design and creative inspiration. I can't say enough good things about this mag. This month's cover art is pretty astounding too - a collaboration between Simon Wild and one of my personal favorite artists, Thereza Rowe (aka Tiny Red), who I interviewed at my blog a couple of years ago! I highly recommend  supporting this beautiful publication and purchase yourself an issue. Issue 25 also includes the downloadable annual calendar free with purchase. You can buy the calendar separately however, if you like. 

What makes being a part of the Celebration Issue truly special is the timing. I remember being in the hospital the morning before my mom passed away, and deciding to take a few minutes to get out of her room and get some fresh air. I was emotionally and mentally drained at this point and decided to check my e-mail, which piled up within days. Most of it was garbage, with the exception of one with the interview questions from Bec, as well as a few others. A small part of me almost blew it off, as I thought it might be trivial to participate in this, considering the circumstances and my state of mind at the time. Then I realized, this was not the case at all, and if anything, it was crucial I did this for so many reasons, both personal and simply as a matter of principle. So, without much hesitation I answered the questions and sent them away. I knew I had to focus on the positive more than ever and found the theme, celebration, to be more than appropriate here since, not only did I do this for myself, but for my mom, whose life I continue to celebrate each and every day, in my own life. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

cartoon cult art opening at the soundry, vienna, virginia

Last night The Soundry art space in Vienna, VA had their art opening for Cartoon Cult. The show features cartoon-based art works in the form of painting, drawings, prints and sculpture from seventeen local artists. 

I was blown away by the intricacies of these three acrylic works. I tried working in the style with little success.

Above are some original panels from my friend Matt Dembicki, whose work looks pretty stunning framed, matted and on display there!

These little drawings on found papers by Matt Somma were very cool. You should see this guy's paintings too, in his studio at The Soundry.

Christiann MacAuley's simple comic works cracked me up, especially this one pictured above. 

To my surprise, I saw a red sticker on the label for my recently completed Splotch Monster Medley! In fact, there were a couple of interested buyers lined up for this one. Awesome!

Check out that keytar that penguin is rockin'. Wicked painting.


Matt Dembicki (above) snapping away at the show. Matt did a real nice job blogging it up too today.

I got four more Splotch Monsters lurking around the Soundry. It was fun explaining how they're made to some folks last night. 

There was lots of great, vibrant art to see up there in the music performance gallery. The opening was a little more low key than previous, which was kind of nice for a change. A good number of people did pass through however, and it was great seeing folks checking out the work and having a chat.

If you're in the Vienna, Virginia area, do not hesitate to drop by the Soundry. There's art, music, great coffee and drinks, and good food. Work for Cartoon Cult will be on display through the end of December. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

kris loya at king street coffee

Last night my wife Kris had a little solo art opening showcasing some of her photography at King Street Coffee in Leesburg, Virginia. She has eleven photos in the show, which she allowed me to help her curate, since we didn't have much time to get set up in November. 

I've always loved Kris' work, and was so glad to see some of it on display for others to see last night. She's developed a real ability to see and show simple, everyday things in a whole new light. Lately she hasn't been able to get out and shoot these days, but with a few more weeks of her temporary stint in retail about to end, I know she'll be out clicking away again soon.

Above are a couple more shots featured in the show that I forgot to photograph hanging in the shop.

Last night was also the light up night festivities in Leesburg, so the place was jam-packed with locals as well as out-of-towners. I wasn't able to get too many good shots (usually someone would accidentally walk in front of me in mid snap), so I dropped by the house this morning, where it was far more calm and peaceful. 

Artist, teacher and music-man Gary Rudinsky now has a regular gig at the place, performing alongside other musicians and singers every First Friday. Some of my former students from several years ago were there singing as well last night, doing an amazing job. 

Glass-blower Dario de Hoyos and his partner-in-crime Mike of Photon Glass Works were there selling some of their Christmas tree ornaments. Kris and I bought a couple from them last night, and look forward to visiting them in their Leesburg studio sometime soon. 

If you're in the Leesburg, Virginia area, don't hesitate to stop by King Street Coffee this month. The coffee and pastries are always excellent and Kris' work looks so much better in person. Her photos will be on display through mid-January.