Sunday, March 30, 2014
So last week I returned to the watercolor Moleskine and decided to finally break open the Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle pencils that I had purchased a little while ago at the local Michael's. They were expensive, so thankfully I get coupons sent to me via e-mail, which nearly cuts the cost of materials in half. Other arts/crafts chains like JoAnne's and AC Moore do the same as well. So, if you have any of these shops in your area, I strongly recommend getting on their mailing list, as they send coupons every week. I simply get them scanned from my i-phone.
Anyhow, I like 'em a lot, these pencils, further activated by brush and water for added depth and layering. Still, they have quite a learning curve, and just one week using them daily won't cut it as far as even remotely mastering them, at least in my case. Still, these drawings are merely daily exercises, and sometimes the errors are more evident in some than others. The biggest challenge was trying not to overwork a sketch, which can result in a muddied mess, much like with using watercolor pencils. These pencils, while good on their own, were intended to be used with water, so there has to be some planning and a little patience if you want to get the desired gradations and depth. Still, I found it fairly easy to get a sketch down in a relative short amount of time. One example is my last one, the black vulture, which took no more than twenty minutes to complete. As with all of this week's sketches, the vulture was loosely based off of photos I had taken, both old and new. I say "loosely" because lately, I've tried to get nothing more than a likeness to my subjects, while taking some minor liberties here and there, adding something different, or subtracting an element I find unnecessary for use.
This week I've started out in the watercolor 'skine again, this time getting back into watercolor pencil, only this time I'm laying down the initial sketch in pencil rather than pen, which I prefer a lot more for this type of drawing. Soon I'll be laying down some actual watercolor washes in the book as well. Looking forward to what April has to offer my eyes.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
So spring is finally here, though Jack Frost has been putting up quite a fight. I've been enjoying the snow this year, though am finally, truly ready for some warmth and color to happen my way. With this current batch of sketches, I continued to try out the pens given to me through the Illustration Friday contest, though with the final drawing, I returned to my favorite, Pigma Micron pens. I actually enjoyed the challenge of using the different pens, and discovering the different effects they've had on my sketches. However, nothing could quite match the performance and control I've had with the Microns. Still, it's good to let go of control some, and let the medium speak. I imagine dipping fallen twigs in India ink and attempting to draw. Perhaps in the near future I'll get a little bolder.
In this series, I've focused again on line, both gestural and contour lines, not too concerned with adding depth and volume, as with when I was using pencil. Some were from life, a few were from my personal Flickr stream again. At least I'm using once dormant photos as reference for some of these drawings, mostly due to time constraints. The last drawing in the set is one of them, strangely enough, taken on the Appalachian Trail in the Fall in 2007. I wish I could say it was live and drawn right there in the woods, but most of my Saturday was spent in WalMart, getting our taxes taken care of, then later cleaning some of the house. Good fun! Soon I plan on more Saturdays or Sundays spent on the trails, sketchbook in tow. For now, I'll still be sketching indoors, until Jack Frost decides it's time to move on.
In the meantime, I highly recommend picking up a book published by Harper Collins called Sylvia Plath Drawings, brought to my attention by a friend and fellow drawer on Facebook. I had no idea she drew, and while I'm not too familiar with her written work, one can definitely see the poetry in her gentile, yet bold linear approach to drawing and sketching.
Monday, March 17, 2014
That's right, this coming Friday is the opening reception for the "Panels in Frames" comics art and illustrations exhibit, featuring eleven of the NOVA/MD/DC regions finest cartoon and comics artists at 505 North in Frederick, Maryland. I'll have five pieces in the show as well, including the original cover art for Magic Bullet #8, which hasn't been formally shown publicly yet, as well as some Splotch Monster works. The reception begins at 6pm and ends at 9pm, and there will be refreshments and drinks. Thanks so much to Kelly Phebus who has graciously organized the show, and to Rafer Roberts, who helped get the word out and kindly was willing to take my pieces to the gallery for hanging! If you're in the area, please mark your calendars and plan to attend!
Sunday, March 16, 2014
I recently received a nice bag of various drawing pens from an Illustration Friday contest giveaway, so I decided to explore all of them in my Moleskine sketchbook, focusing on line quality rather than color or gradation, as with my previous set of drawings. I'll definitely explore color more, with a different set of watercolor pencils, but not yet, as I'm enjoying working with line via drawing pen again. I know I stated way earlier how I was to stick with pencil, but why make such strict limitations on oneself? As long as I'm continuing my daily sketch practice, I can use anything, right? I made sure to photograph each drawing along with the pen(s) used, and I tried to get into more loose, sketchy and contour-line style drawings last week. One big influence in this shift is a book I'm currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) called "Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing" by Frederick Franck. I found this gem last week when I did my workshop at Books and Other Found Things in Leesburg, and I'm pretty sure they've got another book by him at the shop as well, which I need to stop by and purchase if it hasn't been sold already. Anyway, Franck's book, published in 1993 has a nice, personal, almost conversational style, as if one were reading letters or a personal blog. It's easy to grasp and it covers a lot of concepts and philosophies about drawing that I've held true for some time now, only expressed more eloquently, even poetically through Franck's writings. While I've relied heavily on a seemingly endless back catalogue of photos I've taken of various things for the last two week's worth of sketches, I'm really itching to get out and sketch from life again. I even brought in an object from a walk my wife and I took in the woods today (at her urging) for this evening's sketch, possibly. Only the Robocop drawing, made for a zine that I'll discuss more, once it's released, was different, standing out like a sore thumb in this batch. I'm hoping to continue on this looser, more intuitive approach to sketching this week, but we'll see. It seems every time I declare what I'm about to do and how I'm about to do it (at least with regards to sketching) I end up doing something totally different.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I decided to break in the new watercolor Moleskine last week and work with color some. I broke out the ol' black Jet Pen for the drawing portion and used some watercolor pencils for color. I prefer using the Jet Pen in the sketchbook instead, working on colorless drawings and getting into the details. Perhaps regular no. 2 pencil would have been better for these sketches, which I tried to keep short and quick. The watercolor pencils were decent, and I found you had to apply them carefully beforehand, as too much application before brushing over areas with water causes a muddy, almost irreversible effect. My strongest and the only one from the bunch that I actually care for is the squirrel. My weakest was the last one - the moth, which I drew in a tired hurry, after working a great but somewhat exhausting art expo all day long. Honestly, I preferred to go straight to bed, after a good shower, instead of drawing last night, but I had to get it in, good or bad. This time around, I'll be working with a new pack of Jet Pens I won through an Illustration Friday contest. They just arrived in the mail Saturday, and my wife is letting me try out her set of higher quality watercolor pencils. I'm not sure if I'll keep going with animals again, all of which I drew from my own photos last week, or if I should try other things. We'll see!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Recently I was interviewed by Mr. Mike Rhode for the Washington City Paper for his "Meet a Local Cartoonist" column. Mike asks some great questions and it's an honor to have been chosen for an interview, considering past features. You can read the full interview HERE, and check out the excellent blog he runs, COMICS DC along with Matt Dembicki. I'm looking forward to tabling and doing a workshop at the upcoming SMUDGE comic arts expo, organized by Matt and Mrs. Tina Henry. Below are some brand new, super thick, super high quality Splotch Monster books I got made for the expo. Hope to see folks there!
Sunday, March 2, 2014
A few days ago I was informed via e-mail that I was one of two winners for the first Illustration Friday pick-of-the week art product giveaway! The topic was "prehistoric" and I submitted Splotch Monster 743 (the very bottom image) for the topic. The prize is a set of Jet Pens, a product I've loved ever since the company contacted me a couple of years ago to test out their product and share something about it. I've been participating in Illo Friday for almost a decade now, on and off. In fact, it's where I got started back into making more art again, as well as (even better) where I "met" my wonderful wife! In the meantime, if you're looking for a good, weekly creative challenge, you can't go wrong with Illustration Friday. Also, when those jet Pens arrive, I'll make sure to do some follow up posts!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Happy March! I tend to think of March as the unofficial start of spring, even though we usually get some harsh winter weather, as predicted in the next few days. Still, I've been seeing and hearing a lot more birds these past few mornings, and buds on trees are starting to appear again. It's exciting for me, though I've come to appreciate and accept all weather and seasons these past few years. My mood elevates and I begin to feel a little more awake and ready to greet the day. I think this feeling is best exemplified in the bottom image of this post - the drawing I did this morning of the beautiful tree in our front yard. The photo was taken in natural sunlight, upstairs in our kitchen, looking outside. I hope we are in for a decent, comfortable spring, allowing more outdoor sketching to commence.
I've used the black china marker in all of these drawings, allowing for a faster, looser approach. I enjoy the china marker but feel it can be too easy to get heavy-handed, and I'm hoping to purchase some pencils this weekend that allow for more subtle lines and gradations. Then again my wife just got me a cool new drawing pen for my I-pad to work with, which I might try as well. Then again, there are the watercolor pencils and pen and ink. Ahhh, decisions! They're good to have though, and maybe I'll just mix it all up this week, or maybe not.
It's interesting when I feed these photos through Instagram. Sometimes I'll get a young, eager artist say my art is "amazing" in a spammy, generic fashion, then ask me to like or follow their feed, followed by a thousand hashtags. This happened last night, when I posted a rather quick sketch I made of an alpaca (or llama?). It was the only one I made this week, based on a photo (I took a few years back), and it was probably my weakest of the week. I love great comments, but "amazing" seemed a bit insincere. She was in her tweens (hate that word) and had some ways to go, and was looking for approval. Not surprised. Then, for the same sketch, another young artist, probably in her twenties, comments "not bad". OK then, a new approach to getting people to "like" your work? I checked it out, and she was definitely a skilled, photorealistic artist, with some arrogant little quote posted next to her name. It's great to be able to draw things, but the aim should never be to duplicate a photograph. Cameras made that obsolete years ago, plus, where's the creativity in that anyways? Regardless, I happily deleted both comments. People shouldn't take such measures to get someone to look at or "like" their work, or "follow" them. Both approaches were somewhat on the opposite end of the spectrum, and didn't work, at least for me. Why should we be so concerned if people "like" something? Honestly, who cares? Sure, I do my "likes" and "favorites" and whatever else to support folks, but people shouldn't be so desperate to have to have others justify their work in a somewhat superficial manner. Just do what you do, put it out there, and carry on.