Monday, June 30, 2008

Howard Roark on the first page

Here's another male figure study. This one has more than one source and is a character sketch as well. I shamelessly admit that I am an Ayn Rand fan. The fan-famous first page of "The Fountainhead"  features the main character, architect Howard Roark, standing butt-naked on a granite cliff from which he will dive into a lake. I've always wanted to illustrate Rand, so I've taken this scene as an excuse to do more figure drawing. "Howard Roark laughed." 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nottoway Park

This Saturday I spent a pleasant, if hot and humid, afternoon hour or two at Nottoway Park, in Vienna, Virginia. I watched some guys playing volleyball and I sketched them. I am here using kids' colored markers which are more or less crayons with fiber tips. I added in the white of their shirts in Photoshop later.

And here are some studies of trees in a forested area of the park.
I love summer very, very much.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Orange Kubota

I drew this wonderful backhoe on July 26, in my illustrated 1998 journal. I love construction and digging equipment. I love orange. So Kubota is just right for me.
I would love to operate a backhoe, though not as a job. 
Drawing is in ink and colored pencil. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Two Versions

Here are two versions of the same pose. You can do that when you're using photographs. I like the tighter, top version but it's more "artistic" to like the looser, bottom version. 
I have to remember when I'm drawing these photo-models that they are real live people somewhere, who offered their bodies to the camera so that artists they will never know can draw them. Those toes and oddly posed hands and eyebrows belong to someone real who lives with them every day. I am thankful for the models' service but they will never know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Man Standing

Models aren't restricted to just one gender, of course. I haven't drawn too many males in my figure proficiency quest, but I will eventually even out my record. In real life, male models with decent figures are difficult to find, but my model picture books have done the job for me. These two drawings are different views of the same guy. The same suggestions apply to drawing males as well as females: make the figure as graceful as possible with the minimum of straight lines. And I end up idealizing the body as well, so if he has a thick waist, for instance, I've slimmed him down. Almost all the illustration characters I will draw will be idealized (or exaggerated or grotesque), not "realistic."
My figure sketchbook is about a quarter full. When it is full, I might have achieved a minimum of proficiency in drawing people, enough to start working on characters in illustrations.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ten Years Ago Today, sort of

The fireworks stand has just arrived in the Whole Foods parking lot. It's that time of year. Ten years ago, in 1998, I maintained a sketch + words journal in which every page had an illustration in ink and colored pencil. This was the drawing for 27 June of that year. Not much has changed. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Solstice Storm

The spectacular weather continues as summer arrives. There was a lightning storm at sunset that lit up the skies with brilliant color, including a rainbow. This is my impression of it (minus the rainbow), from memory, rendered in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Media Girl

Another comment on media images of women, done in cartoon form. This was in response to a "three word challenge" in which you do something featuring three words that the prompt site picked more or less at random. The words are at the top of the panel. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Trying for Sexy

Enough clouds, back to women.
I doubt that depictions of women in the entertainment media will ever change. Sexy, sexy, and more sexy is the way to go. My photomodel was not wearing those high heels, but she was posed on tiptoe as if she were. If I were posing her, I would have tilted her head back; right now she looks (as in the photo) as if she were straining to keep her head up. Sexy can be hard work.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Clouds in Two Media

Today, June 19th, the clouds were beautiful all day. I rendered cloudscapes from memory in two different media. This one to the left is in colored pencil.

And this one is in Photoshop.
From a "classical" artist's point of view, Photoshop is cheating. You are not bound by the limitations of any medium, such as pencil grain or lack of opacity or inability to blend. Photoshop gives you all the possibilities of media at once. The only thing it doesn't give you is texture and simple portability (other than prints). And I am not that concerned with that. 
But classically, it should have been done in oil paint, while I was sitting outside. It wasn't even raining. Plein air, for Ghod's sake, like a real artist, not a screen-bound photoshop nerd.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Distant Thunder

Summer thunderstorms and cloudscapes are some of my favorite things in the whole universe. There was one yesterday afternoon, on the 18th. The clouds were glorious. This sketch is from my 2005 journal, where I tried to capture images day after day along with my written entries. I have kept a daily journal now for 40 years, since 1968. Not all the journals have pictures.
This looks like watercolor, but it's actually made with markers. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Darkover Epic Battle

Since I am currently paying attention to the world of Darkover, I decided to revisit one of my early pictures from an M.Z. Bradley tale. This one is called THE SWORD OF ALDONES from the book of that title, and I painted it in 1981. It depicts an epic battle between two groups of three, each gathered at the hilt of a magical sword. The bad guys are on the right in red, with their flame goddess Sharra. The good guys are on the left in blue, with their noble god Aldones. I forget who won.
Acrylic on board, 14" x 22".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bikini Girl

This one's adapted from a 1994 swimsuit "catalog." The models seem somehow more "wholesome" than current versions of the catalog. Many of the girls are "natural" without breast implants. But the poses are always the same. And I will need to get lots of practice at drawing skimpy outfits for female characters.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Darkover Now

In 1990, all I had was watercolor and acrylic. Now I have Photoshop. I am trying to recall, and replicate, scenes from Darkover using the relatively new digital medium. In fact, Photoshop was first released in 1990. I am currently working on a larger digital piece which will be a romantic Darkovan landscape, using this time-honored color scheme lit by the rays of the "Bloody Sun." This is a sketch for it.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Darkover: Mist and Mountains

I did this scene in 1990, for a private commission. It depicts a place in "Darkover," the world of the red sun made up by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The building is the mausoleum of the nobility, which is located on the shore of an unusual lake that is filled not with water, but with thick mist. 
Watercolor on board, 16" x 20".

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You have five minutes to draw something.

Imagine that I'm in art school, learning how to draw human figures the real way. The model begins with a series of 30 second poses, for five minutes. I am replicating this situation by looking at pictures of models, and using Photoshop instead of a sketchbook. In this virtual world, I also have the option of erasing lines that don't fit. Some artists would say that this is just not right; it's charcoal, newsprint, and a real model, or nothing. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Starbucks Carousel

The carousel came to Starbucks yesterday, thanks to me and my acrylic markers. I used to decorate the coffee board on a number of local Starbuckses, but current Starbucks corporate policies no longer permit non-employees from decorating Starbucks signs. This one, though, is run by a manager who is a friend, and a district manager who doesn't mind if something a bit "different" happens in one of her stores as long as it enhances the customers' good experience. So I can still do art here, and I am paid in coffee and other goodies. I had an "audience" of fascinated customers while I did this work. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wistful Model

I continue in my quest to draw decent human figures. Here's another drawing of a seated model from one of my convenient picture books. The girl in the original photo looked sad and troubled, so I changed her face to make her merely wistful. There are 100 pages more or less in my notebook. I want to fill those pages with figure drawings, whether "realistic" or fashion/glamour oriented. I might have improved well enough to illustrate with figures when I've filled the whole book with images. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Joe Fashion"

I thought I'd try a men's fashion drawing this time. "Joe Fashion" as I call him, is copied from (where else) a men's fashion magazine. He's got that Eighties "Miami Vice" look going for him. Somehow, that style doesn't get old. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All Curved Lines

I remember hearing from one art teacher that there are no straight lines in a human figure. Well, on a smaller scale, there might be, but if you draw the whole figure, every line has to be curved in some way, especially if you're drawing a female, who is supposed to be "curvy." This is one way to make drawings less "stiff," and I'm trying it here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Plumper Model

Models come in all shapes and sizes. The better art model photo books reflect this diversity. Even if illustration women must be idealized, it's good to draw the realistic woman as well. Some artists like a plumper model because there are more enjoyable curves to draw.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Through the Gateway

Three panels from my ongoing graphic novel. I am finally working on this again after almost a year's absence from it. In this sequence, a spy in deep woods rushes towards a psionic gateway, and dives through it to safety. 
Watercolor and ink on Fabriano board, about 4 3/4 " x 10".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ad Babe Commercial Female

This commercial girl was copied from a mens' magazine. I have been drawing "realistic" women but for illustration and fashion purposes women are not drawn realistically. Big round breast implants are a must for this kind of model. The customers do not care about depictions of "natural" women. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

Green Man of Summer

I created, or rather adapted, this image in 1998 for the T-shirt and program book of a Pagan/New Age convention. The "Green Man" leaf face is a very old design, symbolizing the fertility of plants and the Earth. It's summer now. Summer is the only season I like. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Darkover Remembered

Here's a lady from my archives. I painted this portrait of Deanna Herrman in 1985. She is depicted in the costume and fantasy world of Darkover, the creation of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley. During her time, Bradley and her "world of the red sun" had plenty of fans, and I was the unofficial "house artist" for this fan community. 

Acrylic on illustration board, 12" x 8".

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tonight's Girl

She reminds me of a mermaid, but I won't put the tail on yet. The pose in my model photograph seemed awkward. I need to eliminate any awkwardness or stiffness from my figure drawings. It will be a while before I can justify doing a fantasy female with a really well-drawn figure. Until then, I must keep practicing.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Three Figures

Females, females, females. Nude or scantily clad, this is so essential for illustration art that I am willing to draw them again and again and again and again until I have them right, even though I am drawing from photographs. They need to be graceful and liquid and sexy, sexy, sexy. I am hoping someday to be able to paint like this. 

Monday, June 2, 2008

City Storm

On Saturday, May 31, there was a spectacular thunderstorm in the Washington, DC area. It roared in with a front cloud and that ominous greenish sky color that means tornado warning. I was at a shop and there was no place to hide, so I and the other shoppers just watched it on the sidewalk until the deluge and the crashing lightning got too intense. Then we went inside, but the shop lost electrical power. I did this image of the oncoming storm from memory in Photoshop.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Concrete Evidence

This is in my opinion one of the best drawings I ever did. It was done on site at a concrete plant near Alexandria, VA. This is an image of a concrete mixer. It is not, however, a new drawing done freshly for this Weblog. I don't always have the time to create new art by-products. I hope you enjoy seeing these things from  my extensive archives. My concern is, if I did really good art 9 years ago, can I still do something as good nowadays?