Monday, December 6, 2010

A Delaware Christmas

A Delaware Christmas, 21x30, oil on canvas....And sketches.

This year's Christmas/Holiday Card for the high school.  I will forgo my usual hesitancies with my own artwork and come out and say that I'm really pleased with this painting.  It was some of the most fun and fulfilling work I've spent at the canvas in a while.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

War Priest Finished Pencils

Piggy-backing off of the post least I made use of the time between my "free time."  I think I mentioned this before, but I find it's a lot easier to drop in and out of a drawing while teaching than to drop in and out of a painting.  Fairly happy with the skulls in the background, but still need to tweak the values.  Hoping for paint around December.

More Joan Progress

Had some time between classes this week, so I started slapping down some of the background.  It's a lot of real estate, but hopefully it won't take too long once I get cooking.  The hair and the beginnings of the armor are from the last spurt of free time I had about a month ago.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Harvey, not exactly an NDA...

The high school that I teach at has a really great drama department, and since last year I've been doing the poster art for the fall and spring shows.  This fall's show is Harvey - set in the 1950s, it's a little yarn about a fellow named Elwood who sees a spirit, Harvey, who happens to be in the form of a six foot tall rabbit.  Needless to say, Elwood's a bit off his rocker, since no one else can see Harvey, but it's his sister, Veta, who has grown tired of Elwood's eccentric behavior, that gets committed to a sanitarium.  Don't worry, there's a happy ending.

These posters are a great opportunity for me to stretch my "inking" legs, since they are printed in black and white, and try to channel some of the great illustrators that I admire from the past.  The figures are the two leads from the show, we did a quick photo session (man does stage lighting come in handy...), a few sketches for an approval from the drama teacher, some ink and hand lettering later, and here we are. The printers will take care of the rest of the layout, I'll try and post the finished poster once it gets back.  Good fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010


Ascension of Joan, 32 x 48, oil on canvas.

Fulmination, 20 x 15, oil on canvas. 

A Chance Encounter, 32 x 24, oil on canvas.

Early Gifts, 21x30, oil on canvas.

RTM, 30x18, oil on canvas.

 Firebrand, 28.5x22, oil on canvas.

The Guardian, 30x24, oil on canvas.
A Delaware Christmas, 21x30, oil on canvas.

Winchester, 17x32, oil on canvas.

The Black Arrow, 20x30, oil on board.

Scavenger, 15x19, oil on canvas.

Beorn, 36x18, oil on board.

Firebrand, 22x16, graphite on paper.

Ascension of Joan, 16x24, graphite on paper.

The Guardian, 10x8, graphite on paper.

Grendel in his Fen, 12x24, pen and ink on bristol.

Poster for Harvey, 17.5x25.5, pen and ink on bristol.

Poster for The Sound of Music, 11x17, pen and ink on bristol.

Demolition Squad, 30x15, ink, charcoal and chalk on watercolor paper.
Thieves in the Night, 18x24, ink, charcoal and chalk on watercolor paper.

"Can we keep it?", 30x18, ink, charcoal and chalk on watercolor paper.

Would be Dragonslayers, 20x30, ink, charcoal and chalk on watercolor paper.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The good, the bad, the mystic...

Every gunslinger worth his salt needs a magic magenta winchester...

This also ended up looking a little more like me than I wanted...well me minus about 75 pounds...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More hhhwip

As it stands on the easel, right now.

A quick B-dub photo to see how values are coming along.  Think things are going well...may knock the mountains around the left shoulder back a bit more, and add a few more darks into the face, but I'm pretty happy with the value overall.  This however does fail to mention the HUGE amount of refining that still has to go into the figure...Hopefully have this off the easel by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mystic Gunfighter gets rollin'

So, got some paint rolling on this over the past couple of days. Pretty happy so far, I'm digging the way the background is coming along, and it was definitely fun to paint. I haven't tried tackling a spacey kind of background in a good 5 years, and some of the pointers that Donato Giancola tossed out in his DVD on the topic definitely proved invaluable. And this turned out to be a ton of fun. The color may have gotten away from me a little bit, perhaps a tad more full spectrum than I was initially gunning for, but I've always been blown away by the photos from "way out where the lights don't shine" where you can see the whole Milky Way just blazing across the sky. So hopefully I got a little of that here. Plan to knock out the rest of the background over the next couple of days (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Hanging in the studio encased in a cocoon, this specimen will emerge as an oil painting in approximately 4-6 weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

IMC 2010

In a word: Wow.

In many words:

Begin stream of consciousness...

I spent the week of June 12-18 up in Amherst, MA at the Illustration Masterclass, and it was without a doubt the best experience of my artistic life.

The class was created by the fantastic Rebecca Guay, and the other instructors included folks such as Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Scott Fischer, Greg Manchess, and Irene Gallo, with special guest appearances by James Gurney and Jeremy Jarvis.  The class is open to anyone who wants to enroll and a choice of assignments is given beforehand, each student is to choose one to work on during the course of the class.

I don't know if I can truly encapsulate the whole experience into any kind of coherent statement, it was a crazy week full of new people, new ideas, fresh takes on old ideas, reinforcement of skills, and everything in between.  I met a ton of great people, most of whom I will hopefully keep in contact with for a long while to come.  So here goes...

The class started with a good old fashioned critique of everyone's sketches, it was just like school we hung everything up on the wall and the faculty went through each one and gave feedback.  It was straight up with what worked, what didn't and how to fix it, and it looked kind of like this:

Needless to say, this took a while.  The class was about 85 students total, and we broke into two separate groups and I was in the upstairs group whose critique was run by Donato, Dan, Boris and Julie, and Irene.  We clocked our critique in at just over 5 hours, the downstairs group which was headed up by Greg, Scott, Jeremy, Rebecca and Jim finished in around 9 or 10 hours.  Word has it there was a lot more "fun with tracing" in the downstairs group with Scott, Rebecca, and Greg drawing all over everyone's sketches.  While the critique portion did take a while, it was incredibly informative to hear the feedback about others' work, and for me, some of the most critical ideas and concepts came from the notes I got during this session.  The critique also served to show that there was some serious skill on display at the class.  About a quarter of the students in the class are pros already.

So I didn't take a shot of my initial sketch (the assignment I chose was Joan of Arc), but after the crit and some time at the drawing board, it looked like this:

The drawing had started with two additional figures, kind of like a personal guard, with big old two handed swords.  The very first comment I got from the instructors was to lose the extra figures, which is funny since my first thumbnail for the piece was Joan floating like this with her banner, and I then proceeded to spend a dozen or so pages trying to figure out how to "fill up" the rest of the composition.  Big mistake, the figures were just filler and it showed, one of many things learned - if it's not essential to the piece, it shouldn't be in the piece.  So Joan is the focal point, make the painting about Joan.  So with this in mind I moved on into the painting and over the next four days (and nights) or so ended up with this:

I got some good feedback on this along the way, but overall I wasn't really that happy with it.  I realized that in general, I had come into the class very under prepared, and that was perhaps the best thing that could have happened.  Well, maybe not the best, but it forced me to really look at how I was approaching my art, about how I should never take anything for granted and always make sure what I'm doing is as good as I can possibly make it.  

As the week went on, a lot of us started talking about what our big "take away" was from the class.  For some, it was this or that bit of technical information or way of handling paint, and at the time I said that my big "take away" was that I was going to go home and do the painting over but twice as big.  One of Greg Manchess's first comments to me was that the painting was a bit small (16x24).  So that led to me getting back home and rethinking my reference and redrawing my sketch (at 16x24) and ending up with this:

and this:

The original is that puny little thing at the bottom...

Greg mentioned that he often keys the size of his paintings the main figure's face, just to make sure he has enough room to really work out all of the essential details.  I had really started to work bigger before I left for the class, but I wasn't sure how much room I would have at Amherst, so I opted to bring the 16x24 board and just hack it out, mistake number two.  So this is where I'm at right now, I don't think this is the biggest painting I've ever done, but it's the biggest in a while.

Back to that "take away" from the class.  Mine really wasn't doing a big painting, the real take away that I got from the IMC was community.  I love fantasy and sci-fi art, it's what got me interested in art in the first place from the very first comic books that I cracked open, to the first time I saw a Boris Vallejo painting in the bookstore and made sure that my parents didn't see me looking at it, or the first time I discovered that Frazetta was FRAZETTA, to the first copy of Spectrum that I picked up and saw Greg and Dan and Scott and Donato's work and thought, "man, where have I been to have not been looking at this stuff all along."

Maybe it was college, and to some extent growing up, and feeling like fantasy and scifi and all the fun stuff was just supposed to be for kids (or nerds, dorks, or whatever, your pejoratives will not phase me). And especially having that reinforced by art instructors who didn't even feel that I should be working with representation.  But that's neither here nor there.  IMC opened my eyes to a whole community of like-minded people, hell, it opened the door to that community, and the great thing was that everyone was basically standing there saying, "come on in."  That was another thing that blew me away, here are all these people who didn't exist beyond the printed page for me a month ago, and now I've met them, I've talked with them, they've critiqued my work, we've joked around, we've partied together...They're real folks, and they're really good folks.  As I mentioned earlier, I hope to stay in contact with as many of the people that I met at the IMC for as I can for as long as I can.  

Starting to ramble and gush here, better wrap it up before it gets ugly... 

The IMC let me walk into the world that I love and always wanted to be a part of as far as my art is concerned, and it showed me that everyone working in that world is a real person who is doing just that - working, and the only requirement for being a part of the world comes back to something I tell my students all the time (which may be corny but hey I am a high school teacher after all):

"It's like Nike Art - just do it."