Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays

And the gift of new work.  Not much commentary for this first post in a long time, as I have a pint sized art director sorting through the desk next to me.  Two newest pieces off the easel in order:

Early Gifts, 21x30, oil on canvas.
This is the Holiday card for the high school where I teach, and continuing the trend that I started last year, I've made another family portrait out of it.  And also, continuing the trend I started with my first card four years ago...there's still a wreath in it.

RTM, 30x18, oil on canvas.
A wedding gift for the excellent Dr. and Mrs. Bongiorno, featuring an excellent Mecca for food - Reading Terminal Market.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Something a bit different.  A few pieces of larger images that I can't quite show all of.  Soon though. Soon.  More MTG sample work in the next post.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sparkmage Drawing

Final drawing for the Sparkmage painting.  I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, I was a little worried in the early stages that I had lost some of the movement I had in my initial thumbnails, but I think I found my way back.  I'm particularly happy with the armor - I had initially thought I wanted it to have a bit more cobbled-together look, but this, I think, is certainly a bit more "manufactured" and orderly.  Probably all of that Warmachine influence bouncing around in my head, and I'm sure watching Iron Man 2 again didn't hurt either...  

I've got the drawing projected onto the canvas everything primed up for an evening of paint as soon as I leave the keyboard.  I'm going to work a bit smaller for these than I have in the past year, this one is clocking in at 20x15, mainly to see if I can speed the whole process up a bit.  I'm also not sure how much help my color roughs will be, as I've got something completely different in my head for how I want everything to look, playing into the "Red" color scheme and whatnot.  I believe I'll tackle the background tonight, or at least as much as I'm able.

So, will the painting be done by Tuesday night?  We'll see, if the post contains thumbnails and roughs for the second card sample, I suppose that will be our answer.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sample Portfolio

So, my initial plan, with the end of the school year, was to take a look at all of my unfinished paintings, and simply "clear the docket."  However, and I'm not sure when this occurred, after a bit of pondering and gear turning, I decided time might be better spent developing a true sample portfolio of work that I would like to do.  And as the old saying goes, "shoot for the stars, and you may hit the moon..." I'm going to work up a group of pieces with the hope of garnering some work with Magic the Gathering. 

As of right now, there will be five pieces in the sample portfolio - one for each color of Mana in the Magic Multiverse.  And, each piece should showcase the following:

  • Dynamic design in the 3:4 compositional frame.
  • Accuracy and realism in concept and storytelling (make it believable).
  • A painterly approach (and, tackling a personal weak spot, making sure I don't lean on this as an excuse to not include fun details and rendering).

So the first piece out of the gate is going to tackle a Red card - The Sparkmage.  Wayne Reynolds' piece for the "Cunning Sparkmage" just strikes me as everything a piece of Wizards of the Coast art should be.  Bad-A looking main character, insane baroque armor and equipment, magical effecty hoohah, and strong design and color.  In all, a super inspiring piece, if I can capture a fraction of this I'll be happy.

So the initial thumbnails are bouncing around fairly inspired by this idea of the mage catching and redirecting the lightning:

In the first image next to some of those really bad thumbnails, you can see my notes on what the important bits of the piece are to be, in order here:
  1. Lightning
  2. Baroque Electro Armor and Equipment
  3. Dynamic Pose
  4. Reds (obviously this will be for the painting)
  5. Background Elements
The first couple of thumbs were really a "shaking off the cobwebs" moment, but they got me moving in the right general direction with a strong diagonal, and D got my juices flowing.  I really started to think about Cygnar from Privateer Press's Warmachine at this point (google it, if you're unfamiliar), and that really began to inspire my final armor designs and ideas for the piece.
So I tooled around with a few more bad thumbnails.  And I'll admit that this is another weak point for me, I have always been a bit impatient with thumbnails, but I want to be better.  Yet another area that I will focus on in this portfolio....Anyhow, H brought me back to the initial design of D and that's what I carried over into my little rough in the third image below.
    In taking another look at all of this, it looks like I've lost a bit of the life that was present in the thumb's as well as some of the shape of the armor, will have to rectify that.

The rough above led me into this super rough digi as my color rough.  I like where some of the values are going, but I definitely need to push my colors more towards the red side of things.  And, though the idea of all of those electro-storage/tesla-coil doodads on his armor being lit up seemed great in my head - our mage here is looking a lot like a Christmas tree.

Thanks for hanging in there for the maiden post!  Stay tuned, Friday night should see the posting of my final drawing for the painting.

Version 2.0

Obviously not a whole lot of activity on here over the past couple of months...What with new children being born, school ending, vacations, and a host of "life" in general.  However, the time away has provided me with some hopefully valuable reflection and redirection.

This was wordier, now it's not.  On the pic above, "Holy Crap! That's me hanging next to Matt Stewart, Dominic Saponaro,and JULIE BELL. (counterclockwise)"  Back in June, I was lucky enough to get two pieces into Phillustration, a great little local illustration show hosted by the Philadelphia Sketch Club.  I feel this is a pretty good end-cap to my first real year of digging back in to painting.  I am honored for the opportunity to have my work hanging in this show, everything on the walls was absolutely amazing.  Honored, and very humbled - there's a lot of work left to do. 

Hmm, looking back, that's still pretty wordy...

And now, on to other things.  The plan is to use this post as a bit of a reboot of the old blog.  A year and half ago it got me painting again, and now a year and a half later it's got me looking at my process and approach.  And, how I need to strive for a little more consistency.  So the plan is to update every Tuesday and Friday night with what I'm currently working on, give a little bit more insight into my process for those interested in such things, and in general keep me working.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Study No. 3 and Blatant Paternal Pride

Hopefully this is more of a hat trick than a third strike...  This little series of portraits has been good fun.  Had a blast drawing from Hubble images, got to create a bunch of space tech on the fly (which I think was a bit more successful when I only had to deal with a bust as opposed to a half figure) and I also got to do some more art of the family, which always seems to net me good results.   I do wish the lighting was more interesting on the face here, obviously flash lit, but the photo was too cute not to work from.

Also, I've included a shot of the latest collaborative piece that my wife and I have been working on.   This would also explain the delay between postings, as this little guy arrived a bit unexpectedly on the 15th.  Looks like I have another drawing to do...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Space Portraits

Two studies from the past week.  Both in chalk and charcoal on 6x9 toned paper.

The self-portrait actually started out twice as REALLY crummy 5x7 oil studies that will NEVER see the light of day.  I actually told some of my students to stop looking at them the other day as it might make them worse...

Anywho, third time proved to be the charm, and it might also have had something to do with switching over to chalk and charcoal, where I could solely focus on value and form and not get so caught up with the color.  Have had a lot of fun with these two drawings, I've been working in a real fantasy/medieval vibe for a while now and I was really Jonesing to break out of it.  Digging through references for outer space also allowed me to indulge in one of the more rewarding sides of art - actually learning about what you're drawing.  I loved outer space and the universe as a little kid, and it's been all kinds of fun diving back into that material and relearning a lot of the stuff that was taught about the solar system et al back in gradeschool.  And the images, HOLY COW, the images.  How can you not be completely blown away by some of the stuff out there.  Well that's a lot of rambling, at least one more of these little studies is one its way for sometime around Tuesday - probably on Facebook and Drawn Today before here though - so until then...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Of Giants and progression...

A short little post with some WIP shots of my latest painting.  I've been taking the opportunity to work back through some of my thumbnail sketches from right after I got back from the IMC last year.  And this frost giant has been lurking around in my sketchbook just waiting to find a piece of unsuspecting canvas.  There's obviously a long ways to go in the painting above, but I'm really digging the blues in the underpainting so far, I'll have to see how much of that stays, and in turn, see how much it forces me to change in the figures in the foreground. 

The sketches for our three adventurers were pretty straightforward, although I'm sure our neighbors think I'm now truly crazy - I shot everything behind our garage (hey, the light was right...).  And just for kicks - the dwarf up top started out as me snarling with a snow shovel, I'll let your imagination do the work on that one, as I don't think I'll let that reference see the light of day.

 And, here's the origin of our starring giant/titan.  I had been wanting to make a maquette for a while now, and this seemed the perfect opportunity.  They are absolutely fantastic tools for finding value reference, and damn fun to build as well.  I found that my sketches never quite got to what I was looking for in the giant's face, so I figured I would kind of "feel" everything out in the clay.  It worked quite well, but I found that the maquette ended up with a bit of a "slow" feeling in the face, the tight drawing turned out to be a bit of a blend of thumbnail sketch and model.  A good learning experience in all, and I'm really looking forward to getting this one finished up.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Firebrand, 28.5 x 22, oil on canvas.

Finished this one up about two weeks back, and have just been waiting to get a good photo of it.  I am now sold on the fact that the family point and shoot is no longer up to the task of shooting my paintings -I could not get the color right on this piece for the life of me.  Here's to Mother-in-laws with photography degrees and excellent equipment (Thanks Char!).  
I don't think I really intended to have the glows go quite so "fiery" but once I got the cads on my brush, I couldn't help myself.

The Guardian

 The Guardian, 30 x 24, oil on canvas.

About time this one was finished.  Believe it or not this guy has been lurking in the studio since about last April.  The water, Good Lord, the water.  How it taunted.  Quite a challenge getting all those waves in there, I think it turned out alright, but I'll definitely have to tackle another "maritime" piece for some much needed practice.  I'm sure that there's some dumb-easy trick to painting water that I just glossed over in the alla prima painter's handbook, but man - this was a challenge.  I also suppose this could be considered my first "dragon" painting.  Though I prefer to think of the beasty as an overgrown snapping turtle.  The finished drawing below for some comparison.

During the painting of all that water, I decided that the little silhouetted shaman/priest fellow on the cliff had to go.  I think it works a little better for the composition and storytelling (I like cliches as much as the next guy, but this was definitely a decision that I was more in love with 8 months ago than now), plus it was a complete pain to keep painting around him...

Oh, and I also managed to spell the file name incorrectly - yay, English.