Drawing inspiration

You’ve heard the recommendation to draw studies from the work of folks who inspire you, to get a sense for their craft, right? I’d add that it also helps you appreciate their work on an entirely different level. Take these sketches I did from Rembrandt the other day. I love the intense darks and smoky sepia tones in his work, but it took sketching from him to realize just how subtle and mischievous the facial expressions of his subjects are. For anyone who’s painted or drawn from a live model, you’ll realize what a challenge this is–over very long sitting periods both artist and model tend to settle into a grim and rigid expression. The number of quick sketches he did for these must have been extensive.

Rembrandt sketches

The look of bemusement on the man in the gorget’s face–I’m imagining that this is a ridiculous outfit even for the wealthy of 17th century Holland. Or the sly and considering look of the woman in the door, her wedding ring just peeking over the top of her blouse. You can really see why his work is so enduring.



A sketchbook spread using the idea of ‘beauty and the beast’ as a stepping off point.

Beauty and the Beast

I’m working on a number of things that can’t really be shared until the projects launch, so this is all I have to show for myself at the moment. Enjoy?
(You can click it for a full view, since my blog’s format wasn’t wide enough for it. Any suggestions for stock wordpress themes that are more accommodating to art?)

(Oh, and it’s ebony pencil in a moleskine sketchbook, for anyone curious)

The freelance mindset

One of the dangers of setting your own schedule: it’s really easy to allow weeks to slip by without noticing. I’ve been pretty loose with scheduling lately, as a follow-up to a contract that had me pretty rigidly locked in for a few weeks, and it has not done good things for my timeliness.

For one, I forgot to blog a mention about my guest post over at Inkpunks, which outlines some basics of website design (applicable even to lazy folks like me who rely upon blogs and premade themes to do the bulk of our work).

Today Evan’s guest post went live on Inkpunks, in which he talks about his struggles in finding a comfortable space he can feel creative in, even in cramped living situations.

And this past weekend, my little brother graduated from JMU! In an outdoor stadium, in the pouring rain! Congrats Warren! I’m so proud of you. I hope your celebratory 3 day, 50-mile canoe and camping trip in the pouring rain still manages to be extremely enjoyable despite everything.

And just for fun, something new from my sketchbook:

Wizard + cat

Happy agenda management, everyone!

Inky fingers

First of all, I finally set up a new Flickr account! Since I couldn’t get back into my old one… If you’re a flickr user, find and contact me! :)

This post is going to be a bit of a sketchdump. I’ve been working on that inky, chunky linework a little more, and made two more pieces with that in mind:

Inky self portrait

Inky self portrait

Ahhh… I’m having flashbacks to highschool. Self portraits. Well, it does look like me: angry. Though maybe older? The ink was acrylic, but despite that it still smeared when I put down water: too much ink. Also, that weird thorny thing and flower up front? To hide smudge marks where my inky hand landed on the page…

The short way homeHad a *lot* of fun with that leave mold. Not so sure about my idea of using blue ink (or on the general design of that creature, or the girl…) Also, something this complex needs to be a tad bigger than 4 x 6″.

Moleskine frontispiece

Moleskine frontispiece

I always like putting *something* on those first blank pages. Those are Jack O’Lantern mushrooms. The ink I used on the left didn’t like moleskine paper much, though. Soaked in as if I’d put it on a sponge. Trying Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay black next time.

Summer is here

And the AC has already broken twice this season, both times on the hottest stretches of the week. This time, it was three days of no air conditioning + heat index of 105*F = lying on the couch beneath a ceiling fan drinking water and feeling miserable. Occasionally I got up and changed the cats’ water, or attempted to bathe them so they’d be a tiny bit less miserable themselves, but that was about it. Oh, I managed one sketch in my moleskine.

Waiting-for-AC dragon sketch

Thanks for not bringing the fire 'round, dragon. Looks nice and cool in that lake.

Summer is not my favorite season. More art and sketches soon, now that the AC is trundling along again.

Moleskine + artists to investigate

Evan just published a new post on his blog, with some illustrations he’s done for the upcoming 20Spec anthology. Gorgeous ink drawings, check them out!

This reminded me that it’s been a while since I last blogged, or uploaded art, or anything. My only excuse is that I’ve been working on a number of projects lately (one that is truly awesome, for a client!) some of which are stories rather than art and most of which are nowhere near done. Then there were the past few days, where we had temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s, with a a heat index of 100*F+, but no air conditioning. I didn’t really get much done besides showering a lot and making desultory pencil sketches in my moleskines.

Regent of water and vines.

Here is one of them.

Speaking of moleskines, I recently rediscovered the site ‘Skine Art. If you haven’t seen this before, I heartily suggest you take a look. Extremely inspiring to me, and a provider of the impetus to work in my sketchbook every single day. Also the best advertising for moleskine brand ever, I so want to be a part of that community every time I go there. X) Actually, I finally am. The above image might be appearing there sometime in the next few days.

Some great artists I’ve discovered since my last blog post! Xiao Han’s entire portfolio is full of gorgeous, subtle illustrations, but I particularly love these little watercolors. I want to try this technique myself. And Joseph R. Tomlinson is someone I found on ‘Skine Art, because his sketches are dynamite. I love his chickens the best.

Also, illustrator Eric Orchard is excellent in general, but you should especially check out his recent ‘Comic Book Tools and Materials’ series of blog posts (sadly he hasn’t given them their own tag, so I can’t link directly. They’re easily locatable on his blog, I promise!) Very good, very detailed advice.

I tend to add new artists and webcomics to my sidebar all the time, so please take a moment to browse! There are some really beautiful things represented. :)

(Though not all of them might be safe for your workplace… I try to warn you in the ALT text).

Sketches – experiments with color

Color is not my strong suit. I tend to panic and go for neutral earthtones, and when I do push myself to go bright I often overdo it and include far too much variety. Or maybe not very well matched variety.

I’ve decided to make this a bit of a focus, because it certainly deserves it. You’ll be seeing a lot of experimentation in color from me, in other words, though I’ll try to keep it interesting.

To begin with, I’ve gone back into some old ballpoint sketches in my moleskine with colored pencil. I deliberately limited my palette, putting aside a handful of (mostly vivid) colors to work from. I feel I did a decent job with these, though obviously they’re only a start.

Next step: using a palette-generating tool like Kuler to set limits for myself, and see what they look like in paintings.

Wish me luck.

The Chimney Fly, plus sketchdump

Illustration Friday got skipped due to the swelling tide of deadlines I’ve piled onto myself. I can’t promise IF will actually get done until these are cleared away, sadly. For some reason, commissions and design contracts seem to always hit me at the same time. At least one of these commissions is paying me! As well as being awesome beyond believing! Though really, given that one of my unpaid commissions is 826… I really can’t complain here.

Now for the Monday monster.

Chimney Fly

This is the Chimney fly, an unselfconscious little bug with a knack for picking the most inconvenient spots to roost. It eats nearly anything, from jam sandwiches to old candy wrappers; then incinerates its meals within a stone-clad, white-hot belly. Smoke pours continuously from its various portals, a pungent melange of digestion. This particular Chimney fly is experimenting with another variety of smoke, hoping the odor will cover its own, which it has been told is unbearably offensive. However, smoking will not agree with its constitution, and it will consider eating only flowers in the future.

Below the fold: a moleskine sketchdump!
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