Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sketchbook Month Posts.

I've been contributing semi-regularly to the group Sketchbook Month blog. Here are my recent posts:

Post 1
Post 2
Post 3
Post 4
Post 5

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Art: Sabrina.

Sabrina (Conte pencil on newsprint, 16x22"). Drawing from live model.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recent and Random Work.

Cecilia (Conte pencil on newsprint, 18x24"). 1 hour drawing from live model.

Melissa (Conte pencil on newsprint, 12x16"). Drawing from live model.

Untitled (Oil on canvas board, 11x14"). I wanted to experiment with lost edges and a 4-value monochromatic palette (ivory black with titanium white).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rock Poster: Throwing Toast.

Throwing Toast: Dec 6 2008. Click on image for larger version.

The original painting was created with watercolor, gouache, and pen on watercolor paper. I scanned in my painting and then used Photoshop to arrange cropped images and add text.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Art: Van.

Van (Oil on canvas. 11x14").

This was done using a technique called "burnt-umber pick-out." It's a monochromatic painting using only burnt-umber oil paint and turpentine. The entire canvas is toned with a middle value of burnt-umber. The head is drawn with a small round brush and thin layer of paint. Various methods are then used to add and subtract values. The glasses were painted by my instructor, Erik. This painting will be completed over three 3-hour classes. The first class was used to complete the burnt-umber pick-out (shown above). Over the next two classes, I will add color using a minimal palette. I'm quite pleased with the results of my burnt-umber painting, so there is trepidation that I will mess it up when I add color. Color is hard. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Art: Self-Portrait In Primary.

Self-Portrait In Primary (Oil on masonite. 11x14"). Painted using a minimal palette and a new approach.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Art: Teresa Reclining.

Teresa Reclining (Conte pencil on newsprint, 16x21"). Drawing from live model.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Art: Peppers.

Green Pepper (Oil on canvas board. 14x11").

Two Peppers (Gouache and watercolor in Moleskine sketchbook. 4.5x4").

Art: Sherman.

Sherman (Conte pencil on newsprint, 10x14"). Drawing from live model.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Art: Melissa.

Melissa (Conte pencil on newsprint, 11x16").

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Art: Surfboard Design Contest.

A local radio station, along with a few other companies, sponsored a surfboard design contest. Ten winners will be selected to have their designs turned into ten one-of-a-kind surfboards, made by Rusty (these boards will later be given away in another contest). The contest deadline was Sunday, July 27th, with the only main rule being that the art board area must measure exactly 17 x 5.7 inches. Here was my submitted design:

Urban Ocean (pen, watercolor, acrylic ink on Aquarelle Arches watercolor paper, 17x5.7").

Update: If you want to see all of the submitted designs, you can check out this webpage. My design is 13th from the bottom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Art: Recent Life-Drawing Quick Sketches.

Here are some recent life-drawing quick sketches. All sketches were done with Conte pencil (1710B) on newsprint.

Monday, July 07, 2008

San Francisco - 2006

(October 2006)

Few experiences test a new relationship more than taking a road trip together or camping. Okay -- maybe unexpected pregnancy -- but that's a whole 'nother thing.

Road trips create a unique environment. The likelihood of something going awry is high, and a person's true personality is largely revealed by how he or she reacts to the given situation. Secondly, when in a car or pop-up tent -- you are isolated with that person. You can't flee from those uncomfortable moments, and that only serves to amplify them.

Despite not having reached our two month anniversary (affectionately and pathetically referred to as a month-aversary), in October of 2006, Juliana and I decided to chance it. We would drive north from San Diego to San Francisco, where we would stay for four days.


As the drive would be long -- eight to ten hours -- we knew that a solid soundtrack was imperative. But instead of leaving it to chance with the radio -- especially with the vast barren stretches on Interstate 5 -- accompanied by fifth rate DJs in Bakersfield -- we opted to make our own mixed-tape CDs. But not just any type. We wanted to make it interesting. We needed themes. But what-oh-what type of themes?

Of course, a standard road trip CD was required -- one filled with floating and lulling bass-line songs that made you roll down the windows and smile. "We also need fast paced songs that make you accelerate," Jules added. We dubbed this the drive CD.

Jules recommended two other themes: sing and dance.

They seemed simple enough -- CDs loaded with songs that infectiously encouraged you to either sing or boogie down -- but I struggled on those.

I knew that Juliana had a beautiful voice, and despite many requests from me, I had never heard her sing. I looked forward to her sing CD as I wanted to hear her accompany the songs with her voice.

I must say, the drive theme was where I excelled -- so much in fact that I had to break it up into two CDs -- fast and slow.

The dance CD was difficult. I emptied my sparse hip-hop vault. For the sing CD, I threw in a few covers -- both familiar and obscure -- and opted for fun and whimsical songs.

After much sorting and pondering and theorizing and extrapolating, I finished my four CDs: drive-fast, drive-slow, sing, and dance.


We headed north on Interstate 5. We rolled the windows down. Jules reached over and grabbed her drive CD. "We have to listen to this CD first," she said.

Soon, the speakers filled the car with Scott McKenzie's song....

If you're going... to San Francisco
Be sure to wear... some flowers in your hair
If you're going... to San Francisco
You're going to meet some gentle people there

It was perfect. We smiled at each other. I found myself enveloped by peace, and enraptured with freedom. Anything was possible. Anything could happen.


The drive was serene and smooth -- the way you want it -- although driving through Los Angeles sucked as it always does. Saw some hawks flying above the farmlands and perched stoically on fence posts. They provided the only visual sustenance as we cruised through the Central Valley.

We took 5 to 152 to 101 to 280 to Van Ness. I hadn't been to the Bay Area since I had moved away in February 2001. Seeing familiar sights brought excitement, and there's always an internal resonance that occurs when I see the San Francisco skyline.

I had booked a hotel online which sometimes leads to its own random surprises. For me, it's always about location. This one was poised at the intersection of Van Ness and Lombard. While not an exciting locale of its own, it was positioned within walking distance of many cool places and provided quick access to strategic thoroughfares. The hotel had incredibly dim lighting in the bathroom which made you feel like you were taking a shower by candlelight. The room was weathered but not worn. It would work just fine.

As we arrived late in the evening -- the sun having already set -- we decided to casually stroll towards revitalized Fillmore Street to grab some dinner.

Finding a restaurant was difficult as we were both in quirky moods. We ended at a place that served lots of fried things. I'm a sucker for mozzarella sticks. This was not a wise choice. Thankfully we had to do some walking to get back to the hotel.


As our time was short and there were so many things we wanted to do, we had a tentative itinerary that still allowed for randomness and spontaneity. It's helpful to have an initial budge in the morning to get you started in a general direction.

Our general direction Saturday morning set us towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our first stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. It's an amazing piece of architecture, and you never realize its immense scale until you're standing next to it.

We sat next to its massive pillars, enjoying our coffee, absorbing the crisp ocean air, and talked about all sorts of wondrous things. We were happy.

I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge dozens of times, and yet every time I still find myself mesmerized. Its presence never fails to astound me.

We parked at its base and walked across. I absorbed everything. The bridge. The views. The sunshine. The atmosphere. I felt inspired.


As the bridge spans the entrance to the Bay, the winds passing through it can be strong. The wind dried out Juliana's contacts and in turn irritated her eyes. She was vocal about her annoyance, while shielding her eyes from the wind. Her issues adversely affected my ability to enjoy the moment, and I silently resented her for it. I became quiet.

This scene proved to be a landmark moment in our relationship.

A few months later, we had gone clothes shopping. I bought two pairs of Chuck Taylor Converse shoes and therefore had two empty shoe boxes that sat on the floor.

"So what are you going to do with the empty shoe boxes?" Jules inquired.

I injected some humor to deflect attention from the future of the orphaned boxes.

"I'm going to make a diorama," I replied.

"What's a diorama?" she asked.

"You take a shoe box and using construction paper and various supplies, you create a scene inside with a background, animals, and people."

"Why would you want to do that?"

For some reason, I jokingly exclaimed, "Hey, don't poo-poo my diorama!"

And now this phrase has entered our personal lexicon. It has proven to be very powerful.

It may have been weeks or months after our San Francisco trip, but in casual conversation I mentioned how her reaction to the wind tainted my experience on the bridge. We talked about how a subtle negative behavior can adversely affect the other persons' experience. I become hyper-sensitive to those around me.

Jules wasn't even aware that she was complaining. "Why didn't you just say something?" she asked. "I didn't even know. I would have stopped had I been aware of it."

I discovered there's this thing called talking.

And now if one of us is being less than enthusiastic -- i.e. a drag -- then the other simply says "don't poo-poo my diorama." It's a shorthand that we both understand and takes the sting out of confrontation.


After walking on the bridge, we returned to its base, and found a nestled vantage point from which I could draw. Juliana sat next to me, looking beautiful, and enjoyed the view.

I don't do it nearly enough, but I enjoy drawing landscapes and vistas on site (i.e. plein air).

I read an article in an art magazine about how to keep people away from you as you paint outdoors. It talked about creating temporary barriers and other tactics. The article made me sad as that's one of my favorite parts -- the interaction with people -- having them walk by and observe and dialogue. Painting can be a lonely endeavor, so I like the energy generated from having others pass by.

However, with all that being said, you still had to watch out for stray penguins.


After the bridge, we went to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. I know that it's an enormous tourist trap, and that locals avoid it like a crazed, rabid dog, but I love it. I enjoy three things most: the views, the synergy created by all of the people, and the street vendor food.

We each got a clam chowder bread bowl from an outside stand and found a bench along the pier. We faced Alcatraz and ate in wonderful bliss.

We wandered around Fisherman's Wharf and upon passing by the food stands again we picked up a basket of fried calamari. It may have been the best calamari I've ever had (with a close second being a restaurant I used to visit regularly on the Santa Cruz pier). We enjoyed our impromptu meal on a boardwalk location that overlooked fishing boats.


As we walked along the waterfront sidewalk, we were confronted by many palm readers.

I realized that this is the best job ever.

First of all, there is no overhead. You don't need a table. You don't need cards. Nothing. You simply stand there. The only financial investment is in a sixty-nine cent piece of poster-board and a sharpie to write "Palm Reader." Any money you make is pure profit.

Secondly, the job has to be easy. You hold a person's outstretched hand and say, "I see you like to laugh and you're searching for true love."

Piece of cake. It's time for a career change.


We reached The Cannery, and took refuge at an outside bar in the central courtyard. We each ordered a draft microbrew that was strangely served in clear plastic cups.

We caught the last song by a talented female singer playing the acoustic guitar on a stage setup in the middle of the courtyard. She was replaced by an eccentric couple. They hung up a tapestry and lit incense. She played a flute and he played a guitar. Their music was hard to describe but I would classify it as being incredibly soothing. We dubbed it "good pooping music."

A couple sidled up next to us at the bar and we started chatting. They were from Florida, but very deliberately and intently described how they were from the west side of the state and not from the east. Unprovoked, they added that Interstate 75 is on the west side of the state and spawns from the Midwest, while Interstate 95 went down the east side of the state and came from the conceited east coast. This supposedly made an enormous difference in how we should perceive them.

After talking to them I deduced that the west side of Florida must be nice, but very dull and boring.

Upon finishing our beer, we continued back to our hotel room, stopping in many impressive art galleries along the way.


We started Sunday morning by taking the Powell/Hyde cable car line along its entire path -- from its Aquatic Park beginning to its Market Street demise. Our destination: the Museum of Modern Art.

The museum held amazing wonders as usual, with one of my particular favorites being Gerhard Richter's painting, Lesende (Reading). Jules wanted to know what I found alluring about the painting and we discussed it. I don't often have the opportunities to discuss art with people, so it's always interesting when I have to articulate why a particular piece engages me. I feel like I haven't developed a sufficient enough vocabulary, phrasing, or understanding to describe it. Jules found herself enamored with many abstract paintings, and we talked about what she found engaging with them. Our artistic circles of interest do not overlap much, so it was an interesting and fun dialogue to have.


We walked from the museum back to our hotel on a route that took us through Union Square, China Town, North Beach, and Fisherman's Wharf.


Back in the hotel room, we rested our weary feet and watched television. When I lived in the Bay Area, one of my favorite shows was a locally produced program called Bay Area Backroads. It featured hidden nooks and adventures around the Bay. It's amazing how many unique places exist within an hours' drive.

We happened to catch an episode. One of the vignettes featured the best burrito locations in the Bay Area. One of the profiled places was in Mountain View (in Silicon Valley near San Jose). The food looked incredible. We filed the info away for later -- although it turns out that the only thing we remembered was the street and the city. Writing down the name would have been too easy.


I remember it as the night of the amazing paella. Jules remembers it as the night that I fixed her shoe.

On the first night we arrived in San Francisco, we passed by a Spanish restaurant that specialized in paella. We made a mental note at the time, and on this evening we decided to cash that note and eat dinner there.

We got dressed up and walked from our hotel room to the restaurant along Lombard Street. Halfway along the route, the strap on Juliana's left shoe snapped, leaving her limping. We were too far to turn around and too far away to continue. We considered taking a taxi back to the hotel but that seemed like a pain. Considering myself resourceful, I opted to fix her shoe. I took inventory of the materials on hand, and finding that we had a clothespin, gum, coins, a money clip, and lipstick, I determined that I could either adequately fix her shoe, or build a metal detector. I opted to fix her shoe.

Juliana was skeptical of my chance for success, but after working my magic, I was able to solidly secure the strap. Of course we would need a crowbar and a band-saw to get the shoe off of her, but it would hold up for dinner. She took some initial steps to determine whether it would hold.

Walking sure-footed, she exclaimed, "You did it. You fixed my shoe."

She smiled.

A few blocks later, she grinned, clutched my arm tightly, laid her head against my shoulder, and with a sentimental whisper said, "You fixed my shoe."

Early in every relationship, there are those small acts that magically endear you to the other. It's that moment that adds confirmation that there's something special about this relationship. For Juliana, it was me fixing her shoe.

We ate dinner at the restaurant. The wine was fantastic and the paella was the best I have ever had. The seafood was abundant and diverse. It was a great meal.

After dinner we stopped by a dive bar near our hotel and Jules bought us drinks.

It was a good night.


Monday was our farewell day. We didn't have any ambitious plans -- only a stop at Coit Tower. Then we would begin our 500 mile voyage home.

We took the elevator up to the top of Coit Tower for amazing panoramic views of the city.

Looking down, I found myself fascinated by the dense urban setting. I saw people walking and cars moving. There were neatly arranged rooftop gardens where I envisioned late night gatherings where people laughed and sipped wine from nearby Napa.

I don't extrapolate much. That's why I'm not good at internalizing the importance of a doorknob from the 18th century sitting on a satin pillow in a history museum -- to me it's just a doorknob. But here I stood and looked down at all of the people and saw a million stories below. I was intrigued and engaged. I found myself fascinated and curious about what each person's story was.

Coming home from work and finding sanctuary at home, it's easy to focus on yourself and your own four walls and dilemmas. But, sometimes it's nice to be reminded that there's a whole world out there.

Scanning across the skyline, we became engaged with a magnificent building in the distance.

Upon descending from our Coit Tower perch, we referenced the San Francisco guidebook and deduced that the building was Grace Cathedral. We decided to check it out. This brought us to the top of Nob Hill and the magnificent church.

We basked in the architecture, the view and the ambience. Reluctantly, we pointed the car south and began our journey home.

However, we still had one more mission. We had to find the taqueria profiled on Bay Area Backroads. All I remembered was that the restaurant was in Mountain View and on Dana Street. Two problems: I didn't remember the name of the restaurant and Dana Street was long.

Our tact was simple: Drive along the entire length of Dana Street if necessary. But we would find the restaurant.

And find it we did.

The restaurant was Taqueria Los Charros, and we had the best carnitas burrito in the universe.

Our stomachs and hearts full, the sun having shined on us brightly, we pulled onto the 101 south entrance and made our way to San Diego.

Friday, July 04, 2008

June Sketchbook Conclusion.

I successfully completed the 100-page sketchbook in a month challenge I described in a previous journal entry.

I posted six times to the group blog. They are:

Batch 1
Batch 2
Batch 3
Batch 4
Batch 5
Batch 6

Here are some facts, observations, and notes that interest me, but perhaps no one else:

  • I ended up posting 47 pages to the group blog. This equates to exactly 47% of the entire journal. I'm not sure if I had estimated a success/failure rate when I started, but I am pleased with 47%. It seems higher than my anticipated total.
  • I wrote "Be Fearless" on the first page of the sketchbook. I can be very tentative when deciding what to draw. There's always the constant fear of failure which can be paralyzing and constrictive. It's easy to stay in your wheelhouse, and draw things that are familiar. But I wanted to be able to draw anything in front of me. I wrote "Be Fearless" as a mantra to jump without concern of falling. As trite as it sounds, it helped. I drew things I never would have before. I constantly challenged myself. Ironically, I have a fear/superstition of drawing a picture on the first page of any sketchbook. I would have been more fearless had I actually drawn a picture and not written "Be Fearless."
  • It was a lot more work than I had anticipated -- and had come at the cost of other artwork -- but it was totally worth it. A very rewarding experience.
  • I drew some stuff that I never would have drawn otherwise. Because I needed to fill the sketchbook in a finite amount of time, I didn't have hours to sort through hundreds of images. Instead, I had to be resourceful and inventive. The common became immortalized. And as mentioned above, I wanted to challenge myself so I picked atypical subject matter and angles and views. It was good. I can be restless and it's hard for me to sit for long periods of time. This exercise was nice because it forced me to sit in beautiful parts of the city, and trying to translate that beauty into dark lines. Not only did I have to take time to smell the roses, but draw them as well. This forced stationary sitting was good for me. I noticed small things. I relaxed.
  • I used to only draw on the front sides of a page (i.e. I wouldn't draw on both sides of a page -- front and back). For this assignment, I drew on every single side. I liked this approach for many reasons. For one, I could do a double page spread -- draw a single scene across two adjacent pages (see my sketchbook postings above to see what I mean). Secondly, it made individual drawings less precious as it was possible to harm the drawing on the other side of the page if you used heavy watercolors or inks. This is good because I'm more likely to relax and have fun when I draw because I'm not afraid to make mistakes, and this in turn helps create more interesting drawings.
  • All pages except for one were done in pen (or pen plus watercolor/ink wash). The one exception was a rock poster concept sketch done in pencil and watercolor. I'm certainly surprised by the dominance of pen, but it was a nice change as it's one of my favorite mediums and I hadn't been using it that much.
  • Getting behind is bad, as catching up is difficult. The other issue is dealing with fractions. In order to complete 100 pages in 30 days, you need to do 3 1/3 pages per day. It's that 1/3 of a page that bites you in the ass. It's easy to remember to do 3 pages in a day, but you also have to remember that you need to sketch an extra page every three days to account for the extra 1/3. If you don't remember, you soon realize that those fractions quickly add up.
  • I'm a little perplexed of how to harness this experience and carry on. I liked the disciplined of creating three or four new works every day -- although it consumed my life. I was also forced to draw things that I wouldn't have before -- and I liked the results. So how do I remain prolific and also challenge myself with new subject matter, while allowing time for regular artistic endeavors? I'm currently trying to figure out how to develop this balance.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sketchbook Mission.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled onto an engaging group blog written by a collective of talented artists. The mission of the blog was simple: try to fill a one-hundred page sketchbook within a month, and post your progress. I visited the blog daily, fascinated by the results of the challenge. I found it inspiring.

Juliana can watch any movie at any time. I, on the other hand, have to find the perfect movie to match my mood. Often, I cannot make that match. It can become an incapacitating issue.

The same problem afflicts me when I'm trying to find subject matter to draw. I never suffer from artistic "writer's block." Instead my problem is that I keep pouring over crates of material, trying to find the one that matches my mood and desire. I also want the image to be majestic. I'll find something after a two hour search, but then it's late and I'm too tired to draw.

To try and overcome these issues, I decided to join the blog, with the goal being to fill a one-hundred page sketchbook in one month (June). I wanted to tune my eyes to a new way of seeing.

While this has been the most artistically prolific time of my life, it's always good to have additional goals, especially a daily one. To stay on course, I need to complete three pages a day. This will be a good challenge.

To ensure that I would finish the task, I made one rule for myself -- I didn't have to post every page, only those that I felt comfortable showing. If I felt obligated to show every page, I worried that I would be overly critical of each mark of the pen with the result being that I would feel stifled and hesitant and quit. I would post only what I wanted to post. If I created a crappy drawing, fine. It would remain hidden between pages.

When you're trying to fill a sketchbook on a schedule, it's about artistic survival. You have to generate subject matter from simple things that surround you. It forces you to train your brain. The subject matter doesn't have to be grand. Among some of the images to fill my sketchbook so far: my right foot, a coat rack, my right hand, a safari hat, a plush chair, a desk chair, a wine glass half-filed with cabernet, and a lamp. The mundane becomes immortalized in ink on paper. It doesn't have to be high-concept or grand. Having to fill a sketchbook makes me see things differently, and I like that. I notice the little things.

Taking the everyday and turning it into a realized painting was an enviable trait that I had not quite developed. I could easily conceptualize the grand, but often overlooked the small. It's easy to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and know that you should take a picture. It's not as intuitive to see a coffee mug sitting on a counter and know that it is just as relative. Furthermore, it challenges you as an artist. When you take a picture of the Grand Canyon, the view does most of the work. But when you're an artist drawing a coffee mug, it's up to you to make it interesting. The first part is finding the common, and the second part is translating it into an effective visual. This process teaches me a lot.

To see the progress of me and other artists, you can check out the Sketchbook Month blog.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Art: Deggi.

Deggi (watercolor on watercolor paper, 9x6"). From a live model. I painted with a minimal palette, using only the three primary colors: red (cadmium red light), blue (ultramarine), and yellow (cadmium yellow light).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Art: May Miscellany.

Some recent and random study work....

The painting on top of the corkboard is oil -- the rest are pencil and watercolor.

Yes, that is a Debbie Gibson trading card above the metal clip. And no, I will not sell it to you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Art: Cecilia.

Cecilia [cropped] (Conte pencil on newsprint. 14x20"). Drawing from live model.

From a likeness perspective, one of my best drawings. However, my shading technique is rougher than I would like.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Art: After Frazetta.

With respect to art, a great method to develop your understanding and improve your technique is to try and reproduce the artwork of artists you admire. When I was younger, I rabidly consumed Conan comics and books. This act exposed me to the magnificent artwork of Frank Frazetta. Ergo....

Dancer From Atlantis, After Frazetta (Gouache and acrylic on watercolor paper, 10x14").

Friday, May 09, 2008

Art: Teresa.

Teresa (Conte pencil on newsprint. 7x18"). Drawing from live model.

The model's head was tilted back slightly. While I was able to capture that angle in her eye placement and the planes of her nose (ironically, the toughest part), I wasn't able to get the rest of the head to follow suit. I think that her chin needed to come out more.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Art: Misty.

Misty (Conte pencil on newsprint. 12x18"). Drawing from live model.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Art: Haley.

Haley (Conte pencil on newsprint. 18x24"). Drawing from live model.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Art: Meegin and Tori.

Meegin (Conte pencil on newsprint. 12x12"). Drawing from live model.

Tori (Conte pencil on newsprint. 12x12"). Drawing from live model.