Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hissy Fits, Alfonse, and Matrimony

Alfonse and Domingo! Summer! Clouds!

A version in the forest that everyone likes but I don't as much :p

A sketch with colors I still like best!

Hi Everyone!

So first-off, some fun- anyone remember these guys? Alfonse and Domingo are some old original characters' of mine from my college days. I've had a soft spot for them, and been meaning to revisit them for a while now- tweak their designs etc. And you know- it's summer, so it's time for a little fun, silly art!

I have been a little nervous about approaching a full digital illustration lately.
It's dumb- I've done plenty before, but somehow character design has become my comfort-zone, and it's been really hard to coax myself out of it without very clear reasons. Why go there? And it's funny- it's not less intimidating, no matter how many watercolor landscapes I make or little scratchy paintings- it's always difficult to approach something final. Anyways, I was driving and listening to this on the radio, and I had this idea to revisit these old characters and just do something kind of derpy and fun, to break the seal.

I am kind of neck-deep in an art identity-crisis right now, if that hasn't been WILDLY OBVIOUS to EVERYONE. :p

I keep on trying new things, doubling back, looking at my old work, convincing myself I am losing my touch, panicking, collapsing into a heap, getting excited about new things, looking disdainfully on my old work...rinse and repeat. Somehow, the dry times and the down-swings always feel new...and I forget that I've been here before...and by God's grace I will find my footing again. Still- sometimes I feel like Howl having a hissy fit.

Me, this morning.
Okay, maybe more than sometimes.
But you know what? Inspiration comes and inspiration goes. And it is foolish to base one's sense of worth and purpose on something as taciturn as 'feeling inspired' or 'making inspired art'. Maybe the art is even inspired and it's STILL not maybe art in general is a bad place to find worth. In fact- I'm sure of it.

I saw a quote floating around, attributed to CS Lewis:
"Don't ever let your happiness depend on something that can be taken away from you."

Oho- whoah. Wait...that includes things like...Almighty Art. Romance. Even family. Like, even my drawing hand can be taken away from me.

Aren't I supposed to be finding my identity and sense of worth in Christ, anyways?
I always find it difficult to come back to the place where I remember- jobs, relationships, family members- it can all be taken away, but God's love can't. 
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8: 38-39

Speaking with a friend, he mused "what would the world be like if people walked around as if they were actually loved unconditionally." It would change everything.

So, even as I write this, it makes my art hissy fit seem...kind of silly. Small. If I am loved at the depth of my being- then what does it matter if I really hate the composition or the lack of value structure?
It's going to be ok.
Praise God.

And speaking of love: My little sister is getting married within the week! Yay mei-mei!
I am so unspeakably blessed to be home with my family right now, and to be able to observe as my sister prepares for this huge event in her life. She is...she's the best. And this is the best, and so exciting! I get to DJ the party! :D (and oho yes...there will be dancing.)
I also got to design their wedding invitation. I won't put any of the text on it, but the basic illustration is here:


In the meantime, I've taken on a few commissions. Notably, I've gotten a few requests for tattoo designs from friends. Which is always weird- because it's art to go kind of permanently on someone's body (my friend Travis reminded me that even our mortal bods are not permanent, but stillll...)
And if it's a friend the pressure is increased two-fold because
a) you care about them
b) you're going to SEE them a lot. And that means you're likely to see your work a lot. O_O

Nonetheless, we press on! (which has been my mantra though this month...just keep making art. No matter what) And the result of that is part 1 of 2...a Princess Peach tattoo for the aforementioned friend-Travis! Woo!

And for my very best buddies Jake and Peter, I have designed "If, like Hokusai's wave met The Old Man and The Sea" and "A buttterfly...but, like, abstracted so it's not know."

And, for myself...I've been plugging away on these simple little paintings (that I think of as like-songs), which I enjoy doing very much. So below is a little meditation on leaving, dusk, and the hills in the dark. Lightsailing.

That's it for now- I have more watercolors, but not time to scan them at the moment- so there'll be even more later! A few more little commissions to complete, and some prospects on the horizon that I am very excited about, but not ready to talk about just yet.
I hope you are blessed, wherever you are
Thanks for reading!

Much love,


Sunday, July 8, 2012


True story.

We wound up in the basement with candles. Listen to your moms, guys.

I've been really enjoying these little comics. I hope you guys dig them- It's a great exercise in storytelling. Just go. With ballpoint pen and watercolor you can't plan too much in advance and you can't change much after you've drawn it. It's kind of awesome to practice telling stories that way- I highly recommend it!

Much love,


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Canal Stories.

They go.

The hills were always perfect at night- 
dark and silent and full of secrets.

Hello everyone

I've been working steadily over the last few weeks- and I figure it was time for an update around here, since there's new work to show and new stories to tell!
I mentioned last post that I've been taking bike-trips down the cape-cod canal- well, I've tried to keep those up as part of a resolution to draw something, no matter what, every day. I don't like resolutions, but I need a little discipline in my life.
I've been watercoloring from life a lot- I've been finding it extremely relaxing, because the watercolor can be unpredictable and keeps me loose. It also helps to be making art in-the-moment.

I've been reflecting on that- how often I am SO distracted, and my attention is pulled in so many ways that I really lose sight of where I am. Especially right now- trying to look for work, worrying about the future, my career- there's a lot to distract. 
I was working on a character design the other night and I realized how I was using the experience of making art to escape from the rest of my life. 
It was kind of an unpleasant realization.

That's not always a bad thing, but in general that's something I'm wary of. 
Taking my bike out and going to watercolor outside is forcing me to make art in a context. Not just hunched over my computer in the bedroom. I'm starting to think that striking a balance is really important- and I'm realizing how unbalanced I've been.
And in all seriousness- it feels more worshipful, to seek out a moment, be in it, and draw from it. Stop looking in every other direction, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just...draw.
I feel more prayerful when I'm out sketching, so I've been trying to integrate my work-life and my prayer-life so that they aren't so compartmentalized. It's nice :)
I've started noticing things around me, getting a little sun, and even having fun interactions with passers-by! I don't know why I haven't been doing more of this :p

Above is are two pieces I worked on today;
Wanting to make art like music, I've started thinking in terms of songs. I know that's kiiind of dumb- but it makes sense to me and helps me figure out what I'm working towards and why I do what I do. So that firs is a little love song. And the second is like it- a meditation on night and a girl.
I've always loved those windmills- ever since I was a kid...they had a windfarm full of them in Holland, and they have them along the canal here, too. Windmills and bridges...

I'm not sure if these have ever been posted here, but it got me thinking about some of the other little paintings I've done over the last year. Just giving myself permission to work simply:

So now to the sketchbook- here's a smattering of the last week's sketches from wandering around.
I'm making friends with the bridge, and trying to confront my unwillingness to paint architecture and scenery by sneaking up on it :)

I went to Bristol on a sketching trip with my friend Maret- and we picked a great day to go! They had a carnival set up in the center of town, and a concert on the green by the water. It was a beautiful day- glad I got to sketch it!

I didn't get to paint it- in fact I'm not sure I could ever do it justice. But I took a quick ride down the canal earlier in the week, and was intending to turn back when I heard this sound coming from far off. Low and rhythmic- I assumed it was the sound of engines, but as it neared I could tell it was music. Then all of a sudden, this three-masted tall ship comes into view, motoring down the canal. And up in all the rigging are about three-dozen uniformed navy-men doing choreographed dance as a marching band on the main deck plays to nobody in particular. It was covered in flags, and just sailed slowly by and out towards the bay. It was amazing- the best moment. 

In other news, I've been working through some more commissioned work, and enjoying it! Below is a piece for Bre Galloway based on an excerpt from CS Lewis' Perelandra:

"And as he stood and looked it seemed to him that four of the great earth-beetles, dwarfed by distance to the size of gnats, and crawling two by two, came slowly into sight. And they were drawing behind them a flat car, and on the car, upright, unshaken, stood a mantled form, huge and still and slender. And driving its strange team it passed on with insufferable majesty and went out of sight. Assuredly the inside of this world was not for man. But it was for something."

It was a really fun, open-ended prompt to work with. The other piece is a Ghoul from Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (which I've been listening to as an audiobook as I drive). I am really enjoying the book so far! For whatever reason, the Ghoul's really captured my imagination and I had to draw one! They all have fun names like 'The Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh' and 'The Famous Writer Victor Hugo'. Anyways, Enjoy!

That's all from me for now- I hope you guys like the new work! I've been experimenting with a lineless style, and been really enjoying it. I don't think I'll ever fully abandon line- but it's really great to learn more about form and color this way...sometimes I'm too reliant on my linework to make the piece function. 
It's nice to stretch a little, artistically and start to move away from the video-game concept art look. I'd really love to move in new directions!

Anyways, I'm off to eat some fourth-of-July barbecue with my family- I hope this finds you well and in good company.

God bless, and much love!