Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Opaque watercolors, caseins, and safaris

Wanting more strong, bold color in my watercolor work (colors that don't require layering and layering to build that color), I'm exploring using opaque paints more now. A couple years ago, I think I mentioned that I avoided the opaque watercolors colors with the large particle size (to get the sort of transparent colors I wanted). Well, it looks now that I'm swinging back the other way towards opaque paints again! Colors like Cerulean Blue and French Ultramarine make GREAT opaque colors. So either with little water or the addition of a filler pigment like titanium white, there's now a new way to get opaque, matte colors that wasn't achievable before.

But even building that matte colors can lead to fun results. The koala hut image also employs not just watercolors, but some casein paint as well, a new fun medium. Then lastly, some safari sunsets. Some great colors to consider moving forward with my work.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bedtime story

As I drew this, I wondered why do robots have tongues?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Inking (Inktober)

A lot of people are participating in Inktober, that magical month of vampires, monsters, ghosts, and inking. I've haven't done it myself, and probably should at some point. But I thought that I'd share my inking at least for one day.

The drawing above is done with the Winsor Newton Series 7 brush size 1. Fancy, I know, but this brush is probably the most exciting aspect of making art for me. I absolutely love drawing with a brush. The amount of energy and variation that can be captured with the one tool surpasses all others. What is particularly great about the series 7 brushes is that amazing point that they make. That point enables me to get from the thick lines to razor thin lines. Even with the brush, I can get thinner lines than a crow quill pen. This brush makes my day.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Normally the posts are in the same section as the artwork, but since the last post was a complete story in itself, here is an afterword. This story was a personal project, for no one in particular other than me drawing it. The idea grew from personal experience as well. Missing out or not being included as part of the group has been a common occurrence since childhood.

From this kernel grew what came to be an unexpected party for Artie thrown by Merlo the wizard. Since conception, the self-imposed limitation of making it 8 pages proved challenging, since the first draft of the story ballooned to 8 pages of writing in itself. However, it helped cut as much fat as possible to the story giving it a very brisk pace. The story was not intended to be riff of the beginning of The Hobbit, but when it took shape, I was curious to see how a bunch of dwarves would interact with a shy kid and a carefree wizard.

In the end, I found that even dwarves can be as exclusive as a bunch of kids. At least kids won't throw down their axes wherever they find convenient (at least I hope not!).

Artie, The Master Party Pooper

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tribute to Richard Thompson

 Yesterday, Richard Thompson of Cul de Sac fame passed away at the age of 58. 

Richard Thompson's work was very influential to me. First there was the artwork. His drawing skills are ridiculous. How can so loose a line be so exact and right? It's amazing how much the line quality can say about the artist. What sticks out most about his drawing is the blend between excitable nervous energy and also pure joy. There's always a happiness permeating his drawings that you don't need words to say. That joy infiltrates its way into his editorial illustrations and his comics and his characters.

His watercolors then… I'm not even going there how good THEY are. 

Lastly, his storytelling and characters. Richard Thompson is one of the last standard bearer of the traditional newspaper comic strip, and while the newspaper industry and the comics that are in it are on life support, it may be a long time until we see his likes again. But even as the newspaper industry is gasping for air while the internet came of age, along came Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac.

His writing alone would have made an amazing comic strip. Even if you took away his irreplaceable art, you'd still believe Alice and Petey are real. They were real kids. Richard Thompson somehow knew how kids talked (Not what they said, HOW they said it). The joyful banter back and forth, the seemingly non sequitars between Alice's preschool friends, the incessant worrying of a milquetoast brother. It's crazy how talented this guy was.

The mark that he made on my work (and on countless others!) is incalculable. It's upsetting that he was taken away so fast from Parkinson's, and my thoughts and prayers will be with his family and friends as they grapple the loss. I want to close this by emphasizing to everyone what joy he brought to the world through his art. Thank you, Richard!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Medieval Robot

Beep. Boop. Bop.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Silent Films/ Flying Robot

The past couple years I've had an idea percolating in my head for a picture book that somehow takes inspiration from the silent films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. In a way, old silent films employ the same storytelling aspects as do some picture books.

One example is the use of the film card. Is the separation of words and visual storytelling that much different from the separation of words and image in picture books?

Modern Times. Such a great movie. The first fifteen minutes is magic.

Have You Seen My Hat? A modern take on the classic picture book layout. Used to hilarious effect.
Another way (which a lot of modern TV and film constantly abuse to death) is the placement of the camera (or shot). In older films (because the industry is just figuring out how to edit and didn't use multiple cameras yet), camera shots were set in one place. Kinda like a stage play. It was the film director's prerogative to capture as much as possible in one shot. Just like a picture book.

So I'm thinking all these thoughts the past couple years and only now I may have discovered a little scamp of a robot to start playing around in these ideas. Mashing of ideas. More to come.

Friday, June 10, 2016

NJ SCBWI conference work.

I updated my website just now and thought I'd share a couple pieces prepared for the NJSCBWI conference this past weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Science Lesson: Blackbody Radiation

Today's science lesson is "liquid hot magma" (extra credit if you can guess which movie character I'm referencing.)

I've been writing and rewriting a lot recently on my graphic novel, "Artie and Merlo" and I've been playing around of which dire situations in which to put him. One was Artie's floor literally becoming lava, a game I love playing to this day!

Now, as I drew this, I thought, "Why DOES lava glow red and yellow?" The same goes for iron when it's red hot. Why does it glow? It doesn't have energy like a sun does, does it?

Answer? Blackbody radiation. Science seriously rocks. Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Productive Weekend

Productive weekend. Lots of writing and sketching.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Baseball Season

Spring training!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rainy Day and A Peek into Painting Process

NOTE: For those interested in the painting process, read on! If you find reading about the technicalities of painting boring, DON'T READ ON! Enjoy the rainy day picture.

Okay, if you're still with me, awesome. So I consciously set out to do two things with this painting:
  1. Create textures
  2. Play more with opaque and transparent paints
To address the first point, over the past couple years, I moved away from any watercolor paints that "granulate" (meaning paints whose pigments are a large particle size). I did this because these granulating paints make horrible flat washes, especially on hot press watercolor paper (the paper on which I draw and paint). What can be even worse is that these pigments can be lifted more easily from the paper especially after painting multiple washes. So in general, I avoid these paints like the plague.

Having said that, their granulating nature can be an advantage, especially if texture IS desired. So for this painting, I painted all my colors with some mixture of Schminke's Ultramarine Finest, a blue with the least amount of granulation compared to other brands. (I LOVE ultramarine blue's color too). In the painting above, it lent itself well to the stormy sky where it's okay to be messy. This is one way to introduce texture.

Granulating colors that I find lend themselves well to creating texture are ultramarine blue (used above), cobalts blue and green, cerulean blue (a definite texture), iron oxides in found often in black, brown, and yellow pigments, and cadmiums red and yellow.

The second venture was playing more with opaque vs. transparent paint. I wanted to explore going back and forth more between painting gouache and watercolor. One reason is to explore more textures (see the roof on the house), but another reason is to build upon the painting itself. A popular notion in oil painting is "fat over lean" where one paints thin layers of paint first, and as you continue layering, you add more paint to each layer. A similar idea can be applied to watercolors where once a few layers of watercolor are applied, you can go over those areas  with gouache. One reason could be to create a fully deeper color. Another could be to paint a completely new shape over the area.

I did the latter with the trees in this painting where I added pro white to my watercolor paints to make more opaque. Also, with the nifty tool of liquid frisket (masking fluid), you are able to create negative shapes in the painting.

The ability to go back and forth with opaque and transparent watercolors makes painting for me a real joy. The rainy day picture is mostly successful I'll say, and I'll probably continue exploring these avenues in future work.

Note1: For those looking to research further into watercolor paints themselves (like the granulating colors I explained), definitely visit handprint. This website will go into crazy detail about every aspect of watercolor painting which is almost scientific. I love talking shop like this.

Note2: A lot of this can be accomplished in Photoshop given brush presets (and the nifty command+Z!), but the same ideas apply.

Phew! Thanks for sticking to the end. Signing out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Detective Work

Working some more.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hard Boiled Crime Eggs

I can't say what I particularly like about film-noir and crime stories. There's melodrama. Then gumshoes, femme-fatales, murder, mystery, action! And then the visual black and white with the dramatic shadows and angles. And the way they talked too.

All these things blend together to make something totally unique but also ubiquitous at the same time. I love it, but my knowledge of the genre I feel is lacking. Any good film-noir movie recommendations are welcome!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Giant Scary Ant Monster

Been doing a lot of sketching for King of the Jungle! Then as I was doing my sketches, I thought, "Ant monsters are cool." ViolĂ .