Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dancing With Myself

Above is the image gracing my 2008 year-end holiday card.

In 2007, I created a card featuring 2 dancers and the word "joyous" on the front. "Noel" was awaiting the recipient upon opening the card.

I liked the subject and the concept from 2007 so much, I decided to repeat the idea for this year's card, with a different image, of course.

I wanted to keep the colors warm and reddish, to reflect those we see this time of year. I wanted the image to say, "joyous," and play well with the energetic brushwork I planned on using.

Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to view this blog, whether you are a first-time viewer or a faithful follower. I'm looking forward to a positive 2009, and wish the same for you. You may always follow the year, as it unfolds, through this blog, as I update work every week or two, my website, and my monthly newsletter (please see the link to the right to sign-up).

I wish you all the best for a wonderful holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous 2009.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bleed the Freak

Anger plus fear is a lethal combination, I've heard. Both, I'm sure, course through the veins of soldiers like the one on this page, every day and all over the world.

Bleed the Freak is a sample image, ultimately destined for my portfolio, at this point. However, I had some parameters for its completion.

The image needed to reflect a dramatic point of view. It also needed to be cold and unwelcoming. I have since added the flash of red, for warmth and added drama. Lastly, it needed to project emotion and tell a bit of a story.

Who is he? What's he reaching for? Where is he? Why is he in anguish?

These are questions a viewer can pose. They are also ones that the viewer can answer, or at least draw some plausible conclusions, based on the context.

I shot some photos and used the one I thought captured a good mix of emotion, shape, light, and composition.

I zoomed-in a bit more on the figure, than what I had shot, to make him further inescapable to the viewer. After the painting phase, I took the art to the computer, where I adjusted the local and global values, as well as the local color, bringing barely saturated teals to the clothing and helmet and the slightest bit of warmth to his skin tones.

To bring some rawness to the image, there needed to be more texture -- another layer or two of obscurity between your eyes and his. I wanted to make it less-clean.

Some radiating wood texture brought a carved look while aiding in an explosive feel, apropos to the subject. On top of it all, a spatter texture, I thought, brought a sense of debris and, obviously, blood -- also appropriate.

Illustrations like this harken to the amazingly well-crafted and complex, yet seemingly spontaneous work one can see in comics and graphic novels -- something that captivated many a young artist. It is a reminder of the pure magic of illustration.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tickled Pink

Do you feel the red blaze lighting up your right eye socket? You surely know the feeling of your lips stretching around your dentist-clean teeth, and the strain in your throat as you release whatever sound makes you comfy in times of trial?

This image was created as a sample, for a particular purpose about which I will comment in a future post.

However, I am posting this image because it is not something often seen in my portfolio. And, for those that know me, this is not an emotion often associated with my name.

It was one of those juicy illustrations that has all the makings of an enjoyable experience at the drawing table (and computer).

"Create an illustration that is rich with emotion and drama. Make it something cold and cathartic, while you are at it."


I added the red, later on, to bring just a hint more emotion.

I'll admit, as I was creating it, I was in the midst of a marathon of illustrating, so I didn't fully appreciate the catharsis involved.

However, little did I know, circumstances would present themselves, later, that would allow much-needed catharsis through writing about it.

I'll just keep that to myself.

There is something powerful about channeling aggression through music, exercise, art, or whatever means does the trick for you.

At one time, I enjoyed all of the above activities as means to channel bottled-up hostility.

As an aside, I also enjoy driving...somewhat expediently...and aggressively (but responsibly, and timidly...oh who am I kidding). In an escalating fashion, throughout my driving life, I have purchased vehicles that cater to such nonsense. In another life, I might have been in a profession that allowed me to sit behind the wheel of an excruciatingly powerful machine designed for ridiculously dangerous speed.

But, today, the only ridiculous speed I engage in, is that which I offer my clients. (nice segue!)

You see, today, I can (with evidence, even) call myself an award-winning, professional illustrator who offers an above-and-beyond, dependable, and multi-faceted, client-centric service, built over years of diligence and conscientiousness, and targeted toward providing an (hopefully) outstanding product and wholehearted investment to your project, while representing you, your brand, and the reputation of your company, always, with the utmost care, commitment, and respect.

Please browse the rest of this blog and/or click over to my website (see link to your right), and drop me a line. I'd love to discuss your project -- large or small.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Peak Oil

In 1956, M. King Hubbert proposed a peak oil production curve. It was and is a bell-shaped curve that shows the rising and peaking of oil production at the point where half of the earth's reserves are depleted, then sloping downward as further production is likely to begin a terminal decline -- marking the end of "cheap oil."

For the November/December 2008 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, I was asked to illustrate this concept.

I began by ideating -- immersing myself in images, sparking ideas, which I then jotted down in my sketchbook, sometimes accompanied by scratchy thumbnails. After amassing several pages worth of ideas, I whittled them down to my 10 or so favorites, and moved to a sketch phase.

Coming up with ideas is one thing, translating them to a visual form is another -- part of the craft of illustration.

I've been interested in symbolism and clichés, lately. Clichés are immediately recognizable, and sometimes it just takes a minor adjustment or looking at it from a slightly different perspective to turn a cliché into something unique and interesting.

Symbolism is something also universally recognized. How many stress dreams have you had? How many involve missing a final test? Maybe, you've also been naked.

Maybe, that's just me.

That's symbolism, nonetheless. It's a tool I like to explore whenever I can. Symbols are interesting in and of themselves, plus, they allow the viewer to bring their own interpretation to the illustration.

Sometimes, I will find reference, other times I will shoot my own. Sometimes I will construct models or purchase props in order to create the very best possible product I can -- after all, it's also about going above and beyond, right? Otherwise, why bother? Your clients are entrusting you to be just as invested in their product as they are.

So, after acquiring my reference, and compositing it all, digitally, into preliminary sketches, I will weed it down to about 4-6 sketches.

In this case, the client liked the oil wells (2nd sketch), but felt the image would better communicate the idea of peak oil by adding the graph, to emphasize the Hubbert curve created by the wells.

I think it adds to the composition.

This illustration happens to be one of my favorite pieces I've done for the Bulletin. I think it communicates the point, the color palette and value pattern work well together, the textures are nice, and the structure of the composition is interesting.

But, it's always the client who needs to think so.