Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I was looking at some of Muybridge's books on animals in motion yesterday and was inspired to whip up this sketch. I could look at his work for hours and hours. These images have really been invaluable to me in my illustration work. As I try to maintain a certain amount of motion and drama in my work, Muybridge has been a great source of inspiration. Frederick Remington was also very much impressed by Muybridge's work photographing horses. His paintings and sculptures depicting western vignets with horses running in mid gallop had a sense of motion and drama never before seen in illustration, and reflect a great deal of Muybridge's influence. What we as sophisticated, twenty-first century viewers now take for granted--seeing horses and people in motion and realistically rendered, must have been incredibly difficult for an artist during Remington's day to capture. In watching the special features of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING DVD last night I was amazed at how detailed the work in animating the Mumakils (giant elepants) and CG horses was.
Anyway, as I ramble on, I am amazed at how far reaching the legacy of a pioneer like Edweard Muybridge is... And, if you haven't yet, make sure you see the extended DVD of RETURN OF THE KING. It rocks.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


The holidays are slipping away from us but I still have many miles to travel before I can find solitude in good old artwork... This is an old illustration I did for a long defunct picture book called "THE BOOK OF MOOD." It was originally supposed to be a character portfolio but, like everything else, I haven't really had time to get back to it. Perhaps after the holiday...
I hope everyone had a happy holiday!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2004


I hope that this holiday brings many blessings and happiness to all y'all!!! I will be "off-blog" for the next week so please, everyone, have a happy and healthy holiday!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


This sequence says it all... It's from BULLY FOR BUGS, another Chuck Jones classic. I really love the facial expressions--especially the last one. Someone really has to know the face to pull of this kind of artistry. Knowing the ways that a face can twist and distort and change with a person's mood is something that only a ton of life drawing can teach you. I find that every day I spend with the kids in my wife's preschool class, I learn more and more about expression and emotion and how these things come though in the most subtle of ways... No matter how much we may internalize something, it will be evident outwardly to anyone willing to look hard enough.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


ONE FROGGY EVENING is quite possibly the best film EVER made. This five-minute cartoon, Directed by Chuck Jones in 1957, is the reason I want to work in animation/film someday. It's storytelling in its most purest form--striped bare, streamlined. An aspiring artist/filmmaker/actor/animator could learn a lifetime of lessons in this simple story.

First, the narrative is simple but strangely familiar. There is no real subtext, no complex character arc. This down and out construction worker finds a box containing a singing frog and he naturally assumes his financial troubles are over. Over, that is, as long as he can get the frog to cooperate--which it never does (hence the humor). This is storytelling down to the barest of bones.

The characterization is also amazing in this film. The emotion and expression in one take to the camera pretty much says it all. I remember as a young actor in college how directors used to tell me to simplify simplify simplify... Acting isn't hard. It's actually very simple. Find out what the character wants, why he wants it and what he needs to do to get it. Of course, what's simple in theory isn't always simple in practice. I am known for making things more complicated than they need to be.

Pixar, to me, represents a real apex in animation and artistry in filmmaking. They take these time-honored lessons very much to heart. As much as people try and re-invent the wheel these days with all the digital doo dads, it's still storytelling that's going to pull the wagon ultimately. I remember seeing MONSTERS INC. and thinking that, in one scene, they had payed homage to another Chuck Jones cartoon FEED THE KITTY. Stick with what works man.

Friday, December 17, 2004


About four years ago, our cat Theo disappeared never to be seen again. Before Theo, I was a strict "dog person" who would have little to do with cats. When Theo went missing, I was inconsolable--forever hoping that he might show back up someday.

As I was mourning the loss of our cat, I began to create this elaborate narrative about him running away to join the Taliban...

The story is this, after 9-11 Theo's dislike of the waste and spiritual corrpution of the west reached critical mass and he felt he could no longer exist in a country that continued to, as he put it, subjugate the faithful and victimize the poor in favor of a corrupt commercial empire. We had had several heated discussions on the matter. I said some things I now very much regret. Eventually we stopped speaking altogether. Consumed by wanderlust, he siply left. His litterbox and toys--the trappings of his existence as a tool of the western infidels, lay as he left them. In October of 2001, he called me from Pakistan where he was living in a madrasa with other cats--likewise cast aside. To say I was worried was a gross understatement. I wired him about 200 dollars and told him to take care. He told me that he was a faithful and loyal servant to Allah and his prophet Mohammed, what could happen to him? Oh Holy Hell, I thought.

In early 2003, I learned that Theo had been captured and was now a detainee at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Apparently, he was caught in the cave region of Tora Bora by the Northern Alliance while trying to get back into Pakistan. Now calling himself Ahmed and speaking in a thick accent, he was thought to be of Iranian descent--until his name and photo appeared on a CIA and INTERPOL registry as "flagged." He was detained in Cuba for 10 months and thoroughly questioned by the CIA. The State Department finally released him on the grounds that he was, well, a cat and no significant threat to national security. At his request, I sent him another 500 dollars via Western Union. We spoke on the phone for 5 minutes. He thanked me for the money but said that he could not return to Atlanta. He said that he has to find a new life for himself in a new city. I was dissapointed but, frankly, relieved since we had no gotten a new cat, Frodo. She isn't very supportive of our relationship with Theo. She thinks that by sending him money we are enabling him. Of course, I think that she's just jealous.

About a month ago, I got a surprise call from Theo--who now wishes to be called Carlo (he just remembers a happier time in his life when he was called Carlo). He is doing quite well and living in San Clemente. He is working at a local Starbucks and living at the beach in a large house with his new friend Drew. Drew is an independently wealthy and morbidly obese tabby with three legs and a pronounced lisp. Theo--I mean, Carlo is now a Bhuddist and a vegetarian who sells driftwood mobiles on the weekends for extra cash. They seem happy and I certainly wish them well. I had hoped that Carlo and Drew could come for a visit this holiday but I think it's a little soon. In the meantime, we communicate via email and the odd (and I do mean ODD) phone call here and there.

Anyway, that's the long and sad tale of our wayward cat Theo. Above is a drawing of theo as I envision him... I do hope he is well and having a happy X-mas with Drew.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


This is an especially unkind sketch of a woman who was overheard making several idiotic comments at the artists' market this past weekend. I had never tried to sell anything at a group market type setting like this so I was a little apprehensive about the whole experience to begin with. What I was totally unprepared for were some of the comments that were being made by some of the people browsing at the market. This woman was by far the worst. By the look of her, she was in her late forties--but desperate to look twenty-two. If that weren't sad enough, she was dressed in this outfit that would have looked strange on a transvestite. Her make-up was ghoulish as was her hair which had been teased and dyed and God-knows-what-else so that it had the appearance of having been glued in clumps to her skull. In addition, she had her large-ish feet stuffed into tall leather boots with five-inch heels. This made her walk like a stroke victim or someone with palsy of the lower extremities. She and her toadies loped from booth to booth while she dissed everything in site. She was pretty kind to me actually. While looking at my work, she managed a lipstick-smeared sneer--which was far better than she gave anyone else. As she left, and without ever once looking me in the face, she hissed through her collagen plumped lips this one, solitary word: "Cute."

The market was fun although I only sold two small pieces. The promotional cards I had with me, however, were quickly snatched up. I also had a couple of inquiries about commissions--one about a caricature of the family dog. The kids were the ones that really responded to my work, which was really the best compliment I could have recieved.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


This sort of illustrates the way I am feeling today... Sort of dislocated and out of sorts... I guess it's this crappy weather.

I am, however, excited about drawing again. I am thinking of all kinds of projects that I want to take on right now. It's just hard to know where to start. Oh well...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


This was one of the first pieces I did in Corel Painter, which is the one piece of software I just cannot live without. It doesn't replace the joys of painting on canvas--mixing paints and working over a large surface. Rather, it is a very efficient tool when creating illustrations quickly and without the mess. It does however help to have at least a rudimentary knowlege of the painting process. Setting up brushes in Painter takes some work and is really a necessary, however tedious, step.

I am fond of this image for several reasons, most especially because I am proud of the drawing. At the time, I really had dinosaurs on the brain and had been sketching and drawing these big T-Rex typ dinos when this guy sort of popped out. He is one of the velociraptor-esque dinosaurs--the kind with the sickle claw on the feet. He just looks like he could hop right off the screen.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Here is a sketch of what I would like our Christmas card to be this year. It will, of course, be stricken by my wife. I'll probably just go ahead and do the regular caricature of the pets in a holiday setting--which is totally fine. My sense of humor is totally in the gutter, especially when it comes to hallowed holiday traditions. Something about Santa heeding the call of nature while delivering toys... I mean, it COULD happen. He's out all night, eating all of that rich holiday food. He obviously struggles with his weight--which is also an issue. You can't tell me that he doesn't make fast use of the facilities while he's at your house. My suggestion, forget the cookies. Make sure the bathroom is nice and clean for Santa on Christmas night.

I don't know... I might just send this card to people I know will appreciate my silly sense of humor.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Looking at the wonderful work of Peter De'Seve, I often ask myself this very question. It's a question that an old family friend of mine used to ask whenever he was mpressed beyond his ability to verbalize... How do it know??

I can look at one of his pieces for an hour--trying to reverse-engineer it. What kind of paper does he use? What kind of pen? I have really decided however that it must come down to the drawing. His draftsmanship is deadly. If his work has anything to tell me as an aspiring illustrator, it's that you can never draw enough. A firm foundation in drawing, life drawing, sketching, gesture drawing, observing, looking... Filling up page after page of meaningless doodles and sketches. If I have any regrets about my schooling in college, it's that I didn't spend enough time drawing from life. Another drawing master that I have long admired is Henrich Kley.

I often see shades of his work in old Disney films. It is said that some of the characters from FANTASIA were based on some of his drawings. His work really inspired me to push myself harder in my drawing. As I continue to get better, I think how far I really have to go--how much more there is to learn. It's REALLY exctiting and I look forward to new challenges. Eventually, I hope that my work will evolve into something else--another discipline. I don't know. I am just wicked happy to be able to do this for a living.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Selling Artwork

Here is an example of one of the large canvases I am selling at the upcoming neighborhood artist's market. I am also selling a ton of smaller paintings. Who knows how they'll sell? I've never tried to sell anything like this before so we'll see what happens.

As I look at this painting again, I am reminded by how many different artists influence me and my work. As a largely self-taught artist, I am always looking for new artists to copy from :). Herer are a few of my immediate influences.

This is Peter De'Seve and he is THE MAN. His artwork has been seen EVERYWHERE--The New Yorker, Newsweek, Dewar's Ads. He is one of the best draftsmen I've ever seen. He makes it look so easy--but, be warned, his style is impossible to mimic. A virtuoso with watercolor and ink, his work almost jumps from the page. It's no surprise that he is one of the most sought-after illustrators in the animation industry.

Mort Drucker is one of the great living caricaturists. His work has been featured mostly in MAD MAGAZINE. I remember as a kid, lying on my stomach in my bedroom looking at old MAD MAGAZINES from the 70's--back when it was a great showcase for art and satire. My favorite piece of his was a satire of THE GODFATHER where he managed to recreate scenes exactly from the movie. To this day, whenever I see THE GODFATHER, I relate every scene back to that issue of MAD. Drucker and the rest of the cadre at MAD (Jack Davis, Harry North, Bob Clarke, Sergio Aragones, Al Jaffee) are probably the biggest influences on me.

J. C. Leyendecker is a favorite of mine from the "Golden Age of Illustration." He is most famous for his Saturday Evening Post covers. As I become a better painter and draftsman, I find myself looking again and again at his work for inspiration. His distinctive style of loose strokes over an extremely tight drawing and underpainting gives the appearance of the illustration looking almost unfinished. I much prefer his work to Rockwell for this reason.

I just LOOOOOVE Ralph Steadman's work. Not really an influence on me per se. I just dig his style. Again, very recognizable.

Oh, and I can't forget my mom... Probably the BIGGEST influence--next to the guys at MAD.

As I look at these images, I see again and again that, as my personal style continues to evolve, so does the bevy of artists who are a direct influence on me and my work.