Monday, May 23, 2005


It has already become cliche' for reviewers to play on the similarity between SITH and SHIT but, hey, who cares?

I finally saw REVENGE OF THE SITH this weekend after learning that my wife, Mandy, is pregnant. We had been going through in vitro fertilization so this was one piece of good news that we had been desperate for. Now, free from worry or crushing sadness, I could enjoy, unfettered, the final chapter in the film saga that helped shape the creative--albeit slightly warped individual I am today.

First let me say that this movie rises to most of my personal expectations. But I am at a loss as to how I can really objectively adjudicate something so imtimately a part of who I am--both personally and creatively. You see, as a kid, I was a bona fide fantasy/space/science fiction nut. Before STAR WARS, I was watching STAR TREK reruns on TV with my mom. I used to make whole space suits out of aluminum foil--space suits like the ones I saw on old LIFE magazine covers. When STAR WARS came out I was a six year old kid who thought that the heavens had opened and shown me the face of god... My life's meaning and purpose condensed into a two hour space opera. I left the theater wearing the "thousand yard stare" most people associate with profound life experiences--like combat or really awesome sex. I was still processing the whole experience.

Since then, it's safe to say that I have tempered my adoration of STAR WARS a bit. It is now laced with a healthy dose of cynicism and a dash of appropriate perspective. I am still a sucker for the merchandise and the DVD releases, etc... But I no longer consider the films to be holy canon. RETURN OF THE JEDI and the first two prequels were pretty disappointing for me. I had expectations that they were going to be like William Shakepeare's HENRY plays. Stories where characters evolve and grow in the midst of political intrigue and war. There had to me so much at stake that when everything comes to a crushing conclusion the audience is so caught up in the story that they too are crushed. I don't know... I must be off to a meeting at the moment... More on this later.

Monday, May 16, 2005


That's me on the far right... I am playing the preacher Jim Casey in the Clemson Players' 92 production of THE GRAPES OF WRATH. I came across some old pics online from my theatre days at Clemson University. It was quite a stroll down memory lane.

One thing that I miss soooo much about theatre is the intense collaboration and, yes, even competition, that happens when you're trying to get a show off the ground. I miss those days terribly--not to mention the very talented people I was priveleged enough to work with. Who knows? Maybe I'll be treading the boards again sometime soon... I don't know though... Acting requires a lot of stamina and creative heavy lifting. I have probably been too long absent from the stage. I do miss it though... Sigh...

Thursday, May 12, 2005


My own little mischievious self portrait... Just a quickie sketch...


This is an old card I did for a friend a few months back. I think it illustrates the spirit of mischief pretty well. Cats are full of it...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Learning is indeed a hoot! I am trying to hone my chops a little by recreating screen-captures from films and other sources. This is of course from LAST OF THE MOHICHANS. I did this fairly quickly--about 30 minutes give or take. The idea is to get a solid feel for the palette and recreate it as best I can.

I am working on a series of illustrations about the American Revolution and I want them to be sort of realistic. Not TOTALLY realistic but a little bit realistic. I want the colors and the compositions to be a little more dramatic and grounded in something that the reader will identify with. Anyway, if anyone out there has any comments, ideas, suggestions, observations, etc... Please comment and let me know what you all think... NOTE: Screen captures are for reference ONLY. I do not intend to recreate a scene from MOHICHANS and put it into my own piece of work. THIS IS JUST AN EXERCISE!!


Here is another exercise I did. I basically took a photo from Corbis and tried to recreate it in photoshop. The results aren't exactly photo-real, I realize. I am really more concerned with the process--what I'm learning about color, light and how things look in shadow etc...

What I've learned is that, in painting, I have to realize that I have to "unlearn what I have learned." I realized that different plants are different hues and shades of green (who knew?) and that they all look different in direct sunlight. I also learned that shadows are almost never black or grey. They can be purple, dark green and someitmes even light blue. I know that most of my artists friends out there are, like, "Well DUH!" The fact is that when I work with color I almost always try and out-think what actually exists in nature. Plants are green. Skies are blue. Sunlight is yellow. Flesh appears pinkish, etc... My brain, thinking it knows better, is telling my eyes to nevermind what they see and telling my hand to override the sensory input to create what I THINK I see... Confusing? You bet... As I have said before, I am pretty much self taught--particularly when it comes to color. My first attempts at painting have been pretty embarassing. I am happy to say that while I am slowly getting better, I still have tons to learn. Still, learning is all the fun.

Anyway, y'all let me know what you think of this effort...

Monday, May 09, 2005


Here is a quick sketch I did of Russell Crowe from MASTER AND COMMANDER... I took a screen capture from the film and then sketched using the screen grab as a reference. The whole thing took me about an hour. I am pretty happy with it--for an hour's work, it's not bad. Practice makes, well, not perfect, but better...

I have real issues with color theory. Since I never went to art school, I have had to teach myself color theory through trial and error. The cool thing about this is that it really is like painting with oils--building up layers upon layers of color. Skin tones are especially difficult. Check out this skin tone tutorial. It's a great place to start. Ron Lemen has some great tutorials on this site and it's definitly worth a look.

Anyway, let me know what you all think of this...


Andrew Loomis wrote some essential books on drawing. I actually think that these book are much better than the Burne Hogarth books but, to each his own... These books really do break down the daunting task of drawing believable figures into simple components. I highly reccomend that the books on heads and hands be among the first that you study.

Heads and hands (and feet) give me hell. I spend a lot of time trying to work out how to make hands and heads look natural--as they do in life. When I took a life drawing class a couple of years ago, I was amazed that I was still struggling with the hands! After working as an illustrator and artist for the past twelve years I still have a hard time drawing hands! It was incredibly frustrating. I had the same problems as I delved into drawing the heads and feet. Getting the eyes, mouth and nose looking as they should... It was really frustrating--more than I thought.

Of course, if these elements are off the whole drawing falls apart. One axiom that I have come to believe (however reluctantly) is that a drawing/portfolio/painting/sculpture is only as strong as its weakest part. Most viewer's eyes are unconciously trained to notice weaknesses in draftsmanship. Eyes that don't sit well in the face. Feet that don't grip the ground in a believeble way. Hands that are either intentionally hidden or are self counciously rendered looking overly stiff or not in perspective... These are things that can just cause a composition to collapse. An anology that I like to use is that it is the same as listening to a muscial composition and hearing a few off notes. You just notice it and it sticks in your craw.

I have noticed, looking at some portfolios of young illustrators, that the current craze in commercial art is the gaming/entertainment industry. Many young illustrators are fighting to do design work for video games. Their portfolios reflect this desire loud and clear. Many of them are either drawing these bizarre male figures with huge muscles and toting giant machine guns, OR they are stuck in Goth-land creating these Clive Barker-esque women in S and M garb--who ALSO happen to be toting giant machine guns. Looking at some of these images I notice that these young artists are suffering from deficiencies in drawing believable anatomy. Many of the figures--the ones not clad in layers of post-apocalyptic armor, were very shaky anatomically. The draftsmanship, the line quality and some of the graphic elements were right on, but as before, those wrong notes kept me distracted. I usually tell artists who want to improve their skills to go to an art store and buy a sketchbook, buy several sketchbooks, and just fill every inch of white space with drawings of dogs, cars, lightposts, tadpoles hands, feet, etc... The most original ideas come from the daily, mundane stuff that we ignore every day.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Y'all check out Andrew Loomis's books online. They are amazing!

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Hi all... I know I've been out of comission for awhile but my wife and I are going through in vitro fertilization and I haven't really had time to post--or even to visit any of my favorite blogs (Sorry Ward and Jared)!! In addition to doing the injections, doctor's appointments, etc... I am also a freelancing machine at the moment. Doing some product prototyping and other stuff. I will fill all of you in later.

So in the meantime, please send us your prayers and happy thoughts as Mandy and I take the first of many steps towards realizing the blessing of being parents! I'll be back soon I promise y'all!