Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney in graphite!

A portrait rendered in graphite on 10" X 13" Bristol Board

No matter what, one of the greatest, most fun things about creating art is the ability to give it freely to someone you care about.

Luckily, I got that chance as my nephew (by marriage), Zack Van Dyke - one of the greatest Disney-philes/aspiring Imagineers I've ever known - turned 23 on Sept. 26. And being that I rarely give my art as gifts (and why, I have no clue. It's easy, fun and really makes people feel good when they receive something meant for them and ONLY them), this latest piece is particularly special.

That said, I don't work in soft Ebony pencil graphite much but this piece (10" X 13" on Bristol Board) called for it. It had to show a modicum of class and reverence to the era in which Walt operated and it had to be fun and whimsical. I think I pulled that off. It also doesn't have to be hyper-photorealistic either. Were I Alex Ross, Felipe Massafera or Norman Rockwell, I would worry about that sort of thing. But I'm not.

And I'm perfectly OK with that.

After all, imagination has no guidelines, right? Just sketch or draw or paint or create, man. And be happy while you do it. You might wind up creating something really a mouse in short pants who rules the world. :)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Superman in gouache (when he shouldn't have been!)

So I had a Superman piece brewing upstairs one day and I figured, I'm gonna knock out something new and different by doing something retro and familiar. These days, the mythos of the "Last Son of Krypton" is inundated with Henry Cavill's "Man of Steel" (I dig it) or what DC Comics' "The New 52" is offering as its latest version of Kal-El (Not digging it since 2011). I thought I would render something resembling the late Christopher Reeve.

As you can see, this piece isn't so much Christopher Reeve as it is an amalgam of Christopher Reeve and Matt Bomer (of the USA Network's "White Collar. Interestingly enough, Bomer, who looks like he could pass as Cavill's brother, almost got the lead for 2006's "Superman Returns" but ultimately, Brandon Routh scored it. However, Bomer voiced Superman/Clark Kent on 2013's animated "Superman: Unbound").

But that wasn't my biggest problem.

No, Howlers, the biggest problem was lack of commitment to a medium and original intent. See, friends, this painting (gouache and ink on 11" X 14" Bristol Board) wasn't even supposed to be a painting. It was supposed to be ink and Prismacolor watercolor pencil on Bristol Board but I thought I would be a wise-ass and use paint instead for the sake of time and coverage. Besides, that's how I rendered my Rowdy Roddy Piper tribute and that turned out OK, right?

Wrong. That one was also something of a pain-in-the-ass BUT not as difficult as this one would turn out.

Man, I was smearing ink (something I NEVER do) and when it came time to paint., I was everywhere on the map. Not combining and blending and experiencing the glorious texture and porosity that cold press watercolor paper offers but moving color from here to there ad everywhere. Yeah, it sucked and I actually got upset at a piece for the first time in my life.

But I stuck around and finished the job.

So here you have it, Kids. Not the best painting I have to offer (and you deserve and should expect better of me. I call it a six on a 10 scale) but I'm sharing it anyway because I have to be held accountable for my art. That said, I'm right back on the artsy-fartsy horse and ready to kick off my next piece, a portrait of the Marvel Family - Captain Marvel (the REAL Cap. Not some New 52 knockoff who calls himself "Shazam." What ridiculous horseshit), Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr./CM3.

And I won't puss out on my challenges in medium. I promise. :)

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez in watercolor and ink

On Saturday, Nov.21, THE RING magazine and WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto will face Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino Events Center in a highly-anticipated championship throwdown.

In celebration of this huge bout, I threw together a gouache (watercolor) and (Pentel Pocket Brush pen) ink piece on 11" X 14" cold press paper. This piece is also neat in the fact that it's immediately available as my inaugural giclee print reproduction (soon to be followed by some of my previous boxing works), also on 11" X 14" textured paper, hand-signed and shipped flat - free in the continental United States - to you for just $30. For more information on how to order or shipping outside the US, please contact me at! I hope you dig it!

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Finn Balor: The Demon Prince

Best known internationally as Prince Devitt, Fergal Devitt - now known as Finn Balor (the Demon Prince), has taken the WWE's developmental (though I believe it's anything but "developmental") organization, NXT, by storm. Now the NXT champion (having defeated Kevin Owens for the title on July 4 in Japan) is primed to, someday soon, make a huge splash on the main roster. It isn't like he wasn't ready before (having been a highly respected wrestler in New Japan Pro Wrestling and founder of Bullet Club). It just seems that the WWE has a protocol from here on out that dictates any talent new to the company has to come through NXT first.

Balor, an avid comic book fan, has integrated various styles and themes of body and face paint in his performances, ranging from DC Comics' Joker to Marvel Comics' Spider-man and Venom. These days, he sports an original design inspired by his "Demon Prince" persona and is driving the crowds wild. In fact, on Aug. 22, the champ and the NXT roster will perform on their first WWE Network special outside the confines of Winter Park, Florida's Full Sail University at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Not bad for a developmental branch, eh?

Back to Balor here. This piece (its start and finish bracketed my Rowdy Roddy Piper tribute piece) was done in ink (Micron and Pentel Pocket Brush pens) and gouache (watercolor paint) on 11" X 15" cold press watercolor paper. I hope its Balor-worthy and I doubly hope you dig it!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rowdy Roddy Piper: A tribute (part two)

For part one, please click here.

Rowdy Roddy Piper once said he "was rowdy before rowdy was cool." Truer words were never spoken.

As a pup, I was fascinated by the man who made life miserable for WWE/WWF heroes like Hulk Hogan and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. He was cheeky, colorful and - prior to Yours Truly appropriating the moniker - honestly could have been more Coyote (a royal, pain-in-the-ass Trickster) than me. And no matter where Roddy Piper went, his name and reputation followed, whether he was portraying a heel or an antihero/face. Just as well, hijinks would ensue.

In part one of this blog post, I shared my ink rendering of Rowdy Roddy on Aug. 2. I locked in the image (on 9" X 12" Bristol Board) in Micron and Pentel Pocket Brush pens. I wasn't certain if I was going to add color, how much or in what manner. Ultimately I went with gouache (watercolor) paint and a smidge of Faber-Castell PITT artist pen for the highlights I couldn't suss with white gouache.

And I did because Roddy Piper was nothing short of colorful.

While my favorite professional wrestlers were - and always will be - the Road Warriors (the Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal), they obviously were blessed with a different presence and mic skills. Piper was a talker, nonpareil, and could get in your face with the best of them. And that's what I wanted to be verbally and personality-wise. I wanted that kind of bravery. I wanted it to be OK to be mouthy and weird. I also wanted to be that guy who could take a shot in the mush for the cause and smile wickedly in response.

And although I knew for certain from an early age that pro wrestling was a different sort of entertainment, I also knew for sure that Piper was who Piper was. He might have been a completely different cat at home or away from the squared circle but the Rowdy Roddy Piper we were lucky enough to experience was a genuine part of Roderick George Toombs.

We were lucky to have experienced Rowdy Roddy Piper in all facets of his careers (wrestling and film. "They Live," anyone?) because fans in my age demographic were born at just the right time.

So cue the bagpipes and grab your coconuts. And before all the answers are all figured out, don't forget to change all the questions.

I hope you like this, Roddy. Because I loved drawing and painting it. Sneaky and all-knowing in its moment, it's a snapshot of the Rowdy Roddy Piper I loved best.

Rest in peace, Sir.

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