Saturday, September 6, 2014

ArtBar Aurora: He Would've Laughed...



When I was a teenager coming up in Aurora, my best pal was a cat named Jeff Jacobson. We spent a lot of time watching movies, listening to comedy or music before grabbing our guitars, picking out a key at random and seeing where it went from there. One day we were just sitting around talking about nothing in particular when I went on one of my signature - albeit irrelevant - tangents. It was off the top of my head, as it usually was, loaded with surreal improv and when I got to whatever point I was trying to make, Jeff looked at me and said...

"Dude, you're just like a young Robin Williams."

At the time, it was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me. It's still stuck in my top five all-time compliments.

See, Robin Williams is partially responsible for Coyote Duran. He made it safe to just roll with dialogue and imagination. He set the standard for what pro wrestling fans might call "mic skills" or "cutting a promo" without knowing he did it. It was just what he did. That goes for free thinking and speaking individuals everywhere. It's why cats like Eddie Izzard are just so damn intriguing to me. Sometimes a script just won't cut it.

Typically, celebrity deaths don't get to me even if they're celebrities I might have admired for one reason or another. And in this day and age, I care less to comment in their regard because of the weird co-opting of pain many others have when this cat or that chick bails this mortal coil. You know the ones.

"OMG. Lauren Bacall died. She was totes legendary. Too soon. Such a sad day. #RIP"

Who are you fooling? You're 13.

This one was different. Look, were the circumstances different - car accident, cancer, heart attack - I would have still felt a pretty sharp loss. But this was suicide. The guy who made everyone laugh (not to mention feel like they were children during the best part of their childhood) couldn't stick around of his own volition. That seriously blows and I hurt for the fact that he hurt while he was still here.

So when ArtBar Aurora returned from its summer hiatus on September 5, my offering for the "Hairy"-themed show was Robin Williams for the mere fact that everyone knew how hairy he was. Hell, even he joked about it. I titled the piece, "He Would've Laughed..." well, because he would have if he heard some cat created a piece in his likeness and entered it in an art show with "hairy" as the theme.

As for the portrait itself, it's done almost entirely in Ebony graphite (on Bristol Board, 11" X 14") with the exception for Robin's left eye, done in Prismacolor watercolor pencil.

It's not my typical graphite portrait but that's because Robin Williams wasn't typical. He was roiling, energetic, cartoony and gestural, not unlike this piece. There was a distinct freedom to working on it, slashing away with a pencil, hammering away at darks, just jamming away like you're with a childhood pal and you're grabbing your guitars, picking out a key at random and seeing where it goes from there.

It was fucking improvisational, man.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Seth Rollins in Ink!


Those of you who are fans of the WWE will recognize this cat, ex-Shield member Seth Rollins. Between projects, I figured I'd give the inaugural NXT champion/former WWE tag team champion the comic-style portrait treatment complete with funky speed lines, white highlights and paint (or blood. Take your pick) drip action. Of course I started this about a week-and-a-half after he left his teammates, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, so his new ring gear was revealed after I began inking this. It's Faber-Castell PITT artist pen and Sharpie on 9" X 12" Bristol Board. I hope in some way, it captures the spirit of the high-flying architect of the WWE. Enjoy!




Sunday, June 8, 2014

ArtBar Aurora: "Toy Story" Freaks



Last month, ArtBar Aurora's theme was "Geek." On June 6, the theme was "Freak." Not unlike the previous ArtBars in which I've participated, the interpretation of this month's theme (which also served as the event's season finale. Back to business in September!) was open and rightfully varied. That said, my selection was much easier to get down with.

As a fan of Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story" franchise, it delighted me and my girlfriend, Tracy when our daughter, Makayla (who inspired last month's "Geek" offering) got into watching the first film. That's when the obvious hit me. This movie had quite a few freaks.

Mind you, there was a valuable lesson to be learned here in how one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, as the cobbled-together toys that belonged to Sid, Andy's sadistic neighbor, turned out kind and helpful despite their disturbing appearances.

Among those toys, the grabbers, for me, were "Jingle Joe" (an amalgam of a musical rolling toy, what looked like the right arm from a Mickey Mouse doll and a G.I. Joe's head), "Spider-Baby" (I suppose you could call him/her that) and "Legs" (a fishing pole and a pair of - I think - Barbie legs). There was just a starkly unsettling factor to them that stood above the other "misfit toys."

As opposed to last month's piece, I took my time on this one and fussed an awful lot over it from size (ultimately 12" X 16") to positioning (I almost royally messed up Legs' pose when I had her facing toward the viewer. No matter how hard I tried, there was no convincing way to make the business end of the fishing pole look like it was closer to the viewer and make it all make sense. That's when Tracy looked at it and asked why I didn't position her differently, something like a 3/4 profile. After inking from left to right until I reached her, I had completely agreed. That pose had to go. The current pose was the way to go. Trace knows her shit) to how exactly to render the piece (I decided to use my trusty Prismacolor watercolor pencils but figured I would go light-handed in my approach. I swept them this way and crosshatched that way and wound up frustrated because the colors weren't combining in the manner I saw fit. Damn near threw a fit; I'll tell you. That was my "Fuck it" moment. Heavy-handed and bold it is, then). All the heavy blacks are courtesy of my Faber-Castell PITT brush pens. Oh, those are so much fun...

So now, I have three months until the next ArtBar (as always, at Two Brothers Roundhouse near Downtown Aurora, Illinois) and -as per usual - I have tons to do and tons more already planned. The Artbar season premiere is "Hairy," so there's lots of ways in which to go with that one and I already have two ideas brewing.

Most important, the commission window is now fully open!

Till we meet again, ArtBar...



Friday, May 16, 2014

ArtBar Aurora: Geeks Start Young



May 2nd's ArtBar Aurora was my third foray into the local art-fest held at Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, Illinois and the topic this time out? Geek!

Yes, you read right, Howlers. Geek-inspired art was the catch of the evening as the masses convened to share their take on what defines "geek." Admittedly, this was a toughie.

And I'm an idiot (you probably all knew as much anyway). Though I knew what I wanted to render and had my visual references already filed, I sat on my thumbs UNTIL THE MONDAY OF ARTBAR WEEK (the caps are to accentuate my idiocy). See, I've done marathon pieces - stuff I considered very good - over the course of one day. That said, those were also during times in which I really wanted to be left alone - by everyone.

These days, it's the total opposite. :)

But your favorite obstinate artist/editor thought he could hit the three-pointer from the key nonstop, starting Monday, April 29 and finishing somewhere around 3 a.m. on Thursday, May 1.

See? Idiot.

OK, so enough of that. What we have here is a comic-style piece inspired by our daughter, Makayla (four next month!). She's gussied up in geek regalia, which includes Superman's boots, cape and pants, Wonder Woman's golden belt and magic lasso, a red lightsaber from "Star Wars," Batman's gloves, a blue shirt from "Star Trek" (probably Spock's) and a Pinkie Pie stuffed animal from "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" (incidentally, I drew pointy ears ala Spock but you can't really tell).

The piece was done on Bristol Board (10 1/2" X 13") and rendered in Micron pen, Faber-Castell PITT artist pen (black and white) and Copic markers.

My biggest issue - other than my flagrant procrastination - was how I rendered the fabric. My being in a hot rush resulted in major suckage, therefore I name and claim said suckage.

Still, I think it's a pretty cute piece and it hangs in Makayla's room today - and she loves it.

That's really the most important thing I took away from this.

Next month at ArtBar: "Freak"! And yes, I'm not waiting until the 11th hour on this one. :)


Sunday, April 6, 2014

ArtBar Aurora: My Bijou



Hiya, Howlers! Well, my second "ArtBar" excursion (at Two Brothers Roundhouse on Friday, April 4th) is in the books and this month's topic was just as fun and inspired: posters.

When it came time to consider what I would render for this show, Tracy gave me some very valuable input inspired by her morning ritual prior to going to work. The premise: "What if someone was doing her best to put together her exterior in the midst of experiencing an emotional low?" Heavy, right? But it's a good point. Basically, the young woman (my Tracy served as my photo reference, exaggerated of course) depicted is spinning her wheels in applying her mascara while fighting her emotions off.

Thus the quote at the top of the piece (apologies if the French isn't quite accurate or if I've misspelled something) translates to "Defeating the purpose, emotions prevail." And because this was originally bandied as having to do with applying mascara - and coming off somewhat as a fictional cosmetics company - I used a photo of Tracy's style of wand for a reference and we thought the brand-name "Bijou" would be perfect (incidentally, Queen's "Bijou" is a song that has a lot of personal meaning for us as a couple. I know; it's mushy but I don't give a damn), hand-rendered in an art deco-style font.

With that, as a stylish-yet-faux company goes, having artsy-fartsy locations near the bottom of the poster seemed like the thing to do and three cities we love were the choices I went with.

As far as media, this was done primarily in watercolor paint, Copic markers and a speck of Prismacolor watercolor pencil and acrylic paint on 11" X 17" Bristol Board. 

Next month at "ArtBar": "geek"! Oh, the things one can do with that topic!