Tag Archives: illustration

Super Grandparents!

Couldn’t resist drawing this picture of my parents with their grandchildren after they dressed as superhero grandparents for halloween. (Eli’s my little boy crawling on the ground).


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Mother & Child with Water Stairs

momchild3Big breakthrough last night due to a couple of great bloggers out there. Dani Draws and Zen Textures along with the ever present bittbox who provided me with all the advice and even some of the tools to create this piece above (bittbox is giving away beautiful photoshop watercolor brushes). The drawing is really a pencil doodle I did in my sketchbook that I later inked to pass the time and scanned to see if I’d use it someday. It turned up here when I was experimenting with the textured backdrop I got from Zen Textures for free! Beautiful scans of photoshop textures that makes it look like you’ve been traveling through the outback and had to make a drawing of a dream on an old folded open cereal box left in your backpack from 1972. Then I drew in the stairs in a color layer below the line layer and texturized the color with an eraser tool texture on a really large scale to make it look as if it had been printed in 1972 as well and the ink has peeled away. All of that texture combined with the dreamy nostalgia of the mother and child sitting so peacefully on the water stairs looking toward some gentle place not too far away, but no longer nearby.

That segues nicely into making it well known that I have a two week old little boy living in my house with me and my wife now. Alas, it has been a beautiful experience sensing my heart breaking open to loving a little human animal so currently unaware of its future status aside from what we project onto him.


He is living in a state of reflexes, nerves, accidental smiles, grunts, phlegm, boobs, and milk. We love him like it hurts. It’s a vague, but pulsating sense of needing to tell him, but feeling unable to communicate it. Right now that can be blamed on his inability to understand words, but I have my suspicions that I’ll be feeling it just as deep when he’s 12. Or 18. Or 50 if I live that long. Wow. It’s coming on slow too. Which means, I don’t have any idea when it will reach full capacity. Here’s a glimpse. Some drawings to come about babies and me. Meanwhile, meet Eli Jupiter Foss.


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Finding the middle by starting at the ends

This is a series of drawings I recently did for a presentation about the extremes I’ve experienced in my life. They’re all drawn right in my sketchbook with ink and brush. Each is about 7″x10.” The stories are beneath each drawing.

page12When I was two, my parents found me walking on the foundation of our new house before it was built. My mother had to carefully talk me down. I’ve always imagined this image as symbolic for my life. Being willing to walk up to the ledge and look out. Strangely I’ve always been scared of heights.

page7This image describes a comforting ritual I have when I go swimming. I spend as much time underwater as I can. I think it’s a desire to return to the womb sometimes during my busy life. I come up long enough for a breath and then dive to the bottom over and over.


I plug my ears in the shower sometimes and close my eyes for the thunderous sound and warmth of the water to quiet my overstimulated nervous system. Also womblike.


Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed sleeping while someone is vacuuming in the next room. It’s partly because it’s nice not to have to be doing chores, but also because it’s such a nice sound. 


This is the opposite of calm, where I fell on my shoulder and neck during an unfortunate backscratcher attempted while skiing off a jump. I caught my tips I think.

page21This image describes a moment when I was trying to rewire the electric box for my kiln. Two 220 wires touched together and exploded like a gun shot. It terrified me. I took a shot of gin and carefully replaced the wires back in their sockets. I’d thought I’d turned off the main power, but I had not. This is why I draw now. Probably the closest to death I’ve come since the wires were so close to my fingers that my forefinger had smoke on it. yikes!

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Take it slow.

turtle_baby_72dpiSo here’s the updated, finished piece I made for Dana as a birthday gift since we’re having a baby in April. The piece is based on the sketch from my last post. It’s on thick Rives BFK printing paper 8.5 x 11 painted with ink and watercolor. No digital color. This piece needed to exist as an object in a frame and the paper really holds its own. It felt good to work this way again. Check out Joseph Lambert’s fantastic comic Turtle Keep it Steady, that appeared in this years Best of American Comics 2008, ed linda Barry. Joe’s comics was Part of my inspiration for this piece. Thanks for sending the comic, Joe, she loved it!

Since this might be the final post of the year, I might have to wax a little philosophical. It has been a tremendous experience to begin returning to illustration in this way from my former focus on ceramics. The link between the two eras is the drawing since I used to illustrate most of my ceramics. My love of objects still holds, however, and my suspicion is that I’m transferring that love to the form of the book. This doesn’t suggest I’m dying to become a book artist, instead, I see the final destination of my work mainly in book form, most likely contracted out. This could be really small runs or hand made books, still, but I suspect I won’t be making them myself. This also could be how I returned to ceramics someday, finding a way to design objects for a separate maker.

As the new year begins, I will be experimenting like crazy. I will probably be able to post once or maybe even two times a week again as I expect there will be many more drawings to share. If you read my last post, I’m entering an experimental phase in my process, and leaving some of the book research behind (as soon as I finish my theoretical paper on Chris Ware’s comics, that I’ll post sometime in February). So I look forward to sharing that much more with you and hearing all the great input from you, my wonderful readers! 

Happy Holidays!

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The Big Pond

Well, today I visited the Alternative Press Expo, lovingly called APE, for the first time. As my wife put it, I was suddenly in the big pond, and I was most definitely the small fish. When I first walked in, I was a little shaky. Almost like I wanted to turn around and walk out. There weren’t that many people there, yet, and I felt like I couldn’t blend in enough and remain invisible. People were still too eager sitting behind their tables wondering if the day would prove to be a successful day of marketing, sharing, and networking. I promised myself I wouldn’t stop at any table yet, I would just walk around looking at them all. After doing this for about an hour, I stumbled upon the limited edition book put out by Dice Tsutsumi of the Totoro Forest project organized to raise money for a foundation in Tokyo to save a Janpanese forest. All the contibutors donated their work and over $200,000 was raised. They were mostly animators inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, many working at Pixar now. My favorites are Peter Nguyen and Andrea Blasich, but there are many artists on the website to peruse.

I also purchased the new Best American Comics edited by Lynda Barry. I managed to also get Eric Haven’s, Jaime Hernandez, and Matt Groening’s signatures in the edition! What a treat. I bought the Summer 2007 edition of MOME, a quarterly put out by Fantagraphics in Seattle, that featured Jonathan Bennet, a gentle, sophisticated Brooklyn illustrator and Designer whose understated brilliance was apparent in his signature. Perhaps I’ll scan it for everyone to see how adorable his drawing was. It’s fun getting signatures of comic book  artists because they do drawings…

I listened to a great panel given by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden about their new textbook,  Drawing Words, Writing Pictures. It was an inspiring discussion about how to teach the making of comics at the college level. Something I would love to teach someday. 

My two favorite conversations were with Reynold Kissling, a kid just out of his BFA at MCAD in Minneapolis with his book Kingwood Himself (the cover’s pictured above). The girl character is fantastic, and his environments are really inspiring. He said he spent a year just working on environments. It really shows. The places this girl goes are fantastic. He’ll go far and he was willing to trade his mini anthology for a mini copy of Sydney Arthur. Then my conversation with Ken Dahl (that’s really his name, I think!) was great. He just finished up a fellowship at the Center for Cartoon studies and won an Ignatz award for his first two mini comics Monsters. He’s been picked up by a publisher and will be diving into the rest of the book soon after his move back to Hawaii. 

I could go on and on, but mainly what I learned is this is a great physical place to promote comics and illustration careers in an indy, but doable way. I could see really getting a start this way. I’m definitely going to get a table next year and sell something. We’ll just have to see what’s finished by then. I think I’m also better off serializing the graphic novel instead of trying to finish it as a complete book. That way, I could potentially get picked up by a publisher before it’s done and would spend less on printing in the mean time and create beautiful collectible smaller books. There were many great examples of that today. 

Overall, I was overwhelmed. I was in a state of panic after just an hour there and had to calm down on the phone with my wife who helped me come up with a game plan for how to get through the day. I was surrounded by people I was dying to know, and yet I was terrified to get to know them. I felt clumsy trying to trade or compare myself in any way to them, but managed to have more good encounters than not. The bad ones were merely awkward. I can handle that. 

I spent a lot of money on new books, but I think I’ll be glad I did. As my friend Roger told me when I called him for moral support, I need to begin investing in collecting so that I feel like I’m participating in the community that exists out there. Instead of rising above it, I’m diving in…


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Casting Call

First real drawing in a while. This is the latest line up of characters for the new issue of Sydney Arthur. You can see the mother in there (Jane) from some earlier sketches. This was a blast to create. I inked it large as a 20×14 drawing and then took a photo of it and converted it to a live trace document in Illustrator. Glad to have a little visual reference while I keep writing the story longhand. 

Had a midterm review today and felt satisfied that I’m at least heading in the right direction. It’s a fantastic process, but so multi-layered trying to write a book that I will also create visuals for. The whole finished project seems so far away and so close at the same time. I know I can do it, it’s just a matter of how soon. I’ve applied to have a table at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco next fall. I’m going to fly out Oct 31st for a glimpse at this year’s. I’m extremely excited about the prospect of self-publishing a mini-comic that can serve as an excerpt for next years book that I will show. Hopefully I’ll have something to hand around this year when I visit.

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The Vaccuum Cleaner Man

Here’s a little piece I could only manage to throw together on a Saturday when I don’t have that nagging feeling that I should probably be working on something else. This piece was inspired by a real vaccuum wielding janitor that roams the halls of the Fleming Law building here on the CU boulder campus. I see him everywhere, he’s omniscient. The story took on a life of its own. I inked it in one sitting on white bristol paper, then converted it to a Live Trace document in Illustrator and dropped out the whites by deleting them one at a time and keeping only the white I wanted. Then I dropped in the background paper color from a scanned page to give it that natural craft paper look. I also added some other whites and the title and made a lot of scale adjustments to the individual frames so it flowed better.

To see a master of the short story comic, see Joe Lambert’s site, you won’t be disappointed.

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