Tag Archives: kildeer

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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Character Development

This was a scattered week, so I didn’t get to post very often. But I did make some advances in my character studies for my graphic novel, Sydney Arthur. What you’re seeing above is a wall full of brainstorms for Sydney’s mother. She will be clothed in the story (at least most of the time) unlike Sydney (who rarely wears more than a pair of water wings or gum boots), but these images portray her nude until I understand her basic shape. It was a fun process to begin from a series of gesture drawings (pictured on the left and top) that would evolve on their own from my imagination. The gestures gave me hints of how to portray her hair and what the profile of her face would be. The goal was to see if I could get her to “emerge” rather than try to “borrow” her image from somewhere else. Here is a better finished shot:

The wonderful thing about this approach to a character study is that I feel a greater connection to the result. More ownership of it. She really has to live in the story, so if I don’t pay close attention to my own attitude toward how she looks, then it might come across somehow that I don’t quite believe her myself. 

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the process of writing the story quite a bit. I’ll try to post an excerpt sometime so you can get a teaser of what’s to come. I’m getting a lot of it written and am feeling a growing sense of possibility. Here are some studies of punk kids I stole from photos below. A few more characters that might appear in the story as a group of musicians and tricksters. These are just raw tracings, not developed into my particular style yet:


There will be probably about 6 different kids in the scene that I’m imagining, and they will be an amalgamation of these kinds of images as well as others.

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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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Confrontational Ceramics

Very little time to make drawings lately as I’ve been bogged down by administrative stuff, but that should change next week, so keep the faith! I’m trying to put something up twice a week if possible. If you don’t want to check back here all the time, I recommend subscribing to the RSS feed in the upper corner to the right. This way you can check your own reader to see if I’ve posted anything new. 

Some exciting news lately, though I don’t have a drawing for you, I can announce my inclusion in a new ceramics anthology called Confrontational Ceramics edited by Judith Schwartz. It’s a beautiful coffee table book with a stunning international range of artists both historic and contemporary. It is a great honor to be in the book, although since I’m not working in clay right now, the experience is surreal. The piece is from 1999, and by the time it made it to print, it’s almost ten years later. In a way, I’m enjoying it maybe more than if it were published sooner. I have distance from that time in my life and I don’t feel frantic to try and leverage something from the publication. Sorry if that sounds crude, but as an artist with a responsibility to publicize my own work, it’s hard not to think that way at times. The 101 vases pictured above is actually stored in boxes back in Seattle, save the few individual pieces that actually sold, so it’s nice it has a life to live now in this form. You can read a blurb here about the piece of mine that is featured in the book.

Some of my favorite other pieces in the book are by Jeanne Quinn and Kim Dickey, my professors and two heroes of mine here at CU Boulder, as well as Tip Toland, Akio Takamori, and Jason Huff, who are old friends from Seattle and incredible artists. Definitely check out their work!

I highly recommend the book if you have an interest in ceramic work or work with a political or social lens, and not just because I’m in it, though that does effect my desire to blog about it…

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The Report on Life

Here’s an image appropriate to the amount of drinking I did on Saturday night. The binge I’m susceptible to after a couple stressful weeks of being back in the thick of graduate work. A solid hangover and a few (many fewer) brain cells later I’m preparing again for the week. Oh, how will I find the middle road…

Above, the underdrawing is scanned from my sketchbook a piece done at Smith Bar in Seattle in graphite technical pencil, but I also included an image from a strange 1960’s book called The Report on Life that I found in a bookstore recently. The book seems to dissect the human experience into conservative and somewhat simplistic (surprise) value systems in a way that terrifies me. Over the top of that I worked with vector line and color to create this multilayered piece. It’s interesting on the screen, but I’m trying to imagine it’s possibilites in print. It probably would only work as a book or magazine illustration, but there’s nothing wrong with that…

Moving into the week ahead, I’m really enjoying ready Krazy Kat comic strips from 1918. If you can find the series put out by Fantagraphics in Seattle, the covers are beautifully designed by Chris Ware (maker of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth). The comic strips are otherworldly in their landscapes and odd colloquial language. There are definitely racist undertones as well as other bigotries that throw an unfortunate din of ignorance into the work, but I’m finding it a fascinating way to access a sense of the time my grandfather would have been 8. Check it out.

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Stained Glass AK-47

I hesitated to post this right after I drew it because it isn’t a finished idea. But so you have something to mull over, this image came from a dream I had where I was being trained by some kind of elite, militant, Christian fundamentalist group to carry a stained glass AK-47. The gun in the dream was something you could hold in 3-dimensions like a Tiffany Lamp. In my drawing, it appears as a window with a gun designed into it. Not quite the same effect, but getting at the simple allusion of the militance behind the church. The strange thing about the dream, though is that the aristocratic folks seemed like they were kind of wealthy liberals, tennis club goers with a parlor where they were showing me this gun. So the final critique isn’t that black and white somehow.

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