Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
One of the TV programs that managed to embed itself in my teenage psyche was The Flying Nun. An absurd late 1960s sitcom it was, but I still remember that I watched in after school almost daily, probably while waiting for Star Trek to come on. While the cornettes that the nuns wore in the show was a gentle parody of an actual order, they did not fail to secure themselves in my memory. The cornettes that the nuns wear in my drawing are somewhat more like the Daughters of Charity actually wore, and less like the wings of seagulls of the show.
This drawing was created entirely in Adobe Illustrator in about five hours. It's almost exactly the way I imagined it in my dream.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
During last night's round of insomnia, I cleaned out all of the original stippling and started to play with the colors. When I realized that the structure belonged in Oz, I went for a green scheme. I played with rays coming out of the stained glass Star of David, but they cluttered the image and I eliminated them.
I must not have cared for how the drawing was turning out to abandon it, but now I really quite like it.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Twitter, to write lyrics for "Zombie Condiments." The title emerged during a prior conversation, zombies being an occasional topic of our tweets. Since I told him that the song was included on the Palpations EP that I'd previously mentioned, I thought it only fair to draft lyrics for the album art.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
I created the original of what has become this cover last year. It was a couple of sentences that I converted to a symbol font as a design exercise. I'm not sure why I abandoned the drawing, but when I opened it yesterday I felt it was of the same character as the other two Saucerbottom covers, so I took it in that direction.
The artist name and album title were composed using only the symbols originally included -- with some alterations to accomodate letter forms like the "S," "B," and "M." The photograph was taken by a friend of mine in Duluth, Minnesota around 2000.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I built the graphic elements in Illustrator and repurposed an old Microsoft Paint drawing of paisleys. Originally, I tried other backgrounds including a photograph of an older skyscraper that I took one day while on a photo safari, and Picasso's Guernica. Ultimately, I decided to use the paisleys, but for this presentation, I desaturated the color so the diamonds would pop more.
I found these collaborative projects to ba a lot of fun, and the end result was pretty spectacular. I found it interesting how so many artists with so many styles could produce unique work and still have it be unified just because of the imposed structure of a playing card. If I knew 54 artists right now, I'd commission a new poker deck immediately.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I touched it up a bit, added some highlights, more leaves to the plant, and shadows.
Red Riding Hoods of the world, beware!
Monday, April 23, 2012
I drew this in 2006, two weeks after he passed away. Its symbolism is truer to me now than the day I made it. I'm lonely for him.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
One day, a junk email found its way to me. It was a collection of "Children's Books You Will Never See," or so said the subject. As far as such emails go, it was one of the funnier I had seen up to that time. One title leapt out at me though and I decided to "commemorate" my friendship with Andy and Dawn by making an actual storybook out of it.
Be warned: it's intended as humor only, and is in very bad taste. If you have the stomach to read on, you can find the entire storybook at Blue Spinoolean.
As far as updating the illustrations from all those years ago is concerned, I added the Uneek logo to the cover and spent a few minutes making a few other small adjustments.
Below is the original email joke:
Children's Books You Will Never See
"You Were an Accident"
"Strangers Have the Best Candy"
"The Little Sissy Who Snitched"
"Some Kittens CAN Fly!"
"How to Dress Sexy for Grownups"
"Getting More Chocolate on Your Face"
"Where Would You Like to Be Buried?"
"Kathy Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her"
"The Attention Deficit Disorder Association's Book of Wild Animals of North Amer-Hey! Let's Go Ride Our Bikes!"
"All Dogs Go to Hell"
"The Kids' Guide to Hitchhiking"
"When Mommy and Daddy Don't Know the Answer They Say God Did It"
"Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia"
"What Is That Dog Doing to That Other Dog?"
"You Are Different and That's Bad"
"Why Can't Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?"
"Bi-Curious George" "Daddy Drinks Because You Cry"
"Babar and His Cross-Dressing Cronies"
"What Can I Get Away With Before I'm Tried As An Adult"
"Cats Need Prozac too"
"Fun With... 911"
"Lassie was a Bitch and Other Fun Animal Facts" "What are Life Partners and Why Bert and Ernie Don't Date"
"The Junior Tattoo Artist Handbook"
"Housepets that are Dishwasher-Safe"
"The Litterbox Isn't Just For the Cat"
"Household Chemicals That Go...BOOM"
"Charlotte's Web-Page and Other Naughty Sites"
"Willy Wonka and His Slave Labor Factory Tactics"
"Fun With Zoo Animals and Alka-Seltzers"
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Back in 1991, my friend Karen and I worked for Musicland. She was and still is a breeder of Australian Shepherds and, at the time, was editor of a local club's newsletter. Well, as happens, one of the members' dogs passed away and Karen wanted to publish a memorial. She asked me to draw a frame for an elegy with a place for the dog's name and dates. What I drew was a basic line drawing of a temple or mausoleum. It was published and the whole taken together was suitably respectful and moving.
Originally, the drawing was only black lines with no shading at all so there could be room for text. For this version, I repeated and scaled the pillars of the temple to add depth. I colored the trees, and added repeating arches in the crypt doorway. As the result of a happy accident, I changed all of the black lines to a coppery-brown -- which warmed the drawing considerably.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
This pairing represents an extension of an idea that I have revisited many times, the summoning signal. I find that I must now consider a third frame, the cow probe.
Where's my pen?
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Sometimes it's good just to leave things alone. Mostly.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Saucerbottom's second long player for Uneek, Whirr & Hide, has moments of quiet genius and longer passages of not-so-quiet brilliance. This follow-up to his debut, Catastroph, capitalizes on the ground broken there and on the interim EP, Palpations. Saucerbottom's use of synth and sampled cowbell contrasted against monotone vocals ("Wrestle Wraith") is unexpected, but even when he's treading familiar rock 'n' roll ground, as in "High," he adds a one-two punch of drum vs. guitar vs. high hat. Make that a one-two-three punch.
"Whistler's Pass" is magnificent with washes of symphonic keyboards and the tinkling of what sounds like wind chimes. Saucerbottom's voice has never sounded better and the lyrics sync into his gentle baritone (We went up to Whistler's Pass/Smoking grass and grabbing ass/Shouting love up to the sky/The wordless sins of passion cry). "Home on the Range 2.0" is exactly what you'd guess: the children's ode in a new setting, though the deer and antelope never played in my classrooms at such velocity.
Whirr & Hide is a worthy addition to any music lover's collection, but fans of Saucerbottom will conclude their first listen to this record with a cigarette and towel. It's that sexy.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
I've become somewhat less rigid in my views over the last 18 years. There's more room for ambiguity in my world. So when working on updating this drawing, I chose to use color -- not just some color, but every color. I converted the original into vectors in Illustrator (resulting in a HUGE file) and then colored my stippled spirals with a spectral gradient. Using a clone of the stippling in black, I offset it slightly so that each tiny pip has a black shadow. I built a black border and set it into the field of dots, largely to eliminate what I still see as mistakes and flaws in the original design. Lastly, I moved my typography (rather shamelessly paraphrased from Babylon 5) near the top of the image, changing it from black to gray with a black shadow.
I've included the original for comparison. Even though my challenge was to draw gray -- and from a distance it is perceptually gray -- I've never fooled myself into thinking this drawing was anything but black and white. Just like I used to be.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
TALK TO ME IN ROBOT TALK
WALK WITH ME THAT ROBOT WALK
DANCE WITH ME THAT TECHNO-DANCE
IN CYBER-DREAMS OF TECH-ROMANCE
TECHNOLOGY SO COLD IT'S SAID
MECHANICALS AND CHIPS ARE DEAD
AND I SEE STREETS IN FIELDS OF GREEN
UP AND DOWN MY TV SCREEN
TALK TO ME IN CHIRPS AND BEEPS
SO LOUD AND FAST THAT NO ONE SLEEPS
DRUMS THAT THUNDER LOUD AND CLEAR
SOFTWARE THROB AND VIBRATE HERE
IN THE SILENCE BEFORE THE PAIN
IN THE ELECTRONIC DOMAIN
BEFORE THE CIRCUIT RESONATES
BEFORE THE CURRENT SATIATES
WALK THIS RIGID ROBOT WALK
SPEAK METALLIC ROBOT TALK
SILICON SAVIOR SYSTEMATIC
PUT YOUR SOUL IN AUTOMATIC
PUT YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS IN DRIVE
COLD SYNTHETICS COME ALIVE
WHEELER DEALER DIAGNOSTIC
INSANE ASYLUM CAUSAL CAUSTIC
INSCRIBE IN PASTEL SHADES OF CHALK
TALK TO ME IN ROBOT TALK
VERTICAL AXIS TWIST AND SHOUT
ONLY SPINNING IN PHASE SPACE
IN ORBIT OF THE HUMAN RACE
IN THE CALM AFTER THE FACT
STRANGERS WONDER WHO ATTACKED
AND WHO THE VICTOR MIGHT HAVE BEEN
AND WHAT ABOUT THIS MESS THEY'RE IN
TALK TO ME IN ROBOT TALK
I'M GOING OUT TO ROBOT WALK
TECHNO-DISCO RANK AND FILE
SCREEN DISPLAY AND TASTE OF BILE
RIGID FRIGHTENED SYNCHRONIZED
PRE-PROGRAMMED AND PARALYZED
RELATION AXES Z AND X
ABEND AND DUMP AND THEN PERPLEX
LOVE EQUALS AFFINITY
THE INFINITE IS COMEDY
SO TALK TO ME IN ROBOT TALK
I'LL SWING MY ASS AND ROBOT WALK
IN NIGHTMARE DREAMS OF TECH-ROMANCE
I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO DANCE
IN THE LIGHT AFTER THE NIGHT
STRANGERS PART OR MAKE THEIR FLIGHT
HOW COULD THEY HAVE BEEN SO WRONG?
THE SIREN SANG THE CYBER-SONG
ELECTRONS SPEAK AND PEOPLE HEED
CRUEL IS COOL
GRIEF IS THE RULE
MEN ARE JUST FOOLS
JUST FOOLS INDEED
GOOSE-STEP OUT THAT ROBOT WALK
AND SPEAK SATANIC ROBOT TALK
IN THE RUINS AFTER THE CRASH
ROBOT WALKING THROUGH THE TRASH
REFLECT ON WHAT IS COLD AND TRUE
REFLECT ON WHAT WAS DONE TO YOU
REMEMBER ALL THE WILD GYRATIONS
LOOPS AND DIVES AND INCANTATIONS
PERFORMED IN PERFECTED MECHANICAL MODES
BY SILICON CHIPS AND SONIC DIODES
FORGET ALL THE TREES THAT GAVE UP THEIR LIVES
FOR PILLARS OF GREENBAR IN SOMEONE'S ARCHIVES
AND AS YOU ROBOT WALK FOR MILES
WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL YOUR ROBOT FILES?
IN SHATTERED DREAMS OF TECH-ROMANCE...
MAY I HAVE THIS FINAL DANCE?
THE MUSIC SHIMMERS DARK AND SLOW
THERE IS NO FURTHER WE CAN GO
THE FRONTIER ENDS AS SO MANY BEGAN
WITH TWO FINAL SOULS IN THE WASTE HAND IN HAND
I LOOK AT THE SUNSET AND MEASURE THE ARC
HOW MANY MOMENTS TILL WE DISEMBARK?
HOW WILL THE FUTURE BEGIN TO UNFOLD?
HOW MANY PROGRAMS WILL MAKE US TOO OLD?
IT SEEMS THERE ARE QUESTIONS TOO MANY TO SAY
AT THIS ANCIENT STAGE AT THE END OF THE DAY
AND ANSWERS ARE SHORT AND THE SUPPLY'S NOT SO GOOD
AND IF I DID KNOW THEM NOT SAY THEM I SHOULD
AND SHOULDN'T THAT SUNSET BE ALL MOSTLY GONE?
I AM DECEIVED
THIS SUNSET IS DAWN
AS DARKNESS RECEDES AND REPLACED BY THE LIGHT
THE MEMORY FADES OF THAT ENDLESS BLACK NIGHT
WE WALK THROUGH THE RUINS NOW BRIGHT AND ALIVE
A VIRTUAL BUZZ IN THE CYCLICAL HIVE
THE ANIMALS GRAZE IN THEIR DULL ROBOT WAY
THE SUN IN THE SKY MAKES A BRIGHT ROBOT DAY
AND WE PUT DOWN OUR FEET DOWN IN SPECIFIC RHYTHM
A LIVING EXAMPLE, AN ANACHRONISM
IN WILDEST DREAMS OF TECH-ROMANCE
ALL MY LIFE'S A TECHNO-DANCE
ALL I WANT IN MY LIFE IS TO ROBOT WALK
WHILE YOU TALK TO ME IN ROBOT TALK...
Please forgive the wall of caps, if you can. There's a reason for it, so please read on.
"Robot Talk" was inspired by my friends Dan and Linda in 1993. As a companion piece, I drew the illustration, "Robot Dance." The poem was typed on a dummy terminal into a mainframe library while I worked at Musicland. At the time, the default for anything typed was capitals and I decided never to change that. After I drew "Robot Dance" and scanned it, I converted the color scheme to green on black and included the poem in the same scheme. The effect is much like the screen on which the poem was typed all those years ago.
"Robot Dance" is one of my all-time favorite drawings and "Robot Talk" is one of my very favorite poems.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Originally, in trying to distinguish my Tarot deck from others, the suit of swords was to be rechristened "Knives" and all of the illustrations would show short blades. That's how I got a trident in there instead of swords. A couple of years later, the suit would start taking off in a new direction that I liked much more. This card was rendered obsolete to the disappointment of no one.
In coloring this, I undrew the original dolphin figure, separating it from the background first, then again eliminating the interior details to give me a shape I could render transparent in Illustrator. I reversed the original hatching from black to white, softening them somewhat satisfactorily. I tried a lot of colors for the clouds, but since I decided not to tamper with the black sky, everything I tried looked far too bold. I eventually settled on a gray gradient. This colored version is only slightly less monochrome than the original.
I like this version more than the original, but I'm glad that I was able to abandon it for inclusion in the deck. It does my ego some good to fail from time to time: there was no way to save this drawing.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Here's a junk email I received from my sister 11 years ago:
All I need to know about life I learned from the Easter Bunny
Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
Walk softly and carry a big carrot.
Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
There's no such thing as too much candy.
All work and no play can make you a basket case.
A cute little tail attracts a lot of attention.
Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
Some body parts should be floppy.
Keep your paws off other people's jellybeans.
Good things come in small sugarcoated packages.
The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare.
To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell.
The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.
I drew this during my tenure at Musicland for an internal memo. He's so cute.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Right now I'm going through my bazillions of art, writing, and photo files to eliminate duplicates and consolidate all of my digital creative output in one place. I keep running across sketches and unfinished ideas and my imagination keeps sparking on them. Like this one, most don't have stories to go with them. They were created and abandoned. In a lot of ways, I'm surprised that they exist at all.
Surprised, but not ungrateful.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Saucerbottom's self-titled third album on Uneek is a giant step backward for the artist. While there are a few blossoms amongst the debris, by and large Saucerbottom is an artistic failure. With raucous songs like "Plastic Riot" and "Unkempt Wasteland" vainly stabbing at 1980s hair metal glory, the record becomes uneven...and that's being gentle.
Amid the guitar noise and shrieked chorus of "Ambient Playground Murder," (You can't have my bones for toys/I'm not like all the other boys), one can hear a children's chorus singing a lullaby. No kidding. What Saucerbottom was thinking, I have no earthly idea.
Whereas much of the record is discordant and unpleasant to the ears, the brief synth-pop ballad and first single "Vilify" stands as a testament to Saucerbottom's vocal and musical prowess, hearkening back to his first album, Catastroph. Equally, the acoustic neo-country stomp "Ragamuffin Ballroom Massacre" shines as a lyrical triumph (Your heart, my heart, our beautiful hearts/Ripped on the dance floor in hundreds of parts/Sing for the children and sing for the day/And fiddle and dance as our souls drift away) over strummed guitars, pedal steel, and sampled cowbell.
I wish Saucerbottom success with this record, but personally, I can't listen to it. If the label hadn't provided me a copy for review, I would have stolen the two songs I like from the internet; it's my hope that the failed sales for this album will snap Saucerbottom back to his senses. Another album like Whirr and Hide would be welcomed over this dreck.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I added the "Uneek" imprint since that's my pretend publisher.
"Saucerbottom" came about at work one day because I and other members of my team could never remember the unusual name of a remote contractor. One day, during a conversation with my coworker Mike, I made up a new name every time I mentioned the contractor. "Calamari Saucerbottom" was the name that busted Mike up.
Monday, April 2, 2012
There were fifty-five characters left when I woke up that cold and dreary day. It was the same as every other day in Big City, dark and cold, wet and miserable. I had gone to bed last night after one drink to many. My head was pounding in time with the neon sign outside my window, just like yesterday. Just like tomorrow.
Lulu was her name. She was a vixen and last night the police found her in an alley. Her eyes were open and the rain made her look like she was weeping. It wasn't until the flash of the lightning that you could see the halo around her slightly smiling visage. It was a halo of her own blood.
Her murderer had been working for a while by then. None of the victims had anything in common that we could discover, but it was clear that they all shared the same killer. Each time he left a note next to his victim. He was counting down. The note in Lulu's hand said, "55 characters left."
The killer had started at one hundred.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Okay, long story: on one of the rare occasions when members of my family have visited me here in my ever-wintry isolation, my sister and I went shopping at Ridgedale Mall. Now, I have an unerring knack for entering department stores through the ladies' "unmentionables" department, and it wasn't any different that day. Standing right by the door of JCPenney was a mannequin wearing a filmy teddy, her arms thrown above her head as if she were about to take flight.
I looked from the mannequin to my sister and said, "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Nightieman!" And then I burst out laughing uncontrollably. My sister started to walk further and further away from me as I continued to howl with glee. Going through my mind was the story for the Nightieman comic, issue number one, where he gallantly (and gorily) died at the end. In issue number two, he died similarly, etc. I saw glimpses of movie trailers and music videos. I was in hysterics.
When I finally regained control of myself about five minutes later -- after I wiped the tears of joy from my eyes and my beloved sister decided she could dare to be associated with me again -- we continued our shopping adventure.
Some time later, after my sister had returned home and we were on the phone, she reminded me of Nightieman. How I had let him slip from memory, I have no earthly idea. After our chat, I drew him and I'm certain I was grinning like a mad fool the entire time.
I'm not sure what about this drawing I like the best, whether it's the lettering or his magnificent Art Deco cowl, but this drawing has continued over the years to give me utter, inexplicable joy every time I see it.