Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can February march as April may, June?

When bad jokes become weird art. Tonight, on Fox News.

Three of Swords...again

Yet another drawing from the 2005 calendar, this one revisiting the tried and true Tarot themes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Also from the 2005 calendar project. This is the second most common tool of my trade, the mistake corrector. It is second only to the lead of the pencil, the mistake maker.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Lover

Hello Dali

Another illustration from the 2005 calendar. Salvador Dali doesn't inspire my work often -- or ever, really -- except this once.

Abby Someone

The other day, Mom and I were discussing Agnes Martin -- of whom I'd never heard -- and her abstract artwork. Mom and her friends left an exhibit they viewed wondering what was art about it. It seemed to them that anyone could do what Agnes had done. And yet, one of my Mom's best friends seemed deeply moved by the paintings.

Abstract artwork is one of those things that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Clearly, all I've done this evening is arrange a variety of lines and shapes. If I call it "Penelope Like the Stars," is that where the abstraction lies? What if I simply designate it "Untitled No. 22?"

How do you interpret my vision? What does it say to you? If I told you I was thinking about Mom when I drew it, what would you say?

Perhaps I should call it "Annette in the Desert with Hummingbirds." That'll shake things up.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I love this drawing. It was done as part of the 2005 calendar project. The yellow balloon was drawn on February 12, and the rest the following week.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


This is another of the illustrations from my 2005 calendar project, done on Valentine's Day.


Saturday, May 26, 2012


This handsome fellow was drawn as part of a drawing-a-day calendar that I started in 2005. My intention was to draw a picture every day on a monthly calendar grid as a daily creative action. It lasted two months.

Most of what I drew was junk, but a few real gems emerged, including this guy, my first real foray into anime-like creatures.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Every now and again I see a design that I like for an ad or a poster or some such and decide to recreate it. I'm not Coldplay's biggest fan or anything, but a photo of the band that I saw online suited the design. The alien font is from the movie District 9.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dreaming Muse

The original for this drawing was done in the early 2000s, probably at my kitchen table.

For this presentation, I inverted the background and altered the cloud stippling from black to blue. In Photoshop and drew constraining lines so that I could more easily color in Illustrator.

I think she's beautiful.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy Maya

In November 2009, I started and ended a project to write a novel for NaNoWriMo centering on themes surrounding 2012 as the supposed end of the world. I had intended the story to be a comedy involving four close friends drinking the Apocalypse away and finding themselves party to the unraveling of, well, everything. As I had done previously, I intended to write the story in real time covering the last 30 days of the world as it descended into chaos and oblivion.

I've never known what exactly to think of all of the hubbub surrounding 2012. Sure, the Maya calendar completes it's cycle in December. Certainly, Terence McKenna's Timewave predicted Novelty Zero for the same month. Absolutely, it's a Solar Maximum year (maybe). Unsurprisingly, a Pole Shift -- known to be an extinction-level event -- is due any time. Astronomically, our solar system has just crossed the galactic plane -- when asteroid impacts can occur more frequently. Surely, in this year of all years, hilarity must ensue.

For the cover of my novel project, An Incident at Nosedive Chasm, I drew a Mayan expressing the mirth that the End of Times must surely invoke. I like him a lot, and he embodies my own sentiment: we might as well laugh at the Terrible Inevitable. The alternative is hiding behind the couch...and who wants that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Electric Trek Bear

This is another illustration done for the PhyreByrde Star Trek fan magazine. One of the characters in a story had an electronic companion that resembled a bear, so I drew this cutie.

For this presentation, I used a cleaned up version of the original -- the tunic's stippling was undrawn. I added lettering (using a free font called Bajoran) and opted for a red shirt from classic Star Trek. Unfortunately, my wardrobe choice for him means that the poor baby will probably be killed in the teaser.


Monday, May 21, 2012

The Insane Root

In 1977, I had artwork included in my high school's annual creative arts magazine, The Insane Root. The following year, my senior, I had the privilege of drawing the front and back covers. Traditionally, the cover was lettering alone, and my art maintained that tradition. The execution of both covers (the back cover is below) took about six hours to complete.
For this presentation, I took the original black and white illustration (the cover was eventually printed in brown ink on cream-colored stock) and added my favorite color in various shades along with shadows for depth. I remain very fond of this artwork -- and the memories it invokes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Self & Passion

Along time ago, when I was far more religious than I am today, I drew inspiration from scripture. One of the frequently recurring phrases I encountered was "self and passion."
When I set about updating this illustration, I wanted to keep the original colors, but eliminate the hideous banding created when I colored the drawing with Flair pens. First, I converted the original to black and white in Photoshop and undrew so that all of the shapes were isolated on the background. In Illustrator, I isolated the original colors and used them as fills. You can see the result in the comparison. However, as often happens as part of the process, I wanted to use gradients to add some character to the drawing, so I built custom gradients from the variations in the original coloring.

Then I inverted the background and everything changed.

I tried the drawing four different ways: solid colors and gradients on white, then on black. I found that the solid colors worked best on a white background,  but the gradients worked best on black. The version that most pleased me is the one I've featured. Blissfully, it captures every single change that I made to the original, while the solid colored version most resembles my original vision.

I've never had so much trouble choosing my favorite from amongst the work-in-progress variations. When I revisit this drawing again someday, I expect that my preference will change.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Paisley Postage

I keep telling myself that it's only a matter of time before a drawing like this is completely anachronistic, but then I remember how most of the mail I receive is junk. What more captive audience for marketers is there than those with a mailbox?

A visit to the United States Postal Service website reveals that new stamps are being unveiled all the time and in an plethora of denominations. Given our civilization's headlong rush to digital everything, color me surprised.

Friday, May 18, 2012


There was a meme on LiveJournal in 2008 where participants created a graph based on a favorite song. This was mine.

Name that tune.

Originally a graph created in Excel, I recreated it from scratch in Illustrator for this presentation.

Similarly, in 2005 there was another music related meme to break down lyrics into bullets. Mine turned into a resume (same musical artist as the graph, so that's a hint):

Mister Fahrenheit

Current temperature
·Two hundred degrees

Current status
·Feel alive

·Make a supersonic man outta you
·Make a supersonic woman of you

Qualifications (Skills)
·Shooting star leaping through the skies
·Racing car passing by
·Rocketship on my way to Mars
·Sex machine ready to reload

Volatile Abilities
·Floating around in ecstacy
·Having a good time, having a good time
·On a collision course
·Out of control
·Having a ball
·Burning through the skies
·Trav’ling at the speed of light

Analogous to
·A tiger defying the laws of gravity
·Lady Godiva
·An atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode

World state
·Turning inside out, yeah

·Don’t stop me now
·Just give me a call (If you wanna have a good time)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ten of Diamonds

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ace of Diamonds

What is it with me and playing cards?

This was done at the same time as this Ace of Spades, but has nothing at all to do with this Ace of Spades. Apparently a more realistic interpretation of the four poker suits was important to me in 2008. I never got that far, but where I might have gone with Hearts in this vein (ha ha) is kind of troubling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Looking Spring - The Causeway

An excerpt from The Looking Spring:

The Glade was an ancient forest, curiously grown into a single great tree. In the past perhaps it was only a dense forest, but now it was a great wall topped hundreds of feet up by green leaves and flowers. The Single Tree stood at the dawn end of the forest and the Bleeding Tree at the sunset, each at the openings of the Causeway, a winding avenue between the walls of the forest that joined the village and the Looking Spring in the forest’s center to the rest of the world.

The original drawing was done with colored Flair pens on discarded, hole-punched typing paper in August 1980. I really like how these drawings (see links for the others) have earned a new life and style by simply converting them in Illustrator to monochrome vectors.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A History of Picasso's Mother's Day Card

This is probably of interest to no one save me, but then that defines a blog, right? I took this screen capture right after I finished converting yesterday's art from the Photoshop drawing I made to vectors in Illustrator. At this point in the process, I had put in a gradient background (so that I could see all of the components better) and knocked out all of the individual backgrounds that result when converting a drawing to vectors. Each of the different colors represents a separate layer. By the time I was finished, the number of layers had more than doubled.

Sometimes what happens during the process of creation is at least as interesting as what happens at the end of the process. This was one of those times.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Picasso's Mother's Day Card

Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Robo Tarot - Ace of Wrenches

Since playing cards have been a theme of mine for a long time, I try to be inventive about the projects I start. This one hasn't gotten off the ground yet except for this card.

Given that I spent last year writing one-off robot poems every day (for a total of exactly 400) , I can't imagine that I won't revisit this again. So far I have a suit of Wrenches (analogous to Swords) and Nuts (for Pentacles). I haven't really got an idea yet for Cups or Wands, but it'll come to me.

You hear that Muses? Make it happen!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Little Miss Something Awful

Twitter is often my inspiring little friend. Sometimes, despite all of the noise, it speaks to my Muses. Then things like this happen.

It's not my fault.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


In 2008, I drew a spider-like creature in a caution sign. This afternoon I added a landscape for context.

Be careful out there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Empty Space - Watican Gunship

In 1998, I started writing a novel entitled, The Empty Space. After a lush few pages, the project went by the wayside until late in 2002 when I re-approached the story. I did a lot of research and began writing in earnest on March 31, 2003, writing my story as the main character reflecting on the events of her day -- in real time -- starting on Easter, March 31, 3050. By the time I finished the story in March of the following year, it was over 276,000 words -- about 900 pages.

I also made a ton of notes and sketches to help me visualize the universe that I had created, not the least of which was the Watican gunship, the most technical-appearing drawing I have ever done.

I made no alterations to the gunship or light weapon illustrations, but I added background, borders and notes for this presentation.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Originally, this drawing included the lyrics for Daft Punk's "Technologic" in blue, at an angle, as part of the background. I don't know what I was thinking (except that the song was in the forefront of my brain at the time) because it looked terrible. I removed the lyrics -- which I obviously don't own the rights to use anyway -- and added a new background. I also changed the shape of the drawing from rectangular to square and added the drawing's title using my most favorite font, Bernhard Bold Condensed.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Triple Bypass II & I

In 2006, I lost my Dad after triple bypass heart surgery. Before that, though, while I was fretting about the operation, I drew these two pictures. The one above is my second attempt after some research about the procedure. I figured I didn't have it right in the first version below, since I really knew nothing about the operation at all when I started the drawing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lightspeed Mary - Rigel

An excerpt from Lightspeed Mary: Roses Arose:

Eridani Town is not remarkable in and of itself, but rather because of a couple of its buildings.  The Governor's Palace is a design by Alexander Northton from before he became famous.  It's his first post graduate project and the soaring thousand foot arches win him immediate fame for his vision.  The other is the Rigellan Embassy, constructed by the Rigels.  It's a thin spire a mile high and wider at the top that at the bottom.  The whole structure rests on a crystal sphere one inch in diameter and is a masterpiece of forced gravity technology and glass sculpture.  A wide spiral staircase winds one hundred feet into the air to where the structure is finally wide enough to admit people.  The Rigels are tall, spidery beings with a glasslike exoskeleton and translucent organs so artfully arranged that one can't help but admire them.  Humans generally find Rigellan architecture beautiful but claustrophobic, somethin the Rigels simply refuse to understand.  It could be because their homeworld's population numbers near twenty-two billion.

This drawing was done somewhere around 1995 for my third Lightspeed Mary story. The Rigels have nothing to do with the rest of the story at all. 

To color this drawing, I had to create all of the internal organs and the details in the limbs in Illustrator. Then I spent a huge amount of time futzing with the black border trying to make it light enough to suggest transparency without making it so light that the the figure vanished entirely. I finally cloned the border, added a gradient to one copy and made the black transparent enough to take the edge off the very bold gradient I selected.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Picasso's Golem

This is the Lightspeed Mary illustration I posted earlier with the 2006 color scheme and all strokes removed.

I like it.

Lightspeed Mary - Golem

Excerpt from Lightspeed Mary: In the Pink:

Then we could see them: huge stone Golems with three eyes in big, squarish heads, enormously muscled torsos, movin on sinuous snaky tentacles, with huge arms ending in three shiny, scimitar-like talons converging on our adversary.  He squeaked, threw the treasure at one of them and ran for the exit.

When I returned from my first trip to England in 1995, I has still pretty stirred up about what I'd seen there, in particular Stonehenge and Avebury. I'd also been highly influenced by a limerick that I read in a comic book as a kid:

There once was a woman named Bright
Who could travel much faster than light
She departed one day
The Einsteinian Way
And returned on the previous night!

I didn't find out until much, much later that Alphaville recorded a musical version of one of the poem's many variations. Anyway, Stonehenge and Lady Bright converged in my brain and a series of short stories emerged, the first ending with our three heroes -- Mary Bright, Snide Clyde, and Nero the Hero -- in a confrontation with the villainous Bart Ligeti and three gigantic golems at an alien ruin that Mary named (modestly) Brighthenge.

So, at some point along the way, this illustration emerged, drawn with black marker on a sheet of lined yellow paper. For this version, I used a low-resolution gif converted to vectors and then colored. In 2006 I tried a few different coloring techniques, just playing with the illustration. With a few more tweaks, those variations might turn up here eventually.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Before & After

While shopping at Barnes & Noble one day, a friend and I found a copy of Goat: A Memoir by Brad Land. We really liked the cover art and my buddy suggested that it was tattoo worthy, but would rather that it was a bull than a goat. My friends learn that they shouldn't say something like that to me unless they want me to do something about it.

I recreated the cover image (with apologies to JoAnne Metsch, the book's designer) in Adobe Illustrator and then copied it. Only altering the vectors of the original, I created a bull's head. The only additions I made were the nostrils and nose-ring. The original was created in 2006. Yesterday I changed the nostrils from strokes to shapes, scaled the text, and added the background. I also added red eyes, but they looked stupid so I took them back out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Hobbit - Mirkwood Spider

The last illustration I was asked to do for The Hobbit was this spider to be used as a decoration for the flyer announcing the production. It was printed black and white outline with no fills.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Hobbit

This drawing was done for souvenir t-shirts for the same children's production of The Hobbit as Thorin's Map. The art was printed black on solid color shirts; mine was blue.

The lettering and Smaug were originally drawn as separate elements. To color this, I employed the elements independently and changed all of the black outlines to other colors or gradients. I'm very pleased with how well this turned out. After I was finished, I created a version featuring only Smaug for use on my Facebook page, which I will update soon.

I hear that there's a movie version of The Hobbit coming out soon...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Hobbit - Thorin's Map

I've always stayed away from illustrating other authors' works, mostly because I feel incompetent to the task -- especially when the author has already done his own illustrations. And yet, in 2001 I was asked by a dear friend to create illustrations for a children's theater adaptation of The Hobbit he was directing. I said yes, fool that I was.

Thorin's map of the Lonely Mountain is one of the famous illustrations J.R.R. Tolkien did for his Lord of the Rings prequel masterpiece. My brief was to draw a version of it for use as a stage prop in the production. My first sketch featured an elf and I quickly self-corrected to use a dwarf instead. I kept as many of the key elements as I could, making difficult calls on what could be sacrificed for the sake of clarity when seen from the audience.

Originally I created a mockup in Photoshop that placed my illustration on top of a parchment pattern. For the production, however, a piece of roughed up printer paper served as the prop. I'm reasonably certain that the audience (the play was quite well received, I understand) never noticed.