Sunday, March 31, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Easter

Happy Easter, everybody!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


My friend @Karinabell invited me to walk with her for a coffee today. I got my coffee with an apple fritter, she got hers with carrot cake. Mine was in a bag, hers was in a box. 

As we discussed the various food groups we were carrying with us (coffee is in the meat group according to me, but in the dairy group according to Karina), we decided that she was having a squarrot. She Tweeted about it, and this happened.

"Artwork" by me, Instagram by Karina.

The Dark Crystal

Early in 1980, I had just moved to Kansas from my lifelong home in Denver. I was on the threshold of getting married, considering continuing my education, and trying to find a decent job. I was 20.

I was also questioning my worth as an artist.

I decided -- in my typical, even for the time, way -- that I would propose a test for myself and if I passed, I would continue to draw. If not, I'd find something else to do.

I had just read an article in a magazine about a movie that Jim Henson was working on, a movie that would feature no human actors at all and would be an epic fantasy. It was due out in May 1980, so I had time to execute my test: I would design a logo for the film and hang my future upon it.

Well, the movie was delayed from May to November. In October, my wife and I made a weekend trip to Denver and, as part of our adventure, we went to see a movie. I have no idea which one, but when I entered the theater, I saw the words The Dark Crystal on the screen -- for one second. The theater was running a slide show of upcoming film posters. I sweat bullets waiting. Seriously, I was pretty worked up.

When the slide for Henson's movie finally came back around, I was surprised. Flabbergasted, even. There were stylistic differences, of course: mine was smooth like crystal and the official logo was tattered like parchment. The word "The" was given more prominence in theirs than in mine.

But -- and this was tremendously important -- I liked mine better. That was unexpected. I was so convinced that I would fail, that it never even occurred to me that I might succeed!

Anyway, writing this out makes it seem trivial now, but at the time it was huge for me. I'm here today, obsessively hammering out my weird little art projects, all because of one movie's promotional materials. I suppose human hopes and aspirations have been pinned on less, but I can't imagine how.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Dead, Undead Instead (Part Two)

This is the happy accident illustration I mentioned yesterday. Coming soon to a theater near you. Some day. Maybe.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not Dead, Undead Instead (Part One)

Yesterday I updated my Facebook status to say, "Not dead. Undead instead." I have had a monstrous head cold for the last few days and feel zombified by the medication and incapacitation that the illness brought on.

I originally drew this with a background, but it became too busy and looked fairly awful. I copied the background elements to a "sketchbook" document -- as I frequently do -- and was amazed that the elements stood on their own autonomously. I love happy accidents.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Noo Spinoolean Tarot - Ace of Roses (Neon Version)

I was reviewing the list of cards I haven't drawn yet (somewhere around 250) and decided to try one on a black background. I opened the template I created a while back and started shifting the colors around. What emerged was this neon-esque version of the Ace of Roses.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Gift That Keeps On Taking

I received a gift. I'm grateful, but it's been a nuisance ever since. So, as I have done in the past, I have expressed my frustration and dissatisfaction through drawing. At least this time I'm not drawing Murder.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Señor Devilclops

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wishing Well

This is another drawing I did while at Musicland in the 1990s. I was asked specifically for this illustration, but I don't for the life of me remember why.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Bitmap Quartet - Seal

This handsome fellow is the Seal of Approval, which is what the file was named. I'm not sure when he was drawn, but I present him here without further comment.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bitmap Quartet - Discipline

I drew this to serve as album art for a mix tape I did in 2002:

"Call Me," Blondie
"Blind Vision," Blancmange
"Under Cover Of The Night," The Rolling Stones
"Major Tom (Coming Home)," Peter Schilling
"Eminence Front," The Who
"The Flame," Arcadia
"AEIOU Sometimes Y," Ebn-Ozn
"The One Thing," INXS
"Together In Electric Dreams," Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder
"Paper In Fire," John Mellencamp
"Hell," Squirrel Nut Zippers
"Alive And Kicking," Simple Minds
"Freeek," George Michael

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Bitmap Quartet - Elliptic Halo

This drawing was done in December 1999 in Microsoft Paint. Largely, I just like the color combinations. For this presentation, I added the title at the top.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Bitmap Quartet - Requiem

In the very late 1990s, I was still fairly new to PCs, having spent most of the decade previously working in mainframe environments. Microsoft Paint was a novelty, therefore, and I did a lot of experimentation using the program. I recently found four of those drawings and grouped them together under the "Bitmap Quartet" moniker.

Since the mid-1980s, I've had a fascination with Requiem Masses and have endeavored to collect as many of them as are available. I find them endlessly interesting and that many composers have created their best work when contemplating mortality and the afterlife. I also think that the word "requiem" has endless artistic uses: it's just a pretty word.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


In May 2000, I went on a long road trip with my friend Logan. We traveled from Minnesota to Austin, Texas, to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to Gillette, Wyoming, then home in a space of ten days. While driving through the desert near Stockton, Texas, we passed through a broad plain where the only variation were mesas randomly dotting the landscape. It was desolate and beautiful. It was also hot. When we arrived at Carlsbad later in the day, it was 112 degrees.

I took a few photos from the car window, and when I returned home, I dashed off a quick sketch with a Sharpie on parchment (below). Though I chose to put the moon and a star in the sky, in reality we had crossed the desert around noon. Artistic license is a B-word.

Yesternight, I imported the scanned artwork into Illustrator and traced over the original lines. I added color for this presentation as well and I really like how it evokes the memory I have of the place. I also added text in one version to make it commemorative ("Mesa, West Texas, 2000 A.D."), but the jury remains out on whether that was a good idea.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Eli the Gible

This freakish fellow is one of the many goofy drawings I did while I worked at Musicland's corporate headquarters in the '90s. For some unknown reason, the word "eligible" became a Cyclopean squirrel.

It's the way my mind works, kids. All misfires, all the time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Viscosity of Pitch

My friend Kyle and I were talking at work today and he said, "Do you know anything about the viscosity of pitch?"

And I said, "No."

"Well, you know about the pitch drop, right?"

Too which I replied, "Not a lot, no."

And then he said, "Pitch is this stuff like tar--"

I interrupted: "Wait, what?" You see, Kyle is a musician and I thought he was going to educate me on some musical knowledge that he possessed. Music interests me a great deal so I was all for the sharing, but I was not prepared for the apparent left turn into a discourse on tar.

What he wanted to discuss with me -- and thought I would find interesting -- was the Pitch Drop Experiment. Now, I had never ever ever heard of this so listening to him outline all of the details associated with it so far was fascinating. I have some reading to do yet on the subject, but things like multiple webcams, and trips to Europe, and the whole world watching, and the first drop taking eight years are just weird enough for me to blow an hour or two of research on. So I will.

But first I had to clear the mental hard drive of where my mind first went: the acclaimed 900-page study by preeminent musicologist Calamari Saucerbottom on the topic of the viscosity of pitch and the fluidity of music. It's a hefty tome (in my imagination) with fine type, copious illustrations, and a massively amazing cover by yours truly.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Fortress

When I was a senior in high school, I had an idea for an epic science fiction adventure that took place on a giant plateau on another planet. Later, as the story became even more grandiose, the plateau became a living island floating in the clouds of a gas giant (thanks for that one, Carl Sagan).

As I mentioned previously, I have yet to complete a draft of this story, though I did right a treatment for it just in case. One of the artifacts that I mentioned in the linked post is the Fortress. In the story, no one knows it's origin, and it has been the source of much advancement in that light shining through it's many windows reveals advanced mathematical equations, artistic inspiration, and such like. It is pivotal in the climax of the story.

Every time I see this sketch -- enhanced in Photoshop for this presentation -- I can't believe that I drew it. It is so far outside of my normal style. I run across it every so often and promise myself that I will finish it with ink and color, and then I forget about it again. I must quit doing that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Three Card Monte

In 2011, I found three photos on the internet that I liked and made cards out of them. I was going to hold out until I had five designs altogether, but instead I forgot about them until this evening. This was more of a design project than a drawing one, but I'm very fond of the results.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Big Sky Robot

First I saw this mural by artist LNY. Then this happened. Largely, this is what I did instead of sleeping last night. Good for art, but I'm dumb as a mud fence right now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Familiar Faces, Part III - Leia

Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, there's been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over what will become of Star Wars. One of my coworkers proposed spin-off movies, one of which I'm developing a larger project around. While I was dinking around at the digital drawing table yesterday, "Lil Leia" leapt into my head.

Is there a Star Wars Babies -- or some other similar atrocity -- in our future? The bottom line says yes.

An excerpt from the pilot script:

Let's play Jedis!


Why do I have to infiltrate the gangster's lair? That NEVER works!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spinoolean Tarot - Seven of Pentacles (revised)

Last Summer I created the Spinoolean Tarot, a new Tarot based on the classic Rider-Waite-Smith imagery. When I got my new computer in the fall, I set up the screensaver to play all of the card images I've done for it and for the Noo Tarot. The upshot is, I've been living with and studying my cards now for over eight months and ideas for revisions and new ideas for the cards surface all the time. I made a conscious decision to let the deck rest before I launched into the final revision before I attempt to seek publication, but this morning I was overwhelmed by the urge to mess with some of them. So I chose the Seven of Pentacles.

In the original version, the foliage beneath the scarecrow is a chaotic jumble, much like in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. It's irked me for a while now, so I fixed it. Instead of a wild mess, the crop is nicely ordered as one would expect from a tended field or garden. I also monkeyed with the background cloud border and added a shadow under my signature icon. To finish it off, I rounded the ground to be more like hills than inclined planes.

I like this version better, but I'm not entirely sure I'm done with it yet. While I was at it, I created a "coloring book" version with all of the color removed that I'll use for the accompanying book that I'll have to write.
I'm going to be living with this project for a long time yet. Stay tuned.