Lately my travels brought me to Quadra Island in Canada. For a long time I have dreamed of being in remote Canada.Read More
For the past four weeks I’ve been taking the Yellow metro line from downtown Washington D.C. over the Potomac and into Virginia where I go to work in Crystal City. If the Yellow Line breaks I take the Green line.
Up until this time, I’ve been driving to work for my entire life. The peace of the subway hasn’t worn off yet - it’s a solid 20-30 minutes where I can sit and draw instead of worry about other cars or traffic or merging.
For people riding the metro, the only thing that stands out more than an artist drawing on an iPad are people playing the new Nintendo Switch. It would be impossible for me to make drawings on a giant iPad in a subway - people are just too fascinated and I am extremely shy while making art, so what I do is draw just a couple core elements of the people I see for a few minutes. From there I take the iPad home and finish the drawing there.
I am producing a lot of Tilted Sun while riding the metro as well. Making art while traveling is hit or miss - the airplane/train is either bumpy and it’s impossible, or it’s smooth sailing. All art is this way. Painting in plein air brings challenges like wind and dirt and bugs, and the subway is the same. You just never know if you’ll get a seat or if conditions will be right, which is half the fun.
Fortunately, Washington DC’s subways are relatively smooth and everyone keeps to themselves for the most part. Everyone seems to be on their phone despite the lack of service - Bubble Burster and Bejeweled are the great equalizers of our time. The DC metro doesn’t like it if you eat or drink on the train, and riding the yellow line near the Pentagon is the most orderly, composed ride on a subway you could ever imagine.
All of these drawings are made in Clip Studio Paint on an iPad Pro. Basic tools, nothing fancy. Someday I’ll make my own brushes and pencils but until that day I’m thrilled with the default tools. Defaults are something that Clip Studio Paint does well with - as an artist/user I don’t have to think, I don’t have to triangulate my settings into the blue oblivion. I can just sit down and create. As much as I love tinkering, I love production even more. Most artists have to love both to a certain extent but I’d say most would choose creation over tool selection.
The places where I’ve lived before the East Coast are’t so hot on trains - Texas and Colorado are more about cars and trucks for people, and trains are reserved for commerce and big cargo.
So I’m still in love with the metro here in DC. It really is so amazing that there is this machine that will just spirit you away to another part of town.
To explain the DC Metro system to anyone not familiar, here is a map I drew, where the Yellow Line crosses the Potomac into Virginia.
I forgot the silver line but it runs between the orange and blue lines.
Fo Cézanne, painting is a matter of how many colors you can see in a gray area.Read More
Closeups of the van Gogh paintings at The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.Read More
Real Cats: Bitty
The painting above I made from a photo of cat on a rock in a pond - it was such a cool photo, I had to ask - how did the cat get there? And, why would she ever leave the rock? The rock seemed like such a cool place to be, surrounded by water and flower petals.
Real Cats: Marl
I wanted to make a painting of my cousin's cat, Marl, who is a striped cat with beautiful markings. It was fun to paint Marl basking in the sun on a checkered carpet, it was especially fun to paint Marl's little footpads.
^ Here is Marley Cat hanging out at my cousin's place.
Real Cats: Flash
One day in Houston at my grandpa's house, a mostly white kitten appeared and stopped by to eat the kibbles of grandpa's much older cat, Xena. Fairly common in Houston, stray cats tend to come and go - everyone in the family was expecting the wayward white kitten to move on to another house, but the kitten decided to stay. The kitten would appear intermittently and would race about the yard, and so the family named the kitten "Flash." He was fully adopted and now has his shots/tags and is overall here to stay. I made the above drawing of Flash in the garden, and the below drawing of Flash in Clip Studio Paint. Flash is white, but I reimagined him as a cat in the shade.
I started out this series of colorful cats in oil with a sort of "Wayne Thiebaud Cakes, but with Cats" kind of take. The thick oil paint makes the bright colors stand out quite a bit. I'd love to do more in this sereis with non-pale backgrounds, maybe more with leaves/foliage or household surroundings. Overall these were just fun to make.
Painting this cat's feet was fun. ^ At this level of thickness in paint, the paint takes on a sculptural quality, and I'm not even painting so much as sculpting or building dimensional form. I often start out paintings like this with a small undersketch in orange (so that it is easy to see) and then I fill out the full-bodied paint forms from there. It's interesting how no matter what kind of paintings you make, it all starts with the foundation of drawing.
Cats but with watercolor or acrylic ink.
For Inktober 2017 I made the cat above, what's interesting is people see a lot of different shapes in this cat. It's a bit like a cloud in this way.
Several cats also make an appearance in Tilted Sun, a sci-fi fantasy comic that you can check out on TiltedSun.com.
Museums hold a ton of cool ideas from the past.Read More
Lately I've been looking at a few big changes in life, mostly adjusting to life on the East Coast!
This weekend I worked on a couple small watercolor pencil drawings made on the paper from France (Paris art store blog here!) Although my trip to Paris was in November, it took me a while to think about what I wanted to put on these delicately handmade pieces of paper. Perhaps I shouldn't say 'delicately handmade' - they're really strong and sturdy pieces of paper, yet you can feel the care and time that went into creating them.
For these small watercolor pencil drawings I am still using the Caran d'Ache Supracolor pencils, wonderful pencils in every way. The variation of colors in the 80 pencil set prove to be a dynamic and sophisticated range.
I couldn't decide on many of these pieces to add water to them or not. The seemed to look fulfilled with no water added, so I let them be for the most part.
On the other side of the studio, I've been working through a list of Things I Want to Paint, a list of photos that I have assembled on Facebook of memories, things, and people that I want to paint.
I decided to keep a running list of Things I Want to Paint after one day where I was stuck in front of my easel without a thought in my head of what I wanted to do. There is little worse than scraping along and finally getting time to paint and then suddenly... not knowing what you want to paint!
"Things I want to Paint" is a public gallery on Facebook, so even if you are not my Facebook Friend, you can still hop over and take a look! (I am extremely friendly I just don't have time for Facebook too much anymore...)
Below are a couple results of "Things I Want to Paint"
A photo of my friend's vacation to Tahiti, including a shark swim, and the painting:
A photo of my mom relaxing with Geddy the Poodle, and the painting:
These paintings are fairly in keeping with my style and outlook, I like to paint with bright colors only, I usually stay away from using brown or gray.
This month has also been a good month for digital art. I am still loving every moment of Clip Studio Paint on the iPad Pro. I'm finished with the very generous free trial and am grateful for every feature, every penny is worth it. If I meet the developers of this app I will hug them.
One aspect of Clip Studio Paint on the iPad Pro that stands out and that probably doesn't get enough laudation is the basic pencil tool. The pens are great. The watercolor effects are bangin. But the regular old pencil tool really... just drives it home. It seems so simple, but it's so very powerful. Most importantly, it feels natural.
I made a couple drawings in Clip Studio Paint using a light lavender pencil on a black background. It's a lovely etching, scratch-paper like effect. Here is a portrait of my grandfather's cat, Flash, who has an interesting pattern on his back which resembles a broken heart:
I'm also working on this larger digital piece of two lovers surrounded by foliage - I was thinking about leaves from all of the places I have lived in the past 5 years, and incorporated leaves from Maryland, magnolia leaves from Houston, aspen leaves from Colorado, and forget-me-not shaped flowers from Leadville. I'll probably work on this one a bit more ....
I haven't made as many romantic paintings or drawings this year, not sure what it means, I both struggle and resist in putting words to most of my best art - this is probably why.
Lastly it's been a great couple weeks of Tilted Sun being released and out in the open. The comic launched on May 1 and releases a new page every Tuesday and Thursday. It's also featured on the top level navigation of this website. For some reason I always leave Tilted Sun for last, I'll have to not do that next time!
Tilted Sun is free to read online! Tether Orbs, cyber horses, electric guards, spy birds, and all kinds of cool things await you in the world of Tilted Sun!
Until next time ... excelsior!
It was a picture perfect day on March 31, 2018 in Washington D.C., perfect to grab some photos of the blossoming cherry trees!
After seeing these beautiful trees, the story of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree becomes even more poignant.
The Cherry Blossom Festival also includes an amazing kite festival, where kites of all kinds are flown along the National Mall. You can bring a kite or buy one on-site! It looked really fun.
There were several blooming trees to be seen near the White House:
Like any good festival, there were also many occasion-specific souvenirs available, featuring cherry blossoms on almost any kind of product you could imagine! I'm not always a sucker for souvenirs, but I was so in love with the cherry blossoms that I felt drawn in by these little items.
The National Mall itself looked stunning in the rare clear blue skies and the bright sun.
Everything I've made lately at the studio :)Read More
Here are my Four The Key takeaways from The Keys:
1. 🔑 Major Key: Stay Fresh.
"If you want to be treated like a boss, you've got to look the part."
DJ Khaled even says it's good to get a haircut twice a week. The logic here is, you never know when you will get a chance to prove yourself. You might meet Jay-Z tomorrow and you should have great hair at all times just in case. Although Khaled does recognize that not all of us can afford twice-a-week haircuts (until we've made it, that is), he is a huge ally for self care and respecting yourself through dress.
This does make sense for your everyday visual artist - while I prefer to have paint-splattered clothes in the studio, it is nice to add a good piece here or there for wearing to shows and museums. 8)
2. 🔑 Major Key: Pick up the Phone.
Khaled tells us: "If you have a situation, you pick up the phone. You set up a meeting and you talk among grown men and grown women."
It's easy to resonate with this major key because... sometimes you can't solve everything through email, Twitter, or chat. It's much better to pick up the phone, take time, listen, and solve problems as grown men and grown women.
While Khaled loves Snapchat, he isn't the biggest fan of social media or the culture of online witchhunts. "I can't imagine a bigger waste of time. Who has all this energy to stir things up? People who aren't successful and people who aren't working hard, that's who."
I loved this piece of advice from DJ Khaled because, as artists, we need to work on our work - stirring up trouble online is a short term game to win attention. Good work and solid art are the keys to longterm success.
3. 🔑 Major Key: Real Talk, Don't Jetski at night.
Just search Youtube for DJ Khaled Jetski Night. You'll see why this is a Major Key.
The incident of the jetski at nighttime also made DJ Khaled more famous. When Khaled got lost on the water and started up his SnapChat app to document the experience, it showed that he cared about his fans and that his fans cared about him. When he was in trouble, he couldn't call the police, he couldn't exactly call home... but he could call his fans in the time where he needed them most. Like the poet Saul Williams once said, Vulnerability is Power.
Yet... be careful about Jetskiing at night.
As far as how to not jetski at night as an artist ... I suppose it is a matter of having fun and taking risks, but not taking too many risks.
4. 🔑 Major Key: Keep Two Rooms Cooking at the Same Time.
In this chapter, DJ Khaled reveals that as a producer, artist, and CEO, he knows how to do every job, even the smallest, most menial jobs in his organization. He stays humble. Knowing all the parts of the machine and working on at least two projects at once keeps up the momentum in his production studio.
In our world where focusing is as prized as gold, and where industries push their best and brightest into hyper-specializations, it is nice to know that at the end of the day, it's not only okay to be a renaissance man, or a jack-of-all trades ... but... it's cool. It's a good thing to have experience in every dimension of your business. It's okay to take on more than one project at once. In fact, crossovers of knowledge and overlaps in projects can fuse together and make the most rare and valuable beat of them all: something new.
The practice of keeping two rooms cooking at the same time works for visual art as well. When the paint is drying, it's good to start another painting or pick up a new drawing. With the technology and resources that are available today, artists are able to be so multidisciplined. #D animators can be poets, collage artists are businessowners, and sculptors are painters. Never limit yourself. Or, as Khaled would say "Don't play yourself."
In the archives of Things I've Written On the Internet, this blog originally appeared on my Tumblr account in 2010.Read More
Despite the fact that this show will close in about seven days, The David Hockney retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum was packed to the gills.
Usually, the best time to see an art show is long after opening night, where you can stand in a gallery and look at a painting for several seconds without interruption or without being aware of people. It's nice to get lost in art.
Very few things are more annoying than someone walking in front of you while viewing a painting, and rest assured - I annoyed as many people as annoyed me at this David Hockney show. I was only able to get the photos for this article because I am fairly tall and I can hold my iPhone high above everyone else.
Solitude is just not going to happen at a David Hockney show. He's too wildly famous. He's too good. And more, he has something for everyone.
Hockney's earliest paintings shown in the show aren't even depicted here - the first gallery after entering the exhibit happened to collect the worst Hockneys I have ever seen, pieces that the artist had done as a young art student that were quite bad.
I wish I had taken a couple photos of the 'Bad Hockneys' to prove that there is Life after Art School, but, everyone already knows that, I hope. If anything, the muddy gray Bad Hockneys existed solely to help attendees appreciate the later Hockney even more.
Hockney made a couple of these shower paintings, a resplendently gay take on bather motifs from Degas.
With Hockney it's easy to forget he is using acrylic paint, and as he was painting the above Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy in the early 70s, he would have been one of the earliest painters working successfully with the medium.
Though just as bright and as pigmented as oil, fast-drying acrylic doesn't blend or save itself for later. Acrylic favors fast thinkers, fast action, and commitment. If you make a mistake in acrylic, you have to paint over the mistake with no blendability into the bottom failed layer - and mistakes can stack up quickly.
In these realistic paintings, Hockney is a master of drybrushing and scumbling acrylic in order to create atmospheric light. The wall behind Mr. Clark isn't a plain brown, but a sienna with slate blue and green brushed over in smoky clusters.
As you get closer to these large paintings, the imperfections show up a bit more - the checkered backing of the chair isn't made up of perfect Lichtensteinian dots. The base of the lamp above is a bit wonky, but the phone is entirely convincing. This is Hockney's magic - not everything is perfect, but we know enough, and we are impressed enough by the color, to let it slide.
This Hockney Pool painting, or as I refer to it in my mind: "The most SoCal Thing That Has Ever Existed" allows similar up-close imperfections to emerge. I always thought of the painting as a realistic piece, but for some reason, in person, it is more like looking at a painting of a unicorn.
The unicorn feeling is less present in the pool painting below, given the absence of any fancy people.
The show also collected some of Hockney's drawings. Hockney is great at capturing faces, hands, feelings, and fashion. In the three drawings below, each sitter has incredibly expressive hands.
In the book "That's Thee Way I See It" Hockney discusses a series of painted portraits he made of his friends, eventually revealing that none of his friends really liked the paintings he had made of them. These drawings I feel must be different than the paintings, I feel that these subjects must have really liked the drawings. Either that, or they must have been difficult to impress!
The show included a couple of Hockney's paintings of the Grand Canyon - both perfect in the way that the canyon takes up the entire canvas, and the sky is just a small stripe of blue, if anything. I had to love Hockney's use of pale purple and blue on the red canyon walls.
In Hockney's more abstract landscapes, it's hard to know exactly what is going on. The primary and high-key colors attack the eyes.
Abstractions considered, we all know that Hockney can reel it in with landscape paintings like the one above. Overall that is what I like most about Hockney's work - it's studied, it knows where it is going, yet it is also so free.
Clip Studio Paint for the iPad Pro continues to be dope.Read More
I'm so glad I gave these pencils a try and have been happily cranking out little watercolors every evening.Read More
The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of my favorite birds.Read More
WARNING: If you have an extremely romantic view of art production, this Medium Moment might break your heart!Read More
My process involves reaching deep and listening to my heart, and also lots of youtube videos from the 80s and 90sRead More
After bringing a pad of Yupo paper home from the supply art store, before even touching it, I Googled everything about it. Like an uncharted mountain, it was too unknown to just charge in without a plan.Read More
Undoubtedly, Paris figures as an amazing city to see artwork and learn about art history - but what about experiencing modern Paris as an artist? What does Paris have to offer its citizens and tourists as far as art materials?
Magasin Sennelier at 3 Quai Voltaire is the place to go for art supplies and for learning about what materials are available and loved by artists in Paris.
The store had a great selection of drawings tools, including pastels, chalks, and other mediums.
The paper curation was to die for. I've never seen a more diverse or unique collection of artist papers from all across the globe. Chinese papers, paper from Nepal, and handmade paper from France itself adorn the shelves of the second floor. The availability of oversized handmade paper added another point of uniqueness into the store - usually it is easy to find handmade paper in small sizes, but the glamorously large sheets of handmade paper had me swooning.
Even the testing grounds for pens and markers seemed more interesting in Paris, where a seriously good artist scribbled out a few studied faces. Usually in the States all that these say are "Kylie loves Jace" and so forth.
The easel section surprised me with a showcase of the very same easel model that I have back home in the States - it was wild to see a new and unpainted version of the easel I have trusted for more than ten years. Julian easels have my recommendation as I have had no problems with mine so far. As a revolving door of computers, sketchpads, and canvasses turn through my life, I can always count on my trusty easel.
Knowing how difficult it might be to fly back home with paints or chemicals, I ended up purchasing watercolor pencils and a few books of paper.
I ended up using the paper above to make this fish:
I am not sure what I will make on the rest of the paper! It has the quality of being "Too good to use" but I am sure I'll come up with something good.
Visit Magasin Sennelier's website here!
Other Paris art adventure writings and photos: