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Friday, August 30, 2013


Today's Starbuck's painting... I went with the intent of working on some more illustrations for my book but, after I was up until 3:30am writing ideas for it, I thought I'd hold off until I actually have my direction.

So, I started scribbling. As Tom Hulce said in Amadeus "Scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbling." After a few scribbles I just started sketching out a Medusa. This time she's terrified... of what? Well, I am leaving that up to the viewer. I had a great time drawing and painting this one.

I start out with the sketch, of course. Once I'm done with that I ink in with my favorite brush pen and then bust out the watercolors. I went with a diamond back rattler for her snake half, since I made her green there weren't many other options. Even though it's a cartoon I still like to base the appearance with some sort of believability. Once I've laid in all my colors and refined a few areas, I go in with just a little bit of gouache for highlights and eyes. It just jumps off the page when the opaque highlights are in... and I lost the warmer green in the watercolor and I wanted to bring them back up so it really cooled the shadows back down. After the gouache I go back in with my brush pen to black some of the lines and shadows again.

I love drawing gorgons, centaurs, and pretty much any half man, half animal creature. It was nice to do one up in color.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Warming Up To The Idea...

Just a little warm-up painting to get things rolling today at Starbuck's. If you just start trying to knock out a painting without warming up you're liable to pull a muscle or something. So... I did a painting before my painting...

I am starting to find a little momentum on my book and what I think I want it to be. It's starting to form into a little, simple, something - something... the likes of which I must keep to myself for now.

Until I can share more with you, here's a frog monster licking a fly.

Frog Monster Is Too Lazy To Catch Flies, So He Just Sorta Licks Them...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hello, Library Card, it's been a long time.

One of the recommendations for us new to illustration is that we spend some time at the library, looking at the kind of books we want to write. So I did just that... after spending some time writing a story for my hamsters and monsters, I ventured over to the Santa Clarita public library.

Libraries haven't changed much since high school... when I last stepped inside the Tempe Public Library. Computers were making their debut when I last visited and now they are in full effect. I wandered over to the children's section and there I was, faced with thousands of options. But, how do I distill this all down and find books that are quirky, unusual and strange? The kind of books that have a weird send of humor don't just jump out at you... they're buried between the books of trips to the zoo and books about firemen.

It's even more challenging because I still don't know the story telling style I want my book to be. Before it was easy - each illustration was a story unto itself (think Gary Larson's Far Side) and the book was just going to be a collection of these individual stories. It was so much simpler then...

I just ended up aimlessly searching through all the books, grabbing anything with an interesting title. I gathered up 5 books and told myself I'd come back and try again later. Getting my new library card was easy and checking out was even easier. Ahh the wonder that is technology... it was so simple and easy. Now it's time to figure out what I want this book to be...

After attending the SCBWI conference in LA I got derailed yet again. Standing there, amidst a sea of artists with sweet and warm pictures of animals and children, clutching my "dummy" book of monsters and hamsters with a worried look on my face. Do I belong here? I can do the traditional illustration stuff but I wanna do my style... I want to explore a world of colorful monsters and helpful hamsters! This is a book that I would've loved to have read as a kid and that's enough for me to keep going... knowing that out there, somewhere, is another version of me in kid form waiting to experience monsters and hamsters and their silly interactions. Maybe there's more than one kid out there that would get a chuckle out of it... maybe there's a hundred!

I'd be happy with a hundred kids liking my book.

That's enough for me to keep going.

Illustrating this is the easy part... writing is a whole other cookie.
My goal is to combine the sweet and the sour even though the sour has a sweet side. Are the monsters the sweet and the hamsters sour? Do I write a story with different monsters and just one hamster named Norman? I want to stick to my guns but, I have 2 guns on each hip and they're both different. Maybe guns aren't the best metaphor here...

These are all rhetorical questions, of course...

I am going to be signing up for an illustration class at Art Center that starts in October. Hopefully that will help focus my goals a little more... but in the meantime I will be writing and drawing, drawing and writing, waiting for it to just click.

So, with that in mind and to further illustrate the perplexing situation in which I find myself...
Here's a hamster dancing with a monster!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lances A Lot.

Hey there! Well it's about time... Got around to redoing another Critter Rider. The Hamster Jouster was eluding me for the longest time until a magic little moment today drawing at Starbuck's...

 The Hamster Jouster sorta unwittingly started a series of drawings I called the Critter Riders. I combined my love of drawing knights, gladiators and jousters with my love of critters... The hero being the Hamster Jouster. They started out as black and white ink drawings. I did the Hamster Jouster as a big watercolor drawing and even tried it in oils - my painting skills with oils at the time still being very rough and unrefined... they still are. :-\ I also did one or two of them as digital paintings. They were pretty good but most of the series were more portrait like in the way they were posed and drawn, some had a little action to them. While I do still love many of the drawings I wanted them to be more dynamic, to have more action or be more intimidating.

So, there I was a few month ago, about to finish off a sketchbook and decided to (out of nowhere) take a break from my hamsters and monsters to revisit the Kangaroo Rat Rider. It was a drawing I did back in 2010 and was never quite happy with it. I just started sketching and it just started to click! I had to strike while that brush pen was hot, so I kept on going! Instead of stopping at the inking part I busted out the watercolors and, taking what I had learned up to that point in painting, took the drawing to a new level. Success! I had achieved the dynamic quality I was looking for with a new look for his armor and a kangaroo rat that looked more like a kangaroo rat. I was happy with it. It reignited my interest in my Critter Riders... I wanted to revisit them all, now!

Thinking lightning would strike twice, in the same place, within a few hours of each other... I started sketching the Hamster Jouster. Nothin'! OK, maybe lighting would strike again within a few days... nope! This went on for some time before I just gave up. I won't show you the other tries, they're just too not good. I was frustrated and defeated. I just couldn't catch that fire again! And being one who won't go out like no punk b***h I kept at it. Suffice it to say that the newer sketchbook is a few pages lighter courtesy of some page tearing out.

There I was at Starbuck's today... in similar fashion... I had just finished up a hamster and monster painting in my sketchbook and I was sort of aimlessly drawing. The thought crossed my mind - "Give that jouster another try..." - "Alright... let's take a break from hamsters and monsters and try this again..."

Before I knew it I was feeling that fire again! I knew what I wanted the drawing to look like! I could see it in my head so clearly... the Hamster Jouster barreling down on his opponent - the viewer getting to see what his ill-fated enemy sees just before he is unhorsed (or unratted). I checked some armor reference on my iPad and just started drawing frantically! It was so clear in my head and I couldn't get the idea down on paper fast enough. All drawn out and inked I packed up my drawing supplies and headed home where I would take my time painting it. Here it is!

I guess the lesson here being to not try to force it and whenever I want to redo one of these older drawings, wait until I feel like I need a break from hamsters and monsters to draw... hamsters and knights. :P

Monday, August 12, 2013

What a whirl! What a whirl!

Wowzerz. This has been a whirlwind couple months! July found me married to by beautiful fiance, celebrated 2 years together 2 days after our wedding and a week later I attended the SCBWI summer conference.

Dina and I had the most amazing wedding - an all black wedding. The ceremony took place at the Palace of Fine Arts under the rotunda. We had so many friends and family there all decked out in black. When the ceremony started Dina made her entry to our guests chanting "Dina! Dina! Dina!" She looked so stunning. Face to face with her I was unable to keep myself from smiling, this was the happiest day of my life. It's difficult, for me, to find the words to describe how beautiful she looked. Her long black dress, her wavy, raven hair streaked with purple cascading over her shoulder. Her sultry eyes as she looked at me lovingly from behind the netting of her hat that hung over her face, a sophisticated answer to the traditional veil. Aww hell, I will just post a few pics of our wedding and you can see for yourself.

We continued the celebration with our reception at the Supperclub San Francisco. All you were at the wedding were in attendance and ready to get the party started. We had the entire upper floor reserved and to ourselves. Everyone stretched out on the beds that line the walls of the venue, appetizers and drinks were served as the show started. For those who have never been to the Supperclub; they have themed performances each month that has performers doing acrobatic, dance and areal shows to entertain attendees as they dine on wonderful 4 course dinner. Again, I'll just let the pics speak for themselves. :)

Newly married and happy as ever, it's time to get to work.

I attended the SCBWI conference days after returning from San Francisco in August. What can I say? WOW! What started out as an intimidating first day of school, jitters and all - worrying I was gonna get stuffed into a locker at any moment - turned out to be so educational and the friendliest environment. I quickly made new friends - aspiring writers, seasoned veterans, talented illustrators. One new friend in particular, Karin (an aspiring writer with a heart of gold), became my cheerleader at the conference and made some invaluable connections for me. Thanks again, Karin! We're gonna kick some butt and take down a few names in the process!

There were so many great "break-out meetings" (industry professionals doing talks and Q&A's) that made me wish I could be in multiple places at one time. The break-out meetings and keynotes were so informative... so informative that it's made have to rethink my whole approach....

The portfolio showcase was fantastic. I entered. Didn't win. But, that's ok. It gave me an invaluable glimpse into what's out there and where I fit in. Stay true to myself and my ideas - that's the idea and the message the conference made sure to drive home. Plus all of my postcards were taken and gone half way through the showcase. That was encouraging!

My book is going back to the drawing board. The premise will stay as it is but the format and story telling style will have to change. People seem to like the illustrations and the idea of monsters and hamsters but in terms of a broader appeal, I think it will need something of a more traditional approach. I will still make the other illustrations available in either print or a picture book but as far as the actual kids book... well, we're looking at a revamp.

So now the real work begins... finding an agent, continuing work on my book and hopefully other projects (freelance, personal, what have you).

Enough with the jibber jabber! Time for some pictures!

First up is a sketchbook painting I did of little Norville who hasn't realized that he's got something bigger on the line. As with my other sketchbook paintings, this one is ink, watercolor and some gouache for that opaque magic.

Here's the postcard I was handing out....

And, as promised, some highlights from the wedding....
My beautiful wife.
Dina and I at the reception.
A photo I snapped during our photo session.
Dina's sister Erika doing an wonderful job taking our pictures.
The Dominguez Sisters - Erika (left) Dina (right)

Dina and friends - Scott-E, Jessie, and Rockie

Jesse and I. This was the best day ever.

Dina and one of her besties - Hannah

Ending the evening with a spectacular areal show.

Dina with her mom and dad.
Dina and her long-time friend Ruben
Me with my sister (Jennifer) and oldest brother (James)