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Monday, November 24, 2014

Gotcha Covered.

Hey there! As part of my venture into the world of illustration I picked up a job coming up with a book cover for a gentleman in New York. He's followed my work on Instagram and reached out to ask if I would create the cover for his young adult book. I can't go into any detail about the book's... details... but suffice it to say it's a great story, one I think many kids can identify with.

He contacted me late last year and it was a little slow going on my part to get the art started - my dad was really sick and I was away visiting family for the holidays. My dad passed away and work on the cover was delayed even further. The author was incredibly understanding during this time, something I am so grateful for. I wanted to do this cover. When I did return to the drawing board the painting came together relatively quickly. I was in such a groove with it, working in gouache - a medium I only had limited experience with - but with the time restriction oils were out of the question. I'm glad I went with gouache, it's pretty intimidating at first - you have to be very deliberate and make your decisions ahead of time. I opted out of digital because I wanted the author to have an original painting when all was said and done. That's not to say I wouldn't go digital - all depends on the client's preference and time factor.

He commissioned me for both the front and back covers, the front of which I was generously given permission to share. I have no idea how many total hours I spent on the painting, it was a pretty hectic time and there were a few days I could only spend an hour or two on it. There was also a lot of iterating on the characters and composition before we committed to the final drawing. I am so pleased with the way the final piece came together and so happy I can now share it with you.

When the book is printed and selling I will definitely let everyone know. I can't wait to see it myself! :D

The painting is gouache on Arches watercolor board. 16"x20".
Whew! So there it is. A painting.

Well, it's Thanksgiving week here... this week... I have so much to be thankful for, I won't bore you with the list. Wishing you all the very best this holiday season and year round. Thank you so much for your support and kind words be it in an email, private message, instagram likes/comments, Facebook likes/comments, carrier pigeon message, Morse code... you see where I'm going with this... THANK YOU! :D


Saturday, November 15, 2014

But wait... there's more!

I was only kidding when I said I was done... I just thought of some other stuff I can write about, a little more personal in nature.

October was a fun month. We got a new dog, my oldest brother got married, it was my birthday (I just got old) and we attended a fun party hosted by my good friend - the talented Mr. Mark Gibbons. He held a masquerade party the week before Halloween. So I got it in my head that I was going to be a dandy Skeletor. I am very lucky that my beautiful and wickedly talented wife can bust out any costume idea I throw at her. She made me a giant, furry monster our first Halloween together and assembled a movie accurate replica of the Shadow's costume - one I will forever treasure. I did up a little drawing (a really crappy one at that) of how I saw this Skeletor costume in my head and I'll be damned if she didn't just knock that out of the park. I made the crossbones tie tack...

My terrible concept.

Makeup - Nailed it!

Dina and I at my birthday dinner.
 Just such a fun costume. I love it and had to share it... again. My Dina is one amazing and extraordinary woman. She takes such good care of me. I'm lucky and blessed to have her in my life, her love and generosity knows no bounds. An intensely thoughtful and caring person, I'd be lost without her.

NOW we're gonna go get pizza.

I'll leave you with some Monsters and Hamsters At The Movies:

He named the hamster Indiana.

Oh my prince, would that you drink of my lips as deeply?

See ya soon!

Being Continued...

I guess these are gonna appear out of order now since the newest post shows up on top... that's planning!

Read the entry below before continuing with this post...

....I'll wait...

...did ya read it? probably didn't...

Aww hell it doesn't matter what order you read them in...

So yeah! Sketch Dailies are great and a fun way to draw different subjects... But then, for one month out of the year, rising like the Great Pumpkin from the pumpkin patch comes INKTOBER! Started by the talented Jake Parker in 2009 it's a month long free-for-all. The rules (guidelines): an entry for every day of October completed in ink only. This can be brush and ink, ball point pen, marker, Sharpie, Crayola Marker, pen and ink, whatever. This year he did a Sketch Dailies approach with suggested subjects but it wasn't mandatory. You can draw whatever you want. The goal is to have 31 ink drawings by the end and most artists complete the challenge... most, except me. I will next year. October is a busy month for me what with my birthday and all. :)

This October was especially busy for me - freelance, paintings, birthday, excuses, Halloween, brother got married, more excuses, Dina and I got a dog... more on that later.

But I digress - I started into this Inktober throwing some inky punches... then, stuff...
For most of them I went back to a favorite - brush and ink. I focused on armor studies. Be it knights or armor from the Star Wars trilogy. I practiced my proportions, understanding shapes and their relationship to one another as well as value. But mostly I just want to recreate, as accurately as I could, my reference images. I was happiest with Darth Vader and the armored gentleman brandishing a sword. I love armor studies. I typically lean toward drawing organic stuff and shy away from hard surface objects but I'll always make an exception for armor.

I managed to eek out 11 drawings for Inktober 2014. Jake Parker does all 31 days and then sells a book with all his images! That will be a goal for next year. :) Unless my birthday...

The Edward Scissorhands was a combination Sketch Dailies and Inktober... two birds, one stone sorta thing. The Rocketeer and the Shadow I did because I love them.

Here they are.

I used acrylic ink which gives really rich, deep blacks. The only trouble is that you have to work fairly quickly and deliberately since the ink has an acrylic component to it it doesn't lend itself to blending or reactivating with more water. It works best being layered thin (light) to thick (dark.)
Brush and ink is an old favorite from my high school days when we used dry transfer lettering and did our color separations on acetate - by hand.

Getting old.

Speaking of getting old - we got a dog! His name is Bhobi and he's a terrier/schnauzer type dog. He was a rescue we found at the Lange Foundation in Los Angeles. We fell in love with the little guy right away. Only a year and 4 months he is still a puppy and requires steady guidance. In the 6 weeks we've had him he's brought just as fun as can be. A genuinely nice dog - he wants to be friends with every dog he meets and any person he meets. He's a perfect match and a wonderful addition to our family. He's got long legs like an AT-AT. He can jump and hop like a pro and he loves to run... LOVES to run. :-\ Bhobi gets compliments on how cute he is wherever he goes - he's a lot like me in that regard. :P HAW! I kid.

Here's the little fur ball. My nicknames for him: Bhobi-Wan Kenobi, Bhobi Fett, Bhobi Kabee.

He loves laying in the shade.
Run, Bhobi, run!
He's one photogenic pup.

There are some places he can't follow me. ;)

Taken the day we brought him home.
He's quickly settled in as a member of the Beck/Dominguez family and we love him to pieces. I mean, just look at that face! It's happening... we're becoming dog parents.

What else...?

Oh, yeah! Sketch Dailies held a little contest with the creators of the Box Trolls movie. The topic was (obviously) the Box Trolls. The grand prize was a background prop from the movie. 3 grand prize winners were selected and I was one of them! It was quite a pleasant surprise and I love my gift - complete with certificate of authenticity. :D

The challenge was to come up with your own box trolls. I just went with the first thing that popped into my head... then the second... and a third one... 

Box Trolls relocation

Mail Box Troll

Litter Box Troll

We're all winners... ;)

Ok! That should be enough to read for now. Lots of pictures, lots of typing... I'm sure there is stuff I'm forgetting but it serves me right for not staying on top of this blog. I promise I will be better... form new habits!

Time for pizza.
Talk to ya all soon!


Oh, I Have a Blog...?

March? March!? March was my last post? Our hamster dies and I cease all communications with the outside world? I throw in the proverbial towel and stop posting? Life goes on and so must I. We miss our little Jelly very much but it's time to pick up the pieces and move on...

Now then... let's get caught up, shall we?

Old habits are hard to break but new ones are difficult to form. Blogging and general updating being a new habit that needs to be developed and cultivated. I usually just update my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with my goings-ons but from now on blog takes precedence. Keeping up on all these social medias is exhausting. With those I have a visual reference of who's seeing my posts... X number of likes = how many people typically see the posts... not so much with a blog. Aww well. That shouldn't be why I post stuff and it isn't... for the most part. Who doesn't like to see a lot of clicks on the ol' like button?

Things have been progressing on my book. New illustrations are being completed and I'm closing in on the finish line. I've decided on a format that will allow more attention to be given to each illustration with a little caption to accompany it. It cut down the number of illustrations that will go in the book but I think it's a much better, more visually pleasing format. Here's a sneak peek!

 I wish I could show a new illustration but I can't tip my hand now, can I? :)

The plan was to have it ready by Christmas but that would've meant rushing through the remaining illustrations in a week and praying they got back from the printers in time... which they most likely wouldn't have. I think it will be worth the wait. More times means new images and making sure the captions hit just the right notes.

Sometimes the ideas for the book don't come as easily which leaves me in a creative, funky, limbo place. I sit there at my desk or at Starbuck's straining to force a cute and clever idea out of my head and onto the paper. It ends with me staring blankly out at the parking lot or with my head on the desk wondering if I've run out of ideas. I've got to get this book done! I can't wait for the leisurely pace at which the ideas come to me. There's the good old advice "you should draw even if you're not feeling inspired." Sometimes it works... it's like going to the gym even if you don't feel like it... at least you went... which reminds me... I should probably go to the gym...

During these seemingly creative lulls I will turn to a fun little exercise called Sketch Dailies. Each day a new subject matter is posted and all you gotta do is give it your own slant and share it with the world. It helps... a lot. Because even though I might not have come up with an idea for my book I did draw something - situps for your artistic abs.

Here are some of my favorite Sketch Dailies from the past few months...

My most recent entry - Dumb and Dumber
Topic: Sloth from the Goonies

Topic: Iron Man
Topic: Godzilla - "Kaij U"
Topic: Robin Williams tribute

Topic: H.R. Giger tribute
Topic: Princess Leia

Topic: The Grim Reaper
Topic: Gollum

Topic: Xena Warrior Princess
Topic: Beetlejuice
 This post is getting a bit long so I am gonna break it up a bit... Continued next page. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

And the hits just keep on coming.

What a year this is turning out to be. First the loss of my dad followed closely by the loss of our precious little hamster - Jelly. She was the source of great inspiration in my hamster/monster illustrations. Jelly was the sweetest and the cutest little soul and she was all personality, too. Unfortunately Hammies don't live but 2 years (3 if you're lucky) but the joy she brought in that short time will last us a lifetime. With Dina working away all day and Jelly now gone it's a little more lonely here in our work room. She will be sorely missed and will continue to be a constant source of inspiration in my book endeavors.

She passed away the day before my dad's ashes were laid to rest in a very nice ceremony at the Veteran's Memorial in Mesa, AZ.

It's taken a little while to pull myself back up and try to get back on track but it's getting there...

Work on my hamsters and monsters book is on hold temporarily. I have been struggling to write just the right story for them and I don't want to force it. These characters are very special and dear to me and I won't settle for a mediocre story. So, while I wait for my hamsters and monsters to tell me what they want me to write about I am working on developing another story. It's a fun one that I write from personal experience. Hopefully it will get the proverbial ball rolling on finding an agent and publisher.

Once the dust finally settled I decided to bust out the gouache paints and paint a little tribute to Jelly followed by a color painting exercise of my favorite movie monster - the Predator. Gotta keep the painting skills sharp!

THE cutest hamster that ever was - Jelly.
Jelly - Gouache on toned paper - 9 x 12
Predator (2) - gouache on toned paper - 9 x 12

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bouncing Back.

Wow. What a start to my new year... I know, it's now March and I'm still talking about the new year like it's still January. I've been a bit out of it for the past month and a half and am slowly starting to find my way back into a groove...

My dad passed away in mid January. We knew it was coming and I tried to prepare myself for it. I wasn't there when he passed but my mom and sister were. It didn't register fully on my 6 hour drive out to Tempe, it didn't register when I saw my sister, mom and brother, it still didn't register fully when we met to make the cremation and funeral arrangements... it didn't hit me on the 6 hour drive back to Valencia... it finally hit me after I got back home to California when I was laying in bed talking to my wife about it - my dad is gone and he never apologized for all he put us through.  I cried that night hoping he finally found the happiness he was so obviously missing in this life. I cried for the passing of my dad and that his suffering was finally over.

Knowing that he didn't have much longer Dina and I drove out just after Christmas to see him. I'm glad we did. That would be the last time I would talk to him... the last chance to say whatever we wanted to say. My dad was never one for expressing emotions or even really much for conversation and it's safe to say I barely knew much about him. He was an alcoholic almost my entire life and suffice it to say it put our family through a lot. All things considered we came out ok in spite of the many hardships we suffered. He didn't take much part in raising us aside from being a disciplinarian. We rarely spoke even after he had to stop drinking. He had a very rough life and didn't like living in Arizona all those years. But my mom did the best she could to take care of us and she did an amazing job, too.

I had very mixed emotions about his passing and it's taken me some time to process and grapple with these emotions. I took some much needed time to mourn. I will miss him, there was a good guy buried deep inside whatever grumpy anger he was hanging onto. I hope he is watching out for our family now.

Dad, Mom, and a very little, very cute, me.

I have done some drawing, albeit not nearly as much as I should be and on top of all this I am going to be writing my monsters and hamsters book. I was going to let someone else do it but those plans have since been put on hold but my plans need to move forward.

It's been tough trying to figure out my story for these little critters. I know there's a story there I just need to find one that clicks. The story needs to be special and who knows, maybe the specialness will click but right now it's eluding me. Originally the book was just going to be these vignettes - one off stories/illustrations. I had never thought of a story but I think that's what the book needs to have. So it's up to me to put their story(ies) into words. It's just tough because I've never been one for writing/telling stories... gonna try!

I will continue to fight the good fight as I retake the reigns on this project.

Been thinking of selling prints so I did another big painting. I thought I needed to add some sports elements to some of these paintings - maybe add a little more real world appeal... as if the make-believe world appeal wasn't enough. So here it is; completed with Caran D'Ache watercolor pencils on Arches illustration board - "Game Day"

Game Day - watercolor pencils on board 16x20
Here are just some other random sketchbook paintings and drawings.
"Norman was having second thoughts about entering in the office mustache contest." - watercolor and ink sketchbook painting

"Monster take bad selfies" - watercolor and ink sketchbook painting

Monster drawings - ink, marker and gouache

Monster drawings - ink, marker and gouache

Monster drawings - ink, marker and gouache
Man, I've really gotta blog more often instead of these big "make up for weeks not blogging" blogs.

Lastly, I held a little contest on my Instagram challenging folks to find a cuter hamster than our little Jelly. The winner received an original painting featuring their little hamster. There was some pretty stiff competition and while none were cuter than Jelly, many came close. Here's the painting the winner received - Rosie (the winning hamster) can be seen seated calmly at the top of the teeter totter.

Instagram contest reward - watercolor, gouache and ink on paper.
Now that I've gotten all that off my chest it's time to get back to it. I've got paintings to do, freelance work to complete, and a book to write (not necessarily in that order). Until that next time!