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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!