Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Deliverance ideas

I wanted to do something really different, something stark and graphic, so I did these.  Somehow, until my Art Director pointed it out, I didn't realize I was doing Saul Bass, even though it's painfully obvious.  Still these were fun, doing them was a palette cleanser.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"The machines will fail.."

Portrait of Burt Reynolds for Deliverance piece I worked on.  Tried to push the brutal, man vs nature theme in the rendering.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wonder Woman pilot art

Earlier this year there was an attempt to create a new Wonder Woman TV show.  I was asked to create a variety of art that would be used in the pilot.  As too often happens, I'm provided little or no reference.  A photo shoot was scheduled, but that was days away and I had to get started, so I drew a few portraits of actress Adrianne Palicki but didn't draw the hair because I didn't know what it was going to look like yet.  These where later incorporated into other art, but I kinda like them on their own.  To see another, check my  Deviant art page:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Game of Thrones art

Did lots of work on Game of Thrones over the last year.  I'll share what I can. This is Great Jon, Robb's right hand (no pun intended).  Loved this guy in the series

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sketch Cards

Although I've done a few sketch cards, I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of not getting it when it comes to the sketch card scene. Last weekend I was a guest at the Fan days show in Dallas. A few days beforehand, I was sent some blank cards I drew Star Wars characters on them.  When I got to the show, there was an exchange system that was a little odd, so instead, I just sold a few of them.  Doing the cards themselves was kinda fun, the blanks were too slick to draw or paint on, so I sanded them down with a fine grit sandpaper.  Once done, I was able to achieve some rather fine line work.  Most of these are still available if anyone is interested.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ComiCon & Dragon Con

Hey what can I say? Comicon and Dragon Con put a big crater in the middle of my year, and when it occurs to me that I should post something, anything, I tend to say: "meh".  Also I've been busy with a lot work I can't share.  My good friend Christos brought it to my attention recently that it's been awhile since I've blogged so...

Comic Con

The Big Damn Display: Last spring I watched the lovely Brittney Lee demonstrate her paper sculpting technique, where she brings a 3-D relief aspect to her already wonderful art.  Everyone was so mesmerized by her demo, that no one noticed the light bulb that went off over my head.
So I took my 'Shiny' print that features the cast of Firefly, and printed the background and each character separately, and very big, roughly 8' wide and 7' high (!) The characters were mounted on foamcore and floated  at different elevations from the background board.  And cause I can't leave well enough alone, I added flexible LED light tape for a subtle glow behind the characters.  It was all very groovy, but the trial and error took weeks, and a huge toll on my wrists and knuckles. But it was worth it every time I heard a genuine 'Ooohhh' as people passed by.  Thank You Ooh-ers!

Dragon Con

People will say some of the nicest things at shows.  It's very gratifying to hear such acknowledgement of the hours, days and weeks of hard work that I put into a given piece of art.  As the show was winding down,  I heard some very kind and rather astute words regarding my work and design choices.  I looked up and the fellow was Michael Whelan.   MICHAEL. WHELAN!  If you don't know, google him now, I'll wait.  ...So, I was seriously flustered, but I managed to get a hold of myself and not pee the carpet like a nervous puppy.  We even got to hang out for a few minutes, he showed me some of his originals including his Way of Kings cover.  Meeting your heroes can sometimes be disappointing, but not Michael - he is a class act, all one could hope for and more.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stan Lee

This past weekend I was at the Ace Expo, which made its debut in Albuquerque (that's right, I can spell it.)  The show organizers asked if I could do something special for the show, so I did a portrait of Stan Lee.  They wanted me to present it to him during his panel Sat morning.  I was dubious; this could be great or it could be awkward. But I went, waited in the wings and hoped for the best.  My friend and Albuquerque resident David (Brohawk) Williams called and said, "I'm on my way, I'm bringing my Spiderman costume.  You think I should wear it?" "uh sure" I said.
Moderator  Lloyd Kaufman, with a fellow dressed as the Toxic Avenger in tow, introduced Stan.  Stan commented to Kaufman "you have Toxey here, but I don't have Spidey!" I called Dave back, "get here as fast as you can!" 15 minutes later Dave walks in as Spidey just as Stan is talking about the character.  "Go, go!" I urged Dave, and up he went, to huge applause, hamming it up.  Kaufman then called me up on stage, saying to Stan that I had something for him.  "I was wondering when I was going to get an award or something!" Stan said.  It all went better than I had hoped.  He would have been polite in any case, but seemed to genuinely like it.
We got to talk a little the next day, and I'm astounded with the man's vitality, wit and enthusiasm.  He's like a human exclamation point!  The man will be 90 next year!  Great guy, great experience.

Thank You Lona J. Pidanick for taking these pics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back from The Calgary Expo!

The Calgary Expo show was a lot of work this year, but so much fun, and sprinkled with some nutty experiences.

 This year's exclusive was a big success and sold out.  In fact #85 of 85 went to none other than the Mayor  himself, Naheed Nenshi!  He seemed very much in his element at the show, he's kind of a cool geek.  Don't believe me? -check out his yellow All-Stars!  Smart, with a clever sense of humor, and refreshingly unassuming.   I enjoyed meeting him and wish we could have talked longer, but he's the mayor and kinda busy. 

The cast of the Guild came by and we gave them buttons that Yelena made, each button featuring a portrait of one of them. They decided to wear each other's buttons despite Jeff's objection: "I want mine!"

And here's Sandeep and me with Shat- ..okay, a guy who looked like Shatner.

Other cool experiences: Dinner with Neal Adams. A big thank you hug from Summer Glau.  Jealous? 

Less cool experiences: The poor kid who puked in front of my booth for about 10 minutes Sunday morning.  A neighboring exhibitor who played the same 30 second video, with the same cheesy music, over and over and over and...   

Thanks to Kandrix Foong and his crew who put on another great show.

And Big Thanks to all the Calgarians who were so kind to me and Yelena and made us feel so welcome.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The exclusive for this year's Calgary show.  100% Cintiq, baby.  These will be available at this year's show only, at booth #819.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Green Lantern

A year and a half ago I was asked by DC/Warner Bros. to do some artwork of the recently-cast Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern.  I was to stick to the classic Gil Kane costume.  I would have liked to do more, but I was several steps removed from the real decision makers; I'm not sure what got through.  Well, it was fun to be involved with a project this cool, and I learned a lot.  Below is the key piece I did. I worked out the drawing and initial tonal work on gray paper, then transferred it to Strathmore for the color work.

I hope the movie is good. I like Ryan Reynolds for the part (although I would have preferred Nathan Fillion.) I kinda dig the designs: the suit does indeed look like it's made from alien energy, but the way it extrudes from the skin, then cracks with light coming through is kinda horrible, like a Clive Barker character.  But still, there are lots of things I love about the movie so far;  at the same time, other things - not so much.  We'll see how it holds up through a viewing of the flick.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Hey, I was interviewed on my favorite podcast, Sidebar.  If you haven't heard it, well you can start here.  It's a great show run by Swain, Dwight and Adrian.  They have a real passion for all sorts of art, and you'll find the interviews insightful -maybe even mine!

Check it out here: 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drawing on the Cintiq

My basic process is 3 steps: 1-underdrawing, 2 -tonal (transparent color) 3 opaque hi lights.  Over the last few years, I've been using digital tools to accomplish 2 and 3 with greater frequency.  I thought I'd try to do step 1 digitally as well, so I've been drawing my recent work: the exclusive prints for this years Phoenix and Calgary shows.  On hearing this, a few people half-jokingly called me a sell-out. Other's let me know that they knew these weren't real pencil.  Um, okay, I never said it was.  Anyway, I'm having fun with the new medium.  I find that I follow the same process path, I just get there faster.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


After clocking 2 decades in the Illustration business I can bitch about how 'things are going to the dogs' and stuff like that, right?  

Most contracts I've dealt with are simply written agreements, y'know, like the dictionary describes it.  While most contracts are still just that,  in recent years, I'm finding these crazy, asking for your first-born Faustian monsters.  Dealing with them is like dealing with a spoiled-brat, bad seed of a child, shrieking "Mine, mine, mine, mine!.."  With little or no equality or accountability.  The people writing these things really should know a thing or two about the business the contracts are intended for.  Perhaps thumb through Graphic Artists Guild handbook? 

Anyway here's just a few of the 'mine-mines' creeping into contracts these days:

 'no credit for the artist, you can't even self promote with the art. 

    processes, procedures and/or techniques used…shall be the sole, exclusive property of…  That's right, how you do what you do. Do you really want to sign that over?

Legal Representation
If you have a problem with them, you must use their lawyers to represent you.  Never mind that it's not legal 

Of course it's all camouflaged in the legalese, but look for them.  Most clients will be fine with you simply crossing out the offensive parts, which is deal-able, but the fact that they would ask shows a profound lack of respect, I think.

To those of you who are considering using my services someday, but you intend to send me one of these word-diarrheas, Please, 

1: send it before I do the work. 

2: If I take exception to something, don't just let legal handle it, talk to me yourself.  Likely you'll find that I am more concerned with your best interests than the lawyer is.  Can you think of a situation that got better when lawyers got involved? 

Alright, hope that helps someday.

Meanwhile, here's a piece I did recently, all done digitally. in a process that I'm not signing over to anyone.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Joe Smith

I got my professional Star Wars gig, doing a card for the first Star Wars Galaxy card set in 1993. (what happened then, Grandpa?)  At a local show, Topps had many of the artists involved there to promote the set.  I was there with my friend Jerome Moore and we met the Joe Smith.  Joe was 80 then, and spry as a man half his age.  Joe is one of the coolest guys I've ever known; he and his wife lived in this groovy house up in the valley with his pet hawk.  Yes I said hawk.  The hawk wasn't caged, he simply chose to live in Joe's backyard.  When Joe called, the hawk would fly over, say hello and then go back to his business.  Joe taught me how to think around problems by truly understanding the fundamentals of whatever you were dealing with.  He taught me to understand exposure in photography in a way I've never heard before or since.
Perhaps Joe's best known work is his poster for Ben Hur; y'know the big, stone letters with the chariots going around them.  He did art of the cast, but it was never used prominently, too bad because Charlton Heston was his favorite actor to draw (like Struzan's is Harrison Ford, and mine is Nathan Fillion) 50 years later, Ben Hur is being released on Blu Ray, and I was asked to produce artwork of Heston that would counterpoint Joe's original art which would be preserved.   I was very excited about this; my artwork being combined with Joe's art, 50 years apart. I think my old friend would get a kick out of this.  So I produced the art, Heston is an interesting subject, and all involved seemed quite pleased.  But in the end as they always do, they used a photograph. 'cue the dying pac-man sound: Beoweoweowoop*'

Monday, March 14, 2011


Whoa Monday is almost over and I haven't posted.  Well I'm currently doing art for the new Wonder Woman show, and I can't show a thing from that or I'd be tasered until I was medium rare.  So I'll show this failure from a few weeks back.  There was a show in Dallas that featured 8 actresses from Sci Fi.  I thought it would be fun to put these women in characters that spanned generations, all in the same context. Alas there wasn't enough time to paint it once it was drawn, but it was fun.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back from The Emerald City

The Emerald City Comic Con is just about my favorite convention.  Jim Demonikos and his crew do a fine job, they look out for everybody and take pride in the show they put on.  This was the 3rd year where I did an exclusive print featuring the media guests at the show.  I wanted to make sure that I got this year's print done early. ..this was not to be, as there was one thing after another held me up.  Once all 14 guests and the background were drawn, I had just hours to paint it.  Somehow, I did it; I miracled it is all I can think.  It came out just fine.
At the show, all of the actors in the piece personally thanked me*, which is very gratifying.  Even more so was the reception it got from the convention goers, many of whom got the print signed by all 14 of the guests.  Pictured below is the 2nd person to get them all signed; the first was Lorri, who has gotten every signature, all 3 years!  Yelena and I work very hard at these shows but the reception from all involved makes it worthwhile.

That's Jasika Nicole with Yelena and me.  She's one of the cutest human beings I've ever met -except maybe Amy Okuda.  Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus are as cool as they come.  Man, do I look like a dweeb between these two!

*except Shatner, -but he's kept under guard by his handler

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Tron we all wanted to see.

Well I did, anyway.  The whole time watching Tron legacy, I'm thinking; where's Tron?  So we saw him in the background of a flashback, being awesome for 4 seconds, and he was the main henchman who had a change of heart, and was never revealed  ..?  what?  C'mon where's Tron?  Right here. And no creepy, uncanny valley effect.

This is part of a bigger piece that will be an exclusive limited edition print available at the Emerald City Comic Con next weekend.  This print will feature all 14 media guests that will be there.

I did an original Tron a while back  It was fun to do the 2.0 version.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Studio

I feel pretty fortunate to have the studio I have.  I love the space and layout.  There's two closets for reference and materials.  There's several stations, as I think of them; the main digital station where I have the Cintiq, and an analog station where I have a good old, drawing/painting table.  The other computer is my old G4 which drives the big printer and my scanner, which I bought in the mid nineties -it's scsi, so I need to keep an older computer that remembers what scsi is.  Above me is my wife's loft; it's great because when we're both home working, we each have our own areas, but we're together.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Painting Onna Cintiq

A close-up detail of a Firefly piece that's nearly finished.  The underdrawing was done in pencil, all tonal and color done on the Cintiq.  First step into a larger world...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nathan Fillion Likeness

This is kinda weird, like a magician's trick I pulled on myself.  I drew this picture of Mal, played by Nathan Fillion about a year and a half ago.  That's the one on the Left. I liked it but felt like it wasn't quite right but didn't know why, and banished it in a pile of near-misses.  I just came across it and saw clearly what was of; Nathan's nose doesn't look like that, the upper lip is wrong, cheek, chin, so I drew it on an overlay to fix  what was wrong, and only to fix what was wrong; that's the one in the middle -This really doesn't look like him.   I scanned it, over-layed it on the first drawing in Photoshop (multiply), and Presto! -now it looks like him.  Two wrongs make a right.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Digital scribbling

Still exploring the different aspects of digital: From where we left off on the batgirl pencil under drawing to a finished real world painting, I'd estimate -about 4+ hours.  This was done on a Cintiq in about 20 min.  And I just got the thing, still figuring it out. Kooky.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Analog Scribbling

It's an interesting time to be an artist.  Real world or digital?  I'm not pro either side, as I see advantages either way, and usually, I'm working back and forth.  Navigating the best way to shuffle the two is the interesting part.  For instance, I just finished this drawing of Yvonne Craig's Batgirl. (it's part of a bigger piece I'm working on)  She wore that sparkly purple outfit that I know will be tedious to draw with it's pebbly texture.  Could I have made a digital brush that simulated the texture? Probably.  Would it have saved a few hours rendering time? Certainly.  Would it look as good, with the same character, as real world pencil? Not likely.   So in the end it was pencil on paper into the wee hours.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Thought I'd try another True Grit character; Mattie Ross.  I definitely blew my time limit on this one.  I had to cast about to find the likeness, and I messed with gesso here and there, both black and white, which makes for some cool texture and gives some tooth for the colored pencil to grab onto, but starts becoming more painting than sketch.  

I'm pretty blown away by Hailee Steinfeld.  The other tough guy characters not only come to respect her but want her admiration.  To pull that off, you need a little more than, well, Kim Darby peevishness. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of her.


Monday, January 10, 2011

'I can't help you, son..'

Maybe he can.

So why does a not-too-web-savvy guy start a blog?  -To get better.  Or perhaps more importantly, faster.  I'm a slow, plodding artist, ask any of my clients waiting for a commission.  My ornery way is to keep banging away, but I realize for a different result, I need a different approach.   I was impressed by Eric Canete, an artist I greatly admire professionally and personally, who started his blog page to step-up his output.  Check out his amazing 90 minute sketches.  So I hope Eric doesn't take mind if I take a page out of his book and try something along the same lines.

When I was a kid in school you could tell what movie I had just seen, because I was drawing it.   So why not go back to that habit for this exercise?  So I drew Jeff Bridge's Rooster Cogburn.  (Do I have to tell you how good this movie is?)  I tried for under 90 minutes, but it took 94, another hour+ for printing out reference, studying it, scanning.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


1-1-11.  -Seems like a good day to start something, so I'm starting this blog.  I've resisted escalating my internet interaction from the basic, e-mailing, Googling and Amazoning.  But it's time I get with the program and perhaps even get a Facebook page -yeah I don't have a Facebook page, what of it?!

Why 'Telling Story'? Because that's what I strive to do in my artwork.  Even in a simple portrait; I don't want to just 'show the girl', I want you to wonder: what did she just do? what will happen to her? why is she sad/smiling/winking/whistling? With art, you can convey more than mere accuracy.  To show that a person is sad, or triumphant, good or evil, it can be gotten across in color, tone, placement, texture and a thousand other ways.  Artists often talk about this aspect of artwork, referring to it as 'telling story'.

Well, I'll share some of what I do here, and try to be insightful from time to time. Thanks for stopping by.