Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ink Drawing on Bristol

Like silverpoint, drawing in ink forces the artist to make confident marks as there is minimal correction that can be done. The better quality pen that is used, the better the results. Using pens of various diameters (0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7mm 1.0mm) allows the artist a wide range of marks and line widths. There are many ways to approach a subject with ink, including contour, stipling, cross hatching, blocking, sketching or any combination of the various styles. Bristol is an excellent paper for ink as it it smooth, accepts the flow of the ink consistantly and has a brilliant white surface which helps define the line. For precision work an artist should ideally use repitographs, but those take practice to master as the point needs to "float" above the surface and not press into the paper like a typical pen. Many artists have managed to get remarkable results from cheap disposable roller ball pens. However, you will never find a true black with any inexpensive equipment.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beta Eruption

This linocut print is the second image of the Eruption aspect in the Distaster series. Carving in linolium block produces such a distinct feel that is worlds apart from the birch woodblocks. They are both extremely expressive mediums to work with, but every particular image is puncuated by the material that is used. In this case, I feel that the always shifting earth is a fluid thing and the smoothness of the lino allows that dynamic to show.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beta Conflagration

This multiple color woodblock print is the second image in the Conflagration aspect of the Disaster Series. This image depicts the overwhelming destruction that takes place from the great wildfires. While a naturally occuring and necessary phenomenon, the intrution of man into the cycle has caused devestation far beyond what nature had ever intended. The continual wildfires in the western states and the recent uncontrollable infernos in Russia and Greece a few years past reminds us that there is truly no escape from the firestorm. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Dying Gaul

The image of the dying warrior is a classical motif that has been revisited countless times in art history, each time taking on a new meaning. During the Renaissance, the pose was typically reserved for the Passion of Christ or the Martydom of the Apostles. In Napoleanic times, David painted  "Death of Marat" as a variation on that theme and pose but used for political propaganda. For this, DaLawn reclined in a casual dying pose so that there was adequate anatomy showing. In addition to the vine charcoal, I attempted a scratchboard to approximate a silverpoint as well as an ink on bristol drawing.

Alpha Gale

This print is first image of  "Gale" within the disaster series. As with "Deluge," "Conflagration," and "Eruption," this "Alpha" is an etching with aquatint. Being lost in the wind is a harsh thing to imagine as it attacks multiple senses and leaves you completely discombobulated. However, the wind is the easiest disaster to escape if you have adequate shelter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reclining Nude

One of the standard historical art poses is the reclining female nude. This type of pose has been used widely since the Renaissance to illustrate classical Greek stories, reimagined in the Colonial 19th century with the facination of the Orient as depicted with the Odalisque, and brought through the modern era with the engagment of the viewer by examining the female form and identity and the political and socialogical struggle that it was coupled with. The above two studies of Janet and Anna are just a few of the many reclining nudes an artist will have to do before he can master the female form. Keep in mind that one needs a full range of ethnicities, skin tones and body types to truly understand all the subtle charateristics of the anatomy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inspired Art

There is an organization called America Scores that works hard to provide after school activities for disadvantaged youth in urban communities. They offer sports such as soccer and creative activities like writing and play acting. I am humbly participating in their Inspired Art fundraising initiative in which artists create a work of art that is based on a poem of one of the children in the program. An artist always finds inspiration from a great many sources and illustrating prose is an excellent way to master mood and emotional resonance. This piece is titled "No one is there to tell her everything is ok." It is a multiple color woodblock print. I carved into birch panel and used water based inks on very fine paper. The poem is from an 11 year old girl and is as follows:


This girl sits in the corner and cry alone
With no one by her side as sad as she is
She feels like garbage with everyone against her
While she stays everyday with no one there
To tell her everything will be ok
She feels like her family regrets her being born
She hates the fact that she has to feel this way
And she feels like a big disgrace.

If you are interested in helping America Scores please visit their blog:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alpha Conflagration

This print was done with etching with aquatint and is part of the disaster series. One can find shelter from the wind, rising waters and moving earth, but the raging inferno is impossable to avoid. This image has been in my mind since I was a young man and first read about the fire bombing of Dresden by allied forces towards the end of the second World War. Fire is all consuming and nature's ultimate destroyer.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anatomical Detail Studies

Understanding the individual elements that make up the human body is crucial to learning the anatomy as a whole. Making studies of the various components such as hands, lips, eyes, ears, back, shoulders, ribcage, feet, etc. gives the artists an allowance to best fit them all together when working on the entire human body. The two silverpoints above are short, 2 hours studies from a live model which I always find better to use than plaster casts.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back Studies

It goes without saying that the hands and feet are the most difficult parts of the human anatomy to capture perfectly, followed of course by the face. The one part of the anatomy that is often overlooked is the back. There are so many subtle variances in the structures of the scapula, ribs and spine as well as all the muscle groups making the back frustrating to get right. Above are partial back studies of Tiffany focusing on the scapula. The vine charcoal allowed me to focus on the movement of the torso while the silverpoint focused on the projecting surfaces.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Deluge series Alpha & Beta

Here are the final versions of Alpha Deluge (etching) and Beta Deluge (linocut). I am thrilled with the results and look forward to experimenting with the additional media for this series. I have expanded the project to include 4 different series of 24 images in 24 different media.

Silverpoint II

This Silverpoint of DeLawn was completed in a single, 4 hour session. The immediacy of the medium forces the artist to make bold and decisive marks as there is no erasure and absolute minimal correction that can be done. I find that the more silverpoint I do, the tighter my drafstmanship becomes. It's no wonder the masters used this technique, it forces you to become better.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Head Studies

There is an unfortunate lack of anatomical mastery in art education in the USA. I am collateral damage of the post modern era where concept and expression took precedent over academic style teaching methods. For that reason, I am constantly struggling to perform that which, at this point in my career, should be second nature. I can not stress enough how critical it is for the artist to continously sharpen their ability to draw and paint the human body, especially the hands and face. That is why so many self-portraits exist of the great masters; understanding the one face you never see, save in reflection, is the best way to master the structure of the face. Here are two charcoal head studies of Vikki & Jerry. Ideally, one head study per week is the way to go.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

After Rodin's Thinker

For this piece I decided to replicate the pose of Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker." Using historical art as a springboard for one's work is a perfectly acceptable way to master certain techniques. In fact, there is ample precedent in which artists borrow style, image and composition from other artists. This is because all visual arts, just like music and language, are governed by rules of grammar and vocabulary, how the artist composes the final sentence and paragraph is what makes the work unique.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lotus

This was a very interesting pose to work on as the subtle variences of the anatomy of the back were difficult to bring out. I feel that I need to revisit this pose in the future with a different lighting scheme (as she was lit from a frontal angle). Nonetheless, I am still satisfied with the outcome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Political Imagry

This piece is titled: "His throat was parched." It is a woodblock print using birch, which has the consistent surface of oak and the ease of carving of pine.

The image presented is meant to invoke the sacrifice and pain that individuals have thoroughout history taken in defense of family/home/nation. Not only the dying man, but his wife who is as valiant and noble, if not more, than her husband. She is brave and stoic as she is trying to alleviate her husband's discomfort, but there will never be any solace for her. Millions have died and continue to die in gross abuses of human rights and flagrant violations of common decency. So many lives ruined with not one iota of solace for those left behind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


One can easily overlook certain elements that can become big obstacles to getting the drawing right. Perspective, foreshortening, value range, proportion, etc. are all critical in making a successful piece. I began the drawing of Vikki in graphite by mapping out volumes/shapes and building up from there. Half way through I realized that I had not captured the pose correctly as I elongated the legs to make up for foreshortening, an easy thing to miss. I corrected that in the second drawing using vine charcoal and the very methodical optical reduction method which fixed the drawing and made the pose stand out much more. The highlights were achieved with white pastel.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sculpture from drawing to maquette to 1up

For this pose, Mason had to find a comfortable postion and stay nearly still as any slouching, change in angle or sagging would alter the entire anatomy. I started with a series of drawings from various points of view, then created a rough maquette with Roma Plastilina. The final sculpt began with a heavy gauge (6) aluminum wire acting as an armature on which the plastilina is built on. The scale is 3 inches per foot. I choose to leave the surface rough with my finger indentations visible so that I can have the worked in look of a Rodin, who is my favorite sculptor in all of art history. When I have finished touching up the detail, I will have to find a way to create an easy to assemble series of molds which will allow me to make wax positives that I can make bronze casts out of.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Importance of drawing to painting

This is a work in progress of Tiffany at the Sewing Machine. It is a 36" X 48" oil on canvas. Due to my zeal to finish the piece completely with the model, I rushed through the drawing and the underpainting, making the actual painting substantially more difficult. I spent more time correcting the drawing errors, thus negating all my intentions. It is critical to take the time in the beginning to make sure that everything is in order before you continue. Taking the right steps at the right time relieves much of the tension and anxiety to painting. I managed to save the piece and recover its direction, but it will now take me longer and it still did will not be right.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Deluge Series

These are two proofs of work in progress. The pieces are part of a series titled "Deluge." By repeating certain motifs in both the linocut and the etching I am allowed the opportunity to examine the same image in different ways. This actually helps develop the compositions by learning from each style and incorporating that insight into future interations or revisions of the work. The plan is to explore the theme in 7 different media; etching, linocut, b&w graphite drawing, oil painting, watercolor, pastel and bronze cast relief.