Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Nurse

This etching is titled "The Paragon of hope" and is dedicated to those individuals who spend their lives in the service of healing others. Nurses, nurses aides, home health caretakers, hospice workers and hospital staff are the unsung heroes of medicine. While physicians, surgeons, specialists and therapists are the conductors of the healing arts and the recipients of all the glory, it is the former group that executes the process. They alleviate discomfort and pain and help eliminate the paralysing fear that patients and their loved ones feel when the undefinable burden of severe illness afflicts one. Their presence brings light and hope and they are truly the most vital individuals for any functional society to have. It is a travesty that there are far too few nurses in this country and that many who practice are overworked and woefully underpaid, especially the home health care workers, many who receive wages that are the equivalent of less than $ 1.25 per hour. They never give up because they believe in what they do but they are taken advantage of by the profiteers in the industrial-health care complex and that is an unacceptable sin for us to let persist.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Farmer

This etching is titled "Feeding the thankless masses" and is about those who have worked in agricultural production for the tens of thousands of years since our species first learned to cultivate the earth. There is an universal agreement amongst anthropologists that the advent of agriculture led directly to civilisation, economy, and the city state. With that also came war, government and the beginning of social class struggle. Prior to this era, human societies depended on all members of the tribe to work together for the entire group to survive. When cultivation of the land began and food security was guaranteed, individuals within the groups who managed these food resources began to hoard the power and wealth they had over the rest. In the meantime, the populations that lived with abundant resources became dependant on those providing the food and thus became subservient to them. Desire for better production yields led to greater technology and need for protection of these resources begat the city state, which led to the creation of government and armies. Our entire species and modern society would collapse in an instant without the availability of abundant and inexpensive food. In our zeal to guarantee that, we have set on a course to destroy the very earth that provides us this sustenance while simultaneously conditioning an entire society to be oblivious to not only the nature of food production but the sheer inequity of food availability to the vast majority of our species. Profit driven motivations of the agricultural-industrial complex supercedes all notions of environmental sustainability and nutritional purity. With what the rich nations dispose of from their annual over production, there are exactly zero justifiable reasons for any single human being to be starving to death. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Drawing with Graphite II

I chose to execute this image of Lindsey with graphite pencil as opposed to charcoal so that I would have more precise control on depicting the various patterns and textures of the fabrics. Her "Lady Jack" outfit in charcoal had velvet, satin, lace and feather boa, which was a nightmare to get right in charcoal without interfering with the each other. This maid outfit had a translucent lace skirt and the fine detail of the lace really called for the precision that graphite allows. A taxing process on the arm and hand to be sure, but once you get into a healthy rythym the results are just right. One must take care to not overdue each passing as it is easy to give in and burnish the darks or push too thick of a line, especially as the arm fatigues. Pay attention to keeping lines consistant and clean and the pencils well sharpened, not neglecting to switch the pencil grades when necessary.

Colored Pencil II

The image above was done with colored pencil on a brown sheet of paper. The paper one uses helps balance out the colors used, in this case the brown helped bring out the warmer hues of the skin allowing an easier time to get Lindsey's skin color right without having to worry about blending in red pencil. The most difficult part was trying to mimic the reflective aspects of the sequins on the dress, but I managed by flecking with pure primary and secondary colors covered with white. Again, as with all pencil drawings, it is time consuming and harder on the hand than charcoal or paint, but well worth the effort.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Atra Mors

This image is part of a portfolio exchange project that questions the ramification of the world's increasing demand on oil. The title refers to the Latin translation for the "Black Death" or as we know it: the Great Plague that ransacked Medieval Europe and killed off nearly one half of the continent's population. This occurred because of several reasons, one being population density in urban centers which saw the rapid spread of the plague but also due to unregulated commerce which brought the disease from the east in the first place. This unabated commercialism was the result of high demand of inexpensive commodities and goods, without concern of quality. Before this time, the Roman Empire had a well maintained, regulated and taxed shipping and commerce system, which prevented any major pandemic from taking hold. Medieval Christianity had no such standards but learned its lesson which helped bring about the Renaissance. We are now reliving the complications brought about from unchecked consumerism which oil consumption is the heart of. The catastrophe this time however will not be a mere pandemic but environmental destruction on a scale which will make life for human civilization untenable. Of course we offer our up our future generations to this fate in the struggle to consume as many manufactured goods as possible.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Costumed poses

There is a significant difference in working with a costumed pose as opposed to a nude. Firstly and strangely enough, it is more difficult to gauge the proportions of the anatomy as accurately as you would be able to when the body is unencumbered by clothing. Secondly the color of the costuming usually deceives the eye in regards to value. With lighter colors, one tends to raise the value making them brighter than they should be, and vise versa with darker colors. Thirdly, the detail and texture of the fabric entails visual trickery that is sometime time consuming and other times gets too muddy and confused. The above two images of Lindsey in her "Lady Jack" attire were harder to get right than if she was in the exact same pose in the nude. I avoided attempting a painting as the fish net stockings would be a nightmare and getting the temperature would be very maddening since here costume was pitch black, yet her skin tone very pale white-blue. I embellished the ink on bristol by adding the red ink and the charcoal version depicts the darker color/value issue I referred to.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Bureaucrat

This etching is titled: "Seeking the Behemoth's favor," and it comprises the Bureaucrat aspect in the Villains category. In theory an efficient, fair and transparent bureaucracy is essential to the proper functioning of any truly democratic system. However history has shown us replete that in practise no such body exists. Not in any institution; be it government, academic, religious. military or corporate, can one find a system void of corruption, inequity and gross mismanagement. Human beings are not infallible and prone to relishing power, be it true or perceived. We must demand a fair system with adequate checks and balance, yet also be willing to deal with the realities of the complexity of any system and not try to skewer the system in our favor. No body should ever be entitled to advance past everyone else that plays by the rules.

Reclining Nude II

This charcoal study of Janet reclining legs up is another great exercise in understanding the anatomy because it is much more difficult to draw upwards from the head being at the bottom position. The eye is always trained to identify the head at the top of the body and therefore naturally expect it at the top of a composition. By drawing this layout, amongst others, it forces the artist to really get the proportions of the body and the facial features correct as your mind is seeing the face essentially upside down.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Heroes/Villains - The Chemist & The Mason

These prints are a continuation of the visual narrative project started with the piece "He stole through the night. . ." That image was the Thief aspect in the Villains category. The images above are both in the Heroes category and they include the Chemist, titled: "Tirelessly toiling towards truth;" and the Mason, titled: "A cost not insignificant." The final project will have 19 hero and 19 villain images with corresponding text, hopefully done in letterpress. Eventually all will be hand bound to create an art book.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Colored Pencil

When drawing in colored pencil there are a few things you need to take into consideration with the materials you use. Less expensive pencils are usually poor in quality as the pigment is suspended in a more waxy medium, leaving behind a shine and making it far more difficult to overlay the different colors that help blend areas. Pencils also come in different densities (hardness) which also allow you to make variations in line thickness, details and filling in area of color. The other matter you must take into account is the type of drawing surface you use, not only for color and tooth, but how sturdy it is. Unlike graphite, it is actually much more difficult to erase or lift mark when they are applied, so errors need to be covered up in a sense. The end result is a much more illustrative look than other media. It is time consuming but worth the effort.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Drawing in Graphite

Using charcoal allows the artist to get a drawing to a refined state in a relatively short period of time. To be sure it can become a messy process, but it is remarkably fast. On the other hand drawing in graphite requires a little bit of patience. It is a universal assumption that all artists are accustomed to drawing with a pencil from youth, but that does not mean we know how to handle it properly. As with all media, the better quality materials the better the results. Graphite pencils range in density (hardness) and darkness (tone). The hardness scale goes from 9H (hardest) to H, and the tone from B to 9B (darkest), the middle pencil is always an HB. The famous scholastic "Number 2" pencil is the equivalent of a 2B. Hard pencils give very sharp and precise lines and are best suited for architectural and engineering drawings. Tonal pencils allow a full range of dark values to be drawn without burnishing the paper by pushing too hard on the surface. To be sure drawing with graphite requires constant sharpening and a consistent stroke and pressure on the fibre of the sheet as well as holding the pencil vertically like charcoal and drawing with the arm instead of with the wrist. The above study of Rene is 20" x 30" and took approximately 12 hours to complete. A similar sized drawing in charcoal would have taken about 6 hours.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


One commonly overlooked aspect of creating any image is the composition. Layout of the figure or object, angle, source of lighting and how the object interacts with the pictorial plane or activates the edge are just as crucial as draftsmanship, value and volume. A thoughtfully laid out image can evoke emotion, create a narrative or project tension. In the two images above I decided to pick a pose that creates a melancholic and nostalgic feeling. Our model, Jerry was gracious enough to grow a beard for the pose (months in advance) as well as dress in a very specific style that would clearly conjure a certain feel. However, if I had chosen to pull back in the charcoal  it would lose its intimacy and had I laid out the ink version symetrically, there would be no tension. I have countless images in which the drawing or painting have been executed to a high standard but have no emotional impact simply becasue the composition was just not right.