Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Influence Mapping

So there's this meme that's been going around the interweb in recent months, started by fox-orian on DeviantArt. I'm pretty late to the party, but it looked interesting to me, and I enjoy looking at art. Ha-ha-ha! I tried to stick to sizes as far as how big an impact these guys have had on me, but... honestly, there's only so much space, and it's hard to quantify that sort of thing.

So, here we go!
1. Arthur Adams: I have a giant-size issue of "The New Mutants", where the kids go to Asgard, and have some adventures. Wow. This guy is just awesome, I remember reading that issue over and over again, and copying the drawings out of it when I was a kid. His linework, and just sheer ability to put so much TEXTURE into his drawings has always just floored me.

2. Scott Fischer: I found Scott a couple of years ago on I love his realistic-cartoon style. I think about his drawings a lot when I'm drawing cars especially.

3. Mobius: There was a time when I tried sooooo hard to draw like Mobius. The perfect balance of detail and simplicity. Noise and quiet. and his linework is beautiful. He is probably the single biggest influence on my drawing style.

4. Alan Lee: When I was a kid, this painting creeped me out. I checked out the fairies book by Lee and Froud from the library, and could hardly look at it, because I didn't want to see this painting of the pooka. Alan Lee's watercolor and pencil drawings are just beautiful, and they helped awaken a love of fantasy in my young mind.

5. Todd McFarlane: Todd seems to get a lot of crap these days from comic fans. One of the things that I learned from him is that comics are both about graphic design and drawing.

6. Lynn Johnston: One of the greatest cartoons still working... maybe the best. If there's only one cartoon that I read in the paper anymore, its "For Better Or For Worse". Fantastic design, compelling stories that we can relate to, and really excellent drawing. Wow.

7. Bernie Wrightson: When I was a kid, my parents got me the book "Dream Makers" which featured (among others) Bernie Wrightson, and Michael Kaluta. Seeing their work, and reading what they had to say about being professional artists is I think one of the big things that galvanized my career path.

8. Jamie Hewlett: I have loved Jamie's artwork since his work on "Tank Girl". Expressive, and not afraid to "go there"... He cracks me up. Also, I'm a big fan of the details he puts into his drawings, and how well the CHARACTERS show through the designs.

9. Katsuhiro Otomo: Akira was the first Japanimation movie I ever saw. It was in Japanese. Without subtitles. Not being able to understand the words didn't matter though. The pictures just reached out and grabbed me. I was hooked. In hindsight, it's good that I started out at the top, because that's a pretty high standard to hold everything else up to... there's a lot of junk out there too. Ha-ha-ha!

10. Brian Froud: "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth" are two of my favorite movies. Brian Froud did most (if not all) of the concept design on them. Again, spending hours drawing goblins and fairies, and watercoloring them.

11. Michael Kaluta: One of the things I remember about Michael Kaluta is that he was talking about a painting he had done, and mentioned that the color on one part of it was actually tea. The idea that you didn't have to use just PAINT to color things was new to me at the time. Of course, tea isn't exactly archival, but when you illustrate for print, the longevity of the original isn't necessarily the primary concern.

When I think about all of these fantastic artists separately, they seem very different. Looking at them all arranged on the map though, I think they hang together nicely. Thanks for spending a few minutes walking down memory lane with me. Ha-ha-ha! Until next time, take care and be good!

Your friend,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Peek at My Sketchbook

I've noticed lately, that I have a few "go to" poses and expressions, and that to do anything different is a bit of a struggle. I read a lot of art blogs, and look at a lot of pictures, but reading and looking (while inspiring and all...) only take you so far. DOING is what allows us to learn, and to grow.
This first set of sketches are 30 second to 2 minute studies from photos. All of them were done at the Gesture Drawing Tools site, which features Male and Female figures (both clothed and not) as well as animals, and also a handy timer that changes the pictures when the time is up. No cheating, ha-ha-ha! The tree at the bottom, I found on Flickr, using their "Explore Interesting" feature. There's always at least one picture worth spending a few minutes drawing per page. I think I spent about 5 minutes on this one.
The second page are two twenty minute drawings I did at a figure drawing night at the St Louis Artist's Guild. I think I actually spent more like 30 minutes on the left one, refining it during the break between poses.

I was reading an article on Dresden Codak's blog "Indistinguishable From Magic" last nite about the importance of developing a visual vocabulary. Here is a link to the post, because he put it far better than I can. For those of you who only want to read one wordy blog post tonite, he talks about Draftsmanship, Clarity of expression, Style is Grounded in Realism, and Visual Flexibility = Mental Flexibility. The whole article is great, but something he said in the last section really hit home for me:

"Often, being able to draw new things presents us with ideas we’d otherwise never consider. Also, simply being comfortable with drawing more things means you’re instinctively more likely to try new things..."and then he goes on to say"... without an artist having the prerequisite drawing experience, he or she may not get the idea to set a scene in a 17th century pirate cove rather than a college dorm room. It’s not so much that a less well-rounded artist couldn’t draw these things, it’s that he or she is less likely to even consider it, as it’s outside the comfort zone."

So what does this mean to me as an illustrator and dreamer of dreams? Something I've known for a long time, but that I get lazy about. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and without new stuff coming in, new stuff can't go out.

I thought of this clip from the king of queens while I was writing, and the same principle applies. It also serves as a warning. Draw from life, or at least from photos. Trying to learn to draw from a cartoon limits us to just those forms, and without understanding why those forms work, we can't move forward and develop our own styles. Poop in, poop out. Ha-ha-ha!

Until next time, take care and be good!
Your friend,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Daily Life: Super Hero Edition

We've had super heroes on the brain here lately...Last week, Handmade Family set up our space in the Fusion Art Co-op in the mall (you can check out the post here). Amy's making capes, and has started finishing up the hero costumes with masks and cuffs to go along with them. Abby is super-cute. She tried on the mask for the first time last night, and was running around in her jammies, pointing up and declaring, "To the rescue!!!". It's funny watching her costume combinations, too. This afternoon, she'd added a Halloween pumpkin lantern, and tonite when we were getting ready for bed, she said she need super-hero pajamas...NOT, her dog pajamas. Okay, Superman it is. Ha-ha-ha!

So, where am I going with this? My plan is to do a cross-over between here and the Handmade Family blog with illustrations and photos and downloadable goodies that will be available on my website, chronicling our daily, handmade lives. Activities, books and movies, snack-time and of course Daily Life illustrations and comics. All of this will be compiled into a small, themed book. If all goes as planned (and to be honest, I'm nervous about that part), then I will be able to release my little 'zine every two months. The theme for issue one is Super-Heroes, and I hope that you all will join me for a little fun.

That's it for now. Until next time, take care and be good!
Your friend,