Sunday, September 29, 2013


 While this is somewhat out of character, I felt that it was safe to go ahead and post this... a recent, small gift to a friend.  Personal pieces like this are usually kept somewhat private, but I like this one too much to keep completely under wraps.  And so, with the hope that the recipient won't mind, here's a little self portrait focusing on reflection and positive thought.

 Most people think that the females in my illustrations are self-representative - to some small extent, they're likely correct.  Their clothing, expressions and poses are not unlike my own... but it's a very rare thing for me to come up with a piece that very deliberately, and very obviously, puts me on paper.  I wanted to present a visual reassurance that my thoughts are with the recipient - meditation beneath the surface, regardless of what I might be up to at any given moment.

A brief moment, eyes closed, the talismanic bracelets I always wear, and flora to represent health, happiness and good fortune...

 ... and, for what it's worth, clean lines that radiate from a central point - small rays of conscience and concentration. 

Granted, I'm not the praying type, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.  But I do find a certain spirituality in putting my nibs to the inkwell, and then to paper, breathing as I work, configuring lines and curves into a single, thoughtful image.  I do hope this one brings happiness and health.

Promotion and Plumage

I've been absent recently, taken with outside concerns, and happily, the creation of a new piece or two to share.  This time around we have another Singapore Slingers poster - two events advertised on one image.  Halloween is just around the corner, and though I wanted to steer clear of the usual pumpkins, ghouls and black cats, I embraced the traditional colors.  Here we go:

 I needed two strong areas of contrast for the venues to be noticeably listed, so I gave our model two large "fans" - something of a lunar Sally Rand.  I used to include venue addresses, show times, cost and such - nowadays, I figure that if someone is intrigued by the image, they can do the homework necessary for more details.  Our shows are gladly becoming more and more popular, often selling out - as such, there is more room on the posters for imagery, rather than extensive information.  Let's have a look at our lady...

She's simple in nature, but evocative of the fact that costumes are encouraged, particularly at the latter of the two shows.  The more festive our audience, the better the show - a sensible truth. 

 The fans were a joy to enhance along the edges, extending abstract plumes to fill in the outside negative space, and make it a bit more clear what the gal is handling.  It goes without saying that feathers are a joy to illustrate - and seeing as how I strongly refrain from purchasing them nowadays (part of a largely vegetarian lifestyle), this provides me a manner in which to celebrate them vicariously, without harm to the creatures that wear them.

A closer look at the lettering:

Lettering design is always initially intimidating - I'm sure it will be, eternally.  I tend to over-think in this matter, worrying that I won't capture the theme appropriately.  The words are easy - the styling of those words instills fear.  In this case, I went just as vertically as with the last poster - just a little more tapered along the bottom, and in chartreuse against purple.  Regardless of the silhouette, the letters must "pop" visually, in order for the poster to catch the eye of passersby - colors help immensely in this aspect.

Finally, the signature.  On my non-commercial work, I sign almost exclusively with an initialed oval, also stating the date of completion.  On posters, however, I have to bear in mind that the viewer might want to see more of what I do - so it makes sense to provide the full name (as well as the copyright notice), so they can find me online, should they so desire.  Always a strange balance of letting the piece shine, and trying not to be too obvious in my plea to be noticed professionally.

To the season, and further musical endeavors.  I couldn't be more pleased to know that these pieces help to garner more attention around the orchestra... and more tickets sold.  Success...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Garden of Pleasures

I have a way of driving myself somewhat crazy, in terms of procrastinating when it comes to posting new work on the blog.  This is a perfect example - the most recent Singapore Slingers poster, for an event back in July.  I kept meaning to photograph and document, but waited so long that I actually forgot where the original drawing ended up.  After a half-hour of frustrated portfolio-scanning, I recalled that it was hidden in a frame, behind another poster.  For safe-keeping, which is a great concept - but not so great when the location is forgotten entirely.  Safe, indeed...

Anyhow.  This poster was a real joy, not only in that I took the easier route with metallic ink throughout, but also because we decided to increase our standard poster size from 8 1/2 x 11" to 11 x 17".  This freed my mind and hand up immensely, allowing much more room for design.  I had recently been reading about Louis Comfort Tiffany, and his stained glass creations clearly affected the thing.  The butterfly, as with so many other features in my work, offers Nazar Boncugu references in its wings.  (Also, if you look closely alongside the "y", you can see a correction/repair made, as my often-distracted mind initially thought an area that shouldn't have been inked... should.  X Acto blades and patience are absolute necessities when this lamentable situation occurs...)

I chose to embrace the vertical nature of the dimensions, and went with somewhat Mackintosh-inspired lettering.  Super Black on bright yellow ink, with white pencil shading behind the figures to help things pop.  You can see the reflective mica in the photo below - more of that to come...


Bees.  Our household is rather nutty for these beasts, as they have long flocked to the datura wrightii plants that have followed me through several moves.  In this case, however, they have to make do with Beardsley-inspired "fish scale" roses...


An angled shot of the poster, to show a bit more of the reflective nature of the metal-based inks.  Between the vividness of the inks, and the layered shades of the pencils, the resulting color reminds me of nothing so much as Liquore Strega (a favorite).  Granted, this sheen doesn't show up in the reproductions we distribute throughout town, but the intense colors come up beautifully.  There is also something rewarding about their visual appeal, on pieces I decide to frame... at least, unless they are hidden behind another piece within that frame.  Seeing this one again, it's probably time to give it the greater honor of actually being shown...

My best wishes always, and stay tuned for the next poster.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gearing Up

 So, after brief absence, I have returned with the finished piece I was roughing out at the time of my last post.  Let's have a look at the Derby Racer horse in full bloom, with a self-portrait astride... I have plans for this illustration.

 I don't believe I've mentioned it before, but I'm shamelessly in love with my vehicle, a 1994 Caprice Classic station wagon.  I envision the old boy as a sturdy, reliable draft horse - loaded with power, yet possessing a sensitivity that makes long trips a sheer delight.  I adore that machine.  However, I had long wanted a mode of transportation that reminds me of a harrowing, exciting ride aboard a racehorse... in this case, a Derby Race(r) example.  That machine came along my way in the shape of this:

 A wonderful 2003 Stella scooter.  I recently learned that a dear friend had decided to part with it, and I hopped on the offer immediately.  Still in the process of becoming street-legal, I furthered my bonding with the scooter by coming up with this design.  The image will be printed on vinyl, and applied to the cowls (wheel covers), just above the checker border...

 ... a happy marriage of new design and existing trim, and characteristic of speed and movement.  I'm very excited to see how the whole picture looks.  The checkerboard continues in the model's dress, scarf and helmet, and her mount is a very close representation of Marcus Illions' impeccable Rye Playland carvings.  I insisted on a palomino, the colors of which lent themselves to all sorts of tonal joys in the horse's trappings.

 As usual, I incorporated metallic ink - this time in the tack hardware, and along the rear of the saddle blanket...

I am awfully fond of natural horn-colored hooves, and put them on this beast.  The ankles and fetlocks of horses are an honest-to-God treat to draw.


Finally, for the sake of shaking things up a bit, I'm posting two images of what my work looks like in the Land of In Between, when I am beginning to apply ink via nib and inkwell.  My last entry featured raw sketches - this is the final rendition of graphite on bristol, after many layers of finessing and contemplating the sketch into a line drawing.  It's a gradual process of refining and elimination of unnecessary excess - using tracing vellum, I make a carbon with a wood-less pencil on the back, and transfer the whole shindig to smooth bristol (400 series, don't waste your time with anything else.  I learned the hard way).

 One more, of the horse's girth strap.  Once the ink is applied and fully dried, I go through with a drafter's cloth eraser bag and gently remove the graphite.  Then it's on to the coloring process, and re-inking, if I so choose.  The process is at times terrifying (once you've gone through the experience of a hand-tremble after nearly finishing a piece, you learn to breathe at meditation-level as you work from that point on), but deeply rewarding.  I never learned a thing about computer-oriented graphic design, and frankly have no interest - for me, it's all about the process of working on paper, with relatively primitive tools.  A very, very deep joy.

Here's to the road ahead...