Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Digital Caricatures

Okay, so I haven't posted anything in several weeks. I've been in a funk, of sorts. After some lousy personal stuff, and missing the NCN Con, I've been hurting a little. I wasn't nice to be around.
Anyway, I'm feeling MUCH better.
I've been concentrating on LIKENESS when drawing, and thinking of this as my "challenge," rather than exagerration. And I think it's paying-off, finally. I'm getting fantastic responses lately, including a lovely private gig with several other artists, in which a number of guests (6 to 8) waited spefically for ME. Imagine! I was surrounded by terrific colleagues, and I more than held my own! I was really humbled by that (and filled with confidence).
A couple of years ago I briefly considered getting into digital caricatures, but haven't pursued it. But I've been thinking. So, tonight, I borrowed (my housemate) Wayne's graphics tablet and messed with the Photoshop brush tool for a couple of hours. By experimenting with the settings within PhotoShop and within the Wacom software drivers, I was able to get somewhat comfortable.
I really think I could do this with live caricatures. It seems to be just as fast as with real media. And I think digital caricaturing might have some excellent advantages. For one thing, it's a nice presentation with a projector and screen. That's a big attention-getter, and uncommon. And by creating a FILE automatically, the image can be put on a variety of objects, from paper to t-shirts and hats and mugs. Also, more than one copy can be printed, like when a couple is drawn. Plus, pre-drawn body situations can be brought in to the image, and mixed and matched with a variety of saved 2d elements. With practice, I'm convinced this can be done quickly.
I suppose the main point is, I'm again thinking of "going solo" with my own gigs. I'm in the middle of December, when people and businesses are having many parties and events, and I'm sitting at home. I'm thinking: I have real skills. Skills with great value. And I'm comfortable with the art. I'm reaching a kind of new plateau. People are CLAPPING, literally, sometimes. It's a joy, often, especially private gigs. ... And I'm not getting any younger. ... The one thing I hear is "overhead": digital caricatures require computer, tablet, printer, projector/screen. But I don't see that as a problem. I LOVE computer stuff. I built my own computer. I'd love to have a projector to play games. So that's not a problem. Besides, the "unique" quality of this type of entertainment is a competitive enhancement. What do you guys think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Experimental kayak outriggers

I bought this kayak a long time ago (and cheaply) but am just now using it. Of course, I gotta modify it. The outriggers work great, and next I'll put a sail on it. I like the easy transportation of the kayak, plus it's easily manuevered (paddled) even in heavy wind. (And it should sail FAST.) See my MySpace page for a cool story about the kayak, and a frightening encounter with a BIG sea creature. (

Monday, October 02, 2006

Horror Show

Well, it's Halloween season, and the celebration of horror. I don't quite understand this, considering all the REAL horror in the world; it seems a holiday for a bored and safe culture. And I'm having my own horror holiday, in a way. You see, something terrible happened in my private life recently (which I shan't mention exactly since it involves another person) PLUS my planned vacation/NCN Convention for this first week of October was destroyed by "unexpected" expenses in September, and by the unexpected cost of the convention. I had looked forward to this for a year, sometimes so so so impatient, so happy by the prospect, sweet anticipation! But the $245 (190 entrance fee and 55 membership renewal) I'm required to pay is, at this point, prohibitive. I got through September okay (it's our slowest month) but the IRS and other entities are sending scary letters and I'm sending them more and more money, and it's all quite embarrassing. I just want to sail away. The NCN Convention is occuring NOW approximately TWO MILES from my apartment, and I can't get in. Yes, I'm in tears. Fellow artists from all over THE WORLD have come here, people I've met online, who share a common love and talent, and I'm prohibited from meeting them. Horror show. I just want to sail away.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Emphasis on likeness

What happened to the flash? Don't know. But I kinda liked this one. I'm working on straight likenesses lately. I don't use a pencil underlayer, so the marker is flying free. Usually this is okay, but occasionally I REALLY would like to make a correction. Oh well. Patrons are really loving this style, almost a portraiture.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Improved Study

The more I looked at the original, the more I was disappointed. I'm inexperienced in this stuff, so that's understandable. So I made some improvements, although the smooth paper wouldn't accept anymore charcoal in the dark values, which I really wanted. (The cast shadows are ink.) Oh, well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shadow Study

With nothing much to do during these long September shifts at Disney, I think fondly of more serious pursuits, to which I'm more suited, I think. Oil painting, maybe? I'm untrained, however. (But I'm working on that.) Anyway, I did a little simple shadow study tonight, with graphite stick and a little black marker, and added some vine charcoal a few minutes ago. The result is a not altogether unsatisfying work, no longer simple, but detailed, and, I think, a rather cool and surreal compostion. This test of my anatomical and realism knowledge is slightly disappointing, but encouraging.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shuttle Launch

I live 50 miles away from Cape Canaveral, but I ran outside and just got a glimpse of the fiery rockets as they disappeared into the upper atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean. Snapped a few pics of the contrail a moment later.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kenny Durkin, Michael Mcelroy, and a boy

I like Kenny's drawing and the boy's drawing (he's from Keelan's book; check-out the glasses' distortion!), but Michael's drawing kind of got out of control; still, it's a fun piece, and I can use it as reference for an improved work.

Redraw of a Rejection: Pleasing Myself

So I'm in Hell. It fells like I'm drawing for the first time. Totally lost, totally strange and weirdness and fear. I can't do it! Or can I? It's such an act of the imagination, and so pleasurable when successful, and so miserable when not. I keep saying I won't draw the old way, the cute uninspiring stuff which everyone seems to LOVE. I'd rather go back to driving a TRUCK, or just sail away and draw what I like. Besides, I just got a certified letter from the IRS, saying they're gonna take my assets. Lovely. What to do? Keep at it, I guess. I'm changing my diet, so I'll have more energy. ... Anyway, so I'm redrawing all my old pictures, and just now was redrawing this rejection, that same semi-exaggerated "Aaron" drawing which I thought was nicely extreme and yet cute, but even that was returned! As all this was going through my head, and I'm drawing the new Aaron (see attached PHOTO), I'm also listening to a Key West rock station on the Internet, and heard this:

Garden Party. Remember that song? Ricky Nelson, 1972, after his glory years. It's about a bitter experience he had when he performed at a Madison Square Garden event. He had wanted to play his new songs, which were a kind of a country rock, but the AUDIENCE just wanted the sweet popular hits from his younger years. It's a perfect comparison to my current state of heart.
Some lyrics:
"Played them all the old songs, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to "Mary Lou," she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky tonk, it was time to leave" (The crowd actually booed Nelson at this point.)
And the last verse:
"If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck"
And the famous chorus:
"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself"

Wow, that might be it. I please myself in my art, and that art will please some, but not all. I use my imagination. I take risks. I fail and fail, but sometimes am successful, and that is so so sweet. But can I do it quickly and not starve? We'll see.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pencil Sketches on my day off (Some of you may recognize some of these models. Albert's in there. Sarah Shepard. Some models from Duron's site. And another guy.) These are just quick studies/experiments, with a little shading.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I saw this 13-ish fella pushing a stroller with his 2 younger siblings in it. He was sweating, miserable, rickshaw-forlorn, and he gravely looked up to me. I saw this image. I jumped to my easel and drew 'im.
It's funny, because for the past day or so I'd been thinking of what I didn't like about my job. What I don't like, I realized, is the Assembly Line and the Need for Manufacturing. The Assembly Line and the Need for Manufacturing is a syndrome of pain. You physically whip-out pale drawing after pale drawing of the universal face. There is no MIND in your endeavor. It is MINDLESS, and your activity is an act for wages only. You need to eat, to buy video games, to subdue your family and the welfare state and collectors; you're proving Marx's point: history is motivated by money. But I disagree with Karl. I think humanity's push is related to what the Greeks called Eros (and who made this quality a god) and by the trauma of great MINDS and by desperate animal masses and perhaps by the hand of suspicious powers/creator(s). But what end does my wage warrant such boring means besides the above mentioned? Perhaps an end called carelessness? Or selfishness? A house and spouse and child? But aren't those things often the result of urge and not mind?... But I digress....
I DO NOT want mindless work. That, technically, is DRUDGERY. I wish to be honored with finanicial reward by the use of my MIND in concert with my art. If drudgery is the only choice, then I'll drive a truck. It's a lot easier, and less hypocritical, less guilt. The mindlessness of typical caricaturing is a horror, akin to digging ditches or making one million cookies. I don't wish to be a factory-worker. Thought, pondering, searching, failing, finding. That's the good work. The work of the artist.
So, when it comes down to it, how do I continue within the current caricaturing business? Well, it's the greatest job in the world, I say. And I say that $20 or $30 is too much for the typical caricature, and not enough for a studied one. I will continue, and will learn, putting much much energy into the thing, and much much mind. I will not let it become an assembly line, and will recognize that while it is an "art job" it is also a form of entertainment, and that it includes a certain amount of selling. But entertainment and salesmanship are just the means to an end: a work of art, the work of the artist, my pleasure.

My Beloved Esly

Ok, so "beloved" is a little overboard, but she is my best friend these days, and we have way too much fun every Monday at Animal Kingdom. Here she is drawing a stud named Tim.

Fast and Cute

OK, so I drew fast and cute this week. I thought this one was pretty. She didn't like it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rejection: I'm ready to quit

Okay, so I got this rejection. No big deal, right? Right. That's what I thought. But now I'm feeling devastating self-doubt. You see, I had LIKED this drawing, had put it on my blog (see "Favorite of the Night"). The family had bought a frame. Passers-by had been commenting happy stuff. It seemed the perfect combination of cuteness, likeness, and exaggeration. I had seen a clear "vision" when I saw this kid, with his head growing up out of the "well" of his tiny chin and conspicuous ears and low baby jowels. And I had drawn this vision exactly as I had seen it. It was so so so pleasant an experience. Oh sure, I thought, I should place the ears much higher and with less floppiness, but that's not the vision, that's not how I saw the kid. And, WOW, I guess my vision sucks. I've been the told the customer was "very unhappy" (but why did they pay $15 for a {$4} frame?) and that the likeness isn't there (by someone who should know). I mean, the likeness isn't the STRONG point of this, but caricaturing is a strange thing, you know, and likeness is fleeting, and subjective: indeed, don't let anyone tell you likeness is objective! Isn't that right? Am I way off here? Of course, sometimes an obvious capturing of likeness occurs, but often it isn't so obvious, especially when exaggeration and humor are goals. Look at some of the great caricaturists' works. Likeness is slippery. But isn't exaggeration supposed to bring forward the likeness? Well, sometimes it does, and in dramatic ways. But sometimes there's another experience. RECOGNITION is want, at first. CONFUSION is the experience, at first. But then the charm of insight slowly washes over the viewer; he sees the artist's vision; he recognizes the subject. This, to me, is the goal of the caricaturist. Not an easy observation of the art, but a discoverying by the viewer. Heck, let's just take a freakin' photograph and Photoshop Mickey in there beside the subject; wouldn't that be easier? Great likeness (usually) and there's Mickey all artificial and cheap.
I mean, heck, what the heck. Am I so out of touch that I can't see that this drawing sucks? I thought it was delightful and a bit tricky, not obvious; I thought it would make the viewer stop and wonder and then take pleasure in my imagination's insight. But no, I guess. I must be way off, fundamentally. And after all my efforts, that just makes me want to quit. Someone else redrew the kid in some normal way, I'm guessing, and now they have my money and my spirit. Of course, it would help if I weren't drowning in debt right now. I realize that. Debt has a way of muddying the colors of your days and of your dreams. And I'm not being given any hint that I'll be making more money in the foreseeable future. Maybe I should be a trucker again. In a couple of years I could pay-off my debts and re-think things. Dead broke, of course, but debt free. Hmm... It's tempting. ...Oh well.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mike Paglia

I'm not overly excited by this, but it has some good qualities.

One from tonight

This guy was Kennedy-esque, and loved the Celtics. He and his wife shook my hand, bought a frame, and gave me a hefty tip. Sweet. (Bad photo of him. His head is HUGE.)

Keelan Parham

Girl from Keelan's book

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slow season is beginning... I can draw the crowd.

Favorite of the night

I was feeling lousy tonight, but this kid's face cheered me.

14 Months

Bad angle on photo. Family was very happy. I wasn't trying to be cute with it, but everyone walking by kept saying, "AH, so cute, so cute, AH, that's precious, AH, so cute." Oh, well.

Kid loved it.

Mother didn't.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sailboat in the water

I'm finally finished (kinda) and got the thing in the water today. It was great! I could easily paddle it like a canoe, and it sailed fine with my little polytarp sail, although it has a leeward helm (the center of lateral resistence is obviously abaft the center of effort). More modifications to come, but for now, I can have some adventure. Woo-hoo! It's everything I've wanted. Stable, unsinkable, paddle-able, .... Sweet.

Funny Unhappy UK guy (and wife)

He was funny during the drawing, and unhappy when he saw it. But his family was roaring with laughter. I mean, it was pretty exciting. That's when I love my job.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fellow Artist

This is Dante at Animal Kingdom Park. We sometimes draw each other when it's slow. I didn't stretch this one much. I wanted to do one that I'd be sure he'd like.

Funny Stuff (samples)

Three Brothers

Pushin' it a little more tonight.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Ok, some of you know I have a sailboat, some don't. Anyway, here it is! I bought it (very) used about a year ago, and have been slowly making repairs and modifications. It's a "US-1" racing dinghy, 15.5 feet long, but narrow, like a canoe. It has a BIG sail and tall mast. I decided long ago that if I wanted to enjoy it, and relax in it and fish and even go "camping/cruising" in it, I would need to make modifications. So, I've made a smaller sail and mast, and I've made outriggers, which you can see in the photo. The outriggers aren't quite finished yet, but almost! Plus, I've purchased "2-part floatation foam" with which I'll completely fill the interior closed spaces (although not the cockpit), which will make the vessel unsinkable. So I'm very excited. I desperately needed to find something to get me out of the house, you know, and get some sun and exercise. I really, really need this, and I mean desperately. I'll update with on-the-water pics soon!

A Couple of Couples

Well received, but the little boy kept running around saying, "I look weird! I look weird!" And, I should say I tried some "composition" in that one, with the boy LEANING in toward his sister, and his sister pushed against the far border and looking back at her brother with suspicion, which seemed to be the relationship. I did a similar thing the night before with a boyfriend/girlfriend drawing; the guy was over-the-top, and the girl kept quiet and leaned away, in a sense, it seemed to me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Live stuff! Exaggerating a little more.

Ok, this is what a blog is for: LIVE CARICATURES! Woo-hoo! These are some of the ones I did tonight. I'm still not pushing the exaggeration as much as I'd like, but it's improving. Some of them are quite FUNNY at least, I think. (Sorry for the lousy photography. The flash completely washed-out the drawings. The colors are much richer in reality. Even the line work is affected. Damn.)...