Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Paleo Doodling

I was looking at the submission dates for Prehistoric Times magazine and I realized that I DID have time to attempt to get in a drawing for the next issue. The submission date is June 10th and I wanted to at least TRY to get one done. (And not feeling like painting him helped, too.) So I spent most of last night and today working on this...

I kind of liked the way his head is cocked to one side like an iguana staring at you. These were flying reptiles after all, NOT dinosaurs. So they would have been a little more lizard like. And he seems to be a happy pterosaur. Maybe he knows something about being accepted for print that I don't. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idea Gifts

Sometimes you just have an idea for a cartoon handed to you. Literally. I've been a little burned out on the cartoons lately but yesterday a co-worker stopped me on his way to the elevator and said "Hey, I've got an idea for a cartoon for you". And it was a GREAT idea. So I ran home, punched it out and here we go.

Many thanks to Mel Phistopholes for the toon inspiration!

Monday, May 24, 2010


I am a huge reader of comics. I read them for a long time as a kid and then I went to college, got broke and took a twenty year hiatus. About 3 years ago, I started back. Some of my tastes have changed but some have not. I still read the Spidermans and the Batmans but I definitely find myself drawn to just good storytelling these days. One of the better companies for this is Dark Horse Comics. They have the beat em up and the supernatural stories (most notably Hellboy) but they also produce some definitely non-traditional comic fare. One of the ones I am just now discovering is a writer/artist by the name of Ricardo Delgado and his Age of Reptiles comics. They are wonderful stories with no words, only the action of dinosaurs being dinosaurs. For a guy who spends his day job working in a natural history museum it's kind of a natural fit.

So in the back of one of the issues of Mr. Delgado's comic is a letter where he discusses dinosaurs and he mentions a magazine called Prehistoric Times. Their website is a little under-developed but the magazine is pure joy for a dinosaur nerd like me. The magazine is devoted to dinosaur news and collectibles and model making. And the entire thing is illustrated by the readers. They don't pay for submissions but it's just fun to draw dinosaurs. And any exposure is good for you, right?

So that brings me to today's entry in the studio...IGUANODON!

The magazine generally has two main creatures a month and the deadlines for submissions are listed on the website. I used the watercolor pen and ink method because another dino artist that I think is great is William Stout and he uses that technique on a lot of his paleo art. So, in an homage to Mr. Stout, I submit my first dino painting!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Legends and Inspiration

The world lost a great artist today. Frank Frazetta passed away at the age of 82. I wrote about his wife Ellie last year when she passed away after a year long battle with cancer. They had the type of partnership that was much like Johnny and June Carter Cash. They worked well BECAUSE of each other. And unfortunately, the one would not last long without the other.

And apparently the children have been bickering over the estate, blahblahblah. I do not care about the children or their petty disputes and squabbles. They are not the ones who were an early inspiration to me. There is only Frank (and Ellie, even though for a long time I was not aware of her influence) as far as I am concerned.

I'll try not to bore you with a drawn out history of Frank (it's always "Frank" to us fans, although I'm sure had I ever met him it would have been a very reverential "Mr. Frazetta, sir"). There are many fine books on Frank, but I will let his work speak for him as he often did.

THIS is what most people think of when the name Frank Frazetta comes up. Even people who don't read science fiction and fantasy books were familiar on some level with his work. The above is one of his many "Death Dealer" series and was also used as a Molly Hatchet album cover.

This next one was used as a cover on one of the many Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. I'm pretty sure that Frank never read any of those books (at least not beforehand) because of all the ones I have read, I don't think the covers ever had ANYTHING to do with the story contained within. But here's the thing about it...those covers were so amazing, it didn't even matter! The art was THAT good!

He was not contained to just one genre either. He was equally fun at westerns as well. His treatment of horses was always oddly accurate to me. By that I mean, that even if he was exaggerating the figures it at least LOOKED as if it were in a plausible position.

Now let's look at another medium. Most of his commercial work was done in oils but his sketches and pencils are stunning. He was proficient in pencils, pen and ink, oils, watercolors, and probably whatever else he picked up.

And if there was another thing that Frank was known for at least as much as his barbarians and fantastic beasts, it was the women. Known simply as "Frazetta women", they were as much a part of his vision as any other. Voluptuous and usually as ready for violence as any other character inhabiting his paintings, Frazetta women were readily embraced by the community of fans. These were no scrawny supermodels. And for those of us who do not see the point of the emaciated forms of current "models", we always said a silent "thank you" to Frank.

And this pen and ink I have always adored not just for the fact that it's an attractive female, but for the sheer mastery of the art form. The textures and forms throughout this entire drawing are, to me, just awe inspiring.

But by and large, we know Frank for unbridled carnage.

And the unfiltered savagery of a warrior triumphant.

But he was also a hopelessly devoted romantic...

(His loving wife Ellie, as painted by Frank)

And most importantly, he was a man...

Thereby giving all of us who are just men something to strive for. Thank you Frank, for so many things. Thank you for serving as an artistic inspiration for so many. Thank you for pushing the boundaries of genres not normally associated with "fine art". And most importantly, thank you for opening up the imaginations of so many kids who wouldn't have had it any other way.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


It's startling when something you have been doing almost literally your entire life suddenly clicks into place as something you could do for...well, almost literally your entire life. I have been drawing and painting for going on nearly 4 decades now. Since I was a wee lad in the Georgia countryside looking for my own way to escape what I saw as a boring existence (and have since learned to heartily embrace) I have used art as a means of expression and personal escape.

As a youth I did not have immediate access to oils and other fine art media and even when I did, I had no one to train me in their usage. I was extremely intimidated by these tools and it wasn't until college that I got my first true look at most of them. So what I was left with was pencil and pen. I never looked at color as much as I looked at the linear aspects of drawing. I have, of course, since learned to appreciate and even revel in my appreciation of color. But I still first look at those linear aspects that formed so much of my early views of drawing and composition.

Since I have started these pen and ink watercolors, it is as if some sort of mental barrier has been broken down for me. This method allows me the fine tuning I can achieve with pen and ink and the coloring that I later learned a love for. With the oils and other painting mediums I have to force myself to allow the details to not take over. I am not a "realism" painter. But with the pens I can achieve much more the look I am searching for.

First up, a cardinal.

Next up, an elephant. I have painted this big fella a few times now. On a trip to Africa many years ago, this was the first elephant we saw after MANY days of looking. I still like painting the old tusker's portrait...

I did both of these as tests for the new style. Both of them are only 4"x6" watercolor sheets. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cowboy Up!

One cowboy painting hot off the fine, hot off the drafting table. Happy now?

I really do hate the title saying. "Cowboy up." It's a saying popularized by people who are not actually cowboys and wanted a new, nifty way to tell someone to toughen up. I use it as diner lingo. "One cowboy up, hold the pistols and heavy on the chaps!" See? I have now introduced a fun new oeuvre into the world of the restaurateur. I fully expect to be compensated when this new chain of Old West diners sweeps the nation by storm.

ANYHOO...back to the painting. I have painted this fellow before. And done pen and inks of him. And I'm pretty sure he's in a few sketchbooks now that I think about it. I just really liked that pose. Nothing but the confidence of the young and the swagger of a cowboy all condensed into one seated pose on a gate.

Checking Out the Competition ink and watercolor, 8x10 (on a 9x12 sheet of watercolor paper) $150