Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rosy Lips

Another experimental portrait.

More on their way...

Man with a Green Nose

This is a new style of portrait I just started experimenting with. I first laid down some watercolour in a few strategic locations, and then went down on top of it with one of my Lamy fountain pens.

I love the distortion and and little accidents that happen along the way.

Expect to see more of these portraits soon...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Lamy Fountain Pens!

I finally got around to testing out my new Lamy fountain pens that I received for Christmas. I have had one of these (the yellow one) for about a year now. It quickly become one of my most prized possessions and with it I have done nearly all of my illustration work this past year, including the illustrations for two of my books.

I know there are other pens and markers far less antiquated that would probably do just as good a job, or better, for illustration, but I get a secret smug satisfaction from the idea that I am using an actual fountain pen. I am just weird that way.

The yellow pen has an extra fine nib, which has been excellent. It did not take long, however, for me to start asking myself what the other nibs could do. Like magic, on Christmas I received three new Lamy fountain pens with fine, medium, and broad nibs respectively.

Last night I finally sat down and opened up my new pens and loaded them with ink. They look and feel brilliant, but I confess to being let down when I started making some pen strokes. The nibs feel so stiff and scratchy. Furthermore, the ink was not flowing consistently from the nib, especially when I was making downward cross-hatch motions. It was hard not to be depressed, but I remembered that I had similar issues with my yellow pen last year.

While I do not know the specifics, I think that the new nibs must be broken in over time. Over the past year I have trained my yellow pen to respond perfectly to the movements I usually make with my strokes. I know this sounds crazy, but I think the metal pen nib must slowly wear into the ideal position for how you use it; kind of like how a pair of good leather shoes are uncomfortable until the leather begins to mold itself to your feet.

At least, this is what I keep telling myself. The only way to find out for sure is to practice.

In addition to my pens, I am equally excited by a new shade of ink I purchased. I have been using Noodler's black ink for the past year, but I just picked up a bottle of their "black-red."

I tried this ink in one of my new pens and instantly fell in love with the rich dark red. This might quickly become my new favourite ink to use in my sketchbook.

One last thing to share. Last night I tried out all of my pens on one sheet of paper. I was trying to loosen them up and get a sense of how they handled. While this is not a completed drawing by any means, I can not help being fascinated by how it looks. I thought you might be interested in taking a look as well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Failed Drawing #4

It has been quite a while since I have posted a failed drawing. To recap, these are drawings where I am trying to copy a master artist/illustrator in an effort to learn something. Since there is no possible way for me to make an equal drawing to these masters, I dub them as failures from the start. This is an exercise in honesty and education.

For this drawing, I decided to try and copy a figure study by an Italian mannerist: Baccio Bandinelli (1493-1560). I think it is quite obvious, but my drawing is on top, followed by Bandinelli's.

To begin with, my drawing looks quite harsh, just by the fact of my paper being bright white, instead of the rich aged cream of Bandinelli's. Aside from this, though, I quickly discovered that I was incapable of producing the rich line variation in his cross-hatching. Perhaps I could come closer if I used the appropriate nib, but even still, I would in no way be able to match the subtle grace and near perfect rhythm present in Bandinelli's cross-hatching.

When you zoom in on Bandinelli's drawing, the way in which he defines rounded human flesh is a marvel. It is easy to think that it would be impossible to achieve such depth with a pen, but then Bandinelli deftly disproves.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Snow began to fall and soon covered the cat."

With tonight's weather, I thought it would be appropriate to share this illustration from "The Progressive Problem."

I ended up having to struggle with the snow on this one. I penciled in the entire illustration and started inking, leaving white spaces for the snow. I quickly realized that this was not going to work. I wanted the snow to dominate the foreground, without interrupting the flow of the background. By trying to stop the strokes of my small cross-hatched lines around the little bits of snow, I was making a mess. It looked horrible. The snow was anything but natural.

I realized I needed to do something else and instead inked the entire drawing without any snow. After the ink dried sufficiently, I got a small brush and used white acrylic paint over the top. I was a bit surprised with how effectively this worked. I felt a bit silly for avoiding this approach in the first place.

If you would like to find out more about the book itself, or to read a free pdf, click here.

Stay warm out there tonight.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"They retrieved the cat, put him outside, and shut the door."

I have decided to start posting some of the illustrations from my latest book, "The Progressive Problem."

This particular illustration is a favourite of mine from the book. I am especially fond of how the frame is broken up into white and black, and furthermore how the open door is letting in the dark, rather than the other way around.

I especially wanted to make sure that the cat being held looked realistic. I drew it once, and almost inked the drawing before realizing that the cat was not limp enough. I wanted the image to convey the cat trusting the human, and not fighting him. I redrew it, and the second time felt much better to me, which is the inked version you see above.

If you are interested in finding out more about this book, or reading a free pdf, click here.

I hope to post more of these illustrations soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

After finishing up a couple of illustrations in my studio tonight, I glanced over at my bookshelf and saw a picture of Toulouse-Lautrec peeking back at me. I felt inspired and consequently did this small watercolor and pen & ink portrait.

And with that I shall say good night.

Eustace Tilley contest

This is my entry for The New Yorker Eustace Tilley contest.

While I think the original Eustace Tilley image is wonderful, I had a lot of fun changing it around to the point where I essentially was just copying the pose.

Perhaps I went too far with replacing the top hat with a derby, but I could not help myself.

I don't feel too guilty, though.

Monday, January 9, 2012


It is refreshing to do these animal sketches every once and a while. They are so different from what I usually do that it feels more like playing than drawing.

I did this one quickly last night in between two more serious projects I am working on.

When you feel stuck, do something different.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Magazine Illustration!

I recently did this illustration for Ghettoblaster magazine. I just got my copy in the mail and have been internally smiling since.

I am extremely impressed with the paper quality of the magazine. The illustration looks so much better on glossy paper (and smells better too, I might add). If you want to see for yourself, drop in a Barnes & Noble and see/sniff for yourself.

I send thanks and more thanks to Tracey and David Obenour for asking me to work with them on the illustration.

If you love music, and have not seen Ghettoblaster before, I highly recommend checking them out. They do some really great features. My personal favourite is that in every issue they have an artist who attends concerts and gives a review in the form of a drawn comic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Woman on Orange

Happy new year everyone.

This is another really quick pen & ink sketch I recently did in combination with some orange watercolour. While it is not grand, it is not overworked, and for that I am happy.

I hope to be posting some other drawings really soon. Stay close.