Friday, July 27, 2012

Rough Hand Sketches and.... Oval Eyes?

Rushed today as an old artists friends are dropping by today, Alex Pardee of course i've known for years, and and a new guy, an artists Skinner who's work i've enjoyed for years, but never met in person yet.

Here's a few hands i doodled for the Second World's Art book, since I'm already compiling material for that one.

Here's a curious old wooden cup with a vintage Trout Ad on the side ~ this is just luck, but notice how at the bottom.. how the patterns on the wood swirl into the folds of the paper in the Trout ad?  Too weird.  I mean.. what are the odds of that happening? I didn't plan it, i just notice it afterwords.

I don't know why i got so got into crazy rendering this hand with a pen...  must have been in a  Way$hak mood.

Here's that curious effect where even with the same light on my drawing table, depending on how the camera catches the image, it either looks yellowy warm or colder blue. Not thebulb either.

Always a good idea to look at your own hand every once in a while and draw it. Course my vines aren't nearly this pronounced or visible. Or.... my last two fingers quite so distorted as these.

...and sometimes.. Grrrr ~ i just can't draw a hand at all.

So lemme try something else.

This will probably wind up being a nola drawing..

her face is really rough.. eyes totally simple so far.

wondering if i can pull of trying for keeping her simple oval eyes, but do a little shadow around the edges? Implying there's some skin folds those eyes are embedded in? 

but for now let's juts finish her hair. 

why not go for a dramatic swirl at the bottom? 

okay, now i wanna *avoid* darkening her hair, for a change. Least at the bottom... keep her lower hair and figure light and diffused.. 

only get detailed up by her face... 

or as detailed as i get on this one.. which is to say pretty damned simple. Pastels to wake me up a little. Breaks me of the color pencil-ink cycle i usually lapse into so often. 

some warmer skin tone shades, crimson, vermilion, 

maybe a little vandyke brown. some pale orange.. but not to much. 

mostly intuitive choices.. possibly mistaken ones. 

just seeing how they mix together. But outside of her eyebrows, nose and llips... i don't wanna get her too over-rendered.   

So, it's getting there. I think the colored pencil hair and red-ish top is a nice contrast to the thicker more oily pastels on her skin.  a little shadows around her oval eyes too.. 

kinda disturbing when you try to render Nola isn't it? 

Kinda funny how often we see these round hallow eyes... Little Orphan Annie, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbs.. i don't know why i'm so drawn to them. 

Sometimes people ask me why i gave Dana and Nola dot or oval eyes... sometimes i revert back to 'normal' ones in a panel or two... but it is something that just makes characters seem ... more lost? vulnerable? 

I remember one of the producers of the aborted Four Women movie ( back when there was one, which i was directing... a lifetime ago).. movie telling me how he never realized how much my round eyes made the cindy character's revenge against the rapists seem so much sympathetic, even than the other woman who had 'normal' eyes. 

What do you think? 

... is there something compelling about oval eyes?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Three Faces of Catherine

Here's something i just sorta pulled out of my ass ( to speak.)

Since Moebius was on my mind lately.... I drifted back to doing a face in an 'Idyl' Style, which were these beautiful a one page strips Jeffrey Catherine Jones did for National Lampoon in the 70s.  Obviously nobody draws women like Jones...

but, as a tribute, i thought i'd try inking three women's faces in three different styles.

Also, the title also being a pun on 'The Three Faces of Eve' movie, (as my ALL my art seems to suffer from 'multiple personality disorder', style wise..)

okay, sorta boring right now. also hard to see in light pencil, but you get the idea.  i'm not worried yet about the faces all looking exactly the same, a few eyes on some faces are little too hight, so will try to correct in the inks. But the point isn't them looking exactly the same, is it?

it's more an inking exorcize.  I'm trying to use a dry brush here.. that's why i've let it try enough to make 'tire tracks' on this piece of cloth..

bu first a little brush for those eyelashes.. the dry brush is mostly for *very light* ... almost feathery shadows right now.

in fact let's not even use a brush n her hair.. it's going to be the lightest of the three, so why not black colored pencil on the hair.

THERE - at least i'll have the self restraint NOT to add a wash for a change, which should keep it nice and airy. Sorta dark on left side, lighter on the other.

So next i'll use a thicker dry brush like Jones used in his Idyl one pagers. These are harsher direct lighting. This style is always trickier because any pencil flaws stick right out.

We have no soft face rendering to hide the flaws in do we, with classic black and white it's all 'out there' like a sore thumb isn't it?

I can already see her left eye is too high, so i didn't correct enough. oh well. This one came out much faster, and i tried to keep it rough and high contrast mostly...

...but i cheated a little.....add some thinker rendering brush lines in a few spots ..

Onto number three... for this let's do it in a nice blue grey with one of those asian pen brushes.. theres that lens shadow on the paper from my flash... sorry about that.  I need to pop for a new camera don't i?

 This face also went pretty fast..

you can see the ugly brush lines in he hair though. this time let's use a way to soften those, eh?

okay, that's a little softer.

i won't start in asking which everyone likes better, though i am curious.

Maybe a better question that which one we 'like best', is just... understanding what each one has to offer. Why choose one of these styles in a drawing or story? ( or a hundred others styles i'll never master)

Each style creates a different mood, even aside from the technical drawing skills in the faces themselves, ( or lack there of).

So which one i use might depend on the mood of the story, or even just mood i'm in when i'm drawing it. Duh. Belaboring the obvious here.  Guessing i'm working it out in my own mind though, because i so rarely articulate this crap, it usually happens automatically. Intuitively.

Funny, ... i was telling Jon Way$hak how, in my mind.. that when i'm penciling the Hollows panel i  pretending I'm doing my own version of Moebius drawing.  But when i ink a Hollows panel, i find myself imagining i'm Jeffrey Catherine Jones.

Course by the time i finish with whatever washes, colors or additional inks, it looks nothing like EITHER of them.. not that i could look like either of them in the first place.

So in an odd sorts of way, trying to draw past i usually look like, usually results in a more interesting 'sam drawing'.  Not always.  But, sometimes.

Even if what was originally in my imagination....

....never comes out of my pencil (or brush) as i intended.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chickens ... and "Everything is going According to Plan.. (...even when it's not!)


I though opening this post with drawings of a bum-fuzzled little girl was a nice complimented the "What's the point? Should i just chuck it all? Quit? Retire? Am i creatively losing my focus? Out of ideas? Spent? " Don't worry, i'm not there right now. But we all ask ourselves this sometimes, don't we?  

Also, thanks to Chris for reaching out and being so honest and frank about it in his comment, that took a lot of guts. ( 2am after several days of sleep, i imagine it's pretty easy to feel creativity dwindle a little. ) I know can't answer that question for Chris, or anyone... but it's once HAVE asked myself that question at various times. 

For what it's worth, believe it or not, i struggled with finding a voice for the better part of 10 years. But i was more stupid and stubborn you guys, intent on ignoring feedback from others and make every artistic mistake in the book. 

Most of us don't get the red carpet rolled out.  It might seem like that for someone like me, but if i wasn't stupid enough to stick around for 10 years *before* the Marvel Covers, or Maxx, Zero girl Bimbo, whatever... then it might not have even happened. and tons of guys put in 20 years and never find creative fix or a wider audience. 

Some just have beats down the bushes to FORDGE their own path. Alex Pardee is a good example. Sometimes their way is not even in comics or illustration, some people paint after work, weekends, or when-ever the muse strikes. Spared their creativity those bone crunching deadlines work-for-hire artist can't escape. 

As i veer dangerously close to becoming almost twice your age, i too sometimes asking myself: "Have i done this before? Draw this face one too many times? Stuck in feed-back-loop? Inch by inch.. slopping into being a 'hack'. How do i keep this (face, figure, panel) fresh and not stale or boring? The same concerns you talk about, just from the a different age. 

So all that proves is these questions don't ever totally 'go away,' do they? They are 'unpleasant friends' to all us artists, like it or not. In my case, these have questions CAN kick my ass, force me to work a little harder, wake up, not take ANYTHING for granted. My wife, my work, even flawed faces i draw, of that Certain Angle of that one figure i will NEVER will be able to totally nail down, EVER... no matter how many years i keep trying. 

Because, for me, (and i can only speak for myself, duh)... for me... with a mind as crazy as mine...  ***anything*** that take my mind OFF my neurosis... or OFF my screwed up flawed drawings... and instead puts my mind safely back ON the 'Physical Act Of Creating' itself... for me that's the closest i'll get to any kind of 'answer'. 

NO... your not nuts. 

Yeah, it CAN suck.  Sometimes. 

I don't mean to come across as self-pitying either, i know i'm hella luckier than most. I won't presume to know you Chris, or your personal or professional situation. But if i were you, No... i would not chuck it all. Not just yet. 

Creativity can grow. Morph. Mutate. Mine did. Does. For better and worse. Frustration that our drawings don't look like the picture we have in our heads … is always a struggle. For everybody. Like that De Niro line in Brazil: Were all (stuck) in this together. 

Sometimes these creative droughts CAN begat some really awesome stuff. Sometimes, ICK..!  Even a little self-compassion.  I'd told this before, but there are about the only two artists i keep coming back to are Jeffery Catherine Jones and Moebius.  Not saying their the best, just the two i keep fishing inspiration out of.  Probably just me. 

Always, many years ago at a comic con, i cornered Moebuis and showed him page after page of Epicures art… neurotically pointed out what i considered all the flaws on every single panel. confessed i was in a rut, stuck in detail-for-details-sake, couldn't seem to  draw anything new or original.. 

After i was finished, i sat there, spent and empty. He sat there looking at my work, then at me, hand on my shoulder.  He finally said in his thick french accent.

" I have it.. know your problem is?" - "what" i asked? 

" ..too hard on yourself. " 

hang in there buddy. 


PS: Jon will throw up a new chickens page i did on Monday.. and if you liked the First Batch of  'up close pics' i did above... then check out the Second Batch of these up close pics at the Chickens site.