Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A sketchbook extract from several weeks ago...  drawn on the train...  blue ballpoint pen.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mermonster

The semi-hiatus continues... but here's something from the not-too-distant past...

ballpoint, copic marker, and watercolor/gouache on cardstock

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another year, another face melting

  Every year I draw a guitarist for my younger brother (a one-man, six-stringed stampede) on the occasion of his birthday.  Last October I was away and severed the continuity, but I came back strong this year with a blue-maned style-maven-of-a rocker...  Someone get this woman an amp!

pencil, micron, copic marker (black), gouache and marker on bristol board

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Character Development

  Last year, perhaps mostly in the name of designing a killer Halloween costume, one of my sisters devised a female version of my spaceman character: "Spacewoman!"  To write that she is "a female version of" another character is perhaps inaccurate, but the dictionary definition of "counterpart" smacks of a kind of origin-of-Eve dependency that doesn't do justice to this character's existence.  I guess I could say that my sister created a female character who exists in the same universe as my spaceman (whose gold-helmeted profile graces the top of this blog), and that maybe they are cosmic teammates or something like that...  Further investigation (like a phone call to lil' sis) is warranted.
 
  Now that we live on different coasts, I'm free to indulge one of my very favorite pastimes, Transcontinental Screaming.  Cathartic, yes.  Effective, less so.  And so I'm left with letter writing.  And it's hard to send a letter without an envelope (okay, not exactly true), and rarely does an envelope make it from my aching hand to the mail drop without at least a whisper of a sketch on its stark, utilitarian sides...

  Here's my version of Spacewoman drawn on the crispy envelope of a letter sent to my sister.  No need for a spoiler alert:  she opened it yesterday.  Should I have used a semi-colon there?

pencil, micron, copic marker (so fun to use!), and gouache on oversized envelope


 

 
  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sample Platter

  Dear Reader,

  Today's post features some sketches from my mind, some of complete strangers, a little landscape, some interiors of a subway train, and an acrylic painting of an eggplant.  The majority of the drawing/painting I've done lately has been in my little black sketchbook.  Hoping to bust out larger scale/more finished work soon!  I'll keep you posted.

"matching brutes" ballpoint and blue prismacolor pen

trees (and bunny) on Long Pond, micron

 The Silver Surfer (Marvel Comics), a birthday sketch for myself, pencil

Seats on the Red Line, ballpoint

Red Line from Quincy, micron


Arugula and Eggplant, acrylic on canvas, 5"x7" ea.



Manchild, ballpoint
  

Friday, September 30, 2011

a little Incredible Hulk drawing

  Soon I'll be posting more doodles and sketches from the past couple of months, but here's a little one from a few weeks ago...  Actual drawing is probably 4"x 4" or so.  Drawn on the subway, colored at home.


pencil, micron, and gouache on flimsy paper
  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An eclectollection from the past few weeks

  As implied in recent posts, symptoms of my repetitive motion injury have returned, so righty is on vacation for a while... In the meantime, working with the mantra, "increase flexibility while maintaining strength."  Today I used my left hand to sketch this ink wash portrait of Sant Ajaib Singh from a photo taken in the early 1980s.  

ink washes on bristol


  In art class we've been experimenting with textures using acrylic molding paste.  As a demo, I dry brushed this imaginary portrait over a variety of textures made with a nail, a matchstick, some paper towel.  Real MacGyver stuff.  Her shimmering shirt is iridescent gold acrylic over a hasty medium-rare sienna (all atop a black base coat throughout).

acrylic media on illustration board (ravaged by ultra-sticky masking tape)

   And here's where I stopped working on my Batman and Conan drawing a couple of weeks ago when my arm requested leave...  Can't wait to get back in there and finish up...

pencil and ink on bristol

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Submarine View (2)

  Originally a preliminary sketch for a card I gave to a friend a few years back, I made some changes and inked and colored this one for one of my oldest pals.  I'm not doing much drawing these days, but I've had to make a few exceptions, especially for birthdays...

pencil, micron, ink with a brush, and gouache on cardstock

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vampire Zombie (a springtime birthday sketch)

  Taking a break from drawing to rest my arm...  But I made a quick little pencil skeleton and drew this guy on top with some ink on a brush.  Couldn't let my sister's birthday go by without a fresh drawing.  Some dirty water swirled in red gouache for the negative space.


Monday, May 30, 2011

a note about inconsistency

  Dear Devoted Followers and Noble Passersby,

  My arm hurts.

  Love,
             Ben

"Indelible Marks" at Gamma Space in Oakland!

  If you find yourself in the East Bay this Friday night check out "Indelible Marks," a collection of calligraphic works curated by ESK, at Gamma Space, 6608 San Pablo Ave in Oakland, from 8pm-11pm.  I slipped in last Thursday for a viewing outside of the gallery's regular Saturday hours and had the pleasure of speaking with my friend and fellow artist ESK about his monumentally impactful 90 foot, exquisitely lettered scroll installation, and Japanese painter Noa, whose swirling, elegant brushwork seduces us into the terrifying whirlpool of its content: the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.  The show presents a range of contemporary explorations of calligraphy, from meditations on graffiti to profoundly symbolic assemblage which grows beyond the frames of its flat-brush-rendered origins.  Friday marks the closing of this great show, so get yourself in there for some art, refreshments, and live music!  Here's the Gamma Space page with some more info about the show and its featured artists.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Conan and friend

  I just came to the end of a 100-page sketchbook that I started a month ago.  I have to admit that it's a little bit like the sketchbooks I kept in 3rd grade, in that some pages just contain a small handful of lines.  And in many cases I didn't use both sides of a page, either because the other side has ink and paint running through, or because I figured I'd want to cut the page out to use for something else.  These are a couple of sketches from this evening, drawn with a luxuriant 5B (soft!) pencil...  my arm was tired of wrestling the relatively hard graphite off of an HB and into the paper...


  This is a drawing of Conan the Barbarian.  I like drawing Conan, partly because he has rugged features and lots of eyeliner, which, let's face it, are glorious in combination.  Here his arms are a little on the long side, especially compared with his legs.


 This monster is a recreation of a creature I used to draw in junior high school, probably inspired by the massive underbites of The Thing and Rob Liefeld's Badrock.  One day I want to make a story with updated versions of all of the characters I doodled out over the years.  Y'all  will be the first to see it...



Friday, May 20, 2011

Hit The Deck

     I figure that a good way to start working on imagined interiors is reproducing (from memory) real rooms that I am familiar with.  I drew out this picture based on my bathroom, and added a very skewed figure on the ground and a menacing man in the mirror.  I started with a two point perspective situation on the left side of the drawing and by the time I got to the right I was more or less working in one point, which I think adds to the disquieting content...  Either that or it just looks like bad drawing!...

     I'm excited to do more perspective drawings of environments.  You may even witness me using a ruler (*gasp*) one day soon.  There must be a cobwebbed, rust-encrusted straight edge around here somewhere...  

micron 08 on paper

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dino Surfer!

  I drew this unlikely pair while watching Bobby Chiu's extensive interview with Mike Mignola (creator of the Hellboy universe) on ustream.  Inspiring tales from a guy who realized his dream of making a living drawing monsters...

pencil, ink (nib pen and brush) in my sketchbook


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"this is *like* meditating"

Inspired by a friend's facebook link to illustrator Dan Hipp's fabulous drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I let them come flying off my brush in these quick ink sketches made this evening...

Raphael and Donatello

Michelangelo

Leonardo and Splin-ter (extra points if you catch the reference)



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stormy Hulk and an observation

I don't think I'd used watercolor pencils since I filled 20 pages of a sketchbook with them for a fourth grade project.  They still seem like a magic trick:  dry and scrapie as can be but add a little water and the lines dissolve into a pool of even color.  It's fun sliding one across a patch of damp paper, producing a surprisingly deep, rich line.  I headed back to my roots with this drawing of Kirby and Lee's Incredible Hulk.  I wish Jack Kirby were still alive so I could shake his magical hand and gaze through his eyes into his brilliant brain and fearless heart.  I like to think he had a fearless heart.



I've been drawing in a journal that I got for Christmas that has rather thin paper, which crinkles like anything with even the smallest amount of water.  As a result, my scans often have dark spots where the light doesn't reach to reflect.  Sometimes, these shadows become forms of their own, and instead of cloning them out in photoshop as I sometimes do, I let them add a new element to the picture.  Here they appear as a gathering gloom over Hulk's head.


A quick pen and ink sketch of Liz absorbed in her drawing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

bowtie

A quick drawing from this evening.  Pencil to begin the guy on the left and then ink/washes with a brush for the rest.  Sorry for the poor lighting situation.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sketch catch up

Hello gentle reader.  Sorry that I've missed the past few days.  I took two days off from drawing to rest my tentative arm and yesterday and today I've been working on some top secret projects that can be neither named nor shown.  But, in the flurry of pencil scribbles I noodled out some unrelated things.  I'll just post one sketch page here now as I've got to get some rest before a big weekend...
 

This is another move toward creating environments first and then populating them with figures.  I tend to work the other way around, and strain to construct a perspectival situation congruent with the perspective(s) of the figures alone...  HB pencil amped up in photoshop to be more visible:


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Centaur!...and a little more from Mother's Day

  Giving my arm a rest today after an intense weekend of card production...  Here's a drawing I started last night of Crowgirl meeting the Centaur...

pencil and micron


Here's the envelope from May 8th's Mother's Day card:

micron


Monday, May 9, 2011

Legends of the Seas

pencil, micron, ink, gouache/watercolor, and ink wash on fancy paper

  This is a birthday card that I made for my grandfather, a salty-dog-of-a yacht designer who turns 85 today!  I am grateful that not only is he still among us, but he's every bit as passionate about his work as he was when I was a little kid.  I remember sitting in an easy chair in his home office out in the woods on Martha's Vineyard, listening to classical music on the radio and admiring the lacquered wooden sculptures and strange carved furniture.  Sometimes he'd take a break from his perch above the drawing board and give me a "tattoo."  The house specialty was a simple, elegant anchor.  Occasionally, he'd spruce things up with a little Christmas tree.  24 years later, he lives about the same distance from me, a quarter mile or so down a gravelly dirt driveway, about 3,000 miles from our old neighborhood.  And these days my trips to the office usually involve computer support.  I stand at the helm and steer us through a search and rescue mission for castaway files, and we deliver the recovered goods to email recipients across the world...  He shows me the latest drawing, a masterfully simple and elegant profile of the hull of a trimaran, and we revel in the absence of its "modern inconveniences."
  Having lost two key players in my life in the past two years, I feel an urgency and a helplessness about these precious and increasingly fragile relationships around me.  The work, I guess, is to be as present as possible in every interaction, and to fully utilize the time that feels limitless now... Well, it's easy enough to write that.  May he enjoy another 85...  (okay, okay, I don't wish this kind of lifespan-170 years- on anyone at our present level of physical/medical capability, but you get the idea)


  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day!

A card for Mom.  Pencil, croquill, brush and ink, and ink wash (with dirty color water) on fancy paper.  Orange for the moon added in photoshop, but watercolor soon to come!  5.5" x 8.5"


Hoping she doesn't catch this post before receiving the original...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hey Lois!

Not sure why I've been so compelled to make doodles of existing properties...maybe it's the joy of viewer recognition...or of taking an iconic image for a spin.  Here's a little scribble of a 73-year-old hero...



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sketches of Saturday

  As forecast in my previous post, I was away for the weekend and unable to update.  Here are some notes from an evening around an Ikea countertop.  Way out of its league...




micron 08

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Views of Drawing Class


I lead a drawing class Tuesday afternoons here in Sebastopol.  We talk world history, movies, and spirituality over our self portraits, value studies, and perspective drills.  Today we jumped into color with some watercolor still life of flowers.



Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Glasses

A self-portrait.

And speaking of red, here's a sketch I did the other night of Mike Mignola's Hellboy:


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lion-o!!!

     Growing up a Saturday morning couch potato in the mid-1980's one of my favorite cartoons was Thundercats.  I don't care if it was just another marketing ploy to get millions of kids to buy zillions of plastic toys.  Thundercats was awesome.  Lion-o, Lord of the Thundercats, fought against Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living and various and sundry evil henchmen alongside his fellow super-agile cat hero friends.  I tear up just thinking about it.
     Lion-o is pictured here with the Sword of Omens, his magic weapon that transforms from its modest knife-like size to a full-length battle sword when Lion-o dramatically utters, "thunder.... Thunder.... THUNDERCATS, HOOOOOOO!!!"  The phallic symbolism was lost on my 4 year old mind... thankfully.  
     Unfortunately I didn't think to scan before adding ink, but this series gives some sense of the process leading to the final colored drawing.


pencil, nib pen, brush and ink, and gouache... plus a little photoshop tweak to deepen my timid coloring

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crab-bot

Practice practice practice.  I realized I've been avoiding creating environments because I'm afraid of doing a really crummy job...  So I decided to take the advice that I give anybody who asks me about drawing and just go for it!  Learn by doing....  I started this drawing out with a horizon line, then decided I wanted an uphill street scene, so it's kind of a funky perspective situation to begin with.  It was fun inking my sketchy pencil sketch with a brush...
I've probably drawn just a few handfuls of (matchbox) cars in my life, and this sloppy jalopy looks suspiciously like an old car I drew in San Diego 9 years ago.  There's some inadvertent M.C. Escheresque perspective stuff in here, too...   One exciting thing about realizing you have a long way to go is anticipating the fun and satisfaction of so much learning along the way!  Practice!



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Superheroes!

Some pencil sketches of DC's Superman and Wonder Woman.  I was hoping to ink and possibly color them today but it's getting late and my arm is tired.  I think I drew and redrew Superman's right hand about 50 times...and now it's too big. Better too big than mangled/incoherent!  I have to thank my childhood hero, comic book artist Arthur Adams, whose internalized influence almost single-handedly steered my aesthetics on Superman here.