No More Commissions

Commissions don’t work for me; they never have and they never will. In the end, commissions are about illustrating someone else’s vision and something that never ever favors the artist. This is why I am choosing to make it known that I am not interested in any sort of commission whatsoever. I had decided this some time ago, but had not officially announced it. That time has come, so let me be clear: I am not interested in being commissioned by anyone. I, however, will continue to independently produce work based on my ideas that can be purchased via this website. 

When I was in my senior year of art school, I took a commission from a Bay Area couple that wanted me to paint a family portrait for their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. They seemed like nice people, so I didn’t think that I had anything to be concerned about. I remember meeting with them on a couple of occasions to discuss the project: we went over size, medium, deadline, etc. At the time, I quoted them a price of $700.00 dollars; the painting was going to be something like 18″x24″ in size and would involve multiple figures. Easily a 70 to 100 hour job. At the time, $700.00 dollars was the most I’d ever charged anyone for a piece of work. When you’re young, seven hundred dollars is a king’s ransom and you’re willing to kill yourself for that because you need the cash. After our second meeting, I began working on the pencil preliminary for the painting. That means working out a composition starting with thumbnail sketches and then working and refining those thumbnails up until arriving at the finished product. Getting to that point involves lots of redrawing via multiple sheets of tracing paper. Oh, and let’s not forget hours and hours of work. In this case, it would have been close to a hundred hours. In the end, after our third meeting where I showed them all the preliminary work I had done, I received a letter from informing me that they were no longer interested and that they were sending me a measly $100.00 for my troubles. Ah, the general public — they love art, but they’re not willing to pay for it. When you see a piece of work by me that’s taken 40 hours to complete, you should understand that it’s 40 hours plus 46 years of drawing that came before that in order for that piece of work to exist. 

Ever since that incident, I have encountered this problem to one degree or another on more occasions then I care to admit. The term “starving artist,” is popular with the public; the truth is, no artist enjoys starving and if they are starving, it’s because people are cheapskates. You want to buy well crafted art by a professional? Then pay the price. After all these years, I’ve learned that the best thing that an artist can do is to not accept commissions from anyone. The hassle involved isn’t worth it. People see your work, commission you, and then: art direct you to the point that you might as well give them the pencil and let them do the drawing, or they haggle with you, or even worse, they ask for a “special” discount. I often wonder if these people resort to these types of tactics with their doctor? The majority of these people couldn’t draw a stick figure to save their lives, but damn, they’re brimming with ideas on how things should be done. I’ve seen drawings with lots of potential go to compete crap because of being over art directed. 

After all this time, I’ve learned that It’s not worth my time and energy to deal with commissions. At this point in time, my work has achieved a certain level of refinement and I expect to be paid what I’m worth. My patience for people who want to wheel and deal, haggle, or use other assorted methods of getting a “cheaper” price is non existent at this point. Years of “will you do a free drawing for me,” and, “can I get a “special” discount?” have tarnished my belief that people have good intentions. The only thing that rings true about good intentions is that they pave the way to hell. In the end, commissions serve no purpose other than to frustrate you. Most of the time you take them because you need the cash, so you end up drawing things that you’re not interested in under terms that never ever favor the artist. Life is too short for this nonsense. This is why I will never take another commission. 

 

 

Starbucks, Big Heads and Big Cigars

A couple of weeks ago, I popped in to my neighborhood Starbucks to say hi to friends; it was the first time I’d been there in a while. The past couple of months have been extremely wet for us here in California so, it’s been hard to get out and walk. Thankfully, that has come to an end. The sun is shining and the days are long once again. The following months will be busy ones for me — I have quite a few projects planned that require my attention, but I intend to make as much time as I can to get out and soak up the sunshine and draw.

As I walk around my neighborhood and draw the people that come and go into places like my local Starbucks I see certain characters over and over; they’re part of the establishment just like the furniture. Some of them have been coming into SB for as long as it has existed here. That’s a long time. The guy that I’ve drawn here isn’t an exact representation of anyone, but instead an amalgamation of different blokes that I spy while drawing. They all have certain features that are very “drawable,” so I’ve chosen a select few of those features and created my own Frankenstein monster. It was pretty enjoyable, I must say.

As for the text that runs along the side of this page — what can I say, I have my opinions when it comes to art. In this case, they’re opinions that I’ve had for a long time; They’ve gotten stronger over the years and I’m finally spitting them out based on what I see going on. It is what it is, take it or leave it. I’m not a gold coin that that’s here to please everyone. C’est La vie.  

Don’t Think About It Too Much


This week, I decided to start writing my weekly blog post without any preconceived idea and without a pre-drawn image. I usually have a bunch of random thoughts running through my mind so I thought that I’d make use of them. In the few days that I’ve been pondering on what I would write about I just happen to complete a new drawing that I thought I’d share with you.

Originally, I was going to write about all the thoughts I’ve been having in regard to making changes, and moving forward, but at the last minute I changed my mind because I didn’t want to write a long winded post that sounded like me making a resolution. Instead, I’ve decided to be more direct and write about some of the things that I’ll be doing in the coming months. 

If you remember, in my last post I spoke about a series of drawings of women that I want to do over the coming months; my original idea was to draw some of the fabulous female friends that I have — I still intend to do that, but now, I’d decided to expand on my idea to include notable women in general. By doing this I am giving myself a greater variety to draw from. I’d like the drawings to be mostly in pencil but I don’t want to limit myself either. So, you’ll likely be seeing portraits in a variety of drawing media. The pen and ink drawing of my friend Jennifer from last post is the first official drawing in this new series. The of drawing of Jennifer that I used was from my sketchbook, but I intend to work it up into a finished piece. Keep an eye out for it because I’m sure it’ll be fabulous. 

The drawing that adorns this week’s post is of Jane Morris, wife of Willam Morris, muse and lover of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelite icon. I first discovered the work of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) at age 16 and have remained fascinated with their work ever since. The story behind many of the women that posed for various members of the group are interesting portraits of individuals living in Victorian England. Many of the men in the group were well known in the Victorian era and outwardly appeared to adhere to the rigid morals of the time. However, in the studio and alone with their models it was a different story. These men and women spent hours alone together confiding in each other and building a trust amongst themselves. They poured their hearts out one another and not all were happy in their marriages. So you can imagine how easy it was for affairs to start. The affair between Rossetti and Jane Morris is probably the most well known when it comes to the Pre-Raphaelites. Their story is full of all of the elements that make for a good read: drama, pathos, and tragedy. The men in The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were like rock stars in their day and some these women were the equivalent of modern day groupies. Photographs of these women are hard to come by as photography had just started to be widely used; Jane was most likely the most photographed muse in the group and therefore the easiest to find reference material on. I found the undated  drawing that I used to work from in a random Internet search sometime last year. To my delight, I discovered a wonderful photo that clearly displays Jane’s iconic looks in all their splendor. I had started the drawing months ago and it hung around my studio until last week when I finally completed it. The term stunner was coined by Rossetti for Jane. As you can see, he wasn’t exaggerating. 

I had a wonderful time drawing this portrait and I am eagerly looking forward to the next one. All of the drawings in this series will be scanned and put up for sale in the gallery section of this site. I’ll probably wait until I have a few done before I start adding them. If you see one that interests you please contact me via the contact form and I will provide you with all the details. 

 

Beauty and Bolognese 

There’s no two ways about it — it pays to have friends that are beautiful. It’s even better when you can draw them. Does it sound like I’m gloating? Good, because I am. Every artist has certain things that they love to draw over and over; I’m no different. As an artist, the one weakness that I have is women. I absolutely adore drawing them. I attribute this to growing up admiring the work of people like Alberto Vargas, Alphonse Mucha, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones amongst many others. These men shaped my idea of what beauty is and I have aspired to capturing some of that in my own work ever since.  

Recently, I decided that I was going to start doing a series of female portraits in a variety of media. I’ve had this idea for years, but for whatever reason I had not taken any action to making it a reality. At this stage in my life I simply don’t have time to put projects off anymore. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that my time here is limited and that all that matters is doing as much work as I can. Fortunately, I’m blessed to have lots of beautiful, smart, and talented women that I’m lucky enough to call friends. They each have unique and wonderful qualities that will make excellent challenges for me to capture. Doing this series will also allow me to work with media and techniques that I haven’t used in decades. It’s not that the techniques are new to me — it’s just that I haven’t used them in a long time. One by one I’ll reacquaint myself with them and reintroduce them into my work. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re an artist of any worth, you’ll not only be able to draw anything, but you’ll be able to do it in a variety of media with equal mastery.

Finally, a word about my friend Jennifer, the subject of my drawing for this post; Jennifer is one of those rare females who simply cannot take a bad photo. Jennifer might highly disagree with me on this, but I think that this is something upon which we can happily agree to disagree. She’s graciously allowed me to draw her and I am grateful to her for that. I hope that I do her justice in my efforts. This drawing is just a beginning — there’s a lot more great photos of Jennifer that I hope to draw in the near future. Keep an eye out for them because they’re sure to be fabulous. Interestingly, Jennifer also inspired the title of this post; the last time I saw her, we talked about an idea for a project that she has in mind and the title of this post is the happy result of our conversation. Thanks Jennifer!  

 

Doing What I do Best


I was recently looking at my old blog, Cubist Comix, via the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. It’s interesting to see all the changes that my work has gone through and the progress that I’ve made since I started my first blog in 2008. Since then, my internet presence has grown and I’ve, unfortunately, become too distracted by things like Facebook and Twitter. I know some bloggers that have all but stopped updating their blogs because of social media. Facebook and Twitter certainly have a place, but I don’t feel that they can entirely replace  what you can do via a blog. For this reason, I have decided to focus more time and energy on updating this blog more often and growing its audience in 2017. My sketchbook is an important part of my work and it’s important for me to share my day to day experiences along with my ideas, thoughts and opinions as recorded in the pages of my sketchbook. It’s what allows people to get a glimpse into my artistic life.


In addition to refocusing my energy on my blog, I would also like to focus on giving people a better overall picture of my work.The gallery and store sections of this site will be getting updated more frequently from this point onward. I love my sketchbook work, but I can’t live from just that. In order to remedy this situation, I plan to start offering prints of my work in small limited edition runs along with originals pieces. I’m doing this in order to make my work more accessible for everyone – serious collectors and fans alike. In order to do this I will need to make some changes. Please bear with me as I get things all worked out.

I think these changes will bring balance and variety to this site and give me the satisfaction of knowing that I am showing all facets of my artistic skill. The best is yet to come.

Why I Will Not Stay Quiet

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, my country elected a new president. The person that was elected does not represent my views in any way shape or form and I am opposed to everything that he stands for.

For the past eighteen months the new President-elect has constantly and consistently used hateful and racist rhetoric to attack women, immigrants, the handicapped, and people’s religious beliefs. In addition to this, he’s said that he intends to repeal the Affordable Care Act, build a wall between us and Mexico, and deport 11 million people. He’s said all these things in order to garner votes for himself. In doing so, he’s give a voice to misogyny, hate, and bigotry and sent a very dangerous message to certain individuals that it’s now OK to engage in such acts.
I vehemently oppose all of these things. I, like many Americans, was stunned by the results of this election. That shock has now turned into anger and that anger is something I intend on using as fuel for future drawings. When I was in art school in the late 80’s I majored in illustration. Illustration is visual communication and illustration as protest has a long tradition. As an artist, I will use my work to point out any and all injustice and hypocrisy during the President-elect’s term as Commander In Chief. These intentions shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
This is why I will not “suck it up,” and accept the results of this election. By doing so, I would be condoning all of the President-elect’s hateful rhetoric; I know people, people that I love, from all of the communities that the president elect has insulted. In addition to this, I have friends who depend on The Affordable Care Act for medical treatment and medication. By staying silent I would in effect be turning my back on them. That’s not going to happen.
This isn’t about the fact that my candidate didn’t win; this is about our future, here in the US and globally. The decision that was made on November 8 was one huge step backwards and not in keeping with my desires and those of many of my fellow countrymen. The hateful rhetoric of the President-elect is archaic and completely out of place in the 21st Century. I will do my part to speak out and denounce this in the strongest way possible. I stand with everyone who rejects the election of Donald J Trump to the presidency of the United States. I will not stay quiet.
Please share this post and invite people to follow me on: My Facebook artist page, Twitter, and InstagramThank you.

It’s All About The Work

 

Abstract 1 - February 2016

After a nice long break from blogging, I feel refreshed, energized, and ready to jump back into it. My break was good for me; it allowed me to reconnect with myself and things that are important to me, and it also allowed me to put things into perspective.

So, here I am. Most people who know me well know that I am hugely influenced by both American and European comic book art, especially French bande desinée. I get just as excited by seeing an original Robert Crumb or Dave Stevens as I do by seeing an original Jean Giraud, Philippe Druillet, or Enki Bilal. I love comic book art, but I also love Picasso, Burne-Jones, Lord Frederick Leighton, and Joaquín Sorolla too. As an artist, I must be able to express different things in different ways and still retain my own identity. Doing that is the trickiest thing for any artist to do but, ultimately, you have to deal with it; otherwise you’re doomed to becoming boring and one dimensional. I’m not too impressed with artists who are limited in their outlook — it’s like talking to someone who only talks about one culture or one interest and nothing else. I’m even less impressed with artists who put creativity over craft. The quick, slap-dash style doesn’t mean crap unless you’re a strong and competent draftsman. Trying to be cute and clever is even worse. Learn to draw first, then get creative. People want skill for free today. They don’t want to work for it, they want to acquire it by an act of magic. Get a clue folks. It doesn’t work that way. Bust your ass, master your craft, then come and talk to me about it.  

Retaining your identity despite stylistic changes is one of two huge challenges an artist faces. The second, and more important, is being yourself through and through no matter what. Maturity and experience have taught me that it’s not about what school you went to, or if you’re self taught, or if you have a drop of fame, or if you have a million followers on social media or whatever. It isn’t about any of those things — it’s all about the work. My credo is and always will be Draftsmanship is craftsmanship. If you don’t draw well, then you simply cannot move forward. You can’t break the rules when you don’t know them. It’s all about the work. When I was 19 years old, I was accepted to one of the best art schools in the world and I’m also an ex-student of Barron Storey, an illustrator who’s a noted figure in the history of American illustration and whose students have influenced a generation of comics artists, BUT it’s not about any of that. Someone can brag all they want about what they do, who they know, or where they studied, but that won’t hide anything from a trained and experienced eye. In less eloquent words, at this stage in the game I’m not easily impressed and I can see right through people’s bullshit. If I come off as arrogant because of this, then so be it. I’ve been drawing since the age of five and I’ve been a professional since the age of 25, so it is what it is; take it or leave it. Beautiful, well-crafted work will always take precedence over ego.  

The drawing that adorns this post is something that started as a smaller doodle in my current sketchbook. My love of Picasso’s work is pretty clear here. As I often do, I scanned the page with the doodle on it and posted it to my social media accounts. Not long after I posted my page, Michael Kalman, co-founder of Stallman & Birn sketchbooks (my faves), came along on Twitter and kindly left me a very encouraging comment. His comment inspired me to expand my original doodle idea into a bigger drawing. I feel as comfortable working in this style as I do when I draw a portrait of someone, when I do a comic style drawing in brush and ink, or when I paint in watercolor — it’s the same thing to me; all those things are part who I am. I’m fortunate that I can easily do different things equally well; t’s something that not everyone can do. Switching between different approaches is something that I’ve always been able to do, but not something that I do too often. That is going to change.

In closing I’d like to inform all of my dear readers that I reached an important Twitter milestone a couple of days ago: 500 followers! I’ve been on Twitter for quite some time, but the majority of my new followers have come in the last 2 years – 430 followers in that time. I am so grateful to all the people from around the globe who follow me here and on social media. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for helping me reach the big 5-0-0 on Twitter. I greatly appreciate your continued support. 

 

 

 

 

 

Raven

Twenty-three years ago, I was in the process of creating one of my favorite and most popular drawings, Raven, from a rough idea that I’d had in my sketchbook for a couple of years. Despite the fact that I normally draw in pencil first, the original idea for Raven was drawn spontaneously directly in ink. I had recently graduated from The Academy Of Art College and I was still finding myself artistically. This drawing was a huge leap in my development, combining three distinct influences: comic book illustration, art nouveau, and Celtic art. It shows my design skills at their best and I remain proud of it over time.

This drawing is important to me for various reasons. This drawing was the first piece of my work to be issued as a limited edition print, and, with the help of a friend on the east coast, was distributed in the US, Canada, and England. The image was also a featured in Grunge Comics, a short lived anthology to which I was contributing work. Perhaps the most important reason that this drawing is special to me is because it’s what helped me woo my wife. When we were getting to know each other online, I sent her this drawing electronically and she says that as soon as she saw it, I became instantly fascinating and “shiny.” Due to this, she has forbidden me to sell the original.

My drawing style has matured and changed in the twenty-three years since I drew Raven. The one thing that has not changed, however, is my love for drawing in pen and ink. My draftsmanship has reached a higher level and I am quite confident in it, but I will never tire of learning and improving. Artists like Moebius, Philippe Druillet, Harry Clarke, and Robert Crumb continue to inspire me and remain my guiding lights as I grow and develop as an artist. I know the best is yet to come.

Café Adventures

This week, I am sharing two pages that I drew in November while out and about in the Bay Area. I’m quite fortunate to have friends that not only understand what I do, but support my efforts as well. One of these people is my dear friend, Monica Ambalal, who teaches music history and ethnomusicology at Merritt College in Oakland. On this particular day, I joined her for her drive to work and to check out a café called Zocalo. I remember that it was quite busy that day and there were all sorts of unsuspecting victims hanging out and having coffee and or something for breakfast. Monica hung out for a few minutes before leaving to her meeting. When she left, it didn’t take me too long to find a subject to draw. There was a woman sitting a few tables away from me who seemed to be an artist of some sort. She may have been a writer, but I’m not sure. The one thing that I do know is that she seemed to be having some sort of conversation with herself; she was rather animated, waving her hands around and even getting up and making a face before stepping outside for a break. I kid you not, I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried.

My second page of the day was done at Café Roma in Berkeley. I’d been to Café Roma quite a few times over the past few years and I’d had mostly enjoyable experiences there. It’s a large café that’s broken into two areas. The main area, where the bar for ordering drinks is located, is large and well lit with lots of tables. The second half of the building is a study area that is made up mainly of tables. It’s quieter than the main area since it’s away from the main entrance and the sounds of the outside traffic. The bulk of their clientele is (surprise, surprise) made up of UC Berkeley students. Amongst the students are a smattering of local characters and normal folk.  There weren’t too many drawable subjects around that day, so I decided to focus on the architecture instead. Luckily, I’m pretty decent with perspective so that wasn’t an issue. The work was in all the texture and lights and darks — whew, that was a bit of work. I’m glad that I revel in the act of making tiny lines, hahaha! 

I love these types of spontaneous outings — they’re the best. I find it exciting to discover new places and see new people. I look forward to many more spontaneous outings in the Bay Area and wherever else the wind may blow me. Such is the life of an artist — I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Check It Out

 

Check it Out, Suckah - December 2015

After all the holiday craziness, I’m finally getting around to scanning the dozen new pages that I’ve drawn since December. This one was started in December around the time of the horrific shootings in San Bernardino. Terrorism is a cancer that tears asunder the lives of innocent people. Because of the age that we’re living in, we all have a front row seat to the carnage as it happens. It’s only minutes after the fact before we start to hear the gruesome details blow by blow. Little by little we become desensitized to the pain of those affected. I saw that happen with the events in both Paris and San Bernardino; some people couldn’t wait to politicize what was happening. They had to tell you about their right to own a gun. In that moment, when loved ones are falling apart because they’re hearing the news about their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc, people engage in this disrespectful act. Is this what we’ve come to as a society? We’re so gung ho about our right to own a gun that we don’t care if we disrespect the recently killed and their families? Those people that engage in this abhorrent behavior fail to understand one thing: no one gives a fuck about your right to own a gun in that moment when innocent lives have just been lost. Believe me, I’m all for sensible gun regulation but this sort of behavior has nothing to do with that. It’s simply people choosing and not caring about being disrespectful at the worst possible moment. Learn some respect for God’s sake. 

On the lighter side, did you know that I like singing flamenco when I’m tipsy and happy? It’s amazing what a few bottles of Newcastle brown or, in this case, sangria can do! Seriously though, I adore flamenco and its culture: the singing, the music, the dance, everything. Andalucía is my spiritual home. It resonates deep within me like no other culture. Perhaps it’s because of my own familial ties to Spain or maybe it’s just something that was meant to be. Whichever it is, it’s a feeling that lives inside me. Hearing Camarón de La Isla and Paco de Lucia play together is a sublime pleasure for me. It’s like listening to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant or Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. It’s an unequaled aural experience. 

I’m slowly but surely getting back into my rhythm of regular weekly posts and with a soon to be total of twelve freshly scanned pages, I have no excuse for not keeping on schedule. I’m enjoying the new sketchbook so far — I’ve got some interesting ideas that I’d like to explore so keep an eye out for some interesting graphic experimentation that’ll be dropping soon. And remember, draftsmanship is craftsmanship.   

A Life Well Lived

David Bowie died this past week after a courageous eighteen month battle with liver cancer. The news of his death shocked me like it did most people. One of the major figures of my generation has been lost. There will be no more David Bowies. 

Over the past week as I’ve thought about his passing, there’s been’s one thing that’s become very clear to me: David Bowie’s life was a life well lived. Even though his passing leaves a huge hole in the world, I find comfort in the knowledge that he lived his life to the fullest – a life that most people can only imagine. His passing has been a lesson on living. 

The one thing that has impacted me the most during the past week is the fact that he had started to write his next album knowing full well that he was dying and that his time was scarce. That, to me, defines how an artist lives his life. He works and creates until the end. There is no stopping. There can be no greater example of this than how David Bowie did it. 

His passing has definitely made me think of how fragile life can be. We live in an era where self help memes appear almost every second on our social media feeds giving us advice on how to live life. Some of them do contain a kernel of truth, but taken in on a daily basis without any action they become meaningless wallpaper on our feeds. Despite how earnestly we make and begin our new year’s resolutions, most are abandoned less than a month into the new year thus trivializing the decisions that are important to us. That’s not how it works. At least not for me. 

However you decide to make your life decisions, always make sure you make them because they’re important to you and for no other reason. Make them and then take action. Remember to be kind, to love, and to laugh. And most of all, make sure that your life is also a life that’s being well lived. 

And So It Begins

 

And so it begins… Happy New Year dear readers! I hope You’re new year has started on a positive note. I’m not really into making resolutions, so I don’t and I didn’t. I think that there are times when you need to make big decisions and it has nothing to do with the time of year or anything like that. They need to be made, so you make them. If there’s one thing I’d like to do this new year, it’s to be more consistent with my blog posts and to post lots of amazing sketchbook pages that will engage and inspire you.

I drew the page that adorns this post just before leaving on our Christmas vacation to Southern California, so I’m just now getting around to scanning the new pages that I’ve completed in my current sketchbook. This page has the distinction of being drawn at two of my favorite local cafes on The Miracle Mile: Empresso Coffeehouse and Miracle Mile Starbucks. It’s my hood, so I walk around it all the time and without much effort, I always encounter interesting characters to draw. The guy that I’ve drawn here is one of those people. I often see him at both places on any given week. I decided to draw him mainly because he tends to sit still and not fidget much. As you might imagine, something like that is hugely important for someone like me. In the first drawing, at the top of the page, he was sitting in Empresso at a table that I prefer to sit at along the wall near the bar area. It’s a tall table with two tall chairs that’s next to an outlet. I remember that they were playing Time of The Season by The Zombies that night — you know the tune, it’s the one with the famous, “Who’s your daddy?” line in it. Anyway, he seemed to be digging it and singing along quietly as he bobbed his head back and forth. Maybe he was reliving a part of his youth, who knows. The second time that I encountered him was just a day after I had done my first drawing. He came into my local Starbucks wearing a big puffy winter jacket and a baseball cap with fabric that covered the back of his head. He ordered his drink and ensconced himself at a window table. He had a book with him that night but he didn’t read it the whole time that he was there. Instead, he sat and quietly talked to himself for quite a while. I’ve seen him again since I drew him so, he’ll most likely end up on another page at some point. 

I’m pretty fortunate to live in the area that I live in; everything that I need is within walking distance; there’s a decent variety of restaurants and shops, including my two favorite local cafes, just minutes away from my home. Both have a different and unique vibe to each of them so I go back and forth between the two. I’m friends with most of the baristas at both places — they’re all a bunch of really cool people that always make it a pleasure to come in have a coffee and draw for a while. Life is good and getting better all the time. 

In The End

IMG_3342

I recently started my 20th sketchbook. This one is different; it represents something different to me than past volumes have. This wasn’t planned. It’s something that’s come about on its own. When I started to continuously keep a sketchbook in 1995, I wanted to keep a journal of whatever came to mind at any given time. It didn’t matter what it was, it just mattered that I put it down on paper. That’s easier said than done. I was a different person then; things were different for me. Not better or worse, just different. All the changes that I would go through over the next decade would end up in one way or another on the pages of my sketchbook. At one point, my sketchbook became the only place where I could do any kind of work due to the fact that I was caring for my mother 24/7. As you can see, keeping a sketchbook has been something that’s been important for me for quite some time. Sometimes, it’s hard to express the significance of something like this to people. It’s important to keep working; drawing on a daily basis is what separates the great from the mediocre. Even if you’re not doing finished work, it important to continue working because this is how you discover new ideas and refine your draftsmanship. Despite the challenges I’ve had to face over the last 15 years, I’ve continued to work. It’s what you do as an artist. There’s no stopping — ever. You draw all the time for as long as you can until you drop. 

I find my point of view on lots of things to be quite different as I begin this new sketchbook. Because of what I’ve been through, I’ve grown in many ways and I see things in a way that I hadn’t before. In some ways my patience and understanding has grown, while in other ways it has dwindled significantly. As you get older, your bullshit detector gets pretty sharp. That is a blessing. What’s even better is that you’re not concerned about telling people that you can see through their bullshit. All this will undoubtedly find its way onto the pages of this new sketchbook. This is why this volume is going to be different from all the rest. What you’re going to get is an unfiltered, no holds barred representation of all that I am. That’s what you’re supposed to see when you look at someone’s sketchbook. 

I am looking forward to the work that I will be doing in this new sketchbook and the freedom that I’ll be allowing myself. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point and I plan on enjoying it to the fullest. In all honesty, everything is open to being opined upon: millennials, politicians, the characters at the coffeehouse, portraits, nude studies, landscapes, music and musicians, still lifes, etc, etc, etc. It’s endless. Let the games begin! 

 

Wanna Buy A Sketchbook?

I like taking spontaneous road trips whenever I have the chance. Thankfully, I have good friends who help support this habit. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Monica and I took a drive to Davis, a well known college town near Sacramento here in California. She had some business to take care of, so she dropped me off in downtown for a couple of hours. Normally, when I’ve visited in the past, I’ve gone in the afternoon when everything is open. It was just after 10am, and not many places were open for business yet. Luckily,  I found a few local cafés that were open; I ended up at John Natsoulas, a local fine art gallery and café where I  found myself a nice spot outside in the sun. I remember that it was a sunny cool morning that day. There were a few customers —  university students and even a couple who were passing through on their way back to Tennessee. I recall the barista asking, “What brings you out to California? The husband replied, “We’re on vacation. We don’t make it out to California much.” There was a group of three young women behind me talking about creating some sort of new platform. One of them had recently returned from Tokyo, and said that she was still getting used to the difference in sound level between there and Davis. After checking my social media and whatnot, I slipped on my head phones and cued up the album María by Niña Pastori. After a dozen years, it’s still one of my favorite flamenco pop albums.

This week, you get to see a drawing in progress at it’s various stages. I normally start my drawings in pencil but sometimes I draw directly in ink. This drawing started in pencil, but I didn’t snap a pic of that stage. After the I finish the pencil drawing, I start the first stage of inking. This stage consists of pure line work and nothing more. At this stage, I also decide on how I’m going to handle the values in the drawing. Stage 2 is where I start laying in the darkest values. By doing this, It gives me something to compare all the other values in the drawing to. Stage 3 is obviously where I’ve finished laying in the rest of the shading and adding of values. By this point, I’ve also worked on textures and lettering as well. The last and final stage is the addition of color in preparation for posting on various social media sites. All in all, I’d say there’s a good 10 or 12 hours of work in this drawing. I know, it sounds kinda crazy, but it makes me happier than you’ll ever know. 

Recently, a couple of people have asked me how much I would ask if someone approached me about selling my sketchbook. I’ve never really thought about it; I’d happily trade a case (I’ve got 20 years worth of sketchbooks to choose from) of sketchbooks for a house in Andalucia in the south of Spain. Hey, in life you only get what you want if you ask for it. So, if you’re interested, make sure you bring along some tapas, sangria, paella, Estrella Morente, Marina Heredia, Niña Pastori, Montse Cortes, and Vicente Amigo. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you. ¡Olé y gracias!

In Case You Didn’t know…

Mad Skills

I’ve always been amazed by the myriad of misconceptions that people have about what artists do. Speaking about art to people is like speaking Greek to them — they just don’t get it. Reading books on art and going to museums is great, but talking to an actual professional artist is even better. The one thing that books and museums fail to show you is the artist speaking for himself and explaining his own work. Obviously, there are artists that are long dead and gone, and in that case we must count on historians and personal one on ones with the work(s). Ah, but if you have access to an actual real professional then take advantage — you’ll learn things that you’d never learn from a book or museum.

The above drawing is a small snapshot of who I am as an artist. I’m sure that it contains information that may surprise some people. That’s good. There’s actually a little more info that I’d like to add to this. I also plan to do a second version of this drawing later that shows where I’m at with my work and where I’ll be going with it in the future. 

This year marks 20 years since I decided to start continuously keeping a sketchbook. For whatever bizarre reason, I had decided to stop doing this from 1993 to 1995; before that, I had kept a sketchbook from 1987 to 1993. My current sketchbook is a wonderful snapshot of the progress I’ve made and transformation that I’m obviously going through. I sort of knew that this is what would be happening when I began this new sketchbook in March of 2014. My goal at that time was to work away from what I had been doing for many years and to go towards a more personal representation of myself and what I do based on the things and people that inspired me to begin with. That, in conjunction with the experience that I’ve gained from all that I’ve been through over the past decade or so, would make the transition a meaningful one. The past year and a half has been an interesting journey — lots of ups and downs and breaking down of barriers. I’m happy to say that this was the tail end of all this, and not the beginning. 

So, there you have it. Look over this drawing and, hopefully, you’ll learn a little bit about me as an artist. I’m having a great time finishing my current sketchbook in preparation for the new one. I’m greatly looking forward to starting the new one; working towards a goal that others can’t see can be difficult sometimes, but in the end, the goal is what matters. Following a path without compromise isn’t a popular path — it’s the only path. 

Picasso Says…

Modigliani and Picasso

This week was a good week. Quite a few things that I’d been meditating on came together and I can definitely say that this reaffirmed what I was already thinking. This directly inspired the illustration that adorns this post. I’ve loved Picasso’s work for a long time — I would definitely cite him as an influence on me and my work. I’ve long admired his attitude in addition to his genius level output. Picasso’s attitude is something that most artists should adopt. The man simply did not give a shit about what anyone thought, and had no problem telling them so. If he was busy, he made it known. If you asked a stupid question, he would tell you…and he didn’t care if you were offended. 

Attitude is essential for anyone who’s striving to achieve a goal. The fact is, not everybody’s going to understand. There’s a myriad of reasons as to why people will try to throw you off your path: they had a dream and never followed it; they failed at achieving their dream; they were told that they weren’t capable of achieving their goal and believed it; they’re jealous. There’s no mystery to this, it’s the way it is. Anyone striving to achieve a goal has to go through a nonstop barrage of negativity from everyone: strangers, acquaintances, family, friends — they all do it. Depending on the type of person you are, these people can break you, and kill your enthusiasm or, they can drive you to succeed. I’m not exactly sure what it is that makes the difference. Perhaps, it’s something you’re born with or, perhaps, it’s something that develops over time as you slowly but surely develop a thick skin to people’s nonsense. 

One thing that has benefited me is getting older. You get to a point in life where you say, “Enough, I’m done.” At risk of sounding crude, you get fed up with all the bullshit. Realizing this is something that changes you. It applies to everything and it will change you from the inside out. It really is something. People exhibit this in different ways based on who they are; some make it plainly obvious while others will keep quiet and let it get noticed through their actions. I’m grateful for reaching this point in life. I have my health, my amazing wife, and my work has continued to mature and evolve. Despite the obstacles that I’ve had to face over the years, I continue to pursue my goals. The fact that I continue to do this says it all. Onward, ever onward.  

 

 

My Bliss

Two weeks ago, my wife and I set out on a small trip to Eureka, a city in the northern most part of California. She had gotten her teaching credential there at Humboldt State and I, amazingly, had never been to this part of California. For this week’s post, I decided to feature both the sketchbook pages that I drew from just before we left and up until our return. It was a busy week and this trip was long overdue. 

As you can see, I used a detail from the page on the right for my last post where I talked about my feelings regarding a recent encounter with racism. The rest of the images that you see were drawn during our trip. The drive to Eureka normally takes six hours from where we live, but it ended up taking us twelve hours instead due to all the stops we made along the way. If you’ve ever driven up the 101, you’ll know why it took us so long: it’s an absolutely gorgeous drive, especially once you get to the Avenue of the Giants. The views there are stunning and being amongst the redwoods is magical. You literally walk next to trees that are up to two thousand years old — simply incredible. I never used to be much of a nature kind of guy, but my wife has slowly exposed me to it in a way that will stay with me forever. She’s helped me grow as a person in so many ways.

I loved Eureka as soon as we arrived: cool weather — about 62 degrees as a high most days, overcast and cloudy. Between the breathtaking scenery of the redwoods and the cloudiness in Eureka, I was blissfully happy. This has always been the kind of climate that I prefer and it always will be. I swear, I must have been British in another lifetime. While there, we were able to take in the many sights found not only in Eureka, buy also in its neighboring cities: Arcata, Ferndale, Fieldbrook, and Trinidad. Most of them are quaint cities with a true small town pace and feel. As I get older, these types of places appeal to me more and more. Who needs a car when you can walk? While in Eureka we were also able to catch up with friends. In fact, the drawing you see that’s titled “José El Andaluz” was inspired by a couple of flamenco CDs that I purchased at Cornucopia, our friend Dorine’s music shop in Old Town Eureka. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and check out her charming little shop in Old Town. Click the link and check out her webpage and blog. José El Andaluz is a fictitious character that I made up for possible future reference. He’s based on my all time favorite flamenco singer, Camarón de La Isla. The old guy in the hat is someone that I saw while hanging out at Eureka Coffee and Chocolates in Old Town. Interestingly he, too, was drawing. Who knows, maybe he was drawing me?! The palm tree on the first page was drawn on our last morning there while having breakfast in neighboring Arcata. It was an absolutely beautiful overcast morning as my wife and I sat outside eating our oatmeal. Ah, I could do that forever.

Our trip was a success on all levels. It reinvigorated me and reminded me that there are other places and things to see and do. This trip stirred up lots of things that I’ve had in mind over the past few months. It made me ask questions about all sorts of things. The desire for new experiences has been building over the past few years, and my wanderlust has also been waking from its long dormant state. The desire to grow and flourish is impossible to ignore for me. I’ve grown tired of the way things are and want something different for myself. You get to a point in life where you know what you want, and what you don’t want. I’m definitely there, and I definitely want something new.    

Why Oh Why?

 

Why Oh Why (Dtail) May 2015

Legendary French comics artist, Jean “Mœbius” Giraud once said, ” I believe racism to be something like a biological message. It is the expression of a fear which stems from our instinct for the preservation of our racial and cultural integrity. What makes racism so ugly, however, is the way in which this message expresses itself, with hate and violence. I believe that there is room for preserving that integrity, while allowing for a harmonious mix of the races. I don’t think the two should ever be opposed. But in order for that concept to become commonly accepted, I am afraid that we will have to experience much more suffering, refusal, and stupidity. We, unfortunately, all have a sleeping bigot inside us.” He was absolutely right. Often, when you least expect it, you encounter the vile poison that is racism. Just as my drawing states, you think you know someone, and then BOOM, they open their mouth, and out falls a big ugly gob of racism. When it happens, it’s so quick that you don’t have time to react. You’re totally caught off guard. It usually comes from someone that puts up a facade, and who hides their racism behind a warm pleasant smile.   

Recently, I had to deal with this. Yes, I was caught off guard, and I didn’t really handle it the way I should have. The remark wasn’t aimed at me per se, but was more a general statement aimed at people who this person believes receive government aid because of the color of their skin. It was disgusting to have to hear such a thing; just when you think you know someone, you realize that you don’t. The old adage, still waters run deep,” never rang more true than in this one instance. Racism is bad enough, but silent racism is even worse. Unfortunately, when something like this happens, it changes your whole view of the person uttering it. I, personally, no longer feel comfortable around this person knowing that they say one thing and think another. I promised myself that I would call the person on it if it ever happens again. When you don’t say something about it to them, it’s the equivalent of condoning what they do. I’m too old for this type of bullshit. I don’t have time for people who conceal their racist thoughts behind a fake toothy smile. 

The one thing that gives me hope is what I see happening with the newer generations, Millennials and subsequent. They’re more open minded than previous generations before them. In many ways, I identify with the newer generation who truly sees beyond the barriers that have hindered all of the previous generations that came before them. I’d like to think that this change started with my generation, Generation X. My generation is where the transition started; we took what the Baby Boomers did in the sixties and seventies and started moving away from the old beliefs that had been in place for generations. It wasn’t until The Millennials that things really started to change;  that change has continued with the current generation. As this change occurs, people from older generations that could never get past things like racism are slowly dying off along with their backwards ideas. Despite the hope that I see in the new generation, we still have a long way to go. Racism still rears it’s ugly head here in the United States. Last week, nine innocent members of a South Carolina church were gunned down in cold blood because of racist hate. Racism and gun violence are cancers that are eating away at the fabric of this country. It makes me ashamed to say that I’m an American. After the slaughter of twenty innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary we were unable to do anything to start the ball rolling in the right direction; if the killing of twenty innocent children failed to make us take action then we are basically a nation without a conscience. We’ve become accustomed to the hate, carnage and blood. We’re desensitized to these events — they’ve become the norm. They happen, we talk about them for a week or so, and then we forget them until the next incident. Our country is permanently stained by the blood of all the victims that have lost their lives at the hands of hate and gun violence. When will we ever learn that hate and violence are not the answer?  

Random Thoughts



Writing a weekly blog has been an interesting experience for me. I’ve been writing a blog for seven years; I began my first blog in September 2008 after discovering France Belleville’s Wagonized blog (Check her blog out, she’s great). Not being too familiar about with what it took to start a blog, I emailed her and asked her to give some info. She kindly responded and provided with me with all the information that I needed to launch my own blog. In September 2008, I started Cubist Comix and the adventure began.

Over the past seven years, I’ve shared thoughts and drawings that are pulled from the pages of my daily sketchbook journal. During that time, I written about lots of things — mostly about the  process of developing as an artist and what goes into achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself, As the years have gone by, I’ve started to feel a need to be more candid about things. People read blogs for a reason after all: they want to know about you and what your thoughts and opinions are. As a blogger, I obviously, have to be selective about what I write so as to ensure that my readers are as entertained as possible when they visit my little ol’ blog. It is with this belief that I venture forward on my chosen path as an artist and blogger of daily life — warts and all.

 

This sketchbook page that adorns this post is from late last year; since that time, fall 2014, I’ve completed quite a few new sketchbook pages. As I share them here as soon as I finish scanning them, so keep an eye out for them. I drew most of this page while accompanying my wife on visits to her physical therapist’s office. On this particular visit I decided to draw the Halloween pumpkins that decorated the office’s entrance. Not too bad given the fact that I had to hold my sketchbook in my lap — something that I never do. The chaps in the newsboy caps are some of my alter egos; they express my thoughts without reserve and I love them for that. They are my inner voice and they are what gives my work character. 

Things have evolved quite a bit since I started blogging. I guess that’s bound to happen — you start writing and along the way you discover what you truly want to write about and how you want to say that. Much like drawing, writing is also a process. I say the same thing to those of you who want to start blogging that I said about keeping a sketchbook — write what you want to write about and express yourself without restrictions. Not everybody is going to like it but that doesn’t matter because you’re not here to please everybody. Be yourself, write candidly, and draw what you want to draw. Life is too short to waste on bullshit. It’s not complicated, it’s a choice that’s up to you so, go on, grab your sketchbook and let it rip. 

Me And My Book

UOP Landscape 1

Summer is upon us. This past weekend, that was made abundantly clear with 90 degree weather. Now that summer is clearly here, it’s time to start thinking about what I’m going to be filling the pages of my sketchbook with. This past weekend I was looking through a book from my library on Joaquin Sorolla and it made me want to get out and draw more landscapes. The drawing that adorns this post was drawn during the past year, and is one of two landscapes that I’ve recently done in my sketchbook. I happen to live in an area where there’s lots of trees and nice landscapes that lend themselves well to being drawn in pen and ink. Lots of people have paid me compliments on my pen and ink work, and I appreciate their enthusiasm for my work, but there’s a lot more that I’d like to do with my drawing. As the saying goes, the best is yet to come.

I’d like to augment my drawing with other things this summer; lately, I’ve been feeling as if I need to go back and deepen my knowledge of things that I love. I feel the need to reconnect with all those things that nourish and inspire my creativity. I’ve got quite a few books that I need to start reading: A life of Picasso by John Richardson (3 volumes), Loving Picasso by Fernande Olivier, Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, and this is just a few of the books I’m ready to start. This summer I will also reconnect with music that I love. I’ve been enthralled by flamenco for a very long time, and as time passes my fascination with it continues to deepen. This summer I will endeavor to learn more about it’s origins and discover new voices that I’m unfamiliar with.  My taste in music is pretty eclectic and I certainly love lots of different things. Kate Bush is also someone whose catalog I’d like to reexamine over the next few months. I’ve heard her music a thousand times over the past thirty years, and I still continue to discover new things about it. These are only a few of the things that I’d like to reconnect with; there’s documentaries, theatre performances, and other things that will also fill up my time over the coming months. All of these things will nourish my creativity and that will find its way onto the pages of my sketchbook. Summer is already looking good. 

Artist And Malcontent

Salva Speaks

This post completes the trilogy of posts that I’ve made about being yourself over the past two weeks. I hope that my writing has helped someone out there who’s on a similar path. Sometimes, it can get a bit lonely when you’re chasing a goal that others can’t see.

Developing as an artist and a person is an organic process that takes place over the span of many, many years. It’s easy to say, “I’m now going to be myself,” but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There’s lots of factors that play into artistic development: social, economic, psychological, etc. It’s an ongoing process that’s invisible to most people. Those precious small steps that you take along the way are, for the most part, overlooked by a majority of people — even those that are close to you. Development of talent isn’t what people want to hear about; they want to see success and money — they don’t give a shit about the small steps that led you there. It’s harsh to say it, but it’s true. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a few individuals that will take notice of the changes that are occurring and the progress that you’re making. IF you’re lucky. Don’t count on it.  

Artistic development occurs over years; in today’s world, years is too long. If it’s not a click away, then the hell with it — no one gives a damn. In essence it boils down to this: if you’re not making x amount of dollars every month then you’re a loser. It’s always blown me away how the mighty dollar affects the way people view you; before any sort of renown, you’re brilliant and talented and afterwards, you’re still brilliant and talented, except now you have money. It’s all about money in our society and I double dog dare anyone to deny that. I know that it’s the truth because I’ve lived this reality. People can be real shits when you’re trying to work your way up; “You have to start at the bottom,” they’ll tell you. They say that as if you’ve somehow secretly been at the top — give me a fucking break. When you graduate from college, art school in my case, the only place to start is at the bottom. Come on people, get a clue! The arts are something that are grossly overlooked and misunderstood in this country, period. Art is viewed as a luxury item by most people. Why would anyone want to buy a $1200 drawing when they could go down to Walmart and buy some new patio furniture? That’s the pedestrian mentality that most people have until what you do becomes an investment — there’s the old mighty dollar rearing its ugly head again.

This drawing expresses different things that have been on my mind for a long time. I guess you could say that it’s very existence is tangible proof that we all reach a point where we know that things are no longer the same. When we know that that what used to work for us in the past no longer works now. You know that you’re no longer the same person that you were. Everything has changed. This is how it’s been for me; I don’t feel that it’s anything different to what other people go through, so no one should be surprised at all by what I’m writing. We all go through changes — some of us handle them better than others. In art, it’s all about perseverance; in fact, my favorite thing to say is, “Perseverance is when everyone else has given up and you keep going.” Ultimately, in life, it comes down to being happy. Happiness is a deeply internal thing that can only come from within yourself, and nowhere else; not from someone not from a place. Do what makes you happy, express how you feel, and screw what people think. Oh, and don’t forget to put it all down in your sketchbook.              

I Am I

The Finger - April 2015

In keeping with my last post about always being yourself on the pages of your sketchbook, I offer this recent sketchbook page. It’s interesting to see how people react to what I draw. I showed this page to a friend recently and she said, “That’s a bad word, I know that word. Why would you write that in your book?” Her reaction serves as a perfect example of the misconception most people have when it comes to art and artists. The first thought that came to my mind when she asked me this was, “Why the hell not?” This is exactly what I talk about all the time; you cannot do work in order to please anyone but yourself. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you do. Fuck it, who cares, screw them, it’s not important. 

In the end, being yourself is what it’s all about. Finding your own voice doesn’t come easily. For some people, it comes early, and for others, later in life. For some it never comes at all. It doesn’t matter how you find that voice, it just matters that you find it. We all start by emulating the work of someone we admire — it’s completely natural to do this. Sometimes, you do that for a long period of time because it feels right. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s part of the process of developing. The development of talent seems to be a mystery to most people. Everyone expects you to develop by yesterday. It doesn’t work that way. Anything that’s great has, in most cases, had a long gestation period. The public in general doesn’t understand this because they don’t have the patience or perseverance to wait it out. As an artist, I feel that I’m essentially chasing a goal that is invisible to everyone else. Unfortunately, because of the time involved in developing and whatnot people tend to look down upon artists. It’s sad but true. They heap all manner of derisible adjectives upon people who don’t do the nine to five thing. What’s worse is that a lot of people will tell you how they love or support the arts while simultaneously heaping scorn upon you for doing the very thing that they claim to love and support. Recently, I watched a couple of videos that really shed some light on this topic. Throughout history many great people have been ridiculed and looked down upon for not being a raging success at 25. They videos excellent and I urge you to watch them.

In the end, I say this to you: follow your heart, draw every day, and never ever give up on your goals. There are always going to be those people that don’t get it. Some of them are failed artists and can’t stand the fact that you’re doing what they wanted to do and others simply don’t understand what an artist does. You will run into these types of people more than you think; it’s part of the game. Whenever I encounter one of these people I simply smile and thank the universe that I’m not in their shoes. Life is short, idiots are in abundance, and art is forever.    

Keeping A Sketchbook Journal

UOP Landscape 2

This week, I am happy to announce that the drawing that accompanies this post is being featured on the Stillman & Birn company blog. As many of you know, S&B are the manufacturers of the premium quality sketchbooks that I personally use. I started using their sketchbooks a year ago and highly recommend them. The post on their site talks about the making of this drawing so I will devote this post to talking about general tips and ideas about keeping a sketchbook and my own personal experience doing so. 

I first started the practice of keeping a sketchbook when I was eighteen years old. My first sketchbook was a standard 9″x12″ book just like the one I have now except with cheaper paper. From what I remember, I did traditional studies of torsos in pencil probably copied from Michelangelo; nothing too exciting. My first real attempt at keeping a sketchbook as a journal came in 1987 when I was a sophomore at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. At the time, keeping a sketchbook as a journal was something fairly new to me. During that time, I was using a spiral bound sketchbook and drawing with a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph. The Rapidograph is a refillable technical pen that uses waterproof ink. This is important for two reasons: permanence and durability. Over time, this type of ink will endure the test of time and not fade, and it will also stand up to working in conjunction with other media such as watercolor. A Rapidograph and a premium quality sketchbook with bright white paper are the perfect pairing. The paper is heavy enough that the ink does not bleed through the page and the whiteness of the paper gives the watercolor more luminosity as its surface will reflect brighter light back through the color. Make sure that you always choose your sketchbook based on the media that you will be using. Brands like Stillman & Birn offer different variations that will handle most media. 

I keep what some might refer to as a nontraditional sketchbook. For me, a sketchbook should be a journal where you put down your feelings, ideas and opinions. I think that this is very important as it helps you to find your own voice as an artist. Two people who use the sketchbook medium to its fullest potential are Barron Storey and Robert Crumb. Towards the end of my time at the Academy of Art, I was fortunate to study with Barron Storey who was working on the Marat/Sade Journals that were published by Tundra. Tundra was a publishing company owned by Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Barron’s journals were nothing short of a revelation to me. They are the epitome of what a sketchbook journal is. Click his name and check out a video tour through one of his incredible journals. You should also check out his Tumblr blog that’s devoted to his journals as well. Someone else who has also had a big impact on my idea of what a sketchbook can be is famed underground comix pioneer, Robert Crumb. Although he is recognized for his revolutionary underground comics work, he has also produced volumes of sketchbook journals that, like Barron Storey’s, redefine what a sketchbook is. Although their work is very different in approach, it is similar in that they don’t hold back in their subject matter. Their sketchbooks are as honest an expression as you’re going to get in this medium. Unfortunately, there is no good source for viewing his journals online, so I suggest Googling, “Robert Crumb sketchbook,” so that you can see the amazing sketchbook work that he’s done.

In closing, I would like to say that the most important things that you should aspire to in your sketchbook are to be yourself and to express your opinions, ideas, and emotions freely and without restraint, even if you are concerned that your ideas may be unpopular ones. Perhaps, especially if you are concerned your ideas may be unpopular! Over the last ten years, I’ve noticed many more people keeping a sketchbook and I think that’s great. Sketchbooks are used by different people in different ways, but I feel that the most powerful of these uses allow a viewer to have a fuller understanding of you as both an artist and as an individual, so be sure that your sketchbook always represents who you are. 

 

Coffeehouse Hotties

Coffeehouse Hotties - April 2015

About a month ago, I went to my local neighborhood Starbucks to meet some friends for coffee and a chat. As was I waiting, I noticed a young female student sitting near the window farthest from me. Now, I must say that as an artist, I frequently encounter cute girls; they’re everywhere — there’s so many that I practically trip over them. However, I must say, it’s rare to encounter a girl who is actually beautiful. Well, that night, I did, and boy was she a stunner. My ideal of beauty was ingrained in me when I was sixteen and I discovered the work of the English Pre-Raphaelites. Jane Morris and Maria Zambaco, models for the group, became my ideal of beauty and Sir Edward Burne-Jones became my artist-hero.

I remember riding the bus to the Academy of Art in San Francisco one morning back in 1987. It was early in the morning, and I was still attempting to wake up from a gonzo session of all night drawing when all of a sudden a Pre-Raphaelite stunner boarded the bus. I was transfixed. She was absolutely stunning — a fair skinned vision of beauty with golden hair and apple eyes beneath heavy eyelids that gave her a truly dreamy feel. The girl I saw at Starbucks that night came close to rivaling that never forgotten vision of beauty. It was impossible not to stare — I knew that I had to draw her. Luckily, after years of drawing people in cafes, I’ve mastered the art of not looking suspicious. By the time I started sketching her, my friends had shown up so I really had to make an effort to not look too obvious. Slowly but surely, I captured her exquisite features. Olive skinned, Dark eyes, and raven haired — oh my God, she was perfect. Oh, and let’s not talk about her form fitting stripped dress. Just as I was finishing one my friends said, “Who are you drawing? Is it that girl over there?” Another friend and fellow artist answered for me, “Yes, it is, and looks exactly like her.” That was the best compliment I could ask for. 

I just realized that this is the first new sketchbook page that I’ve posted in a while. As you may have noticed, my last two posts were photo journal reports on my continuing artistic adventures. In order to keep this blog centered on my work, all future photo journal reports will be linked to my Storehouse account. Things are getting interesting, changes are coming and life is good.