Bi-weekly musings, artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Monday, November 29, 2004

dude, you got a lappy 486!!

it strikes me as good timing that the same week i get a new dell laptop, strongbad gets his own laptop computer. my prior computer has seen me through many years. i built it as a pII-350 back when that was smoking, with a killer 128mb ram and a...get this...2x speed cd-r drive by ricoh. does ricoh still make, well, anything?

over the years it grew and parts were replaced. it finally ended up a lean-and-mean p3-866 with 384mb ram. actually, i was more than happy with my computer. i wasn't playing any new games on it, so the need to upgrade wasn't really there. a new larger hard drive would've been sufficient, and maybe maxing out the ram and processor on the same motherboard, all of which would have been very cheap to do. but since i'm'a moving and orienting my life in the direction of elsewhere, i figured i was not going to be able to take my 19" aoc monitor on a plane, nor the chassis itself--especially when none of the pci cards were screwed down, the entire thing held together with chewing gum, practically.

so, i now have a nifty top-of-the-line laptop computer again. and a lot of desktop parts to get rid of. i also finally moved from win98se to xp. so far, so good. after you turn off a lot of the crap it still looks like 98 and runs faster. and so far, not a single crash. very nice. not that i'm saying anything good about microsoft (i won't even give them the obligatory blog-link). in fact, i was close to getting an apple, but for the cost of migrating my software. i mean, as it is the hardware is more expensive. then you gotta buy all your apps again, or run them on some kind of windows emulator or whatnot. bah.

i am now in the process of cramming the hard drive with my ripped cd collection... and games, since my brother-in-law left me a few he'd finished.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Let's Jam

When I used to play bass guitar, having begun late and without the level of commitment I had for my painting and drawing, I was never really able to jam. You know, pick a key, start a beat and just let the music flow spontaneously. This was no surprise--I lacked a lot of music theory and the chops, to boot. What I played I played by ear, it sounded right so I played it. But I had to sit there working out my lines, and then put it to music. Towards the end there I was learning theory and the concepts that allow one to jam were becoming clear to me. But I never got to that point.

With painting, however, I am able to jam. I'm not the painting equivalent of a "guitar god" by any stretch, but I can hold my own, I guess. What I mean is that I can attack a canvas with very little pre-conceived structure and usually work my way through it to a satisfying end. usually. As an illustrator who often works rapid-fire either due to deadline or payment constraints, I've had to do my share of jamming. It's always a little scary to start a painting sometimes without even a color theme in mind. I'll decide something on the fly, lay it down and the rest of the painting must then be constructed in the key of, say, yellow. From there I usually attack it without much more thought, and my hands take over like a guitarist's must--my brain being taxed but not in a particularly deliberate way--sort of reacting and adjusting to the visual music happening spontaneously before me.

Some artists I know are excellent at jamming; in fact I'd say it's their forte. There are guys like my buddy Scott Fischer who kick ass. His ability to jam on a piece is incredible, as are his chops. Some guys like myself are more into constructing music, I mean, paintings. I listen to a lot of constructed music and not so much to jazz or jamming rock bands. If it were up to me I'd plan out and be very deliberate about each painting, trying to maximize what I'm trying to communicate by bending my skills towards a pre-determined end. I can jam some, and like it to an extent, but I identify better with more "constructing" artists like Michael Whelan or, classically, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. of course I don't compare to either of them either.

Currently I am in jamming-mode, which is full of surprise on the one hand but full of anxiety on the other. Less anxiety than I used to have--that's the product of practice. But I'm 2/3 through a piece and I still have no idea how it'll turn out.

I make a lot of analogies in my mind between music and painting, so don't be surprised if you see that cropping up in these entries. These analogies helped me do what I was able to do when I did dabble in music, even if my education was lacking. I would "see" the music and mood I was trying to accomplish and would be fairly successful in squeezing it out of my amateur fingers. I believe this phenomenon is called synesthesia, and it's one that's interested me in general since then.

Some aspects that will never be analagous are the muli-million dollar rock star mansion and the ladies throwing themselves at me. That's a shame.

Monday, November 15, 2004

dusting off

there are stacks of books, cds and boxes in my studio again. right when i got it all organized. see, it appears that sometime in the first quarter of 2005 we'll be moving house. over the years we've done well in reviewing our possessions and ridding ourselves of as many as we can. we have a small condo without a ton of storage space but regardless it's easy to get sentimental about things that really don't matter.

so i've got a couple of stacks of cds that i'm going through, trying to figure out how to dispose of them for the most money for the least work. some will go to ebay, some to which has pretty good trade-in rates that you can see upfront. books will be taken to the various used bookstores or ebayed, adding to unspent store credit from when we did the same thing a year ago but bought very little.

one interesting thing of note is that i seem to have lost almost all interest in industrial music, which i listened to quite a lot back in college. there goes the nitzer ebb, front 242, nine inch nails and such. i'm also officially swearing off live albums. i think i'm getting rid of every single one from lack of use.

the upside is that over the next month or two i'll continue ripping the cds i'm keeping to my hard drive, rediscovering albums i haven't listened to in years. currently "dark" period early cure albums are occupying my ears. these are all being remastered and reissued over the next year or two with extras. i'm so looking forward to them, even if i'm not the depressed teen who first discovered and loved these albums. i'm also looking forward to getting some new cds. that cranes purchase a week or so back was the first new cd i'd bought in a long, long time. then again, there is very little in the way of new music that i've been inspired to buy.

given the favorite bands in my profile, if you know any bands i should look into, feel free to comment and let me know.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Focus, Breathe

A day off yesterday. Nice. The past 6 months have been some of the busiest months in years. It's a good thing to have work as a freelancer, but my evenings and much of my weekends have been sacrificed in getting these projects done. The time flew by in a series of drawings and paintings that piled up upon completion (I submit most of my work digitally now), with hardly a moment to reflect on what I'd accomplished. In that time I did work for an upcoming issue of Cricket Magazine, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, 3 Magic: the Gathering sets, the Blue Moon game, and one large personal painting. All told, something like 22 paintings of various sizes plus the drawings for them all in 6 months, during which i prepared for then spent about a week each in Barcelona, San Diego, and Indianapolis for events. So about 5 months of actual work-time. Then there was the bathroom remodel, guests from Japan, and whatever other things life throws your way. Somewhere along the way I turned 30, too.

Perhaps that doesn't sound like a lot. It might not be if I was Mark Rothko. And the next 6 months don't strike me as easier. If the above sounds like complaining, believe me that I get how cool it is to be a fantasy illustrator and to be able to travel for work like I do. I mean, seriously, I got to recently whip out a clumsy drawing of a knight using crayola markers for my nephew. I made his day. That's pretty cool. I've just got an evening to reflect and realize I've surprised myself with what I managed to do. 3 months or so ago it felt nearly impossible to get it all done.

Actually, all this thinking back could simply be due to my listening to "Particles and Waves" by Cranes, which I just got in and have had spinning for a couple hours now. Imagine taking a nap wrapped in a warm blanket while floating in space. It feels like that.

Monday, November 08, 2004

revenge of the sith

so the teaser trailer for episode iii has been going around for a bit now. it only has like 12 seconds or so of actual footage, but i'm very excited. i'm reminded of how good the trailer for episode i was: better than the actual movie. this makes me not want to get my hopes up. i enjoyed episode i and thought it was a great star wars film intercut with a large amount of unbearable scenes. episode ii, however, struck me as every bit a star wars film and i was largely happy. it seems that they simply cannot go wrong in ep.3, given the storyline and the decreasing dependence on jar jar binks.

i certainly hope that's the case, anyway. a part of me looks forward to when i'm 50 or so and the super-special-post-mortem-director's-cut of ep.1 comes out, where they replace "ani" with a computer-generated child actor who actually does a better job, and cut out jar jar binks entirely, simultaneously cutting out the kindergarten potty humor. i mean, i didn't mind the gungans on their own. most had decent voices and demeanors.

a guy can dream, can't he?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

turning 30

just a few short days ago i turned 30. i'm not big on numbers and their significance overall, but i think that the weight we've given to 30 as a culture did press in a bit this time--less in terms of life in general, more in terms of my artwork.

having looked at the art of a lot of my contemporary illustrators, and those that influenced me most, 30 seems to be sort of a magic number. around the age of 30, artists seem to find their voice. years ago, when i worked with thomas kinkade's company for a bit during college, i recall talking to him while watching a video of norman rockwell (who we both love). he mentioned something about how artists in general peak through their 30's and 40's, but the great ones continue growing beyond that, while the rest often get complacent or regress after that. now, think what you will about kinkade's work (and i know what most of you think), but i think he had a point. i've noticed myself that some artists seem unstoppable during that period of their lives, and then sometimes start to become disappointing in their later years. sometimes, they can turn shaky hands and failing vision into something great (like rockwell).

so, i've been wary of my 30s as a time when i somehow need to rise to greatness, if i am ever going to. to an extent it seems superstitious, yet the shadow of it started falling on me a couple years back. and lo and behold, this last year or so i have been seeing some definite differences, some changes. and strangely, i've been hearing the same from other artists commenting on my work. it's something of a relief, but i definitely feel like i've got some catching up to do still, in terms of what i wanted to be accomplishing art-wise by about this time.

with that, there's another painting on the board that needs my attention. one which, at least in sketch-stage, embodied some of this growth. it portrays a rugged northern hill-man of the fantasy variety, struggling up a snowy hill against winds and snow. how appropriate.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A New Day for America...

...Or at least, the blogosphere. It's true, the provisional ballots have been counted, chads examined, and I can boldly proclaim this day that I hereby launch this blog!!


Welcome to my spot on the web. There is still some clean-up to do, but I'll get to it as time and interest permits.

Here are a few things you're unlikely to see me writing about: politics (I don't consider the above to be specifically political), religion, hot ladies, vegetables, and cars. I'm an illustrator by trade, so you will occasionally see me talking about art and for those of you coming from my website that's what you're probably here for. I love talking about art, and you're likely to see me wax eloquent on this subject from time to time. However, though I am an artist I don't define my self by what I do. This means you're likely to see me talking about various random happenings, the usual thing you might see on a site such as this. In those instances, I'll likely be far less eloquent.

I'll get this out of the way now, too: I type in lower-case. get over it. I am also long-winded. I like to write, and I enjoy being precise when I do. Because of this a blog seems like a natural thing to have.

As with most of these kinds of endeavors, I imagine I'll post often at the beginning, and then it'll taper off to a post here and there. With any luck, it won't be entirely abandoned quickly as many of these things doubtless are. I've left the comments section on until people start misbehaving. The more it gets used, the more likely I am to keep on with this.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

testing, testing....

i figured that the day we choose a new president might be a good day to start my blog, unofficially at least, with this test.