Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Balance of Power

Back at GenCon, I displayed two new paintings, one of which won a jury award. The Balance of Power was an uncommissioned painting finished up right before the convention. I'd been wanting to do it pretty much immediately after finishing the two paintings, Golden and Silver a couple of years ago. Immediately after finishing Golden, I kicked myself rather hard for painting it so small--just 8x10". I just think now about what might've been had it been more like 16x20". It was especially hard since I knew I was going to do Silver shortly thereafter, and wanted them to be a matched pair. So, when upon completing them, I thought of other pieces that might or might not follow along those lines, I knew that they'd have to be bigger.

Well, at 18x24", I seem to have fulfilled that goal. Whereas the former pieces were merely decorative, with nothing further to them, with this particular piece I did seek to inject a little more than eye-candy (though there is hopefully plenty of that, too). For this reason, I titled the piece differently than "Black/White," which might've been the easy out. In planning the piece, I intended to emphasize the opposite aspects of the figures, while expressing the equal dignity of all people, as well as their complementary nature. Though typically long on words, I'm rarely long on explanations when it comes to paintings (at least, unsolicited). The above, however, adequately explains all you need to know to explore the piece.

The painting is available, which you can zoom in on, as well as its sketch. But rather than just point you there, below you'll find some tight detail scans. Each box below is an enlargement of 1"sq.

Update 6/2010: The painting was reworked, and you can read more about that here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Whiteback Sketches pt.3

It's been a few months since my last post of white-back sketches, so here are a few more. One is from '08 and hadn't made it here yet. Wow.

Clockwise from top L: Keldon Firebombers, Magus of the Tabernacle, Haunted Cadaver, Bant Charm

As always, these are available on any white-backed artist proof card.

Friday, October 23, 2009

iPhone Wallpapers

It's Friday, and I haven't yet posted. So, to make up, something to take away with you. Click either image below to see and then download the wallpaper you like, for your iPhone or iPod Touch. I present them below mocked up to resemble an iPhone start screen so you can gauge if you like the look of it. If you like these, maybe I'll do some more later. But I'll start with some perennial favorites, "Devilish Thoughts," and its counterpart, "Angelic Songs."

And before you ask, I don't have the rights for any Magic: the Gathering art, so no wallpapers of those (and other Big Name licensed games).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where the Crotchety Old Men Are

I am not going to begin by gushing about how Maurice Sendak's classic, "Where the Wild Things Are," was a pivotal influence in my becoming an artist. It wasn't. I read it as a kid, and thought the monsters were neat. I think my brother liked it more than I. After reading it once or twice (he may have borrowed it from the library), I didn't pick it up again until a couple weeks ago when I flipped through it at my nephew's house. So, it's not my favorite children's book ever, but I appreciated the artwork. I think overall I preferred Dr. Seuss books.

But with the movie adaptation, Sendak mania has swept the land. I'm not trying to be counter-cultural or anything--for many this was a childhood favorite, and evokes strong and happy memories. I'll definitely see the film at some point.

The book won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, the Oscar of picture-books. That's significant, as it is certainly a well-illustrated book. However, Sendak also wrote the very brief story that accompanied the illustrations, and here is where my recent re-read made me scratch my head.

Here's my recap of the story: Max is a kid who begins the story being a brat--he hangs a doll from a clothes hanger, chases the family dog with a fork, and back-talks (yells at) his mom, etc.. So he's sent to bed without supper. The End. Well, not really, but that might've been a nice children's story already. But it continues....As he hangs out, bored, in his room, he imagines an escape from his home into a land where the Wild Things are. Upon enountering these ferocious creatures, he cows them and he/they make him out to be the most Wild Thing of all. They/he make Max king, in fact. Nice little bit of self-aggrandizement. There follows a short break to party down. Then he scolds the Wild Things to bed without dinner for no good reason--they have, after all, just partied with him, giving him rides on their back and made him king and all. He realizes he wants to be where he's loved, so goes home. There, back in his room he finds his dinner waiting for him in his room. The End.

It may be perhaps because I am nearing 35 now, and am developing into a Crotchety Old Man, but I was confused. You have a brat who is rightfully disciplined, who then escapes in his mind and evidences that he thinks too highly of himself and is cruel to innocent creatures (again), but finally gets lonely and realizes he wants to be loved. When he wakes from his reverie his parents have caved and brought him room-service dinner. Did I miss something? Maybe that's why the story didn't cling to me as a kid. Max and I had very different parenting!

It seems that one more panel would've brought the whole thing together, one in which Max shouts out through the door, "Thanks, mom." With just those two words you'd have the clincher, where Max realizes he was loved, and was appreciative. The same act would've carried with it an implied apology of sorts, or at least acknowledgment of his bad behavior. He strikes me as the kind of kid who has to always be prompted to say, "Thank you," and that as only an annoyed mumble.

I'm betting he eventually joined Slytherin, at Hogwarts (since he does know at least one magic trick already).

Monday, October 05, 2009


I haven't written much about running this year. After last year's first full marathon, which I finished (yay) but failed in my goals on (by 1/2 hour), I've of course kept running. I figured this year I'd just shoot for a half-marathon. Full marathons basically eat your life up during the long months of training. Halves are much more manageable.

My first 1/2, 2 years ago in Asheville, was also my first organized race. I did it in 1:55:18 (8:48/mi.), which was great since I was just happy to have accomplished it. The 1/2 marathon split during my full marathon last year was basically the same, 1:55:something. That time I was just focused on the increased mileage, so didn't think at all about speed.

This year, I just wanted to run a 1/2 and beat 1:55:18. I didn't much care by how much. About 6 weeks ago, a friend called and mentioned he was running a half marathon in San Jose. As it turned out, I had planned to be in CA on vacation during that time and hadn't registered for any races yet. So I signed up. Running in my home town, right by my old neighborhood and old haunts, would be great. The problem--he has always run faster than me and was shooting for 1:45. Aggressively, he was hoping for 1:40 to beat his personal record. 1:45 would be a record for me, as it's almost a minute faster per mile than I was used to running!

I immediately changed my training and focused on timing myself (I never did) and getting my speed up.

So yesterday we ran the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll marathon. Great weather, running through parts of San Jose I knew well but never ran through, lots of live music, supportive family and friends, and a solid runner and friend at my side helped. It was a great run. We pushed each other and I finished at 1:39:27 (7:36/mi.), faster than we'd even hoped.

My chip time was almost 30 secs faster, as I didn't start with the elite runners.

I still maintain that just about anyone can train to a half-marathon in a year or two. My first run was 3.5 years ago, all of one measly huffing-and-puffing mile. If I can do it, so can you.