FIW - Faun

Jul. 24th, 2012 03:36 pm
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June's Figurative Illustration Workshop featured a faun. Our lovely model had fashioned furry leggings and a tail, with her dog providing reference for the animal legs. And then, of course, the horns. More of that in a bit.

This was my first time at the Workshop - I've attended a figure drawing night there once before. I like Platform Studios quite a bit, and my only complaint is the lack of easy access from public transportation. But everyone was friendly and I'm a sucker for theme drawing sessions. Next time is Conan, which is causing a bit of excitement for me, as I'll be listening to the soundtrack on my iPod while I channel my inner Frazetta.

Below are some sketches from the last session.
I think the last one might get redone at some point into something a bit more finished. All sketches were done with pen and watercolor pencil.

I messed up her nose, which coupled with the large ram horns, gives us Skelefaun.


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I’m supposed to do one of these end of the year posts, right? Except my head is deeply buried in work and I used my favorite New Year’s quote last year. I must say, this has been quite the crazy, stressful, wonderful year. Moving to a new state and selling a house in the old took over my life a bit. So there is much I will be celebrating as this year ends and a fresh new one spreads out in front of me, full of a lovely new city to explore and much art that is begging to be made. A few years ago I had what I called my Year of Destruction, in which my world was turned upside down in what seemed to be a couple of unfortunate incidents until I found it was simply clearing the way for something new to be built. This year has felt similar to that, a series of endings and beginnings, but I’m not quite sure what to call it yet. I have new projects to look forward to, and this new year feels full of promise.

Screw it. The man is wise, and this beautiful sentiment can not be said enough. Enjoy your evening and new year.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.

I hope you will make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.

- Neil Gaiman

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As I mentioned before, I had the good fortune to attend a recent lecture by Debbie Millman, former president of the AIGA. It was inspiring, even if she wasn’t able to show the slides she normally presents with the lecture, and it was a lot of fun to hear her talk about how various designers work. The main gist of the talk was how much designers affect change in the world, how people perceive brands and the role of story in design. Of course I took notes.


Everything in red and black is from the lecture. On the bottom right you’ll see some of my scribbling from a night out with some friends, where I jotted down notes both from the people I was with, overheard conversations and a bit of the music being played.




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As promised, here is the final image from my VIPink poster. If you like it, head on over to the Busted Art page, where you can buy one as well as browse the lovely posters that the other artists submitted. You should hurry, though, as the posters are only up until the end of the year, and mine is a limited edition print. If you’re beginning to think about holiday shopping, the Busted Art posters would be a great way to share some art and donate to a good cause. Also thanks to everyone who came to the event, and to the organizers who were so great to work with. To see images of the work in-progress, please click here.


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In the spirit of the holiday, today’s sketchbook pages come from the recent Danzig Legacy show. (Yes, I took my sketchbook to a concert and drew.) The pages have been split in half, but each pair would be a facing page. Originally I was going to add in an accent color, but it seems more appropriate to leave it black and white. Very black. I’ve also included the video so you can get the full experience if you wish. And as always, feedback is welcome. Happy Halloween!

Just for fun, here is some of the tallied information on the third page:
Drinks consumed: 4
Pieces of pizza eaten: 1
Guy in corpse paint: 1
Guy wearing an orange Misfits shirt: 1
Native American headdresses spotted: 1
Hillbillies: 1
Interpretive dancers on stage: 1
Crowd surfers during fourth band: 9

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I realized I haven’t posted very much from my sketchbook recently, which is a shame. In the last month I’ve drawn cats, baseball players, a design lecture, a night out with friends, protesters, and black-clad concert goers. I’ll be posting some more of this work, but let’s start with the protesters.

I went down to the Occupy Chicago protest about two weeks ago to check it out and draw some of the people. I hadn’t gotten around to scanning the pages until tonight, but here’s what I was able to accomplish while standing on the street, brush in one hand, ink bottle in the other. By now there are many more people down there, so another expedition may be forthcoming. In case you’re curious about the whole Occupy Movement and Occupy Chicago specifically, you can find out more here.


Protesters + some overheard comments from passersby. Lots of Guy Fawkes masks & bandanas.

More protesters + some odd looks. Also drum circle, at least one drum was improvised from an empty water jug.


People, chants, and a survey of male facial hair & female hair styles found among the protesters.


Since it’s a bit small, here’s some of the text on the last page. I had a short conversation with the local newspaper hawker. It went something like this:

Protesters: “People over profits!”

Newspaper Guy: “Ha! Sometimes.”

He looks over at me when I laugh.

NG: “I’ve got my ritual. I sit down and listen to some music, so I’m peaceful, then nothing can get to me, you know?”

Turns to commuters hurrying past through the rain.

NG: “Chicago Sun Times! Got an umbrella for you right here!”


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I can’t remember exactly where this idea came from. I was researching St. Agatha with the idea of making some sort of prayer card style poster, but then I started looking at the Strength card in Tarot. This somehow led me to Sekmet, the lion-headed Egyptian Goddess of war and healing, who led me to female lion tamers. I quite like the idea of cancer being a wild beast that leaves its mark on anyone who gets too close, but my favorite part is the look on the girl’s face as she wrestles it into submission.

I printed these at the amazing Spudnik Press, which is a cooperative print shop here in Chicago. They are wonderfully friendly and may be one way for me to feed my printing addiction. Although the yellow layer containing the lion’s fur begged to be a woodcut, I ended up screen printing both colors.

These will be for sale at that charity event I mentioned before. On October 22, the new-to-St.-Louis organization, Bright Pink, is holding a benefit at Mad Art in St. Louis. You go, have a few drinks and get the chance to buy some really amazing art from some great local artists like: Amy Thompson, Cheree Berry, Blaine Deutsch and Sam Washburn, plus others. You can find out more here, and I’ll reveal the entire print after the event takes place.

Now for some in-process pics:

Sketch being finalized on lightbox

Making the separations. I do this digitally after scanning in my sketch.

Yellow screen, all loaded up with ink. It was printed on cream paper before the blue.

Print teaser

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So the reason for the radio silence is over – I have really actually moved from St. Louis to Chicago. I’m slowly getting settled into the new apartment, figuring out the el (or ‘L’, if you prefer), and eating tons of fantastic food. But more on that later, as well as an update on the Artcrank Interbike awesomeness.

This is more of a quick check in and a first mention of another poster show I’ll be in coming up in October. It’s for Bright Pink, an organization that “provides education and support to young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer”. Check out their website, they’re good people. And they’ll be hosting their first St. Louis event on October 22 at RGG Photography (info & tickets here). You obviously should go. The official flyer is below, and more info to come, including in-progress shots of my poster.

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 This week’s theme was gesture. Put together some reference photos of modern dance and an off-hand reference to a Portuguese man-o-war, and you get the following illustration. I’m also including the sketch because I really like how the dancer looked before I turned her upside down and drowned her.

Original sketch



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 This week’s Illustration Friday theme was stay. After floundering for a bit, I turned to my newest method for figuring out the subject matter – deciding what I wanted to draw, then making it fit into the theme. I’m also including some of my sketches and process this time, ’cause it’s been a while.

Instead of going with stay as a verb, I used the object-specifically the stays of a corset. After doing a little research (whoo fetish sites), I came up with the following sketch:

I sketched out her body, then drew a close up of her face using a reference photos.


I scanned this and used my tablet to ‘ink’ over it. Normally I do this by hand with a lightbox before scanning the final art and coloring it digitally, but I’ve been working on improving my tablet skills, so this one was all digital. Here’s an in process shot that shows my sketch underneath the digital work:

Inked, uncolored version of the main figure

Since I wanted to suggest a story, not just have a figure in front of a solid tone, I looked through some old pulp covers and came up with the rest of the composition.

I’m still playing around with the old-school comic palette I keep mentioning. Originally I had one tone throughout with limited accents of red and green, but I finally had to switch to the blue background to get my lovely girl to pop:


Feel free to leave some feedback in the comments, and more updates soon!

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 I didn’t think I was going to have time to do this week’s Illustration Friday, which was really upsetting, as this week’s theme was shadows. I managed to carve out a bit of time to work on this, but it is probably something I’d like to work on further…sometime. I also used the color palette from the golden age of comics I’ve mentioned, and I think the colors work really well. Definitely something to continue to work with. And as always, comments are welcome!

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 This week's theme was asleep, and check out everyone else's work here.

This one is a little different than my normal drawings. I'm playing with some new ideas on my tablet, and this is where it took me. I'd love to spend more time on this, especially the doors, but I'd also like to eat. And sleep. So I am out of time.

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As I've mentioned before, sometimes there are cute things that want to kill you. And sometimes the things that want to kill you aren't that cute, but they'll do something that directly contradicts that deadly impulse - like smile at you.

Things that want to eat you should not smile at you. It's unbelievably creepy.

Last weekend I saw the movie Stake Land, a depressing tale that follows Martin and Mister, two of the last survivors after a vampiric scourge has destroyed civilization in North America. You can read more here, and the trailer is below:


Um, yeah. The only real part of the movie that creeped me out is in the trailer. Cute young girl, who you think is dead, opens her eyes and then...smiles. Ugh.

So it was with that in mind that I came up with my drawing for this week's Illustration Friday. The theme was soaked.


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Or rather, my cats do. Normally my two roly poly felines do not venture outdoors, but I took them out for a bit a grass-eating and investigating for a very selfish reason. I wanted to draw them.

Brush & ink - top 3 are of Belladonna and the bottom profile is Phooka.

I don’t draw my cats a lot, as they are both black (or mainly black) and can be a bit hard to see. Especially since they’re normally on the black area rug, and yes, they get tripped on at night a lot. So details are out, but the late afternoon sunlight was perfect for some outline and gesture drawings.


Yes, I'm aware my cats are fat.

I also wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Artcrank event this weekend, at which I will have a poster for sale. Info is here. And, if you’re looking for a more convenient way to keep up with me, I wanted to offer my TumblrBlogger and regular blog links, just in case. The same info is posted across all of them, (except for the Tumblr & Twitter, which sometimes gets the stuff that doesn’t deserve a full blog post, like my love of useless machines & various video games).

Phooka does not find you interesting

That confused look is pretty constant.

Hope to see everyone this weekend!

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I thought I’d give a little peek to whet your appetite for the awesome Artcrank posters to come (see last post). So here is a bitty corner of my finished poster – screen printed by moi during the course of two days at the excellent All Along Press, a local cooperative print shop. on chipboard

To see the whole thing you’ll have to go to the party, where you can also enjoy (and buy) a bunch of other cool posters by some other St. Louis artists. It’s Thursday, May 12, 7pm at the Atomic Cowboy. See you there!
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