Saturday, April 27, 2013


Size: 9x13 inches
Medium: Watercolors
Prints and detailed closeups available -here-

You might remember this one from a few years ago. Or not. It's one of the keyword sketch cards I did in 2010 for a tarot special edition order. Anyway, it was always one of my favorites, and I've been meaning to do a painting based on it for a long time. So when it got commissioned recently I was happy to dive into it!
 Some changes from the original ink sketch. Refining anatomy. Changing the background a bit. Bye turtle, hello birds.

Further refining. Ready to paint at this stage.
 In-progress painting scan.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Medium: Mixed (watercolors, watercolor metallic powder, white watercolor ground, gel pen, india ink)
Size: 4x8 inches
Detail closeups, Prints ($16.95), and Original painting ($295.00) available -here-

What started off as experimenting with some bottles and jars of various mediums I had tucked away in the closet last night, finally took form. 

Started off with numerous ink & metallic powder washes. Just trying to get texture.

This morning I picked up one of the results and started working watercolor and granulation medium into it as well, and the image started to emerge.

What I ended up being really happy with, that unfortunately you can't appreciate in a digital online reproduction, is the way the metallic powder integrated with the colors. The white in the sky was painted on top, so that has a flat tone, but at certain angles, the forest and trees glow with a golden texture.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ink and Pencil Drawings on Etsy

Went through my stash of smaller ink and pencil drawings that I just never got around to scanning and putting online. About 40 of them have been added to Etsy. Most of these are spot illustrations from various projects over the past ten years, including illustrations for Blue Rose rpg, Dreamscapes: Painting Magical Angel Fairy & Mermaid Worlds, Inklings, Hotel Under the Sand (by Kage Baker), and The Even (by Tammy Moore)


Size: 11x7 inches
Medium: Pencil
Prints, original pencil drawing, and detail closeups available: -here-

Revisiting an old idea....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Abandoning the Preciousness

The most important thing about creating art is to create. If you want to be at ease with creativity, you have to immerse yourself in it, and do a little bit every day. Even if that little bit is only to take five minutes while waiting for the bus to come and do a gesture drawing of a man reading his book across the street from you. Or to take the moment to scribble down a thumbnail rough sketch of a concept that occurs to you. Do a little bit each day. Train your brain to think visually.

It can be difficult at first, accustoming yourself to make this small bit of time, because you’ll think:
“I don’t have enough time for it.”
“Art is hard!”
“I’m not good enough yet for that piece I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I’m stuck. Artist’ block.”

These are all excuses. Yes art IS hard. Yes, you might not be good enough yet to do that masterwork that you’ve been dreaming of, but let me let you in on a secret: No artist ever is. Sure, there is satisfaction that comes when the last detail is polished, and your signature scrawled across the bottom corner with its flourishing declaration of “Finis!” Every new painting is a milestone of achievement, hopefully with lessons learned and skills advanced. But if you let yourself rest too long on that satisfaction, then you’re not challenging and pushing yourself onward enough. I like to think that if I still feel a piece I did three years ago is among my best work, then I’m doing something wrong. The best is always going to be among the most recent few, with better ones on the horizon.

That masterwork that you just don’t think you have the skills for yet to tackle? You won’t gain those skills unless you try for it. Take it head on. Make the best attempt you can. Or tackle a small portion or element of it. Maybe it’s dramatic lighting. Maybe it’s multiple figures interacting. Maybe it’s something small like facial expression, or even just how to paint a tree. When you think you have mastered that, move onto the next item on the list, and the next, until you can face the behemoth. It might be you’ll like the result. If you don’t, then figure out what parts didn’t work for you. Don’t just condemn the entirety. Learn to isolate the individual aspects that could be worked on, and then make that your goal of improvement in the next piece.

Preciousness is the enemy of an artist who wants to grow.
1) Precious Time
2) Precious Artwork

To let the Muse work her magic, you have to let go of attachments to those two concepts. Even as a professional who has been drawing and painting every day for almost two decades, I had to learn this lesson recently. I'm not immune to these pitfalls any more than a beginning artist is. I had long ago gotten past the hump of just getting myself to do art every day. That part I took for granted. In fact, after so long, it becomes a necessity — you train yourself to have an artistic outlet, and then it becomes a part of you, as much as breathing and sleeping.

But due to the vagaries of the grand adventure of life, I found my art-time throttled back, and then I fell into the trap that (1) Time was precious.

Because I had little of it to dedicate to creating, it became a commodity, and every moment of it had to matter. Every second sitting at my desk with a pencil or paintbrush in hand had to be momentous because (2) Artwork was precious, and I couldn’t waste my time with non-essentials. There was only enough time for masterpieces.

When you fall into that mode of thinking, your brain and your creativity does the only thing it can: It shuts up completely. That kind of pressure is just too much to expect of yourself.

Every work can’t be a masterpiece. Sometimes, you have to just let your subconscious have its way, and let the creativity flow from whatever small outlet it feels inclined to at the moment. Great art doesn’t happen on a time line. And I’m not talking about an individual painting that you finish for a client’s deadline. I’m talking more about the overarching body of artwork, and self-imposed expectations and time limits.

Make time for the little stuff. For the gesture drawings at the bus stop. For the scribbled thumbnails in your pocket sketchbook when random inspiration strikes at inopportune moments. For the doodles on napkins at a cafe, or in the margins of meeting notes at your day job or class.

Sleep researchers speculate that REM sleep and dreams are necessary for the brain to process the events of a day, work out problems, and experiment. That’s what all the non-masterpiece artworks that you create are. They’re never a waste of time, no matter how small. They are the myriad visual dreams made of paint and ink and paper that make a safe space for your creativity to reach for greater heights.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Size: 13x3 inches
Medium: Pencil

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Medium: Pencil (and a little bit of white gel pen)
Size: 12x6.5 inches
For detail closeups, prints, and the original piece, -click here-

And now for a change of pace. Haven't done any pencil pieces in a long time. After finishing my most recent painting (Dreamdance: Unity), I wanted to further explore that bird/mask figure in the background.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dreamdance: Unity

Dreamdance: Unity
9x12 inches
Medium: Watercolors
From the deck-in-progress: Dreamdance Oracle
Detail closeup  views, & prints available -here-

Satyros Phil Brucato writes for this card:
There’s strength in Unity. Here, the illusion of tribal “otherness” fades away, replaced by an awareness that “All Are One and One are All.” In this Dance, we come together, transcend our separations, and seek wisdom from the blending of traditions rather than the rigidity of a single approach. The Dance of Unity heals divisions, shares blessings, and calls people together in a loving whole. In this new millennium, Unity may be the ultimate path of human survival.

And yet, as we Dance this circle, we must be careful not to lose ourselves in it. It’s far too easy to pat ourselves on our collective back while ignoring the cracks beneath our feet. There’s a balance between Self-ishness and the total loss of Self; without that balance, we risk losing the precious contributions that difference brings. We are creatures of diversity, whose cultural and biological differences combine to make a stronger whole. Without that balance, we’re just “spinning our wheels,” making pretty designs but ultimately going nowhere.

* * *

Sketches and in-progress scans:Initial  scribbly brainstorming in my sketchbook.

More refined sketch

And ready for painting.

Super rough color test in photoshop. Threw together textures from older paintings, and then fiddle with color balance on selections, just to get an idea of where to go before I pull out the watercolors and go at it for real.

First few layers of painting.
Used a bit of gel pen to enhance the "glow" around the medicine wheel stones.
Cabbage blue!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Conceptual Blending

The path of my career has often elicited surprise from people: the fact that I went from working as a software programmer for several years, before striking out to pursue art full time. And contrary to what some might suppose, I don't dislike programming.  In truth, I enjoy the challenges of working with computer languages and designing program structures quite a bit. Not as much as I love (and need) to create art, mind you, but it's a part of me as well. 

Recently, while reading an article about author (and Physics PhD) Catherine Asaro, I came across the theory of "conceptual blending", which illuminates how elements from very different spheres can be  combined in the human mind, often in reference to sciences and arts, in creative thinking.
And it got me thinking about how these two seemingly disparate elements of my mind are combined, because I don't feel at odds with them. In fact, I feel like the programmer, and the visual artist versions of me are very similar, and function in much the same way (not to mention many other facets of my personality and habits). 

My art is known for being very detail-oriented. Many elements that a viewer can come to and see for the first time with each successive impression of a piece. I spend a lot of time working out the flow of these individual elements, and in how they can merge together to make a cohesive whole. In a way, when I brainstorm and figure out compositions, it is the same part of my brain that designs programs and the architectural structure of code. They are both a form of problem solving, followed by close attention to detail and smaller components.

Artwork has a logic to it. From the mechanical nature of application of paint, and the determination of how exactly and in what order to layer colors to achieve desired effect, to the observation of life references that is required for knowledge of how to represent and depict something. Process is a meticulous thing. More intense in some mediums than others (intaglio printmaking, which I did over a decade ago, for example, is notorious as a very process-heavy technique), but present for all mediums.

And on the other hand, software has a very creative aspect to it as well. Yes, there are algorithms, and well known structures for various optimal implementations, but how you choose to pull all those disparate elements together into a program can be the difference in a clunky hack piece of code, or a wonder of flowing design.

I'm a detail and logic person, as well as being very focused on overall structural design. These elements are evident in my approach to programming, in my art, in my dancing, and even in the way I deal with scheduling and deadlines. It's all wound up together in a multidisciplinary knot, and it all comes from the same place.

How do your underlying traits dictate your creativity?