Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My CTNX Demo Saturday at 4pm!

For those of you attending CTNX this weekend, stop by and join me Saturday at 4 to 4:45pm in the digital atrium for my demonstration. The topic will be using color and light as major design elements for concept art.

And I'm looking forward to meeting those of you who signed up for my Friday workshop (sold out).

See you there!

Monday, 14 October 2013

A Full $100 Off My Self Taught Class, Sale Ends Friday

The sale is now over, thanks so much for the overwhelming response! The class will remain available at this link as self taught or fully critiqued. I hope to have a chance to work with you in the future.

Give your work beauty and artistry, drama and emotion, give it designed color and light! A full $100 off the regular price for the self taught class until Friday October 18. Now is the the moment you've been waiting for! Easy signup here.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


No backgrounds.

No clothes.


 No photo reference


No fingernails or eyelashes.


No light source.


No facial expressions

No laws of anatomy that can't be compromised in the name of design.

No place to hide.

Rodin's watercolors: Absolutely marvelous. 

Monday, 30 September 2013

Sign up for my CTN Animation Expo workshop!

This event is now sold out but I am doing a presentation/demo on the main floor Saturday afternoon at 4pm. See you there!

I hope to see you all at the CTN Animation Expo this year! My workshop is on Friday Nov. 15, 5:30pm and is now taking enrollments. Only $10, sign up while seats last!  Click this link and go to the third one down called "How to Find Artistry"

Here's a description:

Finding Artistry and Elegant Simplicity in Complex Concept Art 

As an animation artist, you'll be required to find beautiful artistry and clarity within challenging and complex subject matter. Whether it's sophisticated architecture, busy foliage or a landscape filled characters, this workshop will give you tools to meet the challenge!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

My Self Taught Online Course: Designing with Color and Light Fall Sale!

Give your work beauty and artistry, drama and emotion, give it designed color and light! A full $100 off the regular price. Now is the the moment you've been waiting for! Easy signup here.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Florianopolis Brazil Workshop!

For any of you in Brazil, I'm very excited to travel to Florianopolis for workshops with Pixar's Louis Gonzales on November 2-3

See you there!


Monday, 19 August 2013

Online Portrait Drawing Course!

Study portrait drawing with me from anywhere in the world in my online class Drawing the Portrait in Charcoal. It begins January 13, 2014, enrollment is limited, sign up today! Hosted by the great people at LAAFA!

I've done my best to make this class the strongest such class on the market, it includes nine fully illustrated,  jam packed audio/video lectures, twelve video drawing demonstrations showing a wide variety of subjects, techniques and materials, and weekly homework assignments that will build on themselves to teach you a clearer, better way to work from life.

I'll work with you personally each week, you'll get a full audio/video critique of your work where I'll talk through with you what's working in your drawing and what can be improved. I'll draw over your image to give you a personalized demonstration for every assignment you turn in.

This class is designed to show you how to make drawing cease to be a source of frustration and become a pleasure, I'm looking forward to working with you.

Friday, 16 August 2013


"What is robbing a bank compared to founding a bank?"
                                                            -- Bertolt Brecht

This morning's newspapers bring the fun story of a massive art fraud, in which 63 "newly discovered" masterpieces by the greatest abstract expressionist painters (Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell) turned out to be forgeries, painted by a local artist in his garage.

fake Jackson Pollock

The paintings were sold over a 15 year period by prestigious art galleries for more than $80 million. 

The New York Times reports, "How imitations of the most heralded Abstract Expressionists by a complete unknown could have fooled connoisseurs and clients remains a mystery."  No it doesn't.  Not in the least.

See if you can spot the worst fraudsters in this food chain:  The painter who created the fakes first attempted to earn a living selling his own work on the streets of New York, but ultimately turned to painting masterpieces instead.  He was paid $5,000 to $7,000 for each painting.  His fakes were then sold as originals by Glafira Rosales, an obscure art dealer, who reaped millions of dollars in profits, peddling them to venerable Manhattan art galleries with distinguished reputations, such as Knoedler's.  The venerable art galleries then reaped even greater profits, reselling the paintings to Wall Street executives and investment bankers. (For example, Knoedler's sold $63 million worth of the paintings, keeping its "fee" of $43 million and paying only $20 million to Rosales.)  The Wall Street executives could afford the paintings because the executives had become fabulously wealthy using slippery tactics to manipulate the financial system at huge social cost to pension funds, home owners with mortgages, and individual investors.  Because the Wall Street executives had no personal taste for art, they paid huge fees to consultants and advisors who claimed to have impeccable judgment and great expertise.  These advisors would never stoop so low as to purchase art from a painter selling his work on the streets of New York. 

Ah, but the nest of parasites does not end there.  There is now a blizzard of law suits from the purchasers of the fakes, who are indignant at being defrauded.  My initial reaction to these lawsuits was, "If you were inspired by the beauty of the picture when you first bought it (as you claimed in your press releases) it looks exactly the same now, so sit down and shut the fuck up."

However, one must keep in mind that these lawsuits are likely to generate millions of dollars in fees for large corporate law firms, and as a lawyer I don't want to write anything that might discourage this worthy outcome.  How else could law firms afford to do pro bono work for impoverished artists who sell their work on the streets of New York?


Thursday, 8 August 2013


Here is another spot illustration by illustrator Robert Fawcett, this time a small ink drawing of his friend Austin Briggs who was giving a slide show presentation:

Despite the sedentary subject matter, close ups of the original reveal a vigorous knife fight:  

Pausing over details, we begin to appreciate the extraordinary variety of Fawcett's marks on paper :

Over the last few days we have focused on Fawcett's ink work, but before we move on to different topics, here is one of Fawcett's pencil drawings for a different perspective:

This life drawing was included in Fawcett's book, The Art of Drawing but by looking at the original we can see that Fawcett (who was color blind) supplemented his drawing with shading from a red pencil.  Fawcett's eyes can't help but impose lines on a form:

 but he understood tone and value as well:

Monday, 5 August 2013

Landscape Quicksketch

Sketches in the vicinity of Crystal Springs Reservoir, California.

Saturday, 3 August 2013


I feel this blog performs a public service on days when I can share close ups from an original Robert Fawcett drawing.

 This drawing had everything going against it:

  1. It's a tiny, low budget spot illustration for an industrial brochure...
  2. drawn from a photo...
  3. of a deadly dull topic: a middle aged, anonymous instructor at a correspondence school, working at his drawing board.
Yet, for Fawcett even a boring subject could be like working in a firecracker factory.  

He starts out working fairly tightly on the head, even using a little white paint to sharpen his focus...

... but from there, he quickly gets wilder:


With energy and integrity, it's possible to overcome even the most uninspiring subject matter.  

In the next few days, I will be  posting more unpublished original work and some of Fawcett's handwritten notes about his approach to drawing.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


This year's Comic-Con in San Diego was like the ancient bazaar of Constantinople teleported to the third moon of Zarbtron. There were charlatans and geniuses in abundance, hawking their wares from platforms that ranged from a cardboard box on the sidewalk to a glittering Hollywood extravaganza on the stage of the huge convention hall.  (Of course the platform was no predictor of quality, so you had to check out everything.)

Comic-Con provides a true kaleidoscope of popular culture.  Where else could you find Neal Adams competing with Sergio Aragones-- his artistic opposite-- in a "quick draw" competition?  Where else would author Neil Gaiman discuss the merits of Jack Kirby's different inkers? One of my favorites: 20th Century Fox, promoting the new blu-ray edition of The Predator, used 3D copiers to scan the heads of the first 500 customers and create an action figure of the Predator holding up the customer's severed head.

The loud, pounding base line from amplifiers in some of the booths made your lungs compress as if you were in the front row at a Metallica concert (yes, the band Metallica was at Comic-Con too).


But Comic-Con is governed by the same laws of physics that apply to the rest of the universe, so many of the most interesting things took place quietly at the subatomic level.  This year's lesson in quantum mechanics comes from these tiny preliminary sketches by illustrator Saul Tepper, found in a quiet corner of the exhibition hall:

For scale, those holes are staple holes.

Each one is about the size of a postage stamp, yet they have all the DNA necessary for a larger, more elaborate image.

Tepper has worked out all the fundamental creative choices.  His composition is settled, his priorities are established, his lights and darks are in place, he has decided on the gestures and the movement of each picture. 

From tiny acorns such as this grew finished drawings, then big oil paintings on canvas, then pictures that moved and talked, and then 3D digital animation on IMAX screens.

(Detail) Note how Tepper has decided when to dig in hard with the point of his pencil (as with the hand raised to this woman's face), when to cruise along lightly and when to apply the flat of the pencil for tone.

In their rush to get to the flashing lights and big screens at the LucasFilm and Sony Pictures displays, I'm not sure many of the participants recognized the seeds from which those mighty oaks grew. But the genetic code starts right here.

(Thanks to Comic-Con exhibitor Taraba Illustration Art for these sketches.)

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Herd


 "Wildness can be the picture's better part, its physical delight."  -- Gordon Parks
 In the 1960s, American illustration entered a wild, expressive phase.  Many illustrators employed vigorous, slashing strokes to convey the new mood (and speed) of the country.

Bob Peak

These pictures had an energy and virility that still stands out, fifty years later.  Bob Peak was one prominent example of that style, but there were dozens of less well known illustrators who helped to visualize the mood of the '60s.

For example, the talented Harvey Schmidt worked in a similarly robust, vigorous style:


Another talented illustrator, Jim Jonson, made expressive, high velocity illustrations of figures stretched to the max:

Here, Neil Boyle applies this same energetic line to inanimate objects:


The Society of Illustrators annuals from the '60s contain a great deal of art in this dynamic spirit; lots of slashing lines and lightning bolt scribbles back and forth.  In later decades illustration might adopt a more conceptual approach.  Later audiences might grow to prefer a more controlled look.  Yet, these pictures from the '60s retain a potency that is undeniable.

One reason these pictures feel good to look at is because they felt good to make.  They exemplify what Parks called the "physical delight" of picture making-- something that seems less evident in the era of Wacom tablets.

Robert Weaver
Al Parker

Joe Cleary
Like Parks, I believe that the wildness in a picture can be the picture's "better part," and that in the right circumstances it can hold up against anything else a picture has to offer.