Continuing on my path to try and be more abstract, this poor painting went through MANY iterations (not least of which was a completely new reference image after painting on it for about 3-4 sessions). I played with adding cars, removing cars, adding building details, removing details, changed the color palette from a sort of mauvy base to this more cerulean blue base. This is also one of the largest paintings I’ve attempted since college, hitting 3×4 feet. I struggle a lot with the scale. Only in the last 2 sessions did it really click that all I wanted to do was play with colors and layering (versus capturing structural details – my instinctive approach). I feel a little more confident about it, and already have ideas for what I want – no, how I want – to paint next.
After a few sessions, this was where the painting was. I was not happy with how bright it was and how there was no continuity of palette – just a full on rainbow that barfed on the page. I also was already giving detail I didn’t want.
I toned it down and tried to pretend like I didn’t know how to capture the perspective (it was too round and I wanted more angularity). I couldn’t handle it though.
That’s what I have to say about that painting!
Starting fresh. Leaning heavily on my tan/mauve and purple palette. It wasn’t striking a chord though.
Which is how it got so green! This is a sample of when I started adding too much detail (and cars) that I did eventually ditched. Not to say that it wouldn’t be fun to make a realistic painting of San Francisco again some day, but I am really trying to experience this new way of thinking about the process.
I’ve been on a painting kick in the last year. Normally I don’t make time to get down into the garage to work on personal projects, but I’ve been trying harder to make it a habit. Helping keep me on task, I’ve also been documenting my process more than I ever have, and in this last painting, I took snapshots of the piece at the end of every painting session in order to see how the piece evolves. It’s so easy to forget where you started from, especially when you have days and weeks between sessions. So, I enjoyed seeing it come together and thought it would be fun to share.
A little back story is that the photo I referenced I took while on a road trip through the Southwest. The image was taken on Navajo land just east of the Grand Canyon. The gorge in the painting is in fact the same canyon, just a little less of the grand part, as it becomes shallow and narrow enough to cross like any ol’ river a few miles further down the road from where the photo was taken.
Some random ideas I had for illustrating some of the elements in the periodic table that I felt grouped together nicely into certain themes. I’ve always really liked chemistry and admire the periodic table for its organization and rules. But I really only understand it on a basic level, and like many projects I’ve worked on (including almost an entire year of my painting studies in college) I like to make illustrations and diagrams based on my interpretation of the parts that makes sense, or seem to be connected, typically in very unscientific ways. Just for fun.
I did it! I’ve made a parallax site. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, parallax has exploded in the last year (or less?). It is such a wonderful way to create layers, animation, and add a sense of depth to a web experience. I have just barely touched the tip of the iceberg with what I’ve created here – the potential to add even more transitions and animations to a parallax site are boundless.
I was excited to experiment with this new technology with my long-standing client, that being the annual WooCamp invite. I’ve created 4 of them so far, alternating between print and web based invites. The event lends itself to themes of adventure, exploration, wilderness, and camaraderie, and this year, inspired also by my client’s recent trips to Antarctica, Patagonia, Everest, K2 (the list goes on), I settled on “Victorian Adventurer” for the invite’s theme. (Previous incarnations have been National Parks, Wild West, and something akin to Summer Camp).
I started with some fancy Victorian lettering, pulling inspiration from a Pinterest board I created that is full of Victorian/Explorer images. I also not-so-secretly admire Jessica Hische and all her beautiful lettering projects, and wanted to take a stab at one myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I also created a “ticket” that could be used for email, directing invitees to the website, which was another Victorian travel inspired piece.
In addition to some fun side graphics I created that illustrated the events of the weekend, I had to include in there somewhere an homage to the phrase, “Livingstone, I presume.” I mean, I had to.
My first iteration of the Livingstone portrait – I took my client’s face and photoshopped it into a portrait of Henry Morgan. I thought initially I might be able to make little Livingstone-esque portraits for all the attendees as part of their invitation, but realized I simply didn’t have enough time to do that.
Drawing inspiration once again from my Victorian source material, I wanted to include images or maps of the area. The beautiful botanical drawings that came from that era have such a wonderful tone and saturation about them that I wanted to emulate. Tempted initially to bust out water colors and paint up some background images, I instead came across a wealth of photos I had taken while I was at WooCamp one year. Taken when the sun was setting, the colors were ripe and with a few tweaks and filters I feel like I captured the essence of the place, while also playing along with the theme I had established, and created images that had a painted quality about them.
So the background parallax effect I borrowed the general look from this site tutorial. But I really wanted the background images to move slightly, so had to add that code in. Additionally, I wanted to include some more graphics that could tie into the “what to do/what to bring” section, so created another animation speed for those objects so they would appear to “fly up” the screen at a faster rate than the regular scroll. Kind of like how things scroll up the sides of a Pixar animations credits.
Here’s a little animated gif of the animation speeds. Probably better to just look at the site though, so you can scroll at your own pace (here’s the site).
My latest concert poster is complete. This year, the college’s end of year concert will feature a group call the Jazz Garden Band. I was asked to design a poster that would be inspired by the artwork they use on their CDs. I loved the idea of a Garden full of musical instrument shaped plants, so I set to work on an illustration that used one of the CD covers for color and style inspiration.
This is not my typical color palette. I actually found it rather difficult to settle upon the colors I was going to use, as I’m much more comfortable in my earth-toned world. But I think it was a great exercise for me to break out of my norm and, dare I say, jazz it up a bit.
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go on a wonderful road trip from San Francisco, down the coast and across to the Grand Canyon and back. I would not file myself under the label of photographer, but I know what I like and decided to take the chance on a fancy rental lens to see how well I could do while discovering the wild west.
I love painting landscapes, and I think I got a lot of great source material this trip. The colors were warm and vibrant. The sky was clear on most of the days, and even the days that were a bit hazy leant themselves to some wonderful atmospheric perspective.
Day 2 (uh, we got a late start on Day 1 – I have no photos): Carmel to Santa Barbara
Starting off from Pebble Beach and driving along 17 Mile Drive to Carmel admiring the rocky shores and wind blown Monterey Cypress, then driving down the coast to Big Sur. There’s a beautiful waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer beach that can’t be missed.
Day 3: Santa Barbara to Joshua Tree
Santa Barbara is a beautiful town full of lots of spanish mission style architecture and tons of sun. One of my favorite things to check out though, is the mural that’s painted on the walls of the courthouse. No photo I took will capture its entirety or magnificence, but I highly recommend checking it out. The other random highlight of Santa Barbara is the epic and ancient fig tree that resides just next to the 101 freeway. Planted in 1876, it is mighty. Per a 2010 measurement, the widest spread of the branches is 198 feet (60 m). The trunk diameter above the buttress roots is 12.5 feet. Huge.
After Santa Barbara we drove through LA (stopping for some amazing Korean BBQ in downtown first), we drove on to Palm Springs and then up to Joshua Tree just as the sun was setting. Our airbnb for the night was an amazing little “homesteader cabin” a good 6-7 miles off the main highway, off a dirt road. I got a couple night shots of the view from the porch, but it was nearly a full moon, so the stars were a little daunted by the bright light. Still, a really beautiful and serene evening.
Day 4: Joshua Tree to Sedona
Joshua Tree is a crazy place. It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. I also discovered that Joshua Trees are in the Yucca family. They came in so many shapes, appendage numbers, and sizes. We had seen a few of them as we traveled closer to the National Park and also throughout the rest of the Arizona/Nevada area, but there truly wasn’t the same concentration as in the Park itself. Quite stunning to see a forest of them line the road as we drove through. We caught them with a brilliant blue sky and wispy clouds that added another level of character to the landscapes.
And then there’s Sedona. We planned our entrance into the valley perfectly to catch sunset. The formations are beautiful enough in the middle of the day, but when the warm light of sunset hits the brilliant red rocks, they glow. We arrived at that night’s airbnb just as the light was prime for photos and we had a great view of the hills from the porch. After the sun set, I caught a nice shot of the moon rising in dusk light.
Day 5: Sedona to Grand Canyon and over to Kanab, UT
We woke up in Sedona and drove through town a bit to get some views of the wonderful formations. We also wandered over to the chapel that is built into the hillside. It was a pretty impressive construction. I was more amused by the view from the chapel looking down upon the gaudiest home I’ve ever seen. Yeah, check it out – you can’t miss it. I think they must have thought that by painting it red like the rocks it would blend in…
We moved on towards the Grand Canyon afterwards. It was cooling down at that point (it even snowed lightly a little bit), and we were greeted by a very overcast sky when we got there. While I was a little sad to not have the sun illuminate the striking colors and formations that the canyon makes, the diffused lighting did have a certain somber and powerful character of its own. I remarked that the whole thing just looked like a painting in some movie backlot. It’s really hard to believe it’s real even when you’re standing right in front of it.
We drove west a bit, then backtracked along the eastern side of the south rim to the “look out” which was a unique perspective – looking west you could still see the deep cavernous ridge line, but looking east, you could see the plateaus and flat land that extend beyond where the canyon gets shallower. We continued our drive going east towards Lake Powell, stopping at a reservation where they kindly let me take a few more pictures from their vantage point. We drove all the way around up into Utah and landed for the night in the adorable town called Kanab.
Day 6: Kanab to Las Vegas
Kanab is the most quaint little roadside town. Feels like it belongs on Route 66 and clearly gets frequented by people visiting the surrounding national parks. Lots of great neon and retro details throughout the town. It is considered the Little Hollywood of Utah. It definitely had a hay-day where lots of Westerns were filmed in the surrounding area – and movies of note, too. We just watched The Outlaw Josey Wales, a Clint Eastwood flick, that was filmed there to see if we recognized anything.
They have an amazing little movie museum with some sets that were used in films. It’s pretty much perfect.
We went from Kanab to Zion, only about an hour’s drive away. Zion is a beautiful canyon with more stunning rock formations. It has the longest tunnel I’ve ever driven through, carved straight through a mountain side, with only a few pockets of light streaming in as you drove through it. We hiked in the canyon at the end of the northern loop of the road which had a beautiful river running through it.
We left through the southwest entrance and headed on to Vegas for the night.
Day 7: Las Vegas to Death Valley
Being in Vegas was even more surreal than usual, having come from such natural wonders to the artificial wonder that is Vegas. We did the usual Vegas thing that night – dinner and a show, then headed out in the late morning towards Death Valley. We passed a little gas station/brothel on the way, too, on the outskirts of Area 51. Gotta love Nevada.
Death Valley was glorious. We have both decided that we’ll have to come back with more time to explore it. The colors, textures, and formations we saw were so surreal and like nothing I’d ever seen. It looked like something out of a Dalí painting. There was also a quaint little Inn tucked into the hillside that was quite literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. And then the sun was setting as we drove out, making such gorgeous colors: purple hills, golden tumbleweed brush, auburn red dirt, all against a fading blue sky. Such a treat to see. We ended our night in Lone Pine, on the Eastern foothills of the Sierra.
Day 8: Lone Pine & Alabama Hills
Lone Pine is another one of those go-to Western Film shooting locations. Not to mention a few Star Trek movies/episodes. I’ve always loved it. My family used to come up and camp in Onion Valley and surrounding areas, and my Aunt once took my brother and me up Mt. Whitney which you get a nice view of from Lone Pine. While it’s the tallest peak in the continuous US, it doesn’t look like the tallest from the valley. Fond memories, and of course, a gorgeous view. Snow still specks the peaks, and the contrast of the bright blue sky, light blue and gray mountains, with the rambling auburn Alabama hills in the forefront made for a great shot.
This was basically the end of our journey though. We decided to just drive back home via the 5, which isn’t as spectacular as what we’d just seen (unless you count the usual cow concentration camps). Or else I’ve just gotten too familiar with the drive to really notice it’s beautiful spots.
I got a very interesting illustration project last week. I was approached by an international clothing company (based in DC here in the states) called Siqin that designs high-end clothing lines inspired by East-Asian, specifically Mongolian fashions. They were interested in having me create a watercolor that they could use for the 2014 season in their advertising and catalogs.
Based on a photo of a model riding horseback through a chaparral terrain, they wanted to heighten the sense of adventure and romanticism that their clothing lines express, in addition to putting her on a Gobi desert background. I was happy to take on the project, as it’s a very unique request and it’s always nice to have an excuse to break out the watercolors.
I used the reference photo and followed it pretty literally as far as form and color (well, with some caveats – I don’t like painting with black, so the horse is a blend of dark colors, mostly purple). Only other changes were to make the face a little more Eurasian and have her leaning in, not holding the reigns, so I have her lightly touching the horses neck instead. Having the nature of the clothing be clear was another factor I considered, so was careful to recreate the lines and folds of the fabric.
Here is a quick look at some of my sketches and the reference.
It was a quick project, turned around in just a couple days. Looking forward to seeing the final product in the Washington Post where they’re placing the ad.
So I was going through updating my portfolio site, as one does, and I came across these illustrations I made back at Pratt, when I was taking Lynn Pauley‘s class. We took a trip to Coney Island in the off-season. It was eerily deserted, sand piled up on the boardwalk, carney’s lazily hanging about. It was great. I don’t even remember having a camera at the time, but I guess I was able to capture quite a few reference shots which I pulled this series from.
I was heavily influenced by Pauley’s style in that class. She works very loosely, basically considering nothing sacred, owning, no, cherishing the “mistakes” like a line that didn’t end up where you’d expected, or eraser marks boldly left half erased. I don’t think I ended up owning her style for myself, at least not to the extent that she owns it, but it was such a valuable experience to create something with almost casual ease. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I feel that these paintings that came from the experience feel casual and light-hearted, while still feeling a bit washed out and creepy, which I think was kind of what I was going for at the time.
I’m definitely digging back way too far with this one, but it is pretty rare that I have a piece/body of work that I did half my lifetime ago that I still enjoy sharing with people and laughing about. Back in my senior year of high school, I was in the AP Art class and we had to create a 16-20 piece body of work on a theme of our choice for our portfolio review at the end of the year. As I was just starting to learn about a variety of artistic movements that took place in the last century or so, I decided it would be fun to paint images that were homages to some of the artists I had learned about, and in some cases admired. But with a touch of absurdity, of course.
While working on a piece that was an exercise on using contrasting colors of the color wheel, I decided to paint a pear stuck in a padded room (yellow/purple color scheme). I enjoyed the mental image of a piece of fruit being psychotic, and so there developed the subject of the rest of the paintings in the series: Psycho Fruit. With the exception of 2 pieces, the psycho pear included, the rest of the series’ paintings do in some way mimic an artist’s style or play off a specific painting by an artist.
I made this awful website ages ago to house this collection, which does get the job done so I haven’t felt much compulsion to make it better since (though one of these days I will have to rephotograph them at a higher resolution). In my typical fashion, I also created and categorized the pieces neatly into 4 series of 4. Mind you, I’m no psychiatrist, so should not have been the one diagnosing these poor fruits, so apologies if any of the neurosis are mis-categorized.
If only I had broadened the project to include vegetables, then I would have certainly made the Van Gogh piece an *ear* of corn.
Yeah, I don’t think that OCD is technically a paranoia, but I guess I can see why I wanted it to fit nicely into my organizational system.
Ok, Peter Max was an odd outlier amongst the artist I chose to emulate. But really, can you imagine a better muse than a psychedelic artist for a series about psychosis?
So that’s the truth of it all. I admit easily that I could do it all much better now (I mean, I’m technically a better painter now), but even with their flaws, I have never really gotten sick of these pieces. It’s probably a sickness of its own, but I really just enjoy how ridiculous they are. I can only imagine what the judges thought when they saw these come across their desks. Clearly they enjoyed them too, as they committed me. To art school…
I have had the pleasure of making now 3 invites for my friend’s annual get-together called “Woo Camp.” It’s a casual get-together that he hosts at his family’s cattle ranch down in the central coast(ish) area of California. First year we did a printed piece that I created around the theme of National Parks. The following year, we went with a web based invite, and I played off the recently released film True Grit for that one. I built it using a web design software called Hype, btw, if anyone is curious <shameless plug for my friend’s software>.
This year, he suggested a pop-up and my mind went racing. First off, I hadn’t made a pop-up card since elementary school, and as you can imagine, most google searches for “pop-up” came back with mixed results – mostly for browser pop-up (ad) blockers. But it sure got me thinking about the possibilities. I played with the mechanics and then thought about how I wanted the overall piece to look. I didn’t choose a specific theme, per se, but did work with a limited palette and stylized my illustrations a bit to look mildly retro. I also used the font “Tribeca” (pretty sure it was a free font I had downloaded at one point), and I got a few comments on it looking like the Jurassic Park font, which pleased me just as well.
I am overall quite happy with the end result, but wish I had taken just a little more time to send out a “beta” to see how the recipient might try to open the package. I ended up gluing the piece to the hand made envelope, and it is not uncommon for people to rip open envelopes to get at contents, so I won’t be surprised to hear of people bemoaning their choice to hack the envelope off when they went to open it. As well, I included a set of pop-up pieces on the back of a fold-out map piece, and regret that decision because it inhibited the opening of the map completely, making that portion of the presentation a bit cumbersome. On a positive note, I am very pleased with how I came up with the “lounging” guy. He’s reading a book and leaning against a rock, and when you open the card, his legs go from outstretched to folded by way of a a groove in the bottom of the page. Because he was set at an angle, I also had to use string to make the folding action work, as a piece of paper was not able to fold neatly into the proper orientation. I am curious how many other pop-up card makers utilize string for the trickier mechanics.
One of the most important things to note about this project was that it was the reason I became the proud owner of a new die cutting machine. Mind you, when I started the project and came up with the concept to have 3 panels with all these separate pieces moving every which way, I had decided that I would cut all the pieces out by hand/exacto knife. When I went to show my prototype off to the client, another friend of mine mentioned her friend had a fancy laser cutter and that maybe she could get me in touch with her to try it out and possibly help with the project. Intrigued, I took her up on the offer and came to find out the machine was not some over-the-top expensive piece of equipment like a laser cutter, but in fact, a die cutting machine, a la “Midwestern Scrapbooking Housewife” as she explained to us. It’s extraordinary. I had so much fun, and was so relieved to not be hand cutting the 660 some odd pieces for this project (there were 30 invites total), and would recommend the same machine to anyone interested in something like it. The possibilities are endless (if you like working with paper)!
Here’s a shot of my workstation while assembling these. Complete with pint of ice cream and iPad running a barrage of Ted Talks, mind you. Monotonous gluing and stitching requires such incentives to keep you going. I think I need to work on getting minions if I decide to do this again.