November 21, 2013

Man Eaters: Horror Film Femme Fatales

What started out as a random Facebook request to my friends for something to draw turned into daily homework for the entire month of October. It seemed like a perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit by doing these drawings. Years past, I would do a horror movie a day. Each year I'd try to adhere to a theme; 70s, 80s, creatures, etc. This year, it changed into drawings of 31 Horror Film Femme Fatales. Easy enough.

The concept originated from the poor outcomes from my single-life dating. Hall and Oates said it best... "Oh-oh. Here she comes. Watch out boy she'll chew you up. She's a maneater." Well, rather than draw MY problematic women, I redirected my energy to the women in horror films. They're more interesting, plenty to pull from, and they have much more crowd appeal.

The first couple were done in my sketchbook, but then I realized this project's breadth and potential. I switched over to doing them on Bristol board. These 4"x6" images, all freehand drawn, were done with Copic pens, Copic markers - Neutral Greys (0, 2, 4, and 6), some pencil, Prismacolor white, and little bit of Gesso. Afterward, I would scan them in and adjust any unsightly errors; like crooked eyes, or non-centered mouths. It happens.

Below, are 19 of that bunch. The book, when completed, will comprise of 60 women, about 130 pages.

As always, click the images for a larger view.

September 16, 2013

IlluXCon 5 2013

For the past 4 years, artists have making the annual pilgrimage to Altoona Pennsylvania for IlluXCon. A gathering of the publishing industry's greatest illustrators ever assembled. This year was the first of its newly transplanted home in Allentown PA. With a larger venue at the Allentown Art Museum featuring 55 main show artists and 32 weekend salon artists while an additional 77 showcase artists were on a limit display at the Center City Holiday Inn blocks away. If you're a serious artist and or appreciate amazing artwork, then this event was where you needed to be.

This is my second time displaying as a showcase artist at IlluXCon. I'm the horror guy amidst all the fantasy artists. Sure there's a couple sci-fi illustrators, but dragons and warriors dominate the numerous painted surfaces. However, we're an all encompassing family of the fantastical. Aside from the artists, the attendees consisted of Art Directors, art collectors, art lovers, and art students.

I've met a bevy of talent and likable people. Many whom I've met at other art gatherings and conventions. I still find it surreal talking to the people whose work I've admired since I was a kid. Seeing a few of those originals now when I've only ever seen them in print has me at a loss of words. I'm afraid that I came off as a bumbling fool stumbling over my words and thoughts trying to convey my appreciation of their influence on my career. I'm sure they understand. They were once in my shoes. They're people too, so they say. I'd like to think they're magicians... or wizards entrancing me with their insane skill, experience, and talent.

A couple memorable moments of the showcase for me was having extended conversations with Jeff Easley and Jim Burns with MY work between us. Another was talking to Chris Seamen about a convention friend of mine and the contrast of art they display. Turns out, that friend, Dave Aikins, gave Chris one of his first painted gigs. Small world! And lastly, Anthony Kosar is the coolest guy I've had the continued pleasure talking with... which has been going on 3 events now! Each time we cross paths he manages to remember me and my work from a previous show. That's really cool in my book.

Next year, I'd like to apply for a solon spot. It's juried, so I can't buy my way in like with the showcase position. In the meantime, I'll be hard at work on some new material slowly releasing the creative inspiration I've bottled up this past weekend at IlluXCon 5.

And now some pictures.

Greg Hildebrandt - Star Wars and Lord of the Rings

Michael Whelan - Dark Tower, Foundation, and Pern series to name a few

Jeff Easley - D&D covers

Anthony Kosar - Face Off season 4 winner

Christos Achilleos - Heavy Metal movie poster

Roger Dean - Yes and Asia album covers

June 20, 2013

Country Risen

Final (click images for a larger view)
I planned on this being a quick and dirty painting. It, surprisingly, yielded to my intentions. 15-20 hours... about 2 weekends. The longest portion of this piece was the reference shoot. I had a friend in mind who had the features that would best represent the image shambling around in my head. Unfortunately, after several failed scheduled attempts, I had to move on. I had good ol' reliable me as stand-by model extraordinaire. So with a timer beeping away, I painstakingly fired off 80 or so shots, each with me contorting ever so slightly to get that undead off kilter stance.

Reference Photos
See, I really didn't want to do any zombie paintings... ever! I did a piece a while back, the kitchy zombies playing poker as my farse-like commentary of the absurdity of the zombie genre has gotten. Early in my life, zombies were a true traumatic plausibility. Now, they're a joke! Everybody's doing their take on them. However, low and behold, Moonstone Books contacted me to do a cover, the third in their series of monster anthologies; Zombies: the Dead Walk Again. I, reluctantly, caved on my zombie position. Alright, truth be told, there really wasn't much of a persuasion. There goes my integrity. lol


I initially had something in mind when I was first asked if I was available. Something like a Haitian Voodoo type of zombie. But then the publisher sent over their idea... it was mostly a color pallet request and so my idea evolved into something else. It happens. Instead, I wanted to play up on subtlety, the juxtaposition of visual elements. George Romero meets Bob Ross! I sent over the first thumbnail and the art director liked the direction and composition, but felt that my zombie seemed more like "Uncle Jake having a bad day." I was encouraged to push the gruesome without it being overtly gory. With the second thumbnail I was on track. Two weeks later the dead walked again!



May 23, 2013

Kolchak: Paranormal Passages


This assignment was a result in patience.  As you well enough know, I do a few conventions a year.  On some of those adventures I get to meet decision makers and show them my work.  And with many of all those attempts I go home feeling defeated and unworthy as an artist.  However, I plow through that negativity and push forth with new paintings letting them know that I'm not one to dwell and give up.  If I remain calm and positive, eventually, those early introductions may blossom into friendships and possible job opportunities.  And so here I am.  After meeting the Art Director over at Moonstone Publishing several years ago, they got to see me grow professionally and artistically.  I guess it didn't hurt that a few of my convention pals were also putting in a good word for me since they themselves had a few pieces in with the publisher.


The assignment, a Kolchak: The Night Stalker cover to an anthology of prose stories.  Kolchak is now  licensed to Moonstone for comics, books, and such.  This is exactly what I wanted to do for a while now.  I'm glad they finally sought me out.

It started with them knowing exactly the direction they wanted.  An earlier piece of mine was used as a starting point.  "Something like that," was the general idea.  What they wanted was a simple layout, minimal subject matter, but something creepy coming up from the bottom.  Easy enough.

I didn't do many thumbnails, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  The rotation wasn't initially planned. However, I needed a way to offset the big gapping hole that the morgue door created.  Also, by shifting his stance, I was able to convey his surprise/excitement for the photo opportunity.

3-D Layout Render

Reference Photos

Yeah, that's me dolled up in the finest Carl Kolchak threads pictured above.  I found a Pinstriped Seersucker suit that, sadly, wasn't the size advertised.  I made do.  I also grabbed all of the necessary accessories from eBay.  Thankfully, I was able to return the suit to help recoupe costs.


I'm happy with how the piece turned out.  It's very atmospheric!  I experimented with the tentacles.  They're not as drippy as I wanted them to look.  I need to practice with painting more slime and gooey things.

Final note... I painted this piece too small for the publishers needs.  I had to digitally add about an inch and a half to each side.  That was fun.