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Illustration Friday… Shiny

When little dinos go out at night and recall scary stories in bright fire-light

they shiver and stir and move in toward the heat

to warm their spirits and their feet.

They remember the ghouls that cause a fright

and giant baby worms that like to bite

but forget to watch out for things that are shiny

because in the distance they look so so tiny.



Fashion Portrait… Dapper Lou and GQ

I was going through the Dapper Lou the other day and doing some quick sketches. The one below was highly inspirational so I decided to do an actual painting of it.

The painting turned out great! The process is basically the same as the past few paintings. I start with an underdrawing then move to acrylic, india ink and watercolor. Variously throughout I use any of the mediums to make one part pop or to turn something down. You can see below how things change throughout the painting process.

For some time now I have wanted to get into 'real world' fashion illustration. Simply put I want to get paid to do what I do. A friend suggested that I might benefit from doing some mock covers for magazines that I am interested in illustrating for. The images below show what came out of that discussion. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for more to come.



Fashion Illustration… Featuring Lushlife

My friend and I were at Java Jive on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta for brunch the other morning on the suggestion of a friend. The food ran the usual gamut of brunch and the atmosphere took on the nature of the 50's. They specialized in their homemade biscuits which were the defining note on the meal. As we were cleaning the debris on our plates and lightly sipping what remained of our coffee the corner of my eye spied something unique. I turned my head to see a gentleman wearing a red scarf and large hipster glasses. The ensemble was basic with a white tee and blue jeans, but the sense was that this carried character beyond early morning dress apathy. I knew that I had to illustrate this look, and not just the look because it was so simple, but the person who made it work. My friend Ruth had to be the courageous one and ask this gentleman if I could photograph him as I am much too shy.

He was gracious and soft spoken. As I was photographing, which lasted maybe 60 seconds, I was describing my work and the fashion series that has been progressing. We exchanged information and it turns out this gentleman had just played a show at the Masquerade the night before, promoting his latest album.

Raj (aka Lushlife) is a hip hop artist from Philly and you can find a great review of his latest release here.

Here is the final illustration and below is the process that it endured.

I start with hard-board such as masonite and seal it with an acrylic wash. Then I draw the image on and do an ink wash of some of the major darks. After this is dried I lay in all of the base colors with heavy puddles of watercolor. As the water is sitting on the surface of the board I start to lay in white acrylic to layer in the highlights. Again I wait for the board to be dry and I finish the washes of color with more solid/defining layers.



Paul Chelko…Portrait

I must say that I am suddenly and properly honored to have done this little portrait of Paul Chelko. It was quite the accident that I came across his photograph on the cover of a 2007 edition of 'The Atlanta Magazine (which I could not find on their website- so it's possible I am confused as to the actual magazine).' Over and over I mentioned the character in his face. Sarah, my mentee, and I were practicing some techniques in painting at One Love Generation and I grabbed the magazine at the top of the towering pile for reference. As I walked over to our table where Sarah was eagerly awaiting the chance to paint. My eyes were trained on the photograph that was the cover of the magazine, analyzing the face we were about to use as practice. She exclaimed at the difficulty of drawing his face with a brush.

At the bottom of the post is an image of the portrait that Sarah did. She also painted an eye that would have been nice to grab a picture of. Her focus was a bit more centered on the painting of the eye than the portrait.

The following five images are the stages of the painting. It begins with an ink brush drawing, followed by washes of watercolor, highlights of white acrylic, dabbles of color in the cheeks and nose and retouching blacks with india ink.

Check it out. Enjoy. Share with your friends.

Sarah's version of Paul Chelko. I thought the line-work was brilliant and a beautiful image of what she is learning as she is becoming her own artist.


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Fashion Illustration

Recently I have begun dabbling in the dandy world of men's fashion. It is really quite fantastic. Learning the differences between a quality tie and a quirky tie has been an adventure. Then remembering how to tie a 4 in hand vs. a Windsor vs. a Pratt has been down right awful. I have, this year, had my first trip to the cleaners to have a pair of vintage pants hemmed to my specifications. Overall the experience has been pleasant but in the future I will be heading to a professional tailor.

So it comes as no surprise that I have begun my very own series of fashion illustrations. My goal is to focus on men's fashion and the men that wear it. What are clothes if they are left on a rack?

First is a study I painted in watercolor and pastel on Masonite board with reference from one of the many fashion blogs hat I follow.


Below here is a focus on my favorite outfit at the time. This is the style and technique from which I will be modeling. It is a portraiture of the person and of what the person is wearing.

The shirt is Dinamit. The tie is Ralph Lauren. The cardigan is Old Navy.

Obviously the mush mash of brands is laughable from the list but the ensemble they create is vivid and strong.


The model here for one of my next paintings is my friend George Kamau. It will be painted in the same style and technique as the one above with watercolor, acrylic and ink.


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In High School I fell in love with the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I realize that's not particularly unique as many high schoolers identify with his sort of reality. Somewhere in me that same sort of intrigue exists. The vultures are testament to Poe's influence on me. To look at things that are dark and relay them to the world. And the hope that is within that is not to shock people, but to engage people and challenge culture.

I was writing a Poe-esque fiction to follow along my vulture theme and to co-habit a space with this image above. Like Poe I wanted to create a space that drew the audience out of the words and into the story. To feel the talons of the bird, and smell the stench dripping from the end of its face. Unlike Poe I have a tendency to be contrived and reaching. Poe had an ability to over embellish and yet simply tell his story.

Vultures are shadows in the sky. Searching for the dead. Coveting the diseased.

Vultures are death-eaters and life-bringers.


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Think about the the thoughts that are associated with the imagery and name of vultures.  

Are they majestic?

Are they noble?

Are they beautiful?

It is common to view vultures with contempt. They are symbols of death. How could they not be with their writhing, red, balding heads. The sunken eyes are the vision of their teetering between the living and dead. When there is a vulture over-head then death is near-by. What high praise can be given to a bird that seeks out death?

John Mayer expresses this view plainly in his characterization of vultures in the aptly titled track 'Vultures.'

All of these vultures hiding Right outside my door I hear them whisperin They're tryin to ride it out Cause they've never gone this long Without a kill before


I might just go ahead and posit another thought here. Perhaps the nature of vultures is not about death, but about life?

It is about more than the vital role that they play in the environment. Vultures represent a specific moment in the transitional times of life. Their lives transcend the simple but lead us to the sublime. In certain cultures the vulture is revered. It is called a death-eater, a cleanser, a purifier. Imagine the beauty of life. Imagine a life being lived and filled with the joy of existence. When that joy has turned then death enters. Note that this is not when the vulture enters. Death takes what it wants and leaves nothing but a token of what once had lived. In the midst of the tragedy of death comes the vulture to eat what death has left behind. In this death the vulture finds life. The vulture redeems the act of death to an act of life.


The vulture's life is all about redemption!


The vulture's life is about renewal!


Ponder that idea. Wrestle with a new understanding.

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The Age of the Vulture...

As I was peering out the window of the rickety old Taurus I inherited from my parents I saw a shadow circling in the air. With my poor vision it was hard to make out what exactly it was and came to the conclusion that it must be some sort of carrion eating scavenger. Its movement in the sky was nothing less than graceful. Wondering at the fowl creature's beauty several thoughts crossed my mind. Thoughts of ravaged carcasses, thoughts of rotting flesh being torn from the bone, thoughts of a rickety old bird with sunken red eyes and an 80 year old man's scalp huddled in shadow, reaping death's reward. What is it about vultures that invoke such thoughts as 'reaping death's reward?'  I think back to Disney's Snow White, toward the end of the movie and the portrayal of vultures. There is nothing endearing about these birds. They are framed in greed and lust for death. As the Queen falls to her death we are comforted by the justice of fowl loathsome animals descending to devour a fowl and loathsome being. And even from the first shot of the vultures' piercing eyes, crooked necks and stormy sky debut we are begged to have an unease about them.

I like Disney's portrayal of vultures in the Jungle Book much better. Perhaps they are not quite endearing characters but they have an attractive appeal that is lost on such- dare I say- noble birds. And I will not go as far as to say that they will help you tie a burning branch to the tail of a lion, but they certainly represent something more honest about the ideal of a vulture.

As I drove on down the highway I wondered if there really was something dead nearby. I wondered how it might have died. I wondered if it was something that had to happen. I wondered where my exit was.



Gimli and the iPhone

It's the next in the series! The council of Elrond is one of my favorite chapters in the books and I could not pass up the opportunity to illustrate an image in the series from such a pivotal and cinematic moment. Gimli, in his great impatience is too eager to destroy the thing that is causing the whispers of war throughout Middle Earth.

This iPhone is too powerful to be destroyed by a simple passionate movement of a short-tempered dwarf.

This is a 9×12 inch watercolor painting on multi-purpose illustration paper. Stylistically different from many of my detailed and highly rendered paintings this watercolor series will capture an emotion of gritty reality.


Prints are available here.

Come back in a while to see how Gollum feels about this great power.



Frodo and the iPhone

Part of a new series I am working on. It consists of combining to of my favorite loves- Lord of the Rings and Apple products. The main focus in these will be replacing the 'one ring' with Apple's iPhone 4 and placing it in situations that we have seen in the cinematic representation of Tolkien's beloved books. My hope is that by juxtaposing these iconic images together that the viewers will be intrigued by their relationship.

This is a 9x12 inch watercolor painting on multi-purpose illustration paper. Stylistically different from many of my detailed and highly rendered paintings this watercolor series will capture an emotion of gritty reality.

Prints available for purchase here.

Be looking for the Gimli painting coming next!



Angry Bird

My bossed asked me if I wanted to do a painting for him. Of course I said yes. I mean, I can't pass up an opportunity to at least attempt to show off. Brian, my boss, wanted a picture of his son riding an 'Angry Bird'. This became a chance to try my hand at something new- vector images.



One of the biggest issues of painting something like 'Angry Birds' is the thick black lines that surround every form. With this I have no chance to fudge a line and say that it is because 'the light is hitting it just so…'. No sir, no ma'am I had to try something new.

It just so happens that the very same day I got the call from Brian I had purchased some liner brushes from Sam Flax after seeing Atlanta artist Sam Parker painting in store. As I was walking up to his work space he was outlining a form on the canvas. The newness and brilliance of his technique swept over my artistic sensibilities and nearly on the spot I purchased my new and awesome brushes.


Below is the progression of the painting. It is the four main stages from drawing, to watercolor wash to finished painting.

-When painting in watercolors I almost always will start with a pencil drawing that defines my shapes and general values.

-Next I do a wash over the entire painting then pull out the color from specific highlight areas. Areas such as the nob of the nose, the eyes, the bottom lip and forehead.

-The angry bird is made of 4 layers of color, one on top of the other. For the 'starburst' effect I used frog tape to mask the paper and allow for more freedom in my brushwork.

-Finally I went into the details in the face and we are at the end. Enjoy!



Yoda's Burden

Here it is. I hope that the title is description enough. If there is anything about this story that you would like to discuss please hit me up!  


If you would like to purchase this item please follow the link to my etsy or just click on the image.



Cute, cute Whale. Now on Sale!

Check it out! Now on sale for 25 dollars.


This 8x10 print is the perfect gift for your best friend! Or all of your best friends. Or even just a regular joe you meet on the street.

Your beautiful beautiful Whale will be printed on E-Surface Photo Paper (matte finish). As a professional paper, it boasts rich, sharp color that won't fade or yellow, creating beautiful prints that will last for years to come.



Kim Jong Il and Orca

After my recent show I received an email about a new commission piece. It mentioned something about a fascination with Kim Jong Il. When I read that tidbit of information I was taken aback. To what degree of fascination I'm not sure but nevertheless my intrigue was captured and my hands trembled with anticipation. The sketches were simple and straightforward and I moved right into the painting.

What came of it is shown below.




Death Eaters

Below is a taste of a project I am working on dealing with resurrection. It's about life and death, sacrifice and selfishness. 20111103-093542.jpg

These little guys are 5x7 acrylic illustrations. Each is a small grisaille- initially painted in gray scale then covered in colored glazes. They are part of a myriad of similar sized and themed paintings that will be hanged together to tell a story.



On the Wings of an Eagle...

I hope there is little explanation needed for this painting. It developed while eating brunch at Radial Cafe in Atlanta with my roommate. We were discussing some of the ideas I was working on and after some discussion back and forth this imagery came about. The Chinese man riding an eagle. There is so much going on in this painting so if you have any questions feel free to ask.



Burning Bridges...

Burning Bridges is an opportunity to join in the conversation about relationships. Why do we break them? Why do we ruin them? Is it the fault of one person? or is it a collaboration of failures? One person can appear to be offensive and angry, while the reasons behind the fiery anger may be subtle. Perhaps the anger is justified. Perhaps the hurt is the fault of the one who is breaking the relationship.

It is supposed to be a part of a conversation. Do you have anything to add?

This is also part of a school project. We had to follow the C.F. Payne technique. It involves many steps, and many media. I must have done something wrong, because I am not a fan of the technique, although it did produce some interesting results. It involves colored pencil, acrylics, watercolors, india ink, and oils.

Maybe I'm too immature to appreciate the nuances in the process... hopefully one day I can understand...