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July 7, 2011

Phoenix pair

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 9:10 pm

Here’s a couple of drawings from an old project;






The client had liked the first version of the phoenix, but asked for it to be more “mythical.”  Instead of turning the bird into a creature made entirely from fire (and thus scrapping the “naturalistic” feel of the first sketch entirely), I went ahead and reimagined the creature’s evolutionary path; It went from something that resembled a cross between a falcon and a peacock, to a sort of draconic eagle, complete with combustible plumage that ignites as the creature’s body temperature rises.

The idea of naturally-evolving monsters and mythical creatures, with magic acting as a sort of environmental stressor that shapes their evolution, is an idea I kind of love, and one I’ll be visiting quite a bit in the future.


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June 15, 2011

Faun, Satyr, Beastman, call him what you will…

Filed under: Fantasy, Gribbly — tb @ 6:40 pm



There’s really not much to say about this fellow..I love the immense amount of character and personalty in goats, and I love monsters; So the day’s idle sketching brought us here, where the crossroads meet and we find goat-monsters.


Also to blame, I’m sure, is a recent re-watch of one of my favorite films.



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May 30, 2011

Pterosaurs are Pterrifying

Filed under: Dinosaurs & Paleo-art — tb @ 8:21 pm

Well, maybe they aren’t quite “terrifying”, but new discoveries show they are much, *much* stranger than you may remember from your childhood.

Long gone are the days when we thought of pterosaurs as scaly, reptilian,dragon-winged vulturine creatures, jumping off of cliff-faces to gain enough lift to fly, skimming over the oceans to snatch  up fish, and sprawling bat-like and clumsily on the land. One family in particular fights against this antiquated misconception; The Azhdarchids.



The fellow above is an azhdarchid based off of the most popular member of the family; Quetzalcoatlus northropi.  These were some weiiiird-looking animals; covered in hair-like filaments, they had a sharp beak for plucking up prey, and some pretty bizarre leg structures…The back feet being plantigrade (walking with the heels and toes to the ground, like humans do) and the front limbs sporting unusually long metacarpals, giving the animal a very upright stance when on the ground.   Because of this, the azhdarchids are thought to have been primarily terrestrial creatures, stalking across the plains with giraffe-sized strides and snapping up whatever was small enough to fit in their beak.

 I really had a blast drawing this guy, in all his bizarre glory.  The thing I had the most fun with was that moose-like dewlap hanging from his throat..With a neck that long, it would almost be “wasted space” to not have a display of some sort hanging from it.  I also wanted to subtly push the giraffe-size-analogy, and gave the crest end on the back of the skull an ossicone-type tip.  With a creature this weird, it’s almost impossible to not enjoy drawing it..And the best part?  It’s a real animal, that really walked on this earth.

Nature is so bloody awesome.


Edit: Speaking of how damn cool nature is, here’s a preview of an upcoming blog post..Just received word this fellow is on his way;


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April 5, 2011

Doug and his Lovely Hats: A post concerning failure, progress, and the importance of leaving your comforts behind.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 9:14 pm

You may remember a post from a few weeks back where I announced a “paint tiny” excericise, in which I forced myself to paint no larger than 5×7 in an effort to try and improve my indication skills and up my dexterity.  That excercise has reached it’s end.  On the final day of the portrait painting course, I went and increased my canvas size to 9×12; I wanted to apply the lessons learned from those tiny paintings to a more traditionally-sized portrait.  Here is the result:



   I’m pretty happy with this painting.  I feel I’ve learned quite a bit in the past few months.  By leaving my comfort zone and knocking out a few *horrendous* tiny paintings, I managed to break through a stagnant cloud and push myself.  The lesson learned was to embrace my failures…I remember hearing Greg Manchess say that once, but I didn’t quite realize what he meant until I completed this exercise.  Without embracing those failures, those awful, exceedingly uncomfortable attempts at painting,  I wouldn’t of been able to push through to the next level.  For that I thank you, demons of failure.

  I want to add that the model in the portrait is Doug, a long-time portrait model at Watts Atelier.  Doug’s been a constant at Watts since..well..I think since the school started some 20-years ago (Erik, Lucas or Jeff, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)  As such, I’ve been painting and drawing Doug since I set foot in the Atelier several years back.  After completing the above-portrait, I went ahead and dug through my archives of shame, and turned up several old portraits I’ve done of Doug.  Sticking with the theme of embracing failure,  I’m going to air my shame; Here’s a little chronological timeline of my history painting Doug.



    From painting glue-on beards and trying to avoid eyes, to struggling and failing at applying the concept of tiling, and finally ending at the most recent portrait (Which I feel is most-certainly a success), it’s become evident to me that the only way to get better, to get to those successes, is to fail…Miserably, if possible.  You need to step outside of your comfortably stagnant box, and grasp blindly in that muck of self-doubt in order to finally find Progress in those murky, Defeat-ladden waters.


Edit: Because I myself am a sucker for seeing paint strokes and the process involved in a painting, here’s a hi-res version of the portrait (click the link title)  for those that want to get a closer look.



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March 26, 2011

Demons, demons everywhere.

Filed under: Gribbly — tb @ 1:31 pm

 Here’s another little demon sketch I threw together last night; Teldris, The Mutable Wyrm, Grand Pyromancer of the Fourth Hell.



I think I might go and explore this guy a little more, maybe tweak his design a bit and build up a maquette.  While I’m a fan of that crazy distended limb of his, I’m not terribly sure I enjoy that person-hand he has right now. Time for a few more exploratory sketches to help make up my mind.

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March 24, 2011

Cliche’s, Archetypes, and Thinking outside the box.

Filed under: Gribbly — tb @ 9:18 pm

Let’s get this post started with a sketch I did this afternoon;  Here’s Xaal the Liar, a charming demon with a trusting grin and a name I made up just now.



   Before I get to explaining Xaal, I want to talk a bit about cliche’s and archetypes.  Not infrequently, I hear artists say something along the lines of “I simply wanted to avoid the cliche’” when speaking about their work.  The individual who uses that phrase may see bull horns and hoofed-feet as a cliche’ in demon designs.  I only see such a thing as a cliche’ if it’s done poorly, lazily, and sloppy.  If embraced and done well, you’re sticking to the archetype, and can come up with something classically-awesome, a timelessly-grand design.  And if you incorporate elements, or the essence, of the archetype, but take it in a completely different direction? If you shift, and take a lateral step, but with the same inspiration at the heart of the design?  Then you’re thinking outside the box.

 That is what I tried doing with Xaal here.  I wanted to take a side-step, To think outside of the box, but with the same inspiration as those archetypes at the heart of it.  Take a close look at Xaal…There’s no giant horns and hooves, but there’s plenty of “bull” in his design.  Bovine and human characteristics are all there; Two things that are present in many classic demon archetypes, are just presented and assembled differently here. After sketching him up, I went and added the little bull skull above his head for a few reasons.  I wanted to incorporate a design into the featureless face, but didn’t want to use warpaint or scars (so a cast shadow did the job instead).  I also thought that  it would be neat if demons, in order to manifest themselves, needed a sacrifice, and would take on physical attributes of whatever that sacrifice may be (a bull in this case), and be bound to the mortal world through a piece of that sacrifice (the skull of that bull).  The final reason I threw that little skull in was to hit the viewer over the head with the design.  If they didn’t notice the bovine elements in the demon before, seeing the cow skull just might flip on that switch, and get them to notice it.

 So, do I feel like I succeeded in my outside-the-box demon design?  I have no idea.  That’s for the art director and viewer to decide.   I can tell you that I had a heaping pile of fun creating our friend Xaal here, and this exercise is one that I’ll be revisiting soon.


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March 20, 2011

Here, have a horse.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 5:19 pm

Last week I went ahead and posted a page of lion sketches, with the rather cryptic promise of “I’ll explain all in time!” in regards to a scrawled, half-finished skeleton at the bottom of the page.

Well, the time for explaining…Is not here just yet.  A rather busy week that included friends visiting from out of town delayed the preparation of my explanatory post.

So here’s a horse instead.



 Oils on board, from photo reference.

That promised post..?  Yup, it’s still coming, fret not.


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March 13, 2011

Now, just why is this sketch page unfinished…?

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 10:55 pm


Nothing much in today’s post;  Just a few lion heads drawn from life at the San Diego Zoo, and an unfinished skeleton scrawled from not-life at the computer monitor.




You may be wondering why I didn’t finish the lion skeleton before posting this sketchbook page..The answer will be revealed later this week in a future-post.


Stay tuned, folks.


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March 1, 2011

Of dexterity and tiny portraits.

Filed under: Studies — tb @ 10:49 am

For awhile now, I’ve been meaning to push my dexterity and indicating skills.  It’s something I’ve always meant to work on, but somehow managed to squirm out of, until recently.  Several weeks back I went ahead and cornered myself, so to speak, by cutting my stack of masonite down to pieces no larger than 5×7.  I gesso’d the boards up, and off to class I went, my hopes high that my indicating skills would up dramatically and (due to the smaller size of the canvas) I would get a more “finalized” portrait in a small window of time…

I found that during the first life-painting, I got *less* done that I would have on a 9×12 board.  To add insult to injury, it looked as if I painted the face with a baseball bat.

What the crap.

In situations like this, when you’re thinking ambitiously and your hopes are high, your mind acts like that guy with the shells game down by the subway stop, and it can con you out of a good painting if you’re not careful.  I hadn’t realized that I was working slower on the portrait than I normally would have, my mind subconsciously believing that I had more time, *not* that I had less canvas to cover.  There’s a big difference between those two things.  In addition, I was painting with a hugely-wrongly-terribly-sized bristle brush.  As a general rule of thumb, you often are told “use large brushes.”  That means use brushes that are appropriately large to what you’re painting, not “use large brushes,” period.  Alas, another trick my shady, subway con-artist mind pulled on me.

At the end of the day though, these are all things I already knew.  The lesson to be learned here is BE PRESENT IN YOUR ART!  Focus, think, analyze, execute.  Once I started exercising the rules and lessons I already knew, I started making progress on my tiny paintings.  I do feel my dexterity has been improving, but only because I’ve been making a conscious effort to do as much.  Progress can only be made when you don’t let your mind con you out of a good painting.

In closing, here’s a few of those 5×7 portraits that I feel were successes.  I had a blast doing these and I’ve learned quite a bit from them.  That said,  I’m planning on pushing forward and carrying on this practice of tiny portraits for a bit longer.  I’m going to win this game of shells, folks..  Or least lose 20 bucks trying.

 Feathers and Scarves



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January 6, 2011

Better Things: The Life & Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones

Filed under: Uncategorized — tb @ 2:19 pm

     If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you may remember my Influence Map, posted a few months back…I’m going to revisit it for just a moment, with an added emphasis on one artist in particular; Jeffrey Catherine Jones.


      Had I bothered to read and follow the Influence map instructions, (and made each tile on the map itself correspond in  size to that particular individuals “influence” on me) The block representing Jeffrey Catherine Jones would have been larger.  Much larger.  Like, nearly as big as that Greg Manchess block in the top left-hand corner of the map (Which, coincidentally, probably is at the correct “influential size”).

     Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ paintings really hit a cord with me.  I’m a sucker for the way she remains representational in her work, even while pushing far into the gestural realm.  The juicy highlights in her paintings, alongside the large, interlocking dark shapes, are simply gorgeous and wonderfully designed.   And of course, there’s her dinosaurs; They have all the ye-olde-timey charm of Charles R. Knight, with a healthy side of Robert E. Howard pulp that reaches out and smacks paleontological accuracy in the face….And paleontological accuracy forgives it and buys them a beer later, because Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ dinosaurs are just that cool.

    I recently discovered that this hero of mine and illustration heavyweight is the subject of an upcoming documentary that delves into the importance of art in one’s life, and explores how it defines the artist as an individual and can go so far as to save one’s self.  I won’t go into the personal struggles of Jeffery Catherine Jones here, but I will tell you to go and watch the trailer for the film over on Kickstarter.com.

     If you like what you see (and I’m sure you will) pledge as little as a dollar to help get this film off the ground.  If you pledge 50, you get yourself the dvd and a movie poster when it’s released.  This is a pledge only; Payment is not taken unless the entire pledge amount is reached.  Throw a couple of bucks down to help get this  promising exploration of self-identity and the importance of art up-and-running…Judging from the trailer alone, I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.



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