Thursday, December 16, 2010

"That Figures."

Here and some recent longer-pose figure drawings (except for The Pugilist drawing.) I was throwing together a compilation image to demonstrate my drawing for an art gig and I dropped in the boxer so that these women would have somebody to talk to...

Click to Enlarge

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Over A Barrel

Hey, remember that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Back in the good ol' days when pipes, not Wiki's, leaked. Simpler times...

I did a painting about it for a charity auction, back when it was news this last summer. It was a quick and dirty image, but I think it turned out pretty slick...

(Click for full size environmental catastrophe.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Bows Froze

Well, Emily and I have successfully created an outdoor mural in 18 degree Chicago weather. We aren't entirely sure whether the paint and wheat-paste are frozen or "dry," but it'll hold and will hold for a couple months more. One of my fingers is still numb, but its one that I don't use often, and the wall looks great. We're excited to continue evolving it as the weeks go on.

Also, the folks at Juliet Zulu have a sharp new site, with some swank looking graphics by Yours Truly. Take a peek at their Blog, too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Misbehavin' Avian

Here are some of the birds that Emily Woodworth and I have been making for our temporary Chicago mural. We'll be wheat-pasting this menagerie many, many times over, creating patterns and rhythms. Then we'll be adding unique, odd, bigger and smaller birds as the winter weeks go on, so keep an eye open for more soon. They are all ink or watercolor, or both.

---Click to enlarge.---

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Acrylic on cardboard from a Top Ramen case. From the fourteen months at sea story...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boxing and Brooklyn

Here are some gouache sketches I did while traveling some time back. I thought that I'd do a ton of artwork but I found that I was too busy seeing new details to sit down and draw them, so here are the few images I did manage. They all get bigger, so click 'em.


Wooden Madona in Prague

Bronze lion in Prague

Shy Aphrodite in Rome.

Bronze pugilist in Rome maybe the best statue I've ever seen. Its certainly a contender... a CONTENDER...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Romeo and Zuliet

Take a sneak peak at Juliet. With these pics, a couple of Portland video wizards are one step closer to having their web-page alive and kicking. Click 'em to see the full size goodness.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I was recently lucky enough to get a grant from the folks at The Puffin Foundation to create booklets that teach incarcerated men and women the fundamentals of observational drawing. I wanted to do a portion about the value of copying as an exercise, boring though it is. I'm really dislike copying, but it is good practice and not so bad if you've got a few This American Life episodes to catch up on. For not being traced, its relatively close.

This is a Roman sarcophagus from the Roman National Museum. It recounts the victory (depicted more as a slaughter,) of the Romans over the heathen Gauls, or some tribe. Judging by the ancient sculptures, it seems that those poor Gauls had a pretty miserable millennium.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twenty-Four Months at Sea

Here are some older concept images from two different portions of a large and pretty broad story. First up are two views of the deep, dark jungle. Its permanently night, and there's something else stalking around these parts...
Click to enlarge them.
These images are from the same jungle story as the paintings on my website.

...After some fantastic escapes and tough choices, we come to a big, lumbering, never-say-die robot that lays siege to a man-o-war ship and its scurvy crew.

Click to enlarge them.

This salty dog endures the robot with ease, but not so for his addiction.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Girl is the Queen of the Savages

A sketch from PDX done with Conte', king of all the crayons...Click the pic to see the full sized goodness.
"My girl is the queen of the savages,
Instead of money we trade yams and cabbages,

She doesn't use a fork,
I don't think I'll go back to New York."
~The Magnetic Fields~

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Madness at Main Line

"...Like all the racial groups, they [the Native Americans] have their own table and keep all the seats for themselves. They don’t want to look soft, so Poncho’s business is now theirs. He’ll loose his seat, and if you don’t own a seat, you don’t eat."

Click the pic to see its full-sized glowering-glory.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

These salty dogs are each part of a larger image, which I will probably post up tomorrow. By drawing the figure separately, I can pose them in a more natural way rather than trying to fit the background guys into the remaining open space. But the down side is that I eventually have to cover up some nice details. So here they are individually... and yep, these guys are also ink-n-brush work. Click to zoom.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Problem Child

-Click to enlarge the image. I didn't tediously perfect each pixel for nothing!-

This illustration took forever because it really ended up being ten images. I'll probably add some background texture of a cork-board , but I'll leave that until the end to see how well it works with the overall layout. Again, this is ink and brush with some digital assembly and it belongs to the same short story as the toiletries image from earlier. I'm getting pretty close to finishing this whole project so more scrumptious images are on the way...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Postage Not Included

This image is a small bit from a work in progress so the arrangement and drop-shadows are just temps. The stamps are from a larger collage illustration of a character I wrote about. The actual image is just about finished. Again, these are done with ink and brush and some digital assembly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Personal Foul

Here are some storyboards from a short story that will have an animated component. Prison basketball: serious business! Click to see the full sized foul-fiasco.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Three S's...

Well its been a while since I've put up any new work, but not for lack of new images to post. On the contrary, I've been cranking out all kinds of fun stuff lately, which will all slowly migrate here.
But for now, here's an image from a short story I've been illustrating. The elements are vertical to better fit on blogger, but the final arrangement of objects will be different. These are all ink and brush. Click to see the delicious full size version...

Monday, May 31, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

This week brought a good old friend and a couple fun new projects. The one and only Abigail Glaum Lathbury, fashion dynamo from my days at The School Of The Art Institute, blew into town from Chicago. I got the scoop on her new line for the summer, and it all looks super sharp, so keep an eye out on her website. I believe that this picture below is from her current spring line.

Meanwhile, I've been working on a crest for a Portland family. Like the earlier project, this one is wedding related, so that influenced the color scheme. We referenced some earlier crests, I got out the ink and brush, and this is what it all boiled down to. I enjoyed the combination of natural elements rendered with a graphic treatment.

Again, in good old black-n'-white.

Right on the heels of that project came another little, unusual project. The images below will be 4" x 4" vinyl stickers for an LGBTQ friendly organization. Because these are smallish stickers, they presented a good opportunity to have some fun with colors I don't often use.

They wanted some geeky non-gendered critters, which was actually a little tricky. Gender-role indicators kept slinking their way back into my beginning sketches. Anyway, I think I managed to give them some character without specific gender. More fun stuff is on the way...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Brushing Up

That last post (novel) was a little wordy, so time for some simple pictures. Here are some sketches I did in Portland. I might go back to them with some ink washes or watercolor one of these days. Surprisingly, using left over Red Rose tea is really nice for quick-n-dirty flesh tones on a sketch. I figured that one out by accident...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stumptown - An Illustrated Romance

Gather round young and old because its blogging time. This being the inaugural post, but lacking anything as celebratory as a cake or champagne fountain, tonight's tale will be about a happy couple's champagne-worthy event: a wedding (invitation.)

Zak-n'-Cait wanted some good looking wedding invitations for their big day, which is where I entered the picture. I knew this project would be fun, but it also took some real doing.

The invitation was a three part deal, with the main folded card on the outside and a postcard and business card within. They envisioned a sort of Portland country-rustic style with a couple of play-on-words.

These were some rough sketches for the business card image. They are a good example of unique challenge of this project. To capture a couple's sense of humor/whimsy, romance, and style when you don't know them all that well was tricky, but obviously important. The little details of the couples posture or expressions make a big difference toward the feeling of the card, so this took quite a few sketches before things looked right. Zak-n'-Cait provided some reference images and we had a lot of back and forth discussion about the newest iterations of each image. Before long we finalized the designs. Time for the best part: to make the final art.

Now these were the final art elements, but not the finals that went to the press. The actual composition and line work were all locked, but the colors of each element changed radically. To build the images, I used a number of brush-n-ink drawings, each done separately and re-combined in Photoshop. This technique has a couple of advantages. Drawing the elements separately is a lot faster and easier, especially for trying color variants and creating final color separations.

However, the Clever Reader might wonder “If this Nick guy is really in the final stage with a piece of art, then why is he still trying out whole new color schemes?” And that Clever Reader brings up a good point. There are a couple of reasons, and I’ll do my damnedest to clarify them while avoiding too much phrenology, pseudo-science, or High Art pretension (the stuff of bad artist-statements.)

Often, artists seem to fit into either the drawing or painting camp. Conceptualizing with lines, contours, and tones, I live comfortably in the drawing camp. For reasons totally mysterious to me, color is a lower priority when I am conceptualizing the content of an image. However, that’s far from saying that color is an afterthought. But for me, images like these are organized with lines and values rather than colors. I’m not sure how other artists approach their work, but I’m constantly amazed by the wizardry some folks pull off with sharp colors.

The other, much better reason for a flexible color pallet is the printing process. Printing on toned chip board for this invitation was a challenge because it’s much darker than paper, dulling the transparent inks. These inks have the advantage of combining to make new colors, somewhat broadening the palette, but again, they’re dulled by the dark paper they are printed on. Lighter colors, like yellow, can suffer. While the dullness certainly gives an old-tyme accent to the images, it can confuse the viewer because elements don’t “pop” as well as they otherwise would.

Lastly, the colors emitted from an illuminated computer screen can be radically different than printed colors. Every monitor is calibrated a little differently, so my screen’s red might be maroon to you. And despite looking good on the screen, areas of very light ink might hardly show up in printing, while denser layers might become much darker than intended. Potentially tricky stuff…

Luckily, the good folks at Pinball Publishing were super helpful. I tried some variations on the best and worst case printing scenario. After that, Zak-n-Cait and I talked and made some changes to better exploit the inks and to make a more consistent, cohesive group of images.

I’m always interested to see how some images come right together, while other work has quite a back story by the end. Pencil, ink, pixels, printing: quite a history behind a few images.