Blue Trane

After spending an hour or so reworking the background for this Sinatra painting I'm gettin' into, I decided I needed to cut loose. I found a photo of John Coltrane from the "Love Supreme" recording sessions, plugged in my Trane iPod mix, and went nuts with the colored pencils. It's definitely something new for me. I didn't think, didn't plan. I just listened to the music and had at it.


New Website

I'm currently working on a complete rehaul of my website. This is the new home page banner. I tried creating something that could, in one li'l picture montage (with a little text) tell you everything you need to know about me and what I do. I've also switched the title of the site form "Craig Mahoney dot-com" to "The World of Craig Mahoney" to reflect my wider range of interests and styles. Once the site is up I'm going to rotate some of the pics in and out as I create newer stuff and have some more photos taken. So, please, enjoy my special blend of self-promotion and narcissism.

Oil Portraiture - A Study In Patience

Being a largely self-taught artist means a lot of trial and error before you master a medium. Which is why it's perfectly natural that I went from cartooning and line drawing to cross-hatched illustration to the more advanced, photorealistic pencil work I've been specializing in for the last 3 years or so.

Recently, as my previous posts attest, I've been looking to break away from the series of strict pencil sketches and portraits I'd been doing to explore other styles and mediums. That is why, when asked a week before Christmas to do an oil portrait as a Christmas gift, I said yes. Never mind the fact that I wouldn't have much time to do it or that I haven't worked seriously in oils since high school (over 10 years ago).

But, hey, I figured what better way to teach myself than with a deadline hanging over my head?Add to that the pressure that, not only was this a paid commission, but would also be a Christmas gift for somebody, and I was going to learn or else.

What followed was days of torture at the easel; wrestling with color mixtures and paint consistency, becoming frustrated that the paint was either too wet or too dry to add and blend new layers, sleepless nights squeezed into a busy holiday schedule, and the general frustration that comes with working from a 1 1/2 inch high head in a photo to create an 11"x14" portrait.

Here's the photo documentation of the many (too many) layers of paint I used to create this gift. I'm proud of the end result and think I did a pretty good job. Especially considering I did it with little experience in the medium and during a very busy and hectic week. Ultimately, it was a great learning experience, and I'm looking forward to jumping into my next project. With everything I learned from this one, the next should come much easier, and, therefore, be much more enjoyable to create.


Rehearsal Photos

I apologize to the 5 of you that regularly read this thing that I haven't posted the last few days. I'm busy finishing up an oil painting that needs to be done by manana and don't have anything else new or interesting to share artwise. I did, however, remember these photos of the rehearsal mentioned two posts ago. That's Joe P. on bass, Nick on the guitar, and me with the Trotsky look going on. So, you know, there you go.


It's a Conspiracy, People!!!

Like many baseball fans, and as a Yankee fan especially, I had a wide range of views on last week's Mitchell Report. Unfortunately, there's been too much work/rehearsals/Christmasness on my plate to properly blog my thoughts on it. Fortunately for all of us, though, Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Carl had the time.

Craig Mahoney and Deftet UNITE!

Oh, baby! Sunday night saw the official first voyage of the Craig Mahoney/Deftet good ship of awesomeness at RED in Red Bank. They swung, I sung, and the heavens rejoiced. I also debuted my new and exciting Christmas '07 beard.

In all honesty, I was a little shakier than I wanted to be. Literally. I had the shakes. We held a sort of impromptu rehearsal/holiday party the night before and I was ambushed by a pack of 8.8% alcohol special pilseners. They were closely followed by a marauding band of Sierra Nevada Celebration and Pale Ales. By Sunday morning, dead soldiers lay everywhere and I suffered from some serious combat wounds.

So, most of the set was spent with me concentrating extra hard just to stay on key and keep my brain from sliding out my ear. I did hit all the right notes in most of the right spots, but I never felt like I truly owned any of the songs. I was never in the pocket. At least until the last set when I redeemed myself a bit with some decent renditions of Fly Me To The Moon, Winter Wonderland, and One For My Baby. Although, the shape I was in probably helped with the interpretation of that last one. Overall, though, I'd say the night was a success.

For those of you who missed it, we're doing it all again this Sunday, and it's only gonna get better. So, take your chance to be a part of history and come dig the great food, booze, and music. In fifty years you'll be able to tell your grandchildren you were there.


Group Caricature Portrait

This is the finished version of the group caricature I was working on. It's on 24"x19" bristol board, done in ink and colored pencil. Right after it is the pencil version before the inking.


Happy Birthday, Frank!

On this day, in 1915, Dolly and Marty Sinatra gave birth to a boy they named Francis Albert and changed music and popular culture forever.Tonight, Nick Esposito and I will be doing a little tribute to New Jersey's Greatest Son at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. We should be going on about 10.

So, when you get home tonight put on some of your Sinatra records ( I recommend Songs For Swingin' Lovers, Come Dance With Me, Sinatra at the Sands, or any of the Capitol or Reprise "best ofs"), pour yourself a glass of Jack, and listen to what singin' sounds like when it's done right.

Here are a couple of portraits I did of the man himself from awhile ago. I've got about 3 more in the works that I'll post up soon.

Rough Caricature Sketches

These are a few pages of sketches I've done for a group caricature portrait I was commissioned for. After spending so much time doing photo-realistic portraits it took me a while to get my caricaturing muscles back in shape. It's a completely different way of thinking to go from copying a picture in a completely technical sense to figuring out how to exaggerate those same features and still keep it recognizable. You're essentially drawing it as much from out of your head as from the picture.

One of the reasons I took on this job was to get those muscles working again. I started out a bit lost on a few of them, but I got back in the groove as I went along. I'll post the finished portrait tomorrow.

A Very Merry Bat-Christmas

I remember, back in 6th grade, having to write an essay about what I wanted to be when I got older. I wrote a great piece describing how I wanted to use an Ivy League education and a stint in the Marines as a basis to become a masked vigilante, like Batman, protecting the Jersey Shore from the rougher criminal element.

The teacher failed me, telling me it was supposed to be serious. I told her I was.

Of course, I actually grew up (in the loosest sense of the term) to become an artist/singer/bartender with a Community College education who frequently associates with the milder criminal element. I do, however, still love Batman, and created this nice little Christmas themed desktop wallpaper to brighten up my home (and maybe yours) for the holiday.

Enjoy, kids.


And, I'm Feeling Good...

Not too much new stuff to post right now. I've been too busy to type out some of my opinions on the week in news and sports. Unfortunately, though, what I've been busy working on are Christmas gifts so I cannot post the progress of these pieces. So, long story short, no new art on here right now.

To tide the 2 or 3 of you over that actually read this blog. Here's something absolutely awesome that I found over at Cartoon Brew. SVA student Tamara Gildengers Connolly used type characters to create this music video for Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good", and, luckily for us, posted it to YouTube. Great song, cool concept.


More Fun With Pastels - Jason Kidd

I'm having more fun with these pastels lately. I'm kind of using them as poor man's paints right now. I like the fact that you can get more information across with them with fewer marks than a pencil, but without the mess of paints. It's a great way to test out how you'd like a painting to look, yet it stands pretty well on its own.

I purposely wanted the top of his head to be out of the frame. I wanted to get as close to the action as possible and make it seem like you're watching something in the middle of happening. I think it adds to the movement and energy of it, but, after seeing this one complete, maybe I should have a bit more of his head in the shot and less of his junk.

Who knows, maybe I'll decide to put the thing down on canvas in the near future.



I'm trying to get back to some of my cartooning/caricaturing roots, and decided to mess around with a quick sketch of the man who made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, Han Fucking Solo. Ill be posting some more Star Wars 'toons during the week, as well as some other stuff I've got clogging up the drawing board.


Craig Mahoney - Jazz Singer

Hey, remember the last time you came out and saw me play? I had the guitar over my shoulder and had the whole bar singing along to "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Don't Stop Believing", remember that? Well, hang on to that memory, 'cause you're not gonna see it again.

I've finally put a project together where I get to sing the type of songs I've wanted to do for years, but couldn't find the musicians who could play it (including myself). Well, no more! I've begun working with a sick group of cats called the Deftet Jazz Trio who, in addition to their own gigs, have agreed to back me as a singer. We're gonna take a lot of the old Sinatra and Ella-type classics and put our own swingin' little twist on them. I couldn't be happier. Not just because I'll be working with such kick-ass, swingin'-like-a-pair-of-brass-ones musicians, but also the fact that they're all fairly young (for jazz musicians) and hip cats; the kind of guys you can discuss 'Trane with and then get loaded on beers and yell at the game with.

So, the guitarist, Nick, and I figured we could maybe do some side gigs as a duo for places that couldn't accomodate all 4 of us. As a li'l sneak preview/public rehearsal we took to the stage Wednesday at the ol' Brighton Bar here in Long Branch. It was a very low key gig, which worked well for us since we had no idea how we were going to begin or end any song, nor where to come back in after the solos. Or how long the solos would be. We didn't really have much planned out. If that sounds like it should've been a complete mess, you're right. It should have, but it wasn't. We managed to follow each other pretty well and had good communication throughout. It also helps that Nicky's absolutely filthy on the guitar. The only songs I really got lost on were "Cheek To Cheek" and "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square".

Below are some pics of the two of us (you can tell it was more of a rehearsal by how much of an unshaven scumbag I look like), as well as video of what I think was our best moment - the Sinatra saloon song classic "One For My Baby". The sound quality's not the best, but you'll get the idea.

Holiday Art Sale!

Well, not really a sale, per se. I just decided to take some stuff I've had hanging around the house for too long and post them to eBay. I figured the holidays would be a good time to do it. There are some pretty good gift ideas among them (which you can see below), like the autographed Jeter or Manning Bros. Paintings. Click here to bid.

And, speaking of Christmas gifts, I am available for commission work. If you want a portrait, caricature or anything else done by the time Santa's loading up his sleigh, contact me by December 16th.


A-Rod's 500th

Sometime back in May, when A-Rod was just beginning his monster season, I knew I wanted to do a piece commemorating it. The only problem was, if he opted out of his contract and signed with another team, I was pretty much stuck with something worthless. Luckily for me (and the Yankees, trust me A-Rod haters) he re-signed with the Good Guys and I can get to work.

Rather than go with something highlighting his entire MVP season I thought I'd zero in on his 500th HR. Here are a few layout ideas, plus a quick color test to help me decide if I wanted to do this in b/w pencil or a full color painting. I, of course, still reserve the right to do both.

Feel free to leave any comments on which you think would be best.

Just Like Starting Over...

Here I go again on my own. Well, not entirely on my own. Actually, there's a somewhat new cast of characters, but you'll be introduced to them later. I'm relaunching my blog and website, and, basically, my whole career as an artist/musician. I'll get into more of the significant changes later, but the main thing is that I'm gonna be doing a lot more of what I want and less of creating things just to fit a certain marketplace. I do love sports, though, and there is a marketplace for sports art. So, luckily, that part of the equation will still remain.

One of the main things I'm trying to do is to sit down and do some drawing or painting everyday, and I'm going to do my best to continuously post what I'm up to on this blog. So... long story short, there's gonna be a lot more to see (and hear) on this blog from now on. To start, here's some fun (and some not-so-fun) I had over the last week or so messing around with pastels.

First off, LT sacking mark Rypien. I like the way this one turned out. It was nice coming up with something photo-realistic yet stylized. I think it has a very lively, kinetic feel to it. I just wish you could feel the hit a little more.

Next up we have some Sinatra sketches. For the most part, this is just me messing with color and drawing style, but I do love this pose of his and want to do something definitive with it. These are just the first steps toward deciding what that something will be.

First is what I call "Neon Shite". A complete disaster. In fact, it doesn't even look like him.

The likeness on this one is better, but he looks like something from the land of the dead in the Corpse Bride. I was trying to avoid using actual skin tones and thought something in blue would be cool, but...

...It wasn't cool, so I ended up going with more realistic skin tones. I was still trying to do something a little more loose and sketchy, rather than go straight for the photo-realistic gusto. I'm still not satisfied with it, though. Plus, his mouth is too big.