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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.