The New King of Queens

I'd like to congratulate the Mets and their fans on aquiring Johan Santana (pending physical and contract talks) yesterday. Moreover, I would like to thank them for keeping him away from the Red Sox and allowing the Yankees to keep Phil Highes and Melky Cabrera.

I've heard a lot of talk this morning over whether this is good news or not for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Of course it's good news! While either team would love to have him on their staff, they each, clearly, felt that the price was way too high and their teams were already pretty damn strong without Santana.

That's why both the Yankees and Sawx had all but left the bargaining table, leaving the Twins' poor rookie GM Bill Smith with no choice but to take the Mets offer - arguably the 4th best offer the Twins had for Santana this offseason (after 2 from the Red Sox and 1 from the Yankees.) So, please, please, do not turn on Sportscenter this morning and think that the Yankees or Sox somehow missed the boat on this or believe Mike Lupica's ri-cock-ulous assertion that , somehow, Omar Minaya stepped up and got the deal done that the Yankees couldn't. As a Yankee fan, this is honestly the outcome I wanted most.

The Mets will remain competitive (always fun for a Yankee fan), the Sox will not become a juggernaut behemoth, and the Yankees will hold on to some good, exciting young players. It's win-win for New York baseball fans. Now, the Twins fans... Man, they got pantsed.


Big Ben III

Here's another update on that Roethlisberger painting. I'm hoping to have it done by late tonight or early tomorrow. I'll expound upon it a bit more then.

Drawing Jazz

I've been a little backed up lately. I think I stacked my plate with a bit too much and then burned myself out a little the last week. I'm back on track now, and will have some more updates on that Roethlisberger painting, as well as the other two tracks from that recording session up this week. In the meantime, here's a little fun somethin' for you.

As some of you that have been reading this blog know, I've been having fun messing around with markers lately. I finally picked up a new set and was eager to try them out. So, Friday night I went over to Cask 591 here in Long Branch where the Junior Pauls Duo plays every Thursday and Friday night, with my man Joe Peterson on bass. I haven't done too much drawing or sketching of any live stuff lately, and I've had an itch lately to bring the sketch pad out and capture some musicians in action. I had to say it was fun trying to capture these guys playing in less than 40 minutes, and the markers are a lot of fun to play with. Hopefully, I'll have a lot more stuff like this in near future.


Big Ben pt. 2

Got back to work on the Ben Roethlisberger painting from a few posts ago. I've pretty much laid in the whole background. Normally I try to shy away from a background that's too busy or photorealistic and try to go with something a little more abstract or stylized, but I was commissioned to do a painting of a photo. So, the trick is to do the closest approximation of the photo possible while still putting my own spin on it.

My idea is to do a somewhat muted, impressionist background a bit darker from the one in the photo, then contrast that with a sharper, brighter, figure in the foreground. One of the things I wanted to do as well was stick to nothing but autumnal colors for the fans in the stands. Although, I noticed a few blues, greens, and other colors in that part of the background I stuck mainly to browns, reds, yellows, and oranges. I hope this will really make Ben pop out at you, especially with how stark the black and yellow is in his uniform.

New Music - "Fly Me To The Moon"

You can hear the first song from my new 3 song demo, "Fly Me To The Moon", over at my MySpace page. Nick Esposito's on guitar and Joe Peterson handled bass duties.

Not having a whole lot of money to shell out on studio time, we decided to spend a few hours recording here in my living room. All the tracks were done live with no overdubbing, and were all pretty much done in only a take or two. For what it is, and it is meant to be nothing more than a quick sample to book gigs, I think it turned out well. Given the chance, I'd like to go back and perfect my vocals, but there's a nice freewheeling energy to the whole thing that I think works nicely.

Check it out and feel free to leave any comments you'd like.

I'll have the others finished and up next week.


Still Here. Don't Worry, Folks

Hey, I checked the stat counter and noticed this blog's been getting some traffic lately. And, of course, that's the exact time I pick to slack off on the posts. I've been busy the last few days gettting my ass kicked training for a half marathon, rooting for the Giants, celebrating the Giant win, and doing some recording.

I'll post some thoughts on the Giants, as well as a few links, later on today and, hell, for the next 11 days. I'll also post one of the songs the guys and I worked on, with a few notes on the recording. And, yes, I will also post new pics and updates on some new drawings and paintings.

So, a super big happy fun thank you to everyone that's been stoppin' by. Click by again later on today and throughout the week. I promise you there will be plenty of goodies for everyone.


Let's Hear It For Big Blue!

I know it's a few days late, but I would be remiss if I didn't do a little gloating and celebrating over the Giants sweet, gooey, candylike win over the Dallas Cowboys. The much maligned Jints are now just one Favre-in-the-freezer game away from the Super Bowl, they've finally coalesced into a team, and li'l bro Eli's all grows'ed up.

It's a really great feeling to root for a team like this and watch them grow and succeed over a seaason. At times, during the season it wasn't fun at all, but seeing them overcome a number of obstacles and really come together as a team - as a coach and team, I should say - is great for any fan. Especially when it culminates in an unexpected run to the NFC Championship game.

And, especially when it comes at the expense of Jerry Jones, Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, and thousands of obnoxious, asshole Cowboy fans.

Plus, it saves the country from a possible Dallas/Patriot Super Bowl in which no one would be able to decide who to root against and America's collective head would've exploded. If anyone should get the chance to take the Patriots and their insufferable fans down, it should be good ol' boy Favre and the heartland Packers or li'l bro Eli and the surprising Giants.

Here's a few goodies to help all you Giants fans celebrate the win:

From The Onion: "Jessica Simpson Completes Elaborate Plan To Destroy Cowboys' Season"

A downloadable Eli wallpaper of my own from a while ago:

And, finally this nice recap of the '07 Cowboys:

Big Ben

Sorry that I haven't posted in about a week. I got caught up in family activities and Giants football this weekend. Plus, I was working on a few things which are meant to be surprises and can't be posted just yet.

Yesterday, though, I started a commissioned Ben Roethlisberger painting. You can see the reference photo below, followed by a light charcoal rendering of shapes and forms, then a more detailed line drawing, and finally the one I'll be painting on. The last one isn't any different than the line drawing except that I wanted to plan out my use of negative space, as well as strengthen the line of action. I'll post more later today and tomorrow as I add color.


Painting with Markers

I took this picture months ago at a bar in New Hope, PA. For some reason I've completely blanked on the name of the bar, the beer that is, and the cigar I was smoking. But, I do remember all three being excellent. I was looking for something to do while experimenting with these markers, and dug this out. I think I tried splitting the difference betweeen something painterly (i.e. blending colors) and purely illustrative (putting colors into an inked line drawing). In the future I should pick a method and stick with it.


More Dames!

A li'l follow up to the previous post. I refined the rough pencil sketch into a graphic line drawing that I plan on inking, but I still haven't decided how I want to drop the color in. I'm not sure if I want to do a more subtle and realistic coloring job or something flatter and bolder. I originally wanted to do the whole thing in marker, but my marker set is old and incomplete, thereby ruling out any possibility of lightness or subtlety in her flesh tones. And, while I think I could get away with a flatter color job on her arms, hair, and dress, a more gradual shading would be better to define the shape of her face.

But... since I had the markers out, I decided to see what I could do with them; working from a pic in an old Victoria's Secret catalog. It's nothing spectacular, but a good first try with a new medium for me. In fact, I originally thought I was only gonna be able to do something very flat and graphic. If I knew I could get as close to realism as this I would've taken a bit more time on it. But, for something dashed off in about an hour, I'm pretty happy.

One more note - I wanted to do a more gradual gradation with the background (from dark pink to light to white) but I don't have the colors to do it. So, I improvised and gave her the Marvel superhero background you see now. But, hey, if a girl lookin' like that ain't super, nothin' is.



Crazy weekend. Great football games, great Giants win, and it looks like our boy Eli may finally have graduated to the big time. We'll see next week. Didn't do too much drawing or painting this weekend, but I did spend a li'l time with the wife's issue of Glamour, but instead of pulling a Costanza, I used it only for something to sketch and doodle from.

The first is me trying to mess with non-oil pastels, something I'd never done before. The second is a rough sketch that I want to put some color on, but I'm not sure how or in what medium. Like all heterosexual men (and, hey, why not? homosexual women, too), I love the female form, but, unfortunately, have never gotten entirely comfortable rendering it. So, in between some larger projects I'm working on, I'll be playing with the female form all week. Unfortunately, only on paper. Not in any significant physical, carnal, or in-some-states-illegal way.

So, here ya go, kids! Ogle away. There'll be more all week.


More Francis A.

Before I officially call it a night, I thought I'd show ya's what I was up to today with that Sinatra oil piece I posted earlier. I've finished the hat and most of his right shoulder. I want to finish up the blues in the suit and let that dry a bit before going after his face and hand.

Compared to the original rough I laid out I thought I'd go with a brighter blue that "popped" a bit more. When I first started this a year and a half ago, I had planned on doing it completely photorealistic. Now, I want to do something a little more stylistic and "hyper-real". I'm still searching for a "signature look" or style of my own as far as painting goes, and I hope this will take me another step closer.

The first pic is the one I posted a few days ago, just to give a reference without having to scroll down. I'll have more over the weekend and, hopefully, something close to a finished product on Monday.

Big Plans and Little Doodles

Unlike most people, I never attached much significance to the start of a New Year. To me it was always just another page on the calendar. This year, however, I have decided to imbue the start of 2008 with great and historical significance. Historical to me, at least. I'm sure the rest of the world won't give a shit.

I have big plans for the new year, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I think the only people in recent memory that have had bigger plans for the future than me were Walt Disney and Hitler. Fortunately for you, dear reader, my plans don't include treacly family entertainment or genocide. However they are going to require a lot of planning, hard work, and discipline. Three things I've never been terribly good at. In the landfill where big plans and dreams go to die I have my own mountain.

Which is why I decided to join the masses and come up with some New Year's resolutions, mainly, ways for me to finally become a fiscally solvent artist/singer and avoid having to do another stint slinging suds behind a bar somewhere. From wanting to get more into cartooning and illustrating, trying different artistic mediums and styles, and becoming a known sports artist to recording, booking, and promoting myself as a singer, I have a lot I'd like to get done. That's not even mentioning the other resolutions I've made which have nothing to do with my career.

So, I've spent much of the last few days planning out the next 4 or 5 months and setting some goals for myself to see that I get as much done as possible without losing my way (by losing my way, I mean doing way too much drinking, recovering from drinking, and settling in for too many marathon Star Wars, James Bond, and Lord of the Rings viewings. Hey, I have a 61 inch HD TV in my living room. Do you know what it's like working from home with one of those things in the very next room? It's like being a recovering drug addict and rooming with both Lindsey Lohan and Amy Winehouse while having Keith Richards play Mr. Roper).

One of these goals is to do at least a little bit of painting and/or drawing - and update this blog -every single day. My goal is to not just use this blog as a way to showcase and promote my art and music (although, make no mistake, it will certainly be that), but to also throw up some links to the more interesting detritus floating around the web and to provide what I hope will be some witty and insightful commentary on things that interest me. I'll be letting you know about movies I've seen, music I've heard, books I'm reading, beers/wines/cocktails/cigars I've tried, and my completely biased and irrational views on the sports world.

I hope that those of you who visit this space will make it a regular stop and tell all your internet friends about it. In fact, tell your real friends, as well. Of course, I make no guarantees that this whole thing won't end up being a big bowl of suck that's basically a longwinded tribute to my own outsized ego. A very real possibility.

Anyway... for your Friday viewing pleasure. Here's a collection of doodles from the last few days.

A quick Bugs Bunny done while taking a break from painting, I was going more for the squat, "early Bugs" look of the 40's. His head's a bit too small, though, and his face is entirely unappealing.

A quick cartoony sketch of myself singing as I try to work out some ideas for marketing and promoting the music gig.

I got a good piece of advice awhile back from cartoonist Pete Emslie (check out his great blog here). He recommended trying to do caricatures from a video source, seeing the person act and move can give you a better sense of their character and improve your drawing. Last night while watching "The Professional" I was writing out song lists when I decided to flip the page and do a little doodling. I never got a good bead on Gary Oldman's character (although I love the Chuck Jones mouth his cigarette dangles from), but overall it's a great exercise and I'll be sure to have my sketch pad on my lap whenever I'm watching TV from now on.

Which, when you think about it, is a great excuse to have marathon viewing sessions in front of my big, goddamn obnoxious HDTV. "I'm not being lazy, honey, I'm working! Look! See!?!"


Happy '08 Everyone!

I hope everyone had themselves a good holiday weekend. I had an enjoyable New Year's Eve at a friend's house eating some great food, drinking great beer, and watching some awful television. Between Ryan Seacrest's "My Favorite Martian" headset and Tila Tequila's "No-Talentfest '07", I couldn't wait to finish up with 2007 and move forward - with any luck far away from reality TV and internet created "celebrities" whose only notable talent seems to be their unrelenting need for attention and complete lack of shame.

Although, I must admit it was great to just sit and lob insults at the screen, plus see some live performances from Paramore and Carrie Underwood. I'm not crazy about either's music, but I think that Carrie's adorable and that chick from Paramore has a great voice and stage presence, while being cute in a Hot Topic, mallpunk, "I play the tough chick onstage, but cry during sex" kind of way.

Luckily, though, we had the William Shatner Roast DVR'ed and Rock Band plugged into the XBox to salvage the rest of the entertainment portion of the evening. With any luck, this December 31st, I'll be singing live myself somewhere and will be able to avoid all those New Year's TV specials whose sole purpose seems to be to give you one last dose of everything you got sick of the previous year so you'll really look forward to the next.

And now, a few notes on the sporting events of the weekend:

Giants/Pats was great... right up until the ending. It was a fun, entertaining game. As a Giants fan it was great seeing the team coming out and playing with that much heart and passion. The team and fans were fired up and wanted the win. Although, I had to admit I wondered where that Giant team was the last few weekends, and I was very dissapointed with the way they played that second half. Eli nearly made a believer out of me until the last quarter. My only hope is that they didn't empty the tank Saturday and that the Bucs game on Sunday won't be a letdown.

The college bowl games sucked. With the exception of the Michigan win I couldn't find much to get into in any of them. I watched the first two possessions of the Hawai'i/Georgia game before switching over to Robocop on UHD. In fact, in my hungover state I ended up watching much more of channel 11's Honeymooners marathon all day long than any college football.

But... I did end up watching a lot of the NHL's Winter Classic. I've rarely been able to watch regular season hockey on television (although, it is better in HD), but this game, played outdoors in a huge snowy outdoor venue was a great watch. Not only was it a tight, exciting game, it overcame one of hockey's great weaknesses - looking good on TV. Aside from the undeniable awesomeness of the snow, playing in the larger venue helped a lot. NBC was able to get some great wide shots from around the stadium, specifically one from behind the net that you would never be able to get in an arena, where the camera's positioned a few feet behind the goal. Usually, on a hockey telecast, you have one good wide shot for the main action, then a bunch of tighter cutaway shots that will isolate a few players or plays. In this game, though, thanks to how far back the camera's were, NBC was able to switch between a few shots that let you see all the action. Great job.

Besides the technical stuff, this game was aesthetically worth tuning in for. The lighting cast through the cloudy and snowy dusk gave the ice a feint atmospheric glow that you do not get from indoor arena lighting. The chunks of snow flakes in front of and on camera lenses were awesome, and how perfectly did those light blue, retro Penguins jersey fit the mood? The current gold ones would have been an ugly contrast, but the shades of blue flying around the rink on the Sabre and Penguin jerseys perfected the wintry tableau.

Plus, the NHL couldn't have asked for a better ending than having their rising star, Sidney Crosby, win the thing in an overtime shootout. With the bowl games cannibalizing each other and offering up more and more non-competitive games each year, I think NBC and the NHL may have a new New Year's day tradition on their hand. I'll certainly be tuning in to a lot more games from now on, and if you think I'm not already planning a painting of Crosby celebrating that goal in the snow, you're nuts.

Speaking of paintings, here's a Sinatra painting I started a year and a half ago, but quit when I became too intimidated by the oils. I decided to finish it up this week, and began by replacing the horrendous yellowy spotlight background with a far better smoky, ethereal, platinum grey one.

And, for those of you that stuck around this long in the post... My last sketch of 2007, I give you.