Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Sooooooooo, I have been very lazy lately and have not been painting at all. Fortunately, I keep finding old sets of pictures that I was taking when I first started thinking of this blog. I forgot all about the Morrissey painting documentation from last Christmas.

I had been telling my wife that I would paint a portrait of Morrissey for her for years. I finally got around to staring it right around Christmas time of last year.

I wanted to include a song lyric, quote or whatever along with the portrait, but couldn't decide on any particular line. My wife and I sat up late one night watching tons of Morrissey videos to give us a lead. We filled a few notebook pages with ideas and finally decided on altering a line from the song Glamorous Glue. So, it's not an actual line. If you've got a problem with that, come find me and we can punch each other until it's resolved.

Here's the reference picture I used. It's from the reissue of Southpaw Grammar. I thought is was mildly obscure, and wouldn't seem too "overused" but then he used it for all of his t-shirts and stickers for his latest tour, so that idea kinda backfired.

I kinda work out the overall idea in my head, then hit the tracing paper and red pencils. (Thankfully, I am prepared this time and have an ample amount of actual tracing paper on hand. Table paper is lame.)

The start...

I should have saved myself the time and just painted this one instead.

I wanted to add a few touches that most Morrissey fans would recognize, so I decided on gladiolas and finally some boxing gloves at the bottom almost like a pendant or something fancy like that.

I hatehatehate laying out lettering. It's a surprise to most because I tend to add lettering to everything I draw for some reason. I especially hate lettering on the kind of watercolor paper I use due to the rough tooth on the paper. Someday I'll rid myself of the lettering curse, but until then, I shall suffer.

The 16 and 18 are the number of spaces I need to keep it even. Math sucks.

At this time, I'm just off camera, banging my head into the wall in frustration and self-disappointment.

Here are my final pencils.

I get a fresh piece of watercolor paper, and lightly trace the pencils onto it.

Here's a closeup.

As with the Strummer painting, I decided to only listen to Morrissey throughout this painting. No Smiths, just the Moz. Here's proof, albeit blurry.

Here are the lines.

I messed up BIG TIME on a small detail here. Further into the game, I spent many hours trying to save the painting. It was far too painful to document. I guess you truly suffer for your art sometimes.
I would explain, but it'll give away too many technical details and I don't want to turn this into a "how to" blog. Gotta keep some of the secrets...well...secret.

Around this point in painting, an extremely drunken, uninsured lout plowed his dump of a car into my mostly new, nice-ish car while it was parked. Here's just a sample of the damage.

Drunk Guy (to Cop): "put HIM in cuffs, too!" (gestures toward me)
Cop: "Why should I arrest him?"
Drunk Guy: "He cussed me out!"

I lost a bit of steam on the painting after that night, so took a few weeks off.
Here's where I picked up again.

Mostly done with the background. The portrait part is really the only "interesting" part to paint, so I saved it for last this time. Here it is with my first coat of grey.

Flower closeup. I dropped some tan. Oops.

The finished product! 16 x 20"

Closeup of the handsome devil.

Hopefully soon I'll have some NEW projects to show.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

London's Burning.

Since I'm not currently working on anything that I've already begun documenting, I dug up some old pieces of paper and some crappy camera phone pictures from a painting that I did of Joe Strummer.
I did this painting about a year ago and it was a commission for a friend.

I decided to use this picture of Joe because of the high contrast. I figured it would be the most easily recognizable picture I could pull off with watercolors.

I always enjoyed the belief that if punk rock had a patron saint, it would be Joe Strummer, so I went for a stained glass/"Saint Joe" kinda thing.

I ran out of tracing paper, so I had to use a roll of exam table paper, which is actually terrible stuff to use in place of tracing paper. I mostly work on paintings around 2 or 3 in the morning, so I usually end up having to use whatever is at my immediate disposal.

I sketched my initial thoughts here, then got the idea to include his Fender. The problem being that the composition of the reference photo only allowed me to place is as if he were left handed. We all know that's not right, so I made the decision to flip the portrait over, so the guitar would be facing the correct way.

Of course, that meant that I had to paint the portrait backwards. Dumb idea.
In hindsight, I could have easily flipped the picture in a photo editing program, but apparently, I like to do things the hard way. This added countless hours to the painting.
(I find this approach is great when you want make people think that you possess wizard-like art skills....when, in reality, you're just lazy or too stupid to do it the easy way.)

So, here is the flipped sketch with some lettering added on. I drew the Olde English on freehand, which was grueling. I don't have a photocopier or scanner at my house, so I couldn't photocopy the lettering to the size I needed to trace. It was much harder than I expected.

At this time, I decided that I would ONLY listen to The Clash while I was painting. I thought it might help the spirit of the piece or some other art fag sounding type of thing.
I raged to so much Clash. It was awesome.

After lightly sketching the basics on with pencil, here's the first bit of the portrait taking shape, before I outlined the rest of the painting.

Here's the almost-finished portrait with most of the rest outlined. Perhaps 7 or 8 hours of drawing/painting at this point.
I normally don't work this "loose", so it was nerve wracking to just paint blind (and backwards). I had not planned out colors, how to pull off the stained glass effect or anything else, for that matter.

and the finished product.

It's like 16x24 and half inches, or some equally difficult to frame size. I think about 15 to 17 hours of painting time. I was in slow motion for this one.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The first day of fall

Well, since I'm posting after midnight, I suppose it's not quite correct, but who's keeping track?
Here's what I saw a few doors down from my house while walking my dog this evening. This might be the first time In my entire life that I've been ready for summertime to end.
Bring on the hoodie weather.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I've tattooed in Richmond, VA off and on since August of 2000...and somehow I never managed to do a City of Richmond logo. I finally got the chance a few days ago.
Of course, it's a bit warped due to the curve of the back of the arm. Thanks Caitrin.
When I was younger, I got my hands on a huge book called "Marvel: five fabulous decades of the world's greatest comics". It's mostly just a history of the company with tons of great old comic pages, but what I studied to no end was in the very back of the book. A few pages were dedicated to showing how a page of a comic was penciled, then lettered, ink and colored by Mark Texeira. Holy crap! I fueled my obsession for seeing how my art heroes broke the work down and applied it to the page. Since then, I've always been on the lookout for similar "in progress" pieces. Sometimes they're more interesting than the finished product.

It's one thing I hate about tattooer's "sketchbooks" that are flooding the marketplace like acne on a teenager's back. They're just boring. Finished line drawings of tattoos you can already see in their portfolios (for the most part). Rarely do you see actual sketching, where you see the process.....the road taken to get to the final drawing.

So, with that said, this blog will include a lot of that from my own drawing well as whatever else I find interesting throughout my days and nights.
To start, here are a few shots from a recent watercolor I did. I got the idea of doing this blog during the stages of that painting, so I didn't really take enough pictures at the time....

Here's my initial sketch on bristol board.

Closeup of sketch.

After getting the sketch where I like it, I transfer it to the watercolor paper with very light pencil lines, then start to ink it.

After outlining, the fist stages of shading.

and the finished painting...