Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Shop, Sketch Breaks, and Climbing Tahoe

If there's any way to sum up how busy I've been recently, this sketch is it. I remember filling up an entire journal during my backpacking honeymoon with Alex in just six weeks. Now, nearly five months later, I'm not even halfway into my current journal!

That's the nature of the beast in freelance, especially if you're the one that handles every aspect of your business. In fact, it sometimes feels like the business side takes up more time than the actual creative end. Then again, maybe it's just me unnecessarily punishing myself. For instance, because of the Etsy shop's lack of customization, I decided to build my own online shop rather than using another third party service (like CafePress) or hiring a designer. (edit: the Etsy shop is still current and active). The task at hand involved learning to navigate through coding languages I never even knew existed on a shopping cart program called Zen Cart ... But with a bit of luck and a lot of research on the support forums I managed to get it running. Here's a snapshot of the site, which is now open for your shopping pleasure.

Please do visit and let me know what I did wrong. ;)

This, of course, inspired me to redesign (yet again) my gallery to have a more cohesive look... and with a bit more confidence in playing with codes, I was able to get my site to look the way I wanted it to all along.

Hmm, there are a million sites out there that you'd want to visit if you really want to see solid design and functionality, so let's move on to something I'm more confident showing: The aforementioned, elusive 'creative end.'

Painted back in July while Alex and I were visiting Manhattan. We were under a bridge in Central Park while it was raining outside, watching an eccentric street performer by the name of Thoth.

Been toying around with new looks for the Venetian Birds. Above them is a sketch while we were out climbing with our friend, Davin, at one of our favorite urban climbing spots. It's a stone wall about a hundred feet long underneath a freeway overpass (great for outside climbing during rainy days, or late nights).

Above Left: My dad loves to tell stories about his Army days. They never grow old, no matter how many times I've listened to them. I often wish I carried a tape recorder with me just so I could start piecing together the story of his career. We were sitting in a cafe on this day, when he told me a story about a battle in Vietnam that I hadn't heard before. I sketched the moment in the cafe afterwards.
Below: Thumbnail sketch for an illustration I'm currently painting.

In spite of a hectic schedule, I've managed to avoid complete burnout. I believe the key is balance, even if it's by way of intervention - After a solid week of sitting in front of a computer, my pal Robby hauled me off for a weekend of climbing below South Lake Tahoe.

The main wall at Lovers Leap, near South Lake Tahoe.

We spent two days climbing, but since it was my first time using gear placements outdoors in over two years, we avoided doing anything too difficult. Still, the two routes we climbed were classics, and the view from above the ground is always rewarding. Unfortunately, I left my camera back home, so I grabbed these photos off the internet.

Roughly 400' to the top, though it felt a lot higher! ....Did I mention I have a fear of heights?

Robby and I managed to grab our favorite campsite, next to two gigantic boulders. We were too hot and tired to do any post-route boulder climbing, but I spotted this spectacularly dead tree behind one of the boulders.

Back home, I've also been working on a long-term project for a possible feature film for kids. It's very exciting work, and I'm hoping that it pans out in the long run. Hopefully I'll be able to show some of the sketches soon, but we've still got a whole lot of ground to cover so it may be a while, yet. In the meantime, I'll see if I can finally relax and paint now that I'm no longer my own web designer.... temporarily.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Some Recent Works

I'm waiting on some pictures from a couple friends before doing a recap on July, so I thought I'd show a small selection of work I've been up to recently.

This was done the week Alex and I got back from Europe back in April... okay, not so recent, but I still like it! It's our garden shed in the backyard. Notice the overgrown weeds? 9" x 12" Watercolour.

This one's been sitting on the easel forever, but I finally finished it in time for an upcoming cityscape show. 30" x 40", Oil on Canvas. It's a scene in the industrial area of West Oakland. Just to the right of the overpasses, roughly a hundred yards away , a section of freeway collapsed the weekend I resumed working on the painting. I drove back to this spot to see if this was where the collapse happened. Would have been kinda weird, huh?

Aside from the landscape paintings above, I've been into doing a lot more things out of my head lately - though still based on my own experiences, places I've been to, old memories, or just things I've seen. Applying it to children's book work has been the most rewarding way to do this (such as the sketch from the previous "Comic-Con" update).

Small sketchbook page. Based on Dillon Beach and old fences along houses by the Mendocino coastline.

The Wrong Shoe Size - 12" x 15" Acrylic on Illustration Board. Based on rooftops in Nottingham, England, and all those boots you always see flung over telephone wires, and me wondering who collects them.

Some of my favorite little pick-me-up's - my cat, music, and coffee - get a pick-up of their own. 7" x 14.5" Gouache on Illustration board with some digital touch-up.

Fresh off the easel... actually, it's still sitting on the easel, but it's considered done. Another bird in a Venetian style mask. 5" x 7", Oil on Canvas. I'll do a better scan when it's dry.

The cityscape show I mentioned, by the way, is taking place at the Studio Gallery in San Francisco, beginning August 15th, with a gallery reception taking place on August 18th. I'll be stopping by the reception at some point, so if you're in the area, stop by. The Studio always puts up a great show, with a lot of great local artists.

Also, some of you may have noticed something new on this blog: my shameless capitalistic impulses manifesting itself in the form of Featured Items from my new Shop on the sidebar. The site itself is actually pretty cool, boasting all hand-made items by a community of artists, artisans, and crafts-folk alike. Some of the journals I've seen are really tempting, but I should probably fill the one (or six) I have lying around first. I don't know how most people classify digital prints, but I do consider mine hand-made, since I create the original images and I manage the printing process, though I do plan to put up originals and limited edition pieces as well). Anyway, have a look!