Black Panther. Micron Pens on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Paper. 12″ x 12″
This is a piece I was honored to have been invited to create for the Undisclosed 2018 Art Show, a fundraiser to benefit the Toledo School for the Arts. TSA is a non-profit charter institution based in the heart of downtown Toledo that provides a rigorous scholarly curriculum within the context of an arts-intensive environment, and Undisclosed is an annual event that regularly raises over $10,000 for the school. (Disclosure: My daughter is a student.)
The unifying theme from which this piece draws its name is a celebration of the explosion of African American influence on the mainstream pop-culture of America denoted by the release of the film earlier this year. I’m thrilled with many aspects of the end result, notably the depiction of the Black Panther costume; Wakanda as it appeared in one of the original comics; and the roaring panther. I’m also especially happy with some of the abstract elements, such as the five-pointed star-like shape near the bottom, and the factory/tree combination that’s a passing nod to the intricate relationship between our work and our world. The leafy structures near the center are a depiction of the leaves of the Umbrella Thorn Acacia, a plant that’s native to the African savannah in which the mythical nation of Wakanda is placed. (If I’d had more time, I might have spent some extra effort sharpening those up a bit.) It was also great fun creating the ‘Wham! Pow! Oof! Bang!’ bubble, especially considering how often I saw those in the TV shows of my youth.
The sharp-eyed viewer will notice this piece is not signed! That’s by design, in accordance with the rules of the show. The event attendees get to choose pieces without knowing by whom they were created until their selections are made and they can see the rear of the piece. Another subtlety is this piece is mounted to a wooden base which allows it to be hung any-side-up, at the discretion of the owner.
Leaves II. Zig Fudebiyori Metallic and Uni-Ball Signo pens on Fabriano Black Black drawing paper. 8″ x 8″
This piece is the second in a series on the theme of leaves, which I mostly produced to test the Fudebiyori pens I acquired recently. This one was a lot of work to create, especially as I had to go over most of the white lines twice (and then do the typical back-and-forth cleanup), however I think the end results are solid. I really like the Black Black paper – It’s amazingly uniform in color, especially compared to the Strathmore, which is one of the reasons I left bits of it showing through. I also minimized over-use of the colored pens on this one, to try to preserve more of the sheen of the metallic additives in the ink; that was largely successful. I still haven’t gotten the time to set up high-quality photos of my work with truly accurate colors the way I’d like, but I’m hoping to get that issue resolved soon.
Leaves I. Zig Fudebiyori Metallic and Uniball Signo Broad pens on Strathmore 400 Series Black Artist Tile. 6″ x 6″
I finally got a chance to do more art! Since I took a position last fall as a consultant for Improving, my evenings have been almost entirely occupied with user’s group meetings and technical events, which has severely constrained my drawing time. My apologies that the blog has gotten stale as a result.
This was a piece I did to test my new Fudebiyori pens that I picked up at the Art Supply Depō last weekend. The title is Leaves I, because I’m planning on doing a conceptually similar piece on a bigger, blacker piece of paper next. I learned a few lessons that will help with the next one. For example, using multiple coats of the Fudebiyori makes the color more intense, but takes the shine out of the ink (I’m guessing that the mica particles, which is what’s usually in these things that’s responsible for the metal-like sheen, sink to the bottom layer, but I don’t have a microscope for a closer look.) And the Uniball ink will melt some of the Fudebiyori colors, which makes it surprisingly hard to maintain the integrity of the white border lines. Overall, though, I think this one is technically decent and has a good balance of colors. I also suspect it will look really snappy once it’s framed, which I intend to do.
Swamp Things. Micron pens on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol paper. 14″ x 14″
This is the second piece in the Swamp Things Collection, which I created in response to a call for artists from the Art Supply Depō in Bowling Green, Ohio. All of the creatures pictured in the collection are native to the Great Black Swamp region, and are not drawn to scale relative to one another. I’d originally planned three pieces, but I ran out of time before the deadline, so only the first two were submitted. I’m still planning on creating the third for posterity.
I wasn’t initially happy with this piece. You wouldn’t necessarily know it just by looking at it, but it’s production fell well outside my normal approach. Aside from there being no abstract components, I (mostly) drew the frames to fit the flora and fauna, so I could draw the entire corpus. Usually, I start by creating a series of frames in arbitrary shapes and sizes, then fill them in with material (which is why, in other works of mine, many of the realism elements are trimmed to fit.) It was surprisingly disconcerting to work this way, and led me to make a number of substantial mistakes. They are disguised to the best of my ability, but aren’t completely invisible, and might require further work. There’s also far more unused white space in the frames than I’d normally like to leave available. And to be be candid, I added the title at the last second in an effort to meet the submission deadline, rather than draw another animal in the corner. I probably won’t take that approach again in the future, though it works reasonably well here.
However, on balance, I think it’s decent overall. The individual plants and animals (which were mostly chosen based on the delightfulness of their names) are about as good as I can make them, at least at this point in my drawing career, and that’s pleasing to me. It was exciting, if a bit nerve-wracking, to be creating pieces to submit to the judgement of artists for whom I have a great deal of respect. I don’t know if my submissions will get accepted, but I don’t have any regrets about putting in the effort.
About the Species Represented
(SOLD) 13-Lined Squirrel (Swamp Things Collection)
Micron Pen on Strathmore 300 Series Artist Tiles. 4″x4″
This is the first piece in the Swamp Things Collection, a set of three that I’m constructing in response to a call for artists from the Art Supply Depō in Bowling Green, Ohio. The theme of the call is the Great Black Swamp, hence the collection will be based on species that are native to the area. It’s a far departure from my typical abstract work, but I’m very happy with how this one came out, and the second item (which will be much larger) is coming along nicely.
Update: I’m pleased to report this piece has been sold in the Swamp Things Exhibition! Thank you to my generous patrons – I hope you enjoy it through the years to come.
Crazy Bird. Staedtler pigment liner pens on Strathmore 300 Series Artist Tiles. 4″ x 4″
This is another in a series of small pieces I’ve created in my spare time at work. I used a new flavor of pen (Staedtler pigment liners), which didn’t work out quite as well as I would have liked. The ink stays wet just a little bit longer than the ink coming out of the Microns I usually use, which made it too easy for me to smear the ink accidentally. I also burned through an entire (.1) pen in one piece; the Microns tend to last longer.
As far as looks go, I’m pretty happy with how this one came out. I didn’t have anything particular in mind while I was creating it; it’s more of a stream-of-consciousness piece, like most of those that I generate at the office (I can’t do much in the way of controversial material there.) I’m especially happy with the textured section under the bird’s neck, which has a surprising amount of depth. The bird itself was an interesting side-effect of the drawing process; it wasn’t a pre-planned element.
Seeing Eyes. Pilot Precise Rolling Ball pen (extra fine) on Strathmore 400 Series Parchment Paper. 9″ x 9″
This piece was an experiment in materials, and (as it turns out) in time. When I started several months ago, I wanted to try some new pens, then I decided it’d be interesting to try some new paper as well. Both worked out reasonably well, and I expect I’ll be doing more with the Pilot (the parchment is a little too flexible, and doesn’t work well with my constant rotation of the work as it’s in progress.)
As to time, my work on this one was interrupted in January of this year, when I started knitting Pussyhats for the Pussyhat Project. After several months of fiber in my hands, I was ready to get back to my pens, and I decided to start with finishing this one off. I’m happy with the overall effect; the rhythm of it (for lack of a better word) is pleasing to my eyes, even though there’s no significant amount of realism in the contents.
Aleppo. Micron 01 pen on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol paper. 14″ x 14″
Update 6/21/2018: I’m delighted to report that this piece was accepted into the 2D Fine Art (Amateur) contest at the 2018 Ohio State Fair! Of the ~2,000 entries, 122 were selected for participation, and I’m deeply honored to be one of them. You can see it July 25-August 5 2018 at the Cox Fine Arts Center, on the south side of the fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio. (The closest entrance is Gate 9 on 11th Avenue.)
I began this piece shortly before Aleppo was surrounded by government forces in the Syrian civil war, and it quickly became obvious that raising awareness of the brutality of the conflict’s impact on non-combatants would be a worthwhile subject. I used a still from a video to draw one of the many children who’ve been covered in dirt and blood by the barrel bombs and relentless pounding by Russian jets. Their ashen, blank expressions are truly heartbreaking.
From a purely artistic perspective, I’m very happy with the overwhelming majority of this one. The child and the cockpit came out extremely well, and the abstract sections are almost uniformly gratifying to me in their precision and depth. There are a couple of weak spots I’d do over if I could, notably the salamander and the forest giant, but overall I’d say this is one of my best works so far. I feel like I’m making progress improving my attention to detail, and it’s starting to pay off in the clarity and ‘pop’ of the final product.
Pods. Micron Pigma and Staedtler Pigment Liner pens on Strathmore Artist Tiles. 4″ x 4″
This is another in a series of small pieces I’ve created in my thinking time at work. I took a bit more time than usual going back through and addressing the details, which made it look very sharp and well-defined. I like the fact that it’s entirely abstract, which is a departure from my usual, and I’m especially happy with the density of the coverage. If I had my druthers, I’d rework some of the shading in spots, but I’m pleased with the overall effect.
Crystalfall. Sanford UniBall Gel Impact pens on Strathmore 400 Series Black Artist Tiles. 6″ x 6″
This was the third in a series of experiments with some new pens from UniBall, and the first one that’s passable as art. The pens are brilliantly easy to use (the ink flows really well), but they’re coarser than I’m used to, which makes real precision difficult. Still, I’m happy with how this one came out.