Monday, September 30, 2013

Illustration Process: Part 2

Thumbnail sketches
Well, I usually would do character sketches for all the figures first, but this time I got excited about the scene and setting. In the scene, the Goblin-Master is approached by his surrogate-thief; the anthropomorphic mouse. The mouse has been out on a heist, and brings the Goblin a bag full of treasure. But the mouse has decided that he likes a pocket watch too much to give up, so he's hiding it behind his back.
Having lots of composition ideas and not letting any of them gel too early is an important step. I often rush through it to the detriment of the final illustration. Not this time though. I hope the time spent on these will pay off.
I'm leaning a bit towards this composition, mostly because it shows the Goblin's collected stuff on the shelves behind the figures. Nonetheless, I have too many ideas about this illustration to settle, and still have not designed the Mouse-Thief besides.
That'll be the next step, maybe.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Painted Violin: Danse Macabre

Death Plays the Fiddle, detail from the violin Danse Macabre*
Like many artists, music--nearly every kind--is an enormous influence on my work. When I was asked to participate in this year's Painted Violin for the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, I leapt at the chance. These young musicians are amazingly talented, and supporting them enables me to indulge in their phenomenal concerts.
The DYAO provided this old instrument, and allowed me free rein.
The first stage: Painting it red, then drawing with brush and ink.
As kids in third grade, we were lucky to have a phenomenal student teacher for music class. Miss West introduced us to many classical pieces, and her gifts as a teacher fired my imagination--and my subsequent appreciation of classical music. I freely admit that I've always been a music nerd, and the moment Miss West played Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, I was head over heels in love.

This is a detail of the top front of the instrument.
That piece of music, and many more, has provided rich flights of imagination for me, with drawings of creatures and scenarios continually evolving in my head as I listen to the works.
A detail from the bottom front of the violin.
When I first got this old violin, there was no question in my mind as to the subject. I sketched multiple thumbnails for composition, and designed many characters before slapping on the first coat of red paint. I have eight different versions of the Danse Macabre piece and they thundered in my studio--over and over-- throughout the whole process. It was total bliss!
Not a great photo, but this is the back of the instrument. 
The final piece is a completely strung violin, and it, along with 18 other beautiful instruments by amazing artists, will be exhibited all over Denver. The violins are all for sale*, the proceeds benefitting the DYAO!
Please check them out at
and check out the violins at
Thanks for the visit!

*As of November 13, 2013, the Danse Macabre violin has sold and is no longer available.

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