Suffering Sloths…

I have begun finally departing from the pencil and getting base coats of paint slathered onto my plywood.  I won’t explain anything, but let the martyrdom of this innocent sloth speak for itself.  It is 48 inches tall and 24 inches wide, and I really enjoy the unique vertical orientation and making the goods fit into it.

I have started to put in some of the wood grain, and am considering switching to oil paints for the sloth….but then again, my heavy ass hands need to rest on the wood to paint and oil ain’t not no good for that.

Probably go for a rainy/cloudy sky next after the wood gets a bit closer.

Update:  dark sky foundation brushed in…but still can’t decide if I should make this terrible day rainy and windy?  Tropical vs. Temperate?  I can envision some mold about to happen on the woods soon…

A new course in Science Illustration

If it wasn’t evident already, nature is cool.  My science art class will show you why…

I will be teaching a brand-spanking new course in Natural Science Illustration at Wenatchee Valley College this fall.  This is a one time only course that is damn-near impossible to find anywhere!

We will be exploring the anatomy and techniques to render many strange and fascinating natural forms of life.

Field trips, skulls, insects, high powered microscopes, ancient beasts, and everything I can fit into a 3.5 hour block.  We will learn to use traditional and digital techniques, creating portfolio pieces in both color and black & white.














Here is a link to the course description at WVC:


Finished! Coryphodons rumaging around the Eocene

Misbehaving Photoshop filters couldn’t stop me finishing! I finally finished it, and I am happy how it came out. It is large, made to be printed out at least 48 inches across, but the detail could hold up a lot larger…I have to print one myself to see how it looks on a format other than a computer screen. Otherwise if you want to see it in action, go to Western Washington University’s Environmental Studies building.
I shot screenshot timelapse video of the whole creation, including the modeling of the clay so hopefully I can get that video together soon. Until then, let me know what you think. Depicted are the creators of trackways found at the Racehorse Creek landslide that inhabited the low lying tropical estuary ~50 million years ago. There are prehistoric analogues of modern Herons, and Willets, and of course the group of Coryphodons- today we have nothing similar or even distantly related. They were fascinating creatures that had perhaps the smallest known brain to body ratio of any mammal. Do you think I created them in a believable rendering? As the artist, I chose all of the non-skeletal features such as hair, color, ears, snout shape, habitus, etc. Large responsibilities for someone who never saw them in real life!
Here are a couple wikipedia links of Coryphodons and the Eocene.

Shadow is done! They have proceeded to pry themselves up off the roof…

Wow, I am so tired but so elated.  Not many art projects turn out just how you plan them to…but this one did!  Yesterday was an amazingly beautiful  and dramatic sunset, and I enjoyed it up on the roof with my constant seagull companions and such cool light. 

A shadow with or without the sun!

I have finally started with the shadow, and it is quite exciting. I have waffled back and forth on the color, and ordered unusable gallons of paint, but in the end…the color is BLUE!

Through and through, with all this atmosphere that our poor sun has to pass through, the shade on the roof that is cast is closest to Kelly Moore’s “blue lake”. Here are a couple images of late…

Safety meeting on the roof…

Check out this VIDEO news brief of my project on KOMO:

News is amazing, this is the third completely different version I have seen!  Different dialog, different anchors, different helicopter footage for each one!

Here is a timelapse from yesterday. It was death defying as you can see…I needed a full body harness to secure my life that was just hanging in the balance. But the clouds and sunset were beautiful. If you think it was hard for the webcam lens to adjust to the constantly shifting light, imagine my eyes!

Last Friday I got booted off the roof until my contract’s so called “tricky wording” (that took 2 months to figure out…) could  be finished for me to sign, so I took the weekend off.  But arriving Wednesday, amazingly the contract lay before me and was made of real paper and I signed it!  Finally!  There were many weird provisions for safety, (“like no horseplay on the jobsite”??- isn’t that the one thing that made pools fun?)   I  had to get a rundown on the procedure before the guy to sign me off on it left, so that sent me racing down to SODO to get a full body harness and rope anchor system.  Certainly got me stoked to return there to get a bosun’s chair for some huge wall in my future…

Coming back refreshed, I have been hitting it pretty hard, finding so many tiny yet major modifications to make to the female.  I was still unhappy with the base color of the legs, so I mixed together a drabber color that looks much better.  Its so funny…why would the 1″ x 1″ color chip under florescent lights at the paint store look any different on an 80 foot leg viewed at an angle from 500 feet up? Going thru the whole process of adding highlights and shadows has been very tedious…its tricky to guage how much shadow to show on the margin of the left side leg 3 Patella, and for that matter how much highlight on the rim of the distal part of right leg 2’s metatarsal?   Deep questions…deeper responses from my rollers.

I am elated to have the RV up here so I can get an early start tomorrow…Its gonna be a whole day on the male.  I look forward to capturing the whole day with time lapse, but the angle is tough to choose.  Puget sound in the distance like today’s video with the sunset and ferries and containers ships, (but with bad glare for the lens), or from the side or back with the space needle in the distance but a very distorted harvestman…hmmm I will sleep on it.


Painting is proceeding in all this heat

Its hot up there, but I would DEFINITELY take heat over the constant wind.  Not both.  I can’t use my expensive larder of spraypaint (I had planned on) because the paint just gets shoved right up into the stratosphere to never pigment evermore.  That said, the mural is progressing like I would have hoped.  Some things are moving slower, some faster, but overall I would go on record saying I am slightly behind.  I have went ahead in exactly the opposite order than I had planned…I will now do the shadow LAST, and everything else first. But that will be super fun because it “pops” already, but with the shadow, it will look so believable.  I can’t wait to do that!

Here is a timelapse from today:

timelapse painting of female opiliones

I started off using about 30 fat lumber marking crayons, which worked great, and had to outline the odd shapes and abstract nature of the Opiliones skewing long.  They are stretched so that the viewers at the observation level of the Space Needle will see a believable 3D illusion.

I made models and photographed them on site at about 1pm to get their shadows.

And when it came time to paint, I laid down a thick dark brown coat of paint that would be my silhouette.  Even with a few legs painted…no details, no highlights, no shadow, they looked amazingly alive and 3D.  Very reassuring and overall it is turning out better than I could have hoped.  Especially from my eavesdropping on passersby at the observation level…everyone seems to notice and get who they are up there with to look at the “spiders”.  Lots of kids showing their parents.  I love it.

Teaching schoolkids in Tacoma to draw and paint animals.

This June I again taught “science art” classes at Collins Elementary school in Tacoma….it was an incredibly rewarding experiencee, with much to learn for me and the kids. I taught 10 different classes over 3 days, and our projects ranged across the board-all of “natural” subjects that either the teacher or I chose.  We made puffins, tortoises, dragonflies,  salmon, crabs, goldfish, red-eyed tree frogs, and a geologic cutaway of the subduction zone below Western Washington state!

The vast differences between 2nd graders and 5th graders were astonishing, but overall I think that the step-by-step processes, media, and subjects that I came up with for each class were excellent.  We used colored pencils, watercolor, crayons, and chalk pastels.  They were all challenged, (including a few tears) and most all felt very accomplished at the end of their creations.  I just couldn’t believe how absolutely thrilled the kids were to be doing art; the teachers sadly confirmed that they did basically no art at all throughout the year.

With about an hour for everything: preliminary sketch, paint “theory”, painting, then touch up, we had to hustle.   Many of the kids had never painted anything before…I was their first!  What a burden to see to it that the kids didn’t develop any bad habits yet!

It went great, and I hope to teach more art in the future…I would like to try older kids too, I think a jr. high or highschool-age project/combination of science and art would be so cool to create .  I will keep you updated.   Enjoy the pictures.

UC Santa Cruz Science Illustration Program- chapter 1!

We all (15 of us) have met each other, the personalities are beginning to emerge, and the projects with their fudgeless deadlines have just begun to descend upon me.  We are starting with black and white, which seems fitting, and are steadily seeing on the horizon projects that will be rendered in pen and ink, (…funny term- is there ever a pen without ink?)

as for traditional media, all is done in pencil, and it was splendid just to hear someone explain the difference between H, HB, and B leads!   I could tell you but then what could I justify paying this frightening tuition for?

There is a huge case of shells and bones and pinecones and whatnot to inspire a first project…I wanted to do something that had’nt’ve been done yet…so I found this badass gourd at the grocery store, and decided to make the sweet warts and imperfections on it morph into the most fantastically patterned and delicate sea urchin “core”.  I was quite happy with the outcome, and here it is for you to see.  using all different leads was almost as crucial as reserving the whites!  I definitely grasped even deeper the utter gravity of ensuring that the preliminary sketch was dialed…but when is that not the case?

anyway, let me know what you think!

btw you can see a larger version in my portfolio gallery