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:


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.

Giant harvestmen stake out on the Armory

Amazing processes are busily revealing themselves in the search for my ever so complex preliminary arachnids.  They have to nestle right onto the building, natural-like…and so its quite complicated.  The angle of the armory roof is such, and the view from the space needle is such, that I must paint this with an obscenely exaggerated stretch to it.

I have made models and photographed them on site to get the shadows just right…and here, gentle reader, is a preview of what I will be sketching on the roof tomorrow:

What is so interesting is that the shadow really ends up remaining unaffected.  But because of the steeper angle on the backside of the roof, this male (and not its shadow) has a seriously cool skew to it all.  This skew will make it look very 3D and with the shadow will make it look like it is really propped up off the roof.  I will have to paint this awkwardness with my mind (via this grid) and not con mi corazon, like usual.

For reference, the boxes are each 10 foot sections…so the painting will be massive times 2.

we all have latent superheroes in us

I was commissioned to take the composition of a photograph of this father and his son to become illustrated analogous versions of Captain America and his sidekick Bucky.  The setting was to be the aftermath of a serious battle with copious bodies and smoke- like any decent battle has.

The part that was most fun was was definitely transforming Bucky’s uniform down to toddler size.  While researching the comics and graphic novels, it was fascinating to see all the iterations the uniform has gone through over the eons that Capt America has been around.

We initially discussed making it a physical painting, but after seeing all of the Capt America art that he most wanted me to draw inspiration from, (and recreate the style of…which btw was all digital), we realized it should be digitally painted.

I started off with a fairly tight pencil sketch of the heroes with their uniform details, transferred that to photoshop, then began the task of building masks and layering up the paint and brush strokes.

how to paint a Rove beetle the size of a grain of rice?

Recently I was commisioned to do a painting of a particular type of beetle called a Staphylinid, (aka Rove Beetle).  This beetle’s latin name is Zalobius nancyae. Of course I was very excited to do a large “habitus” of this fascinating and ancient lineage, but I had no idea how small it was until I was handed the box with the specimens inside.  We are not talking about long-grain basmati, this was more like a runt-sized grain of short grained rice:   TINY.

As I do not own a stereo microscope, I had a major dilemma in making my preliminary sketch accurate- actually making one at all!   But without too much having to dig around and research, I was soon offered use of the stereo microscopes in the back room at the jewelry shop where my sister works..thanks Sarah!  I sat down to do a large shaded pencil study of the details, with notes on shading patterns, hairs, and glare.  (I then reduced the prelim sketch down for the transfer).
I decided to use gouache for its amazing blending properties, and how rich the tones can be by layering more and more and more swaths of color.  Artists of any medium must always be patient to push on through the “ugly” phase of a painting, when it appears flat and dull.  This illustration certainly had that stage, but truly I live for the last moments of a painting like this when I get to add the glare, and the drop-shadow…utterly rewarding!

It does this amazing dimensional transformational thing where it just starts to bulge and warp in waves right up off the paper.   I  just finished the piece last week, and I am quite cheeky with it…check out the nice version of it in my portfolio- there is no tissue-paper smudge protector around that version!