Monthly Archives: August 2014

Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999

 

Under the sea, under the sea...it's the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

Under the sea, under the sea…it’s the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

I was living on kibbutz in the south of Israel, and a guy that I liked took me to Eilat to go snorkeling. He had bought a waterproof disposable camera and he was determined to get his money’s worth. The results were unspectacular. The reef was crowded. I was sexually harassed in French while standing in line (my French was not sufficient to defend myself, but the guy I was with was a native speaker, and when he came back and saw what was happening, he cheerfully chased my offender off and stood a little bit taller afterward: “I called him ‘tu’ and he answered me with ‘vous,’ he said, a little bit dreamily, as he was a small guy and not used to coming out on top in those situations). The reef was, sadly, dead. No one else seemed to notice, but I’d seen enough nature documentaries to know a dead reef when I saw one. There were fish, but hardly any living corals and no anemones, sea stars, urchins, or any of the fine little creatures you expect around a reef. 

My friend wasn’t confident in his ability to take good pictures, so he gave me the camera, and I did my utmost, but the only really interesting shot on the roll was the last one I took underwater, as we were about to get out. Approaching the steps, we saw hundreds of these beautiful striped blue fish swimming around the legs of the people who were about to get in. It was a magical moment.

As for this drawing, I have mixed feelings about it. If I had another 10 hours to mess around with it, it would probably be as interesting as the original. The perspective is OK, but the light was crazy hard to work with, and capturing the light on the water nearly impossible. I managed to get something there by lining the brushstrokes up, but overall it’s too dark and heavy to really give the appearance of water on a sunny day. However, just completing the exercise taught me a lot, and analyzing the piece now helps me learn even more. I could definitely revisit this at a later date and smooth all the light and shadows out, even if the ripples and bubbles in the water are kind of hopeless from this perspective. 

The thing is, I tried to commit to this blog for the purpose of seeing things through. Otherwise, I’d probably just chuck this image, give it up as too hard and feel like I hadn’t done anything creative today. I might tell myself I’d finish it later and probably not follow through. Promising myself to post something new every day gives me the freedom to suck. I don’t think this picture sucks, per se. It’s just that my skill doesn’t match my vision, and I’m impatient, and learning new things feels new and unusual still after spending almost 30 years obsessively focusing on learning one skill.

So I guess this picture isn’t completely done, but it’s after midnight, so up it goes. 

 

Dragon Comics 7

Three cheers for insomnia! Weirding up my world since 1977. This is the comic that Dragon deserves, but not the one that Dragon needs. 

Is this a webcomic? Everything is confusing when your brain forgets to power down once in a while.

Is this a webcomic? Everything is confusing when your brain forgets to power down once in a while.

Truthfully, silencing my demons is a full time job. This comic is OK. The lettering is influenced by my lack of sleep. Sorry about that first word bubble. Too tired to see straight. If only someone would buy some T-shirts, I might have more time to write better comics. 

Painting with Thick Pixels

Quite a few digital artists whose work I admire post drawings in this sort of hasty style, comprised of thick brushstrokes, almost a modern kind of impressionism. At the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t help but think it might be easier to render all those strata of rock using a technique like this, but even with all the shortcuts I took, the Grand Canyon is not an easy thing to capture. 

Sorry I couldn't do you justice, majestic view. You're kind of close to being something like what I meant to draw.

Sorry I couldn’t do you justice, majestic view. You’re kind of close to being something like what I meant to draw.

I worked on this one for about three hours or so, then realized it was after midnight and I needed to upload it regardless, then realized that at some point in the process, I had completely ruined the bottom part of the sky, which I had been pretty pleased with to start. So then I tried to draw over it and fix it. Needless to say, the results were not as good. Ah, well.

Overall, it’s not a bad drawing. The Grand Canyon just has so many colors. Not to mention all the layers. And rocks. And trees. Perhaps I will attempt this technique with a less complicated image. 

 

Dragon Comics 6

And I am only escaped to bring thee this webcomic.

From now until eternity, everyone who enters that cave will enjoy the gift of glitter.

From now until eternity, everyone who enters that cave will enjoy the gift of glitter.

The persistence of glitter and dragon’s identity issues notwithstanding, how much more magical could it get? This comic seemed to take a very long time to draw. I don’t know if it’s because I tried a few new things, or because I drew  it while coming out of stomach bug and finished it after a night of insomnia. Per usual, I’m pretty satisfied, although I of course still see a bunch of things that could be improved. But I can get better with practice.

OK, I Lied

I didn’t anticipate that my Dragon Comics would get so much positive feedback, so now it feels like I ought to keep drawing them, even if I can’t do dailies. Two a week should be possible, maybe on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. There are already a half dozen ideas floating around my brain, so all I really need is the time each week to draw them. Anyway, I went to a party last night, and almost everyone there had read at least one, and they all seemed to love them, and my 9-year-old stepdaughter read them and said they were funny, and she doesn’t lie.

So, in the spirit of whatever it is that I do, I took one of the panels and turned it into a T-shirt (phone case, notecard, pillow, tote bag, etc.). If people are interested, I can do more. Obviously, I need to draw more Dragon Comics first. But here is a T-shirt featuring a hilarious panel that will really confuse people.

 

If this doesn't provide you with hipster cred, I don't know what will. You can proudly state that you liked Dragon before anyone else.

If this doesn’t provide you with hipster cred, I don’t know what will. You can proudly state that you liked Dragon before anyone else.

If you’re coming in late, we’ve got a dragon, roasting a chicken, by hand, while murdering a snake, with fire. “I can get better with practice,” the dragon says. The dragon is talking about killing snakes. It’s all very philosophical, I promise you. Anyway, go on and buy a T-shirt if the mood strikes you.

Here’s a better view of the image, which may very well turn you off to the whole thing, but that’s life. In the words of Gahan Wilson, “I paint what I see.”

As good as it gets, really.

As good as it gets, really.

We can all get better with practice, amirite?

What are you doing, Dragon? Part 5

This is a webcomic.

This is a webcomic.

This concludes the 5-part story arc. I learned a lot this week, and the results are pretty heartening. One of the things I learned, though, is that I’m not quite ready to draw dailies, regardless of whether the world is ready to read them. Even in this very rough style, it still took me about 3 hours to do each of these pages. It’s just too much of a time commitment right now, although you haven’t seen the last of this Dragon. The next arc has already presented itself, and I may try some single-panel comics in the near future. However, I want to devote more energy to the graphic novel as well as to a couple new T-shirt designs. But, as silly as it sounds, what I’ve done here this week fulfills a dream I’ve had for a long time. I’ll come back to this. 

In case you’re missing mandalas, here is a special mandala for your Friday pleasure: 

And by special, I guess I mean that if this mandala was a kid, it would ride the short bus.

And by special, I guess I mean that if this mandala were a kid, it would ride the short bus.

What are you doing, Dragon? Part 4

Not to brag, but when the Man read this comic, he laughed out loud, and he considers himself a real arbiter of comedy.

Don’t try this at home. Unless you are a fire-breathing dragon. And your home is asbestos.

There’s one more Dragon comic in the works for tomorrow; probably not quite ready to commit to daily webcomics, although I hope to do so someday. But this has been a very encouraging experiment, and Friday’s comic will not be the end of Dragon’s quest to draw.