Friday, November 4, 2011

Alphabet Attack! Returns In 2012

Hello, fine followers of Alphabet Attack!

I sincerely apologize for my lack of posts, this past month. To be honest, I simply haven't had time to commit to the blog and the list of illustrations I have in store for it. With new commercial work on my plate, plus a glut of travel between my last post and the end of 2011, something had to give. For better or worse, Alphabet Attack! has become that "something."

But don't run into the hills, screaming, just yet. The Attack! will return. It's just on hold for now, while I handle my business and keep the lights on in the studio.

Though she'll be hibernating for the start of winter, Alphabet Attack! will return in January 2012, bigger, badder and stronger than ever. I'll be continuing with the current, creepy-ass series that started with "Almost Anonymous" and "Bigot Brutality." We'll pick things back up with the completion of "Coral Carnivore," and plow ahead from there.

In the meantime, you can keep up on my art exploits, release announcements and Holiday merchandise sales via my art blog, On The Slate.

Take care and I'll see you on the other side of New Years!

"Here comes Susie Snowflake, dressed in her snow white gown. Tap-tap-tapping at your window pane to tell you she's in town!"
- David C.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Coral Carnivore" Early Glazes

Here's a peek at the early stages of my opaque painting process. While these colors are still fairly transparent, they're thicker and more purposeful than what I did in the under painting.

I prefer to determine my darkest areas in a painting early on, so that's where I tend to start my attack. Once I'd gotten the base bright pink color placed in the sky, I started darkening up the stone archway around our evil siren.

While the arch will be pretty dark both above and below the water, I still want to maintain a difference in warmth and coolness between each side of the surface. To do this, I've used a dark brown for the stone above the water (warm) and a dark blue for the stone below it (cool).

Lastly for today, I've begun laying in the darkest parts of the hidden sea beastie. Along with the gaping maw of his hungry mouth and his eerie pupils, I've also started to darken the linework on him. I'll do this throughout the piece, in a manner that's similar to inking with a brush. This process helps me keep my drawing strong, while I build up layers of paint.

From here on out, I really just have to dive in and paint like a fiend. A lot of thought and consideration goes into taking the piece from this to its completion. But with the right music and mood, those conscious thoughts will fall into the background. When I'm really on a roll, I'll detach myself from the process... almost like I'm watching myself paint. And that's the Jedi trance action I'm aiming for.

That's all for this week! Tune in on Monday for more Alphabet Attack!

"What I do? I called up the Geto Boys crew, 'cause my mind's playing tricks on me too!"
- Dave

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Coral Carnivore" Step Three

The next stage of "Coral Carnivore" is one of my personal favorites -- the under painting! This is the point where I really begin developing the chroma (color) and value (light & dark) tones of a painting. With this piece, I went about this using thin layers of paint and a spoonful of spontaneity.

Under painting is like live art for me, in that I rely mostly on creative instinct -- I let the beast take hold and attack the canvas in a flurry. By doing so, I'm able to accomplish a lot of spontaneous, bold mark-making. Since this layer will inevitably be glazed over with more opaque layers of paint, there's a lot of freedom in how I apply the color. I've found that this helps me create bold marks that I wouldn't have made otherwise, especially during the more tedious painting steps to come.

Now that I'm beyond the drawing stage, I've also begun working out the puzzle of painting coral. Coral itself is an otherworldly, colorful sea creature. And it comes in all shapes and sizes. Rather than draw it first, I'm relying totally on texture and brush strokes to bring it to life. The spontaneity here is extremely helpful in conveying the alien landscape look of coral. But I'll have to maintain my sense of design & draftsmanship as I take it to completion. I'm not out of the woods yet....

Keep an eye out for the more developed painting stages of "Coral Carnivore," at the end of this week!

"You bring the ladies and I'll bring the brew! Oh shit, anotha' barbeque!"
- King Gum

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Coral Carnivore" Step Two

As you can see, Step Two of "Coral Carnivore" involved going from the initial sketch to a finished drawing. At first, I was reluctant to do a complete redraw for this piece. Maybe it was a pang of laziness, but I was so in love with the sketch (see last Thursday's post), that I almost
didn't see the point in recreating that image from scratch. But in the end, I harnessed my weekend work ethic and channeled it into this finalized drawing.

The core elements here are essentially the same as in the sketch. I've tweaked the devilish siren a bit, and added some extra details to her toothy lower half.

I also added a stone archway to the scene, further emphasizing the fact that this beastie is lurking in a shallow cove. I've actually been to places like this, along the California coast. They are truly gorgeous, awe-inspiring scenes. I highly recommend visiting the ocean, as often as possible. There's nothing like standing next to a force of nature that's loaded with mystery, unseen creatures and corpses. It's beautiful and frightening, all at the same time.

Lastly, I found a strange satisfaction in taking the time to redraw this piece. A lot of Classical painters and 20th Century illustrators whose work I admire would endure the rigorous task of creating preliminary drawings, before ever touching the canvas. Some would even create whole paintings, just to work out the kinks in their plan for what would be the real finished piece.

That's something I've always wanted to incorporate in my work. I know it doesn't really jive with our push-button, instant gratification society. But it felt amazing taking the extra time to push myself from an already satisfactory drawing, and on to something that reached for even higher ground.

Stay tuned this week for the next steps of "Coral Carnivore!"

"I'm in the cube & I'm deep in the toilet! Way down deep where no good shit gets started!"
- Dave

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Coral Carnivore" Step One

The Letter C stands for "Coral Carnivore." This one popped into my head at random, and immediately brought Sea Monsters to mind. Specifically, those devilish creatures known as "sirens!"

For the concept drawing above, I just jumped right in with a dark black pencil. I quickly drew a light gesture, in about 3 minutes max. Then I began to finesse the darker, fine lines out of the piece.

Here, we have an aquatic siren who, like mermaids, is notorious for leading many a sailor to a watery grave. Siren lore I'm familiar with sometimes describes these fathom phantoms as lures... attractive bait attached to a toothy behemoth ambush predator that's lurking just below the sea. Hence the bruiser tucked underneath our scaly lady.

I do like the concept of the sexy siren who -- though beautiful and alluring above the ocean's surface -- is a gruesome killer below the water. You may notice that the hand she's dipping into the tide is sharper and more monstrous than her other hands. In the final piece, I want to convey the idea that she looks completely different when viewed underwater... as if her strange beauty up above is just a trick of the light.

And of course, her having four arms is a creepy cherry atop the spooky sundae.

Tune in tomorrow, as I dig into the full-blown illustration!

"This is the sound of what you don't know killing you. This is the sound of what you don't believe -- still true."
- Dave

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Bigot Brutality"

At last, here's the finished painting for "Bigot Brutality." I had to scramble to get this done in between other work (and I do mean scramble!). But it was a fun exercise in acrylic glazes, for me.

Much like "Almost Anonymous," the approach on this was relatively traditional. I laid down light washes, slowly building up my under-painting. And as things got more developed, the more opaquely I started to paint. There's actually a ton of transparency in this piece.

The odd thing about fine art illustration is that it's much more subjective to mood and artsy musings than say, a random freelance job. I can't tell you how many times I found myself gazing thoughtfully out the studio window, glass of bourbon in hand, pondering the volatile nature of race relations and acrylic paint....

Tune in tomorrow for the start of my illustration for The Letter C - "Coral Carnivore!"

"No rapper can rap quite like I can! I'll take a musclebound man and put his face in the sand!"
- Dave

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Bigot Brutality" Step 3

Wowzers! My schedule today was way too loaded for me to complete "Bigot Brutality" without the help of my trusty clone. Still, in his absence, I was able to put time into the early painting stages. I started off by applying a color wash, bringing the various elements in the composition together by giving them an overall tone. I chose a transparent blue, since I'm imagining this as a cold painting with some key explosions of warmth.

Along with the blue, I roughly painted in areas where I plan on unleashing said warmth.

From there, I started building up my darkest areas. The police dog, parts of the officers' uniforms, random shadows -- I knew right off the bat that these areas were going to be (more or less) black. So knocking 'em out early frees up my brain to focus on more challenging elements of the piece, that are yet to come.

Whew! It's been a topsy-turvy week for Series 3. But the creative fires are stoked! I'll be putting some time into "Bigot Brutality" over the weekend, in between jobs. I hope to have the finished piece ready to post on Monday. Next week will also be the start of the illustration for The Letter C. Aw yeah....

In the meantime, have a fun & sweaty weekend!

"Reflections, arrows, glory!"
- King Gum

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Bigot Brutality" Step Two

Going from sketch to final for "Bigot Brutality" was a straightforward affair. Rather than using the collage method I employed with "Almost Anonymous," I drew directly onto the canvas. This time around, I chose to work on a gessoed piece of matte board (14 x 22").

Working very quickly with a combination of dark pencils, I tore into the drawing. Large shapes were knocked out with the quickness. Then, I start filling in the details.

Again, these are very fast hits in pencil. The steps above came together in a short bundle of minutes. There's an energy and simple (yet powerful) geometry in gestures that I long to preserve, all the way through a piece. It helps that I listen to loud and obnoxious music while I work, to keep me pumped. I'll bop and dance while drawing and take steps back from the piece for a broader view. The more physical I can make my work experience, the better!

You may also notice that this first pass on the drawing features a mean ol' police dog gnawing at our victim's arm. While I dug the dog, I didn't appreciate what it did to the composition. In the end, I traded the toothy brute for a nice plot of negative space.

The mid-level details were laid in with general ease and speed. Again, the music was a big help in smoothing out the typical kinks one can encounter, working on a finalized drawing.

The background police dog became the stand-alone canine. So I enhanced him a bit, making him larger and giving him an even bigger maw of jagged teeth.

The central policeman came together with particular ferocity. The smoldering from his eyes was drawn from some of my illustration works from 2009 and 2010, and signifies some inhuman evil that's bubbling out of him.

Next, I focused on bringing together the man being brutalized. His face & torso were tightened up. I scribbled in the details of his limbs, and got a cool idea for the painting stage, involving the tattered sleeve of his left arm.

You can see that the big foreground dog has been erased. He's still visible, but at least he's out of the way for bolder lines.

The final stage of the drawing came to a raucous conclusion. I think I was somewhere between Saul Williams and The Doors for these last steps and finer details, which meant lots of writhing and stomping while I drew.

The policeman & dog in the background were tight as could be, with their darks filled in and everything. And I used paint to white-out the remnants of the larger dog drawing. It's almost like he was never there!

The fine lines and darks were filled in on both the cop and the victim. And like that, I was done!

Tune in tomorrow afternoon for the completion of "Bigot Brutality!"

"Stole my sneakers but your feet just never fit in. Serves you right for trying to walk a mile outside your limits."
- King Gum Crosland

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Bigot Brutality" Step One

"Bigot Brutality" jumped into my brain as soon as I sat down to conjure up an illustration for The Letter B. Before my pen even touched my notebook, my imagination was overflowing with images of demonic police officers dispensing a one-sided, hate-fueled beat down to an unarmed Black man. I even sketched rough layouts for a couple other B concepts. But I always fell back, right into this piece.

While my illustration is based on the violence of the 1960's era Civil Rights Movement, this is easily a universal & timeless issue. Sadly, no matter where or when you are in this world, you're never really too far from the lurking evil of authoritarian savagery.

The concept drawings above are both 11 x 17", ink and gesso on paper. Check in for a special Thursday post, tomorrow, to see the next step for this illustration!

"Five to one, baby. One in five. No one here gets out alive."
- Dave