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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Almost Anonymous"

Here, at last, is the finished illustration, "Almost Anonymous." (9 x 12" , acrylics & collage on cardboard). The last time you saw this piece, it was simply a line drawing. But through several hours of meticulous acrylic glazing, I was able to whip it into the shape you see before you.

In the final work, we see that our masked She-Devil has betrayed her lover, and is slicing him open like a fresh fish. Despite his immense size advantage, her victim is caught unawares and easily dispatched. All the poor fool can manage is to unmask her and peer into the face of his own doom, as his kingdom burns around him and Death comes bloody and grim.

I knew I wanted this to be a darker piece, both in tone and actual look. And I ended up putting a lot of time into building up the subtleties in the shadows. When I'm painting (or even inking), I imagine myself physically carving out the deep, dark areas in a piece. It can be a slow process, but I find that it works for my creative mindset. Maybe it's based on my constant craving for process, rooted in my love of printmaking. Or it could be from when I was much younger and worked in clay as much (if not more) than I did in pencil, ink and paint.

Now that I'm back on track with Alphabet Attack!, I'll be kicking into then next piece in Series 3. Look for the raw beginnings of the "B" illustration tomorrow, August 24th.

"My man, where you going? You can't escape. When the Tribe is in the house, that means nobody is safe."
- Dave Crosland

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Postponed for SUPER IAM8BIT

Whew! Sorry for being M.I.A. on the blog posts. But I've had to put down Alphabet Attack! for a few days, in order to prepare for the SUPER IAM8BIT exhibition that opens this week!

photo by Jonathan Drake

As some of you may know, I illustrated the poster for the event. And I'll have an exciting piece of art hanging on the walls. But the fantastic crew at IAM8BIT also asked me to come in and art-bomb the bejeezus out of their lovely new space. So between Sunday and Tuesday, I got to rock on two immaculate Galaga arcade cabinets, two doors and an entire flight of steps. SO much fun!

If you're in the Los Angeles area, please join us for the SUPER IAM8BIT opening reception, tomorrow night from 7-11pm (info below). And if you don't live here, fret not. I'll be posting photos online for all to enjoy.

2147 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
*Opening Night Extravaganza: August 11, 7-11pm*

Attack! Series 3 will be back on track next week. In the meantime, thanks for your patience!

"I don't care, pretty baby. Just take me with you."
- Dave

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Post Postponed!

Egads! Turns out I need to use today to jam on freelance work, so I'm postponing today's post.

But fear not! You can still enjoy the two in depth posts from earlier this week, detailing my creative process. And look forward to a completed "Almost Anonymous," plus the start of next week's illustration, on Monday.

Now, I'm off to paint some comic pages!

Have a swell weekend,
- Dave

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Almost Anonymous" - Wednesday

Picking up where I left off on Monday -- I wasn't totally satisfied with the "Almost Anonymous" sketch that I posted, earlier this week. So as I worked toward the final illustration, I decided to do some more sketching. I kept things very gestural, trying to nail a composition using as few lines as possible. And I finally hit the mark I was aiming for, with the doodle in the upper left corner of the above image. The feel of that simple figure sketch set off a blaze in my imagination. And that's what I was looking for.

From there, I dove straight into a graphite drawing of what would be the final image. I whipped this out quickly, pouring as much raw power as I could pack into the lines. One of my visual mainstays is energy... motion. So I'm very conscious of maintaining that, through each step of a piece.

This gangsta-ass economy being what it is, there's no shame in recycling materials. Even a scrap piece of cardboard from an old sketchbook can make a worthy canvas. All you need is masking tape, gesso & some pixie dust!

Using scrap board can be a gambit. For instance, when I gessoed the front of this sheet of cardboard, it warped like a bad acid trip. So I flipped it over and gessoed that back, as well. This is a surefire trick for flattening out a warped board. Plus, having a coat of gesso on each side of the cardboard helps make it sturdier in the long run. Boosh!

Since I was so happy with the rough drawing I produced, I decided not to waste time redrawing the whole thing from scratch. Instead, I cut out the most important parts of the sketch (the figures) and collaged them right onto my gessoed board. Normally, I'd use an acrylic medium as a glue. But I'm fresh out of mediums, so I went with my trusty gesso. I applied an even coat where needed. Then I carefully affixed the drawing, making sure to eliminate any nasty air pockets beneath the paper.

Because I used the original sketch for the collage, the loose graphite combined with the gesso to create a pale gray tone. As sloppy as it may look, I could clearly see the important elements of my sketch. And with some colored pencils I stole from a kindergartner, I went in and started enhancing said elements -- solidifying some lines, adjusting others -- until it came out just the way I wanted it.

Next thing I knew, I had a completed drawing, just waiting for me to get all painty with it!

I know this may seem like a lot of extra steps, but I'm a sucker for process. A lot of the classical painters & illustrators whose work I enjoy would create meticulous "rough" drawings and paintings, before finally tackling their finished works. And while it contrasts the impatient pace of modern life, I still feel like those early steps leading up to a finished illustration are essential. That is, when the vast chasm of a deadline isn't two steps in front of me.

Stay tuned for the competed painting, this Friday!

"You can crush us. You can bruise us. But you'll have to answer to, ooo-oh, The Guns of Brixton."
- Dave

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Almost Anonymous" Monday

The title for this one came to me over a month ago, back when I first started tinkering with ideas for this, the third series of
Alphabet Attack! That phrase -- "Almost Anonymous" -- just sorta popped into my head. And being the perv that I am, it immediately lead to thoughts of anonymous lovers... bodies jumbled like a word puzzle in some Caligula tribute, with everyone wearing creepy masks a la Eyes Wide Shut.

Then, it dawned on me to spice things up with a bit of murder. So I landed on the idea of a masked woman, about to make a clean getaway after slicing up her man of the evening like some wild lady-mantis. Only, in his passionate death throes, the unfortunate stud has managed to uncover the gorgeous visage of his sated femme fatale.

The above sketch is watercolor & graphite on mixed media paper, 9 x 12". While it's a rough approximation of what I have in mind for the final piece, I think this is only hitting half of the marks I'm aiming for. Before I take this to canvas or board or whatever, I'll pour over the subject matter a bit more, play with shapes and angles and, finally, attack a composition that I think really pushes what I'm going for here. Glad to have you all along to watch the process unfold!

Stay tuned for Wednesday's post, which will feature the next exciting steps of this week's illustration!

"I'm not a player. I just crush a lot."
- Dave