Sunday, March 20, 2011


O.K., before I go any further, let me state for the record: I'm not turning this into an art blog! I'm actually working on a new 'topical' post (to follow shortly), but I was coerced into sharing some of the stuff I do during my day job as a graphic designer and an illustrator. However, most of what I get paid for is pretty dry stuff - flyers, ads, business cards and the like. So what I've included here is stuff I've done mostly for myself, and I'm actually pretty proud of it. It's just a hodge-podge of illustrations and paintings I've done over the years, both in and out of college.

About the Art: The work I did in college is a combination of airbrushed ink, and acrylic and gouache paints. (Gouache, pronounced gwash, is opaque watercolor.) I did the computer "paintings" by first drawing the outline in Adobe Illustrator and then transferring that image to Adobe Photoshop so I could airbrush in the colors, shadings, highlights, etc. None of the computer images are photographs.

Anyway, here's my stuff. Hope you like 'em. :-)

Wheel [airbrush, pen and ink] When I was in college, I tried to do one painting per semester as sort of a sanity check. Most of our 6 hour classes invariably involved doing stuff we didn't really want to do. (I only did 2, so I was nuts most of the time and fit in perfectly.) So this painting was something I wanted to do. My major was graphic design, but I entered this piece in a juried illustration exhibit and it was selected (a big deal). I loved this painting and, unfortunately, it was lost in a fire. (Ironically, the fire didn't destroy it; the firemen did.)

Just Because [airbrush, pen and ink] This is another "sanity-check" painting while I was in school. Just an abstract mish-mash of images I found interesting. (FYI - My initials, "SCB", are in here...somewhere.)

Still Life [airbrush, ink and gouache] I did this when I was into a lot of New Age music. (No haters! It was the eighties.) Lots of electric harps and tinkly little bells. Anyway, this is what I "saw" when I listened to some of that stuff. I was going for abstract and airy.

E.T.'s Dad [airbrush, pen and ink] Before I went to art school, I went through a bit of a comic book phase. There is absolutely no "concept" about this guy. I just thought he looked strong and benevolent. I also didn't come up with the name "E.T.'s Dad", but I have no idea who did.

AHHHH! [no. 2 pencil and ink wash] This was an in-class assignment when I was in art school. Our 'studio' classes were 6 hours, so I had plenty of time to begin and complete a project in a single afternoon. The assignment was to illustrate an emotion. (We got lots of "artsy" assignments.) Well, mine was frustration. So I had Jessica, the girl sitting next to me in class, make this face over...and over...and over again until I was done. I felt great afterward. And she was frustrated. Mission accomplished!

Maria [airbrush, pen and ink] This was the first portrait I ever did, and it is maybe my favorite painting. Unfortunately, it was of a cast-iron bitch who happened to be my college sweetheart at the time. Sigh. Choices...

Happy Face [adobe illustrator and photoshop] Follow up portrait of Maria.

Watch [adobe illustrator and photoshop] Though I've actually only earned about $9 doing commercial illustration, I try to keep my skills up. One way I do that is to recreate photographs I find in magazines. I saw this watch ad and decided to draw it on the computer. There's something I like about the challenge of analyzing a photographic image and then figuring out the best way to do it on the computer. (I've actually earned a bit more than nine bucks drawing things, but most of my paying gigs are graphic design.) Click on image for enlarged view.

My Ride [adobe illustrator and photoshop] The best way I know to learn how to use computer illustration software is to play with it without the pressure of an actual paying assignment. This geeky-cool new Photoshop filter came out that could render chrome super-realistically. So I decided to play. This illustration started out as a single, chrome sphere. Then it just spiraled completely out of control and ended up the ass-end of a Ferrari. (Click on image for enlarged view.)

Mikey-Mic [adobe illustrator and photoshop] I saw a photograph of this microphone in a piece of junk mail I got and I just knew I had to try to recreate it in the computer. Again, this was just a fun thing for me to do strictly for myself. (Click on image for enlarged view.)

Boom Box [adobe illustrator and photoshop] During an extended (and welcome) slow period at work, I decided to draw my CD player. I think because I started my art career learning the airbrush, I've always been intrigued by reflective surfaces (chrome, plastic, steel, etc.), something the airbrush is ideal for. That sensibility carried over into my computer work, so I that's why I find myself doing so much 'technical illustration'. It's also a helluva lot easier to draw things than people!

Alien Space Frisbees [adobe illustrator and photoshop] Honestly, I don't know why...

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Electric Security Blanket

I was thinking about something. (shocker)

Some of you already know this, and some of you don't, but I had Internet woes recently. Sadly, AT&T is my Internet provider. Long story short, my Internet connectivity started acting up ("intermittent signal strength") one Friday, a tech was supposed to come by on a Saturday and didn't; a guy finally came by that Monday afternoon and I was back up and running after he tracked down a single faulty wire outside. But this isn't my point.

I realized how quickly we've come to rely on some of this "new" technology. I know that's not a revelation, but I wanted to put it out there anyway. I still feel like cell phones and the Internet and even home computers are new, but they've been available to us common folk for over 20 years. 20 years! And they're no longer luxuries or novelties. They're the automobile and electricity of yesteryear: they're necessities.

Kids today can't do homework without Internet access. You can't fill out a job application at home without Internet access. And if you fill one out elsewhere, you still need to know how to use a computer. If you're expecting an important call, the caller is no longer satisfied with leaving a message. They expect you to be available the moment they need you. Dinner, movies, the grocery store, driving, I don't care – if I call you, you'd better pick up the damn phone. Because everyone's got a cell phone. Hell, my cats have one! (They share.) And if I can't talk to you, I'll email you, or IM you, or text you, or leave you a Facebook message. (I could rant a whole post's worth on all that crap, but I'm trying to lighten up so @Christy will still like me.)

But this isn't my point either.

My Internet was down for about four days. Three and half really. And I...was climbing...the friggin'...walls. I felt like I'd been dropped on the far side of the moon. (Not that the near side would've been any better, but you know what I mean.) I felt so out of touch and cut off. And it was ridiculous. My phone worked, my Internet worked some of the time, I saw neighbors, went to the store, watched cable TV – and still I felt completely out of it. I was almost giddy when the dude said everything was fixed. I pumped his hand and clapped him on the back. It was like I had a new lease on life. And I didn't. It was just my freakin' Internet, people!

My point (finally) is our complacency.  I realized just how reliable these things truly are.

I get unreasonably frustrated when I try to make a cell phone call...and it doesn't go through. Or I try to text someone won't send. Or I try to get online...and my modem is flashing that steady, smug uh-not-today-buddy red light. I'm like, "Bu-, bu-, how can this not be working?" And I forget that all this stuff works, like, 98% of the time. My body breaks more often than that. And this stuff works flawlessly. Most of the time, my calls go through without a hitch and the reception's crystal clear. My Internet access allows me hours of uninterrupted pleasure without so much as a hiccup. My computer (an obscenely overpriced but cool-as-shit iMac) is the most reliable piece of machinery I've ever owned, and works perfectly all the time with virtually no maintenance.

But —

When these things act up (and, like all conscious, living things, they do), omigod – I'm a mess. I'm...untethered. I'm panicky. My heart starts racing, my palms sweat, my mouth goes dry. My mind starts spinning scenarios of having to replace everything I own and how I won't be able to afford to – what am I gonna doooo? – and I'll have to go to the library for the rest of my years to access the Internet and use pay phones or pester more fortunate neighbors to make phone calls and I'll have to move and start taking the bus and eating cold dinners and make do without air conditioning or running water and my cats will leave me and...AAAHHHHH!!!

So. That's what I was thinking about.

Have a nice day! :-)

(My cats don't really have cell phones. Yet.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When Bright People Go Dim

I think I'm a reasonably bright guy. I know enough about enough to be pretty adept at Small Talk 101 at parties. (I can carry on a conversation about most things just long enough so either you don't realize that a) I don't know what I'm talking about, or b) I don't care what you're talking about.) I would say I'm a jack of all trades and a master of one.

However, I've still managed to do incredibly stupid things. And much to my dismay, after years of intense and brutally honest self-reflection, I realized that most...okay, pretty much all the dumb stuff I've done is my fault. I'm gonna go ahead and throw Embarrassing and Humiliating Things into this confession too. (It's amazing how often dumb leads to embarrassing.) To wit:

The 10 Dumbest Things I've Accomplished:

1) Married the Wrong Woman: When she got so drunk on Game Night a year before before we wed that she put the guacamole in the dishwasher and we laughed about it, I should've known she was...wrong for me.

2) Defrosted My Freezer with a Hammer: I had no idea that hacking a gash on the inside of a freezer wall would render said freezer inoperable. The mist shooting out of the hole didn't clue me in as much as the thawed, soggy food did when I got home that night. (Dry cereal for dinner.)

3) Didn't Pay Taxes: Because it was more fun to spend all my money. Really? I'm a freelance graphic designer and I was warned that the IRS went after self-employed people with a gleeful vengeance. Naturally, that didn't stop me from living high on the hog until they nabbed me. (NOTE: It still bugs the crap out of me that every paycheck I've ever gotten shows what I earned and what I actually got to keep.)

4) Trumpet Lessons: This one really isn't my fault. Honest. In third grade, we were offered a choice of several instruments and I chose the trumpet; pleaded with my parents. Hated it! I hated practicing. I hated the way my mouth felt after practicing. To this day, my parents have branded me a quitter because I didn't commit myself to the trumpet at age 8. (Apparently they thought I was going to be the next Wynton Marsalis. Oops.)

5) Joined a Health Club: Never in my life have I felt more insecure than when I was trying to look cool in a gym, surrounded by studly guys who could bench press me without breaking a sweat. Whatever 'working out' I do now, I do at home. In the dark.

6) Hooked Up With A Woman In a Bar: See #1

7) Believed Everything My Parents Told Me: Again, this one ain't my fault. We're supposed to believe our folks. Then I discovered that they're not always right. In fact, they sometimes lie for their own nefarious purposes. (Summer camp in Southern England is not the same as camp in Southern California. We still make family jokes about Camp Cornwall.)

8) Thought I Could Control a Cat: If my cats had thumbs, they'd eat my canned food. As it is, they can still gain access to every square inch of my apartment. In the dark.

9) Made Apple Pancakes Without a Recipe: It seemed so easy.

10) Exchanged Phone Numbers With People I Don't Like: 'Nuff said.

Thank goodness I'm brilliant now and don't do anything wrong anymore. Ever. ;-)