Friday, July 31, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "Another Bot...Why Not?"

Here's another "Mascot Makeover"...done the same week as my "Jay-Hulk" sketch. That's long wordy blah-dy blah this time...just one last quick post for July.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TABLETOP GAMING: "Alien Terrain"

Time to post some more stuff from the gaming archives. After I had made some spaceships for my friend Steve, I decided to try to build some alien landscape pieces to go with them. I've been a lifetime fan of artist ROGER DEAN (most famous for his album cover art for the Prog-Rock group "YES"...which happens to be my all-time favorite band). So for fun, I let myself be inspired by the crazy landforms he designs.

Here are the original sketches that got things moving...I ended up scaling the size of everything down for the modular pieces.

Once I had formed the structures out of styrofoam, I discovered an interesting technique to add more "alien-ness" to the forms. On another occasion, I had tried to make some terrain using aerosol spray-foam insulation. It was a complete mess...the stuff continues to swell up for's very sticky...and it smells. However...once it starts to set up, you can drag across the foam with a stick, and it makes really cool skin-like webs. I thought it made for some nice alien fungus-growth.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "Day At The Zoo"

Yesterday, I took a day off from work and headed solo over to the Kansas City Zoo. It had been a few years since my last visit. The weather was nice and sunny (though pretty hot by the end...mid 90's). It was a challenge to draw the constantly moving models, but I had a lot of fun.

The first two pages are done in pencil and washes...then I switched over to a brown micro-tip felt marker. For highlites, I used white prismacolor pencil, and an opaque white watercolor. Not sure which tools I prefer...each has their advantages. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "Rock-Legends"

Cat and I had another fun day yesterday. We were out and about so Cat could work on an assignment for a photography class she's taking. We went to LEGENDS shopping center in Kansas City, Kansas and a really impressive band ("90 Minutes")was playing out by the fountains. I was quite entertained by the powerhouse bass player, and started sketching him (see below). After looking at some of the great photos Cat took, I was inspired to work on something else.

Above is an illustration I just finished a little while ago. It's a mixed-media collage/digital painting done from several photo elements that my wife Cat took, then I worked over in Photoshop and Painter. It was fun to team-up on a piece with her images.

Here's the lead singer, "Mole", and the bassist, "Tyson" at yesterday's concert.

Here's the sketch that started it all. I showed it to Tyson during their break...he liked it and wanted me to sent him a copy. So I will do that after this post.

After the concert, Cat and I went hot-air balloon chasing on the way home. She got some cool shots of them as we drove after them, pulling over to the side of the road several times for miles. To see one of the balloon photos on her blog (and a couple more of Tyson playing bass) HERE.

I sure like going on unplanned adventures with my sweet wife!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

AUTOMATA: "More Mechani-Cats"

I'm getting close to the end of the line with posting my automata creations...guess I'll have to work on some more in the near future. This little "Angel Cat" was made for my Mom a few Christmases ago...pretty simple mechanism...the wings just move up and down. It has the "antique" painting approach where I give everything a base coat of white, then skuff it up with sandpaper after the color is applied.

My brother, Kris, is an avid golfer. Since I was on the "cat theme" that Christmas, I made him this little guy. The golfball sits on the head of a mouse...when the club swings down, the mouse ducks in the hole just far enough for the cat to miss hitting the ball.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Omaha Zoo Day!

Cat and I just spent two fun days in Omaha, Nebraska. I've been pestering her for a long time for us to go back to the zoo there...about 16 years since the last visit when our kids were little. The zoo had expanded a lot, so I wanted to check it out. I appreciate that she endulged me and went...we had a good time, and ate some great food.

I must say that we have mixed feelings everytime we go to a zoo...we love looking at the animals, but we feel sorry for them being penned up. That said...Cat took some great a few of my favorites.

The White Rhino was very cooperative...held those poses nicely. We loved the Tram-Ride across the zoo to get to the rhino's like a ski-lift...could've ridden that all day long.

One of the new additions was the aquarium...this little "Sea Dragon" was so cool.

This big-headed "beauty" is a "Tawny Frogmouth" from Australia. Probably sings with a really deep Barry White voice.

These little guys just cracked me up...we saw them on the tram-ride over...and they were in the exact same positions when we rode back over about 30 minutes later. It's like they're trying to get into the hottest dance club, and the ostrich is the bouncer, checking IDs.

This majestic fellow was amazing to watch...the photos are really good, considering that Cat had to shoot them through very thick glass panels that were covered in smeary hand prints from gobs of snot-nosed kids. Okay...let's be fair...probably some snot-nosed adults, too.

The next series of images do not do justice to the scary "Silverback Smackdown" that was about to take place before our eyes. I'll try to describe it, but you had to be there. As in many school-yard brawls, I don't know who started it...but the drama unfolded as follows:

"Young Gorilla" was sitting up on top of some observation domes, minding his own business. "Old Gorilla", the brute on the lower right of the photo, kept stalking the other guy. "YG" would avoid the confrontation, move across the enclosure, and try to stay clear. "OG" would just keep following.

We noticed in the photos after we got home, that there was blood from a big bite mark on "YG" 's right forearm (the gorilla on the left). But we noticed at the zoo that there was a huge bite mark on the right flank of "OG" (you can't see it in the image on the right, but it looked bad). Obviously, these two had been at it before. I supposed it's possible that "YG" thought it would be funny to bite "OG" in the butt, starting the whole thing...but I doubt that.

What happened next was too fast for Cat to get photos of. Suddenly, the two giants went at each other in the center of the ring...fangs bared..."OG" had "YG" in a headlock, then wrestled him off a log, slamming the two of them to the ground. When they broke up, "OG" climbed up to a window area over our heads, and flopped onto his back (left image below). He had a big red gash on his brow, right between the eyes. As for "YG"...he sat down over by a closed door that entered the indoor pen...basically saying, "Come on, guys...let me in...this punk won't leave me alone." In addition to the already bloodied arm, he now had a bloody lip.

Eventually, "Young G" came away from the door, and just sat down, showing off all those ginormous muscles. He hardly ever took his eyes off of the area where "Old G" was laying out of sight. In the end...I don't know who won. I just know I wouldn't want either one jumping on me...I'd be a messy pulp in seconds!!
We managed to find one of the caretakers in the BEARS area of the zoo, and reported the melee...he said he'd call it in and get some of the gorilla keepers to check on the damage done. Evidently they were "introducing" a new gorilla into the much for pleasant introductions.

Whew...that's enough adrenalin rush for this post! I'm getting light-headed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "Heron Falls"

My wife and I went out today to sketch and shoot photos and enjoy the gorgeous weather at the end of the 4th of July weekend. To get to this little waterfall near a lake in Olathe, KS, you have to walk across a dam, then trek back into the woods. While we sat there, a heron flew over us and landed at the far end of the falls (you can see him in my sketch).

Cat got some photos of "the hunter" and "the drawer".
Soon after this photo was taken, I discovered that we were sitting under a "spider highway" that stretched across the trees overhead. When a big spider was seen crawling on my leg, Cat said, "I'm out of here!"...I was not far behind her. Except for the was a very fun day!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "4th of July"

Here's one more post for the day...went out sketching with my wife this afternoon. This is a little bridge over the "spillway creek" at the foot of the dam of Shawnee Mission Lake. That's it for now...go watch some fireworks!!

PAINTINGS: "Sailboats"

Happy Fourth of July! Since a lot of folks are enjoying a weekend down at the lake, I thought I'd post some of my plein air pieces that were sailboat related. They're all oil on masonite board.

The one above I did at Lake Jacomo, in Missouri while painting with my friend David. The one below was done on another weekend soon after, when my wife and I went back to the same cove. Alas...both paintings were destroyed in a fire.
The next two were done in Solomons, Maryland while visiting family. The red boat was behind a popular "Tiki" Bar on the boardwalk. The boats in drydock was at a nearby marina, where the boats were being repaired and readied for sailing season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

SKETCHBOOK: "Industrial Bots"

One of the fun things about loving robots and construction equipment is that I get to make up my own combinations of those things. Here are a few random sketches from several sketchbooks that show some of these little "helpers". The top one was originally a black line drawing, but I threw in a little digital color.