What am I writing about today? How about a pointless trip to the art store. Since I’m a total art supply geek it wasn’t really a pointless trip but I didn’t go there for anything specific. It was more of a spur of the moment trip. A friend of mine needed some paper so I went along for the ride and to see if they had any Tahitian Blue Copic marker ink.
Tahitian Blue has been the color that’s eluded me. It was the first color Copic marker that I ever bought and it’s a favorite of mine. It’s such a nice color blue. I still have a marker that’s full and a little ink left in my refill bottle but I need a new one. About a month ago I ordered from the Dick Blick website but they were out of stock on almost all of their Copic marker supplies. I have no idea why that was but it meant I couldn’t get one. The last two times I was to the Paramus NY Dick Blick store they also didn’t have any Tahitian Blue refills. I figured maybe they would this time. I’ll save you the suspense. They didn’t.
It was odd that they had about twenty other different types of blue refill ink but not the one I needed. They have a really nice point-of-purchase display for their markers. It lines up all the markers and refills in different spots and you can spin it around to see what they have. I spun around to the refill section (I really should have brought my reading glasses but they’re new and I’m not used to carrying them) and looked through it thoroughly. There wasn’t even a spot for Tahitian Blue. Up in the marker section that had a few Tahitian Blue markers in stock so why don’t they have the the refills? It’s a mystery to me.
I ended up buying a couple of new markers though. Not Copic ones but a couple of the new Dick Blick brand brush markers. They’re done in the Copic style with a brush marker on one end and a chisel tip on the other. At four dollars a marker they’re a couple of dollars cheaper than Copics but being that there is no refill ink for the Blick ones they have to be thrown away when they run dry. That ultimately makes them more expensive in the long run. I bought them just to try them out. Lately I’ve been buying a black and a blue marker when trying out a new brand so that’s what I did here. I haven’t really put them trough their paces but so far with a little drawing with them they seem nice. They brush tip is smooth and the ink flows nicely. Without refills they have almost no chance of joining my starting lineup of markers but we’ll see if Blick comes out with refills some day.
The second thing that I bought was a little can of Bestine Rubber Cement Thinner. I mostly use that for removing glue residue from anything that might have sticker glue residue on it (often comics, pens, or books). It’s only a small four dollar can but I always feel a little disappointed when I buy something like that because it’s not an art supply I make something out of. I maybe should have spent a little more on the bigger can. This one is only four ounces and the larger twelve dollar one was sixteen ounces. But it really wasn’t the size that makes me say that but the can itself. I had one of the sixteen ounce size for years (I really don’t use it that much) and it served me well. After that I got a four once can and it seemed to run out fast. I think that was because it evaporates more quickly out of the smaller can. If the lid is even a little loose the can can dry out. I think I lost a lot of the last can because of that. I’ll have to see how this one does.
The other thing that I was going to buy but didn’t was another Simmons white sable round brush. I ended up not getting any because they were considerably more expensive at the store than online. They had a confusing discount on them that didn’t help.
At the Blick website the brush that I wanted was about five dollars. I’ve bought them there before. In the store the same brush was ten dollars. I believe that’s the full retail price on them. There was also a sign that said if you spent forty five dollars then the brushes were five dollars a piece. But what the heck does that mean? If I buy five ten dollars brushes does that cost twenty five dollars? Or is the sixth brush I buy then five dollars? What if I buy fifty dollars worth of paper and fifty dollars worth of brushes? Does that make the brushes twenty five dollars? What if they ring up the brushes first? That made me not want to bother with the brushes. I’ll get some more another day at the web site. At least there I’ll know the price.
I do like the Dick Blick store in Paramus because it’s a real art store that has real art supplies in it. They are usually a little more expensive than online but it’s fun to go to an art store. I also go to A.C. Moore but that’s more of a mainstream arts and crafts store. Sure I can get some stuff there but it’s mostly crafting supplies. They don’t have any Copic markers at all and that don’t even carry the Simmons white sable brushes among their other Simmons brushes. I’ve purchased some Strathmore 300 Bristol paper from A.C. Moore before but the reason we had to go further away to Dick Blick is that A.C. Moore doesn’t carry the Strathmore 400 Bristol. That’s the good stuff that my friend needed.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.
Check them all out here:
This week I’ve finally finished everything for a project that I’ve been working on. It’s my first print-on-demand magazine style collection of some of my art. My Painted Lady and Swirl World pieces. Except I can’t seem to finish the written introduction. The digital books that I recently made were a mixture of art and writing but this one is all art. That made me think I need some sort of writing at the beginning to explain things. Makes sense. Most art books have introductions. Much as I’ve tried I couldn’t seem to get it started though. I don’t know why. I often seem to have problems stating a writing project. I have no problems writing my weekly post for here though. That is such an ingrained habit that it doesn’t need any special effort. Just regular effort. It’s not always easy but at least it’s familiar. So I decided to combine the two tasks and see if I could come up with an intro here. After all I often write about my art here. So here we go with the intro.
Artists have habits. Ways of doing things. From the way a pencil is held to how to stand, or sit, while working. Artist also have themes. Subjects they like to work with. Visuals that appeal to them so they come back to them over and over. Landscapes, monsters, the human figure, architecture, faces, t-shirts, and comic book covers are some of the subjects that I come back to again and again.
I get caught up in a them. If making one faux comic book cover is fun than making six of them is even more fun. It turns a piece into a series. That puts the original piece in a new context. There is also fun in looking at them all together when they’re done. Mind you it’s not a lot of fun to do six times the work in order to make a series but that’s what it takes. Exploring variations on a theme always takes more work that a one off image.
I make plenty of single images too because coming up with new imagery is one of the things I like to do but one working with a imagery theme imagery can be habit forming. Each new picture puts the others in a new light. Number one becomes a different thing when there is also a number two and number three and by the time a number ten rolls around there is a whole new context to the series. I like changing contexts.
Another of the things I like to do is to draw on bodies. As I am a fan of drawing weird faces it all started out there. I’d draw faces with exaggerated features but I’d reach the limits of exaggeration. Still I would want to make the faces even stranger. would often do such things as draw one of the eyes to look “realistic” eye but with the second eye I’d draw a series of flat circles and lines done in a “design-y” fashion to suggest an eye. From there it was natural that I began to expand that “design-y-ness” to the rest of the face. Faces got black bars, circles, and triangles on them. I was decorating them.
The next logical step was to move those markings from the face to the rest of the body. When I first starting drawing what I now call my “Marked Women” it took a long time to complete one. I would work with layers of paper. First I would draw the basic figure on one piece of paper and after that I would draw the black markings on another piece of paper. Then I even added two more steps. I would draw where the darks and highlights of color would go on yet a third piece of paper. I would then put them all together digitally and color the whole piece on the computer. It was a overly long process and frustrated me quite a bit. I completed a number of prints with this method but then it lay fallow for quite a while. It wasn’t until a few years later that I picked up the technique again.
Another of my techniques is to make women’s breasts into swirls. I’m not sure where or why I picked this up but I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon. I would add swirls into a general drawing of a female figure every now and again but it was a while before I made a drawing about the swirls. As a matter of fact I first made paintings about the swirls. It was about ten years ago that I made a series of a half a dozen eight by ten inch acrylic on canvas paintings that involved many of the same drawings as my “Swirl World” images you see here. I thought the paintings were okay but they didn’t thrill me. I stopped the series. Yet, a few months ago, I remembered the drawings and wanted to see if I could bring them in a different direction.
By this time I had been making my “Covers to Comic Books that Don’t Exist” series for years. Those are faux comic book covers where I make up a series name, logo, and trade dress and then draw and ink a comic book cover. I came up with the “Painted Lady” series and had drawn a few covers by then but had since left it alone. I picked up the idea a few years ago and by that time all my experience with drawing on female figures made the process a lot faster and I no longer needed all the layers of paper. For the “Painted Lady” series I drew out the figure by itself and then drew on all the markings. I did the same with the “Swirl World” figures except I left the color darks and highlights to be done totally on the computer. By this time I knew what to put in and leave out. That is totally what was missing at the beginning of my Marked Women drawings. Now I have it down better.
So there you have a little look into the origins and processes of this series of drawings that I have to present. A little glimpse inside my head as I made these. I hope you have some fun looking at them.
And here is the link to the book on Blurb” http://www.blurb.com/user/13Jack
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.
Check them all out here:
I’ve been taking time to make some print on demand books as of late. I haven’t put any of them up for sale yet but I’m getting close to having them done. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a while since making books and other things for publication is what I know how to do and I have twenty five years worth of art that I can use. The question has always been how to use it. Books don’t just happen they need to be made and in order to be made there has to be an idea or a point behind them. That was my stumbling block but since I’ve gotten started the block has been removed.
I’ve also had to be satisfied in letting an art book be an art book. Since I am a writer and a cartoonist as well as an artist I tend to want to put writing into my art books. But I often don’t know what that writing should be. There is really not much need for it since the book is all about the pictures but somehow I think I need it and then I get stuck because I don’t have it. I don’t even have an idea for it. That was my trap. Why I couldn’t get any books made.
A couple of months ago I mentioned my “Painted Ladies” and “Swirl Women” drawings. Those were the key to me getting started. I saw on the print-on-demand website that they could print a twenty page magazine for six bucks or so. That inspired me to make a magazine. Twenty pages (it ended up being twenty four) of art without any writing needed except an introduction. The magazine would be all about the art. That’s what I needed to get started. The website (Blurb.com) comes with some software that works in conjunction with Adobe InDesign (which I am very familiar with) and though it took a few minutes to figure out I was soon using their templates to set up a book. The design of the book took a lot longer but once I had that notion that I needed some sort of writing idea gone from my head things started to
The second book I started working on was one called “Hey, I’m Talking To You!”. Once again I was leveraging work I already had done in order to make something new out of. I decided to use my cartoon art cards form my ‘Drifting and Dreaming” Sunday comic and put them into a new context. That context was a twenty page magazine. The strip they were in paired a couple of my talking head comics with a third art card drawing and a small bit go text along the bottom of them all. For some reason I didn’t want to make anything out of those “Drifting and Dreaming” strips but wanted parts of them. I ended up doing some design work on the pages and lining the cartoon art cards up three by three. This gave me nine talking heads per pages and the feeling of a wall of people talking to me. I liked that.
It was easy enough to make the “Hey, I’m Talking To You!” book but then I had to make a cover for it. Much like the rest of the book I decided to leverage some old art for it. I had a vague idea of yet another talking head saying “Hey, I’m Talking To You!” to the reader but what talking head I had no idea. Luckily I’ve drawn a lot of faces in my time and so had a lot of them to chose from. I picked one that fit the bill. It was a stylized graphic half-face that I re-drew to suit this purpose. Then I made a logo of the title in a word balloon. Finally I knocked out an introduction for it. All-in-all things went remarkably smoothly. That even surprised me a little.
The next thing I did was to move my “Ghost of Fifth Street” digital book over into the Blurb format. It was already in a print-ready InDesign document but there is no comic book size format on the Blurb site so I had to switch it over to a standard eight by ten book size. That took a bit of doing plus I added some design element since I had more space to play with and wanted to make this version a little bit different from the digital one. In other words I just couldn’t leave it well enough alone even though the book was already finished. Hey, but at least I wasn’t writing anything new for it.
I started yet another book today and that’s what I’m taking a break from working on as I write this. This time it’s a small book. A five by seven inch book to put my five by seven inch ASMR spontaneous marker drawings into. You can see every one of the forty eight drawings being made right before your eyes on my YouTube channel where I make live drawings. I think that’s a cool idea. A book where you can actually see every drawing in it being drawn.
Most books made up of images take formatting. That’s where a lot of the time goes. I had already scanned in all of the drawing I needed since I scan in my work as I make it but the forty eight drawing were made over two year’s time. I had to track all the scans down. After I had them in one place I then had to format all the files. Basically I had to make them all the same size so they would fit interchangeably into the design I was working on. That’s mostly how making an art book goes. Finding a place to put all the pictures. And it has to look good otherwise who is going to want to look at it?
Nothing is quite for sale yet on Blurb since only one of the books is finished. I decided to finish a few books all at once and post them at the same time because sometimes shipping from Blurb is about the cost of a book. I figure it’s better if people have some choices.