talons and audioslave


     This post was inspired by fellow artist and blogger Aquilus Domini.  After seeing his exasperated dragon I was reminded of a couple of things: (1) talons and horns rule and (2) so does Audioslave.

     While the above drawing pales in comparison to Aquilus’ latest, it is nonetheless one of my favorites from high school.  After taking a closer look at it while uploading it, I also just realized it was one of the drawings I digitally fiddled with in my 30’s.  Also, no thumb.  Eh, whatcha gonna do?

simon


     This was done shortly after we got our dumbest cat to date, Simon.  Half cat, half dog, half badger and all animal, baby.  Most cats have a personality that transcends the animal and makes you think of them as a cute little member of the household but not Simon.  He operates solely on instinct; running around, eating, sleeping, pooping, barfing, eating some more and whining when he doesn’t get enough attention.  He’s no mystery at all, as his one brain cell can only do so much.  The one thing that does make him unique and/or remarkable in our household is that he’s the first cat we’ve ever had that has a scorpion-like twitch to his tail when he’s excited.  I attempted to capture that with this sketch.

bamboo engineers have a tough job


     Another assignment from early college.  This was when I was still living with my mom and she was renting this awesome studio-type apartment above a drugstore.  The subject matter here was one of those cheaply made, bamboo-wicker-type chairs that were all the rage in the late 80’s, early 90’s.  These chairs were designed to hold the weight of a normal adult or two calmly relaxing young adults (for example, me and my future wife).  Of course, the two young adults in question can remain calm and relaxed in a chair this size for only so long before they become active, horny young adults.  The physical stresses that two people in such a state produce are far greater than the maximum rated capacity for a chair of this type.  This was the first of at least two chairs my mother had to purchase when I explained to her they accidentally broke when I happened to sit down in them too hard, clumsy me.

viking bananas


     I drew this in high school and it still perplexes me.  It mocks me like some sort of viking helmet, hover-jellyfish of confusion.  I’ll get my revenge by drawing its nemesis.  I’ll draw some sort of pumpkin, steam shovel, rocket-powered banana of clarity.  Yeah!  So take that you… you THING!

surprise shout


     This here’s a little pencil work in between my India ink experimentation and the beginning of the Sharpie craze.  Not sure what all the shouting and/or surprise is about but this is another one that always makes me stop and take yet another look and wonder what the hell was going through my mind at the time.  Enjoy.

lazy lines


     This is something I’ve been doing for years.  Every once in a while I’ll just stop and draw one of these contour line compositions.  There’s no rhyme or reason to them, I just start drawing lines and more lines until the page is filled.  It’s almost like an exercise in a way.  Just something I do when I’m not particularly inspired but still feel like drawing something.

melancholy monk


       I guess most any artist can claim to have wrestled with depression in their life.  It would be a little naive to think I’m somehow unique for having had the experience.  I guess what I’m driving at is that depression has always been a point of interest for me.  I can remember having feelings of frustration, futility and anger as early as grade school when I would fly into angry crying fits when my mother discovered I had once again not done my homework.  Sheets and sheets of repetitive arithmetic homework assignments.  Concepts I had mastered in the classroom and didn’t need to practice at home.  It drove me crazy.

     From that beginning I was well on my way to having a lifelong dance with depression.  I was eventually tested it was determined I was “gifted”, whatever that means.  Gifted students are supposed to be frustrated with the standard curriculum and all they supposedly need is something more to challenge them and make them feel satisfied with their education and not bored out of their minds.  I didn’t want more, I wanted less.  More specifically, I wanted to be left alone, left to my own devices.  Later, this feeling became so strong I took a whole year off from high school, barely showing up half the time.  In the end, it took me five full years to graduate (and just barely) with the aid of an extra correspondence course to complete the required amount of course credits.

     The only reason I even attempted college was due to my interest in being an artist and the temporary optimism I had gained from pulling myself together enough to graduate high school.  I lasted about two semesters before my old habits started to kick in.  I quickly tired of doing assignments where I had to draw this or sculpt that.  I was learning techniques but my heart wasn’t in it.  I did have some sincere enthusiasm for the ceramics classes I took but the professor I kind of connected with soon retired.  The other professor was much more interested in his own career and didn’t give a damn about you unless you kissed his ass or were popular enough to be in his little clique of friends at the local coffee shop.  All in all, a very discouraging experience for a young man who desperately needed encouragement.

     Nowadays, the depression has simply become a part of me.  There was a time when I thought I was fighting it but now I simply keep company with it.  I use it as a shield against the unforgiving reality we all share.  Some say that I might be mentally ill and should seek help but I personally think that anger and depression are appropriate responses to a corrupt and uncompassionate society.

sans whiskers


     A quick cat sketch from my 20’s.  I just realized I didn’t even bother with whiskers.  I think this was an assignment for Drawing I or some shit from college.  Not much sincere content here, just trying to impress the teacher.  I did draw all this from memory though, no actual cat was involved (I guess the absence of whiskers was a giveaway).  Back when my youthful optimism was driving me to work on my technique, use different hardnesses of pencils and draw cutesy, positive images.  Bleah.

falling down


     Another entry from my digital experimentation.  This one is easily my favorite so far.  As I mentioned before, I may end up doing more of these.  I think the bold science fair colors I settled on and the sickly pale yellow for the face work well together.  I also find it interesting how the mouth ended up looking like an ink splatter; total happy accident there.

     Seriously, I should really do a few more of these.

tribal mask


     Here’s some pencil work from when I was about 31 from the looks of the date.  The main thing I remember about this was that I drew it to see if I still “had it” so to speak.  I hadn’t drawn anything for a long time prior to this.  Failing at a BFA in college can do that to you.  My technique is a little soft in this composition.  I’m right-handed and you can see the whole damn image leaning to the right.  Pretty amateur stuff.  As far as the content goes, I do see remnants of my college experience in there;  the African tribal mask thing, Picasso-esque nose and mouth…

     (I’m listening to the Blade Runner soundtrack while I’m typing this.  Good gravy did Vangelis have a supreme gift for creating atmosphere!  It’s like all of the world is this dark, pathetic, ugly place full of disappointment and soul-crushing ennui yet it’s so comfortable and strangely, overwhelmingly beautiful.)

     Getting back to the subject at hand, I think this did sort of mark a new beginning of sorts for me artistically.  In the years after this I found myself drawing more, buying sketchbooks, experimenting with black ink and black markers and even starting to scan and digitally fiddle with some of my drawings.  A modest rebirth, no doubt, but a personally significant one I think.

skully


     This one always makes me pause.  I remember first getting into drawing skulls and skeletons in high school.  I once asked a guest psychology teacher in my English class what they meant and he said it was generally considered to be a fear of the future.  At the time, what he said didn’t mean much to me.  Over the years I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of truth to that answer.

     Honestly, though, it is a bit more complicated than that.  I’ve always loved books about the human body, skulls and skeletons have always been symbols of hardcore coolness and rebellion to me and the best test score I ever got in Advanced Biology in high school was the human skeleton test.  Feh, it’s never simple, is it?

sickness


     Ack!  I’m sick.  I must’ve caught the cold my wife had all last week.  Here’s an image appropriate to my current state of health.

     Originally drawn in pencil in my teens and digitally fiddled with in my 30’s, this is one of a small group of images that represents my first attempts at computer editing/modification.  At the time I first attempted this project my patience ran out, as it was taking more time than I wanted to put into it.  I was going for quantity not quality.  Now that I’m revisiting my past works I may end up doing more of these.  I like the vivid effects you can get by messing with the number of colors and editing the image palette.  I’m no expert at it but I do love fiddling with images on the computer.

dad, KISS and childhood


     More high school stuff.  I’m not sure if this one is a self-portrait.  It’s definitely not all me.  My dad is in there (note the one good eye) along with some KISS makeup.  I was a really into KISS as a child.  Ran around with the makeup on and two belts crisscrossed on my bare chest.  Even had the KISS colorforms set!  Man, those were the days.

awkward flower


     Here’s a self-portrait from my high school years that I keep coming back to.  I’d say it captures my awkward teenage years pretty well.  The half-closed eye and bared teeth are interesting to me.  I think they show both the depression and hostility I was grappling with at the time.

     I know this may seem self-indulgent but I’ve always found I can never know what I’m going to end up drawing until it is done.  Furthermore, the actual meaning of my artwork often eludes me since it undoubtedly dwells in my subconscious somewhere.  Nevertheless, I like to attempt to examine where I’ve been in keeping with the whole “know thyself” thing.