Saturday, December 27, 2008

My MacBook: Dead at the Age of Two!

My MacBook went to sleep and never woke up. I dunno why. The Apple Store says it'll need to be sent off for repair, so now I have to make the perpetually annoying technology-related decision to pay a bunch of money to fix an out of production model or just get the newer one. So for the time being, it looks like there won't be any computer generated art to be made or posted.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dog Portrait: Nattie Gann

Did a caricature-ish portrait commission of a dog named Nattie Gann, a funny lil' gal with a lot of energy. The pooch is enjoying her first winter up north here in Cleveland and it sounds like she's adjusting just fine, although I heard her tennis ball froze yesterday while she was trying to play with it. The painting is 5" x 7" watercolor and pencil on illustration board.

Dogs are the greatest invention ever.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken! According to IMDB, he always tries to work a jig or dance into his movies. I have noticed he likes to fav being the Fatboy Slim video for "Weapon of Choice" which this portrait is a reference to. In my opinion one of the most versatile actors out there.   Always plays the convincing creepy guy, unstable guy, funny guy, fatherly guy, etc.  When it comes down to it, isn't that what we all want as artists? Versatility?

"I've got a fever...and the ONLY prescription is more cowbell!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Secret Santa, Claire, and Bob Ross

Ah, I finally became a Claire Mojher line drawing! My colleague and friend Claire made this for me for a outside-of-work Secret Santa thing here in Cleveland. It is a lil' guy, pen on paper and includes many symbols of my personality. Her work is a combination of elegant linework and charming simplicity so if you're interested, check out her blog by clicking on her name above or in the sidebar of this page.

Since we're on the subject of Claire-related art, I'm posting up this birthday card I made for her back in October at work just for fun. Doing these lil' cards gives me a chance too to experiment with different ways of working, in this case employing a sort-of woodcut print look. But por favor, don't try to understand what is going on in the card, the whole thing is pretty much based on inside jokes and conversations between her and me so I'm quite certain it will seem arbitrary and confusing to most others.

What did I do for the Secret Santa thing? A small caricature of Bob Ross, the well-known, soft-spoken, big-haired painting instructor for Dan Liuzzi, another fellow AG illustrator.   It is executed in watercolor and pencil on watercolor paper.  Click on the pic to see the bigger version of it.  Interested in a little caricature of someone?  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush's Iraqi Shoe Incident

So I was watching TV this past Sunday and I saw some great defense in both the NFL...and in Iraq. Hm, never thought I'd use "NFL" and "Iraq" in the same sentence.

Two days ago President Bush had a pair of shoes thrown at him at a press conference. Like everyone else who saw the clip, I was IMPRESSED with Bush's! He dodged that first shoe like he was boxing on the Wii or something. Iraq's president went on defense though on the second shoe, throwing his hand out in front of Bush to deflect it Obviously he didn't make diving stop as depicted in my drawing but wouldn't that have been much more impressive?

My next thought after watching the clip was, "What was the Secret Service doing???" They didn't show up until well after the second shoe was thrown, and even then they just kinda walked quickly up to the stage looking slightly confused. I think it's safe to say the Secret Service has gotten complacent, which is odd because you'd think they'd be the total opposite of complacent while the Prez is in Iraq during a period of war. But if you can't trust a reporter to not throw his shoe, who can you trust?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The "Ugliest" Survivor Ever

So there I was, working on a sketch of George Bush getting a shoe thrown at him when something else hit me. I usually don't go out of my way to be mean, but watching Corinne on tonight's CBS Survivor finale really irked me.

Yea there's been plenty of mean-spirited comments made at other finalists during the final tribal councils before (the pioneer of such comments being Season One's Sue and her infamous "if you were dying of thirst, I wouldn't give you a drink of water" diatribe) but Corinne's sore loser cheap shot at Sugar's dead pop was way out of the realm of being out of line. EVEN more disturbing was the satisfied look on her face after having having let loose her premeditated spiel as if she had accomplished something. EVEN more disturbing than that was her blase attitude on the live reunion show later when Probst asked if she regretted saying anything. He understands filming is stressful and always gives the contestants on the reunion the chance to apologize, laugh about it, and blame it on the game but she just went on making childish excuses. In fact you could tell Probst himself was appalled even behind those gigantic dimples of his.

People like her use the excuse that "I'm just being myself, I say what's on my mind, that's just how it is" and think that they are coming off as strong, independent minds when in reality they are incredibly insecure pitiful human beings. Even looking at the reference pic to do this sketch really started getting to me.

And that concludes MY diatribe.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rod Blagojevich Thinks He's An Auctioneer

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to auction off a senate seat to the highest bidder?? Could you imagine the listing and final seller fee if he had listed it on eBay?

When you see this kind of corruption in politics, it makes you think back to "The Dark Knight" and Gotham City and how you wish there really was a Batman to take care of business...

December 14th update - Obviously everyone wants this guy to resign, but he won't. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza refuses to leave PlayNow even though everyone there hates him!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NFL Fumbles 150 Employees

Not that there aren't enough indications out there that we are living in tough times, but now the NFL is laying off employees? The NFL is probably the richest sports league in the world!  I understand they're doing this not because they're struggling right now but instead in anticipation for potentially weak sales next year, but it is still just ANOTHER sign of the times.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

OJ Simpson and Karma

Looks like OJ will be spending the next nine or so years in prison for something completely unrelated to the double homicide of years ago. Who'da thought? It seems his search for the real killer will be put on hold for the time being. Let's be real though, even though this guy has been "free" for the last thirteen years, he's basically been a social pariah for all of that time and that is no way to live a life.

And for the record, I do believe in karma.

"Australia" King George Sketch

Last night I watched the new Baz Luhrmann movie "Australia" which I thought was very visually stunning. There was this one character, an aboriginal, nicknamed "King George" who just kept popping up everywhere. He was such a unique looking character after the movie I came home and did this quick digital sketch from memory. I hope I got it right.

And if you saw the movie than you probably also noticed how he always stood like this. The movie really gave the illusion of being in a wild, adventurous, colorful was hard to get back outside to mundane snowy Cleveland.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthday Illustration for a Friend

Having never received one in her childhood, a friend expressed her desire for an ice cream cake for her birthday, just a slice, with something like a dinosaur on it.

I may have taken that a little too literally in this sketch.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chen Shui-Bian Arrested Sketch

I know this story is a couple weeks old already, but give a hand to Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-Bian for knowing how to turn a public arrest into an iconic pose for the media.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tour of the North South Korean Border

The DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone, is the buffer area between North and South Korea where no military exists. The following is my account of our two and a half hour tour written from notes kept in my sketchbook along the way:
2:00 - Our bus tour begins at the tourist stop in Paju city. The bus is full of Korean, Chinese, and Western tourists.
2:01 - As we're pulling away from the lot, a lady interjects that she left her camera in the bathroom. We pause for a moment.
2:03 - We're moving along slowly in the countryside where harvested rice fields are prevalent. The bus driver speaking in Korean points out that photos cannot be taken while in the moving bus, but only at designated stops along the tour.
2:08 - We stop at a South Korean military checkpoint where a young soldier boards the bus to check the passengers and cargo. We have our passports and IDs in hand, but the check is a cursory one consisting of him just walking up and down the aisle looking side to side.
2:10 - We're moving along a very empty road. The driver points out that fifteen more minutes along this road will get us to North Korea, but of course we'll be turning off before then. He informs us that only a handful of vehicles use this road per day, mostly tour buses and military transports.
2:12 - We pass a truck checkpoint where North Korean factory trucks enter to deliver goods.
2:17 - We make our first major stop at a place called "The 3rd Tunnel." We're instructed to put our belongings, including cameras and my sketchbook, into lockers and put on blue hard hats. We sit onto a series of cars on a narrow track (like an amusement park ride) three in a row and fasten our seatbelts. I notice the track leads into a tiny tiny hole in a wall.
2:24 - The "train" begins a slow descent down the track into a ridiculously narrow tunnel. If you are highly claustrophobic I recommend you skip this part of the tour. I'm sitting in a center seat where the tunnel diameter is at it's highest and even my hard hat is nearing the top. Passengers along the side seats are sometimes forced to lean inwards to avoid scraping along the rocky tunnel. The cold dark tunnel is lit by spotlights at points and a green neon light running along the roof.
2:26 - The entire trip is a steep downward decline. Speakers along the side (spoken at English at some points) inform me that this "3rd Tunnel" was dug by North Koreans in preparation for a surprise attack AFTER peace was supposedly established. The South Koreans discovered the tunnel in 1978. The downward decline is explained by the North Koreans needing to drain the water backwards during digging.
2:31 - We reach the bottom point of the tunnel available to tourist access. We disembark the car and find ourselves standing in a narrow rocky tunnel like cave. The roof of the cave is wet with moisture. I walk north along the tunnel, crouching down the entire way to avoid scraping my hardhat against the roof. Again, this is not for the claustrophobic. At one point in the tunnel there are traces of coal along the walls, although I learn that the North Koreans planted these markings in order to use the excuse during withdrawal that this tunnel was for mining purposes. No coal exists in this area. An informative sign in the tunnel reads "Again, we feel the double-sidedness of the North Koreans."
2:39 - I reach the end of the tunnel available to tourists. I wonder what is on the other side of the wall that reads in heavy red letters "RESTRICTED ACCESS." There are only a few points in the tunnel where I can stand upright comfortably and for the record, I am 6 ft. tall.
2:45 - After drinking from a natural spring water faucet down in the tunnel, my group and I begin a walking ascent back to the surface via a professionally drilled tunnel by a South Korean company after discovery of the secret tunnel. After arriving at the surface, we take some pics in front of a statue (pictured above.)
3:00 - We go into the DMZ Theater and watch a short movie about the history of the border. It feels a little propaganda-ish but in the end the hope is that in the future this area will represent the peace that is resolved between the two halves of Korea.
3:23 - We hop back onto the bus and continue along, passing a military checkpoint freely without stopping.
3:31 - We disembark the bus for our next extended stop, a building colored in camoflauge with Korean writing foreign to me. I notice a balcony behind the building where most of the tourists have gathered so I prep my camera and make my way over there. As I near the balcony I notice a yellow line on the ground indicating "no photography past this point," realizing that the balcony view looks into the DMZ and North Korea. I draw a thumbnail sketch of the vast landscape in my sketchbook. Other tourists feed coins into binocular machine and peer over the balcony. A North Korean factory is visible in front of the mountains. Aside from that it the DMZ is very quiet and beautiful.
3:45 - We hop back on the bus and head downhill passing the same military checkpoint without stopping again. The young Korean soldier salutes the bus as we pass by.
3:47 - I see what look like warehouses approaching. I learn that these are storage facilities for trade of goods with North Korea. Dorasan Train Station is visible.
3:49 - We get off the bus for Dorasan Train Station, a small but nicely architectured station. From what I understand it was built during a previous government in order to open travel between the two Koreas. For some reason, government related I have to assume, the station feels abandoned, yet new. We walk in and there are a group of soldiers standing inside. The ceilings are high, the windows are large, the entire station feels like it hasn't even been used. Above the turnstiles a directional sign reads "To Pyeongyang" and the light up board which would normally show arrival and departure times simply flashes the brief history of the station. While taking pictures I wonder if the next time I come here, whenever that may be, this station will be bustling with actual train travelers.
4:04 - We hop back on the bus
4:10 - We make the obligatory souvenir shop stop. A bunch of people smoke. Some go inside to browse. I just walk around outside the bus and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the area that has resulted from the DMZ. I look up and watch the myriad of birds flying in V-formation and remember learning during the tour that the DMZ has indirectly become a natural haven for endangered animals because of the lack of human presence there.
4:30 - We arrive back at base camp in Paju. I wonder how different this tour will be five years from now, ten years, so on and so on.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Though not of my generation, I thought his voice work in Pixar's "Cars" brought a lot of added sincerity to the movie. Thanks Paul!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic-Sized Olympics


That is really the best way I can describe this year's Olympic games, starting from that amazingly grandiose opening ceremony, which I thought was a great balance of sheer power and graceful precision. As I sit here watching this beautiful closing ceremony I'm reminded of how quick the Olympics come and go and how for two weeks you kind of forget about everything else that is going on in the world. When I was in Beijing last fall and took this picture in front of the very much work-in-progress Bird's Nest I could not have imagined the spectacle that was to come only half a year later.

China made their statement, there is no doubt. You have to feel a little bad for jolly ol' London for having to follow this act (seems like anything short of reviving actual Beatles will seem insignificant) but really China's resources and manpower are beyond compare. What few notions and stereotypes the average person in the world had about China have been shattered I'd say and anyone who doesn't believe China is the future is in denial.

I love the Olympics because it makes heroes and stars out of people who are defined only by their dedication to their passions. Forget reality stars. Forget those who are celebrities simply for being dumb, rich folk. Forget the spoiled elite who have everything handed to them in life and strut with a sense of entitlement. Pretty much all these Olympic athletes are "regular" people, which is why it is so easy to cheer for them when they succeed and sympathize when they fall.

It's a shame the Olympics are only every four years, but then again that's what make them so great.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't Eat The Popcorn?

An excerpt from a conversation with a coworker (who we'll anonymously call K) yesterday:

Coworker: "Well if you are going to Disney, don't eat the popcorn."
Rest of us: "What? Why not?"
Coworker: "Because they put dead pigeons in it!"

There are definitely a lot of entertaining urban legends floating around our culture about Disney but this one was the best one I've heard in a while. I guess the legend was that if someone found a dead bird in the park, they'd toss it quickly into the popcorn bin to hide it from the park goers. I think shoving it into one of those rolling freezers that they sell the Mickey Mouse shaped popsicles out of would be more practical (especially in the blazing Florida heat and humidity) but really what do I know about corpse removal in a themed environment? What I do know is as long as there are always interesting urban legends, true or not, there will always be something fun to illustrate.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Greetings Cleveland!

So I'm two weeks into a stint at American Greetings in Cleveland, OH and so far it's been great. Gotta say my preconceived image of a greeting card creative studio being overrun with old ladies painting watercolor flowers and dogs was way's inspiring being surrounded by many talented and contemporary illustrators and designers. I'm working in humor illustration in the creative studio and lovin' it so far. My very first card is a Valentine's Day card that should be out on shelves next year.

American Greetings is in the greater Cleveland area, though I'm staying in the city of North Olmstead west of downtown Cleveland. One of the first things I noticed arriving up north here is how messed up the roads are, surely a result of the harsh winter ice and snow so prevalent here. The best thing though I've discovered about the Cleveland area is the Metroparks, an amazing park reserve system that runs through 7 cities of greater Cleveland. It's not an urban park like NY Central's pretty much wilderness in the middle of the city the way it once was, set aside for preservation, education, and enjoyment. In my opinion, every city should've done something like this.

So far so good...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Outdoor Mural

A while back I started this outdoor mural over a koi pond at our restaurant in Jax, FL. Surprisingly it's held up pretty good but I decided it was time for a drastic retouching.  You can clearly see the difference between the left side, which has been reworked, and the faded right side. The fish make a great audience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Heart Language Evolution

Have you noticed that there seems to be a growing number of people who pronounce today Valen-TIMES day? Well, keep your ears open...

Monday, February 4, 2008


Like many I too was shocked to see the Patriots lost to the Giants in easily the most exciting Superbowl game I can remember, but there are a few things that vex me now the day after that I'd like to share:

1. What is with all this post-Superbowl media "I guess the Patriots weren't as good as everyone thought" talk? The amount of focus it must take to go undefeated through a 16 game season in a competitive league is ridiculous. This isn't some college football fluke season where a team - say Ohio State - plays nobody of significance and coasts 11-0 into a championship game under the veil of being "invincible." The Patriots just lost a game that was so close it was basically a coin flip.

2. Why does the NFL call the winner of the Superbowl "World Champions?" Last I checked we weren't competing with teams around the globe.

3. Please let this be the first and last year of this confounded "red carpet Ryan Seacrest" tomfoolery. This is a sporting event! I don't need to see attention starved celebrities walking down a scarlet pathway, getting photographed, plugging their careers, and being asked who they think will win the game.

4. And finally...I like dogs and I like Gatorade, but I did NOT get that Gatorade dog commercial at all. At all.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bud Selig: Commissioner of Major League Baseball

Instead of watching my usual Sportscenter this morning, I noticed ESPN aired live the congressional hearing regarding Major League Baseball and steroids. This is a sketch I did of commissioner Bud Selig during his segment alongside Donald Fehr.

Personally I think it's a shame when competition is tainted because it completely distorts everything for everyone else involved. But let's be honest, those who profit from the homerun love the homerun by the truckload - including players, trainers, and owners. Besides, if I want to watch juiced up superhumans beating up on regular mortals I'll just turn to NBC's revival of American Gladiators...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Wow, it's 2008! Is it just me or does Ryan Seacrest look like he can't wait to take over Dick Clark's "Rockin' New Years" gig? And we were supposed to be in flying cars by now...