Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tim Tebow

tim tebow gators illustration chris hsu
Acrylic and charcoal pencil on illustration board.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Red Clay, Georgia (or Tennessee)

About a month ago I drove through the Southern Appalachians for a friend's wedding and made a few interesting stops along the way. On an extended stop I stayed in the town of Dalton, Georgia - aka "carpet capital of the world" because of all the carpet and flooring that is made there - to visit for a few days with a friend. A quick Google search of the area led me north right across the Tennessee border to Red Clay State Park, which was the last tribal council grounds for the Cherokee in the East. Technically it is where the infamous Trail of Tears began, for it was here where the Cherokee leaders heard the news that they had lost their lands and had to prepare for a trek westward.

The grounds are very serene and almost ghostly when you think about the history of the location. I strolled around looking for a spot to set up my easel and maybe try a small painting, which I finally did near a reproduction of a pavilion that they believe is in the spot where tribal leaders once met.

Back in Dalton I walked around a little downtown where it was a little quiet and kind of sparse. Couldn't help but wonder if this was the work of the struggling economy, especially for a town like Dalton that is so dependent on the new flooring needs of the residential and commercial sectors. Here's a little sketch on Hamilton Street of some storefronts.

A few days later I headed back out towards Red Clay, but this time ending up in Red Clay, GA (not Tennessee) where I explored around a little in my car. I saw signs for a road (can't recall the name) that stated it was a "scenic byway" so being the explorer that I am I had to drive it to see what it had to offer. It was completely rural land full of everything you'd expect to see in the countryside: farms, cows, barns, really vintage trucks, and people on horseback. I stopped in one field and tried to discreetly set up my easel off to the side under a tree facing a hayfield for a quick painting. I've ALWAYS wanted to work in a hayfield...guess I've just studied too many Monet compositions.

About an hour l came up with this little image.

Just as I was packing up to leave, I realized my spot was not as discreet as I thought. A pickup truck (vintage of course) rolled up the hill beside me and a man peeked his head out the window. "Just wanted to see what you were doin' up here...wow, that's pretty nice there fellow," the rural gentleman said. Of course I knew I was treading on private property, but what I didn't know was if I was going to be in trouble for it. "How much longer you gonna be out here?" the man asked.

"Actually I was just packing up," I replied.

"Well I was gonna say, maybe you could do a painting of my boss's house over there yonder. My son and I work on this land and I thought maybe that'd be somethin' nice to give her as a gift," the man said. And for the record I think this was the first time I had ever heard "yonder" used in real life.

The man pointed out the house from across the way and said he wanted something that maybe included the house with the hills and haystacks around it. Fortunately the property was large enough (I think he said 10 acres?) that I was able to find a spot up on a different hill to set up discreetly. I told Jimmy to go do whatever farm work he had to do and to come back in two hours.

As I was working I was thinking about how peaceful life must be out here and how depressing it was going to be to go back to the concrete jungle. It's not to say one is good and the other is bad, but both types of lifestyles have qualities that should be appreciated. There weren't a whole lot of elements to work with on this bright day, so I made the best of trying to put the house in the context of its surroundings in a way that future family descendants who might see this painting would be fascinated to see how open their land once was.

Three hours later (yep, one hour late) Jimmy returned to complete the transaction. During the wait I opened the door to my car and took a nap to the sound of the trains slowly chugging by, so actually it wasn't a big deal. Jimmy, slightly inebriated by now, held the painting and kept staring into it saying, "Man, that's somethin' I tell ya. You could be rich paintin' pictures! You ever thought about doin' that?" I thanked Jimmy for his patronage and told him not to be surprised if I showed up on this field again in the future. I only hope that the slightly inebriated Jimmy heeded my instructions to not touch the painting for at LEAST two days...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Hour Flyer

I came up with a flyer for Sakura, the best Japanese restaurant in Jacksonville, FL to announce that they are now offering a happy hour. The original sketch began with a single character which I eventually thought looked a little too lonely. So I added a companion, lengthened the table, and featured more food and drink to make a more lively atmosphere. I always find it interesting to see the process in the artwork of others so I thought I'd share a little of how this image evolved into the final product.

Anyone feel like sushi now?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventure Awaits!



Hey look, a non painting or illustration related post! Enjoy this little clip of Celina and me playing the main theme from Pixar's "UP." She told me how to play the piano part for the left hand which I then improvised over to the guitar. The piano is slightly out of tune, not the guitar. In all my years of growing up playing this piano, I think I recall it only being tuned one time. By the way, if you haven't seen the movie I'm really not sure what you're waiting for...it is excellent on so many levels of visual design, storytelling, and everything else.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ft. Mountain Landscape Sketch

On the drive back down from Ohio to Florida, I made a couple stops including one in Dalton, GA to visit a friend. While she was away at work one day, I ventured out around the small town and saw signs for "Ft. Mountain State Park" which sounded pretty interesting, so I followed them thinking it was just down the street. About 30 minutes later I realized I had actually driven up a mountain to get to it. I thought the "Mountain" was a nickname, but it turns out the "Fort" part of the name is actually the nickname.

Venturing around the park I found great overlooks, pristine forests, massive rock formations, and two mysterious stone structures believed to have been built by natives. With my easel and paints already in the car, I decided to try a small 5x7 landscape sketch even though the midday lighting wasn't exactly producing very inspiring compositions. I set up at the East Overlook on a viewing platform and about an hour later came up with what technically is my first ever painting of mountains now that I think about it...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Straight From The Crate

Now on view at Shoparooni gallery in Cleveland is a group show "Straight From The Crate," featuring artwork made on or from old vinyl records. Here's my contribution, entitled "Life On Mars." It's acrylic painted directly onto the partially gessoed surface of the vinyl.

If interested, click here to go to the gallery's online store.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox


Here's my imagining of the folk legend Paul Bunyan, who to me is the symbol of hearty strength and hard work.

In designing my rendition of Babe the Blue Ox, I imagine him to be generally playful and docile being Bunyan's loyal wilderness companion. But because it is the wilderness, I also imagine Babe can be fierce when necessary.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday To My Sister

A lil' something I drew up for my sister's birthday. We both really like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Survivor Tocatin's Coach: The Dragonslayer

Every season of Survivor guarantees a few standout characters, this season's by far being Coach, the self-proclaimed "Dragonslayer." It's been a while since a contestant has been this amusing to watch, though completely unintentional on his part. Even Probst couldn't help laugh along during the season about Coach's wild adventures, constant warrior-related metaphors, and spontaneous quoting of philosophers. But he wasn't a mean-spirited contestant by any means so you couldn't dislike him like you would a villain. You just couldn't tell if this guy was completely full of it or totally full of himself...or both? Either way, he'll go down as one of Survivor's most colorful characters. Coach here is about 5"x5" painted in watercolor.

Update: Received a special request for a Sierra illustration today. Thought I'd give her a triumphant pose in her trademark "black and white stripes" which ironically was the name her tribemates referred to her as on the very first day when they tried to oust her. After that, Sierra became the underdog that I think so many of us could relate to and gave us some memorable moments this season as well. And towards the end there even in the jury I think most of us were living vicariously through her facial expression reactions of "Is this guy for real???" to Coach's Last of the Mohican-ish, warrior ways. This Sierra spot is about 5.5"x2.5" and also in watercolor.

As usual, if you're interested in a commission or buying any original art contact me at chsu10@gmail.com. Check back again later, I may do more Survivor-related illustrations.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To Not Sketch Would Be Illogical

I went into the new Star Trek movie with very little knowledge about the story and franchise outside of the usual pop culture catchphrases, costumes, and impersonations. I left the theater surprised having seen a very well made film on many levels. It was great to see a high budget summer flick where the amount of CGI (though superb itself) had very little to do with carrying the success of the story and characters.

I know I'm way behind in my knowledge of Star Trek, but I thought the contrasting personalities between Kirk and Spock was engaging. As I started studying the faces to sketch out the two characters from the film, I began to realize they made it a point to cast actors with physically contrasting faces as well. Spock is round and smooth; Kirk is square and angular. Spock sports the trademark thin eyebrows high over the eyes; Kirk has heavy ones that sit low to the eyes. Where Spock has almost no forehead showing, Kirk has a vast forehead. Spock has thin, narrow, puckered lips; Kirk has full upper and lower lips that stretch wider across the face. Spock has a more bulbous prominent nose; Kirk has a thinner one with narrow flaring nostrils. To me it is no coincidence that almost everything about their features are opposites.

Following on the heels of my last Lebron sketch, I was still itching to work with watercolors. And in case I didn't mention already, the movie is excellent...go see it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

LeBron James...

...is just on an absolute tear this season and so far in these playoffs.

The painted area is about 4.5" x 2.5", watercolor on paper.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dueling Skate Decks

My two skate decks entitled "This Town Ain't Big Enough" are complete and will be on view along with many others starting this Saturday until the end of May in Lakewood. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love for history in general - the Old West being one of my favorite periods - so this particular image was fun for me to develop.

I thought I'd share my process on this one. The idea began with two tiny, tiny thumbnails that resolved the basic composition and major shapes and lines. After developing the drawing further using reference material from the period, I transferred the gist of it onto the decks via grid drawing. Moving into the acrylic stage, I worked in varying layers of transparency and opacity, gradually building up the values and intensities. Originally I had planned to paint an opaque background on each deck but when I realized the wood surface was a very complementary touch I let it be, even at the cost of exposing pencil construction lines that had already been sealed in. For the majority of both paintings I used only ultramarine and burnt sienna along with gesso. A touch of cadmium red and yellow ochre highlight a few small areas.


Update: 5.02.09

The show opened tonight with a great turnout! Thanks to Keith Corocan for putting everything together and doing up the space nicely. For those of you in the greater Cleveland area, the show will run until about the end of the month.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perez Hilton the Hypocrite

Once again a beauty pageant ends and no one has any idea who the winner was. Instead the controversy surrounding Miss California Carrie Prejean and Perez Hilton (real name Mario Lavandeira) and his gay marriage question have taken center stage on the internet. Most people have seen the clip from the pageant but make sure you watch his post video blog rant to truly see what a hypocrite sounds like.

They both stand by their beliefs. Great. Good. That is expected. The DIFFERENCE though is he went on to call her a "dumb bitch," pointing out that he actually intended to use the c-word originally because her answer didn't match what he had hoped. For a drama queen who will pretty much complain about anything if it garners attention for himself, he says she should've said something more politically correct, though I think it's safe to say all that would've changed would be that we'd be hearing an immature internet diatribe about how she cowardly dodged the answer. You cannot expect others to be tolerant of your beliefs and then crash hate down on them when they don't agree with yours.

If any other guy or girl judge had demeaned Miss CA as a "dumb bitch" afterwards they would be destroyed by the public. What gives a person like Mario free license to behave such a way? A guy who wanted so badly to call a contestant the c-word is qualified to judge, of all things, a beauty pageant of women?? At any rate Donald Trump certainly knew what he was doing because people are still talking about his pageant days after it has passed.

Perez is a leech on society that has made a "living" blogging insults on the A-list celebrities he wants so badly to become. In his proud proclamation in his video rant about "I was the Youtube moment!" it is evident he is more concerned about raising awareness about himself than any cause. You don't need to be for or against gay marriage to recognize a hypocritical bigot when you see one.

(The sketch is pencil on paper with digital color.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Skate Deck Show

Working on a pair of decks for another skate show, this time for a gallery in Lakewood, OH. As usual, the deck format is a challenging format to compose on and being a lil' bit of a skater myself, I like to try to work in regard to the truck placement too.

As far as the subject matter this time around, for now I'll just say "The Old West"...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Character Sketch

Here's a character sketch page from my watercolor Moleskine. When I started this I imagined the guy to be a athletic coach of some kind, or maybe an angry sideline dad at his kid's sporting event.

Gouache and pen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gouache Self-Portrait






















A quick little experiment with gouache paints and a mirror. I never used gouache a whole lot before but after this I think I might try them out a bit more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Is Christian Bale Malfunctioning?

In my opinion, no. In the newest celebrity rant heard 'round the world, Christian Bale let loose on the director of photography during filming on the set of Terminator: Salvation.  I can only imagine what it must be like to psyche yourself up for a scene (in this case, a very emotionally intense one according to an associate producer) and dive into it only to have someone bumble into it from off camera.

Certainly Bale went a little overboard with the rant, I think no one will argue that. But I'm not going to be so quick to throw him into the Michael Richards pit, that'd be going too far. Alec Baldwin survived his rant, I think Christian Bale will be fine too. If you're curious to read an account of what caused the outburst, go here.

Feb. 6th update - Bale calls into KROQ radio.  There's a little play button near the top of the screen.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Barrack Hussein Obama = Prez

I actually drew this eleven days ago after the inauguration so this is a late posting. The ceremony had a very different feel to it this time around, in fact I don't remember paying much attention to other ones in past years. The energy of the crowds made it feel like I was watching ESPN College Gameday or something, but times a million. This was a really cool pic taken at the event, you can even zoom in close and look for celebrities in the crowd. It's been a while since the US has really felt like it hit a pivotal turning point. Optimism abound...hopefully it'll be a turn for the better.

This lil' sketch is watercolor and pen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Skate Deck Show












My deck is complete and the All Hands On Decks show is up on display in the gallery at the American Greetings world headquarters. I'm not sure the exactly how many decks are on display but I do know there's at least 50 different illustrators, designers, and artists working in all different techniques for the show.

Since I decided I wanted to paint directly onto the board, my choices were limited to acrylics or oils. I went ahead with acrylics on this design entitled "Alternate Mode of Transportation." The deck has been sold.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Target Valentine's Day Card

My very first American Greetings card has finally reached the shelves at Target and AG stores!  It was a simple assignment, requiring a neb character to run through the door of a heart. The card design was planned by Jody Adams.

Friday, January 9, 2009

"All Hands On Deck" Show










I'm participating in a group skate deck show, which I'm excited about because I've always loved the long format of skateboard decks as art, especially when a lot are displayed at once like when you walk into a really cool skate shop. I'm kinda joining in last minute and as far as what I'm gonna paint on it is still up in the air.

In other news, my MacBook has been resurrected!