Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tiki Hot Rod Comp

zdepski's version of HOT Rod Magazine, Cover, 1962
HOT Rod Magazine, Cover, 1951

Hey! Even HOT ROD Magazine used Illustration in the 50s and 60s on occasion. I want to use my Pillow Rider girl in a Tiki surf scene, ala Gidget and Blue Hawaii. Gotta run it by Murray to see if it's gonna fly. Precedent is there... I just have to pull it off.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

IF: Idle Chatter

zdepski's digital illustration, idol chatter
zdepski's digital illustration of Ernest Borgnine in the Spongebob reality
perhaps rephrased as "Idol Chatter" - riffing on my tiki pieces, making various patterns in illustrator. you can see them used in my recent ernest borgnine piece. i plan on messing more with patterns, since they do such versatile things.

digital, adobe illustrator and photoshop - click to enlarge

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hartford: Day 12

Last day, last crit. Nancy Stahl and Jean Tuttle went through the digital projects, one by one, thoughtfully and thoroughly. Where we all felt exhausted, the knowledge gained by working the programs seemed to energize us to having a lively critique.

The graduate opening started at 5, i arrived at 5:30 to a packed house yacking and enjoying the terrific show and people, then off to the graduation by 7.

very inspirational. many wonderful speeches and toasts. After the introduction of the class of 2009, hugs and thanks, we returned to the Marriott for more toasts and laughs.

12 am... I had to hit the hay. got a looong drive to VA in the morning.

good two weeks. now time for homework, projects and thesis.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hartford: Day 11

zdepski's digital illustration of Ernest Borgnine in the Spongebob reality
My bride is home, safe and feeling much better - physically and spiritually. Her voice on the phone seems much more of her lyrical self... miss her and can't wait to get back home.

Before then, Thursday's requirements:
finish Ernest Poster, meet with thesis adviser and attend the usual three lectures

All checked off the list at 8:30 pm. Had output issues with the color profile of the Moab paper rolling through the Epson 4800. I ran a number of tests, but still love the screen better than the print. My digital illustration isn't meant to live in the real world... wants to be ethereal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hartford: Day 10

zdepski's digital painting of Ernest Borgnine, day 3
Noelle's doing better and suggested that i stick in CT until the end. She's in good hands, and grandma is herding the kids around to swim lessons and friends houses. I'm nearly done here, and have two days to go.

Today Nancy Stahl, digital artist, as seen on many postage stamps and magazines, talked about her work. Nancy is also my digital illustration instructor, along with Jean Tuttle this week. They're giving me tons of short cuts and tips about Illustrator and Painter X.

Murray did a great lecture on "What is Art?" which matched found images and textures that mimic artists in art history and recent gallery work. It was very thought provoking and spawn a buzz of conversations afterward.

Ernest is here, Day 3 - I have layered the hell out of it, and plan on laying type into it tomorrow.... possibly deleting some layers may be in order, or toning them down a bit.
click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hartford: Day 9

zdepski's digital illustration of various tiki babies
More trouble at home - My bride is back in the emergency room - now held over night... I was going to leave school early to be with her and the kids, but she said the tests are coming out ok... still mysterious. I called my mother-in-law, and she's on her way to VA as I write this. It sucks being so far away in CT, and no family in the state of VA. If my kids are freaking at a quarter of the level that I am, it's not a pretty picture. I have to get in touch with my brothers to run interference if needed.

...my head isn't in my homework ... or my thesis.

Chris Spollen spoke. Great lecture and personality. Love his work ethic... i don't know what else to type right now...

pretty distracted.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hartford: Day 8

zdepski's digital painting of Ernest Borgnine, day 1
Ernest is being worked on digitally. I had lost a full two hours when Painter X crashed, and unlike Photoshop, it doesn't provide a recoverable temporary file. It's my own fault. I used to stop my classes nearly every 15 minutes and tell my kids to SAVE... I didn't follow my own advice.

Last night's crit went pretty well. You know how weird I am about not being a realist among realists, but the faculty and students really seem to deal with each piece on it's own merits. Both Murray Tinkleman and Durwin Talon mentioned they liked my piece, and that means a lot.

Today was chock full of information. Murray covered the 1970s and 80s in American Illustration today. The field broadens in possible subjects for my paper... Brad Holland? Frank Frazetta? Bob Peak? They're all great.

Tonight I plan on working on another version of Pillow Rider for a mock cover of Esquire magazine, or an early Playboy for Murray's painting assignment. I'll have to hash it out a bit.

Tomorrow is more digital fun. All Spongebob, all the time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hartford: Day 6 & 7

zdepski's drawing of pillow rider, 1960
kicking it Ill-Istration style... which means no relaxation, always thinking of the next piece, the next direction, the next series.

The weekend is chock full of events, like Saturday's trip to the Norman Rockwell Museum and studio. I loved seeing the originals, and heartened to see the full bodied paint, as thick as deKooning in many places... that guy knew his medium. touring his studio was very interesting. Liked the paint-tube carousel he had on his desktop, and more importantly, his library and book titles... wrote a pile of them down. Many, if not all, out of print - look on AbeBooks.com

Then off to the Clark, which houses some wonderful pieces, Bouguereau's Nymphs and Satyr is so huge and fleshy... what a triumph of painting! Focused in on a gem by Carolus-Duran: Portrait of the Artist's Gardener... more life than many pieces in the room.

Sunday is a lazy morning - I slept a full 12 hours, 9-9... very tired from being "on" all week. I wolfed down some breakfast, then back to the room to begin my reaction paper on Gary Kelley and to work on a drawing called "Pillow Rider, 1960". The paper is moving along, but I don't have the photographs I need to support my observations. I'll need to hunt down one of the shutterbugs that shot every one of his slides as he talked... I was typing notes, can't work the keyboard and camera at the same time.

Pillow Rider 1960 is derived from a photo of my sister-in-law's aunt, or second cousin - Platinum Beehive, black brows and lashes with a smooth Winston-Salem in her left hand... Trying to get cheesecake photos in a hotel room? Who knows, but it is a time capsule piece, and I love it.

Tonight, the San Francisco critique takes place, after a BBQ sponsored by the Avon CT Marriott (a wonderful staff and very nice rooms). I expect to be chewed up, as usual, since my work isn't among the ultra-realists, but screw'em, I'm being true to myself and being interested in the marks I'm making. I put a nice black matte around the piece, so it won't look like a red-headed step child... or not so much.

Quote of the day:
"This school (MFA) is like an island. If you're not bringing it, it ain't here..."
--Ron Spears

Q and Chad assembled the totem... honored to have chinatownBaby as the cap piece. Chad thought it was appropriate since he's wearing a little hat.

Pillow Rider 1960 is graphite and charcoal on Strathmore 400 medium, 18 x 24 - click to enlarge

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hartford: Day 5

zdepski's final of arnold smothered in iou
zdepski's watercolor of arnold holding up california
zdepski's image in sepia pencil of arnold-like business man and iou
a day of learning about Cooper Studios from Murray's History of Illustration, as well as a culmination of American Illustration with the 1960s and 70s.

I busted out the acrylics and got back in to the Arnold piece, while trying to keep the vitality of the dogBaby version of AS going with the funky tilt, carrying the state of CA in watercolor washes. I think that's a bit closer to my heart.

working out new ideas - back into the woodcut theme. really excited.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hartford: Day 4

zdepski's version of arnold in color
this is about as far as i want to go... especially since it's looking less and less like Schwarzenegger. Lesson learned... move on. Best thing about this piece are the veins in the temples

i'm wiped out... carrying everything... this is why prospectors had burros. to do the CF Payne technique, you have to have colored pencil, acrylic, watercolor/gouache and oil to mimic... it's a huge amount of effort. crate, briefcase and portfolio... the kicker is that the university is tearing up the walkways, so we have to walk and walk and walk to get to classes. killer.

With the Arnold painting here in the hotel room - I tried to push it a bit further. i think it needs oil to save the day... acrylic is a bitch. can't do half the things oil can do.

what is driving me crazy about this week is everything going wrong back home, while i'm 7 hours away... Noelle spent the night in the hospital, with both kids sleeping in the waiting room. pain in the arm triggered them to want to monitor her for a heart attack... Thank God, no heart issues, but a severely pinched nerve... Why does this crap happen when I'm away?

Last year at this time, both washer and dryer crapped out...

We don't need anymore opera our lives.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hartford: Day 3

zdepski's illustration of Arnold with IOUs
zdepski's illustration of Arnold carrying CA
zdepski's illustration of Arnold carrying CA
Wednesday had me up at 4 am... i don't know why. I messed with comping entries for the Squint website and my own blog entries. I had a ton of photos to sort out and dump over to my hard drive... Moxie in the morning... same as Ralphy from the Christmas Story... not diggin the bitter taste.

Many more sketches of Arny... I wanted to have him muscle bound, carrying the weight of the state, but Gary thought he wasn't successfully doing that in the real world, so I chose to go with the obvious drowning in a sea of debt and I.O.U's.

I'm making a pile of IOUs tonight, and shooting reference. Gonna try to toss them into the air and shoot them as they flutter down, as well as on the table top. I figure denominations from 2 bucks through 2 million will be good variations.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hartford: Day 2

CF Payne and Gary Kelley demo their process and techniques.

zdepski's photos of CF Payne's portrait Demo

This is a demo on a portrait of fellow illustrator and instructor, Sterling Hunley. Payne builds his approach by layers... plenty of layers. His method would be anathema to a fine art's conservator, but Chris says he's been doing it for 30 years and nothing's fallen apart, yet. He sketches his drawing in Pismacolor on illustration board, then washes a light flesh tone over the skin area in thin acrylic. The next step is a watercolor/gouache mid-tone flesh color washing over the dry acrylic. Chris pushes the drying time by using a blow dryer... The watercolor is then reactivated by clear water on brush tip pickouts... using a clean paper towel to lift pigment to reveal the highlights.
Blow dry....

now it get's crazy... He blends OIL Dioxyzine Purple with a touch of permanent green to dull the intensity in a vehicle wash of Turps... this is washed over the dried acrylic and watercolor painting...
Again, the lift out of areas of highest light and pulling of the mid-tone with a Kneaded Eraser. The oil is left to dry with time, not forced with a blowdryer or heat lamp.

A spray coating of Workable Fixative is sprayed and allowed to dry the painting.

Chris begins to work light Prismacolor pencil into the image, popping highlight and midtones. He then mixes light, mid or dark washes of acrylic to continue the render... his back and forth between pencil and acrylic can continue for days as he works to high levels of finish.

zdepski's photos of Gary Kelley's portrait Demo

Kelley's approach is to gather reference from life, photography, then work abstraction within the line and composition. Gary's pastel approach is as "fine art" as I have seen. He will not do color studies, but relies on his pallet to lead him as he lays in color into regions, then merging new colors within or up to existing fields... playing one off the other.

Surprise and color discoveries are integral in Gary's process. He loves looking to art history for his influence; Beckmann, Picasso and Modigliani

zdepski's photos of CF Payne's portrait Demo
zdepski's photos of CF Payne's portrait Demo

Finally, I squeaked in a few minutes between demos and lectures to work on my Arnold portraits... I like what's going on.

gettin jiggy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hartford: Day 1

Chris Payne and Gary Kelly instructing Illustration 2
zdepski's sketch of arnold in pencil
Gary Kelley and Chris Payne teaching our Illustration 2 class... 30 students, but each is focusing on unique directions...

I didn't have my thesis finishes with me, but tossed a few digital pieces up on the overhead. I started developing an Arnold Schwarzenegger piece in the manner of Soviet style posters... Just because I love Soviet stuff. Maybe they can help me develop it this week.

Friday, July 10, 2009

IF: Hollow

zdepski's ink drawing of him kicking his brother out of a tree
The day I kicked my younger brother, James out of the top of the maple tree in our back yard...

We had been fighting on the ground, as we did DAILY... always scrapping and wrestling until one was totally raging on the other.

This particular day, I guess I was around 13, I was tired of the fighting, and was actually laughing at him as I climbed the maple, enraging him more as he scrambled up the limbs after me.

I reached the limit of supporting branches, caught 30 feet up with no place to go... James was punching and grabbing at my legs.

- I kicked... my foot landed square on his head.

In slow motion, he fell backwards staring at me, face; porcelain with dumb resignation of what was happening to him. His body began bouncing off each branch like a rag doll. first bouncing off his back, then off his side, then the other...

The last 10 feet were free falling until his head bounced on the rear tire of the Farmall Tractor parked beneath the tree - landing face-down in the dirt below...


It was the most hollow feeling I had experienced in my life. I believed I had killed my brother with one stupid action.

I flew down the tree like a spider monkey, hovering over him, afraid to touch his still body. Grabbing his shoulders, I flipped him to see his emotionless face. His eyes were wide opened, but not seeing me.

... until tears began to well up in his eyes, and his mouth began to cry a cry so loud, it was silent - beyond the capability of his voice box...

My relief was instantaneous... I have never accepted punishment from my parents so willingly... I truly deserved it.

James is alive and well... Woodworking and raising some fine children of his own...

I don't think his kids fight in trees though...

This ink drawing is from 1987... 12 years after the incident... even now, i get shivers when i think about it...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2 decades later

zdepski's sumi ink drawing of bob and z wasted drunk
zdepski's drawing of drink being offered while cold turkey
zdepski's drawing of a creepy woman bumming change in the 1980s
after an IM conversation with an old friend, I dug out some of my work from the mid-late 80s. I was living in Philly - scrambling to be an artist... no luck.

tough times for me then.

I do like what is happening in some of the old line work.

Apologies to Bob... I don't remember if your mouth was agape while in the tub... probably.

Drink piece was while I was going cold turkey from 2 packs of ciggies per day... did a lot of wild drawings then... cathartic while Jonesing.

Sow on Lombard Street was just one of the many whack-jobs you meet in the city... can't take what's given.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Totem Pup

zdepski's dogbaby totem pole section
zdepski's dogbaby totem pole section
Chad Grohman, illustrator to the stars, has a San Francisco project he's working on in addition to his Illustrator pattern piece... He has a few of us creating totem pole sections in reaction to the city.

I was pretty struck with the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, so my section is a Spotted dogBaby with a Mandarin hat. He's ready to key into position, once I cut slots into his head... but depending on where Chad decides this will go, he may be better without slots in his head... I'll wait until Hartford to see what he wants to do.

I need to keep this safe... There's only one.

Lucas watercolor on Fabriano paper, cut, folded and glued... ready for placement.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Q is for Quinn

zdepski's color study of Quinn for dogbabies ABC
Q is for Quinn, Quitting his Quest.

He's a bit bummed by the lack of enthusiasm from his mighty charger. The Bamboo lance keeps getting tossed away by the windmill's blades...

Moulin Rouge anyone?

Color study on printer paper. Lucas Watercolor over my grayscale output. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

IF: Shaky

Zdepski's Feller Bug startled awake by a Wolf Spider, watercolor
Zdepski's Feller Bug startled awake by a Wolf Spider, watercolor
"Feller Bug" is sporting a Shaky Trigger-Finger as he's roused from a fitful sleep by the snuffing of a hungry Wolf Spider!

This is part of my latest series of bugs doing silly things... not sure how this works into my Thesis, but it IS giving me experience with the medium, directing the eye and fun subject matter.

Master Murray Tinkelman with some sage advice, pointing out that I tend to be very middle of the road; 50/50 in my designs... 50/50 warm-cool, 50/50 horizon-line... it's not always apparent, but notice the rock structures in this piece... enter 1/3 up on the left and exit 1/3 from the top on the right - an exact bias slice. I have this ingrained symmetry that needs to be broken... More 80/20 or 90/10.

The previous posts for the week show the progression, from Greenbottle Fly, Bug Rustler and the grayscale and color comps for this piece. It's been a fun week at the easel.

Happy 4th to all you Yanks!

Lucas Watercolor on Fabriano - Click to view at a Larger size.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wolf Spider Color

zdepski's Wolf Spider illustration in full color
not sure about this... it's a watercolor that got out of hand. turned into a gouache as i started lightening areas that i went too dark, but i think i would be able to do it much better in oil. maybe i'll use it as a color comp for a revisited final in watercolor. I like the bug though... he's got a bit of personality. thinking the Wolf Spider is way to scary for youngsters, but the Harry Potter kids would dig it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wolf Spider

zdepski's drawing of a wolf spider over a cowboy bug
This is a new one from this afternoon at the picnic table. Niki thinks it's the best wolf spider I've ever done... It's the only wolf spider I've ever done, but thanks!

Mr. Rustler Bug ( He's a Feller-bug, not a Ladybug! ) is a bit surprised in his bed roll... Grabbing for his trusty Winchester Rifle, loaded with DDT!

This is a graphite drawing, ported into photoshop for some grayscale shading. It should be a painting by the end of the weekend.

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


zdepski's watercolor painting Bug Rustler
no idea what this lunchtime theme is or where it's going. This is similar to yesterday's lunch piece, Mr. Greenbottle, except this fellow has a mighty steed.

a long drink at the ole' waterin' hole while gazing at the horizon for signs of the law...

winsor newton watercolor on 140 lb lanaquarelle

click to enlarge