Friday, December 30, 2011

IF: Highlight

Male Model, Society of Illustrators, NYC - 2008 by Paul Zdepski
Male Model in Watercolor, Society of Illustrators Figure Night, MFA NYC Session 2008

During the new year's season, many important oaths are made, promises promised and resolutions sworn... then broken. I have a print out of "Three Things to Quit", as presented by Professor Ron Mazellan of Indiana Wesleyan University during the 2009 commencement of the Masters in Illustration graduation of the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford, CT. Ron's words have been the highlight of my entire MFA experience. Sure, I've met illustration heroes, held masterpieces in my hands and been in critiques that set me on my heels. Ron's humble speech to his fellow classmates taught me more about myself and got me looking inside at my motivations; what drives me.

I pass this along with his permission. I ask that you print it out, and place it somewhere in your studio. I have my print-out in my studio bathroom, to the left of the mirror, where I read it when brushing my teeth, rinse brushes and wash my dog. It has to be reinforced to become a personal credo.

Three Things to Quit by Professor Ron Mazellan, July 2009

Quit comparing yourself to others.

  1. Dwelling on what others have and what you lack is a waste of time and energy.

  2. Be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. There is no one like you!

  3. Stop dwelling on your short-comings. Everybody comes up short somewhere.

Quit complaining

  1. Quit complaining about the weather, your height, your weight, your hair, etc. It drains you, paralyzes you, and fosters a defeatist mindset before you begin.

  2. Complaining creates a false paradigm for life. We convinces ourselves to believe that complaining will make living a more pleasant experience.

  3. Complaining delays action. We delay and wait too long to begin, waiting for conditions to be perfect.

  4. Complaining is contagious and it causes others to lose heart.

Quit concluding

  1. Concluding stops dreams before they have the opportunity to begin.

  2. Concluding waits for opportunities and when they come, many refuse to act.

  3. Concluding creates a paradigm of fear; the pursuit of anything I attempt will end in failure, so why begin?

  4. Most people don't begin because they lack imagination of what is possible.

You can view Ron's work and follow him on Twitter:

Friday, December 23, 2011

IF: Messenger

Bear and Squirrel - NO ROOM HERE! by Paul Zdepski


The message is clear - "You Can't Sleep Here!"

Grizzly Bear is looking for a place to hibernate, and Squirrel's log house is looking pretty tempting. Squirrel has been having lots of problems, since moving to the forest floor. This is part of a story I'm developing. Drawing is done in my Strathmore sketchbook, then cleaned up in my Wacom Cintiq via Photoshop.

Friday, December 16, 2011

IF: Sink

Zdepski's watercolor painting Flawed Flotation
Sinking or Flawed Flotation

Bummer time at Summer Camp, good think the life-jacket is tied on tightly.

Winsor & Newton watercolor on Fabriano.
copping out today. have too much going on - rehashing a previous piece from 2009. click it to enlarge.

Friday, December 9, 2011

IF: Separated

zdepski's illustration, Cowboy minus Cow
Cowboy Minus Cow Equals Boy

Higher Mathematics... This is a comp variation of my banner illustration "Cow Plus Boy" in yesterday's blog post. It works nicely for Illustration Friday's word of the day. I'm drawing these in my sketchbook and coloring them in Photoshop.

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cow Plus Boy

zdepski's banner illustration, Cow Plus Boy Equals Cowboy
Cow Plus Boy Equals Cowboy
I'm invited to submit some banner illustrations for the local downtown's walking mall. It's a nice venue and the banners are hung from ornamental lampposts along the wide brick promenade. I had a couple banners get in two years ago; Elephant Tune and the Ames Piano Quartet CD cover art from 2005.
This year I'm entering the Duck King, Vespa and the above piece named, Cow Plus Boy. I'm trying to create a retro-Elementary Textbook feel, and I think it's got that vibe. I like to create things for public spaces that may make the kids stop and try to figure it out.
This piece was drawn in my sketchbook, then ported into Photoshop at 720 dpi and then cleaned up and colored in various layers with my Wacom Intuos3 tablet. The final output will be 25x29 inches, so it should be fun to see it printed large.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Zeppelin Raid

Zeppelin Raid by paul zdepski
Zeppelin Raid
This is a digital piece derived from a trip to the Shenandoah Caverns with my son's grade school class on Monday. We went down a few hundred feet below the ground and viewed a bunch of cavern rooms carved by earthquake and water. They had some wonderful formations that got me clicking the camera for photo reference. I took one of the photos and created a scene. Notice the tiered landscape created by the dripping mineral-rich water over eons of time. I thought of rice paddies on the hillside. CLICK!
Cave Formation photo by paul zdepski
Zeppelin Raid
This piece is of a futuristic Zeppelin raid over a less developed country. It's done in Adobe Photoshop with the Wacom Intuos3 and Cintiq. Click on the picture to enlarge to 1200px wide.

Friday, November 25, 2011

IF: Round

zdepski's illustration of Mike and Ike on the moon
Mike and Ike on the Moon

Mike: "Splee-ah! Splee-ah!"
Ike: "No, Dummy. Circle back around!"
Mike: "Derpa Derp."

getting stuff done on the moon with less-than-the-best equipment.

Three sketches merged into one narrative "A Day in the Life of" piece.

Ike is about ready to throw in the towel.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

500th Post - City Cow Country Cow

City Cow - Country Cow by paul zdepski
City Cow - Country Cow
Illustration Friday word is "Vanity". I don't know why this popped into my head, but the vanity of believing you're far removed from being on someone's plate for dinner when you're equally as vulnerable seems rampant in our American society. The fact that many of us are a mere paycheck away from the street, or a missed payment away from loosing our healthcare makes me wonder how we can still be so callous to our neighbors (cow-less - punny).


digital piece using a couple of photos from my nyc trip, and the hair of a shorthorn cow. pen lines are done in Corel Painter 11 and the color and texture is in Photoshop.

both cows are smoking...

I was able to listen to one of the organizers (member, since it's a headless organization) speaking at the National Women's Democratic Club during our art opening last Thursday night. The DC locals in the crowd were ambivalent to the movement's lofty goals, and squawked about DC's taxation without representation not being part of the platform. The Occupy tent seems to be stuck as a sounding board for the nation's ills and complaints... perhaps not the focused force it needs to be.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

IF: Silent

Arlington 1963, JFK funeral moments, by paul zdepski
Arlington 1963 - Remembrance on Veterans Day

These are three panels from an upcoming story about the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963, by Rebecca Goldfield. Rebecca and I have been hashing through her story for the last four months, and we finalized and signed off on our portion yesterday, Veteran's Day. The Eleventh Hour, of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month of the Eleventh Year into the Century.

The three moments are indeed silent, from the family's sorrow, the widow clutching the flag and the eternal flame with Lee's Mansion and the flag at half-mast. I will post the story's release when I get the go from the editor and publisher.

On a historical note, John-John and Caroline weren't present at the funeral. This is a panel I developed, but didn't include because of the inaccuracy. However, I thought it was touching enough to be shown on its own merits.

These panels are entirely digital, inked with a digital pen in Corel Painter 11, merged and colored in Photoshop CS2.

Friday, November 4, 2011

IF: Stripes

zdepski's illustration - Home mitt Siegfried und Roy

Home mitt Siegfried und Roy

Stripes of all types - this is a snippet piece of a larger group of drawings about life with Siegfried and Roy... Such pet ownership joys like; cleaning the cat box, scooping up hairballs, dead animals left on the porch... you get the idea.

I didn't rag on Roy that much, he's got it bad with that tiger bite on his neck. Can't pile on. I also took liberties with the color. S&R are known for their white tigers and lions, but I love the color of the beasts in nature. Sorry... artistic license.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

JuJu Man

rendition of Mark Zdepski's JuJu Man character by Paul Zdepski
Rendition of Mark Zdepski's "Fairmount the JuJu Man" Character

My brother Mark is guy that laughs a lot. He's one to spend time on a frivolous project just to raise an eyebrow. He's a geologist by trade and a master woodturner by choice. He's always coming across beautiful types of wood or odd pieces of "wind fall". A while ago, Mark found a bizarre root structure that he thought looked anthropomorphic. He clearly saw arms, legs, torso and a huge schmeckle to complete the package.
Mark Zdepski's JuJu Man character in the Nude
Mark Zdepski's "Fairmount the JuJu Man" in the Nude

Mark Zdepski's JuJu Man character
Mark Zdepski's "Fairmount the JuJu Man" Character

This year for Halloween, Mark has named his rootman, Fairmount. He's dressed him in a grass skirt, given him a Horseshoe Crab chestplate and a Deer Pelvis mask with glowing red LED lights for eyes. He's been showing Fairmount around to friends, including driving into town with him in the passenger seat.

When I saw Fairmount all dressed up, I couldn't help thinking of him as a Tiki Witchdoctor. SO, I riffed off of my brother's sculpture to create the drawing above. My drawing isn't as cool as the real deal, but no one can duplicate the original Fairmount!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

nude figure marathon

Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Portrait 2 - Paul Zdepski
Portrait of a Black Male - Rockville Session
I took part in the 12 hours of Figure Drawing at Rockville Art Center in Rockville, MD yesterday. This was the first time I've worked from life since the 2008 session at the Society of Illustrators in New York. See them here.

I got there an hour late, due to living an easy 100 miles away, then proceeded to carve out a space among the 40 artists already present. I set up my French easel, which is packed with lead tubes of oil paint, very heavy. My drawings below are on Strathmore 500 Series Charcoal paper, which has a nice tooth and square grid weave.
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Portrait 6 - Paul Zdepski
10 Minute Portraits, Male - Rockville Session

The models were scheduled to do 2 hours. They varied from male, female, Latin, Black, White and REALLY White (Redhead). Each drawing pose on paper is 5 or 10 minute sessions. The longer poses were 3 sessions of 20 minutes each. The long poses were where I broke out my paints. I used cheap acrylic; Liquitex Basics and white Liquitex Gesso on clear Liquitex Gessoed Cardboard or pre-primed Aquarelle Arches Hot Press 140lb watercolor block paper. I took the Liquitex paint and a paper towel to prep the surfaces with a smeary texture.

I found that after a few full figure attempts, I was more focused on the portraiture. I ditched the idea of trying to capture the whole figure, and drilled in to try to capture the person's likeness.
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Maria Supine - Paul Zdepski
Maria Supine - Rockville Session
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Portrait 3 - Paul Zdepski
Portrait of a White Male - Rockville Session
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Portrait 4 - Paul Zdepski
Portrait of a Redheaded Female - Rockville Session
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Drawings of Maria 5 - Paul Zdepski
Drawings of Maria - Rockville Session
Rockville Nude Figure Marathon, Portrait 7 - Paul Zdepski
Drawings of a Redhead 7 - Rockville Session

I confess, I pussed out - I only lasted 9 of the 12 hours. I was seeing double since I was staring at the spotlight on the other side of the room all day. Headaches take precedence to drawing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

IF: Fuel

Out of Gas - Space Illustration by paul zdepski
Out of Gas

... another spacey illustration. I didn't make it to last week's word, "Scattered" - so I combined it with this week's word, Fuel to create an organic space machine, stuck and out of gas on some distant rock. The piece is a pencil drawing merged with a NASA photo and plenty of Photoshop CS5 to color, dodge and highlight with my Wacom Intuos3 tablet.

click to enlarge the frustration and galactic swearing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

IF: Contraption

zdepski's digital illustration - CA mower
Tribute to Big Daddy Roth - Rat Fink. My contraption.
I developed this illustration in March of 2010, and have juiced it up a bit with some atmospheric smoke in the region around the figure, to make him pop, as well as back lighting on the mower to make it "reverse pop" against the flames.
The drawing is a merger of a 1940s Chevy and a Push Mower.... Stupid, I know.
California Mower - Briggs and Stratton
zdepski's line drawing - CA mower

Saturday, October 1, 2011

IF: Hibernate

zdepski's illustration of a Cosmonaut asleep in his space suit.
Hibernate Mode
Space men need rest too. Fearless Explorer Comrade Cosmonaut needs to take a break while surveying a crystalline asteroid.

Corel Painter for the black lines - Photoshop for the color and NASA photo composting.

shhhh.... he's asleep.

click to enlarge.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

IF: Ferocious

zdepski's illustration of a Fierce Hawaiian Warrior
Fierce Hawai'ian Warrior
One of the Warriors that didn't make it into a panel in Puapualenalena, Wizard Dog of the Waipi'o Valley back in 2007. I scanned the drawing from my 11x14 sketchbook and colored the piece in photoshop by porting in a flattened version of the Sentinel and adjusting the color as needed. It's a quick way to make a sketch have more body and believability.
Click to enlarge.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mesmerizing Duck King

zdepski's illustration of the Duck King - Moebius tribute
The Duck King
A tribute to Jean "Moebius" Giraud, and his influential work with Alejandro Jodorowsky and the Incal series in Heavy Metal. I was very taken with Giraud's work when I was a high school and college student in the early 1980s, and seeing his newer work with the Wacom Cintiq tablet furthers my interest.

The Duck King is just a weird little sketch from my trusty Strathmore sketchbook, imported into Photoshop for line clean-up and color. I used my old Intuos3 tablet in Photoshop CS5. You'll notice the same blue-gray used from the Hover Vespa piece, which was still in my color swatches in Photoshop. I think it works well with the little yellow Duck King ducking bubbles.

Click to enlarge the picture.

Monday, September 12, 2011


zdepski's illustration of a Hover Vespa cycle
Hover Vespa
I created a hover bike inspired by an old Vespa scooter I photographed last autumn while visiting colleges with my daughter. The bike was totally original, in need of a restoration. The hover bike I drew is ridden by a period racer, with aerodynamic jumpsuit and old-school helmet... very Tin Tin.
zdepski's photo of an old Vespa scooter
Old Vespa

Pencil drawing, digital color on a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. Click to enlarge the images.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


zdepski's sketch, 911 Housekeeping
Falling - Housekeeping
On the tenth remembrance of the attacks on NYC, DC and PA, I'm publishing four pieces that haven't been outside of my sketchbook for as many years. I've seen some wonderful and sensitive pieces dealing with the subject, but my own reaction was removed and tertiary.
zdepski's sketch, 911 Maintenance
Falling - Maintenance
I was working in a web solutions company in 2001, building overpriced websites for companies that were willing to throw money at the new medium. One of our clients was a right-wing magazine called The Weekly Standard, founded by Will Kristol. Two Young Republican-types were visiting our offices that day, as part of their web team. The news of the jets crashing was streaming in on the TV in the break room. The YR's were standing in front of it when I walked in to see the towers burning. I will never forget the callous attitude they displayed while thousands of people were in the last moments of their time here on earth.
"I wonder how the Democrats are going to spin THIS..."
I walked out. The airport next to my office was silent. There were black SUVs in the parking lot, and the strange silence of no jets climbing from Dulles, 40 miles away. Birds once again ruled the skies.
zdepski's sketch, 911 Human Resources
Falling - Human Resources

I woke one night soon afterward, having dreamt of average folks falling to their deaths from high elevations. The first was a Housekeeper, then Maintenance worker and finally an office worker in Human Resources. Average folks that should have died from their vices or 90 years old, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, falling to the street below.

Five years later, I did an image of Muhammad Atta, the pilot of one of the jets, at his Eleventh birthday party. I thought, there must have been signs that this guy was a nut-job, and why hadn't anyone seen it? Here he's got his "I H8 NY" shirt on, etc...
zdepski's sketch of Atta's eleventh birthday
Muhammad Atta's Eleventh Birthday

I think it's time to close the door on this and move on. The sun keeps coming up, and the sunsets are still beautiful to behold.

Friday, September 9, 2011

IF: No Boundaries

zdepski's concept illustration of a spaceship based on a horseshoe crab
Crab-Body Spaceship
This piece is another design project to expand my SciFi portfolio. I haven't designed that many spaceships, other than a few retro looking Buck Rogers-style pieces for personal gratification. I've been trying the trick of making a broad shape silhouette and then carving into that shape with form details. Making a blob of black on a screen can be simple and daunting at the same time. I chose to model my blob off of a Horseshoe Crab or Trilobite, with little feeler legs out front.

zdepski's silhouette of a spaceship based on a horseshoe crab
Black Silhouette with Red Perspective Lines

I went over to to go through their portfolio of public images, which I used as the basis for my background and surface texture on the ship. I don't think the texture and background took 45 minutes with this comp method. I placed some atmospheric fog over the ship, and the overlaid highlights. This makes for a quick piece that is high on spontaneity and low on fuss.

The image is entirely digital, starting and ending in Adobe Photoshop on the Cintiq. Click the image to enlarge to 1000px wide.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

IF: Mysterious

zdepski's drawing of David Suchet as Poirot
I've been drawing Agatha Christies' Inspector Hercule Poirot from the BBC series with actor David Suchet. My son digs the rough Inspector from Scotland Yard that helps solve the cases. I've been sketching from the screen, whilst the show is running, so they're not very accurate. The darker drawings in the Poirot group is from our Whiteboard, where Poirot and his dog notice that "zah dog's dish, she is empty!" Below is a simple spooky image I call 'Slasher", inspired by watching the BBC mysteries. Sketching while watching TV makes me feel like I'm actually being productive, when I'm not.... mysterious how we try to fool ourselves.
zdepski's sketches of Poirot from TV
zdepski's illustration of the Slasher

Sunday, August 28, 2011

VA Earthquake 2011

Zdepski's Shed falls off the foundation during the VA Earthquake of 2011
Damage hits home... more like hits my Garden Shed. I have a huge amount of figured maple, both curly and birds-eye stacked on the right-hand side to 4 x 4.5 x 10 feet. That plus a snowblower, bicycles, garden and construction tools and a 30 foot ladder hanging off the side makes for a prime earthquake casualty. I didn't notice until today, since I needed the grass trimmer. There she is, uninsured and needing to be rebuilt. No money blues, since it all goes to Virginia Commonwealth University, where my daughter had to pickup a pile of clothes that fell from her closet.

Gonna have to dig piers and set footings for the rebuild... bigger-stronger-faster.
I needed to make it big enough to handle the blue mower in the seen to the right of the photo. It's far to big to fit through the door.

I experienced the 5.9 earthquake while at work. I thought the guy across the cubicle wall had a "Jimmy Leg". He's bounced it in the past when nervous about a big project. I looked up to tell him to cut it out, to find him looking at me to stop MY Jimmy Leg! The frequency of the bouncing stayed the same, but the waves got bigger and the sound was like a freight train crossing, or a Chinook helicopter coming in to land. In 30 seconds, it was over. No worse for wear, other than a cracked window in the office suite on the other side of the building (Area B). That was it, until I discovered the Shed taking a Dump.

Well, we got off easy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

IF: Disguise

Zdepski's illustration of King Wannapayday on a Shark Surfboard
Tiki Drinking on a Shark Surfboard
King Wannapayday is catching a wave - hanging loose on a tiger shark.
This piece has got to work as a poster element and stand alone T-shirt design.
Corel Painter and Photoshop executed on a Wacom Cintiq.
Click to enlarge.

weekend portraits

zdepski's portrait of the Apple Store Lady
I spent my Friday evening at the Apple Store in Fair Oaks Mall, an hour ahead of my scheduled "Genius Bar" appointment. I kick around a bit, but then decided to knock out a portrait of the hipster scheduling the meetings. She kept moving, but did go back to predictable postures and mannerisms. I colored my pencil drawings in Photoshop.
zdepski's portrait of Tom Chipley
The other three are friends from a new Saturday morning drawing group meeting a Carmella's restaurant, 102 South Main Street, Edinburg VA. You may recognize Tom Chipley from the Gallery Book. Tom often sports a colorful bandana. I met is lovely bride, too. Great folks. Thanks for picking up the check TOM! Tom's portrait was done in watercolor over my pencil drawing... you can see how the paper buckled.
zdepski's portrait of Jamie
Jamie is another friend from the Mt. Jackson arts group, and was trying her hand at watercolor. Ironically, Jamie's portrait is colored digitally...

zdepski's portrait of Car,e;;a

Our statuesque hostess, Carmella has the bearing of a ballet dancer. I almost asked her what company she was with. She sat down with us and knocked out a lovely pencil drawing before duty called her to serve another group of customers.

Fun had by all, and lots of laughs around the table. Thanks to all - you made it a lot of fun. Hope to return for another Saturday session.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grub Fairy

zdepski's illustration of the Gift of the Grub Fairy

The Gift of the Grub Fairy

A SWELL gift from a SWOLLEN grub.

This is a little bug study, morphed into a fantasy piece. I gave my Grubby subject a little crown based on the shell of a Japanese Beetle - The little human-ish figure is a Fairy Folk of some sort, I didn't imagine much of a back story for him when I was developing the piece. I just thought it would be as if the Grub Fairy was rewarding him with a special necklace for some heroic deed.

Pencil, Corel Painter 11 and Adobe Photoshop all with the Wacom Cintiq.
Click to enlarge the picture.

Friday, August 5, 2011

IF: Imperfect

zdepski's illustration of singer Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse

We all fail in life from time to time. Some people seem to struggle with it a bit more openly than others. I like Amy's singing, but cringed at her lifestyle. I guess her struggles with imperfection are over. Hate to see anyone go out like that. Rest in Peace.

Sad to say that I got an anonymous comment that I was profiting from a death by doing this portrait. No, this isn't a commission, or being used in any article. It's just something from my sketchbook this week; a commentary on a tragedy. There is no profit in such a death, but we can learn from what has been a very, very public struggle with addiction, and also disgusting coverage of every inch of her downfall.

graphite and digital color - Intuos3 tablet in Photoshop

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bushy and Baldy

zdepski's shrunken head named Baldy
"Baldy" Shrunken Head
The boys have been separated into individual pieces, so they can hang on either side of a painted piece down at the Shenandoah Arts Center in Winchester VA. I placed each on a piece of curly maple with natural edging and a hand planed chamfer edging. They're offered for $300 each at the gallery, or $450 for both through this special blog posting.

zdepski's shrunken head named Bushy
"Bushy" Shrunken Head

Each is sculpted from Super Sculpy, with bamboo, bone, shells and various stones from my wife's jewelry box.... no tattling on me. Bushy sports yards and yards of leather chord, commonly used on necklaces and bracelets. I lovingly shoved each strand into each follicle hole with a dab of super glue. Each shrunken head is mounted via bamboo pins to an 8 x 5.5 inch piece of curly maple, signed and dated on front and back, with keyhole routed into the back for hanging on the wall.

They need a good spooky home.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

IF: Obsession

zdepski's illustration of Helter Skelter, Charlie Manson and the Beatles

Helter Skelter - Charlie Manson and the Beatles

Charlie was Obsessed with the Beatles, the girls weer obsessed with Charlie and the Beatles were obsessed with their music.

Digital illustration in Corel Painter 11 and Adobe Photoshop via Cintiq.
Click to enlarge the image.
Here is a link to an earlier sketch of this composition done in ink. I deleted the stained glass windows behind the Beatles, but kept the floral archway. You can see it's a bit more complicated, but I like the results of the colored version much more.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Perennial Project -Shrunken Heads

zdepski's illustration of shrunken head number 3

Shrunken Head Number 3 illustration
Merger illustration of previous head illustration from NYC and my newly sculpted head number 3.

zdepski's sculpture of shrunken head number 3

Shrunken Head Number 3 raw sculpture
sculpted from Super Sculpy, roughly 3x3x3 inches

Click to enlarge the illustration - sculpture is same size as blog display