Monday, December 3, 2012

Boxing Roosters

zdepski's illustration of a rooster with boxing gloves

Fighting Rooster with Boxing Gloves

Bringing Cock Fighting into the new millennium with Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Gloves and no pecking below the belt.

Pencil drawing from my sketchbook, ported into Photoshop for color.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Franz Joseph the 1st

Fröliche Weinachten from Franz Joseph the 1st - by Paul Zdepski

And now,... Season's Greetings from a White Whiskered Fatty with a Funny Red Hat

This year's Holiday card, Featuring Emperor Franz Joseph the 1st of Austria-Hungary (1830-1916)

Check your mailbox!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Up A Tree

zdepski's illustration of the Groundsquirrel up a tree

Ground Squirrel up a Tree

My squirrel buddy in never more than a few feet from the ground, even though that ground may be vertical and 2000 feet off the forest floor.

Pencil drawing, colored in Adobe Photoshop on my Cintiq

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Water from the Well

Zdepski's illustration of Tante Lydia showing sister Jean how to get water from the well.

Tante Lydia taught my sister how to drop a bucket into the well while avoiding the scum on the water's surface. Lydia also said a live trout would keep the well water clean.

My great aunts used well water to drink and bathe. They would have to go to the hand-dug well and drop a bucket down and hoist it back up with a block and tackle pulley. My sister Jean was one of many nieces and nephews to get the lesson on keeping the floating scum and bug carcasses out of the drinking water... a weighted bucket would crash through the surface and a quick retrieval would cause the surface water to overflow the bucket, draining off the scum as you wheeled it back up the shaft.

This is a lost art in our modern sink and tap water lives, but hey... good knowledge if you plan on building a homestead in the back country.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


zdepski's drawing of a girl on the train reading a paperback

Girl on the Train Reading a Paperback Novel - 1998
Girl on the Train Reading a Book - 1997
Man Sleeping on the Train - 1997
Blind Guy on the Train - 1998
Woman with High Hair Sleeping on the Train - 1997
Woman with High-neck Collar on the Train - 1997
Drawing on the train is advantageous to the artist. I lived at the end of the R7 line out of Philadelphia, and used the long commute in and out of the city to draw my fellow travelers. The issues that arise when drawing on the train are great at honing your speed and accuracy.
  1. You must be bold. Do away with shyness and draw your neighbor. I always chose the bulkhead seat that faced the crowd. I would stare at the commuters like a mental patient... tough luck, I'm working here!
  2. Develop speed. You don't know when the subject is getting off the train. Will it be the next stop? Do you have them until the end? You never know.
  3. Accuracy under adverse conditions. The train rocks and jostles, while fellow passengers push your elbow. You have to develop a quick and light style to knock in the important regions, using repeated strokes rather than weighty lines to describe contour changes.
  4. Develop an attitude of Work rather than Art. Train subjects are fleeting. You're presented with people that change position, talk, sleep, shift seats, etc. You have to change your compositions to allow for the flux that happens when drawing dynamic subjects. You can't be roped into a grand "compositional" frame of mind. You must be flexible and satisfied with your end results. THEN just turn the page... NEXT!
  5. Record the actions, date and conditions - similar to a photographer or court reporter. It will help you understand postures people use when doing a certain action. I realized the eyes exhibit a noticeable "cross convergence" when a person is reading a book or at the laptop screen. I only realized this subtlety when observing many people reading on the train.
Don't pass this opportunity up. Break out your sketchbook during the next train ride you're on. People generally stay put and the models don't need to get paid.

Friday, September 21, 2012


zdepski's illustration of Marta telling Lydia to Stand Up Straight

Marta Pestered Lydia to "Stand Up Straight!"

My old Tante Lydia was forced to try to stand straight for her older and bossier sister, Marta. Marta didn't understand what Osteoporosis was, and felt it was her German duty to pester her crooked lazy sister in to ram-rod compliance. it didn't work.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Elanory's Line of Bull

Zdepski's illustration of Elanory Stealing Tante Emma's Silver

Tante Emma's Tenant had a Junkie Son. She ripped off all of her silver. "Elanory" told Emma her dog was a pure bred and should be shown. Elanory stealing Tante Emma blind! Not a Golden Retriever. Jimmy the Hernia.

Elanory went as far as to say she would take Tante Emma's mutt to the Westminster Dog Show for her. Any line of bullshit that came out of Elanory's mouth, Tante Emma believed. She was a sad, lonely old lady...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Godly Pants

zdepski's illustration of sinful and godly pants

My Great Aunts, The Tantes believed there were Sinful and Godly versions of pants, depending on the orientation of the zipper. Pants... or "SLACKS" as they were referred to in those days, shouldn't zip up the pubic area of a lady...

Why? I don't know...

Perhaps because it reminded the young lady that she was in possession of an object of shame.

Pants that zipped in the rear or side were acceptable...

Why? I don't know...

My sisters and female cousins HATED going to visit them because of the scolding they would receive. They would try to un-tuck their shirts to cover the blue jeans' zipper... hoping for the best.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pope's Nose

zdepski's illustration of the Pope's Nose

The Pope's Nose

My great aunt, Tante Emma insisted on eating the tail of the bird, no matter the occasion. She always claimed the "Pope's Nose" as her special prize... even after eating half of the turkey on her own. Really...

Pencil and Digital - click the picture to enlarge.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Zdepski's illustration - Cow Plus Boy Equals Cowboy

Cow Plus Boy Equals Cowboy

Teaching in its basic form; pictures. I used to love the books my older siblings had back in the 1950s and 60s where a small illustration would be inline with the text of the story. Such as: "the "illustration of dog" ran after the "illustration of fire truck". They were classic mid-century illustration technique with a wonderful "Dick and Jane" primer sensibility.

This same love has brought about a couple of illustrations I did called "Mathematics". Here's one of them, which currently hangs in the downtown bricked walking mall in Winchester Virgina, directly outside of the Discovery Museum... A choice spot!

Zdepski's illustration - Cow Plus Boy Equals Cowboy on the Winchester Va Walking Mall

I love the cow, in particular.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Town Council

zdepski's sketch of a local town council meeting

Town Council

I attended my local town council meeting on Tuesday to speak in favor of a proposed "Arts and Tourism" district. Like many small towns, we see much of our old downtown businesses struggling to survive, and new businesses unwilling to risk their lot in a ghost town. The proposed ordinance would aid start-ups with their water bill, and garbage, but not a huge incentive. ANYTHING to encourage an entrepreneur to take a chance on Main Street would be more than they're currently doing.

This sketch was done while listening to discussions about a smoking ban, street revitalization and the new district.

I don't know all of the council members, so I won't mislabel them here. The beards were well represented, from Full to Amish. My new attempt at handlebar mustache and devil beard rounded out the facial hair spectrum.

pencil in my strathmore sketchbook - tinted in photoshop. click to enlarge.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blue Fish

Blue Fish watercolor by Paul Zdepski

Blue Fish

This is a watercolor study I did last month while in Ocean City, NJ. The idea was to get back into painting with wet media, which is my 12 pan Lucas watercolor travel set in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. The experiment is very graphic, if not unrealistic, but the focus was on the media and its manipulation. I tried wet on wet, dry brush into wet, wet into damp fields, and high saturation color into washes. I spent a few hours just pecking at the painting with a tiny 00 gauge brush. Lots of time, but lots of fun. I like the results, and hope to explore this same theme with other subjects.

click to enlarge the image.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sea Life

zdepski's watercolor illustration of a Puffer fish.

Puffer - The ultimate indignity - Googlie-Eyes and a wicker hat.

I've heard of folks hitting these poor fish like a ball with a stick. They only bounce once... poor bastards.

zdepski's watercolor illustration of a mermaid

Mermaid - My take on a mermaid.

Both pieces are Lukas watercolor in my Moleskine sketchbook. Click to enlarge the images.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Darren Auck - Scaricatures!

Darren Auck Scaricatures 2

HEY ZOMBIES! My pal, Darren Auck is starting a new venture called "Scaricatures™". It's a great idea, and think you could use some creepiness applied to your next portrait, too! Darren is the guy to do it. He's been an artist for Marvel and DC Comics on such titles as the Avengers, Conan, and my favorite: Ren & Stimpy

Each portrait is hand drawn, 8x10 and color as low as $25 US... that's right, less than a photo portrait from your High School!

Contact Darren at (908) 894-9724 for a short chat and scheduling. He's ready to turn your best girl in to your Best Ghoul!

Darren Auck Scaricatures 2

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mr. Local

Zdepski's Illustration of Mr. Local, from Ocean City, NJ

Mr. Local asks...

"What are you drinking?"
"Is it a bitter beer?"
"The beer around here is bitter."
"Should I wear a sweater tonight?"
"Will it be windy?"
"That rain came up fast."
"I'm going to the point."
"Will it be sunny?"
"What's that?"
"I live at the senior center."

He stopped by to talk to us every day at the beach. I think he's lonely.

Watercolor in my Moleskine sketchbook.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ocean City, NJ - Panorama

Zdepski's Illustration, I hate vacation - Ocean City, NJ

I Hate Vacation

Watercolor in my Moleskine sketchbook - 7th Street, Ocean City, NJ. I can't stand the driving, schlepping bags, foraging for food and not having "my stuff" around me.

Zdepski's Illustration, New Jersey Girls - Ocean City, NJ

New Jersey Girls - Nancy, Emma, Winny, Julie, Eve, Roxanne, Silvia, Evalyn and Yvonne

Watercolor in my Moleskine Sketchbook. Each woman's name is a letter in the state name.

Click to enlarge the images.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby on Board

baby on board - bride of frankenstein in rollerskates

The Bride of Frankenstein - Roller Derby Queen with Baby on Board

Pencil drawing ported into Photoshop

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat - Illustration by Paul Zdepski

All You Can Eat

Fatty needs a handicapped parking space, a motorized chair and double wide bench seat,
but... NO Shirt, NO Shoes, No Service!

Monday, July 16, 2012


YAR... Captain Grinz illustration by Paul Zdepski

"Captain Grinz - Yar..."

pencil and cintiq in photoshop.
keepin' it nautical.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ernest Borgnine - Shipping out

Zdepski's sketch of Ernest Borgnine as Mermaid Man
Portrait of Ernest Borgnine from Wikipedia Bio Page
Spongebob Squarepants Character, Mermaid Man

So sorry to hear of Ernest's passing. My uncle the sailor always said, "When the good Lord calls, you better have your sea-bags packed.", which I think suits Mr. Borgnine's life and career. He always seemed to be involved with the ocean in one way or another, from McHale's Navy, the Poseidon Adventure or Sponge Bob Squarepants. Thanks for they years of entertainment, Marty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Party Kiss

zdepski's illustration, party kiss

Party Hugs & Kisses mean very little to me. Some people will kiss you without knowing you.

They make my skin crawl.


zdepski's pencil drawing of insects Pencil sketches of insects

Weekend sketches of insects in the tree leaves. I was fascinated to study the flight characteristics of the fireflies. I've never really noticed how the fly with their butts down and bodies straight up and down. Very interesting!

Friday, June 22, 2012

IF: Space

Vulture Squadron by Paul Zdepski

Vulture Squadron

High in the stratosphere near the edge of space, the Vulture Squadron streaks in to quell the uprising; Dick Dastardly at the helm, Muttley as his wingman.

Cintiq sci-fi experiment. Click to view at a larger size.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Drunk Daddy

zdepski's illustration, Drunk Daddy

Drunk Daddy at the mercy of other's schedules and radio stations.

With my daughter at home, and her inability to drive a stick shift, my wife and I have resorted to carpooling to work. I'm a typical male, and hate to ride in the passenger seat. That's mainly due to seeing plenty of alcoholic's being driven around by their wives - they've lost their licenses, or are too drunk to drive.

I started thinking about a character I'm calling "Drunk Daddy" - who has to be driven everywhere, and at the mercy of other's schedules. Here he is... pissed drunk and listening to his wife sing along with "The Captain and Tennille" singing Muskrat Love.

Poor Drunk Daddy... Why won't he sober up and buy some headphones?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Secret Mail

zdepski's illustration of the Tantes mailing secret letters. Our Tantes would ask Mom to mail letters without return addresses from far away towns, and too much postage. Mom didn't like doing it.

My Tantes had a paranoid streak running through their understanding of the world. They thought the government was spying on them, seeding the clouds with fluoride and monitoring their correspondence.

They probably were being watched... Uni-Bomber-style.

click on the picture to double the size of the paranoia.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Judge and Jury

Jacob Looney, winner of best in show - photo by Tanvi Rastogi
Jacob Looney, winner of best in show - photo by Tanvi Rastogi

I judged an art show in my home state of New Jersey this past weekend. It proved to be a stressful, but fully enjoyable experience. The current organizers of my county Library Outdoor Art Show decided to revive the event from it's 26 year hiatus. Back in 1986, I was a struggling artist in the beginning of a career with no real game plan. I was sending résumés, entering shows, approaching galleries and waiting for the phone to ring. The CLOAS was an opportunity to show my work and make a dollar or two in sales… I didn't sell anything.

At the end of the 1986 show, the organizers and judges were announcing the prize winners in painting, printmaking and drawing; handing them a check and a colored ribbon to remember the event. I watched the last ribbon go to a smiling guy with a straw gardener's hat and I planned to pack up my work and head home.

The judge then announced, "And finally, the last prize goes to Best in Show, which doesn't have any prize money attached, but your name will be engraved into the trophy that is housed in the library display case. The winner is Paul Zdepski for 'Ex-Thriftshop and Cat'."

I was floored - I never had that kind of recognition, and for the first time, I felt that what I was doing had validity. No money, but peace of mind can't be bought.

Jump forward to early Spring, 2012 when an email pops into my inbox stating the show was going to resume, and since my name was last on the trophy, they'd like to have me judge the show.


This year's show had 60 artists with eight feet of space to hang the work of 10 year-olds in the student class, amateur and professionals competing in three categories. Artists were judged in "Oil and Acrylic", "Watercolor and Pastel", and "Printmaking Graphics and Drawing". I had three hours to study the work and award nine blue ribbons, eighteen honorable mentions, plus this year's Best in Show.

The show officially started at 11:00 am and judging ended at 2:00pm. At 11:01 I decided to do a walk through of the show without my clipboard or hang tag - just to get a feel for the work. The artists were very enthusiastic about the show, and were chatting with me about their work. I had to feign ignorance to keep my cover, but had some nice chats about what they do. I finished my loop of the show and headed back to the organizers pavilion for the clipboard and judges hang-tag.

So it began.

The students were first - With the three categories to judge, I was pleased to be able to award ribbons to most of the participants. Even the 10 year-old received a ribbon for his drawing of Hugh Laurie (really good!). I had a chance to talk with high school age kids and parents hoping to enter art school.

First Place - Watercolor, Student Category - photo by Tanvi Rastogi
First Place - Watercolor, Student Category - photo credit: Tanvi Rastogi

The amateur category proved to be as strong as the professional group. The work was varied and deep. I was struck by the skill exhibited by practitioners of realism hanging next to equally strong students of Sumi ink. I rounded one corner to see a display of watercolor paintings and an artist sketching on a plein air easel. I was drawn to a piece that wasn't numbered or entered into the show. I asked why, and the artist pointed to a weaker piece and said she thought that was the best one. I explained the difference between the two pieces - value, contrast, color depth and freshness. She reluctantly added a number to the piece in question. Forty minutes later, she nearly fell off her painting stool was she was handed a blue ribbon for the painting down on the bottom with a penciled in number.

The professionals were certainly that - pros in the field. Here we had student's in well recognized art schools competing with old guard artists from the local scene. The breadth was immense. I found a comic book artist from Marvel competing along side of easel painter worthy of a NY gallery. Again, the categories allowed me to award ribbons to each of them in their specific realm of expertise. The cartoonist, Darren Auck won an Honorable Mention for his "Walnutman" as a piece of 3-D illustration in Printmaking Graphics and Drawing.

Walnutman by Darren Auck Walnutman - Honorable Mention 'Printmaking Graphics and Drawing' by Darren Auck

The most awkward category to judge was the Graphics and Printmaking category for the professionals. I settled upon a study of a supine male figure in charcoal as the blue ribbon winner, but as I looked up I saw a painting by the same artist that was clearly the best in show.

Only one prize per person.

So - I was then back to finding a Blue ribbon for "Printmaking Graphics and Drawing" - I stalked back down the row to find a large study in conté pencil on toned paper of a dried sunflower and its stalk in contour and cross-contour. It was a strong study and worthy of the blue, in lieu of the reclining nude.

Back to the Organizers pavilion to pick-up the ribbons, checks and organizers to award the prizes.

It was quarter to 2, and I was right on time. The prizes were handed out as we walked through the show, from space to space;
"Honorable Mention for artist 29, piece number 5."
"Blue Ribbon, artists 53, piece number 6. Congratulations! Well deserved!"

On it went.

I rounded that same corner with the penciled in piece, with the artist falling off the stool when I hoped to award the blue ribbon to the Sunflower drawing… There was nothing there.

The artist had packed up and left - Poor self esteem had gotten the best of her. She felt the pros on either side of her were too good to compete with, and she packed her pieces and left. The organizers were firm - no piece, no prize. The rules stated the work needed to remain from start to finish. I felt sorry for her. She let that nagging little devil on her shoulder whisper in her ear about how awful her work was. I emailed her the next day and told her how wonderful her piece was, and I was sorry she missed the ribbon and I wanted her to know she earned it.

Her reply: "Lesson learned…"

The Best in Show winner was a Junior year student from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, by the name of Jacob Looney. He doesn't have a website, or email address on his card… or even a first name on it! Just the word "LOONEY" and a phone number. I hope he goes far, and certainly see he has the potential to soar. I plan on following his career, and suggest you keep an eye opened for his work.

The day ended with individual artists approaching me with requests for portfolio reviews. I tried to spend as much time on each person's work as possible while fielding hugs and handshakes from family and friends that came to visit the show. I had a very good time talking with a few young professionals that were just trying to break into the field. They posed tough questions and took my criticism gracefully.

Being the only judge was a tough job, but it was much more streamlined than judging a show with a troika of artists - which I've done a number of times in the past. One opinion only deals with the internal debate.

I judged the show on this rubric: Ignoring style, subject matter and experience; does the piece achieve a level of execution worthy of admiration, confidence in handling the medium and intrigue the viewer. The results were that pieces were chosen that were expressionistic, abstractions, realistic and surreal. There wasn't a set "ideal" represented - "GOOD WORK" was my mantra.

Thank you to the organizers to allow me to participate in this role. It's one I take very seriously and hope I executed fairly.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Day of Issue

First Day of issue illustration of the Tantes by Paul Zdepski

My Tantes sent weird letters to us addressed "Master..."

They were big on sending us First Day of Issue stamps from our local post office. The weird thing was how they formally addressed the letters. It was certainly from a bygone era.

Click to enlarge the collectables: Von Sputnik even gets his own stamp, along with the Sardines.


Hurry! - Taps panel by Paul Zdepski

HURRY! Panel from Page 3 of "Taps" by Rebecca Goldfield

Keith Clark was the bugler during the JFK funeral in 1963 - The whole day was a mess of confusion, that ended with Clark flubbing "Taps" as all the eyes and ears of the nation were tuned into the performance. The panel shown is from the early morning craziness that had Clark rushing from place to place without clear orders. This story is currently being published by Fulcrum Publishing as part of the "District Comics, An Unconventional History of Washington DC". Look for the September release, or contact Fulcrum Books.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yosemite Slav

Zdepski's Illustration of a raging Bolshevik, Yosemite Slav

Tante Marta thought I was a Bolshevik because I was wearing a Red Shirt.

A character I'm referring to as Yosemite Slav, a raging Bolshevik Revolutionary - Like an evil Anti-Santa Claus, foul-mouthed and reeking of vodka... like Santa Claus.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Faded Glory

Old man in a CT Diner, sketch by Paul Zdepski

Old Man in a Connecticut Diner

Faded husk of a different man waiting for Godot. He was a sack of bones in baggy machinist's clothes. Sip, sip sipping his Decaf.

I used some faded blue jeans as my pallet choice. It's a 2B Graphite drawing from my last trip to my MFA sessions in Connecticut... up the river from Avon.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roof Patch

Tante Marta on the Roof patching it with Flattened Sardine Cans by Paul Zdepski

They used flattened sardine cans to patch the holes in their roof.

It was quite a sight to watch Marta on the roof, scuttling from one leaky hole to another under the watchful eye of Emma and Lydia on the ground. Marta was a self sufficient person, with a can-do attitude. Since the sisters ate canned sardines and oatmeal every day, they had accumulated barrels, and I mean 55 gallon OIL DRUMS of sardine cans. They use the materials on hand.

The Blue Jay watching the action is a homage to the only bird Marta ever killed. She said the Jay infuriated her as it chased all the other birds from the bird feeder in the winter. After she shot it with her 22cal., remorse set in. The Blue Jay was only behaving the way God had made it. If it's any consolation, my sister remembers seeing birds fly down and sit on Marta's hat and shoulders... so they knew she had the best intentions.

Click the picture to view at twice the size.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Player Piano

Zdepski's illustration of his Tantes player piano

The Tantes had a player piano... we never heard it play.

My great aunts were hoarders before the word was commonly used... We use "Pack Rats" to describe them. The only four legged item without crap piled on top was the dog. Even the Tub had newspapers and boxes piled inside.

Click the Pic to enlarge the Clutter!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ant Trap

zdepski's concept illustration - ant trap

Ant Trap - Creature Concept

Working up some Sci Fi art - I love doing it, but haven't pursued the market. It's just plain fun for me. These are ant-like creatures on another world. Like all good architects, I've placed a human in the picture for scale. Adobe Photoshop

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stand Straight

zdepski's illustration of Marta telling Lydia to Stand Up Straight

Marta Pestered Lydia to "Stand Up Straight!"

Lydia was much more frail than Marta could stand, and with their deeply held opinions about every subject, Lydia received a few comments about her posture.

I doubt the word "Osteoporosis" was even in their vernacular, since it isn't written in Leviticus or Isaiah.

The latest piece in the ongoing saga of Tantes Marta, Lydia and Emma. This piece is drawing in graphite, the cleaned up in Photoshop.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Tante Marta eating Corn on the Cob - Illustration by Paul Zdepski

Marta's industrial grade dental work ensured that corn was on the menu until the end.

Tante Marta had some crazy steel rimmed teeth that could gnaw through chicken bones and venison jerky. She wouldn't shy away from anything set before her at the dinner table.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dutch Boy

zdepski's illustration of his brother mixing paint by hand

Tante Lydia made James mix paint from Linseed oil and White Lead Bricks. Dad arrived 6 hours later with a Drill. James' hands were too blistered to use it.

The Tantes had ancient paint laying around their property that was part of their father's business in Irvington NJ in the early 1900s. By the 1970s, the lead bricks and linseed oil had crusted and turned to tar. We were at the mercy of the "adults", and forced to do chores for the old ladies... some chores were easier than others.

My brother James still cringes at this story. NO, he didn't have a pair of wooden shoes on, but it makes the picture.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moldy Oldie

Prune and Peach illustration by Paul Zdepski

Prune and Peach

oil on strathmore 4ply museum board, 1997

an oldie from the flatfile, as a commentary on old dudes marrying young hotties. Sugar Daddy plucking some Gold Digger from some perfectly miserable existence into another. I think of Woody Allen and Soon Yi, Tony Randall and Heather Harlan or most famously, J. Howard Marshall and Anna Nichole Smith.