At C2E2 in Chicago!

I’ve been busy lately wrapping up a children’s book illustration project, but I’ve found some time to come to Chicago for one of the biggest comics conventions in the Midwest! It kicks off tomorrow, but I arrived a day early to visit a couple places that are non-comics related before I lock myself inside the convention center for the weekend.

I visited the Field Museum which had some amazing taxidermy:

image

image

image

And some cool dinosaurs:

image

image

image

And a lot more cool stuff:

image

image

We also visited Navy Pier, but it was under construction and the weather is cold, so it was a bit of a disappointment.  The city itself is always great though:

image

image

image

image

image

We got here early today and had to wait for a room to open up so I got to sketch around the lobby for a couple hours:

image

image

image

image

I can’t wait for the convention!

Pictures by Jeff Bridges

This is probably the most unique book I own. It’s kind of a strange book since it’s a collection of work from a celebrity and not many celebrities moonlight as artists, and rarely are they good. Pictures by Jeff Bridges is a portfolio of some of the actor’s photos that he takes on set of his movies using a panoramic Wide-Lux camera. Bridges states he started these photos as a way to make mementos for the cast and crew when wrapping a film. He’s been taking these photos since his 1984 movie Starman and has been taking photos ever since. Quite a few of his photos, especially his more recent ones, can be found on his website at    jeffbridges.com. Which is good because this book ain’t cheap:

Image

Whoa

This book’s retail price (as listed on the cover) is $45, but since it is out of print, this book has become a collector’s item of sorts. Luckily, I got mine through Goodwill for roughly $40. Even though it is a used copy, it’s in good condition and the book holds up well.

Image

With cover sleeve…

Image

…and without. Not much difference.

The book opens with a  dedication to Bridges’ parents, a foreword by film-man Peter Bogdanovich, and a quick intro by Bridges’ himself, which briefly explains his interest in photography. From there on, Bridges recounts the films he has worked on in chronological order, each film is given their own sort of chapter. Some of the notes are written in his handwriting and some are typed.

Image

Notes like this!

These notes are honest little tidbits about the photo or are just some of Bridges’ zen observations. It feels like nothing negative has happened between these pages. Even though the photos are seem very dark or dramatic, this is actually a very positive, nostalgic book.

Image

I mostly got this book for the “behind-the-scenes” photos, and it doesn’t disappoint. After all, that’s pretty much the subject of the whole book, but I didn’t expect the photos to be so tasteful. Perhaps I expected something like a DVD blooper reel: all fun and shenanigans, but it is surprising how well Bridges captures the rarely seen beauty that exists when making a film, not just the beauty of the film itself.

Image

Hello Michelle Pfieffer

That’s not to say nothing fun happens in these photos. Due to the special panoramic format Bridges shoots in, he makes a fun series called Tragedia/Comedia  where he photographs an actor’s sad and happy faces in one exposure:

Image

Cuba Gooding sad…..Cuba Gooding happy

And of course, it is always exciting to see more from the movies you like, and I think most people would take an interest to this book just for the Big Lebowski photos alone:

Image

I love how this scene exists as a photo

Image

#selfie

These photos are gorgeous and they are printed in a format large enough to let you soak them all in. After all, they are all in panoramic format, so there is a lot to see. The layout is appropriate too, no photos are just jammed in the pages because there is room (which you think “of course not, that would be ridiculous,” but I’ve seen books do that). The whole book wraps up with a nice little chronological appendix so you can back track through the book to see movie specific photos if you so desire. The layout is pretty nice:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a surprisingly beautiful book. I would of never suspected Jeff Bridges’ body of work to be this impressive. However, the book ends at photos taken in the early 2000s, so photos from some of his more recently popular movies, like Iron Man or True Grit are not included, which is a bit of a bummer because those pictures just sound like they would be amazing. Good news is that you can see photos from his current films and some from the book on his website jeffbridges.com including some of his other work, like his drawings. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in cinema and film, especially those interested in cinematography. I really enjoy this book and it is definitely one of the most unique in my collection.

Holy Moses

I feel bad.

I really do.

I haven’t written anything for a while and I’ve been putting it off because I’ve been busy or felt like I have nothing to say. Which probably isn’t fully true, but hey whatever. Anyways, I’ve been busy doing illustrations for a kids book lately, so yea I’ve been off the grid for a bit.

But I hope that changes! Quite a few changes have been happening lately, which led me to do a few things and one of them was simple enough: clean my room.

Not to difficult I suppose, but when cleaning, I realized how much stuff I’ve held on to for several years. Like books. Oh lord the books. I collected all of my books to put them on shelves and I realized that all of a sudden, I have a collection of sorts. A collection of art books.

Seriously, like 85% of the books I own are some sort of portfolio, art guide, or sketchbook. I found art books that I bought seven years ago that I amazingly still have and even a couple I haven’t even cracked open. How did I get so many?

books

I guess it is because I grew up to be the boring type of person who asks for books on every gift-giving occasion. This holiday season my list is basically my Goodreads list. Art books are usually more expensive so I ask for those on these special occasions or just use whatever gift cards I get to buy them. It is a collection that is slow-growing, but its not a bad thing. I think having a large visual library is great and I’m planning on keeping it up, I’m just surprised how far I’ve gotten.

Plus I kinda feel like sharing my collection. It is always good to know books before you buy them. And while cleaning I found one of my favorite books: Frank Frazetta’s Rough Work.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Chances are if you have any middling interest in fantasy illustration, you’re familiar with the legend that is Frank Frazetta. I love his work, but I’ve only seen his finished pieces and I’m a person who loves to see a process. This book features what the title states: his rough work. And I’ll tell you right now, his sketchbook puts everyone else’s to shame:

These are sketches?! What?!

These are sketches?! What?!

Even for sketches, these pencils are well done and thoughtful; loose and dynamic. And best of all, this book has great pictures of these sketches. They are all printed clearly on nice, solid, glossy paper. This book is a bit small, but that isn’t detrimental at all. The sketches are of great size and quality so you can really study his work. Even his famous female illustrations:

Nice inks!

Nice inks!

Best of all, this book features a good selection of his work and isn’t limited to just pencil. This is truly a mixed-media sketchbook.

A process page

A process page

Thank god this book is in color! If these pictures were solely black-and-white, it would’ve been highly disappointing. HIs colors remain as fresh as ever on these pages. The book also features a few process images that reveal how Frazetta takes an image from sketch to final print. I love seeing how an image is thought through, altered, and finally completed.

Rough Works also has some less professionally-focused work and are just really fun pages to look at:

Bunch o'doodles

Bunch o’doodles

These sketches are uninhibited and actually show *gasp* mistakes! It kinda makes me feel good that even the best make eraser marks. Also the inside cover has this photo of the artist:

Aw yea

Aw yea

Seriously, how can you resist this book? It’s just a bunch of fun and beauty behind a book cover. A strangely puffy book cover, but that isn’t a big deal.

If you want to see some of the best fantasy illustration stripped down to it’s basics, you need to pick up this book. It is pretty easy to find and makes a good addition to any collection.

 

Noah’s Art Camp

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been dedicating my free time to doing homework. Art homework. I’m not in school anymore and I have more homework than ever before! This is because I signed up for Noah’s Art Camp, a 12-week intensive art course that is guaranteed to improve your skills. And so far it is kicking my butt.

This course has a lot of homework that takes a lot of time to complete and so far, like many others, I am way behind. Each week, concept artist Noah Bradley uploads a two-hour demo/instructional video based on that week’s theme. Week one was Master Studies, where we had to reproduce old master paintings to the best of our ability. That week we also had to make composition and color studies of other artworks to see how each element is used. Now I signed up for this Camp about 10 days late, so I’m not even halfway done with this homework, but it is a start.

Week two was all about Sketching From the Imagination. This is where I hopped on, so I tried to work on week one and two work back and forth. This assignment required another master study (I’m working on them!), color studies (also in progress!), and sketches from imagination with, preferably, no references. I can be a really slow worker when it comes to digital. That’s the biggest reason I took this course was to better understand digital painting through demonstration, practice, and critique. But I got some work done, like her:

I'll probably add her to my portfolio once I clean her up a bit (it is a sketch after all).
I’ll probably add her to my portfolio once I clean her up a bit (it is a sketch after all).

Week three focused on Still Life. I have never done a still life digitally before and it frustrated me pretty badly, but I just kept working on it and I’m really starting to like it. I’m nowhere near done with the homework. I sort of put it on hold so I could work on week four stuff. Week three needed still life color studies, more imagination sketches, and 8 fully done still lifes. I ve got this:

A quick pastel piece of a glass ornament.
A quick pastel piece of a glass ornament.

Not done yet, but is very promising!

It is really difficult to do a still life for a long period of time. I’d rather do….

Self-Portraits! This is the current week’s theme and I love drawing people, even though now I must constantly draw myself. I haven’t had much time (as usual) to work on these because of work, but I’m really liking my progress. This week we were assigned to do imaginative sketches (preferably character designs), 4 fully worked selfies, 20 quick block ins, and 10 color studies from the masters. First day I did this:

selfpractice

And yesterday I made this:

self1

This is probably the best self-portrait I’ve ever done. Hands down. I love it. And I can’t wait to do more, but this one took 4 hours and a lot of patience. But I gotta say, I’m loving this course and I see a great difference already. I’ve also been getting some great feedback from the Facebook group for the Camp and I love seeing other people’s takes on the assignments. Hopefully I’ll have more to show soon.