Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Bio Video from the Art Shutter Channel

 Look what came up in my YouTube feed: a nice introduction and overview of my work.

Thanks to the folks who put this together. There are a lot of artists out there deserving of attention, and I don't take for granted that someone's going to be spending time looking at my stuff!

James Gurney: Painting Worlds Beyond Reality

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Magic of Water

…and Leonardo said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Henry Webster Rice

Henry Rice (1853-1934) started out as a carriage painter like his father before becoming an artist. 

He studied under Ross Sterling Turner, specializing in genre art, landscapes, and marine views. 

His work included scenes from everyday life, such as markets, domestic settings, interiors, and street scenes.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Henningsen's Lamplighter

Erik Ludvig Henningsen (1855-1930) was a Danish painter and illustrator known for his Social Realist paintings depicting the poor and exposed groups in the 1880s and 1890s. Born in Copenhagen, he showed early artistic talent and was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1873, where he graduated in 1877. 
Erik Ludvig Henningsen (Danish,1855-1930) The Lamplighter

He was part of the group Bogstaveligheden, which aimed to create a better society through humanitarian ideals. Henningsen's artistic career was marked by his preoccupation with the rights and living conditions of the unemployed, women, workers, children, and the elderly.

Friday, November 24, 2023

The Leviathan


Sea Monster study, gouache, 9x12 inches

An experiment in biomechanics spirals out of control, and the leviathan slips out to sea.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Aaron Blaise Demos Procreate Dreams

In this new video on the Proko channel, Disney-trained animator Aaron Blaise demonstrates the new animation software called Procreate Dreams, which is released today.

Aaron began working on the animation of the giant ogre stepping over the building during our "Colossal Characters" event at Lightbox Expo. He drew a few key poses, each held for eight frames. In this video he adds intermediate drawings to smooth out the action, taking care to emphasize the weight and balance of the figure. 

Procreate Dreams has been receiving accolades for its convenience, versatility, and speed, and Aaron does a great job teaching how to use it. Proko says: "You'll see him use cool features in the app like onion skinning and a timeline to animate the ogre walking over a city. This demo is a practical look at how Procreate Dreams simplifies frame-by-frame animation, making it straightforward for anyone interested in animating.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

One Way to Simplify

The goal here is to simplify. 

I'm interested in the truck but not the setting. I ignore the fence in front of it. 

Extracting the truck and putting it against white lets me focus on the little reflectors, the graphics, and the wheels.


Friday, November 17, 2023

Classic Diner Still Life

Ketchup, sugar, cream, and napkin holder: a scene in the diner.

Heritage Auction Today

A little later today, Heritage Auctions will conduct a sale of American art that includes landscapes by Bierstadt and Homer Dodge Martin, and illustrations by the likes of J.C. Leyendecker (above) and Maxfield Parrish.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Creating a Sci-Fi Paperback Cover

How does a sci-fi manuscript become a cover? 

After reading the manuscript I produce lots and lots of thumbnail sketches.

Then I make more comprehensive sketches (not shown here), and sometimes some suggestions for typography in the form of tracing paper overlays.  

I have to arrange the tonal values of the top of the composition so that the type will read clearly. Then the art director puts it all together in the final printed proof, which the sales team takes around to bookseller accounts to get a buy-in before the book is even printed.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

'The Beautiful Is In Nature'

Streamside in the Catskills, oil, 9x16"

"The beautiful is in nature, and it is encountered under the most diverse forms of reality. Once it is found it belongs to art." —Gustave Courbet

Monday, November 13, 2023

Fortune-Telling Homunculus

To interact with this fortune-telling homunculus, ask it a yes/no question and press down on one of the hands.
Inside the body is a robust internal escapement mechanism, with a flywheel and catchment. The face spins freely for a while and snaps to a stop. If it stops on a smile, the answer is YES.....and if it flips over and stops on a frown, the answer is NO, kind of like the "Magic 8-Ball."

The second sketch imagines her as an old lady character named 'HANNAH,' a name that's not only palindromic, but invertible (almost).

She's up on a pedestal, and she's big enough so that museum-goers can interact with her. Her hands stick out of slots in the vitrine, while her face and figure are protected inside the vitrine.

Pressing down on one hand spins her face one way, and pressing down the other spins the face the other way. Every 10th spin or so, on average, her sidekick Protoceratops sidekick perks up and nods his head for a SUPER YES, or a doleful SUPER NO.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Will AI Eliminate 90% Of Animation Studio Jobs?

DreamWorks Animation co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg made himself unpopular in the animation industry when he predicted a few days ago that AI would make feature film production ten times more efficient and reduce the number of artists by 90%. 

He said: “In the good old days, when I made an animated movie, it took 500 artists five years to make a world-class animated movie,” he said. “I think it won’t take 10% of that. Literally, I don’t think it will take 10% of that three years from now.”

Katzenberg, creator of the failed video app Quibi, is wrong on this prediction for at least four reasons:

1. AI will lead to a proliferation of second-guessing. Since everyone in the organization, including bean-counters and paper pushers, can generate alternate takes at the press of a button, it will be hard for any creative organization to commit to any set of decisions without facing the inevitable chorus of "Why don't we try this instead?" This effect will slow production, not speed it up.

2. Innovations won't come from the top down, but rather from the bottom up. AI techniques will surely lead to artistic innovations, new production methods, and even new art forms. But the animation production pipelines are so well established in studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks that they can't easily adapt to radically new toolsets. The filmmakers to watch are the little breakaway upstarts, the tiny mammals currently running around the ankles of the dinosaurs.

3. In practice they don't take you all the way to the finish line. Even though AI methods seem to magically produce immediate, sexy-looking results that would take teams of people weeks or months to produce, they still require the same kind of human expertise and effort to get really first rate results that the public will accept.

4. The lawyers of the big studios won't let it happen. They're already so nervous about copyright infringement lawsuits that they're trying to stop the internal use of AI in the production pipeline.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

"Much May Be Learned"

William James Stillman - Study on Upper Saranac Lake - Museum of Fine Arts

“Much may be learned about drawing by reference to a good photograph, that even a man of quick natural perceptions would be slow to learn without such help,” a writer said in an 1865 issue of The New Path.

The quote is from JSTOR DAILY.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023


Pausing streamside so that the Triceratops can have a little drink. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Wilhelm Kuhnert, Wildlife Painter

Wilhelm Kuhnert (1865-1926) was a German painter and illustrator known for his depictions of wildlife, particularly African animals. Born in Oppeln, Germany, Kuhnert showed an early passion for art and nature. As a child, he spent considerable time exploring the countryside and observing animals, which would greatly influence his later artistic career.

Kuhnert's interest in wildlife led him to embark on several extensive journeys, including expeditions to East Africa and India. These trips allowed him to study animals in their natural habitats, making detailed sketches from direct observation and acquiring a deep understanding of animal behavior and anatomy.
Back in his studio, Kuhnert would use his field sketches and reference photographs to create large-scale oil paintings and illustrations. He paid meticulous attention to capturing the unique characteristics of each animal, emphasizing their physicality, texture, and natural environment.

He was well-versed in a broad range of mediums, including oil, pencil, charcoal, and chalk, and he could complete a large oil painting in just four days. Some of his paintings were on canvases eight feet or longer, and he had local craftsmen build immaculate frames for many of these paintings.

Kuhnert's artworks gained recognition and popularity, and he became known for his realistic portrayals of animals. His paintings often showcased the animals with a sense of dynamism and movement. Kuhnert's wildlife paintings were reproduced in natural history books, advertisements, school publications, and scientific texts, and his work shaped a popular understanding of the wildlife, landscape, and terrain of Africa and Asia. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Old Man Looking Up

Menzel's charcoal portraits began with the stump work. The face emerged from a cloud of softness. 

Adolph von Menzel (German, 1815-1905), Head of an old man, his eyes raised, 
1895. Black chalk and stumping, 13 x 7.8 cm.

Then on the rough paper he dragged the black chalk for the rough textures and lines. It's a messy, organic, compassionate way to draw that really gets your fingers dirty.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Painting a Colossal Super Mario

Here's a video that takes you into the detais of creating the colossal Super Mario character at Lightbox Expo. (Direct link to YouTube

Friday, November 3, 2023

Warrior Painters

Jimmy Cao is one of the Warrior Painters.

The Warrior Painters are an artist community based in Los Angeles that are passionate about plein-air painting and entertainment art. They organize in-person paint sessions in LA and San Francisco. The community has members such as Kayleigh Ma, and Henry Chau. 

Several of them, including Angela Sung (above), Michelle Lin, and Jacki Li joined into the Colossal Characters event at Lightbox Expo.

Warrior Painters host weekly painting events within the greater LA area to showcase the natural and architectural diversity that the city has to offer. They offer classes for those interested in learning more about plein-air painting. They also have merch and a podcast.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Birdman's Assistant

Birdman, like any evil mastermind, needs an assistant. The little guy's pale eyes are wide open, and his long, bony fingers timidly hold the magic lantern.

I planned this character first in red Nupastel and charcoal on a separate piece of tracing paper. 

I then sealed the drawing with workable fixatif and transferred it down to the primed board, using transfer paper that I made with graphite on another piece of tracing paper.

The charcoal step allows me to solve a lot of problems early on when things are easy to change. It's the storytelling stage of picture-making.