a few recent pages from my sketchbook. I was hoping to either put a little gouache on top of these or paint them in photoshop, but the holidays are here and I think I might be too busy to go any further. I know from experience that I will most likely lose interest in about a day from now, so I will just call these done and move on to the next few entries!


At the Epicenter Lies a Turkey

and some sugar pumpkins, with a glare on the right side. one of these days I'll learn how to photograph oil paintings.

I'll admit this painting is odd. The pumpkins are sitting on a festive thanksgiving dish cloth. I was interested in painting printed cloth with objects on top. I struggled to find a balance between the pumpkins and the color of the printed turkey on the dish cloth. I think after seeing the final result, I might have toned down that turkey much more. gooble gooble.

and here is a work in progress photo of my living room, the epicenter of my life (after work):


I found this little watercolor portrait I did about ten years ago. The memories rushed back when I looked at it. I was still at the American Academy of Art, in Chicago, enjoying my watercolor class, and just about to start working at Calabash Animation as a background artist. It was a time filled with anxiety about my future...someone should have told me that life as an artist would always be that way!


New Zen: Sculpting

Over the past few years, a friend's sculptures have really inspired me to try sculpting for myself. So when a spot opened up recently in his sculpting group, I jumped! Honestly, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I am completely new to sculpting. So far I've found it to be challenging, but in a different way than I expected, which might be obvious to others, but came as a revelation to me. In painting, I have trained my mind to see the world in flat planes so I can then paint those onto a two dimensional surface. A lot of painting involves seeing shapes, values, and hue very, very literally. It seems that in sculpting, having a knowledge of anatomy and physics is pretty much required in order to create a proportional, accurate and yet graceful interpretation of the three dimensional form.

Overall, I think the study of each craft can definitely strengthen the other. I will always be a painter in my heart, but I also love sculpting - at least so far! :)

With all of that said, here is my first sculpture! This is as much as I was able to accomplish in six sessions. Funny, too - the models' name is Mabel, which is also the name of my grandmother Koop. It's not a name you hear very much anymore.


a day at the park with my friends, painting. this sketch was about an hour and half.

i'm working on a still life painting at home in my livingroom/studio. hopefully by the end of next weekend i'll be finished.


Arise, fair sun and kill the envious moon.

This started out as a sketch of a pilgrim woman and morphed into something else. Most of the time I start out with one idea and then let my mind go, drawing whatever happens to work with the shadow pattern. When I was finished sketching, I noticed the portrait looks backlit. It reminded of these lines in Romeo and Juliet:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,


Oh, Those Puritans

Last week I illustrated several Puritan costumes for the Thanksgiving release of Pogo "Mini's" avatars on the website I work for, Pogo.com (a division of EA). So, like always, I dove into research. It is widely held that the Puritan clothing of the 17th century was nondescript, but I find it anything but. Would the clothing of Roger Conant, depicted in the statue below, be more powerful if it were something else? I seriously doubt it.

Can you imagine meeting this guy on a dark Salem street?

(from wikipedia)
Roger Conant (c. 1592 – 1679) was the leader of the company of fishermen who founded Salem, Massachusetts (then called Naumkeag) in 1626. He was later supplanted by the governor sent by the Massachusetts Bay Company, John Endicott. He nevertheless remained in high standing with the community, giving long service as a juror and member of the Board of Selectmen, with duties including the establishment of boundaries for new communities.


i did another variation on the hair theme last night. i was surprised that using green on the face seems to work, oddly enough. so today when i went out with my friend Elaine to get a manicure i thought i'd try green on my nails. green is the new transparent oxide red! :)


Here are a couple of small plein aire studies from recent weeks. I wish I had more, but I'm working a lot. It seems I only have time to sneak in personal work a few times a week, which is very distressing:

More sketchbook stuff

I love working on this collaborative sketchbook project with my friend Cheryln. My train of thought always takes me to unexpected places. The blue mushroom drawing led me to the bavarian hair portrait after I saw a photo of a "coral head" in my friend Rhode's incredible studio:



sketchbook experiments

(left side: gouache on buff colored gesso. right side: paper, glue and glitter and a little gouache)

i am working on a sketchbook collaborative project with my friend Cheryln. She does four pages, then I do four, each sending the book back and forth. Here are two pages of the four I contributed a few weeks ago. I am finishing up the remaining two pages tonight.


20 minute life sketches

The Bay Area Models Guild holds a marathon drawing session every quarter. I prefer the 20 minute sketch area. I like to block in the shadows and then draw lines on top to show the form. Overall, it's a great exercise in proportion and tonal study.



i had a dream about cicadas: one cicada attached to the back of each hand. they were either putting something into my veins or taking something out, I'm not sure which. it doesn't matter; the cicadas were not easily removable, only a registered nurse could perform the task. in the dream, the cicada removal was very similar to the procedure of intravenous line removal and re-insertion at the hospital where I stayed, most unexpectedly, for about a month.


hatsu semi no uki wo min min miin kana

first cicada
“Look at the floating world!
Look! Loo-ook!”

(Issa, 1812)


In the Chinese classic Journey to the West, the protagonist Priest of Tang was named the Golden Cicada, in this context the multiple shedding of shell of the cicada symbolizes the many stages of transformations required of a person before all illusions have been broken and one reaches enlightenment.


Weedy Sea Dragons

I love these creatures. They live in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

My friend Adelle Caunce sculpted one a few years ago, which can be seen here:



Coral Reef City

Cities are a lot like coral reefs; it's inhabitants, humanoid, insect, mammal, botanical, layer upon layer weaving in and out, all that interconnected life affecting the city and it's structure organically, growing and evolving constantly. This idea occurred to me while watching the documentary "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill", which is about a band of wild parrots in San Francisco and the man who used to take care of them.

The movie documents how the bird community was forcefully disbanded and their caretaker displaced because the owner of the property wanted to make his already large mansion even larger. When I began these sketches, I envisioned floating metropolises made from heaps of garbage, but in thinking about how cities are shaped by our own human forces, be they good or bad, I decided to emulate a coral reef.

As I was sketching, I was reminded of this passage from William Gibson's book, Irodu:

Laney looked at the tweaked Hillman on his screen. "You haven't told me what I'm looking for."

"Anything that might be of interest to Slitscan. Which is to say, Laney, anything that might be of interest to Slitscan's audience. Which is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections."

-William Gibson, from the book Idoru



Some cat sketches

sketching on a plane this weekend:

The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

- Walt Whitman


Cat Sketches/Cats Playing

"There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats."
- Albert Schweitzer


I Remember...


::: i remember, ashes and snow :::


"The fate of all birds is to fall, but the phoenix is the only bird that transcends her own death . . . The fate of man is to fall, but some find a way to transcend their deaths. In this brief moment on earth, they succeeded in singing their song. The list of human birds of phoenix is long . . . There are millions of men and women who are also birds of phoenix, whose stories are unknown . . . but whether they are known or unknown, man or elephant, all phoenixes share the same dance:

Feather to Fire
Fire to Blood
Blood to Bone
Bone to Marrow
Marrow to Ashes
Ashes to Snow."



Laura Robb

Sorry I haven't posted more Leyendecker photos. I will resume soon. But before that, I need to post a link to one of my favorite artists, Laura Robb. I love her work:



More Leyendecker images

Here are some paintings from the Leyendecker show at the Haggis Museum in Stockton, last year. I will post more in the coming weeks...

You might notice is that these photos come across a bit yellow. No need for color correction here, however. Leyendecker painted all of the kids in this series a little towards the yellow warm tones, as opposed to pinkish hues. I wonder if it had something to do with compensating for the printing process of the time.