Sunday, June 4, 2023

"Engineered Wood"

Now my artistic abilities roughly correspond at an inverse to my mechanical skill set. Meaning matters of manly activities are best left to professionals, or at least somebody with the right tool for the job. Okay, any tools would be good, seeing as how I have a hammer (somewhere) and a couple screwdrivers (maybe). Just remember: WWJD?... ie What Wood Jamie Draw?

This was also one of those particular panels in the paper that was printed so perfectly I love to peer closely at the patterns produced by the color separation. Also made for an awesome teaser shot when I posted a preview to entice folks into picking up the Sunday paper.

Saturday, June 3, 2023


Nope, no sketch, no doodle, just Athenian inspiration. There's nothing behind this strip, other than a simple fondness for horseradish. It's a love/hate relationship, as also with Buffalo chicken wings, I will wind up paying for it, usually the next morning in the outhouse. The good stuff is hard to find (fresh grated being the best) as most restaurants disappointingly serve more and more of the vile cream crap. Besides salt + pepper there ain't nothing else that should go on a quality cut. The cartoon did kick around for a few years until getting recolored, then incubated some more ("nobody's ever gonna find this funny"), then to hell with it ("so what - like that's ever stopped you before"). And I have been accused of having walrus breath, especially after seafood.
*Update: Turns out I had in fact already posted about the still as-of-yet unpublished black & white version here years ago. So I went ahead and bumped this over to a Saturday, so as to not deny regular readers the expected new material.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

"Moose Drawing"

Not for the first time did I discover that I had already drawn the dang panel - fortunately the second version was an improvement. But I repeat myself.

Inspiration struck while upon a field trip to the local state office with a class in search of dead hairy animals (and scaly fish + feathered friends) to draw. 

It's probably been longer still since the last time I made a guest appearance in my own cartoon. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

"Arctic Paleontology"

Lotsa inspiration about this topic up in our neck of the woods. Er, tundra. But boy did I ever botch this one up. It was one of those slow-moving disasters that I watched spill out the other end of the pen, right onto the paper in front me. One can plainly see just how much the drawing was messed up from a snapshot of the original inkwork.  

Not the first time I salvaged a composition with the miracle of Photoshop. Probably set the record as far as digital resurrection - almost to the point that I sometimes wonder whether it's worth it to just go full digital and get an iPad or whatever.

Ticking the proverbial ivories

Sunday, May 14, 2023

"Bobbleheads vs Frost-Heaves"

Any cursory exploration outside the city limits, in particular traversing the length of Goldstream Valley, will quickly provide all the necessary backstory to this cartoon. Sure, one of those you-gotta-be-from-here-to-get-it ones. 

Before being alerted by an editor, it honestly hadn't even occurred to me that some might take offense, and the Venn diagram of the demographics between internet savvy memers - and/or fans of Kevin Smith - as compared to the average newspaper reader would illustrate, well, no worries on anyone even getting it to begin with. See you in Hell I suppose.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

"Birdwatching" (aka "Ducks Down at the Lake")

Alas at times the omnipresent sketchbook is nowhere to be found and one is forced to resort to unorthodox solutions and use the resources at hand. More specifically in this instance is a box from East Ramp Wood-Fired Pizza serving as a repository of inspiration. The magic moment happened while watching waterfowl at one of our favorite birding spots as well as a hotspot in our creative community (and the annual Wild Arts Walk/Quick Draw: see 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017... and keep an eye out for an upcoming post about the as-yet unuploaded recap about the 2023 event). A fellow artist (Dee Carpenter Originals) was also on the platform, along with a whole flock of professional & amateur photographers.

When it came time to work up the initial doodle my sketch revealed a common weakness: hands. So I called upon a custodian in the art department to double as an impromptu model. Which in turn made it painfully apparent it was an area of special attention and hence painstakingly overworked.  

This particular panel was also one of the better demos done in front of a class as they got to see the entire process from start to finish, conception to completion, doodle to the printed page. And unlike many other professionals and professors I don't have the slightest problem showcasing my mistakes, as they are part of what makes the work unique. Indeed that is a defining attribute of life - the mistakes make it mine as much as the relative successes.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

"AK Aliens"

Heard through the grapevine that a lot of folks (well, more than the usual number) didn't get this one. While that is mostly on account of overthinking - I always warn dear readers not to work too hard on some of these - this would be one reason why I upload 'em here on Ink & Snow, complete with director's cut annotations.

A second take reworked in the sketchbook

Basically it documents the fate of extraterrestrials who would make first contact on the Final Frontier. Residents understand the fatal flaw in interceding between a cow moose and its calf. That scenario is second only to the well-known warnings about momma bears.

Initial doodle on a scrap of paper

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Figure Demos

In line with recent supplemental posts as of late (pen & ink here and comics poetry here) I never have any of the originals as they are all rolled up and given to whoever is modeling, since they don't make nearly enough to do such a hard job. In a couple of these posted pics (the triptychs) there is a progression from quickest to most developed, value-wise. There's still significant residues of underlying pencil marks to show the initial attempts at dialing in the gesture. That expressive line-weight variation is the finesse I see lacking in the majority of digital drawings - with some notable exceptions (Peter Dunlap-Shohl and Fiona Staples), and it's been a growing concern and regular occurrence with students who want to work digitally in drawing classes. I had an epiphany recently to just limit all drawing students to analog in meatspace. There's something about the spatial experience and tactile aspect plus depth on the pictorial plane. The oft-repeated excuses "it's easier/faster/cheaper" is a profoundly ignorant thing to say to an art teacher by the way. That laziness is quite often reflected in the quality of their work. Similar lessons in focus is behind a peer in the department's exercise in limiting the number of exposures a student can take as opposed to the infinite number of digital snapshots available.

After cresting the 50-hour per week threshold it becomes a logistical impossibility to do my job as good as I should ie get everything done I have to do esp. paperwork, emails etc.), especially if you insist on adhering to the no-fly zone around the two days of the weekend reserved strictly for Significant Otter or my own work (including blogging/social media). Nevertheless the cliche that I am inspired by my student's work is at it's most evident when my tired ass still insists on getting up early as usual - more the cat's fault than my own personal morning habits - and making my own art. The most humbling of all is seeing folks so much more better than me, and/or accomplish more than I wish I could get to if I weren't so damn busy teaching. Also there's the humbling experience of seeing firsthand truly amazing art being made by someone who will in all likelihood never draw again after the class is over. Folks like athletes and science majors who the Beginning Drawing class is a three-credit requirement for the degree or as an elective. Paradoxically they are comparatively far less needy than an art major, and hockey players and volleyballers the like know the value and crucial importance of discipline & practice.

Some teachers don't do demos in front of everyone, maybe worried they'll undermine their authority by making some mistakes. Fortunately I have no shame, and think it's invaluable for them to see someone screw up. I often deliberately try to switch things up and experiment outside of my comfort zone ie using the normal tools of the trade. Even tricks like holding the pencil during doing 1-minute gestures in a different grip so as to effectively short-circuit the tendency to draw from the wrist + gripped tightly with fingers. It also enhances the extension of vision of pose to paper, working from the arms and shoulder, while standing on one's feet at an easel. Plus then grabbing a chunka charcoal and "see what happens" - the mantra I use more & more. Not caring anymore can be creatively liberating.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

"AK Formal"

Another installment in the manly grooming series (see "Haircut" and "Migrating Hair") which also points up the ridiculousness of dress codes around this neck of the woods. Many years ago while attending my first quarter in graduate school I had to attend critiques while wearing a suit and tie (they didn't catch on I was still weraing my hiking boots + wool socks safely hidden from view behind the table and podium.

Just try and ignore any Freudian slips that may have inadvertently made it past our editorial committee.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Dead Hairy Animals: Texture Demos

Join me below the fold for more snapshots of classroom demos during the intro to pen + ink portion of my Beginning Drawing classes. Lions and tigers and bears - oh my!

As always, I utilize a disruptive technique in situating classes in real-world scenarios with real time exercises (Practical Applications of Textures 101).

This means leading the little posse of potential artisans around to different venues, specifically in this case to the UAF Museum of the North, and also for early morning classes, down the road to Fish & Game.  

Typically I'll have time to bang out a four or five demos done in a students sketchbook while working elbow-to-elbow in front of the respective subjects. I try and use their tools and materials and thus for them to have something to take home and refer to as an example (besides handouts with examples). Some folks respond better to that instructional method - "watch me."

And there's usually a few more folks standing around directly behind me as I talk the process out. I get in trouble for any busking in front of tourists, so now I mostly troll for Instagram followers with a handy QR code to 907nuggets.

This "training" is in-between the ultimate purity of drawing from life (tricky with bears) and copying from reference photos. At this point I'm so trained that it's almost reflexive when out & about to whip out a pad + pencil and start sketching. It also fosters a deeper connection with the time & place, as in here & now.

The most meta of all is the point to have fun, and not take all this artsy-fartsy stuff so serious. Which is a sneaky way to get someone to spend hours and hours making lots and lots of little dots (ie stippling), or obsessive hatching, cross-hatching and scumbling techniques. And the time spent making marks = the better the pieces will look.