Friday, December 28, 2012

Cover for SAM

I'm still writing a novel. It may have gone on hiatus for a while, but I think that helped it, overall.

When I first started writing it, the story had a real identity crisis: was this a funny story, or a serious one with some humorous situations? It certainly started as something that was no where near serious. Once I made the decision to write a drama, all the pieces fell together.

Whether you like it or not is another thing, but I believe it is more successful now, and I'm ready to start throwing it at a larger group of people. If you want to read the first chapter, follow this link. I won't make any promises, but I'd like to update chapter by chapter with little illustrations like this one on a somewhat regular basis. Enjoy!
I love the look of screen prints. Also, I may have been looking at Tomer Hanuka just a little too often lately. Regardless, Here's a quick paint-up plus type:
Do you ever get that itch? The one that tells you that you've seen an image before, even though you just painted it? That's where I'm at now. I can't shake the idea that I just aped someone's style really hard, but I can't find the culprit. Something about the type and the chroma and the flat image keeps the voice in my head screaming plagarism. I hate that. Well, if I did, it was entirely unintentional, and if I didn't, I wish my brain would just shut up.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Future

Over the course of this next month I will have many exciting things to share about my art career. It has to do with impressing those I work with, and climbing another rung on this big rickety ladder called success.

Beyond that, I can say with certainty that six months from now, my life will be vastly different. I may still be poor, but I will be in a whole different part of the country, I will have at least one more fine art show under my belt, and I will have more than four more published pieces. Expect lengthy and hopefully humorous write-ups of it all.

For the first time since college, four years ago, and for the first time in my life, the future is both bright and starkly different. My adult life is beginning! See you soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I made some changes to what will eventually be my mailer. They are both big and small, but hopefully all subtle. Now back to the grind. I have a lot to do in very little time, and I am feeling sickness coming on...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Running in the shadows

ALRIGHT! Finally, I get to show these little biddies. I'm working for Catalyst games on an RPG called Shadowrun. This is a futuristic world where dragons, elves, and all other fantasy creatures have been 'awakened' in our world. So you get all the fun, dark, mean future noir stuff alongside the elves and fairies. Think Johnny Mnemonic meets The Lord of the Rings. Okay, just kidding. Think Blade Runner versus Lord of the Rings.

These two sentences are a good example of my work on this project: Do it once, pretend I was joking, and then do it again. See, I'm not a big RPG player. I love film noir and science fiction, but I've never thrown a nine-sided die. So I'm doing double duty here, covering the ground I need to understand the universe it is set in, and then bring the artwork to life. It is something that even now I am struggling with, but it is fun for me, learning all these new things, even though my AD might be pulling his hair out.... :(

For example, I produced this thumbnail for a project about an assassin who is interrupted during an (what else?) assassination.

Easy, right? Except in this world, trolls are freakin' nine feet tall, the assassin looks wimpy and burnt out, and no security team would allow such a ridiculous breach that they would be inside the freaking building fighting each other. It is the future, remember David. So I got spanked and told to do it again.
Ah, now this one gets it. Yeah, I'm showing the assassin's back, but all the other elements are in order: noir city, political rally at sniper rifle range, and big ass troll. I'm sure the AD just looked to the heavens and prayed that I would be more of a nerd (in a good way).

But I had one better for him, this time, because I gave him this:

The file I uploaded is kinda small, but it's big enough that you get the picture. I'm pretty proud of this piece, and I think he finally sighed in relief.

Same goes for my other illustration. Here I was supposed to illustrate the beleaguered residents of a poor district. I mean sleeping in the streets poor. They had just been rounded up to vote by a runner, and he was showing them off to the election official. Think back to the beginning of this month, except with more dirt, a few elves, and less sour grapes with the result. I gave him this.
This has all the hardship and darkness of a Saturday morning cartoon. This is what Blade Runner would be if they just played Benny Hill the entire movie. I got spanked again, and told what we were really after. So I did this.
Much better, came the reply. A few changes were made, and I set about the final.

Look at that sexy leather jacket. I should put leather into, like, every painting. Just because it looks so cool.

So there you have it. These pieces are published! You can buy and download the book and play Shadowrun to your heart's content. Are you excited? I know I am.

These were a blast to do, and I hope you like them. At the end of the day, even when I got it wrong, the guy I was working with was both patient and encouraging. The more experience I get, the less patient he'll have to be! :) But until then, if I can be ignorant and put out some of my best work, I'll take it. After all, I'll always be ignorant of something. Stay tuned, there's plenty more coming!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fahrenheit 451

Here it is! The celebration post. Of due note, however: I will probably extend this illustration to be a wraparound cover. So, really, this piece has just begun. The back side will be much less busy, of course, to make way for the copy. Until then, here is my project from a lackluster painting in senior year of college to a personal promotional book cover today.

Here is the original piece from senior year in college. I painted a specific scene in which Montag watches as a woman sets herself on fire. I wanted the design to be kinetic, because I feel that old classics get mistaken as boring too often. I can't say that, even at the time, I was very happy with it, but it does tell a story.

I just didn't feel that it covered any of the important thematic elements of the book. I also felt that orange was 'too easy.' I get it; the book is about burning books, the title is the temperature at which they burn. Fire! Fire is orange! Bleh.

I was always struck by the calm beauty of the scenes with Clarisse. I'm also trying to illustrate things more subtly these days. Not every illustration needs to hit the viewer with the obviousness of a ball peen hammer. Yes, fire is still a very important theme, but can I have my cake and eat it too?

I still have some orange-yellows in there, but I limited their use, thereby increasing their effect. I also tried to be very conscious of the cover aspect of the design. 

I wish I was good at type. All that time I could have spent learning to kern and vector my own font was spent learning to paint the crap behind it... but this is a good placeholder. It lets people looking at it know what the illustration is for, and it lets them know that I was conscious of the application of my composition. So there it is, another one in the books. Or for the books.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"It was a Pleasure to Burn"

Here it is so far! I always say 'so far,' because I seem to tweak things right at the end every time. Regardless, this piece finally has that cooked feeling. Let me know what you think!
I might as well elaborate on the image.

This illustration is based on the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The book's protagonist, Guy Montag, is pictured at the left. He is a fireman in the future. Everything in the future is fireproof, so firemen make fires, and they burn books. Clarisse, pictured on the right, is a young girl he meets from the neighborhood. She opens his eyes to the world he was missing, and from that moment a fire starts in his soul that threatens to destroy his artificial world.

I wanted to portray the ignition of his imagination here. A much more symbolic painting than I have done in a long time, but I like it. I was going for two things here: Mood and subtlety. I wanted it to look like a dreary evening fog that Clarisse's ebullience directly contradicted. I also wanted there to be a fight between organic and industrial between the sharp wrought-iron fence, slick leather glove, the twisted tree and soft dress folds.

I think there are still small things I need to balance on the piece, but, as is my usual pattern, I will set her aside to garner critiques and cool down so I can look at it with fresh eyes. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fahrenheit Progress

Finally this thing gets up and moving. More soon.
Update again!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fahrenheit 451: Take 2

"It was a pleasure to burn."

I love this book. Sam Weber, one of many 'holy shit no one can paint that good' illustrators working today, has already done a series of beautiful, stirring works based on Fahrenheit 451. Still, I want to have samples of book cover work, and I cannot ignore this book's potential as an illustration. In any case, this is what I've come up with for a composition.

If the book is about a fire in the soul of Guy Montag, Clarisse is the match that sets him off. She holds a dandelion up to him in one particular scene. Clarisse tells Montag that if he rubs a dandelion under his chin and it leaves yellow behind, he is in love. But when she rubs it under Montag's chin, there is nothing.

I wanted to cover emotional and thematic points with this illustration. Let me show you the illustration finished as I see it. Close your eyes. Wait, no. Read this. Then close your eyes and imagine it. Listen to Massive Attack: Mezzanine. Just Teardrop would do. I digress.

The world is grey. Cloudy sky, broken, twisted tree. The ghost of a city looms in the background. Pages of books, blackened and burning falling like volcanic ash from the sky. Clarisse in a white dress is a splash of color, and it threatens to invade the darkened figure of Montag on the left. Smoke rolls off of him. He is all leather and darkness and he puts one hand out to push away from the influence of the inquisitive girl. He is the Fireman. But soon he will be something more.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Catch: A Journey

Alright, I decided that I like the title "The Catch." This is the celebration post. Here, I review what came before and how I came to the finished image we have now.

The first 'octowoman' I made was for a girl.

I said, 'I want to paint you. You want to be painted as a mermaid?'

'No,' came the reply, 'I want to be like Ursela.'

So I painted this.
Ursela 9x12" Acrylic. She liked it. It was nowhere near my best work, but the concept had potential. If you were a young octowoman who eventually became an evil witch, were you always like that? What caused you to be bad, eventually? Or is the concept of 'good' and 'bad' contextual? Animals kill accidentally sometimes out of curiosity and survival. It is not murder. So no animal can really be considered 'evil.'

Well, Jaws was evil.

So I thought a moody piece that kept the motives of the central character murky would help this concept grow into a better idea. I did this little sketch for fun.
Grette 8x10" Oil. This was a creature that may not be evil but she was certainly scary. There appears to be a deep-sea diving helmet in the darkness beside her. Originally, this was just a design choice. When I put the helmet in, though, I realized it gave her a story. Did she collect that helmet? Did she find it? Was the diver still alive when she took the helmet? Was this an act of animal curiosity or directed animosity? I liked the ambiguity that the painting had.
The Dark Pearl 36x48" Oil. I wanted to relate her even more to the helmet, and give her a pet. She is obviously affectionate with this angler fish, and so she cannot be ALL bad, regardless of your interpretation of her intentions. This painting also grew its own story as I painted it. So many things changed, and I painted it over fully at least three times. She still has many features that could be considered gross or alien, but I made other aspects of her beautiful. Sadly, this painting is much less dynamic than the color study. My intention is that every viewer comes up with his or her own story.

My story goes like this: She encountered the diver when he was still alive. Curious and elated, she approached him. The diver accidentally cut his air hose in his shock at seeing her and realizing what she was. When he crumpled to the ocean floor, she didn't quite understand. In the painting, she is waiting for him to wake up. Sad, right?
The Catch 11x17" Digital. I knew I wanted to revisit the octopus woman. As both a writer and an artist, I have a love for female leads. Especially strong, independent ladies. How many movies have we all seen where the woman is simply the prize to be won or the 'really nice lady that needs saved.' I wanted a woman who was dominant, confident, and in charge. In "The Dark Pearl," she was too passive. Even in my interpretation of the story, she is waiting on the other partner to fulfill her in some way. This time I wanted my woman to be curious, dangerous, but all her own.

She is like a muse here: grabbing the diver and holding him helpless, as she cracks open the helmet to take a peek. Inspiration at its most insistent.  I took this painting and applied one of my old art school assignments to it: Opposites. In this painting, I have at least three conflicting themes. Beauty vs. Beast. Organic vs. Inorganic. Above vs. Below. I wanted the viewer to feel the depth and darkness of the water, and as they scroll up, the sunlight should be a literal breath of fresh air.

Maybe another two years down the road I'll take what I've learned and the stories that I've told, and it will be different enough to make a new painting. Perhaps I will revisit my little cephalo-siren.

P.S. I want to thank the model who helped me with "The Catch." She is absolutely beautiful, a talented model, and a wonderful person to boot. So thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Catch

Here she is: Daydream, Sweet Dreams, Muse, whatever the title, she is close enough to done for me to really show her off. This is the part where I sit on the painting for a few days before coming back and touching off all the little areas that were eluding me before. Until then, enjoy!
If anyone has a good title for this piece, feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Daydream Continues

I continue to work on this little biddy. I was expecting a much faster turn-around, like always. But I am actually very happy with it so far. The deep-sea diver and his body will, of course, be detailed. I am still unsure how nebulous I want the ocean to be. I will probably settle with some state between foggy and clear.
Here is a close-up of the most finished parts.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Work continues on the piece that, for now, I am calling 'Daydream.' I am still trying to get my photoshop skills into the right bracket. One of the things I hear most about my digital work is that it looks like I use traditional methods still. I would like to emphasize that in my work by learning brush and substrate textures. Hope you like her so far!
I am going to ensure that this project is my best yet. I love seeing myself get better on a project by project basis.

Busy, and not.

I have exciting things to post about very soon. Some published pieces, possibly by the end of the month. Wouldn't that be nice? I think they are some of my best work. I also have one personal project, two traditional commissions, a comic and a mock video game project. That isn't including the ten charcoal portraits I will be doing by February. Full-time art is cool, but until I have enough freelance work coming in to really sustain me, I am not busy enough!
Another piece for Soterion, Copyright(c) 2009 ~ 2012 Lamplight Media. All rights reserved.
This piece is a lot like the Cowboys. Same general subject done again. I like to do this from time to time because it is a great apples to apples indicator of where I've grown. Maybe every two years I'll choose a theme and produce two paintings. Who knows, I've done that for the last two years.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More quick sketch tries

Another sketch. Just messing with color. No point. In other news, I have a few B&W pieces that I am all kinds of excited to show. Also, there is a piece concerning a giant effing spider that might be neat to show you. Soon. Until then, here's a stupid spaceship.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I'm still trying to get this 'fast Photoshop sketch' thing down. Here's Bill Nye. For no good reason. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vampire Chica

Special thanks goes to Laura Schneider, my lovely model in this piece. She didn't know what I would turn her into (heck, I didn't know what I'd turn her into) but she was gracious and helpful. I think this is a fun little quasi-vignette. I'll probably play with it some more and I'm sure a month from now I'll be tired of it, but a month from now I will have plenty more where this came from. So until then, enjoy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Finally I know where this piece is going. Morbid to be sure, but I am currently trying to net sci-fi/horror/noir freelance jobs. All of those subjects tend to be a bit morbid, especially the horror genre. This is a very generic piece which, for once, I think is a strength. I need to get bread and butter freelance work before I start trying to tell my own stories. My portfolio from a year ago suffered from a chaotic originality. I had western pieces, I had octopus women, I had period piece grayscale paintings, and I had old-timey robot illustrations, many of which were based on my stories. The portfolio said that I knew how to paint, and that I didn't like staying on subject. Only a few of my illustrations were easily explainable. It didn't mean my work was smarter, it just meant that my work was less approachable. By no means do I intend to produce increasingly generic work. But everything I've done is so far off the reservation that no one can connect the dots. So I did a piece with Link in it. I did a piece with a lightning wizard. And now, we have the beginning of a vampire chick. See you soon with updates!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


All that talk about werewolves. Here's a sketch. Maybe it will go further. One way or another, I just need to relax. Not every painting I do needs to change the world.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I am feeling discouraged. The move from traditional to digital has been more or less smooth, but I find myself constantly shifting: looking aimlessly through the web, standing up with no real purpose and sitting back down, feeling like there is something else I can do. It is like some weird art depression, where I feel stymied by the lack of a tangible piece of work. I come up with ideas and toss them or change them or fail to act on them at all. I look at all the amazing work being done out there, by random strangers and former classmates, and sometimes I think: I can do that. Other times I stare in dumb amazement and wish the idea came to me first. In between commissions I tried doing a quick promotional piece. I went from werewolves to vampires to dragons until I just started working. I just had to do something. And the sad part is, I still don't know what the hell it is I am making. Here she is, in all her unfinished glory:
If I could tell you what it was I was trying to achieve, trust me, I would. I'm shooting in the dark, even as I stare at the illuminated far wall, targets and all. I want desperately to finish this piece, and yet I'm stuck with an image that I have no idea where it is going. None. It is a polished piece of gravel. Pretty and useless. Hell, it isn't even polished yet. I can't design myself out of a sock. I want to produce work freelance. And I know I have the skills. Give me a face, and I'll paint the bajezus out of it. But some idiot inside of me keeps whispering when I work on personal projects. 'No, David,' He says, 'It needs to be more epic.' 'No, it needs to tell more story.' 'Less story' 'Show your strengths' 'Try something new' 'Be original.' That last piece of poison, yes, that kills me. Look at the painting I just posted. Can you tell it started as a werewolf concept? Can you tell who I looked at for a color palette? Would you believe Jon Foster? Would you believe that my inner idiot keeps telling me to stop making it look too Fostery? That idiot is there every time I try a werewolf piece, telling me to make the werewolf different. 'Make something a publisher has never seen before.' But I know just as well. They're werewolves. They are relegated to a specific time of day on a specific time of the month and they are wolf men. How will I ever produce something they haven't seen? And so instead of just trying to paint a badass werewolf painting, like I know I can do, the idiot inside tells me that unless I can produce an original werewolf piece, then I shouldn't do one. And then we have this mess. A girl and her giant pet lizard. Which isn't sci-fi, or really fantasy, and certainly not a f*cking werewolf. This tells me one thing. That idiot I blame for my failures? That idiot is me.
There's a werewolf.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Final on this one:
Promotional so far:
I have two other pieces that I finished this last month that are under wraps. Whether or not a great awesomeness goes down will determine when I get to show them now, unpublished, or much later published! Count me excited. I really can't contain myself, though, so here are two teasers. If I find out I'm not allowed to do this, you won't have long to look at them!

Monday, July 30, 2012

More Stuff

Well, another one bites the dust. I'll wait for the 'OK' to show it, and then you fine followers can see it! Until then, progress continues on two other projects, and here is one for your viewing pleasure. It is my goal to have two pieces done by this weekend, and my first personal project in a while started next week. All in all, I've been ridiculously productive these last few days, and I have no intention of slowing down. It's about time I got serious!
Curious, yes? All will be explained... in due time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home now

I moved home from Muncie. I now reside with my parents in New Knoxville, OH. This awards me tons of time for art. Speaking of which, here is some imagery.
This is a Blacksmith for Soterion.
This is a preview of another image for Soterion.
And this piece is still happening. I really need to step up my game and get some shtuff done.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Here are some of the recent images I have been working on. I have even more pieces coming out of this commission, but I'm almost ready to move on to the next big thing. Speaking of moving and next big things: I'm moving back to my hometown of New Knoxville for a short period of time so that I can either save money and hit a big city, or get hired full time doing art and move there. I am also buying a new iMac! As awesome as this seven-year-old bruiser is, and as much as it has done for me, planned obsolescence is catching up to it. So here's to steps: Steps forward, steps backward, and all in the name of progress. I also have a thesis concept for my upcoming fine art exhibit, and that none too soon. Enjoy the art!
All images Copyright(c) 2009 ~ 2012 Lamplight Media. All rights reserved.