Friday, December 10, 2010


The fight for illustrated glory was to be fought on a field made not of earth nor ore. Rather, the sparring ring is a place known only to sailors and skycaptains: that faint glimmer on the horizon, that distant shimmer at the world's edge; where The Sky meets The Sea.

Birds fighting Fish. Was the squid to be knocked down the pecking order, or was it the chicken who was going to be schooled? No one could predict the outcome, and frankly - no one could figure out the outcome even after the fight had ended. Since chickens can't swim, and squids turn to heaping gelatinous puddles when removed from water, this showdown sure was hard to host - much less officiate. The crowds feared the match may go the way of the infamous Apples V. Oranges battle of decades past, where a winner was never named, and the uncomparable fruits of the fighters' labor rotted in the judiciary sun.

This challenge was to tackle two tasks in tandem. In Monday night's corner: one highly detailed and accurate rendering of a chicken skull, and due on Wednesday: one free-flowing watercolor-blasted impression of a squid in perspective. Here are snapshots of the contenders taken during the epic battle.

Representing the Featherweight Class:

"Avian Skull, Final Rendering" (2010), graphite [poster mock-up]

Gallus gallus domesticus (The Domesticated Chicken)

Anatomically accurate and structurally sound, this cock flew in ready to fight. No, really, it's a fighting cock! It is a breed called the Aseel Chicken. Notice its enlarged supraocular bones (labeled) to help protect its vulnerable eyes from being battered by its opponent's beak during battle! Evolved with a point in mind.

And representing the Heavyweight Class [or, Heavier-when-wet Class]:

"Squid Watercolor, Final Rendering" (2010), watercolor

Loligo opalescens (The Opalescent Inshore Squid)

Smart and slimy, this aquatic adversary uses jet propulsion to move quickly in seaworld skirmishes. Simply by being cousins with the octopus and the cuttlefish already makes this marine mate cooler than most; and that's even before talking about tentacles! Watch out for that sucker punch.

But, to tone it down: mastering the shadowy nature of value scales is enough of a gray area in its own right. To add color is to truly add fuel (and fuchsia) to the fires of frustration. Achieving depth without darkness can be the greatest of conundrums. Until you see the light! Ah, the good ol' visual light spectrum, showering us in waves of profound and punishingly-pure prisms. But perhaps all this small talk is just my enlightened way of providing some foreshadowing for my next pun-smattered post... which'll be in technicolor!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bridging the Spinal Gap & Getting Vertebral

This week we take a moment to celebrate the differences and similarities between vertebrates & invertebrates. Ah, the beauty of diversity! Being different but equally awesome!

The Invertebrate: The Fiddler Crab Strikes Back (sans backbone). Did you know the fiddler crab gets its name from the back-and-forth motion its wimpy claw makes while eating; it makes it look like the crab is playing the fiddle on his big claw!

"Fiddler Crab, Finished Sketch" (2010), graphite

"Fiddler Crab, Final Rendering" (2010), carbon dust & ink [poster mock up!]

The Vertebrate: A Piece of the Feline Spine. The first similarity that comes to mind when I think of crabs and cats is that both of them have claws. And both are adjectives used to describe bad moods (maybe there's a correlation with the claw thing). Then it gets fuzzier... cats stalk, but crabs have eyestalks?

"Cat Vertebra" (2010), scratchboard

As a preview of the next few projects in the works, think along the lines of an action movie called "Chicken V. Squid: Fight to the (Second) Death!" Who will win? Can cephalopods finally outwit their terrestrial nemesis, the avians?? Now, come on, you already know what the outcome will be. It's a draw! My drawings, to be exact. One preserved squid & one chicken skull, comin right up.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quick! We Must Go Back in Time! And Underwater...

Gastropods, cephalopods, and crustaceans ... oh my! The Little Mermaid probably sang duets with each of these creatures during their lifetimes Under the Sea.

"Moon Shell" (2010), graphite
... Each little snail here know how to wail here, that's why it's hotter under the water ...

"Ammonite" (2010), carbon dust
... Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor...

"Fiddler Crab" (2010), graphite
... What do they got? A lot of sand; we got a hot crustacean band ...

Nature Is A Sweet Sweet Lover

I love nature. It is beautiful to behold, yet terrifying to witness at times. Playful, yet down to earth. It has mood swings, but after it falls down and winters over, it usually springs back up to its summery self. At least when it is feeling temperate.

It's amazing that nature is the matter of science, but also the muse of art. In my hopes to combine the observational mastery of science and art, I am taking Nature Science Illustration classes! This means I get to try and capture the elegant essence of evolution-in-action every week! And then I will post the pics here if you care to use those highly specialized light receptors of yours to view them.