Life drawing at Center Stage Gallery

We moved to Austin!  But before we moved from LA I tried to go to life drawing as much as possible. What I love about Center Stage Gallery in Burbank is how skilled the models are at storytelling. It's impossible to not get swept away in the story of each pose. 


Here are some drawings I did at center stage from life. The painting above is painted from a sketch of a quick pose with a fantastic model named Andy Flaster.

Encounters with the Imaginary vol 2

Last year I got to work on an amazing project with Boneshaker Press! They released their second crowdfunded art book anthology.  The project was funded successfully through kickstarter, and the book is now available for purchase.


Finally receiving the book was a real treat finally receiving the physical book. I love how the printed pages look and feel. It was so fun writing one of the short stories and creating the accompanying illustrations for it. The story I wrote is based on scandanavian folklore around the nøkk.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the day got hotter. Avoiding the day’s chores, Joakim found himself slumped against a cool rock throwing pebbles at fish as they darted beneath the dark surface of the water. “Stop that child!” barked the Grandmother. “You’ll upset the spirit that lived in these waters, the Nøkk.” The children’s attention perked. “The Nøkk isn’t real” Joakim said dismissively. “That’s not true right? The Nøkk doesn’t live here does he?” Merete and Henrik belted in unison. Their eyes as big as wagon wheels. The grandmother smiled and with a trembling hand reached into her pocket. What she pulled out were three small steel coins. “These are his waters children. However, the beast won't harm us as long as we throw a bit of steel into the water.” Her warm smile shifted to something more cold.”Keep your wits about you, and you will be safe. But if you are not careful, and you do not respect the Nøkk’s waters he will pull you into his kingdom and you will never been seen again

4 years

June 2012

 July 2016

July 2016

4 year difference: Ink and marker sketch from 2012 and digital painting 2016. I know I did earlier sketches of her in high school but I cant find them. Looking at those old sketches makes me cringe now.. but I had some half thought out ideas back then that were decent. There is still so much to learn.

Illustration process on "Strange & Norrell" Fan cover


There is a lot to figure out before you even get to touch the paint. Most of the battle is planning every move and even then you run into problems that need solving. Here's the process I went through to bring this illustration to a finish. 

STEP 1: Thumbnails, refinements.

STEP 2: Color comps

Do some super rough and exploratory color comps in photoshop. 

STEP3 : Photo- reference mashup

Sometimes you have to put a dress on and make your friends do awkward poses.. That is what friends are for. Then mash it up into a composition that will help inform your decisions later on. 

STEP 4: Refined pencil sketch

Keep refining. Find and destroy any repetitive angles, shapes, contrasts and tangents that will weaken the composition.

STEP 5: Project and trace layout onto painting surface

I projected and traced the lay-in of the composition onto the gessoed and sanded 18 x 24" piece of masonite/hardboard. I also added some trees to the mix. I had to make it clear where they were since it was hard to see. Being impatient and stubborn I had to redo this part a few times. Hey, it was past bedtime at this point! 

STEP 6: The under painting

Then I started started on the under painting. Even after all that meticulous planning and problem solving before getting into paint, I ran into a lot of problems. The benefit of being in a workshop full of other great illustrators around me really came in handy. 

Step 7 : The struggle is real


One of the biggest issues I ran into was realizing that the enchanted rose I had placed on Arabella's mouth looked like a small red smudge. Since the purpose of illustration was to be a book cover, the the 18 x 24" image needs to read well when shrunk down to a book size. 

Chris walked up to me and said hey, that rose doesn't look right.  He said "Its too small and looks like a smudge from far away." 

Had I known this would have been a problem, I probably would have changed the entire composition of the painting. But at this time turning back was not an option. With advice from fresh and experienced eyes around me I sketched a bunch of solutions. The chosen solution was a much larger, brighter and glowing iconic looking magical rose. 

Step 8 Painting process

Throughout the painting I had to go dig for more reference. With help from Erik I learned his technique for creating ghostly effects on the dress using smokey ink in water references.  I also had to gather a ton of references of birds in flight. Thank god I took Tom Babbey's winged creature anatomy class! Also per Erik's advice, I gave the forest in the background more character by looking at craggy sleepy hollow trees. 



Step 9 Keep painting. Until you're done. 

Frame that sucker! Then start the process again with something new




Prepping for the 2nd Watts Atelier Illustration bootcamp

It's the time we've been waiting for!!  *drumroll* Watts atelier Illustration bootcamp II. 

Instead of one of the predefined assignments I will be illustrating an imagined cover for Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell". I enjoyed the novel a lot and could think of many different parts that I would love to visualize.  

I want to attempt a montage type composition, including up to 5 characters. 

I want to depict the two English magicians Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell looking into a bowl of water in an attempt to find and summon the raven king. Throughout the illustration i want to show hints of the raven king. Flocks of ravens. Perhaps a raven eye as described in the book. Signifying that they are to him smaller than that of a raven's eye an worth only a blink of attention.  

Behind them will be the unnamed malicious fairy that has enchanted many people surrounding the magicians without their knowing, including Strange's wife Arabella. She had been enchanted and stolen away into fairy. She will have a white and red rose on her mouth, signifying her enchantment and inability to speak of it to anyone.

Environment: A dark forest  in the fairy realm called "Lost hope". An ancient decaying wood encroaching on the human world. 

Mood: Contrasting dark and light. Dark fairy world inhabited with insanity vs Dry and scholarly English magicians

Time period/ Era: 1806, England is at war with Napoleon. 


Here are my rough thumbnails: 



1 . Really more of a character montage. 
2. Still not sure if I like this one. I  couldnt seem to figure out how to get a larger head to work into the illustration until I got to 9. 

3 and 6 are very similar. Showing the magicians looking into the water in search of the raven king. 

5. I do like the idea of a focus on one character, but not sure how to tie in the other characters. The dark bar is Jonathan when he was cursed by the fairy to live in darkness. 

8. Character in the background is a silhouette of the raven king, shapeshifting into a bird. Jonathan has the ability to travel through mirrors into fairy. Norrell is a dusty, cowardly magician spends more time reading and hoarding all books on and of magic. 

I also like where 9 is going. I'd love to focus a bit on the fairy and make him look more interesting.  He was only really described as "The man with the thistledown hair, with an emerald colored coat".  I want him to look less human. More ancient, clever, mysterious and ancient. 





UPDATE: The illustration pictured here is finished. Take a gander

I'd like to thank everyone who helped fund my tuition for the Watts Atelier Illustration Bootcamp. I'm super pumped and already composing about four illustrations that I want to paint in oils. 

Right now I am working on finishing this oil painting of a Girl encountering the black plague

Otherwise I've been experimenting with watercolors a lot lately, and also getting warmed up in inks for inktober! 

Gofundme Prizes!

Here are examples of rewards from my gofundme fundraiser.  As the larger rewards run out, I'm prepared to create more, so stay tuned! 


To those who are unfamiliar with this fundraiser, go check it out at : 

Tier 1  : $5 donation

Downloadable digital sketchbook


Tier 2 : $10 donation

Printed and signed sketchbook booklet  + original sketch card

 More sketch card examples coming soon

More sketch card examples coming soon


Tier : $25 donation

 13 x19 Prints of "Battling the Serpent", the illustration produced at last year's workshop   OR  Original Charcoal Portrait drawing from class (5 available)

Printed and signed sketchbook booklet  + original sketch included


Tier 4: $50 donation

inked life drawing OR Oil small Gesture Portrait or figure painting


Tier 5 : $100  

Classwork Portrait paintings OR  Commissionable 8x8" / 5x7" Gesture portrait painting 

 Various Classroom Portraits, done in 3 hours. 

Various Classroom Portraits, done in 3 hours. 


Tier 6 : $200  

Various Landscape paintings ( more to come) 

 Scene painted from the Fleeman's family farm

Scene painted from the Fleeman's family farm

 Snowy day in Norway

Snowy day in Norway

 Forest moon of Endor - Star wars study,  Still in progress

Forest moon of Endor - Star wars study,  Still in progress

Tier 7 : $500

The original framed 18x24" Oil Illustration produced at last year's workshop.



Killing the Serpent

Finally I have a digital image of this oil Illustration that I can submit to Spectrum. Fingers crossed that it'll get printed!

I am really proud of this being my first oil illustration. I'd like to thank Erik Gist, Mike Hayes and Lucas Graciano for guiding me through their processes at the Watts Atelier Illustration bootcamp.

I have loads of paintings and drawings to post. The last term I painted a couple portraits a week, while drawing like mad from life.  Only a few are noteworthy.

 Check out my ink drawings from inktober on my instagram.

I had only started to get into inking, now that I'm more comfortable with it I'll be taking a class for inking next term with Jeff Watts.


I'm scrambling to finish my illustration before the term starts in a few weeks. 
It's getting really close and I'm actually really proud of it. I'll take another photo when  my room is'nt so dark. (Yes, I do sleep in the same room I paint in. My room reeks of oils and terp. Smells delicious. )

 Meanwhile, here's another wip of a digital study that I've been working on whenever I have a a spare moment. 

Today I finished my digital comp, I've redesigned warrior and adjusted her pose.
I had to reshoot the pose for this myself (which was more fun than I'd like to admit).

Afterwards I projected this onto my primed masonite board and loosely traced and redrew it. Then I started on the stain. Once I was happy with how the colors and values worked compositionally I started to paint opaquely over the stain.


Edit: added various human elements to the environment to tell the story better, per Lucas's suggestion

I'm figuring out how to use this for my tonal sketch. I took some photos based off the thumbnail that Erik reworked. I've also collected loads of reference off the internet for this scene, including the ice glacier I threw in there. It all still needs a lot of work.

My best bud Aurora is always willing to help me out. I like the pose above how she is pulling her sword out from the sheath on her back. I wish the rest of the pose was more a bit more dynamic like the ones below.


I'm also not sure about the lighting on these. When setting it up I thought of light reflecting from the water onto the warrior or perhaps a small light on the boat. Something that will also cast a different light onto the serpent.

I'm really happy how the photos for the damsel came out. I like the lighting on the second one here where she is front facing.

Preparing for Watt's atelier illustration bootcmp

Watt's Atelier is starting up their illustration bootcamp hosted by Erik Gist, Lucas Graciano and Michael Hayes !! I cant wait to be surrounded by these incredible artists for six days of intense learning.

We had a choice between three different assignments. As usual i picked the one that seems the furthest from my capability. Now I am struggling.  

Option 1:  "To The Rescue!"
                  Standard book cover dimensions you can work any size that you feel comfortable as long as it is roughly a 0.75:1 vertical (approx. 18 x 24 portrait) format
                  Illustrate a traditional medieval fantasy scene, where we show a warrior rescuing a damsel (or dude-sel), being sacrificed to a dragon.  Pick a point in the scene which to tell your story, right before the action, in the middle of the action, or maybe even the warrior escaping with the rescued character.  Pick a culture that dominates the design aesthetic of your characters' clothing/ armor.  See if you can even design a dragon that reflects that culture's aesthetic. For example: if the scene takes place in an Asian themed setting, design a dragon that the audience can recognize as Asian influenced.

Having more than one character i a scene already seemed difficult. I'm having trouble fitting the warrior rescuer in all of these. I want to go for a  Scandinavian viking theme (big surprise). Giant serpents fit really well, but I'm trying different approaches. 

Any feedback is more than welcome. Thanks

1.  and 4. Warrior is approaching the sacrificed who is tied down to a tree in a dark forest. I like the idea of the bøyg, a serpent from Scandinavian folklore who could make itself invisible and try to stop travelers. This isn't a medieval theme, but I can make it into anything I want. 

2. The sacrificed person is left hanging off a cliff with multiple dragons emerging from the fog below. The top of the cliff has been set on fire to attract the dragons's attention. I want this to have the same feeling the human sacrifice scene in the latest King Kong movie had. 

Movie still from King Kong 2005
I don't even know how I'd fit a warrior in this scenario. I explored that further in 6, 10 and 3. The only problem with 6 and 10 is that I cant tell that its at the top of a drop. 

9. The warrior/rescuer is climbing on the ceiling of a cave holding a light, trying to get to the sacrificed person tied up in the dark below. This is moments before the dragon wakes up and reacts. 

5. The pathetic sacrificed damsel/ dudesel is hanging from a rope being lowered down into a dark cave. The warrior is climbing down on the side getting ready to rescue him/her. The dragon's tale is showing, the rest of it is hidden in the dark. I want to show a sense of scale here, the dragon is huge. 

7.  This is very similar to 5, only I thought of maybe an ice cave going down to the ocean where sea serpents reside. I still need to fit the warrior in someplace.  Jormungand was a huge sea serpent in midgard. I have a couple more thumbnails with viking boats and sea serpents. I'm still working on those. Also, painting water and translucent ice is going to be painful... 

8. Female warrior about to kick scaly ass. 

10, 11 and 12, Confrontation.  Someone probably dies. 

First gouache portrait! Yeah! I did this in a gouache class at Watt's Atelier. I learned so much from Jeff this term.

A friend of a friend commissioned me to draw their two dogs.
Also, here is another friend"s great grandfather from Italy, and some Gil Elvgren studies.