August 3rd, 2015
This is my most popular print, sold in many different types of prints on demand. Not only did this base play a role in many different people's lives throughout many decades, but it also was a major influence in my life. I learned many things about the Air Force, electronics, radar systems, love, drinking, people, personalities, and valuable human traits. I also learned about myself because I was dependent on myself and my own work ethics. But probably the most impressive thing I learned was about teamwork. The incredibly designed machinery that worked so splendidly that put a wall of defense around our country in our airspace was so impressive, and could only be done because each person did his or her own job dutifully. I was one who did my best. Loring was a huge SAC base nearby where many big things happened. Many flights originated there, and it was a base at the northern point of the state of Maine purposefully created to be the closest threat from the 48 States to Soviet Russia. Though I was operationally under command of the Air Defense Command, I reported to Loring for administrative things. It was a small city of airmen and civil personnel. There were libraries, movie theaters, hospitals, restaurants, stadiums and lots of other things. But what was most impressive as a young 19 year old just out of nearly a year of radar electronics schooling at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, was one of my first days at my radar site, when the motor pool sergeant asked me if I wanted to ride with him to Loring. We drove around the base some, and he said I want to show you something. He drove up next to the air strips and the hangers where many B-52 bombers were lined up, sitting in their battle painted schemes in rows, waiting to take to the sky with their potentially devastating bomb loads. He told me to look at those beauties, because that's why I was here, to keep those things up in the air. Aren't they something, he asked? In awe, I agreed. Yes, all the study and work I did to get here made perfect sense now. I not only knew what my mission was for the next three years on the radar site, but I felt it. That's why I painted this: to honor that place that lots of others felt that same thing for as well.
August 2nd, 2015
I was approached by a local man a few years ago and asked if I could create a portrait of one of his favorite saints, St. Alphonsus Liguori. He not only related to the saint spiritually, but had another thing in common: he was a lawyer just as this man was. There were no photographs of the saint, but some paintings and drawings. One requirement the man wanted for this portrait was that the saint be holding a block of marble to his head, to relieve the severe headaches he sometimes got. So I researched his different looks a bit, some clothing styles and office looks of that time and came up with this image, painted with a Wacom tablet and stylus using the digital paint program, Painter. I painted a mostly unique face not based on any one. When I was done, the buyer liked the painting very much.
August 1st, 2015
As my son, his wife, my grand daughter and I left their Chicago home after a nice few days of late winter weather, we found there was already a couple inches of snow on the ground that morning. As they typically do, they faced the challenge as many do in that trying windy city, in other words, as just another day. I sat next to my precious little grand daughter in the back of the sporty four wheeled drive family car, and went in to say good bye to her when she met up with her little preschool friends, and a tearful little face I didn't want to leave. Next, a quick stop with the parents at a popular coffee and pastry shop through the slushy snow, then off to drop off my daughter-in-law at her work office. My son then dropped me off at Union Station before he went to work. I had a few hours to wait in the spring snow there, and walked around a bit to take in that special day, not only to ponder the nice time I had with my family, but to contemplate the last snow I would likely see for the year, and my trip on the train to come that day. It was a nice way to remind me of a great trip and visit. Whenever I see this photo I'll remember it all and the fun we had those few days.
When I got home, I noticed the photo looked much like a photo. In other words, the lens forced some perspective onto the vertical shapes that I wanted to change. I angled the street lamp posts back straight up, and the building walls too. I wanted it to look more natural as it would seem to the human eye. I processed the colors a bit too, though maybe too much, but I wanted to show more action and excitement that really exists in person through the added color. Chicago's a fun town, or I should say, city. A nice place to visit, but I, who prefer a more laid-back and less congested community, wouldn't want to live there.
July 31st, 2015
Getting a great photo with an already wonderful pose to work with makes things easier. It's also great when the lighting and colors are already there in the right places and look great. That's the case with this digital painting's photo reference, at least, almost. The beautiful little girl was there with the right colors as well as the rest of the image. The proportions of the image were more like a normal photograph, vertical, about three to four. I cut the edges to make it one to two. There were a few problems that needed to be dealt with first to make the painting look less like a photo and more like a painted work of art at least in a more traditional way. The sunset in back of Emily cast a light onto the back of her, so the original photo was much darker on her face and other parts of her. She was holding something unidentifiable, more artificial looking than sea shells. The horizon created by the surface of the ocean slanted downward from left to right, adding an unnatural feeling perspective because of the angle of the camera lens. So I had to process the lighting of the photo to restore what light I could to Emily's face and body, but not so much as to make the lighting look artificial and silly. I wanted to keep her back-lit as much as possible. I painted seashells over the objects in her hand, and straightened the horizon from an angle to a level surface. After those fixes I simply had to paint what I saw in the photo using mostly impasto brushes and the warm, beautiful coloring. Now the great photo taken by the proud parents is a large, beautiful accent piece in their home, in the form of a painting, that will charm the viewer hopefully for generations.
July 31st, 2015
The most perfect Santa Claus I can remember was created for the Coca Cola advertisements. Of course, art is subjective and many may disagree. With me anyway, that Santa seemed most real and most magical. I had an idea for that Santa a while back, where the soda bottle is replaced by a bottle of Christmas itself, being poured into a mug of Cheer. The drink would need to be warm but refreshing, colorful as Christmas itself, cheerful, glowing and casting a magical light. The drink, not unlike a cola, has a golden brown color, magically swirls in interesting, gurgling shapes as it drops into the mug which though already is full, is still being poured into from a likewise still-full bottle. The liquid joy bubbles effervescently with all the colors of the rainbow, reflecting the total joy of Christmas. The golden glow of the drink represents the richness of the Christmas experience. An energetic circle of colorful sparkles jumps out of the bottle to encircle the whole person of Santa, who with anticipation keeps pouring. I guess the whole idea came from listening to the song, "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas", sung by Burl Ives, in the line "have a cup of cheer." I took the idea of Christmas Cheer to a different level, putting the cheer into the form of the old Coca Cola Santa style. I may not be totally there yet with this version, but getting closer to my original mind's eye concept. So remember when Christmas arrives, have a cup of cheer!
July 31st, 2015
How did I see Santa Claus and the North Pole when I was a child? Christmas was so magical. Magic actually took place each year then, that one night, so different than all the others, when the physical world with all its rules and limits as I was taught it was turned upside, and the proven results of that magic appeared beneath our Christmas tree. Of course I didn't see Santa or hear him come down the chimney, even in our house that had a chimney but no fireplace. I was told that Santa didn't need a fireplace, or even a chimney. He could come through any opening he needed to. I didn't understand the science of the North Pole and exactly how it worked. Nobody could really explain it to me. They all knew there was a toy shop or factory that could build anything with the elves' help, or maybe a huge warehouse that got manufactured products in their commercial wrappers somehow. I didn't find out if the products were purchased by Santa, or if they were donated, or if Santa ripped off the product and copied it or duplicated it magically. How many elves were there? Where did they find or grow their food if the Pole was submerged in ice and snow? The magic explanation always filled in the holes if no explanation could be found. After having lived and experienced the real world, and decades of work, employment and seeing how business and large organizations work, I realized the community would have to be rather large, especially if it were to serve billions of people once per year, even if magic were involved. Magic can only do so much in a world where it has to disseminate its products to real people with physical limits. Does Santa speed up time to get all the work done in that one night, or does he slow down time for the rest of the universe while he works to distribute all his gifts to billions? The former seems more likely, sprinkled with a bit of magic to make Santa's work much easier, because common sense would dictate that serving billions would take much longer than one night, or even a matter of years.
So here is my imagined concept of how I thought of the North Pole as a child. I saw the North Pole as actually using a large pole to mark the pole itself. The pole is decorated, lit and brightly lights up the whole community. There are many supporting units on the site, each with its own purpose and mission. In this shot, Santa is arriving back after a night of hard work.
July 28th, 2015
This digital painting I originally called "Approaching Storm". During the concept phase, I was intrigued by having the surrounding landscape being engulfed in a threat of storm or danger. I wanted the subject to be unaffected by it. All images used were from photo references that allow modification for one's own work. Thanks for the beautiful model and her pose. I saw in my mind a romantic image of a woman in a classical environment. The other photo reference was such an image, with a beautiful, stony architecture. Both images I felt meshed together well. I felt the wind flowing through her hair, past her rippling clothing, and I loved how her uncaring expression made the statement, "I feel as if I am somewhere else." Being a believer in my savior, Jesus Christ, who I believe as He said, will resurrect me and all those who love Him, I thought she must believe as I do, that my destination is with Christ, or with pure love, or God, who is known as love. So I guess this is a religious image, painted mostly with impasto brushes, to make it look more flowing, more moving, more passing, just as this world is passing. All our lives are passing. We start dying the day we are born. The woman knows her life is passing by but doesn't care. She knows that Heaven is more beautiful. She is beautiful, but she knows she will be more so. We are different from all other living creatures. We know we are meant for something higher than just this, this Earth, this life. It became obvious. The title should instead be "Dreams of Heaven".
July 28th, 2015
Here's the idea that Bob and idea developed based on some of his imaginative musings about the location of Island 8. He thought it would be cool if the island were part of an archipelago, or group of islands. I thought, wow! what a neat idea that kids would love, as it shows that there is more meaning to the 8 Island, being part of something bigger, belonging to something more important that makes a lot of sense, and something that kids study in school: the numbers. Of course, I figured a giant zero in the center would add mystique, that is, a hole in an island representing dark nothingness, a volcano, that could be active if a story needed it to be, sort of a magical volcano perhaps, that spewed out lava that created the perfectly shaped numbered islands around it in pre-numbersland-historic times. I researched some meanings of numbers and found that each tends to represent something throughout human history. Four, for instance, represents strength as with a four-sided castle. Seven represents here at least, a mystical sort of island, covered in a layer of misty cloud. Anyway, the important thing is that kids see that Island 8 is an important part of a vaster part of the world.
November 21st, 2014
My modeling skills have improved a lot over the years. Something like this little parrot guy before might have taken days to create. I think this guy took me totally an hour or two. He will sit on Captain Navigate's shoulder and spout funny comments hopefully. I hope his cartoonish, simple look will appeal to children readers of our book.
November 21st, 2014
In our book is a character who pilots a riverboat, his name is Navigate, first name Nate, I think. Anyway, Captain Navigate here I modeled today with ZBrush, modifying my basic 8 Town male model. 8 Town and World is populated by 8 figured figures who are like us only with different shaped bodies. Navigate is similar to a sea captain from around the West Indies in our real world. His riverboat ferries things up and down the canal linking the two lakes of the 8 shaped island that people need, in our story some freight which someone ordered for home maintenance. He has a pet parrot too, like Long John Silvers, except shaped like the number 8, and I haven't conceived how that will look yet. More to come.
This is the reworked version of Captain Navigate. I borrowed a sailor cap I made form my Popeye model originally and pushed the polygons around until it fit this guy. On his upper half of his 8 shaped body in the center is a compass I made today. He's wearing his obligatory bell bottoms, being a sailor of sorts. I just finished his parrot pal too.