Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Many  years back the great Green Bay Packer running back Paul Hornung was caught  during the season coming out of a night club with a beautiful blonde on his arm in the wee hours of the morning. "Paul, how do you do it?," the reporter asked referring to Hornung's ability to excel both on the field and at partying. Hornung winked, grinned, and quoted his famous coach Vince Lombardi: "Practice, practice, practice!"

(Recent paintings where I've tried mixing watercolor with Golden acrylics.)

I think to do anything well you have to first love what you are doing and then, practice, practice, practice. When the work is going well, practice can be fun. And when it isn't, which usually says more about your emotional state than the quality of your drawings, the trick is to stay at it- and eventually good things being to happen.

(Some life drawings from Bill Stout's workshop.)
So here are a bunch of my latest practice work. You clients are never really going to push you to get better; their interest is in the commercial success of your work. So if you want to improve, you really have to do the work on your own.

(More life drawings where I've added doodles later.)

Whenver I find I have time, I like to work on my painting skills. The sales of my paintings are a miniscule part of my income, but what I learn from the work has catapulted me into many jobs. And I love the results of the hours of painting.

(The bottom drawing I'll likely add some work to in the background. Of course it is hard to improve on Sara or Nicole- terrific models!)

I'm also a compulsive sketcher. In the mornings I try and do a 30 minute still life warmup. I also try and make it to a life drawing class at least once a week. Sometime I'll hit the perfect drawing on the page, and when I do I leave it alone. But most of the sketches I use as composition exercises, adding little doodles around them at a later date. Sometimes they are studies of my other artists whose work I admire, sometimes objects around the house or studio, and occasionally things that just jump out of my imagination.

(These are charcoal sketches with pastel color added. Mostly stuff around the studio and one of my wife's sandals.)
I also keep a smaller sketchbook in my car. There are always five to ten minutes waiting at the doctor's office,Post Office, or lunch when you can squeeze in a doodle. And I have a pocketsize Moleskin sketchbook that I take on my morning walk in the beautiful hills around my house. There's never a shortage of subjects.

(Some morning a pure white marine layer oozes in between the hills. That's my idea of a special effect.)
What happens with all this practice is that you being to get an inkling of the old Zen philosophy, that the destination is unimportant, but that the journey is everything.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tales4-Counting Coup at the Crypt

Growing up in the midwest the two sources I had for dramatic entertainment were either the mysterious costumed religious rites on Catholic holy days, which had an emotional appeal that was tough to match,  or the movies. The latter couldn't always compete with God, but there certainly was a world of magic in those darkened theaters. One of the great perks of working on Tales was that I got to meet and photograph so many actors and directors.

Amanda Plummer and Lea Thompson were two of the first actresses I met, and I was astounded how quickly they merged into their characters when I approached them for photos. Brooke Shields had a bone-crushing handshake. Vanity started to pose the minute she saw a camera.
(Anita Morris above and Rita Wilson below.)

 (The very witty Wendy Malick above and Isobella Rosselini below.)

 (Priscilla Presley above and Lysette Anthony below.)

And beautiful women- there was Vivian Wu, who later did The Pillow Book. Anita Morris was amazingly stunning as was Lysette Anthony. Wendy Malick was not only beautiful, but had a
 great sense of humor ("Sure, take my picture for whatever disgusting thing you have in mind.")  Priscilla Presley looked truly frightened when I walked toward her on the set, until I explained who I was and what I was doing. Isobella Rosselini made it impossible to take a bad photo. And then there was the lovely dark haired Rita Wilson, whom I later learned was Mrs. Tom Hanks.
(Tim Curry above and Roger Daltrey below.)
There were musicians. I was a big hit with my niece when I sent her the picture of Adam Ant and another one of Slash from Guns'n'Roses. I was pretty impressed with getting to take some shots of Roger Daltrey of the Who. (On the same episode, I also met a newcomer named Steve Buscemi.) While he's not as famous for his singing, I got to meet Frankenfurter himself, Tim Curry, in a very creepy makeup.
(Dan Ackroyd and Kirk Douglas/)

When I told the same niece that Kirk Douglas, a REAL movie star, was in this week's show, she asked, "Is that, like, Michael Douglas's father?" Kids...That episode, directed by Robert Zemekis, also featured  Dan Ackroyd, who constantly seemed to be jumping in his jeep to drive off with other crew members to a nearby hill for a smoke. Another SNL alumni was Jon Lovitz, who asked me, "Who died and made him director?", after getting some advice from the director. His co-star was John Astin, who went to college with my father-in-law. John was quite surprised to hear how well my wife Annie's dad had succeeded.
 (John Astin above and Stephen Webber hamming it up below.)

Isaac Hayes told me to draw him with hair. When I told Cheech Marin he was funny, he replied, "Then give me a dollar."  I still tried to convince Sam Waterson that he had starred as Simon Wiesenthal, even after he told me hadn't. (Yes, it was Ben Kingsley in that role.) He
avoided me the rest of the day. Martin Sheen signed my Bob Peak Apocalypse Now poster, and Billy Zane a copy of Orlando for my friend Zahra. I found out that Stephen Weber was a fan of Bernie Wrightson's.  Ben Cross was despondent that he hadn't made a great film since Chariots of Fire. Kyle MacLachlan, on his directorial episode, signed the Tales cover I did from the show he had been cast in earlier, which featured the buzzard pulling out his eye.

(Sam Waterson and Kyle MacLachlan  above and Cheech Marin below.)

(Treat Williams above and Kevin McCarthy below.)
 Tim Roth was scary, but  Malcolm McDowell  made me feel too intimidated even to approach him.  Sugar Ray Leonard just asked me if he looked completely silly in his costume. I lied. Treat Williams gave me a great cover idea; not bad for an actor. I fell in love with Whoopie Goldberg, even before I found out she was a comics fan. I agreed to trade watercolors with John Lithgow; he still owes me his. Twiggy Lawson was an icon from when I was a teenager. Kevin McCarthy seemed to have great delight in mugging for me. 
(Wayne Newton above and Bill Paxton and Brad Douriff below.)

One of my favorites was Bill Paxton, who spent a lot of time talking about his upcoming roll in Tombstone. I recommended the Loren Estleman book on the subject. I told Wayne Newton my wife was a big fan. Later in the day his bodyguard walks up with a camera, takes me over to Wayne, and has me pose for a picture with him. When Mr. Newton left the set for the day, he greeted me by name, as well as lots of other crew members. He really charmed everyone.

(Cynthia Gibb and Harry Anderson above and Richard Lewis below.)

And of course, there were my "fellow actors", whom I did cameo appearances with. I was Harry Anderson's hand double in "Korman's Calamities." I kidded him that it was a good thing he was also left-handed or they might have had to replace him. I had also met Harry when he visited Howard Chaykin's studio a couple of years earlier. Later I did some boards for him for a project he was pitching. Unfortunately I never took him up on his offer to attend one of shows at LA's Magic Castle. And Rita Rudner and Richard Lewis were a delight; they were the stars of "Whirlpool", where I was typecast as comicbook artist at the EC offices.

There were many, many more I met over the years. It was always interesting. What amazes me are all the stars that were on the show that I didn't meet for whatever reason. Brad Pitt, Patricia Arquette, Katy Sagal, Iggy Pop, Meatload, Patricia Clarkston, were just a few. There were also a number of the English actors from the year they shot the show in London: Bob Hoskins, Francesca Annis, Ewen McGregor. For some reason the production never took me along- they just sent me stills to work from.

(Stephen Hopkins directs Tony Goldwyn.)

And then there was Stephen Hopkins, who when I was introduced, told me he was a big fan. I thought he was just being polite, but then he asked what I  had been doing since the  Marvel creator owned series "Sisterhood of Steel". I was floored. He was a lot of fun. I showed up one day and he grabs me and tells me to get to the set; Kathy Ireland and Mimi Rodgers are doing a nude scene. I rushed over, only to discover that in transit something had happened to my camera, and it was useless. That he got a big laugh out of; and nobody else lent me a replacement.  Life in Hollywood wasn't always perfect.
(Mr. Mike with the lovely and very patient Rita Rudner.)

For more of my Tales From the Crypt pictures be sure to visit my Flickr site:

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Here is a link to a remarkable motion comic I worked on about a miraculous story of courage and
selflessness that took place during the World Trade Center bombings. And since the video is
devoid of any political overtones, I'll refrain my own tirades on this subject.

 The people that I worked with on this project, Chris Commons and Tyrrell Shaffner were excellent
 to work with, which is always the most important thing in job evaluation.

While the money looked good to begin with, I learned that drawings seem to explode exponentially
when working on a motion comic. A word of warning to anyone who takes one on of these. It's the
first job I've had in a long while where the work truly overwhelmed me.