Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sorry for slacking on the Choose Your Own Drawing Adventure challenge last Friday, I'll post at the end of this week. Last week was dedicated to preparing for a weekend filmshoot. I work with my church's film/video ministry, and we just wrapped principle photography on our second project, Wanted. Here are some stills from the shoot. Unfortunately, we neglected to inform the local law enforcement that we had a fake weapon on set, so the fuzz showed up just to make sure we weren't actually causing havok.

You see, I was co-directing the day's shoot, and I find that packing iron helps to keep the actors "motivated"...

My co-director (and founder of our video ministry), Kerwin Kuniyoshi takes a much more laid-back approach to film-making.

Nathan Cooper played our irascible villain, Snake.

Theresa Donahoe as our snarky "good" samaritan, April.

And here I am with our star, Ellie Wheeler, who is portraying Sarah Rive, our version of the prodigal son. Here we are endorsing dental hygiene.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Griffin Story
My friend Josh has been working on little stories with his three-year old son, Griffin. Griffin writes the story and his dad illustrates. Josh posted one of their stories on his blog and welcomed anyone to illustrate a Griffin tale, so I thought I'd take a shot at it. I had one condition: the story had to be about dinosaurs. Fortunately, Griffin was willing to oblige and here's what he came up with!

"Griffin's Dinosaur Story"

"The Apatosaurus is named Potoesaurus and the Triceratops is named Bobby."

"Potoesaurus drinks a full bag of dinosaur orange juice, like a big, big, grasshopper and a big, big, cockroach."

"Bobby bonks stuff."

"Potoesaurus is in my room playing trains."

"Bobby is bonking a watermelon."


Friday, September 11, 2009

Choose Your Own (Drawing) Adventure II

"Once there was a pink kitten who made a deal with the devil so he could avenge the death of his parents."

For this image, I actually prefer the caption, "How cats really get their nine lives." The Choose Your Own (Drawing) Adventure is based on my blog polls; vote on what you'd like to see illustrated, and if you like, feel free to create some artwork yourself. If you participated in this week's challenge, let me know and I'll post your works of devilry below.

Daniel Miller:

Last month, I posted an interview of my buddy, Vi, with the drawing challenge. It was cool hearing his insights into the creative process, so I thought I'd supply a new interview with this week's challenge. Today's conversation was with Daniel Miller, a friend of mine from school and co-director of CalArts' 2005 Producer's Show Intro. Enjoy!

Interview with a Genius II: Daniel Miller

Me: What is your favorite thing to draw?

Daniel: My favorite thing to draw? I want to say comic strip characters. 5 years ago, I would've said bears. Human form is fun to draw, no doubt about that... Wow. I guess the truth is I like to draw superheroes. Sad, I know.

Me: Who are your creative influences?

Daniel: My creative influences. Ah. Number 1, a man named George Perez. Then Norman Rockwell. Charles M. Schulz. Who was the guy who designed Jonny Quest? Doug Wiley. Winsor McCay. Emile Cohl. Alex Ross. Max Fleischer. Peter Chung (eek!)Many others, but these are the ones that spring directly to mind.

Me: How would you describe your style?

Daniel: My style. Mm. I remember once saying, "I have no style, I'm a blank slate," but honestly, it is what I like to call "Jack of all trades." While I was at Calarts, I tried my hand at many styles, never settling on any one. I could've learned a lot more squash and stretch, but eh, I guess it wasn't for me.

Me: What field of art that you have not yet studied would you most like to pursue?

Daniel: Cuneiforms. Granite sculpting. Gold and other metal molding. ...Anything else? I suppose building and car design. Just for fun. And to build my dream house.

Me: Who is your favorite character that you have created and why? None of this "they're all my children" business either!

Daniel: My favorite character that I have created. I'm trying not to say Cody or Paula from Polar Opposites, because thy're not continuous characters. --Claude the Hare! HE is my favorite, because he is me. Sid the Scorpion was pretty funny.

Me: Finally, if you could take a trip anywhere in the world to do artistic research for a project, where would you go and why?

Daniel: A trip anywhere. For ARTISTIC purposes. Not historic. Wow. So many places I WANT to go in the U.S. and worldwide. Africa, Egypt, Rome, Italy. I've never been much of a traveler. OO! Of all the places I've ever wanted to visit or live... Oregon. A few of my favorite cartoonists; Matt Groening, Gary Larson, and Bill Plympton all hail from there. I may not see much art there, I just want to drink the water, breathe the air... Get a sense of what made them who and how they were.

Thanks for the interview, Daniel. I love Alex Ross and Gary Larson, too. And let me tell you: Oregon is beautiful! Tune in again in a couple weeks for the another round of art and conversation!

Next week's challenge, to be posted Friday, Sep 25th:
"Once there was a tyrant lizard king who consumed sunshine so he could make his mama proud."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chito and Pocho
Fellow paleo-blogger Darren Naish posted a fascinating story about a Costa Rican fella named Chito and his best friend, Pocho, who happens to be a 17 ft croc.
Not only are Chito and Pocho on friendly terms, they also enjoy wrestling together and sometimes Pocho even lets Chito win!

Darren also posted the story on his Facebook and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "Awesome! This is proof that we should bring dinosaurs back, and that they'd be completely cuddly."

Darren: "Damn right. Start with tyrannosaurs."

Mike: "Austin, for the EPB to support that would require that birds be cuddly, instead of shrieking little jerky annoyances that chew up books. (Or have I just had bad experiences?)"

Darren: "Mike, the character states you describe are autapomorphies of some neornithine clades. Everyone knows that paleognaths and anseriformes are cuddly and friendly."

I hadn't heard any of these terms before, but the comments just cracked me up, so I had to share. If you're suspicious of the stills above, here's video to prove than man and reptile can peacefully coincide.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"That's the stuff!"
Some Tuesday gestures in honor of Mike Mitchell. Yes, I realize the drawing below features two very unfortunately placed drawings.
The pose below was great, there was a real sense that the model was dancing even though both feet were firmly planted.

Playing with perspective. Fun, if not always successful.
Sometimes the negative space can be just as informative as the forms themselves, as with the space between the model's arm, leg, and torso. I always look for pockets like that to help clarify silhouette.
Our instructor, Louis, was pushing us to redraw each pose as many times as possible. The key is to try a different approach each time, varying angles, conveying the weight and energy in new ways. I played a mental game with myself that any time the model gave us the 10- or 20-second warning, I had to quit my current drawing and start a fresh one. As Mark Kistler would say, I was suffering from an Art-Attack, "Draw! Draw! Draw!"

In completely unrelated news, ROUS's are real! This "little" guy, held here by mammal expert Martua Sinaga, was found in the rainforests of western New Guinea (quite a ways from the ROUS's natural habitat, the Fire Swamp). Weighing in at about five times the size of a typical city rat, this species is entirely new to science, and has no apparent fear of humans.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell passed away today, leaving a big eye-patch-shaped hole in the hearts of a lot of CalArtians out there. All CalArts students start their animation career with Mike's figure drawing class. It wasn't called Figure Drawing I, or Beginner's Figure Drawing, because that wasn't Mike's style. Even the name of his class had to break the mold and set the stage for some serious out-of-the-box thinking. Plus, Mike didn't think of anyone as beginner artists, he held our work with as much esteem as a peer, so he called it From Real to Reel. Cheesy? Yes. Pretentious? Maaaaybe. Heck, there may have even been a subtitle, but it eludes me now. But that truly was the intention of the class: to inspire our filmwork and to use our observations from life to fuel our animation so that our films didn't become imitations of other "cartoons."

Mike had the true artist's spirit of creativity and rebellion, and encouraged students to look at the life models in new ways, even if it meant dragging in the skeletal remains of a motorcycle or a creepy wooden gazelle for the model to pose with. His room was called the Palace, and while it was used for department meetings, guest lectures, and special events, everyone referred to it as Mike Mitchell's room. Every week of my first year at CalArts, I looked forward to Fridays in Mike's class and the silent competition to win the old master's affection and earn a spot for one of my drawings on his wall. I'm eternally grateful to have known and learned from the man. I know the eye-patch-shaped hole will never be filled, but I hope that we all strive to achieve what Mike always encouraged us to do: forge our own us-shaped niches in an industry that all too often would have us shaped like cogs instead.

Scott Bromley, Ken Perkins, and Ron Yavnieli's 2003 Producer's Show intro featured muppet versions of Mike and fellow life-drawing legend, Corny Cole. This is just a small glimpse into the respect and affection CalArts had for the man who had started them off on their road to animation greatness.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Cruising through an azure field
Visage grim with scars half-healed
Huntress of the darkened deeps
Silently she stalks and reaps

Faintly now, she feels a tickle
On her nose, the slightest prickle
Blood and sweat like caramel
Splashes ring like dinner bells

Far above, the huntress spies
A silhouette against the sky
Furious is her ascent
Tail churning as gills vent

Teeth roll forth, all set to bite
Eyes roll back, a milky white
The sea erupts 'neath swimming prey
Huntress flies through crimson spray

Jaws lock, flesh rends, the screams begin
Sea swells, blood wells, the screaming ends
Down she pulls her fresh attack
Shark and man, into the black.