Here's a sketch from tonight. I have been drawing a lot of trees and water from the subconscious lately - our natural land seems to be occupying an increasing portion of my attention, both on a physical level (sourcing food, painting, travel), as well as a spiritual one.
Hope you like it :)

Magic Cards

Sorry for not updating in the last year and a bit... thanks to all of you who pestered me to get underway again. I have a stack of personal work ready to post soon - I just wanted to throw up a bit of commissioned work stuff to get the ball rolling. These cards are a year or two old now, but I still like them for the most part. Hope you all enjoy and stay tuned for more updates soon!

66. Artists Help Japan

Sometimes when crises occur abroad it can be a little daunting to figure out the best avenue to contribute, and it can mean a lot to see a charity that is accountable and has a proven track record dealing in a certain area. Dice Tsutsumi has set up Artists Help Japan - working through Give2Asia to help relief efforts for the quake/tsunami crisis in Eastern Japan.
Dice has previously organised the Sketchtravel Project and the Totoro Forest project, and I like Give2Asia's policy of awareness of support funding at the mid/longterm stages of recovery, as most emergency funding goes to immediate relief.

More info can be found here

Dice is also auctioning off some of his new books and prints, over at his blog

I continue to hold the intention that all of the support and love from around the world that is being sent to Japan makes its way directly to where it is needed - the people on the ground.

65. Winds of Khalakovo

Here is a cover I painted not too long ago for Bradley Beaulieu, art directed by Dave Palumbo of Nightshade Books. I'll also be doing an interview soon on Brad's speculative fiction podcast 'Speculate', which I'll link to when it goes up. Its been really exciting to be a part of the process of getting Brad's vision into the hands of readers. When you are dealing directly creator to creator and supporting a personal vision, not an amalgam of a large team, it is a really special kind of reward when they dig the art and feel it has contributed to their story in some way. Check out Brad's website here - its got some great content, interviews, insight into his process and info about the series.

Hope you like the painting :)

63. Sketches from 2010

Some of my favourite sketches from late 09 to late '10. A few people have wondered why I wasn't updating sketchbook work anymore - the answer is very unprofound, I was simply too busy to scan and resize all the images :) Some of these are from Mt Kosciuszko in Australia, some are from our stay in Bali. Others are from the states and many from here at home. I'll add a few relevant anecdotal bits and pieces with the interesting ones. Hope you like!

Emerald Pool (Vernal Falls), Yosemite National Park

Upper Vernon Cascade, Yosemite

Crater Lake NP, Oregon

Jazz Musician playing at Andy's Jazz Club, Chicago

Niagara Falls... so much white!!

Chateau Frontnac, Quebec

Top right is my friend and fellow artist Jens, who was my guide in Quebec old town :)

Amazing model from Chris Pugliese's figure class in NY

Awesome life models at Society of Illustrators, NY

MET. Nuff said.

Beautiful public baths near Lovina in Bali.

View from Sari Organik (great resto) near our house in Ubud, Bali.

MT Kosciusko NSW

Amazing tree wedged into cement footpath blocks on a cement street in cement sydney.

Dr. Karl who we spent a... fast paced day with, at triple J.

Inspired by Jeff Jones 'Idyl'

Breakthrough with pencil, this was a GOOD day.

These cutouts are of paintings by an Italian expat painter who lived in Bali. Antonio Blanco formed friendships with many of the musicians and artists who toured through bali in the 60's and 70's and captured an amazing combination of western academic aesthetic and balinese sponteneity.

The Laughing Buddha, Ubud Bali

Hope these were an aperitif for the eyes and soul :)

61. There's no place like home (unless you deign to roam).

I have lived in 13 houses in 4 years.

I have to say, I love the experience of constantly being on the move. I am not a material person by nature, but the full time pursuit of art tends to magnetise an array of books and art supplies to the creative studio. Moving a few times each year has forced me to continually reevaluate, prioritise, and purge a lot of what would otherwise have become dusty baggage shuffling from one domicile to the next in cardboard boxes.

We just moved house again this week, to what is our first real apartment that we have had full control over. No roommates, no family, no restrictions. Its a small studio apartment in Kings Cross, Sydney's 'Red Light District', if you could call it that. Its a fascinating area - rough, old, unpredictable, dirty, beautiful, creative and desperate. It's madness, and it can be joy to ride the eye of the storm while such an environment rages around you. For someone interested in the study of human nature, it is like daily access to a psychological wetlab.

We are setting the apartment up to cater for our painting - splitting time between home and the Cartel studio. One is for efficiently and professionally chipping away at the long term visions of our group of painters... the other allows us to be truly ourselves, raw and without pretext. It may sound hyperbolic, but for someone who usually embraces the intuitive dislocations of the nomadic lifestyle, fostering a nest - even if it is a temporary one - is a new and exciting prospect. 2011 is shaping up to be an amazing year, and I am inspired to be living it out in these two spaces until the wind should blow me elsewhere.

Vito, Piccolo Bar

Cumulo: Studio View

60. Today's Painting Session

Every Monday at Cartel we have been working with some great life models, doing 3 hour study sessions. Our recent routine has been based on Keith Dewell's recommendation of 3 quick limited palette studies per session, although we are still toying around with different combinations of shorts and longs.
These are the two longs from today. The standing figure is 40 mins (2x20) and the portrait is 60 mins (3x20).

59. Passwords

Somehow my FTP pass got changed a while back... finally got it back in order :)
Have a lot of content to post, going to spread it out over a few days.

Going to start with a promo image I did for Sydders band Cosmonaut:

And some work from early in the year:
All images (c) Wizards of the Coast

58. from 'True Perception'

Whether we have the attitude of a student who could still become more proficient in handling his materials, or the attitude of an accomplished master, when we are actually creating a work of art there is a sense of total confidence. Our message is simply one of appreciating the nature of things as they are and expressing it without any struggle of thoughts and fears. We give up aggression, both toward ourselves, that we have to make a special effort to impress people, and toward others, that we can put something over on them.

Genuine art is simply the activity of nonaggression. "

Chogyam Trungpa

56. Return to New York

After IMC wrapped up, I went back to New York. The city is just such a fascinating mass of interaction, a hybrid culture of elation and despair, it is worth lifetimes of study and devotion as an artist. Despite the madness and extremism of Manhattan, for the painter it has a magnetic allure that has been echoed through generations of my favourite illustrators and artists.

Coming back in from Amherst to Times Square, I sketched for a while in the alien illumination, fending off billboard death rays while I struggled to reconcile the week of inspiration just passed. I knew there would be a come down from the intensity of the studio environment, but New York has a way of keeping your pace up. Holding on to new insights while clicking back into the craziness was a learning experience in itself.

The society of illustrators is such a great place for any artist to visit. It was a nice way to continue the feeling of kinship I was starting to miss. We met Greg in the afternoon for a stickybeak at his studio - which was inspiringly practical and full (full) of his paintings - amazingly prolific. I can't speak highly enough of Greg's insight into painting as a career, his broader intellectual bent, and his generosity as a teacher. I feel very honoured to have made that connection. We headed to the society for figure drawing, and to jaw slap the floor one last time looking at the Teppers, Schaeffers, and Rockwells. Dinner afterwards constituted our final farewell to our new Empire State friends.

The following day we took a relaxed train to Brooklyn to look around the area near Dumbo. I was happy to stumble onto a crumbling old wheat paste that a close friend of mine did a couple of years back - staring out like an old friend from the red bricks of a big studio building. Brooklyn, from the little we saw of it, seems like it would be an exciting place to live and work. Great ambience and lots of art around.

We couldn't help one more trip to the MET - in particular i wanted to stare at the Repin again for a while. The sheer volume of galleries and museums in new york is enough to constitute a university degree in itself. Another trip to Arcadia to take a second look at the Lipking show yielded a surprise as the collection was being changed over to the next show and was full of pieces by other contemporary figurative favourites like Michael Klein, Malcolm Liepke, and Daniel Adel.

A huge thank you to all my friends in New York and in particular Chris Pugliese and Maria Kreyn for graciously hosting me at such an amazing pad, and for sharing your insight and enthusiasm for great craftsmanship.

54. IMC Wrap

Here is my final painting for the Masterclass, alongside the sketches i submitted as possibilities at the start of the week.

I am very inspired by the whole process… the faculty chose a thumbnail sketch that was quite a far cry from the types of painting I normally approach - which pushed me outside my comfort zone and into experimentation. Each night I would hit my stride at around midnight and the brush would start working its way around in unfamiliar patterns. This was perhaps the biggest lesson I learned at IMC 2010, and one that is difficult to put into words.

Mid way through the week I had a brief talk with Boris Vallejo which was a profound confirmation of much of my inner dialogue this year. He expressed how important it was to have fun with painting - especially when you are struggling - and not just to enjoy it as a means to an end, but to really consciously appreciate and enjoy the visceral act of what you are doing.

While I feel that the final image I created is not a portfolio piece, its value to me personally is inestimable. When Greg and Scott picked up my brushes and the three of us stabbed at the canvas simultaneously… when Jeremy Jarvis compared my painting to my digital reference and my fechin reference, noting that it was closer to the fechin with a sly smile… when Boris said he could see how the painting was changing me just by watching me paint. These are the moments I have been longing for for years - and were worth the trip tenfold.

Coming out of a long period of semi-isolation in a country without a booming painting scene, into a group of such inspired, spirited people, stirred up incredible shifts in me. Never before have I felt such a strong compulsion to move beyond what is possible, into ineffable territory. The faculty were both mentors and at the same time fellow illustrators - and I have not felt myself to be in such good company in all my life.

Above all else, I was reminded that great artists live full lives of joy, inspiration, and consideration of others. When Donato spoke about how a painting was rejected from an exhibition, only to be placed into a museum where school children got to walk past it and see it every day - when he placed the effect of his work over its recognition or sale value - I was reminded, in part, of why I do what I do.

To see a generation of painters so healthy, so inspired, so vitally alive - gives me great courage on my own path - and I aspire to be part of a generation that carries this great legacy forward. I can't recommend the masterclass 2011 enough - just don't take my spot!

*PS* - I am almost home from my trip. I will be updating a backlog of posts that I havn't gotten to do due to lack of internet. Please excuse them being a bit late! Thanks for sticking round :) a

53. IMC

Im a bit out of date and have a whole slew of stuff to update from the last few months in Bali and the states, but i wanted to throw up the process shots from the first few days at Illustration Masterclass... what an experience. Im not even going to try to sum it up until I've had some time to assimilate it all!

Here is the initial speedpainting that I submitted at the start of the week:

After some revisions, and with thanks to my model Rebecca - here's a bit of a kit bash. Though after Scott and Dan's demos it made this look like hack work!

Here is the drawing transfered (landmarks on an artograph projector, then drawn by eye from there)

And lastly tonight, 7 coats of Acrylic Matte to seal the canvas and then a layer of gesso on top to give the whole thing some nice chunky texture. Im going after a thick painterly finish akin to Nikolai Fechin (who is sitting up on the right of my board).

The IMC is incredible - and the people I have met here are some of the coolest on the planet. More when I can pick my melted brain up off the floor!

52. Mixed bag

Heres some more mixed stuff i thought would might be of interest :) I wanted to write a long and philosophically intriguing post, but i just finished writing a long and philosophically intriguing email, so it will have to wait till my batteries recharge! :)