Sunday, December 19, 2010


It's a wrap... or maybe it's a burrito from Chipotle. I have eaten so much burrito that I know all the perfect combinations depending on my mood. Well, they usually involve steak, spice, sour cream, cheese, rice, pinto beans and A LOT of Guacamole... and that is my healthy meal. But I'm not going to delve on my eating habits, at least not on this entry. The reason it is a wrap is because the semester is over. Sure, I have to be back in 2 weeks in order to start the second semester, but the good thing is that now I can assess my efforts! The problem with art courses is that the teachers rarely give you a grade. It is much more complicated than that, and the reason is that they have to measure improvement, technique, ability to comprehend the material, attendance, and the infamous participation. I know by fact that participation is not my strongest suit, sometimes because I just don't feel like saying anything, other times because I don't feel comfortable making a critique about my classmates works. Still, I know that you need to participate to improve the dynamic of the class, but at my age I simply don't care, I just want to learn what I am paying for. Also, art students improve at their own pace and the teachers have to measure that! I've seen masterpieces from some classmates and horrible horrible artwork from others! Oh the HORROR!!! I'm glad to say that I am above average but my weaknesses are other man's (or woman's) strength! In any case, I would expect, based on my effort, that I get A in all my subjects, but that is what I don't know yet. Still, If I get a B I will now know that I have to put more effort in that class, but seriously, more??? I guess I could push it a little more but then I would have absolutely NO LIFE outside my drawing table or my easel!

Which painfully reminds me of an anecdote that happened to me in a social event. I was in a wedding and an acquaintance (if this wouldn't have happened maybe I would refer to him as "a friend") asked me the typical "fill in the uncomfortable silence" question: What are you up to? I have to admit that I always say that I am studying art (and just ART), and based on their response or attitude towards my answer I can expand it to illustration. If they're still getting the idea and want more I will proudly say that my major is cartooning. Still want more clarification? My final answer: "Comics". To tell you the truth, when someone do not understand they stop at my first answer, but sometimes curiosity is an extreme impulse and when they get to the comics part they just get lost in translation. I told this acquaintance of mine that my plan is to study 2 years for the Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA), 2 years for the Master in Fine Arts (MFA), and finally 1 more year as an Optional Practical Training (OPT) in which I can work in the United States. He thought he understood and replied with this: "Oh, so you are taking 5 years off!" Let me say upfront that this is an insulting remark and you should probably say it, in any situation, at your own risk! Still, I didn't succumb to my animalistic nature and like a passive aggressive yet sarcastic adult I let it go! I know most of the people don't understand what the hell I'm doing and believe me, if I would tell what I'm doing to myself from six years ago maybe I would say "you are crazy", but to endure what I'm going through to be rewarded with that comment it is just unfair. Like one good friend said to me "get used to this because this will happen from now on until the day you die". Ok, I'm going to change the subject because thinking about it just boils my blood up too much and although I can accept criticism very well I know I'm not mature enough to respond well to those derogatory comments.

New York is freezing, and it's supposed to get worse in the next couple of months. If anything is telling me to quit this challenge is that, but just for a second when I'm clenching my teeth on a windy corner waiting for the sign to change. I'm getting prepared because no matter what I will finish my career. Still, when I upgrade my wardrobe with a new fluffy jacket the temperature just happens to drop. It seems that I will always be cold or that I'm too stubborn to wear my heavy-duty jacket. My logic is that if I use that jacket now, then in February I should get what? An Eskimo suit? Now you see, my plan is to get acclimated to this horrendous weather! UNAGI (a state of total awareness in a highly disciplined form of Kah Rah Tehy, or Ross, who cares!) I have also perfected my skill of walking looking down due to the cold. My first instinct is to hide my face in the jacket just like a turtle. Because you're freezing you don't really care what you hit as long it's not a speeding car. You have absolutely no idea how many times I have played chicken with people walking, and sometimes they just DON'T GET OUT OF THE WAY either!!!

Ok, ready to see some artwork? I'd really like more PARTICIPATION from my readers!!! Anything you like to say will really help me a lot to improve. Also, if you can forward this blog it will be greatly appreciated. Damn! I'm falling again to marketing and advertising!!! No, this is about art and thou shall get ART! Beginner's art, but art nonetheless!

Let's start with my favorite class, that is, drawing! I have to admit that even I can see the progress in these 4 months. Sometimes it's very frustrating, because unlike any other class or activity in art, you can wake up one day and be shaky or tired and not being able to draw anything, at least compared to your own standards. When this started to happen I knew for a fact that something was messing up with my abilities. It could be anything actually and I did have very bad weeks but it is fair to say that as I write I have my superpowers back! Unless I had too much to drink the day before. Drawing with hangover is just way too hard, but I guess I even have to master that skill ;) I will begin showing 3 drawings that I made in-class. 1) The drunken clown. He was a model that I think is kind of bored with modeling because the second he laid down he put a red ball over his nose and said to us "imagine myself as a drunken clown" PERV! I think that is how he gets his kicks! 2) Teddy Bear Girl. This was a female model, obviously, which happened to bring a teddy bear! I have no idea why they are bringing these gadgets! This was made with ink, not happy with the result of inking my pencils. 3) Shy girl. I drew her from behind because I was too lazy to change my spot on the studio. Still, I really liked how this one turned out. Also we had a little bit more time with this one than usual.

For homework I had to copy a drawing or a painting from a famous painter. The teacher gave us a list and I chose Van Gogh out of those artists. Another homework was to draw the texture of a fruit, and I think I really nailed it this time. You can even see the texture of the rotten orange. Yes, I don't know why I buy fruit if I don't eat it, EVER!

Also I wanted to show you what I do on my spare time. This is an independent study because a fine arts class (like the foundation drawing I am taking) do NOT teach you any rules, you just have to learn from observation. I mean, it's fine, but I need more. I know now that in my second year I will be getting more rules on proportion, perspective, shading, etc. This is from a video tutorial I am taking at home and it's called "The Structure of Man". These are my notes on all the rules to make a skull! NERD!

In my painting class we had to learn to paint a human body. So we finally got our own model in the painting studio. This was done in oil on canvas and took us a lot of hours to finish. I did two paintings, one of her face and another one of her torso. The face was done first and if you look closely on the second painting, you can notice the improvement of the flesh tones. She is not as skinny as it looks!

I've had tons of homework involving human forms, but to simplify I will add just two of them. One was of a hand and its shadow. The shadow was supposed to be fantasy. The other project was to draw our self-portrait using our fingers, NO BRUSHES! This is a tedious work and I can just imagine how happy I would have been with the result if I'd used at least one brush.

In my storytelling class we had to draw a 6-page comic. I can't imagine how many times I have read comics in 15 minutes, which usually contains 22 pages, and never considered how long it takes to make each page. Of course I'm slow because I don't draw as a professional, but I can only guess that when I draw better I will be doing more complicated panels so the time will be practically the same, or even more. I spent 54 hours doing this 6-page comic from thumbnails to inking. To best clarify the process, it is divided in 4 parts: 

  1. Thumbnails. - Original layout of the panels done in a loose but somehow comprehensive way. I spent 10 hours doing this, but mainly because I had to corrected it and do it all over again, so I would assume that it takes around 5 hours to create the thumbnails of a 6-page comic. This does not contain the script. In this case, the script was written by me, but because it falls more on the writing domain I did not included it in this breakdown.
  2. Pencilling. - The most fan part of it all. This is when you actually draw with hard pencils (I use 3H). It could get very frustrating specially when you are drawing the details of the background, the perspective, and camera angles. I drew some pages drinking beer and they turned out much better. I spent 21 hours drawing. Not all of them in one sitting though.
  3. Lettering. - This is a very slow process and not very rewarding, but you have to do it. It took me about 7 hours to draw the word balloons and write in the dialogue.
  4. Inking. - This is when you have to apply indian ink to your pencils. It is a long process and you tend to mess up a lot! There is nothing more aggravating than watching a drop of ink stains your page. You can correct it but it will never be a virgin page anymore. It took me as long as 16 hours to finish the job. Also, Drinking & Inking, not a good idea!
To finish the process of creating comics you need to color it, and print it. It is fair to say that if you work for big companies like DC Comics or Marvel Comics you just have to do your thumbnails and your pencilling, because they have professional inkers (who could diminish or enhance your artwork), letterers, and colorists.

I will include 2 pages of my 6-page comic titled "Good Night Ops", and along with them I'm attaching the thumbnail version for you to get a clear idea of the process.

Finally, for my sculpture class, like always I have very little to say about it because it is just so damn weird. Still, I had an outside project that my brother did for me. He is, in many ways, more creative than I am, and I was really fed up with other projects. The project was to make something creative but in an incremental approach, in other words, adding more stuff to the artwork. The end result was "paper cuts", a narrative story of the people from Paper Town made exclusively with paper! (The background was made in Photoshop, obviously) An original artwork by Oswaldo Molestina. His drawing skills are kind of basic and that is what makes it so fun and great! Thanks Ovadi! :)

The last project was to build something in a box! Weird! and at the end it looked like a Voodoo totem or something like that. Still, it contains every little thing that I found on my apartment, but it is fair to say that a classmate named Kellsey gave 50% of her junk to me. Thanks!!! (I know! I'm slacking in this class!)

I know this has been a LONG entry, and I have to apologize for that. In the foreseeable future I will try to make them shorter. Specially since it seems that a good friend of mine doesn't have the time to read all of it, so if he ever gets to this part of the blog he just have to text me the phrase "Long live the Flash" and prove me wrong.

Remember that: "hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning", and also "forget insults and only remember compliments, but if you succeed in this... please tell me how!"

Happy holidays and godspeed,

José Luis