Sunday, March 27, 2011


No, we’re not… And I’m feeling a bit pessimistic and kind of anxious. Let’s say I’m talking about the weather but you can easily interpret it any way you want, like a painting ☺ (I’ll talk about this further along in my art history section). Maybe spring is not coming to New York and will pass directly to summer without collecting $200. Sounds stupid, but I think I can get away with my theory. After all, in these times is amazing how many people believe in astonishingly weird things, like 2012. You know, I may be a little selfish, but I’m planning to get my degree that year. It will be a shame to get this epiphany so late (or so early, depending on whom I’m comparing to) in life in order to perish with the rest of the world. Which brings me to the good news. For all the people that are not familiar with my background, I got my business bachelor’s degree back in 2000. I was young and studied really hard back then. Ten years later I decided to walk a different path, so I applied to the School of Visual Arts to get a bachelor in fine arts majoring in cartooning. This career consists of four years: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior, like most bachelors do. The good thing is that I got credited for my humanities classes that I took a decade ago. So I had a meeting with the chairman of cartooning Mr. Thomas Woodruff and he helped me to get some sophomore and junior classes together for next fall. He was totally unimpressed with my art though ☹ haha. After looking at my portfolio he questioned the fact that I could manage such workload. I guess my experience in business helped me in some way because I ended up negotiating and presented myself so sure of my abilities that I got exactly what I wanted, to finish my career in three years and to get my classes with the superstar teachers for the following year. It seems that I just have to finish two more years to get my degree; but wait a second… my real degree for me is my master degree, and I’m not talking about an MFA (which I may take by the way), but completing my challenge to draw for 10,000 hours. I guess it will take a long time but stick with me. I will not let you or myself down.

A friend of mine told me that my anecdotes about New York were not relevant for this blog. I obviously discussed with him the fact that this is MY blog and I just write what I feel like. I’m not just showing my artwork, I am telling a story. A story of a guy who thought there was nothing more out of life and found himself in a labyrinth of sorrow, boredom, and self pity. I found a cure, and if I could find a way to inject everybody with this epiphany I’d do it. Nevertheless, I found that writing this blog is the best way to express my feelings and hope for anyone to get on board the train on time (which is never late by the way). Still, I had to find a way to let myself, and my story known. I may have found the way, or at least a better way. I’ve started to follow a lot of unknown people from twitter who happens to share my passion in comics and art in general. I didn’t know if anybody was going to follow me back, but you know what, they did, at least some of them. I’m pretty grateful for the follow backs and for their selfless and inspiring comments about my experience. I have a greater audience and now I feel more pressure since I have to deliver a great entry for my blog. For the new ones, my grammar may not be excellent but what I say (or try to say) is totally honest. Thanks for following mates! (By the way, I’m not Irish I’m Ecuadorian. I just like the word “mates” ☺).

Also, another good news is that I got preapproved for my credits in art history that I was planning to take in the summer in Florence, Italy. I’m so excited for three reasons: 1. I’ll finally perfect my Italian language. 2. I’ll get ahead in my requirements and what better place to take art history than where the Renaissance took place, and finally 3. Back in 2000 when I got my degree in business, I planned a trip to Florence to study arts for once semester. It was an attempt to get my artistic impulses out of my system. After all, I haven’t yet taken the RED pill (which makes you embrace the sometimes painful truth of reality). I don’t know if it was cultural shock, or if I missed my girlfriend so much, or if I really was tired of studying and was eager to start earning some money in the real world, but I failed miserably, and it was one of those times that I just couldn’t complete my task. I felt sad and always regretted not staying for the whole program. I guess the joke is on me now. Anyways, what happens when you fall of a horse, you have to get back on! (Fun fact: Where was this phrase originated? I’ve no idea, but found hilarious one of the answers “From a very clumsy cowboy” ☺)

During my spring break I watched a very interesting video that I bought online. For anyone interested in drawing realistic portraits I highly recommend it. I’m talking about Darrel’ Tank “Five Pencil Method” It is very instructional and his technique, although very slow, when mastered it, it has the feeling of the real thing. Also, if you were suffering from insomnious, I’d guarantee that after an hour you’d be asleep ;). Not because it’s not amazing what he teaches, but because he has a relaxing voice that combined with the sound of the pencil strokes it has a somniferous effect. I used this method in the following drawings but have not yet tried it in a portrait.

These drawings were part of my “journal project”. I have to finish 100 drawings with different papers and different materials. To tell you the truth I’ll be drawing just 50 because it is really time consuming due to my perfectionist nature. Also I’m repeating some materials but mixing them with different papers it still it shows a lot of variety within the drawings. Also I’m including a drawing of myself done with a Wacom tablet in Photoshop, and for all who knew me as an athlete and runner, yes, those are the right proportions. This life is for chubby people ;). Also, there is a photo of myself that I included in my presentation just to present photo paper. This project is helping me a lot to get more comfortable with getting the proportions more accurately and faster just by observation. These are other examples:

Now I’ll show you my in-class drawings. This was actually a model we drew last semester. If you can look for her picture in my previous entries you can find her. I hope she’s better depicted now, but I understand now that drawing good depends on your training, on your practicing, but also depends on how are you feeling that day. Sometimes you just can’t get it right, and sometimes you just do it beautiful and effortless. It’s like the chairman of the department told us in a presentation: “some people have the TOUCH to put things down in the paper, others do NOT, but that does not mean your work won’t be good” I guess he’s talking about a natural inborn talent. Well, I don’t believe in talent, maybe as a result to reading “Outliers” from Malcolm Gladwell (Highly recommended for people who wants to pursue their dreams no matter the odds). One drawing is done with my regular technique, and the other we just had to draw the contour line, but as my teacher puts it “draw as playing the violin, very delicate”.

Contour drawing

We haven’t done anything remarkable in my painting class. I guess because we have been painting an abstract with geometric figures. It is not my cup of tea. In any case, I painted it with acrylics and NO USE of tapes for the borderlines. The trick is to have patience. I hope you like it because I tell you the truth, I don’t. It’s OK but I think anyone could make this, especially if using Illustrator software. My next painting project is free and I know it will be very rewarding. I’m planning to mesmerize my audience (Are you called audience even though you don’t use your sense of hearing? Can you be called spectators? I don’t know, readers sound kind of simplistic! Must investigate).

Abstract Geometric Painting

COMICS!!! ☺ This is a sophomore class that I’m taking even though I’m a freshman as I write these words. I love it! We had two projects since my last post. The first one is about genre. At first I was so excited that I could illustrate a sci-fi comic, even a western, but you know what the professors assigned to me??? ROMANCE! I guess they did it because they were sure I wouldn’t go into that field without being assigned to me. Or maybe it was some cruel joke in order to see me like a cockroach struggling upside down (sounds better in Spanish!). Hey, I’m romantic enough, but I thought to create a romance story was beyond my capacities as a writer or plotter. Well, let me tell you that I’ve enjoyed it and I’m very happy with the results.


The next project had to be done in 3 hours. We are presented with a keyword at the beginning and in three ours top we have to structure the story by doing thumbnails, drawing with pencils, inking, and lettering. Believe me, it is a very intense project because you usually finish one complete page in one day, and that’s being generous. It looks somehow rushed but guess what, that’s what it was intended to look. The purpose for this project is to learn different approaches to get the job done, probably faster. This is based on the 24-hour comic, created by Scott Mccloud (guru of comics). The same principles apply and you have to finish it in a day. A lot of cartoonists have done it and it’s like a challenge you feel that you have to take. I will definitively do it one day (you see, ONE DAY hahaha I’m hilarious!!!). The keyword was MOON, and because my brother is a faithful believer of the Mayan prophecies of the end of the world at 2012, and every conspiracy theory people on YouTube are willing to promote, that was the first thing it came to my mind (Sad, isn’t it? ;)) I did it in four hours (Remember the part about me being honest).

If you like to draw and want to be involved in comics in any way, I’d highly recommend 3 books that you can buy now at Amazon: Making Comics by Scott Mccloud, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, and Comics And Sequential Art by Will Eisner. You won’t regret it. Also, there are a lot of exercises and homework so you can get to practice in an instructional but fun way.

Let’s talk about computers!!! Mmm… let’s NOT!!! I love Photoshop but we are now learning InDesign, which I hate! Si I’m just going to show you my Han Solo colored using Photoshop like I promised in my last entry. Voila!

Han Solo painted in Photoshop

Finally, how to interpret a painting? Any way you want! But still you have to be aware of the key words to analyze or critique a painting: composition, figure, ground, line, color, intention, etc. What really amazes me is how easily art historians can find metaphors for everything. There is a particular painting named The House of Cards by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, which is shown below. Can you notice that there is an open drawer with two cards; one shows its front and the other its back. Well, my teacher told us that the one that is blank represents abstraction, and the other represents illusion. Really??? I couldn’t help asking how did he know that? Did the artist at one point said or wrote that? He got a little annoyed with my question and explained to us: “We don’t know what was the intention of the artist, what was in his mind is impossible to know for sure. What we know is what is in front of us in order to start a conversation. If we don’t do this, we may as well bury the painting!” I guess he’s kind of right, but at least I got him to admit that sometimes the art critiques are 75% bullshit.

House of Cards by Chardin
I think this is it for now! I hope you enjoyed the ride! And for the people who live in New York, please DON’T TEXT AND WALK, believe me, it’s as dangerous as texting and driving; mainly because who’s going to hit you is texting also… Watch out for the bikes too!!!


José Luis