Thursday, December 27, 2018


Let me tell you a story about a guy who wanted to be an artist so badly that he started to count the hours he spent honing his craft in order to reach 10,000 hours and convince himself he has truly become the artist he so desperately wanted to become. I will not let the suspense kill you so straight out of the bat I will reveal this artist is none other than me. Who am I? As of now, I am the guy who has spent 7246 hours drawing and/or painting and who is feeling his set out goal will never be achieved. Somehow I feel like I had been with the gas tank warning light on for a couple of years. In my initial plan I should've reach my goal after 10 years or so. It may take longer than that and not because I want it to. The truth is, life always finds a way to make it more interesting, and although I feel pleased with my progress, the intrigue that comes with the job is making me truly anxious. My first blog, and the beginning of this long challenge, was on September 1st, 2010. How can eight years have passed already? I started this lifetime goal of setting my own rules to become a master in art so long ago and I remember like it was yesterday. By the way, you can check the rules here 

I've been happily lost, wandering in the woods if you might, not sure which road to take. Is it safe to take this way, or the other? I have probably been staring at many doors for way too long in order to shut them completely. Should I become a comic book artist? An illustrator? A cover artist? A portrait artist? A caricaturist? A political cartoonist? A fine art painter? Should I make a statement with my art? Is it possible not to? Should I become more progressive, more artsy, more bohemian? Am I an artist who wants to tell stories? Am I a storyteller? Am I any good? All these questions have been debated to me by me and I haven't found any answers yet. What I do know by now is that I AM an artist and if God permit I will still be in the years to follow. Thus, I was lost but now I've been found. So without further ado, let me showcase the art I've created in these couple of years that I'd been wandering through the corridors of doubt and growth.

In my attempt at becoming a comic book artist, improvement has been very slow, mainly because I haven't done much in that regard. In all of the career options I have previously stated, none is more ungrateful and demanding than making comics. Not only that, but it is also undervalued by the majority of the audience. Could anyone believe that painting a realistic portrait in oils is easier than making comics? I wouldn't blame you if you don't. The hard work and hours you have to put into these well though out pages in order to make them look professional are so much that it is not economically feasible to invest my time in that area for the low, or zero payment I could get per page. I trust that if I'd do it every day it would become easier but in order for that to happen I would need to get paid. Since there is an oversaturated market of comic book artists, the average rate for unknown artists is very low and the competition is fierce. Don't let me start on how hard it is to break in the industry living in Ecuador. I made a couple of pages here or there for a personal project and thinking of my time as a proper investment but reality soon checks in and puts a stop in any momentum I could've achieved. I have gone to a couple of comic conventions hoping my big break will finally happen with no success yet. Sometimes I wonder if participating in the artist alley is a waste of my time, but on the bright side I meet fellow artists, fans, and get to make a buck or two selling merchandise of my art, that mainly consist in prints and t-shirts, to cover my travel expenses. I don't mean to be whiney about this though, after all twenty years ago I would have never dreamed that I would get the chance to be in the artist alley and have fans of my own.

 In my attempt at becoming a cover artist and/or illustrator, progress has been noticeable. My dream job for the time being is becoming a cover artist. In the past I would have given everything to be a comic book artist, but back then I didn't have a clue about practicality and income of that particular career choice. The time spent making comics is not justifiable economically speaking, at least not if you are not a famous artist or considered to be a fast one. I'm not one or the other.  I love to draw and tell stories with my illustrations and you could do just that by creating covers as well. Sometimes I think being a traditional painter would bring me more money, but first and foremost you have to be very passionate about a subject to make a statement, very crafty to convey that message, or in some cases, very skillful to be a con man and sell something to pass as art. What I really enjoy is telling stories, and painting covers do that in one single image. It mixes the best of both worlds. I've been making progress slowly, but the good thing of advancing forward is that you keep adding the miles (sorry for the running reference). I'm probably missing and art director or creator to tell me what the story is about in order to use my full resources to create something special and original. Right now I'm just making cover homages and fan art, which tend not to be specific since I intend to sell them to the public. For instance, a comic book cover about Thanos (the main villain of the Avengers if you happen to be living under a rock) could show him dancing with Death in a huge ballroom (alla Beauty and the Beast) with his infinity gauntlet and all the gems on his right hand, which happens to be holding Death's hand as well. The spectators are the skeletons of all the Marvel superheroes dressed in their usual costumes admiring this slow dance. This cover could be done using mixed media (traditional and digital) in order to convey a more classic look with a modern twist. I never seen this done and it would convey a clear message that in this particular comic Thanos is victorious and that the Marvel Universe is doomed. I would love to paint this but maybe it wouldn't sell as many prints as just plain old Thanos with his gauntlet as seen below. Or maybe it will, what do I know about selling my art?

Finished version

Step 3
Step 1

I'm also doing a lot of commissions, which involve mostly fan art. Somewhere I read that in order to be a fulfilled artist you need to do paid work but also dedicate some time making your art. In my humble experience this is true. It is not that you cannot enjoy drawing or painting a paid job, but you have to remember that you do this because you really love the craft and what better way to show it but by drawing something from your heart. I recently saw a pic of a cosplayer dressed as Bane, I was inspired by the pose and started to paint him in the way I see him in my head. I also did a tutorial on how to create a comic cover for the Comic Con Ecuador. I decided to do a homage cover of The Flash #1 (volume 2) released in June 1987 featuring Wally West as the new Flash. Now that he has another costume I wanted to showcase him in this fan made cover. Somehow I do not like the painted job as much as the previously inked one. I enjoy teaching and I have always considered it as a viable complement in my artistic endeavor. Sadly, when you are an artist what you may lack is the time to spend doing just that.

Did I mention I did a comic cover recreation of Action Comics # 1? Somebody commissioned me to do this and I, like the good bounty hunter that I am, didn't ask any questions. It was a privilege to replicate the lines initially drawn by Joe Shuster. When you do this type of work you end up questioning and learning all the decisions the artist made when illustrating it. In this case, this cover was made in 1938, so it's been 80 years since he made those artistic choices.

The last Inktober I did was in 2016. For those who do not know, Inktober is a challenge created by artist Jake Parker, which consist on drawing with ink (it can be digital ink as well. I asked!) one illustration per day for the month of October.  I think I was so passionate with the project that I really enjoyed each and every one of them, some were more successful than others but I enjoyed the challenge itself. I'm including my favorite ones in this Monsters Inktober 2016 special.

The Saint of Killers was an tribute to the late Steve Dillon
In my attempt to becoming a portrait artist I decided to have the best of both worlds. On one hand I would paint what I'm passionate about but also taking into consideration monetizing this project in the future. On the other hand, I would paint portraits for private clients. My passion project is named "Icons" and is done mostly digitally. Even though artists tend to improve with repetition, sometimes it is essential to take a course here or there. I took the "Realistic Portrait with Jason Seiler" course in I had never seen his work and if I had maybe I wouldn't know it was by him. For all interested in painting portraits this is the course for you. Seiler ( is a very talented artist and a spectacular teacher. Somehow after this course I upped my game. Sometimes you can listen to 10 hours worth of classes and with just one sentence (which you may have heard before but didn't mean anything to you by then) you realize what you have to do in order to improve. In this case, I understood that I had to paint what I see, not what I think I see. Once I got that out of the way I started focusing more on tones, shapes, values, etc. I'm really satisfied about my "Icons" collection because these characters are such legends that I want to immortalize them in a book (not that they are in need of my help though). I'm planning to continue painting the icons in the next couple of years, since I want to amount to at least 50 paintings. Maybe in the future I will be printing a coffee table book with all these paintings. I also had the privilege to do a private commission for a good friend who is a soccer fanatic. This is a painting I did of "Kitu" Díaz who plays for Barcelona Ecuador.

My tribute to Stan "The Man" Lee (1922-2018)

Kitu Díaz

Painting portraits is hard and time consuming, but luckily it comes naturally to me. Some artists have this natural ability to draw perspective, to understand and apply colors, to paint abstracts, or to create poses and action scenes. For me painting portraits is like second nature. I know I have a lot to learn regarding this area, but I've seen successful artists who can't paint a face or catch the essence of the subject. I did most of these portraits digitally. For me digital painting is just like painting but with other set of tools. It would be the same difference as comparing oils with watercolor, you know the principles and know what you want for the end result but the tools are just different and you have to learn how to use them correctly. Saying that, you may feel more comfortable with one tool rather than the other. In my case, I'm very comfortable with my digital brushes (for the entire process on how I approach digital painting you can watch the time-lapse painting of my daughter Juliana on youtube. You can check all my videos at my website by clicking here

Even though I haven't painted in oils since art school I wanted to prove everybody that my skills weren't coming from a computer software. Hence, I decided to paint a portrait of my father in oils. As expected I got a bit frustrated with the media but got the hang of it rather quickly. In the end, I used the same approach as I use on my digital paintings with the difference that I got to mix colors and that is always a challenge. In the end I was very satisfied with the end result and fortunately my father was happy as well. What really amazed me is that although I've been painting portraits for years, because of this painting people started to really consider the possibility that I may be a real artist indeed. I know digital art is not well understood by many (it is a rather new media in art) and I know I don't have to prove my craft or my worth to anybody, but we humans are in a constant crave for recognition. I've been noticing for quite a while that people have been minimizing my effort because of the tool I use, and that my friends is just preposterous.  I'm posting some of the pictures of my artistic process in completing this oil painting.

 I may not feel as a master in art just yet. I seriously doubt that I will feel any different when I reach my 10,000 hours. Heck, maybe I will never feel like a master but as a striving artist that wants to better his craft everyday until he perishes. To me that is the essence of art, to evolve and communicate what you are passionate about. I know for a fact that I have come a long way from the beginning of my journey and although I have many goals yet to achieve I can't be so hard to myself and not recognize my own achievements. People may never recognize your talent and hard work, or even comprehend it. I'm not expecting an award anytime soon, although it would be nice. They may never see what you have endured to get where you are now. It is easy to justify what you do by calling it 'talent' and although I do recognize that some special ability or predisposition exists, I resent the word for the meaning people give to it. Talent by itself is nothing if you do not sharpen those skills and properly learn the craft. In the end hard work is what makes all the difference in the world between a talented artist and a great one. I had my doubts, but the minute my only choices were the ones involving making art I knew I was on the right track and I hope I won't ever have to deviate from it.