Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Square Kat #2: He Who Shall Remain Nameless

O.K. Having a little trouble finding a name for this Square Kat, but it will happen eventually. The first one was a little easier to figure out for some reason. Of course, I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Rots wormed their way into an art exhibit

Somehow, somebody out there either has a sense of humor or has absolutely no idea what they're doing. I'd like to think it's the sense of humor thing.

Earlier this year I entered Orangatang into an legitimate art exhibit, and somehow he managed to get accepted into the show. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts holds a Regional Juried Art Exhibition each year at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Ligonier. This is their 16th year.

The image over there to the right shows Orangatang in situ at the opening, taken just to prove he was actually there. No Photoshopping or anything. Notice how I couldn't get even one person to look in his direction. They were too busy drinking. It was an open bar, after all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Buster the Great

Here's a new Square Kat for you. His name is Buster, named after an all-black cat my family had while I was growing up. Yes, he had an attitude. He would hide under the open stairs to the basement and wait for anybody who walked down to swat at their ankles through the stairs. And somehow we never cut his claws. In hindsight I suppose that was a mistake on our part.

Buster, to the relief of most everyone involved, isn't with us anymore.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Square Kat #1: Nacho

I decided to paint these initial Square Kats digitally, post them on The Rots' Facebook page, and crowdsource some names. It looks like this first little guy is named "Nacho."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween stuff as cheap as humanly possible

Now through Halloween, get stuff from these Rots' Zazzle stores as cheap as it will ever be (they won't let me sell it any cheaper):

iFrank
Rita
Skulls
Vlad
Witchipoo

You'll find t-shirts and posters and postcards and binders and even Ked's shoes! There's something different in each store, so make sure to take a look around before you decide.

And I want to thank you sincerely for all of your support! I can't do this without you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Square Kats

I started playing around with some ideas for kitty kats, and these little guys were totally ready to slink out the end of my pencil. They were easy for me to love right away, which isn't easy for me to do. I'm usually pretty critical of my initial sketches for a project.

Here's the sketch of all the kats in a row:


The first thing I could see them on was across the chest of a t-shirt. Your grandma's. Wouldn't she look cute in that? In a Rotty Kat t-shirt? I wonder if she would notice they were Rots.

I'm thinking of all kinds of katty variations: on t-shirts without a background; on note cards with a background; a single kat on the back of an iPad case. Depending on how they turn out in color, I'm thinking these kitties could be exploited for quite a long time.

They're already ticked, so why not?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sharky's Café

My napkin @ Sharky's Café, 3960 Rt 30, Latrobe PA.

Somebody else's sketchbook book

Gris Grimly (one of my favorite illustrators) decided to publish a book totally full of sketches he's made over a 13-year period. (Which 13-year period, I really don't know.) It's called Gris Grimly's Atrum Secretum: 13 Years of Hidden Truths, and will be available on Amazon October 1.

The book is beautiful, inspiring and discouraging all at once. Some of what he considers sketches I wouldn't be able to do on my best day. They make me want to do better at the same time they're punching me in the face and screaming there's really no hope.

Except for a title page, one end page explaining about the book, and copyright info just inside the end paper, the book is all about the sketches. The only text in the book was written when the sketches were drawn, so pages aren't filled with insight and analysis or whatever filler usually invades books like this.
 
I bought my copy directly from Gris, so mine is a little different than the one available on Amazon. (Mine looks like the one above.) In mine, he drew an original sketch on one of the pages before he sent it out (image to the right) and included a signed and numbered sketch coupon "certificate" to authenticate the drawing as original.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sorry, I've been neglecting you

It's been a while, hasn't it?

I've been up to something, likely no good, and I've been keeping you out of the loop. I've been writing. Yes, and designing. And drawing pictures for a...a book.

I know. I know. But I've had you in my heart the whole time.

Especially when I animated the book trailer:



You thought I was joking, didn't you. I would never joke about something like this.

I also wouldn't joke about this:

I put the book project up on Kickstarter to raise money so I could publish it independently.

Please don't cry. Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball. Here, take a look for yourself...


I'll still be there for you when this is all over. Wait for me, will you?

P.S. Did you like the video?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to The Rots!

On June 29, 2006, I drew the first page of what later became "The Rots." The scan of that first sketchbook page is over there to the right. You can click on it to see it bigger if you want.

I know, it pretty much sucks. But that's why I drew it in a sketchbook and not on something expensive or important. It wasn't meant to be viewed by the general public. I was just getting my feet wet, and artwork like this was very new to me (see my fine art portfolio here).

The Rots have grown up since then (a lot), and in celebration of their fifth birthday I decided to paint Rodney as I thought he might look today (see below). Rodney was the very first Rot (he's in the upper left corner of the sketchbook page above), and he's changed a bit, hopefully for the better.


Over the past few weeks I've posted some photos of Rodney as I was painting him, so you can scroll down to see in-progress images or click here to see all the updates on the same page.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rodney: Maybe he's finished, maybe he's not

Did some more work on the Rodney painting, and I'm thinking he might be done, but I may go back in and tweak a little more if I see something that doesn't feel quite right.



I collaged in a few newspaper headline clippings which are probably a little hard to see in these photos, but I know they're there, so that works for me. I also gave him a little friend in the background.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Rodney" painting update

For my latest trick, I'll post some magical paintings all in a row so it looks like it only took a tiny second of work between each one.

Ready?

Hold onto your butts...


Ta-da!

He isn't finished just yet. I'll post more of him a little later.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Rots' Fifth-Year Anniversary

On June 29, The Rots will be celebrating their fifth-year anniversary (or should that be birthday?). Woo-hoo and all that sort of thing. It was on that date back in 2006 when I drew the very first Rot ever:


Rodney, the very first Rot ever

Seeing as how he's five years old now (and all grown up), I thought it would be a stellar idea to paint him for the occasion. The problem is, The Rots have grown up quite a bit since Rodney was born, and I decided to give him a bit of an update.

I'm painting him on a 24"x30" board (birch), and decided to try to step outside my comfort zone a little. I'm adding some collaging into the mix and also using colors that I normally don't. First up, I sketched something close to the old version of Rodney on the board, just for me. Except for this photo, nobody will even know he's there. I ended up covering that sketch up in the next step.

After that, I completely covered the board with comic strip pages from our local newspaper (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Not only did that give me a texture of comics to paint over, but it also gave me a physical texture of wrinkles and gel medium-textured brush strokes to catch the paint, which worked out perfectly.

Next I worked on the background. My original plan was to paint the purple as an underpainting for an off-white sky, but I liked the color so much it pretty much stayed.

Then I sketched in the new idea I had with a little of the yellow I was using, fully intending to leave whatever yellow marks that didn't get covered up with further paint as-is (we'll see if I change my mind later).

After that I just started filling in the blanks. Tomorrow I'll finish his skin tones with some much darker shades before I move on to whatever part of the painting I decide to tackle next.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vincent in the sketch phase

To celebrate the upcoming 100th birthday of Vincent Price, I decided to Rot him. Here's the initial sketch, final color version in the works.

Happy Birthday, Vincent. Thank you for scaring the living bejesus out of me when I was young and vulnerable.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Alice & Ruthie (an oldie but a goodie)

Alice & Ruthie
I don't think I've ever posted this image here on the blog so, even though this one goes back a couple of years I'm gonna do it.

The illustration was based on a story my mom used to tell about riding on the handlebars of her sister's bicycle.

Oh, and what happens when you brake.

I guess it wasn't pretty.

This would be those few seconds before that dreadful bicycle-braking incident when life was still all smiles and "weeeeee" for everyone involved.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Desperately Seeking Tim Burton

Dear Mr. Burton,

I've found myself in a desperate rut, the likes of which you've managed to retrieve me from in the past, and I'm hoping you will be available again sometime soon.

January a year ago, I made a trek to the Museum of Modern Art, specifically to view your work on display there. I bought a membership just so I wouldn't have to stand in line with all the other saps who had to wait to get in.

The rooms that housed your exhibit were terribly crowded; I'm sure we were well beyond the building's fire code. Sardines, as it were. But I managed to see everything, just to make sure I didn't miss anything that might later turn out to be something I would have liked to have seen.

After I squeezed my way through all the rooms I took a breather. I bought some stuff. I ate some stuff and, in spite of the sardine thing, I decided I needed to get myself back in the middle of that exhibit.

So I did.

This time I knew exactly what I needed to see again, so I jumped out of the line that snaked around the rooms and headed straight for the drawings.

The drawings, as you know, were watercolor outlined in pen, so there was really nothing out of the ordinary there. Using the media in that way was nothing new, and had never been a source of inspiration for me. So that couldn't really have been the attraction.

Why was I still there? Why couldn't I take my eyes off these images? Why were these images so much better than what I conjured in my own sketchbooks?

I think what sucked me back into those rooms and set my sparks flying was that unrestrained childlike imagination. How does an artist allow himself to let everything fly out the window like that? The caricatures were well beyond caricatures. Arms and legs and tails and horns and whatever other body parts that could conceivably be conceived as a body part were attached to shapes that weren't really bodies until simulated body parts had been attached.

But you knew that.

Stripes and checkerboards and spirals and dipping horizons added to my acute sense of instability, and all I could do was stand in front of them and try to soak in as much as my little brain could soak in, in the hopes that some day that freedom would spew out in my own work.

On the train ride home I drew. Over the next few months I drew some more. I was inspired and ready to take on my own sketchbook demons and wrestle them into something I could proudly show the world.

Things seep away over time, however. It's been another year, and I seem to have lost that thing. That permission you had given me to create outrageousnous. Those weird images that had been crisscrossing around in my head. And, ultimately, the hope that somewhere down the line it would all be worth it.

Dear Tim (do you mind if I call you Tim?), please send me a sign. Something. Anything. Something to get me back on track. Something to help me find my monsters. I'm afraid right now they're lost, and I'm also afraid they're scared. And hungry. I know I am. I desperately need to bring them home.

Please help me bring them back home.

Signed,

Nora

P.S. Thank you kindly for allowing my family to give me your art book last Christmas and I'm eagerly awaiting your and Danny's CD box set, as my Alice in Wonderland soundtrack is quite possibly wearing thin.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One Last Goodbye


Well, my skateboard's gone. He was a good little dude, but we always knew he'd have to leave someday.

So it's up to you guys now, and here's what you need to do:
  1. Check out the Montana Skatepark Association's site to see what they're about.
  2. Read about last year's On Deck charity auction and exhibit.
  3. Watch for this year's skateboards to be uploaded to their site in April.
  4. If you're anywhere near Missoula, Montana on May 6, take a look at their First Friday Art Walk.
  5. While you're at Missoula's First Friday Art Walk, take a peek inside The Brink gallery where you'll find all the skateboards on display.
  6. Find The Rots' board and take lots of photos.
  7. Send those photos to me: nora@the-rots.com.
  8. On May 21, bid for your favorite skateboard at the live auction.
  9. Pat yourself on the back for supporting free, public skateparks and the arts.
That's it! Great job

Friday, March 11, 2011

Skateboard Reg may (may) be finished

May have finished my skateboard painting up today, except for the varnish. I'll take a look at him again tomorrow and see what he says.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reg grew himself a goatee

Another productive day in the studio.

I got some work done on Reg's shirt and then added his goatee. Still need to do some tweaking on both and then work more on his shoes, but he's getting there.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Skateboard painting update

Another day in the studio working on my deck for the Montana Skatepark Association's On Deck VI charity auction and exhibit.

Today I started with a little underpainting on Reg's pants.

And then I painting both his pants and hair (which turned out to be the same rusty color).

Here's a close-up of his hair.

On this next part you'll have to use your imagination until I can get back in the studio. The shirt and shoes are only underpainted at this point, and they just happen to be that same rusty color from his pants and hair. I know right now he looks B-O-R-I-N-G (like, "What were you thinking?" kind of boring), but I promise he'll be a little more colorful next time I post.

You can click on any of the images to see them biggie-sized.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Camul postcards good to go

I've finally broke down and worked on some Camul merchandise.

First up: Postcards

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. That I did it for Michelle. Well, I'll have you know, I totally did.

So, Michelle, here you go.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Reg got himself some skin

To-Do:
1. Run for three miles (36° outside-double bonus)
2. Eat brunch @ Ruthie's
3. Let Ruthie do the dishes
4. Work extra hard in the studio

5. Feel pretty good about myself

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Another On Deck day

Worked a bit on my board for the Montana Skatepark Association's "On Deck" charity auction and exhibit.


First, I painted a rough outline of the image on the board (above) and did some paint mixing. He says his name is Reg by the way (and pleased to meet you, thanks). I used Alizarin Crimson for the sketch, if you're keeping score.
Next came the underpainting (Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow).

Then the background painting. Not sure yet how finished this part is, so I'll paint Reg first and then decide what else I need to do with the blue (Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Utrecht Unbleached Titanium, Payne's Gray and Titanium White).

Probably add some clouds in the mix later on.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uh. Oh. I guess I'm not as original as I thought.

While I was online this morning, I did a little surfing around the gallery on the Montana Skatepark Association site from On Deck V (last year's), and I got an unexpected punch in the gut. One of the decks from last year was painted and doodled similarly to what I had planned on doing on mine.

Ouch.

This one isn't happening.
I sort of had to take a step back to square one, but not so much. I had an idea of what I wanted to do from the beginning, but then got sidetracked when I saw my sketchbook page with all the doodles. I get sidetracked easily. I could still use that very first idea as a backup, even though I hadn't done any sketches for it.

So I went back to the studio this afternoon, sanded the wood fill down from yesterday, and started coating the board with gesso. While the first coat was drying, I played with some new color mixtures for a background. When I first thought about this idea, I couldn't see it with any other background other than purple. Not sure why. I don't really use purple, but there you go.

The new mixtures are a combination of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin CrimsonPayne's Gray (which is bluer and grayer than the swatch in the link shows), Utrecht Unbleached Titanium (different than Liquitex) and Titanium White.

I'll be painting the little guy on
the bottom left, with a replacement
foot from the sketch to the right.
While the second coat of gesso was drying I started playing with some sketches of that original idea. At first I was going to do the skeleton version (on the upper right), but I played around with the little guy on the bottom left, and now have decided to use him for my final painting.


Three coats of gesso, and
it's ready to paint.
One more coat of gesso, and I'm as far as I can go until it's dry.