Sunday, September 22, 2013

alien menagerie #7 • spring

This is a painting that I've had around for quite a while in a mostly completed state. I added the final bits to this last month and I'm finally comfortable with calling it finished.

oil on wood panel 18" x 20"

Alien menagerie #7 is "SPRING" from a series devoted to the four seasons. 

I haven't done these in any particular order, but three are now finished.

It's the first day of autumn here in the Northern hemisphere, but south of the equator the September equinox brings spring!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

alien menagerie #12 • the atomic alien

The atomic alien #1 tunes in from the new frontier, a retro-future where bubble helmets are all the rage and time stands still. I bet they listen to Dave Brubeck out there. This one is a small, 6" x 8" painting. I'm pretty sure there will be more...

oil on wood panel 12" x 12"

Monday, September 9, 2013

alien menagerie #9 • the red alien

I've recently completed a few paintings, two of which have been on and off my easel at various times. First up to share is The Red Alien. I concepted this a couple years back as part of a Red/Yellow/Blue series of paintings. Pretty much everything I plan for alien menagerie is, or could be part of a small series of works.  The thing is, I get more ideas for pieces than I have time to paint so for now the Red Alien hangs alone.

oil on wood panel 12" x 12"

Color theory in the foundation studies at the art school I attended, the Columbus College of Art & Design is built around the Munsell system so it was about this time of year in 1980 that I first encountered it. The first project is learning how colors can be understood as a combination of hue, value and chroma and starts out as loose color chips:

to be assembled into a set of 10 color charts

After that, it's a year long series of small gouache paintings looking at different aspects of color and their combinations. Mixing and organizing colors by these principles has been a natural part of my work ever since then. I couldn't imagine doing a series of aliens organized by color without building in an homage to Albert Munsell.

I'll be showing this, along with several other new Alien Menagerie pieces at Illuxcon later this week in the Allentown Art Museum.

Friday, August 30, 2013


acrylic on Fabriano 300 watercolor paper 8" x 10"

I've been moving from one painting to another, so it's been a while since I've had a new alien to post. 

I finished x.32 last week, but I started it earlier this summer. After painting for a while, I changed my mind about what color I wanted the polka dots to be, and started another version. Then I changed my mind again, and went back to complete the original. Alien x.32 was delayed by indecision over blue or yellow polka dots.

It will be available and on display at Illuxcon 6  September 14-15th.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aliens for sale:

I've restocked my web shop with nine originals. These are acrylic on watercolor paper - 8" X 10"   Only $150 for a piece of original art from my alien menagerie project.  **shipping is free**

Monday, June 10, 2013

x.31 - the zombie from another planet

Things get a little more gruesome than normal with this addition to my alien menagerie as I try on the idea of a 'zombie from another planet'.  My goal was not to loose too much of the character of what I hope my aliens project. They tend to be a benign bunch. When a friend of mine suggested that  a previous alien, x.30 looked to be inspired by Lovecraft, I wondered where another horror theme might lead too.

acrylic on Fabriano 300 watercolor paper 8" x 10"

Speaking of zombies, recently I went to the opening for Travis Louie's ZOMBIE show that's at Last Rites Gallery until June 26th. I really enjoyed seeing all the different solutions that the artists came up with when challenged to interpret the theme.

Several artists: Travis Louie, Stan Manoukian, Bobby Chiu, and Vincent Di Nguyen came up with botanical solutions, which both surprised and impressed. Mark Garro and Vince Natale also contributed  a couple of wonderful, off-center paintings. You can see the entire show online here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

drawing from memory

When I'm working in the world of my alien menagerie, I often draw from nostalgic inspiration in some form or other.

I was recently browsing through some older sketchbooks of aliens, and this particular one caught my eye. When I sketched this, I was working from the memory of a toy I once had.  I wasn't trying to recreate it, so much as see how it might inspire something of my own. It was a rubber finger puppet that I remember getting at checkout in a grocery store when I was five or six.  I had a pretty clear image of how it looked, but I had know idea what it was called or how to find it either. 

In the time that's past since I made that sketch the mystery of it's inspiration was resolved.

It turns out the finger puppet was a RUBBER UGLY.  RUBBER UGLIES were a spin-off of UGLY STICKERS- the rubber monster on the left was based on the sticker pictured at right. Artwork by Norm Saunders.

I wrote about UGLY STICKERS in an earlier post. They were also another memory from childhood that I couldn't quite pin down. The images were vivid, but the name of them…not so much.  

It was the publication of a book of Norm Saunders work, and the additional discovery of a website devoted to him, that connected names with the images I remembered. Two mysteries solved at one time.

~ here's alien menagerie x.30 

acrylic on Arches 300 watercolor paper 8" x 10"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

enigma 1

I just received a box of postcards I had printed of "Enigma Alien 1". I painted this for the Animal Kingdom show at Gallery Nucleus. If you'd like one, email me your address and I'll drop it in the mail to you!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tomorrow and Beyond

I'd like to make more frequent posts about influences and inspirations, and there's no better place to start than with the art book "Tomorrow and Beyond".

I bought it when it was published in 1978. My copy is in well-loved condition, and it's a miracle the pages aren't falling out.

 I had a habit of trying to learn and identify any artists work if it appeared on a science fiction novel at the bookstore.This book was a fair representation of illustrators working in the field at the time. It was divided into thematic sections such as Aliens, Astronauts, Symbolism, and Robots.

There were mainstream illustrators:  Brad Holland, Murray Tinkleman, and Wilson McClean, veterans of the genre Richard Powers, John Schoenherr and Paul Lehr and recent arrivals Michael Whelan, Don Maitz and Wayne Barlowe!

I feel it's inadequate though to mention just a few of the names, when I can post an image of the back of the book with all the artists listed.

I didn't just pour over the book, amazed by the work within it.I made a stop motion animation filming the individual illustrations, timed to the Alan Parson's Project song "I, Robot" for a high school film class. 

It was at the core of my small, but ever growing collection of art books from the genre. It sat on my shelf with "Studio", "Flights of Icarus", and Starlog's "Space Art"  traveling with me to art school, always a handy reference.

The excitement I felt when I looked at all that work, depicting strange other worlds,  is the same feeling I'm hoping to capture when I'm working on a painting today. Here are a few shots from the book.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the enigma aliens at Gallery Nucleus

Last night "The Animal Kingdom" opened at Gallery Nucleus and alien menagerie 10 & 11 were part of this show.These are small pieces, measuring 6" X 8". Working this size, I chose to focus mostly on the aliens, and keep the environment stark, aiming for a surreal tone overall. The enigma aliens inhabit dream-space, their character a mystery.

Here's a video showing progress on enigma alien 2.

I wasn't ready to leave their world behind, so I made this extract depicting an alien which was a contender for enigma 2.

I'd like too thanks Wade Buchanan for inviting me to participate. "The Animal Kingdom" is viewable online here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake!

~some of the sketches working through the design for this piece.

새해 많이 받으세요
chúc mng năm mi

Happy Lunar New Year!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

enigma alien • x.29

I ended 2012 and began 2013 working on the enigma aliens. Two of them are small oil paintings which are going to Gallery Nucleus as part of a show next month. I've only posted a couple very early progress photos of them over on Facebook, but I can share this enigma alien extract now. It grew from a small sketch that I drew when I was trying to decide what the second enigma would be. Not this one, it turns out, but I liked carrying it forward as one of my acrylic on watercolor paper extracts. I hope you do to!

acrylic on Arches 300 watercolor paper 8" x 10"

Monday, January 7, 2013

alien evolution

In 1974 (or there about) I did this drawing of a guy who I named "Neptonian". A lot of the inspiration for this character came from the Outer Space Men toy, Astro-Nautilus (with a bit of Star Trek the Animated series thrown in). I still remember drawing this and how much fun it was to do.

Seventeen years later I was still painting aliens. This one was done as a book cover for the James White novel the "Genocidal Healer" in 1991.

Astronomer • alien menagerie #4, was done eighteen years after "Genocidal Healer" (thirty-five years since the "Neptonian"). I'm still painting aliens.

*it's still a really enjoyable thing to be doing