Thursday, July 24, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

These three drawings appear in the current issue of New York Press. I was asked to choose three ideas from a list of conspiracy theories to illustrate. There were some fun ones in there, and these are the three I ended up going with:
  • Thousands of immigrants live in Chinatown's tunnels
  • The city's recycling is actually being dumped in landfills
  • Google's Manhattan offices sit atop an Internet nexus
I had a lot of fun with these, especially the Chinatown one. I'm always interested with what is hidden behind the walls in subway stations. I've heard a lot of stories about Chinatown's tunnels being used to shuttle people to secret bootleg shopping locations. I took my inspiration for this piece from one of my favorite illustrators, Rien Poortvliet, who is famous for illustrating the Gnome books.
He has a couple really nice cut-away style paintings illustrating the Gnome's homes. I'd love to get really involved in a larger painting like that. It's a lot of fun trying to figure out how the rooms work and add some secret passages.

You can also see these on my Black & White page.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Child's Restaurant, South 4th Street

Here are some buildings I sat down to draw a couple weeks ago. They are located on South 4th street in Brooklyn, between Havemeyer and Roebling (right across the park from where I did this drawing).
I had set out that day to find somewhere to sketch but ended up wandering around Williamsburg for a good hour without finding a suitable spot to set up my camping chair. I actually found a lot of buildings and things that I wanted to draw on my search but there was nowhere to sit! It's hard to find a nice, shaded sidewalk to sit on sometimes.

I decided to try again another time, so I started to head home but came across this scene on the way. I liked the combination of the different styles of buildings and the vandalized van parked in front.

I was also interested in the plaque on the middle building that says Child's, 1922. Child's was a popular restaurant chain that had locations throughout New York. There is even a landmarked Child's restaurant on the boardwalk in Coney Island.

I found an old Child's menu from January, 1900. If I had wandered by this building 108 years ago I could have ordered a sirloin steak for 35 cents with some soda crackers and milk for another 10 cents.

Friday, July 18, 2008

NBA Friday: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, you love him or you hate him, or maybe you sort of like him and hate him at the same time (like me). There are those games where he doesn't shoot in the first half to prove a point that he can pass, or the games where he’ll score and get accused of not passing. There are the Michael Jordan comparisons and instances in games where it almost seems like he's thinking, "What would MJ do?" He has a flair for the dramatic, and sometimes it almost appears forced. But despite all of these things, he is a lethal scorer and the League's best player.

The snakes on the left of the painting represent the Kobe Bryant everyone appreciates. The lethal scorer, the competitor and the winner. The nickname he gave himself, Black Mamba (20-40 grown men could die from the venom contained in a single bite from the fastest moving snake in the world) is appropriate and works in his favor.

On the other side, the venomous black mambas turn on Kobe, threatening to bite. These snakes represent the negativity towards Kobe, much of which is brought on by his own behavior. He relates himself to a black mamba and it turns on him.

In the middle there is a black and red snake, representing the Michael Jordan comparisons that have followed him his whole career. He's been snake bitten with the curse of being the next MJ, and even if he succeeds in that, people will look upon him negatively.

To complement the main painting, I did two smaller pieces with two Kobes showing the same idea. The Kobe on the left is aided by the mamba persona that drives him to the basket with deadly force. On the right, his mambas pull him down, while a predator bird (the secretary bird)grabs a snake in its mouth.

These pieces were a lot of fun to paint. In the larger piece I painted the branches to look similar to some trees in New York that almost have a camouflage, snake-like appearance.

You can buy a print of the Kobe Bryant portrait from my online store. You can also see this piece a bit larger on my Portraiture page, or on SLAMonline in the Links by Lang Whitaker.

Next week's team is the Boston Celtics, the final team in my 30 week series of NBA portraits.

Friday, July 11, 2008

NBA Friday: Tim Duncan

Welcome back to NBA Friday! For those of you visiting for the first time, this is my weekly illustration of an NBA player. I started this project back in the first week of the NBA season, painting one player from one team every week for 30 weeks (check the Portraiture page for my previous player portraits).

This is Tim Duncan, also affectionately referred to as the Tim Duncan Robot. A stoic man of rare outbursts of expression, a game as fundamental as James Naismith intended and athleticism and basketball mechanics resembling that of a robot; behold the half man, half robot known as Tim Duncan.

I had a lot of fun designing Duncan as a robot, getting those mechanical shoulders just the right width and trying to imagine how all the parts would move and work. I wanted to try to design the robot Duncan to be built like he moves on the court. I gave him a simple swivel waist, long arms perfect for bank shots and I used a cold, simple metal with a flat finish to reduce flashy play and encourage a polished game.

The spurs were added to his adidas metal feet for balance and as small wind generators (in addition to fending off approaching opponents. Retractable spurs are also located in the elbows).

Tim Duncan is a 6'11" forward/center for the San Antonio Spurs. He has repeatedly beaten my Phoenix Suns in the Playoffs and has won 4 championships. That is all I want to say about the man, or the robot.

We are down to the last two teams for NBA Friday. The two teams who faced off in the Finals, the Lakers and Celtics are coming up in the next two weeks. Next week belongs to the Lakers, so check back next Friday!

You can see this piece larger on the Portraiture page, as well as on SLAMonline in the Links by Lang Whitaker. You can also buy a Limited Edition Print of this piece in my shop.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Williamsburg Bridge

I set up my camping chair last week next to the Williamsburg Bridge. I was sitting at South 6th Street and Wythe Avenue, across from a small old building surrounded with barbed wire that contains a courier service. That neighborhood is developing a lot, with condos going up and nice restaurants moving in. There's a lot of charm around there, the buildings are old and unique, the signs are hand painted and fading and there are a lot of places to draw.

The Williamsburg Bridge connects my neighborhood of Williamsburg with the Lower East Side in Manhattan, spanning the East River. When the bridge was completed in 1903 it set the record for the longest suspension bridge in the world and remained in the number one spot until 1924.

It carries automobiles, the J M Z subway lines and has a pedestrian walkway which allows for some great views.

Monday, July 7, 2008

And One Interview

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Carolyn for And One, her Cleveland Cavaliers blog hosted by The Plain Dealer on

You can read the interview by clicking here to find out everything you've ever wanted to know about me that I didn't put in my About section.

Thanks Carolyn!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Day on the East River

Chantal and I took in the amazing fireworks display at the East River Park on Independence Day. It was definitely the most impressive display I've ever seen, including some new cube shaped fireworks and another kind that exploded high in the sky and slowly floated back down to earth. We were right on the river and had a great view of Manhattan.

We got there nice and early to get a good spot to do some sketching before it got dark.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ottawa Magazine: Crocodile Dundee

I painted this portrait of Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee for the current issue of Ottawa Magazine.

It accompanied a wine quiz with the question:

Who is known as the father of the Australian wine industry?
a) James Busby
b) Crocodile Dundee
c) Jim Brewer
d) David Adelaide

Does anyone know the answer? I always marveled at Crocodile Dundee's knife throwing ability. That's something I hope to learn how to do one day.