Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Black and White

I have five black and white drawings in a show at Compound Gallery in Portland, opening this Thursday. I was asked by Chris Stevens to illustrate the title pages for a comics anthology he had written but has yet to be published. The original artwork is ink and acrylic on bristol, 9 1/2" x 12 1/4" for $800 each. Please contact the gallery @ 503.796.2733 for scans of the original artwork and to purchase.


> I tried to keep my approach simple, since I didn't want the art to compete with the interior art. These illustrations are meant to evoke the feeling of the story but not repeat the imagery drawn by each cartoonist.


> I was happy to draw an introductory spread to a story by my old friend, Farel Dalrymple. I thought I had drawn those buildings loosely, but they turned out to look overly photographic.


> These drawings were all blocked out in Photoshop, just rough shapes to establish the black and white. I lightboxed the shapes onto bristol and painted without much sketching, unlike my usual process.


> I had some trouble with this particular piece because I used matte medium to seal the drawing in, whereas the other pieces were sealed with gloss medium. Consequently, the blacks weren't as deep and crisp and didn't scan very well.


> The ear is my favorite part of this drawing. I had complete freedom with these title spreads, and it was a pleasure to loosen up and keep things simple for a change.

24 Comments:

Ladres said...

I like : )

10:30 PM  
Kenichi Hoshine said...

Of your recent work, these excite me the most. I like the feeling of immediacy.

10:52 PM  
Dion said...

Wow, these are great..!
You made a step forward here & I agree with Mister Kenichi, there is a feeling of immedediacy & yet they are very clever constructed/illustrated/painted...
They would work very good as (front-&back-)covers...

11:59 PM  
TROPICAL TOXIC said...

looks great. you managed yet again to reinvent yourself!
love the clash of contour vs. painting in the first one.
asaf

5:10 AM  
Ben Baker said...

Nice work! I like the atmosphere.

7:20 AM  
Jed said...

These are gorgeous! Particularly the dog one, and the ape one, and I have no problem with the tight rendering of the buildings. These images definitely have a immediacy to them, that your very tight, ellegant drawings don't share--that doesn't make this a better or worse method of working, just different. I think sometimes working tight can make you a little too precious about your drawing, and this riskier way of working may have been just what you needed to loosen back up again. I'm not brave enough to work so freely, and without hashing out all the details ahead of time, so I admire your ability to make these images come together. These drawings have a certain similarity to your recent figure drawings/paintings from life as well.

Might be interesting to see you work in this method in the future, and then turn the image into a full color painting with some photoshop magic.

7:55 AM  
eli said...

I really feel the strength in these. These show a more playful side to your work that is lost sometimes in the process of working with art directors for magazine jobs. It's nice to go back to monochromatic palettes sometimes and play more on design elements to create a mood. I have some questions about the process though. With the washes, did you use ink to create those too or did you add acrylic in a transparent wash on top of the ink? Also, was it just the scanned copy of "7 Seas" that didn't saturate enough or was it that the matte medium on the original doesn't look saturated enough in general that did't work? Well, as always, your stuff is inspirational and i'll leave it at that. Thanks again James.

10:25 AM  
finite said...

i would probably pick these books off the shelf simply because the covers are so striking. you've probably done the authors big favor as far as selling copies is concerned.

beautifully done, as usual.

1:03 PM  
Shawn Escott said...

Very nice! Great compositions in the first two!!! I like the angled lines of the powerlines. The dog head is fantastic as well!

7:59 PM  
Manuel LariƱo said...

Really nice covers! i like the first one the best. BTW You said that gloss medium scans better? i was always afraid of using it because of the glair that it could make in the scanner... doesnt that happend?

9:39 PM  
Anonymous said...

These are AWESOME. I had a questions about the Wired magazine image. How do you replace the colors so well when you're working with an already grey image? And how do you manage to replace the blue into such a sharp black?

9:49 PM  
Anonymous said...

grat job as usual james! Is the gloss medium you use just acrylic gloss medium, the kind that you apply with a brush, or do you use a spray gloss?

-m

11:32 PM  
Mattias Adolfsson said...

Wow, your stuff is truly amazing, interesting the choice of ballpoint, wonderful

11:43 PM  
Anonymous said...

you are a bad man. i kind of miss the ahi burgers.

rk

5:11 AM  
ryan k said...

great type on these (illos are great too of course).

1:17 PM  
Alina Chau said...

WOW!! Very inspiring and stunning illustrations!

9:22 PM  
Process Recess said...

ladres - thanks!
kenichi - I last thing I would want to do is to bore you. Thanks for the fresh pair of eyes when I need it.
dion - thanks!
trop - thanks, asaf! It's interesting to think that you've gone 100% digital, while I'm on my way back to analog.
ben - thanks!
jed - I will be trying to use this approach for my upcoming illustration assignments, already I am painting much more than before.
eli - I applied the transparent acrylic on top of the ink. Blacks look much deeper with a gloss finish, as a matte finish is more refractive. But I was able to color burn the areas that weren't deep enough in Photoshop.
finite - thanks, if I've made you pick up a book, then I've done my job.
Shawn - thanks, I drew the dog piece first, and castles right after.
manuel - if your paper is smooth, then the gloss medium will definitely scan better. Just try it, it won't kill you.
anon - the coloring for the Wired piece was done with the linework set on 'multiply' with colors underneath. I changed the blue lines to black with various methods, levels being the easiest.
M - i like to apply the acrylic medium with a brush.
mattias - ballpoint?
rk - hey, congrats on all the pieces you got into AI. I think I'm doing lunch with Josh and Frank next week. Half price ahi :)
ryan k - thanks, finding the right type face to work across all these pieces took a while.
alina - thanks!

11:46 PM  
Jed said...

Just tried some of that Rives BFK for a project recently--it hold wet media fairly well, while still being translucent enough for my lightbox. What weight of Bristol do you use though, that can take all this punishment?

7:46 AM  
Jed said...

This post has been removed by the author.

7:48 AM  
Process Recess said...

jed- I use 100lb. bristol

1:43 PM  
Jim said...

James, this is an exciting and new direction you're heading in, yet enough remains to make these distinctly yours.

I notice that not every finished work gets put up on your site---for example, many of the prelims at the taciturn show - premiere, moneymag, columbia magazine, etc. and I would like to see the finished pieces very much.

Is it possible for you to post them up on this blog, perhaps? Or maybe make a list of a few issues and publications where we can find the missing works?

4:24 PM  
Victor said...

Hey James,

Do you ever teach any classes? if you do i am very interested in going to one, your art is a huge inspiration to me. I live in LA so i dont think you should be too far. You take my respect for art to a whole new level, thank you.



Victor

11:57 PM  
Frank said...

Hey James,

I like your stuff when it looks raw like this. One of the admirable things about your career is that you have set yourself up to be able to experiment from time to time with new ways of working. Most illustrators I know are chained to a set of rules they've set down for themselves that define their "style," and when they attempt to stray from it they are quickly snapped back into place. Keep up the good work.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous said...

This approach would be perfect for the cover of a Stephen King novel (esp. Desperation, The Regulators, Insomnia, etc.)...

5:43 AM  

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