Weekend 2/3/17

This past week has been a good one with lots of sketching and new ideas coming to fruition. I feel like the fog is clearing on where I want to head with my work this year and that feels pretty great. The election has had me in a weird space, as it has for many artists. I got annoyed last week thinking that dumb man can't keep me from making art! 

It feels like my new work will be larger and tell stories. I want to actually get started on my children's book this year. I want to bring my own experience, mix it with some fantasy and the current world for my new work. I can't exactly say what it will be, but I am happy about the sketches and thoughts forming.



Three sea paintings from this week.

Three sea paintings from this week.

I painted some postcards to send to congress this week. The idea is rough seas ahead. It felt really good to write those that I feel are doing good in the world, including Senator Kamala Harris. 



  • I listened to the Stuff Your Mom Never Told Me podcast episode A Skeptic's Guide to Women & Islam. It gives a really interesting perspective from Heina Dadaboy, a former Muslim who is now an atheist. Note, she isn't against the religion, but rather gives perspective on some stereotypes others have about it.
  • I've been trying to work on my Spanish again...well, as of today. I can get by but I really want to be truly bilingual. I love the Radio Ambulante podcast since I can listen while working. I listened to an episode Cuando La Habana era friki or "When Havana was freaky", an episode about a subculture in Cuba who would actually inject themselves with HIV as an act of rebellion. If you don't understand Spanish, I recommend listening to it on Radiolab in English.


Wildwood  by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis


Last week I mentioned I'm reading Wildwood by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis. I am mesmerized by the creativity and the illustrations accompanying the text. Check out this New York Times review if you want to read more about it. It makes me feel super nostalgic for books I read back then, much like the Stranger Things series made me think of the buddy movies of the 80's I grew up on.



Tonight is South First Fridays in San Jose. Some things I am excited to see: 


Lady sketches while watching a documentary

Lady sketches while watching a documentary


  • I sketched ladies while watching the women's lib doc She's Beautiful When She's Angry. Obviously super relevant in these times with a misogynist as President, the documentary will make you sad that we have to still do this all these years later. I ended up sketching ladies while watching. I at first randomly found an article on how Iranian women dressed in the 70's, so I drew Iranian women. Then I looked up African women and drew them. 
  • A friend recommended watching Lest We Forget: The Big Lie Behind the Rise of Trump. Just as we thought, but clarified with historical notes and commentary. Pretty frightening to see this recent effort for white supremacy.


Weekend 12/9/16


The 2017 Escape Calendar is here! Each month, let a dreamy image take you someplace else. You can order yours here.


  • I just discovered a radio show from Berlin called Vantage Point. I listened to the interview with amazing artist Andrea Wan. Her creativity and technique is astounding.
  • I also listened to the episode with Jonathan Levine, of the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York. He shows work by some of my favorite artists like Jim House, Souther Salazar and Seonna Hong so I had to give it a listen. It was really interesting to learn how he finds his artists.


The internet can be a pretty incredible thing. Seattle artist Betty Merken found me online and wanted to meet up while she was in San Francisco this past week to talk about the art residency I did in Spain a couple years ago (she's going next year). What an amazing artist who has led a life traveling and creating. She and her husband published a book on Los Angeles murals in the 80's, she has work in collections at the De Young and the Legion of Honor and a show up at Nancy Toomey in SF right now. So nice to meet her and her husband Stefan! 

Ladies Drawing Night Book.JPG
Ladies Drawing Night Book 2.JPG


  • I recently bought the Ladies Drawing Night book. I was excited to hear about this since I run a drawing night, Sofa Sketch. It has great ideas for hosting communal sketch nights.
  • My good friend David Ma wrote this beautiful homage to the recently passed singer Sharon Jones. He has been doing all kinds of writing lately for publications including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The Guardian. He also runs the great Nerdtorious Blog, a resource for music nerds.
  • With racial tension in America, the election and the situation at Standing Rock, I feel I have been stirred up politically. I used to be more political when I was younger but in the last five years or so, I have been lazy. The one positive thing to come from all this is seeing a lot of people wake up. Artistically, I feel I have more to say than I have been. This article by Symone D. Sanders, Using Our Authentic Voices, from Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter really spoke to me. We can't be lazy and we can't suffer in silence. Be bold.


  • When Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini posted about the William Kentridge show at San Jose State University, I had to run over and see it. He was one of my favorite artists when I was in art school with his inventive charcoal drawings and animations. This show is the only West Coast viewing for this body of his work and SJSU is lucky to have it.


The only thing keeping me sane lately is my work. I have been swamped with holiday work between commissions, orders, the new calendar, a couple workshops and all. I have been angry about our president-elect and the horrific Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Sometimes the world is too much, but it can be made better by supporting local artists, continuing to make work and helping those in need. Please consider making a donation at the link above.

WSQ Fall/Winter 2016 Illustration

I'm excited to share the spread I did for Washington Square, the alumni magazine for San Jose State University. I was contacted about an article they were doing on Moss Landing Marine Labs celebrating their 50th anniversary. The school administers the Masters of Science program for California universities in northern and central California. 

I received a brief and worked through some ideas. There was a three week turnaround from when they initially contacted me until the final files were due. I kind of love a short deadline. It makes me a little crazy, but I also power it out and get it done.

They highlighted the areas they wanted me to focus on: vessels and sharks. I love painting boats and at first thought I would just paint some spot illustrations of their different vessels and other marine life. 

After researching about Moss Landing Marine Labs, some fun loose sketches. I really liked the way the boats turned out. I love drawing with my paintbrush, without starting with a pencil. I feel like it makes the paintings really fresh. I also tested out a variety of blues to see which shades I might use. 

More sketches. As I researched, I was really interested in their Point Sur boat. It has been all over the world, including Antarctica, and I wanted to include the scope of that in the spread. I also wanted to include the Ninja Lanternshark since a student of MLML named Victoria Vasquez discovered and named it. Plus, it's a pretty cool species that looks quite sinister and glows to disguise itself.

I sketched the sign post at Moss Landing. I really wanted to include it, but it just didn't make sense in the final. 

As I started to think of ideas, I liked the idea of the illustration being from the ship's bow. The editor and creative director expressed interest in both the article and the issue having a look of deep exploration, to boldly go where no man has gone before, so I thought I could accomplish that by having the reader feel like they were the explorer. You can see above the rough idea of being on a boat and looking at Moss Landing Marine Labs.

My presentation of imagery for the first draft meeting included a variety of color spot illustrations to show my style and a black and white image to show layout. The loved it, a huge sigh of relief.

If you look back on the first photo, you can see my original layout draft on the left. They loved the initial two sketches, but asked that the deep sea diver be moved to the second page. They mentioned they wanted the feeling of going wide and deep. I thought being on the boat with Moss Landing on the left and Antarctica on the right would convey that well. The second page of the spread would express going deep with the deep sea diver and the Ninja Lanternshark below. They live at 1,000 feet below, so it worked perfectly.

Here's the second draft. I moved the whale tail to the right, since it was too close to shore in the first draft. It was great to get really positive feedback from the staff and creative director. 

One of the biggest challenges was making sure there was enough space for the text of all 50 facts. I kept wanting to take over the paper and make it a whole painting. 

The creative director asked me to illustrate the title and the numbers for the spread. I cut out the words and played around with different layouts and angles of text. I ended up scanning the letters and numbers and cleaning them up in Photoshop and then they were vectorized in Illustrator. 

These are the final paintings that were used. I think some of the colors surprised me. The kelp is a brighter green than I thought it would be, but I think it works since it does glow when the sun shines through it from above.

In addition to the Moss Landing article, they asked me to illustrate their donor envelope. SJSU has a program where dogs....This is the final. I sketched it quickly once in my sketchbook and then this is the final, which of course got scanned and cleaned up. The great thing about illustration work is that your "finals" can look like the above and digital editing takes out all the marks and stains on the paper. 

And the printed final...

Dog envelope 1.jpg

Here's one of the dogs for the giving envelope.

And the second dog. SJSU has therapy dogs in residence.

They asked to use my full moon painting for their memorial page. 

And the final Moss Landing spread...

It was fun to contribute to the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Washington Square. I spent so much time on this campus: as an undergrad and grad student, then I worked at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library for 5 years. It was an honor to make this work for SJSU.