Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Partner, My Critic....My Wife

It's time to give a huge shout out to the woman who is responsible for the quality of my artwork, my wife.  She is a self taught decorator, with a photographic memory for color and design. She critiques every piece of art, and provides me with incredible advice and direction.

My wife has been a phenomenal creative director, making fantastic suggestions on all my art, and suggesting some radical changes on a few of them, as seen below.

In this drawing of Playboy Playmate Lindsey Vuolo, my wife had me darken the shading in Lindsey's skin tones a lot, and add some shading to the corners to 'frame' the drawing, and close it in a bit.  But the big change was to soften the "S" curve in her back, and that made a huge difference in the whole look of the artwork.  I followed the reference photo exactly on the first version, but my wife pointed out that it didn't work in the art, and that I don't always have to recreate the photos perfectly.  It improved the art greatly, as it made it a softer, more feminine pose.

The latest redesign came on my personal favorite piece of art of Playboy Cyber Girl Carlotta Champagne. This is one of the drawings based on a photo shoot at our house; however, she told me she didn't like it as a full nude, and really wanted to see me add shorts to the art, as well as some other changes.  She helped me choose some classic "Daisy Duke" shorts as reference, and was instrumental in helping me achieve a sexy, erotic look.  She also suggested changes in Carlotta's shoulder, hair, shading, and the whip.  I have to say I like it better!

The Marilyn Monroe nude was the biggest project on which we fully collaborated,  This was a completely redrawn project, a present for our son.  A family member had the original art, one which our son liked a lot, so my wife suggested just redoing the piece as a present for him, but making it better.  She had a lot of issues with the original, and worked as art director to have me capture her vision.  A truly collaborative effort, this took hours of working and reworking facial expressions, colors, angles, sheet folds.  It was a pleasure to work hand in hand with her to create a very large, special piece.

I can't say enough about how much help my lovely wife gives me on my art.  She has no problem with the subject matter, and her insight and suggestions is always spot on.  Whenever you look at any artwork from me, chances are she had a big say in how it looks.  Thanks honey!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Random Thoughts and Ramblings of a Pinup Artist

Here are some things that I've learned recently as an artist:

  •  I have gained such confidence in my art abilities in the past 18 months. I am going through one of the most prolific periods of art creation in my lifetime.....but I can't show you all most of it, due to privacy concerns and deadlines.  Believe me, I'd love to show them.
  • In that vein, I am more readily trying new techniques.  I wouldn't often do that; I would afraid of screwing up the piece.  Now, I know that I do make a mistake, I can usually fix it.  I'm learning.
  • I'm having fun again!  Art was a chore for a long time.  I'm enjoying working on the board again, working on several projects at the same time. 
  • I LOVE to illustrate women!  Nude, semi-nude, pinup---it has been so much fun to  capture some very beautiful women this year in various states of undress.  While I enjoy creating landscapes, monsters, and portraits, I just love the female form.
  • I'm working in color!  I will be unveiling a new piece in November for publication in a national magazine that is entirely done in colored pencil.  A big departure for me; while I have done color pencil before, I tried new techniques on this portrait of Jax Turyna
Keep watching this space for some new work, and reworked old pieces! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Brand New Carlotta Champagne

One of my favorite drawings of my favorite subject Playboy model Carlotta Champagne, is the second one I did of her, and the first of the 3 based on the shots the my friend Rob Domaschuk took of her in my rec room.  Anyone who follows my work has seen this art numerous times, and in fact is my (usual) cover photo on my Facebook Fan Page.  Rob shot a full nude of Carlotta with a hat, and I added the whip since she was leaning against our bar stool, and called the piece "Indiana Carlotta."

Recently, my wife told me that, in her opinion, the portrait would look better if I added some sexy shorts, rather than have her in a full nude pose.  She also said that it would make the art classier.  Initially, I fought doing it, I told her that I didn't want to change anything, but quickly realized that she was right (she always is), and warmed up to the idea. So, since I recently had some time, we took it out of it's matte and frame home, and I set to work.

After downloading some reference shots of Daisy Duke shorts, I proceeded to sketch them in.  After going through a few transformations, including some skin tight versions that didn't work, we finally settled on a looser pair of cut-off jean shorts, which was actually sexier than the skin tight version I originally drew.

Other changes in the art included some work on Carlotta's waist and left shoulder, and darkening some tones to create a more dramatic effect.  I also added some white conte crayon to bring out some highlights.

The above images show the "after" and "before" of the drawing.  While both versions will be available for sale as prints (and the new one as an original), I'm waiting for the new version to be professionally shot.  I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on the changes, please contact me below.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain

I was very saddened to hear the news of Robin Williams' passing yesterday of an apparent suicide.  I have been a big fan of his comedy since his first appearance on Happy Days in the 1970's, and I treasured his first comedy album, Reality...What a Concept.  His frenetic energy and his quick comedic mind almost mirrored my own frenetic personality; he just kept throwing jokes at you

Dr. Drew Pinskey gave great insight on CNN last night, when he said how Mr Williams survived his open heart surgery in 2009, but apparently died from his depression.  He stated how common it is to suffer from depression after major surgery.  I know that for a fact.  I too suffered from massive depression not long after my heart attack, to the point where I asked why did I survive to go through this? Depression is real, it's constant, and if you don't take care of it, it can be permanent.  It's very disconcerting for a doctor to tell you that you may not have lived if you hadn't taken the necessary steps in time. What would have been the alternative?  Depression comes via different roads, but always wants to fill you with darkness.

As I watched the talking heads last night try to publicly eulogize Williams, I was struck by how so many just don't understand mental illness.  How did he seem when you last spoke to him?  Did you see any signs of depression?  How can he do this to himself with such a great life?  I was upset; these people don't get it.  Depression doesn't care if you are rich, or poor, male, or female---in a depressed state, nothing excites you, nothing lifts you.  You struggle to get through the day, the hours, the minutes.  It's horrific.

I am tremendously lucky; I have a great psychiatrist, wonderful therapist,  great cardio team, supportive friends, and a loving, fantastic wife and son, who make sure I stay positive and healthy, and don't let me get too down. I feel I am now making the best art of my life, as I now (with the help of meds) am no longer afraid to experiment.   But I have a long family history of bipolar disorder, and see it in family members.  I am conscious of the possibility that I could slip back once again.  I refuse to let it.

RIP, Robin Williams.  Oh Captain, My Captain.

A couple of my favorite scenes of his, from Aladdin:

And this gripping scene from his Oscar winning turn in Good Will Hunting:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Modeling Into Maturity

I recently had an online conversation with a beautiful model friend of mine who has done Playboy, and I mentioned to her how she should be modeling for years to come.  She surprised me by say, " I hope you are right about doing this a long time."  Normally she seems very confident in her modeling,.

It got me to thinking about a model's "life expectancy," so to speak.  Glamour and nude models start at about age18, but when are they done? When will the agencies and photographers stop calling them to shoot nude?  30 years old? 40 years old?  

The mature model interest has really gained momentum in recent years, and the number of women posing nude over the age of 30 globally has increased significantly (over 6000 models age 30 and older on Model Mayhem in the USA alone).  A lot of this can be attributed to teh popularity of actress Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's mom in the movie "American Pie," where the term MILF first gained real popularity.  A mature model really has to know how to pose her body for the best possible image.  This is something that most models know who to do, but imperfections can be magnified as a woman gets older.  Things sag, get out of place, the skin is not as taut. 

One of our very own on Blogger is the beautiful Unbearable Lightness, who started nude modeling in her late 50's, and is now 70 and still gorgeous and going strong.  She is a confident and realistic lady, she is shapely and Unbearable Lightness gets the most out of wonderful photo.  She exudes confidence in her abilities. 

I have a real fondness for capturing older models in my art; there is something that I really enjoy in helping her feel beautiful and glamorous.  Many of  my commissions are not even real models, they are everyday wives and mothers, who want to feel special.  Nothing wrong with that.

I feel confident that my Playboy model friend will be able to continue with her career for many, many years to come. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Show Some Skin!

Lindsey Vuolo, Miss November 2001
In my line of artwork, I draw everything from clothed pin-ups to full blown nude images.  I have fans of just about every image I've ever created, but, as the title of this blog suggests, the biggest responses are from those that show the most skin; i.e., the full nudes.  

This is especially evident on my Facebook Fan Page.  I have a large contingent of fans from the Middle East, India---places that normally do not allow a lot of nude images.  But while a lot of fans are from Asia, most are still from the USA.  I have tested placing non-nude pinups, and nude drawings, and the largest number of 'likes" is always for the "nakey." 

Farrah Fawcett
Well, duh, you might say, and I guess I would agree. But I guess I'm a little confused at all of the attention for the full nudes, as opposed to the very sexy, very demure pin-ups.  Pinups, also know as "cheesecake," are the SFW way to view sexy images of women (or men, for that matter), covering up the essentials, yet showing a LOT of skin somewhere.

Pinups are not always fully clothed, mind you; there are plenty of semi nude and implied nude pinup examples.  I'm speaking of the contrast in responses to MY art, and the differences in the likes on Facebook.  Thoughts on this? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The "Abandoned Commission

 Several years ago, I was contacted on MySpace (remember that name?) by a local lady, who wanted a nude 20" x 30" portrait of herself, based upon a clothed picture she provided. We negotiated the price of several hundred dollars, and I proceeded to get to work.

I have to 'disrobe' women a lot in my work, and this one proved to be fairly easy, since the dress was pretty from fitting.  The rest is just my understanding of female anatomy, and filling in the nude 'blanks,' so to speak.

The due date was before Christmas. I got it done in about 4 weeks, and emailed the client that it was done.  She said she would get back to me to schedule a time to meet and give me the full payment.  And that was the last I heard from her.  I emailed, I messaged, I did everything I could to get a hold of her.  No response.  She literally dropped out of sight, and eventually  abandoned the commission. I mentioned this to a famous Playboy model friend of mine, who said, don't you take deposits?  Well, I started to do so from that point on.

About a year later, I did a search on the so-called client online, and discovered that she was arrested for prostitution in the north suburbs of Chicago.  Interesting side development, I thought.  The piece wound up being sold for a lot less on eBay to a collector.   

What do you think of this piece?  Contact me and let me know your thoughts, or if you have interest in this kind of piece.  Thanks