Archive for January, 2012

Projects Announcements and New Etsy!

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

First off, I’ve opened up a new Etsy store! It currently stocks my screenprinted posters, but I may put up my books soon, too. BigCartel still houses my original art — for now…

Etsy Etsy Etsy!


So now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about what’s coming up!:

First project is a castle zine, of the observational stuff I did on my trip to France. It will be available in time for the Chicago Zine Fest on March 9 – 10.

Some sample stuff from it:

Sketch of Langeais castle in the Loire Valley, France, October 27, 2011

While I was drawing this, a bird ate a berry above me and spurted juice. That’s why there’s a bright fuchsia spot on this sketch. (It’ll unfortunately be black and white in the final zine.)

Detail of a sketch from Carcassonne, France, October 2011


The second project is the on-going The Summer I Forgot My Middle Name Was Grace. You may remember that I posted a bunch of drawings from the piece a while ago: (click here to check them out on my portfolio site). Well, now most of the drawings for this book are done, at least I think they are, so I’m onto the text!

Here are some reviews:

I have no idea what the final form of this novel will be like. Well, I have lots of ideas, but nohing concrete. My plan is to keep plugging away and its amorphous goo existence will eventually form solid cohesion. Not much more I can ask!

Okay, I’m off to call city officials and convince them to snowplow my street so I can get to work.

Website Update

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Pierrefonds, from Untitled (France Series), on-going, pencil on paper, 2011 – 2012

My portfolio site,, has been updated with new drawings. Thumbnails go to the full corresponding series’, if applicable.

I’m really enjoying pencil drawings right now. I guess I’ve been dabbling in them for over a year, but I’m finally feeling really solid in it all. It isn’t scary, or competitive, or weird. It feels good. It feels controlled. I wish everything else felt this way.

Watercolor Advice

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I get a lot of people asking for my advice on watercolor painting. The majority of this text was written in March 2011, and I’ve been sitting on it, because, well, I don’t feel like an authority on the matter. But I’ve been getting inquiries, so here’s what I have. I hope it helps.

Here is my most basic of basic advice for people painting with watercolors:

If the painting is bad, do something to it. If the painting is not bad, leave it.

Let me elaborate. You can’t force watercolors to be “good.” You’re dealing with bad and not bad. “Good” is achieved through practice. Yes, I know it’s cliché to say. It’s still true. Through creating a multitude of watercolors, eventually your ability will show. It’s practice.

Watercolors are intuitive. They’re a dance with physics: you’re playing with the surface tension of the water and how much pigment that’s in each drop. It’s difficult to reverse any marks; in fact, it’s better to not even try. The balance of water to pigment is purely experimental and experiential; eventually you’ll be able to tell when your brush has too much water or too much pigment. And the ratio is strictly to your choosing. There isn’t a right or wrong, just what you desire each mark to be. And if the mark doesn’t do it, then that’s that.

It’s an irreversible process. Once you’ve done something, it’s done. You must accept it. You must move on. So there’s the bad and the not bad. “Good” will come. If it’s bad, then it doesn’t matter if you keep working on it. If it’s not bad, it’s probably better to leave it and go on to a new painting. I think the number one thing that’s important in watercolor paintings is for them to not look overworked. You need to trust yourself. The water will do it’s own thing, and you’ve got to let it do it. It’s not a fight; it’s a dance. You must learn acceptance.

At this point in time, I have done so many paintings, I know what each brush I own will do, how each color will look when mixed with what, how much water to use, when it’s the right time to blot, and on and on. They aren’t real things I’ve achieved, exactly; they’re what feels right to me. And I’m not sure if I really know these things at all, or if I’ve gotten really good at being okay with whatever happens on the page.

You also have to be fearless. Who knows if that purple will look weird until you try it? It could be great!

Watercolors are a precious medium because you can’t retract. I think it’s a healthy mental exercise for anyone. There isn’t an undo. Every mark will leave residue, no matter how much you try to blot at it. Painting with watercolors is an exercise in trust. No hang-ups. Be fearless. Pick up the brush and go at it. And even if it’s bad, you can paint another one… and another one… and another one…

To The New Year

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

I realize I have huge issues with other people’s pleasure, 2011 – 2012, on-going series. These will be posted to the main portfolio website soon.

This blog is now one year old, or will be in two days. I find years to be an arbitrary look at things, and it’s difficult to take seriously, but I am a fool for the romantic, so the clocking in of 2012 still gives me a thrill up the spine. I spent the holiday in the sleet and fluffy snow, celebrating with my oldest Minneapolis friend, fully taking advantage of the free public transportation all night. While we sipped our coffee and tea at 2PM the next morning, a pair of large red city foxes gamboled into my friend’s courtyard. Neither of us had seen a wild fox before, let alone two in the middle of downtown. What sort of luck are foxes? Good or bad? No, neither; but a tough and visceral new year must be waiting for me just around the corner.

It’s been a good year, 2011. I graduated college, became close with people, and I’m making new art every day. I feel no direction with my art, or perhaps a better way of putting it is, I have so many options open to me, I feel no need to choose a direction. In 2011 I drew a 160-page graphic novel and I started a job as an assistant at a great screenprinting studio. I draw every day, and it’s something different every day; a page for a book, a landscape that struck me, a photograph, a cartoon. In 2011 I went to France with my father and visited seven different castles, an incredible experience that is still bubbling inside of me, waiting for the right moment to explode into art. I drove across the country in 2011 to visit brilliant friends, unite with the lost, and meet the new. I made a book about it, and while I’m at it, I made another book, too. I’ve started attending art shows again, selling my work and getting incredible reactions and feedback. I’ve had great discourses with people, online and off, and have made great ideological discoveries of my own, which only seem to create more and more questions to be answered. I have wonderful friends who I feel, perhaps, closer to than ever, and we share no rifts with the geography between us.

This has been an incredible year, and the next one promises to be whatever metaphor that is represented by a pair of red, fluffy city-dwelling foxes.

Here are some end-of-the-year photos of the frozen lake, in various stages of twilight, on different days: