John Carpenter

So I love John Carpenter films! Love them!
As a way to practice paintng, I decided to do a bunch of paintings of John Carpenter DVD covers. I still have to do "They Live" and "The Thing" [The Thing being my all time favorite].
I will get to those at some point.

 Escape From New York

The Fog

Assault on Precinct 13

Black History Month (BHM) My Parents

No, they are not historical figures, but without them I would not be here.
So as a final entry into my tribute to Black History Month, I did a sketch of my mom and dad.
(Love you guys)!

Jury Duty Sketchbook

I had to do a day at jury duty last week and I was stuck in a "jury assembly room" with about 100 other people for eight hours. Luckily I had my sketchbook. I didn't do too many sketches that turned out well...mostly everyone else was plopped down in their chairs and didn't give me a lot to work with. Also, I forgot one of the most basic rules of sketching from life that Walt Stanchfield always talked about - "always tell a story".

John K wrote a post about this recently and it's really, really good advice. When you're telling a story through your drawing, you're thinking about the story you're telling and it keeps you from just drawing a bunch of arms, legs and a head attached to a makes you draw everything so that it contributes to an over all story, and it helps give everything a purpose, which strengthens the drawing.

For example, if you're drawing someone sitting in the chair, before starting to sketch them, ask yourself, "How are they sitting in the chair? Are they barely able to sit upright and oozing out of it, or are they sitting up totally straight with perfect posture?" or any of the other options in between. Then, as you draw, you should be thinking in your mind of how each part you draw contributes to the idea. Like "Okay, the person is almost falling over, and they are so sleepy that their head is practically falling over. But the arm is propping it up, and the arm is propped up on the chair arm to hold the arm in place, the hips are sliding down and almost slipping off the seat..." etc. Hopefully that makes sense. Walt Stanchfield's two volume "Drawn to Life" set has much better advice on how to do this. Anyway, the point is that making your drawing tell a story gives it direction and purpose, and a reason to exist.

Anyway, some jury room sketches, just to prove that I use my sketchbook. So when I nag you to do it, I'm not a hypocrite.

There were plenty of good models for the "bored" face.

A couple of people paced constantly.

And people using their handheld devices, of course...

Other people.....

This guy was reading but I didn't draw his body or the book. That was dumb of me because without his body, the book or the chair he's sitting in there's no story and it's just a lazy, incomplete sketch. I will try and work on that bad habit.

I drew this guy using the "Brushes" iPhone app. As I drew him he started to glare at me more and more intensely - somehow he figured out that I was drawing him. In the end, he got called to go to a courtroom and go through jury selection and I was left behind. I'm glad I didn't end up in a jury room, deliberating on a case with this guy. I never made it out of the jury assembly room.

There sure were a lot of clearly unhappy people there. It's not often where you get to go somewhere that nobody wants to be. Even the ladies that work there seemed completely miserable and would have rather been anywhere else. Personally, I'm glad I had my sketchbook and that there were so many great models to draw. And as I've said before, recording the people I saw in my sketchbook will help me remember them and get some aspects of them into my work. I certainly saw enough stuff in those eight hours to create a hundred stories from!

Black History Month (BHM) Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West--Philosopher, Actor, Civil Right Activist

Black History Month (BHM) Guion S. Bluford

Guion S. Bluford is the first African American in space.


I really wish it wasn't TMI to describe some of the medical issues I've had this week, because it's been dazzling to see one minor malady lead into another and destroy my productive time so spectacularly.

I've been real behind all winter, as I'm sure you all have noticed. It's not because I'm running out of material either, it's because I used up a lot of my easy quick posts, and most of what I have left on my list are posts that are extremely involved to write, take a lot of research, involve coordinating a lot of interviews, or all 3 at once, in some cases. I see most of you regular readers subscribe or follow with a blog reader, and that's good, because it would drive a person mad to check here all the time.

I think what's realistically gonna happen is probably for another month or two posts will trickle in like they have been, and then there'll be a real busy season for posts this spring and summer, and then after that I WILL have run out of material and things will slow up again. If anyone sends me links or reviews of their own, I will as always link to them.

Right, so I'm off to go sort out my work for this week. If all goes well, I'll see you this coming Saturday!


FVL talks AP in NJ!

Translation: your redoubtable ACTION PHILOSOPHERS author will be in Madison, New Jersey, giving a presentation on said funnybook in the Hartman Lounge of Hennessy Hall on the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus, 285 Madison Ave, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10.

The opportunity to hear Van Lente is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For reservations contact Madeleine McMahon at (973) 443-8750 or

For more details, check out this article from the Madison (NJ) Eagle.

What You Don't See

Sometimes a picture is more effective because of what is left out.

I scanned this illustration by John Gannam. My scanner, for a reason I can't fathom, is built in a way that prohibits me from laying books flat on it, which is why there's a shadow along the edge.

I love this illustration because of what it leaves out. If you saw the girl's face, it would be a rather pedestrian picture of a pretty girl reading the Sunday funnies. But because we can't see her face, we are forced to engage with the picture and use the clues we are given along with our imagination and life experience to figure out what her personality is like. And, of course, when a picture manages to trick us into working with it to understand it, we stop and become involved with it instead of just glancing at it and moving on without a second thought.

So let's examine the clues we are given that tip us off to what kind of girl she is. First off, we have her rather unfeminine pants, which tell us she's not too much of an overly feminine girl, and the rougher dark-colored pants give a nice contrast to her light-colored, very feminine skin. Also I like the fact that she's surrounded by comic pages from several different newspapers, so we know she's not just pausing to read the comics as she devours the whole. She's the type of girl that only reads the funnies.

Her jewelry is a bit bigger and flashier than a very dainty girl would wear. Also you have to consider what it tells you about a girl's personality that she wears her jewelry while she lies around in bed reading the funnies. I suppose we can surmise that she was out late last night (it would have been Saturday night, after all, since these are the Sunday funnies) and slept with her jewelry on. Her red toenail polish seems to suggest that too. And red toenail polish is another touch that fits with the other clues we've been is the most flashy and bold color, after all. Even the fact that she's relaxing in bed instead of say, sitting in a chair, tells you something about her character. And it suggests that last night was a late night as well. One thing we know, she's probably not planning on going to church...

The cliche standard would say that girls always cross their legs in a more dainty and demure way, with the upper legs touching and the knees together, and that you should always paint them this way. The way this girl crosses her legs tends to be much closer to the way men (again, according to the cliche) usually cross their legs. The way she's crossed them here feels very aggressive and confident. But it still comes across as very feminine because of the masterful way he's painted her legs (very feminine shapes) and even the way that bottom foot is tucked around so that she's resting her lower foot on its side. A more masculine approach would be to have the sole of the foot resting on the bed.

I also like how the illustrator has placed her high in the frame by leaving some blank area at the bottom. It makes her seem more powerful and strong (which is the type of girl she seems to be). Also it just makes the space breakup more interesting.

Somehow the painter has found a way to give her a great feel of femininity but balanced that with a good sense that she's not too feminine, and that she's a strong, confident and fun girl. I love how the hand gripping the paper is handled. It's so well-observed and confidently painted. Her fingers grip the paper with real intensity. It would have been easy to make her hand much more feminine but that isn't the point the illustrator is trying to make. Her hand seems to complete the picture of a girl who is strong, confident, and feminine without being too girly. I love how the other hand is artfully hidden by the paper. I think it makes you focus all the more strongly on the hand that you can see. And since we can't see her face, that hand is the closest thing to a face we are ever going to see, and we put a lot of weight and focus on it to decipher who this mystery girl is.

Again, love the big green ring. Even the rectangle seems like the right shape...elegant without being demure or fragile.

I just think a lot of the success of the image comes from that contrast between the feminine and unfeminine. Seeing her face would make the picture tilt too far one way or the other, maybe. Anyway, a mystery always adds interest to a picture, so it serves this one well.

My favorite example of seeing less but in order to get more impact out of it is from the Chuck Jones short "Feed the Kitty". As Marc Anthony the bulldog watches his kitty friend get mixed up in some cookie dough, rolled flat by a rolling pin and cut up with cookie cutters, he reacts with horror outside the window. In the last scene of him watching, you can only see his eyeball. It rolls back in shock and he falls over out of frame.

I think its so much more powerful this way than if you saw his whole face.

As always, feel free to leave a comment and tell me if you're confused by this, and want me to clarify, or you agree with my analysis, or totally disagree...

BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH (Fantasia 2000)

Here's something very rare and unusual! These are abstract backgrounds from the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony segment in FANTASIA 2000.

ATLANTIS (Disney, 2001)