Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Blog Header

I've changed the 'ol Kid At Art header, as you can see. Click the image below to see it in more detail.

It represents me at my day job (valet parking for a restaurant), drawing and day-dreaming while customers hemorrhage their brains. The concept came as I was free-form doodling and I like it a lot.

The execution I'm not so happy with. The drawing came out pretty good, and the watercolor is nice, but perhaps I should have put a street scene in the background for context. Also, a lot of tinkering in Photoshop was done, which makes it look very stiff compared with the draft versions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Harlem: a success story

A little over two years ago, the band Harlem moved from their home in Tuscon and landed in our little house on Clara Street. One of their first shows in Austin was at the Broken Neck - an underground venue which has been home to local punk bands since the 80's. Calling the Broken Neck a venue is being generous. It's a warehouse in east Austin (far away from the glamor and popularity of 6th street), it's main attraction a large wooden skateboard ramp. The bands are treated like shit and aren't even given a stage -- they play on the concrete floor. Their function, I think, is to provide a soundtrack for the skaters.

I was at that show and watched the young and unknown Harlem play, wedged in between two other unknown bands. At the time I was strange and anti-social and hid behind my sketchbook. I still have naive drawings of that show somewhere.

Not long after that, a room opened up in our house and Harlem singer/guitarist/drummer Curtis O'Mara became our roommate. If our house wasn't a punk rock anarchist house before, it certainly became one. Every morning I'd wake up to find fresh wreckage:

Living with Curtis was an experience I'll never forget, but not for the wild parties. I valued the boring, languished nights: the Tuesdays where I would listen to Curtis tinker around on his electric guitar while I sat copying Van Goghs'. I felt a camaraderie with him; two young, determined artists working on their craft through the thick of Texas night. Sometimes I would join Curtis on the tambourine as he played, other times he would come to my room to watch me draw.

Soon Harlem decided to film their first music video in our kitchen - and they did. I wasn't in the video; perpetual observer I am, I was busy hiding in the hallway photographing the mayhem.

After a while Curtis moved out to live with band mate, Coomers, in a nicer part of town. After that, I saw less and less of Harlem, though I would still hear about them once in a while. Over the following two years they really honed their craft, and it didn't surprise me when I heard they had been signed by Matador Records, record label of big acts like Sonic Youth, Pavement, and Yo La Tengo.

Recently Harlem released their sophomore album Hippies, which is one of my favorite albums in a long, long time. It's catchy, energetic, and compliments warm summer weather wonderfully. By the second listen I had "the hits" hopelessly repeating themselves in my brain, and by the fourth listen, I loved just about every song (especially the less poppy back half of the album, which includes great songs like Cloud Pleaser, Prairie My Heart, Stripper Sunset, and Pissed). Of course, Harlem is heavily influenced by grunge, so I may be biased in their favor, but I can't be the only one: Pitchfork gave Hippies an awesome review.

Despite their aesthetic, Harlem has been called "one of the hardest working bands in rock." They have been on tour for 2 months now, playing shows almost every night. Currently they are touring Europe and will be back in North America playing the west coast soon. If you get a chance to see them, do it!

For me, Harlem is an inspiring story. Right in front of my eyes, in a very short period of time, they reached out from the masses of unknowns and became very successful. It wasn't easy, but goes to show how a little talent and a lot of hard work can go a long way. Dreams do come true.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Long Term Investment

They've arrived. The limited edition 6 print run of The Artist Who Wouldn't Give His Heart Away. I may be miserly with my heart but I'd like to be generous with my art. I'll be giving 4 copies away to family, keep one copy for myself, and I dunno... sell the last remaining book?

If you're interested send $28 in small unmarked bills to this address and in return you'll receive a signed and numbered copy. If someone beats you to it I'll send you a partial refund (partial 'cause you wasted my time, fool!) and a drawing chopped from my sketchbook, or maybe a whole page from my sketchbook, or maybe one of my eyelashes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

the most imaginative and traumatizing music video I've ever seen.

Preview: The Artist Who Wouldn't Give His Heart Away

3 Weeks Mulling
2 Days Drawing
2 Hours Coloring (yes, color!)
6 Hours Scanning & Cleaning Up
1 Day Left!

Yes tomorrow, if the print shop comes through, I'll have copies of my latest booklet, The Artist Who Wouldn't Give His Heart Away. At 15 pages it's not quite as long as its title, but there's a lot packed into this slim volume, and I believe it's my best entry into the silent-mini-book market to date! Yes, it won't be long now until the publishing world lies begging at my feet!! MWHAHA!


I'll be unveiling it tomorrow night at a Children's Illustration critique group I attend. I'm just hoping they'll overlook that the booklet is not intended for children (unless your children are into radical eco-socialist ideology, full frontal nudity, and obscure Woody Allen humor). After it's unveiling, I'll be presenting it to friends and family, and intend to post the whole thing online within a few weeks.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goodbye Dolphins!

These are the wonderful children I've been reading stories to for the past 4 months. They are an amazing bunch, and I've felt privileged to be able to join their imaginative ranks every week.

Even though we spend only a half hour together per week, it didn't take long before a bond had been created. Without even intending it we had somehow snuck into each others hearts. I was particularly enamored with Ruby, the little girl in the blue shirt.

Her intellect, as young as it is (4 years old!), would constantly amaze me. Ruby would often chime in with astute observations, frequently displaying a very sophisticated sense of humor. For example, once I was reading a book about the different kinds of boats - sail boats, fishing boats, freighters, etc... When I got to the ferry boat, I asked the children if they knew what a ferry boat carried. Of course I was looking for the correct and boring answer: people & cars. But Ruby shouted, "Fairies!", then broke out laughing, as if she knew she was being funny. Of course it was funny... and brilliant.

Another time I was reading a simple book repeating a simple pattern. First the seed, then the flower. First the caterpillar, then the butterfly. First the egg, then the chicken. "No!" interrupted Ruby, thoughtful frustration all over her face, "First the chicken!"

I've been presenting storytimes for almost two years, and I've learned an important lesson about writing books for children. You can't talk down or slip anything past them. Their minds are active and observant. Far more than their adult counterparts.

Today was my last day presenting storytime to the Dolphins. It was hard to say goodbye. They gave me a handmade "Thank You" card and I brought my camera. I'll miss you guys!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Doodle of the Day

This one's actually a few weeks old, but I like it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cartoonist Attacked

Lars Vilks, creator of the infamous cartoons depicting Muhammad as a dog, was head-butted today as he gave a lecture about free speech at a University in Sweden. The full story is here.

After Lars was attacked, "Allah Ackbar" meaning God is Great was chanted from the largely approving crowd.

Pretty intense video, huh? It's strange seeing Muslims who've adopted the latest fashion trends, who embrace the medicine and technology for which science is responsible, who attend a university of knowledge and reason, who live in a country with a strong secular humanistic tradition, who enjoy the freedoms and protections western civilization has helped cultivate ... it's strange seeing them behave so irrationally based on such primitive beliefs. What an interesting time we live, a time in which we're able to watch the modern and ancient worlds colide... on YouTube.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hey, it's cheaper than a strip club.

Been attending some life drawing sessions after a long hiatus. I really enjoy the session on Monday nights because the poses are short and in quick succession. Quick poses don't allow me time to try and get the proportions and curves perfect. Quick poses don't allow me time to think. It forces me to use my intuition and rely on my impulses. While this method may not produce the most realistic drawings, they often contain much more life, and that's what I'm after.

This last image is my favorite. The pose was only one minute long and I didn't have time to complete the feet, but I like the unfinished look. It reminds you that it's only a series of lines, and it looks like she's rising out of the paper or something.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sneak Peek at "Project X"

A few weeks ago, a little kernel of an idea came to me. As I explored the idea further it seemed like it could be developed into a fairly interesting story, one that has personal significance, yet hopefully others can find meaning in. So for the last couple weeks I've been doing character design and putting my creations in a variety of situations in hopes of getting to know them better. I've also been letting the amorphous story roll around in my head and sort itself out. Tonight I laid out the story page-by-page in rough thumbnail form. The process is unfolding and I'm happy with what I have so far. Hooray!

Here's a peak at some early conceptual art:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010


If you're looking for pizza-by-the-slice in downtown Austin, you're looking for a place called The Onion, which has recently MOVED from it's location on W. 5th, to a new place on Brazos, 1.5 blocks south of 6th street. They are the BEST pizza in Austin (except for maybe Homeslice, but Homeslice is more a sit down meal thing), and way better than any of that overpriced crap on 6th.

The Onion was forced to move from their old location because their landlord wouldn't renew the lease. Now they're kinda "off the beaten path" and business hasn't picked up yet. I'm sure it will once people re-discover them.

As a bonus, they always have copies of The Onion newspaper layin' around too.

Saturday, May 1, 2010