This is a portrait of a friend of mine.  He taught me a lot of my salsa dancing moves.

When I was dancing with his group, I had gotten below 200lbs. I would like to be this thin again.

I also haven't painted large like this (I think it's 30 x 40in) in a long time.  I also haven't painted in oils in a long time either.

This is pretty close to life size, and I question whether or not I should paint that large.

I think I need to consider the size of paintings in terms of how easy they would be to package and ship.

There was so much I didn't know back then. Still, I learned a lot from this piece, about the things I should and should not do regarding mediums and glazes.

I haven't worked traditionally in a long time.  Most of my work has been digital. I've been wanting to go back to working traditionally.  I might as well since this work isn't for clients.


Batman, Drawing | Painting | Digital

I started watching Batman on TV in the 1970’s with Adam West. It was a staple of my childhood.

Whenever I had a chance in art school, I would do a comic book piece. I would squeeze them into assignments whenever possible.

Sometimes, I would hire a model then turn him into Batman.

Batman w/ Cross.  15 x 20 in Oil on Board 1993.
Batman w/ Cross.  15 x 20 in Oil on Board 1993.

The method was to use a glaze of transparent color and liquin.

And I would also use them as a subject to do demos for my students when I became a teacher.

These demos were done in class.

I’d start them off with line and value. Drawing from my head, blending with turpenoid and erasing with a kneaded eraser.

Then I’d apply colored pencils to a copy and add a solvent like turpenoid.

Then I’d scan the colored pencil drawing and adjust it even further in Photoshop. Here, I made it darker and pumped up the saturation.

Batman Colored pencil on 9 x 12 in Vellum/Digital 2004.
Batman Colored pencil on 9 x 12 in Vellum/Digital 2004.

One of my favorite things about a teaching job is the free paper and drawing materials.

Thanks everyone,


Dance as a Means of Escape

I’m grateful for bad experiences. Those bad times can force you to create better times. Better times lead to good times.

One of my first jobs out of school, I had a manager who had no experience as an art director. Being micromanaged by someone who didn’t know what they wanted was an uncomfortable situation and super frustrating. There was a helplessness in that I didn’t know how to fix the situation and no one I could go to for help. The sensation felt like wanting to escape, but something holding me back. That doesn’t quite encapsulate how I felt, but I tried to do my best work. It was extremely rare when I felt like I had achieved it. The designs and ideas didn't feel like they were mine. At all. In school, this was referred to as “being a wrist.” But if I am being truly honest with myself, I was enduring the misery in the hopes I could power through it. It never occurred to me that I could just go find better job. Back then, in my mind, quitting or getting fired was tantamount to failure. I was young then, and didn't know how to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

The frustration of having someone indecisive sit behind me whispering in my ear how she wanted me to move the mouse, “click on this,” or “change the size of that,” slowly drove me insane. The heat from her face on the back of my neck. This being one of my first in-house jobs, I had no idea it wasn’t supposed to be like this. There weren’t any computers in the art department of my college at the time. My teachers taught traditional drawing and painting, with pencil and paper, markers, oil paint and acrylics. Early Photoshop couldn't even do layers back then and was crazy expensive. My school was rigorous and competitive, with no room for whining. I had no idea that in the real world, your boss wasn’t supposed to ride you like Zorro. I thought this was normal and every job was like this and I just needed to suck it up and deal.

On a lark, my neighbor invited me to go to a local Ballroom Dance studio to get me out of my funk and my house. It was fun and I signed up for lessons. As I learned to dance, I realized that I was making own decisions. I was reacting to the music, putting together steps and creating my own moves. There was no longer an indecisive "team lead" whispering in my ear exactly what I should do (and then say no, I don't like that, put it back the way it was), the music went in my ear, to my brain, and out my feet. The ladies I was dancing with followed my lead, without question. It was so liberating.

It got to the point where I was dancing for three or four hours a night, for over a year. Going for breakfast after midnight and eating a full meal. I could feel the calories evaporating off my skin along with my sweat. Waking up at 6 o’clock to get ready for work and then doing it all over again. I was so healthy back then.

Dancing was fun. I was a fiend for finding new places with live bands. I regret stopping. I even did a couple of professional gigs as a dancer. I miss those days. I wonder if I can ever get back to them.

Checking to see if my dance shoes still fit.

Thanks for reading,

[My Camera](

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All images © @PixelColada

Master Copy | Frazetta – Dark Kingdom

Become a better artist by copying better artists.

Mastercopy | Frazetta – Dark Kingdom

Huion Inspiroy G10T | Razer Tartarus Chroma | openCanvas 7 

Years ago, I attended a Concept Art event where one of the presenters who I considered an accomplished professional revealed that he still did master copies. For him doing master copies was a method to remain sharp, learn new techniques or learn new software (or hardware).

My personal 10-year-old Cintiq broke recently and while I wanted to buy a new one, the new Cintiq Pros are due out in May. In the meantime, I needed to buy something as a replacement, but I didn’t want to pay Wacom prices for what would soon be obsolete hardware. By “obsolete” I mean “We no longer support your device(cable) you need to buy a whole new one.

I also didn’t want to buy another temporary Wacom device if I needed to buy another one to replace it shortly thereafter.

So I decided to try out the Huion Inspiroy G10T. This master copy of Frazetta’s Dark Kingdom was completed with the Huion Inspiroy G10T.

I like the Huion because it has a smooth texture, smoother than my old Intuos at my old job. It was also half the price. I can draw faster on a smooth surface with less texture to drag on my nib.

I had initially wanted my students to try doing this as an extra credit assignment, but I think it may be out of their comfort zone. Doing studies like this is akin to fan art. You’re only going to improve if you can begin to approach the level of your heroes. You will never surpass them because you will never become them. That should not be your goal. Don’t be disappointed if your work isn’t as good.

I intend to do a few more of these, to really get comfortable with my new setup. I’m still learning how to make videos, so bear with me as I Forrest Gump my way through this and working with Steem.  I'm hoping to earn enough to buy a new Cintiq Pro when they come out.

There are things that you can learn by copying the work of better painters and draughtsman, things that a teacher cannot tell you. You’re far better off trying to figure out how to do something on your own by running into problems yourself that you need to solve without help. This is better than being spoon-fed a solution by a teacher before you even run into the problem. The more you can learn to do this, the faster you will learn.

In school, I had a rendering teacher who would give us an assignment and not tell us how to do it. Only after everyone brought in their work, would he show us all the techniques and shortcuts. Learning the quick and simple to produce quality and reduce time was mind-blowing. Having had the experience of doing something the hard way and taking a long time to do it, we had a greater appreciation for time-saving techniques.

While in an ideal situation, you would want to use the same medium as the artist, in the fast-paced world of technology, it’s acceptable to try to mimic work in a digital medium. It’s cheaper to buy a tablet and download an open source or cheap painting program that it is to buy oil paints, an easel, a palette, canvasses, mediums, brushes, etc. Parents of high-school aged kids who are interested in art can spend less than a hundred dollars for a tablet(non-Wacom) and download a free painting program like Krita. The problem is that most parents of budding artists know nothing about art. They don’t know the wealth of free resources on the net and on YouTube.

It doesn’t matter whether you copy drawings or paintings. Spending the time to analyze the work of another, better, artist means that for a short time you’re walking a mile in their brain. It’s like putting on Jordans and figuring out how to dunk. The Jordans themselves won’t make you dunk, but they will help you practice. You won’t ever be Michael Jordan.

You can admire others, but don’t become a second-rate version of them. Become a first-rate version of you.

This requires practice.

The more master copies that you do, the faster and better you will become. When you do this repetitively, you can start applying techniques that you’ve learned to your own personal and professional work.

Malkovich yourself into your favorite artist(s) and absorb those lessons.


Sheff | PixelColada

Huion on Amazon.

Razer on Amazon.

openCanvas 7  on Steam.