The Clockwork series

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Here are some colored pencil drawings I did back in 2010. They tell the story of a person’s life from birth to death. In each picture, you see the same man in a different stage of life. You also see a robot, with a clock for a head, relentlessly stalking the man. The robot represents time. I originally did these pictures in 2003, when I was 23 and still learning about colored pencils … but I decided to do fresh, new versions of them in 2010. I’m currently selling them on posters and coffee mugs in my CafePress store.

You can click here to visit my store. I have other art there, too … and the other stuff isn’t nearly as depressing. You will find pictures of happy things like kittens and flowers. (Seriously. Go take a look.)

I haven’t used colored pencils in a long, long time. Colored pencils are tedious. For the past few years, I’ve just worked with graphite pencils. I’ve mainly done “head and shoulder” portraits this year. I plan to do bigger, more ambitious art in 2014.

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In other news, I’m still sticking with my new eating regimen. This week, I’ve been subsisting on Styrofoam discs (aka rice cakes) and steamed broccoli. But today is a special day. Today is “splurge” day. I’m about to visit this quaint little Mexican restaurant I recently discovered.

Have a lovely weekend and try to stay out of trouble.

(Also: you can click here if you’d like to download my new novel, Citizens of Purgatory. It’s a story about Nick Youngblood, a struggling sportswriter who doesn’t know anything about sports. One morning, as Nick drives to the newspaper office, a deranged ex-convict crashes into the back of his car. A nasty conflict ensues … and Nick’s life becomes very complicated.)

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Hannah

Hannah Johnson, 2004

I haven’t posted any drawings lately, so I decided I would share this one with you. This is an old colored pencil drawing of my friend Hannah. I did it back in 2004, when I was in my early 20’s. I worked as a sportswriter for the local newspaper at the time and she was on the high school soccer team. I also talked to her at the barber shop I always went to, which is how I got to know her. She was kind enough to let me draw her. This is one of two pictures I did. The other is a close-up of her face. I absolutely detest it, so I’m not going to display it here.

Actually, I’m not totally crazy about this one either … but, at the same time, I do like it. Ten years ago, I wasn’t trying to draw people (or anything, for that matter) in a truly realistic way. I wanted everything to look “hyper real.” I loved making the colors as smooth as possible — and, as a result, the people in my drawings looked almost like plastic dolls. For some reason, I like her smooth, shiny, polished look. It reminds me of a magazine ad from the 80’s.

I haven’t seen this drawing (or the other one, the bad one I was telling you about a moment ago) since I gave them to Hannah in 2004. A few weeks ago, she scanned them, posted them on Facebook, and tagged me in them. I was flattered … and horrified.

Seeing my old artwork is like seeing a photo of myself from high school. There’s a flutter of nostalgia as well as a painful sting of embarrassment. I see several things in this picture that I would do differently now. Oh well. There are also several things I like about it too.

I haven’t blogged as much lately because I’m busy working on a new novel. I’ll tell you more about it later, as it takes shape. If I don’t comment on your blog as frequently as I did before, please don’t take it as an insult. I’m just directing my creative energy toward the book right now, rather than WordPress. I’ll get back with you.

Illustration angst

One of the characters in my book is supposed to have a dark complexion. That’s how I described her in the narrative. I did six illustrations for the book, beginning last summer and finishing up last month. Yes, that does seem like a long time for just six pictures. But I did them in colored pencil. (I also re-wrote the book twice during that period.) One illustration is a picture of this particular character, the one with the dark complexion, standing all by herself and smiling warmly at the viewer. Basically, it’s just a portait — a portrait of a fictional person.

A couple of days ago, out of the blue, I realized that I didn’t make her skin dark enough. Or I suddenly thought I didn’t, anyway. I had drawn her with jet-black hair and dark eyes, but her skin wasn’t really very dark. 

I started feeling jittery and uncomfortable about the whole situation last night, the way I always do when I find a new thing to worry about. So I sat down on the couch and worked until about four o’clock in the morning, trying to make her skin a richer shade of brown.

I should have left the stupid thing alone. Whenever I put a dark color on top of a light color, it never goes on smoothly. I know that. I don’t know what I was thinking. The dark color and the light color always mix together like oil and water. In other words, they don’t. Now the girl’s skin has a rough, grainy texture. Her face looks like it’s made of oatmeal. I went to sleep feeling angry, disappointed, and defeated.

Luckily, I scanned the drawing a month ago when I first “finished” it. The earlier version is still in my computer, so I can use it like I was originally planning to. And it really doesn’t look that bad anyway.

My good friend Trisha told me I’m just worrying too much because it’s almost time to upload the book to Kindle. I think she’s right.

A little muscle under my left eye has been twitching all day long. I think I need some sleep.