Archive for January, 2013


Take that, bucket list!

January 30, 2013

I did a quick sketch of this lighthouse in Buffalo, and then colored it digitally once we got back to AZ, thus fulfilling my lifelong dream of drawing a lighthouse.



January 28, 2013

With that Lincoln movie up for an Oscar this year, it got me thinking about all the sketches I’ve done of Lincoln over the years. He was kind of an odd looking guy with that long gaunt face and weird beard, which makes him very fun to draw.  Lucky for me, there seems to be more statues of him around than anyone else in history. So whenever I come across one, I sketch it.

bust of lincoln

Disneyland art gallery, 2011

Rushmore 2

Mount Rushmore, 2003



Abe Mem 1

Lincoln Memorial, 2009


Abe Mem 2

Lincoln Memorial, 2nd attempt, 2009

Mount Rushmore, 2012

abe statue

A park in Portland, 2004

Great Moments with Abe

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Disneyland, 2012 (I did this one in the dark)


Not that you asked…

January 25, 2013

I was on an airplane last year and an older woman was sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder as I worked in my sketchbook. After a while she told me that her granddaughter, who was in kindergarten, was exhibiting a talent for drawing. (By the way, EVERYONE’S grandchild exhibits a talent for drawing). The woman asked me if I had any advice for how to nurture the child’s talent.

I was very flattered to be asked this. I thought about it for a while and realized I have no idea how one should go about nurturing a child’s talent. My mom wanted me to get into medicine, and it was her disbelief in my ability to make a living in the arts that first pushed me to buckle down and start developing some skills. (By the way, my mom was right. I am not making a living from my creative pursuits, but I’m a better artist and writer than I would have been had she believed that I could.)

In the end I told the woman not to worry about nurturing her granddaughter’s talent. If the girl is meant to be an artist, she will be, whether her family encourages it or not.

As for the aspiring artists themselves, I do have a few things to share. For anyone who wants to learn to draw (no matter what your age) here is my advice:

1) Copy copy copy! Get out the newspaper and copy the characters on the comics page. Copy them over and over again until your drawings looks exactly like the ones in the paper. Then move onto some more complicated drawings and copy those. Then go into art museums and copy the masters. This is not cheating. This is how you learn to see. The masters became masters by copying the masters. Some of my favorites to copy are Heinrich Kley, Robert Henri, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh.

My copy of “Madonna With the Long Neck” by Parmigianino

madonna w long neck

2) Get a sketchbook and take it everywhere you go. Draw trees, chairs, buildings, flowers, statues, your friends, your family, and total strangers. Learn to be inconspicuous about it. Actually forget that. Learn not to care if people notice that you’re drawing. So what if you are? You’re trying to develop a skill. What are they doing? Sitting there drinking a beer? You’re working to improve yourself. Own it. Be proud. Let people look over your shoulder. Let them see if they ask to see. Even if what you’ve drawn sucks. And believe me, those first few years, it will suck.

My pal Mike Petry, who taught me to always bring a sketchbook


3) Be okay with sucking. It’s going to take a lot of sucking at drawing before you get good at drawing. Just accept that fact and start drawing. You are going to do some 100 thousand crappy drawings in your life. You might as well get them out of the way as soon as possible so you get get onto the good ones.

On the left is Delacroix’s “Pieta”. On the right is Van Gogh’s copy of Delacroix’s “Pieta”.



Graphic Illustrations

January 20, 2013

I have been teaching myself to use Illustrator, Painter, and have been brushing up my Photoshop skillz. Here are some characters I’ve made recently.

“Rapacious” the evil bunny. This was one of the first things I made in illustrator. I found a tutorial on how to make a cute pink bunny, and changed it up a bit. Unlike most of my work (which I usually draw by hand, then scan and manipulate digitally) I made this completely in Illustrator by drawing shapes and connecting them. I have since discovered that this is a very slow way to work.
psycho bunny

Here is another Illustrator exercise. I found tutorial online for how to make a cartoony pirate guy, and basically followed those instructions to make “Ambrosia” a frankenstein-like character from one of my plays. Then I made the background in Photoshop. Ambrosia is crazy for sausages and diet Coke, and has a leg made of a vacuum.


This is Katrina, a character from some plays I wrote called The Phoenix 3.0 Trilogy. She’s a bad-ass chick that lives in a post-Apocalyptic world with her boyfriend ZJ. Her outfit is pretty steampunk inspired because I’m kind of into that these days. I drew this original sketch on paper, scanned, traced, and colored in Illustrator. 

Here is a zombie that eventually became the central figure of the Monsters, Mutants, and Other Tales of Love poster. I drew this on paper, then scanned and traced in Illustrator using a wacom tablet, and then colored in Illustrator. This took FOREVER because I didn’t know what I was doing and just sort of fumbled through it. I am still not exactly sure how I did it.


This is ZJ and Katrina, star-crossed lovers from the post-apocalypse. For this one I did the original sketch by hand, then scanned into Illustrator and colored using the Live Trace and Live Paint tools. These a great tools for doing a quick and dirty color illustration.


Here is ZJ, our favorite post-apocalyptic doofus. I drew this on paper, then scanned into Illustrator where I used the live trace and live paint tools for the base colors. Then I took it into Corel Painter and added some more shadows and highlights.




January 16, 2013

From an old sketchbook, circa 2003-04. A bunch of people sitting at tables…

Wonder what became of these two.
couple flirting at bar

man at table gesture

A cougar looking to pounce
cougar on the prowl

A serious artist. A sad artist.
moustache man drawing

Kickin’ it at Macayos
girls at macayos

Day dreamer
boy writing and looking up

Sad, sleepy, or drunk?sleeping at table



January 16, 2013

This is my grandmother-in-law. A wonderful woman with some great stories. I did this last summer in Buffalo. At the time of this drawing I was trying to focus on varying the line quality.
grandma mckirchy


A friend, a brother, some strangers, and a duck.

January 11, 2013

These sketches don’t share any sort of theme or anything. Just some random stuff from the past month or so…

Here is my friend Jess at her baby shower (obviously). Since I am neither a mother, nor motherly, I made sure to bring my sketchbook so that I would have something to do while all the other women were talking about boppies and rompers and whatever the hell baby parents are into these days.  Of course I totally forgot that a sketchbook is basically a kid magnet. Shortly after beginning this sketch I looked up to find a whole crowd of little girls sitting around watching me. The most common question they asked: “Are you drawing?”
jess shower

Here we have Richard in a waiting room. If you want to know why he is nervous, the answer is that he is always nervous. I like this drawing because I actually managed to pull off that whole across the page thing. Richard likes it because I gave him cool hair.
nervous richard

Here we have Scrooge McDuck. I copied this from the cover of an old comic book I found. Kind of a nostalgic thing for me. I first learned to draw by copying Disney characters out of comic books.

scrooge mcduck

Next up is a guy from a play reading that I went to a couple weeks ago. With this guy I was trying to focus on the wrinkles in his clothing, and in doing so I forgot to pay attention to the angles on his glasses. I see now that I’ve drawn them askew.
Sp55 reading man

Here is another gal from that same reading.

Sp55 reading scarf woman

This woman was also from that reading. When I did this one I was trying to capture her posture in the chair, and also her Chuck Taylors. I kinda blew the proportions. Her head is too big.

Sp55 reading woman

Here is a quick gesture of a couple eating together at a restaurant in Sedona. I thought it was kind of weird how close they were sitting together. They must have been a newly in love couple.

couple eating gesture

This is what my little brother Tanner would look like if he had an enormous chin. I don’t know what’s up with the chin. I think I was sitting at a weird angle or something. Yeah that’s it. The angle. Nothing to do with my lack of ability. Anyway, I remember a long time ago, like 10+ years ago, I was doing a sketch of my family one night when we were out to dinner, and I ran out of room before I got a chance to draw Tanner. So basically I had drawn a family portrait sans Tanner. When he looked at it and saw that he’d been excluded it made him cry (he was like 7 at the time). I felt horrible. So now I try to draw that kid whenever I get a chance.  (You’d think by now I’d get his chin right.)

tanner profile