How I Map the Universe In My Spare Time Part 1

Finding a subject

During my spare time, I find subjects by either sketching my surroundings, or finding something interesting through different feeds and media.  This is usually at morning with a bite to eat including a disproportionate amount of caffeine, or at night before bedtime with tea and cookies (just kidding, tea and body parts actually.)  Looking through tutorials or how to's of other artists is also a fun source for deciding what to draw, or simply to become inspired to draw.  For myself, I usually first look to build out from the inventory of sketches that I make and keep handy.  Quick sketches are an easy way for me to note rough or vague ideas that I can return to later and possibly build or elaborate.

If the sketch will just remain a sketch, I do less blocking, and more hatching, line weight variation or shading. Composition also matters to me a bit less when I'm in sketch mode.  Some sessions I never get past sketch mode I'm just adding sketches to a stack to finally delete or build out later.

Working Up, Rough Layout

Taking my quick sketches, I begin blocking out solid shapes or masses on various sketches until I make one that I like.  This may be from a fresh sketch that I make on the spot, or going through my inventory of sketches as I mentioned above.

When I block out shapes on a sketch, I try to think in terms of silhouettes and / or shadows.  I keep going until I find something pleasing.  I adjust the sketch placement on my canvas as needed by scaling and cropping, and continue with blocking, examining the composition.

I sometimes also use the harmony project, and Alchemy as shortcuts to jumping over the sketch phase.  I can't say enough about these two tools.  They are great for exploration of the early states that images exist in, and they do it well.  I would say it's like being able to work at an embryonic state of an image for a long time without fear of building it up too much and loosing the exploratory mode.  Once you're familiar with these tools, one can explore sketching, mass, and composition or all of them at the same time.

With only 2 hours in a day for making art I work quickly, so my images are generally shallow with little if any mental depth or narrative.  While the subject may be simple, my recent tendencies have been to entice the viewer to be a bit more engaged with my images.  I try allowing viewers some room to create their own mental spaces and lines within my drawings.

Zzz Later...

A bit more on how I work on my roughs when I go into painting mode. Some different ways I go about finishing art created on my Nexus 7 tablet.

Coffee art prints for sale

I just made two coffee art prints available.  I have another coffee print that I am working on this week.  View the coffee art prints.

I plan on having really nice canvas prints made and for sale direct from this website.  They will be nicer quality and finish, than the canvas prints available now on Society6, and possibly not as pricey as Society6.  The only difference will be that since I will be shipping them myself, shipments will probably be made during weekends, also inventory of all sizes may not be readily available and may be made to order.

morning coffee

morning coffee

double espresso

double espresso

Inflating desert rain frog

Right now I am writing a short informal bio for my art submission to a book earlier this year. I need to fetch my profile pic tonight then it's off to the editor. Meanwhile, here is a sketch of how I believe desert rain frogs have managed to survive.


Moths and painted wings


My latest from today, which is actually a piece that has been floating around in my head for months.  I've been meaning to make this painting since I added Audioslave's "Moth" to my playlist a while back.  It didn't end up exactly as I planned when it finally came out on the canvas today, but this may just be the first pass.  I've had a couple other variations I want to try out.

The weekend look of surprise

Finishing up a quick paint sketch request from a friend who asked me to paint a look of surprise... here it is!  Hope you have a great weekend.

Working with textures for visual interest

Working on an android tablet for over a year has changed the way I think about creating art.  I'm still finishing up another related post which I reflect on how I create art.  One of the points is that I see this digital mode of creating as less a digital version of real world tools.  Looking at creating digitally, I no longer view a 'brush' as a digital version of an actual brush (or pencil, or chalk.)

For myself, looking for digital versions of real world tools, or thinking in terms of real world tools while working digitally is limiting.

Outside of composition, I usually attempt to think in terms of light.  How can I deliver the right light to the piece.  Some of my flatter pieces might focus on composition,  but aside from those, i'm looking for light.

Textures and patterns add some visual interest, especially when layered in correct dosage.

Sunday Something last minute

A quick one to make sure I have something done on Sunday.  Started in Alchemy.  Finished on tablet with the ususal.

Reason 3.1 Not to mess with what?

Started this in Alchemy on the laptop.  doing a bit more groundwork on the laptop since I acquired a small wacom.  For a while I couldn't get the thing working on Mint Cinnamon, but finally was able to make the .ko file.

Adventure Time, Finn

Finn from Adventure Time.  I did a weird version of Princess Bubble Gum.  Maybe next is Marceline.

Book Quotes That Keep Washing Ashore

I have book and movie quotes that keep recurring at serendipitous moments.  One of them is now more prominent because it has become part of my bag of subjects to draw.  My goal is not even to depict Reason as it was described, but instead, to draw a really crazy scene involving a weapon of some sort.

The quote is from Snow Crash where two characters are considering an encounter with pirates. One of them asks their partner if the other side will be persuaded, and the other partner replies that maybe they will listen to Reason.  The name of his weapon.

14 - 1.jpg

Instantly Destroy the Destroyer

Artist Block. The Destroyer.  We've all encountered this nemesis.  The colossal barrier that crushes your creative will.  Well, here's a source that I use once in a while, or whenever I have the opportunity.  As mentioned below, Alchemy focuses on the initial stage of the creation process, so well in fact, that the Destroyer has no way to get a foothold.

Alchemy (

Alchemy is an open drawing project aimed at exploring how we can sketch, draw, and create on computers in new ways. Alchemy isn't software for creating finished artwork, but rather a sketching environment that focuses on the absolute initial stage of the creation process. Experimental in nature, Alchemy lets you brainstorm visually to explore an expanded range of ideas and possibilities in a serendipitous way.

Created by: Karl D.D. Willis & Jacob Hina


Combos to Combat Crushing of Creativity

Another rough concept piece for the cube thing.  Toying with ideas.  I'm growing fond of patterned backgrounds lately (if it hasn't been evident.)

I noticed that I tend to combine variations of elements and art styles.  Some work better than others, but some elements have been: girls (obviously,) the cube, geometric shapes and lines, sketch style, paint style, patterns, monochrome, fat marker, armor, outer-space, hair, unpredictable brushes.  I realize this is good for me because I can stick with a combination and run with it.  When I get bored, I flip to something else in my bag, without really having to slow down my output very much.