March 31, 2015

100 Watercolors #67 - Playing The Melody

I once again based this one off an old idea, a thank-you painting that I made for Carson Ellis.  I wanted to try a watercolor technique I had not really used yet on this one, where I draw with the paint.  One of my favorite watercolor illustrators, Scott C. uses this technique a lot, so I thought I'd give it a try for the thought bubble and the dream guitar (which may be based on a certain guitar, from a certain favorite band of mine...)

I think I probably made the dream lines a bit too dark, but it's still got a softer feeling than the black ink lines.  Anyway, it was an experiment and it put another technique into my tool belt!

As mentioned last week, I'm going to start posting these twice a week so I'll have another watercolor for you all on Thursday.

The next theme: Hero!

March 26, 2015

IRL illustration #2 - Alec's Animal Alphabet quilt

On March 3rd, my sister Galen gave birth to a baby girl which she and her husband Nathan named "Wren."  My niece!  She is the first child of the next generation in my immediate family, so it was very exciting.

My amazingly talented wife Claire wanted to make a baby gift for Wren that was from both of us, so she decided to make a quilt out of my old Animal Alphabet project.  After months of of hard work at her sewing machine, the finished product is pretty incredible!

Claire's got a great post all about the quilt on her blog where you can see close-ups of some of the patches. So much work went into each one, it was an honor to see my paintings converted into these cloth creations.  We skyped with Galen and Nathan a few days ago and I was able to snap a photo of Wren having fun hanging out on the quilt.  Cute!

Although Wren is a little young to start reading, I also sent along a copy of the Alec's Animal Alphabet book, which I updated for this special occasion.

It now has an ISBN and distribution through Ingram, which means you should be able to order it from your local bookstore.  It can also be purchased on, or you can get 25% off the cover price by ordering directly from!  I even made a DRM-free .PDF eBook version which you can get for $1.99 on Gumroad.

March 24, 2015

100 Watercolors #66 - Traps

In an effort to speed up the completion of this project, I have started reusing a few old illustrations as compositions for these themes, when appropriate.  As some of you might remember, this drum-playing octopus was featured on the cover of Ramen Music #3.

Initially I had this guy centered in the composition and was going to just leave the background white, but then at the last minute I moved him down and decided to go crazy with the watercolors in the top, to represent his drumming.  I have a hard time letting things be loose, so this was a good challenge for me.  There are some parts that are more successful than others, but in general I'm pretty pleased with it.

With this piece, I am now two-thirds of the way done with this project!  I've been pushing extra hard to try and finish the pencils for the remaining 34 themes.  Once that's done, all that remains is to ink and paint them!  In an effort to keep the pressure on, starting next week I will be posting two watercolors a week until the end of this project.  I will then release a book that contains all 100 watercolors and then I will sell off the original paintings.

Next week's theme: Playing the Melody!

March 19, 2015

IRL illustration #1 - Weezer Poster Sweater

Recently, the official Weezer Fan Club started up again.  It has been great reconnecting with my Weezer brothers and sisters, who are just as enthusiastic as I am about my all-time favorite band.

A few weeks ago, fan club member Michael McCarthy posted this photo from a few years ago of himself dancing on the Weezer Cruise:

I did a double take when I saw this and thought, "IS THAT A REAL-LIFE VERSION OF THE SWEATER I DESIGNED FOR THE MEMORIES TOUR POSTER???"  I asked Michael for confirmation, and he said that yes, he had in fact commissioned the sweater from a friend in Portland who knit it for him.

I had the idea for this sweater design back in 2006 when I drew this portrait of Rivers Cuomo for an editorial illustration assignment at Pratt Institute.  But that sweater was overly complex (too much cross hatching) and the two wings of the "W" didn't extend over the arms.  For the Memories Tour poster I simplified and improved the design.  Here's what version 2.0 looked like:

Please look back up at that photo and check out how accurate the real sweater is!  It's even got the one loose strand on the right sleeve!!!  Weezer fans are the best.  Anyway, it felt totally amazing to see something I had dreamed up turned into reality.

Next week I'll show you a second, even more amazing example of this happening to me!

March 17, 2015

100 Watercolors #65 - Horror

As I do more and more of these watercolors, I am starting to figure out when to use ink to depict something, versus when to use the paint, or also when to leave something completely white.  I am pretty pleased with how that salt turned out and how it works with the various other elements of the composition.

Next week: Traps!