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Viewing Blog: John Nez, Most Recent at Top
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Tidbits from the studio of a freelance children's book artist...
Statistics for John Nez

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1. Pages from the past...


Opening the pages from my past we find old magazine spreads...


and old book plans and dreams...

and even a self portrait of me at age 8 1/2.  I added the Pierrot costume, which seems just about right for this serious little fellow.

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2. A studio portrait...


It was fun having a bunch of my fictional illustration buddies drop by the studio. So I captured the event on film... lol!

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3. Back in the BC stone age, (before computers)


Back in the BC stone age, (before computers) I used to make my promotion cards with cut & paste. And with press-type. I hated how press-type would start curling up and the letters started to crack and fall apart. And how I'd run out of zeros and use an O instead.

It was really like doing surgery - precision cut & paste with dexterous hand skills required. I remember the gooey glue-brush and rolling up the leftovers into little sticky balls. lol!

And after all that how amazing it seemed to do computer lettering. Freedom from all the limitations of real press-type letters and freedom to do anything. 

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4. Some spiffy new art...


Here's a collection of some spiffy new art I've painted up recently.






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5. Once every blue moon...


Once every blue moon I like to do an 'art piece' like this. I just can't help it - so it's easier to give in than resist. This was inspired by a scene from a BBC - PBS production - it's dark and somber instead of my usual cartoony dish of happy nursery fodder. I guess the fun part of making 'art' is one can just let go and be messy. This was all done with the wacom in photoshop. 

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6. Add a paper bag and you're done...

And then add a paper bag and mix in Shakespeare and a cat and you're done.

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7. The evolution of Shakespeare into a cat


The evolution of Shakespeare into a cat. I'm not sure why this is important, but I felt compelled to finish drawing it out. I think Ben Johnson had a closer relationship with his cat. I read that he had a servant to keep it's bowl stocked with fresh vittles.

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8. Deep in the Jungle


I always loved those Tarzan movies with the treehouse, vine-swings and all those elephants. It was the depth of the jungle that I found so enchanting - hidden depths, elevated trees, simplistic (non-existant) plots. It was more of an experience than a story. 

I'm attracted to the same qualities of depth in my paintings on canvas. The deeper and more mysterious the elements, the better. 

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9. One of my forgotten books - 'The Easter Surprise'



Here's one of my forgotten books - the Easter Surprise! It was painted in real paints on gessoed paper (for all you hard-line real media folks). And it featured idyllic scenes of baby farm animals frolicking in pastoral locales. I think it does have a nice painterly aspect to it. And now I'm much more forgiving of it's innocence, all these years later.  I think it's sweet... loving kindness.

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10. Monkeying Around...


I spent days drawing monkeys - with the consequence that when I went out to the market shopping - yes, I looked at people and saw monkeys - especially guys with beards. The inevitable parallels all get immediately drawn. I felt kind of bad about it, coming to that conclusion but don't hold myself to blame personally. Anyhow, nowadays on NOVA on PBS they openly refer to our kind as primates - cuz we are! lol! (insert chimp laugh here - like Cheeta on Tarzan - and why did Tarzan name his monkey Cheeta?)

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11. My very first portfolio


Here is my very first portfolio - the 30 lb 'jumbo boy'.  It was gigantic and filled with astounding work! Art directors loved it. They ate it up like cake.

Each new portfolio I made got smaller and smaller until now they fit on an iPhone. But there's something to be said for the 'Jumbo Boy'. Art directors had to clear their desk just to look at it. 

I think the amazing thing is that I drew those in ink straight onto the newsprint page without any pencil or rough sketch. I loved how the fountain pen ink sank into the newsprint.

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12. The muffin-man returns


The muffin-man returns - this week it's apple-blueberry-peach. The silicone muffin tin is fab - since it makes turning out the muffins so easy.

It's always nice to take a break from pushing pixels and do something real, like baking.

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13. Draw!

Draw!

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14. Umbrellas and cherry trees in the rain


Teetering umbrellas spring forth.


'Beneath the cherry trees there are no strangers.'
goes an old saying.



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15. And in a moment or two...


And in a moment or two, the scanned line turns into full color techno-fruit! And to think they pay me to do this... in the rainy cold dark before the sun's even up.  

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16. Jet skis on pencil lines...

Drawing, drawing, drawing... all day long! But when I get out my magic pens it's like putting jet skis on my pencil line... carving big sloshy inky curves and spraying splatters over the deliciously textured watercolor paper. What can I say - it's fun!

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17. Bunny & Fox Go On a Picnic


This was a delightful little mini-book to do.

 

Bunny & Fox pack a picnic...



It's just marvelous!  Oh joy!


And it ends happily ever after, naturally.

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18. "Whao! What's this? It does look like a problem!"



John's been trying to work out a shooting match between GoDaddy and Comcast. I hate it when I have to kick the can to confront corporate giants. 

My tiny little website has been misbehaving. Pages won't load - the site hangs - a small jpeg takes 4 minutes to load. That's not good.  

The expert GoDaddy web-hosting engineer ran a traceroute, saw nothing wrong and told me it was definitely a Comcast problem. I went to find any help at Comcast, but there isn't any. I could only find a user forum, where the poor abandoned souls in distress gather on the wrack & ruin of their technical problems, with the giant edifice of Comcast giving them the cold shoulder.

The lone Comcast castaways had a different result on the traceroute they kindly ran on my site.  

On the forum I had 5 different people look at my site, who all live in different cities - one even in europe.  They had the same results as I had. It seemed illogical that the problem would be with Comcast when the problems I have are experienced by the different people who live all around the world.  

To say I felt like I was up the creek without a paddle is putting it mildly.

So armed with this new knowledge, I went back to GoDaddy.  I spent 40 minutes while a patient GoDaddy admin poked around and finally found some test pages that were not working, just like I told him. Finally after 10 more minutes I was delighted to hear him say, "Whao! What's this? That's interesting... so it DOES look like it's on our end after all!"    

And it turns out it's a newly discovered issue that they're working on. Hopefully it'll get fixed soon! My website is my portfolio.

So I'm not crazy and it's not just me! It might be affecting many, many websites out there. It's all too complicated for me to figure out.

Oh, and the web-hosting admin was very complimentary about my illustration... he said it reminded him of Dr. Seuss.  

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19. My Hollywood Photo Shoot


The Movie Poster
And then there's my Hollywood movie poster photo - of course.   I first must explain I've never set foot in Hollywood.  But maybe because of that I always think that adding 'Hollywood' to anything is bound to add panache... as in:  

Hollywood hills 
Hollywood sunset 
Hollywood ending 
Hollywood limo 
Hollywood mansion... you get the idea. 

The original photo
People no doubt thought I was bluffing when I said I'd been on a 'Hollywood photo shoot' one rainy night last December.  But I really was - in the dark - on my bicycle - with my camera and tripod.  

The documentary film project required a dark, gothic, edgy image. So I was out to make just such an image with my trusty Lumix.

The contact sheet
In the falling dark the rain had just stopped.  It was time for my Hollywood moment.  Fate had compelled me... my date with Hollywood.

It all happened when the stars aligned and by a happy twist of fate I was contacted by the art director in L.A., the amazing Dagmar Wilde, who has created dozens of award winning Hollywood movie posters.  (I know it doesn't sound like I fit into this world, does it?  Believe me, I don't.  So I was just as astonished. But it was so much fun).

Dagmar has designed movie posters for DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Robert Altman, Mad Men, Gossip Girl along with a stunning collection of independent film projects.  And she's also a playwright and writer - all leading to the 'amazing' moniker. And for full disclosure, I am honored to say that she's a friend of mine from online and life.

The film is 'The Hunting Ground' directed by Oscar nominated Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.  They've done films like The Invisible War, Outrage, This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Twist of Fate. This film is a documentary on the topic of college rape.  Not a topic I knew anything about... but I guess that's the whole point of the film - to shed some light on this overlooked issue.  

Since it was temporarily not raining, I shot a sequence of images, trying with intuition to make something compelling. Of course a tripod and correct exposure are requirements for night photography.  It's way trickier than daylight shooting... factors like noise and blur and losing details all figure in.  It can be difficult.  I used a timed shutter release rather than manual, so as not to blur the image.  And the mighty Lumix fz200 did it's job.

I finished snapping and biked home in the dark.  Was that really all there is to a Hollywood photo shoot?  I suppose so.  And in short order Dagmar did the rest with her design magic, turning my photo into a real Hollywood poster. Figures were added, figures erased, branches removed, banners hung... all kinds of changes. Employing her design wizardry, Dag transformed the original to something quite different. 

The final poster artfully captures a sense of edgy, dark, spooky gothic college setting, exactly filling the parameters of the poster project.  So now this film is on it's way to festivals and venues everywhere... how exciting!  

The Sundance photo
I was clicking around on the Sundance site and was delighted to see another photo of mine.... rubbing shoulders with the Stars!  Such a thrill!  Well that was my Hollywood moment!  Sigh... 

I wonder if I will ever really make it to Hollywood?  Of course there was no cast party except in my imagination. Oh well, illustrators never get parties either.

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20. Once again it's time for Bunny & Fox!


One more day of pushing the pencil and dropping in color.  Bunnies, Foxes and a picnic.


The fox sketch from the bottom was redone, to add more clothes.  And then swatches of foxy patterns were added. Onward and upward with the Arts! 

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21. My mind - My mind in Photoshop



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22. Corn is hard to paint!


Today's blog theme is farms and work. I tried to recapture the feeling of a kitchen I once had.  It was decorated with the most amazing 1940's wallpaper done in a vintage farm design.  And it had all the original counters, cupboards and stove. 

I discovered that corn is difficult to paint!  Too many parts... that's the problem.  Bicycles are difficult also.


And this photo is for all those poor folks who have had to shovel way too much snow this year!  Here in the pacific northwest we too have to shovel moss.  Hard work!

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23. Freezer delivery from Burkina-Faso!


Yesterday we had a new freezer delivered (old one died). It was bought online and the delivery notification was via a computer robot voice.  The robot even gave a 30 minute warning.  So sure as shooting, there the truck was, just like the robot said.

The truck parked in the alley.  It turned out that the two freezer delivery men were from Africa - or more precisely from Burkina-Faso!  

One tall laid back cool guy in sunglasses (Djbril) and another guy who sounded like he'd might have a college degree with excellent english (Mathieu).  So they unloaded the freezer and began to carry it through my backyard, with a shoulder strap harness. At this point I remembered we were supposed to ask them for I.D. to prove that they really were the people who were supposed to be carrying a freezer through my backyard instead of some dangerous impostor freezer-carriers hellbent on getting that freezer down an impossible stairway and back door. But I went on trust.

Of course the first problem was the freezer wouldn't actually fit through the back door - even though I had taken the back door off. They don't make those slim freezers anymore. They're all gigantic now. And this was the smallest freezer I could find anywhere online.  Oh no! Mathieu suggested we remove the extra freezer panel that stuck out at the bottom.  So I got down on the ground sideways to try to see where the screws were.  Excellent idea. We tried to get that off.

It looked like they were about to give up and pack it back up! Oh no! Then it occurred to me we should try the basement window.  And lo and behold - it measured out with 3 inches to spare! So Djbril and Mathieu carried the freezer around to the side window. And in it went. I got to chat a bit with Djbril, telling him that my dad had spent 6 years in Ghana, which is the nation just south of his.  He said he'd never been there, but they had lots of tasty food in Burkina-Faso.  Lots of french is spoken in Burkina-Faso.

I tried to not feel too guilty about my fat comfortable life as I imagined what kind of life a refugee from Africa must have had to wind up delivering freezers to cold, wet Seattle half a world away.  I'm glad we managed to get the freezer in through the window so at least that little adventure ended happily ever after.


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24. A Magic Show on paper & screen


This was fun to see the comparison between the computer screen outcome and the printed page outcome. It really is like magic that the two technologies are almost identical - even allowing for the different lighting conditions.

Lucky for me it's the innate charm of the concept and design along with the talent of drawing that makes the difference in any image... so that a robot can't do it.

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25. "Website - we have a problem!"


John's been trying to work out a shooting match between GoDaddy and Comcast. I hate it when I have to kick the can to confront corporate giants. 

My tiny little website has been misbehaving. Pages won't load - the site hangs - a small jpeg takes 4 minutes to load. That's not good.  

The expert GoDaddy web-hosting engineer ran a traceroute, saw nothing wrong and told me it was definitely a Comcast problem. I went to find any help at Comcast, but there isn't any. I could only find a user forum, where the poor abandoned souls in distress gather on the wrack & ruin of their technical problems, with the giant edifice of Comcast giving them the cold shoulder.

The lone Comcast castaways had a different result on the traceroute they kindly ran on my site.  

On the forum I had 5 different people look at my site, who all live in different cities - one even in europe.  They had the same results as I had. It seemed illogical that the problem would be with Comcast when the problems I have are experienced by the different people who live all around the world.  

To say I felt like I was up the creek without a paddle is putting it mildly.

So armed with this new knowledge, I went back to GoDaddy.  I spent 40 minutes while a patient GoDaddy admin poked around and finally found some test pages that were not working, just like I told him. Finally after 10 more minutes I was delighted to hear him say, "Whao! What's this? That's interesting... so it DOES look like it's on our end after all!"    

And it turns out it's a newly discovered issue that they're working on. Hopefully it'll get fixed soon! My website is my portfolio.

So I'm not crazy and it's not just me! It might be affecting many, many websites out there. It's all too complicated for me to figure out.

Oh, and the web-hosting admin was very complimentary about my illustration... he said it reminded him of Dr. Seuss.  

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