Thursday, December 31, 2009

Qin The End...

The Qin is an ancient Chinese instrument that has created the music for many a slow, quiet moment in Kung-fu movies. This old man is taken directly from the Zhang Yimou movie Hero.

Happy New Year.

P.Hos out.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marac' the House

The idea for maracas (also known as rumba sticks and shac-shacs) started out as a rainstick, until I realized that very few people actually use rainsticks to play music. But both rainsticks and maracas remind of the sound a TV makes when it's on the fritz. So here you have it: Latin American TV static, in convenient idiophone form.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby got Bagpipes

Bagpipes are unique in the musical canon. They don't fit into any other category. They aren't woodwinds, or reeded instruments, or brass, or percussion, or strings. They fit into the "Bagpipe" category. They are also plural, like pants. You have to look hard to find someone playing a single bagpipe.

Manana: Maraca

Monday, December 28, 2009

Humor in Jugular Vein

Don't knock the jug. There aren't very many instruments that a beginner can pick up and sound almost as good as a virtuoso. Any kid with a Coke bottle can do it.

Tomorrow: Baby got Bagpipe

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Two's Timpani, Three's a Crowd

Yes, I'm sure there are many great and elaborate classical timpani pieces, but so help me, the one I think of first is "George of the Jungle".

Tomorrow: Humor in a Jugular Vein

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Law of the Jingle

Maybe it's a cultural thing, but jingle bells just sound like snow and Christmas. Santa wouldn't be as jolly if his coming was heralded by flugelhorns, for example.

Tomorrow: Harpies

Thursday, December 24, 2009

100% Organic

In all those kids' movies from the 90s that I sort of liked, the bad guy played an organ. I think in the Beauty and the Beast sequel, the bad guy WAS an organ. I, not being a very creative type, decided that the pipe organ was the piano's grumpy, scrooge-like uncle, and that organs everywhere never smile.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Echo One to Bass!"

An actual upright bass is about 6 1/2 feet tall. This guy is 6 1/2 feet wide, and accordingly, weighs about 1000 pounds. He's got a deeper voice than Barry White, and makes dents in the sidewalk when he goes for a stroll.

Tomorrow: Why can't skeletons play music in church?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Try Harder, Triangle

When I took band in middle school (I played clarinet, just like Squidward) the director happened to go off on one occasion about the Juilliard School of Performng Arts. According to him, one could major in triangle, and become so proficient one could play an entire scale of notes on this bent little piece of metal. We were all duly impressed, and I quit band shortly after.

Tomorrow: Bass Camp

Monday, December 21, 2009

Look over theremin!

The theremin (also known as that sci-fi wailing sound from old "Bug-Eyed Monsters" movies and "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys) sounds exactly like what I imagine that fellow from Edward Munch's "The Scream" sounds like.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peace and Harmonica

The harmonica seems to be one of those instruments a woodland critter would play, if they had a sense of melody, since you don't really need thumbs to work it.

Tomorrow: Look over theremin!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I heard "Under the Sea" played on a marimba on Youtube, and it really just felt right. The marimba has this soothing, bouncy bonk that just sounds sort of aquatic.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Didgeridoo, where are you?

As soon as I had finished this, I realized it needed desperately to be on a t-shirt. Which I haven't done yet. But I think that says more about the completely psychedelic sound that the didgeridoo makes than my own drawing skills.

Tomorrow: Marimba maid

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flight of the V

More poster-ization here. I have to give props to guys like Jamie Hewlett and Yasuhiro Nightow on this one. Also Sid Vicious.

Tomorrow: Didgeridoo, where are you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

King of the Bongo

Here I am, going for an homage to one of my personal favorite styles, the sixties cartoon screen print. All the designs were shaped like exotic fruits, and exotica lounge music ruled the scene. In his more devilish moments, I'll bet Don Draper listened to bongo music.

P.S. Catch the Manu Chau reference in the title?

Tomorrow: Flight of the V

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tambourine (Wo)man

Traditionally, the tambourine is a woman's instrument. Even in ethnic bands, where every other instrument is played by a man, if they have a tambourine, it'll be played by a woman. And she will be a gypsy.

Tomorrow: Bongo baby

Monday, December 14, 2009

Donald Trumpet

A version of this guy appeared on my first promotional mailer, along with a curmudgeonly pianist and a bosomy cellist. You know what happened to the pianist. I still have plans for the cellist.

Tomorrow: Wham, bam, thank you tam(bourine)!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Accordion to Him

This guy started out looking like Jerry Lewis, and ended up looking like Stephen Colbert. The accordion just makes me think of buck teeth.

Tomorrow: Donald Trumpet

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Going, Going, Gong!

The Gong seems to be one of those instruments that was named after they heard it played. Not like the clavichord.

Tomorrow: Accordion to me

Friday, December 11, 2009

Portrait of a Bassoon and his player

Bassoon Man. Half-way through painting it, I realized that this guy looked like John Boehner, so I fixed him.

Tomorrow: the Gong Show.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rudy Kazoo

I gotta say,these smaller instruments are a lot easier to do.

Tomorrow: bassoon

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The buzzy twang of a sitar always reminded me of the movement of insect legs. The big kind, like stick insects. And George Harrison.

I only noticed after I finished this that it has the exact same colors as the ukulele. Must be something about exotic string instruments.

Tomorrow: Rudy Kazoo

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flute of the Conchords

Those of you with an interest in foreign animation may notice, rightfully, that the flute girl is based partially on Aisling, the forest fairy from Tomm Moore's excellent Irish film The Secret of Kells. You might also notice that the lack of buttons on her flute suggests it's an Irish flute. I do my homework on these, people.

Tomorrow: Sitar-day

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jaw-Harp Jubilee

The Jaw-Harp goes by many names. Some call it the Jew's Harp. Some call it the Mouth Harp. Some call it the Juice Harp, for all the spit you lather up learning to play it.
I prefer to call it Colonel McTwangy's Bit-Down Fun-Maker.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Oom-pa-pa Loompa

If you didn't get the pun, it's a tuba. Although this guy looks a little more like Augustus Gloop than an Oompa Loompa.

Tomorrow: Jaw Harp

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Graphic Violins

This is one of those pieces that makes me glad I spent so much time on it.

Tomorrow: Oom-pa-pa Loompa

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gimme down to there snare

It was annoyingly hard not to make this guy look like a Simpsons character.

Tomorrow: Graphic Violins

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Musical People

My new project, one I hope I can stick to, involves creating one character a day for a month based on a musical instrument. December is 31 days, so at the end, I should have 31 characters. This probably means I'll need to double up a little so I can take Christmas off, but I think it's a worthy goal.
Here's the first: Ukulele Lady.
Tomorrow: Saxophone Man.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In an airport

Things are people I saw in the airport back from the CTN-X, except for the guy in the crown, who is the Monarch from Venture Brothers, the guy under him, who is my interpretation of Garrison Keillor from memory, and the guy to the right of him, who is Mr Howell, by 10th Grade English teacher, from memory.

the bird is not a person either, but he was in the terminal, eating crumbs that I clumsily kept dropping.

CTN-X presents John Tucker

I'm back from the CTN Animation Expo, and while I only took two pictures, both blurry, of Scott Morse drawing a space tiger, I filled many sketchbook pages with the life model stylings of John Tucker. This guy showed up every day, two costumes per day, two minute poses...It was awesome. I quickly decided I had less to gain from straight life drawing (see top) than from taking the pose and pushing shapes and lines into interesting combos. The craziest, alas, I left on the floor on the last day. There wasn't a moment at that place that was wasted, as far as I'm concerned.

Namedropping: I met Stephen Silver, Scott Morse, Bill Presing, Peter de Seve, Lou Romano, and Craig McCracken, and I glanced at Don Bluth's booth for a second, but avoided getting too close for fear of contracting diabetes, or turning into a singing kitten or something.

"we're all mad here"

Really, Fox News is so disassociated from reality, this metaphor practically writes itself.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Four different variations of the exact same piece. The second one got fudged with the clouds, so ignore the clouds. They're supposed to look like the clouds in the other ones.

The point is, which one is better. I have my favorites, other people have theirs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three Mile Angel

Okay. Here's the process. This first sketch, which I did in my shiny new sketchbook while eating a pizza pretzel at 10 at night in a Barnes and Noble.

I thought it was an interesting idea, so I pursued it along the avenue of, what would make an angel's head explode? Maybe their heads explode when they're mad?

Okay, not that interesting. So what? I decided Fred was not a good name for an angel, and started researching angels and saints, and other celestial beings whose might conceivably explode. It turns out that Christians aren't that keen on names Saints and angels after things like destruction and anger and nuclear holocaust. I'd have to make my own.

Right? So now I have a bottom-up angel of...Wrath? Heavy Metal? Elmer Fudd? Saint Angus, Patron of Rawk? Clearly, this whole things about the angel being mad is not working. Wouldn't it be compelling if this explosive angel of destruction (I never really left the idea) was still calm and angelic while he spread mass chaos and radioactive devastation? Let's try that. The key is to create a scene that leaves the angel as the focal point, while creating a viable and interesting setting to place it in.

It's hard, so I went the minimalist approach.

Simple, yeah?

Let's see what might be the final.

I'm still not entirely happy with it. One person commented that putting the angel off-center would make for a more interesting composition, and I agree. But I still like the simplicity of this. Any other element would potentially take away from the impact.

So I'm not going to change anything until I know for sure it will improve the piece.

Let me know, yah?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time enough for everyone else

I was walking somewhere and thinking about the nature of time, which I do a lot, when suddenly, this visual metaphor for the way we slice up our day to deal with our various external obligations popped into my head.

I'd write more, but I'm very busy right now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Poetry=Try Poe

This is seasonal. And Poe is very easy to draw.

UPDATE: As a matter of process, whenever I paint something, I scan the ink work first, just in case I flub up. I can always go back and finish the piece digitally. And while I did enjoy painting Mr. Poe here and all his paraphernalia, I thought a sleek digital background would be more stylish in some ways. Let me know your opinion.