Saturday, February 27, 2010

Giving Up

There is a giant black and white poster of Bruce Springsteen next to my drum kit. It's a photo of him in the mid-seventies during the making of the "Born To Run" album. He's 24 or 25 years old, not yet "The Boss", and he's in danger of the record company dropping him if his new album isn't a hit. His dreams are in danger of never coming true.

Below the picture a caption reads: "Making Born To Run was a time of doubt and despair for Springsteen, of psychotic flare-ups and shattering exhaustion."

Tonight, I gave up on OilCan Drive.

I've been wrestling with this one song on the OilCan Drive album for weeks now. It seems simple enough but something about it just never seems to work. I've recorded it twice and it didn't sound right. So, I started over. I skipped it. I went on to other songs. But today I thought, "that's it, either I beat the song or the song beats me!"

I attacked it head on this afternoon, working my fingers until the were numb. I thought I had it. I thought I had it all figured out. At the end of the night I listened to my day's work.

And, I hated it.

"That's it," I thought, "I'm done. I can't do this. Being a one man band recording an album in my living room is driving me crazy. The art and story aren't even that good. It's not worth it. It will never be good. No one will even like it."

I sat on the couch silent for a few minutes while Monika sat next to me reading a book. She looked at me and I told her I was done. I was done with OilCan Drive and I needed to think of some new project to work on.

Then she told me a story. Something that happened to her this week at work that she just remembered.

A mutual friend of ours who works with her also has a job doing graphic design and works with a bunch of artists. One day, one of the artists came up to her and told her he had found this great new band online that reminded him of the Gorillaz. Some new band that he really liked. That band was OilCan Drive.

He didn't know that she knew me or even knew that there was a "me" at all. He thought it was a band who happened to have some guy drawing art for them.

So, some guy out there who I don't even know likes OilCan Drive.


I took a break, sat back down at the computer, and listened again to the song I had recorded today. It's not perfect but there is something there. Some parts need to be reworked and re-recorded but I have a better idea of what needs to be done to make it right.

So, I kicked the song's ass today and tonight it kicked mine right back. But, looking back with a clear head, I think I'll call it a draw.

On to round three.

OilCan Drive isn't done. Not yet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

From the Vault - The New Sheme #6 2002

I finished up the first OilCan Drive short comic book story sometime in the spring of 2002 and gave a bunch of them away at the first official Free Comic Book Day (if you're lucky and do a Google search I've actually found there are still a select few of these books out there for sale.)

Shortly afterward a friend of mine, Stuart Anderson, who runs a music fanzine called The New Scheme asked if I'd draw the band for the cover of his newest issue.

And this is what I came up with.

It's still hard to look back on some of these earlier images of the band. I still hadn't figured out quite how to draw them all yet and my art style, at the time, was going through some kind of change. So, when I look back at some of my old work all I see is the mistakes. But, I guess that means things are always getting better. I'm sure I'll look back in five years at the things I'm doing today and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

But this was the first time someone, outside of myself, had put any of my own personal work on a project. It wasn't a commission or an assignment where a client wanted me to draw something for them that was their idea. No, this was someone who said, "I've got a space on the cover and I want to put your band on it. Do what you want."

Not a bad feeling to know someone out there liked the cartoon band in my head early on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Wanna Go Back

I've talked a lot about attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. I've even pulled some assignments out of the vault and shown you the art work I was doing back then. Going there was one of the first steps I took to become a professional illustrator.

But, I've never shown you what the school looks like.

In 1985 Eddie Money used the school and the town it's located in, Dover, New Jersey, as the backdrop for his music video of the song, "I Want To Go Back." In it he not only roams the streets of Boulder, walking on one of the streets I actually lived on for a year, but strolls the halls of the school as well.

The personal facts about this song are interesting. I was an Eddie Money fan in high school and loved this album. I quoted this very song in my senior yearbook. The video for the song was shot at the place I went to college. And, in this video, somewhere in the crowd, is Mark McNabb, the man who gave me my first assistant art job and started my career in art.

Weird, huh?

Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Run Run Run!

I was getting bored writing about the guitars and gear I've been using to record the OilCan Drive album. Maybe it reminded me too much about how hard doing this album has been on me. Honestly, there are days when I feel like the whole OilCan Drive project has thrown me down a deep dark hole. Yet I keep working on it because I feel it's an important thing to do. I have a feeling things will look better in hindsight once it's done and I've made my way out of this deep dark tunnel.

Of course, I have to make it out of the tunnel first.

But, even on the dark days there is usually one little glimmer of hope I can find that keeps me going. I won't stop doing this until it's either finished or it kills me.

So, no more guitar posts for now. I have a feeling showing a guitar I am using must be boring to read about as well. So, we'll chalk that one up to a failed attempt. I may post the rest of the guitar and gear photos I shot in one post just to give you a grand over view of what I am using.

But, for now, back to the art.

From the desk, here is the newest piece I'll be working on for the next day or two. This piece, along with two others, are for a magazine client. The inks are done and everything is scanned into the computer and ready for color. Two days left to the deadline and it looks like smooth sailing from here.

As much as I love rock and roll, sci-fi, and comic book super heroics it seems I've found a nice niche doing sports related illustration. Which isn't a bad thing at all. I love hockey, love football, and have found a new love during the Olympics for curling. And, drawing guys in football gear is almost like drawing military sci-fi stormtroopers...well, almost. ha ha.

Now, if one of my clients would just do a book or magazine article about curling and I'd be all set.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


So, Monika and I FINALLY got to see James Cameron's "Avatar" tonight. I loved it was amazed at both the story and the way it looked.

What I really liked about it is that Cameron seemed to pull the looks and ideas of a few of his previous movies to make it seem like there is a shared universe in his mind. A lot of the gear and military looked like they came right out of the same universe as the marines in Aliens. And the characters kept referring to the "corporation" and the "company", another entity that made it's way into Aliens. Also, the bureaucratic nature of Giovanni Rabisi's character makes me think he and Paul Reiser's company man character Carter Burke, from Aliens, must have roomed together in college.

And the way Pandora looked, with it's neon glowing plant and animal life makes me wonder if the aliens from Cameron's "The Abyss" may have come from a neighboring planet.

So, if it is a shared universe in Cameron's mind it means we, the human race, must have survived the Terminator wars with Skynet long enough for us to make our way out into space.

So, yeah, I love stuff like that. And, even though people say the story of Avatar has been done a million times I still loved it. It was a great ride and well worth the wait. I'm glad Monika and I finally found some time together to see it.

Of course, there was the adventure we had on the way home as my Jeep sputtered and stalled a block from the gas station while I was on my way to fill her back up. Eleven o'clock in the middle
of a cold and snowy night and my jeep runs out of gas. But, a quick ride back to my house (which was also only a few blocks away) from a good samaritan named David to get my gas can, a frantic run to the gas station, a run back to my jeep, and I was back in business. Cold hands and all.

But, even with that going wrong it was a very good night.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vincent Spicer's Gibson ES-333

The guitar I've given Vincent Spicer, of the cartoon band OilCan Drive, is a Gibson ES-333 hollowbody. It has a great woodsy tone to it when played through a clean amp and when it's overdriven it sounds amazing. It's the perfect compliment to Ryan's Fender rock and roll guitar sound.

One of the things I have loved about doing the OilCan Drive music is giving each member of the band, each character, their own voice. Meaning, when I play this guitar on a track, it's Vincent. He doesn't need to speak for me to know it's him. All I need to hear is this guitar playing and I know it's speaking for Vincent. It's a great feeling to give your characters more of a life than an illustration on a page. Even if that life is simply a guitar sound and the way he plays it.

The guitar is pretty much stock, just the way I bought it. I had toyed around over the years of changing out the pick-ups but, honestly, they sound great and pulling apart this guitar and possibly not putting it back together in right working order is a bit scary. So, it sounds just the way it did when it came off of Gibson's manufacturing floor in Memphis, TN.

I did, however, put a nice number five decal on the body of the guitar. I've always loved Pete Townshend of The Who and he's been a great influence on me as far as guitar playing and songwriting go. During the hey day of The Who in the seventies Townshend always had a supply of Gibson Les Paul guitars with different numbers on them. I think it was to signify how each was set up and which corresponded to each different song. So, I wanted to pay a small tribute to that.

But, why number five? What does it signify, you might ask. Nothing really. I just liked the shape of the number, having both rounded parts to it as well as straight lines. I felt it fit the body nicely. There may be a small story in there somewhere as to why Vince chose to put a five on his guitar. Maybe it's the number of his old military unit. Or maybe it's the number of men he lost in battle that fateful day when he lost his left arm (Vincent has a robotic cyborg left arm for those of you not in the's why he started playing guitar in the first physical therapy for the new robotic left hand.)

Only time will tell what the number five means to Vincent and why it's on his guitar.

Here's an illustration of Vince with the guitar (which I didn't reference at all when I drew's why it's not spot on and I haven't added the f-holes...yet.) At least it has his number five on it.

From the Vault - Tin Can Sessions 2002

Having created OilCan Drive in 2001, I already had an inkling of an idea that I could make some music for the project as soon as 2002. Using that old Yamaha electric guitar and a borrowed computer program from a friend, I was trying my best, with no real knowledge of how to do it, to record some newly written songs.

That I was even writing songs at this time is amazing. It can be very hard to convince yourself that you should try something new that you've never done before. I'd never even thought about writing a song of my own before 2001. Yet, here I was, in 2002, trying to put out some sort of album.

It was much harder than I thought. Heck, it's still hard but at least I feel I have a bit more of an idea of what I am doing these days. Back then I was using the guitar plugged right into the computer and a cheap computer microphone. I thought I had it all figured out. But it was a start and, believe me, I didn't lack passion. I thought I could take on the world and do anything I set my mind to. I still do. I know now that it sometimes takes longer than you think. And there is always more to learn.

So, when things weren't going right as I was trying to record this new "album", I would take a step back and draw the cover for it. Of course, the cover was finished much sooner than the actual recording was. It's still easier for me to draw and do illustration art than it is for me to make music. But, I keep trying. Being a one man band isn't as easy as it sounds.

I know I finished the album and had people listen to it. I still think that's one of my strengths as an artist. I'm never afraid to show people what I am working on. It may not be perfect or really any good but I've never been afraid to show it off. That no one told me I really sucked is a credit to the friends I had at the time. It kept me going when even a harsh word from someone I respected might have stopped me dead in my tracks.

But, I'm still here and I'm still recording music. I've now had a song on the actual radio and things seem to be getting better and better for my little cartoon band.

And, as far as questioning my worth as a songwriter at this time, it's very telling that two of the songs on this first-time ever-demo album, Wastelands and Toxic Waltz, are songs that will be on the upcoming album.

2002 Sean may have had some idea of what he was doing after all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ryan Burke's Fender Stratocaster

OK, so I sold the first Fender Stratocaster guitar I bought. Not because I didn't like it but because it wasn't the color I wanted (you know you've gone crazy when you love the guitar but sell it so you can get a different color...what can I say, it was a crazy time.)

So, instead of a blue Fender guitar I now had a yellow Fender guitar.

Actually, you know, I'm going to blame Ryan on this one. He didn't like the blue one but thought yellow was more his color. I don't know why. Maybe it reminded him of his hair or contrasted better with the colors of his shirt. All I know is that this is Ryan Burke's guitar. That little voice in my head that sounds like Ryan told me it was.

Like the blue one before it, it's a simple guitar, perfect for the style Ryan plays with OilCan Drive. It has only one humbucker pick-up and only one volume knob. No switches or tone knobs here. Just simple, pure, playing power.

I did change out the original pick-up and replaced it with a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pick-up. It was closer to a 50' pick-up sound and wasn't as "hot" a pick-up. It's allowed me to record with this guitar much easier.

And the stickers. Ryan is the one player in the band who loves to put stickers all over his guitar. His favorite is the big Macbeth Shoe sticker he put right on the pick-guard. I've been emailed by Macbeth a few times in the past and I've always thought I was going to get in trouble for putting their sticker and logo in my art. But, luckily, they've been nothing but supportive of both myself and the art. So, it's nice to see someone out there is recognizing what I am doing and liking it.

So, this is the guitar I am recording Ryan's guitar parts with. It's simple, sounds great, and is always fun to play. If anything says Ryan Burke in the world of OilCan Drive it would have to be this guitar. Or the hair. He is pretty proud of his hair.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oscar Schmidt

After the week in 2003 where I bought a guitar, bass, and electric drum kit all in one week the guitar bug had definitely bitten me.

In the fall of 2003 Blink 182 came out with their last album which was simply self titled, "Blink 182." I had the Fender Tom Delonge Signature Stratocaster but I found out, when this album dropped, that Tom had a new signature guitar put out by Gibson, Fender's competitor. With the itch to buy guitars I probably would have bought this new model right away except for one thing...the price tag. While the Fender model was around $600 this new Gibson design was commanding a $2500 price tag. Yikes!

So, what was a boy to do?

You got it, I decided to build one myself.

I found a cheaply made Oscar Schmidt knock off that looked about the same as the Gibson design for a clearance price of $150. I ordered a new pick-up for it and some new knobs. And one night, once all the parts had arrived, my friend Adam Trapani and I ripped this new guitar apart and rebuilt it to look like the Delonge model. And it took all night long.

We replaced the guitar's bridge pick-up with a Seymour Duncan Invader pick-up. We rewired the guts of the guitar to make the new pick-up work. We took all of the hardware off of the body of the guitar and, making a quick trip to the Kinko's sign and banner department, added a gold racing stripe down the middle of the body. We added the new knobs and cleaned it all up.

When we finally finished the sun was coming up and I remember driving Adam home while we watched people getting ready to go to work and start their day.

It was a great night and I wish I had more time these days to do fun stuff like that. One of the things I still want to do is a project guitar. I'd love to design it myself, buy all the parts, and make a custom built Sean Tiffany guitar. But I can never seem to find the time.

So, this guitar will always be special to me. I never play it and it's in a closet in a guitar case but I can't seem to bring myself to ever sell it. The Fender bass, stratocaster, and electric drum kit I showed yesterday have all either been sold or given away.

But this guitar, the cheap Oscar Schmidt, is here to stay.

Tomorrow, the gear I am using now to make the OilCan Drive album.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How it started...

While I work on both the music for OilCan Drive this week as well as a few client illustration jobs I can't talk too much about I thought it would be a great time to delve into how I got into doing the music for the OilCan Drive project and what kind of gear and guitars I'm using.

The first guitar I ever owned was a no name Yamaha electric guitar my Dad bought me as a high school graduation gift when I was 18 years old. I took a few lessons with a friend of his but just didn't get it. I spent the next bunch of years knowing how to play only the A,D,E, and G chords (not a ton but I could play the Trogg's "Wild Thing" pretty decently.) Guitar and music took a big back seat as the art and illustration end of my life took center stage.

But, in 2001, I created OilCan Drive. They weren't meant to be a band when I first started. They were just a bunch of friends having adventures in a futuristic wasteland with a stolen airship. But, music was becoming more important in my life then. I was getting more and more into specific bands and incorporating their names into some of the art I was doing. So, it made sense that the reason these friends were hanging out in the wasteland and having adventures was because they were in a band. It gave me a reason to keep them all together in one room even though their were times when none of them got along.

So, I wrote and drew the first OilCan Drive comic adventure in early 2002. And, through the cartoon band, I picked up the guitar again. Luckily, I had surrounded myself with a few friends at the time who played music and I asked them every question I could think of about how to play the guitar. But, it took a lot of soul searching and long talks with myself to convince myself that, yes, I may be able to actually write a song on my own. Especially when I was surrounded by "real" musicians. But, I didn't take any of it seriously until a friend of mine, who was in an actual real life band at the time, told me we should do some music for OilCan Drive. I was intrigued and he showed me a few things on the guitar. I was excited to do something with him and the music of OilCan Drive. And, then, like often happens in life, he left me alone. And, I was on my own.

But, I kept writing original songs on that old no-name Yamaha guitar.

And then, the freelance art career took off like a rocket. After eight months of hard work and a few lucky breaks with some great clients I found myself with some extra money for the first time in my life.

I did the smart thing and bought my first home with the majority of the money but I had some set aside to play with. It was time to buy a new guitar.

I called a guy I knew at the time. He was a singer/songwriter I had met at the bagel shop I used to go to for lunch and had seen him play a few solo shows. I'm glad I called him because I think it was one of the first steps I took to make a life long friend. Adam Trapani helped me buy my first guitar.

In November of 2003 we went to the local music store and, after playing a bunch of guitars to see which one felt right, I bought a Fender Tom Delonge Signature Stratocaster.

Within a week I had bought that guitar but had also ordered a Fender Precision Bass and a small electronic drum kit. The itch had gotten to me and I had to scratch it.

The music side of OilCan Drive had begun...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back to the Drawing Board

Geez, it's been a while (almost two weeks) since I've sat at the drawing board and actually did any sort of illustration. I keep meaning to do it, almost every night, after I finish recording tracks for the OilCan Drive album, but the couch always seems to get the better of me (curses on me for buying such a comfortable sofa!)

So, yeah, I felt a bit rusty as I sat down yesterday to sketch out the newest job for a new (and as yet un-named) client. But, I got my groove going after a while and sketched out the whole job in blue pencil. It felt nice to move the pencil around on the page again, making shapes and fitting all of the characters in the same space. I'm not as fast as I was two weeks ago but it felt nice to relax and not push it too fast. The deadline isn't that close yet.

The camera had a hard time picking up most of the details of the piece but you hopefully can get a good idea of what's going on so far. And, the little thumbnail of what I am doing can be seen in the notebook in the corner of the photo.

The challenge this week will be seeing if I can work on both the illustration and the album at the same time with neither suffering.

It should be interesting if nothing else.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


To celebrate Valentine's Day I downloaded Angels and Airwaves newest album called "LOVE"

It's the band's third studio album and became available as a free download today. It's a bit different from their first two albums and, after listening to it a few times, it sounds like the soundtrack to a movie you've never seen before. It has swirling guitars, spacey sounds, and synthesizers aplenty. The band's sound started off as an almost U2 homage on their first two albums but it's taken that sound as a jumping off point and gone somewhere else in this third album.

But, I am, for lack of a better word, loving it.

If you'd like to check it out (and why not, like I said before, it's free) you can get the full album at Angels and Airwaves site HERE.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Secret Mission

So, the secret mission I talked about yesterday actually happened last night and it was a blast! I can't talk too much about it or tell you why I did it, who I did it with, or what the results were but I can show you a few select photos with most of the logos blurred or blacked out.

Covert Ops works in mysterious ways.

One more step crossed off on my list of things to do to become a space cowboy.

From The Vault - Dinosaur Evolution 1989

This is the last piece I pulled from under the bed in Maine way back in early September. I have to say the photos I took from all those piles of art have really served me well and made From The Vault Fridays much easier to do. I shudder when I think that next week I'll have to rifle back through the three or four full portfolios of work here in the studio to find something new (of something old) to show. Ah well, I'll worry about that next week.

I think this piece was done during my first year at the Joe Kubert school for a Methods and Materials class with Mark Pennington. If I remember it right, the assignment was to show what the world might look like if dinosaurs had evolved into modern day people. Apparently I didn't take it that far and just made dinosaurs with a little more personality, human traits, and shotguns.

But, I think the point of the assignment was to paint with the new Dr. Martins dyes we were given earlier that year. The fact that I used the dyes for most of my airbrushing career at Marvel Comics and beyond (until I moved over to coloring in the computer) can probably all be traced back to here.

So, not a bad piece of art and not a bad way to start my professional career.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rocking and Rolling Along

The OilCan Drive album is rolling along smoothly and, unlike last week where I wanted to quit every day when I woke up and got out of bed, this week has been nothing but great. It seems that scrapping all the previous work I had done and starting over from scratch was the right thing to do.

The schedule that seems to have naturally evolved while working on this project has been to wake up, check the emails, write some things, have some breakfast, take a shower, and then record a song. I've been concentrating, in order, on recording the bass and guitar parts for one song a day. I can usually get most of the song tracked before dinner but sometimes find myself going back afterwards and tweaking a few things. Then, once I feel the song is done for the day, I'll move over to doing some illustration or design work to fill out the night.

So far, it's worked well.

The problem last night is that I didn't want to stop. I wanted to work on the next song and not go to bed. Which was a good feeling. It was nice to mentally prepare myself for today and figure out what guitar parts might go where and how I was going to tackle it. I guess there are worse things than not wanting to stop working on something you love.

I'm sure I'll go back and maybe add or tweak things later on but, for now, two songs are in the can (at least guitar and bass wise.) "Out of My Mind" and "I Know" (tentative titles) are tracked and today I'll be working on a song called "Forbidden Planet."

But, I'll have to work fast. I have special sneaky plans tonight and, if all goes well, I'll have an adventure to tell in the coming days. Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Recording Continues!

After taking a day off yesterday to clean the house and throw away a bunch of stuff I don't need I'll continue recording the OilCan Drive album today. I was going to do it yesterday but the shelves I had around me that were packed to the brim with books and magazines and who knows what else finally drove me crazy enough to do something about it. So, after a flurry of sorting and cleaning, I'm ready to go again.

I found this on YouTube this morning. It's a nice little interview about playing guitar from an artist I enjoy, Tom Delonge. He sits with an acoustic guitar and explains why he loves it and a few tricks he uses when writing melodies.

Just a little inspiration for myself as I start the day. Enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Friday's Mountain Photos

As I said in a previous blog post, I spent last Friday out of the studio and took a trip into the mountains with a friend.

Even on such a gray and bleak day the mountains are always fun and a great way to clear your head.

And, the best part, we got to see a train go through the Moffat Tunnel. I even stood on one of the dividers and waved like a little kid to the engineer as he blew the whistle.

Not a bad way to spend a Friday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A New Start

I spent most of the day yesterday tearing down and rebuilding the tracks of the OilCan Drive record so I could get myself back to square one. By dinner time I had everything ready to record. The click tracks were there, the computer drums were present, and the acoustic demo tracks I recorded four month ago were all synced up.

I was ready to start. Again.

Today was spent working on the first tracks of the first song on the album (I know it says "2" on the track but the first track is an instrumental intro to the album. So, I consider this the first actual song.) Using the things I figured out during my epiphany the day before I started recording again with the new (or old) techniques. And it sounded GREAT!

As you can see here, the basic song is just one track for Henry's bass part, two guitars to represent Ryan, and one guitar to represent Vince (if you don't count the solo in the bridge.) And with just that little instrumentation the track sounds full and LOUD. And, I love it. I didn't need to do fifteen guitar parts to make up one guitar part. It's lo-tech and I'm amazed at the way it's sounding.

I was actually so busy working on this today that I barely noticed the Super Bowl on the TV in the background (congrats to the Saints.) I did stop for about twenty minutes to watch The Who though. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry are always an inspiration.

So, yeah, a good day and a good start. The second time's a charm.

And I didn't think about quitting again today.

Back on track!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Starting Over

I've been laying down tracks on the OilCan drive album for the last week or so. And every day I've worked on it I thought about quitting. Nothing seemed to sound or feel right as I laid down guitar track after guitar track. I was questioning myself on a daily basis and quitting seemed like an easy way to take this weight off of my shoulders.

But, I kept going, laying down tracks daily, telling myself I could fix the feel and sound once I got into the mixing stage.

But, it never felt right.

Yesterday, while at lunch, I talked to one of the girls at the restaurant who I had given a few of the Bob Dylan cover songs I had done. Of the three, It Ain't Me Babe, the acoustic demo track for It Ain't Me Babe, and When I Paint My Masterpiece, her favorite was When I Paint My Masterpiece. It's also the song that got me attention and was chosen to be played on the radio. That always confused me. It's an old song I recorded years ago with some bare bones equipment that doesn't hold a candle to the gear I have at my disposal now.

But, listening to it again, there is something there.

So, I took the day off yesterday and took a ride into the mountains with a friend. It was nice to get out of the house for a while and spend some time in the mountains, climb some rocks, and even watch a train go by.

Last night, while taking a quick nap on the couch, I had an epiphany.

As Paul Reiser said in Mad About You, "When it looks like I'm doing nothing I'm working very hard in my head. When it looks like I'm about to fall asleep I'm approaching genius."

I woke up, pulled out my old guitar pedals, messed around with every guitar setting I had previously set up, and made the guitars sound SOOOO much better. You can actually hear the guitar playing now instead of just a wall of distortion. You can feel the human being playing the strings. It sounds and feels much better.

So today I am going back and tearing down the previous week's worth of work. It was a hard decision to make since the album had a lot done on it. But it was the right decision.

Sometimes to have to take two steps back to take three steps forward.

I finally feel like I'm moving forward again. And I haven't thought about quitting once today.

And that's a nice feeling.

Friday, February 5, 2010

From the Vault - Polar Bear??? 1988

I have absolutely no idea what this was for.

It is signed in the lower right hand corner with a date of mid 1988 and looks to be some sort of super hero team idea I must have had way back when.

But, as to why a kid in a black and yellow costume and a polar bear are fighting two aliens in a crab ship, I am at a loss. Why it is on a beach with a palm tree is even more of a mystery.

Wait a minute...hang on there...polar bears, tropical beaches, no idea what is going on...

I think someone stole this idea and turned it into ABC's LOST!

Now, who do I contact about some residuals?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Here are a few of the sketches I did the other night while trying to brainstorm some ideas for the OilCan Drive covers I am going to need. They're rough but I think a few of them will work out enough to bring them to a finished stage. Whether they'll make the cut after that is anyone's guess. But, if they don't make it into print there will always be room on the website.

The recording of the OilCan Drive album continues. I am still laying guitars down on the individual songs and I finished up two of them today. It's rolling along but I'm in that stage of the project where it feels like nothing is good and it will never get done.

I've started most days this week thinking about quitting.

But, I keep plugging away at it and, little by little, it's getting done.

Whether it will be worth anything when it's done is anybody's guess.

But it will get done.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Solving a Problem

I haven't been doing too much illustration art this past week because I've finally started working on the music side of the OilCan Drive project.

Unfortunately, it means there isn't a lot I can show on a daily basis. It's hard to say, "look at this guitar riff I played today!" Well, I guess I could do that and show you a screen shot of the wav. file but it really wouldn't amount to much, would it?

But, after assaulting my ears all day with heavy bass and guitar riffs I took the night off, did some thumbnail sketches for the OilCan Drive covers, and tried to come up with a solution to a problem I'll have when printing the book.

The finished sleeve I'll be doing to hold the entire project will mimic a 7"x7" album sleeve. To save money on costs I'll be printing this sleeve on an 8.5"x14" piece of cardstock and folding it in half. So, I have no wiggle room on the width to make the 7" side. The problem is that the printing will leave off about an eight an inch of color. So, if I just printed the sleeve I'd have a white stripe running up the edge of the sleeve. The question is, what kind of creative thing could I do to make it look like it's supposed to be white?

So, my first idea was to make a mask by hand using ink, brushes, spatter, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I'm not a big fan of letting Photoshop do the work for me and I like mixing the real world with the digital world as much as I can. So, I came up with the piece you see on my desk above.

Scanning it into Photoshop I inverted the piece so the black was white and the white was black. Then, I layered the piece (using a feature where you could see though the black of the piece) on top of some existing art to test it out.

And it came out looking like this.

So, what do you think? Do we have a winner? Will an effect like this work on the OilCan Drive sleeve, solve the problem, and still look cool.

I'm interested to know what you think.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is Groundhog's Day, yes, but, more importantly, it's my brother Josh's, birthday today!

I can probably count the number of times I've spent with my brother in the last ten years on one hand. It's sad but I live out here in Colorado and rarely get back home while he has moved back to our home state of Maine with his wife, Heather. So, as you can guess, we rarely get to see each other that much. But I do miss him.

I was having lunch the other day and saw one of the girls working there greet her sister when she came in for some food. Now, I know they are from back east, somewhere in New York, so it made me wonder who moved out to Colorado first and which one followed. And it made me think how much I missed my family and how nice it would be to just visit my brother during the day for a quick bite. Not some big, get on a plane, visit your family, plan to get a dinner together kind of thing. No, just a stop by, good to see you, I hope your day is going well, see you on Saturday, kind of thing. That would be great.

So, now I need to figure out how to convince my brother to move out here to Colorado. I have a feeling if he ever came out for a visit he would love it. I'll have to see if I can hatch some diabolical plan.

But, for now, Happy Birthday Josh! I hope you have a great day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy February

As you may have noticed, my blogger header has changed once again. That can only mean one thing.

It's February!

So, turn your calendars, start buying Valentine's Day cards, and prepare for the groundhog tomorrow! Oh, and enjoy the new art. I figured a month with Valentine's Day in it definitely deserved a sexy girl. I held off making the background colors too lovey dovey and adding hearts and flowers all over the place. I figured that might be liiiittle too much.

You're welcome.

Have a great month!