Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fallout 3 - CRASH MANIA

Ah... Fallout 3... why must thou irk me so?

I've been waiting for this game for MONTHS and I heard so many things about it.  I ordered the PC version, as I don't have an Xbox.

I blissfully installed and set up a character, only to CRASH.  I restarted the game, worked my way through the Vault opening sequence... CRASH.  I finally exited the vault, into the devastated wasteland, fighting off bloatflies & angry dogs... CRASH.  I made it to Megaton and watched the sheriff get shot down in front of my eyes.... CRASH.

I'm giving up until a real patch is released.  I installed the patch release... it wasn't even worth the effort.  If you are considering a purchase of this game as of November, 2008... wait a few months... or at least don't buy the PC version... yet.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bobby Blue Bland - His California Album

Hi internet sketchbook.  How have you been?

In the summer of 1990, I stopped by a roadside flea market and bought a scratched up cassette tape by Bobby Blue Bland.  It was "Blues You Can Use".   It was by turns jumping, mournful & soulful.  He sang these songs about his old lady, songs about giving up on an unfaithful lover, and songs about getting treated like a dog.  And what really got me was that he kept making this weird snorting, throat clearing sound in the middle of the songs. 

I loved it.

This sketch is the cover of Bobby Blue Bland's "California Album".  If you are a fan of the blues,this album is a must have.  If nothing else, you must go to your favorite on-line song site and purchase the lead song from this album, "This Time I'm Gone for Good."  It's a moody and sorrowful blues masterpiece that I could listen to about 500 times in a row.  

While you're at it, buy the CD "Blues You Can Use" too.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Black Lab

A black lab is about the most honest dog you're ever going to meet.  They have a lot going on in their heads, and their expressive faces can't help but show every thought.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


It's been a couple weeks since a sketch.  

A friend from work raises Alpacas and had an open house this weekend.  The kids loved it.  Alpacas are almost as docile as they are fuzzy. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cecil from FF4 on the DS

A pen sketch of Cecil from Final Fantasy IV.  Yes... a geeky thing. Also, this is from my sketchbook, so there's otherstuff (a chair) overlapping here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hippopotomus - Pen and Paper

Been awhile since a post.  Here's a hippo on pen and paper.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hope Shining... in Colors DS

A copy of a painting called "Hope Shining Brightly"  done on the Nintendo DS.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Daily Bread - DS Colors

Still life using the Nintendo DS and Colors.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sunflower - DS Colors

The kids planted a sunflower in the back yard this spring. This monster is now over 9 feet tall. I can't reach the flower standing next to it.

So from blues in the last DS Colors post, to greens and yellows here. Maybe I'll have to do reds next time to round out the primary colors.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Santorini Greece - DS Colors

I really liked the blues in a photo from Santorini Greece, so I drew it in DS Colors. Oh and here's the time lapse.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ray Wise - Reaper

A brilliant casting decision, Ray Wise is the devil in the TV show "Reaper." Charming, funny... but disturbing and scary, he's perfectly cast. He steals every scene he appears in.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dr. Horrible

Back to pen and paper here. A few ink blots got on the paper in some way or another. Ah well.

I can't describe how much I loved Dr. Horrible. It's a little hard to sum up. It's a sing along superhero/villian story... funny... touching... great songs. I have such a new appreciation for Neil Patrick Harris that I'm considering buying/renting his "How I Met Your Mother" series. The story behind it is great too. It was done either during or as a result of the writers strike and Joss Whedon called a bunch of friends and talked them into working on this on-line show... a completely new approach to producing these types of things.

If you haven't watched it yet go do so... now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lord Voldemort - DS Colors

I just saw the trailer for the new Harry Potter movie and I can't wait. It looks dark and complex.

So here is "He Who Will Remain Nameless." Check out the sketch on the Colors gallery to watch the draw.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Diablo Satyr - DS Colors

I haven't been looking forward to a computer game for a number of years now, but I am truly looking forward to the release of Diablo 3. For those not familiar with it (who would that be?) it's a dungeon-crawl-hack-and-slash.

Here's a satyr from the game, done in DS Colors... see the drawing in progress here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sock from Reaper - DS Colors

One of my guilty pleasures is "Reaper" on the CW network. Yes... a CW show. It's a cute show, with some smart writing. A guy becomes the devil's soul collector when he finds out his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was a baby.

"Sock" is one of the better characters, a slacker with an attitude.

Check out my post on the Colors Gallery to view the drawing in progress.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dave - Nintendo Colors

My brother Dave, a dyed-in-the-wool fisherman. This again done with Colors on the Nintendo DS. Somehow, things got really yellow here, but hard to see lighter color shades on the small screen.

Another cool thing about Colors... if you check this drawing out on the Colors gallery (here's the link), you can watch a replay of how I drew it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Colors - Goofing around on the DS

More goofing around with Colors on the Nintendo DS.

The first is some clouds in the back yard today, and the other is a storage shed that we have in back. I can definitely see the potential here, but I obviously need a lot more practice.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Colors" on the Nintendo DS - Natalie

So this may be my new favorite sketching tool or medium because it's at the perfect intersection between my love for tweaking tech gadgets and sketching.

There is a "homebrew" program called "Colors" for the Nintendo DS. Yes, the very same Nintendo DS that your teenage kid spends 20 hours a day wasting time on.

"Homebrew" means that this is a software program not created or endorsed by Nintendo. To run it you need to purchase a special card that allows you to run homebrew software (like the R4 chip for the DS lite... Google it!).

Colors is a simple sketch/painting tool, but because it uses the pressure-sensitive DS touchpad, it's very flexible. You can scale brushes, mix/tint colors, etc. This little sketch I did in about 15 minutes on the DS. It's from my little girl's kindergarten school photo.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with more sketches/painting on the DS. It's the perfect size to take anywhere... so inconspicous, but every shade/color of paint at your fingertips!

If you go to the Colors website (linked above) you'll see some amazing art people are making with this little device. You can also go to Youtube and search for "DS Colors" and find recorded sketch sessions that are pretty amazing.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Lovely Wife

I've been doing sketches of family members lately I guess... so here is my lovely wife. Turning 40 this year, but forever 29 in her heart (and mine).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lex, My Little Buddy

We've been inseparable this summer.

I've taken Fridays off to be with the kids more, and it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

30 Minute Self Portrait

Same picture as the last post. Same sketch book. Same ball point pen. More time.

I thought it would be interesting to do the same sketch and just spend a little more time... see how things go.

It's hard for me to stick with a sketch for more than about 30 minutes anyway, so I doubt I'll be trying the 60 minute or two hour version.

Monday, July 28, 2008

10 Minute Self Portrait

This was from a photo taken by my webcam. Ten minutes with a ballpoint... no erasing and that much speed means you've just got to let the mistakes go... and maybe it even ends up more closely reflecting reality because you can't make any edits to flatter yourself.

That said, it always amazes me how long my face and head are. My fragile self-image has me much more square jawed.. like Dick Tracy. But in reality, I've got a head like a cucumber, more like Bert from Sesame Street!

By the way, you can compare this with the me from 25 years ago... same long face and head... just a lot more miles.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

House Memories - Harmon Ave

We moved from Siren when I entered first grade. The house we moved into, on Harmon Ave., I guess will always be "home" for me, as it's the house I grew up in. It wasn't much larger than the Siren house initially, but my Dad kept expanding it. First he made the original garage into a family room, with a Ben Franklin wood-burning stove right in the middle. Then he refinished the basement, and finally added a master bedroom and work shop on the back.

Some memories from this house:

  • Hauling in wood all fall, winter and spring. We had a wood burning furnace as well as the Ben Franklin fireplace, and so we went through wood like nobody's business.
  • The chickens, rabbits and ducks we raised in the sheds every year.
  • The menagerie of cats we always had around, and Gomer, the family mutt.
  • The large garden, where my parents planted potatoes, corn and all sorts of green veggies.
  • The maple tree in the southeast corner of the lot, that I'd climb on nearly a daily basis.
  • The trails through the woods all around the house, that were tramped down by years of bike riding and running.
  • The neighborhood games of softball, football, soccer, kick the can, hide and seek, war, etc. There were about 10 kids on the street, in all grade school ages.

Friday, July 25, 2008

House Memories - Nyberg Road, Siren

"Hememd", a member of the Everyday Matters group took as a project to sketch the houses she used to live in. This sounded like a great idea, so I decided to do it myself.

When I was about five, my parents rented a house on Nyberg Road in Siren. It was a small house, heated by propane, and it was always cold and drafty. The main floor had a living room, a kitchen, a dining room and the only bathroom. Upstairs were four tiny bathrooms. The entire house was only 1200 sq feet.

I remember small things from this house...

  • Riding my bike with training wheels in the dirt driveway.
  • Taking a walk in the woods with my older brother and parents (my younger brother wasn't born yet).
  • Getting my hand burned on my Dad's cigarette one night when he picked me up.
  • Standing on a tree stump and singing "I Did It My Way" during a windy day.
  • Getting my tongue frozen to the metal handrail on the back steps one winter.
  • Jealously seeing my older brother go off to school in the fall while I stayed home.
During a recent trip through Siren, I decided to drive by the house and saw it was for sale. The house and 14 acres was going for $127,000. If it's still on the market, the listing can be seen here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Natalie, the Little Mermaid

This last weekend, we visited my 90 year old grandfather and took the kids swimming in a local lake in Wisconsin. My 6 year old daughter surprised me with how well she took to the water. We spent a long time diving underwater, back and forth, grabbing hands and legs.

And just last month, she didn't even want to get her face wet! I guess those swimming lessons are paying off.

I hope in the future, she'll come across this and understand how proud she made me that day and remember how much fun we had together... me and my little mermaid .

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Chemical Romace - The Black Parade

Nobody can make the argument that my musical tastes aren't varied.

A recently released album I really enjoyed was "The Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance. Released in 2006, the CD was a concept album. The songs told the story and thoughts of a young, terminal cancer patient. Bitter, angry, morbid, regretful... many of the songs express some pretty dark themes. But there's also tenderness and sweetness... the band's singer (Gerard Way) believes that when death comes for you, it comes in the guise of your fondest memory. In this case, the memory of a parade that the young patient's father took him to as a child.

Perhaps too theatrical and loud for some, I really enjoyed it and still listen to it often. Favorite songs... "Disenchanted," "Famous Last Words" and "I Don't Love You"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Kitty Closeup

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1997 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible

I guess I'm on a car kick here lately. So be it.

I'm not too happy with the sketch at left... it is a bit too rushed. (By the way, in the car is me and my then-fiance, soon-to-be wife.)

In any event, I bought my first "brand new" car in 1997. As I mentioned in my last post , I got a fever for convertibles after having the Suzuki Samurai. So the only brand new convertible that I could fit in my meager budget was a Pontiac Sunfire (price around $19,000?)

The convertible aspect of this car was fantastic. The top retracted in a very efficient, fun-to-watch, motorized way with the twist of a handle. The other really cool thing that I remember about it was that the stereo and CD player controls were on the steering wheel (awesome!). Other than that, the car was kind of a dog. Gas mileage was so-so (around 23 mpg?), and I had to take it into the shop a number of times for various engine warnings, etc. But the biggest pain was that the roof leaked in the driver's side corner. It would drip on my left knee, even in the lightest fog or haze. If it rained heavily, it was like a garden hose. I took it in countless times to get that fixed, but they could never take care of it. I even had the roof completely replaced. I finally gave up and just kept a towel in the car for the specific purpose of covering my knee.

I sold this car about three years later to a guy who was buying it for his college-aged daughter. I sold it for $10,500 (cash). I made the mistake of not doing the transaction right at the motor vehicle department, and as a result, she didn't register it properly.

I got her speeding and parking tickets delivered to my house for the next year or so (she got a lot of them!) and so once every few months I'd have to go into the DMV and prove the tickets weren't mine.

Monday, July 14, 2008

1987 Suzuki Samurai

After college, I bought a Suzuki Samurai. This is the car that was infamous for flipping over on any curve taken at moderate speeds. This car was also made before the days when cars were basically rust-proof.

In short, the car was a rattling death trap. But it was a total blast to drive in the summer with the top off. It was my first convertible and will likely not be my last.

I remember at times driving down the freeway, with people waving at me, trying to get my attention that a fender was about to tear off in the wind. One time, when I parked the car at work, I walked around and the front bumper basically fell off at my feet.

I sold this car to my younger brother... I forget the price. Maybe $500? He painted the entire thing camouflage and put on wooden beams for bumpers, wrapping them in barbed wire. It was the perfect north-backwoods vehicle - four wheel drive and small enough to fit on any old lumber trail, maybe even a deer path.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Batman - Detective Comics #475

The upcoming Batman movie has me thinking about my own mental image of Batman. In my pre-teen memories, he was a detective, skilled at hand to hand combat, fit and trained as any Olympic athlete... but he was less bombastic than the Hollywood version. He would rather sneak in and anonymously take down an evil-doer than smash through the front door with a tank-like, rocket fueled motorbike.

I'm not saying the new Batman movie won't be good. It will just be a different Batman than I grew up with. My Batman was much more introspective... quieter.

Friday, July 04, 2008

St. Nikola Icon

Today, July 4th, our uncle Nick passed away after a battle with cancer. One of the most important things to Nick was his Orthodox faith. In honor of that, here's a sketch of St. Nikola from the 12th century.

Strangely enough, this icon bears an astonishing resemblance to uncle Nick himself.

Rest in peace Nick.

See more information on St. Nikola at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hound Dog Taylor

Around 1990, I bought a cassette tape called "Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Collection" and heard a song called "Give Me Back My Wig". It had such a raw, ragged blues sound I loved. I went out and bought a few LP records (from a used record store) by Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers. That launched a life long love of the blues and personal discovery of artists like Professor Longhair, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Koko Taylor and BB King.

Hound Dog Taylor played Chicago blues through the 60s and 70s. He lived a hard, but colorful bluesman's life, drinking whiskey & chasing women. There's a tale told that he once had to spend the night hiding in Mississippi ditches to avoid the Klu Klux Klan, who were hunting him down for having an affair with a white woman. The name "Hound Dog" stuck because he was always on the hunt for romance.

In 1975, Hound Dog and his bass player Brewer Phillips, although life long friends were in another of their numerous fights. Hound Dog felt that Phillips insulted his wife Freda, and shot Phillips twice (aiming for the crotch, but hitting Phillips' arm and leg). Hound Dog was charged with attempted murder, but never made it to trial. He had fatal lung cancer from a lifetime of chain smoking cigarettes. Before the trial and at his deathbed, Phillips forgave Hound Dog for the shooting. Hound Dog died the day after getting Phillips' forgiveness.

Hound Dog's music is loud, distorted and sometimes screeching and off-key, but it has a bouncing blues beat that's irresistible. It's easy to imagine a smoky Chicago bar, the floor thumping from people keeping the beat with Hound Dog.

Some favorites in addition to "Give Me Back My Wig" (from his first album) and "See Me In the Evening", "Sadie" and "Sitting Home Alone" (from his second).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

2004 Kymco Cobra Cross 50cc

This is my 50cc Kymco Cobra Cross. Kymco is a Taiwanese scooter maker. It certainly doesn't have the reputation or magic of a Vespa, but it's a ball of fun anyway. It's kind of like driving a snowmobile over city streets in the summer time.

I drive this scooter to work whenever I can. Since it can't go more than about 45 mph, I take back streets. It takes about 1/2 hour. It is supposed to be restricted to go less than 35 mph, but the previous owner had the throttle/transmission "de-restricted".

Technically this is a moped and licensed as such. A "moped" is a scooter that has an engine size of 50ccs or less. In Minnesota anyway, you can legally park mopeds on most city sidewalks and bike racks. You cannot do the same (legally) with scooters.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tired Doggie

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

1983 GHS Yearbook - Me (... as a private in the US Army)

This 1983 high school class yearbook sketch project got pretty grueling toward the end. But it was a great exercise. Now that I officially finished it you might be wondering... where is the artist? Well, the answer is, I never had my graduation photo taken for the yearbook.

I could pass this off by saying I didn't have a chance to get a photo because I joined the Army at age 17 (here's a sketch of my boot camp photo). While technically true, this isn't the whole truth. I could have had a graduation photo in the yearbook if I cared more. But I just didn't. I was a bit "anti-high-school-establishment" back then.. or at least against the "typical" expected high school participation in things, especially in regards to the the material stuff.

I never bought a class ring, never bought a graduation photo, I never participated on fund raisers, never joined band, choir, sports, debate, whatever... I never even went to prom or homecoming. I was in freshman football for about a month before I quit. I just didn't want to spend time (or my hard-earned cash) on any of these things.

Looking back, did I make a mistake? Well, not from the material side of things. I don't sit around wishing I had a class ring or a yearbook photo.

But I did pay a price from the social side of things. Because of my described attitude, I didn't interact too much with my fellow students. I had a couple close friends and I was really nice to everyone. In fact, I prided myself on being outside (above?) the typical "cliques" of high school. There wasn't anyone in my class I wouldn't talk to or joke around with. I wasn't exactly a severe introvert, but I also wasn't Mr. Popular. I was voted "Most Studious"by my class, probably for this reason.

Well, I guess this sketch exercise triggered a bit of soul searching, and maybe that's the point.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

John Mellencamp - Scarecrow

"Scarecrow" came out in the middle of my Army career (1985) and I'll always remember it in that context. I remember driving to Lake Belton outside of Fort Hood with a few squad mates on a (rare) free weekend. I had a generic 1980 Ford Fairmont with a cassette tape deck. This tape was a popular choice on the drive. The male/female ratio at Lake Belton was about 150 to 1, but we had fun anyway.

Favorites from this album included "Small Town" "Ain't that America (Little Pink Houses)", "Minutes to Memories", and "Lonely Ol' Night".

Thursday, June 12, 2008