I am feeling so excited about my Bob Marley book. I got a sneak peek at the interiors and it looks wicked. It is soulfully designed by our amazing designer and full of powerful poetry. Here is a little taste. Keep an eye out for it and help me spread the word.
This is a piece done by Port Townsend artist Jason Gould. He said it came from an image someone had expressed of first seeing the white house then panning out a bit to see the girls playing on the lawn.
Jason's stuff is really wild and bright with vibes galore. But this one was BANNED (made you look) or rather declined at not one but several of the businesses where his work hangs. Too bad for them, eh? They don't want to lose any possible customers because of politics. I understand. But in this time the ideals of truth and rights, peace and love, need to be more important than sales.
Yo! This one is wonderful, Jason. I'll hang it for you, bruddah!
I have finished the book, I AND I Bob Marley. It feels like I just scored a goal during the World Cup. (OK. OK. Of course, my fat ass couldn't even be a lineman at the world cup, thank you very much for pointing it out! Still, I am stoked.)
I hate it during those lame award shows when people go off thanking their cohorts. Well, I realize at this moment how the success of this book was quite literally dependent on one person. This beautiful, kind, patient, loving, AWESOME sock puppeteer I call my wifey. I am blessed beyond comprehension. She put the kids to bed, made the meals, cleaned the house, did the bills, basically did everything to keep us alive while I was in my cave, painting 18 hours a day for the past few months. She is too good to be true; Like a dream I have not yet woken from. Please, God, let me keep dreaming.
This is my tradition of gathering my babies all together for 1 last hug before shipping them all away to the publisher.
It gives me chance to notice things I may not have seen when viewing a piece in isolation. And sure enough, in this case I went back to work on five or six of them to further unify the art based on seeing them all together. One cool thing I found when I gathered all the art here was that the
re were several graphic elements that I had subconsciously included in nearly every piece.
I am holding the cover sketch, which is my last task for the book, aside from pimping the hell out of it when it is released.
And then I wrap them up and hand them to a guy wearing brown shorts. Well, I FedEx'd it so I suppose Blue shorts. Still. I dont know him. Maybe he is hammered and will forget to lock the back of his truck. One good bump and bye bye Bob Marley book. All this work ending up as road kill? Terrifying for me. But, what ya gonna do? Paint it all over again I suppose.
Thankfully, I just heard from the world's best editor, Jennifer Fox, that indeed, the art arrived safe and sound. Thank God. I can breathe again.
This is God's mathematic nature coming out in his handiwork.
Fractoccolli. Mandelbrocc Set.
Would you like a potato? Easy grow. Easy pick. And if you would like a good trick for getting your kids to eat veggies? Make them help you plant the food and pick the food. Somehow the pride in doing so transfers over in the brain and magically makes green beans palatable.
The Source and the Destination
Blossom and flower well while the sun shines, for tomorrow we are dirt.
I am painting. Outside it is sunny. Or dark. Or . . . I have no idea. I am in my cave and time is circling but I am outside of all of that.
Here are a few pics of where I was yesterday and where I am today. Who knows where I will be tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, I might try to play soccer again tomorrow night. I sprained my ankle playing in a home town game a few weeks ago (my fat ass) and have been missing it so much. I played last Sunday but the ankle was still sketchy so I bailed after an hour.
Better leave before you get caught up in the trance.
here is the pencil drawing on the board
here are a few pieces with the earliest washes and here is after a little more painting
This week I broke ground on the Bob Marley book. I have all sketches in and I have begun painting.
I am using Strathmore 500 series illustration board. Why? I don't know. I used it on tons of other projects and it hold up well to my obsessive crazy ruminating in paint. I would have loved to do this book on canvas but since there are so many likenesses that need
to be spot on, I dont want to be competing against the texture of a rough canvas. The board gives me a smooth surface which allows me to do tinier details.
Then I take the boards and gesso them with a few layers, but this time instead of wasting hours doing this with a big ol brush, I took the edge of a scrap of board and squeegeed it in big swooping arcs. Covered it perfectly smoothly and took a fraction of the time.
Next I take my opaque projector and blow up my little sketches on that to the max size I can get away with (18"x24" being the biggest scannable surface area - at least for the publishers who would rather not spend any more money that they have to).
Once I trace my sketch in its bigger space I begin going over the drawing really carefully so I have a great drawing to begin with. I have learned that only recently. Before
I would trace it out there and just start painting like a crack head. Now I take my time realizing that the parameters I give myself in pencil can make a painting take much less time. I just gotta go slow at first and then the entire process is sped up.
My underpainting is quick and easy. I take a color I want to peek through and influence the tone of the entire piece and wash in on with a softy brush. The second layer of paint is a meandering process, which often ends up like a jigsaw puzzle with areas left out until close to the end.
After that it is, as I tell all my painting students, a matter of layers. Beautiful acrylic. The coverer of my mistakes. The hider of my poor color choices.
Here is the first piece for the poem entitled The Boy From Ninemile:
You can see where I have drawn my border and the gutter line as well. This is only a few days in and I have my underpainting solid, my early layers begun and my drawing really tight under there. Hopefully this one will go smoothly and be a fantastic first image for the book.
Stay tuned for more updates on the book I believe will be my best work ever. I gotta lotta love for this project; for the manuscript and the pen man, Tony Medina, and for my people at Lee and Low, who are a joy to work with, and for the man himself, Mr. Marley. Human indeed, his flaws are easy to see, but his character has been tested by time and has been found to be gold. His reign over the entire earth is for all time. Not since Beethoven has there been this type of artist who singlehandedly shines like a beacon for all people and all time. I tip my brush to the honorable Berhane Selassie.
Here is a new painting that is up at the exhibit at The Vault in Port Townsend. It is a vibes show of mostly reggae musicians but the theme is really this: Live by the Horn, Die by the Horn.
You may recognize this painting as a famous photograph of Malcolm X holding a rifle, soon before he was assassinated. It is sad that the old phrase Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword was played out in his life. But our government has taken part in the assassination of many people who were striving to forward the cause of justice. My personal take on this is that you really can't fight the bully with fists, or even with the same weapons that the bully uses. You must use other weapons. MUSIC. ART. Poetry. Literature. Word of Mouth! These
have always been the weapons of real revolution. Not violent dictator switches that give the people the same old thing under a new name. But actual Revolution of the heart, mind and society. The turning of the ball. The turning of the world. Gandhi. Martin. Steven Biko. etc...
So instead of doing things the way they have always been done to the same end, let's try using the weapons of change that have made a difference.
So, I have gone back in time and taken out the rifle from the
X man's hand and given him a tool that CAN affect change.
This artwork I created for my bredren who is promoting the Seattle Bob Marley Birthday Celebration. This is the final art but the design is just a placeholder until the details are locked in. Then I will do a big poster of it with portraits of other artists who will be playing as well. But this central image will be the logo of the festival.
This is my piece for the Chair Affair, a charity auction of different chairs made into art by regional artists. My piece is called "Roots Rocker" and is a tribute to Bob. (It is all part of my master plan. I am using all these things to get me into the vibe of the next book.)
I am thinking of offering custom pieces like this one to the public, as I could see rocking this thing in my living room. If you are interested, holla.
I am starting the process of illustrating the Bob Marley book.
Here is a piece I did this last night as a way to get into the vibe. This is ink and watercolor on illustration board. I imagine the book will be in acrylic, but the ink thing is sort of becoming a part of my art so it may be ink and acrylic.
"Bob Plays Zion" Framed Original Art available. email to purchase or inquire.
Yes I. The truth shall set you free. Don't believe the hype! Turn off the radio. Turn off your TV. The game is not about the dollar. Those fools rapping about rims and stacks of paper are hiding their emptiness and loneliness in the worthless mask of Bling. Pshhhht. You can keep your riches.
Like the Thievery Corp song, I'm the richest man in Babylon. I may be broke right now and have to sell my art for pennies, but I have wealth beyond comparison.
"The time is past when good men can remain silent, When obedience can segregate men from public risk, When the poor can die without defense." -Daniel Berrigan (priest who actively worked to end the Viet Nam War)
Greg and I were in NY doing our own book hustlin. We met with lots of folks, had signings and presented to schools and libraries all over the boroughs. It was very successful and I am sure we spread the word on Chess Rumble like nobody could have done. Well, maybe except for Abe (abe, holla!).
And, since I am trapped with it, now so are you. My brain, that is. I can not think linearly about the trip so you dont get any timeline. I was there for 11 days and here are some of those days and nights all shuffled together like they are in my brain. Poor sick brain.
Of course, since I had my camera with me at all times, I took no pictures at all. Luckily there were more normal humans along who threw me a bone.
I got the chance to talk to the illustration class at Parsons. That was fun. Anything involving Pat Cummings is ok by me. She is my queen mom and the queen mom of lots of other pups out there. Her students were attentive and asked great questions. Since I had to go to community colleges and always lusted after Parsons, I was quite thrilled to go there now in this capacity. Ah, the great leveler, time.
I also did a talk at Saint Ann's in Brooklyn Heights. Talk about a cool school. They have an amazing art department and the folks who run it are wonderful.
And then a bunch of stuff happened. Some good, some bad. Well, the bad happened and it was good because it caused me to change my plans that I had been working on for one year. So fate is kind sometimes. After the bad, I had great stuff happen. One of those great things was getting some great interest in some of my stories that I have been writing and illustrating. Another great thing was meeting and signing with my agent, Edward Necarsulmer IV. He is a cool guy. Big respect, Edward.
Above: Greg and I at the Hue Man bookstore in Harlem. This is such a great bookstore. I was very glad to get the chance to do a signing there. Though, due to a scheduling mix up we had slightly fewer people that we had expected, but G and I know how to roll with a punch. One of the highlights of it for me was getting to play a young Lion. He came up before the presentation and I asked him if he wanted to play. He sat down and went to work. A little crowd of my editor, Greg and some other book folks gathered around and put me off my game. :) Ok, they didn't. That would have been my excuse if the kid beat me. Well, he did. But it was a long game right up to the last three or four pieces and the King knew his game well. I had a great time playing him and I know he is one of the lions who will be keeping their heads up and will not fall into the typical pitfalls. More power, little King.
In this section, you will see no pics because of my brain malfunctions. We did several school visits in Brooklyn and those were probably my favorite days. I love Brooklyn and was glad we were able to get into the public schools. The first school we went to was not organized as much as we would have liked them to be but eventually they did get us to the right room and found the projector, etc... Though we only had twelve seconds to set up since there were already a few hundred kids in the room and it was starting to swell (even though we got there with well over an hour to set up), it turned out being a great program. Did I mention we can roll with a punch? The kids loved the presentation and were very receptive to Greg and I when we spoke to them. To top it off, we picked up some wicked patty and peppa at the Jamaican spot across the street, so all was Irie.
Greg and I with the ever lovely and elloquent Elizabeth Bird, of Fuse #8 superstardom. We met for drinks and had a nice time talking. Here is her post about the event. You can cross check and see if anyone is lying. :)
By the way, Ms Bird is very humble about her hyperfame. Though, while I was in the office of Rubin Pfeffer, VP of Simon & Schuster, editors swarmed in and out and EVERY ONE of them knew intimately of Fuse #8 blog. So, Betsy Bird, you are indeed the star we all think you are. Much thanks to her for taking Greg and I under your wing. (purr) (purr)
And then we come to one of the world's coolest editors. Actually she couldn't make it, but we did get to hang out with Jennifer Fox. Ok, I am kidding. Of course, Jennifer IS the coolest editor in the world. She hooked Greg and I up with enough food and drink for us to feel like stars. Actually it turned out quite well and nobody brawled or danced on any tables. (Though I did later, but that was after I saw the other two off to bed.)
(The truth is that I did not dance on any tables that night, but Saturday night I ended up alone in a long ass line wrapping around a building at 2 in the morning. I went to try to get in to the Bob Marley Birthday Bash at B.B.King's and timed it perfectly to wind up in the two hour line. Stubbornness is one of my most endearing qualities and when I had moved twenty feet in an hour I figured I was nearly there. Of course, that was my unrealistically-positive outlook. Another endearing quality. Come to think of it those qualities always land me in bad spots. Whatever. Anyways, when I finally got up in the club(and of course, when you get to the door they charge you twice what it says outside, cause you waited so long you gonna turn around now?)- Anyways, when I did finally get in, the band said, "Ok, for our last song..." hmmm. nice. It was fine cause before the band even finished the stage was bum rushed by the dj's and the club CLUB migrated in. Didn't know that is what I was waiting hours for in the cold NY streets, lined with lots of angry looking cops, but hey, I roll with punches. It is always great to be the only whiteboy up in a club. I have had the pleasure many times all over the world, but never figured I would get the honor in NY of all places. This night was nice because they mixed some dancehall in with the hip hop. "If you from Brooklyn gimme a hey" "HHEEYY" "If you from Staten give me a hey" "HHEEYY" . . . . "if you from Port Townsend give me a hey" (mouse voice:) "hey" When I finally left I asked some kid on the train what time it was and he told me it was four fifty. huh? Better just stay up since I have lots of important meetings to be fresh for. DOH!)
(and for the copy editors in the house, did you like that run on, never end blurb all within some kind of parenthetic bubble? Yeah, me too)
Sorry I can not remember much else right now. I am sure I will add on to this, but for now, that's it. Can you believe you just dredged yourself through all of that gibberish? Neither can I.
Peace New York. I got mad love for you. I'll be back soon.
One of the highlights of my recent trip to New York was the presentations Greg and I did at the Juvenile Detention Center at in Hunt's Point, south Bronx.
Often, when Greg and I were giving presentations about our book, Chess Rumble, I got to preaching a little about the elements of chess and how they relate so beautifully to life. When we think of ourselves as pawns, we usually mean it in a negative way. But who is the king afraid of? Or who should they be afraid of? The pawns. Yes. Who makes a nation run? Who makes war possible? If it were just kings in a war, there would be no fight because they don't want to die. They don't mind sending pawns to fight and die because they have lots of them. But would any society succeed without the pawns? Of course not. Pawns create the structure upon which a nation can be built. So when you alter that perception of what it is to be a pawn, you are able to think past your economic, social or any other type of barrier. In chess the pawn can become any other player on the board except the king, providing it makes it all the way across the board. And that's ok, because I don't want to be a king anyway. I want to be a bishop. I want to lead my people out of injustice and into the light.
My favorite quote from a student was "I wouldn't change anything about their presentation. They were just being their selves." I think that is the best review I have ever gotten.
I got to play a few games while I was in the city and I felt blessed that after I preached on the value that chess teaches, I was able to school this student with a four move mate. Fate, always up for a dose of poetic justice, gave me my own schooling. One of the councilors at the detention center set up his own board and proceeded to crush me three times in a row. It was an honor to lose to him because he was a great player. He was able to see into the future and spoil every plan, while at the same time, put me continually on the defensive. Respect, Teacher.
"The highlights: The new BronxLibraryCenter, PS 196 in Brooklyn, and Juvie in the Bronx. If you are an author or illustrator in NY or traveling through, here are 2 folks you need to talk to:
Paquita Campoverde of the Brooklyn Public Library. She is actively looking for authors to speak in the Spring and has 53 branches plus schools to fill with visits. And Jessica Fenster-Sparber of the Passages Academy in the Bronx. She works with detained juveniles and has put together a great library filled with one of the best collections of YA/MG for urban teens that I have seen. She too is looking for authors to come visit, and if you can put aside your fears of being behind bars, you'll find kids who are truly effected by your visit and your books. It is a rewarding experience, one that ourselves and Walter Dean and Christopher Myers have done."