Here are some quick sketches from a falling apart sketchbook. I love getting my old bag ready to paint outdoors, limiting my colors, picking my brushes, filling my water bottles and then sitting and waiting for something to hit me and say, " Paint me!"
So many lovely moments out there to capture, not enough time in the day.
The little sketches of people I did while waiting for a friend at a 23st. park during lunch time. Everybody was eating, and talking, moving, walking dogs, reading papers, or just sitting staring their past, present or future. Its a nice time to try to capture people usually they are so busy devouring that burger that they forget that someone is sitting around sketching them. I did not have a lot of time and basically just threw some quick gestures down, not really looking at my paper as much as my subject, I find that doing that teaches me so much.
Later in the week I painted one of my favorite bridges around my neighborhood, the cross bronx bridge, I wanted to capture some of that crazy hectic, energy with blocky clouds and little toy cars, everyone is always rushing somewhere in NYC.
Digging around the studio, I came across a bunch of rice paper that I loved to play around with a long time ago. One can go their entire life just playing with ink and wash on rice paper, it seems that the paper picks up every single stroke of your brush before you bring it down. Anyway, its a bit busy today, but I wanted to just put up some quick playful snaps with the brush on that wonderful surface. Its nice to change up the materials we use as artist, it pushes our minds and talent outward. As soon as it clears up a bit, there is this certain pipe smoking sailor that I have to paint.
Lee Falk, created two great heroes, the Phantom and Mandrake the magician. When I was growing up in Cuba, there was no such thing as Marvel comics and DC comics, but I did read Popeye, the Phantom, Superman and Mandrake in the papers. So for me those characters have a special place, I thought about traveling to the Skull cave, looking at the great book that held the stories of the past Phantoms, and riding off to fight the pirates that threaten the security of my jungle... well lots of things have changed since those days, the land I used to know is gone in many ways, but the memories that those characters gave me, the ability to open up my imagination and take me to a new world, well that is something that can't be put into words.
I would rediscover the Phantom like a lost friend, or rather he would discover me, his strange eyes would be looking at me while I walked through a newspaper store looking for comics. This was before the day of the speciality comic book store, and comics shared their space with magazines and newspapers which made the store smell great. And it gave the act of buying a comics the gentle feel of an adult nature to a young kid.
So there he was, looking at me.. no eyeballs.. no white.. just flesh.. flesh through the mask.. The Ghost who walks...The Phantom.
I brought the comic book and me without even knowing how to read English at the time. It did not matter the images of the Skull cave were a familiar home to a boy in a strange land.
Excuse the scans, I went and varnish the paintings in the sketch book, forgetting that I should scan them first. So they reflect a bit more light than they should..
One of the ways of relaxing the small marble inside my head is to just take that brush and move it around and see what comes out of it. Free the mind, no references, clip files, just let the colors fall where they will and let the brush and hand do their work. It always surprises me what comes out of it, and what goes in the trash.
The other day I took a walk in the Cloisters a park that is close to where I live and a great place to go sketching and painting on weds afternoons. The flowers have come in strong this year, one walks and the ground explodes with color, a stretch of blue flowers resembles a field of stars. I wish I had the time and the talent to catch that light.
I sat down and painted for a bit, afterwards late at night at home, I painted from memory some of the images from that long walk. Funny how the memory is sometimes more alive than the real thing. I tried to get some of that light in the Rocketo sketches I did later on Thursday.
So here are some ramblings from the mind.
Have a great weekend all of you and thank you for your comments.
Excuse the long delays between Posts.. I will try my best to keep it more updated from now on. Funny what happens when you are painting something and then a bunch of ink falls on it. Here I was planning some Rocketo drawing and a bunch of sumi ink spilled over and covered a good part of the page.. well, good things like that cant be ignored! One must be bold and change direction!! So from Rocketo came out the Incredible Hulk! I pushed the ink all over the page and then came at it with some Gamma green. Well the energy must have kept going, because I played around with Spidey and some of his great bad guys. The great thing about those early designs is that one can be so bold, and play around with these wonderful giant shapes, very graphic styling in those early days of comics. Comics for comics sake.
Just looking at that great Spidey cover where he fights Electro got me thinking, of doing my own zany version. I figured from now on its a good experiment to find those old classic cover and paint them in a crazy fun way.
BTW. One of my favorite costume is the old Phantom. I love how graphic he looks, I saw the trailer for the new Phantom television mess of a show, and there is a line where the kid, looks at the suit and says he will not wear that. Funny, how the makers of that show think they are better than the material. You would think they would want to do something different, graphic, bold.. naw... lets give him a black hood thing. What a waste. Anyway back to work. Real men wear purple in the Jungle.
Frank Espinosa is the creator of the series Rocketo, published by Image comics and nominated in 2006 for three Eisner Awards. Frank has also been the Art Director at Warner Bros. Consumer Products and at Disney Consumer Products. Recently Frank taught at MIT in the CMS dept., teaching mythology, worldmaking and character design.