Stuff and Things

Stuff and Things

Well, this is by far the longest I’ve gone between site updates since before I started this website (think about that a moment…). Where the heck have I been? What have I been up to? Why is the typical Monday update happening on a Thursday? Why are squids?

Please, hold all your questions until the end, but since you asked:

  1. It’s been summer vacation, which means my studio time has been sporadic to non-existent whilst the kids are home, running amok.
  2. I’ve been being the stay-at-home dad, dealing with fights, bickering, complaints, etc. But we’ve also manage to have a lot of fun, going to the beach, hiking, kayaking, camping, spending time with extended family, etc (also, all 3 of my boys took an interest in working out this summer, which is awesome as exercise is my other big passion. I’m happy to guide them through their workouts, trying to instill in them a healthy mindset regarding their health and fitness, as well as trying to steer them clear of some of the stupid behaviors that lead me to various injuries. On the down side, that eats up a lot of my free time.).
  3. …school started back up today!
  4. Because squids.

I have managed to art a little bit over the last few weeks. It’s not much, but it’s better than absolutely nothing.

Toby-Gray-PMD-cello-flute

Towards the end of the summer, we got a visit from my older cousin, a talented professional cellist, and his wife, a talented professional flutist. It was a wonderful visit (they live even further away from family than we do, and we realized that we hadn’t seen each other in about 9 years. We both have kids that the other hadn’t met yet. But, when we were together, it was like we had seen each other just the other day) and a great day, punctuated by two cool events: my oldest son got to play his flute with and get some tips from my cousin-in-law (is that an actual term? Whatever, it gets the point across) and I sat down to draw for my cousin’s kids (who would be my first cousins, once removed for anyone keeping track or playing the home game). I’m not thrilled with the execution on this drawing (although it did spawn a cool turn of phrase from my cousin that I’m going to have to use as a title for something) as I was under a bit of a time crunch (they had to get driving back to their hotel), but I’m pretty happy with the concept. I will likely do a much more polished version, perhaps even in color, sometime soon.

Toby-Gray-manga-head-studies-1

Toby-Gray-manga-head-studies-2

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I hate the way I draw heads and faces. Whenever I’ve had a spare moment I’ve been trying to pick up a sketch book to try to refine my “style” in that area. I’m still far from happy. I definitely need more observation time and some anatomical study. I’m also spending a lot more time studying the way other artists (particularly manga artists) capture our most expressive features. I still have a long way to go…

Toby-Gray-dad's-potted-plant

I was fortunate enough to have all the planets and stars align, or something, a few days ago: I actually snuck in some observational drawing time at my most favoritest place on earth, Brigg’s Beach (I’ll keep the rambling gush about this place to a minimum, but suffice it to say this is the place that I remember most fondly from my childhood. We would spend 2 weeks every summer, plus every weekend between Memorial Day and Columbus Day at this place, as did my dad before us. It is a place infused with wonderful family memories and great significance to all of us. I don’t get there nearly as much since I moved out of the house and started my own family, but I’m trying really hard to share this place with my own children). The subject of this sketch was one of a pair of potted flowers on the porch at the cabana. You may notice there are no flowers. That’s because my dad got sick of them dropping petals all over the porch (I think that was the stated reason), so he took them out back and gave them a haircut. Now they are potted sticks, which I found hilarious. And in case anyone is just suspicious that I was simply too lazy to draw all the petals…

dad's-potted-plant-at-the-cabana

Dad’s handiwork.

So, there you have it. A somewhat visual recounting of what I’ve been up to since the last update. As I said, today is the first day back in school for the boys…I almost don’t know what to do with all this uninterrupted time. I still have a gazillion projects in the works. I’m hung up on the next step of the t-shirt venture because it involves making a phone call (those of you who know me well know of my phone aversion) to my bank. I will overcome that hurdle…soon…maybe. I did throw together another shirt design, a slight variation of the new and improved tobysbrain logo (I applied some of my new found digital painting techniques to it), so take a look at that. Even though I haven’t done much actual art making, I have tried to stay on top of learning new things to do in Photoshop (I often watch YouTube tutorials while I sit for a meal. Phlearn is a great channel. It deals exclusively with photo editing, but I have picked up a ton of useful techniques and tricks I can apply to what I do.). For example, I learned you can not only edit video in Photoshop, but you can create gifs and animations…I’m getting some ideas. I also started reading the Humanoids graphic novel The Metabarons out of Europe. It’s beautifully painted, though some of the underlying drawings are a little wonky for my sensibilities, but I’ll chalk that up to the style. It’s a very interesting story with, so far, what I would call a “Stan Lee-esque” writing quality, in that some of the writing is a bit overbearing, explaining what is already apparent visually, but it works. Some of the made up terminology used within the story feels like classic Golden Age comic writing, not unlike what you’d see in old Batman comics with the Batmobile, the Batcopter, Batarangs, Batunderwear, Batsandwiches, Bateverything. But, I don’t consider that a drawback, just something that grabbed my attention. I will likely do a post about it once I’m done, if for no other reason than the painting style stands out as unique a midst more standard graphic novel art one sees in the states, even including all the manga influx.

Anywhat, hopefully I’m back on track with studio time and site updates…stay tuned to find out…

About the Author:

My brain makes me draw stuff that isn't there, and this is where I put it.

Please let me know what you think, it makes my brain happy.

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