A Few Digital Sketches, Soon to Be Finished Paintings

Below are a few digital sketches that represent a snapshot of what has been going on in my painting studio lately. Working digitally like this has the huge benefit of offering infinite flexibility when working with colors. I also love to dig for intuitive geometric compositions in my paintings, and Adobe Illustrator is well suited to this kind of sketching.

horizontal-studiesThis sketch should be a finished painting by now, but I keep revisiting it, tweaking the colors to try to achieve the balance of light/dark and intensity that it needs. I ended up going with the top design with the chain of small rectangles running across the diagonal.

red-pink-white-blue-conceptContinuing to play with the red/pink/white/blue palette and simple—bordering on obvious!—geometry.

austin-commission-conceptI am currently making the painting that is depicted in this digital concept photo. I created the palette after spending some time at the collectors’ land in west Texas, home of big skies, cedar, mesquite, and earth. When finished, this painting will be an important piece of the collectors’ newly remodeled home!

orange-green-red-studyThis sketch did not make the cut for the above commission, but it has found a place in my painting queue. It uses the west Texas palette, and does some of the things with simple color, light and space that keep my eyeballs coming back to look again.

Prints Available at thefailurestore.com

Sean Slattery—one of my favorite friends and artists—has created an online portfolio/retail store, and I am so happy to be a featured artist on the website! It is called The Failure Store, and it has lots of Sean’s artwork along with his collaborations, including a tiny sample of works for sale by Ripper Jordan, which I was a part of with Sean and artist/friend David Ryan in Las Vegas.

Here are the things by me that you can pick up there. Each one is a digital print, 11″ x 14″, signed and dated by me on the back.

james_hough_miajames_hough_lorde140502-soccer-ball-web-ready-11x14james_hough_dan_and_phil

Thanks for having me, Sean!

Silly M.I.A.

james_hough_mia

This is my personal favorite of the Fujikawa-esque fan arts I’ve made. It brings together M.I.A.’s loudness and Gyo’s softness, and I just kind of like how all the pieces came together.

Now I need to take some time to finish coloring a piece with the working title, “Bad Blood.”

Dan and Phil, Jumping on the Ultimate Bed

james_hough_dan_and_phil

My daughter is devoted to Dan and Phil. It wasn’t practical to fly them out last December for a Christmas surprise, so I made a Gyo Fujikawa-inspired fan art as a gift. I owe her friend Ashley a debt of gratitude for consulting with me to ensure that I didn’t mess up any details!

It turns out that Phil’s colorful bed set is available at IKEA, so my daughter’s bed now sports the comforter and pillowcase that you see on the right. Nothing against Dan’s monotones at all—Phil’s palette just works better on her sky blue walls.

Lorde, Riding the Bus with the Knees Pulled In

james_hough_lorde

Sometimes when you love a thing you have to do something about it. I love Lorde’s music, and too many times I’ve expressed my feelings by listening to her too much. So, to keep me from overdoing it on the tunes, I made some fan art!

I also love Gyo Fujikawa, so I did what I could to channel her line and color, and her light touch:)

Jonathan Hough, Maker of Things

That’s a custom lighter by Jonathan Hough.

It’s great to watch an artist develop. My favorite kind of artist is the one who—through experimentation, trial and error—seeks the best means to give shape to whatever space his head is in at that moment. And then when that head space shifts, so does the search for the way to give it tangible form.

Jonathan Hough, my brother, @jh0u9h on Instagram, is one of these artists. I follow what he makes, and we talk about art, broadly and specifically. Often he is the kind of artist who wants to be responsible for every atom (ideally) that comprises a piece of artwork. Below, check out my small collection of Jonathan’s work. Two of them are paintings made from hand-ground minerals mixed with oil to create his own paints. The third is a hammered metal piece that is part bell and part oculus. They are compact pieces, like gems, representing countless hours of focused making.

Jonathan Hough art

Now, Jonathan has taken his passion for metals and minerals, and an arsenal of technique he has developed as a jewelry-maker, and has begun collaborating with artists to create custom-engraved lighters. This project is his first big foray into bringing his highly specialized skills to a wider audience. Check out some of his recent collaborations…

David Cook / @bonethrower on Instagram

Alright, this one is for you @bonethrower. #custom #zippo #cnc #engraving #oneofakind #proof

A video posted by Jonathan (@h0u9h) on

Reginald Pean / @frenchinald on Instagram

First official proof for @frenchinald. #custom #cnc #engraving #paradiselost #zippo #lighter

A video posted by Jonathan (@h0u9h) on

And, the artist himself, Jonathan Hough / @jh0u9h on Instagram

Skeletal bird flippin. #cnc #engraving #wip #flippinthebird

A video posted by Jonathan (@h0u9h) on

Find Jonathan on Instagram to see more of his work. @jh0u9h

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley is a humblingly great graphic novel

“Humblingly” just became a word, because that is how good Seconds is.

Seconds, a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I recommend this graphic novel to anyone, particularly to aspiring graphic novelists. After I finished the book last night, I picked it up and arbitrarily opened one page, then another, and more, to see if I could imagine coming up with a spread as good as whichever spread I happened to behold. But every page was conceived and composed so beautifully, succinctly, and with such sensitivity to the story that I had to cry “uncle.” O’Malley is working at a level of craftsmanship that both inspires and humbles those who would aspire to create a graphic novel of their own!

So, read this story about a brash chef in her late twenties who stumbles upon a way to go back and fix the mistakes in her life. Bask in the cuteness and the depth of O’Malley’s artwork and storytelling. Or just look at the pages. Everything here is worthwhile.

Thank you, Bryan, for the great book!!