November 20, 2009

I was asked to create these little characters for Rational Acoustics, a company that makes software for acoustical analysis. For now, they're using the 7 Bad System Dwarves on t-shirts. Each dwarf represents one of those nasty tones that need to be flushed out of a sound system.

The 7 Bad System Dwarves are called Tubby, Muddy, Boxy, Honky, Barky, Edgy, and Sibilant. Getting rid of them usually involves a sound man incessantly repeating some inane phrase into a microphone like "checking, one two". He'll repeat this about five hundred times followed by even more annoying tooth clicks and kissing noises until everybody within ear shot is ready to beat him senseless with his own microphone. But I digress!

Hopefully, Rational Acoustics technology will help make this annoyance no longer necessary. Click on the image to check out the details in the dwarfs.

November 04, 2009

The Copper Spot

This old 1000 watt Times Square follow spot was given to me about a year ago and it had been gathering dust and rust in a corner. Last week I was asked to do some scary lighting for a Halloween party and got the idea that maybe I could somehow insert a gobo of a witch or a ghost into this follow spot and then have it fly around the room as I move the light around.

Unfortunately, on closer inspe
ction, this light was an accident waiting to happen. The wires were frayed and the socket was arcing. It was too dangerous to even turn on. So this past week I took it completely apart, cleaned it, replaced the socket and power cable. Unable to find a lubricant that is non-flammable, I used powdered graphite to lube the shutter, iris and sliding focal lens. Then I repainted it using high-temperature Rustoleum spray paint. The hardware store carried 3 chioices of high-temp paint; black white and this copper color. The original color was a dark grayish-brown so I thought the copper would really jazz it up. After all, it's an antique (probably from the early 60's?).

I think the copper color really emphasizes the retro look. I love it!

October 19, 2009

Setting up for an Aerosmith show

A long-anticipated Aerosmith show on Maui began to take shape yesterday with the scaffolding and stage being erected in an open football stadium. Today is the day before the show. The lighting and sound systems were being put up and I took a few pictures of the local crews working on it. These are some of the people who work long hours behind-the-scenes to make shows like this happen in the Hawaiian islands.

Bonnie of Hawaii Stage & Lighting stands in front of her stage & lighting equipment.

Dado throws a shaka after coming down off the spot

Vance shows off a bicep on the stage

Trevor tries to outdo Vance's bicep and succeeds.

Jonny G surveys the line array before it gets hauled up.

Pete gets ready to ROCK!

Lastly, the Blimp of Bruce's head is inflated and sent aloft over the tent.

October 13, 2009

Water Found on the Moon!

Yes, there IS water on the Moon.
That means I'm going ahead with my latest entrepreneurial venture... to bring back the finest, purest water from the polar regions of the Moon, then bottle it and sell it to the entire planet!

Moon RiversTM bottled water will taste like no other water on this Earth... pure, crisp and completely free of pollutants and bacterial contaminants... and with just a slight hint of fine, aged cheese. It contains minerals rich in calcium, iron and magnesium... the original Moonshine!

The low gravitational environment of the moon's polar regions has given this premium water a unique
characteristic that will make it go down very, very slowly, filling the craters of your soul.
Stored in a frozen state for over 4 BILLION years, Moon Rivers lunar polar water will soon be Shuttled to your local dealer who will deliver it to your home or business each lunar month for your healthy enjoyment.

We hope to get the
endorsements of the likes of Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong to appear in commercials accompanied by background music playing the Andy Williams favorite, "Moon River".

Sing along with Neil:
"Moon Rivers, wider than a mile,
I'm drinking you in style some day."

Now YOU can get moonstruck by this exciting enterprise and become a part of it.
Caspian Sea Wells, LLC is currently seeking capital investors to help finance this new venture. Don't miss the opportunity to get in on the ground floor! Only a few have walked on the moon, be one of the first to wade into the ocean of opportunity in the southern pole basin where the tides of wealth await your investment. Shoot for the moon! Send your investment check to me personally and I'll send you a share ($100 dollars = 1 share).
BUT WAIT! That's Not All... for only a limited time, I'll also send you a nifty Moon Sponge©!
BUT WAIT! I'll send you a second Moon Sponge Free! Act Now!

October 01, 2009

Halloween Celebrities

Courtesy of "The MAD ARTIST"

Al "Gory" Gore


Wolf "the Wolfman" Blitzer




Oprah, Queen of Snakes


September 28, 2009

Morning in Maui

The view from my desk each morning is of the ocean in soft amber light. The sun has risen but Ma'alaea Bay is still in shadow. Between November and May the humpback whales are playing in the bay.

The Myna birds are singing and the tourists are leaving the harbor in boats heading out to Molokini to snorkel for the day.

Here's an aerial shot of Molokini island which is about 2 miles away from the harbor. This is actually an old volcanic crater. The island is a bird sanctuary and the water below is a marine sanctuary which has about 250 fish species.

As the sun rises over Haleakala (which translates to the "house of the sun") the atmosphere becomes yellowish and the ocean gets bluer. The colors of the sunsets are spectacular but the mornings are subtle.

I'm glad I get to see them both each day.

September 20, 2009

Real Class Acts

It's been a busy couple o' weeks for me, working on shows for John Legend, a Hula competition and a dance show featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anna Laguna, who are probably the most famous dancers in the world.

But one of the funnest shows I've ever had the pleasure of working on was Slava's Snow Show which occurred at the end of August.
I had worked with them many years ago and was blown away by the simplicity of the show that comes over so big. Piles of paper snow gets blown into the faces of the audience with the help of a plane prop. That scene is followed by huge balloons rolling out into the audience from the stage. Both of these scenes are visually stunning.

I watched from the back of the theater as the snowy walls of the set begin to move in response to the cold wind being heard. The blue stage lights flicker and Slava the Clown raps himself in a piece of the quilted wall. Then there's a sudden blackout , the music swells, your pupils dilate in the
dark and then as the music reaches a crescendo a bank of intense white lights blind the audience and a mass of snow particles propelled by a rush of wind and billowing smoke explode like a bomb from the stage and slowly envelop the audience row by row. Really trippy effects that will make you say WOW!

The "Ball of Balls" follows with huge balloons being battered around by the audience members for at least a half hour until all they have enough and filter out of the theater. I had to personally take steps to make sure there were no sharp objects within the theater that might puncture the balls.

Slava Pulonin is the creator and performs as the main clown. The Russian tech crew worked in a completely different way than we were used to. Snow machines had to be hung over the stage and over the audience. These were no hi-tech gadgets. Basically, it was a motor hooked up to a 5-gallon water jug with holes cut in it. The jug turns and the snow falls through the holes.

All I can say is, THIS IS THEE SHOW you should go see if you ever get the chance. You can take this from someone who has seen thousands of shows. This is something completely unique.


Halloween is approaching and the ghosts are beginning to creep out from their dark corners.

Why is it they want to haunt the living, anyway?

Maybe they're in need of something... something they've lost and hope the living can return to them. Chances are they either seek atonement for wrongs they perpetrated in life, or restitution for wrongs committed against them.

I fear no ghosts. What they really are, are just old memories... regrets, missed opportunities... poor choices. They're shadows of inflicted pain, misery and fear... remorse for broken promises... remnants of a conscience that continues to struggle with past sins. They are human shame seeking forgiveness for betrayal.

And they pop up every now and then in the hope that the wounds they once inflicted have healed and those they've betrayed no longer hold them responsible. What they really need to do is to make amends within themselves.

Shoo, ghost!

August 31, 2009

Crap Fish

What happens when a graphic designer gets served a bad meal? Do they summon the waitress over and complain about the dry, tasteless fish? NO! That'll cause embarrassment. It could also initiate something even worse. Something that nobody would know about except the scorned cook! Best to just take the crappy food away, pay the bill and never come back.

Hmmm... must think of a way to communicate displeasure with the food without actually having to whine to the server. A-HA! Redesign the presentation! The message will get passed on to the cook, but the angry reaction will be tempered by the creative re-use of this culinary catastrophe.

OK, now walk fast so the cook doesn't see you...

August 12, 2009

Took this photo last year in Old Wailuku Town, Maui, on a quiet Sunday morning.
I spent many years painting signs when I was young and so I tend to notice hand-painted signs. I've also grown to appreciate that weathered look. This sign isn't a masterpiece by any measure, but I guess it was the setting that caught my eye. This section of Wailuku Town is just off the Main drag and has several pawn shops, cafes and antique shops.
By the looks of the attached Coke sign, they both have probably been hanging there for over 50 years.

I used to go to a nearby coffee shop every morning, order a muffin and coffee, read the paper and sketch out ideas. Then the wise town officials tried to revitalize the neighborhood by widening the sidewalks and adding benches and trees along the road. That resulted in fewer parking spaces. Now there's rarely a place to park and I've stopped going there. What a shame. I miss some of the funky charm it had when the sidewalks were crumbling. Some of the patina is gone forever. It's as if someone were to replace the Bungalow and Coke signs with modern lookalikes. Sooner or later they'll be taken down, so I'm appreciating 'em now, by freezing them in time through photographs.

July 30, 2009

Angel Melody's Art

I love to see drawings by kids. Occasionally, I get them in the mail. Kids will send me their own versions of the paintings they see in my children's books. Sometimes teachers send me drawings from the entire class who have been reading one of the books.
But I recently came across some drawings that I had scoffed up about 12 years ago and saved. They were done by a local 8 year old girl named Angel Melody and they were packaged as note cards for sale in a gift shop, and I was so enchanted with them that I bought 'em. I had also noticed some of Angel's drawings posted on the bulletin board at a local coffee shop in Lahaina. and I must confess I actually stole a couple off the board because they were so good. I had the feeling she would someday become an artist.

Such happy beings inhabit this little girl's world. The characters interact with each other. Her mermaids take a couple of girls into their underwater world while a well-placed fish tags along.

Angel's Halloween drawing was similar as the girls in costume party together while two of them toss candy and a heart to each other.

I scanned these drawings for this blog post and then I thought I'd google Angel to see if there was any news about her.

Now, I don't know her and I've never met her.

Sure enough, I found a newspaper article that shows a photo of her standing in front of a mural she did at her high school. That was a few years ago. Angel Melody Bode is now 20 years old and shows her paintings on Facebook. She also has illustrated her first children's book, Kalani's Wish.

Hey Angel, I hope you google your own name someday and find this post about you. I'm glad to see you're still painting and getting some attention for your talent. You've got a fan here so keep up the good work!

July 22, 2009

Revisiting the Reclining Nude Drawing

Johnny H made a great comment on a previous blog post of mine about a reclining nude drawing where he suggested, "...make a version with her in curious situations – on the floor of a grocery store, on the back of an alligator. Or as a "miniature" on a pencil or something."
Knowing John personally, this guy is a creative genius. So I'm running with it.

Now, I couldn't drum up a decent alligator photo, so I did the next best thing... I threw her into a walrus pod. I think she seems very relaxed and fits in nicely, don't you?

But John suggested something else to me... that I could think of her as a 3-dimensional object... like a sculpture.

So maybe she could be made into a nudey guitar...? (easy on those high notes, there, Izzie...)

...or how 'bout some unique bathroom towel hooks...?

Well, I'll never look at her the same now...
Thanks, John. You've commercialized my nudey...
damn creative directors... Hmmmph!

July 11, 2009

I love to cook musicians

Mick Fleetwood's band baking in my lights

New images have been added to my website portfolio under the heading of "Stage Lighting". Over 50 photos from live performances display a variety of lighting techniques along with some explanations of how I created the looks.
I've lit just about every type of show... rock bands, symphonies, plays, musicals, ballet, worship... everything from whirling dervishes to Chinese circuses. At an average of about 3.5 shows per week for the last 3.5 decades, that's well over 6000 gigs. I reckon I have more show experience than most of the performers I light. But it's all about them, not me. The purpose is to express and enhance what is occurring on stage.

Unless the show is being taped, it's only for the moment. These are snapshots of some of those moments.
See them listed under "Stage Lighting" in the portfolio section.

June 30, 2009

Thanks for the plug Eddie

Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, was performing a solo concert on Maui last night when he took a moment between songs to personally thank me for giving him a couple of books for his children.

Earlier in the day I was working with Eddie's lightman, Dan McDonough, and during lunch we began talking about some of my paintings which are currently decorating the green room and dressing rooms backstage at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. He seemed impressed with the artwork and I explained that some of the paintings are published in children's books. Learning that Dan has two children, I later gave him two books. Thumbing through the books he mentioned that he thought Eddie would really appreciate the artwork as well. I asked if he had kids and it turns out he has two, one being 5 years old, which is a perfect age for the Ocean book. So I signed a copy of Hello Ocean and a copy of The Desert Alphabet Book and Dan took them backstage to Eddie's dressing room.

During the concert Eddie was seated on a stool centered on a round Persian rug with a small table that held an old 1970's type reel to reel tape deck. Surrounding him was an array of vintage amps and stringed instruments. I was watching from the lighting booth when he ended a song to a rousing applause and then proceeded to pick up "Hello Ocean" from the table and held it up to show the audience. He explained that he was given some books for his children by the theater's lighting designer and began to praise the illustrations. He then mentioned my name, thanked me and told the crowd that they should be proud of "one of their own". It was very gracious of him and I certainly appreciate that he would take the time to say those things right in the middle of his show. He then continued putting on a great show playing a variety of instruments and wowing the crowd.

My thanks to Dan and to Eddie. I hope their kids really enjoy the books. I can imagine parents like them reading these books to their children and talking about the illustrations. They probably point things out to each other, talk about the skies, trees and colors or ask questions about the animals and the feelings they get from the scenes. Those are treasured moments for parent and child and it feels good to know that I may have played a small role in that.

April 22, 2009

Earth Day

This image shows a brand new steamin' Earth emerging fresh from the mold. We've become more aware of how easy it is for us to screw it all up, so I thought this would be a good image to revive.

Originally painted in acrylics, I scanned it and reworked it digitally using my Wacom Cintiq. Wacom is known for making "Intuos" tablets that allow digital artists and designers to use a digital pen instead of a mouse. This makes painting a more realistic experience on the computer. For years I had used a large Intuos tablet but the drawback was that you move the pen around the tablet area while you're watching the cursor move around the monitor. It's an awkward hand-to-eye experience to anyone who has spent a lot of time drawing with pencil and paper. But their latest Cintiq technology allows you to use the pen right on the computer monitor. For the serious digital artist, this is a must. The hand/eye coordination is more true and very sensitive.

I've sold several prints of this image which I reproduce on Ultra Premium Photo paper by Epson. The dark black and blue areas of this image needed to be deep and rich and this paper really gave me what I was looking for (after several failed attempts on other papers).
Available on my website at

April 10, 2009

Celebrity look-alikes

Ever look at a person's face and think to yourself, "He's got a face like a weasel!", or "She looks like a frightened deer in the headlights"...?

Well, I do.

The great thing about Google is that with a few clicks, one photo of a face can be coupled with a critter for a comparative giggle that can be emailed to friends.
The following images were shamelessly ripped off for satirical use only.
For example,

Based purely on looks and demeanor, I'd say there's some odd resemblance, but any other comparisons to personality are not intended.

How about these others...?

April 07, 2009

Andy & Sandy

This pair of Palmate Geckos are from the deserts of Namibia and have the strangest coloring. Their skin is somewhat translucent and one of them is shown wiping grains of sand from its eye with its transparent tongue.

To paint the sand I masked off the geckos and airbrushed the background with layers of yellow and brown. While I wanted to show the detail of the sand grains I wasn't about to paint each one by hand. So one method was to lower the pressure of the airbrush tank until it caused the paint to spit from the airbrush. It worked but the drops were still too small, so I grabbed a toothbrush, dipped the edge in paint and began flicking the bristles using my thumb.
This image was published in The Desert Alphabet Book and also shows a desert snake hidden in the sand that usually hunts these geckos. The original painting is available on my website
and there are limited edition prints available by contacting me.

April 03, 2009

Cartoon -Biketoons

Stony's Pizza is a mobile pizza business owned by a long-time friend of mine, Steve Cohn, with his son Tony. These two guys make the BEST pizza in Austin, TX. Steve had me do a cartoon of himself riding his home-made motorcycle while delivering pizza which he uses on t-shirts and promotional material.
You can check out Stony's Pizza here. Steve just loves that I made him look like a PSYCHO HILLBILLY.

And speaking of "billy", Steve recommended me to a friend of his who wanted a caricature of a well-known chopper builder to put on t-shirts. He wanted me to put this tough biker on a one of those Big Wheels for laughs. This is fun stuff to do, so I agreed and came up with this...
Actually, the tricycle says "Big Whine" on the side.

Recognize him? The guy made up a batch of
t-shirts as a joke to wear at a chopper show where the famous biker was appearing. I think he gave a few to his friends but became squeamish to carry out his original idea to sell these shirts at the show. Maybe he wasn't really sure how the guy would react. (Was the puddle of pee-pee going too far?)

Satire sometimes has consequences so you gotta be careful. Hopefully, this Billy has a great sense of humor!