Saturday, August 18, 2007

Farnsworth Bank

On Sunday August 5th, a group of 10 divers from our club took a dive boat called the Great Escape to the backside of Catalina (outer side which is more exposed to the open sea conditions). The dive site we were heading for is called Farnsworth Bank, which is a pinnacle rising up from the deep. The shallowest part of the reef is 55 feet, then it drops down to about 300+.

It's usually hard to make it out there since the site is unprotected, and prone to stormy seas, but on this day, it was calm! We did two dives at Farnsworth, and then the boat headed back to the front side of Catalina to do one last dive at a site called Black Rock. It's pretty cool that you can see the bald eagle nests from our boat when heading to Black Rock. It was another great day of diving here in Southern California.

A wall at 100 ft.

Farnsworth is famous for it's purple hydrocorals. They are beautiful!

My dive buddy Jimmy, He's one of those guys who is totally comfortable in the water.

Going back up the anchor line. This is really important, since we're surrounded by blue water, and there is no reference to where you are. It is easy to drift away from the dive site. We don't want to be drifting out there.

A friendly Moray Eel greeted us at about 90 ft.

This photo I took was on the front side at Black Rock. There were lobsters hiding in the holes and in between cracks of the boulders.

Strawberry anemonies were everywhere. Just amazing colors.

Tape monster

The tape monster

Since I was painting traditionally on the show Camp Lazlo, I would tape up the illustration board with scotch and white artist tape. Well, after finishing a painting, I would end up with a wad of tape. It just seemed like a shame to throw away a beautiful wad of colors such as these. So, I decided to collect those wads of tape, and create a tape monster. In the photo, you can see the tape monster proudly sitting on the file cabinet in front of my cubicle...but since I'm not there any longer, I'm sure the janitor has thrown it away. Tapy, I'll miss you.

Wrapped up at Cartoon Network

I’ve totally enjoyed my three weeks off after finishing up on Camp Lazlo. It’s amazing how quickly time can fly when you’re relaxing. I start back at Nickelodeon next week, working on Fairly Odd Parents painting backgrounds (back to creating bgs digitally). I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends there. Of course, I’ll miss some of the great people I’ve met at Cartoon Network, and I hope I’ll get to work with them again in the future.

Below are some backgrounds I painted for the show. The art director Sue Mondt was great helping me to acclimate to the new paint and the style of the show. Can’t thank her enough.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Can't believe I'm using real paint again.

The above painting, which is realy nice, is not done by me. I'll try and upload some of my own soon.

It’s been awhile since I wrote in. I’ve been super busy for the last month and a half working as a background painter on “Camp Lazlo” over at Cartoon Network. Picking up a new style is always a challenge, but this time, getting used to a new paint has also been an added challenge. I’ve used many different acrylic paints (including cel vinyl), but the paint being used on this show is acrylic gouache (by Turner). It really threw me for a loop since it dries much lighter than any paint I’ve used before. Also, just when you think it has already dried, it really hasn’t completely dried. It keeps getting lighter in value for another minute or two. This is one of those paints that you really have to slow down to paint faster. Did that just make sense? The good news is that I’m starting to get used to it… Phew! I do have to say that adapting to this new paint and this style is worth it, since the established background style is really great. It is really a great looking show.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Squid night dive at Redondo Beach

Its night, its winter, its cold, its raining slightly… what a perfect time to put on your wetsuit and swim into the Pacific Ocean, and then scuba dive down to 80-90 feet. Yup, this is my other passion besides doing art, scuba diving. And why dive at night in the middle of winter in Southern California? Because at night, the squids come near shore in masses to mate, lay eggs in the sand, and then die. The mating of the squids, or some call it a squid run, is one of natures wonder, and we here in Southern California have the privilege to witness this event at our local beaches. The best place locally in the L.A. area is at Redondo Beach, right near the pier on the East side. Here exists what is called a submarine canyon. It’s basically a deep canyon that cuts close to our shoreline. Your typical beaches will seldom get to a depth of 50 feet, unless you swim out 100-200 yards out, but at Redondo Canyon, you can easily reach 130 feet plus. And due to the depth, and other reasons which I have no clue to, the squids come in close to shore, and mate in a flurry of orgy. I have witnessed literally thousands of squid swimming in front of my mask at 70 feet. After they mate, they turn the sea floor into a shag carpeting of white tubes of egg casings. The egg casings are around 3-4 inches and contain hundreds of individual eggs. After all is done, and spent all their energy procreating, they die. Next every animal around comes out to feast on the dead squid, which is an event in itself. So every year, eager groups of divers will gear up with dive lights in hand, and enter the dark cold surf.

On Saturday January 27, we swam out about 50-75 yards, and then drop down 25-40 feet to a sandy bottom. From here we headed South/slightly South West, and then dropped down the sandy wall of the canyon. Quickly we reached 80-90 feet where we witnessed squids mating, and saw egg casings in the sand everywhere. A good number of bat rays were also present, obviously taking advantage of the dying squids. The visibility was about 15 feet or perhaps better in some spots. A couple of times a large figure would dart by quickly, and just out of the spot light of my dive light. From my experiences in night diving, I knew right away it was the ever-playful sea lions. They love to play with divers even in the dark. We noticed many sand crabs, bat rays, red rock crabs, kellets whelk, sand dabs, sand dollars, sea stars, and on and on. One thing I did see which was unusual, was a sweet potato flat worm about 15 inches long. At least that's what my dive buddy and I think it was. It’s amazing what we run into in the canyon since the deep water brings some unusual animals here. Can’t wait till my next dive.

There is a cool video clip taken by one of our dive club member Anastasia on the same night. Go here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Its been a cartoon world

Above is the press art I painted with Freakshow in the background. The painting was done in Photoshop. The design was done by Ben Balistreri.

I was working over at Nickelodeon Animation Studio as a background painter for the show “Danny Phantom.” I can’t say enough about the great people I worked with there. The crew was fun and talented. I think I’ve gained friends that will last a lifetime.

I had become so used to my freelancing life for 19 years, that I thought going into work, commuting every day, would really grind me down, but to my surprise I came to like it, a lot. When I was just freelancing, the deadlines ruled my life, and I ate, slept, and played around it. Having to go into work brings some semblance of normalcy. For most of us artists, its saying a lot.

Also, seeing other artist everyday was great. Its great being able to pop your head into another artist office and see what they’re working on

The kind of comradely I experienced at Nick just doesn’t exist in the freelance illustration world. You’re pretty much on your own in illustration. Of course even in the animation industry you’re still competing for the same position with other artists in the same category, but still, the artists I’ve met in the animation industry came off more likely to help out.