bablings sketchbook

this ole man loves trane

John Coltrane gouache painting

traditional – gouache on canvas – 8″ x 8″ – value study
There is nothing like a little John Coltrane to celebrate 34 years on this earth.

The recordings of the mid 50′s to early 60′s are my favorite. It’s funny how a simple ballad can transport me to another world, hypnotizing me to a state of utter bliss.

While most of my peers love the modern music coming from their satellite transmitters and cell phones, I feel like a relic who would rather dust off a classic LP and absorb the crackling of the needle into vinyl grooves.

My birthday playlist:

  1. In A Sentimental Mood / Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  2. My Little Brown Book / Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  3. The Feeling Of Jazz / Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
  4. Blues To Bechet / Coltrane Plays The Blues
  5. Nancy (With The Laughing Face) / The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
  6. Mr. Syms / Coltrane Plays The Blues
  7. My Favorite Things / My Favorite Things
  8. Everytime We Say Goodbye / My Favorite Things
  9. Blue in Green / Kind of Blue
  10. My One And Only Love / The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
  11. When I Fall In Love / Steamin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet
  12. Blue Train / Blue Train
  13. I’m Old Fashioned / Blue Train
  14. Soul Eyes / The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
  15. Lush Life / The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
  16. Dear Lord / The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
  17. Take Five / Cool: Dave Brubeck
  18. Flamenco Sketches / Kind of Blue

I encourage you to come along with me and dive into these recordings. You will not regret it.



tribal sketch
pencil – derwent graphic 4b; digital color – photoshop


Gong xi fa cai! Prosper little piggies!

piggy line

My wife received a Happy New Year email from her aunt in Taiwan.
Her message contained the following pics:





(I do not have a photo credit or a name of the artist that created these wonderful pieces, but if I find one or more, I’ll post them).

bablings sketchbook

Words this time… with a twist

marionette - twisted
this is about right… feelin’ somewhat twisted (March 2006)

  • About writing and expressing thoughts
    After some feeble attempts to write personal thoughts on this blog, I have realized from the beginning that I am not a writer.

    There are so many authors of blogs who can artfully place words together containing wonderful structure, grammar and most of all, logical sense. This is not one of them. I stopped trying to pontificate my thoughts through the written form and focus more on expressing in a way I have always done since I was a kid: attempting to draw.

As with life, so many unexpected tragedies fall upon all of us. This is one of those times.

So my goal to post drawings at least once a week has stopped… until the latest speed bump is cautiously passed over.

Once the very faint light in the distance becomes clearer and in focus, I am hoping the artwork will once again flow.

I will be taking a quick flight to Virginia to check up on things… maybe this trek will relieve my anxiety.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


alien – sprout finale

alien sprout finale
graphite – Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2b / Aquarelle



alien – sprout part 3

alien sprout 3
graphite – Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2b / Aquarelle

part 3 – the surprise turns to disbelief…


alien – sprout part 2

alien sprout 2
graphite – Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2b / Aquarelle

part 2 – the distraction turns to surprise…


alien – sprout

graphite – Derwent Graphic 4b

The alien is a bit distracted by the sprouting flower.

As you can see, he’d rather investigate than complete his mission:

alien wide


a smurfy red demon

red demon smurf
digital painting – Corel Painter

This is one of the coolest Smurf figures I found at a local toy shop, the
Sausalito Ferry Company Gift Store

Not to be outdone, the other week I found a Frankenstein Smurf at Kar’ikter in San Francisco.

I’m a real sucker for interesting toy figures.
red demon smurf photo


San Carlos Caltrain Station

san carlos caltrain station
graphite – Derwent Graphic – 2b, Pilot – P-500, Prismacolor Greys

Over a three week period (spread out from Oct ’06 thru Jan ’07) I would sketch this section of the Caltrain Station at San Carlos a little bit at a time. Even if I arrived at the station just as my train was pulling up, I would still take a mental snapshot of what I saw and put several lines down as I settled into my seat.

This was more of a mental exercise than anything else.


mask – an epee dream

mask 01
pen in sketchbook – pilot p-500 extra fine

This week’s topic for Illustration Friday is Mask.

The other night, I had this dream of a masked man with an epee. Today, I continued the dream during my morning break at work…then sketched him while taking the train home.

mask 2
pen in sketchbook – pilot p-500 extra fine

Dreams are a wonderful thing.


mighty present

mighty ring painting
digital painting – corel painter

This weeks’ Illustration Friday topic is “MIGHT”.

Here are some additional rambling sketches for the topic, done with a Berol Verithin Sky Blue 740.5 blue pencil I found deep in my pencil case:
mighty ring 2
mighty bear


Invention – Da Vinci Fish Flier

da vinci fish flier painting
digital painting – Corel Painter

Back in March of 2006, I came up with some concepts for a weekly sketch group topic Evolution. The original idea I had was how fish would eventually evolve into flying creatures. I believe Da Vinci had postulated the same theory, but no one took him seriously. Since the topic this week for the Illustration Friday is INVENTION, I decided to take one of my original sketches and paint it.
flying fish concept

If you are curious, you can see my other Flying Fish concept sketches here.


thanksgiving – juicy

This time of year, one should be careful what they advertise.
thanksgiving sketch - juicy
digital illustration – Corel Painter

This is my second contribution to the Illustration Friday site.


rubber ducky

rubber ducky - painter
digital painting – corel painter.

rubber ducky - steno sketch
concept pen sketch on blue steno pad.

Now that work has slowed down a bit and my freelance gigs are all completed, I had some time to play more with Painter.

I based this sketch of a duck with rubbers and a rain coat from wooden sculptures I saw in an store window two weeks ago. They were of a mama duck and her chicks all dressed in rain coats and hats with tiny foot rubbers. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.


ghost – illustration friday

ghost - illustration friday
My first submission to the Illustration Friday site.
Sketched with Derwent graphite 4b, Prismacolor greys and thin lines with my friend, Mr. Pilot P-500.
I’ve been struggling with coloring the Mariachi sketch in Painter. I’ll chip away at it more this weekend :).


mariachi – base layer

mariachi base layer
Several weeks ago, Dan Segarra’s AM sketch topic of the week was “Mariachi”. I whipped out some thumbnail sketches which evolved into this. I never posted it because it was stuck as a bookmark between the pages of Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth” which I thought I lost, but later found underneath my bed.

I wanna try coloring this in Painter. Wish me luck :)

As for the animation, besides polishing some of my past AM assignments, I’ve been working on some thumbnails for a 2d pencil test, inspired by a Duke Ellington jam I stumbled accross on iTunes called “Track 360″ on his “Blues in Orbit” album. Originally recorded in 1959, this “impression of a train ride” was only released on CD in 1988, then remastered in 2004. I’ll post the thumbs and some quick tests in PAP in the coming weeks.


assassin revisited – in color

assassin color
This is my first attempt at coloring with Corel Painter. I wanted to take this application for a spin, figure out the dense interface and play around with the pens and brushes. I’ve always wanted to try it, but I never had a wacom. Now that I dove in and picked up the Intuos 3, I have no more excuses :)

See the original pen sketch here.


taiwan and philippines: photos

taiwan school kids

taiwan school kids

In 2001, I graduated art school and grabbed a job right away to pay the bills. I was a graphic artist for a small newspaper here in the Bay Area, California. It didn’t pay much, but I had some great co-workers and I lived only 2 blocks from the office.

In 2003, just as things looked murky for the organization (outsourcing was a big concern), I was asked by my editor-in-chief to attend a press junket sponsored by a Big Asian Airline. Big companies do this often to drum up ad space and editorial ink to target their niche audiences, hoping the investment will pay off with return ticket sales.

My daily responsibilities included designing print ads, editorial layouts, photo editing, web editing etc. Why ask the graphic artist to attend a press junket in Asia? No one in the editorial department wanted to waste their time listening to sales pitches and possibly compromising ethical standards of journalism… mixing “business gifts” and trips with “real stories.”

Cool thing about me going, I was there strictly to take pictures. And for a brief stint half way around the world, I could be away from the office, far from worrying about my soon to be outsourced job.

I had a blast. The Big Asian Airline treated us well. They flew us to Taiwan and the Philippines, business class, and had us stay in 5 star hotels. It was such a wonderful break from the stress and worry, I look back and figure it was probably part of a pre-severence gift they could afford to give me. I came back to the Bay Area refreshed and a tad bit more aligned.

I am no longer at the newspaper. I am still working as graphic artist in the Bay Area for a pretty darn stable County organization (with great people too!). When I think things are going tough at my job, I think back and remember that trip to Asia in 2003.

(Above image: Taiwanese school boys on a field trip to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall)

taiwan child - toystore taiwan dim sum
(above images: Both in Taiwan – girl in toyshop, dim sum in downtown Taipei.)

Taiwan Art Museum groundsphilippines corregidor lighthouse
(above images: Taiwan – Fine Arts Museum grounds; Philippines – Corregidor Island lighthouse.)

Click here to see more.



Inspired while watching Kill Bill, Volume 1.
It’s been a while… the cpu/scanner was outta commission because of a BIOS error. I finally fixed it… after not knowing what the heck was going on. Oh wells…

In addition to more sketches, I’ll be posting some animation soon :)



I was in the city today and had some time to walk around the pier 39 area.

rough sketch – 60 seconds – 2″x2″
alcatraz rough

detailed sketch – 30 minutes – 7″x5″
alcatraz detail 450px
Click here for the 900px wide version.


garbage man

garbage man with fish

garbage man thumbnails

ab·er·rant sketchbook

fallen cupid

fallen cupid
2003 – pen – pigma micron 02

ab·er·rant sketchbook


pen – pigma micron 02


memory – balloon

I really don’t know why, but lately I have been dreaming about the balloon that got away when I was 5 years old.

My dad was driving us home from McDonalds in his 1975 Volkswagon Beetle. I was a happy little boy, full from my mini hamburger and fries and a green balloon handed to me by the big happy clown, Ronald. Maybe it was the sugar in the soda or the desserts, but I was pretty hyper. So hyper, that when my dad pulled up to our driveway and my mom got out the front seat to pull her chair back, I jumped out and tripped on the running board underneath the passenger side doorway.

As my face hit the pavement, I gasped as I let go of the balloon string. Looking up with a stary-headed blur, I saw my mom and a passer-by try and jump for the string.

memory grab

As the balloon disappeared in the sky, I felt like the I lost the best gift I had ever received…
memory balloon
until we returned the next weekend to see Ronald again.