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After more than a year of using my website's native blog feature, I regret that it just doesn't work for me.  :-(  There are many ...

December 31, 2017

...On to the Next

Winter Demon - Watercolor, Ink, Digital - ©Johnny Perez 2017

It may be the biggest understatement of my life so far to say that I am ready for this year to be over.   Maybe it's not the worst, but it is a close contender.   Looking back I see struggle after struggle, and yet I know that's not all it was.   I hesitate to write any more than that.   The real challenge here is to find the lesson, find the silver lining in all of 2017.  Good things happened.  I'll admit to that.  Bad things always happen.  That's nothing new.

I can tell you that staying positive is the right move.  But I didn't begin this post with the intent to convince of you that.   I began writing because its the end of the year, and if I need to accomplish something, it has to start with getting back to routine.   It has to start with getting back to what's important still.   I may not feel like it, and it's been hard to focus, but when all is said and done, I cannot let the problems of 2017 take me down another notch before its over.

This is my art blog where I intend to let you in on my process, my inspiration, and in essence my mind.   It's chaotic in here guys, but please bear with me.   This psychobabble has some purpose I think.   My life is on display at times on my various social media, but for those that haven't a clue what I'm getting at, here it is.    The events of 2017 have spurred a need to get more personal.   These events began with recovering from a broken finger,  consequently trying to stay afloat financially, sinking into a quiet depression,  and ultimately the end of my relationship of 3 years.   Woe is me.

Detail of Demon sketchbook study - ©Johnny Perez 2017

Finding pieces of myself that I've lost over the course of all this, has shown me that I don't have time to play around.   There ARE bigger problems than these.  That doesn't make it hurt less.  With that in mind,  I recall the work I began with my last heartbreak and previous "worst year of my life."   Sensing a pattern?  Me too.  My goal of THAT year was to work through the pain with my art.   I got pretty far in that endeavor, and honestly can't believe I'd lost most of that progress to find myself here again attempting to pick up where I left off.

It all began with the simplest of narratives,  Good vs. Evil.  Classic.  Easy.  I spent my nights photographing myself for reference.  The Hero looked like me, as did the Villain.  I had intended to make this short story comic book documenting my struggle with the Dark Side.   As I began to sketch out the photos, it seemed like too much.  As I tried to write a script,  I realized I'm not that kind of writer.   This was going to take time.  Life happened,  I recovered, and the project was benched.  It floated in the back of my mind for years now.

Reference photo - Self Portrait - ©Johnny Perez 2017

Now in the present, I am back to finish it.  Not just the project though, but the work I put into myself.   This latest setback was a shining reminder of what I'd left undone both on and off the page.   Things I thought I'd left in the past, reared their horned heads.   The hero is back on his journey with fresh Hell to pay.   This might get ugly.  I hope this explains a bit the direction I'm going, though

And this is where I'm at.   It's all still a bit uncharted, but that's what it's about. 

Animated Winter Demon gif created by Werble app - ©Johnny Perez

November 11, 2017

October 31, 2017


Witches Brew - Ink, Paper - ©JohnnyPerez 2017

Every year I am inspired to create during the month of October because that is when Inktober happens!  Artists from around the world hashtag their work to practice, engage, and inspire using ink as the main medium.

This year I chose witches as my theme.  All sorts of witches.  I'm listing my creations this month in my Etsy shop.  In celebration of Halloween, I am offering 40% for email subscribers!  I hope you enjoy, and have a safe candy eating, horror movie watching, costume dressing day!

September 19, 2017

Fantasy Faces: Labyrinth!

I don't really know when the first time I saw Labyrinth was. It released in 1986 and I was 4 years old at the time, but it must've been some years later when our family could afford a VCR that I was able to watch it.  For some reason I remember thinking these movies had always existed and that my mom must've grown up on them, because she spoke as if she knew what was happening.  I can only assume she pre-screened the movies before showing them to me and MAYBE she saw them in the theater.

All I really know is that since I did see it, it's stayed with me, along with many fantasy movies at the time.  They are part of what made me want to be an artist, why I was reluctant but excited to play D&D in college, and why for many years I was in my own bubble of magic and glitter.  There are few movies that are cut from this cloth, and I can't imagine them not being burned into my psyche.

Ludo (detail) ©Johnny Perez

September 2, 2017

Fantasy Faces Painted in Watercolor...cont'd

Studio Ghibli fantasy faces set by Johnny Perez

Thanks for sticking around and checking out my progress on this project!  In case you missed it I have a video playlist you can watch of all the faces I've painted so far.  I'll keep adding to this playlist as they're done till I get 31 total!

In the last post I gave you some of the work in progress photos from face #s 12-18 I think.  So here are some photos up to #23.  This includes the last Studio Ghibli face: Yubaba, and The Dark Crystal faces of Skeksis, Podling, Aughra, and Kira!

Yubaba from Spirited Away in watercolor by Johnny Perez

I asked in the previous post to vote on the last set of 4 faces, or give me something better! I'm leaning toward Lord of the Rings, but Game of Thrones would be a hot topic.  So I'll still be taking your suggestions in the comments, so let me know!

Now on to some art photos from the studio!

August 24, 2017

Fantasy Faces in Watercolor Process Photos

Watercolor portraits by Johnny Perez, Dark Crystal by Jim Henson characters
The Dark Crystal group set by Johnny Perez
I've been making some headway into my 31 Days of Watercolor featuring fantasy faces from mythology to movies.  If you're a sucker for seeing the art process, check out this playlist of videos that I've compiled.  I initially started this project with a contest in mind, but then I thought the contest had been deleted, I couldn't find it for a while, and then before I knew it, I was behind, and the contest winners were announced.  :-/   I mean I got some entries in in the beginning but still, it was disappointing.  But I don't want to dwell on that, instead I'm just gonna finish the challenge.  SO 31 tiny portraits of fantasy characters are still in the works, I think I'm at 23 now?

Howl of Howl's Moving Castle anime by Hayao Miyazaki drawn by Johnny Perez in ink
WIP drawing of "Howl" by Johnny Perez

So I wanted to get ahead for a moment so I thought I'd just do well-known characters instead of making them up like when I started.  That way I didn't have to spend so much time thinking of something.  It helped and it hurt. LOL! These characters are some of my favorites so I wanted to do them justice, so while I was just playing and experimenting more with my own characters, I was now spending this "extra" time with details and trying to get a good likeness done.  All in all I'd have to say I love doing them though, because I love having this type of fanart added to my repertoire (fancy), and I like knowing that I'm working (even for myself) on a franchise I love!

Harry Potter characters painted in watercolor by Johnny Perez
WIP Harry Potter group set by Johnny Perez
And hey who knows if I get lucky and someone from these franchises sees my work and asks me to work on them for real?! *Mindblown*  SO far I've done:

July 17, 2017

The Trials, Hardships, and Cons of Being an Artist

Detail of "Fool" - Watercolor, Ink - by Johnny Perez, 2010
Detail of "Fool" - Watercolor, Ink - by Johnny Perez, 2007

We hear it all our lives as young artists...

Don't be an artist!  You'll starve!  You'll be poor!  You'll never make it, it's too competitive!
 I mean its not entirely wrong, but starting out is hard for most people, and giving up too early is a common thing.  I was lucky to have an encouraging family, and the fact that I grew up poor most of my life somehow made it ok or rather doable to live with no money.  So if I wanted to pursue a career with no money but I was happy, then I was confident I could still live, even if it was on nothing.   It really comes down to a matter of perspective for me.

I want to be real for a moment to say that I'm not some crazy successful artist, but neither do I consider myself less of an artist because I'm not "known."  I don't pretend to be more than I am, but I do choose to look at the bright side.   I do choose to think of myself as capable.  And I choose to define success as a never ending goal to better myself.  In that regard it is hard to lose.  I am faced with the same challenges as most in the world,  there is always someone out there better than you, and there is always someone out there more successful than you.  So what?  Am I just supposed to quit?

July 13, 2017

31 Days of Watercolor | Fantasy Faces

Blick Art Materials announced a daily watercolor art challenge for the month of July, and I had to jump on board!  I like daily challenges because they force me to keep with art making when life gets in the way.  I may lag behind a day or two but I'm quick to catch up and keep playing.

There was no specific theme so I decided I would do fantasy faces.  I'm looking into classic fairy tales, and spinning some other familiar concepts.  I'm hoping to end up with a wide range color and ideas for future paintings.  To make it simple I'm keeping these small.  On top of that I have to fight the daylight for attention, since I don't like to use my regular desk lamps, but I will if I have too.

June 30, 2017

Chalchiutlicue | Aztec Goddess of the Sea

Chalchiutlicue - Watercolor, Ink - 9 in x 6 in - Johnny Perez
Chalchiutlicue - Watercolor, Ink - 9 in x 6 in - Johnny Perez

What happens when you dive into the rabbit's hole?  You discover a massive fountain of potential inspiration perhaps?  I've been into mythology since I can remember going to the library, I mean its the closest thing to fantasy in the real world.  Ancient cultures sacrificed lives for these beings, and whatever your beliefs, the pantheon of gods in any religion was as real as night and day.

That being said, I had only ever paid attention to the Greek pantheon because that was the only book our small library had.  The internet was *gasp* not a thing in my grade school years.  But lets face it, I feel robbed.  I mean I knew of ancient cultures but where was the WEALTH of stories and information that seemed to be in abundance in the Greek mythos.  I was neck-deep in Xena: The Warrior Princess, and even comic books made reference to these gods.  That was all fine and well, but here I am thirthy-*ahem* years old and I'm just now learning of my own cultural roots!

Which brings me to my painting of Chalchiutlicue.  I've had an affinity for water since forever, and mermaids rank top of the list of favorite things to illustrate.  In recent years I've heard many references to African gods, more specificially Orishas.  I'm not near as educated in cultures of the world as I'd like, but it seemed odd to me that I'd hear this word so often in everyday conversations and in popular media.  Yes I love black culture including music and television, so this could be why.   But even when I was listening to Spanish music all day long and trying to practice my Spanish by watching novelas on Univision, I never heard any reference to anything other than Catholicism or namely La Virgen.   Of course I come to expect this from the deeply rooted seed of religion in Mexican culture.  Maybe its because I didn't grow up in Mexico, but even then, there's a passing knowledge of the pantheon, but there's no reference in popular media or entertainment.  I don't know, am I not really paying attention?

June 24, 2017

Going Home Home for Memorial Day

I traveled to my hometown to visit my family and do a little celebrating of Memorial Day.  I don't celebrate it regularly, but its hard not to when you're with family and surroundings you used to know.  Of course I took the beaux out to see the local cemetery.  Not surprised to see quite a few confederate flags there in a small row of small graves.  I'm from a small town!  The cemetery was big and full of 100s of tombstones and these (possibly racists and/or misguided) were only a small part.

Speaking of small, I found out yesterday that where I grew up is considered a ghost town!  I thought it was pretty cool. I lived in this small town called Odell for many years off and on.  I visited there a couple of years ago to get pictures of the old houses I used to live in, but they were all gone, except for two.  I lived in about 7 houses in the area and the 2 that remain are still inhabited, so I didn't wanna look like a weirdo in their front yard.  Anyway, a ghost town indeed!

I enjoyed living there as a kid, playing with the neighborhood kids and running the streets with hardly a car in sight all day.  Then we would run up to the local grocery store, Cooper Grocery run by Leoda, a little old lady who'd lived out there for years.  She looked perpetually grumpy, and the store was always warm, but we loved it.  The store has been made into something of a museum since her passing, and next door the old Post Office is now a small recording studio with a stage outside.  I heard they do "Odell Days" art and music festival, but I haven't heard if it still continues. 

Its funny to think there are parts of Vernon I have never seen, but going to explore it as an adult has proved fun on many occasions.  Things are changing here and there and some things never do.