Illustration · Observations

I only went out for a walk

While camping, in addition to trying to get back to good old pen-and-pencil-on-paper illustration, I also brought along John Muir book to read. I can’t imagine a better place to read through his real-life adventures that in an area not too far from where he lived and explored.

His book, compiled from his personal notes and journals, is full of quotes that really stuck with me. One of the more famous ones that’s making the rounds now is “The mountains are calling, and I must go,” typically overlaid a picturesque mountain shot, or some otherworldly beautiful location. Just do a Google image search with that phrase and see how many come up.

At any rate, I thought I’d try to illustrate one of the other quotes that really stuck with me:

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

A photo posted by aaron thomason (@aaron_t) on

By the way, those folks who do hand-lettering really know their stuff. My version turned out pretty lame, but considering I was using pen and a sketchbook while laying in a hammock, I guess its okay. It’s definitely going to take some more practice to get that skill where I would like it to be.


Another portrait attempt

After catching up with a friend I haven’t seen since high school, I thought it might be an interesting challenge to draw someone from memory. Having only taken one picture that turned out dark that evening I didn’t have a lot to go on other than memory, so it was definitely difficult. In the end I can’t say that I am thrilled with it, but it is what it is. I guess that’s the point of practicing, right?




The behind the scenes video

This is the part of the post where I usually show the video of the sped-up animation process, but the ProCreate app managed to crash multiple times during the process. Although it didn’t lose my drawing, it did lose the first half of the illustration, which in this one, was the most interesting. So no video on this one.

Arizona · Illustration

Hanging out with the full moon

The neighbors oleanders rise like kelp into the ocean of night sky behind over our back yard.

Full Moon - an Illustration


Last night, at the end of a very long day that began with a five and a half mile hike around the neighborhood and ended with replacing the bumpers on my car, after I got the dogs kenneled for the night and the house cleaned up, I decided that it was one of those rare nights when it was cool enough to sit outside and enjoy the night.

The fact is, it wasn’t.

It was still in the high nineties, and because this is our monsoon season, the humidity was at an uncomfortable level. But if I sat just right, and the breeze hit our yard at just the right angle, it was tolerable.

Lighting up the last cigar I have at home, left over from the fishing trip my father and I took in July, I sat in the Adirondack chair on the back patio with my feet in the grass, watching the not-quite-supermoon-yet full moon float by over the neighbors oleander trees. The way they swayed together in the breeze it was easy to imagine they were kelp, dancing in unison to the silent music of an ocean current, reaching for the surface.

I sat there for a long time, just sitting alone in the quiet darkness, thinking about life and work and some friends I hadn’t thought about in years; letting my mind wander isn’t something I give it much opportunity to do. That’s one of the things I really enjoy about cigars: I’m not much of a smoker, so I can’t multitask very easily. A friend once told me that cigars weren’t built for productivity, they were designed for rest. Having a cigar forces me to just sit and be still for the duration, otherwise I end up coughing or turning green.

Eventually, my more logical mind took over again, suggesting that I could surely be doing something else while I sit there, maybe catching up on my reading list, or returning email, or getting some billing done.

Rather than consume and potentially get stressed out about what might be lurking in my inbox, I decided to draw and stay as in the present as much as possible. Staying present is also not one of my strong suits. I thought a good way to do that would be to capture the scene in front of me as best I could with my iPad.

And since they seem to be popular, here’s the behind the scenes creation video:

Arizona · Illustration · Life

Phoenix DinoCon

Today I’m volunteering at the 2014 Phoenix DinoCon, a fan convention for folks who like dinosaurs, and yeah…I’m a little bit excited.




Having never really been into ComiCon or any of the other myriad of conventions out there, this will be my first time into that arena. I’ll be working the registration table, so I’ll get a chance to see everyone who comes through the door face-to-face, which should be fun. I suppose people will be there in costume, so that will be something to see, although with the temperature upwards of 100° and humid, and not to mention the chance of the seasonal monsoon storm, I doubt there will be many people dressed up. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.

I may post the behind the scenes video of the “today” image above but it would be pretty short, and not to mention dark, so it might not make for a great clip. 

Sunday edit – I was right…this doesn’t make for very compelling footage. But since it’s available, why not. You can see at the end where I experimented with getting more text on the image before finally deciding to leave it alone. No sense overcomplicating an image that was only going into a tweet, anyway.