James OBrien
January 2010
Kaki King
This is Kaki King, guitar virtuoso, from AMG,
"appeared on albums from Tegan and Sara and the Foo Fighters and contributed to the soundtracks for Into the Wild and August Rush."

Drawn rightside up.
Fink (UK)
This is a sketch of Finian Greenall, records as Fink, from Brighton, has evolved from ambient techno to acoustic folk with a DJ slant, his music reminds me a bit of José González, messed up the ear so drew a better one, photo reference here.
Lou Reed
Lou Reed drawn upside down with brush pen, photo reference here.
Nick Cave
I’ve been using Danny Gregory’s method of drawing upside-down combined with Jack Unruh’s semi-blind contour drawing method with some mixed results, often ending up with some wild distortion. For this one, I drew rightside-up and, after blocking in the head a bit, started with the left eye worked my way through the face and hair and down to the shirt. Reference photo can be found here. Love that mustache!
Neko Case
Neko Case’s music, according to All Music Guide, has “smoky, sophisticated vocals,” and, “dark, country-noir,” and, “sad cowgirl blues with all the rustic nuance of Patsy Cline.” Case possesses a “hauntingly beautiful alto, a siren call fashioned from country’s might and pop’s melody,”
Daniel Ellsberg
This is a ballpoint pen sketch with color of Daniel Ellsberg.
Dan Deacon
Dan Deacon’s music is described by All Music Guide as, “influenced by diverse artists like Devo, Talking Heads, Scratch Orchestra, Raymond Scott, and Conlon Nancarrow,” and, “whimsical electronic music sensibilities” and, “filled with hyperactive and often challenging electronic detritus,” and, “an extravaganza of noise-pop that looks, not to the dance field, but to the slowly burgeoning indie rock fetish of voices, either in harmony or in chorus.”
More Pentel brush pen drawings
The reference photos for these are here (among many other sites) and here. My Pete Townshend sketch looks a bit like someone I know and the Thom Yorke one looks a bit like someone else I know.
Sketch of Nick Lowe circa 2007 or so, reference from an At My Age press photo.
I was searching for a good Gene Simmons reference photo and couldn’t find anything I liked but stumbled upon this photo of Ringo Starr within the search. It was with a trivia quiz asking what band Ringo Starr played in prior to The Beatles. The answer (Paul Revere and the Raiders, although according to Wikipedia, he actually played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes) included a Gene Simmons reference. I can’t find a credit for the photograph, found uncredited here, here, here, and here.
It was Elvis‘ 75th birthday Friday, watched Jailhouse Rock on TCM while sketching.

Mos Def looking a bit like Castro maybe, some distortion. This is from an upside down reference photo. I’m using Jack Unruh’s drawing method, blind contour drawing starting with one eye and working out from there, creates distortion. But I’ve noticed if I combine that with a reference to the frame, drawing the negative areas around the edge of the page (I crop the reference into a proportion matching my Moleskin), I get a bit more accuracy. So the Sillitto drawing is a little less distorted. Lorenzo Sillitto is the guitarist for The Temper Trap (sound like a Travis/Deerhunter blend).
This is a drawing of the actor Paul Bryar in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode from 1955 called “Salvage” made using an upside down screenshot reference, drawn with a Pentel brush pen.
Kong!! This is from a photo from issue #108 Famous Monsters of Filmland of a sculpted Kong figure from the first film. Basil Gogos used this same photo for his painting featured on the cover of that issue.

This is a bundled up wool sweater portrait using an upside down photo reference with a Pentel brush pen and some messing around in Photoshop. January is just way too cold for me.

Pentel brush pen drawings
My daughter signed up to promote her ballet troupe’s Nutcracker performance this season. She dressed up in her soldier outfit and handed out fliers at the Mall of America on Black Friday. She didn’t want me hanging around so I walked down to Crave (website plays music) with my sketchbook and pens and drew people at the bar.
The cap of my Kaimei brush pen came off (found out this is common) and the brush tip dried up. I tried re-wetting it, washing it, all of the online suggestions I could find but no luck. So I set it aside and looked for some other options. In one discussion board, I found this list which also includes recommendations for nonbrush tip pens: Pentel GFKP Pocket Brush, Zebra brush pen, Rotring Sketch EF, Rotring Rapidoliner, and Sakura Micron 08.
I decided to try out the Pentel brush pen (recommended by one of the Wet Paint staff persons). I’ve also been using a Pelikan P58 Style Fountain Pen and a Zebra F-301 ballpoint pen, and a red Uni-Ball roller ball pen.
These drawings are from Crave and from church, my first using the Pentel brush pen.
The top one includes a draped table from church, used for a baptism.
The middle sketch is of a burly man in sweats watching football at Crave.
The bottom sketch is from church, more back-of-the-head views.
Spyhouse exhibit
Each semester at MCAD, I assign an annual project for my Digital Illustration students where they visit Spyhouse Coffeeshop Gallery on Nicollet and produce illustrations about the place, the customers, the workers, and the eclectic decor. This project culminates in an exhibit at Spyhouse of the student work.
This Fall, the Spyhouse exhibit coordinator asked if I would show some of my work after the student show.
My show is up through the holidays, not sure of the exact end date, early January I think.
Here’s a link to my Facebook event page for the exhibit. And check back in April for the next Spyhouse student show.

Recent Articles

Illustrations (48)

Drawings (44)
My websites